A prank turned grim

You have probably heard about those two Australian radio hosts who called the hospital where Kate Middleton, pregnant with a future monarch of England, was being treated for severe morning sickness.  They imitated the voice of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, the grandparents, and managed to get their call transferred to the hospital room.  Very funny.  But now the nurse who took the call and was bamboozled felt so humiliated and ashamed that she has apparently committed suicide.

Anger at Australian radio station over royal hoax – Houston Chronicle.

Kurt Vonnegut on writing and living

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-Five among many others, seems like a much better author when you’re young.  There is a close link between idealism and cynicism, both of which are characteristic of the young and both of which are necessary to appreciate Vonnegut’s dark humor.  I remember reading him as a college student with great excitement and appreciation.  But now. . . it’s just not the same.  Still, you have to appreciate his wit, and an affection lingers.

Dan Wakefield has just published a collection of his correspondence entitled Kurt Vonnegut: Letters.  In a review, Michael Dirda gives us some bon mots from those letters:

“Unsettling business for an artist, where everything that happens in New York has universality, and everything that happens outside is ethnography.”

The term paper, he tells his writing students, should be “both cynical and religious.”

“The secret of good writing is caring.”

“No picture can attract serious attention without a human being attached to it in the viewer’s mind. . . . Pictures are famous for their human-ness and not their picture-ness.”

“I saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which I took very hard. To an unmoored, middle-aged man like myself, it was heartbreaking. That’s all right. I like to have my heart broken.”

To his son, Mark: “I ask a favor for your mother’s sake: please look awfully nice at your graduation. She is a dear, romantic girl, and I want her to be as happy as she can possibly be at the graduation of her only son. . . .I am talking about hair, of course.”

“Story-telling is a game for two, and a mature storyteller . . . is sociable, a good date on a blind date with a total stranger, so to speak.”

The best campaign ad of them all

In a postmodern, objectively irrelevant, subjectivist, “I like this” kind of way:

HT: Anthony Sacramone.

"Like most Catholics, I do whatever I want"

You’ve got to see Saturday Night Live‘s take on the Vice Presidential debate.  Go to the link for the video.  Here are some excerpts:

“I’m from Janesville, Wisconsin, and he’s from Scranton, Pennsylvania,” Ryan says in the skit. “Do you know what the unemployment rate is in Scranton right now? It’s 10 percent. And I just wonder what the vice president would say to hardworking people of towns like Janesville and Scranton.”

“I guarantee you, [Janesville] is a paradise next to the burning coal heap that is Scranton, Pennsylvania,” Sudeikis’ Biden retorts. “Do you know that show, ‘The Walking Dead?’ It’d make a good tourism ad for Scranton. If you went to the lowest circle of hell, you’d still be 45 minutes outside of Scranton. I grew up there. I love it. It’s the single worst place on earth.” . . .

“Moving on, the baseball playoffs are in full swing, with four teams remaining,” McKinnon’s Raddatz says. “So, if you can, could you please speak personally about abortion?”

“I accept the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Sudeikis’ Biden responds. “But then, like most Catholics, I ignore them and do what I want.”

Go here: http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/14/snl-does-last-weeks-vice-presidential-debate/#ixzz29KUWgmds


Lampooning the Jesus’ wife hype

The inimitable Hans Fiene at Lutheran Satire on the Jesus’ wife kerfluffle and, more generally, on the mindset it represents:

Lutheran Satire – YouTube.

I Did Not Know That

Local columnist John Kelly asked readers to tell about “common knowledge” that they somehow missed.  Some examples:

A reader named Andrea said she was raised in Upstate New York and didn’t visit Washington until she was 21. Growing up, she would hear about artifacts that were being put “in the Smithsonian.”

Wrote Andrea: “I had always thought that the Smithsonian was that tall pointy thing that I had seen pictures of in textbooks — you know, the Washington Monument — and wondered how it all fit in there. I’m not sure when I was disabused of this idea, but to this day I almost always accidentally call the Washington Monument the ‘Smithsonian’ in my head before pointing it out to people — and identifying it correctly — out loud.”

A reader I’ll call “Jan” has had her driver’s license for 35 years. “I understand how cars work and am a good driver,” she wrote. “However, I only learned from my husband a few years ago what those little white lights on the rear of a car were: the back up lights. . . . I keep wondering what else I don’t know.”

Frederick’s Annie Hughes confessed that until about five years ago, she did not know that thunder is the sound lightning makes. “I am very embarrassed to admit that fact,” she wrote. . . .

Laurel’s Charlie Goedeke calls himself “a highly trained modern engineer” who has always enjoyed classical music. “For years I listened to and appreciated the music of Chopin — as in ‘Chopping,’ with a silent g — on recordings,” Charlie wrote. “At the same time I was vaguely aware of the existence of another composer, ‘Showpan,’ heard often on the radio. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s, when a friend was asked to play a Chopin piece on our piano, that the connection between the two finally clicked.”

Annandale’s Jane Pacelli said that she was baffled for years by two words that seemed to have similar, if not identical, meanings: “The word ‘subtle’ (presumably pronounced SUB-tul) was often seen in print but never heard in conversation,” she wrote. “Its twin was pronounced SUTT-el (and presumably spelled ‘suttle’) and never seen in print.” . . .

One day when he was in his 10th-grade biology class, Germantown’s Vince Opperman listened to the teacher answer a student’s questions about blood transfusions and how important our RH factor is when getting blood.

“This seemed odd to me, not having done my homework,” Vince wrote. “So I asked: ‘What does our age have to do with it?’ Brought down the house.”

via Day 2 of ‘I Did Not Know That’: So-called common knowledge – The Washington Post.

We’ve been kind of serious around this blog for awhile, and a jolt of humility is good for all of us.  Under the anonymity of the internet, what are some things like these that you should have known but just didn’t?