Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Found in Translation

So… you know how you listen to other people, and you know how you accidentally overhear their conversation... Right?

Well, the last time I was in Louisiana I overheard (accidentally) these two guys (Fred and Ty) talking about the French. I'm a Francophile so my ears always quiver at the thought that I might know something. Ty was a muscle-bound boy and he had presumably run into his old friend at the self-serve coffee station at the 7-11. I poured cream in my coffee and listened.

"Hey, Fred."

Fred was a scrawny fellow who wore a black Harley T-shirt and he looked like he'd just helped somebody change a flat tire.

Ty slapped Fred on the back and made him spill his coffee.

"Get this," Ty said. "You know how stupid the French are?"

"No, Ty. I don't know."

Fred flung the coffee from his fingers and got a new cup.

"Have you seen Men in Black Two?"

"No," Fred said.

"You haven't seen Men in Black Two yet?"

Fred gave Ty the I-just-said-that look and he poured some more coffee.

Ty obviously picked up on the affront and he folded his arms. "The French are so stupid that …you know what they call Men in Black Two in France?"

"Ain't got the foggiest."

Ty cupped his lip. "It's called, 'Back to Black Deux.'"

There's meaning here; I just haven't figured it out, yet.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Some Funny Books

Here's a list of funny books by Abebooks, which isn't a very funny name, sounds a bit drab in fact, but the folks over at Abe's in England came up with this (mostly British) list.

1. Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (1933)
2. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961
3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)
4. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (1889)
5. Wilt by Tom Sharpe (1976)
6. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
7. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
8. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse (1938)
9. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (1996)
10. Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan (1971)

My favorite is Confederacy. Maybe it’s my Southernness or Luzyananess; but that damn book is so funny I think I coughed up a pancreas, or two. Now that’s funny.

So I was thinking to my self, Self? You ought to jot down a list of funny kid books. So I did and here's today list of ten. Feel free to add yours in the comments...

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
2. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
3. Big Bad Bruce by Bill Peet
4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
5. Katy No-Pocket by Emma Payne (HA Rey)
6. La pêche au Ballon by Richard Scarry
7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
8. Dear Dumb Diary by Jaime Kelly
9. Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary
10. Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli
11. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday is the day I laugh

I go to this laughing yoga thing on Mondays now and I am hooked. It’s closed today ‘cause of President’s Day. I mean Obama’s been on the job, what, two weeks and he’s already taking a day off?

Here’s what you do for laughing yoga. You fake it until you make it. The idea is that a faked laugh has the same therapeutic benefit as an honest, serious, no frills, gut-busting laugh.

Smile. It’s the first thing you do. Go on and give it whirl. So easy. Smile. Try this 6 second video.

The tried and true in laffyoga is a standard yogoesque chant of Ho ho, ha ha, hee hee, ho ho, ha ha, hee hee. It’s already funny.

In laugh yoga, you start out by saying you name and laughing at it (with it). Go ahead, say your name aloud and laugh out loud. (pause)

Don’t worry nobody’s watching. Really laugh. (pause)

Now say your name aloud with an alliterative adjective describing who you are or how you are feeling (playful Paul, silly Sarah, pink sock Peter) and then laugh because … because you can.

Yes, it’s ridiculous. Everything is.

Try this one.

Half close your eyes and clench your teeth and give the biggest cocktail brown nose cackle you can muster. (pause)

Now, add a teacup to your hand (dainty: pinky extended) and maybe toss in a British throat quiver. And do it loud. (pause)

Keep the frumpy English chuckle and let everyone know how wealthy you are and how English you are and intelligent you are and how much better you are than they. Top of the food chain laugh.

Now think how ridiculous you look sitting in that room, laughing with that teacup in your hand! Laughing for no good reason other than it feels good is good enough for me.

The great thing about laughing is that when you are laughing your mind is incapable of holding contending realities.

