Sunday, May 13, 2007

Contrary to popular belief, "Elizabeth" is not the actual receptacle of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE. This book is.

Title: The Areas of My Expertise, Which Include: Matters Historical – Matters Literary – Matters Cryptozoological – Hobo Matters – Food, Drink, & Cheese (A Kind of Food) – Squirrels & Lobsters & Eel – Haircuts – Utopia – What Will Happen in the Future – And Most Other Subjects
Author: John Hodgman

The image I conjure of you, dear reader, begins with this book. For if you are reading these words, chances are you are probably reading this book, or one so similar to it that it doesn’t matter. Moreover, I may presume you are holding this book with your own hands, or possibly mechanical hands that replaced your own hands after a terrible accident. […]

Finally, I may conclude that you are a curious person who thirsts for knowledge, for this is in fact a compendium of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE. Here you shall find the answers to all of the questions you have been asking.

Rejoice, Ragers, for you will never have to read another book again. (Although you may, of course, choose to.)

Why? Well, simply because John Hodgman has saved us the trouble by writing an almanac of complete world knowledge – or at least all the knowledge that matters. (This, of course, is not quite the same thing as all the knowledge that is true. But who cares about truth nowadays? “Truthiness” is far more fashionable.)

Within the pages of this slim, easily-portable volume, you will find everything you ever wished to know – or might one day need to know. You should commence the reading process immediately.

For example, you will learn that if you ever observe a woolly bear crossing the road within the same three month period as you see a cat consorting with a skunk, it is an omen that mankind will soon learn to communicate with cheese. You will also learn the basics of snow and ice warfare, and the many secrets of Yale University. Have you ever wondered about the role of eels in colonial America? You won’t after reading The Areas of My Expertise.

Most importantly, Hodgman dedicates an entire chapter to hoboes and the history of the hobo wars, when the United States of America was nearly overrun by the wily varmints. (This is before, of course, the hoboes departed the Earth for the hobo paradise, Uranus.) Who was Hobo Joe Junkpan, and how did he became Secretary of the Treasury? This book will tell you the answer. There is also a handy list of seven hundred known hobo names for your benefit. “Dora the Explorer” is number 166.

I nibbled on Hodgman’s opus over the course of several months. A chapter here, a page or two there, delicious little delicacies interspersed between weightier fare. Thus, I was able to fully digest each bountiful nugget of knowledge Hodgman imparts, savoring the experience as I felt the light of wisdom spread through me, illuminating my soul.

For example, I gave over several weeks to pondering the import of Hodgman’s “Five Secrets of Successful Negotiation.” Secret 1 reads as follows:

1. A prominent attorney writes: “Remember that as a negotiator, you are first and foremost a mental warrior.Think like a ninja. But note, it is not appropriate to dress like a ninja.” (Note: It is acceptable to dress like a samurai.)

I anxiously await the day that I can put such practical guidance to use in my own professional career. Sun Tzu never gave such good advice.

In conclusion, I repeat: this book should be read immediately.

[Reviewer’s Note: I frequently amuse myself by telling my friends (and my brother) complete and bold-faced lies. I enjoy seeing how far I can spin my tale before they either call me on it or my mouth begins “smirking.” (Usually, it’s the latter, and I don't last very long.) Readers who take a similar pleasure in outrageous lies will likely enjoy The Areas of My Expertise as much as I did.]


posted by Elizabeth at 9:39 PM


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