Posts Tagged humor

book review: SCIENCE . . . for HER!

science for her

SCIENCE . . . for HER! by Megan Amram. Publisher: Scribner [November 4, 2014]. Humor. Hardcover. 224 pages.

This could be so much better. Megan Amram seems pretty smart –Harvard graduate, a writer for Parks and Recreation with 428K twitter followers [and in this social media-obsessed world that means everything]. I understand what she’s attempting to do. She wrote a “satirical science textbook” in the style of a silly women’s magazine. She’s making light of the fact that women aren’t supposed to know anything about science or be good at science, technology, engineering or math [STEM]. She said she decided to write the book after writing a bunch of parody women’s magazine pieces such as “1,001 Ways to Get Someone Un-Pregnant.”

This book contains too much crude humor. Sure it’s subversive and a bit edgy. I still didn’t laugh out loud perhaps because I feel much of it is a retread of other better comedic material. I’ve never been much of a stand-up fan, don’t watch that many sitcoms [I enjoy Parks and Rec mainly for Amy Poehler. I do LOVE the new blackish]. I prefer indie dramas and documentaries to fluffy rom-coms and bawdy comedies. The cover design is fun. It’s a take-off on Cosmopolitan magazine. Many might be amused by the things I don’t find funny. It’ll appeal to millennials and perhaps less so to jaded GenXers like me.

There’s “Birth Control Methods” –“1.Being Jennifer Aniston 2. Fat body, BUSTED face etc . . .” Then “What your Man’s Drink Says About Him:” white wine= gay; red wine=gay; cosmopolitan=gay; martini=gay. You get the point. Another piece is titled “This Spring’s Most Glamorous Ways to Die” which includes smallpox, capital punishment, kill yourself at your ex-boyfriend’s wedding and die during sex. She posts about physics through nail art. About paper and trees, Amram writes: “Really the only thing a tree is good for is when you KILL IT (long and painful death, please!) and make it into fun and/or flirty books like this one or other cute ones.”

On global warming she writes: “But, like, are you seriously asking me to give up all my favorite things, just so the earth doesn’t get any hotter? Like, my favorite things are literally driving around in pink Hello Kitty Hummers, hairspray and deforestation.” Amram makes fun of plastic surgery, Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccination campaign and “Legitimate Rape” so bonus points there. “I wish this were a joke. But legitimate rape is a real phenomenon (and also the sex move of the chapter, PLEASE don’t try it, though, it’s only symbolic). Knowledge is power ladies. You have to understand this so you don’t unknowingly spread lies.”

For The Big Bang, Amram posts tips for hosting your own BIG BANG [wink wink] and explains the Big Bang like this: “It’s like when you eat a pretzel M&M on your period and suddenly you immediately balloon into a fat cow!” This one is funny: “10 New Genres of Electronic Music: 1. Hip house; 2. Clap bass; 3. Jungle core; 4. Skin; 5. Patty ska; 6. Chap; 7. Ennuicore; 8. Unicore; 9. Chints and 10. Gregorian filth.”

Fans of Megan Amram are already pre-ordering this book and will be lining up for her readings. Others I’d suggest proceeding a bit slower. If crude humor’s your thing, you’ll enjoy the read. It’s also quick and like a magazine you can flip around. There are plenty of graphs, charts, pictures and anecdotes mixed in with the various chapters on Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Earth Sciences, Pharmacology & Medicine, Space & Technology and Women in Science.

RATING: ***/5*

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Scribner/Simon & Schuster.


Los Angeles
Wednesday, Nov. 5
Barnes & Noble at the Grove

Friday, Nov. 7
Empire Comedy Live @ Comedy Bar

Saturday, Nov. 8
powerHouse Arena with John Hodgman

New York
Sunday, Nov. 9
The Strand with Megan Mullally

Monday, Nov. 10
Harvard Bookstore at Brattle Theatre

Portland, Ore.
Friday, Nov. 14

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Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods?: book review

Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods? , by Caroline Taggart. Publisher: Plume (July 2011). Humor. Paperback, 160 pages.

