I am an avid Stacked reader, and a huge Ed Scripsi fan, so when he suggested we all check out Chuck Klosterman’s Eating the Dinosaur several months ago, I took note. And when a rare and glorious window opened up between my paid reading assignments, I pounced. I’m glad I did. Since I’ve been reading this hilarious book I’ve traded my nightly whisky for a warm saline solution. Now, when my beverage comes spouting out of my nose during sudden fits of uncontrollable laughter (as it regularly does), I am healthfully irrigating my sinuses rather than wasting perfectly good distilled spirits.
I read a few chapters last night. Between laughing fits, two notable things occurred:
1. An essay that took me deep into the weeds of the conflict between conservatism and liberalism in strategic football thinking left me actually wanting to watch football for the sake of watching football, rather than as an excuse to drink beer in the afternoon, and
2. an essay on the sitcom laugh track brought to front of mind a thing one encounters almost constantly every day, but which one rarely if ever notices (much like the arrow in the FedEx logo), namely the way social mores encourage one to fill negative conversational space with nervous laughter at things that are not funny, but which merely bear the signifiers of things that are funny, out of politeness.
The pro- pro football glow of Notable Thing Number One will probably be long gone by the fall, but I think the anti- nervous laughter sentiment of Notable Thing Number Two will be with me for the rest of my life. Thanks to Chuck Klosterman, from this day forward I will attempt to only laugh when I am actually amused.
By the way, Klosterman says that, unlike Americans, the German people do not laugh at unfunny things to fill empty milliseconds in everyday conversation. Seems like that would be disconcerting at first, but eventually very liberating.
-Norm De Plume