4 Uniquely Insane Books That Were Written More Than Once
As a longtime collector of absurd books, I'm still often surprised at man's capacity for crazy. I'll sometimes see a book and think, "Surely, this is the weirdest thing ever written," only to discover it's but one example of an entire genre. For instance, multiple authors have written about improving your bowling game with hypnosis, making your tits bigger with prayer, or battling depression with anal kegels. But sometimes, when the stars perfectly align, two authors will not only write about the same uniquely insane subject, but they will also use the exact same title.
Microwave Cooking For One
If you had a tragedy in your life that inspired you to write a book called You Can't Unlick Grandma: How To Find A Mortician With No Sex Drive, you would still only hold second place for Saddest Book Title Ever. First place, of course, is a tie between Sonia Allison and Marie T. Smith for the heartbreaking recipe books they each called Microwave Cooking For One.
Let's look at Smith's version first. On her cover, she's prepared 21(!) dishes with her microwave, all of them to be eaten alone. Some of them are hearty three- or four-course meals. There are desserts and drinks and playful shapes carved into vegetables. This woman got dressed up, combed her hair, and posed by the cake she made in her microwave for herself that fucking says "Happy Birthday." This shit is a nightmare. Marie T. Smith celebrated her own birthday alone with a little decorated cake from her microwave. That's not a skill worth putting down in a book. That's something a ghost would do if it died badly in your kitchen. It's how a filmmaker would tell the audience a character is about to hang herself. I guarantee you that when you poke through the crust of that microwaved pie, it is nothing but human thumbs or cat faces.
On the other hand, Allison's cover seems to say that she forgot the photo shoot was today. She looks like she just pulled herself out of a headlock at a cigarette smoking contest. And to dazzle the potential book buyer, she's prepared four dishes on a card table. One is an upside-down bowl of Chinese leftovers, one is broccoli with a potato chip drizzle, one is a bowl of dried fruit with a scoop of ice cream, and the last one is the rest of her leftovers. Sonia Allison seems like something you'd show to image recognition software to teach it sadness. Maybe you think I'm being too mean. That's only because you haven't read her recipe for HOT FRUIT FOAM. It's microwaved baby food with eggs and a pinch of salt, and that's not a made-up insult, like how her wig is six weeks of her body hair attached with chewing gum. Microwaving baby food is the kind of thing Sonia calls a "recipe."
As you might judge from the covers, the books have very different tones. Marie's book is for the lonely widow who needs to elegantly dispose of a delivery boy's remains. Sonia's book seems to be saying, "It's all going to be diarrhea anyway, sweetheart. Microwave your goddamn fish." And holy shit, does Sonia love to microwave fish. "Fish" is the second-longest chapter in her book -- which, I want to remind you, is about microwaving food. This lady's home probably smells like Day 23 of the diapers on a sunken cruise ship's life raft.
Marie's microwave book also contains a disturbing number of fish dishes, but hers really go for fancy. She makes things like CRAB MEAT THERMIDOR, LOBSTER TAIL, and FLOUNDER VERMOUTH. Marie will jam $50 worth of seafood into her microwave, hit the POPCORN button, and settle in for a long night of chewing clams by herself. I don't even have the breadth of experience necessary to understand or describe something this strange and sad. I think it's like dressing your VCR up in a tuxedo to watch the tape of your husband's funeral, but I'll never be sure. This woman watched a frozen lobster tail spin around, smearing its juice on the walls of her microwave, and thought, "Yes. Yes, this will make the perfect book."
Related: The Rise And Fall Of Dane Cook
Dinosaurs And The Bible
Religious faith is under constant assault by reason and critical thinking. For instance, it's absurd to think that after centuries of religions, one of them was suddenly right in the exact era and location your family lives in. It's like clinging to a misprinted lottery ticket your whole life in the hopes that they one day invent a number called thisty-spleevo. Still, the human brain is nimble, and has some amazing tricks to dodge painful truths. So the faith of these authors stood strong when God created flesh-eating bacteria and pediatric cancer, but when they found out the Bible couldn't account for dinosaurs, their brains starting flipping fucking cartwheels. In their desperate dislogic, David Unfred and Ralph O. Muncaster each wrote a book called Dinosaurs And The Bible.
