“The Professional Security Manual Class 1: Urban Security” by Charles White (CreateSpace, 2015)

When you’re signing up to be your basic security guard for so and so law firm, or that high-profile business that needs overnight protection, you need to be sure you’ve got the skills and the chops to carry out the job to the letter, whether it’s impressing the guys giving you your paycheck or fellow security guards who need to know you’re the best of the best. Thankfully, there’s this handy dandy book, The Professional Security Manual Class 1: Urban Security.

Lieutenant Charles White has a lot of experience and a lot of things to say on the subject of urban security. Thankfully the editor recorded all this and then synthesized it into this useful book format with ten separate sections giving the reader a full course in urban security. The chapters cover important matters like “Surveillance and Patrol,” “Bomb Recognition,” “Advanced Firearms Instruction,” and very important, “Ghosts in the Workplace.” The book is full of important pearls of wisdom and mantras like:

– “You must secure the respect of employees by practicing martial arts in full view of everyone in the break room.”

– “The modern martial artist is forced to keep in practice with the steel stapler, an item of office equipment ideal for self defense.”

– “I have friends shoot arrows at me as I block. I stand in the middle of a ring of flaming torches, to force myself to stay in bounds.”

At the end of the book there is an important self-test in firearms and weapons, as well as a shooting gallery forcing the reader to choose quickly enemies that need to be killed, and innocents that need to be spared.

Professional Security Manual Class 1: Urban Security is an entertaining read that’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it ends pretty quickly, and really could be double the length for its entertainment value, plus the humorous language is great and should be more present to really make the reader laugh out loud.

Originally written on August 11, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Professional Security Manual Class 1: Urban Security from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Damn You, Autocorrect” by Jillian Madison (Hyperion, 2011)

Damn You, Autocorrect!

In this incredible and wonderful period of Smartphones, it is all very likely that humanity will look back on this time as the remarkable invention of the iPhone and the power and ability that was unleashed with this invention.  And with this marvelous invention there was texting; and with this fantastic ability to text, there was . . . autocorrect.  For those who aren’t in possession of an iPhone, or may not be familiar with it, one “perk” of the texting application is the autocorrect feature that facilitates one’s typing using the touch screen to automatically complete words and make (supposedly) it much quicker and easier to text.

Of course, the adage: “With great power, comes great responsibility” is powerfully true in this case, as this feature has led to innumerable errors, faux pas, and hilarious results that have now become infamous on the internets, dutifully and thankfully collected at the brilliant autocorrect website, Damn You Autocorrect.  And now the cream of the crop of entertaining autocorrects are collected in this perfect book to just have hanging around anywhere in the house or at work, or just about anywhere in the world, Damn You, Autocorrect!   And here are some highlights from this must have book:

Texter #1: “I just fell off the chair at work.”
Texter #2: “Are you OK?”
Texter #1: “Yes.  I think I scared my coriander.”
Texter #2: “Huh???”
Texter #1: “Co-workers.”

Texter #1: “I just had a great dump.  I MEAN HUMP1  AHHHHHHH Frick I mean lube.  LUNCH.  I MEANT LUNCH.”
Texter #2: “Well, whatever it is, I hope it was good . . .”

Texter #1: “I wish we were moving tomorrow.”
Texter #2: “Not long.”
Texter #1: “I know I just need to stay busy.”
Texter #2: “You can always work on the stiff in the garage.”
Texter #1: “The stiff huh.  Sounds kind of morbid.”

Texter #1: “Traffic crap – new eta is 430.”
Texter #2: “Almighty.  Altitude.  Danger.  Blast!  What I mean is, alrighty.”
Texter #1: “Ha that’s awesome.  I thought you were having a mini melt down! 🙂 We are 15 min out.”

Texter #1: “My neck hurts so bad.  I slut wrong.  Sleep.  Jeez.”
Texter #2: “No u slut right.  Trust me.”
Texter #1: “Shut up.”

Originally written on November 20, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Damn You, Autocorrect from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook” by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht (Chronicle Books, 1999)

In the Event of the Worst-Case Scenario . . .

Worst Case Scenario Survival Guidestarstarstar

Ever wonder how to treat a snakebite?  How about when you lock your keys in your car and you wonder if you might be able to break into it somehow?  And the dos and don’ts of a tourniquet – what are they?

All this and so much more is explained in the small, comfortable, pocket-sized, handy-dandy The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, by writers Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht.

This nice, yellow book is only 176 pages long, with easily understandable writing and clear diagrams of what to do in specific situations of danger.  An extensive contents live provides quick access to specific instances such as “How to Hot-Wire a Car . . . 28,” “How to Take a Punch . . . 69,” “How to Jump From a Building Into a Dumpster . . . 77,” “How to Identify a Bomb . . . 85,” or “How to Survive an Avalanche . . . 140.”

