Monday, June 29, 2009

Randutiae for Moving Day

"[Inspector Parker] awoke, after a long day of arduous and inconclusive labour, to the smell of burnt porridge. Through his bedroom window, hygienically open top and bottom, a raw fog was rolling slowly in, and the sight of a pair of winter pants, flung hastily over a chair the previous night, fretted him with a sense of the sordid absurdity of the human form. The telephone bell rang, and he crawled wretchedly out of bed and into the sitting-room, where Mrs. Munns, who did for him by the day, was laying the table, sneezing as she went."

-From Whose Body, a Lord Peter mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers

While wedged behind my washer and dryer the other day, disconnecting that spaceman arm thingy (you know that spaceman arm thingy that connects the dryer to the wall?) and the water tubes, I found myself contemplating the absurdity of the human form. I really did look very silly. The only way I could get back there was to invert myself and stick one leg into the air.

Do you have any favorite funny passages from books? Feel free to share. Laughter will help alleviate the misery of moving.

In other news, watch children's writer Tui Sutherland on Jeopardy tonight! Tui writes under her own name and under a couple of aliases, including Erin Hunter (she wrote Books One and Three of the Seekers series). She is also my friend, fellow Williams alum, and soon-to-be neighbor. (BTW, if you happened to watch Jeopardy on Friday... well, that smart cookie who won? That was Tui. Tonight is her second night on the show. My bad for not giving y'all a head's up last week. Things are a little crazy right now, what with the move and all.)

Have a peaceful week, everyone.

13 comments:

Amanda said...

well, it's not a funny passage, really, but i love it (and it's a good, calming message to remember during moving time!):

"all by herself, phoebe had acquired a new hobby. it was her own invention, nobody had helped her, nobody but phoebe would have even thought of it. you filled a bucket with water, tied a bit of string on the end of a stick, held the stick over the water, and there you were. fishing in a bucket. the total happiness of the activity was very soothing. it was the perfect sport. the emotional stresses of success or failure being eliminated left one entirely free to enjoy the pleasures of the moment."

--the exiles, hilary mckay

Kate F. said...

Doesn't Parker then proceed to 110 Piccadilly and find Peter luxuriating in a scented bath prior to his lavish breakfast? I seem to recall a particularly loving description on Bunter's eggs in that bit.

Now that I'm thinking of Sayers, I have trouble jumping to funny passages in other favorites. I give you this example of fantastic parenting, from the short story Talboys:

"Peter at that moment was not looking or behaving like fifty-two, but he was rapidly reverting to a much more ancient and early type than the English landed gentleman. He had, with some difficulty, retrieved the serpent from the ash-hole, and now sat on a heap of clinker, watching it as it squirmed at the bottom of the bucket.
"Golly, what a whopper!" he said, reverently. "How did you catch him, old man?"
"Well, we went to get minnows, and he came swimming along, and Joey Maggs caught him in his net. And he wanted to kill him along of biting, but I said he couldn' bite, 'cos you told me the difference between snakes. And Joe bet me I wouldn't let him bite me, an' I said I didn' mind and he said, Is it a dare? an' I said, Yes, if I can have him afterwards, so I let him bite me, only of course he didn' bite an' George helped me bring him back in the bucket."
"Yes, but I knew he wasn't a nadder. And please, sir, will you give me a net, 'cos Joe's got a lovely big one, only he was awfully late this morning and we thought he wasn't coming, and he said somebody had hidden his net."
"Did he? That's very interesting."
"Yes. May I have a net, please?"
"You may."
"Oh, thank you, Father. May I keep him, please, and what does he live on?"
"Beetles, I think." Peter plunged his hand into the bucket, and the snake wound itself about his wrist and slithered along his arm. "Come on, Cuthbert. You remind me of when I was at my prep. school, and we put on the dead spit of you into--" He caught himself, too late.
"Where, Father?"
"Well, there was a master we all hated, and we put a snake in his bed. It's rather frequently done. In fact, I believe it's what grass-snakes are for."
"Is it very naughty to put snake's in people you don't like's beds?"
"Yes. Exceedingly naughty. No nice boy would ever think of doing such a thing. . . . "I say, Bredon--"
....[For context, they have a perfectly terrible houseguest.]...
...at that instant, in the furnace-room, over the body of the writhing Cuthbert, square-face and hatchet-face stared at one another and grew into an awful, imposh likeness.
"Oh, Father!"
"I don't know what your mother will say. We shall get into the most frightful trouble. You'd better leave it to me, Cut along now, and ask Bunter if he's got such a thing as a strong flour-bag and a stout piece of string, because you'll never make Cuthbert stay in this bucket. And for God's sake, don't go about looking like Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Treason."

