Archive for the ‘Humor Columns & Humorous Essays’ Category

The Almost Naked Truth

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

I love this headline: “Mother, 29, who ran through hotel naked ‘after her friend stole her pants’ is slapped with an obscenity charge.”

Not only did it make me laugh, but it reminded me of my own personal experience, memorialized in this humor column I wrote way back in the Twentieth Century:

A Traveler’s Net Woes
By Madeleine Begun Kane

If your husband ever invites you to join him on a business trip, be sure to ask him these questions:
1. Will you ever get to see him while he is not — technically — asleep?
2. What will he do, if you accidentally lock yourself out of your hotel room in the middle of the night while you are not — technically — dressed?

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask these questions when my husband Mark invited me to join him for a six-week Boston business trip. So I had to learn the answers the hard way:
1. No.
2. He will remain — technically — asleep.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back when my husband urged me to accompany him, all I could focus on was:
1. Whether I could pack my cappuccino machine;
2. Whether I’d get any writing done so far from home; and
3. Whether we’d have reliable net access in our room.

Okay, I admit it: I’m a little — okay a lot — hooked on cappuccino and the on-line life. And I never — ever — go to sleep without reading my email and surfing the web.

Anyway, Mark managed to convince me that working out of a hotel room in a strange city would inspire new, creative ideas. He also swore that Boston is a modern city with lots of cappuccino and Internet connections. So I reluctantly accompanied him, after packing enough gear for a year.

We checked in late that first night, and the accommodations (paid for by Mark’s client) were luxurious. But I gave no thought to our lovely hotel, the sites and sounds of Boston, or the excitement of living in a new city. While Mark unpacked, requested a wake-up call, and ooohed and aaahed at the view, I foraged for a modem connection. Only one view mattered to me — the blank one on my laptop screen.

Finally, I had the computer set up. I began to relax, happy in the knowledge that any minute I’d … What’s this? An error message? What did they mean “no dial tone”?

It must be some mistake, I told myself, as I tried to sign on again and again and again. After a dozen failed attempts I was even reduced to violating my “don’t crawl on a strange rug” rule. Struggling to reach the wall behind the desk and bed, I squeezed my arm into places it didn’t belong, pulling and pushing and tugging at anything that looked important. And trying to spot a loose connection … aside from the one in my brain.

Now a normal person would probably have given up and gone to bed after 10 or 20 or 30 failed attempts to sign on-line. (By this time, Mark had been asleep nearly an hour.) But the more disconnects I got, the more determined I was to access my net account. Am I stubborn? Yes. Plus I really needed my pre-sleep fix.

So I persisted, all the while cursing out computers, the hotel, my husband’s client, and my husband, who apparently enjoys having his bed shoved across the room while he’s sound asleep.

Then it hit me — the kind of revelation one only gets way past midnight. I’d simply phone the concierge, and he’d do some concierge type thing and get it fixed. So I picked up the phone and — you guessed it — it was as dead as my modem.

You moron, I castigated myself, as I tried to guess whether I was being personally singled out for email deprivation.

Just then, I heard a sound in the hall. Eager to find out if anyone else had phone service, and forgetting that my attire (or lack thereof) would get me arrested in many countries, I rushed out the door, wedging it open with a shoe. Luckily (I thought) the sounds were coming from the next room, whose door was ajar.

“Do you have phone service?” I asked a female guest, who was still gripping her luggage.

She didn’t answer. Instead she stared at me blankly, no doubt wondering why some barefoot, barely clad crazy woman was standing in her doorway at 3 a.m.

“Do you have phone service?” I repeated.

“No speak English,” she said, as she put down her suitcase and looked around the room, possibly for a weapon. Now desperate, I attempted to mime talking on the phone. But she apparently didn’t speak mime either.

At this point, I’m afraid I did something that can only be characterized as insane; I strode into the room, walked right past her to the far end, and picked up her phone. It was dead. This was good news, because you need a phone to get someone arrested for trespass.

I put the receiver down and belatedly began to apologize. But the woman ignored me — she was embroiled in some incomprehensible dialogue with a man (her husband?) who had apparently been in the bathroom when I invaded their room. Were they plotting my demise?

