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Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Blogger Humor

I love the self-deprecating humor of cartoons about blogging and am thinking that other bloggers might be amused by these. Let me know if you can’t read what they say.

After taking my cartoons off the fridge and photographing them, I got to wondering why people blog in the first place and decided to do a Google search on the phrase “why I blog.” Turns out, quite a few bloggers have posted on that very topic.

At Medium, Rybo Chen lists eight reasons for blogging: to build character and discipline, share thoughts and lessons learned, read more and learn more, have great conversations, become a better thinker, build healthy habits, and build a personal brand. Most of those sound reasonable to me — except that I have no interest in building my personal brand. What would I do with it once it got built?

Melissa at Patheos seems to be using her blog to help her work out the effects of an unusually restrictive childhood. Or, as she puts it, “This is my own little place to think and process stuff. I have found a voice through writing here.” She originally kept her writing from people she knew and considered shutting down when she was found out. I have noticed that the blogging motivations of several visitors to my site are similar to hers.

The blogs Pinch of Yum and Sally’s Baking Addiction have the same origins: the bloggers love sharing recipes. But it’s more than that. Sally says, “That isn’t the only reason why I blog. (It was certainly the reason why I started!) As the years pass and I learn more about blogging – and myself – I’ve grown to appreciate the many blessings that blogging brings to me both professionally and personally.” She lists eight things, including “healing,” which I found intriguing.

Lindsay at Pinch of Yum — a former 4th grade teacher and current full-time blogger who lives in Minnesota with husband Bjork — lists 10 reasons for loving what she does, including helping others start their own blog and sharing photography tips in a food photography eBook.

Lauren Hooker at Elle & Co. gives six reasons she blogs, including that it enables her to share her design work and attract clients.

My reasons for doing this blog have evolved — or perhaps I should say “have clarified” — over the 7-1/2 years I’ve been writing it. At first, the wish to help Suzanne sell jewelry was equal with the pleasure of blogging, which I had been doing at work already. Suzanne and Erik said that they knew I liked it and that having a blog tied to Luna & Stella‘s contemporary birthstone-jewelry business would be helpful.

I don’t think I’ve been all that helpful, but it’s true that one time a woman wrote Suzanne that she didn’t usually like to buy from online businesses that she didn’t know but was reassured after getting a sense of what Suzanne’s Mom was like.

What has been clarified is that I enjoy the routine of writing every day and I love not only reading the curious articles but editing them. After all, I worked for years as an editor because I liked editing. There’s real satisfaction in trying to find the points that are most likely to click with readers. I also like coming up with photos — my own or borrowed — and learning the technical stuff involved in placing them.

Getting to know my commenters is also a treat, but what’s surprising is that it is a pleasure that is somehow separate from the pleasure of writing the posts. I need to think more about how that works.

Since so many of you blog, too, I’d love to hear why you do it and under what circumstances you could see yourself giving it up. I myself expect to keep going as long as I have my wits about me.

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Deltalina was one of the first to introduce a note of humor in an airline-safety video. The question is, Do passengers retain life-saving information better — or worse?

The last place most of us would look for humor is in an airline-safety video, but as Benjamin Schneider writes at CityLab, comedy in safety information has become a thing.

“Ever since the introduction of in-flight entertainment screens in the 1980s,” writes Schneider, “airline safety videos have been a quintessential feature of commercial aviation. …

“But since the late Aughts, these straight-faced public service announcements have almost completely disappeared, to be replaced by spunky pop-culture riffs, irreverent humor, and eye-catching production.

“In an industry governed by such strict regulations, there is very little airlines can do to differentiate themselves from their competition. So, in 2007, when the airline startup Virgin America sought to carve out its niche as the airline that ‘can make flying fun again, … the in-flight safety video was one of the few features that could be tinkered with. …

“In the video, an unlikely cast of characters, including a toreador and a tech-obsessed nun, demonstrate the safety instructions, while the video’s lead animator, Gordon Clark, winkingly describes their mundane acts. … ‘It made people relaxed when they sat on the plane,’ Clark said. …

“Ironically, airline safety virality was first achieved by a relatively strait-laced video from Delta in 2008. The masses became obsessed with the video’s lead presenter, whose theatrical ‘no smoking’ finger wag earned her something of a cult following, and the moniker ‘Deltalina.’ … In the ensuing years, airlines have pulled out nearly every gimmick imaginable to make their safety video a YouTube sensation. …

“No airline has pursued this strategy with the dedication of Air New Zealand, which has released 14 high-concept videos since 2009, racking up a total of 108 million views online. … [Their first] video’s popularity paved the way for ever more ambitious projects, like ‘The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made,’ a Lord of the Rings tribute complete with dwarves, elves, and battle scenes. …

“The contemporary crop of airline safety videos appear to have a contradiction at their heart. On the one hand, they are designed to compel passengers to pay attention to important safety information that they might otherwise ignore. On the other hand, the videos contain so much extraneous data that it can be difficult to catch the actual instructions. …

“[Some observers are] skeptical of their effectiveness. Brett Molesworth, an aviation researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, told the Wall Street Journal that people tend to remember the funny parts of these videos, rather than the safety instructions. … Les Dorr, an FAA spokesperson, said that the FAA is in the process of revising their guidelines for these presentations.”

