44 Comments

  1. All of these were funny, buI have two minor (technical, nerdly) quibbles about the first one: in most (although not all) species of anglerfish, the large form with the illuminated lure is exclusive to females. Males are much smaller, and in some cases even attach themselves to the female as a symbiotic parasite. Second, unlike fireflies, in which the light is controlled by an enzyme, anglerfish illumination is produced by a bacteria culture concentrated in the lure, and cannot be “switched”.

  2. Kilby — in Hilburn’s defense, the bathypelagic and abyssal zones aren’t well-explored, so there COULD be other versions of anglerfish who look like humpback anglerfish but include full-sized males with switchable bioluminescence. Or in whom females are named “Larry”.

  3. The “Ginger” cartoon reminds me of a joke:

    A husband and wife are lying in bed when the phone rings. The husband picks it up, listens for a moment and then says “How should I know, that’s three hundred miles from here.” And he slams down the phone.

    The wife asks “What was that all about?”

    The husband replies “Aw, some guy who wants to know if the coast is clear.”

  4. Mike: I like it! Kinda reminds me of the VERY obsolete joke about the famliy at dinner; phone rings, maid (!) answers, says “Sure is!”, hangs up. This repeats twice more.

    Finally the master of the house asks her what’s going on. “Some joker keeps callin’ and sayin’ it’s a long distance to New York!”

    (Note how many ways this joke makes no sense today: family eating together, landline, maid, long-distance being a big deal…)

  5. It might be permissible to substitute a different term for this case. Instead of “murder”, this particular group could be called “a thresh of crows”.

  6. Another joke of the same color:

    Man and wife in bed wakes and says, ‘Look at the time! I’ve got to get home.’ (But he is.)

  7. Another (old) variant:

    A man comes home after serving for a year in Korea. On the first morning after his first night in bed with his wife, he jumps up and says, “I’ve got to go before your husband gets home!” The wife, still sleepy, says, “Don’t worry, he’s in Korea.”

  8. When Greta Thunberg came on the scene, some people called her appearance Pippi Longstocking. Not clear whether that was meant negatively!

  9. PS3 the old-timey details seem just about absolutely right! LD was indeed a big deal, and as this story presupposes, before direct-dial you had to arrange a LD call with an LD Operator. Possibly she could put it thru immediately upon request, but a common situation was that she would get it in the queue and call you back when ready. That’s why in this story it’s “long distance to New York” — someone at this household arranged a call to New York, and the calls the maid has been dismissing were the LD Operator trying to make the connection. (That’s maybe a weak spot in the plot — the person arranging the call would probably have been alert to these ringbacks.)

  10. Way back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, before area codes, if you wanted to make a long distance call you would pick up the phone and as for “long distance.” The local operator could directly patch you through to a local number, but for long distance would have to patch you through to a long-distance operator. The long-distance operator would say “What city, please?” but her patch-board didn’t have jacks for every city in the United States. So if you wanted to call from Keene, New Hampshire to Oakland, California, she would take down your number and hang up. Then she would open a line to Manchester, New Hampshire, and the long-distance operator there would patch through to New York City and the operator there would patch through to Chicago and the operator there would patch through to Los Angeles and the operator there would patch through to Oakland and the operator there would do two things: set up a call to the number in Oakland and notify the operator in Keene, who would call you back. And your kid would answer the phone and say “It sure is!” and hang up and then you’d have to start all over again. The Fred Allen and Jack Benny radio programs sometimes had bits where Fred or Jack would try to make a long-distance call, and the operators would chat while they were setting things up.

  11. VIC AND SADE also had an episode or two involving the complexities of a long-distance call. And I still encountered some of them myself in the 1970s in a landline call made to Australia.

    Speaking of landlines — a friend bought and mailed a cellphone to my wife while she was in a medical center a few months ago (she’s home now), and since the friend lives in California and we’re in Minnesota, said cellphone had been set up with a California area code. I’d made so few longdistance calls in recent times that this did not occur to me as a problem (I have VarTek, one of the “dial this number sequence first on your landline and the long distance charages go WAY down” services, but hadn’t thought about using it since I knew my wife was only across town about twenty blocks away.)

    Unfortunately our landline “knew” that her cellphone was in California, and thats what we were charged for in a months worth of multi-daily calls.

    When I got the bill, I said that someday I’d laugh about this, so I guess this qualifies. Hah hah.

  12. OK, another obsolete phone joke: Phone rings, small boy answers. Man asks, “Is your daddy home?” “No.” “Can you take a message for him?” “OK.” “Please tell him to call Mr. Smith at CApital 5-1234.” Long pause, then a tearful, “I don’t know how to make a capital five!”

    Every time I see a reference to Capital One Bank I think of this joke.

  13. Shrug: Vaguely similar: I use a dialer app on my phone to connect to conference calls. It accesses my calendar and makes the call automatically, including entering the conference number. One month the company internal system changed, and the first NANPA number listed was in Canada. I spent $150 that month on international calls that I hadn’t meant to make!

    I did whine at the app folks and they fixed it. Then I switched so the company paid my cell, and they changed systems AGAIN, so it’s moot now.

    Mentioned to (maybe)? make you feel a bit better…

  14. Okay…. I don’t usually go for those types of jokes but

    Punchline 1: “Hey, Ted. I’m glad you’re here. Help me search around the house for the scoundrel.”

    Punchline 2: “Ted! What are you doing in my closet?”
    “Well, Everything has to be somewhere.”

    ……

    My parents in their beatnik twenties were cheapskates. So when my uncle took a trip across country he would phone collect to give us a status report. When my parents got a call from Minnie Nesbitt they would refuse the charges but know he was in Minnesota. They didn’t accept calls from Percy Hacker in Chicago or Malcolm Gross in New York etc.

    …..