The contents are organized into sections (“Great Escapes and Entrances,” “The Best Defense,” “Leaps of Faith,” “Emergencies,” and “Adventure Survival”) again providing invaluable aid to anyone who is in need to exact details and skills to be performed in a specific situation.

One specific instance lends greatly to our current position here at Cal State Long Beach, with the Africanized Honey- or so-called “Killer Bees problem we’ve been having.

There is no telling how useful this book may be to you.  People go on trips and vacations without ever suffering any sort of mishap, while others seem to run into nothing but trouble.  With The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, you will be able to eliminate at least 90% of your problems.  So make sure you get a copy of this book, and the next time you go on a trip somewhere, make sure you slip the book into your duffel bag – just in case.

How to Escape From Killer Bees:

1)      If bees begin flying around and/or stinging you, do not freeze. Run away; swatting at the bees only makes them angrier.

2)      Get indoors as fast as you can.

3)      If no shelter is available, run through bushes or high weeds. This will help give you cover.

4)      If a bee stings you, it will leave its stinger in your skin. Remove the stinger by raking your fingernail across it in a sideways motion.  Do not pinch or pull the stinger out – this may squeeze more venom from the stinger into your body.  Do not let stingers remain in the skin because venom can continue to pump into the body for up to ten minutes.

5)      Do not just into a swimming pool or other body of water – the bees are likely to be waiting for you when you surface.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally published on May 14th 2001 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action” by Wendy Northcutt (Dutton, 2000)

Stupidest Act Ever

Darwin Awardsstarstarstarstar

Think of the stupidest thing a person could ever do.  Multiply this by a factor of ten. Then imagine that this person gets killed in the process of carrying out the stupid act.  This is an example of a Darwin Award.

In the founding days of the Internet, these Darwin Awards were one of the first chain letters to be created, named after the father of evolution, Charles Darwin.  In 1993, UC Berkeley began collecting them, finally starting a website http://www.darwinawards.com.  Since July of 1999 there have been one and a half million unique visitors to this site; it was also named “Coolest Wacky Site of the Year” in April of 2000.

In October of last year, these many amusing yet fantastic stories were brought together in book form, under the same title.  It is now possible for one to have a traveling companion to the Darwin Awards, for those times when one needs a “little something” to read.

But how does one become an entry or at least a nominee for a Darwin Award?  Northcutt has set out five strict rules that one must adhere to:

1)      The candidate must remove himself from the gene pool.

2)      The candidate must exhibit an astounding misapplication of judgment.

3)      The candidate must be the cause of his own demise.

4)      The candidate must be capable of sound judgment.

5)      The event must be verified.

So basically, if you can get someone to film this wacky “idea” you want to try, where in the process you kill yourself or render yourself unable to reproduced, you are eligible.

This book is recommended in any library for any person, for the simple reason that it is one of those books you can just pick up and begin skimming through anytime, anywhere and be extremely amused.  What is interesting about The Darwin Awards is that it does not only contain the essential Darwin Awards, but also has a selection of possible winners and runners-up, as well as Honorable Mentions and Urban Legends.

“Darwin Award, Junk Food Junkie: The 1994 Darwin Award went o the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine, which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out of it.”

“Honorable Mention, Official Drug Test: A woman called the police with a complaint that she had been burned in a drug deal.  She declared that a man had sold her a rock of crack cocaine, but when she brought it home, it ‘looked like baking powder.’  The police dispatched a narcotics agent to her house who tested the rock and verified that, despite its appearance, it was indeed cocaine.  The woman was promptly arrested for drug possession.”

“Urban Legend: Cow Bomb: A dairy worker who heard that bovine flatulence was largely composed of methane, and potentially explosive, decided to apply the scientific method to the theory.  While one of his contented cow charges was hooked up to the milking machine, he waited for the slight tail lift that dairy workers know signals an impending expulsion, generally something one avoids.  The hero struck a match.  To his satisfaction at seeing the resulting foot-long blue flame lasted mere seconds, before the flame was subsumed by a rectal contracting  The poor Holstein exploded, killing the worker, who was struck by a flying femur bone.”

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally published on March 19 2001 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“The Customer is Not Always Right: Hilarious and Horrific Tales of Customers Gone Wrong” by A. J. Adams (Andrews MacMeel Publishing, 2009)

Customer is Not Always Rightstarstarstarstar

Anyone who has a worked a shift in any form of retail has stories to tell of those customers; A. J. Adams has experienced this personally after working in various forms of retail.  In 2007 he decided that retail employees needed a voice and created Notalwaysright.com.  Since then many turn to this therapeutic website for catharsis, therapy, or just a good laugh; while others use it as their forum to voice their anger, shock, and dumbfoundedness at some of the people that exist in this world.  The Customer is Not Always Right collects one hundred of the most popular submitted stories, as well as some that were never published on the site.  One of my favorites is this ditty from a flight attendant:

Flight attendant: “What can I help you with?”

