You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

January 01, 2008

What Do You Mean, Happy New Year?

By: Bernard Chazelle

Sorry to interrupt the blogspat, but Nell was kind enough to wish Jon and me (and all of you, too, by the way) a happy new year. Before I replied with my own Happy New Year, I thought I'd explain what I meant or did not mean by that. So many options to rule out:

1. "Happy New Year," a phrase devoid of meaning, is code for the brutally meaningful: "I Do Not Wish You an Unhappy New Year." We shake hands to reassure each other that we left our sharp knives at home. (Not sure if I read that somewhere or I am making it up, but I like it anyway.) If Condi Rice wants to tell Ahmadinejad that 2008 won't be the year we drop the Big One on his head, she'll say: "Happy New Year, Mahmoud!"

2. "Happy New Year" is a suspiciously self-serving wish: make me happy by being happy. Where is the altruism in wishing good health to the guy who is scheduled to donate a kidney for you next year?

3. "Happy New Year" means that I command the skies and rule the universe and,
by virtue of my omnipotence, will make the coming year a happy one for you.
Fairy tales have kept humanity from jumping off high cliffs for centuries. Their usefulness is undisputed. Still, they are fairy tales.

4. See, I thought of you! Which would carry more weight on a random day of the year, for it feels a bit like pleasing the IRS on April 15. How in the world did you remember?

5. Or maybe it just means what it says. I think I'll try that. And so, to you all,


— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at January 1, 2008 11:39 AM

Hablar Hablar Hablar

This is a story which I heard in the 20th century, when there were psychology departments at universities which included both behaviorists and psychoanalysts. Two such colleagues met in the corridor and the behaviorist said to the psychoanalyst, "Good morning."

The psychoanalyst thought, "I wonder what s/he meant by that."

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at January 1, 2008 02:10 PM

Thank YOU and HAPPY NEW YEAR back.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 1, 2008 03:34 PM

mistah charley, ph.d.:

Or the king of France, upon hearing of Talleyrand's death: "I wonder what he meant by that."

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 1, 2008 04:20 PM

I'm waiting for Alan Smithee to stop by and tell us we're fools for putting our faith in the new year. "You idiots! Can't you see that this year us just like the last! They're all the same! What's wrong with you people?"

Maybe Dennis Perrin can fill in if Alan doesn't work holidays.

Posted by: SteveB at January 1, 2008 04:30 PM

SteveB: I would tell Alan and Dennis that if I knew the coming year was going to be happy, I would have no need to wish it so. On the other hand, if by some fluke someone's year happens to be wonderful, then I expect to get full credit. My wish is not a wish: it's an investment!

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 1, 2008 05:37 PM