Tag Archives: humor

“Jeeves and the King of Clubs” by Ben Schott

 

This “new arrivals shelf” book has a subtitle. I usually dislike subtitles, but this one actually conveys useful information! “A Novel in Homage to PG Wodehouse”. Irresistible! I’ve read Wodehouse and watched any number of the humorous video adaptations shown on the BBC. Jeeves and the King of Clubs was so much fun to read. Schott’s website informed me that Jeeves was authorized by the Wodehouse estate.

Sometimes the language is a bit “cute”, and there’s anachronism here and there (“flash mob”? really?), but a good dose of Wooster and Jeeves was just what I needed this week. Highly recommended when you crave escape fiction and don’t want to stumble onto angst or gratuitous violence.

I looked up Ben Schott. Jeeves is his first novel, released in late 2018. His previous, non-fiction works were lists, an “almanac” and a “miscellany”. In 2013, he published Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition. I want it! Please keep writing, Ben Schott!

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My first “binge watch” – “The Good Place” TV series

I don’t watch much TV. A little sports…weather…NO news… But last week my family started watching “The Good Place” and I got hooked!

“The Good Place” is heaven (in the afterlife). Protagonist Eleanor realizes she is there by mistake, and starts trying to earn her way in, retroactively. She studies ethics with Chidi, a deceased university professor. Eleanor and Chidi become friends with Tahani and Jianyu (aka Jason), two other imperfect souls. All are trying to figure out how to be GOOD.

My husband and son watched this as philosophical commentary. Both are academically well grounded in ethics and philosophy. They decided the series would be a useful supplement to a class in ethics.

And it’s FUNNY, full of throwaway lines that cracked me up. They even manage to make the Trolley Problem funny. (I consider “trolleyology” the most pretentious word ever invented.)

After lots of effort at avoiding being sent to “The BAD Place”, the series starts to speculate about “The MEDIUM Place.”

So far, “The Good Place” has run for three 13-episode seasons, and apparently a fourth is in the works. Wikipedia characterizes the show as comedy/fantasy. Check it out!

Upon reflection, I realized that I DID do some earlier binge watching! I watched and re-watched BBC2’s Fawlty Towers  (from 1975-1979) so long ago that we had to buy the VCR tapes. My kids LOVED it! John Cleese might be the funniest actor I ever saw. The supporting cast was hilarious.

Nonetheless, I’m returning to my usual preoccupation with books. But if you tell me what YOU binge watch, I’ll check it out!

“Surrounded by Disturbing Art” by Jeffrey Kindley

I posted some thoughts about “trigger warnings” on November 11, 2014. Today this crossed my radar!

The Times “Metropolitan Diary” the other day offered the following, by Jeffrey Kindley:

SURROUNDED BY DISTURBING ART
I was triggered at the Frick.
Those alarming Veroneses
may appeal to certain crazies;
I felt terrified and sick.
I was triggered at the Met.
“Los Caprichos” are disgusting
with their cheating and their lusting,
and those Schieles at the Neue
are at least as bad as Goya.
I was triggered at the Guggenheim,
the Whitney and the New.
I left MoMA in a coma
and I think that I might sue.
We need signs that give us a sense of
what you’ll find in a museum:
“Works of art may be offensive.
Are you sure you want to see ’em?”

“Plum Lucky” by Janet Evanovich

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and Irish or not, you deserve a treat! So read Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich. Read it even if you never heard of Evanovich. In my reading diet, she is a staple. I’ve got to read something of hers every few months, to keep my sense of humor alive. Anybody who can make a career of writing about Trenton, NJ, is very special. At least to me! Jersey girls have to stick together.

Plum Lucky resides on the “Mystery” shelf at the library, along with all the other Stepanie Plum novels. It’s part of Evanovich’s holiday series, which I discovered when I found a remaindered copy Visions of Sugar Plums, a Christmas story with a supernatural twist.

The holiday novels include Stephanie’s friend Diesel, whose supernatural skills include opening locks, teleportation and magical manipulation of playing cards. Taking these skills to Atlantic City makes it even funnier.

This book includes the usual cast of zany characters (Gramma Mazur gets kidnapped and burns down a house) and Stephanie hides a horse in her apartment. It’s all too silly for words, and it was just what I needed on a rainy weekend. Fans of the Stephanie Plum novels will be happy to learn that three cars exploded and Lula got her chance to fire a rocket launcher.

Go, Janet!

Sex clubs, convenience stores and “The Wawa Way” by Howard Stoeckel

This is the story behind MY Wawa in Galloway Township, NJ. The one in the Cologne neighborhood.

I recently posted a link to a friend’s comments on “The Wawa Way”. (Read it if you never heard of Wawa.) The book was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this chain of convenience stores.

I’m a Wawa regular (if not exactly an addict), and a few weeks ago my morning coffee was free, in celebration of said anniversary. And “The Wawa Way” (subtitled “How a Funny Name and 6 Core Values Revolutionized Convenience”) appeared beside the checkouts. I grabbed a copy for a birthday gift.

Moving through the line, I heard the young man working at the register try to convince a customer that the very Wawa in which we stood had been RIGHT HERE for 50 years! I got the giggles and walked out laughing. I know the real story.

I think the oldest Wawa in our area dates back to 1975. It’s a tiny store (no gas pumps, no bathrooms) in a town four miles down the road. Yes, it’s still there, unchanged, with just eight parking spots.

In 1980, I took a job with the county public health agency, supervising (among other things) food service sanitation. I shortly realized the restaurant inspectors were snickering about certain facilities. One was a “health club” that seemed to operate on a “clothing optional” basis. The proprietor greeted inspectors without a stitch on. The club was called the “Avant Gard”. Their food service was impeccable. No food related hazard to public health was found on the premises.

One day a local resident got a surprise. A relative from a few states away called to taunt “You’ve got a sex club in your town!” Say what?? The relative sent a clipping advertising party space, fantasy rooms, adult fun, etc. Yes, it was the Avant Gard. We aren’t so far from Atlantic City (at that time the only legal gambling venue on the east coast) which may have generated the demand for these services. But they were carefully NOT advertised locally.

There followed a mighty tempest in our Township. How had this happened? Who issued a business permit? What defines a health club? The proprietor claimed that sex is healthy… Public debate accelerated, leading to the memorable statement by an elected official, “We don’t want kinky sex in Galloway Township!”

The Avant Gard couldn’t take the heat. The health/sex club closed, and the building became a corporate training location.

I moved to my present home in Galloway, near the intersection of Route 30 and Tilton Road, in 1993. Around that time, a small Wawa appeared there, across from the corporate training location. “It’s a sign!” we said. We were meant to move here, and enjoy Wawa coffee.

A few years passed and “our” Wawa outgrew its location. It moved, in a much expanded version, across the street to the former location of Galloway’s one and only sex club.

Does any other Wawa have such an interesting land use history? I doubt it!

I like Wawa for its coffee, and because somebody there has a sense of humor. I sent them a copy of this post. They thanked me cheerfully, and gave me a twenty dollar gift certificate.

“Veramo” by Cesar Aira – giving modernism another chance

After my cry of protest about modernism (see June 5), my son handed me a short novel by the Argentine writer and translator Cesar Aira. I started reading it “seriously”, the way I had (of necessity) tackled the work of Robert Mucil. But Aira is different. And funny! His sentences scan, though his paragraphs can be awfully long. The plot gains momentum and becomes more amusingly whimsical as it moves along. In the course of an evening, our clueless and isolated hero finds out, to his astonishment, that he has what he takes to write a book/poem. And he does it! The story is full of charming details and sly humor. So I guess I’m OK with modernism!