Hard to argue

Evan: Daddy, tunnel!

Me: You want me to crawl through the tunnel?

Evan: Yeah!

Me: Why? If I crawl through the tunnel, what do I get?

Evan: Out!


The illusion of control

Hey Brian, how about that new Frozen 2 trailer

In cinematographic terms, I would categorize the artistic, musical, directorial, and other qualities of the aforementioned film sample as being — *consults dictionary* — “hella sweet.” And potentially “righteous.”

Okay, for real though, this is way better than I was expecting. I was all set to be disappointed, but early indications are that they’ve nailed it. My biggest complaint by far about the original Frozen is that Elsa’s too passive, and that glitch now seems emphatically fixed. Plus, did you notice that the background music is a new rendition of the same song that played in the intro to the first movie, and during Elsa’s coronation? Of course you did.

I still think they could totally work in a scene like this one somewhere in there. They wouldn’t even have to pay me for the rights.

I mean, not a lot.

Maybe a lot.

I want to see Frozen 2.

The null punchline

Back in my former life, I once worked with an engineer (now retired) who had a cross-stitch displayed in his office. It was something like:

flawless – precise

I thought it was hilarious. I loved the plain hubris of it, the deliberate irony, as if he were saying, “Sure, I think I’m perfect, so what? I’m an engineer. Prove me wrong.” (And what better medium for the message than cross-stitch?)

Considering that I’m now an editor, it took me an embarrassingly long time to notice that the cross-stitch actually said:

flawless – precise

Note the extra “e” in “engineer.” He’s claiming perfection whilst sporting a typo. That is, in fact, the entire joke, the whole reason he had the thing in his office. I had thought it was hilarious — while completely missing the punchline.

Or how about this: While watching the sublime anime Azumanga Daioh with my friend Ben, I came across this bizarre scene, where a character has a New Year’s dream involving a hawk, an eggplant, and Mount Fuji.

Ben and I both laughed our asses off. The combination of those three things was so utterly random, and the girl’s exultant reaction was so over-the-top, that it was just perfect. Non sequitur at its finest.

But I later learned, after a bit of research, that the dream wasn’t random at all. There’s a Japanese tradition that a New Year’s dream featuring those three images foretells the best possible luck. (Where the tradition came from, I have no idea.) So that was the whole point of the scene, and it was lost on us Americans.

In both cases, I found the “null punchline” funnier than the intended joke. I know this has happened to me other times, too.

Why, though? Why is the un-humor funnier than the humor?

I guess it’s more strange, more subtle. More like seeing the fundamental weirdness of the universe laid bare, as opposed to something constructed by a person.

In other words, I have no idea.

Have you ever laughed at a null punchline?

This morning’s shower thought

If “virtuous” is connected to “virtue,” then “vicious” must be connected to “vice.” Seems obvious in retrospect, but I never connected the dots before.

I did a quick lookup (after drying off), and sure enough, “vicious” and “vice” both derive from the Latin vitium, meaning a defect, fault, or blemish.

Go forth, freshly enlightened, and do with this knowledge what thou wilt.


Word: nelse

Language: English-ish

Part of speech: noun

Definition: additional food to eat beyond what one has eaten already; a snack

Etymology: evidently coined by Evan Buckley in January 2019; shortening of “somethin’ else”

Example: The two-year-old gazed longingly at the kitchen cabinets. “Nelse?” he queried. “Nelse?”

Baffled mathematicians discover that one is not, in fact, the loneliest number

“Frankly, we were shocked,” admitted Dr. Sue Deaux-Nimm, Senior Professor of Mathematics and Assorted Philately at the moderately prestigious MT University. “We mathematicians, much like you ordinary goons, had long accepted that the song was right — that one was the loneliest number. But we couldn’t have been more wrong.”

After some thought, she added, “Well, we could have been more wrong, in a variety of ways. But we were pretty wrong.”

She and her colleague — Dr. Chuck Waggon, Junior Professor of Mathematics and Various Nonmathematical Uses of Numbers — announced their discovery at a press conference yesterday. Several persons, who could conceivably have been reporters, were in attendance.

“One is the second-loneliest number,” explained Dr. Waggon. “It turns out the loneliest number is 37,505,111.62555555 repeating. The proof is absolutely solid and leaves no room for doubt. But, I mean, it’s just so weird.”

“It’s bizarre,” Dr. Deaux-Nimm affirmed. “Why that number? We can’t think of any reason at all. And we tried for several hours.”

“Several,” nodded Dr. Waggon. “I mean, you look at plain old 37,505,111 with nothing after the decimal point, and it isn’t yearning for companionship at all. So, like, what’s the deal?”

(The question What is the deal? has since been referred to the Philosophy Department, which evidently has already been working on that problem for some time.)

Both mathematicians, however, were quick to reassure their listeners that the loneliest person still is — and will continue to be — you, the person reading this article.

Have a good weekend!