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Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George Carlin 

George Carlin has died. He was getting crusty and bitter and extraordinarily grumpy toward the end of his life – and blogged tributes are likely one of the last things he ever would have wanted – and I daresay he would see this event and say "Good! [bad word] him!" Still, I'm sad.

My parents turned me onto George Carlin. (As I write his name, I'm reminded of the joke he made about it: "It's a pain in the ass name, because it's never finished. G-E-O-R.. G-E.. O-R.. G-E.. O-R.. It's also way down on the list of getting laid based on the sound of your name. 'Who's out there?' 'Tito, Chico, and George.' 'Tell George to wait.'") I remember listening to Class Clown and A Place for My Stuff on my battered audiocassette boom box during middle school.

For the past twenty years, Carlin's comedy has been a comforting mainstay in my life. I didn't always agree with him (his anti-voting ethos was depressing), but I often found myself laughing in spite of myself, and he often had some profound things to say. ("We think in language, so the quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language.") He's one of the reasons I became an English teacher – his infectious love for wordplay and examining language has influenced me from writing to pedagogy. ("Guacamole – sounds like something you yell when you're on fire. GUACAMOLE!")

Now let's see if his family honors his explicitly stated wish for the postmortem procedure: "I don't want to be buried or cremated – I wanna be blown up." RIP, George. Thanks for all the laughs.


A lot of the Carlin YouTube have embedding disabled for some reason. Here's a clip about flamethrowers I've always liked. There's a bad word in it, so be careful.

Today I'm listening to: What Am I Doing in New Jersey? This clip contains bad words, as well as one of my favorite Carlin bits of all time (mostly because of the noise he makes at the end of it). The joke starts around 9:37.