Thursday, July 8, 2010

Judging By Their Covers Dept.: Guides for 'Complete Idiots'

Published in the Portland Phoenix

If you want more proof of the degeneracy of modern American society, look no farther than the series of books labeled The Complete Idiot's Guide To. Published by Alpha Books, they appear to be aimed at those people whose intellects are one step below the customers of Wiley Publishing's ... For Dummies series.

And what do these books help the average "Complete Idiot" do? All sorts of things — raise goats, understand Facebook, and even learn Latin (perhaps targeting those who, like former vice-president Dan Quayle, think people still speak that language).

There are several volumes, though, that are disturbing in nature, and might cross the line into realms we prefer not be trod by someone who carries around a book identifying them in large orange type as a "Complete Idiot."

Some of these books could make mini-series of their own. Start, for example, with the eye-opening Sex for Dummies book, and then move on to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth. That should fill the gap before you need to buy the CI's Guides to Raising Boys or Raising Girls. A few years later, pick up the latest edition of Open Nesting, which has, according to its cover line, "all you need to know about re-opening your home to your adult children." But when they move in, give your boomerang kids the CI's Guide to Self-Sufficient Living. Maybe they'll take the hint.

And then there are the books that we really wish they hadn't published. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Government Jobs, for example. Perhaps we could suggest a companion volume: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Preventing Idiots from Getting Government Jobs.

Most disturbing, though, is The Complete Idiot's Guide to the ASVAB. This refers to the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, the standardized test administered to all new members of the military to help determine what job they should do. After Abu Ghraib and General Stanley McChrystal's bizarre behavior in Afghanistan, do we really need this book?

Here are some other real highlights from the latest catalogue, with our suggested tips for each volume:
THE MUSIC BUSINESS If you don't work for the RIAA, please give this book to someone who does.
THE FINANCIAL CRISIS If you don't work for Goldman Sachs or the Federal Reserve, please give this book to someone who does.
CASHING IN ON YOUR INVENTIONS Idiots rarely invent things that actually work. Try it again, just to be sure. But first, check your life-insurance policy!
VENTRILOQUISM Please, try not to speak for others, but rather let others speak for you.
RECOVERING FROM IDENTITY THEFT Now's your chance! Steal someone else's identity and stop being an idiot!