2 journalers for this copy...
Biased or not, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The columns cover topics as varied as squirrels, hearing aids, WWII fighters, and oil rigs (during Hurricane Audrey, yet), and ranging from his childhood in rural Louisiana in the '30s through his dealings with the computer age.
A few samples: in "The Benefits of Laziness" my very own father admitted to fabricating all the data in a formal engineering report he had to write for college. After fearing that he'd have to spend weeks doing research, he had an inspiration:
"How was the instructor going to verify every cipher, jot, and tittle of all those reports? And the answer was simple: he wasn't. He couldn't care less whether the data was right. All he wanted to know was whether we could write a correct engineering report. Voila! I could make it all up! And I did.... And if there was a legitimate statistic in the whole shebang, it was an accident.
"Oh, I wrote it up beautifully. I could write better than the average slipsticker. I had oodles of footnotes, a majestic bibliography, all exquisitely formatted in correct order. It pulled an A in the course, the only one given. It took me about two days to write it.... I expect the Statute of Limitations has run out by now, but if Tulane wants my sheepskin back I reckon they can have it. I must say it served me well. And even though I did well as an engineer, I did even better as a writer."
And in "More About Semantics":
"Sometimes good semantics takes liberties with good grammar.... One of the more drastic examples I know of comes from Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest. No, it's not "Git thar fustest with the mostest," which he did not say. He was relatively unlettered, but not that unlettered. However, there is in my family a copy of a letter endorsed by him.
"Written by a captain under his command, this beautifully scripted, elegantly phrased missive fills two pages, requesting a special leave from the fighting front. Diagonally across the first page, Forrest had scrawled, 'I tol you twict, goddammit, No!'"
In the "Jokery" column is this anecdote, which I don't think Dad ever pulled himself:
"Another form of the aeronautical joke was sometimes pulled by a primary instructor, as a means of putting his student on the spot. Flying in a dual-control trainer, the instructor would get the pigeon's attention, take out his removable control stick, and throw it over the side. But one brash cadet turned the tables. Anticipating this trick, he hid an extra control stick in his cockpit ahead of time. When the instructor went through his charade, the student nodded intelligently and threw his stick overboard too!"
"Cat People/Dog People" was a lovely reminder of our family pets over the years; "Uncle Bill" introduces the reader to the oldest of Dad's four uncles, whom I recall as a somewhat-intimidating, grizzled figure, but who was probably more intimidated by the presence of small children than we were by him. [Among his many quirks: after he'd chosen the VW Beetle as his vehicle of choice - because he could roll down the right-hand window from the driver's seat - he constructed a form-fitting "garage" for it, a Beetle-shaped wooden enclosure, counterweighted so he could raise and lower it easily. I think I have a picture of that somewhere; if I can find it I'll post it.]
I noticed that the book's back cover lists it in the "Christian testimony" category. It's true that some of the articles in the book contain my father's personal testimony of faith, as his faith is a big part of his life. Some readers might find those articles the most compelling, but there are plenty of columns that don't have religious overtones, for those who prefer their commentary that way!
Thanks for sharing this wonderful book, Gory! I'll be releasing this copy soon.
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