Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Books Part V

Dying to do Letterman: Turning Someday into Today by Steve Mazan - I chose to read this book in honor of David Letterman's impending retirement, which shows how far behind I am in reviewing books this year (his last show was May 20). Mazan gets a dire medical prognosis and channels all his efforts into realizing his dream of performing stand-up on Dave's show. It's a good memoir about trying to succeed as a comedian. I never knew how much the show's staff worked with comedians to select and tweak jokes for their routines. 4 stars

We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga by Paul Shaffer with David Ritz - Who doesn't love Paul Shaffer? (Robin Sparkles sure did in one of my favorite How I Met Your Mother episodes.) This is a fun book to read because Shaffer has done so many things in his career. He loves showbiz, and he loves telling stories about his favorite stars. I expected more about working with Letterman, though. 4 stars

Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw - Never having taken a physics class, I struggle a bit with relativity. I think I get it, but barely. This book has drawn me a few steps further from dropping off the edge of understanding. 4 stars

Around the Weird in 80 Days: Adventures in Small-Town America by Rich Smith - I enjoyed Smith's first book, You Can Get Arrested for That, in which he and a friend visit America with the goal of breaking ridiculous laws. In this book, he participates in unusual events across the United States such as a reenactment of the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Summer Redneck Games, and the World's Longest Yard Sale. It's entertaining, although he overuses just-kidding fantasies as a literary device. 4 stars


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Worst "World Watch" Ever

Sorry this is late, but I just got around to reading last week's (June 28) Chicago Tribune Travel section.

I regularly read the "World Watch" column even though I have no intention of traveling overseas (I've been to 48 states but I've never been outside the USA) because I often learn things that I haven't heard about in the regular news. But the June 28 installment is not particularly useful. It's behind their pay wall (I have a free six-month pass) so you'll have to settle for my summary:

  • Mexico: Don't go over a fence into a restricted area or a crocodile might attack you,*

  • England: Hay fever is bad so bring your allergy pills.

  • Italy: Don't pee atop the Florence Cathedral or you might get arrested.

  • Greece: Carry lots of cash because of the banking crisis. Or don't carry lots of cash despite the banking crisis.

  • India: Don't drink bootleg liquor because it could contain chemicals or pesticides.
  • Okay, so obey warning signs, bring allergy meds if you have allergies, don't pee where you're not supposed to, bring extra money or don't, and don't drink questionable booze. Only an idiot learned anything from reading this column. Even worse for a column that highlights problems in specific countries around the world, all of this obvious advice is independent of location.

    * The columnists (Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison) admit that the story of a drunken American doing this sounds like a Darwin Award.

    Is this because the Grateful Dead are in town?

    I only wish I had taken that screen shot at 4:20.