Recently seen on the citizens review board of Amazon.com, regarding three different volumes:
The popularity of this book stupifies me—do people like it because they think they are supposed to?
This book was a peice [sic] o’… you know and wasn’t worth the time or effort to read.
Classic or not, I don’t care for this book.
These reviews are for major, major bestsellers, and so perhaps you were thinking they refered to the latest Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, or Harold Robbins, even though the old cokehead died a few years ago.
But no. These (real) reviews are for Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Babar, respectively. Yes, classic children’s books. These reviewer-parents say the books are of inferior literary quality and are not appropriate for our nation’s youth—I kid you not.
Things only get better from there. Curious George is panned because it promotes cruelty to animals. Other experts slam The Very Hungry Caterpillar because it teaches children to overeat and telling kids that butterflies emerge from cocoons (as opposed to moths) teaches bad science.
Worst of all, my all-time favorite children’s book is taken to the woodshed because it 1) promotes anarchy; 2) will scare children because animals in the book talk and are human-sized; and 3) isn’t about promoting imagination or literacy but is instead a subtle examination of id versus superego and the dynamism of the ego.
I’m sure you realize I’m talking about The Cat in the Hat.
I chanced upon this gems of critical insight after searching for a training potty for Baby-Tot, being that he keeps saying things like "made a poo-poo" and "I’ve got a wee-wee! I’ve got a wee-wee!" Modern parent and writer that I am, I also bought several "how-to" books on helping kids learn how to take a proper dump, and ultimately landed upon the reviews mentioned above.
What is perhaps more odd than the reviews themselves—hating Dr. Seuss is like hating ice cream—is why anyone would bother. Does one really think their review will stop people from buying (and their children loving) Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? In my earlier, feckless days of youth (I was in my mid-thirties), I would post an occasional review on Amazon, mostly of music and movies. I once slammed a well-known music album that I likened to the vomitus that emerges after doing battle with a bad batch of raw seafood.
This is your id on drugs
Why did I embark on this endeavor of nastiness, full well knowing that it would not make one iota of difference in the greater artistic consciousness of the world? I can’t say for sure, but I remember feeling a distinct sense of self-righteousness when considering the work in question: These people love a total piece of donkey dung! They are deluded! They are wrong! I am right! But at least I had reasons for these (admittedly) juvenile criticisms.
The beauty of the Internet is that it gives a voice to all, and the horror of the Internet is that it gives a voice to all. You don’t have to go farther than the comments section of most news Web sites to see the bile; if you really want to feel the hate, go to a sports Web site, scroll the . . . → Read More: Everybody’s a Critic
I became, in short, a raving lunatic, like those you see restrained in straitjackets or yelling incomprehensible profanities on your local street corner. . . . → Read More: Day Two of Three Days, Three Posts, 300 Words Each
I had written 800 brilliant, scabrous words on the rise of Harry Potter — and how adults have co-opted the franchise — but I inadvertently erased them for reasons not worth elaborating upon. Such absentminded mistakes on my part are common these days, but that’s another story.
In lieu of my Harry Hate, here’s a sampling of the chronic data stream uploading in my head, which I know readers are just dying to hear about.
•In the “How the Fuck Haven’t I Read Everything This Person Has Written Yet?” Department, I’m reading Orhan Pamuk’s “My Name Is Red.” While the novel can be slow going, it is also absolutely brilliant. I don’t know how I’ve managed to avoid Mr. Pamuk until now (though I’m not exactly well-schooled in modern Turkish writers. Mediaeval ones, either). Pamuk is a genius, a word I don’t throw around lightly with writers, and even in translation, it’s obvious why this dude won the Nobel Prize. Read this, not “Harry Potter and the Sphincter of Fire.” (More on Harry later.)
•The Chicago Cubs have decided that playing baseball was more fun than beating the snot out of each other, and have the best record in the majors since manager Lou Pinella’s head exploded in June. This is a bad thing. The Cubs are three games out of first place, and as a result, I am a stupid, love-struck teenager once more, following their every pitch and swing of the bat. They will ultimately break my heart, and yet I still watch them with blind affection. Call me stupid; call me a sports fan.
