Childish humour

I know I shouldn't laugh but this story about a Canadian newspaper raised a snigger. You see the film staff wanted a temporary reprieve from the Toronto Star's obscenity policy so that they could use the full title of a new film: Young People Fucking. The editor-in-chief said no. His name? Fred Kuntz.

(I told you it was childish.)

Steve Martin rewrites Kundera

Steve Martin is one of those comedians I can take or leave. Usually, I leave him. He always seems just a little too pleased with himself. And he was in Dirty Rotten Scroundels. Nevertheless, he has his moments and here's one of them. Writing is Easy! is one of the columns Martin wrote for the New Yorker (you can read more at The Compleat Steve). He explains just how easy writing actually is and how much better it comes out if you do it in California:

I feel sorry for writers - and there are some pretty famous ones - who live in places like South America and Czechoslovakia, where I imagine it gets pretty dank. These writers are easy to spot. Their books are often filled with disease and negativity. If you're going to write about disease, I would say California is the place to do it. Dwarfism is never funny but look at what happened when it was dealt with in California. Seven happy dwarfs.

He goes on

I took the following passage, which was no doubt written in some depressing place, and attempted to rewrite it under the sunny influence of California:

"Most people deceive themselves with a pair of faiths: they believe in eternal memory (of people, things, deeds, nations) and in redressibility (of deeds, mistakes, sins, wrongs). Both are false faiths. In reality the opposite is true: everything will be forgotten and nothing will be redressed." - Milan Kundera.

Sitting in my garden, watching the bees glide from flower to flower, I let the above paragraph filter through my mind. The following New Paragraph emerged:

"I feel pretty,

"Oh so pretty,

"I feel pretty, and witty, and bright."

Kundera was just too wordy. Sometimes the delete key is your best friend.

The Darwin Awards 2006

The Darwin Awards originated as a series of emails which were passed around the internet in the early 1990s. They mixed real deaths and urban myths and celebrated people that had, as a result of their own stupidity, removed themselves from the gene pool. As this article on Snopes explains, websites then sprang up to chronicle these tales. Most of them faded away but darwinawards.com remains and takes it upon itself to issue a new set of awards each year.

The 2006 winners include a man who died trying to disassemble a rocket propelled grenade with a sledgehammer, a pastor who drowned while attempting to walk on water to demonstrate the power of faith and a couple who asphyxiated themselves by climbing into an eight foot helium balloon.

My all-time favourite Darwin Award contender is "Lawnchair" Larry Walters, who received an honourable mention for his 1982 flight in his patio chair. Larry attached 45 helium-filled weather balloons to his chair, donned a helmet and parachute, armed himself with a pellet gun to shoot the balloons when he wanted to come down and took off from his California garden.

Larry also had a CB radio, a camera, sandwiches and some soft drinks with him. His chair was tethered to the bumper of his Jeep and he intended to reach a height of 100 feet. However, when his 'ground crew' cut the first tether, the second one broke unexpectedly, sending Larry into the air at around 1,000 feet per minute.

Too scared to shoot out any of the balloons in case he unbalanced his chair, Larry soared to 16,000 feet and drifted into the flight path of nearby Long Beach airport. Pilots reported his flight to ground control.

Eventually Larry began to shoot out balloons and slowly descended, eventually becoming entangled in power lines and cutting power to Long Beach for 20 minutes. He was arrested on landing. When asked by a reporter why he had done it, Larry replied: "A man can't just sit around."

You can hear a recording of Larry's CB conversations during his flight at Mark Barry's site.