Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator
Its one of the best market based books you will ever read . . .
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Five Best humor novels
A timeless list of 5 best American Humor novels, circa late 19th eary 20th century:
1. You Know Me Al
By Ring Lardner
Ring Lardner thought of himself as primarily a sports columnist whose stuff wasn't destined to last, and he held to that absurd belief even after his first masterpiece, "You Know Me Al," was published in 1916 and earned the awed appreciation of Virginia Woolf, among other very serious, unfunny people. Ostensibly a collection of letters to a friend back home in Bedford, Ind., it traces the first season of a rookie hurler for the Chicago White Sox. Jack Keefe is at once cocky and guileless, suspicious and gullible, innocent and -- you get hints of this along the way -- doomed. But really, really funny.
2. My Life and Hard Times
By James Thurber
"The clocks that strike in my dreams are often the clocks of Columbus." This is easily the most beautiful sentence ever written about what is now the largest city in Ohio, and Thurber, alone among the Buckeyes, was the one who was destined to write it. Thurber's tossed-off cartoons ("Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?") seem to be wearing better than his painstaking prose, at least among highbrow critics. But this brief memoir of growing up in an eccentric family in Columbus before and during World War I is nearly perfect -- and still the funniest and most accessible Thurber.
3. The Devil's Dictionary
By Ambrose Bierce
Albert & Charles Boni, 1911
It is commonly thought that a deep vein of melancholy runs beneath most humor writing -- the tears of a clown and so on -- but it is truer to say that a kind of prettied-up cruelty is the essential element, at least in the funniest stuff. This is why the mean and mocking Ambrose Bierce refuses to die -- perhaps literally: No one has seen him since he disappeared into Mexico, in 1914, hoping to join up with Pancho Villa. He (Bierce, not Villa) left behind a handful of brilliant short stories along with this collection of diabolical definitions, a work of exhilarating and unrelieved cynicism. "Bigot, n.: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain." "Forgiveness, n.: A stratagem to throw an offender off his guard and catch him red-handed in his next offense." "Self-esteem, n.: An erroneous appraisement." Once you start quoting, it is very hard to stop -- as you can see. Reading it has the same effect.
4. Westward Ha!
By S.J. Perelman
Simon & Schuster, 1948
Seventy years ago "nonsense" was an honored subclass of American humor, heavy on pointless paradox and wordplay for its own sake. The closest thing to nonsense that's worth reading today: the short pieces of S.J. Perelman, one-time scriptwriter for the Marx Brothers. His work can seem bloodless and slight -- he created nothing as heartfelt as Jack Keefe or as charming as Thurber's Columbus -- but for sheer verbal virtuosity, for his dizzy manipulation of language, Perelman deserves a place at the top of the trade. "Westward Ha!" is an account of a trip to the Far East ("The whole business began with an unfavorable astrological conjunction, Virgo being in the house of Alcohol"). As a travel book it is more closely tethered to reality than most Perelman stuff and thus easier to enjoy. The witty illustrations by his friend Al Hirschfeld are lagniappe.
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
By Mark Twain
Did someone say "lagniappe"? It was one of Mark Twain's favorite words, which he often used to describe humor in writing. "Humor is only a fragrance, a decoration," he wrote. It's a quality that emerges almost unbidden, as a byproduct of the writer's attempt to tell a story, preach a sermon, make an argument or draw a character. Nowhere was the point illustrated more convincingly than in "Huck Finn," a book known not only for its comic invention but also for its moral grandeur. I don't think there's a funnier episode on paper than the story of the Duke and the Dauphin, just for starters. What a pleasing thought that the greatest work of art that Americans have produced is also one of their funniest.
Some humor doesn't age well, but these American
classics remain funny beyond compare
WSJ, December 2, 2006; Page P8
Mr. Ferguson is a senior editor of the Weekly Standard and a columnist for Bloomberg News. His latest book, "Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America" (Atlantic Monthly Press), will be published in May
Thursday, November 30, 2006
YOUR LAYS ARE NUMBERED
An amusing if some ribald article in the NY Post: YOUR LAYS ARE NUMBERED
"To a woman, size does matter. But it's not the size you're thinking of. What women really care about is the length of the list of former lovers, which is usually either too many or too, too many. No matter how sexually liberated (or liberally sexual), most women believe that the number of guys they've had sex with (the average being somewhere between 7.2 and 10.5, depending on the survey) really does count."
