Oh, the Things I Know!: A Guide to Success, or, Failing That, Happiness

Overview

Al Franken, or Dr. Al Franken as he prefers to be called, has written the first truly indispensable book of the new millennium. Filled with wisdom, observations, and practical tips you can put to work right away, Oh, the Things I Know! is a cradle-to-grave guide to living, an easy-to-follow user's manual for human existence.

What does a megasuccess like Al Franken—bestselling author, Emmy-award winning television star, and honorary Ph.D.—have to say to ordinary people like you? ...

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Oh, the Things I Know!

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Overview

Al Franken, or Dr. Al Franken as he prefers to be called, has written the first truly indispensable book of the new millennium. Filled with wisdom, observations, and practical tips you can put to work right away, Oh, the Things I Know! is a cradle-to-grave guide to living, an easy-to-follow user's manual for human existence.

What does a megasuccess like Al Franken—bestselling author, Emmy-award winning television star, and honorary Ph.D.—have to say to ordinary people like you? Well, as Dr. Al himself says, "There's no point in getting advice from hopeless failures."

Join Mr. Franken—sorry, Dr. Franken—on a journey that will take you from your first job ("Oh, Are You Going to Hate Your First Job!"), through the perils and pitfalls of your twenties and thirties ("Oh, the Person of Your Dreams vs. the Person You Can Actually Attract!"), into the joys of marriage and parenthood ("Oh, Just Looking at Your Spouse Will Make Your Skin Crawl!"), all the way to the golden years of senior citizenship ("Oh, the Nursing Home You'll Wind Up In!"). Don't travel life's lonesome highway by yourself. Take Al Franken along, if not as an infallible guide, then at least as a friend who will make you laugh.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
With countless books offering advice and inspiration to graduates or grown-ups in need of a hug, finally there is a definitive guide to life from a successful man who knows what you need to hear. Bestselling author, Emmy Award–winning television star, and honorary Ph.D. Al Franken has read all the books by the competition -- from Maria Shriver to Anna Quindlen -- and realized that "their readers were mine for the taking." Prepare to be taken: From your first job ("Oh, Are You Going to Hate Your First Job!") to marital bliss ("Oh, Just Looking at Your Spouse Will Make Your Skin Crawl!") to fulfillment in the "best years" of your life ("Oh, the Loneliness, the Loneliness!"), Franken draws on wisdom culled from his own failures and successes to prepare you for every vista and pothole along the road of life.

Franken makes the journey even more exciting by promising to deliver not only good advice but bad advice, too -- leaving it to the reader to identify which is which. From choosing a career ("There are many people who should not pursue their passion. And you might be one of them") to staying together ("Believe me, kids would rather have two parents screaming at each other than one happy parent calmly helping them with their homework"); from success on your own terms ("the allure of high-price real-estate and the magical thinking it engenders") to the inevitable drug addiction ("Admitting that you have a problem and getting help may be the first and second steps toward reaching a point in life when you can look back at the things you did while you were high on drugs and laugh at them") -- Franken's cup runneth over with heartfelt wisdom and experience (at no small expense to his wife, who must be the most forgiving spouse on the planet). Along the way, Franken offers helpful examples, guidelines, and lists (including a complete list of international dialing codes!) that readers can "clip out and save" to refer to in a pinch.

Every traveler embarking on the next stage in life's journey is bombarded with aphorisms, and Franken helps the wide-eyed wanderer wade through the sea of advice by offering even more advice: "When you encounter seemingly good advice that contradicts other seemingly good advice, ignore them both." With helpful chapter summaries to pinpoint key information for readers with no attention span, Oh, the Things I Know! is, as Franken says, not the only book you should ever read, but certainly the only advice book you'll ever need. "Some of you who read this will have miserable lives and be disappointments to your parents, your children, your spouse, and to yourself. And, to some extent, me," writes Dr. Al, and with good reason -- because after reading Oh, the Things I Know!, really, we think you should know better. (Elise Vogel)

