Roman humour!
by: Aldus Marius Peregrinus
The Martini incident

A guy in a toga walks into a bar and tells the man at the counter, "I'll have a martinus, please."
The bartender says, "Don't you mean 'martini'??"
The Roman responds, "Sir, when I want two or more of them I'll let you know!"

** Marius bows, and hopes shyly that someone else will now volunteer to be embarrassed **

Caution: Never walk a Roman across a gravel driveway. Chances are he won't make it to the other side until he's sorted all the pebbles by color and size, and made them into mosaic-work.

How Milspec Lives Forever
I herewith present to you the Hoary Old Saga of how come Roman roads are that particular width. (I was sure someone else would've posted this by now; this isn't just Marius' humor column!) >({|;-)

The sender, a university librarian, got this from somebody else; she has this to say about it:
"This is a tad frivolous and I have no idea how factual, but a piece of our Roman heritage that I had never considered beyond the Roman roads themselves. Might be fun to share with students."

(Of course, Listmembers and
collegae know that the Romans did not use war-chariots, and that Irishmen and Chinese built the railroads. That said, enjoy!)

*** How MilSpec Lives Forever ***

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did they use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their Legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification (Military Spec) for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Thus, MilSpecs and bureaucracies live forever.

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.

"I Think We're in Rome Now"
(Tune: "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany)

Built a machine,
Thought we'd get into some time-travel
But once we hit the scene,
All the circuitry started to unravel
Hit the brakes as hard as we can...
Find ourselves in unfamiliar lands...
Where were we going now? Where are we? When??
Then somebody said "Ave" and I turned to my best friend,
That's when I said:

I think we're in Rome now
There's a lot of Legionaries running around
I think we're in Rome now
People wearin' togas 'stead of evening gowns
I think we're in Rome now
Let's head to the Forum, see what's going down!

[instrumental part repeating lines 1-6]

Runnin' just as fast as we can...
Plowin' into some bar-bar-i-ans...
Cruisin' the Provinces, lookin' for fights,
And Latin lessons 'round the dinner table every night!
I learned to say:


A reception for any rotten fruit will be held at a later date to be announced. >({|;-)

Customer Service:
Don't you hate it when you go into a shop and one of the clerks starts following you around...? All you want to do is browse, but she's tailing you like you're wearing a stolen licence plate?

We are Romans. We don't have to put up with it. And I have devised a very simple way for you to regain your personal space--without hurting the sales clerk's feelings. Watch this:

Salesperson: Is there something I can help you find?
You: Quomodo...? (that's 'Say what?' for the merely street-Latinate among us--like me)
Salesperson: [has to suddenly shift mental gears due to the abrupt arising of a Language Barrier. Decides she doesn't want to deal with you any more than necessary, as she doesn't understand what you just said and isn't skilled enough to fake it.] Uh...I'll be at the front counter if you need any help, sir...

Cute, huh?

(I don't know how well this would work in Europe, especially in a Romance country; but in the US it's been effective every time.)

The Perfect Recruit

(Adapted from a piece that was circulating around my computer-tech workplace...<g>)

From the Desk of Q Valerius Corvus, Centurio:

-- Performance Evaluation --

   I Severus Validus, my Optio, can always be found
  II hard at work on the drill field. Severus works independently, without
 III wasting Mater Roma's time talking to colleagues. Severus never
  IV thinks twice about assisting his commilitones, and he always
   V finishes given assignments on time. Often he takes extended
  VI measures to complete his work, sometimes skipping
 VII latrine breaks. Severus is a dedicated individual who has absolutely no
VIII vanity in spite of his accomplishments and profound
  IX knowledge of his field. I firmly believe that Severus can be
   X classed as a high-caliber soldier, the type which cannot be
  XI dispensed with. Consequently, I strongly recommend that Severus be
 XII promoted to the rank of Centurio, and the order should be
XIII executed as soon as possible. 

[Addendum: That idiot was standing over my shoulder as I wrote this. Kindly re-read only the odd-numbered lines!] -- Q Valerius Corvus

Saddam versus a Bunch of Romans!

This one is adapted from an Irish joke that was popular after the original Gulf War. Enjoy!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

on the Phone with Saddam Hussein: Ave, Saddam. This is Marius in Roma Mater. We have decided to go to war with ya.

Saddam: OK, what am I up against?

Mari: Well, we've got m'self, a couple of farmers down from Alba, and 2 pitchforks.

Saddam: OK, but just so you know I have over 500,000 troops at my disposal.

Mari: Hmm. I'll have to call ya back. (hangs up)

(calls back)

Mari: Saddam, the war's still on. I've called around and now we have the gladiators from Stabiae, 6 pitchforks and an old ballista.

Saddam: O-kaaayy... But just so you know, since you called I've put out a conscription order and now have 750,000 troops. I also have over 2000 tanks at my disposal.

Mari: Hmm, let me get back with ya. (hangs up)

(calls back)

Mari: Saddam, the war's still on. We've added the Green Chariot-racing Faction, Lucius Decumius is going to loan us his old ox-cart, and we have acquired 10 bolts for the ballista.

Saddam: Fine. But so you know I've put out another conscription order and now I have 1 million soldiers at my disposal. I've also got over 4000 armored personnel vehicles to get them to the front lines.

Mari: I see. Bene, let me get back with the fellas. (hangs up)

(calls back)

Mari: Saddam, the war's off.

Saddam: Really! And why is that?

Mari: Well, me and the boys got to talking and we decided that we just can't feed and water 1 million prisoners...!

- - - - - - -

In amicitia,
Marius the Wanderer: Storyteller and Citizen of Rome

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