Review: Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another's MisfortuneSchadenfreude: The Joy of Another’s Misfortune by Tiffany Watt Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Schadenfreude
The Joy Of Another’s Misfortune
By Tiffany Watt Smith

Reviewed by Jay Gilbertson

Who isn’t fascinated by human emotion? Pair that with a person you admire in that complex envious-nearly-coveting-way while they are showing you their brand-new pricy pickup, then it suddenly rolls down the driveway, smashing into a parked car. No one is hurt. And you laugh and laugh, tears roll down your cheeks.
Sound like something you might do? That is what the German word schadenfreude means.
“The Japanese have a saying: The misfortunes of others taste like honey. The French speak of joie maligne, a diabolical delight in other people’s suffering. In Hebrew enjoying other people’s catastrophes is simcha-la-ed.”
Cultural historian and author Tiffany Watt Smith in her awesome TED talk clearly demonstrates exactly how all over the globe, when it comes to really cranking up the happy, we humans find nothing more hilarious than the fails of our ex-wives/office mate/movie star/hunting buddy/mother-in-law. You know you do and that kind of laughter is not only the kind where you double over and the tears start to flow, it’s the one situation you never forget.
The cool dude at your place of work, swings back on his chair, and it tips over. You bust a gut. And now, today, think of all those video clips on your phone; cats and dogs and babies, the one that sticks in your mind is the one that doesn’t end so well. Admit it. You watch it over and over and maybe you don’t tell anyone how much you enjoyed it. You found it that funny.
Think maybe you’re a bad person after all? Nah, just a human person. The reasons we react as we do is what compelled Smith to delve further and me to share this with you. That and to make you squirm a little.
“We might worry that a taste for other people’s misery will corrupt our souls, yet this emotion is far from simply ‘bad.’ It touches on things that have mattered most to human societies for millennia: our instincts for fairness and hatred of hypocrisy; our love of seeing our rival suffer in the hope that we might win ourselves; our itch to measure ourselves against others and make sense of our choices when we fall short; how we bond with each other; what makes us laugh. If we peer more closely at this hidden and much-maligned emotion, liberate ourselves from its shame and secrecy, we will discover a great deal about who we really are.”
Though this book is small, it reveals a truth. The awkward reality that we all enjoy a little schadenfreude now and again. That sneaky laughter as someone takes a wrong step and life deals them a blow. Which does several things, one of which makes you shake with delight, the other, more complicated, makes you look around and see if anyone witnessed that seemingly callous response. Then you watch the video again. You know you do.

• Favorite schadenfreude?
• Book club fodder
• Humans are something

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Do YOU Know What A Sandbakkel Is?

At every meal my dad says the Norwegian Table Prayer. Then he always follows it by saying, “Grab a root and growl.” I have always simply assumed that is pretty much part of the prayer too. At least if you want to eat at his table, it is.

 

Traditions.

 

Another one that has been going on since I can remember is the creation of Sandbakkels every Christmas season. Using the same recipe (my mom has tweaked) my dad’s mom’s mom used and with my dad mentioning before we sit down at the card table to ‘pinch’ the dough into tins,

 

“No pinchy, no eaty!”

 

Really. Every. Single. Year.

 

Once the little gems are in the oven and we’re working on pan two or three, I wonder why in the world I do this. It’s a lot of work and you have to sit still and then, once my dad is all warmed up and we’re there, his audience, I realize the why part.

 

Being together.

 

So, this coming year I will once again gather at my folks, my mom will have made the dough, adding the secret ingredient at the last moment and then off we’ll pinch and my dad will begin sharing the same stories I’ve heard a hundred times and I’ll look up and smile…

 

By the way, a Sandbakkel is a Norwegian cookie and no, we don’t fill them with anything. These are the tins we pinch them into.

 

(walnut-size blob of dough and pinch and pinch and pinch)

November and NO Snow—Nice…

sunflowers-on-the-porch

 

This is our front door and those awesome sunflowers we grew from seed. Even at my age I still feel there’s a touch of magic in growing things. It just never ceases to amaze me that you can grow something so darn beautiful from a little seed that fits in your palm.

