Left field. What is it that is so odd about left field? Where is left field? Are we talking baseball or farm? Magnetic or wildflower? There are myriad fields. Orthodontics is a field of dentistry. Of course if something comes out of left field, there has to be at least two fields. Or is the left field the one that’s still there after the other field is gone? Or has the other field “left,” while one (or more) remains? Ach! I’m giving myself a headache in my left brain. And I’m not making my point.
Sometimes I read for enjoyment, sometimes I read for enlightenment, and sometimes I read because I am coerced. Some books are enjoyable, some are enlightening, and some are…well, some are ones you don’t read unless forced (although forced reading is more likely to take the form of contracts, manuals, and church bulletins). Once in a while, I would like to be amused.
(Aha! This is where you thought the review would begin, didn’t you?) Defining amusement is not the easiest task. Oh, the word “amusement” is easily defined, but what amuses one person leaves another bored or, more aptly, unamused. For example, if my washing machine oversuds and overflows, I think it’s amusing; the person who has to clean the mess does not. For me, amusement is not laugh out loud, pain in the side, falling on the floor, gasping for breath hilarity. It’s more a smile and a quiet laugh. It’s found way out in left field.
Andy Rooney can be amusing. Dave Barry is amusing. Erma Bombeck was amusing. Carrot Top is not (he can be funny, though). Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn (Bringing up Baby) were both amusing; Jim Carey, Pauly Shore, and Adam Sandler are not. The broader, more obvious, or more clichéd the humor, the less likely it is to be amusing. It may be hilariously funny, but not amusing by my standards.