    I guess I understand the Pippi Longshoreman but …. is there any more than two phrases start with Long. Is that enough to be funny?

  15. @ Mitch4 – In addition, both Pippi Longstocking and longshoremen are known to be unusually strong. The guy on the left is trying to get the one in the middle to bother this character; presumably that’s how the speaker ended up with a concussion and two broken limbs.

  16. “W00zy, Pippi Longshoreman has hair done up just like Pippi Longstocking” and “Pippi Longstocking and longshoremen are known to be unusually strong… presumably that’s how the speaker ended up with a concussion and two broken limbs.”

    Yeah…. I got both of that. But….I don’t get why that should be funny. Or why it should be funny enough.

  17. @ Kilby – Kilby! Thank you for pointing out the pearl in the comic; I had completely missed that and I got a huge laugh out of it. Many thanks to Vic Lee; he has to be really happy with this one. It is was, for me, the payoff that made accepting the visual and caption worth it.
    (Readers might also want make sure they checked out the look the listener is giving the speaker for his “recommendation”.)

    I also didn’t know or had long forgotten that the 9-year-old Pippi Longstocking was strong enough to lift her horse.

  18. > Thank you for pointing out the pearl in the comic; I had completely missed that and I got a huge laugh out of it. Many thanks to Vic Lee; he has to be really happy with this one.

    Wow….. I guess….. I really don’t see it.

  19. @ Mitch4 – “Greta Thunberg … Pippi Longstocking. Not clear whether that was meant negatively!
    It depends on the source. In her native Sweden(*j, Pippi has a very positive reputation, not just because of her physical strength, but also because of her emotional independence. On the other hand, if it really was a simplistic comparison based just on nationality and appearance (braided hair), I’d be more likely to develop a negative opinion of the comparator than of Greta Thunberg.
    P.S. (*) – Pippi Longstocking was my very first encounter with “translated” literature (somewhere around 4th grade, I think). I enjoyed the first book, but I still remember my disappointment when I discovered that the stories were originally written in Swedish. It felt as if the books were no longer the “real” ones. A later story has Pippi travelling to the South Pacific: I’m not sure whether the sequels were beginning to pall, or whether I was still reacting to the “falsity” issue, but I’ve never liked that particular title.

  20. P.S. @ Kevin A – The odd thing is that the comic seems to have worked better for you than it did for me. Once I figured it out, I saw what the point was supposed to be, but it didn’t ignite. Perhaps the speed of the revelation is the critical factor, but it would be difficult to compose a more “obvious” caption without going into squirrel territory.

  21. Kilby, yes I see the point about the injured guy and how he must have gotten there! But that was from your earlier explanation, for which I thank you.

    My first encounter with Northern European children’s literature (apart from songs about Hand Christian Anderson) was “Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates” . (Yes, I understsnd the Dutch are not Scandinavian). I did not understand about alternate titles, and took that “or” to be an integral part of a single meaningful title. And waited in vain for someone to have to choose between Hans and some skates.

  22. Mitch4, it’s astounding how many people think the title is “Hans Brinker AND the Silver Skates”.

  23. Kilby

    “The odd thing is that the comic seems to have worked better for you than it did for me. Once I figured it out, I saw what the point was supposed to be, but it didn’t ignite. Perhaps the speed of the revelation is the critical factor”

    I don’t think it would. I got everything there was to get about the Pippi Longshore man joke immediately (the reference, the fact that he bruised the guy, that the guy was setting the other up to be bruised, that the other had a dubious look). But it was all sub-meh for me.

  24. Not only are the Dutch not Scandinavian, the book was written by an American author, Mary Mapes Dodge.

    BTW, when I looked it up to verify, SO MANY Google entries used ‘AND’, rather than ‘OR’.

    (And yes, I have skated on Amsterdam Canals; they don’t freeze very often, tho.)

  25. Alright, how is “The Little Ark” by Jan de Hartog for genuine Dutch? That was on my family bookshelf when I was a child, and it was one we read together.

  26. @Kilby – Right, the 23 hours the setup had to settle in my mind really created a large area for powering my laugh.

    Usually it’s the caption, which I try to read after reading the whole thing, that’s the LOL punchline. But in this case, ending with the beat-up guy’s balloon just happened to work (I’d fix it by putting the caption at the top (as a Title)).

    Comedy is all about timing (and the rule of threes, in this case may be 1) Caption-as-title intro, 2) viewing Pippi Longshoreman, and 3) the beautifully straight and upbeat delivery of the rich, nearly undetectable sarcasm by the beat-up guy. (Or put the caption, drawn at angle ‘/’, between the 2 ideas with Pippi to the left and the 2 observers on the right, all still in the single scene. In this case the reader wouldn’t have to know the name “Pippi Longstocking” to enjoy it at least a little bit.)

    Ha, I think I just wrote what had me enjoy it so much: “the beautifully straight and upbeat delivery of the rich, nearly undetectable sarcasm”, and the new light the revelation casts on the sensibilities (or sensitivities) of Pippi Longshoreman.

  27. Mark in Boston – In the mid 1970s Robert’s parents and sister went to Paris for a week. While they were there his paternal grandfather died. (His maternal grandparents were “baby sitting” him as his parents were sure I would move in for the week if he was home alone.)

    We had to call his parents in Paris and let them know. I remembering it was quite involved and there were US operators, Paris operators and hotel operators involved and Paris had to call back later in the day for the call to go through.

    (Hence when a couple of decades later I had to call a client who had moved to Paris I was shocked how easy it was to dial directly to the client and get their answering machine.)

  28. That reminded me of the convoluted methods to call from US to Amsterdam when we first came to US in 1954. Not too many calls were made, if I remember correctly.

  29. blah blah Ginger blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Ginger blah blah blah blah blah

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