Skip

An Amazon-ian Warrior
January 22, 2007 3:26 AM   Subscribe

Amazon-ian Warrior. An unassuming Canadian chap has been quietly submitting ludicrous reviews of products sold on Amazon.com for nearly 5 years. For example, his detailed commentary on George P Joyce's A Comparative Analysis of Two Alternatives to Chemical Aircraft Paint Stripping:

Joyce is an alchemist, taking the leaden medium of technical report writing, and transmuting it with his warm spirit, pouring his pen over the obscured voices of the chemical aircraft paint strippers like a mellifluous caramel gold; redeeming them in a universal chorus of aircraft paint strippers, their individual spirits vibrating like strings in a cosmic harp.

Part of the fun is seeing how many people rated each review as helpful; for example, he gets 100% approval for his comments on Flautist Angel Statuette (This 'flautist angel' is crude, eschewing classical representation to debase itself in the distortions of folk art. A freak frisson of masochism prompted me to order an item that believes human anatomy is modelled upon slurry running from a faucet. Look at it.) while virtually no-one was impressed by his analysis of How Conservatives Won The Heart Of America (Thought-provoking. I did not know that the "heart of America" is an actual item the Conservatives won in a game of squash in 1972; I assumed it was a metaphor.) Since Amazon started adding RSS feeds and enabling comments on reviews, he finally appears to be starting to reach an audience; those wishing to keep updated with his sporadic but fantastic work may appreciate this handy Feedburner URL.
posted by rhodri (56 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is awesome. Thanks.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:53 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm flattered that I've been elevated to the status of "master of the FPP medium", as this is my first ever Metafilter post. Of course, it's possible you're taking the piss, which is equally flattering, ha.
posted by rhodri at 3:56 AM on January 22, 2007


This reminds me years ago there was an absurdist Amazon reviewer I used to follow...damn, I wish I could remember his name.

He was no less erudite, but somewhat more risque.
posted by lastobelus at 4:07 AM on January 22, 2007


lastobelus

Henry Raddick is probably the guy you're thinking of, he was pretty big back in 2001 or thereabouts.
posted by johnny novak at 4:12 AM on January 22, 2007




Also, before anyone snarks rhodri into a smoking crater, be kind. They're apparently a journalist, so just go a little easier on them, ok? We can afford to make small allowances for those that are a bit slower than us.

More seriously: nice post. I love this kind of stuff. Such fascinatingly mundane subversion, so pointless and pointed at the same time.
posted by loquacious at 4:17 AM on January 22, 2007


Sorry for the "read more" omission. You know how it is when enthusiasm overtakes syntax. And yes, being a journalist doesn't help one bit.
posted by rhodri at 4:22 AM on January 22, 2007




very nice post.
posted by milarepa at 4:50 AM on January 22, 2007


Oh my. These reviews are amazing. This sentence, from his very helpful review of Rod Stewart's Still the same, floored me: When I watch Rod Stewart on my videocassette deck, I put him in slow motion. The folds of his pumpkin orange face move like pond ripples away from his mouth, and slowly break over his closed eyes.
posted by Kattullus at 4:59 AM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I know, I know. And there's so much to choose from. The drywall saw one I particularly like:

This is a very noble drywall saw. It takes a firm command of the drywall and tidily administers to it with such dignity - a trait I find boorishly lacking in most other drywall saws. The patrician cast, and venerable blade make it a dignified and baronial addition to your workshop. I myself feel a workshop too ignoble a home for this drywall saw, and have instead mounted it above my fireplace where its eminence can be more proudly displayed.
posted by rhodri at 5:12 AM on January 22, 2007


Awesome.
posted by killdevil at 5:18 AM on January 22, 2007


On Ann Coulter's How To Talk Like A Liberal (If You Must):

Taking her inspiration from some of the developments in language studies within humanities departments since the 1970s, Anne Coulter unearths the sedimented contigency of many oft prattled 'truisms' with a Derridean alacrity.

posted by killdevil at 5:23 AM on January 22, 2007


Reminds me of the 2% milk reviews on Amazon. I wrote how it turned my puppy into a bloodthirsty beast.
posted by Chocomog at 5:24 AM on January 22, 2007


@johnny novak

yeah, that's the guy. Although he doesn't seem as funny to me now as I remembered...
posted by lastobelus at 5:35 AM on January 22, 2007


Most excellent post.
posted by disgruntled at 5:37 AM on January 22, 2007


Reminds me of the David Hasselhoff reviews.
posted by klangklangston at 6:49 AM on January 22, 2007


Do these reviews signal the emergence of a new form of literature? The timewaster literature?