Rhetorical questions aren’t meant to be answered but what would happen if someone did answer them? And not just answer the questions but put some research and thought into the process. This is what London-based Caroline Taggart effectively and humorously does in Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods? Taggart divides the questions by categories such as health/safety, finance/business, geography/science, and sex/romance.

Some examples.

Is it me or is it hot in here? “If you are a woman aged between forty-five and sixty, chances are it’s you. You’re having a hot flash.”

Where have you been all my life? “How long have you got? And indeed how old are you, compared to me, so at what point in my life would you like me to start?”

Where does the time go? “Scientists at the University of Alberta in Canada conduced research that proved—to their satisfaction at least—that our view of how much time has passed is closely connected to how engrossed we have been in whatever we have been doing.”

Am I made of money? “Almost certainly not.”

Do they know it’s Christmas? “They probably know, but do they care?” The song of this title, written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984, was recorded by a host of stars under the Band Aid banner, an aid of the victims of the famine then devastating Ethiopia.” [Catchy song. Still is and I’ve answered this question in the same manner]

Is this a dagger which I see before me? “No, it’s a book. Or, if you’re Macbeth, it may be a figment of the imagination.”

How do you do? “According to the etiquette books, this is not a question at all, it is a courteous but otherwise meaningless form of worlds used on greeting another person.”

This is a short book with a dry humor. It’s the type of book to flip through here and there. Answers to the rhetorical questions come from literature, law, politics, history, science and pop culture. A book to leave out for others to enjoy.

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book review: When You Lie About Your Age The Terrorists Win

I believe that a vehicle is for getting from point A to point B, not for making point A and point B.

Let’s face it, feminism just isn’t cool anymore. My friend has a daughter who currently goes to Vassar, and in a women’s studies class the professor asked how many students in the room would call themselves feminists—and—three students raised their hands. At Vassar. (And one of them was a guy. At Vassar.)

[writer’s note: I went to Simmons College, Class of 1991, and certainly considered myself a feminist and hardly anyone ‘dared’ called themselves a feminist for fear of the connotations the word provoked. Very sad that things have not changed in nearly twenty years.]

When comedian/writer Carole Leifer [Seinfeld] turned 50, she decided to write down her thoughts and share them in a book. I’m a good 15 years younger than her, so I could relate to some things and other things I’m not quite there yet. I don’t have children. I’m not gay but I have gay friends. I’m not Jewish but spend a lot of time in Brookline, Mass. [I’m sarcastic and from the East Coast] I’m a vegetarian. I’m a feminist and an animal rights activist. I’m liberal. My point is that a good writer will bring you into her world. Leifer succeeds at times and at other times, I just thought she was treading water or re-visiting familiar territory i.e. “I think you can stop. I’ve heard this one before.”

Leifer addresses: hiding your age; cars as “statements”; how she found out she was gay at 40; her love of animals; body changes as one ages; her breast cancer scare; feminism; things men should know; fake breasts; Judaism; her father; New York; being comfortable; doctors; therapists; class reunions; and numerous other age-related and non- age-related topics.

She delves deepest into her relationship with her father. Although he worked as an optometrist, she explains that her father had always wanted to be a comedian. Leifer had been taking adult b’nai mitzvah classes when he died. She still carries around a list of jokes he carried in his wallet. At another point, she addresses when her doctor thought a lump in her breast might be cancerous. She had just started dating her partner Lori and the panic merely strengthened the fledgling relationship. Finally there are the normal trials and tribulations of being part of a couple. Leifer became a vegan, yet Lori continues to eat meat. Leifer wants to be buried in New York, while Lori envisions eternity in her California family crypt. Leifer adds some comedic moments to these serious elements of her life and there are some hits and some misses as with any comedy routine.

I knew Leifer did stand-up and wrote for Seinfeld , dated Jerry Seinfeld back in the day etal. Other than that I didn’t know much about her. I’ve learned a few things from this book but still do not have a strong grasp of her persona. I’m disappointed. I wanted to laugh more I guess and while I got a few chuckles out of it here and there, When you Lie about your Age, the Terrorists Win is not particularly momentous. It is a fast-paced, light read. Much more effort could have gone into this book. The brief chapters read like monologues for, well, a stand-up comedian.

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