Smackerels

What is this? “Smackerels” are read­ings from mag­a­zines and books I’ve found and liked—a little col­lec­tion of things that should, by rights, already be online.

Some of Us Had Been Threat­en­ing Our Friend Colby

“The two things I re­mem­ber best about the whole episode are the grate­ful look Colby gave me when I said what I said about the wire, and the fact that nobody has ever gone too far again.”

Drinking Customs of the English

“Working-class males have vir­tu­ally no choice at all. They can drink only beer and spirits—everything else is effeminate.”

In the Big House

“Officers have shanks, too?” “Yeah. We aren’t given guns, and we have to protect ourselves. We’re in jail, too. I ain’t gonna die in there, unless some­body gonna die with me. If we gonna get it on, then let’s get it on.”

The Re­cy­cling Religion

“It was an odd scene, men and women car­ry­ing what looked like votive baskets to lay them on the ground in front of their homes.”

Food Con­tainer Safety

“My Lords, can the noble Lord say whether ring-pull cans are safer than or­di­nary cans which are opened with a tin-opener? Which is safest?”

Learning All About Court

“Take this silly test to see if you can guess everyone’s job.”

Interviews with Skaters

“What’s the most trouble you’ve gotten in off the skateboard?” “My girlfriend. Not really trouble, but she wants me to be around all the time. She gets all bummed when I go skate. Right now, since I’m hurt, she’s all psyched.”

Crime Scene Cleaners

“My as­sis­tant and I—this time it was my sister—opened the door and this ungodly smell just slammed us, big time. We hadn’t learned about wearing res­pi­ra­tors yet. We hadn’t a clue.”

The Beams of New College

“A century ago, so I am told, some busy en­to­mol­o­gist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found that they were full of beetles. This was re­ported to the College Council, who met in some dismay, because where would they get beams of that caliber nowadays?”

David Boon: Aus­tralian Legend

“Boonie never set out with the in­ten­tion of break­ing the record, which, from memory, was 46 by Rod Marsh, beating the pre­vi­ous mark of 44 by Doug Walters … But not long into the flight, the Qantas staff advised us that they’d been keeping count, and Boonie was well on target.”

After Midnight

“High above the East River, on a dark main­te­nance plat­form under a well-known bridge, a young jew­eller named Gregory crouched and, with the help of a flashlight, studied a fat rubber cord.”

Disney’s Un­nat­ural Selection

Animal: South­ern gerenuk. Cause of Death: Failure to thrive.

The Whys and Where­fores of Sound/Spelling Discrepancies

“A Dutch in­flu­ence from Caxton … gave us such spellings as ghost (which re­placed gost) and ghastly (which re­placed gastlic).”

Important Supreme Court Decisions

“… before ques­tion­ing suspects, police must inform them of their right to remain silent, that any state­ments they make can be used against them, and that they have the right to remain silent …”

In All Things One Looks Back With Regret To The Past

“Everyday speech, too, is growing re­gret­tably bad.”

To My Old Master

“Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my ad­van­tage to move back again.”

The Beard Watson Bloke Lets Go

“I sez, never ‘ang onto a barrer, mate, I sez. Let ‘er go if she starts, I sez. Better a broken barrer than a broken neck, I sez.”

Et Tu, Beth?

“I am the sister who sup­pos­edly ‘helped out’ while Dave ‘raised his little brother alone.’ Yeah right.”

How I Met My Wife

“It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear grun­tled and consolate.”

Meet the Cripples

“John was al­ler­gic to cripples. You could see he had a thing about them; I think it was a fear or something.”

Everything Is Fine In North Korea

“When a provin­cial offical begged him to have a rest and post­pone his ex­am­i­na­tion of design to next time he said, ‘I am very happy when you ask me to study designs of the build­ing for the people.’ He smiled and urged of­fi­cials to start.”

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been af­fected by the skep­ti­cism of a skep­ti­cal age. They do not believe except they see.”

(A Friendly Reminder)

“Even though it is true that some of our offal might get used for pizza topping and mash­mal­lows and dog food we do not like it when you are saying those names is a sar­cas­mic voice.”

Stopping Traffic

“Yes, but are you going to give me a ticket?” “The only way to find out is to try.”

Andy Warhol’s Sleep

“Audience getting bitter, strained. Movie is silent, runs at silent speed. A few more people ask for money back. Sign on box office says no refunds.”

Harmony Korine’s Real-Life Fight Club

“I’d have to say what­ever it took to make someone fight me. I’d get in their face and I’d say anything, it didn’t matter, to get them to throw the first punch. And then once they threw the first punch it was on.”

This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself

“This is the first sen­tence of this story. This is the second sentence. This is the title of this story, which is also found several times in the story itself.”

Coyote V. Acme

“My client, Mr. Wile E. Coyote, a res­i­dent of Arizona and con­tigu­ous states, does hereby bring suit for damages against the Acme Company …”

The Un­kind­est Cut

“NORM is one of a number of groups devoted to fight­ing for the abo­li­tion of cir­cum­ci­sion and restor­ing foreskins, by natural means, to cir­cum­cised men in the United States.”

Ten Commandments

“You shouldn’t dis the Almighty’s name, using it in cuss words or rapping with one another. It ain’t cool, and payback’s a monster.”

Contradictory Proverbs

“Look before you leap.” vs. “He who hes­i­tates is lost.”

Rogue Waiter

“On a good day, Chris Fehlinger can get an oth­er­wise sen­si­ble person to order the head of a goat.”

Dirty Furniture

“A few years ago, when Joe Hurley played guitar in a reggae-and-rock band, his friends called him Thirsty Joe Mosh, but now he mostly goes by Kinky Joe.”

Lucky Strike

“Instead of eating between meals … instead of fat­ten­ing sweets … beau­ti­ful women keep youth­ful slen­der­ness these days by smoking Luckies.”