Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spike Again

Spike Milligan wrote a number of silly poems. His most famous poem, On the Ning Nang Nong, was voted the UK's favourite comic poem in 1998 in a nationwide poll, ahead of other nonsense poets including Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. This nonsense verse, set to music, became a favourite Australia-wide, performed week after week by the ABC children's programme Playschool. Milligan included it on his album No One's Gonna Change Our World in 1969 to aid the World Wildlife Fund. In December 2007 it was reported that, according to OFSTED, it is amongst the ten most commonly taught poems in primary schools in the UK.

On the Ning Nang Nong 
On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!
A Silly Poem
Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I'll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B? 
'Twas midnight in the schoolroom
And every desk was shut
When suddenly from the alphabet
Was heard a loud "Tut-Tut!"

Said A to B, "I don't like C;
His manners are a lack.
For all I ever see of C
Is a semi-circular back!"

"I disagree," said D to B,
"I've never found C so.
From where I stand he seems to be
An uncompleted O."

C was vexed, "I'm much perplexed,
You criticise my shape.
I'm made like that, to help spell Cat
And Cow and Cool and Cape."

"He's right" said E; said F, "Whoopee!"
Said G, "'Ip, 'Ip, 'ooray!"
"You're dropping me," roared H to G.
"Don't do it please I pray."

"Out of my way," LL said to K.
"I'll make poor I look ILL."
To stop this stunt J stood in front,
And presto! ILL was JILL.

"U know," said V, "that W
Is twice the age of me.
For as a Roman V is five
I'm half as young as he."

X and Y yawned sleepily,
"Look at the time!" they said.
"Let's all get off to beddy byes."
They did, then "Z-z-z." 
Spike Milligan

So to celebrate this great comic verse, we include our own version of Spike as seen at the Royal Botanical Gardens last week.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Answer is Spike Milligan

I keep finding more jokes.  I've included one that brings a number of jokes together into a  light-hearted narrative.  I do that because I pursued the question of the funniest joke and found the answer.  There are many headlines claiming the top 10, or top 20, or top 50 funniest jokes.  How do I know they are?

I track down the answer - there is a person who has investigated the funniest joke.  The Wikipedia entry for the World's funniest joke identifies university researcher, Richard Wiseman's experiment to find the funniest joke.  His website LaughLab was created for people to rate and submit jokes and it now showcases his research, books, tv appearances, etc.

Where does the winning joke come from? The winning joke is based on a 1951 Goon Show sketch by Spike Milligan. Wiseman is quoted:
"It is very rare to be able to track down the origin of any joke but this is an exception," said Prof Wiseman. "There is some very rare footage from 1951 showing the Goons in their first TV appearance. Just by chance I saw it on a documentary and saw a version of the very same joke."
The material would have been written by Spike Milligan and the script reads:
Michael Bentine: I just came in and found him lying on the carpet there.
Peter Sellers: Oh, is he dead?
Bentine: I think so.
Sellers: Hadn't you better make sure?
Bentine: All right. Just a minute.
Sound of two gun shots.
Bentine: He's dead.
Prof Wiseman contacted Milligan's daughter, Sile, and she is as certain as she can be that he would have written the gag. She said she was "delighted that dad wrote the world's funniest joke".
Prof Wiseman said: "I think what is interesting here is that a joke from the 1950s still works, and how it has transformed over time from a cosy sitting room to hunters in New Jersey."
He added: "Spike Milligan was clearly into surreal humour. The sort of people who like his stuff will be people with a high tolerance for ambiguity because the sketches don't really have a sense of closure."

The winning joke is:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says, "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence; then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, "OK, now what?"

If you would like to receive your own 2017 calendar, let me know and I will email it to you directly. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Knock Knock History

You can head over to the Joke Encyclopedia at which has this joke on the front page:
He was a mediocre conductor of a mediocre orchestra. He had been having problems with the basses; they were the least professional of his musicians. It was the last performance of the season, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which required extra effort from the basses at the end. Earlier that evening, he found the basses celebrating one of their birthdays by passing a bottle around. As he was about to cue the basses, he knocked over his music stand. The sheet music scattered. As he stood in front of his orchestra, his worst fear was realized;
It was the bottom of the 9th, no score and the basses were loaded.
Mental has documented the history of the Knock Knock joke.  It starts in 1606 with Shakespeare when a porter is awoken out of a drunken stupor by a man knocking at Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's door.

Then fast forward to 1929 to Henry Bett's book on games children play and the knock knock joke is described.

The first knock knock joke was published in 1934, although it isn't heralded as a funny joke.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Rufus who?
Rufus the most important part of your house.

In 1936 the Titusville Herald describes how What's this? the parlour game has given way to Knock Knock.

On to the 1950's and the knock knock joke was popular around the world.  In France it was Toc-Toc, in Dutch it was Klop-klop.  In Korean and Japanese it was Kon-kon. Here's the example given from the 1950's:

Knock, knock!
Who's there?
Delores who?
Delores my shepherd.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Do Nothing Day

This is Martin Luther King Jr. Day today in the U.S.  It is also "Nothing Day" - an 'un-event" proposed in 1972 by columnist Harold Pullman Coffin.  It's been observed since 1973.  It is sponsored by Coffin's National Nothing Foundation, which is a registered foundation.  This year it coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day -  the third Monday of every January.  

In contrast to National Nothing Day, the Realist Society of Canada (RSC) has a religious holiday called THABS ( "There has always been something" Day, pronounced ˈtæbs). THABS is dedicated to the celebration of the "realization" that "if there was ever nothing, there would be nothing now". It is celebrated July 8 of each year.

Today's pictures are the Sundance Central Railroad Train Layout now in permanent residence in Odessa, just outside of Orlando, FL.  These are scenes adjacent to each. The Facebook page is here and the website is and there are lots of pictures on pinterest.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Green on Wednesday

I found a website that describes the cultural meanings of colours. The site is We tend to know the associations of green - a very popularly used colour in Western societies. 
  • lucky color in most western cultures
  • spring, new birth, regeneration
  • nature and environmental awareness 
  • color for 'go' at traffic lights
  • Saint Patrick's Day 
  • Christmas combined with red
  • jealousy
  • greed
We would include money for western cultures too.  But then I came across the entry for Thailand. Green is the colour of the day for Wednesday. There is a colour for each day:
Sunday - red
Monday - yellow or cream
Tuesday - pink
Wednesday - green
Thursday - orange or brown
Friday - light blue
Saturday - purple or black

What happens in a society where there is a colour for each day?  The colours for the King and Queen of Thailand are significant, and the population wears yellow for the King and blue for the Queen on their birthdays. Political controversy is expressed in yellow shirts by the Alliance for Democracy.  Those opposing this group wear red shirts.  Those who want to be neutral wear pink shirts.  For the photographer, this is a visual feasts.

There's more information on colours in Thailand here.