Like Kofi Annan, Larry Miller is one of the most irresistible comic personalities working today. Known for years as an actor, writer, comedian, and sexual pioneer, he's gained a new following as a cultural commentator and frequent guest on political shows. Now, in Spoiled Rotten America, he fixes his gaze on what's funny about our daily lives—which includes, roughly speaking, everything. From middle-aged drinking ("When you're in your twenties, you can drink all night and bungee-jump off a bridge the next day. If I drank all night, I'd want to go off that bridge without the cord") to the excesses of our eating habits ("This is why the world hates us: the size of the portions we order. Thank God they've never shown us eating on Al Jazeera—that would be the end of it"), Miller finds the silver lining of absurdity within every black cloud.
Ultimately, though, Spoiled Rotten America is more than just the average yukfest. It's an insightful, and surprisingly heartfelt, plea for us to notice what's best and worst about ourselves. "The American pendulum only swings to extremes," he writes. "The news is on all day, but we know less and less; there's music in every mall, but we don't hear it; everyone has a phone but nothing to say. The chubbiest of us have the strictest diets, because we can't learn to modulate and moderate. It's all or nothing. One bite of a cookie, and suddenly you're on a plane to Vegas with a hooker. To the Cranky Nitpickers of America—a club I'd join in a second if I weren't already its president—it's long been understood that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket.
"What better time for a collection of seventeen comic essays?"
What better time indeed.
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About the Author
Larry Miller has appeared in many movies and television shows, including Pretty Woman, The Nutty Professor, and Waiting for Guffman. He’s written for the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, The Weekly Standard, and other venues. He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and two sons.
Read an Excerpt
Spoiled Rotten America
Outrages of Everyday Life
By Larry Miller
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
My wife just got a new dishwasher for us. She didn't tell me,
she just got it. I discovered this the other day when I came
home from work and saw it being installed, but it was
difficult to learn any more just then, since she was in the
living room with her friend Ilana, planning a party at our
house that weekend for twenty-seven or so Little League
parents. I didn't know about this, either.
"Oh, you'll love it," she said, with a wink and a wave of her
hand, and turned back to Ilana, who was animatedly saying
something like, "I think the pasta station should go in the
And I remember thinking, "You know, there may be some things I
disagree with about Arab society, but, on the whole, you've
got to admire the way they treat their women."
The thing about the new dishwasher was, I'd just gotten used
to loading the old one. "It wasn't cleaning well anymore," she
said after Ilana left. "Yes, it was," I said. "No, it wasn't,"
We could have batted this shuttlecock back and forth for a few
more hours, easy, but ultimately it would've led me to turning
curt and saying, "How would you know?" (Another night sleeping
with one eye open.) Instead, I looked down at the shiny new
appliance and muttered, "ButI just figured the old one out."
My eagle eye and spaniel nose tell me that the principles of
correct dishwasher use are one of those tiny-but-huge subjects
debated by all households; and in this case I mean everyone.
Man, woman, gay, straight, American, Norwegian-put any two
adults together in a house, and they'll very quickly develop
different, and fiercely rigid, views of how best to load the
You could pair an English supermodel with a Cambodian rice
farmer, or two Sherpas who grew up on the side of Mount
Everest and never even heard of electricity, and within four
days you'd hear one telling the other, "No, idiot, the salad
plates go behind the cereal bowls." Sounds like a new reality
show, doesn't it? "She only speaks Hungarian, and he's never
even seen a rocks glass, but watch the sparks fly when it's
time to clear the table!" (That one's probably in development
I consider myself a dishwasher virtuoso even with my one great
flaw, to wit: I rinse. I know you don't need to rinse before
you load, but I do. Even toast crumbs. I just have to.
Still, I think I save more water than any reasonably sane
I never leave the faucet running while I'm scrubbing a pan,
and only turn it on again when it's time to rinse, and then
still only halfway.
I listen like a hawk (or just a maniac) when the kids go to
brush their teeth, and run shouting down the hall the second I
sense they've got the water on too high or too long, or that
they're spraying each other, or-worst of all for a parent-that
they're just giggling and enjoying life too much.
When it's time for me to shower, I'm like a marine boot being
monitored by Lee Ermey with a stopwatch. Even when I'm a
little fuzzy-headed in the morning, I allow myself just a
brief cascade down the head and neck ... unless of course
someone's in there with me. (Oh, stop your cackling. This does
so happen to me, though not every day, and almost always in a
fancy hotel for one of those Mommy and Daddy nights away.)
In fact, I used to shower with the kids, too, when they were
At least until my sister told me not to.
This was when they were two and five, and after two and five
years (respectively) spent getting an achy back and soaked
shoes while leaning in to wash their hair, one evening at bath
time the clouds parted, the angels sang, and I climbed in with
Well, I thought I had invented the wheel. It was so easy, I
was staggered by the brilliance of the thing. Each "shower" at
that age only takes fifteen or twenty seconds anyway. I don't
know about you, but I just wash their hands and faces, lather
up their hair, and let the residual shampoo do the rest on its
way toward the drain. So we'd all get in together, and
zing-clop-boom, we were done. Beautiful. Hell, that's still
far more scrubbing than any fifty people north of the Pyrenees
get in a year.
I was so thrilled with my brainstorm that one night I was
talking to my sister back East and told her about it. And she
said, "Are you wearing anything?" And I said, "What kind of a
question is that?" And she said, "Not now, idiot, when you're
in the shower with them."
And I said, "Do I wear anything in the shower? What are you
talking about? It's a shower."
And she said, "Not if you're in there with them. They're
naked, right? What about you? I hope you at least have gym
And I said, "Gym shorts? Sheryl, it's a shower. Just a few
seconds and we're done."
And she said, "Larry, you're in there naked with them?"
And I said, "Well, technically, yes. For a few seconds."
"Well, you shouldn't be. Ever."
This was a new one on me. I told my wife about it with a
chuckle when she got home, and she put down the mail and said,
"Oooh, I'm so mad at your sister."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because there's nothing wrong with it, but you're so stupid,
now you'll probably never do it again." And I said-chuckling
again, but still a little annoyed at being called
stupid-"Honey, please, I agree. There's nothing wrong with it.
It makes the whole bathtime thing easier. I'm glad I came up
with it." But I never did it again.
Excerpted from Spoiled Rotten America
by Larry Miller
Copyright © 2006 by Larry Miller .
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Assumes all Americans have the same boring life as he lives, I couldn't even listen to the third CD.
How could anyone not like Larry Miller? This book is very funny and also touching and poignant. I enjoyed it thoroughly although my family was relieved when I finished it because my constant loud laughter became annoying.