How a show about nothing changed everything

Seinfeldia:
How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything ★ ★ ★ ★

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Simon & Schuster, 2016

seinfeldiaA free copy was provided through Netgalley in exchange for review.

 

“Everybody’s doing something. We’ll do NOTHING.” ~George (Seinfeld)

 

I think anyone who picks up this book is most likely going to be a rabid Seinfeld fan, and I’m no exception. We are in the midst of PeakTV — a new heralded Golden Age of Television — and there’s a very persuasive argument to be made that it all started with a small show about nothing, that did in fact, change everything. Despite the avalanche of remarkable and groundbreaking TV that’s hit our small screens since Seinfeld exited stage left in 1998, it still remains one of my favorite shows of all time. I’ve never stopped watching it in syndication, it continues to make me bust a gut laughing on a regular basis, and I’ve yet to encounter any situation in life that cannot be captured by applying a Seinfeld quote.

Seinfeldia is a fun book, and a totally immersive experience into the bizarre, unexpected and meteoric rise of a show that probably should have been cancelled after its first season. But after a rocky and uncertain start, the show got traction with fans and critics. As its influence spread, it was clear to see that Seinfeld was bleeding over and breaking the Fourth Wall on a regular basis, blending fact with fiction in an original and inspired way and not just becoming part of the zeitgeist and popular culture but seemingly birthing it out of thin air. The catchy phrases and neurotic dialogue uttered on the show were quickly absorbed by television audiences and recited in everyday life as if we had always been saying such things.

Or here’s what I think — we had always needed these words to describe both the inanity and absurdity of life, and it was Seinfeld who gave them to us.

larry-david-1024

Larry David

The author takes a nice even-handed, well-researched approach describing the “making of” the show, offering a behind-the-scenes analysis of early working relationships, early scripts and the jockeying for power and position between the actors, writers and directors. At the helm of course was Larry David — perhaps the first instance where we really see the genius that can result when a showrunner is given complete creative control over his/her product. And David wielded that power like Thor’s mighty hammer. The only other creative force welcomed into the inner sanctum was not surprisingly David’s right hand man, Jerry Seinfeld. Together, these two gentlemen mind-fused into a comedic entity where the sum of their brilliance far exceeded their individual talents.

The book also has fun dipping into the “bizarro” aspects of the show — how it carried the Midas touch for a lot of struggling actors who would go on to great careers after their stints on Seinfeld, no matter how brief or fleeting their appearance. Probably the most notable here is Bryan Cranston — the inimitable Dr. Whatley — a dentist who Jerry is certain converted to Judaism strictly for the jokes. Even regular people who never acted on the show got pulled into its gravitational belt for better and for worse.

The real people counterparts to the fictionalized versions of themselves on the show would reap financial rewards and a fame by proxy —
1. Kenny Kramer’s Reality Tour is still going strong in New York City;
2. Ali (“Al”) Yeganeh is the real “Soup Nazi” and continues to sell his soup today (and curse Jerry Seinfeld for giving him an infamy and notoriety he never asked for or ever aspired to);
3. and Larry Thomas, the actor who played the “Soup Nazi”, continues to appear at fan conventions and speaking engagements, and has even written a book! Rather than fight against it, the actor has made peace with a role he will never outlive and embraces the benefits with grace and humor.

veep_poster_p_2013The book also addresses the backlash against a show that had become so popular it attracted haters and critics who believed it to be insufferably smug and overrated. The author also talks about the controversial finale episode and how it disappointed many fans and critics (it’s not my favorite episode by any means, but I found things to love about the finale). Then there was the fate of the four leads post-Seinfeld and the various trajectories their careers took, the strangest and most disappointing being Michael Richards and his public breakdown of racist rage. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has always been my biggest girl crush and I’ve been over the moon to watch her role as Vice-President Selina Meyer only get better over five seasons of VEEP. And for Jerry Seinfeld fans you can catch him now doing Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee which just got an Emmy nomination today. I haven’t seen this yet, but I do plan on checking it out at some point.

Not surprisingly, the brains and soul and passion behind Seinfeld, creator Larry David, has had the most enduring and critical success with his show Curb Your Enthusiasm (which ended in 2011 after eight seasons, but it’s just been announced the show will return for a season nine).

