Tag Archives: weird books

Puberty Books of the Damned: How to Say No (Like a Sociopath)

A very bored teenage boy.

Here we go again! It’s time for another round of pointers from those Admirable Adjuncts of Adolescent Advice over at TEENWORKS. They’ve taught you how to flirt, make friends, and walk on your buttcheeks. Now they’ll instruct you on the fine art of turning someone down.

If you’ve been following the TEENWORKS method to the letter, you should be enjoying the kind of long-lasting relationship that makes your friends groan in envy. Each day should be a fresh study in unspeakable bliss, marked by moonlit strolls and amorous exclamations like the following:

I'd rather go to the movies with him than have a private audience with the King of England!

That’s fortunate, given current English monarchical realities.

But what if you’ve fallen short somehow? What if you’ve played the wrong hand, spoken the wrong line, attracted the wrong man? What if–heaven forfend–you actually need to reject somebody? How can you shake a sub-par would-be suitor?

Don’t Be Direct
One thing you definitely don’t want to do is be direct. The consequences of an improperly softened “no” can be disastrous.

A harsh no can put a guy off dating for an entire term!

An entire term, ladies! In a society that caters endlessly to the young male ego, a single “no” can break a guy. The most tedious of women’s libbers might suggest we condition young boys in such a way that they can cope when life fails to hand them everything on a platter, but let’s be real: isn’t it easier to keep training girls to cushion the blow?

“Sorry,” you might say. “Although you are extremely virile, I need to wash my hair tonight.”

“It’s not you, it’s me,” you might also try. “Your masculinity overwhelms me; also, I’m overdue for a vigorous round of buttcheek jogging.”

“Please don’t feel bad,” you could additionally remark. “I can’t be in a relationship until I sort through my problems. My vagina problems. In my vagina.”

If He Can’t Take the Hint
Sometimes subtlety runs off teenage boys like piss off a plastic bed sheet. TEEN WORKS acknowledges this. In fact, TEEN WORKS indirectly recognizes the possibility that a guy might miss the message eight or nine times.

Can't you take a hint?

The above question is from a quiz called “Are You a Caring Person?” If you choose Option A, it means you’re a callous jerk. (Whether it also means that Ben is a pushy lunatic, TEENWORKS doesn’t say.) Again, you can’t be too direct–so what do you do?

The answer lies in the immortal words of Seal: you’re never gonna survive, Dear Reader, unless you get a little crazy.

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Puberty Books of the Damned: Butt-Walking Edition

Personal fitness can be a sensitive issue. In today’s hypertensive society, it’s more important than ever to teach young people about nutrition and exercise; but how do you prevent that instruction from shading into fat-shaming?

The authors of TEEN WORKS grappled with that very issue in the 1980’s. As is their wont, they farted out the worst, pants-on-head craziest solution ever.

No Butts About It

The woman in the fetching purple leotard is Tamilee Webb, a “fitness expert” whose expertise consists mainly of trolling teenage girls by getting them to do the stupidest exercises imaginable. When we first meet Tamilee, she highlights the singular dissatisfaction most girls feel with their butts.

In a recent survey, teen girls were asked which part of their anatomy they would most like to change. Among the top three was buttocks.

Butts was in the top three, you guys! That means butts earned at least a bronze in the Body Shame Olympics. Way to go, butts! Of course, there was stiff competition.

Many girls who are otherwise satisfied with their figures complain that their hips are too large or bulge in the wrong spots.

Move over, butts. Hips are here to knock you off your pedestal.

But wait–a challenger appears!

When asked which part of their body needs the most toning and shaping, girls often say their waist or thighs.

Whew! There sure are a lot of body parts vying for the title of Most Loathed. Hence the original title of this section of the book: Fitness! Why Every Part of You is the Worst Part!

For my part, I’m sticking with butts. If only because the page on butts contains the following phrase.

Many girls think their fannies are too large, too wobbly, or too lumpy.

The American in me sees nothing funny about this sentence. The Anglophile in me is laughing hard enough to bust a hiatal hernia.

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Weird Finds: Angelic Messages as Given to Tina Michelle

I’ve had this book for over a year, but I’ve hesitated to post about it.  I was bullied as a kid, so I have a hard time picking on specific people–especially people this crazy.  The turning point for me was realizing that “Tina Michelle” is almost certainly not the author’s real name.  Also, if she gets really upset about this post and tries to end it all, we can take solace in the fact that an African American angel will save her.  Read on to learn more!

