Category Archives: Funny

The joys of learning languages

Somewhere I recently saw a shared post on FB talking about moments of understanding what others are saying in other languages when they clearly think you don’t understand them — I even saw something talking about how it is rude to be that person without letting people know.

For those who don’t know, I’ve some background in Spanish, French, Greek, and Latin.  I’m not actually fluent in any of them, although I can keep up best in Spanish.  My first Greek class was taught at Whatcom Community College to help students and the faculty member who were going to be going on a trip to Greece (I wasn’t going to go on the trip, but couldn’t turn away a chance to learn Greek).  The dialect of Greek being taught was demotic, meaning the kind of Greek spoken in Greece by native speakers today, as opposed to older dialects like Koine (virtually identical to New Testament Greek), Attic or Homeric.  Or the phony constructed Erasmian, put together by a German theologian who never ever heard Greek spoken by someone fluent.  There are major wars fought among Helenophiles as to which dialect Greek should be taught in, particularly which pronunciation should be used for the letters in the alphabet.  Just so you know.

During the class, I memorized a handful of phrases that I thought could be useful going forward.  A major one transliterates to “Den katalabayno,” which means “I don’t underestand.”  The utility of that should be obvious.  Some years later, while I was still cashiering at Target, the customer I was ringing up was a mother, who was chewing out her son in Greek.   I couldn’t begin to follow what she was saying, but her last sentence ended with “Katalabayne?”  Which I repeated, because I recognized it.  And then I remembered and said “Den katalabayno,” as I tried to figure out what it meant.  It took me about two more sentences to get to the point where I understood that she had finished her scolding of her son with “Do you understand?!”  At which point she realized I knew what she had said and stopped talking to him in Greek, and I talked about how I understood that which got us to the end of the transaction, and she left.

Lately, my Greek exposure is pretty much limited to postings from my FB friend Konstantia Makre.  She posts pretty pictures most days with a caption of “????????”  which transcribes to something similar to “Kally-merra” if you don’t try to roll the “r,” and which means “Good day,” or “Good Morning.”  She’ll post other things in Greek, and I feel pretty good if I can sound it out and recognize a word or two, which I often can’t.

Brown chicken, brown cow.

A FB friend posted that she wanted her friends to respond in the comments telling how they met her, but to lie.  This is what I sent back:

I never thought I would be writing this comment. I can’t believe it really happened to me.

Our eyes met across a crowded mini-mart, and, instantly, there were sparks. I pushed three middle-school wanna-gangers with Butterfingers and caffeinated chocolate out of my way, because I had to meet you. Had to know you. Had to wrap my life around you and bend you to my will.

“Hey,” I said, trying to sound nonchalant, but my voice cracking half-way through gave away how excited I really was. “Hey, yourself,” you said, coyly. “Is that an extra-large Cocktail Pep stick in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?” I wondered if you’d been watching me try to shoplift the meat snack, or how you knew that the real answer was “Both.”

. . .

As we pulled the remains of our clothing from the odd recesses of the dumpster, got dressed as we could, and prepared to walk back out into a world that suddenly felt both comfortably new and disturbingly familiar, I tried to find my capacity for speech. “That good! You pretty! Do that again many times!” Sadly, I found just enough to sound like a complete idiot.

You looked at me with that sad, sad look in your eyes. “It would never work. I could never give my life over to someone who shoplifts meat snacks and talks like a Neanderthal with a speech impediment.” I tried to argue, but it just came out as babbling incoherence. “No,” you said, “Don’t make this harder than it has to be. We had three magical minutes there, and that’s all that this can ever be. Perhaps, someday, we can meet again on Facebook and be vaguely pleasant acquaintances.”

Brian Regan: Is God Talking to Me?

This is just odd. I was checking out the suggestions Netflix has for me, and one of those suggestions was a set of comedy shows from this guy named Brian Regan. Based on the films they were using to explain why they’d made the suggestion, I got the impression that this is somebody who knows how to be funny without being crude — something I value a lot. So I checked out the reviews for one of the disks, and this impression was confirmed. I added them to my queue, and decided to take a look at the guy’s website, and, from there, decided to see where his shows were going to be. Now, as I was clicking the link to his show schedule, the thought that went through my head is “but I wouldn’t be able to go to any of his shows even if they were close because I always have to work all weekend, and shows are always on weekends.” Continue reading Brian Regan: Is God Talking to Me?

Vacuum Pockets

This made me laugh a lot. 

Reminds me of my experience getting my Enhanced Drivers License a few weeks ago.  The standards for the EDL are (I believe) based on the standards for a passport, since it has to satisfy Federal requirements for border crossing.  So you have to not only prove citizenship, you have to prove residence.  Proof of citizenship was easy — my folded-up certified birth certificate did the job just fine.  But proof of residence was tough. 

A drivers license will not do.  A utility bill will, but it has to be within the last 60 days.  I went to email billing for my power bill and phone bill.  A listing in the phone book will do, but I have a VoIP phone and they don’t get listed.  Cell phone bills won’t do.  An insurance policy will work, but not an insurance bill.  A voter registration card can be one of two proofs (utility bills will do on their own), but an unopened ballot won’t.  Also confusing the issue is the mail v physical address problem that results from living two blocks from a “rural” post office.

So I went to the power company to see if they could print me a bill.  They could and did, and I took it back.  They couldn’t just accept it because (wait for it) it wasn’t mailed to me.  So they had to call the power company, have me verify that I was me to the power people, and then they could confirm the address information on my account. 

Bureaucracy — making the reasonable impossible for 7000 years.

I think I heard this wrong.

I was just watching a TV commercial for a law firm that deals with asbestos problems.  I think I heard it wrong, but I think the person in it said “They were more than attorneys.  They were human beings.”

I find the notion of human beings being greater than attorneys amusing.  But I think there might have been a “just” in the middle of that.

It was humorous at the time.

P.J. O’Rourke faces mortality.

I have loved P.J. since my subscription to Rolling Stone back in the days of Terrence Trent D’Arby.  He is insightful, deprecating of self and others in a way that is hllarious and yet instructive.  Now, he’s been diagnosed with cancer, and discusses it in a very interesting way in this column

I looked death in the face. All right, I didn’t. I glimpsed him in a crowd. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, of a very treatable kind. I’m told I have a 95% chance of survival. Come to think of it — as a drinking, smoking, saturated-fat hound — my chance of survival has been improved by cancer.

I still cursed God, as we all do when we get bad news and pain. Not even the most faith-impaired among us shouts: “Damn quantum mechanics!” “Damn organic chemistry!” “Damn chaos and coincidence!”

I’ve been on limited net access since Friday, so there might be some catching up the next few hours.  Consider this warning.