To wrap things up (and leave on a high note, with hand), I’m gonna take a page from Dan who in his review listed his ten favorite Seinfeld episodes. For anyone who has ever watched and loved the show, you’ll remember just how packed each episode became, routinely following four sub-plots for each of the four leads — Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer. David’s singular purpose and desire was to strive to have every episode end with the four sub-plots intersect by the ending. And he almost always succeeded. In no particular order (it was too hard to pick just ten, let alone rank) here are some of my favorites.

Mild spoilers ahead for the Seinfeld virgins.


“The Chicken Roaster”:
Jerry and Kramer switch apartments when the searing neon red light from the Kenny Rogers Roasters sign across the street starts disturbing Kramer’s sleep. And who can forget Mr. Marbles.
parkinggarage

“The Parking Garage”

 

“The Parking Garage”:
The gang gets trapped in an underground parking garage when none of them can remember where Kramer parked his car. Highlights: Elaine wanders helplessly holding a goldfish in a plastic bag of water waiting for it to perish. George and Jerry get arrested for urinating in public.

 

“The Chinese Restaurant”:
The penultimate episode of the second season which takes place entirely in a Chinese restaurant while the gang waits to be seated. It remains a fan and critical favorite of Seinfeld’sgroundbreaking approach to comedic storytelling — an episode about “nothing”.

 

“The Bubble Boy”:
The gang travels upstate to stay in Susan’s father’s cabin. Susan and George stop at the Bubble Boy’s house to get directions and play a game of trivial pursuit. Moops!

 

“The Opera”:
The most memorable “Crazy Joe Davola” episode. Elaine and Jerry are trying to enjoy a night out at the opera when Joe turns up dressed as the clown from Pagliacci.

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“The Contest”

 

“The Contest”:
The gang bet each other to see who can hold out the longest from self-pleasuring themselves (the word masturbation is never used in the episode considered too “adult” for prime time television). Part of the fun is all the euphemisms used to avoid saying the actual word, and what eventually makes each character crack.

 

“The Puffy Shirt”:
Jerry unknowingly agrees to wear a puffy “pirate shirt” on the Today Show. George gets discovered as a hand model.

 

“The Marine Biologist”:
After faking and lying about various jobs and careers, George is finally called out and forced to become a marine biologist when confronted by a beached whale in distress. “The sea was angry that day my friends.”

 

“The Fusilli Jerry”:
Kramer starts making figures of his favorite people out of pasta shapes that best suit their personality. Jerry is “silly” so his is made from Fusilli. Highlights: “the move” (David Puddy, my favorite recurring character, starts using Jerry’s sex move on Elaine; Kramer becomes “the Assman”; and Frank Costanza ends up at the proctologist’s office after impaling himself on the Fusilli Jerry. This is also the episode where we get Frank’s move of “stopping short”.

facepainter

David Puddy “The Face Painter”

 

“The Face Painter”:
I love David Puddy and this (along with the “Jesus Fish” subplot from “The Burning” episode, is his best stuff.

 

“The Soup Nazi”:
It’s the Soup Nazi! No soup for you!”

 

“The Little Kicks”:
Two words: Elaine dances. Also, Jerry becomes a bootlegger and we meet Brody.

 

“The Merv Griffin Show”:
Kramer finds the set of the Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster and sets it up in his apartment. Highlights: Jerry is dating a woman with collectible toys from his childhood (that she won’t let him play with); George runs over a squirrel and is pressured by the woman he’s dating to save its life, which the vet informs him will be costly and require the use of “special, really tiny instruments.”

 

“The Slicer”:
Kramer gets a deli slicer and starts slicing meat. Elaine and Kramer conspire to short circuit the power in her neighbor’s apartment only to find out there’s a cat trapped inside starving because its food dispenser no longer works. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg — there’s so much hilarity stuffed into this episode that often gets overlooked.

