Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The best coffee shop

He looks like the owner so Ken opens with a compliment.
Ken: Nice place.

Owner: Thank you.

Ken: You are the owner?

Owner: You could say that.

Ken: I want to tell you something. I like this place. I like it a lot. Of all the coffee shops I use, I like this one the best.

Owner: Oh. Well, Thank you. Again.

Ken: And you know why? I'll tell you why. This place has space, lots of wood, good chairs, good food, stained glass, nice lighting, it's quiet, no jarring music, the WiFi is reliable and free, I can work.

Owner: And the coffee?

Ken: Coffee is generally coffee. Ambience and facilities count.

Owner: This was my mother's house. She would be pleased to hear I am doing this right.


Monday, April 28, 2008


Edith, a fighter for cost-cutting on the social committee, finds herself ousted by a vote of no-confidence. Bewidered, she asks Eric, another member, why.

Eric: I didn't vote for dismissal.
Edith: Two people supported me but eight people voted for my dismissal.
Eric: They all went with the chair.
Edith: I had the data. The funds have been misused. They had no argument.
Eric: Perhaps the chair has something to hide. Maybe because you dig up the dirt, you make a grave for yourself.
Edith: It's because they don't like me. I know I'm pushy, I bring these issues out in the open.
Eric: Not to be too blunt, but if you stuck to the facts, didn't go over your allotted time, didn't accuse them of not liking you, the vote could have gone against the chair. You had the data, you just missed getting them on your side.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Malaysian English

Eric is asking a Malaysian friend about communicating in English.

Eric: Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about Malaysian English? And videotape the exchange?

Rahmat: Can ah. No problem, la.

Eric: So what's the defining characteristic of Malaysian English?

Rahmat: La.

Eric: And where do you think that came from?

Rahmat: Transfer?

Eric: Where do you think English is going? Will it develop into a number of mutually unintelligible dialects?

Rahmat: Oh, no. We all speak same same, soon.

Eric: La.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Desperately trying to finish an entry but

Ever experienced this?

Grumpy: We close in ten minutes.
Bill: No problem.

Twenty minutes pass.

Grumpy: I'm shutting the system down now.
Bill: OK. OK. I'm just saving ... Dang. Why d'you do that?


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Welcome back

Ben meets an old friend, Marc, at the faculty meeting.


Ben: How was sabbatical?

Marc: Aside from the paperwork, inspiring.

Ben: There are things that need attending to.

Marc: Nothing that can’t wait, surely. We have some catching up to do. We must resume those jousts. You haven’t changed at all.

Ben: But you have.

Marc: Changed?

Ben: You look more, Roman.

Marc: What can you expect, after a sabbatical in the Eternal City?


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rudyard Kipling

Rin Tin Tin usually wins against the cobra...
Rudyard: If you can... fight a cobra...
Rin Tin Tin: Then you can call yourself a mongoose.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sketching from memory

Edward expresses his preference for drawing from memory. Earnestly.


Edward: I think it was Degas. Or maybe Matisse. Anyway, whoever it was, he’d go from his studio down to the basement where he’s have the model he was drawing, and then rush up the stairs and to draw as much as he remembered.

Henri: Good way to exercise.

Edward: It wasn’t for that. He didn’t like drawing directly from models.

Henri: Is that why you don’t like drawing from photographs?

Edward: I’m not Degas.

Henri: Any more than I am Matisse.


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Monday, April 21, 2008

Statler and Waldorf on gentlemen's clubs

Statler and Waldorf are a little confused between the old and the new connotations of gentlemen's clubs.

Statler: Tell me about your retirement plans!

Waldorf: Who knows? Plans are fickle things. Yesterday I was thinking about Uruguay because they don’t have such an aging population or such high tax.

Statler: That was yesterday.

Waldorf: Yes. Today, I am thinking, well maybe Palmerston North wouldn’t be so bad, it’s got a lot of wind and rain so we could future-proof ourselves against power and water there maybe? Nice place to sit indoors. I dream of a nice club or maybe coffee shop somewhere you and I could have a game of chess or go wuff wuff behind our newspapers.

Statler: Umm. By club, do you mean the old sort or the new sort?

Waldorf: Whatever do you mean?

Statler: Well, the old sort were the kind where men could go to get away from females in general but now clubs seem to mean the opposite.

Waldorf: Aah. Well, we are of an age where I think we mean the former. Don’t we?

Statler: Do we?

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Amedeo Modigliani and Jeanne Hébuterne

Amedeo Modigliani and Jeanne Hébuterne


Antoine: 1920 and he’s 35 and she’s 22.

Juliette: When they married?

Antoine: When they died.

Juliette: Together?

Antoine: Not quite. Full of drugs and other substances, he dies of tubercular meningitis, and she throws herself out a window two days later, killing herself and her unborn child.

Juliette: Distraught?

Antoine: You could say that.

Juliette: And his work?

