Tag Archives: Humor

Vikki Claflin Makes Me Laugh

Vikki Claflin Makes Me LaughHumor writer Vikki Claflin consistently makes me laugh and here are a couple of reasons why:

“I grew up with a slender mother and a little sister who wore a size zero if you hosed her down first and weighed her in her soaking wet clothes. My father used to refer to her as the “little one,” and I was always the “wholesome one.” Yeah, that was what a 15 year-old wants to hear. For years I viewed myself as a Swedish butter churner. Big bones and strong arms, yodeling my way through my domestic chores.”


“When Baby Boy was born, I didn’t get him circumcised. It seemed a tad barbaric. (‘Welcome to the world, son. Now we’re going to chop off part of your joy stick’) … After an emotional, post-partum promise to my 8-pound miracle that I would never let anybody hurt him, I wasn’t going to start with whacking his wienie.”

These nuggets come from past essays she has written and I still crack up when I read them.

Vikki Claflin is our generation’s Erma Bombeck.

Body image, parenting, menopause, marriage, makeup, pop culture, and those nasty chin hairs — Vikki’s observations about the foibles of modern life are consistently razor sharp and wickedly funny.

I first got to know Vikki’s writing through her blog, Laugh Lines: Humorous Thoughts and Advice on How to Live Young When You’re…well…Not, and found it to be a safe place where I could feel better about my double chin.

It amazes me that Vikki is as prolific as she is, but I guess middle age is rife with material.

Two years ago I giggled my way through Claflin’s Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? and was keeping my fingers crossed that there would be another collection of her essays someday.

And here it is!

Vikki’s fourth book, I Think My Guardian Angel Drinks … Irreverent Advice on Living Well After 60 Because Wine is Always Age-Appropriate — will be available soon and I have had the privilege of getting an advance read.

So let me give you a sneak peak.

From Happily Married, Sleeping Separately:

“He likes the dogs sleeping in the big bed. I wouldn’t mind if they could be trained to sleep vertically, instead of horizontally. The same goes for the grandkids. Two Chihuahuas can push an adult human onto the floor, and little people like to sleep sideways on your head until you give up and relocate. By the third time I get shoved out of the bed, I’m up and hauling two tiny humans, each holding a Chihuahua, down the hall to the guest room.

His favorite sleeping position is a wide X, with arms up overhead and legs spread wide. He looks like he’s making a 2000 pound snow angel. This leaves me trying to curl into the tiny, pie-shaped area under his right armpit and above his right knee, which is roughly enough space for an anorexic gerbil.”

“I like a warm room. He prefers to sleep in an igloo, where you can see your breath when you talk. Hubs will open the window and turn on a fan next to his side of the bed. In December. We’ve had snow in our bed on more than one winter morning. Oh hell no.”

Misery loves company in the name of Vikki Claflin.

Nothing quite prepares us women for the annoying changes that happen post-50. It’s enough to make you want to tear your (thinning) hair out. So we could cry … or we could laugh, because laughing about varicose veins and cellulite is the better alternative. Vikki’s writing has made her an international best-selling author and has secured her a place in the hearts of menopausal women everywhere.

All of Vikki’s books are available on Amazon. Needless to say, I would recommend each one of them.

My fantasy is that someday Vikki Claflin and I will meet for a glass of wine and whine. And lots of laughs.

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Not Giving a F*ck

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

Who is Mark Manson, and why has he written a self-help book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living the Good Life?

Not a Ph.D, not a therapist, Manson is a regular guy in his 30s who started writing a blog in 2007 for his own enjoyment. His funny, irreverent style and refreshingly blunt philosophy caught on with the masses; hence, his book became a best seller.

Not Giving a F*ck

I am not typically drawn to books in this genre, but with a title like this one, I had to check it out. I downloaded the audiobook from Audible and listened to it while doing stuff around the house last weekend.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Note: There are a sh*tload of f-bombs throughout. Let this be a warning if you are listening to the audiobook as I did.

Manson contends that the lets-all-feel-good-about-ourselves mindset we’ve been spoon fed for years is just wrong. We’ve been conditioned to believe that if we’re not in a constant state of happiness, well, there must be something wrong with us. Not true!

The self-love philosophy that encourages us to buy more, earn more, be more, actually serves to remind us of what we are not, what we have failed to be — why haven’t we reached those higher plateaus? Realizing we’re not good enough, we try even harder, get more neurotic, tear our insides to shreds, and become less happy, not more.

Manson believes that the more we pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied we become, the more we give a f*ck, and the vicious cycle continues.

