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3/2 Lost Articles- America: The Book

3/2 Lost Articles- America: The Book published on

America (The Book)

thebook

(By The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)

I never really expected to be writing a book report voluntarily. Going on about a book is a different beast than the typical game review based largely upon a frustrating first opinion. Already I’m tempted to make some high-brow comment, until it dawns on me that I never read a page of Nietzsche in my life, and I once used the term ‘decolletage’ to describe a coloring technique. (A friend of mine sent a picture of a woman’s cleavage a whole year afterwards as a reminder.) I suppose I should at least accommodate the high-minded ‘book’ people by making that the last in-paragraph parenthetical aside. From here on, I will use lots and lots of asterisks*. I would use footnotes, which are even higher-brow, but that might be overkill for a book from Comedy Central. In addition, the more asterisks there are in a row, the more it looks like cartoon swearing**.

The MLA Standard method of documentation for works cited will be ignored because it sucks.

Down to brass tacks, America (The Book) isn’t, as some feared, just another endless, narcissistic hardbound compilation of the opinions of a once entertaining performer***. It’s actually a bastardized high school textbook, with full frontal nudity and chapters that date past 1972****. The bulk of the book is credited to Jon Stewart*****, with occasional sidebars and boxouts from all your favorite correspondents****** Each chapter concludes with a study guide with such involving class activities as “Hold a mock election. If you can’t, mock a real election.” These frequently devolve into the imaginary professor giving up. The presentation is pretty convincing, really. The bland red white and blue cover, occasional pen marks and penciled notes from the editor on the inside pages, and even a crooked stamp on the inside cover tracking ownership make me want to fall asleep hearing about the Louisiana Purchase all over again. Not that I did the first time. I was an awesome student.

Much like the show that spawned it, America (The Book) takes history and puts a spin on it that makes it entertaining and informative*******. The whole book carries the undertone of mock jingoism, its first chapter touching on the formation of democracy before America briefly, reminding us that pre-American democracy “doesn’t really count.” When describing the ancient Greek model of democracy, it’s decried as “simplistic, naïve, and gay.” I think the passage is a good sample of the book’s overall style; building up and up using elaborate terms and descriptions, then suddenly slipping in a dick joke. And it still cracks me up. Sometimes it gets a little childish with the crude stuff, but on the whole the thing’s pretty dang funny.

After touring the different branches of government, we glimpse the possible futures of democracy, including vampiric Congressmen, genetically enhanced children, and a Latin explosion. Then it’s on to a glance at other countries, tacked on as an afterthought, which proves predictably xenophobic and joyous. There’s a helpful Middle East travel guide that rates safety of Americans to visit on a scale of one to five flaming effigies. The segment on Japan features national icon Hello Kitty, national bird Hello Japanese Pheasant, and Prime Minister Hello Junichiro Koizumi. The book then has a sort of ‘fake’ end, with the credits and bibliography, which segues into an election guide with a foreword by Don King. We meet the candidates for a night on the town; the correspondent who visits a bar with Bush is surrounded and interrupted by Cabinet members who stall while he leaves in a good-natured way. John Kerry ends up a surly drunk trying to play up his toughness and slugs his interviewer.

The only real low points are a couple of spreads inexplicably rendered in sprite form (A presidential museum, and the Graveyard of Third Parties.********) They clash with the rest of the book, and aren’t really especially funny. Of course, later on they admit a need to fill empty space in a chapter littered with dozens of intrusive and increasingly ridiculous ‘insta-poll’ boxes, a la the average network news site.

The Book was removed from Wal-Mart shelves due to the spread of sagging nude Supreme Court Justices. This was an odd display of discretion for a store that built a shiny new outlet on top of a Hawaiian burial ground.********* It’s not a kiddie book by any means, with some choice F-Bombs and grainy night vision teabagging. It seems like the situation could have been worked around by putting the book on the top shelf, which at a Wal-Mart would of course require a grown giant to use a ladder.

America (The Book) is a history text, an activity book, and was a good, light-hearted read in the middle of a tense period in our political history. And it’s still funny after my own wholly unremarkable home state caused an overnight debacle with the fate of the nation in the balance. It’s no high minded, snooty existential comedy,

*Not the beloved French cartoon character. Rather it’s just an annoying way to make you jump back and forth between named anchors in the page source in order to get certain jokes. ^

**”Shut your #%&*ing face!” ^

*** I once had a coworker who endlessly recited the Stuart Smalley affirmation out of context. Turned out the catchphrase not only works better in context, but out of the theater.
^

**** I had textbooks in Math and other subjects that were printed as recently as 1996. Yet the History text seemed curiously out of date. Seriously, learn to budget- math hasn’t changed much since the 60’s. ^

*****But presumably the biggest chunks of the book were done by the editors and other credited writers as Stewart tugged his necktie and made little Jerry Lewis sounds when stumped. ^

******Whose contracts are still in effect, so no A. Whitney Brown or Frank DeCaro. ^

*******Still wouldn’t recommend using this as a substitute when cramming for finals. ^

********Crap, I forgot I said I wasn’t going to use the parentheses this time!! (I lied.) Stop that! (Make me.) ^

*********I heard about it on the Daily Show!
^

Stuart Smalley Saves his Family.
^

‡ I miss Out at the Movies.^

3/2 Lost Articles!-Apply Directly to the Forehead!