I crossed the room as quickly as I could and darted past them, hoping they wouldn’t try to stop me. And that they understood the meaning of the word “sorry.”

Finally I made it out of there, and they slammed the door behind me. Relieved, I turned toward my room and, after tripping over my failed-wedge shoe, I discovered another shut door — my own.

Ten minutes of door pounding later I was still stranded in the hall, and Mark (who can sleep through anything) was still sound asleep.

By now I was more or less resigned to going to bed without reading my e-mail. But no way was I sleeping in the hall.

I probably would have continued my futile pounding, but adding the crime of “destroying the peace” to trespass didn’t seem wise. And getting thrown out of the hotel probably wouldn’t help Mark’s consultant/client relations.

But what else could I do? I couldn’t very well take the elevator downstairs and beg the concierge for a key while I was dressed like this, could I?

Apparently, I could. I started down the hallway, moving as quickly as I could manage, and fervently hoping I wouldn’t meet anyone en route. Fortunately, every reasonably sane person was asleep by then. So the halls and elevator were empty, and I even made it down eight floors to the lobby nonstop. I was so relieved, I didn’t even mind the strange looks I got from the couple getting on as I got off. Or the amused grin from the concierge when I told him I needed help.

“Phone problems?” he asked, looking me up and down.

“For starters,” I answered.

“Sorry, everything’s down at least until late morning. Anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes, I locked myself out of my room. Could you…?”

“Yes, I can see you did. Hold on and I’ll get my keys.”

“This is very embarrassing.”

He took another look and grinned again. “No problem. I’ve seen a lot worse.”

Throughout the elevator ride up and the walk to my room he regaled me with tales of locked-out guests stranded in garb that made me appear ready for a full dress ball. Then he placed his key in the door and said, “Do you have any ID?”

“What?” I said, beginning to panic. “Where would I…?”

“Just kidding,” he said as he unlocked the door.

Safely back in my room, I found Mark sound asleep. Exhausted and angry, I stared at him, willing him awake. I could have been kidnapped from the room in the middle of the night, and he would never have known. I could have …

Suddenly, Mark sat up. “What is it?” he said.

“Didn’t you notice I was gone?”

“What are you talking about? One sec. I have to go to the bathroom.”

“What were you saying?” Mark said as he climbed back into bed.

“Never mind. But you should set your alarm. The phones are broken, and you probably won’t get that wake-up call.”

“Thanks,” he said as he fiddled with the clock and lay back down to sleep. “What did you do to their phones?” he added just before he began to snore.

Some Humor For International Museum Day

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

May 18th is International Museum Day, a holiday founded by ICOM (International Council of Museums) in 1977. So I figured this was as good a time as any for me to post my How To Visit An Art Museum

HOW TO VISIT AN ART MUSEUM
By Madeleine Begun Kane

There are many good reasons to visit an art museum. Impressing a date. Vying for a slot in the cultural elite. Some people actually go because they appreciate art. If you’re a novice art fan, this is how it’s done:

1. Your virgin museum visit should take place while you’re out of town. That way, your displays of ignorance will be witnessed only by strangers.

2. When you’re a safe distance from home, ask a concierge, cabby, or vagrant to suggest a show. It doesn’t matter whom you ask. At any given time, the entire population of any given city is racing to see some highly hyped, limited-engagement exhibit which is over tomorrow. This is the show everyone will recommend.

3. Arrive at the museum blissfully unaware that the show’s been sold out for months. Do so by car. In order to save time, drop your spouse off to buy tickets. Spend an hour touring the parking lot. Worry about what your mate will do to you when and if you ever see her again.

4. Coax your car into a quasi-legal spot. Sprint towards a distant building which presumably houses art. Remind yourself, once again, to join a gym.

5. Encounter an unruly mob of art aficionados awaiting admission. Hear rumors that the exhibit is sold out. Ascertain rumors are true. Curse out museum. Curse out vagrant. Wonder how you’ll ever locate diminutive spouse in horde of lanky art lovers. Wonder whether finding her is such a good idea.

6. Encounter a couple arguing about whether to leave. One mate insists this is no way to see art. (You’re inclined to agree.) The other gripes about the wasted admission cost. Save their marriage by purchasing tickets.

