Thursday, Schmursday: Umberto Eco rocks, Goethe rules!

Breezed through another day at work with Goethe on my mind.

Enjoyed Umberto Eco’s “How to Travel with Salmon” immensely. I agree with the critical review of this book: Eco expertly balances the profound and the profane in a seamless group of really amusing, hilarious, sarcastic essays.

Among the essays I enjoyed:

1. How to Travel with Salmon – talks about what happens when you bring salmon with you on a business trip and what happens when you check in a hotel in London with it (begs the question, what the hell are you doing with salmon in the first place?!?).

2. How to Replace a Driver’s License – talks about navigating the wonderfully murky waters of bureaucracy and red tape when you lose your driver’s license in Italy.

3. How to Eat in Flight – talks about those little things we travelers have always wondered about: why is the food on flights always the kind that manage to spill on your shirt, or slide on the makeshift portable table or tastes really strange. šŸ™‚

4. How to go through Customs – talks about how to survive going through customs when you land in airports. I wonder what Umberto Eco would say about the recent spate of paranoid security measures countries have made in their airports after 9/11?

5. How to take Intelligent Vacations – Actually talks about what books to bring during vacations. What books would you bring during flights? I usually bring the no-brainer ones. I don’t bring profound ones for vacations. They take too much work.

6. How to use the Taxi Driver – talks about how one talks to a taxi driver. My beef? Airport taxi drivers are rip-offs. Manila airport taxi drivers are the worst.

7. How not to know the Time – just don’t a watch.

8. How to buy Gadgets – talks about the growing obsession with gadgets. This was written either in the late 80s or early 90s, so I wonder what Umberto Eco would say about the technological advances we have made since then in gadgets? MP3s, USBs, laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones with cameras and radios and wi-fi, and so on. šŸ˜‰

9. How to Follow Instructions – talks about that age-old problem we have always had with instructions: they’re decipherable and intelligible only to those who wrote it.

10. How not to Use a Fax Machine

11. Three Owls on a Chest of Drawers – probably one of my favorites. Reminds me of the time I was doing my master’s thesis. Talks about how one little ditty can churn out so much (over) analyses from scholars.

12. Sequels – because originals are always better.

13. How to Write an Introduction

14. How to Play Indians – funniest essay I’ve read.

15. How to Recognize a Porn Movie – great advice so you don’t waste your time.

16. The Miracle of San Baudolino – a great essay to end the book. Beautiful description of Umberto Eco’s hometown, Alessandria. šŸ™‚

If you haven’t read Umberto Eco, go buy a book now.

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