 

“The Reverse Peephole”, “The Frogger” and “The Bookstore”:
For anyone who ever challenges you that Seinfeldstayed on the air too long, or wasn’t as funny once Larry David left, I give you these three episodes which contain some of the funniest sub-plots the show covered in its nine season run. Highlights:

George’s overstuffed wallet, and keeping the massage chair for himself
Jerry is forced to wear a fur coat
Puddy buys an obnoxious leather jacket with a giant 8 on the back, Elaine is mortified
George must enlist the help of Kramer’s electrician “friends” to move Frogger game to safety
Elaine starts eating Peterman’s $29,000 Royal wedding cake purchased in an auction
Jerry can’t break up with a woman because he’s too afraid of “The Lopper” serial killer
Newman and Kramer try to set up a rickshaw business
Jerry gets Uncle Leo arrested, not knowing about his previous “crime of passion”
Jerry finds out from his parents “it’s not stealing if it’s something you need”
George takes an expensive book into the Brentano’s bathroom and is forced to buy it. He tries to return it and discovers it’s been “flagged”.

cast1I could keep going. Seriously, I feel like I’m just getting started. I haven’t even mentioned “Moviefone”, “shrinkage”, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”, “Delores”, “George’s desk naps”, yada yada yada. It would have been a much shorter list identifying the odd sub-plot or moments that can no longer make me laugh. There are far fewer of those. After all these years and repeated viewingsSeinfeld has more than stood the test of time. If anything, it’s ageless, or like a fine whiskey, keeps getting better with age as it thrives (and finds new audiences) in syndication. And while some outstanding comedies have appeared in the years following its finale — It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia andParks and Rec to name my two favorites — they all owe a debt to Seinfeld and for a show that continues to make me laugh out loud, I owe it a debt too.

And because IT STILL makes me tear up watching it even now — I did have the time of my life. Thanks for asking.

 

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What’s love got to do with it?

Modern Romance ★★★★
by Aziz Ansari
Penguin Press, 2015

modern_romanceI’ve been so behind on my reviewing these days, but I had so much fun with this one I wanted to make sure I didn’t let it fall through the dark cracks into the swirling abyss where my non-reviewed books go.

I’m a huge fan of Ansari. I think he’s cute as a button and funny as goddamn hell. I watched him in Parks & Rec, his most recent Netflix original Master of None (which I highly recommend), and thoroughly enjoy his stand-up concerts. He’s not at the same level as Louis CK or Patton Oswalt, but he’s also a lot younger than these gentlemen who have been honing their dark and brilliant comedy for decades now.

Modern Romance is not your typical “comedian writes a book” fare. It’s not a memoir, or a book filled with ruminations on the life of a comedian. It’s a thinky piece, backed up by real sociological research, with pie charts and everything! Ansari’s approach to breaking down the ins and outs of dating and hooking up and settling down in the 21st century is as intriguing and compelling as it is infectious and informative. I loved every minute of it. The layout is light and breezy, and super accessible without distilling and dumbing down the subject matter too much as to be insulting to its audience. Ansari wants to make you laugh, make no mistake, but he’s also very earnest in his desire to tell you what he’s learned.

And can I just say I find all of it utterly FASCINATING. I’m addicted to “meet cute” stories (even though I would never consider myself a romantic, and have an averse reaction to rom-com movies — that make me break out in hives). But how people meet and when they decide “to put a ring on it” (or not) can always get my attention. I have to check myself from being perpetually nosy all of the time, getting the “deets” on all this stuff from my friends, both of the online and the in real life variety.

For me, this book is too short. With its laudable success my hope is that Ansari will be compelled to pen a follow-up, because if there’s one thesis that comes chiming out loud and clear here, it’s that the 21st century dating world is changing fast, at warp speed, impacting how we communicate with one another, form bonds and friendships, and take that scary running leap into “the big commitment”. A lot of the current research being done is showing that the bonds we form online, platonic or otherwise, can no longer be dismissed so easily as superficial and suffering by comparison to those we forge “IRL” (in real life). I do believe most of us on this site would concur that social media has opened up a “brave new world” that’s not just brighter and more vibrant, but has proven increasingly successful in bringing colorful people into our lives that we otherwise would not have known existed, friendships that we now rely upon and cherish.

And that “modern romance” is blooming out of those virtual connections should really be coming as no surprise to anyone.

