Like many in my trade, I constantly strive to balance the personal and professional aspects of my experience, which is to say, I write about myself a lot. Let me assure you, darling legion of readers, that this is not (always) due to deadline-inspired egomania. Rather, I have the sneaking suspicion that underneath my roguish exterior there lurks some lurid putty desperate to be molded into a complete soul. After doing some soul-searching around the office – that is, searching for others’ souls – I found that everyone seemed to have one, including Flash Lely, who has two, which he attributes to having absorbed his twin in utero. I also found a soul without a corporeal correlate lingering around the kitchen.
Though poltergeists are not uncommon in company kitchens (many are born from lunches left to putrefy in the back of the refrigerator), sentient visitors from the astral plane are. The lost soul I encountered was that of a newspaperman, late of the Sonoma Valley Expositor – the paper that occupied our offices in the 1890s. The spirit communicated through the low hum of the microwave when I used it to reheat some coffee. This is what it told me:
“A writer’s soul is never whole – a little piece gets knicked off and you spend the rest of your life scratching for it with your pen.”
“I never write longhand,” I responded.
“It’s a metaphor.”
“Not when you’ve got carpal tunnel syndrome.”
“What the hell’s that mean?” it asked.
“Writer’s cramp,” I explained. “But with twice the syllables.” (Adding unnecessary syllables is a super-power of mine.) The microwave beeped before the specter could retort.
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The comedian who coined the set-up “A man walks into a bar” is suing for copyright infringement. Louis Levowitz, a borscht belt comic whose heyday was nearly 75 years ago (he has since retired to Temelec), has announced that he will bring suit against anyone who uses his set-up without paying him royalty and credit for the line’s creation. Levowitz claimed he created the six-word set-up while seated at a Catskills tavern, when a man walked into the bar with a duck under his arm. Levowitz said in a statement “I knew then that I had comedy gold.” The comedian experimented with the set-up for several months before its initial release in the little known gag, “A man walks into a bar with a duck, a broom and hand-crank Victrola. The bartender says, ‘Can I get you a drink?’ The man says ‘It depends. Do you have holy water?’ The bartender looks around and, sure enough, finds a bottle labeled ‘holy water.’ The man says, ‘Great, now go stick it in your ear.’ Though Levowitz’s joke never caught on, the set-up did. The case goes to court next week.
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German neurologists have debunked the myth that World War II architect Adolf Hitler’s brain was saved in a jar. It turns out the brain marked “Hitler” that was stored in the German National Archive actually belonged to the dictator’s valet, Gunther Shmidt. This was discovered when a team of Eldridge-based neuroscientists tried to engage the erstwhile intellect with the Nogginator, a computer-neural interface used to download cranial content for historical research. Expecting to recover memories from the genocidal author of “Mein Kampf,” researchers instead found themselves deluged with street maps and phone numbers to escort services. Said Dr. Erik Hautenfodder, “We might as well have gone online – at least the numbers would still be good.”