"Even when I think I'm writing about something that's the news of the moment, the same subjects crop up over and over again -- keeping passengers in planes on the tarmac for hours... Internet dating, waiting rooms in doctors' offices, how bad television has become... None of it is funny while you're in the middle of it, but afterwards it's what people talk about with their friends. That's when we all try to make the story fun to hear, and that's what I do. For some reason, the more miserable a time I've had, the funnier the story that comes out of it."
-- Jim Mullen
There's no universal rule that says we must feed our cats better gourmet fish dinners than we ourselves might be devouring for supper, or an innate wisdom that allows any human being to properly operate a computer printer. Life's daily struggles cannot be avoided, so we learn to bear up, maintain our balance and, if possible, laugh in the face of adversity. It is our lot in life, a lot of it. So it helps to know that others are going through the same stresses or displaying the same foibles, and it's a gift to be able to find kindred souls in your life, on your street, even in the pages of your newspaper.
Jim Mullen is a "humorist", and like much high humor his writing doesn't just make people laugh but also nod in agreement or surprise. His syndicated column, which appears in some 600 newspapers, can also qualify him to be a "seriousist". Jim was living in Manhattan and writing for Entertainment Weekly when, in 1987, he and his wife bought a weekend house in the Catskills. Five years later they gave up city life completely and settled down to a quiet rural existence in the Village of Franklin in Delaware County, which Jim described in his book, "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life". His struggles to adjust drew much sympathy, consternation and a finalist nomination for the coveted Thurber Prize for American Humor. That was followed by "Baby's First Tattoo", a spoof of baby shower gift books, and then a collection entitled "Now In Paperback".
Jim's newest book is, "How To Lose Money in Your Spare Time at Home!" He writes about computer dating, weed whackers, dogs, baby naming and, of course, how to lose money:
"A "buying opportunity" is a way for you to lose even more money than you already have. Let's say you bought a hundred shares of stock you overheard a guy sitting in the cubicle behind you call "the next Apple" at twenty dollars a share. Yesterday it fell to ten dollars a share. Now you have a "buying opportunity" to jump in and buy twice as many shares as you did before -- for the same amount of money. Imagine what an "opportunity" you'll have when it goes down to five dollars a share! Or two dollars a share!"
-- from "How to Lose Money..."
Jim Mullen joins Bill Jaker on OFF THE PAGE to share his stories, observations and maybe even advice.