Friday Fives –

What is your favorite weird word in any language?

Easy – schadenfreude.  I have written about this word before.  It’s a German word meaning ‘to take pleasure in the suffering of others’.  Now, it isn’t too terribly surprising to learn the German’s have a corner on that market.  Still, though, we all live this.  You know when a ahole passes you like a lunatic and cuts you off in the process?  Even better?  Ok.  Watch this road rage clip, and stunning instant karmic retribution.  That laugh of joy and closure you hear from the lady?  That is schadenfreunde!

You know that warm, gooey feeling you get inside when you see him pulled over and getting a ticket ten minutes later?  Yeah, that is schadenfruede.  I wonder if there is any connection to the ‘Freud’ part of that word, and if there is a connection to Herr Sigmund.  Turns out, no.  The ‘fruende’ part of that word is for happiness.  I am more surprised to find that Germans have a word for happiness, than I am to discover they literally invented the idea of mocking one’s suffering.

What is a controversial book more people should read?

Well, I am a book guy.  I love books.  Got a fancy university degree just about books.  So, I can’t just give you one. Also, I am going to try and not write about Alice in Wonderland again.  God, how I do love that book. ok… so let’s talk about non Alice related books. How about two?  These are both ‘banned books‘.  However, every book worth it’s salt has been banned.  When someone once asked Keith Richards how we felt about the Stone’s records getting bootlegged (and so the band was getting ripped off), Keith replied ‘if you aren’t being bootlegged, you aren’t happening!’  I kinda feel the same way about books.

It took me a LONG time to get into reading.  When I was a kid, I was just force fed dreck.  Newbury award winnings books – just boring and sterile horse shit. I never ever saw reading as fun, or an escape, until Kermit.  Kermit was my high school buddy, and he turned me on to SO much.  He got me into Henry Miller, Salvador Dali, the Beatles White Album, Gregory, Bukowski, and so much more.

For a dense, hardcore, escapist read – go for Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.  He was an American writer who lived abroad (quite literally… tee hee hee) in France in the 20s.  He was broke, but he was wicked smart and fun and interesting.  So, rich people would keep him afloat to keep him around.  ‘Tropic’ is a coming of age story of wanderlust on every level.  Imagine the debauchery of Charlie Sheen, but written so beautifully it’s like Maya Angelou.  Imagine ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ set in Paris.  Imagine everything Charles Bukowski ever did or wrote… first.  It is a book every 16 year old young man should read.  It’s not a quick read, by any means… but nor should it be.

For quicker fare, but just as impactful (and just as banned) is George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  It’s about the animals rising up and taking over their oppressive humans, and making an animal utopia.  Well… it starts that way, anyhow.  People who wear eyeglasses and finger their goatees thoughtfully will tell you about the analogy to the Russian revolution.  Don’t worry about all that.  The story stands just terrific on it’s own, and you will have NO trouble drawing parallels to so many things in society.  Best part of all, it’s thin.  You can knock it out in a single evening.  Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!  It doesn’t just work as a meta study on humanity and barbarism.  It is also just a cute sweet story you could read to a 5 year old.  Not a 4 year old, though.  Seriously, that would fuck them up good.  5, though?  Yeah, he’d be fine.  Listen, kids gotta learn about tyranny from someone, amiright?

What’s an everyday grammatical thing that still kind of bugs you?

It’s – when do I use the apostrophe?  I should ask someone who has an English degree, right?  That would be me, and I still don’t get it.  They say ‘only if owns something (possessive), or is a contraction.  Well, isn’t that ALWAYS the case with it’s?

Guess what?  New rule – the only time I want to talk about apostrophe’s is if it is about Frank Zappa’s album.  SO much great, and stupid, Zappa work can be found on Apostrophe/Overnight Sensation.  First off, let’s go with this one.  Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.  Then, listen to Frank explain, in a super catchy song, about how it is damn near impossible to get his lady off manually.  “dynamo hum, dynamo hum.  Where’s this dynamo coming from?  Dynamo Hum, Dynamo hum, I done poked and stroked till my wrist gut numb.  You may be thinking to yourself ‘there is no way in hell studios released an song about how to properly masturbate your girlfriend… and especially not 45 years ago’.  Oh yeah, baby.  They sure did.  Think of all risque Prince songs, like Darling Nikki.  How about 2 Live Crew?  Yeah, Frank was upsetting parents 30 years earlier.  Enjoy.  At work?  Oh, then turn it up really loud.

bonus fun?  That song is nowhere near the most offensive thing Frank ever recorded.  Not by a mile.

Replace a word in a movie title with “Bitch”, what’s the new plot?

Kill Bitch – it’s the sequel to Kill Bill, where all the daughters of the slain samurai come back after Uma Thurman and avenge their parents.  See, she had a beef with Bill.  Whatevs, that isn’t our business.  Just note that, like in every proper Tarantino movie, zillions of ancillary characters die in the hero’s wake.  Tee hee hee.

Write us up a nice little Haiku (5-7-5). 

Arson so pretty

Fire my only friend now

Oops, Sorry ‘bout pants

Friday Fives – book edition

Last week was movies. This week its books.

