Literary Humor & Sarcasm Through The Ages

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I was asked by Dellani Oakes and Karen Vaughan to participate in a blog series about sarcasm and humor so I decided to find out what was considered funny in literature.  This quest took me way back in time before Terry Pratchett and Mark Twain even before Shakespeare.  I actually found one-liners from ancient Rome, and even further back to the Eyptians.  Below I listed some of what you could call an evolution of humor throughout the ages.  Most of these come from literature, while others are of unknown origins.  Nonetheless, whatever people have found funny in ancient times may have us scratching our heads today.  Yet one thing unites all cultures, people loved to laugh no matter the time or place.  I  really enjoyed researching this subject and hope you enjoy it as well.  So without further ado..

Ancient Egypt:

“I do not see a stoneworker on an important errand or a goldsmith in a place to which he has been sent, but I have seen a coppersmith at his work at the door of his furnace. His fingers were like the claws of the crocodile, and he stank more than fish excrement.”

Satire of the Trades

Ancient Greece: Aristophanes’ Rant About Modern Poets:

“A disgrace to their art. If ever they are granted a chorus, what does their offering at the shrine of Tragedy amount to? One cock of the hind leg and they’ve pissed themselves dry. You never hear of them again.” –The Frogs

 

Ancient Rome:

A man is taking care of his departed wife’s burial. Someone asks him “Who is it that rests in peace here?” The man answers: “Me, now that I’m rid of her!” –Source Unknown

China:

After his wife had beaten him badly, a man crawled under his family bed. “Come out this instant!” his wife screamed.
“I am man enough to do as I please!” he said. “And I’ll come out when I’m good and ready.” –Ming Dynasty Tales

Shakespeare

CHIRON:  Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON:  Villain, I have done thy mother.

Titus Andronicus: Act 4, Scene 2

Ben Franklin

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.  –This quote is often attributed to Ben Franklin though there’s been debate lately about that.

Mark Twain:

To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology (redundant). –St. Louis Post-Dispatch (30 May 1902); also in Mark Twain : A Life, p. 611

Dorothy Parker:

You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think. –You Might As Well Live: The Life & Times Of Dorothy Parker  

Douglas Adams:

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” –The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

Bill Bryson:

“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” –The Lost Continent

TerryPratchett

“Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.”

Eric

 

So what are your favorite one-liners from history, tell us in the comments section.

 

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When You’re The Killer: A Revelation On Writer’s Block

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In the past year I’ve been suffering from writers block when it came to my novel Miss Mary Mack and I couldn’t understand why?  I mean I could see the story clearly but I had trouble coming up with the right words.  Every scene was a struggle, which led to me abandoning the story several times.  Then one day I was having a discussion with a friend who was struggling with her teenage daughter while she came to the realization that their problems were rooted in the fact that they were both so similar.  If that isn’t the ultimate form of irony then I don’t know what is?  However as my writer’s block continued, I read several articles on why authors write themselves into their work and a shocking conclusion was reached: I was Miss Mary!!!

No, I don’t go around murdering people, (although those thoughts do pop up in my head from time to time) I took pieces of my life and sprinkled them throughout the story.  Miss Mary was in fact physically modeled after my first grade principal Miss Murray, who wore dark clothing that covered her body from head to toe.  She also was a disciplinarian which made her a terrifying figure in the first grade.  However she wasn’t evil, just tough.

I also had a fourth grade bus driver by the name of Miss Johnson who was sometimes called, Miss MaryShe didn’t really like driving a bus and insisted we all ride in silence.  Weird, huh?

Then there’s me, I’m not too fond of children, I mean don’t hate them, I just prefer not to be around them.  P.S. I come from a long line of women who were reluctant mothers.  So I was able to draw on that when it came time to summon the callousness required for a serial killer.  It was also then I realized that I was trying to make sense of my past.  And guess what?  Miss Mary is the perfect vehicle for that, I can run loose and do as much damage without really affecting anyone in the real world.  The big plus is that I can kill and not wind up in prison.  I guess this is what George R.R. Martin feels like every time he sits down at his computer.  LOL!

Okay, Get To The Point!

