Reviews

Yelp: Perilla

Boy howdy. I was chosen for another Review of the Day listing on Yelp, this time for a review of Perilla. Damn fine restaurant.
This doesn’t pay a damn thing of course, but I figure with several ROTDs under my belt already I’m well on my way to being qualified to teach a course on writing profitless award-winning reviews. Perhaps for the Learning Annex.
Once I start teaching there, I’ll be in the same league as the intolerable Donald Trump who teaches you how to make millions (hint: start with millions) and Chad Rogers, who can tell you how to get rich in real estate but apparently has no idea where to find a decent barber.

Book: Struwwelpeter (Shock-Headed Peter)

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A little over 150 years ago a German father decided that there were no good books to read to his son and endeavored to write and illustrate his very own. There were several lessons he aimed to teach his child and, being German, he didn’t beat around the bush. The lessons included things like:

  • If you play with matches you will burn to death and cats will cry on your ashes.
  • If you don’t eat your supper you will starve to death.
  • A tailor with giant shears will snip your thumbs off if you don’t stop sucking them.

And so was born Struwwelpeter (Shock-Headed Peter) a book I was completely unaware existed until a good friend said, “You really have to get this book.” I did, because I do everything he says, and I don’t regret it a single bit. In an age of sterile, soulless books for children this is a most refreshing one – and that goes for the adult as well. I’d much rather read about a boy suffering for his maltreatment of animals than I would anything shat out by the Baby Einstein empire. Not many books have morals like if you go out in a storm you will be blown to your doom.
The book’s title comes from one of the book’s stories about a boy who is poorly groomed – so no one likes him. Compared to the other tales he gets off pretty easy.
You can find Struwwelpeter on Amazon.


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Review: Hamlet in the 24-hour Bodega

Hamlet may very well be theatre’s Mount Everest: many have dreamed of scaling it, relatively few have actually tried, and even fewer have had the strength, temerity and talent to succeed. For that reason I approached the Papaya King Repertory Theatre’s production of Hamlet in the New Ha Grocery on the corner of 14th Street and Seventh Avenue with the same sense of trepidation as I do all takes on the Bard’s classic tale. I’m happy to say that my fears were short-lived.
After a few glitches – the entrance to New Ha is small and a fat man with a walker was blocking it – I stood next to the Pepperidge Farm display for the next three hours and found myself immersed in the world of Hamlet as envisioned by Papaya King Repertory’s longtime director Christian Phelps.
Veteran actor Michael Smalinowski, a regular in nine of the twelve Law & Order spin-offs, was brilliantly cast as the Great Dane. Were it not for New Ha’s blaring fluorescent lights one could imagine a spotlight singling him out as he delivered flawless monologue after flawless monologue, never once losing concentration or intensity, even when being asked to move out of the way of the bodega’s ATM.
Jennifer Yam was such a convincing Ophelia that during her brilliant “mad scene” the store’s clerk threatened to call the police. After a few reassurances in Korean from Martin Kong (Horatio) he calmed down and the remainder of the scene was only briefly interrupted by a disheveled patron seeking soy milk.
Also worth noting was Timothy Perdue, a brilliant choice for the role of Polonius, whose excellent performance was sadly obscured by a rack of Frito-Lay products. Danielle King’s Gertrude was quite inspired though she tended to break character when customers shouted lottery numbers at the clerk. She appeared to be exceptionally allergic to the bodega’s cat.
The play’s dramatic end was rendered even more chaotic by the closing of Flannery’s Bar next door. Drunken patrons seeking New Ha’s legendary pasta salad filtered in and were at first alarmed by the swordplay between Hamlet and Michael Klein’s Laertes. Fortunately, after a few moments, they seemed to appreciate the performance – aside from an uncultured few who made snide comments along the lines of “Fortinbras panties” and “Ophelia boobies.”
The actors, when dying, chose to squat rather than lie on New Ha’s filthy floors.
In all, Papaya King’s production of Hamlet has a few occasional hiccups but is, in the end, an enjoyable production in a venue that charges $1.21 more for milk than the guy down the street.