Antoine: Time will tell. His pictures catch your attention but there is a similarity between them all. The oval faces, the almond eyes, the pursed lips. Even his few landscapes look like the bodies he drew. That tree curves like a torso.

Juliette: Or like Jeanne's finger. Artists are crazy.

Antoine: Some, maybe, but not all. Beatrix Potter?


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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quote, unquote

Sven does this often. May asks why.


Sven: I do it when I am using someone else’s words. It means “quote, unquote.”

May: Don’t you say who said it?

Sven: I usually don’t know who said it. I go quote unquote when I think it’s a common expression.

May: Shouldn’t you use your left hand for “quote” and right hand for “unquote”?We write left to right.

Sven: I’m left-handed.


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Friday, April 18, 2008

Story in six words

Auditioning for a career change...

Brad: How short can a story be?

George: Hemingway wrote one once in six words. "For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."

Brad: Hemingway? You went to journalism school. You try.

George: Watch this space. See you tomorrow.

Brad: Huh. All suspense, no character development.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am nomad

Malai asks Sam why he always brings his computer to the coffee shop.

Sam: I am nomad. I have no office. I work here this morning, in the afternoon I work across town. I can work anywhere there is Wi-Fi.

Malai: Is that all you do?

Sam: All?

Malai: Just work.

Sam: I do kick-boxing when the net is down. I have a balanced life, you know.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Film project

Koji beams his telephone number to Ken and then remarks on the project.

Koji: Nobody in this film project is ordinary.

Ken: I’d go so far as to say everyone is a bit strange in their own way.

Koji: Do you think that’s why he chose us?

Ken: You heard what he said. Can’t run a creative film-making project with ordinary people.

Koji: But if everyone’s crazy, nobody will agree and the project will collapse.

Ken: That’s why he calls us NQOPs.

Koji: Not quite ordinary people. Might work.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beam it to me

Yoshiko and Megumi exchange telephone numbers first day in class after sudoku.


Yoshiko: What’s your phone number?

Megumi: I’ll call you and then you’ll know.

Yoshiko: But you’d have to enter my number. It’s just quicker if I beam you mine and you beam me yours.

Megumi: Okay. Beam me, now, go.


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Monday, April 14, 2008


Filomena (driving) and Gabriela (behind) see a classmate riding a Luna TRF.


Gabriela: Who is he?

Filomena: Name’s Giovanni.

Gabriela: Handsome, isn’t he!

Filomena: But that scooter! It’s Indian.

Gabriela: So?

Filomena: It breaks down all the time, he uses it as a pretext to get a ride with you back to town.

Gabriela: I’d forgive him.


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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Imaginary conversation

At a Psych conference Sigmund is having what he thinks is an imaginary conversation with Johann.

Sigmund: Thank you very much for your comments about my paper. Encourage someone and they don’t forget you.

Johann: I know, when I said I wanted to leave academia and go into practice, people criticized me for it, it didn’t help me find my way.

Sigmund: And is the way coming clearer?

Johann: It’ll take a while. I am never really sure I am headed in the right direction.

Sigmund: I’ll let you know a secret. You can keep a secret? I am sometimes never sure whether the person I am speaking to actually exists.

Johann: I exist.

Sigmund: If you say so. I certainly have a convincing impression that you are standing here. But I am not sure whether this is actually me standing here. It’s just that people are beginning to inhabit my head and start chatting to each other in there.


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Friday, April 11, 2008

After diagnosis

Barry visits Leo who had a somewhat traumatic visit to the vet two days ago.


Barry: You have a lucky face, Leo. I’m not just saying that like some Indian fortune teller. I mean it. You made a lot of people happy, you made a lot of people laugh.

Leo yawns.

Tired? Well, no doubt it’s the medicine. Let’s just hope… You feel a bit more comfortable after the prednisone? Did you understand what the vet said?

Leo looks up.

We’ll do our best. Medicine. Food, whatever you like to eat. And let’s just hope. You never know. Do our best to put ourselves at the tail of the bell curve. That could mean several months.

Leo settles closer.

That’s it. Nice to just sit close.

Ten minutes of silence pass.

Will say this for you. You are a good listener.


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Straight hair

Lily, from Hong Kong wants curls. She asks Alicia who runs a hairdressing business from her university dorm room.


Lily: I always wanted curls like yours.

Alicia: Easy with a crimping iron.

Lily: Not even a crimping iron will work on my hair.

Alicia: Mmm. It’s dead straight. Might need hot rollers.

Lily: Could you?

Alicia: Can try. Never curled Asian hair. To make it stay curled overnight you might need to go the whole hog and use gel and loads of hairspray too.


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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Black swan

A friend of Ernest’s has a rare disease.


Ernest: One in a million chance. And Wolfgang gets it.

Frank: Black swan.

Ernest: Huh?

Frank: Something that just comes out of the blue. A random occurrence. Swans were always white until they found black ones in Australia.

Ernest: Never expected. No warning.