7. Wend your way through throngs in quest of spouse. Miraculously find her commiserating with sisterhood of women who lost mates to parking lot abyss. Proudly display tickets just as spouse proudly displays hers.

8. Talk about selling extra tickets. Argue that you should have checked with each other before buying tickets. Talk about selling all four tickets and abandoning art for a mall.

9. Notice that one pair of tickets is for one o’clock show and the other isn’t good until four. Decide that since it’s nearly one now, you’ll worry about unloading second set later.

10. Find out the museum is two hours behind schedule; you won’t make it beyond lobby before three. Ask yourselves, yet again, why exactly you came.

11. Wait on line. Learn it’s the wrong line. Fight way onto another line which will presumably get you into exhibit you no longer want to see.

12. Wait another half-hour in sweltering firetrap. Ask spouse to save your place on line while you contend with the coat-check. Dispose of jackets. Ask guard what kind of lunatic runs the museum.

13. Reclaim spot in front of spouse. Ignore belligerent patrons, badgering you to go to the end of the line.

14. Gain entry into crammed room that ostensibly holds priceless works of art. Strain neck in vain attempt to view paintings. Get a random glimpse of what may or may not be an Impressionistic work. Watch height-impaired spouse try to crawl her way to the front. Rescue her from enraged mob.

15. Overhear artsy noises about the exhibit. Comments like “Pointillism is a lot like connect the dots.” After an hour of this, gratefully spy an exit sign — the only mounted object in plain view.

16. Consider using the museum restrooms until you see the lines. Embark on parking lot trek, praying your car hasn’t been ticketed or towed.

When you return home, you’ll want to impress family and friends with your new found erudition. So don’t leave the museum without lots of literature. Then be sure to study the brochures and reviews intently … so you can describe every painting you failed to see.

Bugged By Ads (Humor Column)

Monday, December 26th, 2011

This “torment your pet frog” video, which features an iPad screen depicting tasty-looking insects, reminded me of an old humor column of mine:

Bugged By Ads
By Madeleine Begun Kane

If you saw what looked like an insect on your television screen, what weapon would you reach for? A wad of tissues, perhaps? Okay, let’s make the bug more menacing than your average house invader — let’s make it a cockroach.

I’m guessing you’d grab a sacrificial magazine, roll it up, and take a swing at the screen. A swing strong enough to demolish the roach (you hope), while leaving your TV set more or less intact.

I’m also guessing you’d avoid guaranteed glass shatterers like hammers, drills, and chain saws. And up till this very moment, I would have sworn that a motorcycle helmet would sit atop the no-no list. Apparently, I was wrong.

A Tampa, Florida woman actually threw a motorcycle helmet at a TV screen roach. Overkill? I’d say so. Especially when you consider that:
1. The helmet trashed her screen; and
2. Her TV screen was cockroach-free.

No, I’m not talking about an LSD-crazed youth doing battle with hallucinated insects. I’m talking about a grown and presumably sober person who (along with other TV viewers) was suckered by Orkin Pest Control’s all too realistic ad featuring an animated roach crawling across the screen.

Like many others who were taken in by Orkin’s ad campaign, this Tampa woman was determined to kill the roach. Unfortunately, the only thing she managed to kill was her television set.

End of story? Of course not. This happened in the USA where people, including our helmet-wielding woman, want to be compensated for their injuries.

Now I’m a recovering lawyer and I used to handle my share of civil … and uncivil … litigation. So you might ask me what I’d do if I were consulted by the owner of a TV set destroyed by a motorcycle helmet aimed at a nonexistent roach.

Being a cautious and thorough attorney, I’d carefully evaluate the case by asking questions like:
1. Your one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable helmet was badly dented, right?
2. Have you had full body x-rays to check for internal TV screen glass shards?
3. How’s the helmet flinging-induced carpal tunnel syndrome progressing?
4. Why aren’t you seeking treatment for your extremely painful ducking to avoid glass-induced whiplash?

Orkin doesn’t appear to be worried about litigation. In fact, Orkin’s treating the whole matter with a sense of humor. It even ran an Orkin “Got Me” drawing at its (Orkin.com) Web site, asking viewers to describe (by April 30th) how its “fake out” cockroach crawling across the screen ad campaign “got” them. According to the submission information, “ALL ENTRANTS will be placed in a random drawing for a BRAND NEW TELEVISION.”

