Tag Archives: Humor

The Annoying Laugh

Book Review

Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis

Terry Lindvall, Ph. D.

Thomas Nelson, 1996

Terry Lindvall’s Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis is a brilliant title. What? The serious doctrinarian, the weighty theologian, delving into the realms of grief, repentance, conversion and evil, for goodness’ sake, has a funny side? I wish I had written it.

No, I really wish I had written it. Lindvall’s writing stumbles all over itself and the title puts the bar way higher than the reality can ever reach.  And there is nothing funny about that.

You kind of know you’re in trouble when he writes in the acknowledgements, “This book owes itself to the merry band of friends, colleagues and guides who contributed generously to my seeing and thinking and to my learning and laughter.”  Who writes like that? Oh, that’s right. C. S. Lewis does. Lindvall’s continuous slipping into the “voice” of Lewis is like hearing a soft chuckle turn into a series of snorts and gasps.  Not really laughter. Not really good writing.

“Flippancy is the laughter that keeps one out of the kingdom of God. For those who would feast on tainted laughter, and not be satisfied with daily bread, it is the sad, cotton-candy taste of death. Flippancy does not nourish, but devours and even cannibalizes others and eventually the self. And yet at the table of this earthly life, when one is hungry for a laugh, it appears the tastiest and most tempting dessert and the easiest to make.” (p. 431)

I’ve read nearly all of Lewis’ works – several times. There was a touch of this malady in Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy as he describes his correspondence with Lewis.  There was even a touch of this voice plagiarism in the recent Surprised by Oxford by Barbara Weber. Lindvall’s insistence of adding homilies in the voice of Lewis are a huge distraction. And not funny.

The book does a good job of presenting material from the Lewis catalogue into various types of humor, such as “Humor of the Self,” “Joy and Suffering,” “Laughter as Thanksgiving,” “Humor and Humility,” “the Fun in Nature,” and the “Sword of Satire.” Within these various chapters are examples from a range of works and then a discussion of the use of humor by others close to Lewis, heavy on G.K. Chesterton.  There are extensive examples of what is NOT funny – examples of laughter mixed with pain, laughter mixed with longing, even laughter mixed with sarcasm or meanness.

The book is a serious, scholarly tomb. It has thorough information packaged in a way so Lindvall gets to indulge his Lewis-like, advice from a great-uncle using archaic language – type commentary. Getting past that annoyance, it’s a good summary to counteract the characterization of Lewis as a heavy-handed, serious doctrinarian.  But the audience for this book, those who have read and enjoyed Lewis’ works, already know that.

That’s the joke.

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8 new uses for overhead bins in airplanes

It was recently announced that Spirit Airlines will only allow carryons that fit under the seat in front of you and will be charging a fee of $20-$45 for use of those pesky overhead compartments that making boarding and deplaning take soooo long. After all, if everyone has to put everything in their suitcase, they’ll tip that weight limit in no time and have to pay an overweight fee. Or, without a carryon of snacks and water, they’ll have to buy beverages and cough up 4.99 for another package of 10 peanuts.

But what about all those empty compartments above our heads? Will they fill them up with free pillows and blankets for everyone? Not on your life.

Here are 8 new uses for overhead bins:

1. Baby Carriers

Don’t want that crying infant on your lap? Just plop the baby into a specialized overhead for a nap. Airlines can put in a peek hole and poke out a few air holes and they are set.  They could even be modified to have music piped in.  $25/hour.

2. Coolers

Want to eliminate those stupid carts? Convert some of those overhead bins to coolers for beer, soda and snacks.  For a flat fee, passengers can serve themselves all they want during the flight and actually walk the aisle to the bathroom without the mean stare of a flight attendant as they try to pass the rolling steel monster. $25 flat fee.

3. Advertisements

Busses have gotten the hang of overhead advertisements for years. Just staple a sheet of plastic over the door of the bin and insert a print ad. Tampons, Viagra, deodorant, breath mints…put product samples inside and you have a winner.  Free.

4. Trash

Are you sick of having ten crumpled Hershey wrappers fly at you when you pull out the in-flight magazine?  Why not convert a bin to a trash bin?  Just put in a tough Hefty bag on a specialized steel frame that can pull out and hold your Starbucks cups, Skittles bags and Pringles tubes. It will save on clean-up and keep anyone from finding a petrified Milk Dud stuck to their Emergency Instructions card. Free.

5. Recyclables

While they are at it, add a recyclable bin next to the trash. All those $4.00 water bottles that you buy in the terminal have to go somewhere. Think of the thousands of bottles that accumulate every week. They can be rigged to have a slot for a quarter that opens up a chute for your bottle or can. 25 cents each. (It could be free, but the self-satisfaction of being politically correct should cost you something.)

6. Grooming

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to flip open a bin, have a mirror on the inside of the door, and a hair dryer or electric shaver or nose hair cutter that you could plug in? There could be a pull down tray for holding your make-up, brushes, hair products, tissues and paper towels that you could recycle. Should save a lot of lipsticks from clogging the toilets. You could even have a little half circle curtain that pulls out to cover your face. $20 (But you will be expected to tip the person sitting under the bin if you use the nose hair cutter.)

7. Smoking lounge

For a fee, why not bring back the smoking lounge?  Put two compartments together and offer a get-away for the addicted passenger. They simply climb up, lie down and smoke, while a small opening sucks the smoke outside the plane. Ten minute maximum. $200.

8. Laptop/Purse Garage

Put in a frame that can stack those babies up and they can fit in at least 20 per bin. This will be a big hit with passengers because then they will be free to use the space under the seat in front of them for the things that matter – their feet. $10

Of course, there still needs to be a free space for jackets, sweaters, and coats. In fact, the smart passengers will simply trade their carryon items for their clothing to get around this fee. Watch for people to board the plane in layers that they can peel off and stuff overhead – 2 coats, 2 or 3 blouses, couple of sweaters and 1 or 2 bras while their toothbrushes, magazines, work files, cameras, make-up and pajamas fill up the suitcases.

That’s what I would do.

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