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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Why Old People Take Cruises (Blame Hemingway)

Yesterday was my birthday. And you know how they say that you get wiser as you get older? Yep, I got wiser. (A wise guy, eh? Nyuk nyuk nyuk!) And I know I got wiser because I just got this insight about how books affect people in subconscious ways. In fact, book titles affect people’s behaviors even more. After all, many people pretend that they read while they really don’t, but they hear book titles thrown around (sometimes by Oprah) nevertheless.

Once we have those book titles ingrained in our head, we can’t help but be subconsciously influenced by them. A very good example is the huge number of senior citizens that go on cruise trips every year. What makes them do this? Why do people, many of who didn’t even like cruises before, suddenly have an urge to go on a cruise when they are old? You might blame advertising and media portrayal; I blame Hemingway.

Yep, you heard that right. I am blaming the guy that wrote The Old Man and The Sea. You might not remember what went on in the book (or what you learned from Cliff’s Notes) but most people have heard of the book title. Subconsciously, they start to associate being old with being at sea. And that is why so many old people want to take cruises. They think it’s their choice, but they are simply victims of these word association games.

Since I am so much wiser now and I gained such insights, here’s more example of how book titles affect our society:

1. War and Peace: This made people associate the words “war” and “peace”. People waged wars in order to obtain peace because of this book title.

2. Pride and Prejudice: This book title made people associate the two words together and be really proud of their views even when they are being incredibly prejudiced.

3. Hamlet: Made people put ham in their omelets. Um… omelets. Yum.

4. Invisible Cities: Made city dwellers feel invisible and lonely. A famous poet once wrote “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner/ Sometimes I feel like my only friend/ Is the city I live in/ The city of Angels/ Lonely as I am/ Together we cry”.

5. Great Expectations: This made people raise their expectations to be really great and produced lots of disappointed people.

6. Crime and Punishment: This reduced crime rate.

7. Light in August: This had no averse effects on most of the world, but confused the hell out of people in Antarctica.

8. The Scarlet Letter: Inspired teachers everywhere to grade papers using red ink.

9. Catch-22: Made many baseball catchers subconsciously want to choose 22 as their jersey number.

10. The Catcher in the Rye: Provided a hint for what to grow when the aforementioned catchers retire and decide to become farmers.

11. The Grapes of Wrath: Caused the most recent uprising of a herd of grapes. Feel the rage!


  1. August 27th, 2009 | 2:51 pm

    What a clever post Kelvin! And happy birthday to you. I love the way you connected the book titles with social behaviors. Very funny stuff. Methinks you are a comedy writer.

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..The Poetry of William Shakespeare (Introduction)

  2. August 28th, 2009 | 7:11 pm

    Ah books, I can’t live without reading one. Imagine, the title along catches us, what more if we read them by the heart. Truly, it can make you wiser.

    Books are powerful, a good one can change your life forever. :-)

    Walter’s last blog post..Powerful blog secret: Affective writing

  3. August 30th, 2009 | 1:33 am

    @Melissa: Hehe, I knew you would like the post. :-)

    @Walter: Of course, I was writing this in a tone-in-cheek manner, but really, books can change people’s lives, whether by giving us another perspective or by letting us experience whatever we wouldn’t have otherwise. :-)

  4. August 30th, 2009 | 3:57 am

    Why yes, I certainly do think Han shot first. Han’s morality (immorality?) is what makes him such a loveable character. He’s human, and… sorry, I was about to list all the reasons why I believe Han Shot First.

    I do love Omelets… Mmm… omelets…

    Great, I was going to go to sleep, but now I have to go to iHop!

    Stacie’s last blog post..Revenge of the Sith: HOW IT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED

  5. August 30th, 2009 | 10:38 pm

    Yeah, don’t list all the reasons here. That belongs in another post. 😉

  6. August 31st, 2009 | 12:08 am

    Oh wow, what a clever post! And how did you come about with this sort of realization? By the way, belated happy birthday! Cheers to becoming another year wiser!

    ChinkyGirLMeL’s last blog post..The Story That Made Me Cry

  7. August 31st, 2009 | 1:45 am

    Thanks. :-) I don’t know why, but sometimes things seem to be more loosely connected in my head than in most people’s, and I tend to make strange connections between things which sometimes lead to amusing results. Oh, and also, instead of dismissing the ideas (“eh, that’s stupid”), I think “Now how do I stretch this idea even longer?” Just the way my mind works, I guess.

  8. Na
    September 1st, 2009 | 5:41 am

    It’s an interesting thought. My great uncle and his girlfriend constantly go on cruises. But they have a different reason for doing so than Hemingway: my great uncle has great difficulty walking anywhere (just a few metres is hard work), and a cruise is a relaxing way to see the sights without having to do lots of walking. Driving isn’t an option, because he recently had a car accident due to a heart attack (mild thank goodness and no one was hurt) and he sold the car. Buses and other public transport things are difficult to get on and off, but ships are easier.

  9. September 2nd, 2009 | 2:23 am

    Yeah, that’s most likely the real reason that old people take cruises, but it’s not that interesting to write about. 😀

  10. September 3rd, 2009 | 2:57 pm

    This was funny. :)

    Happy belated birthday!

    Vered – Blogger for Hire’s last blog post..Links for August

  11. September 3rd, 2009 | 11:24 pm

    Thanks, Vered. :-)

  12. January 1st, 2010 | 3:20 am

    […] Why Old People Take Cruises Again, I love explaining things and sharing my (strange) insights with you. […]

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