A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Minneapolis

Instant funny.

Traffic was backed up for four miles on the southbound lanes of I-35 near Huxley, Iowa on Tuesday afternoon as crews labored to clean up a spilled semitrailer load of Jell-O pudding cups. Meanwhile, a mere 25 miles away, former Jell-O spokesman Bill Cosby was a featured speaker at the Get Motivated “business seminar” in Des Moines. These are indisputable facts, and for some reason, they are funny. Even the Associated Press coverage of the accident, which mentioned neither the brand name Jell-O nor the nearby presence of Cosby, was amusing, mainly due to the line “Pudding cups littered the interstate.” The heart of the matter is this: a pudding spill is funny.

Of course, it is unlikely that the semi driver has joined the chorus of chuckles. Although he escaped uninjured, he did endure the harrowing experience of driving down the highway and suddenly discovering that his trailer was on fire. After pulling over to the berm and detaching his cab, he awaited the arrival of emergency crews while his trailer became engulfed in flames. His cargo spilled from the side of the trailer onto the roadway. Far from being amused, the driver was likely grateful to be alive while overwhelmed by the practical implications of the incident. What was the cause of the accident? Who, if anyone, was responsible? Were the trailer and its contents insured? What needs to be done next? Meanwhile, I doubt that cleanup crews found much levity in the unenviable task of removing the mess while impatient motorists backed up mile after mile. Read More

Every Boy Does Magic

Thank you, Marshall Brodien…

Illusionist Penn Jillette recently revealed to Tuscon Weekly that his estimation of magic was changed by James “The Amazing” Randi, who taught him that it is an honorable profession provided that audiences are fully aware they are being deceived. I suppose the vast majority of those who bothered to tune in to The Rock ‘n’ Fun Magic Show, a gaudy spectacle featuring Bill Cosby, Doug Henning and the Hudson Brothers that aired in the fall of 1975, were cognizant that they were being exposed to illusions rather than manifestations of the supernatural, Henning’s wide-eyed proclamations that “anything is possible” notwithstanding. I, however, was only seven years old, an age at which I accepted almost everything at face value. Even though I understood that all magic was some sort of a trick, I totally bought into the false drama that Henning employed to heighten the effect of his most dramatic stunt.

“Not only is this the first time this escape has been attempted since Houdini did it, it’s the first time it’s ever been tried on television,” intoned a sober host as he stood before a glass tank filled to the brim with water. “And remember, it’s being done live at this very moment. If this looks dangerous to you, believe me, it is.” Henning then emerged from the wings, striding purposefully in a rust-colored robe with the confident air of Christ on his way to give what-for to the temple desecrators. Stripped down to a pair of orange trunks, he was hoisted by his padlocked ankles and dangled over the tank. “And now, Doug is going to take four deep breaths – and hold the last one.” Read More

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