I was planning to email an entry myself, but I had a bit of a mishap: The roach that adorns Orkin’s submit button looked so real, I threw my shoe at it and broke my computer screen.

Celebrate All My Gizmos Are Working Day — March 2nd

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Each year our calendars are jam-packed with weird, oddball holidays created, presumably, by equally weird people. Since I’m just as odd as the next person, I figure I’m entitled to invent one too … assuming I can come up with something strange that isn’t already taken.

Anyway, while scrolling through several calendars specializing in bizarre holidays, I noticed a startling omission. Apparently, nobody’s thought to invent All My Gizmos Are Working Day. That is, until now.

So with the powers vested in me as a member in good standing of the New York State Bar, I hereby declare March 2, 2011 to be the first annual All My Gizmos Are Working Day.

As you might expect, I’m commemorating this spanking new holiday with a limerick. But before I get to my verse, let me first acknowledge that most people won’t be able to really celebrate All My Gizmos Are Working Day on March 2nd. In fact, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to enjoy it either.

Why not? Because I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t have at least one broken gadget — a kitchen appliance, TV, DVD player, stereo, land line, cell phone, computer, e-book reader, MP3 player, etc. At least one electronic thingamajig is always misbehaving.

But hope springs eternal, right? So here’s my celebratory limerick:

Limerick Ode To All My Gizmos Are Working Day
By Madeleine Begun Kane

All My Gizmos Are Working Day’s here.
March 2nd’s that day of good cheer.
If, alas, you’re disgusted
Cuz something is busted,
Try again on March 2nd next year.

(Inspired by Big Tent’s anti-holiday prompt.)

UPDATE: I’ve learned that March 26th is Make up your own Holiday Day.

Sheer Madness: My Non-Existent Book (Limerick)

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Over the years I’ve written enough humor columns, limericks, and sundry light verse to fill two or three collections. And one of these days I may even get my act together, stop procrastinating and self-publish at least one of them. I mention this because Big Tent Poetry’s latest prompt urges us to come up with a name for a future book and then write a title poem for that non-existent book.

Yes, I know this is Sheer Madness, which is also the title of my non-existent humor collection:

Sheer Madness
By Madeleine Begun Kane

I’m hoping to publish a book
With an excellent concept and hook.
It’s title? Sheer Madness,
Reviewed please sans badness,
Sold on paper and Kindle and Nook.

Romancing The Stoic (Humor Column)

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Last night hubby Mark reminded me about a humor column I wrote about a romance-impaired woman (me) marrying a romantic man like Mark. He thinks it’s the perfect column to post on Valentines Day, so here’s how Romancing The Stoic begins:

Romancing The Stoic
By Madeleine Begun Kane

“We’ve lost power!” I shrieked, as the lights went out and a Brahms concerto stopped mid-cadenza. “It’s okay,” my husband Mark said, in a futile attempt to calm me down. For already I was ransacking the house in search of flashlights, candles, matches and batteries. And as usual, I’d hidden them away in a safe and elusive spot.

“Don’t worry,” Mark said, when he finally had my attention. “We’ll bundle up in front of the fireplace. We’ll eat by candlelight, sip wine, and talk. It’ll be nice. You won’t even miss the light.”

That episode, which climaxed in a delightful, albeit light-impaired evening, illustrates our differences in the romance department. A quick bit of history: More than thirty years ago Mark proposed on his knees in the middle of the street, while I rushed to brush off his pants. His encore the next night was to supplement his weekly floral offering with a pair of crystal candlesticks. I, of course, fretted about their price.

Mark went through with the wedding, despite my apparent lack of the romance gene. Perhaps he felt he had sentiment enough for two. Or maybe he thought I’d come around some day — that my romantic spirit was merely submerged, just waiting to be tapped. … (Romancing The Stoic continues here.)

My New Policy

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

That’s it. No more vacations!

Sounds a little extreme, I know. But strange things tend to happen when my husband and I have the nerve to travel or take time off.

No, I don’t mean canceled flights, lost luggage, or stolen passports. Nothing so mundane as that. I’m talking about incidents like:

* a drowned Toyota;
* a windshield collision with flying branches while my car is going 55 mph;
* a Mazda smashed by a tree while it’s parked and minding its own business.

