Good Point

A samurai once asked Zen master Hakuin where he would go after he died. Hakuin answered, “How am I supposed to know?”

“How do you know? You’re a Zen master!” exclaimed the samurai.

“Yes, but not a dead one,” Hakuin answered.


A guy is sitting at home when there’s a knock at the door.

He opens it and there’s a snail sitting on the doorstep.

He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can.

Three years later the guy is sitting at home and there’s a knock at the door.

He opens it and the same snail is sitting on the doorstep.

The snail says, “What the hell was that about?”


Epitaphs, proposed by their owners:

Mel Blanc: “That’s all, folks!”
Jack Lemmon: “In”
Jackie Gleason: “And away we go!”
Spike Milligan: “I told you I was ill.”
Peter Ustinov: “Do not walk on the grass.”

Thank You for Your Submission

Rejection letters sent to Henry James:

“A duller story I have never read. It wanders through a deep mire of affected writing and gets nowhere, tells no tale, stirs no emotion but weariness. The professional critics who mistake an indirect and roundabout use of words for literary art will call it an excellent piece of work; but people who have any blood in their veins will yawn and throw it down — if, indeed, they ever pick it up.”

“It is surely the n+1st power of Jamesiness. … It gets decidedly on one’s nerves. It is like trying to make out page after page of illegible writing. The sense of effort becomes acutely exasperating. Your spine curls up, your hair-roots prickle & you want to get up and walk around the block. There is no story — oh! but none at all …”

They didn’t seem to bother him. “Do not mind anything that anyone tells you about anyone else,” he said. “Judge everyone and everything for yourself.”

Lost and Found

Up to 2,000 people a year lose their coats in Grand Central Station.


“My toughest fight was with my first wife.” — Muhammad Ali

Legal Identity

In 2002, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats sponsored a petition to get Berkeley, Calif., to acknowledge Aristotle’s identity law, commonly expressed as A=A.

His law would impose a misdemeanor fine of up to one-tenth of a cent on anyone or anything caught being unidentical to itself within city limits.

Unfortunately, Keats gathered only 65 signatures and found no backers on the city council. Berkeley, apparently, prefers ambiguity.

The Mary Celeste

Passengers and crew of the Mary Celeste, a 103-foot brigantine that left New York for Genoa on Nov. 7, 1872:

  • Benjamin S. Briggs, 37, captain
  • Sarah Elizabeth Briggs, 30, captain’s wife
  • Sophia Matilda Briggs, 2, captain’s daughter
  • Albert C. Richardson, 28, mate
  • Andrew Gilling, 25, second mate
  • Edward W. Head, 23, steward and cook
  • Volkert Lorenson, 29, seaman
  • Arian Martens, 35, seaman
  • Boy Lorenson, 23, seaman
  • Gotlieb Gondeschall, 23, seaman

A month after she sailed, the ship was found abandoned off the coast of Portugal. Her cargo was intact, and she carried a six-month supply of food and water. The sextant, chronometer and lifeboat were missing, suggesting that the ship had been deliberately abandoned.

No survivors were ever found. The mystery has never been solved.

In Other Words

Twins Grace and Virginia Kennedy were severely neglected by their San Diego parents, attended minimally by a German-speaking grandmother. They saw no other children, rarely played outdoors, and did not go to school.

They were 8 years old when a speech therapist realized they had invented their own language:

GRACE: Cabengo, padem manibadu peeta.
VIRGINIA: Doan nee bada tengkmatt, Poto.

It was apparently a mix of English and German, with some original words and grammatical oddities.

Their father soon forbade their speaking it, saying, “You live in a society, you got to speak the language.” They learned English, but they still bear the emotional scars of their neglect: Virginia works on an assembly line, and Grace mops floors at a fast-food restaurant.

Chartres Labyrinth

Medieval worshipers who followed the labyrinth in France’s Chartres Cathedral had a surprisingly long ordeal — the path to the center is 150 meters long. Penitents sometimes walked it on their knees.