Christ is born! Happy feast day of Saints Sylvester and Seraphim of Sarov!
Recently, I followed a link in an essay by John Derbyshire to one of his National Review pieces from seven years ago: “When Foreigners Were Funny.” I remember reading the piece when he first published it. As usual, Derbyshire shows himself to be an insightful man and a contrarian against contemporary dogma. The article reminds me of another of Derbyshire’s essays where he commends ethnic jokes as a method of diffusing tension in multiethnic neighborhoods, as in early twentieth century New York—but I cannot find it now. A search for John Derbyshire, ethnic humor, tension, and similar terms brings up scores of sites in which folks comment upon his departure from Buckley’s magazine, but I wasn’t able to find the piece (though I did find a good one by Steve Sailer: “Why Ethnic Humor Is Funny”). Anyway, Derbyshire updated “When Foreigners Were Funny” with a link to an entertaining sketch with Catherine Tate, who played Donna Noble on Doctor Who:
As one would expect, many of the YouTube and other online comments judge the piece to be “racist” (thankfully, most enjoy the humor). Others point out that it is subversively “racist” because it allows viewers to indulge in their naughty “racist” attitudes while pretending to laugh at the ignorance of Tate’s character. Of course, Tate’s character is a buffoon and ridiculously over her head in the situation, which we find humorous, but the piece is also funny because foreigners (and foreign languages) are funny—for many reasons, including Derbyshire’s and Sailer’s points previously linked. A related reason to Sailer’s is the joy that we human beings find in the spectacle of man in all his diversity. The recognition of convention (that all men do not behave as we do) and of the road not traveled (look how weird those Polynesians are with their genital gourds) is exciting and endlessly amusing. Yet, the current masters of discourse disapprove. Isn’t it strange that the contemporary folks most incensed by ethnic humor are the ones who pretend to champion multicultural learning? Isn’t it odd that the self avowed multiculturalists appear so ill equipped to admit or even to recognize both the universality of human nature and the many peculiar instantiations thereof. It is sad that they stunt themselves (and everyone else) so. Humor—including ethnic humor—is a most worthy topic of investigation. Aristotle certainly thought so (much to the chagrin of Eco’s characters in The Name of the Rose). Much profundity, observation, and intelligence are required in order to understand humor. Why do you think there are so many Jewish comedians?
Second City has fun with business cards:
The muffin lady is a kindred spirit.
Much has happened in the last few months while I have neglected Arimathea. Suffice it for me to say how thankful I am that Russia has helped the United States to avoid another disastrous entanglement in the Middle East. The consequent wailing and gnashing of teeth, the partisan cheap shots, and the ridiculous reminders of how inept the American political leadership class is all have been dismaying but amusing for my cynical soul. Ideologues make for poor strategic thinkers, and the members of the American elite have become grossly perverted liberal democratic ideologues.
In this, Republicans may still be worse. Is there a war that John McCain and Lindsey Graham won’t support? That is sincere question. However, it heartens me that some American conservatives are finally (well over a decade too late) coming to the realization that their Cold War reference points no longer match reality. Change is hard, though. I recently heard Newt Gingrich and Condoleezza Rice spew their Russophobic venom and neocon “analysis.” Rice should know better, but she reminds us of the old saying that when one only has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. She spent her life studying the Soviet menace, and she reduces the global stage to her familiar Cold War libretto. I remember having a fit during her address at one of the Republican presidential conventions. The woman is a broken record that cracked in the 80’s—she reminds me of the sadly ever relevant Nate the Neocon. Indeed, if there is a silver lining to Obama’s two terms, it is that the true believers in our liberal missionary wars have been largely sequestered from power. Obama is not a true believer; I suspect that his hawkish pose is merely domestic political posturing. Fortunately, some Republicans are waking; no longer is poor old Patrick Buchanan the only man on the Right who sees the new landscape.
Though “conservatives” are blameworthy in their belligerent consistency, it was somewhat entertaining for me to watch the spectacle of the anti-war Left drum up support for bombing yet another Arab despot before Vladimir threw the president a lifeline. Our betrayal of Mubarak and the bipartisan hypocrisy in Kadafi’s downfall were worse, but the campaign to attack Assad—by assisting cannibalistic jihadists—ranks up there among egregious episodes of American foreign policy idiocy. Yet, wrongheadedness comes easily to democracy. For many among America’s elite supported the Bolsheviks during the Russian revolution and civil war. Blind, wicked ideologues! Anyway, comedians found the political absurdity a target rich environment. On Fr. Z.‘s blog, I discovered the following delightful image:
I sent the link to friends and family, and my brother Aaron responded by one-upping me with this brilliant video from Second City:
The very next day, Fr. Z. himself posted the satirical video. It just goes to show how quickly information travels among those conspiratorial papists!
I hope that my fellow old calendarists had a lovely ecclesial new year over the weekend. I have been absent for several weeks, but I assure you that the break was time well spent. For today, I simply offer a warm and humorous piece on improv by Charlie Todd:
Play is good.
For some laughs at the Russkies’ expense, here is Olya Povlatsky on Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update.”
My friend Andrew thinks that this woman goes to every parish that he has attended.
Below is a clever illustration of fool’s mathematics, courtesy of Pa Kettle:
It does take a brilliant mind to capture rank stupidity in an artful manner. Mike Judge has his detractors, but I admire his ability to distill and to serve idiocy. Consider, for example, the argumentation about Brawndo in Idiocracy. Only genius could mock subrational discourse so well.
Last week, I found a delightful story online about a woman who bought a bible earlier in the year in order to compare translations but found her sixty-five year old Girl Scout essay enclosed in holy writ.The woman—and the essay—are from Covington, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. However, she found the book in her current town of San Clemente, California. How wonderfully unlikely. Here is the video from CBS Los Angeles:
It seems rather providential.
Christus ist auferstanden!
Some time ago, I read a charming story in the Daily Mail about a German fellow who built an elaborate model airport: “Honey, I shrunk the Flughafen: German builds world’s largest model airport.” You may watch the attached video dieses Flughafens.
Some folks criticize such endeavors as wastes of time and the people behind them as freaks or losers. I do not share that sentiment. Rather, I see human existence justified in every eccentric man’s quest for something noble, beautiful, or excellent, even in miniature.
Cristo è risorto!
Lutheran Satire made an amusing “game show” after Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement in February. It offers a fine commentary on the armies of “devout Catholics” whom the media always consult when covering matters Roman.
If only she had claimed infallible authority because, well, you know, like, she totally knows everything about the faith because she, like, you know, went to Catholic schools for thirteen years.
Though I am an Ohioan, I have never been to an O.S.U. game, and I have never been a fan. As noted in “Cincinnati Yesteryear,” denizens of the Queen City find their identity in the polis, not the State. I did have an Ohio State Buckeyes sweatshirt when I was in elementary school, but that is because I fancied the buckeye and leaf design. However, after I watched the following clip, I want to make hajj to the Horseshoe. For I have never seen a more entertaining halftime show. Here is the Buckeyes’ tribute to video game history:
Who would have thought that music dorks would celebrate gaming geeks in the holy temple of American jockdom?