Detect a pattern here?

We’ve had so many weird holiday episodes, that our insurer has created a special policy provision just for us:

Notwithstanding the aforesaid incomprehensible coverage terms, this policy shall be subject to the following limitations and exclusions, hereinafter referred to as Madkane’s Oddball Vacation Incident Exclusion clause:

1. Claims for beach sand, in excess of four (4) gallons, entering automobile via sunroof, shall be subject to a $2,500 deductible.
2. Damage to fuel line by reptiles, including but not limited to alligators and crocodiles, is hereby excluded.
3. Hotel parking lot car-drowning incidents shall be subject to a “one more time and you’re canceled” cap.

Our most recent adventure took place at our weekend house. And before you get too impressed by our owning a weekend house, let me hasten to add it’s only 380 square feet. In fact, when we got it appraised for mortgage purposes, its “comparables” featured our neighbor’s garage.

Mark had spent the entire day telling me he “really, really, really should plant the flowers” — those very flowers that were waiting patiently in our Mazda, hoping against hope that the fellow who bought them the previous day would eventually recall that occasional sunlight is somewhat better than a hot, dark trunk.

Knowing better than to meddle in Mark’s planting activities — or lack thereof — I didn’t say a word. I didn’t have to. I already knew the answer: “I don’t want your help. Go away.”

Besides, I had complete faith that at some point before the plants died, Mark would remember that replacements cost money and he’d unload the car and begin digging and uprooting our resident worms. I also knew this would occur just as the last vestiges of sunlight said goodbye. (“Anyone can plant by daylight. Where’s the challenge in that?”)

Mark didn’t disappoint me. He cracked open the car trunk at 8 p.m. and finished around 10. He even did it without the sort of event that might trigger an insurance claim.

And then it happened: Just as Mark was walking up the driveway toward our refuse cans (in an aberrational instance of his actually taking out the garbage), he heard an unfamiliar noise. And thank heavens he did. Because the sound made him stop in his tracks, just as a huge tree limb came barreling down across our driveway, striking our car and our garbage cans but miraculously sparing Mark.

Mark naturally took this as a sign from God: “Thou shalt never again take out the garbage.”

We spent the rest of the night celebrating Mark’s survival. And devoted the next day to tree-limb removal, car-repair estimates, and insurance negotiations.

Needless to say, Madkane’s Oddball Vacation Incident Exclusion clause is longer than ever.

Vintage Wisdom

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Are you a Winus Ignoramus? Do wine connoisseurs make you feel insecure? I once felt the same way … until I discovered that NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING, especially when mouthing off about wine.

It’s shocking but true — most wine aficionados are faking it. Sure they toss around savvy sounding terms like oak, bouquet, finish, and jujubes. But trust me — they simply memorized a few words which they lob randomly, confident that they won’t be challenged. Why? Because they’re surrounded by fellow fakers.

You don’t believe me? Okay, here’s the proof. Several years ago some friends invited hubby Mark and me to a blind wine tasting party. These friends, who I sure hope won’t be reading this, were planning their wedding and wanted to find some great, but affordable wine.

The husband-to-be, who fancied himself a wine expert, had spent thousands of hours studying The Wine Spectator in his quality wine bargain quest, while the bride did what most brides do — everything else.

When we arrived for the tasting, we learned that the groom had narrowed his choice down to eight reds and eight whites, each touted as an “excellent buy” and each hovering at the high end of their wedding budget. Our job as two of a dozen guests was to taste and rank each wine “blind.” Then, through some elaborate coding process (I’m pretty sure the CIA was involved) our host would determine the identity of our favorites.

Being a dedicated Winus Ignoramus, I was embarrassed to be included in this group of wine savvy visitors. But I gamely participated, munching on dry crackers between each taste to cleanse my palate. And trying to follow the Wine Snobus Elitus-speak that kept buzzing around the room. “An amusing white.” “A charming red with just a hint of sassafras.” “A disappointing nose.” “Alluring eyes …” No wait, wrong party.

While everyone else sniffed corks and muttered pretentiously, I concentrated on trying to discern red from white. Finally, when each wine had been sipped and ranked, I sighed with relief … until I found out we had to repeat the tasting to double check the results.

