I’ve an unfortunate habit of coming to things late. All things, from fashion to technology, but particularly stuff requiring effort and thought. It isn’t laziness as much as cluelessness — I’m just oblivious. The world goes on around me, boisterous and lively, but I’m busy patrolling the ozone. I only show up for meals.
So I apologize for the belated review of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken. It was published in 2003. Which isn’t hopelessly outdated considering I’m just now getting around to The Elements of Style, published in 1959. Isn’t that sad? It is, it’s sad and negligent. But when I needed a grammar and usage guide I picked up Woe is I by Patricia O’Conner, instead, and I’ve been perfectly content for decades. Still, no excuse.
Yipes, anyone else get whiplash from that sudden swerve? We started off with Al Franken and, fwip, veered right into Strunk and White. Hang on, we’re careening back to Al Franken …The fact I even read Lies and the Lying Liars is surprising since I despise politics. It’s a sleazy, distasteful business and has no place in polite society. However, I needed inspiration badly. I’d read David Sedaris and H.L. Mencken, Christopher Buckley and Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck, Dorothy Parker, Christopher Hitchens. And they’re great, but I needed unconventional.
I stumbled onto Al Franken in a serendipitous moment at the library. He isn’t just unconventional, he’s hilarious. The fact he’s a politician is off-putting, yet I’m willing to overlook it. After all, the guy was on Saturday Night Live. He was Jack Handey, for crying out of loud, of Deep Thoughts ¹ fame? Allowances should be made.
The book was funny. It was smart. It was well-researched and totally biased. So if you take politics and politicians seriously, steer clear. My favorite part was the chapter, “I Meet Former First Lady Barbara Bush and It Doesn’t Go Well.” Or, no, it was “Thank God for Jerry Falwell.” In that one, Franken told of being on Rivera Live with Reverend Jerry Falwell in 1999. Remember him? Pfft, like you could forget.
Months earlier, Falwell had announced to the world that the Antichrist was alive and a male Jew. That was shocking news and made headlines all over the place. Being a Jewish man, Al Franken was naturally curious to know who the Antichrist was. So when the subject popped up, he asked the Reverend if it was Marvin Hamlisch. Falwell said he didn’t know.
I fell in love with Al Franken right then and there and began stalking him on Twitter. Sadly, his tweets are a bitter disappointment — infrequent and mostly about politics — they’re not funny at all. I hope he snaps out of this politician phase.
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