Reading through these reviews, I cannot help making the connection to The Timewaster Letters.
posted by jeyoung at 7:44 AM on January 22, 2007


For the Rosetta Stone Basic Italian:

As with any language learning system, one is going to come up against a tendancy towards the most basic and rudimentary forms of communication the language offers. Unfortunately, all of my experiences in Italia were not well serviced by this product. On numerous occasions I found myself needing to say "Do not escort me to your hovel. I am a man of taste", and "your odour is corrupt." I suppose this is the experience one expects while exploring the Italian countryside, but never again will I find myself speechless when needing to say "Your peasantry here is of poor stock, barely suited even for the luxuries of feudalism."
posted by jason's_planet at 7:45 AM on January 22, 2007


unassuming Canadian

This is default mode for Canadians.

I'd love to see what this guy could come up with David Hasselhoff's music. Since there's so much scope in that and all.
posted by orange swan at 7:52 AM on January 22, 2007


unassuming Canadian

This is default mode for Canadians.


Oh please stop this before you turn us into Apple computers.
posted by srboisvert at 7:56 AM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Another great Amazon reviewer of olden days was Smith T. Aames, who had written dozens of reviews that were eventually deleted by Amazon. Blogger Bizarre Journali later admitted that she was Smith and has posted a number of her original reviews:

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
My Friend Leonard
Sweet Sue Torso
98 Degrees and Rising
Metamucil
etc...

Also noted by, bloggers, far, and, wide
posted by i love cheese at 8:02 AM on January 22, 2007


I agree about the drywall saw review - that's just...wonderful.
posted by iconomy at 10:13 AM on January 22, 2007


This is the best I can say about the reviews: I started reading them and sometime later, much later, I remembered that I had other things to do.

Excellent and engrossing. Thanks, rhodri.
posted by oddman at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2007


As others have pointed out, this has been done. The first time, it was really funny. But I think the only way it continues to be entertaining by the time the sixth person comes along is if you actually subscribe to the ludicrous notion that posting prank reviews on e-commerce websites is some new form of art — which apparently many of you do, so, OK then. In my book, here's a guy ripping off somebody else's idea and snickering over a thesaurus to write the sort of self-amusing prose that most of us submitted for assignments in junior high school.
posted by cribcage at 10:41 AM on January 22, 2007


It's not theft if it's any good. It's borrowing and making it better. Many musicians have gone on record as saying that they borrow many aspects of their music from other musicians. How is this any different? Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
posted by ashbury at 11:13 AM on January 22, 2007


As others have pointed out, this has been done. The first time, it was really funny. But I think the only way it continues to be entertaining by the time the sixth person comes along is if you actually subscribe to the ludicrous notion that posting prank reviews on e-commerce websites is some new form of art — which apparently many of you do, so, OK then. In my book, here's a guy ripping off somebody else's idea and snickering over a thesaurus to write the sort of self-amusing prose that most of us submitted for assignments in junior high school.
posted by cribcage at 10:41 AM PST on January 22 [+]
[!]


I told u guys he was hardcore.
posted by mek at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2007


The first time, it was really funny. But I think the only way it continues to be entertaining by the time the sixth person comes along is if you actually subscribe to the ludicrous notion that posting prank reviews on e-commerce websites is some new form of art

Tsk. Tsk Tsk. Au contraire.

One of the secrets of comedy is repetition. Which is part of timing.

Mysteriously it usually works best in odd numbered sequences. Curly, responding to Moe's incessant attempts to gouge out his eyes and pinch off his nose, oft refrained: "Woob. woob. woob!" or "Nyuk. Nyuk. Nyuk."

By your logic a simple lone "Woob" or "Nyuk" would have sufficed. Now. Any stooge (pardon the pun) can see it simply will not do. Thrice makes nice.

"Woob woob."
See that doesn't work. Sounds needy. Uncertain.

"Woob. Woob. Woob. Woob."
Well. Now your just pandering.

"Woob. Woob. Woob. Woob. Woob."
HAHAHA. Now that is comedy. Your making fun at your earlier attempts. Kudos to you sir!

This hater attitude speaks more to your own failure of ability to appreciate a true "Fools" consistency. Many children grow easily bored. Most often it's an attention span problem not a content problem.

If this Mister Quickly keeps up with his antics I say in five years he will be hailed a genius. Haters be damned.