The second round was finally over, and everyone anxiously awaited the verdict. Which red had prevailed? Which white had won?

And then a funny thing happened. (Well, funny to me.) With but one exception, everyone had been inconsistent in his preferences. Each person’s Wine List 1 was dramatically different from his Wine List 2. Everyone’s lists …. but mine.

I tried not to gloat. Okay, that’s a lie. A well-rounded tablespoon of gloating and a dash of strutting seemed about right. With just a soupçon of sass … afras.

So that’s when I learned that NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING … especially when it comes to wine. Which is why I’m no longer intimidated by leather-bound wine lists and patrons who pretend to understand them. I even feel free to make reservations in fancy restaurants … without reservation.

And on the appointed evening I stride in, my head and nose held high. Once seated, I give the wine list just a cursory glance. Who needs a list when you know your stuff?

“Le Boeuf Tartare, my dear sir,” I say, “and your finest applejack on the rocks.”

Just kidding — wine connoisseurs only drink applejack with fish.

Dental Deal (Funny Contract)

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

I’ve received a fair (or unfair) amount of hate mail over the years, mostly for my anti-Bush humor. What else inspired hate mail? This dental humor piece brought in a flood of angry mail after it appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer. For a brief period, I was Public Enemy #1 among dentists, dental students, and their family members. So it’s lucky for me and my teeth that I live in New York.

Dental Deal (Satirical Contract)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Does the very thought of a dentist set your teeth on edge? Is pudding too challenging to chew? This contract should help mitigate your pain.

AGREEMENT entered into this ____ day of ________, 20__ by anxious Patient and drill wielding Dentist.

WHEREAS, Patient views dentistry as legalized S & M; and

WHEREAS, Dentist enjoys pillaging mouths almost as much as yachting and golf;

NOW, THEREFORE, Dentist and Patient hereby agree as follows:

1. Dentist shall instruct his receptionist not to ask, “How are we today?” If we were well, we would not be here.

2. Dentist acknowledges that Patient’s time has a modicum of value. Accordingly, for every minute Dentist keeps Patient waiting, one dollar shall be subtracted from Patient’s bill. Double, if the waiting room is filled with kids.

3. Dentist shall not try to persuade Patient that X-rays are safe. Such assurances lack credibility when piped in by a Dentist who’s encased in protective gear and cowering next door.

4. Dentist shall not say “You have so many fillings, I can’t read the X-rays.” Otherwise Patient shall say, “Your invoice has so many dollars, I can’t pay the bill. … (My Dental Deal contract continues here.)

Satirical Blind Date Contract

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Many years ago I wrote a satirical blind date agreement entitled Bracing For That Blind Date. It turns out, oddly enough, that some people actually sign serious pre-date contracts.

Here’s how my more light-hearted contract begins:

Bracing For That Blind Date
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Are you facing yet another blind date with fear and dread? Are you tempted to throttle anyone who cajoles you into going out with an allegedly attractive friend? Believe it or not, blind dates can actually be fun. All you have to do is work out a few details in advance:

AGREEMENT entered into this ____ day of ______, 20__ by two jittery people hereinafter referred to as “Male” and “Female”.

WHEREAS, a mutual friend is nagging Male and Female to go out on a date;

WHEREAS, Male and Female loathe blind dates and believe that people foolish enough to go out on them deserve whatever they get;

WHEREAS, their mutual friend assures Male and Female that they both have wonderful personalities;

WHEREAS, Male and Female would rather undergo root canal than date, but it is the only way they know to get their friend off their backs; and

WHEREAS, Male and Female believe that a pre-date agreement will minimize the pain and suffering normally associated with blind dates.

NOW, THEREFORE, Male and Female hereby agree to the following blind date terms: … (My blind date contract continues here.)

Harried Spouse

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Harried Spouse (Limerick)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

There once was a guy with no hair.
He’d shaved it all off on a dare.
His wife threw a fit
And she said,”This is it!
Grow it back, or I’ll have an affair!”

Feel free to write your own limerick using the same first line and post it in my comments. And if you’re on Facebook, please join my friends in that same activity in my limerick-offs.

Does Your Guilt Spring Eternal?

