Not being as savvy with the Internets as some of you, this one may be old news. But even so, I must share.
Tonight my wife was treating herself to the 2006 edition of The Best American Nonrequired Reading, a year-end collection of excellent short pieces edited by Dave Eggers and featuring work from Rick Moody, Kurt Vonnegut, Julia Sweeney, Tom Downey, Haruki Murakami and many other talented writers. The first section of the book, before it moves on to the longer shorter pieces, is devoted to a series of “Best American” lists.
From The Onion comes the Best American Fake Headlines: “Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity with New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory,” “Rest of U2 Perfectly Fine with Africans Starving,” “Cost of Living Now Outweighs Benefits."
From the Edge Foundation, Best American Answers to the Question, “What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?” Physicist Carlo Rovelli’s answer: “I am convinced, but cannot prove, that time does not exist.” And then there’s psychologist Susan Blackmore: “It is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will.”
And how about Best First Sentences of Novels of 2005? Here's one:
“Three years, nine months and 24 days after winning the Academy Award for producing the best picture of the year, Charlie Berns was sitting on a folding chair in a second-floor room at the Brentwood Unitarian Church listening to a woman with smeared lipstick and a bad postnasal drip tell him, and the other 13 people in the room, that she had just charged $1,496 worth of cashmere sweaters on a VISA card she had received in the mail and failed to destroy.” (From Peter Lefcourt's The Manhattan Beach Project.)
Finally, a brilliantly absurd excerpt from The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman in which he details the Best American Things to Know About Hoboes: “They had their own flag, which was identical to the flag of Barbados (this was either a coincidence or a deliberate effort to confuse).”
The piece even includes a list of 700 great hobo names. Number one? Stewbuilder Dennis!
But for my wife, quiet reading gave way to nauseating hilarity when she came across the entry entitled, “Best American Things to Know About Chuck Norris,” derived from the indispensable Web site Chuck Norris Facts. I cannot in good conscience spoil the best of the best for you; you must click and discover these nuggets of wisdom for yourself. Besides, there’s something about the aggregate, undeniable truthiness of these facts that tends to snowball, upon encountering a bunch of them in a row, into wheezing, gasping cries for help muffled by explosive laughter. If it’s been a hard day—if it is currently a hard day—you owe yourself a morsel or two from the bank of knowledge about the icon Chuck Norris that you likely have gone ignorant about until now.
I can’t resist. Here’s one of my favorites: “Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.”
Okay, here’s another: “Chuck Norris destroyed the Periodic Table of Elements because Chuck Norris only recognizes the element of surprise.”
Damn it. All right, this is the last one: “The grass is always greener on the other side, unless Chuck Norris has been there. In that case, the grass is most likely soaked in blood and tears.”
Stop me before I quote again! Just click!