Ansari does an excellent job of pointing out the pros and cons of modern romance in the 21st century in all its tech’d out, geeked out splendor. We now have more choice than ever before, all at our fingertips with the click of a button or the swipe of a screen, but that landslide of choices might also be paralyzing some of us into making any choice at all. Our standards and expectations for a lifelong partnership might have been raised to exceptionally high, unreasonable levels too. With all that choice at our fingertips, why would we settle for anything less than AMAZING? That perfect “soul mate” who is going to fulfill every single one of our needs every day for the rest of our days. Pfft, people you know this: that person does not exist.

But it’s not all bad news. Technology has not ruined romance for us living in the 21st century. In fact, for many of us, especially women — things have improved vastly. Not because of the tech component, but because women are no longer expected to settle down as early as possible. We can invest in our careers now, and date more and live life as a single, learning about ourselves and the things that are going to make us happy if we do decide to pair off.

There are many areas (due to space constraints) that this book by necessity leaves unaddressed or goes light on, and Ansari is very good about pointing those out at the beginning. One thing missing for me is a breakdown of dating from an extrovert versus introvert point of view. I think our current technology has been an absolute miracle and felicia_daymarvel to introverts who struggle to put themselves out there in the real world of bars and supermarkets and church basements, but are absolutely charming and brave and socially high functioning on the interwebs. It’s been an essential transition for that half of the human population to discover their “tribe” and connect in meaningful ways to people it would have been extremely unlikely they would have ever met IRL.

(and it’s here I’m going to put a plug in for Felicia Day’s memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet who also describes this “social revolution” for introverts in a way that resonated with me completely).

So in case it isn’t obvious by now, I loved this book and I think everyone should read it, young/old, guy/girl, married/single. While it’s easy to despair of the human race, and we know there are too many assholes and unforgivable idiots and sneaky jerkfaces running around out there, human behaviour and why we do the shit we do is still endlessly fascinating, isn’t it? I think so.

I’ll have what she’s having

Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls ★ ★ ★ ★
Katherine Larsen and Lynn Zubernis
University of Iowa Press, 2013

The First Rule of Fandom: tell no one about fandom

fangasmWell, authors Larsen and Zubernis just blew that rule right out of the water, using the CW Network show Supernatural to drag Fandom (with a capital ‘F’) out of the dark, secret corners of the internet into the blinding sun of mainstream Judy Judgmental awareness. I appreciate their heartfelt efforts here to get to the bottom (heh, bottom) of the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ of Fandom — why people do it, who is doing it, and what exactly are they doing when they do it?

This isn’t something that started with Supernatural’s legions of fangirls — goodness no. The clannish tribalism and subversive subculture of fanning has been around for a looong time (just ask the Kirk/Spock shippers), but Supernatural does present the perfect opportunity for two brave women to grab the tail of the beast once and for all and showcase the glorious wonders of Fandom — the good, bad and yes, even ugly, realities (because there is definitely more than one, reality that is).

If it weren’t for Supernatural, I probably would have lived the rest of my life utterly clueless that such a thing as Fandom existed. Because really, it takes an extra special push and shove to bring you into its realm. Not just any ole thing is going to open the Fandom door. You grow up, you love bands, you cheer for a sports team, you get movie star crushes, you won’t miss an episode of your favorite TV show. That’s all great. We all beat our chest when we love something. And that’s getting close. But that’s not Fandom.

Fandom is a whole other thing unto itself — an addiction, a compulsion, a consuming force whereby the more you see of it, the more you love it, and the more you love it, the more of it you seek out, willing to look in places that had never once occurred to you before. When you get there, you find out you’re not alone, and that brings its own comfort and validation, yet another heady combo to keep you coming back for more. Because really, the very essence of Fandom is community. This isn’t something you do by yourself. It’s about plugging in, and all the technicolor surround-sound that comes with it — the fanart, the fanfiction, the fanvids — the humor, the drama, the angst, oh so many feels.

So why the big secret? Why the rule of keeping your mouth shut and not talking about it? As the authors very quickly find out, it’s the stigma and the embarrassment and sometimes even the shame for starters. The stereotypes are ruthless and unforgiving of the socially retarded Trekkie living in his mom’s basement, or the squeeing fangirl — intellectually challenged, perhaps mentally unbalanced, and overall just sad. Doesn’t he/she have anything better to do?

