Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Far Side Gallery 2


From start to finish all laughs. Which is good, because that is the point of this 'book' right? The odds are good you'll find a good chuckle on every page, seeing as there are on average 4 comics per page. What I found interesting was over the hundereds of 'funnies' in the collection, there was really only a small range of humour; animals in human situations (funny), violence or implied violence (funny), & cruel situations (funniest)...actually, if you take a step back this does not sound funny at all. That's the sign of a good humour, it can skate the line the between rude and just plain mean and split your gut hilarious.

While reading this book I found out how hard it is to describe a 'funny' situation without making is sound horrible. This happened when my five year old asked what I was reading (and laughing at). So, I tried to explain, "you see this? These guys are stuck on a deserted island with only a basketball hoop and ball. Now, look, there ball has popped. Isn't that funny?"

"Oh this is another funny one. See all the people in the airplane are scared b/c they think they are going to crash..."

From the eyes of a five year old these 'jokes' must look very different.

This brings me to the deeper meaning of the book. It is obvious now that this is a very critical view of humanity and our view as being a superior being. It brings to light the fact that our world is full of violence and unjust situations. Larson conveys this message in the best possible way - humour. Thanks oh wise one Gary!

Rating: READ*
*A perk to this book is that there is no plot to follow, which means you can read a page here, a page there, and never feel like your lost.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Can You Keep A Secret?

Laugh. Yep, this one will make you do that. The situations this girl gets herself into by keeping a few secrets are actually quite funny. I've written this down as another funny Kinsella book I'd recommend...which I know makes all the difference in the world to you.

This was one of those books I've been meaning to read for about five years now. During which time it has travelled, but eventually made it back to me. I feel it was my destiny to read it. It was initially my wife's book. She bought it when it was new, read it, and said it was good. I had read a couple of The Shopoholic books, so I kept it in the bookshelf thinking I'd read this Kinsella installment soon enough. Well, life moved on; babies, moving, cleaning the basement...which sent this book to the thrift shop/charity shop pile. Luckily, just as we were about to drop it off I had this great money-making idea that I'd sell the books to co-workers. The book was saved for a day or two. I took my pile of books into work and managed to sell them all, making a tidy profit of about $2. This book, however, was snatched up by a co-worker who didn't pay for it, but, promised to read it and give it back. Well, awhile later the book returned to me. Again, it sat on my shelf in the basement. Until just recently, when I felt like reading a humour book...well, look at that Can You Keep A Secret was just waiting for me. Now, that I've read it I can chuck it, or burn it, or 'sell' it to my co-workers again.

A quick rundown of the story is that the main character is on a plane that is about to crash. She spills her guts to the guy sitting beside her. Every small white lie she has ever told. Every embarrassing thought she's has. Her deep dark secrets. Everything! Of course, the plane does not crash and as it turns out the guy she told all her secrets too is the owner of the big corporation she works for. The romance story develops from there. I'm going to spoil the obvious ending - she get with the owner. But, of course, it's the journey that counts...which includes her secrets and little lies being put on public display. Oh, the hilarity.

What I liked was the witty internal dialogue. We've all had some thoughts we keep to ourselves, but, to read them is for some reason so funny. I could especially relate to the office jokes, as I work in an office. And, the supporting cast of characters were just quirky enough to be believable yet absurdly funny at the same time. The english slang is also another high point - oh bugger, oh bollocks, going to nip out for a Starbucks...just another layer of humour for high browers like me.

Rating : READ

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The World Without Us


This is a book to make one think. Depending on your point of view the thinking could be positive and hopeful or as uncomfortable as a prostate exam. The question raised is - what would the world be like without us? If all humans just disappeared one day.

The books starts out simple enough, looking at common things like what would happen to your house, the street out front, the park down the road. Well, your house would rot; shingles give out in the first decade, the roof caves in, the walls rot and fall, the basement eventually fills in with debris and dirt. Within a couple of hundred years your house, heck the whole neighborhood, is a mound a dirt beneath the canopy of some mature forest. Weisman then takes us on a journey through New York city. You'd think this big 'concrete jungle' would never fall down, or when it did it would never change back into a natural jungle. Well, it turns out that might happen faster than you'd think. Mostly because the island New York was a swamp at one point, but, we've covered over it. This water will do some nasty damage to building foundations really really quickly and take down even the tallest structures. That is positive to me, in a strange sounding way. It gives me hope that we haven't completely trashed the earth and it could rebuild itself if given the chance.

Then comes the rest of the book. A closer look at what we would leave behind if we all just took off into space, or died out from a deadly virus, or got so addicted to reading blogs on books that we forgot to eat and all died. What we'd leave behind is scary. The ever popular climate change, a few hundred nuclear reactors, plastic plastic and more plastic, and various other hazardous chemicals. Some of these 'problems', like nuclear reactors, are safe right now because we have people keeping an eye on them. But, with people gone these things would eventually blow up and melt-down. And, apparently plastic never fully breaks down - there is no organism that will eat it (notch that up as a victory for mankind). What a legacy.

I found this book very accessible. There was no tech talk, just plain old english used. Easy to understand the ideas and theories that Weismen puts forth. What I really liked was when I put the book, that didn't come out right...when I started thinking about my own situation. What would my house look like in ten years if I did nothing to it. What would it look like in ten years if the tree out front blew down in a storm and took out the windows. What would happen the van? Would I be able to come back in fifty years and pick out my washing machine? Oh, so many important questions. Dropping the jokes, I found this book very relevant and easy to relate to.