Giving too many f*cks is bad for your mental health. As Manson says, we’re here on earth for a short time. The key is to not give a f*ck, and you may find that when you stop trying so hard, things start to fall into place on their own.

What the f*ck is wrong with coming in second?

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F*ck positivity,” Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f*cked and we have to live with it.”

When everyone on the soccer team gets a gold medal for just showing up, it does our kids no favor in the long run. We think we’re protecting their feelings, but pretending everyone is extraordinary is perpetuating a myth. The truth is there are winners and losers among us, and that is often isn’t our fault. It’s just the way the cards were dealt.

It is unrealistic to think that things will always turn out the way we want. What makes us stronger — and happier — is dealing with adversity.

Manson knows from whence he speaks.

Like the road not taken, Manson says, it was the f*cks not given that made a difference in his life. He quit his job in finance after six days to start an internet business. He sold most of my possessions and moved to South America. No f*cks given.

F*cks should be given about the important things. That said, the art of prioritizing the important things in life is not an easy process. Over the course of our lives we identify the most meaningful components and eventually discard the things we thought were important but really aren’t. We ultimately realize that we can’t give a f*ck all the time because then we will be disappointed when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

A benefit of aging is realizing when to give a f*ck.

We reach maturity when we learn to only give a f*ck about what is truly f*ckworthy.

As we grow older, we come to accept who we are and not aspire to some unrealistic version of ourselves. This is liberating.

I hear this from many of my contemporaries. We no longer need to give a f*ck about everything. We reserve our f*cks for our friends, family, our passions – this is as it should be. Happiness will come as we adjust our expectations of life and accept who we are.

Everyone will have pain, but avoiding it or denying it will just bring more pain. Happiness comes from not avoiding problems, but solving them.

So what the f*ck can we do about it?

Manson says to get real about our limitations — own them and accept them. It’s not wrong or weak to acknowledge our fears and faults; it’s actually empowering. Avoiding the truth leads to unhappiness, but if we can tackle our fears straight on we will actually find happiness through the resilience to deal with them.

Like “don’t sweat the small stuff,” not giving a f*ck can be liberating.

What in your life do you not give a f*ck about?



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Kevin Hart Shines in His Memoir, “I Can’t Make This Up”

Kevin Hart Shines in His Memoir, "I Can't Make This Up"

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

If your typical day is like mine, you spend a considerable amount of time in the car. Whether it’s getting to work and back, running errands, shuttling kids to activities, or visiting family and friends, you are behind the wheel a good part of the day.

I find myself flipping from music to talk shows to news, anything to distract me from the boredom of sitting in a traffic jam. Fortunately, there is another option: listening to an audiobook on Audible. When I want to catch up on a novel I’ve missed or discover a new author, I can search through Audible’s vast selection of titles and come up with the perfect choice for the moment.

These days, I often find myself needing to tune out what is happening in the world. I yearn for a selection that will take me away. Something that will make me laugh.

And laugh I did, all the way through Kevin Hart’s funny and heartfelt new memoir, “I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons.”

Kevin Hart Shines in His Memoir,

If you are familiar with Kevin Hart, you know he is an accomplished actor and stand up comedian, as well as a successful businessman. His meteoric rise to fame is all the more admirable because of his humble beginnings in North Philadelphia.

North Philadelphia both then and now is a tough neighborhood besieged by drugs and violence, and Kevin Hart’s family was not immune to the temptations on the street. As he describes, he was born an accident to a father who became a drug addict and was in and out of jail. His older brother was a crack dealer and petty thief. And his mother, although well meaning, was strict to the point of being abusive, beating him with whatever she could get her hands on, whether it was a frying pan, a belt, or even one of Kevin’s toys.

Now how can all the above be funny? Kevin Hart turns tragedy into comedy, and listening to him narrate the book is like attending one of his stand-up concerts. His delivery is what makes this audiobook superior to the written version, in my opinion. You feel like you have a front row seat to his comic genius.

Not that the written version is any less funny. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review. “[An] emotion-filled memoir full of grit and humor…Inspiring and thoroughly entertaining, Hart’s memoir brings his readers into his hilarious universe of stories and philosophy.”

In addition to all his other talents, the man can write. And what makes this particular memoir stand out for me is not just the funny stuff, but also the life lessons Kevin Hart shares from the bumps in the road. He is introspective, humble, down-to-earth and philosophical. He could have succumbed to the drugs and crime in his neighborhood. He could have grown up angry and rebellious.

But that is not the way he is wired. He chose to find meaning from the life lessons at every turn that helped him forge a way out of the poverty and violence and into a career that has made him adored by millions of fans.

