On Sunday, January 28, I dropped 162 envelopes in the mail. Each envelope contained a single page from Sir John Hargrave's literary masterwork, Prank the Monkey.
Hundreds of volunteers stood by their mailbox, ready to help with this massive project: Reviewing an entire book.
A lot of new reviews are in! I'm now going to begin putting the page reviews in order. Some new reviews will have to be tucked in between here as I receive them.
The cover of "Prank the Monkey: The ZUG Book of Pranks", seemingly simple at first glance, is fantastically complex. Note the dual cycles, first in the title beginning and ending with a variation of "prank", and a photo of a chimpanzee quite possibly photoshopped by a chimpanzee. (As a side note, even the chimpanzee is aware he is not a monkey as the title would imply, but a member of the Hominidae family.) Even hates-the-word-"blogger" Maddox chimes in with a Shakespearean endorsement on the upper right corner. Note the iambic pentameter when he writes "I have become a blubbering fanboy". All of this is cleanly wrapped up with the author himself, who is so respectful he even calls himself "sir".
|Title page||Page numbers? I ain't got no page numbers! Guess you could call them Title Page and Copyright/Information Page. Title page is one of the best title pages I have ever seen. The font just leaps off the page at you. It scared me. I liked it. Next comes "The ZUG Book of Pranks". What's a ZUG? Zionist Under Ground? Zebra-striped Underwear Guys? I am intrigued. Next, a delightful cartoon of a banana peel. Pranks, get it? Next comes the author's name, Sir John Hargrave. Any book written by royalty has got to be hilarious. Illustrations by Al Natanagara? An obvious anagram. At the bottom of the page is a crenellated tower, which conjures up images of trapped princesses, myself starring as the heroic knight. Finally, we come to the information page. Just chock full of facts and numbers. Publishers address, copyright date, design credit, Library of Congress Control Number, it's all here. It even has two ISBN numbers! Fantastic! I can honestly say that I have never read a more interesting page in my life. So much for the early birds getting all the worms. Steve|
Page ?-? (Appear to be "Pre-Chapter 1" tidbits)
"About ZUG.com" A shameless plug for ZUG.com spiced up with humorous rhetorical questions. Useful for those who hate their jobs, are contemplating suicide, or both - who's to judge? After reading it, I feel oddly compelled to visit ZUG.com. And I like my job... The back side of "About ZUG.com" is covered in hand-written scribble. It's either the ramblings of a madman or a primer on how to fool spam filters. With such
insights as "all the truth is so coal ruby are the lies always rich" and "but you didn't see 2 brothers from Spain", it is truly to be taken to heart and offers inspiration to us all. (Note: quotes may not be accurate as the writing appears to be that of a drugged up psychopath... or a doctor...)
Overall - the best incomprehensible gibberish I've read since James' _Turn of the Screw_.
Page number: no page numbers
I received the page containing Advance Praise for "Prank the Monkey" and Advance Rejection for "Prank the Monkey." This page contains blurbs from other authors or web page creators, praising "Prank the Monkey". People who liked "Prank the Monkey" include Maddox (author of "The Alphabet of Manliness"), Drew Curtis (FARK.com), Jonathan Ames (author of "Wake Up, Sir!"), Ze Frank (zefrank.com), Legendary prankster Alan Abel, and George Ouzounian (creator of The Best Page in the Universe).
People who rejected to review or write a blurb for "Prank the Monkey" because their schedules were too busy include "Weird" Al Yankovic, Dave Eggers, John Hodgman, Penn Jillette and last but not least Dave Barry, who thanks the author for some Marlins tickets but still refused to do a blurb. I'd also like to add that this book seems to be bound with very good glue. The page was stuck to itself when I first tried to unfold it after removing it from the envelope.
Pages 3 & 4:
My portion of the introduction begins with the end of what appears to be a captivating story. I base this purely on the fact that any story ending with a paddy wagon must be a good one. The introduction then goes on to explain the very nature of pranks: "A good prank doesn't have to bring down The Man, but it does have to get a laugh at The Man's expense." It then goes on to explain, in a sarcastic yet captivating tone, the duality of the author's existence.
On page five, Sir John explains why he pranks. And I completely agree. Why the hell do the pools have so many stupid rules? (It makes sense. Just read the book.) Page six is mostly blank. Only one paragraph graces the page. I heartily recommend page five to anyone, but I feel that page six was a bit disappointing. Still, if these pages are any indication, the book will be a pleasure to read.
Page 9 and 10.
WOW, How cool is it that I got the beginning of a section! Part 1. Reasoning. John talks about his encounter with wal-mart representatives concerning the editing of his book in order to get them on wal-mart's shelves. Page ten is very funny where he describes his conversation with Rob Conner ending with "uniporn" Awesome. I wonder what page 11 is like!
Pages 13-14. I received the tail end of Part II and the start of Part III of the Wal-Mart Prank. Coming in right before the punchline is tough, but something I anticipated when signing up to review one page of a book. I guess it's better to know the end than the beginning. Sadly, the end wasn't good. The Wal-Mart prank involves duplicating Wal-Mart tags and putting them on items prohibited from sale at Wal-Mart. Then you try to get Wal-Mart to resell the items to you (along with some standard purchases). It took some effort, but the folks at ZUG finally managed to buy forbidden items to a tune of almost $50. Unless I missed a wrinkle earlier, the prank it getting a major corporation to charge you for something you already bought somewhere else. Way to not stick it to the man! Part III repeats the experiment with pornography, something most cashiers would likely catch. At least in that instance being caught is much more likely, which could expand the prank to include managers and other customers. If you want to give Wal-Mart a hard time, I find not shopping there works better than giving them cash for a quick laugh. They're probably laughing a lot harder than the folks at ZUG.
I was gonna write one more review, lauding the humor and general enjoyability of Prank the Monkey but then my copy-editing wife got hold, of it. In her honor, I'm not going to figure out whether I'm supposed to put the title of the book in quotes. In fact, I'm gonna go back right now and insert a few unnecessary commas.
|continue to page two of the divided review project.|
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February 8, 2007.