Tina Michelle-cover

I bought this book for three dollars at one of those shops that has to be a drug front.  It has no customers, yet it’s been thriving for the better part of a decade.  Kind of like the store in my old hometown that was selling Buzz Lightyear novelty telephones in 2008.

Anyway, this is a book about angels.  More specifically, about angels as they’ve appeared to an Appalachian woman with the improbable moniker Tina Michelle.  I’m not referencing the Appalachian thing to drum up any latent prejudices against “hillbillies,” by the way.  Tina Michelle herself mentions it on the back cover.  Apparently “her Appalachian humor embraces her audiences, as her teaching technique unfolds their inner knowledge.”  That’s right, this woman is a motivational speaker.

Something else she mentions on the back cover (and countless times throughout the book): Tina Michelle has almost died four times.

Four near-death experiences

Tina Michelle has been snatched from the jaws of death by her guardian angel on four separate occasions.  That sounds nice until you really think about it–her guardian angel has almost let her die four times.  Wouldn’t that be a sign that her guardian angel kind of, well, sucks at his job?

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“Oh, hi Mark”: Tommy Wiseau’s THE ROOM as Primer on How Not to Write a Story

I can’t remember the last time I was as enthused about a non-fiction book as I am about Greg Sestero and Tom Bissel’s The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made.  It’s really something special.

The Disaster ArtistFor those of you unfamiliar with cult classic The Room, I urge you to watch these videos before proceeding.  No isolated clips can really do the film justice, but hopefully those will whet your appetite for its unique brand of lunacy.  (The entire movie is available on YouTube as well.)

Filmed in a parking lot in 2003 at a budget of $6 million dollars, The Room is director-producer-star Tommy Wiseau’s singular vision, a vanity project that transcends mere vanity, a so-bad-it’s-glorious omnibus of every wrong impulse, artistic misapprehension, and petty hubristic idiocy known to man.  It is often pegged, along with Plan 9 From Outer Space and Troll 2, as the worst movie ever made.  But while Plan 9 and Troll 2 are aggressive outlandish in their particulars, The Room is a different animal.  It’s not science fiction.  It’s not fantasy.  It’s a domestic drama that somehow manages to be stranger than any fever vision of speculative fiction.  It’s like an alien visited Earth and later tried to recreate for his countrymen what he saw there.  In his grasp of how human beings feel, speak, and act, Tommy Wiseau is on par with the Martians.

The Room movie posterIn the introduction to The Disaster Artist, actor Greg Sestero (who played the character of Mark in the film) calls The Room “the most casually surreal film ever made.”  Ostensibly, it’s about a man named Johnny (played by Wiseau) whose fiancee, Lisa, cheats on him with his best friend, Mark.  Crushed by the betrayal of his loved ones, Johnny ends his life by shooting himself in the head.  It’s a grand, Shakespearean climax.  Unfortunately, its force is undermined by the all the weird side-stops the film makes along the way.  First there’s Johnny’s neighbor/young ward, Denny, who seems to hint that he wants a threesome with Johnny and Lisa.  Then there’s Chris-R, a drug-dealing gangster who threatens to shoot Denny in the head if he doesn’t get his money.  There’s also Claudette, Lisa’s mother, who casually announces that she has breast cancer and then never mentions it again.  Throw in Tommy’s undefinable accent, a handful of super-gratuitous sex scenes, and several men playing football in tuxes for no readily apparent reason, and you have an experience so weird as to be almost indescribable.

Sestero uses The Disaster Artist both to chronicle the making of the room and to recount his friendship with Wiseau, who is by turns charismatic, childish, grandiose, suicidal, and borderline insane.  It’s a seductive portrait, and a strangely sympathetic one.  Tommy Wiseau sounds like a pain in the ass, but one that you’d gladly suffer for the stories you’d later be able to tell.

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Puberty Books of the Damned, part 2

Several weeks ago, I introduced you to the wonders of TEEN WORKS: a set of 60’s/80’s-era puberty books I got for free at an estate sale.  These books are long, clocking in at well over a hundred articles each and covering every conceivable topic, from how to flirt to how to pretend to care about football to how to match your pink plastic belt with your oversized Mickey Mouse shirt-dress.  For this, our second foray into TEEN WORKS-dom, I thought we would delve into the most important topic of all: how to get a boy.

