Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Memories of the Reader's Digest

This blog being a spinoff of the earlier one about reading:

Ah yes,,, the ubiquitous Reader’s Digest... those pocket-sized book-like magazines... right now I just can't stand reading them anymore: I feel they are made for people with short attention spans. However, they are a great thing to have early in your reading life, or later when you have not much time to spend devouring great long novels...

So how did I come across the RD? Well, my parents had a handful of them when I first started reading... Picked up more here and there - garage/book sales, "donations"... in fact, the most substantial addition was from mom's officemate: thanks to him we more than doubled our collection, including some dating back to the 1950's!

How much of an impact did the RD have on me? Well, I gotta admit, some of my all-time favourite jokes, and general information, come from stuff I read decades ago... in the RD... here are some noteworthy ones:

Likee speechee?
This must have happened during the early days of business cooperation between Japan and the U.S. This well-meaning executive found himself sitting next to a Japanese during a company event, and while he didn’t know any Japanese, he tried to communicate the only way he could think of: “Likee beefee? Likee drinkee?” The Japanese smiled and nodded, and seemed appreciative of his efforts. The emcee then called upon the next speaker… and this Japanese man stood up, made his way to the podium, and proceeded to deliver a speech in impeccable English. The poor well-meaning guy wished the ground would just open up and swallow him whole! To top it all off, when the Japanese man got back to the table, he leaned over to our poor man and asked: “Likee speechee?”

Experience of a rape victim:
I was still pretty young, and didn’t really understand all of what was being alluded to in the article, but it was an eye-opener nonetheless.

My first memory of exposure to puns:
This supposedly actually happened in a classroom… You tell me how likely it is: Teacher asks class “Why do toadstools grow in clumps?” and picks on a daydreaming student. He answers “Because there isn’t mushroom?” After the class stops snickering, the student apologises, saying “I know, I know, spore joke, I’m sorry.” He tops that off with a howler: “I’m a fungi, what can I say?” I had this sequence memorized, in the vain hope that I’d find myself in a situation where I could rattle off this set of puns, but alas, I never got the chance.

“How to drink safely”:
I puzzled at the title for quite a while before figuring out “drink” referred to imbibing alcohol, not just consuming liquid. For a second I wondered if it was going to give tips on how to ensure you don’t swallow down the wrong tube, y’know?

One of those “fillers” at the end of an article (that's right... sometimes those were so much more enjoyable than the actual article! Tee hee!) It went something like “Is there any way you could connect this to a smiling face? :- ) and how about a mischievous grin? ;-) Stumped? Turn the page 90 degrees clockwise and behold what are known as emoticons.” People just do not believe me when I say I saw my first emoticon in the Reader's Digest!!

Eggs made to order:
An anecdote about a family going for breakfast in one of those typical American chain restaurants, and the mom wanting sonly toast, but "only toast" was not available, she had to order the egg-and-toast combo. Of course, the eggs are made to order (usually: scrambled, sunny side up, over easy, etc).. so she orders them "raw and in the shell" so she can take them back with her, and consume just the toast.

And for those who remember the series of "I am Joe's/Jane's {body part / organ}": I don't remember a specific organ or body part, but I do remember reading a few of the series. It was amusing to hear it being made fun of in Fight Club:
"Listen to this. It's an article written in first person. I am Jack's medulla oblongata, without me Jack could not regulate his heart rate, blood pressure or breathing!" There's a whole series of these! "I am Jill's nipples." "I am Jack's Colon."
Yeah, I get cancer, I kill Jack.
I am Jack's Raging Bile Duct.
I am Jack's Cold Sweat.
I am Jack's Complete Lack of Surprise.
I am Jack's Smirking Revenge.
I am Jack's Wasted Life.
I am Jack's Inflamed Sense of Rejection
I'm all alone. My dad dumped me. Tyler dumped me. I Am Jack's Broken Heart."

(Click here for the script and imdb reference)

And with those write-in sections of All in a Day's Work, Laughter the Best Medicine, Life's Like That... plus those "page fillers" I referred to earlier.. the RD is choc-full of fun for everyone. Later I would actually work on the vocabulary section: I think my best was 18 or 19 ... but usually I'd be somewhere around 15 or so... get started early on this section and you'll never be at a loss for words! ;-)

So do I recommend the Reader's Digest? ABSOLUTELY!


I don't care if you have to pay almost double the cost by picking it up at the newsstand... I'll pay the premium in order to be spam-free and do my bit to NOT kill more trees than are already being killed unnecessarily, and I do hope you will do the same! Did you know that once you subscribe, you become the recipient of so much snail mail spam? So what if it's their sweepstakes... you have to buy the featured books in order to be eligible to be entered into the sweepstakes, or some gimmick like that... a few years and many not-really-needed-books later, the only real winners are the folks at the Reader's Digest!

Oh, and they make excellent bathroom reading material! ;-D

1 comment:

  1. I love reading RD. Remembered when i was in my teens it was a good reading material, source of information (masa tu tak de
    internet lagi) and yes, to improve my english. My mom subcribed to RD and true enough we received endless snail mail spam.
    my clueless mommy bought many not-really-needed-books just to enter the oh-so-promising sweepstakes. After 2-3 years, after
    thousands of ringgit malaysia....then only she realised that this whole sweepstakes thing is too good to be true.

    Read RD but DO NOT subscribe to it.


Dear legitimate commenters: all comments are welcome! My sincere apologies for making you go through the word verification hurdle, tho.

Dear spammers: please don't bother... I'm just gonna delete any spam that squeaks through word verification anyway, so why not save us both the trouble, eh?


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