May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor

May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor

by Michael J. Rosen

Paperback(First Edition)


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060516260
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/14/2004
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.11(d)

About the Author

The editor of More Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor, Michael J. Rosen has been called the unofficial organizer of the National Humor Writer's Union, a pretty good idea for an organization that could offer all kinds of benefits to its struggling members (currently numbering more than 300 who have never been published in The New Yorker or aired on NPR). He has been called other things as well, like in third grade, and then in seventh grade especially, by certain older kids known as "hoods," who made his life miserable, specifically during gym class, lunch period and after school. Later, much later, the Washington Post called him a "fidosopher" because of his extensive publications on dogs, dog training, and dog-besotted people. The New York Times called him an example of creative philanthropy in their special "Giving" section for persuading "writers, artists, photographers and illustrators to contribute their time and talents to books" that benefit Share Our Strength's anti-hunger efforts and animal-welfare causes. As an author of a couple dozen books for children, he's been called...okay, enough with the calling business.

For nearly twenty years, he served as literary director at the Thurber House, a cultural center in the restored home of James Thurber. Garrison Keillor, bless his heart, called it (sorry) "the capital of American humor." While there, Rosen helped to create The Thurber Prize for American Humor, a national book award for humor writing, and edited four anthologies of Thurber's previously unpublished and uncollected work, most recently The Dog Department: James Thurber on Hounds, Scotties and Talking Poodles, happily published by HarperCollins as well.

In his capacity as editor for this biennial, Rosen reads manuscripts year round, beseeching and beleaguering the nation's most renowned and well-published authors, and fending off the rants and screeds from folks who've discovered the ease of self-publishing on the web. Last summer, Rosen edited a lovely book, 101 Damnations: The Humorists' Tour of Personal Hells; while some critics (all right, one rather outspoken friend) considered this a book of complaints, Rosen has argued that humor, like voting and picketing and returning an appliance that "worked" all of four months before requiring a repair that costs twice the purchase price, humor is about the desire for change. It's responding to the way things are compared to the way you'd like things to be. And it's a much more convivial response than pouting or cornering unsuspecting guests at dinner parties.

Read an Excerpt

May Contain Nuts
A Very Loose Canon of American Humor

Business Tips of the Dead

Henry Alford


Joplin knew that if you started drinking after you'd taken a few hits of speed, you ran the risk of becoming messy and vague; but if you got drunk and then took the speed, you could prolong the drunk, you could power the drunk.

Power your drunk. Take a bold step toward prioritizing your company's future by implementing that growth-centered, results-driven, Big Picture Thinking change after you've already scored a victory with a smaller, easier change. The second change can coast in the first one's jetstream.

You'll see the change. Your company's future will be a better place. Then you can look at your spreadsheet and be confident you won't wake up with a blinding headache on the first day of your next quarter; then you can lie in a hotel bed and take heroin with a reporter from Rolling Stone.


Most people do not realize that fashion legend Coco Chanel was born Cocoa Chanel, but dropped the a following the advice of a consultant. The consultant explained that, in terms of establishing a brand, too narrow a focus could hurt the Chanel brand. "Cocoa is very specifically either the powder made from cacoa seeds, or the refreshing, hot beverage made from that powder," the consultant told Chanel. "But Coco ... Coco could be coconut or coq au vin, or cocktail-cocktail, or company-company, or cost effective-cost ineffective, or commission basis-commission yield, or coaxial cable-coaxial cable storage unit, or cold welding-cold welding helmet, or Co-Chair of the Cote d'Azur Congress for Constant Coconut Oil-Enhanced Copulation."

Lesson #37: Leave your options open.


One summer day in 1463, one of Vlad's sentries told him the whereabouts of Vlad's archrival, Brad the Extruder. Vlad quickly tracked Brad down in a field in a remote Transylvanian town; then Vlad lunged at his archrival, gored him with a pike, carried him to a steep-faced mountain, removed him from the pike and dragged him to the mountain's summit, then dropped him off a cliff such that he fell directly onto the up-pointed pike's sharp tip, now white-hot from a roaring blaze built at the pike's base.

Vlad's paradigm is one we can all learn from. Vlad was successful not because he had insider information, but because he strategically implemented this insider information. The implementation was brilliantly simple. 1) Find archrival. 2) Kabob him.


While her competitors were all too happy to meet the low demands of others' expectations of them -- by licking all stains on the kitchen floor in an attempt to locate a beverage source, or by issuing stalactites of drool while watching others eat -- Lassie incentivized herself. Lassie found her niche. Lassie found the brand that was Lassie: she made herself the dog who alerts her master of others' imminent death. Your company can benefit from hiring a similarly incentivized individual, an outside consultant who tours your premises and tells you not to ask Tom in H.R. to send that fax for you, because Tom is minutes away from the massive coronary seizure that will finally fell him; someone who'll encourage you to start grooming a successor for Noreen in Accounting because research suggests she is 130 years old. In short, you need a Lassie. You need to get help.

May Contain Nuts
A Very Loose Canon of American Humor
. Copyright © by Michael J. Rosen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews