Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

 Feb. 17, 2003

And our next guest . . . George Carlin

"Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 on a bottle of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards: Naive."

"If four out of five people suffer from diarrhea, does that mean one enjoys it?"

"Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?"

"Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?"

"Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety one?"

"If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?"

"What hair color do they put on the driver's license of bald men?"

"If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?"

"You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive."

"If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?"

"Why does 'fat chance' and 'slim chance' mean the same thing?"

"Why do tug boats push their barges?"

"Why do we sing 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' when we are already there?"

"Doesn't 'expecting the unexpected' make the unexpected expected?"

"Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?"

"Why is 'phonics' not spelled the way it sounds?"

"Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?"

"Christmas is weird. What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your sock?"


When George Carlin, Andy Rooney of "Sixty Minutes," Michael Feldman of National Public Radio, and Jerry Seinfeld give us whimsey-like wry humor of Carlin, they are appealing to something a bit irreverent and strictly American.

When we Americans are at our best, we are good at irreverence.

That's why I am troubled by excessive patriotism, which to me seems unAmerican. When it gets us into a war with unblinking obedience, it is even dangerous.

I don't think the British, who should be good at whimsey, can understand the likes of George Carlin. I am not sure I always find him funny myself.

I can solve some of Carlin's puzzles and that, once done, makes them unfunny. For example, the reason a wise guy and a wise man mean opposite things is that "wise guy" got into our language through irony, the same irony at which Carlin makes his living.

The same thing goes for "slim chance" and "fat chance." "Fat chance" got there because someone tried to be ironic, which is probably a better thing than being sarcastic.

I don't think the other comedians succeed at irony as well as Carlin does. I click off Andy Rooney as soon as I can reach the TV set.

I have seen Carlin perform on a live stage and he is at home and articulate. He strikes me, though, as someone quite angry, and who doesn't enjoy his work.

I think myself that Steven Wright is the best of all in this genre.

I have Glen Keener to thank for the Steven Wright material below.

Steven Wright is the guy who once said, "I woke up one morning and all of my stuff had been stolen . . . and replaced by exact duplicates."

So, I am going to steal his stuff for my Waverly Star. Here it is.

Come on, Steve, you're on:

"I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize."

"Borrow money from pessimists. They don't expect it back."

"Half the people you know are below average."

"99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name."

"42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot."

"A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory."

"All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my hand."

"The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

"I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met."

"How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?"

"Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm."

"When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane."

"My mechanic told me, 'I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.'"

"Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?"

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking."

"To steal from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research."

I like being a columnist because my readers can't throw fruit at me or even boo me where I can hear them. The down side of this is that I don't know when I am on a roll or not.

If I am on a roll, then I will keep going here even though I have used up my quota of 600 words.

Below are some actual quotations from people in the business world. Who says capitalism isn't the greatest?

From Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash.: "As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks."

From Lykes Lines Shipping: "What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter."

From the accounting manager of Electric Boat Company: "E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business."

From the advertising manager of United Parcel Service: "This project is so important we won't let things that are more important interfere with it."

From the CIO of Dell Computers: "My boss spent the entire weekend retyping a 25-page proposal that only needed corrections. She claims the disk I gave her was damaged and she couldn't edit it. The disk I gave her was write protected.

Marketing executive of Citrix Corporation quote from the boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say."

From the switching supervisor of AT&T Long Lines Division: "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees."

From Microsoft legal affairs division: A memo from senior management said, "This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the memo mentioned above."

From the new business manager of Hallmark Greeting Cards: "One day, my boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough.

"He said, 'If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it.'


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