IN A WORD . . .

(From Rich Gay) Letís face it -- English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins werenít invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which arenít sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers donít fing, grocers donít groce and hammers donít ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isnít he plural of both beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

Doesnít it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didnít preacher praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isnít a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.




OWATONNA, Minn (AP) Thanks to the Black Knight: Roy Collette and his brother-in-law have been exchanging the same pair of pants as a Christmas present for 11 years - and each time the package gets harder to open. This year the pants came wrapped in the glove compartment of a 1974 Gremlin mashed into a 3-foot cube. Now Colletteís plotting his revenge--if he can get them out.

It all started when Collette received a pair of moleskin trousers from his brother-in-law, Larry Kunkel of Bensenville, Ill. Kunkelís mother had given her son the britches when he was a college student and after he wore them a few times, they froze stiff in cold weather, so he gave them to Collette. Collette, who called the moleskins "miserable", wore them three times, then wrapped them up and gave them back to Kunkel for Christmas the next year.

The friendly exchange continued routinely until Collette twisted the pants tightly, stuffed them into a 3-foot-long, 1-inch wide tube and gave them back to Kunkel. The next Christmas, Kunkel compressed the pants into a 7-inch square, wrapped them with wire and gave the "bale" to Collette.

Not to be outdone, the next year Collette put the pants into 2-foot-square crate filled with stones, nailed it shut, banded it with steel and gave the trusty trousers back to Kunkel.

The brothers agreed to end the caper if the trousers were damaged. But they were as careful as they were clever. Kunkel had the pants mounted inside an insulated window that had a 20-year guarantee and shipped them off to Collette. Collette broke the glass, recovered the trousers, stuffed them into a 5-inch coffee can and soldered it shut. The can was put in a 5-gallon container filled with concrete and reinforcing rods and given to Kunkel the following Christmas.

Two years ago, Kunkel installed the pants in a 225-pound homemade steel ashtray made from 8-inch steel casings and etched Colletteís name on the side. Collette had trouble retrieving the treasured trousers, but succeeded without burning them with a cutting torch.

Last Christmas, Collette found a 600-pound safe and hauled it to Viracon Inc. in Owatonna, where the shipping department decorated it with red and green stripes, put the pants inside and welded the safe shut. The safe was then shipped to Kunkel, who is the plant manager for Viraconís outlet in Bensenville.

Last week, the pants were trucked to Owatonna, 55 miles south of Minneapolis, in a drab green, 3-foot cube that once was a car with 95,000 miles on it. A note attached to the 2,000-pound scrunched car advised Collette that the pants were inside the glove compartment. "This will take some planning," Collette said. "I will definitely get them out. Iím confident." But heís waiting until January to think about how to recover the bothersome britches.

"Wait until next year," he warned. "Iím on the offensive again."




From Canada Cat Simril Ishikawa. Some answers given by students who took a Bible knowledge test, from the Saturday Vancouver Sun:

  1. The first book of the Bible is Guinessis in which Adam and Eve were created from an apple
  2. Noahís wife was Joan of Ark
  3. Lotís wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night
  4. Samson played the Philistines with the axe of the apostles
  5. Unleavened bread is bread made with no ingredients
  6. Moses went to the top of Mt. Cyanide to get the 10 Commandments
  7. The seventh commandment is, "thou shalt not admit adultery"
  8. Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol
  9. Solomon had 300 wives and 700 porcupines
  10. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption
  11. The people who followed Jesus were called the 12 decibels
  12. The epistles were the wives of the apostles
  13. One of the opossums was St. Matthew
  14. Salome danced in 7 veils in front of King Harrodís
  15. Paul preached acrimony, which is another name for marriage
  16. David fought the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times
  17. A Christian should have only one wife. This is called monotony
  18. The Jews had trouble throughout their history with unsympathetic Genitals




PAT BUCHANNAN VIRUS: Your system works fine, but it complains loudly about foreign software.

COLIN POWELL VIRUS: Makes its presence known, but doesnít do anything. Secretly, you wish it would.

HILLARY CLINTON VIRUS: Files disappear, only to reappear mysteriously a year later, in another directory.

O.J. SIMPSON VIRUS: You know itís guilty of trashing your system, but you just canít prove it.

