Some More Russian Humor

Here are more examples of Russian humor:

1.  During a class in the theory of probability, the professor asks:  ” Which is more likely to occur,  the birth of a boy or a girl?”  A student answers:  “The birth of a Chinese boy.”

2.  In Germany, what is permitted is permitted, and what is forbidden is forbidden.  In France, what is permitted is permitted, and what is forbidden is also permitted.  In Russia, what is forbidden is forbidden, and what is permitted is also forbidden.

3.  When bad little girls die, they go to heaven to serve good little boys.

King Machush The First And The U.S., Part 1.

King Machush the First is celebrated throughout Poland and Europe as a masterpiece of children’s literature.  However, despite at least four English translations of Janusz Korczak’s work, it has not taken hold in the U.S.  I believe there are many reasons for this.  However, before discussing them, I’d like to comment on the story itself.  Professor Suchodolski tells us that it is precisely in this novel that Korczak’s deepest hopes and disillusions find their expression.  Marek Jaworski views King Machush the First as a rare entity in world literature comparable in depth of interpretation to Alice in Wonderland, and Gulliver’s Travels.  Indeed, throughout the novel Korczak works on many planes employing humor, shock and reason to convey his thoughts.  Jaworski notes that the fantastic and unreal blend with a psychological character into a whole.

The novel begins in a whimsical, comical vein, then changes into a realistic descriptive one.  The change can be unsettling to the reader.  When Machush learns about the horror and futility of war, few details are spared.  And even when Korczak returns to a playful manner, the reader feels the presence of a dark threat that is ready to destroy King Machush’s world at any moment.  The conflict between the child’s world and the adult world becomes menacing and cruel.  However, Korczak also shows how adult behavior parallels a child’s:  the ministers are just as greedy as the children who ask Machush for gifts;  the Melancholy King’s parliament is just as ineffective and unruly as the children’s;  Machush’s construction of a doll for a girl is paralleled by the ministers’ construction of an elaborate Machush doll when he disappears in a war.  Another Korczak theme concerns civilization.  What does it mean to be civilized?  He reverses our expectations by showing that the African Kings are Machush’s true friends, and Princess Klu-Klu becomes a staunch supporter and ally in Machush’s quest for reform.  She is shown as being a capable learner, just as agile in outdoor sports as boys and willing to speak her mind without fear.  The Young King, who is jealous of Machush’s success, is shown to be more of a child than Machush.  Perhaps, the Young King is a child that has grown up “the wrong way.”  It is he who is the most selfish, and would rather cover up his loss in war time by piling up ammunition rather than help people as Machush does.  Machush learns to think about people less fortunate than himself, while the Young King never does. 

A Pool Of Memories

My Grandma Lillian’s swimming pool provided a treasure of childhood memories.  Since my family lived next door to her, summer visits to the pool were frequent.  I recall the flashes of brown and green as fins dropped to the bottom.  Later, these fins served as bats when we played pool baseball.  If you hit the rubber ball over the diving board, you were given a home run.  Any ball hit on the side was ruled a foul ball.  To throw a swimmer out, you needed to hit the designated base before the swimmer.  In those halcyon days, energy didn’t seem to be a factor.  And when we did get tired, we were usually rewarded with hot dogs, and paper cups of cold, sparkling lemonade.

The right side of the pool displayed a jacuzzi-like effect, because that’s where the recycled water shot into the pool.  I remember water spurting all over my skin.  The left side of the pool provided another attraction:  the filter.  I remember Dad dropping in a colorful display of liquids, and the flushing sound as the filter went about it’s business.  I also recall Dad holding a large jug of chlorine, which later burned our eyes and got into our lungs.

When our basset hound, Peter, was around, we’d take him into the pool area, because his brother, Adam, lived on the other side of the wire fence.  It was amusing to see the dogs approach each other and look into each other’s deep, doleful eyes.  The bassets continued to meet until Adam was poisoned.  Peter looked for him, but never found him.

A jump in the pool was just the thing to dispel thoughts of ringed atolls, complex numbers, and future exams.  These thoughts washed way in frolicsome play.  Water became the main focus and doing laps via crawl or frog kicks was just the thing.  And lying flat on your back or grabbing some object to float on was the order of the day.  Time was never thought of, but  was present nonetheless.  High school, which seemed like a distant vision, had become only too real as well as college, which was approaching.  Soon, unbeknownst to me, the gates to Grandma Lillian’s pool would never admit me again.  And when the gates would open, they would belong to another family, building their own pool of memories.

A Few Samples Of Humor

Here are a few samples of humor:

1.  What did the patient say to the endodontist who pushed him by accident during a procedure?  “You’ve got some nerve.”

2.  A criminal scheduled for lethal injection was overjoyed that his execution would take place in Ashland, Oregon.  When his friend asked him why, the criminal replied:  “In Ashland they use all natural ingredients.”

3.  Putin is building a coffin on Red Square, so he can change places with Medvedev.