Tag Archives: funny

The Second Time Around

Did you miss me? I have not been blogging for a bit. This is because I am hibernating, like a bear — or a chipmunk. It is quite frankly amazing that any of us live through winter here in the upper reaches of the Midwest at all. Whose brilliant idea was it to leave equatorial Africa, anyway? But fascinating things do happen in wintertime. For a good dose of stellar improbability, I recommend reading an old(er) book that I really liked:  Winter World, by Bernd Heinrich.

I snapped this up when it was new (in 2001), but am only now telling you about it. I know, I’m like that. The rest of these delightful literary indulgences are things that I missed when they were new because I was hanging out under my rock. If you missed them too, haste to remedy that.

Jeanette Winterson

Her new memoir is wonderful. But then, all of her things are wonderful, as I discovered when, upon finishing the ARC of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, I embarked on a program of obsessively reading of all her other stuff.  The Passion is my favorite, set in France & Venice during the Napoleonic wars. It is at once a deeply sensory book (you feel like you can smell the chicken cooking and feel the snow and move with the sway of an imagined gondola) and a deftly philosophical one. Wry lyricism abounds. Wow, that’s a pretentious sentence – but how many times do you get to say, “Wry lyricism abounds”? Twice, apparently.

The Rumpus

It’s an on-line literary magazine! One that I, happily, can sometimes read at work under the pretext of staying up-to-date (which we know is a sham – see rock, above). Anyway, it is witty and fun and has real writers saying real things on a regular basis. Also: comics. I love comics.

We Will Measure Our Loss

Penguin stopped letting libraries lend their eBooks a week or so ago. This is not really news now. But this *is* a compelling portrait of changing technologies and how they affect people at all levels of society.

More Web-based Fun

Lindy West writes a film column for the Seattle Stranger. She is incredibly funny. My favorite article involves that inexplicable cinema-atrocity, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 3-D. It made me laugh out loud on a day when even smiling did not seem to be in the cards. I caution you against her drinking game, though (she is right – and no one likes to have their stomach pumped). Sometimes West’s reviews can be a leetle too raunchy for me, but then, I do live under that rock.

From movies to TV

Did you see the BBC series, Black Books? You should. Watch the pilot episode. The later ones are heavy on the slapstick, but that first one… oh, pure comedy gold.

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My Stars

Please let me preface this by saying that I don’t know beans about Bristol Palin’s life, but I would not want to slam anybody who is a single mom. Single momming is all kinds of hard work.

That said, people who write jacket copy for the memoirs of single mothers are fair game. So from the front flap of B. Palin’s new book, Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far, I give you:

“…Through all of these ups and downs, Bristol learned how to face her challenges head-on with courage and grace, [WAIT FOR IT!] traits she put to good use as a contestant and finalist on Dancing with the Stars.”

People are generally said (if they emerge from such horrors not actually having descended into a permanent state of jibbering idiocy) to have faced things like life-threatening disease, natural disasters or hostage situations with courage and grace. Dancing with the Stars? Really?

I would prefer to face Dancing with the Stars with gin and tonic.

Other things that make me giggle, but in more of a laughing-with-you kind of way:

The Practical Napper: Tips, Facts, and Quotes for the Avidly Recumbent, by Jennifer Eyre White.

My favorite:

Napping is good for world peace. When you’re napping, you’re not:

  1. Behaving like imperialist swine.
  2. Trying to convert other countries to your religion and/or political system and/or fashion sense.
  3. Calling other countries mean names.

 

The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs

Every once in a while, somebody will bring up that old hypothetical question, “If you could have a dinner party and invite anybody you wanted, living or dead, who would you ask?” People generally get all earnest about this one and come up with a guest list that includes Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Personally, I think having Ralph Steadman, Rabelais and Christopher Moore over for pizza and booze would be a laugh riot. Ooh — and Django Reinhardt. Maybe he’d jam. I’d ask Hunter S. too, but he might wander off with a bottle of drugged wine and a shotgun to lie in wait for the delivery guy.

Steadman’s latest goofy collection of canine drawings is a hoot.

That's some hat.

Anything by Angela Thirkell

I first discovered Thirkell during a dark, scary, I-can’t-read-anything-distressing-my-life-is-distressing-enough-what-if-I’m-doing-everything-all-wrong-probably-it-would-be-better-for-everyone-if-I-just-hid-here-under-the-couch-wow-I-should-really-vacuum . . . time in my life. She seemed the perfect antidote to my then-reality: a sort of buttoned-up, post WWI Jane Austen knock-off.

Thirkell is a gentle and forgiving observer of every-day people doing every-day things in an English village. She’s also got an out-of-nowhere-surprise hit of snark when you least expect it. Literary quotes from Dickens and Thakeray sneak up and bite you when you’re not looking. She wrote for money, starting in the 1920’s and continuing into the 50s. She didn’t expect most of her “society” friends to like, or even read, her novels. She’s classist and sexist and funny and kind — sometimes, upsettingly, all at once. I like her Barsetshire books the best. If you’re a guy, you will very likely hate them (I didn’t say in what way she was sexist). If you’re not, or you’re up for something different, give them a try.

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‘I Don’t Care About Your Band’ & Other Valentine’s Day Diversions

Anybody want to know what to read this weekend? As V-day is shortly to be upon us, I have some matters-of-the-heart-themed suggestions.

 I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner  is now available in paperback. Her story of the misadventures that pave the road to love are funny and raunchy and horrifying – and ultimately encouraging, no matter what your goals in the area of romance.

What I said to myself as I read, between snorts of laughter:

“I am so glad I am not the only one!”

“No way! Really???”

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” (That’s a prolonged snort, in case you were wondering).

“Eww!”

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!” (more snorting).

“Scary!”

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!” (You get the idea).

It’s not for the faint of heart, but then neither is dating.

For more profound kind of stuff, try: The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson (a perennial favorite that I never seem to shut up about).

You’d like a wry take on the love story? Leaven of Malice, by Robertson Davies is delightful. A review from its first publication:  http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/08/24/reviews/davies-malice.html. This title is sometimes easier to find bound with its companions as The Salterton Trilogy.

For beach-book fun: The Wilde Women, by Paula Wall. It looks like it should be a panting, heaving sort of thing, but isn’t. It is, however, funny and smart. Her first book, The Rock Orchard, is good fun too.

Genuine Romance with petticoats and everything: You want steamy? Julia Quinn is your go-to girl.  Her historical romances are steam, couched in manners, with some laughs. They follow the traditional formula for these things, but my homemade brownies follow a traditional formula too. I really can’t call that a flaw.

So, there you are – reading material for the weekend. Stock up on the chocolate and you’re good to go.

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