A. Grey said...

I'll have to get back to you with a book passage because I'm at work and haven't got any good books with me. But in the meantime, I do have a funny, and true stroy that might make you smile.

A couple of weeks ago we got a load of five hundred hay bales delivered to the farm, which we had to unlaod by hand. It hit ninety degrees that day, so by the time I got home, I was pretty rank. Since no one else was there, and my clothes still had hay particles in them, I stripped down on the porch and went inside wearing just my underwear and bra. I flipped the radio on and went to stand in front of the air conditioner to cool off. Meanwhile, the cats began congregating in the kitchen, knowing that dinner wasn't far off. Before I could get the cat food out, a great song came on (Eiffel 65's Blue) and I couldn't help but dance to it.

So I'm dancing (badly) all over the kitchen in my underdrawers and the UPS man rings the doorbell, only I can't hear it over the radio. So he comes up onto the porch to knock on the door, and as I pass in front of the stormglass gyrating, I see him. Obviously, I'm astonished, and I immediately turn to bolt for cover. Problem is, my dad's thirty pound cat, Griff, has flopped down in the floor behind me. So when I turn, I catch my foot under him and fly through the air to land spread eagle in the doorway to the living room. The sound of the crash, which send cats running in all directions, wakes up my ancient chow-mix, Autumn. She trundles into the kitchen, clambering right overtop of me and proceeds to start barking in a monotone, repetitive yap at the UPS man, who's standing at the door with his mouth hanging open. By the time I dragged myself upright, the UPS guy had figured out how to walk again and was high-tailing it to his truck. I haven't seen him since. :)

tinkandalissa said...

I also do not have a good book passage since I am at work, but I do have a similar story to A's (Yikes, by the way, A!). I was busting my butt in my yard all weekend. At least 10hrs Saturday and in the midst of a long day Sunday, as well. Despite the horrible 90+ temps, I was wearing pants, because, let's face it, my legs are much too white to see the sun w/o risk of frying.
Apparently there were ants that had taken up residence in a rather large portion of my garden. Of course, these are some kind of sneaky ninja ants and there were no visible signs above ground that they were even there. So, I am digging and tilling away and suddenly begin to feel a horrible stinging all over my right leg. I scratched, but it got worse. I looked down and saw that ants were swarming all over me! I'm on the side of the house w/o the gate into the back yard, which, by the way, is messed up anyway and needs to be fixed, so can't really be opened easily right now. I run screeching past my husband into the house, pass my Nana, still screeching, dodging dogs like an obstacle course (because of course they think I am playing some awesomely fun game) and into the back yard where I immediately stripped down to my bra and undies (thank god for the wooden privacy fence) and discarded the ant colony that had attacked me. Nana came outside to see what the hell was wrong with me. I explained that I now understood where the saying "ants in your pants" comes from. As she was laughing her ass off at me, she was kind enough to point out that the house behind ours, which is on a big hill, could very easily see over our privacy fence. Oops.
So, now you have two good laughs to cheer you up out of your moving mood!

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Anonymous said...

one of my favorite passages that is worth a laugh that i read recently is from slept away by julie kraut:
"What had I done in a past life to deserve this? Put gum in a handucapped person's hair and then pushed her and her wheelchair into oncoming traffic while I stole her boyfriend and called her mother a slut?"
the entire book is filled with humor, but that passage was one that stuck out as super hilarious.
RAM

Angie said...

