by iampunha | 7/03/2008 08:00:00 AM
I was in my adolescence before I realized this contemporary writer ("humorist" is so dry) had influenced my father's jokes to the point that my father probably owes a few of his wrinkles to this man.

I'm pretty sure the man in question would respond in an unpredictable way, fitting because the sons of Presbyterian ministers don't predictably go on to win Pulitzer prizes for making us laugh in spite of (and sometimes because of) ourselves.

In 1983, when this man began writing for the Miami Herald, most of us were not reading him on the computer, which probably explains why nationwide sales of lonely keyboards and monitors did not spike until the age of the Internet, when spit takes of coffee and Mountain Dew started to decorate people's computer hardware with regularity.

"If God had intended people to read me online," this writer might one day write in response, "He would have invented sneeze guards, and then he would have removed them from the Applebee's salad bar David Broder frequents."

Whatever Dave Barry (born July 3, 1947) does today, I hope he doesn't read this entry, because I am not funny except accidentally, whereas he ::humorous anecdote::.

For Jim Morrison, who died on July 3, 1971.

The classic funny person (funnyman looks as weird to me as humorist seems dry) is funny because as he (in this case) (is this too many parentheticals? (I think so too) (I'm stopping now, really) -- or she -- tells a story, the audience (no really, I'm stopping) starts to expect a certain ending.

Dave Barry has made his mark for the last ::mumble:: years by never, ever, ever giving you that certain ending. The closest I think he's ever come was when he wrote about Japan's annual memorial to the victims of the atomic bombs' dropping in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But that wasn't supposed to be funny. The writing, I mean. Not that the bombing was supposed to be funny, because it wasn't. It was supposed to kill lots of people and suggest very strongly to Hirohito (or someone apparently equally hard to impress), "Dear Hirohito:

We will bomb you until you surrender.


Harry S. Truman

CC: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, file"

And in light of how Very Serious Journalists have been talking for a while now about the latest threat to America, or what wearing a flag lapel pin says about a man, or what coffee versus orange juice says about a man's character, or how the Soviets (Ha! You thought (why?) I was going to stop!) were drilling for oil on the White House lawn, according to one columnist's hairdresser's cousin Maggie, who has the tape of Michelle Obama saying "whitey."

Wait, that was a sentence fragment. (Maybe I should stop using parenthetical statements.) (Right after this one.)

My point, before it gets blunted by all those parentheses, is that Dave Barry doesn't write merely to poke fun at Very Serious Topics. He pokes fun so we don't remember, 50 words later, what the particular Very Serious Topic is.

On FISA, which has been a wonderfully contentious topic of late, Dave Barry might have written the following:

"My wife turned on MSNBC (motto: "Giving Pat Buchanan a job because everyone else refused to") Friday to find out that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had been revived in the House of Representatives by Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

This arose in me the following crucial question, and one I imagine pundits and other quasi-humans will be asking each other in the ensuing days:

What the heck kind of a name is Steny?

Rob, my son, went on the Internet and found out that Steny is a Danish (motto: "All the other names were taken") name. So let us hope, for the sake of future Danish people (and danish-eating people), that when Steny Hoyer's father said 'His name is Steny,' he had a danish in his mouth, because otherwise, what kind of fool names are we going to give people next? Billo? Lanny? For God's sake, Liam? What kind of sadist do you have to be to punish a kid like that?

Anyway, so this FISA bill now goes to the Senate, where Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama says he'll sign on with whatever version ends up final.

To that, I have this to say: As bad as President George W. Bush (motto: "Compassionately conservative about conserving the votes of rich, religious people, like Katherine Harris") has been, at least he pretends to read the legislation he asks Congress to send him. Heck, he even says exactly what he wants it to be:

'Today I have asked Congress for $350 bajillion in the form of tax relief to poor, starving oil companies in Crawford, Texas. Their CEO, Beorge G. Wush, has assured me that this is in the interests of national security and that if this money is not approved for Crawford oil companies post-haste, gas will soon approach more than $6 a gallon at the pump and there will be unsightly brush on local ranches. Americans need this kind of reform, and I urge Congress to not play politics on this nonpartisan issue unless they want another terror attack. Which, if they do, they should expect around late October on a Monday morning.'

Would John McCain ask for that kind of legislation? Maybe not, but he wouldn't sign it if there were a single earmark on it, which is political talk for 'something I have written on my ear so you can't see what it's for.' (John McCain is actually against earmarks because he can't read them.)

Critics of Barack Obama point out that he is so inexperienced that we don't know if he would ask for this, whereas we at least know that if John McCain did, he would be for $350 bajillion and not a penny more. Because that's the kind of straight-talker he is.

So anyway. FISA seems to me to be kind of a pointless bill, inasmuch as it allows us (and by us I mean "Not you, and not me, but someone, somewhere") to tap people's forms of communication, including but not limited to carrier pigeon, mail, air mail, sea mail, e-mail (in the e-mail rush, we seem to forgotten D-mail), phones, faxes, printers, scanners, copiers and toners.

Now, if God had intended for us to tap any of these things, He would have made them taste like beer. Even toner has some alcohol in it, though I do not recommend trying to get drunk off it (think of the paper jams).

Why anyone would want to tap toner, I don't know. I guess to know that, you have to be named something screwy like Steny."