Monsters of the Ivy League
So! You’ve applied to/been accepted by/are currently enrolled in/are a graduate of/are on the faculty of, an Ivy League college. You must think you’re pretty cool, don’t you?
And maybe you are. But temper your feelings of self-coolness with the realization that from the same hi-prestige institutions of which you’re so proud, have come a somewhat amazing line of miscreants, murderers, business frauds, slave traders, eugenicists, and random maniacs.
They’re all—well, mostly all—here: the Nixon Administration war criminal. The Enron scammer. The woman who killed her brother, and then three faculty colleagues, and then punched another woman in the head at the International House of Pancakes. The slaver for whom Yale was named once it was decided not to call the institution Dummer College. The homophobic Fox News personality whose (gay) brother calls her “a monster.” The Unabomber. And much, much more.
Drolly-written and amusingly illustrated with Randy Jones’s caricatures, this is the book that provides, if not an answer to, then at least a validation of, the question, “If the Ivy League is so wonderful, why is there a Ted Cruz (Princeton) and a Josh Hawley (Harvard)?” Or, if that’s too political or controversial for you, think of it this way: This is the book you give your child, nephew or niece, or yourself, to provide consolation for not having gotten into (in alphabetical order) Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, or Yale.
Yiddish with Dick and Jane
Dick and Jane—the most goyische (gentile) brother-and-sister team in American cultural history—are grown up! And speak Yiddish! And so does little sister Sally (also grown up), Jane’s husband (!), Dick’s wife (!!), and everybody else.
When Mother has a stroke, Sally arrives from San Francisco to help out, and discovers that her older siblings have not quite kept pace with the changes in America, and the world, since the time they were children. Still, Jane has a career!
She is in real estate. She must schlep the Open House signs to the car. See Jane schlep. Schlep, Jane, schlep. With a helpful, amusing Glossary in the back, so you shouldn’t not know what the words mean, already.
How to Raise a Jewish Dog
In upstate New York, near the town of Cambridge, are the (real life) monasteries for the monks and nuns of New Skete. For years, the monks have been raising German shepherds, and have published a highly successful series of books and videos on dog training.
Is it any wonder, then, that the rabbis of the (fictional) Boca Raton Theological Seminary should have decided to do the same thing? Sort of. That is, they have published a book of instructions on how to raise a Jewish dog. Their hermeneutic, which is to say, their pedagogical method, which is to say, their gimmick, is to teach the reader to raise a dog in the manner in which the rabbis themselves were raised as middle-class Jewish children in the 1950s’s and ‘60s.
Thus, in these pages, the reader will learn how to manipulate the dog with passive-aggressiveness; how to instill in the dog the belief that it is the most wonderful creature in the world and utterly worthless; how to form a co-dependent relationship with the dog that will last for centuries; how to pamper the dog while completely ignoring its feelings; and so much more. With photographs, tables, charts, and every other damn thing.
How to Profit from the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You’re Left Behind
Normal, sane Americans first became aware of the Rapture during the George W. Bush administration, when Evangelical Christians were in their glory and the Left Behind series of novels really hit its stride. The books became the, um, inspiration for four terrible movies. There were also four video games, about which Wikipedia notes: “Representatives of the company have responded that the game’s message is pacifist, because shooting nonbelievers instead of converting them costs the player ‘spirit points’, which can be recovered by pausing to pray.” Those were the days, Rapture-wise.
But guess what. The Rapture is back! No less a personage than Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State, believes in it and, no doubt, can’t wait for it to happen.
Where’d it come from and what does it all mean? Hoo boy. Let’s just say it’s based on an extremely creative reading of the Book of Revelations, and entails the belief that, any day now, devout (Protestant) Christians will be literally, physically swept up into Heaven, while everyone else remains on crummy old Earth.
After it does—at least according to the most popular of various interpretations of the prophecy—there will commence a seven-year period of absolute misery and chaos called The Tribulation, in which (among other things) the Anti-Christ will rise to power, an army of 200,000,000 horsemen out of the East will kill one-third of mankind, Jesus (Christ) will return, leading the army of the righteous, and Satan himself will be defeated at the Battle of Armageddon.
Sounds exciting, if hideous, yes, but all that got the (fictional) couple of Steve and Evie Levy to thinking: How can we make a buck on this?
This book is the result. It tells you what to invest in now, to prepare for the coming tumult. Then, once you’re stranded here along with all the Jews, Muslims, atheists, Catholics, Hindus, Taoists, and everybody else, it suggests where to put your money, what businesses to start (or bail out of), what real estate will be either literally or figuratively hot, and much more.
Of course, you can read it as a blow-by-blow, catastrophe-by-catastrophe description of what these believers believe in, as a sort of Rapture for Dummies. But why stop there? Those of us left behind will all have to do something during those seven miserable years. Why not, while those around you are dying, make a killing?
Santa Lives! Five Conclusive Arguments for the Existence of Santa Claus
Does anyone seriously believe that Santa Claus exists? Of course. We all do. And yet, when called upon to offer reasons for this belief, we find ourselves resorting to arguments that sound hollow even to our own ears. We believe he exists, because we feel as though he does. Or, because he has to. Or, because it’s nice to think so, and it’s nicer when things are nice than when they’re not nice.
I have given this matter a great deal, or at least some, thought over the years, and am pleased to announce the publication of an essay in which I prove, definitively and apodictically and asymptotically and other fancy ways, the proposition that St. Nick does indeed exist. The proofs—there are five in all—recapitulate the classic arguments for the existence of God. And, as I need not remind you, if it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for Santa.
Handsomely illustrated, handsomely edited, handsomely bound and published, handsomely proofread by the handsome professionals at Riverhead Press, and handsomely written by me, the handsome writer.
Books for Kids (ages 9-12)
The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, Book 1
Hey, what if there were a pair of 12-year-old twins, John and Abigail Templeton, who were the children of brilliant-but-somewhat-fussy inventor/professor Elton Templeton? And what if those kids were dragged by their father to the various universities where he had teaching and inventing assignments? And what if they were tormented by a different, grown-up pair of twins named Dean D. and Dan D. Dean? And what if John, with his pragmatic personality and his hobby of playing the drums, and Abigail, with her creative and intuitive personality and her hobby of doing cryptic crossword puzzles, were able to outwit the Deans and have a splendid time in the process?
And what if—hang on, I’m almost done—all of this were narrated by nothing less than a narrator calling himself The Narrator, who wasn’t particularly nice and didn’t exactly love the reader, but who went to a lot of trouble to end each chapter with Questions for Review such as, “Mary has five apples. Who cares?”
There’s no “what if” about it. All of that and more awaits in these v. amusing pages, not only deftly illustrated but with cool TYPOGRAPHY to boot.
The Templeton Twins Make a Scene, Book 2
And speaking of the Templeton Twins, what if there were a sequel to the above? Because there literally is!
Now the Templetons, along with their ridiculous dog, Cassie, are at a college for the performing arts. Their father has been hired to create a way to show closeups in a live stage production. Yes, neat-o. But the Deans are on their tail, plotting and executing skullduggery and mischief and so forth.
It’s all here: A narrative narrated by The Narrator. A continuation of his explanation about how to solve cryptic crossword puzzles. Some life lessons that can be learned from playing the drums. A recipe. Helpful review questions at the end of each chapter. And a corking good action-adventure plot that includes stagecraft, bravery, cleverness, and droll amusement.
What else do you want? Nothing. You want nothing else.