Books: The Antelope in the Living Room

August 9, 2014

Looking through the list of non-fiction in Tyndale’s summer reading list, I decided that a humorous book about marriage sounded worth checking out of the library. Light reading, with some insights thrown in about making marriage work, all from a Christian perspective.

For the first few chapters of The Antelope in the Living Room, I was delighted. I enjoyed her light-hearted style and her self-deprecating humor, and I smiled as I read. (I didn’t laugh, but that’s me, not the book – there really isn’t a lot that makes me laugh.) I looked forward to enjoying the whole book.

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Books: I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This

June 7, 2014

I rarely read biographies, and I only picked up this one because it came up in a search I did in the library catalog. I’m working on a humorous speech for Toastmasters, which requires me to include material I have heard or read, along with personal experiences of my own.

I started working on a speech about names, but had trouble finding material. So I decided to switch my topic to golf. I was sure I could find plenty, but it wasn’t showing up in the books in the humor section of the library. So I used the online catalog. This found me a book by Bill Murray and another by Bob Newhart.

I associate them with humor, but not necessarily with golf. In the end I found two other books on golf humor, which turned out to be in the golf section, along with serious books on how to improve your game. The book by Newhart has only one short chapter about golf, which didn’t look helpful to my speech. But I decided to read the book anyway, just for a change of pace.

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Books: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

June 2, 2014

Our book club selection this month was Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir. Having previously read his book The Mother Tongue – English And How It Got That Way, I was happy to read something else by Bryson.

It took me a while to realize that while it is written in the form of a memoir, it really is not so much about Bryson as about what it was like growing up in the 1950’s and early 60’s. As I was born a decade later in the early 60’s, and in the middle of Connecticut rather than the middle of Iowa, I find some of his recollections similar to my own, and others very different.

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If St. Paul had used Powerpoint…

February 8, 2014

I’ve seen Scripture passages “translated” into a format familiar to users of modern technology, such as
God texts the Ten Commandments.” But this is the first time I’ve seen anyone tackle an entire book of the Bible.

I’m not sure whether this is poking fun more at people who inflict their tacky Powerpoint presentations on others, or at those who prefer Scripture packaged in convenient, sound-bite-sized portions. But this “Terrible Powerpoint” version of 1 Corinthians is humorous.

Books: The Uncommon Reader

August 31, 2013

I sometimes have trouble enjoying satire but The Uncommon Reader does it just right. Alan Bennett pokes fun – but gently – at the sometimes stuffy rituals of the monarchy and at people who do not read and do not appreciate seeing others reading.

I knew from The End of Your Life Book Club (where I learned about this book) that the Queen of England in this novella is not intended to depict the personality of the actual queen. As one reader review at points out, it’s a bit odd to read a book about a fictional version of a real person (at least one who is still living). Knowing the character is fictional, however, I managed to get past that oddness and just enjoy the book.

It’s an interesting exploration of the power of books to change the people who read them. I have always read both for pleasure and for learning, and it’s hard for me to imagine discovering the joy of reading late in life and trying to make up for lost time. The Queen certainly succeeds, however, devouring classics I have not yet attempted to read.

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Movies: The Pirates! Band of Misfits

March 12, 2013

I wouldn’t want to have spent money in order to see this movie, but as a free checkout from the library, The Pirates! Band of Misfits not a bad family movie. The story is kind of wacky (actually the whole movie is kind of wacky), but there is a lot of humor, and a message about being true to your friends and to who you are (though even this last bit is saved from undue moralizing by its humorous context).

Pirates aren’t usually role models for the values of friendship and personal integrity, but these aren’t exactly your typical bloodthirsty pirates. The Pirate Captain (that is his name, not just his title) claims to enjoy running people through, but his motivation for attacking other ships is to collect enough loot to win the Pirate of the Year award.

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Holiday humor

January 6, 2013

At the Holiday Springs and Sprockets exhibit I went to yesterday, there was also a display of Christmas cards sent or received by Steve Gerberich (the creator of the overall exhibit). One I found particularly amusing included a web address, so I checked it out when I got home. is a collection of four amusing virtual refrigerator magnets. Each is a parody of a familiar household product, altered to give it a holiday theme. My favorite is the bottle of “Yule Tide” detergent, which “Removes Stubborn In-Laws” and provides “Bing Crosby Whitening.” You can send a magnet by email (though the image will not be immediately visible in the email, as most email clients these days are set not to download pictures automatically).

