Humor Writing, New Cliches for the 21st Century, zuckerisms

Positive Feedback

My books have been up on Amazon for a while now, but we’re doing some new promotions for Medical Humor at its Best . It’s now available in paperback AND as an audiobook. Plus the Kindle version is only $.99!

zuckerman-new-cover

For less than a dollar, you can get hundreds of witticisms, insights, and life advice that’s only a little tongue-in-cheek. The book is getting a lot of 4 & 5 star reviews these days, so it’s definitely worth the low price. Here’s what some other people are saying:

Andrei: “Creatively written and mind-stimulating, this book challenges readers to go deep into their thoughts and analyze each word, saying, quotes, and thoughts the the writer has presented in this book. Creative writing is at its finest, the poetic approach of this book is just beyond amazing.”

Wylie A.: “A few years ago I began jotting down phrases that people said and the context in which they used them. It amazes me how many cliches and idioms we use daily without really thinking about where they originated, or in some cases, what the expressions actually mean. I was certainly not disappointed. So much work and research went into this book that it is difficult to even fathom. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the development of our language and the many ways that we sprinkle our speech with metaphors.”

Bryan: “I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with this one, but I’m very glad I took the leap of faith. This book made me laugh, it made me think, it gave me inspiration, and it entertained me from beginning to end. There was never a dull moment from the moment I started reading.”

Aleksa: “I had fun reading this book… I think that we need books like one in order to lighten up when the burdens of the world seem to be heavier everyday. There were so many pages that actually made me laugh.”

Get your copy now!

Humor Writing, Memoir, Personal Essays

Universal Recognition Symbol

A year ago, I wrote about the Universal Recognition Symbol – something I learned when I was staying in the Truk Islands. It’s an easy and instant way for people to say: “I see you, I recognize you, I acknowledge you.”

To see exactly what I’m talking about, here’s a video of my family doing the Universal Recognition Symbol:

Humor Writing, New Cliches for the 21st Century, zuckerisms

Some Longer Zuckerisms

I often tweet my zuckerisms, but as I’ve said before, sometimes they’re just a little too long for 40 characters. So today I’ve rounded up a few longer ones that I’d like to share with you:

To cure my son’s lackadaisical attitude, I took him to a compulsive-obsessive clinic for treatment.

I figured that if they could cure the disease, maybe they knew how to cause it.

*

The Ten Lost Tribes

There are now 347 contenders vying to be officially named one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

Actually, the rumor that Ten Lost Tribes ever existed was a Jewish plot to make other groups question their roots.

There never were any Lost Tribes.

*

When my girlfriend asked me what my relatives in Florida thought of her, I said:

‘They almost always think highly of others because they think so little of themselves.’

Her response was: ‘How nice.’

*

When I was two and a half years old, my mother let go while teaching me to swim in the ocean.

After that, there was nothing to rebel against.

Memoir, Personal Essays, short story, zuckerisms

Sneak Peek

Here’s a little sneak peek of a new (semi-secret) project I’m working on….

My life began falling apart in the fall of 1990 when I was getting close to turning 50. Seventeen years before, I’d left medicine to do missionary work in central Minnesota and then start up my own venture capital business. Medicine was always my first love, so I kept my medical license current every year. I found investing in new medical start-ups incredibly exciting and I was good at it. But as 50 approached, my work running venture capital funds and start-up companies had stagnated. Worse, I had none of my former enthusiasm. I was drained. All of the motivation that had made work so enjoyable – raising capital, pursuing investors, searching out nascent medical technologies with all the right stuff – was gone.

When my girlfriend of five years, Elaine, broke off our relationship with, “I don’t want to sleep with you anymore,” I plummeted into a depression that I couldn’t seem to crawl out of. I don’t mean that I was just blue or sad like I’d been at various points in my life. During those times I’d be out of sorts for a few days before returning to my old self. This time I was shrinking inward.

