We get a lot of books for review here at Slashdot. Most are sent out to users on our reviewer list within a few weeks. Others become part of an impressive wall of books on my desk before they find a home. There are a choice few however that are doomed to never see the inside of a Fedex box. This is mostly due to the complete and utter stupidity or absurdness of their subject matter. I've decided to give these failed intellectual endeavors a chance and explore just how big a waste of time a book can be. We start scraping the bottom of the barrel with a little number written by Paul Davidson called, The Lost Blogs. Read below to find out just how bad it got.
I used to work at a restaurant in college. After I was there for a year it was my job to help train new employees. One evening they had me train a nice young girl on the dessert station. The dessert station was one of the easiest places to work all you did was bake and slice pies and make the occasional ice cream sundae. An order for a hot fudge sundae came through the ticket machine so I got out a bowl and got her started. We used hot fudge packets that had to be warmed up in the microwave before being squeezed out onto the top of the ice cream. I told my new young trainee that the hot fudge needed a thirty second bath of microwaves and to get me when it was done and I'd show her how to pipe on the whip cream all fancy like. After a few minutes she came up to me and said that the ice cream had all melted, so she tried it a second time with the same melting results. I looked over both bowls of liquid ice cream and asked her how they melted so fast? I asked her to make another one while I watched to see what she was doing wrong. She scooped out the ice cream, opened up a packet of fudge squeezed it out and put the whole bowl into the microwave. I didn't know what to say. She microwaved ice cream six times that night while I watched, not once did it occur to her that ice cream would melt in a microwave. I comped the mans bill for the sundae he never got and had a good portion of the restaurant employees gathered to see if the trainee would ever solve the melting mystery. She never did and until I opened the first page of The Lost Blogs the six sundaes in the microwave was the stupidest thing I have ever seen.
The book starts off with a rambling two page acknowledgments section that drunkenly wanders from subjects like the South Beach diet to petty theft. It pauses to discuss the difference between Abe Vigoda and Bea Arthur and finally embarrasses Paul's family by forever linking them in ink with this sham of a book. This section does serve a valuable purpose however. Anyone with any level of discernment would be so turned off by it's incoherent nature that they would be saved the agony of reading The Lost Blogs. Discernment is not a luxury I had, so it was with much regret that I read on. The premise behind The Lost Blogs, like talking fruit and a submarine for babies, seems like a good idea until you see it in action. Quoting the back of the book, "What if the most famous, brilliant, obsessive, dumb and evil people throughout history had blogs? Wonder how Charles Lindbergh kept busy during his transatlantic fight? Wonder how Napoleon could possibly have reached the keyboard? In The Lost Blogs, you'll read the intimate weblogs of 175 iconic historical figures writing about their stupid pets, shaving rituals primate romances and plans for world domination-just like any other blogger...maybe even you!"
What it delivers is 271 pages of nonsense that is reminiscent of an assignment in your high school creative writing class. Many of the blogs are a few hundred words or less, which was fine with me since most of them are historically inaccurate. Alexander The Great's blog talks about how great his blog is. Joseph Stalin's blog talks about how he's going to purge his blog of all links. I assume because he purged his country of ethnic minorities, political opponents and other undesirables, killing millions. Hilarious! Samuel Morse just has five paragraphs of dots and dashes. Noah has a list of animals he still needs. Louis Pasteur talks about how germy his keyboard is. Herman Melville is obsessed with fighting a giant black cockroach that lives in his toilet (alright I kind of like that one). Fifty-one out of the first 100 words in the Howard Hughes blog are urine. That's over half urine! I took this as a metaphor for the whole book. Lastly, Jim Morrison posts the lyrics to a new song he's working on called, Light the Fire
You know I've opened up the flume
and thrown inside a rubber tire
so can you please just follow through
and finally, please, start the fire
Come on baby, light the fire
Come on baby, light the fire
but please don't light the house on fire.
I know that somewhere Weird Al is crying. I could go on and on but you get the idea.
It seems to me that anyone with nothing to do, I mean absolutely nothing, could sit down with a few beers, a note pad and Wikipedia and crank out something like The Lost blogs. Lets pray that they don't. Almost every historical figure in the book has surviving writings that you can read. Some have a huge amount that you can sift through. So in addition to being inaccurate and unamusing The Lost Blogs is also redundant. My favorite part of this book is that I finished it and never have to open it again. The Lost Blogs is an exercise in mental masturbation that doesn't have the decency to let you finish. It is the bottom of the barrel.