Passenger #1: “The plane seems to be shaking a lot, and I almost spilled my bottle of water.”

Passenger #2: “Yeah, and it’s also really noisy.  We can barely hear each other talk.”

Flight attendant: “Well, the shaking is the turbulence that the plane is flying through, and the noise is coming from the engines.”

Passenger #2: “Can’t you turn the engines off?”

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on December 21st 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

“McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes” by McSweeney’s (Vintage, 2008)

McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokesstarstarstar

When Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney’s Book of Lists hit book shelves with the cover of a triumphant, ethereal, blue, rearing unicorn, readers curiously started reading and then found themselves bursting with laughter, buying the book, and entertaining friends with it. The editors of McSweeney’s return with The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes; and if the title doesn’t capture your interest, maybe the cover of a plucked headless chicken – with a smoking cigarette in one flabby wing, while smoke effuses from its cylindrical hole of a neck – will.

With an introduction from John Hodgman about the cash cow industry of satire, McSweeney’s aims its new book at the intellectual crowd as jokes and humor are procured at the expense of classic works and authors revered in collegiate halls. The first piece, The Recruitment of Harry Potter, is from the viewpoint of a quidditch coach looking to recruit Harry Potter to the team. It warns to stay away from talk about He Who Must Not Be Named and anything involving family. From this we go to George Samsa, currently dealing with his life as a cockroach, having his disability claim denied by Social Security for very specific reasons.

McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes runs the gamut of literature, leaving no book unopened or unmocked. There are short pieces, such as Possible Titles For Future Sue Grafton Novels After She Runs Out of Letters, including: “/” Is for Slash and “Ctrl+X” Is for Cut; and there are longer pieces like Submission Guidelines For Our Refrigerator Door. Then there are plain weird and unusual pieces like Thirteen Writing Prompts, including ‘Write a story that ends with the following sentence: Debra brushed the sand from her blouse, took a last, wistful look at the now putrefying horse, and stepped into the hot-air balloon,‘ and ‘Your main character finds a box of scorched human hair. Whose is it? How did it get there?

Whether it’s Jane Eyre Runs for President or Jean-Paul Sartre, 911 Operator, or Klingon Fairy Tales, readers will be laughing out loud and rolling on the floor – or if you prefer LOLing and ROFLing – for hours. And for all those people forced to read long and boring classics, or listen to their teachers verbally worshiping dead writers, McSweeney’s Joke of Book Jokes is a restorative tonic, the book you’ve been waiting for that will make those hours and hours of late night reading of lengthy, purple prose worth it, because you’ll get all the jokes!

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on April 25th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Letters to eBay: Hilarious Auctions, Crazy Emails, and Bongos For Grandma” by Art Farkas (Grand Central, 2007)

Letters to eBaystarstar

In the vein of the Darwin Awards, Bad Cat, and the Book of Bunny Suicides, Letters to eBay is not a deep and contemplative book that offers reason and thought on the meaning of life.  It is a book about unusual and strange auctions that have been posted on eBay and one man’s alter ego responding to them.  The result is the perfect book to have lying around one’s home, on a coffee table next to the New Yorker, or to take on a trip with you, as I did: a hilarious and entertaining read that you can just pick up and turn to any page.

Art Farkas is not a real person, as you have possibly guessed.  The real author behind this book created the pseudonym and fake character one night in August of 2005, when he decided to check out some auctions on eBay.  As he looked through friends’ auctions, as well as just generally searching others, an alter ego began to develop who would question and challenge and befuddle the claims made by people on their auctions.  The result was Art Farkas, “America’s top cyber-prankster.”  Here are some examples:

An auction was listed for a large decorative bird cage, and at the bottom it made the promise to be “worry free.”  Farkas seizes on this, contacting the auctioneer with a question about whether this will cure his constant worrying of everything: “I worry about simple and great things of the world including whether sippy cups are really safe, the GNP of Hungary, and the number 72.”  The result is the amusing response from the auctioneer who explains in sincerity that the bird cage will not cure Farkas’ problem.

An unusual collector of vintage traps lists a “Large Lucien Legeard trap.”  The auctioneer explains that while these traps were made illegal in 1904, they are still excellent collector’s pieces.  Farkas contacts the auctioneer, setting up a story that he and a group of older men engage in a live-action game like the Fugitive, where they are all chasing one man.  His question is whether the trap would work well to catch a man and how good of a job it will do.  Farkas receives this amusing response that the trap would not work well and that any person could easily break free of it.  “The British did have a man trap with double springs and plain jaws.  But when these come up for auction they are terrible expensive because of their rarity.”  As is the problem with all written Internet communication, one is never sure of the meaning and emotion behind a comment, e-mail, or letter.  In this case, the auctioneer may well think this story is true, which is just bizarre; or they may see the prank that Farkas is playing on them, choosing to play along.

