Wit of the Hour: Andy Rooney

“I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”
~Andy Rooney (1919-2011)

And so the 60 Minutes humorist has come to the end of the roll. But he had a good run, didn’t he? (No pun intended. Although Andy Rooney might laugh at that.)

60 Minutes and I go way back…I mean, way back. Back to the early days of the first born Junior Hall. Because I’d quit my outside-world job, and was home with a baby all week, I suppose I was starved for some kind of intellectual stimulation (no offense to the Beneficent Mr. Hall, of course.) So I watched this program and got…well, I guess “over-stimulated” would be the right word.

The Beneficent Mr. Hall would likely say “crazy.” Whatever. The point is, after 6 months or so of screaming like a banshee at the 60 Minutes folks and the provocative, investigative stories they reported, Mr. Hall advised me to step away from the television. At least, during 60 Minutes. So I did, for the sake of my blood pressure. But every once in awhile, when I was feeling a bit nostalgic, I’d watch the last 10 minutes so I could catch Andy Rooney. I mean, Andy was hilarious.

Did you ever wonder why pizza is round? In Italy, pizza is oblong. But I suppose in America, we like things round. And with lots of cheese on top. You could put a mound of mozzarella on a manhole cover and some New Yorker would eat it.

Andy didn’t say that. (I don’t think. I think I just made that up. But then again, I may be channelling him.) For years, I’ve done Andy Rooney “Did you ever wonder” bits. See, the great thing about the “Did you ever wonder” bits is that you can wonder about anything.

Did you ever wonder why dogs have four legs? Why don’t we say they have two legs and two arms? They only have one butt, though. But four legs come in handy for all that scratching. I wish I had four legs. I itch in some weird places.

Did you ever wonder why those little sticky notes are yellow? Urine is yellow. So’s a school bus.

Did you ever wonder how a guy got a job for a zillion years asking questions like “Did you ever wonder?”?

Still, I’ll miss the old guy.

Wit of the Day: John Ciardi

“You don’t have to suffer to be a poet;
adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.”

~ John Ciardi

I’m not sure if Mr. Ciardi means our own adolescence, or the pain associated with teenagers living in the house. Either way, I’m pretty sure that both instances provide equal opportunities in the suffering department.

Anyway, if you pen poetry, you may know John Ciardi’s book, What Does a Poem Mean? It’s one of those classic books about reading, writing and teaching poetry, and just as relevant today as it was in 1959 when it was first published. He was also a columnist for the Saturday Review (and the poetry editor). He even had a network show, back in the day when really smart people were on TV. But it’s John Ciardi, the children’s poet, that has a special place in my heart.

When the Junior Halls were very junior (and still listened to me), I’d force-read them poetry. It did not always go over so well. And then I came across You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You, by brilliant John Ciardi. Holy poetry, those kids loved that book! I loved that book. We almost tore that book up, we read it so much.

Here’s one of the first poems:

About the Teeth of Sharks

By John Ciardi

The thing about a shark is—teeth,
One row above, one row beneath.

Now take a close look. Do you find
It has another row behind?

Still closer—here, I’ll hold your hat:
Has it a third row behind that?

Now look in and…Look out! Oh my,
I’ll never know now! Well, goodbye.

How can you not love that poem? So if you want to spark a love for poetry in your wee, little kids’ heads, try good, old wickedly witty John Ciardi. But please do not blame me if your child grows up and decides to get a degree in English (Creative Writing, heavy on the Poetry). At least said child will have a bizarre sense of humor (which comes in handy when dealing with adolescent angst).