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Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Time Event
8:03a
Better ...
So, as I noted previously, I'm in the midst of reading three of George Carlin's books. I had certain “issues” with his previous one, Brain Droppings, and, in reading this, I'm guessing that many of my complaints about it were also eventually raised by others (perhaps his publisher), as this second book Napalm & Silly Putty is far more “literary” and less “this is my stage show” than its predecessor. There were far fewer places in this where the material felt like it “needed” his timing and mugging to make it work.

One thing that I found surprising was that various bits from the previous book found their way in here. Of course, I'm hitting all three of these books in succession, so am far more likely to notice than the vast majority of folks reading them, and (barring some obsessive-compulsive filing/indexing system to keep track) it's certainly understandable how repeats could sneak in, given there being as many as 8 bits per page in a 250+ page collection. Anyway, these were not all over the place, but there were a half a dozen to a dozen that “jumped off the page” while reading this.

With the change of focus, I felt the book was far more amusing than its predecessor, with many well-constructed “riffs” on various topics … one about “maniacs and crazy people” especially caught my fancy, with this particular chunk seeming worth sharing:

... you can't put them all away. You have to keep some of them around just for the entertainment. Like the guy who tells you the King of Sweden is using his gallbladder as a radio transmitter to send anti-Semitic lesbian meat loaf recipes to Marvin Hamlisch. A guy like that, you want to give him his own radio show.
That's still recognizably Carlin, but less a stage riff and more, a “story”.

The book is also somewhat more systematically organized with blocks of related subject matter pulled together (“Cars And Driving”, “Dog Moments”, etc.), and the one- or two-liners grouped in “Short Takes” sections every 10-20 pages (and differentiated with a slight grey screen in the background). This also makes the book stand more as a “book”.

Like the previous title, I picked this up from the Amazon new/used guys for a penny (plus shipping), but it does still seem to be in print … frankly, I'm amazed that Amazon is charging full cover (and that's above twenty bucks each, the three Carlin books I got would have come in just under $75 if I hadn't gone with the new/used guys!) for these, but I'm sure there are folks out there who really get into this. Don't get me wrong, I'd been a fan of Carlin's, but I'd been a fan of his act, and the books, while bringing the content don't do so with the sell (voice inflection, rubber-faced mugging, etc.) which brought home the absurdities he was commenting on. While Napalm & Silly Putty is better than its predecessor, I'm glad I was able to get it for just four bucks!


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