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.”