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25 posts from April 2006

More Book Club Rejects

With all the energy I have put into ridiculing books lately, I would be remiss if I did not share with you the single most hilarious-in-a-horrifying-way book I have ever glimpsed in a bookstore: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption.


Great.  "Complete idiots" are totally the segment of the population that we want to enable to acquire and raise children.

I know that the whole "Complete Idiot's Guide to . . ." is just a marketing gimmick (and a lame one, because it totally copies the 'For Dummies' books), but come on.  Isn't that just asking for ridicule?

This inspired me to take a look at this publisher's website and see what other things they were helping complete idiots accomplish.  I was thinking it would be really funny if they had one that was like, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Using Dangerous Power ToolsClose enough.  Good luck with that!

While you're browsing the many titles on the site, do be sure to check out this rather redundantly-titled one.  I think that if you are writing a book designed to explain fairies and elves to anyone over the age of, like, born, it is understood that those readers will be complete idiots.

Some of the books made me mad, like this one.  What if some total loser of a guy/complete idiot reads that and then successfully tricks me into dating him?

There was this book too, which I am including solely because I know that if I didn't, one of my smart ass friends would have commented just to be all funny and like, "Lauren, you must be reading this one!"

Finally, there was this book, which actually seemed to be the only one in the whole group that I could see complete idiots truly benefiting from.  But they'll never read it, because a real idiot would have already spend his $16.95 and on magic beans from a leprechaun man on the side of the road.

Six Down, 96 to Go!

This article (via Kottke) by film critic Jim Emerson lists 102 films that he considers to be "the movies you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They're the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat "movie-literate."

The ones highlighted in blue are the ones I've seen (click for big):


Apocalypse Now, Bambi, E.T., Fight Club, Jaws, and the Wizard of Oz.  Looks like I won't be having any informed discussions about movies anytime soon.

Not Every Book Makes It Into Oprah's Club

The restroom at the Barnes & Noble in Tyson's Corner (whose "Chicken Soup for the Soul" display inspired this post in February) is at the back of the store, and you have to walk by many books to get to it.  As a result, I notice a lot of books that look like total crap. 

One such book is "101 Things to Do in a Shed."  This book caught my eye with its bizarre title, and I now feel compelled to urge you not to buy it.  The reason I am recommending that you do not buy this book is because there are only 10 things you can do in a shed, and I am listing them here.  They are:

Shed_copy 1. Stash a dead body.
2. Store rusty equipment.
3. Hide during a game of hide-and-go-seek.
4. Provide a place for slugs to live.
5. Provide a place for weeds to grow.
6. (Teens) Covertly drink, do drugs, and perform other illicit behaviors.
7. (John Nash) Build an office full of insane drawings and equipment because, in your schizophrenic state, you believe you work for the government.
8. Daydream about someday uppgrading to a hovel, or even a cottage.

Well, there appear to be only eight reasons, but that is all the more reason you should not go out and buy this book.  It sucks.  Go read one of Oprah's choices.

Still Lovin' Those Cyber Senators

As promised in yesterday's post, I am giving you a list of the 15 Worst Senatorial Web Pages.  Here they are, in a particular order (alphabetical):

Daniel Akaka.  He can't get any love; he was one of TIME's five worst senators, and he's on the LMNOP shit list too.  But nice manly senator lei.

Robert Byrd. Byrd's is a pretty standard Senate web site.  Note the generic tagline at the top of the page ("Leadership. Character. Commitment.") and the lame, 1990s AOL Hometown page-style "Welcome to my Internet home!"  And the graphics, much like the good senator, are looking a little rough around the edges.

Mike Enzi
. This guy must have spent a fortune on those cool graphics.  Love the animated U.S. flag gif!  Props for the careful adherence to the rules of senator web page design, though: Wyoming montage banner? Check.  Awkward personal photo?  Check.

Bill Frist.  The banner text says "Bill Frist, M.D."  The photo says "badass."

Lindsay Graham.  The real highlight of Graham's page is his Kid's Page.  Because nothing says "fun" like an olive drab/navy blue color scheme and Arial 10-pt. font!

Kay Bailey Hutchison.  More like Mary Kay Bailey Hutchison.  I feel like there should be a link at the top taking you to her personalized cosmetic sales page.

Daniel Inouye.  Continuing the trend of cool Hawaiian senator pages.  Incidentally, he wins the award for Senator Page That Most Closely Resembles an Actual Myspace.

Johnny Isakson
. The first sentence of his homepage--"Johnny Isakson is a family man, businessman, and public servant--" tells you all you need to know: Isakson is a totally generic white politician.  But by all means read on, so you can find out even more nonremarkable info.  "Johnny and Dianne have been married 37 years, and they attend Mount Zion United Methodist Church where Johnny has taught sixth grade Sunday School since 1978."  Imagine that!

Blanche Lincoln.  Love the stars, babe!

Barbara Mikulski.
  Make sure you check out the recipe for Senator Barb's Crab Cakes.  That's one pixellated crab picture!

Jack Reed
. You know how you would never expect to find anything interesting on a trip to Rhode Island? That is exactly like how you should not expect to find anything interesting on a trip to Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed's web page.

Pat Roberts.  Don't ever accuse Kansans of believing in intelligent web design.  Seriously, though, this page is by far the worst of all the senator pages in terms of design sophistication.  It looks like the personal page I made for my Into to HTML project in 10th grade Computer Applications.  But worse.

