Please join me in welcoming, John Hartnett author of “The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap Seats.”
John has successfully entertained readers with his sense of humor and light-hearted observations of the things in life we can all relate to. I congratulate him on how well he writes humor, because although he makes it look easy, it’s one of the hardest things to write, making it look easy is a testament to his great skills. (My review of the book below.)
John is also sponsoring a GIVEAWAY (details below) and I’ve baked a special banana bread for this occasion (recipe below).
I had a lot of fun interviewing John for this blog, and I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Selena: What three words would your friends describe you as?
John: Average, punctual, paranoid-schizophrenic
Selena: An average paranoid-schizophrenic, yes, you definitely are a writer. If someone wanted to create a bumper sticker about your life, what would it say?
John: You can take his gum when you pry it from his cold, clenched teeth.
Selena: Now that’s something that would catch my attention on a bumper sticker, also something you may want to include in your will. Favorite one-liner that had you literally burst out laughing?
John: Rodney Dangerfield on his wife’s cooking: “In my house we pray after we eat.”
Selena: Sounds like something my brothers would say to bug the hell out of me when they come over for dinner. What are the top three things you have learned about people while observing life from the cheap seats?
John: Only one out of every 37 will ever return a shopping cart back to the place they originally got it or that collection spot in the middle of the parking lot.
People who go to the gym with the express purpose of working out and maintaining their weight will do whatever it takes to park as close to the entrance as they can.
For all the people who believe in Heaven and a rich, rewarding and stress free eternal life, I’ve never seen one at a wake or funeral act like the guest of honor just won the lottery.
Selena: So true! Do you think writing witty, comedic stories (or essays) writing abilities are talents a person is born with, or do you think it’s something that can be learned? And yes, this is a compliment to your humorous writing abilities.
John: I think the development of a sense of humor is learned although I must tell you that on the day I was born, I have a very distinct memory of struggling in vain to get my head through my mother’s birth canal and saying to myself, “This has to be a joke.”
Selena: What do you feel are the occupational hazards of writing comedy?
John: As long as you’re not writing anything while doing a foxtrot with a partner on the wings of a bi-plane in one of those Midwest air shows, the only hazard I see is not being true to your own sensibilities and attempting to write for what you think will appeal to a particular audience. I firmly believe you have to write material that makes you laugh.
Selena: Quick fire questions, I will throw out a word (or two) and you write the first thing that comes to your mind.
Frozen bananas — Divorce court (John has provided an excerpt from the book, that will further explain why frozen bananas can equal divorce court)
Haircut — Dashed hopes
Valentine’s Day — A scam
Parenting — Why no instruction manual?
Monkey — Everything we learned about roller skates we learned from monkeys
Customer Service — Modern day Atlantis for the working class
Thank you, John, it’s been a pleasure having you on the blog and as you know, I loved your book and so did my husband, a great read for couples, which it may entice some debate, but that just makes life more interesting.
Excerpt: How Bananas Almost Destroyed My Marriage
Saturday night my son opened the freezer door, a frozen banana fell out, smashed him on the toe and then my daughter bumped her head on the freezer door when she stood up quickly after retrieving the banana from the floor.
I submit to you that there is no greater window into the complicated dance that is marriage than deconstructing that small, relatively insignificant event.
In the twelve years and 313 days that I have been married to my wife, she has taken hundreds of overripe bananas and stored them in our freezers with the intention of someday making bread out of them.
Sadly that day has never come.
I will admit that I am partly to blame, because when the opportunity to be alone in the kitchen presents itself — I surreptitiously remove the frozen bananas and bury them in the garbage. For you see, I was raised to believe that neither fruit or for that matter, deceased ball players such as Ted Williams, should be placed in a freezer once they are past their prime.
Conversely, my wife, who came from a very large family, was raised to believe that overripe fruit should be frozen, not wasted. Her mother taught her to do this, albeit a woman who also stored bananas for decades and never made anything out of them — although legend has it that one was once used as an emergency blackjack during a family function that went awry.
Which one of us is right?
Aha! All couples on the dance floor, please.
Selena: This chapter resonated with me so much so, my husband went out and bought me a Yonana to make frozen fruit into sugar-free ice-cream — saved by the Yonana. I also made banana bread in honor of this chapter (recipe below).
About John Hartnett:
John Hartnett is a writer living in NJ and is married with three children.
He is the author of the humor collection, “The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories” and also writes a comedy blog called The Monkey Bellhop. He recently crossed off everything on his bucket list, after finally locating a six quart, aluminum milking pail at a garage sale in Garwood, NJ.
John is generously giving away either a print or eBook to a randomly drawn reader who comments on this post.
Connect with John:
The Monkey Bellhop
Author Facebook Page
In THE BARBER’S CONUNDRUM AND OTHER STORIES: OBSERVATIONS ON LIFE FROM THE CHEAP SEATS, John Hartnett had me at the first line of the book and it was one laugh out loud moment after the other from that moment on.
John Hartnett takes you on a journey that you’ve traveled in your daily encounters with family, friends, customer service, other drivers, and many things we do on a day by day basis and spun them into witty, clever, humorous and relatable stories.
My husband and I both read this book and many times we discussed how John Hartnett’s observations hit home with us and had us laughing out loud on more than one occasion while reading.
John Hartnett has a keen eye for observing his surroundings, things most of us may not even notice at times, and the people around him and skillfully wrote them into entertaining stories with intelligent humor, that never reads as if it was forced, which is a testament to his skill as an excellent writer.
The book is peppered with warmth, love for his family, and hilarious situations that the reader can easily visualize. The self-deprecating humour (“The Barber’s Conundrum” chapter) will literally have you laughing out loud as you visualize John’s hair challenges over the years.
One of my favourite chapter’s (which I’m pretty sure every married couple around the globe can relate to) is, “How Bananas Almost Destroyed My Marriage.” This chapter led to my husband running out and buying me a Yonana ice-cream maker.
Parents everywhere will enjoy; “The Only Child Rearing Book You’ll Ever Need.” Even if you aren’t a parent, this chapter will not only entertain you with the witty way in which he wrote this, but it will propel you to want to share John’s parenting “tips” with a parent.
There are many favourite chapters in this book and John’s writing style with well timed comedy will draw you in from the first sentence and keep you flipping the pages to the end, having you want to read more from this author.
The last chapter is a poignant tribute, honouring John’s dad, who one can easily see has the same intelligent sense of humour as his son. What a beautiful way to end this must-read book, taking it full circle to the person who was the author’s role model.
This is non-fiction at its best, written by an author who not only understands the rhythm of lyrical humour; he also has a charismatic appeal to his prose.
I highly recommend this book.
Purchase “The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap Seats.”
For personally inscribed copies, John’s publishing site, Early Bird Publishing
Using frozen bananas for baking:
- Thaw the frozen bananas (peeled) in a strainer on top of a bowl. The strainer will catch the juices and have them drip in the bowl.
- Once they are thawed, you can stir them into your banana bread recipe, you don’t even need a masher.
3 bananas, (thawed and mashed as per the above instructions)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 TBSP sour milk (Just add some white vinegar to your milk to sour it)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 375 F
Grease (or using a non-stick spray) loaf pan.
In a large bowl add: bananas, both sugars, eggs, sour milk, butter, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg. Stir all these ingredients well.
Slowly mix in the flour to the bowl and mix it all together.
Bake for one hour, check by inserting a toothpick, like you would a cake to ensure it comes out clean. Depending on your oven, you may need a bit more baking time.
Remove from oven, turn it over on a cooling rack.