So there’s that for starters. One of the things the authors hoped to do with their book is to blow up that stereotype once and for all. To demystify and decloak the average fangirl/fanboy as the person sitting next to you on the bus, the person you work with, maybe even your own sister-in-law. It turns out Supernatural fangirls are moms and lawyers, doctors and librarians, and in the case of the authors themselves, college professors. Regular women with careers and families and responsibilities like everyone else.

But you’ll probably never know it. Anonymity is par for the course in Fandom. No one uses their real name and most of the Fandom’s reach and activity exists under the radar of ‘Real Life’. Rarely do the two intersect and acknowledge each other probably because a lot of what’s going on in Fandom is women stretching and redefining their libidos and what they find sexy. Shocking, I know.

The unchecked, full-on female exploration of just about every kink you can think of (and some you can’t) is in a very tangible way a sexual revolution. Even the acknowledgement that women can and do objectify men is an impulse that sill leaves many women feeling guilty, that we should somehow rise above such baser instincts and needs. Pfft. Get over it already. It’s okay. The world is not going to spin off its axis if you check out some guy’s ass (especially if it belongs to Jensen Ackles).

Go on, take a look, I’m not going to judge you for it.

A delightful surprise upon reading this was discovering how aware most of the Supernatural crew is concerning all the internet shenanigans going on around them and how much of a sense of humor they have about it, even how much some of them relate to and understand the compulsion. Jim Beaver (Bobby Singer) offered up a lot of insight in his interview responses that spoke volumes of his sensitivity, curiosity and respect. Even Jensen Ackles — the super-straight, seemingly good ol’ boy from Texas — concedes that the controversial slash pairing of himself with his co-star Jared Padalecki (otherwise known as J2) is “a hot fantasy”. Series creator Eric Kripke has certainly milked Fandom for inside jokes and meta-material, even including references on the show to Wincest.

Despite its best intentions the book does tend to blather and meander in places, and gets a bit repetitive at times, but this in no way detracted from my overall enjoyment and deep appreciation. Did I find myself in some of these pages? Absolutely. Was I living vicariously through the authors many bumbling, costly adventures as they exhausted their bank accounts in order to be front and center at the big conferences? You bet. Did I cheer when they finally breached the inner sanctum and scored one-on-one interviews with co-stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles? Hells yeah. Was I green with envy? Sick with it.

This is a sweet, funny story with a triumphant happy ending despite many trials and doubts. Who doesn’t love one of those every now and then? For the curious and uninitiated, it’s also a small peek into Fandom life. A small peek. If you really want to know, you’re just going to have to go look where it lives. Be careful though, you just might like what you find.

A free copy was provided through Netgalley for an honest review

Horror movies 101: rules of survival

How to Survive a Horror Movie ★★★★
Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books, 2007

how to surviveHorror movies and I? We go way back. I’ve been a voracious consumer since I was eight and my enthusiasm for the genre hasn’t diminished with … ahem … maturity and wisdom. So yeah, it’s been a lifelong love affair, one I don’t hide, or feel I need to apologize for. Because even amidst the dreck, there exists some awesome cinematic gems, and amidst the classics there are film moments of hair-raising, heart-stopping, enviable genius.

The naysayers who decry: “how can you watch that garbage” are rude asshats, unimaginative douchebags or big fat chickens. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. Rationally I know horror movies aren’t for everyone, but there’s that rabid part of my brain that thinks if you’re not with us, you’re against us.

In writing this little manifesto on how to survive a horror movie, Seth Grahame-Smith (the guy who gave us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) proves that he understands horror and humor are a marriage made in heaven – the two go together like Butch and Sundance, Sam and Dean and that other celestial match – Sam and Bruce. Horror indulges in all forms of comedy – satire, slapstick, black, blue, Freudian, farce, irony – you name it, it’s been done; in some cases to humbling effect, either deliberately with great focus, or by happy, moronic accident.

Bruce Campbell (Ash) battles with his possessed hand.

Bruce Campbell (Ash) battles with his possessed hand.

Don’t believe me? Look no further than these cinema classics: An American Werewolf in London, Evil Dead I and II, The Return of the Living Dead, Creepshow, and Shaun of the Dead.

Frank (James Karen) realizing the movie lied.

Frank (James Karen) realizing the movie lied.

