If you love words....

If you love words (and frequent readers probably do, or you check the blog hoping to catch a picture of Zoe...), you must immediately stop what you are doing and listen to This American Life's most current show, entitled "Tough Room". There are two portions that are pure gold.

The first is a feature on The Onion, a goofball, fake news site. It centers on their regular meeting to decide which fake headlines to use, based on which ones are funny and why. Some of the headlines are a crack up, but it's the science of what's funny that is fascinating. I've always been interested in why people laugh at certain things. The Onion editors think about this every day, and can explain why the headline "Man Dumps Girlfriend Because She Always Wants to Do Stuff" is hilarious but "National Initiative By Girlfriends For More Quality Time" is not. If you're a public speaker and don't think about this stuff at all...please do.

Skip the story in the middle about the girl giving tarot card readings. Kind of a creepy downer.

The last feature is a story by Malcolm Gladwell, who shows he is a very funny smart man. I always prefer funny smart people to smart funny people. If someone's smart, I can usually find something funny about them...but if they're funny, it's not always obvious they're smart.

Anyway, it's Gladwell's story of starting out in the newspaper industry, when he knew zero about his topics and less about newspapers. He and a buddy get into a contest to see who can put certain phrases into the paper first. He eventually scores big by writing about the "perverse, and often baffling" health care industry (a phrase that his friend tried valiantly to insert into a story about mollusks, only to have the editors desk insist that mollusks were either baffling, or they were not....but they would not oscillate between baffling and not baffling.)

Side note to Zach Hensley - Gladwell's story is told live at The Moth. We must go. If we can't get into TED, I think we could score big in this venue...I am not kidding. If TED is Idea Grad School, this is sort of the GED.


Esther Irwin said...

Sooo...where's the pictures of Zoe?

David Sliker said...

Side note - one of my favorite Gladwell articles of all time from the New Yorker was his analysis of ketchup and its failure to emulate the diversity of mustard and spaghetti sauce.

Yep, I'm a dork.