When your work hits too close to home, it can be difficult to navigate through the story.  If you have a real unresolved conflict in your own life, it may be near impossible to resolve the one in your story because you can’t imagine your characters finding peace.  You know, the apology that never came, the relationship that failed, or the never ending dysfunction of a family, can really damage your perception and almost make you blind to the obvious.  I know, I had this problem and the only way to get through it was to think my way logically.  I had to know what readers or in this case society expected from this book.  I had to be God and dole out punishment and correct injustices.  This doesn’t always happen in real life.  I also sometimes have to step back and let my characters go their own way.  For example, would a man care about an argument he had with his wife as he fought space aliens?  Probably not.  You have to let your characters be who they are and come to their own conclusions.  Once I did that, their world unfolded and things began making sense again.

A Final Thought

As with most things in life, writing isn’t about you.  Sure you can create worlds and characters but once you do so, they start to develop their own reality.  Try as you may, you are not of their world and vice versa.  Only a piece of you will live on in your work, but the rest of you gets to move on and make peace with the reality that is meant to be.

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.  😉

Miss Mary Mack: My Latest Um…Novel?

Miss Mary Mack Cereal Authors

 

The sound of little girls giggling and playing a hand clapping game could be heard all the way up to Old Man Oscar’s porch: “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack…All dressed in black, black, black….She wore her buttons all down her back, back, back…”

“Whacha know ‘bout Miss Mary?” said the old man rocking while the children clapped along. Looking at him one of the little girls answered, “It’s just a song, there’s no Miss Mary!”

“Girl hush! I tell y’all it’s true, there was a Miss Mary and she used to run that ol’ orphanage near LaGrange road.”

Thinking these were just the ramblings of an old man, the girls continued to play on. Meanwhile a skeptical little boy asked, “Oh yeah, how come I ain’t never heard of no Miss Mary?” Seeing a little bit of himself in the boy, the old man answered, “Befo’ yo time boy.” As he slowly rocked back and forth in his chair, the memories began flooding back. Having caught their attention the children came closer to the porch. Noticing he had an audience, the old man took a knife to a scar on his arm and pointed, “You see that there, those is boins (burns) I got fo eating befo’ sayin’ Grace. She grabbed a lit candle stick and just pressed it into my arm like it whattin nuthin’.” The children gasped in horror and now that the old man had their undivided attention, he felt obligated to finish what he had started.

Chocking up as he remembered the dust from old dirt road that led up to the ancient manor. Old man Oscar pulled on his collar feeling the blazing Alabama sun as he recalled the hard labor he was forced to do for the demanding matron, Miss Mary. Finding it hard to breathe, he began to take deep breaths as his hands shook, from the trauma at the hands of that unforgiving serpent. Hearing the sound of her leather strap as it whipped in the air before making contact with his skin, he had no choice but to take another sip of gin from his flask so he wouldn’t lose his composure in front of the children who were now demanding to know who this Miss Mary was.

Unlike most people old Man Oscar, considered the memory loss that old age bestowed upon him a blessing for a hard and sorrowful life. He had lost so many friends, and family over his 70 years, but it seemed God himself would not allow Oscar to completely forget Miss Mary, so reluctantly, he began the tale…

He was around 8 years old when his mother brought him to the orphanage ran by the First Apostle Church of Morecliff Hills. As she led him up the stairs Oscar’s mother promised, “Now, don’t fret I’ll be back for ya. This is only for a little while.” When they reached the top of the final step of the porch, she hugged him. Holding on tightly Oscar pulled on her blue cotton shawl, tears streamed down his mother’s eyes as she instructed him, “Now you be good for Miss Mary, she’s gonna take care of ya.” As on cue, a woman appeared from the porch door, as though summoned by all the sadness.  Clad in a black dress covering all her flesh, the woman looked like a ghost emerging from the shadows. Peering down at Oscar she asked, “The people ‘roun here call me Miss Mary, what’s your name?” as though she didn’t already know. What little Oscar didn’t understand was that this arrangement had been in the works for almost a year. Though Oscar’s mother promised to be back, Miss Mary knew she wouldn’t, most parents never returned. A few guilty ones might write a few letters but eventually, all contact would cease. This was why Miss Mary felt it was important to build a rapport with the children in the beginning to make the transition easier so she smiled and spoke sweetly to the young boy to keep him calm as his mother walked out of his life.