Review: Prank The Monkey

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Many years ago I read a book called The Lazlo Letters by comedian Don Novello. He was perhaps best known for his character Father Guido Sarducci on Saturday Night Live, a show I stopped watching sometime during the Charles Rocket era.
Lazlo Letters was a collection of correspondence sent from Novello’s alter-ego Lazlo Toth, a well-meaning hyper-patriot full of great ideas. Toth sent letters to a variety of celebrities, executives and politicians of the day. The letters ranged in absurdity of content, but many still got results in the form of personal responses from folks like Nixon, Ford and CEOs of major US corporations.
Author John Hargrave (zug.com) takes the mischief one step further with Prank the Monkey, going beyond funny letters and into elaborate, time-consuming operations. If this is his full-time line of work, it’s a pretty sweet gig.
He tries lots of things I’ve tried myself: signing credit card slips with absurd names to see if anyone notices, voicing angry sentiment on checks and giving spammers a dose of their own medicine.
But he tries plenty of things I haven’t the time for: Testing the limits of L.L. Bean’s liberal return policy, trying to get the Queen of England to knight him, and convincing U.N. ambassadors to send him their photos with “Peace, Homey” written on them. Some actually do.
This is a funny book. It has a monkey on the cover, and monkeys are funny – unless you’re Tom Tancredo, Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback.
It is Banterist policy to mention any books sent to us by publishers, provided they are humorous in nature and do not mention Ashlee Simpson or bird flu.

The Dog Dialed 911

In keeping with my policy of reviewing relevant books sent to me by publishers: a look at The Dog Dialed 911.
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SUMMARY
For nearly ten years The Smoking Gun website has dug up the dirt on criminals, celebrities and celebrity criminals. Like the website, The Dog Dialed 911 is a collection of mug shots, legal documents and letters people probably wish they hadn’t written.
What is free in electronic form has now been printed, bound and is available for purchase.
ORIGINS OF BOOK’S TITLE
The title is a reference to a dog that accidentally dialed 911 when he stepped on his owner’s mobile phone. This attracted the attention of the police who discovered 150 marijuana plants at the man’s home. Under the country’s mandatory drug sentencing laws this most likely means the owner will not be able to feed his dog for quite some time.
HONEST APPRAISAL
There is a good chance I would have purchased this book had they not sent it to me for free.
BOOKSHELF LOCALE
With other large books, next to The Onion’s Our Dumb Century and the Book of the SubGenius I never returned to Corry.
FOOD ANALOGY
The Dog Dialed 911 is like Bit O’Honey. It is very enjoyable in small amounts.
LIKELY READING POSITION
Sur la toilette or near a coffee table.

QUOTES ABOUT BOOKS AND THEIR RELEVANCE,
USING A RATING SCALE OF 1-10:

PORTABILITY
A wonderful thing about a book, in contrast to a computer screen, is that you can take it to bed with you. – Daniel J. Boorstein
The Dog Dialed 911 is a large book which makes it an unlikely candidate for subway usage. It is improbable for air travel as TSA thinks it could be used to conceal a bomb, so it will be confiscated along with your son’s Snickers.
SCORE: 3
INTELLECTUAL FRONTAGE
There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it. -Bertrand Russell
Though the book is definitely enjoyable, boasting that you’re reading a compendium of humorous police reports and legal affidavits is unlikely to help you bed an intellectual. However, it does imply you love assailing pop culture which will endear you to the snark set and guys in Ché shirts.
SCORE: 4
COVER-TO-COVER CONSUMPTION
I read part of it all the way through. -Samuel Goldwyn
As this is a compendium one may very well choose to tackle random pages out of sequence. However, the odds are one will be returning to it with frequency during cocktail parties and bathroom breaks. This increases the odds you will technically “finish” reading it, as opposed to Voltaire’s Bastards which hurts my brain three pages in.
SCORE: 8
IMPULSE PURCHASE POTENTIAL
Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? -Henry Ward Beecher
It’s hard to go wrong with this book, especially as a gift. It does not have a discernible political stance, is easy to read, and implies you think the recipient has some semblance of a sense of humor.
SCORE: 10
HAD I BEEN ASKED FOR A BACK-OF-BOOK QUOTE FOR THE DOG DIALED 911
“A collection of Freedom Of Information Act goodness as gritty and enjoyable as Paris Hilton’s crotch.”

