Monday, December 3, 2007

This year we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the publication of this overlooked classic. Case studies in this book include:
  • A company that learned the hard way that fertilizer and cyberspace don’t mix.
  • Groins R Us: A story of four fraternity brothers and their woefully pathetic attempt to seize this sensitive niche market.
  • Donner Party Consulting: Who can ever forget their classic ad slogan, “Is Your Competition Eating You Alive?”
What is notable is the authors walked the talk in writing and publishing this book. For example:
  • The book was published directly from their unedited, first draft.
  • In Search of Mediocrity holds the Guinness World Record for most typos in a published book.
  • At least 72% of the data cited in the book has been proven to be incorrect.
For more information on this book contact Cretin & Blowfart Publishing.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Last year's brutal attack on the beloved California Raisins is the beginning point for this poignant and disturbing examination of America at a crossorads. The author makes an undeniable but still hard to swallow case that something has gone deeply wrong with the national discourse at the dinner table. One upon a time, he notes, dinner was a time for families and friends to gather for both sustenance and civil conversations. But somehow the fabric of a well woven and coherent argument has given way to infantile behavior such as exhibited in the food fight scene in the movie Animal House.

Fortunately, Mr. Ogre transcends reflexive Hollywood bashing. Still, this reviewer wishes that greater respect had been paid to the contributions of John Bellushi, especially his "Luck of the Irish" commentary from Saturday Night Live. To Mr. Ogre's credit, he cites the latest FBI statistics on food related crimes and lays bare the truth about the skyrocketing sales of rutabagas.

This reviewer was deeply moved by the epilogue in which Mr. Ogre makes a heartfelt plea for compassion and understanding. Readers of this review are strongly encouraged to seek inspiration in Frank Zappa's song Call Any Vegetable.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


The book begins well enough with a first chapter entitled, “While I Was Snacking.” The author, Mr. Freedme, discusses his experience sitting on a couch, his coffee table littered with debris from McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Taco Bell and Baskin-Robbins. At that particular moment, he happens to be watching the world championships of Sumo wrestling when, lo and behemoth, Torsten Scheibler, a 440-pound wrestler from Germany captures a gold medal.

Initially Mr. Feedme’s observations are lucid, acute and scintillating. He asks provocative questions about globalization, the retail economy and vividly paints parallel trends in international sports and the fast food industry as a metaphor for more broad-reaching sea changes. He astutely explores how a sport such as Sumo, whose very essence is Japanese, has been embraced internationally, attracting both fans and athletes from around the world.

From there, the book’s promising beginning is utterly obliterated as Feedme launches into a bloated and turgid premise that gives rise to a series of chapters entitled, “Ten Forces that Fattened the World.” The author have may begun with the belief that the Sumo wrestlers he saw on the TV screen that day, alongside the fast food debris on his coffee table, could be woven into a coherent set of ideas. Alas, Feedme's intellectual drawbacks become abundantly evident as one peruses the chapter titles for each of the Fatteners:

- Fattener #1. 4/19/75 – Double-Stuff Oreo’s introduced

- Fattener #2. 11/8/87 – First online menu appears

- Fattener #3. The blueprint is drawn for a Starbucks within a Starbucks
- Fattener #4: Weird Al releases his music video, Fat.
Fattener #5. The Jenny Craig Heresy
- Fattener #6. The Global Calorie
- Fattener #7. The Cooking Channel in High Definition

- Fattener #8. Ingesting, inhaling, insourcing and indigestion
- Fattener #9. Boink: Eating without thinking
- Fattener #10. Atlas bulks up on steroids so he can shrug more easily

This is a book filled with cute inanities and totally bereft of meaningful ideas, much like junk food filled with empty calories. Oy!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Maladies of Interpreters

This collection of short stories marks a wonderful debut by Zoompa LaHeiri and portends good things to come (Note: Her first name is pronounced juhmp pah).

This reviewer enjoyed all the stories was especially intrigued by titles such as, When Mr. Piranha Came to Dine, A Temporal Matter, The Third and Final Lincoln Continental and A Really Smelly Durian. One stands in awe at her assured deftness, her subtle use of lush juxtapositions that, almost ironically, are nearly bereft of metaphors. Perhaps it is her acute eye for pronouns, but one can never really be sure.

The featured story is Maladies of Interpreters in which Ms. La Heiri successfully navigates the hyperkinetic turbulence that inevitably results when a myriad of maudlin characters are thrust in the maelstrom of an unmitigated disaster. The setting is the annual conference for the Global Association of International Translators (GAIT), a normally staid event held each September at the Secaucus Embassy Suites Hotel.

Things quickly go awry when a mysterious illness afflicts conference attendees with symptoms that are a cross between hemorrhagic fever and the heartbreak of psoriasis. Oddly, it is only translators who fall prey. Hotel staff and other guests are totally unaffected.

The translators must be quarantined. It is at this point that the main protagonist, Lila Quincy Jordan Lolita, a world renowned epidemiologist, is introduced. Dr. Lolita, it turns out, is a deaf mute who communicates only via sign language. Ironically, among the two thousand translators trapped in the hotel, not one is fluent in sign language.

LaHeiri deftly avoids most of the tired old cliché involving deaf mutes and translators, using wit and tension in all the right places along with the well timed death scene. She also does a remarkable job of injecting gallows humor in a way that seems totally apropos. For example, the scene where some of the translators recreate the old Firesign Theatre skit, “Beat the Reaper” can only be described as inspired lunacy. Most remarkably, this literary device comes off as natural part of the narrative landscape rather than a mutated or gene altered artifice.

This reviewer is so impressed by Ms. LaHeiri’s writing that he and his wife will likely name their next child, if it is a girl, after her. It should be a lovely namesake and, one suspects, a fascinating story in of itself.