Humor in All Things, Great and Small

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Humor in All Things, Great and Small
Erma Bombeck Found Them All

The world lost a strong, clear–need I say, hilarious–voice when talented, syndicated newspaper humorist and best-selling author Erma Bombeck died in 1996. I chuckled, laughed, and cried at her humor for over 30 years.

  • Why did Bombeck write housewife humor?

    “Because being a housewife was the only thing in life I could discuss for more than 10 minutes.” 

  • What was the secret to Bombek’s success? 

    “My type of humor is almost pure identification. A housewife reads my column and says, ‘But that’s happened to me! I know just what she’s talking about!’ “

Bombeck’s slapstick humor was couched in housekeeping and family relations, but it was packed with wisdom. See if you don’t agree:

  • old-stove-1508551_1280Dirty ovens: “If it won’t catch fire today, clean it tomorrow.”
  • Housework: “My second favorite household chore is ironing, my first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”
  • More Housework: “Ironed sheets are a health hazard.”
  • Marriage: “Spend Mother’s Day with your future MIL before you decide on marriage. If a man gives his mother a gift certificate for a flu shot, dump him.”
  • thanksgiving-347306_960_720Men and Football: “If a man watches 16 consecutive quarters of football, he can be declared legally dead.”
  • More Men and Football: “Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” (Tweet!)
  • Miscellany: “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” 
  • Motherhood: “My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.”
  • Sibling rivalry: “Who gets the fruit cocktail with the lone cherry on top?”
  • Success: “Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.”

God seemingly blessed Bombeck with a bigger-than-life funny bone. Which begs some questions …

Did God give everyone a funny bone?

Did He set a leg-shaped funny bone in one person and a stapes-ear-191625_1920shaped funny bone in another?

Can a funny bone break? If so, can it mend? And if it mends, is it weaker or stronger at the breaking point?

Why is one person’s funny bone sensitive to household humdrum–like messy bathrooms … child mishaps … grocery shopping … holiday messes … and all the rest–while another’s is annoyed? 

Why is nothing funnier than words spoken when laughing’s not allowed–like church? 

I don’t know. Do you?

wc-1210963_1280I recall lots of laughter in college days over my pre-college days on the farm. Funny family names. Embarrassing mishaps. My naïveté. But I don’t remember ever laughing while cleaning a toilet bowl. Have you? 

“Where does she come up with stories like these?” I’ve asked.

“Duh. From God, of course,” my wiser self has answered with an I-coulda-had-a-V-8 slap on the forehead.

wailing-into-dancing

P.S. I may be showing my age by bringing up Erma Bombeck, but–hey–why should someone approaching her 70th birthday care? If my mind had worked like Bombeck’s the past 7 decades, I would have cried less and laughed more. I want to laugh often in days and years to come, even if I must pull up an Erma Bombeck article.

 

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Author Chat: Clarice G. James

All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Acts 2:44

One of the blessings of authorship is sharing with other authors. People I never would have met I now count among my friends. Take, for example, Clarice G. James, who was the 2nd place winner in the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel contest. Join us as we chat about her debut novel Double Header.

Hi, Clarice. Thank you for joining us today. 

clarice

You learned at the Writer to Writer Conference last January that you were the 2nd place winner in the Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel contest. How did you feel when you heard your name called? How and with whom did you first share the news?

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Christy Brunke (3rd place winner), Clarice James (2nd place), and Jerry B. Jenkins, NY TIMES best-selling author and sponsor of Operation First Novel

Numb is the word that best describes how I felt–mainly because I’d been sick the whole weekend and had not slept much at all! The first chance I got, I called my husband–my biggest supporter.

What’s the story behind your award-winning novel? And when did the idea begin percolating?

A rising Boston sports columnist (who shares a by-line with her double-headerbrother) fears losing the unblemished memories of her late father when she learns she has a half brother no one knew existed. In her search to identify this walking threat to her father’s reputation, she learns God’s playbook is less about her well-ordered plans and more about His.

The idea flowed from my first book entitled Party of One, which is the prequel to Double Header. Although a stand-alone novel, the protagonist in Double Header is the daughter of the protagonist in Party of One. I entered my first book in the Operation First Novel contest twice. I was a semi-finalist, then a finalist. The third time, I entered Double Header hoping for better results. It worked!

Reviewers have labeled Double Header as “a mystery of the heart,” a humorous women’s contemporary, a “breezy romp,” and a “refreshing change from the usual chick-lit.” Which of these descriptors comes closest to your own?

Definitely not a breezy romp. It does have humor and a bit of mystery, but I think a “refreshing change from the usual chick-lit” is a more apt description.

cj-02056On your website you quip, “First I change your name. Then I put you in my book. What happens to you next depends on whether I’ve had my coffee.” (Tweet That!) Are there people in your life or past who might recognize themselves in Double Header?

My daughter and three of my friends have all said the protagonist, Casey Gallagher, reminds them of themselves–all for different reasons. I definitely utilized my daughter’s work ethic, athletic interests, and relationship with me to develop Casey. I also incorporated my two sons’ back and forth humor and wisecracking. But some of Casey’s control issues are more me than anyone else.

I smiled and sometimes chuckled as I read your bio on your website. One reviewer referred to the “snappy repartee” between characters Casey and Griffin; another, to their “humorous bantering.” Have you always viewed the world through a lens of humor?

Yes, my brain automatically goes there–even when it’s not totally appreciated or appropriate. If I can make someone laugh, we both feel better. (Tweet That!) 

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Clarice on a research trip to Boston

Tell us about baseball’s connection to your life. Are you a lifelong fan of baseball or sports in general? Did you interview professional baseball players for Double Header? What other connections exist between your life and this story line?

As a child, the only person I knew who liked to watch baseball on TV was my paternal grandfather. And since he always fell asleep during the game, I assumed it was boring. Any connection to or interest I have in baseball or any other sport came much later through my husband and children who are avid fans. I didn’t interview professional baseball players, but I read a lot of blogs, did a lot of online research, and then ran my “facts” by those I knew would correct me if I was wrong.

I grew up on Cape Cod, and my daughter lives in Plymouth, so I know the area. When I was a teenager, my sister and I would go to the Cape Cod Minor League Games, more to see the cute college boys than to follow the game.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Where can readers learn more about you and your special brand of fiction?

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Clarice in her office. I wanna visit!

Find me on my website, www.claricejames.com. I blog from there weekly, too. You can also catch me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and GoodReads. Thanks for the opportunity, Linda! I look forward to reading the 1st place winner: The Calling of Ella McFarland.

Readers, next week I’ll interview the 3rd place winner of Operation First Novel, Christy Brunke, author of Snow Out of Season. Subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss it!

Lord, we pause to thank You for the gift of sharing. Where would we be without it? In poverty of spirit. Lonely. Discouraged. And afraid. Teach us to share better tomorrow than we did today. For Jesus’ sake. Amen

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One thought on “Author Chat: Clarice G. James

  1. Great interview, Linda and Clarice!!! I’m really looking forward to reading Double Header. Sounds funny, engaging, and thought-provoking.

     
     

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