I was no longer sure there was an old self to return to. The whole world seemed out of kilter, like I had just stepped into The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Everything was skewed – redrawn by some architect with a twisted sense of humor.

For months, sensations had been overwhelming me. Some were bodily sensations, some sensual, and almost all of them had an otherworldly feel to them. I was still me, and yet, I wasn’t. I was seeing things around me as if I was seeing them for the very first time – things that must have been there all along but I’d never noticed them before. My hearing tuned itself to a higher frequency. I suddenly noticed things like the whirl of the air in my good ear as I biked around the lakes. My vision telescoped in on details I had never bothered to notice – the throat of a bird, the luminescence of a flower, the music that clouds make. Sometimes, they were so poignant that tears would come to my eyes. Even my thoughts didn’t seem wholly my own anymore.

Looking back now, I know that I had suddenly become aware of the invisible aspect of our world – those unseen, unheard, unprovable things that exist all around us. Sometimes, I’d feel blasts of unspoken angst from colleagues when we tangled over sticky topics. Their facial expressions would say one thing, but there were emitting something quite different and I saw things that they were hiding.

Other times when I was in a deep conversation with someone, I’d be overwhelmed by epiphany and tears would begin to stream down my face. Sometimes, a secret they were keeping – something I could never have known on my own – popped into my head and spooked the hell out of them.

Other incidents were almost comical – like the powerful pain I had if I snuck a late-night nosh from the fridge that shot up from the wart on my left big toe. If I began to lie about something, I would suddenly drop words out of my sentences, forcing me to start the sentence all over. Worse, until I told the truth, it kept happening. Once, on a Saturday morning while I was cleaning my kitchen, I had a premonition that a horse I’d never heard of was going to win at Canterbury Downs, the local track for Minneapolis-St. Paul. I actually went to the track thinking, ”can this be for real?” Sure enough, not only did the horse exist, but it was running at 7 to 1 odds. I laid down a bet of $50.00 to win and came away $350.00 richer. So, I wondered, “is it possible to know the future?” If, as Einstein’s theory of relativity claimed, there was no such thing as linear time and everything is happening all at once – past, present and future – did this explain it?

That’s all I can share with you for now, but be sure to check back on the blog for more snippets of this top secret project!

New Cliches for the 21st Century, Personal Essays, zuckerisms

On Life and Death

Some musings on these infinite subjects:

Truth Floats

Humankind is the ultimate judge of the worth of its leaders.

Common thieves looted and destroyed the tombs of the Pharaohs, who posed as gods, and now their words are long forgotten. Only empty tombs remain.

Not so for the words of Buddha, Laotse, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Aristotle, Plato, Shakespeare, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, and so many others. Their works have grown and flourished over time.

Famous false prophets inevitably end up as footnotes in the March of History, their efforts diminishing with the test of years. Only the works of those who bear the burden of truth survive and deepen with time.

***

Nowadays, we live as though the world will never end and we’ll never die.

But Nature puts time limits on our lifespans so that we will get on with the game.

***

Life is like a horse race— no matter how much you know about the horse, past races, or track conditions, the outcome is always in question.

But if you don’t bet, you’re not a player.

 

Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing

Longer Zuckerisms

I try to post at least one of my “zuckerisms” on my twitter every day, but 140 characters can sometimes be a bit limiting. Here are a few longer “zuckerisms” that don’t quite fit!

1. My father, who is 89 and diabetic, recently had risky surgery to remove his only leg. He’d lost his first leg for the same reason, gangrene from the lack of circulation—a typical problem among diabetics.

In order to comfort him before surgery, I told him that no matter how the operation went, he would not be leaving the hospital feet first.

2. When patients ask the perfectly legitimate question, “What are the side effects of this drug?” I’m sometimes uncontrollably tempted to play with their heads.

If I’m talking to a bald patient, I’ll tell him it’ll turn his hair green. If it’s to an elderly woman, I’ll tell her it will make her appear 30 years younger. And if my patient is a young man without a wife, I’ll tell him that it could make him irresistible to women.

