Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: I'm Almost Out of Cha (2014)

By Woody Paige

Not many books contain a surprise inside, but this one did.

When "I'm Almost Out of Cha" came in the mail, I didn't open it for a while. I knew Woody Paige from his work in newspapers and broadcasting, and figured without thinking that it contains stories about his career.

Imagine my reaction, then, when I actually opened it and discovered it contained short little expressions of thought.

Stressed spelled backwards is DESSERTS.
Some folks are wise, and some otherwise.
Oscar Madison nominee.
Accountants can count on me.
Someone claimed I sound like an owl. Who?

I quickly realized - I'm not as dumb as I look, you know - that this was a collection of the writing on chalkboards that Page has done over the years for a television show. That explains the title, naturally, but otherwise deserves a bit of an explanation for the non-viewing public.

Paige, a columnist of the Denver Post, is one of the regulars on ESPN's "Around the Horn." Four sports reporters are invited to spend a half-hour together electronically to discuss the latest developments in sports. Host Tony Reali moderates the show, in part with the help of a mute button, and awards points for good arguments. Somehow, a "winner" is declared.

What's the most famous part of the show? Paige's chalkboard, which he posts over his shoulder during his screen time. Paige comes up with the phrases, and an assistant with better penmanship puts them on the chalkboard three times per show. It is fun to read them.

2B or not 2B? That is the pencil.
Violinists don't work; they just fiddle around. 
Dear Santa, I can explain.
Gravity: It's not just a good idea. It's the law.
My reality check bounced.

A relatively small percentage of the expressions are about the show, or mild insults about some of the other panelists on a given day. Otherwise, some are funny, some are pun-ny, many are clever. Paige says some have turned up on bumper stickers, which oddly is a good format for them.

Paige says the reaction has been terrific to the one-liners. People are constantly telling him how much they enjoy them. Even Bill Murray commented how much he liked the chalkboard when he and Paige passed in an elevator. Many people told Paige that the phrases should be collected into a book. Now after a more than a decade of broadcasts and a lot of chalk, here it is.

But is it a book worth reading? My goodness, I have no idea what to say in the case of you, dear reader of this space.

I'm more of a fan of the chalkboard than the show, and I found this to be pleasant enough and quick reading ... but probably not something I'd buy at full price. My guess is that one of those one-day-at-a-time calendars is a better fit for the format, but then again calendars aren't exactly the path toward financial security for publishers and authors. Books don't get burned or buried if they aren't sold by Dec. 26.

Your mileage may vary on this title, which is another way of saying that this may leave you unable to control your bodily functions because of intense laughter, as one review on amazon.com delicately put it more or less.

Put it this way - big fans of the show, and of the chalkboard, definitely should at least take a look at "I'm Almost Out of Cha." You just might like it a lot, and the paperback price probably won't break your bank account. It gets three stars here, a rather neutral position to convey the feeling that basically, you're on your own on this one.

Here I am! What are your other two wishes?
At my age middle of the night is 11 p.m.
Without geography you're nowhere.
Tan, rested and Helen Reddy.
Do pediatricians play miniature golf on Wednesday?

Three stars

Learn more about this book.

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