Although this was not written as a self-help book, Kevin Hart’s memoir is truly motivational as well as funny as hell. His message is that we all have challenges that can be overcome through determination, and using laughter as a coping mechanism never hurt anyone.



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Book Buzz: Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch?

In my family, I’m the peanut butter and jelly between two pieces of bread. The cream cheese schmeared on a bagel. The baloney on rye.

I’m not only a boomer, I’m part of the sandwich generation, which is code for you-worry-about-everyone.

Last week was a time of heightened anxiety for me when a variety of maladies converged on several family members on both slices of the sandwich. With my nerves jangling like the Salvation Army Christmas bells, I knew I had to calm down and find a way to laugh, since laughter is the best medicine as we all know.

Thank goodness for humorist Vikki Claflin, whose new book, Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? got thrown in my bag before I left for the hospital. It turned out to be my lifesaver.

And P.S., everyone is OK now.

Book Buzz: Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch?

Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? Middle Age, Modern Marriage & Other Complications

I am a faithful follower of Vikki’s blog, Laugh Lines, because her essays consistently make me laugh. They are simply side stitch-inducing hilarious. She’s got a wicked sense of humor, that one.

Her latest book is  a collection of these essays and now that I’ve read them all, I think Vikki’s book is better than Prozac.

Vikki’s sizzling wit skewers topics such as marriage, fashion, makeup, bodily functions, ex-husbands, Spanx and midlife foibles. She’s a gifted writer who can zero in on the funny side of life and bring it to life … and nail it, every time.

Paraphrasing Vikki’s gems would be a disservice because no one can tell it quite like she can. So I offer you some of my favorites verbatim, straight from Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch?

The 12 Stupidest Love Songs, Ever

Don’t Know Much About History (Sam Cooke) “Don’t know much about history, don’t know much about biology. Repeat for science, French, geography, trigonometry, algebra, and the nefarious slide rule … “But if I could be with you,  what a wonderful world it would be.” Seriously, dude? You just admitted to being on the wrong side of the Stupid bell curve, and yet somehow you think we’re going to hook up and have a fab life together? Here’s a thought. Get your GED, get a job, and lose my number.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (Meat Loaf) “I want you, I need you, but there ain’t now way I’m ever gonna love you. Now don’t be sad cuz two out of three ain’t bad” followed by an entire verse lamenting the one that got away, but whom he never got over. Well, gee, Mr. Loaf. While I appreciate your only slightly arrogant offer and the assumption that I’d be grateful for two-thirds of your awesomeness, I think I’d rather date your ex-girlfriend.

24 Things Women Want in the Pre-Nup (No, They’re Not About Money)

  1. Repeatedly leaving the toilet seat up is the male equivalent of the female “Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.” It means nobody’s getting any tonight.
  2. Borrowing my car and returning it with the gas gauge on “E” tells me it’s been too long since we’ve had a good fight.
  3. Yes, I know you hate the songs on my iPod. That’s why they call it an “I” Pod. Get your own.
  4. Throwing all my delicates into the dryer on High isn’t “helping with the laundry.”

12 Reasons Sex is Better After 50

  1. We can finally put four-inch stilettos where they belong. In the bedroom. And we’re putting them on in bed, because limping to the bedroom, yelling, “Ouch, ouch, ouch!” is not foreplay.
  2. We worry less about having a perfect body. Yep, boobs are swaying like palm fronds in a tropical windstorm and cellulite makes our thighs look like five-pound bags of rice, but he hasn’t seen the six-pack abs of his youth for at least two decades.
  3. We tend to go to bed earlier, which also means earlier sex. After years of youthful and often alcohol-induced “Oh my God, it’s 2 a.m., and I’ve got to work tomorrow,” sex, we’ve discovered that 8 p.m. and sober is great, too. Who knew?

And finally,

From MILF to Middle-Age. 25 Signs It’s Happened to You

  1. Your plastic surgeon asks, “Why did you wait so long?” and offers a complimentary lip procedure with your tummy tuck because, well, he cares about you.
  2. Waiters and store clerks no longer ask you for your ID, even as a flirty joke. And if you suggest it, they just look confused.
  3. We still work out, but the parts we used to skip (the warm-up, the cool-down, and the stretching) are now the reason we’re there. Yesterday’s spinning class is now Tai Chi, often followed by a nap.
  4. When you lament the passage of your youth, you’re talking about your forties.

There is much, much more to giggle over, nod in affirmation with, and share with your girlfriends, while basking in the glow of knowing you’re not the only midlife woman plucking chin hairs.

Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? is available for pre-order on Jan 12, 2016 and will release Feb. 14. You can find it (and absolutely should) on Amazon. Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

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Book Buzz: Our Bodies, Our Shelves

So, a book of essays on library humor crossed my desk.

Library humor?

I thought the same. What could be funny about the library?

Well, I stand corrected. Library humor is not, in fact, an oxymoron, particularly when it comes from a terrific writer who just happens to work in a library.

Since today is National Librarian Day, what better time than the present to introduce you to Roz Warren, librarian, humorist and author of the hilarious collection of essays, “Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor.”

Our Bodies, Our ShelvesWith a title like that, you know from the outset that you’re in for a good time.

Our Bodies, Our Shelves

If you haven’t visited a public library lately, a lot has changed since back in the day of card catalogs, wooden chairs that scraped the floor and made the librarian look up and glare at you. And no air conditioning, which made your bare legs stick to the aforementioned wooden chairs, and getting your book stamped at the circulation desk, which is how remember my childhood library.

Libraries have changed with the times, and so have librarians. Or maybe they’ve just been misunderstood all these years.

They’ve gotten a bad rap, librarians have.

If you still think of librarians as elderly matrons in dowdy calf-length dresses, wispy gray hair in a tight bum and sensible shoes, who are more likely to shush you than to crack a smile, let me dissuade you of that notion right here and now.

But don’t listen to me. Pick up a copy of “Our Bodies, Our Shelves” and start reading.

And chuckling.

In these twenty essays you will find the answers to such burning questions as:

◊ What is the strangest bookmark left in a library book?

◊ What is the most unusual request made by a library patron?

◊ Do librarians curse? If so, where?

◊ How do librarians maintain their composure when they are cracking up inside?

Warren finds humor in every aspect of her job at the Bala Cynwyd, Pa. library, If you are in the vicinity, stop in to say hello to the world’s funniest librarian.

But be forewarned. You may become the target of her next amusing essay about the patrons who frequent her library.

Our Bodies, Our Shelves

A former attorney who left the law to take the library job “because I was tired of making so damn much money,” she said, Warren is no newcomer to humor writing. She has written for The New York Times, The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jewish Forward and The Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. (Twice!)

What’s more, she does not wear dowdy dresses and sensible shoes.

After reading this book, I paused for a moment to ponder my career options. At this point, am I too old to go back to college to get a degree in library science?

Because being a librarian seems like a really fun job. Especially if it is working with Roz Warren.

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Book Buzz: Humor on a Slice of Wry

You can’t help but smile when you hear the titles of humor writer Stacia Friedman’s books.

Anyone who can come up with “Tender is the Brisket” and “Nothing Toulouse” has already tickled my funny bone, and Friedman goes one step further: she is a gifted storyteller as well.

Who doesn’t want to laugh, especially in these trying days? I laughed out loud reading these books, and I think you will, too.

Tender is the Brisket

Meet the Sheraton family.

Actually, the first time you meet them is at patriarch Sol’s funeral. The surviving Sheratons are Sol’s widow, Dolly, and their three children: Ruth, a TV writer in her 40s, Naomi, a neurotic, slightly zaftig psychologist who writes self-help books (“The Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide to Highly Insensitive People”) and Larry, a cross-dresser.

Just your typical American family, with angst as thick as a bagel with a schmear.

Tender is the BrisketRuth is at a crossroads. Recovering from a disastrous marriage, she yearns to find love but in her quest continues to make bad choices. Plus, she is unemployed, as well as increasingly concerned about her mother’s health.  Dolly is sinking into dementia and requires continuous care. Ruth’s siblings are no help; in fact, they secretly siphon funds from Dolly’s account as they plot to abscond with the inheritance, hanging Ruth out to dry.

Naomi’s husband has moved out of their bedroom and is seen around town with other women. Their adopted daughter, Shoshanna, has dropped out of college and refuses to communicate with them.

Larry’s gender confusion is only part of the issue, as his obsession with money and an inheritance takes over his life.

With a family like this, all you can do is laugh. And you will.

A clever tale of life on New York’s Upper West Side, the book can best be described as both the nickname of one of Ruth’s love interests, Witty (Dewitt Clinton Hogworth), and tender (as in the title) in the way it gently explores parent-child relationships as they evolve over the years.

Nothing Toulouse

Subtitled “A Fedora Wolf Travel Mystery,” the book is (hopefully) the first of many escapades of the adventurous Ms. Wolf, a Philadelphia-based journalist with dreams of traveling the world and writing about it.

