Columns » Bob Lancaster




There's a blog (a pretty good one, too) called 43 Ideas Per Minute. I do well to come up with 43 ideas per month. And just about all of those are pretty sorry excuses for ideas. They certainly aren't ideas on the scale of a Descartes or a Plato or a Bradley R. Gitz

Here are 22 of my 43 ideas for July, for example: Up and down, up and down, side side side side side. In and out, in and out, side side side side side. More than half of my monthly idea allotment, and they're not even original. (They're OCD tooth-brushing technique advice from squirrelly Dr. Richard Thorndyke, in the Mel Brooks movie "High Anxiety," if you care.)

At this point, one of your 43 is probably this: "Hell, I could come up with more ideas than this moron. And mine would be a lot better, too. They'd be quality ideas, like these baseball hurlers when they have what they call a 'quality start.' You know, not requiring follow through."

I'd probably agree with you on that one. Most months in the idea quest you certainly could beat me like a red-haired yard dog. I hardly ever have a quality start. "Story of son's birth never gets too old for this mom" was the headline last Sunday on one of those always painful lifestyle columns in the local daily, and that's more my speed than yours.

In fact, I remember a column some time back — well, OK, a considerable time back, like an aeon ago, or a coon's age — recounting my son's birth. It's not something I'm proud of, not one that'll be in the anthology, the Essential Assmunch, but it's on my Permanent Record and there's no going back now. In my defense, it was meant, starting out, to be funny, as I like to think most of Sarah Palin's observations were, and those senatorial candidates' claims to have fought and died in Vietnam.

So yeah, most days you could beat me insofar as ideas deserving of follow through, and possibly you could beat that woman who's always reliving her boy's birthing, too. You could do it with half your brain tied back, as your Hero likes to say. But there you are, thrashing and gnashing, and here the two of us professional scriveners are, living high on the hog. Squatting in tall cotton. Big shots. Taking home more AJs and BFs than we know what to do with. Just the way it is. Nobody ever said life was going to be fair.

Another one of my July allotment: The difference in our elections now compared with those of yesteryear is that the ones now are completely lacking in humor. In the recent long dry primary season, was there one funny candidate – or one dour candidate who said something funny, perhaps unintentionally? I mean funny ha ha, now, not funny pathetic. There were plenty of those funny pathetics, but if you know of a single funny ha ha, let me hear from you and I'll try to give credit.

I remember when there were at least a dozen state legislators who were funny as all get out. At least three of them went to prison, and several more of them should have, but they were funny. At least they were before they went in. Maybe not so much after. Being put in the clemency line behind cop-killers will do that to you.

Wander the corridors today and try to find somebody funny. They all look like burnt stockbrokers or Harvey Birdman. The word sepulchral keeps coming up. Suit after suit and then a scurrying little media clump clicking beetle-like down the marble hall. No merriment even among the flunkies or haints. It's a comedy, yes, but Dantean not Barnumesque. Meaning not funny.

Winthrop Rockefeller, the governor not the son, was funny like I'm talking about, without trying to be, in fact trying extremely hard not to be. Funny was his albatross. Dale Bumpers and Brooks Hays were funny. Jim Johnson could be funny, for all the sulfur that never ceased BPing up out of his depths.

Richard Arnold, when he ventured into elective politics, was wickedly funny in a way that went over the heads of exactly 100 per cent of those he hoped would be his constituents. Indeed, 100 per cent of all of us. He could be funny in languages that haven't been spoken in a thousand years, but it wasn't a warm funny so he was pretty well screwed. Sen. Guy Jones was funny in his stentorian morning-hour lectures to Sen. Moore and me on the impending decline and fall, his material and inspiration drawn from an old-time Belgian doomster and fellow shrimp with the perfect name of Van Loon.

Just a few characters I remember from the dead past.

I've probably told you this, but I went to a Republican campaign rally in Rison years ago at which the candidate for Congress, a man named Warren Lieblong, was introduced as Warren Oblong. I thought that was funny and so did Warren Lieblong, but the old guy who introduced him came back to the microphone later and professed embarrassment. "I understand I'm supposed to apologize to Mr. Oblong, " he said. "So whatever it was, I'm sorry."

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