Let's be very clear: Dinosaurs destroyed the reality these men knew, and these books are their sad attempts at rewriting the rules of their Universe using a fifth-grade education.
In order to reconcile dinosaurs with the Bible, Unfred uses a classic technique of saying crazy shit until nothing means anything. If science disproves the Bible, he declares it a theory. If the Bible contradicts indisputable science, he declares it symbolism. This crazy bastard starts his own book about dinosaurs by asking if they even existed.
For 48 more pages, Unfred attacks carbon dating and fossil records as flimsy science, but believes every modern legend involving a dinosaur sighting. He seems to think if he can prove dinosaurs are still alive today, it will debunk all of science and clear God on all charges. This is a man who will say a thousand stupid things in the hopes one of them hits the jackpot of disproving all of man's progress. His big closing statement is how Tyrannosaurus Rex maybe ate fruit. Why? Well, he once saw a fruit-eating monkey with sharp teeth. Here, I'll let him explain:
It's the perfect closing statement for Unfred's book. He has obvious contempt for the field of archaeology, but seems fine citing their findings on T-Rex tooth roots. He makes a wild guess, somehow free from any care of looking stupid, in the outlandish hope of making much, much smarter people look less correct. And he considers it a victory, because there is nothing more smug than a Christian right after he catches science in a lie but before he Googles to make sure he really did.
Ralph O. Muncaster's Dinosaurs And The Bible isn't a dismantling of all human knowledge like David Unfred's DINOSAURS and the Bible. It's half a book about fun dinosaur facts and half a conspiracy theory about how God could make all these giant lizard monsters and never mention them. Ralph suggests it might all be some mysterious divine prank. He suggests that Noah could have fit dinosaurs on the ark if they were babies. And he does something which Unfred also spends a lot of time on: analyzing the word "behemoth."
The Book of Job mentions a "behemoth" that has bronze bones and limbs like rods of iron. It sounds like a Whitesnake song about an elephant, and it's weird how God couldn't remember its name. Still, it's enough of a thread for a determined Christian scientist to pull on. Muncaster throws the full power of his mind into deciding this almost-definitely-an-elephant was a dinosaur, but shits the bed and accidentally proves it's a hippo. This madman is rewriting the words of his own God, and still can't quite land on the answer he's looking for.
You might be wondering, "What is a psychic vampire, and why did more than one person write about something I can already tell isn't an actual thing?" Well, I don't want to alarm you, but they're everywhere. In fact, those are the first two words on the inside and the back cover of Kelly Wallace's book Psychic Vampires.
I read Kelly's psychic vampire book first, and she describes the creatures as obnoxious people who love to party. That sounds great, right? No, you trusting fool. You're thinking like vampire food. Psychic vampires only party because they need to be around others to steal energy from "psychic empaths," which the book assumes the reader is. If you're not sure whether you're an empath or a vampire, Kelly devotes a lot of space to personality quizzes. It doesn't sound very tough, but the first step in battling vampires is figuring out if you are one yourself.
Unfortunately, the questions in these quizzes are so broad that I feel like you could switch between "psychic empath" and "regular" depending on how recently you ate. The book asks you things like "Are you a people pleaser?" or "Do you sometimes experience fatigue when your doctor says nothing is wrong with you?" or "Do you feel overwhelmed in crowds?" It doesn't really take a C- psychology student to figure out a shy lady accidentally added vampire fiction to her bad luck with men and undiagnosed social anxiety disorder.
