My sense of humour has been somewhat impaired by yet another dose of frigid -29 degree weather this week, so I decided to go back to the good old standbys that make me laugh no matter what:  wordplay and fart jokes.

(Some might argue that my sense of humour is permanently impaired, but let’s not go there just now.  Moving right along…)

First this:  There’s been a lot of talk in the publishing blogs lately about best-selling author Hugh Howey advocating for indie publishing.  Headlines like “Hugh Howey and the Indie Author Revolt” abound.

And every time I read a headline like that, my brain goes here:


I know it’s an ancient joke.  I’m pretty sure I first saw it decades ago in The Wizard Of Id comic strip by Brant Parker and Johnny Hart:

Knave rushes up to the king while a mob with pitchforks clamours in the background:  “Sire, the peasants are revolting!”

King:  “Tell them to take a bath.”

(I’m making that up – I don’t actually remember what the king said; I just remember ‘the peasants are revolting’.)  And I don’t know if Parker and Hart were the original creators of that joke, but it makes me chuckle every time I see the word ‘revolt’.

Fart jokes are pretty much guaranteed to make me laugh, too.  There must be a teenage boy walking around somewhere with a 50-year-old woman’s brain in his skull, because I’ve definitely stolen some adolescent male’s sense of humour.

I think I find farts so funny because they’re universal.  I’d be willing to bet there are very few people in the world who haven’t let one slip at an inappropriate time.  And yet, regardless of cataclysmic sound effects and olfactory assaults, nobody ever acknowledges a fart in public.  (Well, unless you’re driving 800 miles with my friend Swamp Butt and me.  But that’s a fool’s mission at best.)

I’m sure we’ve all been trapped in an elevator with a dozen people and one silent-but-deadly fart.  Everyone’s eyes are watering and the tops of their heads are about to blow off from trying to hold their collective breath for twenty-five floors… but nobody reacts.  All eyes forward;  all faces impassive.

We’re all dying, but we won’t show it.  I’m busting a gut trying not to laugh out loud, but you’d never know it by my face.  Then I start wondering if everybody else is trying not to laugh, too, and the urge to laugh becomes almost overpowering.  One of these days I’m just going to guffaw and see if anybody else joins me.

My ex-father-in-law (may his delightful soul rest in peace) had a down-to-earth attitude about such things.

One day he went to Emergency with chest pain.  Since he was a prime heart attack candidate, they got him onto a stretcher right away and hooked him up to various monitors and devices.  No danger signs showed up, but the pain persisted… until he finally belched, farted, and then sat up on the stretcher to declaim, “All systems:  Go!”

The ER staff cracked up.

Revolting?  Well, maybe if you got caught in the blast nimbus, but otherwise it’s the finest fart joke ever executed.  And thinking about it never fails to make me laugh.

I’m Amused

In the vagaries of the English language, I’m “amused”.  I’m also amused by the vagaries of the English language, but that’s not actually what I mean.

No; if “amoral” means “lacking morals”, and “atonal” means “toneless”, and “achromatic” means “without colour”, then I’m “amused”.  As in “lacking muse”.

Which is a fancy way to say I don’t know what to write about today.

So I shall resort to poking fun at the English language.  If the prefix “a-” indicates absence or lack, then why doesn’t “acute” mean “ugly”?  Why doesn’t “along” mean “short” and “alike” mean “hate”?  And if I amend an item, am I actually ripping it apart?

After coming up with a few other examples, I just couldn’t resist messing around with some flash fiction:

Flash Fiction: Afoul Play (On Words)

Setting my torch alight, I stood blinking, blinded by the sudden blackness.  When the vague outlines of the hallway emerged from the dark, I crept forward.  The groan of a loose floorboard underfoot made me flinch, my heart drumming against my ribs.

Glad to be alone, I turned to Jim.  “Man, why did we let Rick talk us into this?  And why are we still doing it when he didn’t even bother to show up?”

Jim replied with his usual unintelligible mumble before pressing his lips tightly agape, but I didn’t let it bother me.  He always spoke aloud.

Behind me, Lucy whispered, “Light the torch.  This is too creepy.  Maybe we heard Rick aright.  After all, it was two weeks ago.  Maybe he meant twelve noon, not midnight.”

“No, I’m sure he meant midnight,” I argued.  “He said we had to sneak in when it was dark, and he teased me that I’d probably arouse at eleven and sleep through the whole thing.”

A few minutes of stealthy tiptoeing later, Lucy hissed, “Oh, gross!  Do you smell that?  There’s something alive here.  It smells like it’s been rotting for weeks!”

“Probably just a dead mouse or something,” I said with more confidence than I felt.

“It can’t be.  It’s too strong.  It smells like something…”  Her voice trembled.  “Something big.”  Her nails dug into my shoulder.  “What’s that aloft?  On the floor under that big table?”

I swallowed hard and peered through the dimness.

“Light it!  Light the torch!”

Jim’s shout startled me so much I nearly dropped the torch.  It bobbled dangerously and Lucy’s shaking hands clamped over mine, pulling the torch atilt to prevent the oil from spilling out.

My lighter clicked.  Flames flared high, revealing the reason why Rick hadn’t joined us tonight.

“Rick!  Ohmigod, Rick!”

Lucy’s screams echoed in my ears as my stomach lurched.  My knees gave way and I arose to the ground, the impact jarring me asleep…

Which means awake… but “awake” actually means asleep.

Which would mean I was awake to start with…

Which means I was sleeping…

So did this really happen, or was it a dream?

Well dang, it looks as though I’ve written a blog post after all.  Maybe I wasn’t as “amused” as I thought.  But I still think English is a very funny language!

* * *

Addendum:  It seems WordPress has been having difficulties lately, and sometimes when you try to leave a comment you get a page that says “This comment could not be posted” or some other error message.  If that happens to you here, I’m sorry, and thanks for trying.  If you want to try again, here’s what has worked for me on other blogs:

  • Type your comment as usual, but before clicking Post Comment, highlight the comment and press Ctrl-C on your keyboard to copy it. 
  • Then click the Post Comment button. 
  • If a page comes up saying “This comment could not be posted”, click the Back button to return to the page
  • Then press the F5 button on your keyboard to refresh the page. 
  • Paste your comment back into the comment box by pressing Ctrl-V.
  • Click Post Comment again. 

Usually the second time’s the trick, but sometimes it wants a couple of tries.  It’s a huge pain in the butt and I hope they have it resolved soon, but in the mean time, thank you for trying.