Warning! This Product Contains Nuttiness
A Fun Look at the Bizarre World in Which We Live
Publication Year: 2013
For his latest book, Venable has gathered and organized 139 of his newspaper columns—his biggest collection yet—to create a trove of wit and wisdom. In the spirit of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” he points a finger at human nature, the environment, civil rights and wrongs, and an eclectic mix of other targets, drawing our attention to the foibles, failings, and just plain absurdities that surround us all.
As a native son and treasured institution in East Tennessee, Venable has earned the right to poke fun at its local history, habits, and happenings. He takes full, loving advantage of this license in essays such as “How to Tawlk Good,” “Shall We Gather with a Reptile,” and “The Good, the Bad, the Kudzu.” He takes on the government in a section titled “A Two-Ring Circus with Elephants and Donkeys,” and in another called “Still Waiting for Y2K,” he offers up “A Lesson in Dollars and Sense” and “Blowing the Budget for Bowser.”
Some have called him a modern-day Mark Twain, others the Dave Barry of Knoxville; but while there may be some similarities, Sam Venable is wonderfully unique. He sees—and sees through—the pervasive silliness and stupidity in our world. It evokes wonder in him, and with many a deft turn of phrase, he interprets that wonder for us. Warning! This Product Contains Nuttiness will make you smile, certainly, but it will also make you think and sometimes even touch your heart.
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
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Title Page, Other Works by the Author, Copyright, Dedication
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Most of these essays originally appeared as Sam Venable’s columns in the Knox-ville News Sentinel. They have been edited for book use and may differ somewhat from their original form. The author gratefully acknowledges permission from the Knoxville News Sentinel to reprint this material. He also thanks illustrator Tommy Smith and cover photographer Paul Efird for their excellent graphics ...
Introduction: Does Sam Venable Even Exist?
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As proof of the fleeting significance of a historic event, I once left a Super Bowl party and within five days had completely forgotten the final score of the game. Now, years removed from that moment, I can’t even tell you who played whom. I can, however, tell you about an item I removed from the host’s house. (Re-moved with permission, I hasten to point out. Odd as it may seem, journalists ...
1. Who Needs Fiction?
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Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist for the Miami Herald, came to Knoxville in September 2002 to entertain at a corporate awards ceremony. Since the News Sentinel carried his popular syndicated column at the time, the suits in Fine by all us po’ folks in the newsroom. Anytime there’s a combination of free food, free liquor, and an excused absence from work, the motion carries ...
2. Still Waiting for Y2K
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Roughly one month before his sixth birthday, my grandson shocked me with lan-guage he had picked up in kindergarten. I’m still having palpitations.No, Max didn’t utter a bathroom word. Or—be still my soul—something even more coarse. Nonetheless, I couldn’t have been more stunned if he had un-This occurred the afternoon he walked into my home office as I was hunting- ...
3. A Strong Regional Bias
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As a native son of Knoxville, a lifelong resident of Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, it gives me tremendous pleasure to join my fellow citizens in a rousing chant of, “We’re Number One! We’re Number One! We’re Uh, no, sadly; this exuberance rarely has an association with team sports over on the UT campus—especially the two biggies, football and basketball. The ...
4. A Two-Ring Circus with Elephants and Donkeys
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From Baja to Bangor, a predictable cry rises from the hoi polloi any time high-If that official is a member of the Republican Party, nearly everyone associ-ated with the Democrats—from the lowliest ward heeler to chairman of the state committee—will object to this “ridiculous, outrageous, dare-we-say-criminal waste of the public’s money!” Conversely, if that official is a Democrat, the moan-...
5. We Interrupt This Program . . .
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Whoa! Wait a minute! What’s a bunch of serious material doing in a nutty book like this, especially when announced like some cheesy radio broadcaster from In 1996, the News Sentinel published a collection of my humor columns un-der the title of I’d Rather Be Ugly than Stuppid. Susan Alexander and the late Jacquelyn Brown, editors of that book, inserted a chapter called “Seriously ...
6. A Few Extra Slices of Our Daily Bread
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Silly me. For years, I thought food was for eating. Or dining or snacking or munching or whatever term might best describe the process of sending vittles down the human “swallow pipe.” Little did I realize there are broader applica-tions for our daily bread—along with our daily cheeseburgers, our daily barbe-cue, our daily hot dogs, our daily doughnuts, our daily pizza, our daily fries, our ...
7. The Science of Silliness
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Be it known to all that I stand foursquare behind the principle of scientific re-search. Bring on the experiments, the tests, the studies, the investigations! Award lucrative grants! Bestow PhDs by the multiplied dozen! From the depths of the oceans to the vast realms of outer space, there’s oh-so-much to learn about this Meaning, of course, there is oh-so-much to poke fun at. This is the sacred ...
8. Very Important Dates
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I used to be one of the most addicted calendar watchers in the history of office There was none of this business of flipping ahead to June or July on a dreary, snow-patched February afternoon and happily daydreaming of summer vaca-tion at the beach. Nor was the object of my calendar-gazing ever one of those fancy photo collections featuring twelve months of sporting scenes, close-up ...
9. Sports of Sorts
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Although I played varsity football—ineptly, sloppily, and without one scintilla of skill—throughout my years at Knoxville’s Young High School, I’ve never been Oh, I follow baseball in early fall and usually know which teams are headed for the World Series. And I watch enough college and professional football on TV to keep up with who’s who in their respective championship quests. Beyond ...
10. Being a Guy
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The last thing I’d ever do, especially here in the socially enlightened twenty-first century, is attempt to provoke rancor between the sexes. Or rancor between any diverse groups of people, for that matter. When it comes to the human interac-tions, I prefer to take the Rodney King approach: Can’t we all just get along?Frankly, there isn’t a lot of difference between men and women, besides the ...
Page Count: 287
Illustrations: 11 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013
Edition: First edition.