All the Übercritics and mega-egos out there are temporarily suspended. You’re neither good nor bad. When you laugh, all you hear is ha ha, ho, ho, hee, hee!!!

And if that’s still not enough. Try the laughter hotline at 712.432.3900. Access code: 607-1292. Daily at 10AM MST.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Über Critic

The Über Critic woke me up at 4. He's a huge help. Not only does he keep me from sleeping, he ridicules me! Neato. I normally get up before he does and crawl into a gossamer chair and write in the Dawn Zone and by the time he's ready to tear into me and tell me that I suck, I've got two pages I can shove right back in his face.

Sometimes it's a good idea to let the old boy have his say and get it out of his system. He mostly says the same thing over and over and he says the same things to all of us and he does tend to chose the sharp end of the knife, but after a while you can tell him, like a child, that that's enough and that he can sit in the corner because you've got some work to do.

However, if you keep him bottled up too long, he'll visit when you least want—like at 4.

I wrote that blog yesterday about blogging. So original. Ouu! A blogger blogging about blogging. (This is not me; this is him talking and I think it's time I gave Herr Über Critic a name… How about Dick. ;)

So Dick woke me up at 4 telling me how stupid it was to have written a blog with quasi-existential humor. Sartre is sooo funny, you know. "I exist." Hilarious. Dick went on to tell me that a blog is actually the truncated form of the word weblog. Now that's interesting, Dick. Thanks for the info.

The name weblog reminds me of Weebles (Weebles wobble but they don't fall down), which is a perfect metaphor for writing. The immediacy of throwing your stuff up on the webwall is gratifying, but I am used to writing something for, you know, a couple years and then I go back and reread what I wrote and man was the Über Critic right. The old writing is bad, rank, like duck guts rottin' in a barrel.

I don't know… I mean it's taken me four, five years to get up to the level of writing that most people would call crappy. Take Suzanne Young. A Coors Light and a free afternoon and she's banged out eight chapters; me on the other hand, I'm hitting maybe eight beers (good ones, not Coors Light, thank you very much) and maybe add eight light years and I got a couple of good pages, sort of.

So just before the alarm goes off, the Über Critic is still hammering away but he's coming around to the idea of blogging and he tells me, "Yeah, I think you should blog, Paul, I think it's a great idea. In fact, keep clicking that 'Publish This Blog' button, buddy, because that is the only thing you'll ever publish."

To which, I replied, "Thanks, Dick."

I got up and wrote this blog and I'm sure when I read it in a year, it'll suck. But I'll just make it better. It's an iBlog; not a weBlog. We write and write, but we don't fall down.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Je pense donc je blog

"Je pense donc je suis."- Descartes.

My friend Dan, who has B.O. the moment he steps out of the shower, used to say: Je pu donc je suis. (Yes: I stink therefore I am.) True enough for an existentialist. And then it became, Je pu donc je suis Dan.

Je suis means I am, but it could mean: I follow, just the same. (Suivre: to follow) You could say, “Je suis ce blog.” I follow this blog or it could mean, I am this blog, which is borderline creepy.

I am me and I follow myself could both be: Je suis moi or you could say: Je me suis, if you wanted to, but most people don’t. I certainly don’t; I mean I don’t walk down the street and say, “I am me!”

Okay sometimes I do when I am weak and lonely and unsure of myself and gray clouds come to suffocate me, then I look at myself and I say to myself, “Self,” and my Self says, “What?” And then I’m a-O-k.

So blogging is like bad sci-fi, only you made it up, sort of. By blogging, you’re following yourself. I guess you could look at it in a metaphysical “follow your bliss” kind of way, sure; but Joseph Campbell never blogged and nor did Descartes. All of which brings you back to wondering if no one is following your blog then no one is reading your blog and if no one is reading your blog then why write it?

Because blogging is about getting published or noticed but isn’t a blog published? And if you published it then you could say:

Je blog donc je suis.

Oh and I have a website: http://www.crimetravelers.com/#!books-for-reluctant-readers/c22m2