Never Try to Teach a Pig to Sing: Still More Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire

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Wayne State University Press, 1991 - Business & Economics - 433 pages
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Never Try to Teach a Pig to Sing documents the thriving folklore tradition that circulates in the workplace. Alan Dundes and Carl Pagter have collected more than two hundred and fifty "signs of the times"—the office memoranda, parodies, cartoons, and poems that daily make their way through copy machines, interoffice mail systems, and fax machines and are affixed to bulletin boards and water coolers. The rich vein of urban folklore tapped by this imaginative volume constitutes a great testament to one of the world's most prolific authors—anonymous.

The popularity of the items featured in this timely book is apparent by their reproduction in mass or popular cultural form—as greeting cards, plaques, and bumper stickers—reminding us of the inevitable interplay between folklore and mass culture. Dundes and Pagter clearly demonstrate the existence of folklore in the modern urban technological world and refute the notion that folklore reflects only the past.

 

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Contents

Preface
15
Introduction
17
Abbreviations
22
A Word to the Wise
24
The Electrocardial Guide
26
Employee Evaluation Form
28
Terms Used in Writing Fitness Reports
30
A Glossary of Nautical Terms
32
The Horse and Mule Live Thirty Years
208
To My Critics
209
Lets Be Friends
211
When I Am Dead and in My Grave
212
Love
213
Im Fine
214
My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went
215
Would Rather Be a Could Be
217

