Beach Blanket Bingo


Just like the movie did, the title of this post promises lascivious scandal and delivers… grasshoppers? Well, the movie had Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon… and Buster Keaton but rather less sex and more prurience than this post has… from one day at Leone Beach Park:

dinner & date. Photo by Roman.
do you mind? Photo by Roman.


Arachnid in the Bathtub!

And what kind of name is “Shelob” anyway?

Photo by Roman.

For this I beg your pardon. Some will object to the image quality. Meh! The lighting was poor that morning. Some will object to simply being presented with a spider. Eek! But the spider is now dead and I wish to present its image to all and sundry because I killed it out of fear. Although, when it appeared in the tub that morning, it was warned: You have six or seven hours to leave.

Centipedes heed this warning more often than not and are gone by then. If not, it is removed, scoop and toss, leaving it perhaps a bit less fit but still alive and able to do what it does so well: Hunt other bugs.

The spider remained in the tub and was whacked with a sandal. Yes, that is a double standard for rescues. Centipedes are reliably venomous and are far more alien-creepy than any spider could be and they move real fast. Using alarm as a standard, centipedes should die on sight. But centipedes seem to listen whereas spiders have a cold just-business-nothing-personal affect even though they may be harmless and shy. I lief leave spiders be when they’re not in the way. Otherwise…

So this is my apology to the spider. It was entirely personal. You were not even food.

“Please Don’t Eat the Daisies”

Photo by Roman.

If the tulips in the courtyard are looking more than a bit ragged… chewed on, to be precise, this is the culprit. The bunny looks like someone’s dinner, if you ask me.

“Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” is also the title of one of the late Jean Kerr’s biggest hits. A 1957 comedic memoir of a Manhattanite exiled to suburban housewifery, the book was made into a movie (starring Doris Day and David Niven) and into a TV situation comedy series that ran for a few seasons.

I mention this because, as part of my Geezer Downsizing Project, I reread Kerr’s book several months ago. The mere act of reading the book destroyed any resale value it may have had as the book disintegrated with each turn of the page. But it was worth doing. When I was an adolescent, the book had seemed enormously funny to me. Upon rereading, I admired the craft that went into it, but I did not smile never mind laugh, not even once.

This is not unique. Other works have lost their humor for me. I could not and cannot abide J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, but Salinger’s Franny and Zooey was once upon a time, for me, a romp hilarious. Now? Don’t ask. And Giovanni Guareschi? No, you really don’t want to know.

This is interesting to me as I don’t believe it is humor that has changed but instead its audience. And thinking of how the audience has changed led me to propose a Grand Unified Theory of Humor: We laugh at things that make us uneasy.

I’m not a scholar but I figured I should make a stab, at least, at research and so arrived at the Wikipedia entry for “humour” where, without surprise, I found I had been anticipated by the benign-violation explanation of humour: “The theory says ‘humour only occurs when something seems wrong, unsettling, or threatening, but simultaneously seems okay, acceptable or safe’.”

The Wikipedia entry is a better statement because, after all, we don’t laugh at everything that makes us uneasy. Some things just make us… uneasy. On the other hand, both formulations would also seem to discount the social dimension to humor. Funny is as contagious as a yawn, and maybe as elemental. Laughter gives us permission to laugh. Laughter can encourage a change in perspective. The focus on “uneasy” or “wrong, unsettling, or threatening” seems to ignore the role of surprise and delight.

Actually, these things can be encompassed by the “benign-violation” theory, but it requires more explanation, evidence and logic chopping than I’m competent to provide. In any case, I’ve already moved on to another question: Is it possible to gain useful, quantitative information about the state-of-mind for any given population by examining in some way the jokes that are in circulation within that population?

I’m far too lazy to do more than pose the question. But you might keep it in mind the next time you laugh: Does your chortle leave you naked?