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July 24, 2005


I'm disappointed that the detail about RAM modules had nothing to do with the final pun.

Which is maybe why you, with your shaggy dog philosophy, like it. The details raise the expectation of a really clever pun, but at the end there is merely a rather lousy one.

I'm glad you approve.

I approve of Ben's use of the pie narrative to wrench us from our preconceptions of titleness.

What are you talking about?

Each of your most recent nine posts (including this one) bear titles which, when taken in order, are better understood as brief penses on your coordinates in piespace, than as evocative refractions of the text they introduce.

But you have rendered many other of your posts as title-body orthogons. What strikes me here is the Calvino-esque descant, the story above the stories.

I really don't know what you're talking about.

Let's go slowly then. The title of the above post begins "Pies do have something of a hypnotic effect on me". Do you agree?

SB, have you read this? (The literal meaning of that sentence is unambiguous, but it could be taken to suggest either of two things.)

You know, it's awfully hard to carry on a conversation with someone who's talking nonsense, SB.

To Michael, whose comment actually is coherent, I say: yes, precisely.

I said before that you guys (an overlapping set and possibly a superset of the referent of "you guys" in this context) were all wrong about shaggy-dog stories. But I see, to my surprise, that Ben got it right before. The punchline of a proper shaggy-dog story is something that would not even be recognizable as a joke were it not preceded by an elaborate joke-like setup. So jokes such as the one linked, in which a long setup containing lots of irrelevant details leads to a pun that could have been set up much more economically, are not proper shaggy-dog stories.

I disagree with Ben that the shaggy-dog jokes are not amusing at all. The frame-breaking device of the non-punchline is in fact amusing, once the setup has lulled one into the proper mood. I must admit that the last time I told my favorite shaggy-dog story, the audience was on a morphine drip.

SB, have you read this?

Yes. I happen to disagree with the premise.

Ben, I've been such a fool. You object (quite rightly!) to my conflation of Ben Wolfson, author of waste blog, with the "I" of the discursive post titles. That was sloppy of me, and I appreciate your patience and subtlety in prompting me to recognize my error.

I should have attributed the piespace coordinates to the titles' speaker, and not to you personally.

The suggestion that I, ben wolfson, am the author of this blog is offensive to me.

Matt, I really do think that shaggy dog stories are funny, but only to the teller and to the informed audience. Or rather, the non-informed audience might find it funny when the punchline finally arrives, but there's no guarantee of that, and the teller and the informed audience will find the whole thing funny.

The punchline of a proper shaggy-dog story is something that would not even be recognizable as a joke were it not preceded by an elaborate joke-like setup.

I recall sort of talking to the guy who advised my BA thesis about this, but I can't recall what the context was. Shaggy dog stories are only recognizable as jokes because they have the joke-form.

Also, thanks for reminding me of those Pogo jokes. Those things are great.

Someone other than Porky says at some point, "Who was that lady I sawed with you last night?" I wonder, however, who you were talking to who did not admit that Pogo is funny. Or is it just that Porky's jokes, themselves, were said not to be funny outside the dramatic context?

The latter. Try telling the barnacles joke to someone sometime.

No one suggested "ben wolfson", whoever he is, had anything to do with this blog.

Defeated once again by case sensitivity.

What was the original of the 'barnacles' joke?

I have no idea.

No doubt these pieces will form part of Ben's upcoming work, If on a Summer's Night a Pie.

From Matt's link, I have questions. I don't get the 1st pogo joke. Pls to explain. Also, what's your favourite joke? - the link is broken.

The fact that you think there's something to get about the barnacles joke shows that you are hopelessly mired on the wrong path.

My favorite joke, which I had a hand in creating so it's rather immodest of me to say it's my favorite, is "Yo mamma so shaggy, she ain't that shaggy".

Such a work would doubtless upcome, ac, if Ben ever came to grasp the significance of what he (or whomever) had written.

I think the pie has a life of its own at this point, and may simply publish itself.

This is a post for the waste blog:

At midnight, in the month of July,
I sit before a mystic pie.
An opiate liquid, viscous, dim,
Issues from out its golden rim,
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet counter top,
Steals languidly, and without purpose
Over the linoleum surface.

The intestine lurking below the crust,
The kidney boil'd in wine robust—
Baking within the doughy shell
The mixture congeals into jell.

O, humble pie! can it be right—
This tasting in the midst of night?

All you people talking about pie seem to be neglecting the onward momentum of the narrative.

I knew a guy who used to go around sidestreets and sidewalks trying to make a living getting people to pay him to make up shaggy dog stories on the spot and tell them to passing strangers. After a while he had to give up on the occupation, failing as he did to make enough money to eat, and soon he descended into the depths of poverty. Rather than come up with a new career he preferred, while dwelling beneath bridges and overpasses, to dwell on the failure of audiences to appreciate the cleverness of his jokes and the failure of his clever jokes to appreciate in value. It was in this awful condition that he was met by a musician who, dabbling in various genres, decided to dedicate a song to him in the reggae style. And thus was born the little-known "No Wolfson No Cry."

Damn. I forgot to pun awful with offal.

Nevertheless, bravo.

*bows, exits as curtain begins to fall*

S.P.Q. Arthur, as the subject veered from pies to pasta, we tireless hermeneuts found our progress checked by one Mr. Obstinate Pants.

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