Funny-Ha-Ha and Funny-Peculiar.

I subscribe to The New Yorker magazine and admit without shame that I do so for the cartoons. I read the articles occasionally—the venerable Roger Angell’s annual mid-winter summary of the preceding major league baseball season has become a ritual and there was a devastating article recently about the brutal conditions facing young inmates confined in New York City’s infamous Rikers Island facility. But I really go there for the cartoons.

I clearly remember a New Yorker cartoon from probably 60 years ago depicting a burly motorcycle policeman who has just pulled over a small open-top sports car. The cop stares down at the driver contemptuously and says, “Ou est le feu?” Clearly, I’m not the only one who found that hilarious; I Googled the tag line and up it popped!






And I reproduce herewith—for the second time, I believe—what has been my favorite cartoon for the past several years. I don’t remember for certain if it originally appeared in The New Yorker, but I believe it did. It’s certainly worthy of that magazine.









Let us now move on to a funny-peculiar phenomenon I seem to run across with some regularity. I recently read an article by a woman who writes a food column for one of the daily papers along the Empire Builder’s route. It was Minot, North Dakota, I think.
Anyway—and it’s probably just as well—I deleted the story before I decided to offer this sweet little grandmother-type person as a living embodiment of one of my pet peeves: people who insist on referring to our national passenger rail system as “the Amtrak.”
Where the hell does that come from? Why do they say things like, “I took the Amtrak to Seattle.”
Or “It was cold on the platform and the Amtrak was an hour late.” Doesn’t an internal gong go off in their heads? Would these people say, “I’m flying to Seattle on the Delta Airlines.”? I think not. Maybe it’s a manner of speech peculiar to the Mid-west. Does anyone know?