Thursday, September 9, 2010

A German Russian Polish Genie Joke

The story goes that there was a meeting of the heads of state of Russia, Germany, and Poland. A genie pops up and offers them each one wish, provided it makes the world a better place. The German says, “I want all those Russians wiped off the face of the earth. A world without Russians, what could be better?” The Russian quickly replies, “If that’s the way it’s going to be, I want all the Germans wiped off the face of the earth, A world without Germans….” At this point both the German and the Russian disappear. The genie turns to the Pole and says, “What do you want?” The Pole smiles and replies , “Just a case of Vodka to celebrate!”

The German Maternity Ward Joke

I recently heard a joke about a mix-up in a German maternity ward in which the doctors could not identify which newborn was German, which was Jewish, and which was Turkish. When I told the joke to a professor of History, he laughed but told me that he would never repeat that joke in front of a class, and he advised me against posting it on my blog. With that in mind, the German maternity ward joke is available only upon request, and only with a specific waiver that recipients will not pitch a PC hissy fit.

President Ronald Reagan's Polish Italian Mafia Duck Joke

More than 30 years ago, several members of the fourth estate took Ronald Reagan to task for having told a joke about an Italian, a Pole and a duck. At that time, candidate Reagan apparently felt that the Poles, the Italians and other ethnic Americans could take a joke: Reagan won in a landslide. The joke goes like this: how do you tell the Polish guy at a cockfight? He’s the guy who brings a duck. How do you tell the Italian guy? He’s the guy who bets on the duck. How do you tell that the mafia’s running the cockfight? The duck wins.

Oliver Howard's Wry Retort

Oliver Otis Howard was a Civil war General for the Union. Before the war, he had become such a fervent Christian that he had considered resigning from the Army to become a preacher. In the Seven Days Battle in the summer of 1862, he was wounded so severely that his right arm was amputated. Years later, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day. After recovering, he served as a Corps Commander at Chancellorsville and at Gettysburg. In both battles, his corps suffered very rough treatment. Surprisingly, his corps was transferred to the west, and in late 1864 General Sherman placed Howard in command of one of the two wings of his army as it marched through Georgia. After the war, General Howard did a great deal of good work in promoting education for freed slaves, and more than a century later, his name lives on for the college he founded in Washington D.C. General Howard was a man of great courage, piety, and compassion. He also had a gift for keeping his sense of humor, even in the very worst of times. Shortly after he had his arm amputated, he got a visit from another union General Kearney who had had his left arm amputated in the Mexican War. Kearney said, “Don’t worry Oliver, the ladies won’t like you any the less for it.” (I would very much like to know if that is true. Do chicks really dig amputees with scars?) General Howard managed to smile and say, “General Kearney, now you and I can go shopping for gloves together.”

Now that is one gutsy guy.

Savlatore Tessio's Traffic Stop

Abe Vigoda has been a working actor for more than half a century now. His most recent appearance was alongside Betty White in that famous Snickers candy bar super bowl commercial. Vigoda is doing very well for a man a few months away from his 90th birthday. Vigoda was a star of television’s Barney Miller show, playing Detective Fish, and a sequel series by that name. However, he first came into popular view in 1970 in The Godfather in which he played the Corleone family underboss, Sal Tessio. At the end of the film, Tessio realizes that while he had agreed to attempt to set Mike up for assassination, he had been found out and was about to be taken for a ride himself. Who can forget Vigoda’s line, “Tell Mike I always liked him. It was only business.”

Shortly after the film premiered, Abe Vigoda was driving through Beverly Hills with his wife when a police officer pulled him over. Vigoda was flabbergasted because he hadn’t been speeding. When he pointed out to the police office that he hadn’t been speeding, the officer replied that it was against the law to drive too far under the speed limit. At first, Vigoda was astonished, and then rather alarmed when he noticed a very steely look on the cops face, and that the officer had unsnapped his holster and had taken out his pistol. At this point, a light bulb went on over Vigoda’s head. He said in his sweetest voice, officer did you recently see a movie called The Godfather? The officer said yes. Vigoda replied, “Officer, I was in that movie; I’m an actor. Now put you’re gun a way and quit scaring the bejesus out of us.”

Vigoda had fallen victim to a good cop’s instincts: ”Wait I’ve seen that face somewhere. He’s a really bad guy; I need to check this out.”

Willi and Nikki and. . . Turnips

It sometimes boggles my mind that a hundred years ago, almost the entire world was ruled by grandsons of Queen Victoria. Wilhelm II, the Emperor of Germany was Victoria’s eldest grandson, and Nicholas II the Czar of Russia was married to one of Victoria’s granddaughters. In amongst Wilhelm’s papers, historians found a comment from Wilhelm about his Russian relatives. In 1914, the two monarchs exchanged telegrams to one another in English, signing them Willi and Nikki. Unfortunately, they couldn’t reach an agreement, and the apocalypse followed. Amongst Willi’s papers, historians found a comment that all Nikki was fit for was to live in a large house and raise turnips.

