Book Review – Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (By: James Finn Garner)

I’m slightly surprised that Politically Correct Bedtime Stories was published in 1994, but I guess the politically correct joke bit has been going around for quite some time. The book is a humorous re-imagining of 13 “fairy-tales” by James Garner, of whose other work I have no familiarity with, but he seems to be riding this one pretty well and perhaps for good reason. The joke, of course, being that he has rewritten these classic tales for a more “enlightened” modern audience with higher standards of… something. But is it successful?

The book is fairly short; 80 pages for 13 stories, including several blank pages. The average story is about 5 pages and Snow White takes up most of the rest. Going over the stories wouldn’t be very helpful because you and I probably already know them. And even ones like Rumplestiltskin and The Pied Piper that I’ve never actually read or watched have been absorbed through a kind of cultural osmosis. The cultural awareness of these stories also helps with the brevity of their retelling, which is a strength of the book. Garner has it down which parts of the stories to overrun with political correctness for maximum effect, but had he continued at the length of the original stories it would quickly have grown stale (Snow White was almost too long for me). And, of course, the humor comes from seeing these culturally-engrained stories changed by modern cultural preferences dialed up to the extreme. In some cases the moral is lost and in some it is retained; in some cases the plot is as predictable as the story we know, and in others it jumps off the tracks and heads spiraling down a cliff of ridiculousness, but in all cases they are recognizable.

The vast array of areas from which we get our folklore means that the only common thread between these stories is Garner’s extremely “politically correct” veneer and as such the book isn’t really a cohesive experience. Again its brevity helps here, making it easy to pick up and put down, reading a story at a time; or to make the massive changes in pace fly by. It knows what it wants to be, and that is an overblown parody of political correctness juxtaposed with stories never meant to fit that mold. And it is quite funny, not outrageously my-favorite-humor-book-ever funny, but more than funny enough to justify its reading time (and probably its price too). Exaggerated political correctness is just funny when applied well and not overdone. So is the idea that when using language that supposedly offends no one to tell a story, so many people will become “offended”. Most fairy tales are based on common sense (if perhaps containing outdated moral practices simplified for ease of retelling) and as one reads on they get the feeling that their common sense is being assaulted. And that, as so often it is, is funny. Still, I was consistently (and pleasantly) surprised by the directions the stories took (the 3 little pigs setting up a “porkinista” government after violently retaking their homeland is my favorite). It seems so easy to simply replace the language with “politically correct” alternatives, but continuous story variations keep one guessing and the book interesting.

I liked the book, and if you read the title and thought “that sounds funny”, you probably would, too. It’s well-written satire that is just offensive enough to both parties to be a bestseller while not alienating its audience. If the sequels are about as good I might have to pick them up as well, but until then, this one was a short, fun read that should appeal to anyone looking for its type of humor.

New Odd Dice

I have a dice problem. I have bought far too many for my own good. But they are great. Rolling dice is a very enjoyable activity, and all of the various sided dice are exciting to find and look at.


Of course everyone is familiar with the standard 6-sided die (D6), and perhaps some of the more common others like D8s, D10s, D20s, D4s, and D12s. But those are just the most simple shapes one can make easily. They are all regular figures which should guarantee a mostly fair roll. In making dice that deviate from these shapes, manufacturers must do more testing to ensure fairness, or at least relative fairness. That hasn’t stopped them, though, and all of these oddballs are now being helped by the easy info access from the internet, and are easier to make with online 3D printing services (


Recently I obtained quite a few of these more unusual (but still common) variations. And I have been having an immense amount of fun. The various strange shapes required to make the dice, especially the odd numbered ones, require quite a bit of thought, and seeing some of the creative work-arounds the designers attempted is interesting and fun. Some of them don’t really lend themselves to usability, like placing the numbers across a crease to get them to fit on the odd- sided dice, but some do, like simply leveling out planes on a sphere for any dice number that couldn’t be created with an standard tiling pattern. And, of course, there’s the standard cheat of “just put a bunch of triangles around a center point and mirror it on the other side”. Nevertheless, they are all still functional (even the D1 which I think is tied with the D2 for my favorite of the 3D printed versions)


Now, I can’t find a “practical” application for any dice really; but it’s even harder to find a use for these very odd dice. They are fun, but not really good for games, as most of them tread old ground or use ratios that aren’t necessary or are too complicated. Most people playing games, even complex ones, want the experience to be as simple as possible. There’s no need to add things that will just confuse them, and so these dice’ll sit, unused.

But if you like shapes, or just the feeling of rolling dice, and want to impress your friends (I can roll a random number between 1 and 10,000,000 or 1 and 7) I’d definitely encourage you to grab a few of the more common ones. The 3D printing isn’t necessary, and the plastic is hard to work with, and some of the more expensive ($10-20) will just weigh you down, but a D7, D18 or a D30 are always fun to bust out now and again and may even serve a purpose.

Table Topics Family 45 #89-90


1. Will you discipline your children in the same way you were disciplined?

2. What’s the funnies story you’ve heard for why someone couldn’t turn in their homework?

ANSWERS By: Austin Smith

1. For the most part, perhaps a little bit stricter.

2. I really haven’t heard any that were funny, mostly it was just kids who didn’t do it and admitted to such.

Table Topics Family 8 #15-16


1. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen happen in the lunch room?

2. Does your life feel too busy or not busy enough?

ANSWERS By: Austin Smith

1. Some people tell me that there was a food fight once, but I don’t remember that, maybe I wasn’t there. I didn’t see much funny in the lunchroom at all.

2. Strangely it feels like both, I do a lot, but it feels like I never am doing anything.

Table Topics Family 3 #5-6


1. Which wild animal would you like to tame and keep as a pet?

2. Would you rather be funnier, smarter, or more athletic?

ANSWERS By: Austin Smith

1. I’m not sure I’d like any, but I guess having an eagle would be quite cool.

2. At the moment I’d like to be all of them, but I’d say smarter if I have to pick, I want my brain to explode from intelligence.