The result is a collection of responses from people who had pranks played on them and the question is whether they fall for it or not.  As the more one reads of the book, the more one feels like after they read the Book of Bunny Suicides; it is an unsettled feeling in their gut, as they know that this just feels wrong.  Nevertheless, it really depends on the type of person reading the book.  Some who read Letters to eBay will, like me, feel that a lot of innocent people are being conned and tricked; while others will just be LOL (laughing out loud).  Ultimately, this book has a little something for everyone.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on July 13th 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith (Grand Central Publishing, 2010)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunterstarstarstar

After the incredible success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, with one million copies in print, and now available in twenty-one languages, as well as being optioned to become a major motion picture; Seth Grahame-Smith returns with his next book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  The front cover seems somewhat subdued, inviting the viewer to investigate further: Abraham Lincoln stands with what appears to be an ax behind his back; blood drips down the wall behind him, along with a bloody handprint and some bloody footprints.  Flip the book over to the back and your curiosities are satisfied: he is holding an ax, and a bloody one at that; in his other hand is a severed head, also dripping blood.

The book begins with the framing device that Grahame-Smith received an unusual package wherein were the journals of Abraham Lincoln, in which the man reveals the hidden and terrifying reality that vampires are alive and well, existing in our world, killing us off one by one.  Grahame-Smith is charged to write a book explaining Lincoln’s stories.  The result is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, featuring excerpts, quotations and passages from Abraham Lincoln’s journals, as the author creates the story of this man’s incredible life from a young boy who held little respect for his father, who then went into politics looking to change things, and eventually became president.  Along the way Lincoln discovered the existence of vampires and began his quest to rid the land of these undead one by one with his deadly ax.

Seth Grahame-Smith has put a lot of work into this book for, while Lincoln never kept a journal, Smith does his best to keep true to Lincoln’s life, using his speech and writing style, and making the incidents involving vampires seem just part of this incredible biography of one of the most famous people in history.  Grahame-Smith goes even further, interweaving the existence of vampires with the civil war and slavery, so that when Lincoln makes his monumental decisions and steps towards a better nation, it is also to stop the growing power of these vampires.  And if you’re not fully convinced, there are some very interesting photos to help prove the story.

You’ll get a lot from reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with not just an interesting biography on our former president, but an entertaining read that will make you think twice about our history, with what really happened, and more importantly the state of the world today and whether there might in fact be a vampire out there, watching you, hungrily.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on January 25th, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Seth Grahame-Smith check out BookBanter Episode 27.

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesstarstarstar

Wait a minute!  Check that again.  Did you read it correctly?  Yep.  Definitely says Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  And the cover proves it.  Well now, there’s something you don’t see everyday.

Writer Seth Grahame-Smith has an eclectic oeuvre, author of Pardon My President, The Spider-Man Handbook, and The Big Book of Porn; he’s now a member of a growing group of writers who’ve decided there’s more to Pride and Prejudice than just the words penned by Jane Austen.  In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Grahame-Smith works on a simple premise: what if in the world of Mr. Darcy getting to know Miss Bennett the dead did not stay dead, but became zombies searching for delicious brains.  Grahame-Smith has created a new art form here in taking a good percentage of the original text and inserting his own text alongside it.  His talent is in using the same voice as Austen, so that the new scenes featuring zombie mayhem and impressive martial arts skills from the Bennett sisters are written in the same tone and therefore aren’t different or jarring.

There are two different schools of training in this world.  The Bennett sisters are trained martial arts professionals, having spent years training under Master Liu in Shaolin, China.  They each know how to use a variety of different weapons, though Elizabeth is best with her katana.  When the five are together, facing a horde of zombies, they execute the Pentagram of Death fighting move that never fails.  While Mr. Darcy was trained in Japan, under his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the most famous zombie killer in all of Britain.  Along with the help of her highly trained ninjas, she is unstoppable.  That is until she must face Elizabeth Bennett in an ultimate showdown over Mr. Darcy’s hand.

Austen fans need not worry that Grahame-Smith has ridiculed a work of art, but has merely added and in some ways “improved” it, giving the story a new look and new subplots.  He even provides a Reader’s Discussion Guide at the end of the book.  The last question reads: “Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales.  Others argue that the hordes of living dead are integral to Jane Austen’s plot and social commentary.  What do you think?  Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?”  After reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies you won’t be able to.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 31st, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Seth Grahame-Smith check out BookBanter Episode 27.