Life has been crazy recently. I have three papers due in the next week. I have the strongest immune system in my family, so I've been shopping a lot. And about two days ago, my seasonal allergies decided to kick in, so I'm currently sneezing loud enough to wake the dead in China. (Not really, but I just sneezed in my upstairs bedroom with the door shut and earned a "God bless you" from my dad in the kitchen downstairs.)
So assuming that you, like me, need a pick-me-up, I have just the thing for you.
It started out as a belated Christmas present from my best friend. She knows me pretty well, because she managed to buy me a book that I really enjoyed. It's hard to walk into a bookstore and buy someone a book and have them end up enjoying it. Heck, half the time, I end up not enjoying the books I buy for myself. But the book my best friend found for me was Mike Chase's How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender.
Mr. Chase, apparently, is a criminal defense lawyer. Which means he spends quite a bit of time studying the laws of the United States. And in this wonderful book, he has compiled and illustrated a list of the most unnecessary, outdated, and hilarious laws on the books.
After introducing us to the faults in the American justice system that resulted in these laws, Chase jumps right into things that can get you arrested. The eight chapters each deal with categories of mundane things that can get you arrested, starting with mail crimes. The book then discusses federal crimes that can be committed with animals, money, food, and alcohol (but not all four--that would be a fun crime). The book then discusses crimes on government land and American waters before closing out with a hodge-podge of hilarious crimes that really don't fit into any of those categories. And there's a lot of them.
Typically, I would sit down to read the book and stop when I started laughing out loud. I wanted to save some laugher for later. Trust me, this book had me laughing more than once; sometimes so loudly that my parents would holler up from the living room and ask what was so funny. And then I'd tell them about how the Supreme Court has heard no fewer than three cases about margarine or how it's illegal to import a pregnant polar bear.
I learned quite a bit about the laws of the United States through this book, to be honest. The most important lesson was surprisingly practical. I've got a dream that someday, the Clouds Aflame books will be made into movies. Keeping that in mind, I seriously entertained the thought of giving Drostan the hobby of falcon-hunting. It suits his personality, and the vambrace he wears on his right arm gives him an automatic falcon perch. But according to pages 53 through 55 of How to Become a Federal Criminal, it's illegal to use trained raptors in movies that aren't specifically about falconry. So no hawks allowed on St. Anne's Cleft.
If you look at the book's cover, you'll notice three illustrations. The text underneath them isn't very clear in the picture, so I'll go ahead and explain them. After I get some Zyrtec.
And I'm back. Anyway, in the first picture, we see a man pouring concrete into a toilet. He's showing one of many ways to clog a toilet in a national forest, which is illegal. The second illustration shows a man trying to import a pregnant polar bear, which is also illegal. The last shows a man destroying a mailbox. All of these laws, while hilarious, are honestly not the best ones in the book. My personal favorites were the margarine laws.
Get this book. Read it. Laugh at it. And, of course, don't do any of the things in it unless you want to end up as a federal criminal. I'm probably already on a watch list somewhere thanks to my Google search history.
On second thought, maybe I shouldn't be reading this book. Oops.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.