•Media Mania Over Drug Addled, DUI Hollywood Hos! I just wanted to say that.
•I am coming down with yet another cold. My throat feels like a morbidly obese union carpenter is using a power sander where my tonsils used to reside.
•Baby won’t abide his crib, despite his parents’ unstilted efforts to get him to do otherwise. We’ll put him down, asleep, and in the time it takes the pee to hit the urinal (as I have been holding it in for about 73 minutes as I hold the little bugger), his cries echo through our home; first, flaccid and weak, then increasing in volume until The End of the World is nigh. My solution for this is just let Baby cry until he loses his voice, permanently. He’ll eventually fall asleep and we won’t ever have to hear his rotten screaming ever again.
Wrigley: scene of the crime
•The number of comments on my blog as ground into a number smaller than functioning brain cells in Dick Cheney’s diseased mind. There is a fair amount of blogrolling (you comment on my blog, I’ll comment on yours) in cyberspace, and as I struggle to keep up with others’ blogs, nobody visits here, unless you count the turds who want to know if a certain violinist is gay and you know who you are and if this is how you spend your time, asking if this man is gay, then you live an impoverished intellectual and spiritual life indeed. Learn how to drink or something.
•I changed the layout, added polls, and some bizzare rating systemf at the bottom of each post, and one can see the overwhelming response. It would probably do me more good if, like, . . . → Read More: The Coolest Guy Show in the World, or Why Adults Shouldn’t Read “Harry Potter”
“It’ll go north of $800 million, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it went for more than $1 billion,” says Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based sports industry consultant.
“It” is the Chicago Cubs. “It” is up for sale. And “it” is less a baseball team than marketing juggernaut, and has been for some time.
The Tribune Co., erstwhile owners of the Cubs, are selling their media empire to a Chicago real estate magnate while jettisoning the team at season’s end. Given their roster and wise moves to boost the payroll, it appears the 2007 Cubs are on track to win 36 games, and the smart money says that volatile manager Lou Pinella will register more burst aneurysms than destroyed water coolers this season.
It’s not that my beloved Cubbies aren’t worth a lot of money, in a business sense: Tribune owns the stadium, part of a cable network, and the team generates over 3 million loyal sheep-fans every year. Perhaps shelling out $1 billion for the team will be a good return on capital. (It certainly will be for Tribune, which bought the Cubs for $20 million in 1983.)
But no amount of fiscal reasoning can hide the fact that the idea itself is galling. Paying $1 billion for the Cubs? This is like paying $1 billion for a company that recycles used toilet paper. This is like paying $1 billion to masturbate before a live television audience. This is like paying $1 billion for the Bad News Bears.
Curse my ass
For someone like myself, it is a double insult. Not only have the Cubs constantly ripped out my heart and treated it like a clay pigeon, but think of what good the money could have done in the world of fiction.
$1 billion will get you 10,000 book advances of $100,000 each, or 20,000 advances of $50,000. Now let’s do some analysis here.
Out of 20,000 novels, about 80 percent will sell for shit, 15 percent will do a fair business, and perhaps five percent will be hits, with 0.5 percent being blockbusters. That means 100 books will be major sellers, and if one does not recoup the $1 billion investment, at least there is the satisfaction of launching a young or (middle-aged) writer (like me) on his road to retirement.
Now, let’s look at the Cubs. While you’d get 100 blockbuster novels from $1 billion, that same amount is buying a team that hasn’t won the World Series in 100 years. It hasn’t even won a pennant in 62. You can get 20,000 books or a single, sorry franchise that proudly markets the Curse of the Billy Goat.
This penchant to wildly overpay for an asset is what is formally known in the business world as “fucking insane.”
If it seems that I am passionate and angry about this topic, you would be right. And it doesn’t even have to do with the fact the Cubs have disappointed me more than a stereotypical Jewish son disappoints his mother.
A columnist recently noted that back in the early 1980s — when I was a high-schooler living in the Chicago suburbs and frequent attendee of Cubs games — Wrigley Field and its surrounding environs were considered eyesores at best, slum-like at worst. There was nothing hip or cool about going to a game, . . . → Read More: $1 Billion for Each World Series Win