Library Journal
Fans of Franken's brilliant political satire (Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot) will be disappointed with his latest book. Oh, the Things I Know, while humorous in places, does not live up to the biting acerbity of Franken's political wit. It also pales in comparison with his earlier "self-help" persona, Stuart Smalley of Saturday Night Live fame. In this audio the author offers guidance, of a sort, through many of life's travails. Throughout, Franken appears to put aside what he is best at, humor, and tries to turn out a chapter or two of what Oprah is best at, concern and helpful advice for daily living. Those of us who have laughed out loud while reading his earlier books will be dissatisfied with this slim attempt at humor. Most libraries would be better served with any of Franken's other works.-Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452284500
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/15/2003
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 806,004
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.24 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author


Two-time spoken word Grammy ® award winner AL FRANKEN is the author of four previous bestsellers. A long-time comedy writer who rose to prominence as one of the original Saturday Night Live writers in the 1970s, Franken won five Emmy® Awards for his work on SNL.

Biography

Al Franken's career as a comedian and political satirist has made him a star of television, movies, and books. Born in New York City, Franken grew up in Minneapolis and started his stand-up career while still in high school. He moved back east to study political science at Harvard University, and the civil rights movements of the 1960s had a profound effect on his politics. Franken tried to blend his two passions by applying for a position at the Harvard Lampoon but was, ironically, rejected.

After Harvard, Franken and a former high school friend, Tom Davis, toured the country as a stand-up team. Fate stepped in when Lorne Michaels caught their act and hired them in 1975 for a new sketch-comedy show based on the Monty Python premise. That show, of course, was the legendary Saturday Night Live. As writers and performers, Franken and Davis were instrumental in putting the edgy new show on the map.

Franken has had an on-and-off relationship with the show, leaving for years at a time to work on outside projects. When he returned to SNL in the late 1980s, Franklin created one of his most memorable characters, Stuart Smalley, the quintessential 12-step therapy optimist whose motto was "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." Franken spun the Smalley character into a book in 1992 and a feature film, Stuart Saves His Family, in 1995.

In between stints at SNL, Franken carved out a career in the movies. In 1976, Franken starred in Tunnel Vision, an irreverent story about a typical day of programming at TV's first uncensored network. The film wasn't a big hit, but it helped launch the careers of Franken and his costars -- burgeoning comics Chevy Chase, John Candy, and Ron Silver. Franken teamed up with fellow SNL actors once again to star in the box office hit Trading Places (1983) with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. He cowrote the screenplay for the inspiring and passionate When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), and he was a guest celebrity voice in Clerks: The Animated Series (2000).

Outside of SNL, however, Franken is best known for his hilarious and engaging books, where his sense of humor is well served by his political background. When Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations was released in 1996, it quickly established Franken as the top liberal satirist of American politics. A biting attack on conservative politics, it was also critically hailed as being uncompromisingly fair. Despite seeming to single out Rush Limbaugh, the book also blasts Republican leadership on subjects ranging from family values to Vietnam draft deferment. The success of the book helped Franken launch his own sitcom, Lateline, which ran on NBC from 1998-99.

After the success of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Franken fans were delighted when Why Not Me? The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency was released in 1999. Why Not Me? is Franken's rousing mock-epic race for the White House, detailing how he entered the 1999 presidential race (and won) on a platform condemning unfair ATM fees. In 2002, Oh! The Things I Know!: A Guide to Success, or Failing That, Happiness has Franken referring to himself as Dr. Al Franken, dispensing life-affirming lessons such as "Oh! Are You Going to Hate Your First Job" and "Oh! The Weight You Will Gain." He also served as contributing writer to Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live (2002) and wrote the foreword for the third volume of the popular Bushisms series, Still More George W. Bushisms: "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican."

None of Franken's books has generated as much controversy as his 2003 release, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Franken's fans waited seven years for another work of piercing political commentary, and this one more than delivered. Over the course of 43 chapters, Franken takes his battle straight to the top, criticizing the Bush administration and the scores of conservative pundits who, in his opinion, have distorted facts to support their political causes. Franken was sued by the politically conservative Fox Network for using the Fox slogan "Fair and Balanced" in the title of the book. Fox eventually dropped the case, but not before Franken got the last laugh -- he thanked the Fox Network profusely for boosting his book sales via the controversy.

