Monday, May 22, 2017

So funny everyone forgets to laugh

I'm not sure when I began to think I was funny (funny, ha-ha, not funny odd). I suppose like many shy, sensitive kids, I turned to humor as a defense mechanism. It was probably junior high when it really started to come out. I was always a pretty quiet kid. I would sit in class and kind of mumble comments to the kids sitting next to me. Eventually they would laugh and I felt like they liked me. I was hooked on my own brand of stand up at that point.

Though it did get me in trouble in this accelerated math class that was taught by a emotionally stunted guy who had been a whiz kid in math. He may have done well in college math, but he sucked as a teacher. He was always throwing tantrums in class and being early teenagers, we pushed as many buttons as we could find. Anyway, one day I was doing my usually covert (or so I thought) monologue to the kids around me and the teacher suddenly was in my face telling me to shut my fat mouth.

Apparently he didn't think I was funny.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Never the Mark Twain should meet

Up until a few weeks ago, I had read a few of Mark Twain's books, but I never really knew much about him. Then my son opted to be Mark Twain for a school project and I was suddenly immersed in the man's life.

Of course his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He used Mark Twain, a nautical term from his steamboat pilot days, as his pen name. I'm not sure why a pen name was necessary. Samuel Clemens seems like a perfectly fine author's name. But name aside, he was a complex person.

I watched a two-part Ken Burns documentary about Samuel/Mark's life. It was fascinating. And it drove home how influential he was in not only literature, but in the way people viewed the world. He was also a tragic character. He rose from a humble background in the small riverside town of Hannibal, Missouri and rose to worldwide fame as an author, humorist and lecturer. He amassed and lost a fortune during his lifetime.

Basically Samuel/Mark was a brilliant thinker, but a lousy business man. Although he accumulated large amounts of cash and married into a wealthy family, he was never satisfied with how much money he had and made poor investments to try and accumulate more but they only led to bankruptcy. That in turn led him to go on the lecture circuit and earn more money. Which led to time away from a family that was tragic in its own right. He buried several of his children and his wife before he died.