Rick Santorum. The URL for this page departs from standard senate web page nomenclature by appending /public/ to the end of the address.  I am really, really, really not interested in seeing

Olympia Snowe.  Looks like somebody got the glamour photo package (with free stool prop!) at the local Sears Photo Department.  I approve.

Ted Stevens.  Ted Stevens is totally in touch with the people.  He even wants you to send him letters (see the "Contact the Senator" sidebar)!  Just be sure to address them to "The Honorable Ted Stevens."  Thanks.

This Post May Appear At First to Be Political, But I'm Hoping You Know Me Well Enough to Guess That it Will Take a Quick Turn into Just Being Pointless and Slightly Mean

A lot of people have been talking about senators lately, including:

  1. TIME Magazine, which made a list of the 10 best and five worst;
  2. Matt Price, who has picked 10 Senate races to watch; and,
  3. Senators, I would assume, because it seems like they would always be talking about themselves.

This got me to thinking about the two observations I have had in my life about Senators as a whole.  They both came to me when I was interning in the Politics department of and I had to do a project that involved looking at all of the senators' web pages.  These observations were:

  1. Why do we have 100 senators if they all appear to be the same one white man?  (To be fair, there are maybe seven exceptions to this.)
  2. Senators' web pages are--and there are no exceptions to this--awful.  They look like they were made by Byron Mouton. Honest to God, in terms of aesthetic value, usefulness of information conveyed, and quality of site design, WHICH ARE THREE REALLY VALID THINGS TO EVALUATE WEB PAGES BY, the average Senator's web page ranks just below that of a 13-year-old's My Space Page.

In today's post, I will elaborate on my feelings about Observation #2.  Tomorrow, I will conclude this two-part series with LMNOP's list of the 15 Worst Senatorial Web Pages.

A good (and by good I mean characteristically bad) web page for a senator needs to have three elements above all: an awkward welcome message, a forced/stiff-looking picture, and a digital reproduction of his/her signature.  As you can see from the image below (click for bigger), there are a lot of ways to do this.  Just kidding, they all look really similar:


Other important elements, as well as links to senators who exemplify them:

Be sure to check back tomorrow, when I will post the definitive list of the 15 Worst Senatorial Web Pages.  Or I guess if you have to do something else, you can do that too.

The Only Time US Weekly Has Ever Been Confused With Real News

Eliza was talking about how her grandma gets magazines on tape and ordered US Weekly thinking it was politics related.  Can you imagine how horrible US Weekly must be on tape, with no visuals whatsoever? 

I kept this in mind as I was reading this week's issue, and there are some sections that really suffer without the pictures.  Most notably, the "Stars--They're Just Like Us!" feature:

"Stars--They're Just Like Us!  They Love Their Nephews!  They Eat Pretzels!  They Step on One Shelf to Reach Another!  They Jet-Ski!  They Groom Their Pups!  Their Laces Come Undone!"

That's good reading.

Five Things I Love About Water Aerobics

Aquafitness21. Feeling like a paragon of human fitness as I lap the old women and obese men
2. Doing water jumping jacks as the instructor's awesome mix CD plays in the background (Wake Me Up Before You Go, I'm So Excited, etc)
3. Decent workout
4. Don't have to get really hot and sweaty
5. Did I mention that, by virtue of not being over 60 years old and/or 400+ pounds, I am the star of the class?  Water aerobics ROCKS.

Generation Snick

Those of us who were born in America in the 1980s were able to make it through our most formative years without having to weather any truly big wars or depressions or other totally horrible universal disasters. On the whole, that is a good thing.

This dearth of tragedy and strife has, however, had an interesting impact on our generation: faulting a legitimate cause upon which to focus our human need to feel passionate about something, we instead became abnormally emotionally invested in our television programs.  The graphic below details this phenomenon.


The result is that the current group of American 20-somethings is still very, very attached to our memories of Nickelodeon and T.G.I.F.  We were young and impressionable and our brains were like sponges--something had to become seared into our memory.  Absent our own Great Depression or World War Two, we defaulted to being permanently traumatized by Zack breaking up with Kelly.

Our generational case of early-onset nostalgia is not just limited to former television shows, though--clothing, toys, games, books, movies and music from the '80s and '90s all fall within the scope of the obsession that I predict future anthropologists will refer to as the "I Love The" Effect.  This nomenclature is of course derived from the group of VH1 miniseries that epitomizes premature sentimentalization of our age group.  (Miniseries, by the way, that I enjoy watching more than just about anything else.)

Indeed, the "I Love The" Effect has not escaped even my own blog: my site traffic has seen significant spikes in referral links from search engines the three times that "Guts," "Salute Your Shorts," and "Jodie Sweetin" were incidentally mentioned in posts.  Meaning, there are a lot of people out there searching the Internet for those things.

Now, I'm not saying it's a bad thing that our generation doesn't have painful memories of recycling our bikes for scrap metal.  I'm just wondering what this is going to do to us as old people.  What will we possibly drone on to our grandchildren about, seeing as how we never walked uphill to school with potatoes in our hands, potatoes that we had pulled from the Victory Garden in our backyard? 

Get ready.  We are going be the lamest old people ever.