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.  😉

Fedelta Parte 25: Forget Me Not

Fedelta Part 25
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Cassie waited impatiently in the corner booth of Carmelita’s for Stephano.  Tapping her red nails on the table’s black, laminate veneer, she wondered what was the angle?  Either he had talked to his boss, or he didn’t want his wife Destiny, hearing what he had to say.  Perhaps it was a little of both?  Turning her head towards the window, she watched people passing by the restaurant, when finally she saw him.  Dressed in a long wool coat,  with his face barely peeking out from his black fedora was Stephano Rimaldi.  Flanked by his two bodyguards, he walked into the restaurant and was greeted instantly by a server who took his coat and hat then, carefully placed them on the coat rack in the corner.  Stephano looked over his should at one of his men and without fumbling, the man pulled out a fifty dollar bill and tipped the server.  Having made his day, the server smiled and said, “If you need anything Mr. Rimaldi, just give me a holler.”

“Just get me my usual.” Stephano replied.  Then without a word the young man ran off to the back to get his order.  Meanwhile Cassie, watched his entre and was not impressed at all.  Quietly ignoring him, she continued to sip her caramel macchiato, and only when he sat down did she even bother looking up.  Placing her cup on the saucer Cassie asked, “Why the change of heart Stephano?”  Shrugging his shoulders he answered, “Guess I’m just sentimental.”  She could see he was lying.  His boss got to him.

Playing the game, Cassie pretended to be sentimental too.  She forced her facial features from resting bitch face, to a more softer, gentler, look.  “We did have some good times back in the day,” she sighed as she looked around the room.  Smiling at her Stephano said, “Yeah, what I wouldn’t do for simpler times.”

“Simple?  I was the one who had to sneak around my father’s house like a crook.”

“Hey my parents weren’t so keen on you either.  I had to keep a lot of secrets from my father too.”
Intrigued Cassie asked, “Why am I just hearing about this?”

“Cuz, it didn’t matter to me, I would’ve walk on hot coals just to see you.”

“I was crazy about you too, ya know.”

“So what the hell happened to us?” Stephano asked.

“John happened that’s what.” Cassie said in an accusatory manner.

An uncomfortable silence lingered over them as the room buzzed with activity all around them.

Playing it safe, Cassie stuck to her original plan and just pitched the deal.  “The Cosimos are getting sloppy and right now a few of their gas stations are unprotected.  It would be a shame if someone absconded with those properties.”

“Okay, I’m listening,” he answered.

“Hey, I don’t anything for free.”

Laughing Stephano remarked, “I remember!  So what’s this gonna cost me?”

“40% of the loot.”

“That’s steep!”

“I know a guy who’s interested in selling some info,”  Cassie said.

“What kind of info?”

“Blue prints, names, and shifts of the soldiers in charge.”

“You’re talking about a takeover, that could start a war.” Stephano said rather uncomfortable.

“Yeah, it could but if the right person did the takeover, there’d be no worries.”

“God I miss you Cassandra but I don’t trust you.  Not anymore.  You’ve been talking to that FBI stronzo (asshole) and if you recall, that ruined both our lives.”

“Both of us?  As I recall you married a model and got a nice cushy, brownstone in Brooklyn while I was the one with the bullet in her head.”

“Yeah, and it didn’t teach you anything.”  He said looking over his shoulder when he heard the sound of cups clanking.  As the server approached the table, Stephano smiled and accepted his overpriced Illycaffè, placing it on the table in front of him.

“Anything else?”  The server asked.

“No, I’m good.” Stephano answered.  When the server left, Stephano leaned in, looking Cassie right in the eye and said, “If you were smart, you’d stop worrying about business and start…”

“What, get back in line?  Too late for that ain’t it?”  Cassie said then chuckled a bit.
“Well I hate to see anything else happen to you Cassandra.” Stephano warned her.

“How sweet,” Cassie said coldly.  Looking at the blank expression on her face, sensing her tone had changed from curiosity to heartless, Stephano asked, “Jesus, what happened to you?”