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Guilt Springs Eternal
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Spring has arrived. Do you feel guilty yet? If not, you apparently don’t read women’s magazines. Every March and April they’re packed with “clean up and organize your life” articles. Stories with catchy titles like Spring Into Action — Tidy Up Your House. Or Wash Away Winter Blues. Or Banish Clutter Now; Otherwise We’ll Keep Torturing You With Articles Meant to Make you Feel Like A Slothful Bum. Personally, I’d rather read Why Clean? It Will Only Get Dirty Again Tomorrow.

Why do magazines publish these pieces? Because every spring millions of women have the same Pavlovian response: Guilt. Guilt quickly followed by a spending spree on periodicals and cleaning supplies. They grab every magazine in sight and, in a fit of post-New Year’s resolution fervor, vow to Martha Stewartize their homes.

Do these articles help? Do they unlock the sacred secret of “eat off your basement floor” womanhood? Hahahahahahaha. Pardon me — I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were serious. (Guilt Springs Eternal continues here.)

Multi-Task Madness

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Perhaps I’m out of line, but I think that when you get behind the wheel of a gazillion pound motorized vehicle, turn the ignition key, get into gear, hit the gas, and begin to move, you should maybe … I don’t know … PAY ATTENTION.

This approach has many advantages. For example, if you carefully observe your fellow drivers, you can:

a: Pick up lipstick application tips from the woman going 65;

b: Place bets on how far into your lane the guy next to you will swerve while switching CD’s or poking his iPod; … (Multitask Madness continues here.)

1996 Humor Column About Underwear Shopping With My Mother

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Thanks to all of you for your kind emails, comments, and Twitter tweets about my mother’s death. I really appreciate it!

In my mother’s honor, I’m posting a 1996 humor column she inspired during happier (and funnier) times:

Secret Shopper
By Madeleine Begun Kane

“I’m not going in there. No way. Forget it.”

My seventy-something mother’s stance was as rigid as her words; arms folded across her chest, unyielding legs pointed away from the shop I’d just suggested.

She and I had spent the entire afternoon combing through three department stores for the definitive pair of panties. Or at least my mom’s idea of same. This illusive undergarment had to be loose, comfortable, 100% cotton, and totally devoid of lace. And that was just for starters. It also had to completely cover my mother’s hips and come in a large size, the exact number of which she resolutely refused to disclose. … (Secret Shopper is continued here.)

My Close Encounter (I Think) With Paul Newman

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I awoke today to the sad news that the great Paul Newman has died.  Paul Newman has always been one of my favorite actors.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I encountered him many years ago in a New York bar.  At least, I’m pretty sure I encountered him, but you be the judge.  Here’s a column I wrote about the incident way back when:

OGLING EYES

I was ogled last night by a very handsome, classy looking, much older man. Now most women (and I’m no exception) are secretly gratified by the occasional gawker … unless catcalls and droopy drawers are involved. (Okay, maybe not the sponsors of the Anti-Ogling Addendum to the ERA.)

Unfortunately, I’m such an unobservant person, that I usually have to trip over an ogler to notice him. Here’s a recent exchange with hubby Mark:

   Mark: Did you see that guy leering at you?

   Me: What guy?

   Mark: The one you just stepped on … over there on the stretcher.

However, even I couldn’t fail to catch last night’s ogling. It lasted forty-five minutes, well beyond the flattering stage into the “keep your lascivious eyeballs to yourself, buster” stage.

But here’s the thing — I’m almost positive (although not lie detector positive) that those ogling eyes (and the rest of him) belonged to Paul Newman.

Yes, I know that sounds unlikely, if not downright absurd. What would Paul Newman be doing anywhere near me? And even if we did briefly and serendipitously share the same piece of real estate, surely he could find something better to eye. And why wasn’t he busy dodging hordes of autograph hounds pestering … and ogling … him? … (Ogling Eyes is continued here.)

Mad Kane In The News

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I’m very pleased that my Robert Benchley Society Humor Award has generated a fair amount of publicity.  This article in Gannett’s Journal News is probably the best of the stories.  And it has a fun companion video of me reading one of my humor columns.

