Mike Ball is a humor columnist who writes a funny, syndicated weekly newspaper column titled, "What I've Learned ... So Far." He has taken these columns and some other musings and placed them in books: The third one is now out and titled "What I've Learned So Far Part III: Banjos, Boats and Butt Dialing."
Ball is in his 60s, plays guitar and writes songs, loves Facebook and has a knack for taking everyday occurrences and seeing the humor in them. Take for example his chapter, I Can't Wait to Be a Grandpa. When his son gets married and Ball's waiting for grandchildren, he decides that now is the time to start planning revenge on his son for the pain and heartache he provided while growing up.
Ball writes, "A grandpa is free to be nothing more than a kindly old coot with an endless lap and a bottomless wallet."
He then provides simple ideas to turn grandchildren into "perfect little monsters": buy them gifts, such as a tambourine or slide whistle; buy Legos that blend in with the carpet; and keep the chocolate flowing when the grandkids are with you. Grandparents everywhere will be chuckling along with Ball during this chapter, and it may even get a few smiles from the parents, too.
Besides grandparenting, Ball tackles smartphones, living on a lake, holidays such as Father's Day and Memorial Day, weddings and of course, alpacas (as well as many, many more subjects). After finishing a chapter in Ball's book, you never know what to expect for the next topic or even chapter title. But one thing's for sure: He's a funny guy, and you will get a little insight into life, which might make you reflect a bit, too.
In a column on Mother's Day, he writes, "There are a lot of people, like me, who can no longer send our moms a card. ... All we can do is hold them in our hearts and memories, and feel a little bit bad about all the torment we put them through, and smile. Moms always do like to see us smile."
Ball writes and lives on the shores of Whitmore Lake, Mich., which is north of Ann Arbor. He won the Erma Bombeck award in 2003 and was a finalist for the 2011 Robert Benchley Award. He founded Lost Voices, a nonprofit organization "that designs and implements therapeutic roots music writing and performing programs for incarcerated and at-risk youth."
He also is the front man of the band Dr. Mike & The Sea Monkeys, who sing silly songs, like "At Least I've Got Most of My Hair" and "The Colonoscopy Song."
For more information about his books, his column, his band and Lost Voices, visit Ball's website at http://learnedsofar.com .
Ball states in his introduction, "I am a lucky guy. I get to make my living telling stories." His passion for life and optimistic attitude shine through in his latest book, as well as his talent for turning what we are all thinking into a hilarious insight.
What Facebook member of the younger generation hasn't been online and thought, "Attack of the online geezers, for sure!"
The back of the book has a seal with an illustration of a toilet, stating, "Throne-tested for your Reading Pleasure." This makes "Banjos, Boats and Butt Dialing" a perfect choice for a Father's Day gift.
Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (http://margodill.com/blog/ ). She lives in St. Louis with her family.