"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 11 March 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CLXIX



Amazon appears to be learning

what authors have long known:

Hearing from end users is like

finding your imaginary friends

conspiring behind your back.

Take Harry Shearer, who bitched to the

LA Times that Amazon recently

priced his 94-page tome It's the

Stupidity, Stupid at US$55,

which would make it "the most

expensive dollar-per-page book

since the Gutenberg Bible." And

ABC columnist Fred Moody has his

gripes. He says fake claims

about fake quotes appeared in

his book's reader-submitted

review section. But not

everyone's complaining. Lev

Grossman confesses Amazon's

honor system allowed him to

submit fake reviews of his own

book - to counter genuinely bad

ones. But the biggest winner may

be The Onion. Three weeks before

the site's book Our Dumb

Century has even hit bookstands,

it's received raves on Amazon.

("Better than any other book I

haven't read yet!") The reviews

- most submitted during a

24-hour period - are probably as

valid as Time mag's Person of

the Century poll. (Last time we

checked, professional wrestler

Ric Flair was closing fast on

Jesus, followed by Hitler, the

prophet Mohammed, and John

Flansburgh from They Might Be

Giants.) It all proves there's

nothing more unwieldy than a cultural

critic armed with anonymity. And

we oughta know.



When Ritalin fails, you can

always use horse blinders.

Harold Stagner, director of

Indiana's Tippecanoe County

Educational Services, has

invented a new system for

treating kids whose reading

skills have been depleted by

attention deficit disorder -

corrective glasses that block

out everything except the

material Junior is supposed to

be reading. The new ocular

devices, he boasts, improve

reading comprehension roughly 60

to 70 percent. And if all those

mercurial classroom cutups have

to be transformed into bug-eyed

Percy Dovetonsilses to do it -

that's the price of learning.

"You read through a little slit

in the front of the glasses,"

Stagner says. "Kids who have

attention deficit disorder,

their main problem is their

inability to suppress other

materials, objects around them,

so they're very distracted. And

these glasses, what they do is

they nullify these distractions

so the student can concentrate

more. And when they concentrate

they don't have to use

neurological energy to suppress

their surroundings, and they can

focus their energy on reading."

How can they read if they can't

move their eyes over the page?

"You move your head up and

down," he says. Aren't the kids

worried about looking like

nerds? "Actually, most of them

think they look pretty cool.

These are sort of a wraparound

sunglasses shape." Other than

getting a nice '80s-retro effect

like Big Trouble in Little

China's Lords of Death, though,

will Stagner's students need

earplugs to block out aural

distractions? "No. Most of your

ADD kids are mostly visual."

Nose plugs to block out that

wise-ass who tries to get a

laugh by cutting the cheese in

the next row? "No, that doesn't

really have an effect."

Stagner's invention goes on sale

later today at the Reading

Breakthrough Web site. And while

the new glasses seem destined

for multiple uses, we hope it

won't be long before some

straitjacketed hooligan is using

his breakthrough glasses to

watch old Hitler highlights,

while listening to Beethoven's




Speaking of which, Stanley

Kubrick got seriously bested in

the obituaries duel of the week.

And since the eulorgy for Joe

DiMaggio omitted the notorious

Frank Sinatra-night-out

incident, in which the Chairman and

the Clipper were busted stalking

Joe's ex-wife, it looks like the

Kid from Martinez scored another

victory in death. On Sunday,

CNN's site described Kubrick's

film Dr. Strangelove as "a

satire about an American college

professor who rises to political

power." No one knows why -

unless they were confusing it

with Henry Kissinger's new book,

which is out this week and being

duly fluffed by CNN partner

Time. Kubrick's military comedy

is about many things - doomsday,

paranoia, atomic holocaust. But it's

not about a college professor. A

fresh CNN story Monday -

audaciously titled "How will

Stanley Kubrick be remembered?"

- included a more accurate

description of the film ("An

antiwar comedy in which a crazed

US general plots to attack the

Soviets and Slim Pickens rides

a nuclear bomb.") Now that

Warner Brothers is in possession

of Kubrick's final film,

co-chairman Terry Semel has a

more compelling box-office hook

than persistent (though

apparently groundless) rumors

about Harvey Keitel's

unauthorized frosting of Nicole

Kidman's hair during the

production of Eyes Wide Shut.

None of which, of course,

dampens our high hopes for the

movie's release in July. We hear

it's a satire about a college

professor who rises to political




CNN viewers may also have a

little window on why those great

gun-camera views of smart bombs

blowing things up in Iraq may

tell more and less than we need

to know. While briefing-room

hacks always complain that the

Pentagon shows only the hits and never the

misses, last week's spectacular

footage of a guerrilla being

blown to smithereens in southern

Lebanon suggests that even the

best hits may go a little wide

of the mark. The dramatic shot

shows a man running for his life

just as a missile zooms in and

blasts him back to Allah with

what looks to our nonveteran

eyes like a pretty decisive hit.

Widely shown on Israeli TV, the

scene was sure to "boost morale"

in the Holy Land, according to

CNN's man in Jerusalem.

Inconveniently though, the guy

appears to have survived with

only cuts and bruises. The

Lebanese paper As-Safir features

an interview with one Hadi

Sayyed Hassan, recuperating at

Beirut's Hammoud hospital and

boasting that he was happy to

survive "just to show them that

with all their planes, their

smart bombs, all their

technology, I defeated them."

Meanwhile, CNN's smart reporters

might consider waiting until the

body's cold before going to

press. Even a first-time hit man

knows that it's essential to put

one in the brain.

courtesy of the Sucksters


[Purchase the Suck Book here]