Book Review: How Dare You by Jacob Telling

As you may or may not have noticed, looks quite different than it did a week ago. As I will be releasing my fifth and sixth books in the next month or two, I decided it was time for an update.

But getting from the amateur WordPress blog I cobbled together six years ago to this crisp, professional-looking website you are now browsing through was not something I could have done on my own. Not only do I have zero eye for design, but between being a good husband, writing, music playing, and a full time job, I simply don't have the time in the day to become a skilled web-designer. So this was a situation where I needed help. Fortunately for me, I had a community I trusted to seek it out. 

Enter the bears. The bears are a group of people who started as fans of comedian Owen Benjamin, and who have evolved together into a network of honorable, family-minded producers. As the song I co-wrote, "My Tribe," describes, the bear community consists of comedians (obviously), artisans, homesteaders, creators, handymen, musicians, and gardeners, among other talented people. As I mentioned, I was fortunate this list goes as far as to include web designers and graphic artists. Shoutout to YogiBear and Tim Zimlich, respectively!

But what is it that draws these people together, really? Is it just a common sense of humor? Owen makes songs about things like the trauma of his childhood bike being stolen and the inability of an FBI agent's son to experience puberty. What do those topics have to do with honor, family, or productivity? On their own, probably not much. But in a time when rhetorically biting mockery of the modern orthodoxy was, "off limits," those jokes inspired a journey many decent people could relate to. It is this journey and the lessons which came with it that Jacob Telling catalogs in How Dare You: Inspecting the Rhetorical Kill-shots of America's Most Banned Comedian, Owen Benjamin.

How Dare You

How Dare You

Having been exiled from the ever-decaying cesspool that is Hollywood, Owen Benjamin pivoted into becoming one of the earliest non-gaming adopters of the live streaming medium. With daily, hours-long streams accumulating over the course of at least half a decade now, Owen's logged a mind-boggling amount of video content.

So, no matter how hilarious, inciteful, or moving those streams have been at times, Jacob Telling's collection and transcription of what must be thousands of poignant quotes is a feat in and of itself. That he was then able to meaningfully organize and summarize the lessons behind them in a way that explains who, "the bears," are is astonishing.

And that's what this book is - a summary of the values shared by a group of people, as identified over time through tribulations, reflection, and discussion (iron sharpening iron). For the sake of not spoiling anything, I won't get into what those values are here. However, if the modern age confuses and/or demoralizes you, this book is a great resource for understanding positive ways to deal with it. As Jacob mentions, if you relate to the values it presents, great. Welcome to the bear community. If not, best of luck to you. Just know the weapon of shouting, "how dare you," has been permanently disarmed around these parts.

I also have to point out that How Dare You is the furthest thing from just an echoing or a history of Owen. The exploration of ideas is Jacob's own, as a variety of personal stories and thoughtful reflections make up the bulk of each chapter. In particular, I enjoyed his reflections on sports and his time as an elite runner.

Finally, as I've come to expect from bears in general, the quality of this book is fantastic. Everything from the editing to the prose is on point. It was also no surprise to me when I found out the art was done by the one and only HandDrawnBear.

Please keep in mind, this is NOT a book for social justice warriors with three cats, sophomores in debt, feminists named Carl, indebted boomers, or sketchy Nobel laureates. For everyone else, I give this 6 stars out of 5. Two Rogans way up. Looking forward to the next two in what is supposed to become a trilogy.

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