It is also ironic that most of the haters are the de facto reviewers here. In the sense that MeFi's very existence depends on the smarmy and over informed personal "review" of the minutiae of the web.
posted by tkchrist at 12:43 PM on January 22, 2007 [4 favorites]




Wait for it.
posted by tkchrist at 12:45 PM on January 22, 2007


Nice post rhodri. I love Amazon reviews, just yesterday I came across Arthur an autodidact who is looking for a new career: What I learned is that aerospace intelligence is not as difficult as you would think it is

What impressed me most about Arthur was that across 100 reviews his average rating is 5 stars. I admit I was envious, I wish everything in my life was 5 stars. Arthur on the DVD Ohio Surges On: I had no idea that Ohio was this interesting.
posted by meech at 1:01 PM on January 22, 2007


tkchrist: I actually laughed out loud at your "Woob. Woob. Woob. Woob. Woob." .

Something so firmly ingrained in my mind that just the reference to reminds me of laughing on Saturday morning 25 years ago.

Thank you.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:02 PM on January 22, 2007


Woob!


Repetition!
posted by tkchrist at 1:13 PM on January 22, 2007


Thank you.

And you are welcome.

Ps.

My earliest memory of the Stooges, one to this DAY get's me in stitches, is when they ran a Diner. In Morocco! So, of course, they wore fez's. The entire absurd reason to set the gag in Morocco. THAT alone is funny. Especially since Curly kept having his fez stolen by a monkey and had to wear the monkey's teeny tiny fez.

So they run this Diner. And the special is Clam Chowder. Ok. Now how funny is that? Clam chowder being the special in a Mediterranean coastal nation in North Africa. Being only seven years old it took me a while to get that one. Anyway. Clam chowder. The problem is Larry didn't shuck the clams like Moe told him. So these big mean looking Arab guys kept busting their teeth on the clam shells. So Moe, being always customer service conscious, sends Curly out to "take care" of the clams.

Curly goes to this table. The customer was all "This Chowder is impossible to eat, you infidel dog!" Curly lifts the bowl up to look in and a clam surfaces and squirts him in the face. SPLOOSH!

"Woob. woob. WOOB! Wise guy, eh!" So Curly reaches into the bowl and the clam bites down on his finger. SNAP! He pulls it out and it jumps up and bites his nose and goes back into the bowl.

"OW wooob!" Curly goes and gets some tongs to fish out the clam. He gets in a tug of war with the Clam. Back and forth. Back and forth.

The bowl has magically become like five feet deep. He climbs over the Arab. In the back and forth struggle he gets the Arabs beard all caught up in the tongs and the Arab ends up face first in the bowl.

"Don't worry sir. I wont let a mollusk molest us!" Says curly.

So curly disappears off screen for a second. Comes back with a huge gun and begins SHOOTING into the bowl of chowder. BLAM. BLAM. BLAM.

After a few shots a tiny little white surrender flag appears in the bowl. Curly bows to the Arab and presents him the bowl.

"Your chowdah sir!"

And the clam squirts him again.
-------


Repetition my friends!
posted by tkchrist at 1:33 PM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


PS. I also find that Stooges episode oddly and presciently analogous to the US in Iraq. Somehow.
posted by tkchrist at 1:39 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


In my book, here's a guy ripping off somebody else's idea and snickering over a thesaurus to write the sort of self-amusing prose that most of us submitted for assignments in junior high school.

I see plenty of sites that claim to be funny. I've read the Timewaster Letters and similar books, right back to the Henry Root Letters in the 1970s... I'm not claiming the idea is new – he's just a really good writer. Thesaurus doesn't even come into it. If it did, I'd see it a mile off.
posted by rhodri at 2:56 PM on January 22, 2007


rhodri - don't sweat it. That guy IS funny.

This:
to write the sort of self-amusing prose that most of us submitted for assignments in junior high school

...is a dead giveaway. See the complaint here is that the complainer is so much smarter than anybody who finds the subject funny. See he supposedly actually USED a thesaurus to write "prose" in middle school. And by saying "most of us" that's implying anybody at age 12 that didn't is left out here in dumb-land. Knowing full well that "most of us" didn't use a Thesaurus much in Jr. High (ages 12 to 14) nor even know what real "prose" was. Let alone write it.

So the complaint accomplishes three things. It states:

A "I'm smarter than the subject."

B "I'm smarter than anybody else who enjoys the subject."

C. "I am easily bored."

What it does not accomplish is any examination of why Mr. Quickly is, or is not, funny.