BOB DOLE VIRUS: Could be virulent, but itís been around too long to be much of a threat.

STEVE FORBES VIRUS: All files are reported as the same size.

PAUL REVERE VIRUS: This revolutionary virus does not horse around. It warns you of an impending hard disk attack: Once if by LAN; twice if by C.

POLITICALLY CORRECT VIRUS: Never identifies itself as a "virus", but instead refers to itself as an "electronic micro-organism".

ROSS PEROT VIRUS: Activates every component in your system, just before the whole thing quits.

TED TURNER VIRUS: Colorizes your monochrome monitor.

DAN QUAYLE VIRUS #2: Their is sumthing rong with your komputer, but ewe cant figyour outt watt!

GOVERNMENT ECONOMIST VIRUS: Nothing works, but all your diagnostic software says everything is fine.

NEW WORLD ORDER VIRUS: Probably harmless, but it makes a lot of people really mad just thinking about it.

FEDERAL BUREAUCRAT VIRUS: Divides your hard disk into hundreds of little units, each of which does practically nothing, but all of which claim to be the most important part of your computer.

GALLUP VIRUS: Sixty percent of the PCís infected will lose 30 percent of their data 14 percent of the time (plus or minus a 3.5 percent margin of error).

TEXAS VIRUS: Makes sure that itís bigger than any other file.

ADAM AND EVE VIRUS: Takes a couple of bytes out of your Apple.

CONGRESSIONAL VIRUS: The computer locks up, and the screen splits in half with the same message appearing on each side of the screen. The message says that the blame for the gridlock is caused by the other side.

AIRLINE VIRUS: Youíre in Dallas, but your data is in Singapore.

FREUDIAN VIRUS: Your computer becomes obsessed with marrying itís own motherboard.

PBS VIRUS: Your programs stop every few minutes to ask for money.

ELVIS VIRUS: Your computer gets fat, slow, and lazy, then self-destructs, only to resurface at shopping malls and service stations across rural America.

OLLIE NORTH VIRUS: Causes your printer to become a paper shredder.

NIKE VIRUS: Just does it.

SEARS VIRUS: Your data wonít appear unless you order new cables, power supply, and a set of shocks.

JIMMY HOFFA VIRUS: Your programs can never be found again.

KEVORKIAN VIRUS: Helps your computer shut down as an act of mercy.

STAR TREK VIRUS: Invades your system in places where no virus has gone before.

HEALTH CARE VIRUS: Tests your system for a day, finds nothing wrong, and sends you a bill for $4500.

(Smileymail by way of the Black Knight)




(From STEVE WILLARD -- thanks to Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law)




Someone perturbed about shaving his head.



Someone who can smile despite the fact that one eyes is bigger than the other.



Someone surprised about having two double chins.



Cyclops smiling.



Someone not too happy about having only one eye.



Someone so excited his mouth has become deformed.



Someone trying to smile and frown at the same time.



Someone who is very happy about having hair.



Sherlock Holmes.



Someone who is unhappy about having nobody to talk to, the reason being that he has a large alligator on his head.



Someone unhappy about having his nose replaced with a mine from Minesweeper.


~0E): [

Someone whoís not so happy about carrying a three legged octopus on his head which smells bad.


Dave Barryís symbol for person who has just discovered with alarm that he has a tapeworm in his stomach.



A talking duck waddles into a stop Ďní rob and asks the salesguy, "Got any grapes?" "No," answered the guy. The duck waddles out. A little later it returns and asks, "Got any grapes?" The clerk replies, "No! Like I told you fifteen minutes ago--I donít have any grapes!" The duck leaves. Fifteen minutes later heís back again, asking, "Got any grapes?" In a real snit now, the clerk yells, "No I donít have any goddamn grapes! You come back in here again, Iíll nail your webbed feet to the floor!" Later that day the duck comes back and asks the guy, "Got any nails?" The guy says "NO!" The duck replies, "Got any grapes?"




WASHINGTON D.C. (Reuter Information Service) - Vice President Al Gore announced three new bond measures to fund the arts. The Bonds will have to receive Congressional approval but not all three are expected to pass because the first, supported by and named after Ross Perot does not mature, the second, the Clinton Bond, has no principle, and the third, the Dole Bond, has no interest.


Published 11/10/96


© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor