The Fish
for 13 February 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
[Suck Staff]

[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


[Terry Colon]
Terry Colon
Art Director


[Heather Havrilesky]
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Joey Anuff]
Joey Anuff

[Go to the Suck Alumni page]

Vanity Unfair

I don't think the big publishers have anything to worry about.

For one thing, sorting through the crap at XLibris to find a few nuggets of gold is a Herculean task that no one except the most dedicated reader is going to undertake. If there are over 100,000 titles, it's not as convenient as going into your local Barnes & Noble and browsing for something to read. I suppose if you know exactly what you want, it's one thing, but XLibris and in fact, every other online bookstore or book publisher, forgets the browse factor.

Second, it would seem to me that promoting literature in any form would be a good thing for the big houses. People need to read and getting them to read anything, even the worst form of crap, could possibly lead to (gasp-ohmygawd) more reading.

Third, so Doubleday doesn't get the royalties — who cares? They get a couple of thousand manuscripts a day that never see the light and probably never will. Unless you meet their rules for submission, it's just going to get tossed in a corner or covered with coffee-stains anyway.

Fourth, and this is probably the most cogent point: how much of their bitching is sour grapes?

Publish or be damned ...

Albert A. Freeman

The bitching is either sour grapes or fear, I'd guess, but there are certainly many savvy pub types, like Jason Epstein, who aren't afraid of web-based vanity. Someone will always want to pay someone else to do the weeding out for them. But I'm just thrilled everytime someone figures out away around such types.



[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Dear Mr. von Bohm Bawerk,

Thank you for noting that our book, The Bellybutton Fiasco, has yet to appear on the Xlibris website. My co-author, Tom Bissell, and I have been trying to bring this to the attention of Xlibris for some time now, but it seems that our publisher is a bit swamped. (Bringing out the legions of worthy books, unjustly and myopically denied publication by traditional houses, is evidently a time-consuming task.)

But I am happy to report that we have been mailed the diskette containing our proof pages, which we were instructed to print out and review. Having emailed Xlibris the pre-selected number of corrections, we are quite hopeful that the publication of our novel is imminent. Awaiting the arrival of the book has been quite trying, as you can imagine, and so we are grateful for your support in our endeavor to hurry things along with Xlibris.


Webster Younce

Mr. Younce:

Thank you for the alert. I had no idea Xlibris's lead time was so long. Apologies for my sideways suggestion that you hadn't/weren't going through with it. I look forward for my chance to sample and possibly purchase your novel.



[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Scattered throughout McSweeney's #4 is a good send up of Xlibris.

That's it,


I don't read '"vanity'" publications as a matter of course, but if I can afford it I'll check that out. Is that the one that came stuck inside a crushed body of a pre-80s automobile and retailing for $299.99?



[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Thank you for today's Suck. I work at the University of Chicago Press, and while we (being in a different, more stable position) don't hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth nearly so much as those in New York seem to, it's good to have someone clear through the intellectual obfuscation and point out what people are really worried about. This will go up on my bulletin board, to be taken down and passed around should the discussion turn to — gasp — the future.

Levi Stahl, Advertising Manager, University of Chicago Press

Mr. Stahl:

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you found the article useful.



[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I humbly present my very own iuniverse-published "genre novel" — details at the URL below. all I can say about the traditional publishing biz is that I found it to be a brick wall. the worthiness of my book is not for me to judge, but Mojo ("Elvis Is Everywhere") Nixon calls it, "A pure American tale of insanity, lust and gonzo, flat-out rock-n-fucking-roll!!"

Now there's an endorsement,

David Menconi - Raleigh (NC) News & Observer

Thanks for reading, and good luck with selling a million copies of your novel behind the publishing industry's back...



[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Cable Degeneration

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

I've been mourning the steady and consistent demise of Comedy Central ever since the Upright Citizens Brigade went the way of Rhoda. CC doesn't seem to put a lot of effort into responding to viewer mail...who knows? A little more public abuse like this and maybe their programming department will give half a rat's ass and start airing shows that actually make people laugh again.

Thanks for the article. Keep up the great work.


I appreciate the vote of encouragement, however I must dispute you on the idea of the Upright Citizens Brigade going the way of Rhoda, as reruns of UCB are not shown ad nauseum on TVLand. Rest assured that there's probably a Sketch Comedy network in the works somewhere.

The Camel

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I really enjoyed your article, one particularly banal commercial that you didn't mention was the "Girls Gone Wild" video that become inescapable at around 11:00 every night. I'd like to see a Suck on what that's all about, you'd think that some of those middle class college girls would have tried to sue to keep their drunken antics out of video stores. It's pretty easy to see that the most explicit scenes are with professional strippers but some of the "on the street" flashers are probably too drunk to understand signing a release form or saying whatever kind of verbal agreements these guys are getting them to recite.




I must admit, when I saw the subject line of your message I thought you might be the webmaster at getting back to me about that little credit card snafu. I fully agree with you that those videos of perky sorority coeds flaunting their firm, young bodies for the camera are exactly the kind of filth that late-night cable shoves down our throats.

On a related note, why the hell should you need a credit card to order videos online anyway?

The Camel

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

My major problem with battlebots is that what little technology they talk about is with the strong overtone of "you aren't supposed to understand this."

In its original UK, junkyard wars goes by the far less aggressive moniker: "Scrapheap Challenge." It's actually intended to be a "stealth" science education show, targeted at 8-14's. When brought to the US market, most of the 6 minutes cut for extra commercials came from the educational segments. When TLC's US specific version was done, even more emphasis was given to the competitive aspects.

In the UK it's a family hour show (Sundays 6pm) in the US it was milked for all the 25-54 males it could get — 9-11pm on a weeknight.

The thing that most surprised me was how bloodthirsty the American audiences are — they solicited audience suggestions for challenges, and the majority seem carefully contrived to kill the contestants (or at least freeze or boil them) (tanks and snowmobiles are particularly popular).

-dp- Organizer, The New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society; The NERDS. We are the first US team to compete in the British Scrapheap Challenge series. (called "Junkyard Wars" in the US) The NERDS We won the submarine challenge and the steam powered car race. Watch us in the fire fighting boat final December 27.

This planet needs a lot more kids that think taking the lawnmowers' engine apart is more fun than playing Nintendo.

Jeff DelPapa

The idea that British versions of these shows are better was popular on the Plastic discussion as well. I wonder if, now that the days of a non-commercial BBC are over, British television will soon be shaped by the same market forces we see in the US.

It is sad that even channels with such significant mandates as the Learning and History channels abandon educational programming for bitchin' machinery. Still, after watching the Transformers as a kid, I myself must admit that the idea of a Junkyard Wars episode where contestants build a giant robotic death machine has crossed my mind.

Thanks for writing; I thoroughly enjoy the show.

The Camel

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

[Contacting Us]
[Contributors Index]

 The Shit
Physical Strength and How to Obtain It, by Eugen Sandow
Bamboozled, A Spectacular New Film by Mr. Spike Lee
G. Beato's all-new Soundbitten
William Demarest, Sultan of Snarl, in The Lady Eve (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
George Wallace: Settin' The Woods On Fire, directed by Daniel McCabe and Paul Stekler
Bobby Darin, Darin at the Copa (Atlantic)
Shinji-San in the floating world of indeterminate duration, by Peter Richardson
American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation, by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor
Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1996, Merge)
45, by Bill Drummond
Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards, Singing in the Rain (ASV)
Do you know of stuff that doesn't actively suck? Things so good they deserve to make the Shitlist? Send your suggestions to us.
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