Monday, May 31, 2010

Waxing sarcastic

Disclaimer: this is not a book report.

sarcastic |särˈkastik|adjective marked by or given to using irony in order to mock or convey contempt.

Mock. There you go.

This post is being written because the rules of commenting on Amazon forbid the use of disrespect to the other people who have made comments.

To the truly intelligent (me, for example) sarcasm is the mother's milk of wit. I live for sarcasm. Ridicule. Parody. The only rule I have is that it must not be politically correct.

Ok. If you have ever visited (no sarcasm intended) then you probably know that under each book you select, if you choose to scroll down before you buy the book, is a section of "reader reviews." This section is for pompous asses to tell you whether the book is worthy of your attention. But, what you might NOT have realized is that you can comment on these comments. The only drawback, as I mentioned above, is that in order to comment on a comment you must be respectful to the idiot who wrote the original comment. Or else some still-living-in-his-mama's-basement literary geek will... ummm.... turn you in to Amazon or something. And then what? Will they ban me from buying books from them? Sounds counterproductive to me. Ah, well.

The point is I can't comment there because sarcasm is required in all cases where the previous comment is interesting enough for me to have read it in the first place, and sarcasm requires a certain level of disrespect and disdain. My forte. So I spew my vitriol here where no one will ever see it.

The book I came across at Amazon today was called "The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge." Second edition, 1235 pages. It contains knowledge of a sort (though hardly "essential") on just about every subject imaginable. We used to call these things "encyclopedias" but those don't sell as well as "books of essential knowledge" sell. I guess the Times doesn't publish almanacs anymore.

Before I get started (I haven't started yet, he said, as Bobby Rydell's "Wild One" begins to blare in the background; I thought Bobby was dead, fer crissakes) I want to point out that my sarcasm in this particular post is not directed at the New York Times (although I'm sure you'll agree they have turned into a bunch of America-hating leftist commie pinko diklikkers), but rather toward the ignorant comments about their book on Amazon. The actual book itself may be good. Who knows.

"Wild One" is now replaced by Ricky Nelson and "Mary Lou." Now, I know THAT singer is dead, just as dead as Buddy Holly, both lying in a field next to airplane wreckage. Maybe Bobby Rydell just hasn't clumb up into the right air-o-plane yet, eh? I get up to turn off the TV. Would someone please tell me why we have to listen to the radio on television now, anyway?

So, I choose a couple of comments that give this New York Times masterpiece of information compilation only 1 out of 5 stars. Who would want to read 5-star reviews, anyway? That would be silly. So I scroll down past the boot-licking "Good collection..." "Great source..." "Fun and useful..." "Fantastic..." literary-lackey comments until I arrive at the more interesting "Gross misinformation..." "Great book if you don't have access to the internet..." "...I prefer ignorance" section at the bottom.

What I am looking for is a one-star comment where the writer is clearly a moron - someone worthy of some top-notch Relax Max sarcasm. Ah, here's one:

"Readers interested in or curious about Latin American literature should get their money back from the editors and a letter of apology. The Latin American entry under the "World Literature" section is simply grotesque and unacceptable in a book of this nature. Check out the spelling of Manuel Gutierrez Najera's paternal last name on p. 56 and the unbelievable mauling of Mariano Azuela's given name (spelled as "Matriana...!") But that's not all. Alejo Carpentier comes across as "Alfonso" Carpentier and Mexican author Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes's novel "El indio" is somehow transposed to Peru and retitled ""Peru and the Indian." I would hate to have to rely on this book for information on any literature that is not written in English."

Maxie rubs his tiny paws together in glee and fidgets on his little computer stool like Rush Limbaugh on uppers.

Dear Jose:

I too would hate to have you rely on this book for information about anything south of Texas. How about you pop out and buy a book written by someone who lives there and speaks the language? Why must everything in the English-speaking world have to include Spanish stuff nowadays? Christ, I can't even read the instructions on the back of the paint can because they are printed so small in order to get in a thousand words of Spanish next to them. I feel your pain about Mariano Azuela's ruptured given name. Do you feel MY pain when I try to read my election ballot?

So you think the Latin American entry is "simply grotesque"? Here, I'll show you grotesque, Jose. Here... open wide.

Then, quickly, - this is becoming much easier now - this one by Dr. Dickie Dolt:

"just glancing through the book--i see glaring errors. i focused on the section dealing with psychiatric drugs--saw dangerous misclassification in the listing of MAOI drugs. Get it right, or don't publish it at all! If I found this with just a cursory glance, heaven knows what other "bad" info there is!"

Dear Trek:

Lemme get this straight. You bought this book as a desk reference to choose what psycho drugs to prescribe? And the listing of MAOI drugs had a dangerous misclassification in it? And this is going to hurt HOW many people? None? And you paid 25 bucks just to give this book a "cursory glance?" Really? And the bad drug list negates everything in the book about Egyptian civilization? Mercy. Well, how about some capitalization in your writing? I think those lower case letters are dangerous omissions! Say, just how stupid ARE you, anyway? Heaven knows.

I reckon you'll be a-wantin' YOUR money back along with Jose, hey? With a letter of apology stapled to the check. Like either one of you actually bought the book. Standing in Barnes and Noble and reading the index to this book doesn't count.

So many more, so little time. I can't go on. Or won't go on.

"Hilarious! Cutting edge! That Relax Max is once again in top form!"
Willam Saffire, New York Times

"It doesn't get any better than this!"
Steven Spielberg, Hollywood Insider

"Jesus God but I wish I had lived long enough to meet Relax Max!"
Mark Twain

Flash: Bobby Rydell wins Jimmy Swaggert lookalike contest.


  1. Heh. :)

    I'm thinking of replying to your replies as Jose and Dr Whatsit.

    In use meantime, this was funny and sarcastic and saved me wondering if I should have seen Lost.

  2. I think, in your usual way Max, you are being too sensitive. I've seen wars in the review and comments before now. I couldn't find the main example I remember, but this one approaches. It's for Wolf HALL, not Wolf Law.

    "I have finally finished Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Law"! it might appeal to the "arty-farty" set."

    "Don't bother if you're a bit thick. If you didn't like it or you didn't get it then it's not the book - it's you"

  3. @Stephanie Barr - Not bored. To busy to be bored. I'm just taking my antisocial personality out for a little stroll. :)

    @Patchwork - That would be interesting but you would be unfairly matched. Heh. They are probably the kind who google all their comment words every day just to see if anyone like me scraped them., so they may show up on their own. :)

    Ah, yes, the Lost Cat episode. I learned something today. Winnipeg has a newspaper.

    @A. - I think you misunderstand. I don't try to avoid these. I actively look for them. But your example is exactly what Amazon won't allow me to do. Maybe I will just google some old Obama campaign speeches and point out the lies. That would be pretty time consuming, though. Don't worry, I would never go on your blog and talk mean to your gentile readers. I mean gentle readers.

  4. The example was from Amazon, though the UK version. Perhaps we are made of sterner stuff. :) I'm not worried, I don't think I have any gentle or otherwise readers left.



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