The Dog Dialed 911 on Amazon.

How Animals Have Sex

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When hermaphrodite banana slugs get it on, one of them gets their ten-inch penis eaten – something I’d not known.
This is but one of many tantalizing facts contained in How Animals Have Sex, a book I’d have called Muskrat Love or Flatworms Gone Wild. But I don’t name the books, I just mention them when they are sent to me.
The book is a valuable resource for anyone who craves knowledge or simply wants to see photos of slutty giraffes. The way animals (and several insects) knock hooves is fascinating, and often involves peeing and other odd things you only see in German porn. The photo of a bean weevil penis belongs in a Cronenberg film and will not leave my memory any time soon.
One of the more intriguing descriptions is that of the bowerbird, an anal-retentive creature prone to fits that spends a great deal of time decorating in the hopes of getting laid. In other words, it’s a flying metrosexual.
Other things you’ll glean from this book: The male bee has a 1 in 20,000 chance of having sex – odds that at the very least would have comforted me in high school. I’m better off than a bee! I could have told myself as I ate lunch alone in the theatre balcony.
Like Angelina Jolie, zebra finch females are attracted to men who appear to be spoken for. Symbolism-seeking conservatives will be delighted to know the albatross is another winged contender for Family Values mascot: it mates for life and the sex is wholly uneventful.
The book comes with a priceless chimp centerfold which endeared me to author David Strorm – who seems to be English as he uses words like “flat” instead of “apartment.” To maximize your reading experience, Strorm strategically bolds certain phrases of import such as huge spurts of porcupine wee, amazing panda sex and my fave, traumatic insemination.
How Animals Have Sex is an enjoyable, short and funny book which belongs in the bathroom or on a night stand. It would also make an unpretentious addition to any coffee table. You’re probably not going to read it on the subway though. It doesn’t seem like subway reading, just like The Gift Of Pain was an odd choice for brunch reading yesterday, lady.
This book is a great argument against the Intelligent Design theory, especially once you see the bean weevil penis.
Perhaps you should consider adding How Animals Have Sex to your library.
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Review: A Book of DVD Reviews

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Book reviews are new to this website, and certainly there are better book review sites such as Bookslut, but one can not resist the urge to talk about things when publishers start sending them to you for free. And so, I’m inclined to review The Best DVDs You’ve Never Seen, Just Missed or Almost Forgotten.
The book contains over 500 reviews of DVDs that the film critics of the New York Times think you should purchase on your next visit to Best Buy. Or add to your Netflix list. Steal. Whatever you care to do, really.
The reviews are concise like Cliff’s Notes and easily digestible, like hemp nuts.
The book would make a perfect bathroom accoutrement and would certainly do nicely on the coffee table as a handy quick-reference guide. On many occasions I’ve found myself looking at TimeWarner Cable’s “Movies on Demand” wondering if I should purchase Alexander, Fever Pitch or Monster-In-Law. Now I could look them up in The Best DVDs You’ve Never Seen, Just Missed or Almost Forgotten and realize they’re not in there – because 98% of TimeWarner’s on-demand offerings are poop.
I agree with many of the selections in the book: Mona Lisa, Big Night, even Zoolander. And now I’m excited to see Wilde, M and The Slums of Beverly Hills. I’m even considering the Afflecky Changing Lanes next time I’m laid up with bird flu. I’m disappointed that The Unbearable Lightness of Being isn’t in it, but thrilled that I could not find any of the garbage my communist film professors forced me to watch. Screw you, Battleship Potemkin.
As a further plus, I’m almost certain there’s not a single Steven Segal film in the book.
In the end, this is a book I would definitely purchase, but don’t have to because they sent it to me.
The Best DVDs You’ve Never Seen, Just Missed or Almost Forgotten on Amazon