The Universe of Discourse

Sun, 27 Nov 2022

Whatever became of the Peanuts kids?

One day I asked Lorrie if she thought that Schroeder actually grew up to be a famous concert pianist. We agreed that he probably did. Or at least Schroeder has as good a chance as anyone does. To become a famous concert pianist, you need to have talent and drive. Schroeder clearly has talent (he can play all that Beethoven and Mozart on a toy piano whose black keys are only painted on) and he clearly has drive. Not everyone with talent and drive does succeed, of course, but he might make it, whereas some rando like me has no chance at all.

That led to a longer discussion about what became of the other kids. Some are easier than others. Who knows what happens to Violet, Sally, (non-Peppermint) Patty, and Shermy? I imagine Violet going into realty for some reason.

As a small child I did not understand that Lucy's “psychiatric help 5¢” lemonade stand was hilarious, or that she would have been the literally worst psychiatrist in the world. (Schulz must have known many psychiatrists; was Lucy inspired by any in particular?) Surely Lucy does not become an actual psychiatrist. The world is cruel and random, but I refuse to believe it is that cruel. My first thought for Lucy was that she was a lawyer, perhaps a litigator. Now I like to picture her as a union negotiator, and the continual despair of the management lawyers who have to deal with her.

Her brother Linus clearly becomes a university professor of philosophy, comparative religion, Middle-Eastern medieval literature, or something like that. Or does he drop out and work in a bookstore? No, I think he's the kind of person who can tolerate the grind of getting a graduate degree and working his way into a tenured professorship, with a tan corduroy jacket with patches on the elbows, and maybe a pipe.

Peppermint Patty I can imagine as a high school gym teacher, or maybe a yoga instructor or massage therapist. I bet she'd be good at any of those. Or if we want to imagine her at the pinnacle of achievement, coach of the U.S. Olympic softball team. Marcie is calm and level-headed, but a follower. I imagine her as a highly competent project manager.

In the conversation with Lorrie, I said “But what happens to Charlie Brown?”

“You're kidding, right?” she asked.

“No, why?”

“To everyone's great surprise, Charlie Brown grows up to be a syndicated cartoonist and a millionaire philanthropist.”

Of course she was right. Charlie Brown is good ol' Charlie Schulz, whose immense success surprised everyone, and nobody more than himself.

Charles M. Schulz was born 100 years ago last Saturday.

[ Addendum 20221204: I forgot Charlie Brown's sister Sally. Unfortunately, the vibe I get from Sally is someone who will be sucked into one of those self-actualization cults like Lifespring or est. ]

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Sat, 21 May 2022

What's long and hard?

Sometime in the previous millennium, my grandfather told me this joke:

Why is Fulton Street the hottest street in New York?

Because it lies between John and Ann.

I suppose this might have been considered racy back when he heard it from his own grandfather. If you didn't get it, don't worry, it wasn't actually funny.

cropped screenshot from Google Maps, showing
a two-block region of lower Manhattan, bounded by John Street on the
south and Ann Street on the north. Fulton Street lies between them,

Today I learned the Philadelphia version of the joke, which is a little better:

What's long and black and lies between two nuts?

Sansom Street.

cropped screenshot from Google Maps, showing
a two-block region of West Philadelphia, bounded by Walnut Street on the
south and Chestnut Street on the north. Sansom Street lies between them,

I think it that the bogus racial flavor improves it (it looks like it might turn out to be racist, and then doesn't). Some people may be more sensitive; to avoid making them uncomfortable, one can replace the non-racism with additional non-obscenity and ask instead “what's long and stiff and lies between two nuts?”.

There was a “what's long and stiff” joke I heard when I was a kid:

What's long and hard and full of semen?

A submarine.

Eh, okay. My opinion of puns is that they can be excellent, when they are served hot and fresh, but they rapidly become stale and heavy, they are rarely good the next day, and the prepackaged kind is never any good at all.

The antecedents of the “what's long and stiff” joke go back hundreds of years. The Exeter Book, dating to c. 950 CE, contains among other things ninety riddles, including this one I really like:

A curious thing hangs by a man's thigh,
under the lap of its lord. In its front it is pierced,
it is stiff and hard, it has a good position.
When the man lifts his own garment
above his knee, he intends to greet
with the head of his hanging object that familiar hole
which is the same length, and which he has often filled before.

(The implied question is “what is it?”.)

The answer is of course a key. Wikipedia has the original Old English if you want to compare.

Finally, it is off-topic but I do not want to leave the subject of the Exeter Book riddles without mentioning riddle #86. It goes like this:

Wiht cwom gongan
  þær weras sæton
monige on mæðle,
  mode snottre;
hæfde an eage
  ond earan twa,
ond II fet,
  XII hund heafda,
hrycg ond wombe
  ond honda twa,
earmas ond eaxle,
  anne sweoran
ond sidan twa.
  Saga hwæt ic hatte.

I will adapt this very freely as:

What creature has two legs and two feet, two arms and two hands, a back and a belly, two ears and twelve hundred heads, but only one eye?

The answer is a one-eyed garlic vendor.

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Fri, 21 Jul 2006

Oyster jokes
Last week I heard a pathetically bad joke about oysters. Here it is:

What did the girl oyster say to the boy oyster?

"You never open up to me."

Well, the world is full of dumb jokes, so why am I wasting your time with this one? Because I think it should be possible, perhaps even easy, to do much better. Sex jokes, even old, tired sex jokes, are a lot funnier than relationship jokes, particularly relationship jokes as old and as tired as this one. The implied sexism only makes it that much more tiresome. And really, whatever humor there is is barely more than a pun.

But it seems to me that there is a lot of unexploited material to be gotten from oysters.

For example, oysters, considered as food, are famous for their aphrodisiac properties. It ought to be possible to do something with that. What do the boy and the girl oyster use as aphrodisiacs? Does it involve oyster cannibalism? So much the better. Can the aphrodisiac cannibalism be tied to oral sex somehow? Better still. How could a joke about oyster cunnilingus fail to be hilarious?

Moreover, oysters are hermaphrodites. Surely there is some farcical oyster humor available from the fact that the boy and the girl oysters might in fact be the same individual. Now we have oyster autofellatial autocannibalism. It's both dirty and disgusting!

I was not able to come up with any oyster jokes, however, and a quick web search turned up nothing of value. Really nothing. Don't waste your time. I found one joke that was introduced with "Jennifer sent in this great oyster joke..." and then the joke wasn't even about oysters; it was about the ingestion of testicles. And I had heard it before.

I think there's a small gap in the world just the size and shape of a good oyster-themed joke. Don't you? Here is your big chance to make up a joke that nobody has ever heard before. Please send me your oyster jokes.

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