As the year draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on all the wonderful books published in 2010, and in doing so, we’ve also realized there are some classics worth revisiting. The authors and friends of Oxford University Press are proud to present this series of essays, which will appear regularly until the New Year, drawing our attention to books both new and old. Below, humorist Mark Peters recommends a book you’re sure to love, “unless you hate puppies and America.”
At some point, I think we’ve all asked ourselves, “When is the best time to start training a kitten to hold a knife?”
That question—written by Tim Siedell, a.k.a Twitter’s badbanana – is one of the expertly crafted one-liners you can find in his new book Marching Bands Are Just Homeless Orchestras: Half-empty Thoughts Vol 1. It’s the funnest/funniest book I’ve picked up in donkey’s years, and it’s also pretty and shiny and full of cool illustrations by Brian Andreas. Unless you hate puppies and America, you should give yourself and your minions this tremendous book, which offers pertinent dietary observations such as: “That Indian dinner was so authentic I think I hate Pakistan.”
To put Siedell and his prolific, consistent Twitter feed in context, you have to know that there are somewhere between a metric buttload and eleventy-bazillion would-be humorists on Twitter. Some are cuttingly political satirists, like Tweetin4Palin (“FRIDAY 13TH!!!! Don’t 4get 2 turn antlers in house upside down & spit into the toaster 2 cast out demons”). Some are woefully underfollowed civilians, like Killorn (“The worst part about yelling ‘I CAN SEE YOUR BUTTHOLE’ at your dog in a Yoda Voice is realizing that people have ears, and they heard that”). Some are professional comedy writers, like Julius Sharpe (“Basketball fans – right before a woman climaxes, whisper in her ear, ‘Van Gundy’”). Some are even me, now that I think about it (“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you realize you have a terrible bestiality problem”).
But Siedell is the king of the form, churning out endless gems that are fresh and effortless and cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Siedell’s work would make Jack Handey—author of Deep Thoughts and primordial predecessor of Twitter comedy—proud. Siedell’s work is diverse, deadpan, and always practical, like “Technology is all well and good until someone hits you in the head with a rock,” or
If you’re not into Twitter, it’s hard to explain how awesome it is when one of these jokes appears. I guess I would compare it to walking down the street, and someone tosses you a hand grenade. Before you can say “Aaaaiiieeee!” you see it’s not a hand grenade at all – it’s a frosting-drenched cinnamon roll, like the kind they make at Ann Sathers in Chicago. Siedell-isms like – “My weirdo neighbors never talk to me unless they want something, like for me to get out from under their couch” – are delicious cinnamon rolls of comedy that inject sugar into our otherwise lame-o lives. They can get you through the day.
I don’t want to give the whole book away, so here are some recent Siedell gems from Twitter to get you in the book-buying mood:
Finally, if Christmas music and winter weather are making you feel like a combination of Scrooge, the Grinch, and an elf-barbecuing serial killer, you’ll surely enjoy this holiday tweet: “The halls can go deck themselves.”
Mark Peters is a lexicographer, humorist, rabid tweeter, language columnist for Good and Visual Thesaurus, and the blogger behind The Rosa Parks of Blogs and The Pancake Proverbs. His column for OUPblog appears here every month.