Dame Edna Everage

As Edna patrols the front of the stage in her custom-made size-11 shoes, she winkles out the particulars of people in the front rows, who become, over the course of the evening, the cast of characters against whom she flings all her thinly disguised aggression. Take, for instance, Ginger, from North Carolina. "Is that outfit of yours reversible?" Dame Edna asks her. "Try it inside out, Ginger. You have nothing to lose."

-- from a review of the show "Back with a Vengeance!" in the Dec. 6, 2004 issue of the New Yorker

Auto repair

Co-worker 1: ...You can't fix your own car anymore. On my son's new car, just to replace the oil pan you have to remove the entire engine.

Co-worker 2: Lift with the legs.

Wrong wrong wrong

Judging from the calls I'm getting, the person who lived in this apartment before me apparently operated a business from home that involved selling soap and shampoo made out of fruit and vegetables. I've had worse.

In the 1990s at another apartment some callers mistook my phone number for that of a massage parlor if they transposed two digits while dialing. Late one night my phone rang and I let the machine answer. The guy asked that a young blond woman be delivered to his room at the Ritz-Carlton. He must've had to wait a long time; I was fresh out.

I still feel bad about the night back in college when I answered the phone and a girl told me all about her day, all the little details, and after she said that she had been thinking about me, I had to say that I didn't know her and she must've misdialed. That was one time I was a good listener though.

As a kid, I jotted down the number of the phone booth at the gas station nearest to home. Occasionally I would dial that number just to see what would happen. The first time somebody answered, I asked to speak to Clark Kent. The guy didn't get it; with a tone of great concern he said, "This is a phone booth, you know," and I thanked him and hung up.

We're just glad everyone is safe

I spend the last two weeks orchestrating every aspect of my move to this apartment and after living here a few days I realize a couple things. (1) The doors in this apartment are not hanging straight; they all seem to hang a little to the left. Story of my life. (2) Half my underwear is missing. I've checked everywhere, including the kitchen cupboards. I can't believe it's gone. I swear I packed it all; that was a priority. On the other hand my collection of never-used twist-ties made it all the way here. Wait.

(Five minutes later.)

I found my underwear; it was in the dryer. This place has a washer/dryer in the unit and I forgot I left a load in the dryer. So it's true: Writing about your problems can bring you closer to a solution.

For audiophiles only

Years ago this book was published: Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony, by Lewis Thomas. What a great title. I can see myself, listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony late one night, puffing on a pipe thoughtfully. Isabel is curled on the divan, snuggled in a duvet, dallying with a Dove bar, watching me blow smoke rings. Ha ha! The simple pleasures are the best, don't you think?

I don't have a pipe or a copy of Mahler's Ninth or an Isabel, but again, what a great title. You should buy that book just to have around for display; it makes you look so intelligent. My book, Late Night Musings on Hearing Terry Jacks Sing Seasons in the Sun, will not be quite as profound.

We had joy we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the stars we could reach
Were just starfish on the beach