Frank: Exactly. Chaos theory, Fractal theory. Now Taleb’s black swan theory. Riemke describes the path of her life as totally haphazard. The good things and the bad things are unpredicted. The impact of the improbable and unforeseen.


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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mantis with attitude

Mantis is hungry.


Mantis: Gotta be a juicy ant around here somewhere.

(Gregory arrives, puts foot in shoe)

Gregory: I’m just going to kick the ball around a bit… Hello! A MANTIS?

Mantis: You kick a ball with me on here, I’ll bite your ankle, real hard.



Monday, April 7, 2008

Kinetic Luna

Harry, who is part Indian, has abandoned his attempt to cycle around Northern Territory and has elected to do it by moped instead.


Reporter: The local community wishes you well on this expedition. But we are curious why you chose, out of all possible motorcycles, the Kinetic Luna.

Harry: Many reasons. There are long distances between filling stations. On this I can do 300 ks on a tankful… My ancestors are from India and this is a moped which has been made in India for forty years. It isn’t difficult to fix if it breaks down.

Reporter: I see tools on the ground already.

Harry: I just assembled it.

Reporter: You’ve tested it?

Harry: Around the back lawn.

Reporter: And a final question: what is the horsepower?

Harry: One horsepower. Hills are a problem for it but it has pedals and there aren’t many hills in Northern Territory.


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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vengeful goddess

Keiko, who is a bit superstitious, and her friend, Shigeko, are pedaling a boat on Inokashira lake.


Keiko: They’re doomed.

Shigeko: Who?

Keiko: That couple.

Shigeko: Doomed. You mean because of the Benten shrine goddess?

Keiko: Very vengeful goddess. Any couple who venture on the lake in a boat will break up.

Shigeko: Us too?

Keiko: Only applies to heteros.


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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Conversations as poems

Basil discusses his quest with a sceptical Sybil


Basil: I am on a quest.

Sybil: Which is…?

Basil: I want to find perfectly formed conversations.

Sybil: Are there such things?

Basil: Just as there are many perfect poems, especially short ones, like haiku, so I think short conversations can a kind poem.

Sybil: Conversations as poems? Like when you say to the Chinese baker, “One wholemeal,” and she replies, “Two dollar fifty, love.” Short, but hardly poetic.

Basil: No, not that, it needs a bit more, like words, sensitivity of mood, rhythm.


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Friday, April 4, 2008

Hearing and forgetting, seeing and remembering

Wanat, in the market, gets a call from her daughter, Sofia.
Sofia: Pick up some turmeric. And we're almost out of rice. Oh, and pumpkin seeds.

Wanat: Say again.

Sofia: Turmeric, rice, pumpkin seeds.

Wanat: You know I always tell you I hear and I forget. I see and I remember.

Sofia: I know Mom. And I do and I understand. But look. Good to practise listening too. I'll make it easy. T - R - P. Turmeric, Rice, Pumpkin seeds.

Wanat: T - R - P.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

No email from you

SMS text exchange between Miles and Zuzanna.

Zuzanna: Y U not reply to my EMs? Sent 3 in last 2 days.
Miles: I replied. Sent U 5 EMs.
Zuzanna: Nothing frm U. Strange!
Miles: Did U MayB report one of my replies as nuisance mail? That would have blocked future mail from me 2 U.
Zuzanna: Oh. I might have. What to do?
Miles: Quickest if you make a new EM address and we'll test it.

That report function for flagging spam can lose you friends and relations. When you press report, check who you've flagged.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Drawing and writing

Two strangers exchange identifying openings.

Taylor: What do you do?
Sarah: I draw.
Taylor: And why do you draw?
Sarah: It makes me think about what I see.
Taylor: So you don't draw for others, you draw for yourself?
Sarah: Sometimes I draw for others. I teach drawing. But what do you do?
Taylor: I think, I write.
Sarah: As in I think, then I write? Or as in you write but you are not sure if this is what you do?
Taylor: I like to think surprising thoughts and then surprise readers with them.
Sarah: So thought is a kind of drawing for you through which you interpret what you see?
Taylor: A graphic image. And you have reminded me that not everything I think might be correct.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Coffee shop plan

Frank, an energetic retired engineer in his 80s, has an idea for putting the roof of his small museum to use and shows Lloyd the approach he has in mind.


Frank: Come on up.

Lloyd: This is the access?

Frank: It’s not so difficult.

Lloyd: This ladder is an antique. It’s an artifact.

Frank: My point. We’re only allowed to build a storage room for archives and artifacts on the roof.

Lloyd: Is that all?

Frank: But look at the view from up here. Great sight for a coffee shop. Recreate coffee houses as a modern place to work. Wireless and coffee.

Lloyd: But you can’t get planning approval for a coffee shop?

Frank: Not to say it can’t be done. Archiving is a foot in the door. Put in a kitchen and toilet and Bob’s your uncle.

Lloyd: And build in a new staircase.


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