1. What was the last book that you absolutely could not put down until you finished it? 

for this, I have to reference this.  I am such a book nut that I archive everything I read.  I started doing this years ago, noting down books as I read them.  Now that I have probably a hundred catalogued, I find it a very useful resource.  Plus, allow me cop to the fact that it is a bit pretentious.  It sounds like something Sting would do.  To me, Sting sets the bar for pretension.  But, it is practical.  I read a lot, about a book a month.  This helps me keep it straight in my mind, and go back to find authors that I loved.

Now, back to the question.  The last book that just rocked my world was an audiobook… so that could constitute cheating.  It was ‘Lamb’.  This was the most amazing book.  I believe it is one of the best and most important and amazing books ever written.  Note (again, Sting alert here) I have a degree in Literature, so I know of what I speak.  Lamb was amazing, life changing!  I put it up there with Alice in Wonderland.  If you are a reader here, then you know my devotion to that book.  If you are not a reader here, what are you doing reading here, huh?  You got some esplainin’ to do.

Allow me to tell you a tiny bit more about Lamb that might shed light on the truly religious experience it had on me.  When I listened to it, I was driving by myself across the desert on Christmas day.  I had not slept in 4 days, so I was literally loopy.  Also, I am a recovering Catholic.  This means I believe in Jesus and most of his story, up until he died.  I do believe there was a Jesus.  I do believe he was a leader, and I do believe he was murdered for that.  I don’t believe he came back to life.

I didn’t mean to be listening to the fictionalized story of Christ on Christmas day.  Nor did I mean to be driving through the desert by myself whacked on sleep deprivation when I did.  Those are all just amazing co-incidences that made it a very seriously powerful experience for me.  You must read that book.  Religious or not.  It is incredibly thoughtful.  it is not satire, or humor.  It is at least as accurate as the Bible, and I am dead serious about that.  Both were written by men who were nowhere around when it happened.  At least Moore cops to it.

There you have it.  I have officially not written that much about a book (besides Alice in Wonderland) since college.

2. Do you have a difficult to read author/book that you really want to read/finish?

I did.  There have been many books I meant to finish.  Many books that felt embarrassed that I had not read or finished.  Finally, though, I realized life is too short to read boring books.  Here is an example – Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote ‘100 years of solitude‘.  It has been regarded by about every scholar as one of the greatest books ever written.  Entire college courses are taught on this book.  So, being as though I am a lit guy, I should read it.  I should know it.  I tried.  I really did.  a bunch of times.  Here is my educated literary analysis – holy fuck is it boring.  See, it is 500 pages.  So, your first 60 pages are just about setting the scene and introducing characters.  I couldn’t get past page 25 ever.  So, this book is shelved.  I am not even going to try anymore.

There is a really great article/infographic about this very topic.  Btw, full Sting disclosure here.  As much as I truly enjoy talking about books, I did not pick these questions.  These came from my editor, who is my close buddy who turned me on to blogging ten years ago.

3. If you had to pick a genre that your read as a favorite, what is it? 

non-fiction memoirs, and neurology.  I am a freelance neurologist.  Go ahead, google it.  Just kidding, you can’t.  I just made it up.  Ok, that was a little Stingy.  Allow me to explain that reference.  Sting put out a movie of him playing lute and discussing literature with guys with bears and tweed coats.  Doing those things doesn’t make you a douche, but putting out a movie of you doing those things sure does.

4. If you had to help someone who “doesn’t get into reading” what would you suggest to them to light their fire?

start light.  Comedians often write great and super funny books.  Here is one I read fairly recently.  it is really enjoyable, and super fluffy.  Also, I strongly recommend Alice in Wonderland.  it is not too long, amazingly well written, and totally absurd.  Here is an even better one.  This book, Animal Farm, is super entertaining, and incredibly thoughtful.  it is also so short you can read it one night.  Classes have been taught about this book, too.  Hell, Pink Floyd made an album about it.

5. What are you reading right now?

Nothing, actually.  I just finished this last week, and am in between books.  I am pretty sure I am going to get a couple books on Russian history.  For now, though, I am on brain vacation and just reading my magazines (Rolling Stone, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, and Psychology Today).  Both of the Russian history books are over 400 pages each.  I am a bit intimidated to get into something that thick and thinky, but it is a fascinating tale.  Like, if you asked anyone on Earth who the worst person in history is, most would agree Hitler.  Lemme tell you, when it comes to body count, no one comes CLOSE to Stalin.  Stalin makes Hitler look like a youth league volunteer for charity by comparison.

I go back and forth between really thinky stuff, and fluffy memoirs.  Oooh oooh!  I just thought of another great book you should read.  Adam Carolla has a couple terrific memoirs out.  I am a big fan of Carolla’s podcast, and listen almost daily.  Start with this one, and then do this one.

* since we are talking about books, and Alice in Wonderland, I have an update.  I finally scored the holy grail of books.  This is the book I have been wanting for 25 years.  It is scarce, and believed by many to have never even existed.  Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Ralph Steadman.  I haven’t even cracked it open yet.  I have too much on my plate to really lose myself in it like I want to.