All of the above are prime examples of why I’d rather be watching horror movies rather than reading about them. But every now and then a book of this sort breaks through my defenses, giving me that “come hither” look I just can’t resist. This book has giggles, a few gut busters, and a whole lot of in-jokes delivered with tongue firmly planted in cheek. There are some sections that fall flat being over-written and a little dumb, but there are also shining moments of pure cleverness. Any die-hard horror fan who reads this little book is going to think “I could have written this and probably done a better job”; maybe, but you didn’t, and neither did I so we’re going to shut our pie holes and give props where they’re due.

More than anything, this little book is pure goddamn fun. Plain and simple. However, it is not a classic – for that you have to read If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor and Danse Macabre. These definitive texts will teach you everything you need to know about the industry, the genre, the people who make their living by it, and the people who love it. Seth Grahame-Smith wants to make us laugh, but it also comes across how much he loves celluloid horror and because of that I know he is one of us and therefore to be trusted.

There are just too many delightful nuggets to quote from here and rather than trying to capture them all I’m just going to say go read the book. But I can’t resist throwing out a few of my favorites:

The Seven Deadly Horror Movie Sins:

      3rd Deadly Sin: Independence – “Screw you guys I’m going home”. Actually you’re going about a third of the way home.

     5th Deadly Sin: Curiosity – “Do you think it’s dead?” No. Go ahead and poke it with a stick.

How to Defeat a Killer Doll: Kick the Crap Out of It. Why are you running away from something that could be imprisoned with Legos?

How to Kill a Vampire: Interview It.

What to Do If Your Corn Has Children In It (I still can’t say this out loud without giggling my ass off)

The Amityville Horror (1979) – Bad things happen in house. Family buys house. Bad things happen to family.

Carrie (1976) – If you haven’t seen this masterpiece yet, pelt yourself with tampons and go to your prayer closet.

The Hitcher (1986) – How many times do I have to tell you: Never pick up Rutger Hauer!

Seven (1995) – I went to see this film by myself on a cold, rainy Boston day. I haven’t smiled since.

The Sixth Sense (1999) – Hi, my name’s M. Night Shyamalan. Trust me…you’ll learn how to pronounce it.

Just plain weird (and not all that good)

John Dies at the End ★ ★
David Wong

Plot Summary: It’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can’t.

johndiesI couldn’t wait to get my hands on this; word-of-mouth promised a heady, hilarious horror romp. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype for me. Think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Ghostbusters (or depending on your frame of reference, maybe Ghostfacers a la Supernatural), with Lovecraftian-style monsters, a twist of Rod Serling and a dash of psychotropic drugs to really mess you up. Sounds promising, no? Brilliantly mad? Genius even? The only problem is John Dies at the End falls way short of sustaining the insanity in any meaningful or satisfying way.

This book is moderately amusing in places (I smiled but did not laugh out loud). Our heroes are basically doofuses (and that’s the point) but I wasn’t given the opportunity to really invest in them. The plot is outrageous and just too ambitious. It was like “enough already!!! C’mon!!!” Because the entire novel reads like one long, really whacked acid trip, you never know what’s going to happen next. Normal rules just don’t apply. Everything has a dreamlike (nightmarish) quality. That should be a good thing, but in this case I eventually just got terribly bored – oh look, another creature with eyes on stalks and baby arms for legs. Oh jeez, see that jellyfish hanging from the ceiling? Watch out for the wormhole!!!!

This book shows a lot of potential but in the end cannot deliver on what it promises. Wong (whose real name is Jason Pargin, online humorist, National Lampoon contributor, and editor in chief of Cracked.com) is without question a talented guy and certainly has a vivid imagination.  In the end, however, John Dies at the End boils down to a much ado about not a whole helluva lot.  Rating: ★★

About the Book: John Dies at the End started its life as a webserial in 2001 and an estimated 70 000 people read the free online versions before they were removed in September 2008. The story of how this book found its way to publication is actually better than the book itself and told quite well by Wong a.k.a Pargin in an epilogue. Of course it’s been optioned for a movie but when we’ll see it is anyone’s guess. I actually think what didn’t work for me in the book might actually work amazingly well on film, and I look forward to seeing what director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-tep) does with it. Check out the John Dies at the End website.

Watch the original book trailer!

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