Ruminations while riding Megabus between NYC and Philly

2018 December 5: Signs at truck stops


We just passed a rest stop in New Jersey named Joyce Kilmer.  “Joyce Kilmer” is written in slanted cursive lettering above the front double doors.  The letters glitter mildly.  Otherwise, the rest stop appears as one might expect: a little stark-white building with signs for Subway and Sbarro’s.

Now, there are a couple facts here that are funny.  First, at least one person invested time and energy into naming a rest stop.  Also, the sign itself sports a bit of artistic endeavour, with the pretty curvy handwriting.  But now think about the possible explanations underlying this naming: some of these possible explanations are vastly funnier.

For example, imagine that it was Joyce Kilmer him-or-herself who named the rest stop.  Joyce Kilmer had some money to throw around and wanted to make a name in philanthropy.  Where did she choose to put the money?  You might reason that if she had donated to this rest stop, then of course she must have already exhausted every other possible philanthropic channel.  So, you should be seeing her name on every hospital ever built, every kindergarten, every college.  Every whisky bar in Scotland should be called “Joyce Kilmer Whisky Bar”.

But nope: Joyce Kilmer pulled over at that rest stop in New Jersey one day, looked around, and thought: “What refreshing choices of fountain sodas they offer here.  I should support that.”


I just googled Joyce Kilmer.  It’s a male poet who lived about 100 years ago.  He wrote pretty little poems about nature.  So, the rest area owners just decided to name their rest stop after him.  That’s not as funny.  A much more plausible explanation than the one I cooked up, but unfortunately not so funny.  Well, the fact that they chose a poet who wrote pretty poems about nature – that is mildly funny.

Oh, in New Jersey there’s also an Alexander Hamilton Service Area and a Vince Lombardi Travel Plaza.  Okay, so the service area administrators have a sense of humor.  That’s not really funny, although it is quite surprising.

2019 February 4: The choices made by comedians and serial killers

What kind of cost/benefit analysis do comedians do when they decide to use their friends or family as material?  Especially their wives.  Wives are a favorite to tear up.  Do they establish an agreement beforehand?  Do they sit down with their wives and make a list of topics that are taboo, what magnitude of lie/exaggeration is acceptable?

On an unrelated note: Why must serial killers pick young pretty girls as their specialization?  It gets boring to read about.  Especially if part of their motivation is narcissism and/or a desire for fame, I’d think these guys would branch out and really distinguish themselves.  They certainly seem imaginative enough.  I’d like to see a serial killer focusing on dentists.  Or on people visiting a new area from Tennessee.  The seeming arbitrariness of these choices might have the added benefit of lengthening the time it takes for authorities to recognize the pattern.