Bob Newhart Names “Mad” Kane Winner of 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Back in June I was thrilled to announce that I was a 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor Competition finalist. (The humor column that got me onto the finalists list is Guide For The Opera Impaired.

Well, I’m now beyond thrilled because Bob Newhart, the finalists judge, picked me as the FIRST PRIZE winner.

Mr. Newhart even sent me a handwritten personal note (reproduced below) explaining why he named me for the top Robert Benchley Society humor award.

Right now I’m verging on euphoria —a dangerous condition for a satirist.  But just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mr. Benchley and Mr. Newhart is almost beyond comprehension.

Here’s Mr. Newhart’s note. (Needless to say, I plan to frame the original.)

Bob Newhart Letter

UPDATE: I’m very pleased that my award has generated a fair amount of publicity.  This article in Gannett’s Journal News is probably the best of the stories.  And it has a fun companion video of me reading one of my humor columns.

I’m a 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor Finalist.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Cool news! I’m a 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor Competition finalist. (The humor column that got me onto the finalists list is Guide For The Opera Impaired.)

“We had a delightful time selecting our top ten finalists this year,” said Robert Benchley Society chairperson David Trumbull. “It is a true honor to turn the job of selecting the top four essays over to Bob Newhart.”

“All of the entries are read blind.  No one knows who wrote which essay until the judging is finished.  This keeps the competition entirely merit based,” said Horace J. Digby, a past Benchley Society Award winner…

Newhart’s selection and ranking of the top four winners for this year’s Robert Benchley Society Awards will be announced the week of July 6th. 
 
The Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor is an international writing competition dedicated to the warm, self-effacing comic writing style that made Benchley so beloved during his lifetime.  …

I thought I’d celebrate with a limerick:

I can barely maintain my sobriety
Cuz the great Robert Benchley Society
Held a contest and wow,
I’m a finalist now.
Will I win the top prize? High anxiety!

Yet Another Tax Humor Piece: Interactive Taxes

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Interactive Taxes
By Madeleine Begun Kane 

Hello. Welcome to Taxtime, your Interactive Tax Preparer Program. Do you feel like doing your taxes today?

I see. Well, don’t you think you should do them anyway? After all, it’s April 14. And who knows? Maybe you’ll get a refund.

That’s the spirit. Let’s begin with your name, address, and marital status.

Sorry to hear about the divorce. But don’t let it get you down. That alimony deduction will come in handy.

Please don’t cry. Things are bound to improve. In the meantime, let’s talk about dependents. Do you have any children?

Wow! I hope they’re not all in college.

You’re having visitation problems on top of everything else? Gee, I can’t help you there. But you might try our Interactive Matrimonial Lawyer Software.

I hate lawyers too. But we’re really veering off track … (Interactive Taxes is continued here.)

Planning To Travel With Friends? Are You Sure That’s Wise?

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Years ago I wrote a humorous joint travel contract for the Philadelphia Inquirer. I’ve been meaning to post it on this blog, but I keep forgetting. And Sunday Scribblings’ post about fellow travelers has prompted me to finally do it: 

Revel With A Clause
By Madeleine Begun Kane 

Your closest friends keep badgering you to join them on a trip. You’re running out of excuses and may be forced to go along. Can friendship survive seven days of constant contact? Will you loathe each other by the time you return?

Joint vacations can be a challenge to any relationship. But with patience, a sense of humor and the help of this agreement, you can take that trip and keep your friendship intact.

AGREEMENT entered into this __________, 20__ by two close couples who would like to remain friends.

WHEREAS, Couples A and B are about to embark on a shared vacation;

WHEREAS, Couple B would rather stay home, but has agreed to give this trip a try;

WHEREAS, Couples want to work out ground rules so their friendship won’t self-destruct.

NOW, THEREFORE, Couples agree to the following vacation terms:

1. The trip shall commence on a date determined after consulting Couples’ children, employers, and baby-sitters. It shall not involve backpacks or a tent.

2. Once a date has been chosen, Couples shall enter into vacation spot negotiations. The following factors shall be duly considered in the course of site selection:

(a.) Wife A burns if she glances out a window.

(b.) Wife B loves to sprawl out on the beach.

(c.) Husband A considers himself an art aficionado.

(d.) Husband B admires prints of large-eyed tots. … (Revel With A Clause is continued here.)