Not many writers can make me laugh out loud - enough to bring tears to my eyes anyway - like David Sedaris. There are several passages I'd like to put here that are definitely not PG, but I'll stick with this one:

"We were not a hugging people. In terms of emotional comfort it was our belief that no amount of physical contact could match the healing powers of a well made cocktail."

A and Tink - I feel your pain - and wish I could've been a fly on the wall! What great stories to share. Thank you!

A. Grey said...

Alright, I'm back with a genuine passage, an article really. It was the first one that popped into my head when you were describing your washer and dryer struggle but I had to find it so I could get it right.

Lost Socks in Washer - May 28, 1969

Don't tell me about the scientific advances of the twentieth century. So men are planning a trip to the moon. So computers run every large industry in America. So body organs are being transplanted like perennials.
Big deal! You show me a washer that will launder a pair of socks and return them to you as a pair and I'll light a firecracker. I never had what you would call a good relationship with washers. They either froth at the lid, walk across the utility room or just plain quit. But mostly they have a sock deficiency that defies reason.
Men don't understand this. They are too rational. My washer repairman leads the list.
"If your socks don't come out even, lady, that means you didn't put them in even." he said flatly.
I looked at him closely. (How can you trust a repairman who looks like Barnabas on Dark Shadows?) "I remember distinctly gathering them two by two. Believe me, Noah didn't do a more complete job. I took two black ones from my son's sleeping feet, a red pair from the tennis bag, a stiff pair from his ceiling, a mud-caked pair from the glove compartment of the car and a moldy pair from two boots. You can see for yourself I have only one of each. The mates have disappeared."
"You've got a pale blue pair that match." he said.
"Of course we've got a pale blue pair, you cluck. We hate the pale blue pair. They come out of the washer even when we don't put them in. This washer is just plain insolent. Don't you understand that?"
"I mean no disrespect, lady." he stammered, "but you aren't a tippler are you?"
"I think inside that washer is a little trap door that pulls one sock from each pair and holds it captive. Somewhere in the machine lies a secret treasure house of mismatched socks."
"Maybe just a little cold one to get you through the ironing?"
"If we could just find it, do you know what that would mean?"
"Get hold of yourself, lady, they're probably clogging up the pump, I'll take a look."
Exactly $12.50 later, the repairman shook his head. "The pump is clean. Tell you what. Why don't you put the socks in a little bag and-"
"I have put them in a little bag by twos, and you know what? When I take the little bag out, every snap is in place and still there is one sock missing from every pair. I tell you I can't go on much longer like this. Not knowing where the next sock will disappear. Having the children go around with one foot bandaged all the time. What's a mother to do?"
"For starters, lady, I'd keep the bleach away from my nose. And if that didn't work, maybe you and your friend could get on the Ed Sullivan Show."
I told you the didn't understand.

- Erma Bombeck

tinkandalissa said...

I still have no funny excerpts for you, but thought this (you should watch the video clip) would make you smile: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/02/assignment_america/main4696340.shtml

tinkandalissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tinkandalissa said...

here
ok...i'm hoping this works.

kristin cashore said...

thanks for the stories, passages, and links, everyone :o). still not to my destination, but i am enjoying some fireworks through the window!

Anonymous said...

Some books make me just crack up. Like once, I was reading The Lightning Thief and I couldn't stop laughing at all the funny comments percy (the main character) makes throughout. Another book that makes me laugh hard and long is Harry Potter, yes you may not think that it has funny bits, but its not all about Harrry defeating Voldemort. One of my favorite passages is this:
"'see,' he explained to Aunt Petunia through a mouthful of nails, 'if they can't deliver them they'll just give up.'
'i'm not sure that will work, vernon.;
'oh, these peoples minds work in strange ways, Petunia, they're not like you and me.' said Uncle Vernon, trying to knock in a nail with the piece of fruitcake Aunt Petunia had just brought him."
-Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, by JK Rowling
-caroline
P.S. Kristen, Graceling is one of the best books i have ever read, and i can't wait for Fire