3/2 Lost Articles!-Apply Directly to the Forehead! published on

COMMERCIAL BROKEN

America is a proud land of people riveted to the TV. I’m no exception so that’s not some holier-than-thou statement. I keep it on for the noise, to drown out my brother’s radio, or so it’s already on when the handful of shows I actually want to watch come on. As a result, I have a tendency to see and hear things I… really didn’t need to. The following is a sample of some of the worst of these things, well, the commercials anyway. Shit TV programs tend to have loud, annoying followings so I’ll save my criticisms of those for when I need research material for an essay on the syntax of angry illiterates.

CASE 1: SMILIN’ BOB [Link
to commercial
(one of too god damned many)]

This is Bob.

enzyte1

Bob has something new in his life. A little more spring in his step. A little more wowzer in his trousers. Something that has his golf buddies in slack jawed awe. Something that frightens Japanese businessmen when he goes to use the urinal.

To cut to the chase, Bob has been taking Enzyte, which promises ‘natural male enhancement,’ a slang term for ‘chemically-induced horsecock.’ Each and every Enzyte ad, assuming you live in a cave or have been blessed with chronic seizures that made you black out every time commercials come on, features Bob wandering around with that terrifying plastic-faced grin, while a playful, whistling theme song plays. Bob lives in one of the most Fruedian neighborhoods in God’s White Republican America, so there is always something handy to suggest his new and improved virility, or else call attention to his friends’ impotence. Also, there aren’t any black people in Enzyte ads. You know why.

Annoying little tune and constant nudge-nudge get-it humor aside, Bob scares the hell out of me. That grin is bad enough, but combined with why he’s grinning is just plain creepy. He probably delights in rubbing his rejuvenated manhood against people on the bus.

They’ve relented a bit in playing these of late. Either because Enzyte doesn’t work, or someone finally shouted ENOUGH! at the center of the world. Which, incidentally, is balanced on the tip of Smilin’ Bob’s member, like a perversified Japanese folk tale. There’s also the possibility Bob got arrested for rubbing himself against an undercover cop.

CASE 2- KIDS BOP (Link to one of many plagues)

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Even poisonous insects have imitators.

I have so much hate for the Kids(z?) Bop Kids(zzz?). Essentially, these are a series of mail-ordered CD’s of popular shit music, performed by annoying little kids. I HATE the music on these albums, and I’m not terribly fond of the kids in that commercial, who are usually depicted climbing rocks, dancing, or playing with their recently-assigned “Kinda Looks Like ANIME!” mascot. They’re played more or less nonstop on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, and show no signs of drying up like the Enzyte flood did as long as shitpop continues to exist. I’d love to go on more, but really, my point is clear- I hate Evanescense songs sung by Evanecense, so hearing them mangled further by the wails of prepubescent performers is just plain punishing. The Kidz Bop troupe has gone gold, presumably due to the impulsive spending of Michael Jackson.

If you buy a Kidz Bop album, finishing reading this sentence will legally allow me to kill you if we meet in a public place. Thank you for your cooperation.

CASE 3- HEAD ON (You click this to watch!)

Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead! Better not scroll too fast or you’ll miss the humorous observation. Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead! This commercial isn’t an ad, it’s brainwashing. It takes a special kind of annoyance to qualify for a news spot. Or at least a damn slow news day. Head on! Apply directly to the forehead! Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!Head on! ‘

CASE 4- TRANSFORMERS: GENERATION 2 (Click
for retro annoyance.
)

“Generation 2” began as an ambitious project to re-release toys from the 80’s in new, more X-TREME color schemes that were the nail in the coffin as far as that “Robots in Disguise” concept. Aside from the fact they spent most of the show transforming in plain sight and having zany adventures with their human friends, they now featured neon paint jobs, with their names and faction written on the sides. The only proper way to market these new, hip updates…?

MID-NINETIES RAP!

There were other ads like that, but for some reason that stood out the most since they called one of their own products “Boring!” right in the ad.

CASE 5- EXTREME MACARONI (Mercifully, no Youtube link)

The X-TREME trend of the nineties is one of the things I feel deeply ashamed of. when I was little, I wore a neon pink and yellow THUNDERJETS! fruit snacks fanny pack. In public. In time I’d get sick of it all and wear black shirts and blue jeans all the time, while developing a severe allergy to anything that had that ‘mass market hip’ feel.

Then. Came. Max.

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It’s new Max-a-roni/

So here’s the deal/

It’s the new Mac& Cheese/

THAT KEEPS IT REAL!

I’ll allow extreme caffeinated drinks, extreme sporting equipment, and even extreme frisbee, but extreme macaroni and cheese is well past The Line. It’s like extreme cereal. You can put Barney Rubble on a skateboard, but
it’s not going to make those Fruity Pebbles any less prone to dissolving into confetti-colored mush, and no matter how much gel you put in the macaroni mascot’s hair, it’s still probably going to taste as rubbery and nasty as any other TV dinner. If he wasn’t a (badly drawn) cartoon, rest assured Max would spend a lot of time on the EXTREME TOILET! Keeping it real. With the rollerblading velociraptor sponsor of Extreme Pepto Bismol.

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