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Book Review: Look At My Striped Shirt

Look At My Striped ShirtLook At My Striped Shirt - Confessions of People You Love To Hate by The Phat Phree $10.36 @ First off let me admit that this blog - or at least me - is somehow related to The Phat Phree. I'll give you 3 minutes to Google it and figure it out. If you can't, well then it's of no concern to you. But I did get this book sent to me for free with the understanding that I would review it. Such is the duty of a "Blogger" - we are here to spread the word where no one else gives a damn. Now let me explain a little bit about The Phat Phree. It's an online humor magazine that is about two hundred times more popular than Unsought Input. But then again, uhm...we like it that way. The guys from The Phat Phree are those kids who probably beat you up in elementary school, played sports in middle school and by high school they were all of a sudden really in to drama club and the school newspaper because they were slightly too intelligent to stay in football. They weren't in drama to sing and dance (cuz "that's be gay, dude") or on the newspaper to write scandalous op-ed pieces, but because they like when people listen to them talk or read what they write. They're those guys who fill the large gap between the over-smart introverts and the air-headed extroverts. Now they work office jobs but hope to someday make it big in a way that people will pay money to hear what they have to say. So, nothing wrong with that. Someone's got to fill that gap. They're honing their skills by following the TPP credo: Target. Observe. Ridicule. They're taking "observational comedy" to a different level than we're used to - different than the droning of Jerry Seinfeld's sly jabs at everyday annoyances and not so far as the over-done "people of [my ethnicity] are funny because..." yawn-fest of Carlos Mencia. Look At My Striped Shirt - Confessions of People You Love To Hate contains 73 essays written from the point of view of all of the quirky lamers you work with, ring up at the cash register, run into at parties and, God forbid, are related to. A Spoon River Anthology for the modern day, if you will. The characters in the LAMSS book are those idiots you know you know, but really never cared to think about before. The dude who's "really into philosophy." The jackass with the "GONFISHN" license plate. The guy who wanted to be "fuck buddies" but maybe without the "buddies" part. Your "cool" teacher. The lady who collects ladybugs. And of course, that fella sportin' the striped shirt at the bar who knows that he is totally going to get laid tonight. The Phat Phree writers (all 28 of them) put together an interesting menagerie of characters for this book. They were smart enough to leave out the painfully obvious targets of ridicule - fat people, non-Americans, IT guys, soccer moms, the religious Right - and delve a little bit deeper into the idiocracy that truly makes up most of the American population.
This gangbang is so awkward This gangbang is so awkward...
Many of the pieces do fall flat while others are stand out. Like most Saturday Night Live sketches (and really, a good chunk of Monty Python as well), some of the essays come out swingin' and die halfway through as if they'd be better minus the last three paragraphs. My favorite part of the book is actually the essay titles and accompanying pictures (yes, I read like a six-year-old, thanks.) "You Can't Plinko For Shit, You Dumb Bitch," "This Gangbang is So Awkward" and "Having a Huge Penis Isn't So Great" are some of my favorites. Also much like Python, and the Kids in the Hall, it seems that the Phat Phree writers can't write for women. There's only a smattering of essays written from a female point-of-view (two of the contributing writers are women) and they aren't quite as strong as the others. Although "Seriously, Get This Sweater Off Me" written from the point-of-view of a woman's "rat dog" is one of the best pieces. Maybe chicks just aren't that interesting.
Seriously, get this sweater off me Seriously, get this sweater off me
Since the boys at TPP are so wildly different (read: popular) than us here at Unsought, the book gives me a chance to learn a little bit about people that I would know only if I only left the house once in a while. People that go to clubs, go to after parties, drive nice cars, think they're "just like Sex and the City," etc. I think those sort of people are more ubiquitous than I had previously imagined - although MySpace is changing my perception of the world quite rapidly. Now, thanks to this book, I have some basis for my "who the hell are all these people on MySpace?" snark. If nothing else, this is the perfect bathroom book. The essays are short enough to get through a few at a time during your morning constitutional. Or, if you're like me and spend more time eating than excreting, it's a nice little lunchtime accompaniment. I guarantee if nothing else you'll be remembering a character or two the next time you run into someone annoying, or emailing your friend about how this essay you just read reminds you of him. Check out The Phat Phree Web site which is updated daily with lots of new content. Some of the pieces from the book can be found there, most likely in their "Hall of Fame." Fifty of the essays are brand-new, and can only be found in the book. The Look At My Striped Shirt Web site has a few excerpts plus pod-casts of performances of the essays and some pretty funny wallpapers (see, even they find the titles and pictures funny!) Go forth and read, my friends. Don't read too much, though. I will have more television reviews for you shortly.