Interview with humor columnist and author Rose A. Valenta
Political unrest. government scandal. corruption… extortion! What do all these things have in common? They are perfect targets for satire! In Sitting on Cold Porcelain by Rose A. Valenta, readers will find an amusing, perceptive, and laugh-out-loud take on the state of our country and our world, on celebrities and politicians, and all the news events that make us roll our eyes and groan.
Its satirical essays include “Giuliani’s Gaffe Could Qualify for Political Darwin Award,” “Rush Limbaugh: The Don Rickles of Radio,” “State of The Union 2010: Bitch-Slapping Congress,” “Islamic Cleric Declares Jihad on Mickey Mouse,” “Little Egypt to Run Against Sarah Palin,” and “Who Moved My Mascarpone?”
You will also find Rose’s hysterical consultations with her friend, Mrs. Giordano, a South Philadelphia Malocchio (evil eye) doctor. Mrs. Giordano bloviates in Italian and is the Italian equivalent to the ‘Numa Numa Guy’ in front of the TV when she watches The O’Reilly Factor.
We interviewed Rose to find out more about her new book!
Thank you so much for this interview, Rose. Can we begin by asking you how you began your journey into writing humor?
Rose: I knew that I always wanted to be a writer and I spent many years working as a technical writer for a McGraw-Hill company. I hate to tell you how boring that was. So, I would write funny satire about the job and the boss and send them to my friends at the office, in between technical reports. They all laughed and said I should put the essays in a book.
One day, the boss asked me to caption some Laurel and Hardy photos and put a book together for a friend’s retirement party. I didn’t realize that he was privy to some of my stories. It was a success and for the next few years, I was in charge of writing captioned joke books whenever someone left the department.
All along, I had been reading and admiring the humor of Erma Bombeck, Alan King, and Art Buchwald and I had many funny stories to tell, so writing and publishing a humor book was inevitable.
Who inspired you to write humor?
Rose: Most of all, Erma Bombeck. I could relate to her. I had three children, so did she. I would often laugh out loud reading her books. There was realism in her humor.
I have to say, your book, Sitting on Cold Porcelain, is HILARIOUS. Can you tell my readers basically why you chose to take a poke at life’s events?
Rose: Because life is filled with funny situations. When it comes to Murphy’s Law, you just have to laugh. I feel that it’s a challenge to get someone to laugh in the face of adversity. I enjoy making people lighten up and see the humor.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between kids of yesterday (us!) and kids of today?
Rose: In my generation we were naive about many things. There were no drugs, people didn’t discuss sex, and television prime-time programming was family-oriented. Today, kids don’t have to ask questions about sex, they can get sex education on the 6 O’Clock news. They are not shielded, except for the v-chip, and that doesn’t prevent them from watching intermittent news reports about political scandals, which always involve sex. I blame it on the Clinton administration. You couldn’t hit the remote fast enough to keep kids from hearing about the impeachment proceedings. Then you had to answer all the embarrasing questions, like you were in front of the Grand Jury.
At 12, we were still writing letters to Santa. Today, at 12, kids are sneak watching Bad Santa and getting the jokes.
What kind of societal changes do you talk about in your book concerning modesty, sex and pop culture?
Rose: I’m a grandmother. When I was growing up grandmothers didn’t have tattoos and ride Harley Fatboys.
Can you share an excerpt with us?
Rose: It’s been a difficult day at the office and you’re exhausted. Your eyes hurt from working on a computer all day, not to mention the crimp in your neck and back, and sore Maxine (escape key) finger.
You turn on the evening news to find out that all sorts of crazy things are happening in our world. Terrorists are trying to kill us, our Vice President made another gaffe at an important event, our political pundits are calling for impeachment, a famous designer has introduced a line of bullet-proof clothing, another politician has gotten himself involved in a sex scandal, PETA is making yet another smoker ad, a scientist wants to give Galileo a posthumous eye test on a stimulus grant, and the term “Brangelina” now refers to a gay variety show at the Boston Roxy; you know that because your 10-year-old grandson told you.
You try to find out if your v-chip works for news programming, as the kids are doing homework in front of the TV. They are not asking about protractors and math manipulatives.
You could describe the way you feel as “punch drunk,” only there are no Marquess of Queensberry rules here.
You get into bed feeling warm and cozy; your significant other is snoring loudly at your side. Icicles are forming outside. You fluff your pillows, turn on the heating blanket, set the alarm, and insert the ear-plugs – all is right with your world.
Then, at around 3:00 am, at the very beginning of your crucial Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep (the three-hour sound sleep window that keeps people from going crazy), you begin dreaming about soaking in a hot tub, you wake up suddenly before you pee yourself, make a mad dash into the bathroom, quickly squat, and find yourself – sitting on cold porcelain.
Realizing that the culprit is still sleeping soundly in the next room, totally unaware of your predicament, and probably dreaming about lunch with the guys at Hooters, you scream loudly, as if to wake up the dead or at least that slug stuck in a salt ring.
He comes running into the bathroom, completely naked and wild-eyed with a Colt 45, ready to protect his damsel in distress. He looks around quickly like a buck protecting his turf. He almost pees on the wall to mark it; then, he looks down and spots a puddle of water and his damsel, who is stuck in the commode.
You, his damsel, begin to spew a Dennis Miller monologue, worse than anything he has ever heard on the O’Reilly Factor, he aims, and you karate chop him. The weapon falls into the commode. It can’t rust, so he stays up for an hour cleaning it out and oiling it. You are still beating his ear an hour into REM sleep. Both of you are red-eyed, resembling vampires. You go back to bed. There is still an hour left.
No, this is not a sneak preview of the next Super Bowl prize-winning GEICO caveman commercial. Some people call it Murphy’s Law every time things go wrong. I feel justified calling it “Sitting on Cold Porcelain.”
Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your new book, Sitting on Cold Porcelain, with us, Rose. Do you have any final words?
Rose: Yes, my book is available at Amazon.com, The Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble online, Better World Books, and my blog “Rosie’s Renegade Humor Blog” – http://www.rosevalenta.com. Have fun!