It’s Michigan Week! (II)

I would call the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan during the week of The Game a friendly rivalry — except it really isn’t.  Deep down, every Buckeyes fan wants to crush Michigan like a cockroach.  We want to punish them, humiliate them, and leave them wailing forlornly to their misbegotten gods. Michigan fans share this perspective.

But, since we aren’t fighting with broadswords, we need to make do with humor.  When I was a kid, and Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler were fighting the 10-Year War, the battle was waged with bumper stickers.  I remember one of the Michigan bumper stickers said:  “Save Fuel.  Burn Woody!”  And I thought — boy, Michigan fans are about as funny as, say, Jerry Lewis during the MDA telethon.

The Ohio side of the humor equation, however, isn’t appreciably better.  Consider these two representative efforts:

1.  “A University of Michigan fan walks into a doctor’s office and removes his hat to reveal a frog sitting on his head. The doctor asks, ‘How can I help you?’ The frog replies, ‘I was wondering if you could help me get this wart off my butt.'”

2.  “Two University of Michigan grads are laughing it up on their way into a bar.  The bartender asks:  ‘Hey, why are you guys so happy?’  One of the Wolverines says, ‘Well, to be honest with you, we’re proud of ourselves.  We just finished a puzzle in a week, and when we were done we noticed the box said 4 to 6 years.'”

In Ohio, we try to make our statements on the football field.

Advertisements

French For A Dummy

I’m going to be spending some time in France in a few months, so I’ve decided to brush up on my French language skills.  Actually, calling them “skills” isn’t quite accurate — unless the meaning of “skills” can be stretched to include a capability that really doesn’t exist.  I can read a little French, and I remember that jambon means ham, but that’s really about as far as it goes.

IMG_4898I took French in junior high school, in high school, and at OSU until I met my language requirements.  Despite these years of patient instruction, I never moved past the most basic levels.  Not surprisingly, my French class memories don’t involve having rapid-fire conversations with proud and dazzled teachers.  Instead, I remember trying to get some “extra credit” by helping my high school French teacher decorate her classroom for Christmas.  To my befuddlement, she wanted me to hang up the letters of the alphabet.  After I did so, she asked me if I got the reference.  When  gave her a confused look in response, she gestured at the letters, barked out a short Gallic laugh, and said “No L!”  I shrugged at this weak example of French humor, then remembered that sophisticates in that country considered Jerry Lewis a genius.

In college, our pleasant if somewhat beefy French instructor wanted to give the class an example of the importance of precise pronunciation.  She explained that, during a recent visit to Paris, she was being pestered by a beret-wearing, cigarette-smoking man.  She meant to dismiss him with a gruff cochon, which means pig, but instead she said couchons, which unfortunately suggested a desire to do the horizontal bop.  She then barked out a short Gallic laugh as the members of the class snickered at her embarrassing predicament.  The only other things I remember from my college French classes are that we students thought mangez mes sous-vetements, which means “eat my shorts,” was a hilarious insult even though the exasperated teacher pointed out that the French never use that phrase, and we also put n’est ce pas? at the end of every conceivable statement because it at least ended our halting sentences with a smooth closing.

So, trying to get up to speed on French in a few months is probably futile — especially since studies indicate that trying to acquire new language skills becomes more difficult with age.  I’m going to try anyway.  I’ve reserved some French language instruction CDs from the library and am going to listen to them on our morning walks.  I’m starting with French for Dummies.  The title is a bit insulting — but it’s probably accurate, n’est ce pas?

The Worst Previews In The World

Last night Kish and I were watching TV and saw the preview for the next Adam Sandler movie, That’s My Boy.  The preview made the movie look like the worst movie in the world — which is about par for the course for Adam Sandler movie previews.  They’re uniformly awful, and when the latest Adam Sandler movie is released each year, we Americans are just expected to stolidly endure them.

For years Americans cackled at the French for inexplicably admiring, and indeed finding deeper significance in, the “genius” of Jerry Lewis movies.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the French chuckle at the fact that Americans have a seemingly endless appetite for low-brow Adam Sandler drivel.  The movies keep getting made, so somebody must go watch them.  The question is:  who?  You wouldn’t think there would be a sufficient audience of pathetic, friendless, unmarried 40-year-old guys who appreciate the subtle humor of a pie in the face, but apparently there are.

Watching the That’s My Boy preview, I found myself imagining how Adam Sandler movies come to be.  Picture a man running away from you, down a long hallway.  He bursts through the door of an office, and a Hollywood type wearing a Hawaiian shirt and about a pound of gold neck chains looks up.

Running man:  “Boss, we’re ready to move forward on the next Adam Sandler project!  The writers and I have come up with an entirely novel way for a man to unexpectedly get hit in the crotch!”

Producer:  “That’s great, Jenkins — but that only puts us halfway there.  Now you need to think of an excuse for Sandler to wear a stupid wig.”

In fairness to Sandler, I haven’t been to see one of his movies since the Happy Gilmore era.  For all I know, the movies are richly rewarding, profoundly moving viewing experiences.  However, I take the previews at face value, and consider them to be fair warning.  If I went to see That’s My Boy and it was even close to as dreadful as the preview suggests, I’d have no one to blame but myself.