Mr. Quickly IS funny. I hope MORE people do what he is doing.
posted by tkchrist at 3:12 PM on January 22, 2007


If you're finished with, "You don't like what I like, so you suck!!!", then maybe you'll notice that I explained exactly why I don't find this stunt funny: It's derivative. Lots of people have done the same damn thing. It was funny the first time, and now it's not.

It's interesting that you leapt onto, "He thinks he's smarter than me!", because I never said any such thing. I think it's ludicrous if somebody believes this is some new form of art, but that's quite different from just saying that you're amused by it. Whatever insecurity led you to interpret my comment as an attack against your intelligence, I think it's interesting how many folks take personal offense at the notion that somebody disagrees with their assessment of what's funny.
posted by cribcage at 3:29 PM on January 22, 2007


"Art" is pretty much any creative endeavour undertaken in a spirit of expressing oneself. It doesn't have to be intelligent, or edifying, or suitable for framing in a museum. Therefore, these reviews are "art". It's relative merits are, of course, fair game for debate, but if there's one thing life has taught me, it's that one man's laughter is another man's annoyed grimace and that there are few debates more futile and tedious than those over whether something is funny or not.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2007


While we're on the subject of amusing online reviews, my personal favourite would be the lead IMDB review for MVP 2: Most Vertival Primate. An excerpt:

"This movie made me smile, it made me think, but most importantly it made me think I was smiling."
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:29 PM on January 22, 2007


All I know is, that the way I leave ebay feedback will never be the same
posted by Deep Dish at 4:59 PM on January 22, 2007


Heh. Reminds me of this eBay reviewer.

The scary thing about that guy is that he mostly left messages for users named becky. I love one ends like so:

becky9( 147Feedback score is 100 to 499)
no longer a registered user
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:02 PM on January 22, 2007


God, I HATE taste arguments.

Cribcage: Knock it off. You're KILLING me here. You don't have to like what I like. In fact. I would warn you against it. I would not join a club that would have a guy like me as a member.

QUOTE you:" I think it's interesting how many folks take personal offense at the notion that somebody disagrees with their assessment of what's funny"

Why is it people get so defensive when you prove their critic is merely a claim of false superiority? Dude you are doing exactly what you claim we are.

Let me quote you again:
"if you actually subscribe to the ludicrous notion"

Why is it ludicrous?

And

"to write the sort of self-amusing prose that most of us submitted for assignments in junior high school"

So. We were ment to take you litterally? How can we. You would do well to post some verifiable examples of how MOST Junior High students using this supposed thesaurus cop'd verbose "prose" you say is so common. And then. Explain how " the use of "ludicrous" is not a knock to people who may enjoy this guys writing.

Or you could admit you were being unintentionally insulting and self superior. It's ok. I do it all the time.

I merely, if given the time to think about it, would have phrased my critic differently if I were you.

As for not being original? Ok. Sure. He is not original. Big deal. that has nothing to do what so ever if something is funny. Or even meritable as art. Depending on how ripped off the source is. And this I would not classify as a rip off. Rather a genre of sorts.

BTW. I can, I GUARANTEE you, find a lack of originality in half of what you DO like. Go ahead post ten of the funniest things you can think of. Let us pick them apart for originality.

After all: Good poets borrow; Great poets steal.

Originality is good. But not required for humor. In fact - as I mentioned - sometimes it's COMMONALITY, anticipation and repetition that MAKE things funny.

Sometimes when there is nothing else recognizable to the structure of the humor it is it's original nature that surprises us. Another factor in timing. But there is room for everything.

The other reason I like the guy is that he is making fun of reviews and critics as a concept. Which I endorse, heartily. As I think reviewing is largely a parasitic form of wannabe-ism for the less talented and gutless. Everybody is literally a critic.

But, eh, that's just me.
posted by tkchrist at 5:25 PM on January 22, 2007


I HATE taste arguments. ... Knock it off. You're KILLING me here.

That's more than a bit disingenuous, followed as it is by your 425-word screed; but it's good advice nonetheless, and I think I'll take it.
posted by cribcage at 5:37 PM on January 22, 2007


Wow, this guy's hilarious.

Maybe it's because I'm reading Mark Twain right now (just read Innocents Abroad and Roughing It), but does anyone else feel that these reviews are written in a style like Twain's or at least in a Victorian style?
posted by redteam at 5:47 PM on January 22, 2007


The neat thing about art is it doesn't matter if you are good unless you ask someone to pay you for it.
posted by zapatosunidos at 5:48 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


followed as it is by your 425-word screed

You counted! You care. You really care!

