Thursday, January 26, 2012

Whatever the Question, Chicken Soup is the Answer

In 1993 an enterprising duo of inspirational speakers published a book called “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” It was a huge hit and spawned an endless parade of subsequent titles. In the 19 intervening years, Chicken Soup has become the kudzu of the literary world, engulfing just about every aspect of human need, condition, classification and emotion possible. Almost 200 titles have been published. 

Consider the following Chicken Soup subjects:
From General Souls we now have Specific Souls: Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul, the Recovering Soul, the Prisoner’s Soul, the Bride’s Soul, the New Mom’s Soul, PreTeens soul, Teenage Soul, Romantic Soul, Couple’s Souls, even one dedicated to Messages from Heaven. As well as College Souls, Entrepreneur Souls and Military Wife’s Souls. If you want to see the complete list, check out the link at the end of this post.

And here’s the shrewdest part of all. Most of those stories are written by the people who read the books, albeit with some editors’ input. It seems almost everyone on this planet has a story to share.

I almost submitted a story during a recent call for submissions. The subject of an upcoming  book was “Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That.” I thought about my dog Sadie, a golden retriever. She’s very smart. Among other accomplishments, she retrieves two newspapers every morning, the NY Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She brings them in, holds them in her mouth until I take them from her, then walks over and slams the door shut. That, I thought, might be worth a Chicken Soup contribution. But as with so many of my ideas, I waited too long and the Nov. 30 deadline passed. Sadie knew I missed it and was miffed, because one week later she brought in the papers as usual, and gave me the Post. This time, however, she took the Times over to the dining room table, slipped the blue plastic cover off the paper, took out the sports section, spread it on the table with her paws, then looked at me and said, in a clear, gentle voice reminiscent of Dame Judi Densch, “Looks to me as though Eli and the Giants will end up in the Super Bowl.”  Then she gave me a look that said, clearly, “Don’t miss the next deadline, pal.”

At the time I didn’t think the Giants had a chance. In retrospect, I’m sorry she didn’t make her prediction before Nov. 30. I would’ve submitted something for sure.

A couple of days ago my daughter, Holly, informed me she had a sore throat. I suggested tea and honey, gargle with salt water, and lots of chicken soup. The kind in a bowl, not soft-bound. She said she had done the tea and honey, but not the chicken soup. Then my wife reminded me:  Holly’s a vegetarian. That took me right into a very exciting concept: A line of books for vegetarians. Call it the Lentil Soup series: Lentil Soup for the Vegetarian’s Soul,” “..for the Salad Lover’s Soul,” “..for the Beans and Rice Soul,” “...for the Tofu Soul.” And even, “Lentil Soup for People Who Don’t Like Chicken Soup.” That would be a limited edition, maybe for some Third World nation that holds the chicken to be sacred.

I’ll keep working on that concept. Maybe a “Tomato Soup” series for Nursing Home Residents. Ideas are welcome.

Here’s one more idea before I end this. A line of books for atheists, or any other group that doesn’t believe in a soul. “Chicken Soup for the Atheist’s Soul” will be 8 blank pages and a coupon good for 3 cans of Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Last Night's Golden Globes

A few quick responses and comments, in no particular order or importance, after watching the Golden Globes on Sunday night.
- I want to be George Clooney.
- Jane Fonda has no idea what "aging" means.
- Meryl Streep either had too much wine, too little sleep, or lost her reading glasses. 
- A little Ricky Gervais goes a long way.
- Tilda Swinton's hairdresser must be in a work/release program.
- I want to be a good looking Harvey Weinstein. He has impeccable judgment when it comes to picking movies to produce.
- I wish I could find time to watch a lot of those nominated TV shows. 
- Some terrific writing is going on in Hollywood these days, both in comedy and drama. Too bad more of it doesn't seep over to the feature film side.
- Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert should have won something, anything.
- I wonder what they had for dinner. They never mention the menu.
- Tilda Swinton's hairdresser should be arrested for cruel and unusual hair treatment.
- Tilda Swinton should be arrested for wearing it.
- They should limit each winner to one "thank you." More than that, they get the hook.
- While they're at it, prohibit any mention of agents, managers, producers, and entire casts and crews.
- Peter Dinklage has some kind of guts and inner strength. How else could a 3-foot tall man, who isn't by any stretch of the imagination "cute," decide to become an actor? And succeed.
- Speaking of Dinklage, I can't wait for "Game of Thrones" to return.
- I felt the warm rush of humility when Michelle Williams accepted her reward.
- I feel as though I must be the only person in America who doesn't watch "Modern Family."
- I wonder how they got Robert Downey Jr. to come out, in a tux, at the end of a long show, and say only 14 words: "The nominees for best motion picture, drama, are:...." and "And the winner is The Descendants." Maybe they gave him a lot of money.
- Sidney Poitier still has dignity, but I wish he would've smiled at least once. Even smirked, the way he did at Rod Steiger in "In the Heat of the Night."
- I wish I was George Clooney's friend.