Monday, January 3, 2011

"Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader" by the Bathroom Reader's Institute

This book actually lives up to it's flamboyant cover and really delivers the goods on all sorts of things. Some are topics you have wondered about at one time or another, and some are about things you have never even imagined.

At about 600 pages long, this book will give you the entire history of Peanuts, along with the biographies of Charles Schultz and all of the characters in the Peanuts comic strip. From there it is only a turn of the page that takes you to another topic, equally dissected and examined.

True crimes, sports history, geography, the origins of common phrases (the phrase "bakers dozen" came about as the result of laws enacted to keep the weight of bread regulated- the penalties were so stiff that the baker threw in an extra roll as a precaution), space exploration, sports records, crazy stunts, all of it is crammed into this book.

One chapter, Strange Celebrity Lawsuits, is really interesting. Vanna White sued Samsung for creating a robot that could perform her job of turning the letters on Wheel of Fortune. Although the machine was not in any way a likeness of her, she sued and won $403,000.

The still pending lawsuit between country star Keith Urban and the New Jersey painter with the same name explores the world of web domains. The painter has, while the country star has The painter has had his site for longer than the country star has been famous. What will happen? I don't know, but it makes for good reading. (This book has a copyright date of 2007, so the lawsuit may have been settled by now.)

Another fun section is the one that deals with famous expressions, such as "The Shot Heard 'Round the World." First coined by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1837 for his poem "The Concord Hymn", written about the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the phrase has come to mean a variety of things. The Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that began the First World War, is one example, while another would be when the New York Giants were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951. It was the last game of the season, 9th inning, when Bobby Thompson, of the Giants, belted out a home run to cinch the game.

If you're a TV buff this book has a very concise and informative section about the Dumont Network of the late 1940's and how it became an independent network, known as Metromedia after Mr. Dumont sold off his stations. Mr. Dumont was one of the early pioneers of the medium, and is credited with the first sitcom, "Mary Kay and Johnny." He also pioneered Soap Operas, Religous Broadcasting, and was the first station to broadcast sports events. Today's Fox Network was built upon the remains of the Metromedia Network by a very saavy Australian named Rupert Murdoch.

From Christmas being banned in Boston early in the 17th century, to the complete text of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, this book is packed with things we take for granted, and the stories behind them.

There are lots of books like these out there, but for my money this is the best I've seen yet. I have a belief that if you carry something to read you never have to wait. It's only when you have nothing at hand that you seem to find yourself stranded, sometimes for hours. Think of this book as sort of an insurance policy, and throw it in the back of the car. This is the perfect book to have on hand while waiting for the tow truck to arrive.

No comments:

Post a Comment