RoadTrip America

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National Lampoon's Big Book of True Facts: A Brand-New Collection of Absurd-but-True Real-Life Funny Stuff, compiled by Jay Naughton and Tom Snyders

With scores of color photos of funny signs from all over the place, this book is great for random-page enjoyment. Better yet, there's more! Just about every page also has a weird-but-true news item, a funny headline ("County Wants Money for Taking Dump"), a strange magazine ad, or a bizarre postcard. Scattered through the book are "Ripley's Believe It Or Not"-style cartoon revelations about famous people including Charles deGaulle, Sigmund Freud, and Charlie Chaplin. Did you know that Albert Einstein once walked straight into an open manhole, or that John D. Rockefeller hired young mothers to breastfeed him? And those two can't hold a candle to Groucho Marx.

Among a variety of other bizarre collections of facts, there's a page dedicated to the "maximum allowable defects in food." It's entertainingly disgusting to learn just how many rodent "excreta pellets" popcorn can have, and that the average mold count in frozen strawberries can be as much as 45 percent. Newspaper reports of apt marriage partners (Good-Loser, Mustard-Pickels, Beaver-Trimmer) are guaranteed chuckle inducers, and a page of excerpts from uncolicited manuscripts sent to an unnamed editor is, too. ("He peeled his eyes from the boy's face.")

Although the variety in Big Book of True Facts is one of its strongest points, it's Tom Snyders' collection of funny signs, labels, ads, and gravestones that holds everything together. "The Bicycling Comedian" has been snapping odd signs for seventeen years while pedaling his touring bike more than 124,000 miles in fifty states, eleven countries, and three continents (including a trek to a small town with the appealing name of "Dongola"). Over 200 of his pictures are in the book, an impressive lineup that includes such classics as "Ronald McDonald Funeral Home," "Big Bone Lick State Park," and "Do Not Pass When Traffic Oncoming." Happy random-paging!

Megan Edwards

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