With an assignment to travel to the south of France to report on the annual Armagnac Festival, Fedora is excited to get away from troubles on the home front for an adventure in France. And when she meets the sexy French photographer assigned to accompany her on this assignment, things start looking even better.

Nothing ToulouseThings go swimmingly, at first. She explores the charming vineyards, samples the local cuisine and gets to know several of the aristocratic residents of this community. But suddenly, a murder occurs at her hotel, and her ability to nose out a mystery is put to the test.

As she tries to find the murderer while avoiding the gendarmes, the plot thickens and the suspense is heightened, but the humor continues unchecked.

Friedman’s understanding of French culture is as rapier-sharp as her familiarity with Jewish families on the Upper West Side. If there is any justice in the world, these books will become movies and give the rest of the world something to laugh about.

Stacia Friedman is an award-winning freelance journalist, humorist and author. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and NewsWorks.org.

Humor writer Stacia Friedman

I am delighted to offer an e-reader version of one of the books to a reader. Please leave a comment below and a name will be selected randomly.


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My Bra-mance with Erma Bombeck

Have you ever laughed so hard that you had to clutch your gut and gasp for breath?

For three days straight?

Thank you, Erma Bombeck.

That was me and about 350 others last weekend at Destination Hilarity, formally known as the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, a veritable laugh-in and love-in for humor writers (mostly women). With so many giggles, guffaws, belly laughs and woo hoos, my stomach muscles are still crying for mercy.

Spend three days surrounded by awesome comedic talent and a bundle of good cheer and this is what happens. While your stomach is in stitches, you fall in love.

My Bra-mance was Kindled.

My bra-mance with Erma and all the Bombeckians took flight, like lovebirds soaring, and I am still swooning.

Now, I didn’t expect the tone of this conference to be serious. Of course not. But I couldn’t have imagined being thrown into paroxysms of glee for three days straight. I think I was even chuckling in my sleep (my room mate Lois Alter Mark can attest to that).

The quality of the workshops was amazing. We learned about writing and editing and publishing, about finding your voice and writing concisely and perfecting your words until they gleam like polished silver.

Erma was all about finding the humor in everyday life. She found a treasure trove of material in her very own household. This was the lesson echoed by every presenter: the source of your material is right there. You just have to condense it into a nugget, and make it sing.

Laughter and Tears

There is nothing in life that can’t be massaged into a piece of humor, keynoter Lisa Scottoline told us, and regaled us with so many funny stories about her family.

She also shared with us that her mother had gone into hospice, suddenly, and Lisa was cutting her time at the conference short so she could go home to be with her.

And that was the other piece of this conference: pathos.

Amid the laughter there were tears. For Lisa’s mother. For Erma Bomeck’s untimely demise, which Phil Donahue described so eloquently. For Mary Lou Quinlan’s moving tribute to her mother, her greatest cheerleader.

I am still processing everything I learned, all the emotions I felt. And I can’t wait to apply all of it to my writing.

Takeaways from the Erma Conference

10.  It is good to have cake at every meal and snacks twice a day. And the Marriott and University of Dayton get (gluten-free) brownie points for trying really hard to please those of us with food restrictions.

9.  Erma keynoters rock. Each one was funny, warm, polished, and down-to-earth. And good looking, of course.

8.  As a newbie, I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in. Can I tell you that this was the nicest, friendliest group of conference-goers I’ve ever been with?

7.  Generosity of spirit and wisdom. That pretty much sums up every presenter.

6.  Watching others pitch their books filled me with admiration for their talent – and the chutzpah it took to get up there in front of the crowd. I will try to do this at the next Erma conference.

5. The message that Erma said turned her life around: You Can Write! Erma went through the same self-doubts of most writers, but she took these words to heart.

You Can Write! Erma Bombeck Writers Conference

4. Phil Donahue set the tone for the conference with his warm and funny tribute to Erma. Phil looks the same, talks the same and was total perfection.

Lois, Phil Donahue and me

3. Just as I thought that nothing could surpass Phil’s extraordinary keynote, along came Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serratella, blowing me away with their wit, writing smarts and sheer likeability.

Lois, Lisa S and me

2. The presence of Erma, as each keynoter and presenter kept her spirit alive in their comments. There were references to her throughout: her comic genius, how she blazed a trail, and as Phil said, “She wasn’t the first. She was the only.”

erma sign

1.  Meeting new friends I have gotten to know online – and reconnecting with those I’ve met before – priceless.

Erma Bombeck Writers ConferenceErma once said, “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”

Erma, you were with us every minute. You would have been proud. Thank you for showing us the way.

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