The website was apparently created, several years ago, as the Christmas greeting of Lenox Softworks and its parent company, Winstanley Associates. I’m guessing the page proved so popular that they simply left it up for people’s continued enjoyment.

Arrrrgh – I didn’t talk like a pirate today

September 19, 2012

If I still worked in a large IT department, sitting at the front desk where I had occasion to chat with my colleagues over the course of the day, it would not have been mid-afternoon before I found out that today was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Not that most of the developers and system administrators actually went around saying “Avast” – but one of them would have mentioned something.

As it was, I was sitting down at a meeting when the VP of Student Services commented on the fact. He didn’t go on to actually talk like a pirate, and I wondered if he had acquired his knowledge from a student, his online resources, or a general interest in nerdy topics (an interest he may or may not have – he is my supervisor but I don’t really know him yet). He did mention that celebration of the day really took off ten years ago when Dave Barry wrote about it – something I hadn’t known before.

I found out from that it could more accurately be called Talk Like Robert Newton Day. Or perhaps Talk Like Disney Day. Not that I ever thought the presumed pirate-style talk was all that historically accurate, but I was surprised to learn that it has such a recent origin. And from the purveyors of Mickey Mouse!

Despite the comments at the end of the article, I don’t think National Geographic is trying to spoil anyone’s fun, or take a silly topic too seriously. Their role is education, and people like me appreciate learning more about the origins of today’s good-humored “pirate talk.” It wouldn’t stop me from talking like a (Disney) pirate, if I were so inclined.

It was actually a crossword puzzle that made me realize, one day recently, how inaccurate the pseudo-pirate talk is. Consider the opening lines at the Talk Like a Pirate Day website: “Avast, me hearties! Welcome…” Wouldn’t you guess, from that opening, that avast was some sort of greeting? So I was very surprised to discover that a five-letter word meaning “Stop!” is AVAST.

Next thing you know, I suppose I’ll be reading that pirates didn’t really wear earrings and have parrots perched on their shoulders…

Test your typing

August 1, 2012

I was filling out an online job application, and one question asked for my typing speed. I was sure it was over 40 wpm, but thought it would be nice if I could find some kind of typing test to get an accurate number. I quickly found one on the internet, which has the great advantage of not only being easy to use but actually fun because the text you have to type is actually interesting.

I mean, wouldn’t you get a smile on your face as you found yourself typing out this sentence?

Basically, a tool is an object that enables you
to take advantage of the laws 
of physics and mechanics
in such a way that you can seriously injure yourself.

Not every test (I’ve tried five so far, I don’t know how many there are in all) is equally humorous, but they beat some of the dull text I’ve copied in typing tests before.

Check it out here: I don’t know whether I type any better when I’m smiling (the humor is subtle enough so I don’t have to worry about laughing too much to keep my speed up), but so far my best score was a surprising (to me) 70 wpm.

Happy LOL Day!

April 2, 2012

I don’t know that I made anyone laugh out loud, but I did get a lot of smiles today when people saw the bunny hat I was wearing. I sit at the front desk, so lots of people got to smile as they walked past. And to visitors who asked, I explained that today was LOL Day in Iowa.

Our company wants to promote healthy habits, and laughter is healthy. So we were invited to wear silly shirts, hats, and/or socks today. My fish shirt isn’t quite “silly” but it’s not exactly normal work attire. It didn’t get nearly as much attention as my hat did, though.

We were also invited to play games in one of the conference rooms during lunch, but apparently no one felt an urge to play Connect 4, Operation, or Jenga. I played Bop-It for a few minutes (after checking to see that no one seemed to be in the CIO’s office next door – there’s no volume control on the Bop-It). I’m not really good with games that require speed, but after several tries I managed a score of 46.

It was a reasonably good day at work. But if you really want to laugh out loud, silly clothes are nothing compared to what you can find at the Damn You Auto Correct website. If off-color language really bothers you, don’t go there. But the fact that people don’t mean to say those things, and it’s the autocorrect feature of their phones that make them “say” such embarrassing things, is what makes them so funny. I don’t laugh out loud at much, but after reading these for a while it’s pretty hard not to.


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