Good To Know

In 1992, Franken anchored Comedy Central's Indecision '92, covering the presidential conventions and election-night events. In 1996, he teamed with Arianna Huffington, covering the party conventions and election night for Bill Maher's show Politically Incorrect.

In 1988, CNN hired Franken to provide commentary at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.

Franken served as a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, in 2003.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 21, 1951
    1. Education:
      B.S., Political Science, Harvard University, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Oh, You Shouldn't Skip the Introduction!

One of my biggest regrets, and I have many, is that my father never gave me any advice. Not because I wanted to hear what he had to say. (While he was a happy man, he was not what you would call successful.) It's just that if Dad had told me something clever or even useful, I could be passing it onto you right now and my job would be that much easier.

But then I thought that perhaps by not giving me any advice, he was giving me the best advice of all. Which is that there are no shortcuts, that you have to do the heavy lifting for yourself, make your own mistakes, and learn things the hard way. Thanks, Dad. Thanks a lot!

And although he never gave me advice, and I had to learn about the birds and the bees from my piano teacher, I realize now everything I know about being a good parent is based on my Dad's example. It's not that I know that much about being a good parent, but I did learn one thing, which is actually the only piece of what can pass for advice that I've ever felt comfortable giving to others. It is quite simply this.

Quantity time is quality time. My Dad never took me horseback riding. We never went white water rafting. He never gave me the seven thousand dollar fully functional scale model of a Ferrari that I coveted when I was twelve. But he did spend time with me. Not necessarily quality time, but quantity time, hours and hours and hours of non-productive, aimless quantity time.

What did we do with this quantity time? Mainly, we watched television, hours and hours and hours of television. My fondest memories of childhood are of sitting on the couch watching comedians on TV with my parents. Dad loved George Burns, Jack Benny, and Phil Silvers. But his favorite was Buddy Hackett.

Now, my Dad smoked a pipe for fifty years, and by that I mean he inhaled, risking not just mouth cancer, but lung cancer, which eventually killed him at age 85. Still, he loved that pipe.

When Dad got on a laughing jag, at a certain point he would begin to cough uncontrollably, loosening the phlegm in his inflamed lungs. It was never long before the phlegm made its way up his windpipe and into the handkerchief which he always carried with him for just such an eventuality. This was even more disgusting than I'm making it sound. For some reason this never bothered me . But every time Johnny Carson would say, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Buddy Hackett," my mother would get up and leave the room.

And so it was this quantity time spent with my father, laughing and coughing up phlegm, which inspired me in choosing my life's work: making people laugh and raising money for the American Lung Association. So, no, my father never imparted a pithy aphorism or even a carefully thought out explanation of the human reproductive system. Still, he was an inspiration. And, in the spirit of the non-traditional advice I received from my father and the more professional (and effective) advice you can get from people like Oprah Winfrey, I have embarked upon this book in which I will set down the wisdom I have accumulated in fifty short years on this Earth. Not just for my own two children, the eldest of whom will be graduating from college next year, but for the general public as well. Because, you see, I think of you all as my children. Let's get started.

First off, don't smoke a pipe.

--Reprinted from Oh, the Things I Know! by Al Franken by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) Al Franken, 2002. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2002

    Self Help Send-Up

    The title might not be coined correctly. While it refers to the pompous self-important attitude of the would be gurus and Oprah guests, it doesn't quite convey that the book is a parody of the entirely too popular publishing phenomenon of self-help and pop pyschology books. That said, Franken's honorary PhD, might be more respectable than John Gray's unacredited PhD.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2002

    Superbly done..

    Al Franken, with whom I rarely agree politically, is one of the greatest political satirists of all time. In this 'advice book', Al stretches his sardonicism directly into our personal lives. Though the author admits to purposefully giving both good and bad advice in an attempt to keep the reader on his or her toes, the true Franken fan will not be fooled. Spectacularly candid and revoltingly funny, Franken wins. Again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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