"20 Times a Lady" is a novel about the excuses women go to keep this a short list:
EXCUSES NOT TO ADD HIM TO 'THE NUMBER'
If he yells out another woman's name
If one or both of you ends up gently weeping
If he might be gay
If he took you out for a vegan meal first
If you're drunk, or you could have been drunk had you been drinking
If you just gave up smoking
If you just gave up having meaningless one-night stands
If it's Tuesday
If he's small
If he's small-minded
If he's Jared Leto
YOUR LAYS ARE NUMBERED
NYPost, October 24, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Dissecting new Book: Tempting Faith
Devastating interview: Former #2 man in the Faith-Based Initiatives office David Kuos states: "The Bush White House is playing millions of American Christians as suckers."
PLAYING THE JESUS CARD
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Ron Suskind on the White House & the 1% Solution
Ron Suskind appeared on "The Situation Room" to talk about his new book "One Percent Doctrine," and said:
• the US took out Al-Jazeera office in Kabul purposefully
• the CIA determined OBL wanted W re-elected
• The president made the decision to rely on local forces to get Bin Laden in Tora Bora, over the CIA's explicit objections (They specifically told the president the local forces weren’t capable and shouldn't be relied upon, and we should nail him ourselves).
via Crooks and Liars
Monday, January 23, 2006
2 for Phillip K. Dick fans
First, a podcast: Benjamen Walker talks with authors Jonathan Lethem and Josh Glenn about the Science Fiction genius Philip K Dick.
Second, an R. Crumb comic on The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick
click for comic
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Dissent is Treason. Betrayal is Patriotic.
George Orwell never had it so good:
via Patriot Boy
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
'The R. Crumb Handbook'
“The R. Crumb Handbook,” the most recent in a series of biographies of such luminaries as Elvis, Marilyn and Jackie O., was put together by Peter Poplaski with Crumb offering occasional comments. There is also an accompanying CD of music by Crumb and his various musical groups—the Cheap Suit Serenaders, Les Primitifs du Futur, et al. The music itself poses no threat to the string bands from the '20s and '30s Crumb adores (here's a bet that this inveterate collector of 78s doesn't even own a CD player). But the joy and verve which it's played hints that inside the ornery artist who's playing these tunes lurks a joyous and unironic spirit: R. Crumb, musical softie.
By Malcolm Jones
Newsweek, 10:58 a.m. ET March 11, 2005
Saturday, March 05, 2005
An utterly brilliant send up of the now clichéed "What Would Jesus Say" emem is over at whatwouldbillhickssay.
Hicks, for those of you who may have missed him, was one of the most brilliantly funny scathing social critics of the last century. We've discussed his work repeatedly in these pages.
Bill was a follower of Jesus the philosopher, and hated money grubbing preachers ("middlemen") distorted Christ's message of love and forgiveness.
A classic example of Hick's biting yet subtle wit is this comic bit: After a show down South somewhere, a few redneck types come up to Hicks as he is sitting with a book in a cafe:
Looks like we got ourselves a reader they threatingly observe.
One of the rednecks says: "We don't like what you said last night about Jesus."
To which Hicks deadpan replies. "Oh. Forgive me."
The site is filled with fans observations of how Hicks might have responded to some of the more moronic ideas circulating the world today.
Be sure to read the two linked articles, below . . .
What Would Bill Hicks Say
Too close to the bone
Bill Hicks' biting routines kept him a cult comedian
San Francisco Chronicle, December 26, 2004
A censored comic's message grows louder
Plain Dealer Columnist, December 12, 2004
Hat tip to Will Sargent
Sunday, February 27, 2005
R.I.P. Hunter S. Thompson
I was stunned to learn of Hunter S. Thompson's suicide last week -- I was off the grid and unable to access any media or email.
Thompson was a phenomenally talented writer. His book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (sub-titled, A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream). remains to this day one of the funniest things I ever read. Get the hardcover, which is brilliantly illustrated by Ralph Steadman
You can also check out his 1965 Nation article on Motorcycle Gangs: Losers and Outsiders
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson dead at 67
'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' author takes own life
CNN, Monday, February 21, 2005 Posted: 3:49 PM EST (2049 GMT)