Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Areas of My Expertise

I've long since transferred my affection to The Colbert Report, but there's one thing The Daily Show still gets right: interesting authors as guests.

A few months ago John Hodgman appeared to promote his almanac-like book The Areas of My Expertise. (His interview with Jon Stewart can be accessed here.) He was such a hit that he's now a recurring Resident Expert.

I've read the book, and the wit is exceedingly dry. Very hit or miss at times, but the parts I found funny were of the laugh out loud variety. I appreciated that.

Jon Stewart (and many reviewers) have focused on the unique list of Seven Hundred Hobo Names, the centerpiece of a chapter on Hobo Matters. I'll admit it's an impressive undertaking, but I enjoyed these other sections a lot more:

When Writing, Please Avoid These Failed Palindromes
Two Libraries That Are Smaller Than This Book
History's Worst Men's Haircuts
Short Words for Use on Submarines to Preserve Oxygen
Nine Presidents Who Had Hooks for Hands

For geography buffs, there's a breakdown of all 51 U.S. states (don't ask) toward the end that was consistently clever.

On Colorado...

Organized as a territory in 1861 by hardscrabble settlers who had come west in search of good skiing and a place to hide their missile defense nerve center.

On Missouri...

Most experts agree that everything is up-to-date in Kansas City, Mo. With its seven-story skyscrapers, full telephone service, burlesque theaters, and multiple gas buggies, it has gone about as far as it can go. No further progress will be undertaken.

And Nevada...

Current Nickname: The Funtime Family State for Families!
Old Nickname: The Prostitute State
Motto: "The U.S. Government Neither Confirms Nor Denies the Existence of a Nevada State Motto."

Somewhere there's a secret club where John Hodgman, Sarah Vowell, and others meet and play board games or something. A basement at Yale, probably. I want to join them when I grow up.

1 comment:

Quinn said...

Love the state breakdowns. And we can thank Missouri for being able to walk to privies in the rain and never wet your feet.