Useful Arabic Phrases
33
Official Polish Italian Sex Quiz
35
Definition of Diplomacy
38
Hell
39
Patience
40
God Grant Me Patience
41
The Play
43
The PissedOff Cowboy
45
What Not to Name Your Dog
46
Lost Dog
47
Stress
50
Twentysix Ways to Relieve Stress
53
Stress Diet
54
Recipe for Stuffed Camel
56
Elephant Stew
57
Best Ever Rum Cake
58
Fishiri Line
59
In Honour of National Condom Week
62
This Really Bothers You
65
TShirt Quotes
67
Signs of the Times
69
Never Try to Teach a Pig to Sing
70
Its Difficult to Soar with Eagles
73
The Rat Race Is Over
76
Dont Drink Water
77
Be Like a Duck
78
A Moving Experience
80
The Only Difference
81
Tell Me Again
82
Of Course I Want It Today
84
Poor Planning
87
Proper Planning
88
Plan Ahead
89
All Skill Is in Vain
90
No Amount of Planning
91
Christmas Has Been Cancelled
92
The Floggings Will Continue
93
When You Throw a Little Dirt
94
Old Age and Treachery
95
Use Your Head
96
Work Better Under Pressure
97
Your Rush Job
98
As Soon as the Rush Is Over
99
We Welcome Your Problems
100
We Welcome Advice
102
This Office Is Open
103
Employees Cooperation
104
Suppose We Refund Your Money
105
Please Dont Ask for Information
106
Answers Price List
108
Labor Rates
109
Just When I Knew All the Answers
111
When Im Right
112
Security is Like Virginity
113
Be Sure to Work Eight Hours
114
A Day Off
115
Im Tired
116
This Life Is a Test
118
No Physical Fitness Program
119
Quitting Time
120
In Case of Fire
121
This Property Protected
122
Be Tolerant
124
People Who Think They Know Everything
125
Nobody Is Perfect
127
When Things Go Wrong
128
Dont Quit
129
Oh No
133
Lonesome?
135
What Went Wrong
136
God I Love This Place
137
Im 51 Percent Sweetheart
140
Before WorkAfter Work
142
When I Woke Up This Morning
144
So You Think You Got Troubles
145
Doing the Job Alone
146
The Revised Revision Revised
148
Dear Mr Jefferson
149
Four Score and Seven Years Ago
152
All He Rites is Buzniss
153
What the Admiral Wanted
155
The Way You Ordered It
156
The Plan
160
Problem Solving Flowsheet
161
Warning
163
To Err Is Human
165
Want My Data Back
166
Hit Any Key to Continue
167
Youll Never Get It In
168
Operation to Make Me Sterile
169
Turn Upside Down
171
Polish Canoe Builder
172
On Recent Trip to U S
175
Bulletin
177
Please Take a Number
178
Keep Smiling
179
Even When Youre Down and Out
180
How My Day Went
183
From Bad to Verse
184
The Man in the Glass
185
Here and There
187
Around the Comer
188
A Crazy Recitation
189
A Little Mixed Up
191
Old Age Is Hell
193
Yes Progress Thats Our Motto
195
Kiss Me Baby Im Vaccinated
196
Heres My Toast
199
Friends May Come
202
Retirement
203
Time Marches On
206
Aint It the Truth
219
Woman
220
Pete the Piddling Pup
222
Different Strokes for Different Folks
225
ManagementEmployees
226
EngineerSalesmanPurchasing Agent
228
The Typical Auditor
231
Heaven Is
232
Still Awaiting Instructions
233
Thank God for Medicare
236
The Damn Things Are Growing Wild
237
They Dont Make Mirrors Like They Used To
238
For All Those Born before 1945
241
How Can You Tell
243
When I Was Born I Was Black
244
Is This Test Too Tough?
247
The Polish Italian Irish Gas Chamber
252
Two Polacks Shooting Crap
255
The Italian Polish Shower
256
Imported Wood Stove
259
Italian Apple Crate
262
Late One Afternoon at a Portuguese Dike
263
Dallas Cowboys Schedule
266
Looks Like Its Going to Be a Great Year
269
Appeal Upheld
271
Dear Earthling
272
Take Me to Your Leader
273
Oh What a Beautiful Morning
275
Ill Have the Gazpacho
276
Folk Cartoons
277
As Seen By
278
We Have Read Your Proposal
281
Poor Cynthia
282
What Did the Boss Have to Say?
283
First Aid
286
Said a Butt Light
288
Go Right Ahead
289
The Boss Has Spoken
291
Please Keep Your Ass Off My Desk
293
Assume That This Is a Refusal
294
Take It They Dont Like the Treaty
295
Dont Think Theyre Coming Down
296
Ive Forgotten My Wallet
298
You Fart?
299
The Worst Case of Diarrhea
301
Patience My Ass
303
The Same Old Bull
305
Would You Be Terribly Upset?
307
Every Day of My Life
310
Behind Mt Rushmore
316
Your Problem Is Quite Obvious
319
Hey Earl
323
One of Us Is an Asshole
327
Knock It Off Asshole
329
Loves Labor Lost
330
Guess Who?
332
He Likes You
333
The Flasher
337
Reproduction Is Fun
339
Escargot
342
The Battle of the Sexes
344
The Evolution of Authority
345
Why Not a Male Boat?
347
Diary of a Young Lady
348
Boys
351
Dont Drink
353
Im Kind of the Shy Type
355
Notice Me Dammit
356
So Whats So Great?
359
O K We Took Off Our Clothes
360
The Pacifier
361
Well What Are You Staring At?
362
There Is a Difference
364
No You Cant Touch It
366
So Hot It Melted
368
Ive Got Six Marbles
369
So Thats Why
372
How Do I Know What She Wants?
375
Now Thats Italian
377
Hi Gotcha
378
Lets Hear It Meow
382
Love Is
386
Lets Play Pregnant
389
It Aint Easy Being a Dick
391
Two Old Duffle Bags
393
Let the Following Story be a Warning to You
394
The New Gillette Stainless Steel Spoiler Blade
397
The 747 Has Everything
398
Womens Power
400
Assume
401
These Alimony Payments
403
Hand Me the Hair Dryer
404
Thirty Reasons Why Cucumbers Are Better than Men
406
Twentyfive Good Reasons Why Beer Is Better than Women
408
Anthropological Stages of Man
410
The Geographical Ages of Women
411
Sales Tax
412
Womens Lib Motto
413
The Missing Key
415
You Think You Have Problems
417
Poor foe
419
Do So Enjoy Sex
420
For Our Retirement?
422
Once More for Old Times Sake
423
Womens Faults Are Many
426
Whats Going On?
427
Twice as Much as a Man
428
Final Masterpiece
429
Conclusions
431
Copyright

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About the author (1991)

Alan Dundes is a professor of anthropology and folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University.

Carl R. Pagter is presently counsel and consultant for a large corporation in California.

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