3. A prophet must be permitted to sing his song simply because it gives him joy to do so— irrespective of whether people view his words as prophetic.

His song is G-d’s song, even if only a few find its melodies entrancing.

4. When I was six years old, and in the midst of one of my bawling tirades my mother said to me calmly, with no malice, “If you don’t like it here, you can leave. I’ll give you $10 to help you on your way.”

Nobody ever accused my mother of being overbearing!

5. The wealth produced by the new economy has strained society’s ability to produce extra-ordinary, unique, and expensive items for the excessively wealthy to spend their fortunes on.

I’ve heard that the going rate in Australia for the thrill of being attacked by a great white shark and living to tell the story is—$100,000.
For growing a clone for spare parts—$100,000,000. For a week’s excursion to the moon $1,000,000,000.

Don’t forget to check out my new Etsy shop where you can find truly unique scalloped ties!

Doc What's Up?, Personal Essays

Down With Sad

Considering the weather, the cold, and this seemingly never-ending winter, I thought this was an appropriate essay to share with you all today. This was originally published in Doc, What’s Up?

It’s early November and I was tossing and turning in my bed in an attempt to get much needed sleep. I couldn’t let go of my thoughts about SAD or what the medical field calls, Seasonal Affective Disorder. After all, this time of the year was the beginning of the downslide for us SAD suffers now that the shortest day of the year was rapidly upon us.

I tried to come up with a new twist on my troublesome problem because living in the cold, dark Minnesota winter was a recurring fact of life for me and my patients. As I lay there dreaming one winter night, a placid image of hibernating bears, safely nestled deep in their snow-covered cave, came to me.

Perhaps SAD was a remnant of the hibernation instinct, which, in some individuals, is so strong that it causes severe depression. Actually, if you follow this line of thought, the hibernation instinct itself would not cause depression, but our cultural taboo against laziness would. Imagine—with 50 thousand years or more of conditioning, your body says: “NOW IT’S TIME TO GO TO BED…” What would you tell your family? How would you explain it to your boss? Who would pay the bills while you’re getting your forty thousand winks?

Anthropologically, it makes obvious sense. We didn’t always work eight to ten hours a day nor did we have the resources to do so. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that free men and women worked more than four hours each day.

Not so long ago, most people this far north of the Equator lived in small villages or clans. Barter and collective cooperation was the necessary way of life—for survival’s sake. We worked hard, long hours tilling the soil, through the planting season and finally to harvest. All that hard work thinned our protective body fat but we gathered it back during the winter. Survival demanded that we paid close attention to Nature, so our intuition was more highly developed than today. Our survival was completely dependent on our abilities to adapt to Nature’s changes. The consequences otherwise were gruesome.

Back then there weren’t outdoor floodlights as the days began to shorten. In fact, it was less than a hundred years ago that electricity lit up our households and factories so that we could continue into the night with our work or shenanigans. We came indoors and played or talked by the fire or an oil lamp. Or we simply retired to our huts, houses or hovels and went to sleep right after sundown. Like any member of nature, we were dying as the seasons do, lying fallow. It’s a natural cycle, why wouldn’t we be a part of it? All through the late autumn and winter, while lying fallow, we restored our bodies, loved our families, told our stories, built our relationships and most of all, we slept!

Everyone went to bed without guilt. We worried about next season’s crops, not our next promotion or the pile of bills. By the coming of spring, we, like the plants and other animals, had prepared ourselves to be reborn.

Instincts are mighty. Some are impossible to ignore. If indeed, Nature is telling us that it is time to rest, then resistance against Nature’s rhythms and systems inside of our bodies murders our most basic and intuitive selves. It has nothing to do with will power or the mind. Compound our resistance to follow our nature with a cultural environment that makes it a felony to follow our natural animal instincts and—who wouldn’t be depressed?