More at CityLab, here.

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Photo: The Economist
A statue of Juha, the wise old fool of Arab folklore.

It’s interesting to me that all cultures seem to have something like a wonton as part of their cuisine. Jewish cooks make kreplach, Italians make ravioli, Polish cooks make pierogis, and so on. We have more in common than we often realize.

The same goes for folktales. For example, most cultures have a wise fool, like the old court jesters or Don Quixote. I just learned about an Arab example.

The Economist comments, “Western audiences have grown used to the marauding heroes of Arabic folklore. Characters like Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba instantly conjure images of hidden treasure and desperate sword fights. But in the Middle East itself, many people prefer a more down-to-earth figure: Juha, a wise old fool, and his long-suffering donkey. …

“Juha first appeared in an Arabic book of the ninth century, though this was likely adapted from an older oral tradition. From there, Juha quickly splintered to the far ends of the Mediterranean world. He followed the Arabs to Sicily, where he became known as Giufà. In Turkey, his legend merged with a Sufi mystic called Nasruddin, while the Ottomans exported him to the Balkans. Some even claim that Juha inspired Cervantes’s ‘Don Quixote.’ …

“In some tales, Juha is accompanied by his faithful donkey and much amusement springs from it getting lost. One story begins with Juha looking for the animal around town; everywhere he goes, he thanks God. People are confused. ‘Why are you praising God?’ they ask. ‘Surely this is nothing to be thankful for?’ Juha smiles. ‘If I were riding the donkey right now, I’d be lost too!’

“Not all Juha’s tales are so innocent. Like court jesters in medieval Europe, his everyman style has proved an ideal vehicle for social criticism. In one fable, Juha is approached by a proud king. ‘All the great rulers of the past had honorific titles with the name of God in them,’ he proclaims. ‘There was God-gifted, and God-accepted. Can you think of a name for me?’ Juha pauses. “God-forbid,’ comes his retort. …

“Ali Ahmed Bakathir, an Egyptian nationalist, reimagined the fable of ‘Juha’s nail’ in 1951 to mock Britain’s obsession with the Suez Canal (just as Juha keeps ownership of a single nail at his old house so he always has an excuse to visit, Bakathir suggested that the British used Suez to justify their occupation of Egypt generally). …

“Amid the confusion of the modern Middle East, Juha is one way people find common ground. Last year, storytellers from around the Gulf met in the United Arab Emirates to celebrate Juha. The internet provides another space for communal appreciation. A popular Reddit page features dozens of volunteers reading a classic Juha story in their native Arabic dialect.”

More at the Economist, including sightings of Juha in unlikely parts of the world, here.

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Gudetama, a gloomy egg yolk in a Japanese cartoon series, is one manifestation of an offbeat sense of humor that some observers see as uniquely Japanese.

Patrick Winn wrote the Global Post story.

“Is it possible to market malaise? In Japan at least, the answer is yes. Meet Gudetama, the anthropomorphic embodiment of severe depression.

“Gudetama is a cartoon egg yolk that feels existence is almost unbearable. It shivers with sadness. It clings to a strip of bacon as a security blanket. Rather than engage in society, it jams its face into an eggshell and mutters the words, ‘Cold world. What can we do about it?’

“Gudetama may hate the world beyond its shell. But the world — within Japan’s borders, at least — sure loves Gudetama.

“The misanthropic egg was introduced last year by Sanrio, a Tokyo-based corporation devoted to creating cutesy characters and licensing out their images. Its flagship character, Hello Kitty, is valued at $7 billion and appears on lunch boxes and pajama sets across the globe.

“Gudetama is following Hello Kitty’s lead. Its distressed little face now appears on fuzzy slippers, iPhone covers, plush dolls and even a themed credit card by Visa. …

“Matt Alt, a Japanese-speaking American and specialist in Japan’s pop culture, [decodes] Japan for Western audiences. [He opines that] in Japan, there’s a long history of personifying and anthropomorphizing inanimate objects.

“Gudetama is the most recent of a long, long lineage of mascot characters. Many Japanese mascots will express emotions that Western mascots would not. In the West, mascots are used almost exclusively to cheer people up. In Japan, they’re often used to get a point across or act as mediators in situations where you wouldn’t want to express yourself directly.” More here.

Some US advocates for people with mental illness object strongly to  humor on the subject (even criticizing phrases like “wild and crazy guy”). Others recognize that there are those who use humor to help themselves get well. Wonder what they would think of this egg yolk.

