"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 17 December 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CLIX



The end of the fall college

semester always brings around

our favorite exercise in false

self-expression: teacher

reviews, the quasi-report card

process in which you get to slip

your comments about Professor

Crabtree into a closely guarded

manila envelope, confident that

your finely honed evaluation

will be reviewed by university

dons at the highest level. Have you ever

wondered what happens to your

comments once they're

shipped? We got the lowdown from

one top-shelf maestro from our

own school days, and it turns

out teacher reviews are not

really read at all but edited

into obscurity by faculty

politicians. We quote: "They are

sent to Goon HQ and collated, and

numbers are recorded.

Then they're sent back to

the department, where they are

available to the instructor on

request. Bad ones are quite

often destroyed by the untenured

candidates. Comments,

except for a few supposedly

representative sound

bites, are lost in

departmental promotion meetings.

Also, all the numbers

except that of the overall

'grade' are ignored in such

meetings. For example, questions like

'Does he read your written work

thoroughly and return it in a

timely fashion?' are

never counted in

meetings. It's just as well, because

in my experience students grade

teachers exactly as they are graded

and will even answer 'strongly

disagree' to an objective

question like that of returning

work on time if they are failing."


While we can't say we're

surprised, it's pretty

disappointing to know these

valuable documents are being

lost, if only because the

average student kvetch ("this

teacher is mean and she assigns

too much homework and she

assumes you just know the

material even if you don't and

she thinks she's so smart and

acts like you're stupid if you

ask a question, and if you miss

class on a Friday, she takes

attendance even though you

missed class because you were

sick ... " etc.) is eminently

suited to public reading,

preferably in the most

mealy-mouthed singsong you can

muster. Lucky for us, City

College of San Francisco has

come to the rescue by putting

its teacher reviews online.

They're all here for your

delectation: the pointlessly

ass-kissing rave, the likable

problem teacher you can see in

your mind's eye when you read

about him, the heated debates

between bootlicks and

underachievers, and finally the

lengthy complaints that make you

understand why "Whining Piece of

Shit" isn't so much an insult as

a distinct phylum of academia.

The only problem with the new

all-eyes system is that non-CCSF

students might be tempted to try

writing reviews of their own.

But do you really want to fiddle

with something this good?



Now that the lioness is down,

every jackass thinks he can take

a kick at her. With Beloved now

playing on 43 screens nationwide

(having failed to recoup more

than half its production costs),

autopsies on Oprah Winfrey's

career are beginning in earnest.

The New York Times answer man Frank

Rich explains that the American

People are fed up with the

"increasingly preachy" First

Lady of Feelings and quotes TV

critic Tom Shales as saying,

"Winfrey playing national nanny

is getting to be a drag."

Interestingly, neither Rich nor

Shales ever laid into Oprah

before she got serious about

weight loss. More interestingly,

a poll this week shows 28

percent of Americans would vote

for Oprah in a presidential

race. Our guess is that the

Queen's imaginary decline and

fall may have more to do with

faulty math than fickle fame.

Even with a box office take shy

of $23 million, Beloved was seen

by multitudes more people than

have ever shelled out for an

Oprah's Book Club selection. The

one thing we do know for certain

about the American People is

that they are always willing to

support things (like TV shows

and candidates) that they don't

actually have to pay for. Even

if she hadn't KO'd the meat

industry, we'd be cautious about

beginning the count on Oprah.

The last person who challenged

her popular appeal was Phil

Donahue, and he ended up wearing

a dress and getting canceled.



There's nothing like the power

of music to rescue a kid from

the slums - even when the slums

have to be built on an MTV back

lot. Bradley Jenkins, a

Hamilton, New Jersey, teenager

from a good family recently

discovered yet another way to

get hurt in a meeting with

A Tribe Called Quest. MTV filmed

nearly 20 hours of Jenkins' home

life as background for his

FANaticy-league meeting with the

still undead Tribe. But when the

show aired, Jenkins found that

his star turn had been edited

down to a 20-minute sequence that

depicted his well-adjusted home

life as a struggle for survival

in a blighted urban landscape.

"When you look at the tape, it

looks like my life is really bad

and my family is really broken,"

the cheated teen says. MTV has

agreed to make amends and notes

that Jenkins - an A/B student

and a member of Future Business

Leaders of America -

participates in extracurricular

activities and acts at

Princeton's McCarter Theatre. In

other words, having disgraced

his family, the fickle network

is now aiming to out Jenkins as

a world-class geek.



If spams are getting smarter in

finding their target markets, we

have yet to see the evidence.

Despite a few disclaimers about

how they're in compliance with

some congressional act or other,

we're still bewildered by the

pitches we're getting. This week

we received several promos for

A. Marshall's book Brothers

Beware: Games Black Women Play,

in which the author promises to

reveal "many of the techniques

used by Sisters to get what they

want and who they want any

time they want." Most of the

Suck staff, as you may have

guessed, is pretty much as white

as polar bear mucus. And while

Marshall may think he's speaking

the truth about a bunch of


suicide-threatening gold

diggers, why he'd believe we'd

buy is beyond our powers of

demographic reverse-speculation.

A slightly closer inbox hit is

UTOPIA Events' spam for the

Nation's Biggest Jewish Singles

Event on December 24 at New

York's Webster Hall (martini

bar, "legendary DJ," and a

trapeze act). Suck does employ

its share of Jewish New Yorkers,

who will be happy for a chance

to spend a night on the tiles

when the goys are presumably out

a-carolling. (Rumors that UTOPIA

is planning a monster Good

Friday blowout could not be

confirmed by press time.) But

the spam bull's-eye of the

week by far was a pitch from Lakewood,

Colorado-based Diamond

Enterprises. The product is New

Mister Stinky Fartie Pants, a

scented panty liner almost

guaranteed to imbue your most

malodorous foofs with the fresh

scent of vanilla, cherry, or

potpourri. Diamond owner John

Comandari says the company

launched its new gag-gift line

after bailing out of the vitamin

supplement business. Early

results are positive: A bulk

mailing of 5,000 promos to a

blind postal address list has

already yielded a whopping

10 percent response rate,

Comandari says. For a limited

time, you can order the product

along with a bonus butt-cork by

emailing comandarij@aol.com or

calling +1 (303) 564 4067. (These

products are not endorsed or

guaranteed by Suck.) But what

impresses us most isn't Mister

Stinky itself so much as

Diamond's deft guerilla

salesmanship, its ability to

find a ready market. A product

that offers new ways to freshen

up pure, noxious flatulence

could turn out to be more

crucial to our editing process

than a spellchecker.

courtesy of the Sucksters

[Purchase the Suck Book here]