All things considered that’s quite an accurate description as well as an uncanny self-portrait.

All About the Gipper

This IS a shaggy dog story. You have been warned. The university of Notre Dame has one of the countries most famous football programs, partially due to the legendary Knute Rockne who attended Notre Dame in 1910. He was one of the inventors of the forward pass. After graduating, Rockne coached the Fighting Irish for 1918-1930 years and amassed a winning percentage (88.2%) that is a record to this day. One of his most famous players was a rakish character named George Gipp who came to college several years later than most of his classmates. He was an extraordinary athlete, a rebel, and a bit on the shady side. He was widely suspected of having bet considerable amounts of money on football games, though no one ever accused George Gipp of ever giving less than his best on the football field. Gipp’s life ended on an epic note, and he played a key role in a Notre Dame victory in mid-November (as someone who has spent a number of winters in South Bend, I can say that that is not a healthy environment). Although seriously ill, Gipp managed to come off the sideline the next week to kick a winning field goal to ensure their undefeated season. Modern day antibiotics were unknown in 1919, and so his illness worsened and the Gipp went into the hospital, eventually dying of double pneumonia. Shortly before he died, Rockne visited him and what Gip said at that time spawned a Notre Dame legend.

Several years later, in 1928, a Notre Dame team was down at half time against an undefeated Army team when Rockne told them that on his death bed, Gipp had said to him, “I’ve gotta go now Rock, its ok. I’m not afraid. But some day, when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, I want you to tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, but I’ll know about it and I’ll be happy.” Whether the Gipp actually said that to Rockne we do not know. But what we do know is that the Notre Dame squad played their hearts out in the second half and won a hard fought game, 12-6. Even today, 70 years after Rockne’s death, to give an inspiring speech is known as doing a Knute Rockne.

Another major factor in the Knute Rockne legend was the 1940 Hollywood film: Knute Rockne, All American in which Edmond O’Brien portrayed Rockne and Ronald Reagan played the Gipper. That legend about “wining one for the Gipper” has proved so persistent that 40 years later, in the climax of the mad-cap comedy Airplane, Leslie Nielson inspires Robert Hayes to land the plane by telling him that years before, the fictitious dying Lieutenant George Zip told him to “Give it all he’s got and win one for the Zipper.”

Half a Head of Lettuce at Columbus Ohio.

Have you ever heard the story of a guy who always talked himself in to trouble, but could always talk his way out? He was working as a clerk in a grocery store when a customer asked him for the price on half a head of lettuce. “I don’t know,” replied the clever clerk, “I’ll go find out.” He walked to the back of the story unaware that the shopper was following close behind. He asked the manager, “Some idiot wants to know how much for half a head of lettuce.” He then looked behind him, saw the customer standing there, and finished, “and this fine gentleman would like to purchase the other half.”

Later, the manager said “I’m impressed with how you handled that. We’re going to be opening up a new store in the chain. Would you be interested in being a manager in the new store?” “That depends on where the store is located,” replied the clerk. “The store’s going to be in Columbus, Ohio.” “Columbus Ohio? Nothing comes out of Columbus but hookers and football players.”

…….silence….. dead sllence.

“I’ll have you know that my mother my daughter and my wife all come from Columbus, Ohio,” snorted the manager.

“Great!” said the clerk, “What positions do they play?”

Reaction Time on Kossuth Road

Since I’m a pretty law abiding sort, I have rarely had occasion to call the Columbus police department. On the few occasions that I have, I frequently start to get irritated after about 5 min if I don’t see a cruiser. All things considered, it’s usually a 10 or 15-minute wait to file a report. Last week, I visited a potential client on the 700 block of Kossuth road on the south side of Columbus. The client told me that he had received a threatening phone call from his ex-girlfriend the previous night. I told him to immediately file a police report. It was shortly before 8:45 pm. An hour later we still hadn’t seen a cruiser and I called the CPD a second time. They told me they had the call in their system, but that there were many more critical calls than ours keeping the cops in the precinct occupied. A bit more than 40 minutes after that, I drove to the headquarters on Marconi Ave and spoke to the two cops on duty there. They actually showed me that they had a record of my call, only it was a green call and there was at least one red call and several dozen blue calls still ahead of it. I later heard that CPD managed to get a cruiser to Kossuth before midnight, after a 3-hour wait. My response is that we need more cruisers and police in that part of town because there are some extremely ill-behaved people in that precinct.