Like all vital survival guides for very real threats, PSYCHIC VAMPIRES: Protect And Heal Yourself From Energy Predators And Toxic People is very vague about who poses the threat and what the danger might be. The checklists to identify someone as a psychic vampire are more vague than the empath quizzes. Psychic vampires have low self-esteem or high self-esteem, any Type A personality trait, most Type B ones, and a fondness for people. They really are everywhere! And here's where it gets scary: Kelly, the author of the manual on how to defend against these things that are everywhere, has no fucking idea how to fight them.
I'm not being completely fair. There is a short list of things to do when you encounter a psychic vampire. The first defense technique is to ask your spirit guides for a golden bubble. Neither spirit guides nor golden bubbles are mentioned anywhere else in the book, and there is no quiz I could take to find out if I have a spirit guide, am a spirit guide, or am currently inside a protective bubble. Luckily, her second defense technique against psychic vampires is to not hang out with them so often. No, listen. This woman wrote a book about fighting vampires who don't exist by going somewhere else, and I want us all to take a minute to appreciate how truly uplifting it is that we as a people have managed to keep someone so stupid and crazy alive and healthy.
Fifteen years before Kelly's book was published, Joe H. Slate, PhD, an Alabama parapsychologist, wrote PSYCHIC VAMPIRES: Protection From Energy Predators & Parasites. It's not as fun. It's more like an exhausting look inside the mind of the Midwest's most educated Vampire: The Masquerade player. It's simultaneously the most boring and the most deranged book you'll ever read. This Alabama ghost doctor seems to think our minds are being devoured alive by unseen creatures, but he describes it with all the urgency of a Samsung factory foreman spelling children's names for their death certificates.
Over the course of 250 pages, Joe covers every make-believe subject you could ever need to slightly inconvenience make-believe monsters. Here's just half a page from the glossary, and you can see it includes three different kinds of vampires, astral projection, the Orb of Power, and sex with your mom. This book has everything.
The problem with having so many metaphysical subjects in the book is that Joe takes for granted that the reader is already a wizard. He talks about crystals and pyramids as if you own several and know how to charge them with anti-vampire magic. I'm obviously a skeptic, but I have a hard time believing there are no side effects to this mighty power. If most people are vampires and these abilities can do shit to them, shouldn't 90 percent of this book be about energy safety? I sit through 15 minutes of safety briefings every time I play paintball or rent a raft, and these sorcerers don't devote a single sentence to warning me about the dangers of golden bubbles? Maybe I sound like Tim Allen trying to disprove evolution on Twitter, but either there's some chance I'm going to saw my own hands off with an anti-vampire force field, or this is all bullshit.
Martial Arts For People With Disabilities
If you live in a world in which disabled people are being challenged to fist fights, your world needs the cleansing fire of a disappointed god, not a book. And yet not one but two men each wrote a training manual for such a world, and both of them called it MARTIAL ARTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. Each one is only about 100 pages long, which means you can get on a plane in Houston and know all there is to know about killing people from a wheelchair by the time they're helping you into one in Atlanta.
Despite the titles, the books could not be more different. Let's start with the covers. Dirk Robertson's MARTIAL ARTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES was published in 1991, and features this amazing cover:
Take several minutes to study that picture, and then skip to the quiz at the end of this paragraph. While you're doing that, I'll be workshopping unrelated jokes about the flavorlessness of La Croix soda. You'll never read this, since you're looking at that karate picture, but La Croix tastes like water from the washing machine of someone who owns a sweater with a strawberry on it. It tastes like unflavored water finding its roots after an online DNA test revealed its great-great-grandmother was a grape. It tastes like a can of ordinary water handled by a delivery boy who once fucked a peach. Thank you for coming back after all the time you spent studying that photograph, and please use what you've learned to answer this question: What the shit is happening?