Photo: Sanrio

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Erik keeps tabs on health-related issues and just got an email that he thought would interest me.

He was right. I was reminded of a visit from a “laugh doctor” back when I was editor of Minnesota Physician. The laugh doctor showed us how we could get ourselves laughing. He talked about the endorphins produced and how good they were for health.

In apparent agreement, a Rhode Island clinic that serves low-income people is putting on a comedy show May 7 and inviting neighbors, patients — anyone who is up for a good laugh and willing to make a donation.

The comedy will be performed by the Providence Improv Guild at the Fête Event Space in Olneyville, RI, May 7th, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Says the Laugh for Health invitation, “Suggested donation for tickets: Giggle $10 – Chuckle $ 25 – Laughing out Loud $100 ($150 per couple). Belly Laugh $1000 and above! …

“Here at Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic — we believe in laughter and joy. We celebrate health. We laugh at ourselves. We applaud our patients. We take joy in volunteering. We consider health, not wealth, to be the most valuable asset in our community.

“And since many of our neighbors do not have the resources to receive proper healthcare, or don’t know where to be seen for their health problems and how they’ll manage to pay for it all, we are there for them.

“Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic welcomes our neighbors in need with open arms. We celebrate health, and with our patients, laugh out loud as they make the journey from illness to good health. … It’s simple to RSVP – click here.”

To learn more about Hope Clinic, visit http://www.aplacetobehealthy.org.

Photo: Hope Clinic
Members of the Providence Improv Guild will perform at a benefit for Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic May 7.

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Four years ago, I blogged about some beautiful manhole covers is Japan. Now I learn that Minneapolis also has discovered the artistic possibilities of heavy, round metal that lots of people see as they cross the street.

Eric Grundhauser writes at Slate‘s Atlas Obscura blog, “Minneapolis has made its underfoot sewer covers a point of artistic pride, with designs that celebrate the area’s art, history, and wildlife.

“In the early 1980s, Minneapolis began asking artists to design iconic manhole covers for the city. … From David Atkinson’s whimsical summer grill design to Stuart D. Kippler’s introspective geography marker, each of the covers turned what was once a mundane city feature into a unique piece of art. …

“[Kate] Burke created sculpted images of regional icons like the Minnesota state fish (the walleye), the state fruit (Halverson apple), and the state bird (loon). The detailed pieces of steel each feature tableaux of their subject that make most municipal equipment look lazy by comparison.

“Some of the covers even feature small hidden details such as a worm in the state apple, or a pheasant erupting from the bronzed image of the state grain (wild rice).” More here.

I love that the Minnesotan sense of humor is part of the artistic effort. Reminds me of Massachusetts sculptor Mags Harries, who is still associated with the bronze banana peels, orange skins, and broken crates she embedded among the produce vendors in the Haymarket in 1976.

Photo: J Wynia/Creative Commons
Manhole cover in Minneapolis.

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Kai the World Traveler and Titan of Industry knows the kind of story that catches my eye. He sent me this one from the New York Times about a street artist who spoofs Banksy, Tom Hanks, and a lot else.

John Leland writes, “This is a story about art in the age of social media

“In April 2011, a law school dropout in Bushwick, Brooklyn, newly arrived from the Midwest, had an idea that he thought might make a splash. He admired the street artist Banksy; he grew up on the movies of Tom Hanks. Why not mash up the two?

“Using simple computer software, he downloaded a Banksy painting of a rat holding a paint roller, then added an image of Mr. Hanks’s face. The whole thing took 10 or 15 minutes to create. He printed a cutout and pasted it on a wall at Mulberry and Kenmare Streets in Little Italy, signing it Hanksy.

“He photographed the wall for his Instagram and Twitter accounts, and emailed it to the Wooster Collective, a popular street art website. Then he went to sleep.

“ ‘And then it just went viral,’ Hanksy said the other day

“RJ Rushmore, who runs the street art blog Vandalog, said he was among many who initially dismissed Hanksy as an opportunist. ‘I thought it was not art, not brilliant, just taking the stupidest ideas and presenting them in ways that were very friendly for Tumblr and Instagram,’ Mr. Rushmore said. ‘It’s not art in the sense of a graffiti writer who spent 15 years developing his style.’

“Mr. Rushmore has since warmed to Hanksy, for comic relief in a scene that sometimes gets too serious. ‘He makes the best cat videos,’ he said. ‘That’s still something to be applauded.’

“Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, said more was at stake in Hanksy’s visual gags.

“ ‘It’s more than a pun,’ she said. ‘Banksy’s work is hypermasculine and serious about its underground, tough, outlaw image. And Tom Hanks is just not that guy. So the humor is putting that identity on this hyper-butch material. It’s the revenge of the nerd.’ ” More.

Photo: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Street artist Hanksy merged Banksy’s famous rat with Tom Hanks.

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