I am usually happier when I drink tea.
At some point I was taught the elements of humor; the one that sticks with me is incongruity, the juxtaposition of two ideas or images that are different, unexpected, with a humorous result. As an example, to pair one of history’s most ruthless mass murderers, Josef Stalin, with adoring children whose parents will probably be missing when they return home, that’s incongruous. And to me, when I stumbled across these images, funny.
“Congratulations, you will be the first to be executed.”
“I vote for Stalin.”
“Today, I redraw the map and smoke a pipe.”
Stalin reads and answers every fan letter.
… and works late for a grateful people.
“Your last ride. It’s official!”
Yes, that’s Orion over there,
the three studs of the belt
clearly lined up just off the horizon.
And if you turn around you can see
Gemini, very visible tonight,
the twins looking off into space as usual.
That cluster a little higher in the sky
is Cassiopeia sitting in her astral chair
if I’m not mistaken.
And directly overhead,
isn’t that Virginia Woolf
slipping along the River Ouse
in her inflatable canoe?
See the wide-brimmed hat and there,
the outline of the paddle, raised and dripping stars?
– “Constellations” by Billy Collins from The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems (2005), because I love Virginia Woolf and Billy Collins, with thanks to Roz Hines
I think there is something fundamentally wrong with a world, and specifically an Internet, where no information can be found on Quarterback Lamatty Hathbro. The 1971 creation of artist Robert Williams, who is still with us, certainly deserves more. What or who inspired Williams to create Hathbro? Is there a backstory? Did Hathbro appear anywhere else? I’ve sent an email to Williams’ agent, but I’m not holding my breath.
The quote itself probably comes from John Heisman, who wrote, “When in doubt, punt, anyway, anywhere.” in his Principles of Football (1922), published when he was coaching at the University of Pennsylvania. However, the quote appears in the same year in Football Technique and Tactics by Robert Carl Zuppke, then head football coach at the University of Illinois. Knute Rockne, who began coaching at Notre Dame in 1918, is also credited with the quote, although it didn’t appear in print under his name until 1931. Suffice it to say it was an accepted truism at the time, and bears special significance to those of us who took the advice firsthand from Lamatty Hathbro.