“A lot.” She said taking another sip of her macchiato.  “You know as I lay dying on the floor, I had a revelation.  I realized I had to trade in my tiara for the crown.”

Laughing rather nervously, Stephano said, “Come on, you’re talking crazy.”  When she didn’t react, he became intrigued, “So what, you’ve been playin’ everybody?”

“Are you in?” she insisted.

He sat in silence and began gulping his fancy coffee drink while Cassie looked on in anticipation.  “Okay, Meryl Streep, I’m in but if anything goes sideways, you’re gonna wished you’d bled out on Mira’s (Café) floor.”

So it was set, Cassie had an out but now she had to make plans for an ugly showdown.  Getting up from her seat, she walked out of the restaurant a free woman but for how long?  Flagging a cab down, she began the journey back home to her stronzo, Amato.

 

Author Bio:
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel Hag and The Eternal Bond Series both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.

Dellani Oakes Is Back With Book 3 of The Lone Wolf Series: The Maker

THe Maker
The Maker By Dellani Oakes

If anyone had asked Wil VanLipsig where he’d be in five years, he surely wouldn’t have said he’d be fighting the ultimate evil on an unknown planet in a lost galaxy. Fighting a war, probably. Killing off insurgents, righting political wrongs, following another man’s agenda, decidedly. Funny how life throws things in our paths that we must overcome. Wil is no different. With the help of his wife, Matilda, their good friends and benevolent aliens, they battle the Kahlea’s slaves, wondering when the Grand Master himself will arrive. What’s next for this tiny, insignificant oddment of miners and marines? Travel to the forgotten world of Shakazan and find out!

The Maker is Book Three in the Lone Wolf Series, with more to come. The story is far from being told.

 

Wil dragged Matilda back down the tunnel. Roaring, Surau rushed them from the rear. Ben and Marc took shots at him, but they didn’t have time to aim carefully. The shots went wild, zinging around the tunnel dangerously. They holstered their weapons and provided a meat shield for Matilda. Wil ran, dragging her down the tunnel.

They encountered nothing until they got to the first junction, where the metal passage intersected with the stone tunnels. Instead of being empty as it had been, they found themselves facing tall, dark humanoids. These carried lethal looking spears and didn’t appear angry, just startled. Raising their spears threateningly, the dark men charged the group.

Finding the way blocked, the unlucky humans veered off down the metal passage, footsteps echoing hollowly as they ran. Matilda tripped over her skirt, as it wrapped around her legs. Taking one set of claws, she slashed a portion of it away, freeing her feet to run more efficiently. Wil’s grip on her arm was painful, bruising her skin, leaving her muscles feeling numb. She did her best to keep up, but his legs were far longer than hers, his stamina greater. The passage grew increasingly dim as they went further in. They had never been so far from Sentience and her repaired networks before. They initiated their Kindred suits as the air around them thinned and grew stale.

The dark men surged down the tunnel after them, their numbers overwhelming. Ben and Marc formed a wall, with Wil directly behind them. He tried to contact the ship to teleport them out, but there was too much interference. Backing slowly as the men advanced, Marc picked off two with carefully aimed shots. Ben joined him, taking out a couple more. Their weapons were set to stun, but to the dark men, their comrades appeared to be dead.

Instead of stopping, the men grew more determined, advancing rapidly. As one, they suddenly lunged forward, making a grab for the small, retreating party of humans. One grabbed Marc, who crushed the dark man’s skull with a blow from his gun butt.

Another held Ben, who summarily broke his arm, yanking it from the socket. The dark man screamed in pain as Ben’s blow to his head killed him. Wil kicked a third in the teeth, before aiming down the tunnel, targeting the leader. His kill shot was true.

The dark men stopped advancing as their leader’s head exploded. With a mighty roar, they made a last, monumental attempt to grapple with the humans. Wil pressed his wife behind him, trying again to contact the ship. There was a crackle of static and a faint acknowledgment from Hammer.

“Smith, get us the hell out of here!” Wil roared into his com.

The dark men gathered their dwindling numbers, preparing for a final assault. Growling angrily, they reformed their ranks around the fallen, glaring at the humans with hatred.

