Tag archives: humor

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 22, 2023

The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, was first performed in 1947, and has become a classic. But how many of the people who hear about it for the first time know what that title means? For one thing, streetcars (“trolleys”), which used to be the major urban provider of public transportation, are […]

Coming Back
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 15, 2023

There was a time in my life – not lately – when I used to enjoy re-visiting places where I had previously lived. There were quite a few of them – towns, neighborhoods, even countries, going back to my childhood. Nowadays, when people in general are much more mobile, it’s not unusual for your family […]

Glass Ceilings, Glass Floors, Wine, and Hot Dogs
By Ernie Witham   |   August 15, 2023

“Wow, what a view, huh?” my wife said. “Nice,” I said, leaning against the wall as far away from the tall glass panels that slanted outward at a disturbing angle and had a gap on either side large enough to put your arm through. A family walked by, a little kid climbed up onto the […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 8, 2023

You may not remember Tom Lehrer, who performed his own satirical songs, very successfully, in the 1960s – but his offerings included a song satirizing the whole idea of National Brotherhood Week. The last stanza began:  “It’s fun to eulogize the people you despise.” The foil for this frivolity was a genuine decades-long effort to […]

Before I Wake
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 1, 2023

For many of us, this little prayer was the first – and possibly the only – one we ever learned: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. There were several lessons contained therein: […]

The Crowded Self
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 25, 2023

Have you ever asked yourself “Who Am I?” Probably not – or at least, not very often. Identity is one of the few things we are all pretty sure of. We may wonder WHAT we are, and WHY we are – but WHO we are is a question that hardly troubles us. After all, we […]

Start and Stop
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 18, 2023

Here is a riddle for you: Everybody knows that Albert Einstein was one of the world’s greatest physicists – but nobody knows his last words, even though they were clearly heard by somebody who was with him at the time. How can this be? (The other person present was an intelligent adult.)  Speaking of words […]

What Next?
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 11, 2023

Out of a party game called “Truth or Dare” (which is still being played), there somehow evolved, way back in the 1940s, a very popular radio program called Truth or Consequences. This weekly feature was heard nationwide. I myself – then a child – listened to it regularly. The program used various gimmicks to increase […]

Lots of Cones, but No Ice Cream
By Ernie Witham   |   July 11, 2023

I was at my computer looking at one of the local online news services when I spotted an exciting headline. “There’s no construction scheduled on Hollister Ave. today,” I yelled to my wife. Pat ran into the kitchen and grabbed the car keys. “To the waterfront for lunch and ice cream,” she said in a […]

The Last Straw
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   June 27, 2023

We have all been informed that it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. But that image troubles me. As a proverb and metaphor, of course, it is very powerful. Another one, “The Tipping Point,” conveys almost the same idea, but less negatively. The image now is of a balance, by which everything […]

My Business Career
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 30, 2023

Two women greatly affected my life in the world of business: my mother and my wife. From age five to seven, I lived in my mother’s hometown of Toronto, Canada. There, her father and several other of my relatives were in what was called the “second-hand” business. Their merchandise was mostly used goods. They had […]

Unfree Speech
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 16, 2023

Freedom of Speech – and of the Press – are in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But of course, they are not defined in detail. That has been a task for the following two centuries – and the debating goes on. A major complication has been the development of new media, which are […]

Writing with Chatty
By Ernie Witham   |   May 16, 2023

With ChatGPT Funny, I always thought of myself as having artificial intelligence. Maybe it’s because people often say to me: “Come on, man. Get real!” But I needed a quick column, and I heard great things about ChatGPT, a bot that processes language to create human-like dialog, so I signed up and typed into ChatGPT: […]

Been There Done That
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 2, 2023

One of the many wise old sayings which my father was fond of quoting was itself about age and wisdom, and indeed reeks of both of them. It says:  Experience keeps a dear school – but fools will learn in no other. And what exactly does keeping a dear school mean? Here, “dear” means the […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 11, 2023

One way to learn about people is to find out what they are most proud of. If it’s not their own achievements, it will sometimes be those of their children or grandchildren. And just what counts as an “achievement?” For better or worse, it is often a matter of excelling over others, in which case, […]

Eaters and Eaten
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 4, 2023

One of the ways we celebrate important occasions is by eating. Festivals, whether religious or secular, are times for joyful observance of something worth remembering, and tend to be annual, since the regular solar cycle makes a good periodic reminder.  I grew up in a Jewish family, but also in a Christian community, and each […]

Where’s Ernie? Noah to be Seen
By Ernie Witham   |   April 4, 2023

It finally arrived! Freighter delays, they said. Lack of experienced labor. Cost overruns. Sound familiar? But a giant truck pulled up in front of our condo today and delivered my IKEA easy-to-assemble, all-parts-included, fully-illustrated-plans-provided… ark. That’s right! I’m going to save the world from the great flood! Or, at least a few hundred people from […]

Give It to Me Straight
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   March 7, 2023

As most of us learned in school, the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. And a point is something which has a location but has no dimensions. Many of us also learned that light travels in straight lines. Amazing as it seems (to me, anyway) light has a certain speed, which […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   February 28, 2023

As we all know only too well, nothing lasts forever, especially the good things. I somehow find this illustrated by a supposedly true anecdote, about W.S. Gilbert, of “Gilbert and Sullivan.” He is said to have been at a concert, seated next to a gushing woman, of the kind he hated. One of the names […]

Getting Into History
By Ernie Witham   |   February 21, 2023

There are several things I dread hearing when I’m on a docent-led excursion. “If anyone here is acrophobic, you may want to reconsider today’s steep hike up Mountain Goat Trail.” Or… “If anyone here is aquaphobic, you may want to skip the kayak experience down ‘Devil’s Muse Rapids.’” But I wasn’t worried today. We were […]