 

Love the mystery of it.

 

Could be why I enjoy the art and freedom and yes, mystery of writing. When the words are flying into my head and zipping through my fingers and onto the laptop-page, well trust me, I feel something. Not a believer in having a muse or wearing a lucky hat or all that other stuff so many authors seem to lean on. I simply read a poem to warm up, or gaze at a bouquet of wild flowers or sneak a look out my window, and if things are unfolding with my story in all the right ways (or wrong) off I zoom!

 

If the words are not lined up and ready to move onto the page, I get up and do something else. If I force the work—that’s exactly how it will read.

 

So, if inspiration doesn’t come into your current project—

 

Know that in the spring the seeds will grow again and somewhere—the sun is always shining.

Get Hoppy—It’s National Frog Month!

Toad

Welcome to spring and maybe to your first time over here in/on/with my personal website. It’s hard to know precisely how much effort to load into this baby since I am a trusty Facebook dude and post over there constantly. But don’t ask my mom, she is rarely on. Too busy.

 

Yet here I can expand more and not feel as though the entire world (wishful thinking, I would imagine) is going to pop in and place judgement. Being National Frog Month I will hop around a tad, taking advantage of this silly premise because as everyone knows, every day is Frog day—or rather Toad Time!

 

I am partial to toads.

 

Frogs, in my book, can take a leap.

 

Honestly.

 

They tend to be on the slimy side and have only croaks and ribbits to share where’s toads tend toward handing out warts and hop more than swim and certainly are more into hanging in the garden than splashing around in the pond—pad-to-pad—as it were.

 

And since we’re on the subject, (you started this after all, hopping over here) I really find it rather odd why on earth folks munch frog legs and then, on top of it all, say the most ridiculous things such as:

 

“…Tastes like chicken!” Usually with a miniature Kermit-like foot hanging from their surly lips. Is that what a lion murmurs finishing off a human?

 

These and other priceless gems are what you get to devour when you hop on over to this webpage. And don’t forget to add your very own comments and thoughts and ideas of things you’d like to know more about and skip the frog recipes please and that would go double time for toad.

 

Now hop outside and don’t forget to take a book!

 

 

Month—O—LOVE

chocolate-heart-5001

The number uno-selling genre in the entire universe, no lie, is ROMANCE. Well, and a rather new one often referred to as ‘Mom Porn’. That would mainly be the hugely popular Fifty Shades of—S & M. I have to admit, I have yet to read it, or them as there are three and now a movie. Good for the author and she certainly put a face on the self-publishing world.

 

Then we have this month of February and the 14th in particular and all the Hallmark cards and candy and roses and dinners out.

 

Why? Why do we go bonkers for the 14th? Is it romance or the love part or what?

 

Let’s delve a little deeper and simply do some wondering and along the way I think we’ll find our answer.

 

C’mon!

 

So, you’ve read author Nicholas Spark’s ‘The Notebook’, seen the movie (more than once, maybe) and who in the world hasn’t daydreamed of being ‘rescued’ from this thing called life? Strife, more like. For some it seems logging onto Zoosk (weird name people) or eHarmony or Rural-Singles-Look-Here is the answer to love. Or not.

 

Sure, folks want to read about love, but the actual doing love part? Not so much. So let’s give ‘em more romance. Write on!

 

More than half of us are now living alone. Tons and tons of people watching Netflix solo. And guess what, they’re loving it! What does it all mean? Maybe the reason romance is this huge genre is that it’s so much easier (less mess, let’s be honest here) living alone.

 

So—if you are single and as the 14th rolls around, give yourself a Valentine. Take yourself out for a really nice dinner, buy you some roses and a big box of chocolates and leave a lipstick smack on your own mirror!

 

Think of all the money/time/heartache you’ll save yourself (and your family) from.

 

Because, after all, YOU are never alone…sorry Mister Sparks.