Step One: Identify Your Type

Everybody’s got a type.  For some, it’s the brooding guitar player.  For others, it’s the outgoing Big Man on Campus.  For me, it’s…well.  You know.

Exasperated SherlockI didn’t even say anything!
(from sherlock.tumblr.com)

But how can you pinpoint your type?  After all, there are millions of types out there, each clearly distinct from the others.

What Kind of Guy is Your Type?Psych!  There’s actually only four.  And the writers of TEEN WORKS, bless them, have provided you with a handy quiz to determine upon which of the four you should concentrate your amorous efforts.  Let’s look at some of the questions.

After school, the guy of your dreams is probablyFrom this item alone, we can see the broad archetypes they’re referencing.  There’s the jock guy.  The intellectual guy.  The artistic guy.  The, uh…likes-having-snacks-with-friends guy.  (As an aside, when I fantasized about my dream man during my hormonal teenaged years, he was generally snacking on me.)

Scandalized Gary BuseyAccording to Google Image Search, this is what “scandalized” looks like.

Let’s look at another question.

Your guy likes you best in...What the hell is a muscle shirt?  Are we talking one of those sleeveless t-shirts with slits all down the sides?  Because if any guy thinks I look best in that, he’s not a jock: he’s delusional.

Anywho, once you’ve muscled (muscle-shirted?) your way through this quiz, you receive one of four types, as personified by four hypothetical boys.

Ted, the Cool GuyTed here is the Cool One.  He knows what’s in and what’s not.  (And what’s in is “snacks with friends.”)

Jason, the JockJason is the Jock, and also the muscle shirt aficionado.

Ryan, the BrainRyan is the Brain.  He likes learning and (probably) giving jaunty salutes.

Bill, the ArtistBill is the Artist.  Should you choose to date him, beware–at some point, he will run off with Ted in search of an Excellent Adventure. Continue reading

Weird Finds in the Value World Book Section

Ah, Value World.  It’s like a garage sale without the garage.  Salvation Army without any standards.  Your crazy Uncle Leroy’s attic without the decomposing corpse smell.  Though I am a Value World devotee (my family has been shopping there since I was in pre-school), even I have to admit that it’s a bizarre establishment.

That includes the book section.

Islam: Religion of Peace or War?








This “hard-hitting” religious pamphlet was with the magazines.  So which side do the authors come down on when it comes to a faith shared by hundreds of millions of people?  In case you couldn’t tell from the explosion behind the word “ISLAM,” I’ll give you a hint: it’s the bigoted and grossly reductive one!

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies








Well, at least the title strips away the facade presented by the smiling woman on the cover. To be honest, I’m really fed up with books about parents dying, and I’m not sure a super self-referential title is going to change that. Still, props for originality. Well done, book.

A bundle consisting of several wildly unrelated books








Now you, too, can own The Quran, The Giver, and Roald Dahl’s The Witches all in one convenient bundle!  If you can get the packing tape off without shredding them to pieces, that is.

Captain Nemo DVD








Join Captain Nemo and his young wards (child slaves?) as they battle against some really abashed-looking sharks (the one on the right looks like it’s apologizing for tooting.) But wait! Before you dive into the magical world of Nemo, take a look at his picture on the back of the box.

Extremely Caucasian Captain Nemo







Ah, yes, Captain Nemo, just as Jules Verne described him: Caucasian, towheaded, and wearing a blindingly white turtleneck.

BONUS: The Most Patriotic Truck in the World

My husband and I encountered this beast on the way home from Value World.  If you find the man who owns this truck, you will have found a man with more patriotism (or dedication to extremely ironic vehicle detailing) than sense.

World War Champions








Look, dudes, I’m as relieved that we won the World Wars as the next guy–but it was quite a while ago.  Surely the time for gloating has passed?

Mericah!  Undefeated World War Champs








Undefeated in World Wars I & 2, true. But there was this silly incident a bit later–rhymes with Schmietnam?

Jack Bauer picture on the side of a truck.








My sources confirm that this is indeed a picture of Jack Bauer from 24. And…there’s nothing I can say that’ll top that. Good night, folks!