Wil shouted to his wife, “Run, Matilda! We’ll catch up to you! Run! Run!”

Matilda hesitated a moment. The passageway was dark, she could feel it surround her. Even the Kindred suit couldn’t compensate for the complete lack of light. Her nightmares came back, freezing her in place.

“Wil, I can’t! I can’t see a thing! Oh, God, Wil, I’m so scared!”

“Babe, it’s okay. Hammer has us. He’ll get us out of here. Please, keep going a little longer.”

Hesitantly, she picked her way along, the floor sagging beneath her feet. The ceiling was partially collapsed, filled with so much rubble, she had to stoop to move. The others were engaged in combat, she could hear it. All her instincts screamed at her to go back, to fight beside her mate.

Wil’s voice echoed down the passage, “Run!”

One of the dark men broke through their line, scrabbling over the stones, nearly on top of her. Matilda knew Wil was aiming at him. Flattening herself against the wall, she pressed back as far as she could.

“Now!” she screamed. “You have a clear shot!”

The weapon fired as she ducked, turning further away, sensing the electromagnetic pulse from Wil’s gun, hit the dark man in the back, hurling him toward her. She tried to dodge him, but a hand shot out from his dying body, clutching at her flowing dress, dragging her with him. The floor collapsed beneath their combined weight. The man fell like an anchor into the nothingness below her. Kicking wildly, Matilda struggled for a hand hold, screaming hysterically.

Wil heard her scream, felt the give in the floor and ran full speed down the passage. The ceiling collided with this forehead, the sides of the passage snagged his clothing. “I’m coming! I’m coming! Hang on!”

“Wil! Oh, Wil! I’m falling! Wil!” A scream ripped from her throat, fading away as she fell.

Wil reached for her a second too late. He saw her dropping into the bottomless pit. His cry of despair turned into a howl of grief. A moment later, the men found themselves on the bridge of Hammer. Matilda wasn’t with them. Wil lay on the floor, still as death.

“Oh, God,” he whispered. “Oh, God! No!”

 

Dellani Oakes is a Tennessean by birth, a Floridian by a quirk of fate. She resides in a town south of Daytona Beach where her constantly changing household usually has at least one grown child in it. Dellani loves science fiction and grew up reading the greats. She always felt something was missing from their story lines—a little romance. Taking that idea to heart, she began her Lone Wolf Series, incorporating all she loved about sci-fi, but adding a strong romantic bond between Wil and Matilda.

The Maker is available for preorder for 99 cents at Amazon (Not an affiliate link). Check out the other books in the Lone Wolf Series on Dellani’s Amazon page.

Bio: Dellani is an avid writer, but when she’s not writing, she’s reading anything she can get her hands on. She leads a small writers group through the Council on Aging, enjoying her time away from home. She also hosts two blog talk radio shows a month, Dellani’s Tea Time – Every 2nd Monday of the month, and What’s Write for Me – every 4th Wednesday. She and her co-host, Christina Giguere, interview other authors.

What Inspired The Story? — Cereal Authors

What inspired the story, The Greenlee Project? I was asked that recently, authors are asked that question frequently about their work. Since this book is important to me, personally, and I believe in the topic, I thought I’d share in detail my inspiration for the book. Writing this piece took me to a dark place, […]

via What Inspired The Story? — Cereal Authors

Fedelta Parte 21: Grumpy Old Men

Fedelta Part 21

 

As the bitterly cold wind blew snow in his face, Amato had to squint just to find the door of the VFW.  With a gloved hand he knocked, and within a few seconds a large man answered, looking Amato up and down, not impressed, he began to close the door in Amato’s face.  Flashing his new badge, the bouncer jerked the door right back open.  And without a word, the man nods his head for Amato to follow which he does.  In silence they navigate the dimly lit, poorly decorated building, past the billiard room, and into the bar, the bouncer leads him to table in a private area.  Again without saying a word, the bouncer holds his finger up as though telling him to wait.  Obeying, Amato stands next to this table until the man disappears down a hall, leaving him alone.

Read the rest here:  https://cerealauthors.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/fedelta-parte-22-grumpy-old-men/

Also available on Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/265108634-fedelta-a-romantic-suspense-chapter-21-grumpy-old