A: The broken ball and chain is a symbol of how martial arts are the key to breaking free from the prison of your disability. But no. It's impossible for someone to be something as inspirational as a handicapped karate master and also be so bad at art. I can't live in a universe where a man might dramatically rise from a wheelchair using the power of karate itself to tell a disbelieving crowd, "Now that I have your attention, check out my Big Bang Theory podcast."
B: As is karate tradition, these two men are battling by a wheelchair until one of them needs it. The loser will never walk again, but the joke's on everyone else. Free wheelchair, suckers.
C: There is someone in that wheelchair who is so skilled at martial arts that cameras cannot detect them. "Rolling Shadow," whispers a voice from nowhere yet everywhere. This is not the prophecy foretold by the ancient masters. This is something far greater.
Unfortunately, it was a trick question. The real answer is D: These two extremely non-disabled men broke into a handicapped karate studio on picture day, defeated everyone, and stole their book cover. "Let's high-five with our fucking kicks!" said one of them as the helpless photographer was forced to obey. The cover of the 2003 book by Chris McNab, also called MARTIAL ARTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, went in a very different direction.
This cover features a drawing of a woman karate-chopping her instructor in the dick and a photo of a man throwing a high kick with his prosthetic foot. No metaphors or art -- just disabled people showing moves and wrecking groins. And the back has a fully armored wheelchair kendo fencer patiently waiting for his next victim. This is where the book overshot "cool and empowering" and hit "Dark Souls boss." This motherfucker's wheels are 100 percent made from the bones of the travelers who came before you:
My point is, the 2003 version is out of control. The 1991 version of MARTIAL ARTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES is a pretty generic karate book. It shows you where to step and how to breathe and assumes you'll work it out if you're missing feet or lungs or whatever. This 2003 version gives dark, often unsourced facts about how often handicapped people are attacked and why the disabled desperately need martial arts to kill their enemies. Then it speculates on how you might go about mixing karate with every conceivable disability. Are you blind? Very small? Removed from your body and screaming silently from a forgotten jar? There's a brief shout out to you and how you can probably still punch if you believe in yourself. Unfortunately, this leaves very little room for self-defense techniques, and the book just sort of ends with you knowing only certain doom and the names of a few one-legged black belts.
There is only one story included about a disabled person who actually defended himself from attackers, and while the book admits that it has nothing to do with martial arts, I think you'll forgive the author after you read it.
The book has no idea how many limbs the reader has, but absolutely assumes he or she has never heard of martial arts. Every move demonstrated is an entry-level technique like a high block or a penis punch, yet the book also sometimes assumes the reader is a martial arts master who runs a karate school. In those cases, they assume you've never heard of missing limbs or blindness. For instance, the fourth rule in the seven rules of INSTRUCTING THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED is "Give audible signals to the student if he or she is wandering too close to the walls." So in case you were installing spikes on the walls of your dojo to keep the blind from smashing through them, stop. There's a better, cheaper way.
There's no humane way to test this, but I think it will take more than three non-Braille pages to teach a blind person how to defeat the world's most evil mugger with taekwondo. However, these insane, poorly organized books do send a positive message -- not only about pushing past your limitations, but by finally portraying amputee martial artists as heroes instead of villains. In a comic book or a movie, if you're missing a hand, there is no way you're the good guy. Your hand is going to get replaced by a knife or a snake, and you'll be swearing revenge on humanity. Take a look at Iron Fist's rogues' gallery. Before he was the most boring show on television, Iron Fist almost exclusively fought evil amputees:
So yes, I've exposed you to what most people would call a dangerous amount of madness, but we've also learned a lot. We've learned that microwaving fish is as lonely as it sounds. We've learned that even God has no idea what's going on with dinosaurs. We found out that psychic vampires are everywhere, and defeating them is as simple as not calling them. And we've proved that not all one-handeds and no-headeds are evil. And none of us will ever forget ... wheelchair dick punches.
On the off chance you wanted to try making HOT FRUIT FOAM, it's worth using a more modern microwave for it.
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