Archive for October, 2012


You don’t want to be drinking a cup of hot tea when something or someone makes you laugh.  I’m sure you don’t need to know what happened when that happened to me this morning, but I will need to wash my red placemat. Fortunately I wasn’t chewing on one of my chocolate chip cookies at the time.

I guess what happened would be called a snort. It’s not one of the action words listed in my Thesaurus, however, but there are such choices as chuckle, giggle, snicker, chortle, guffaw, roar and cackle. None of those seem to fit although they all come under the heading of laughter.

All of us don’t agree on what is funny and some of us laugh a lot more often than others. Kids provide a lot of laughs but sometimes when we are laughing, the parent may be screaming. And what kids find funny with each other often makes adults roll their eyes and think, “I don’t get it.”

I was thinking the other day about the old Road Runner cartoons and the Three Stooges movies. There is a great deal of violence in both and yet it’s hard for most of us to stop laughing while watching the characters bash each other over the head. And it’s really interesting that we can also recognize that those actions are not appropriate to do in “real” life.

We think about kids and animals and cartoons and comedians and standup comics and clowns being able to make us laugh, but many other things do the same. It always seems that art is serious and music is many other things but not funny. Not true and I don’t mean just because someone doesn’t draw well or the singer is off key. There are funny pieces of art to be found in galleries and museums and also songs that make us laugh.

What causes us to laugh may be accidental or the intent may be to make you fall off of your chair because the comedian is so funny, or the humor may be designed to make us simply smile.

Enjoying humor requires intelligence and sophistication. Yes, even if it is slapstick. The very earliest humans certainly couldn’t communicate the way we do and probably didn’t find running away from a tiger to be funny.  Our appreciation of humor has developed over the years.

But, whatever it is that makes us laugh, we should just be happy that we have been given the gift of knowing how to produce a grin, giggle or guffaw.  Even a snort.

COMING NEXT:  Hobbies Should Be Fun



Chances are that you and your friends haven’t sat around lately talking about your voices unless one of you has bronchitis or is an opera singer. By the way, hot tea with honey, which I am drinking now with my chocolate chip cookie, is soothing for a sore throat.

Picking voice talent for radio commercials was once part of my job as an advertising copywriter. It was great fun and offered some surprises, especially when booking men. Sometimes a deep, lush voice made me think of a tall, handsome man. But when the talent arrived to record, he might be short and only cute. It didn’t matter because this was radio.

One time I had to find a voice to fit a funny monster toy. I had no idea who the man was that I had booked until he walked in and I saw that he was famous for playing a monster on television.  I chose talent from sound tapes sent to me by agents.

What got me started thinking about voices was a phone call. I was calling, I thought, a man who does home repairs, but I made a mistake and called the phone of his grown son. I know them both well and they both have the same name. One is Junior. The call was one of those French farces where everything gets mixed up, because I thought I was talking to his dad. After I got off the phone, I realized that although he sounds much like his dad, his voice is quite a bit deeper.

Many of us sound like one of our parents but none of us sound exactly like another person. Voices are as unique as fingerprints and are often used that way for security identification purposes. But then, you probably know that.

My mother and I sounded so much like each other that my dad could never tell the difference when he phoned home. In fact, dad hated telephones and never asked for someone and never said goodbye. He just started talking when he heard a voice and hung up when he felt the conversation was over. It was just his telephone manners; he was really a very sweet, well-mannered man under other circumstances. His telephone style made for some very confusing conversations.

Some people just have a knack for hearing the differences in voices and others do not. It just happened that I can distinguish. As soon as I was old enough to answer the phone at home, I knew who was calling even if I had heard the voice only once before. My mother was president of a women’s business association and she got a lot of calls from different women. It was rare that I didn’t know right away who on the other end of the phone call. This difference in voices is very obvious between singers, of course, and the same can be said of professional speakers such as actors.

Identical twins can be the exception. It might take voice printing to figure out if they sound the very same.

Anyway, you might try identifying voices.  It can be fun and challenging.

COMING NEXT:  Things That Make Us Laugh




Here’s a little “food for thought,” which is an idiom, or by now is probably a cliche–laughter is almost as good for you as a chocolate chip cookie. Well, I just made that up about the cookie, but then if you know me at all by now, you know that I often make stuff up just to try and get you to laugh. Sneaky, right?

I’m eating my cookie right now and drinking my tea while I look through a book that is dog-eared from my over-use of its idiom information. The book was published by Scholastic in 1996. You’ll see idioms, cliches, phrase, sayings, and expressions all over my book, “Ticked Off And Tickled About It.” That’s because they tickle me.

I recall one day when I told my daughter-in-law that I couldn’t do something or other because I had “other fish to fry.” Since she knows I don’t do much cooking, she said, “I didn’t know you cook fish.” She didn’t grow up with mother in Oklahoma where idioms flew fast and furious. When I got the idiom book, there was not one phrase in there that I hadn’t heard.

I started to tell you about a food event I attended not too long ago, but I’ve gotten sidetracked because I looked up phrases on eating and food and found “easy as pie,” “eat crow,” “eat humble pie,” “eat your hat,” “eat your heart out,” “eat your words,” “egg on your face.”

Under Food, I saw “feast or famine,” “feel your oats,” “finger in every pie,” “from soup to nuts,” “full of beans,” and of course, “food for thought.”

Now I must confess that every chapter heading in my “Ticked Off” book is an idiom. They are probably a cliche which is an idiom that has become very well known.

My feeling about the use of cliches is the same as my thought about why travel to some obscure city, in the middle of who knows where, when you can go to Paris, Rome or Venice. More people go to those three cities because they are the most fun places to visit so they are well known. (Sort of cliche traveling.)

About the food event I meant to mention–It was all about eating healthy foods and I agree that’s very important, but people eat hamburgers and hot dogs not only because they are cheap, but also they are a lot more fun to eat than lettuce and rutabaga, unless dished up by a great chef. So maybe that’s cliche eating.

That’s just how we humans are–we know a good cliche when we see one and we know they are more fun than and old, obscure idiom. So “throw caution to the wind” and help yourself to a chocolate chip cookie. Or even a trip to Paris!

COMING NEXT: Wishes, Lies or Dreams?