SAD sufferers who are wealthy go to the equator for the winter. Their doctors even tell them to do it. But what about the middle class and poor working stiffs?

I was still tossing and turning in my November attempt at sleep as my mind shifted to the Russian playwright, Maxim Gorky and his play, The Lower Depths. It portrays the lives of poor Russian working class people in the basement of an apartment building in Russia. They were the lost souls, the mentally ill, and the destitute creatures of G-d, who, in the play, comes to bring them hope. The setting is late winter and the tenants live communally in the chill of the basement. Yet, even with the cold, no one complains of having SAD. Obviously, they have a lot to be depressed about, but instead, they hibernated—together.

There was the answer! Why couldn’t SAD sufferers get a 90-day work release prescription from their psychiatrists, be eligible for Workman’s Comp and sign up for the Hibernation Renewal Center? We could rent out basements in Minneapolis that are made up of large open spaces and paint the walls with snuggling bears contently hibernating. The floor could be one big mattress. It could be lit with dim lights and soothing new age music, with a soft snoring rhythm, could be piped in.

We could stop fighting SAD and surrender to it instead. Go with the natural hormonal flow and hibernate the winter away! We’d have to get labeled from DMS IV, but it would be easier than fighting Nature and a whole lot more fun!

Where do I sign up?

New Cliches for the 21st Century, zuckerisms

A Few Zuckerisms….

These are taken from the “On Idiot Savants” section in New Cliches for the 21st Century. Enjoy!

All of us are idiot savants. As such, we should pursue that which we are best suited for and avoid the areas in which we are idiots. 

Utopia will be achieved when most human beings get to express their true individuality most of the time. 

There are those who survive no matter what happens to them. Their secret is jumping from one frying pan into the next without getting licked by the fire. 

People may be stupid, but their brains aren’t. 

One true sign of genius is the ability to create things that any idiot could use. 

A definition of frustration: expecting a frog to fly. 

Doc, Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing, Inventions, Memoir, MyNexTie, New Cliches for the 21st Century, Personal Essays, short story, Uncategorized, What's Up?, zuckerisms

Inventions

My books, like my ideas, tend to be eclectic. “Doc What’s Up?” in particular is a blend of images, short essays, and – of course – zuckerisms. But I also have a section on inventions – tongue-in-cheek ideas that would, let’s face it, probably make the world a better place. Here’s one of them:

pic1 pic2

New Cliches for the 21st Century, What's Up?

Zuckerisms

I talk a lot about zuckerisms on my twitter and facebook, but since ‘zuckerism’ is an invented word, I thought it would be helpful to explain its meaning for new readers. Think of this as a mini-glossary, if you will.

A zuckerism, obviously derived from my own name, is a short & sweet aphoristic statement based on an observation I’ve made about the world. I also like to call these little phrases ‘mind bytes,’ or ‘new clichés,’ a title you may recognize from my first book. They are meant to be observational and inspirational. I suppose you could also make them recreational, though it might be difficult.

But of course the only real way to describe a zuckerism is through examples.

From New Clichés For the 21st Century

“The genius of a cane is that it gives unstable two-legged people a third leg to stand on.”

“Youth is wasted on the young because that’s where it’s supposed to be wasted.”

“It’s not necessarily crazy to hear voices in your head—it all depends

on how entertaining they are.”

“My mother’s favorite statement was, ‘Peace and quiet—six feet under.’”

 

From Doc, What’s Up?

 “My patients who are continually bothered by ear wax are told that we cannot solve the problem until we can eradicate the ear bee.”

“Throwing another mind at the problem won’t necessarily solve it.”

“When my patients need to reduce their stress, I prescribe:

—Take two years off from work. —Live in the Caribbean.
—Have a lot of sex.
—Drink a lot of rum and smoke cigars.

If they follow my advice, I promise I’ll even make house calls.”

Follow me on twitter to guarantee a daily dose of zuckerisms!