Hardly disingenous. In fact I went to great lengths to explain why. you simply ignored all of it so you could feel like a smarty pants.

You get all keyed up and then you run home and take your toys with you without even attempting to address a single point I made. I hate these arguments because THAT is how they always end.

And frankly THAT is your right in matters of taste. So scuttle off. As will I.


The neat thing about art is it doesn't matter if you are good unless you ask someone to pay you for it.


Kind of like sex.
posted by tkchrist at 5:59 PM on January 22, 2007


Oh, for Christ's sake.

Hardly disingenous.

When you tell somebody, "Knock off this stupid argument," and then you proceed to continue said argument — that's disingenuous. Insincere. Hypocritical. See aforementioned thesaurus.

"Knock it off," you wrote. You hate taste arguments. This one's killing you. Et cetera. And I agreed — because you're right about "taste arguments," and so is The Card Cheat: they're futile and tedious — so I walked away. And now you call me a coward because I 'failed to address your points.'

And that's the trap of hypocrisy, obviously: If I had ignored the first part and answered your "points," you'd have repeated your haughty exasperation at the fact that I insisted on continuing this stupid "taste argument." How clever.
posted by cribcage at 6:44 PM on January 22, 2007


Last word!
posted by ashbury at 9:00 PM on January 22, 2007


your favorite amazon reviewer sucks.
posted by empath at 10:20 PM on January 22, 2007


Okay, this guy's hilarious. Yeah, I've read this kind of thing before, but this is just great humor writing. This review of a panasonic cd player made me snort wine out of my nose:

"While I was initially attracted to this product for the sterling glamour of its silvery surface, this soon tarnished once I began operating its more than yielding button interface. Yes, it is very generous in how it allows you to press and poke it to command a number of operations; but it is almost too generous, and with each push of a button it sinks into disrepute, servility and debasement. I once esteemed its silvery resplendence. This product now impresses me as nothing more than painted chattel to be abused by paupers and mendicants, to daub with their oily fingers.

I can have no more of this disreputable product."
posted by lumpenprole at 11:51 PM on January 22, 2007


Definitely a +favorite post! Am looking forward to reading more of Mister Quickly's (gender twist on Mistress Quickly?) silly fun. Thanks rhodri.
posted by nickyskye at 1:35 AM on January 23, 2007


It's funny. And derivative. And unoriginal. And my bet is that he was aiming at "funny", and not "original and underived". So he probably succeeded at what he was aiming at.

And I found it funny. I didn't find it original, or underived. But I enjoy funny things, both original and unoriginal. So it's cool, we're on the same wavelength.
posted by Bugbread at 2:07 AM on January 23, 2007


If you don't think he's funny, fine, but I don't understand all this "derivative" talk. Like only one person in all of history is allowed to make a fake review ever? Everyone else who decides to do the same thing afterwards, whether they arrived at the idea on their own or not, has their efforts branded as derivative?

I've seen this done before, and this guy's much funnier than the others, he has a very nice style.
posted by redteam at 4:20 AM on January 23, 2007


These are somewhat funny. Amazon reviews are usually so irritating -- I sometimes wonder if Laura Ingraham is exhorting her hateful, retarded army to "review" Chomsky books en masse in the interest of making America more ignorant proud.

I usually ignore then, except when my ultra-mega-Zionist friend with the erudition of a third grader, Jill Malter chimes in -- she's ranked reviewer #138 on all of Amazon! I think she "reviews" about thirteen books per day. Whether or not she reads any of them is another question.
posted by inoculatedcities at 8:10 AM on January 23, 2007


so I walked away. And now you call me a coward because I 'failed to address your points.'

AH HAH!. You DIDN'T walk away. How did I know you'd come back? I KNEW it. Because you HAVE to prove your smarter than everybody. Prediction fulfilled.

Tkchrist: 3. Cribcage: 0.

BTW. I didn't call you a coward. So I won't call you a coward now. Sure. I AM a hypocrite. I guess. But a hypocrite with at least a sense of humor. There are worse things than being a hypocrite.

Like. Say. A being a humorless hysterical pompous douche bag.

So I might call you a humorless hysterical pompous douche bag. Might. If you get nasty. Won't THAT sting.
posted by tkchrist at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2007


Using a "camera" to "film" people "doing stuff" and then "projecting" it on a "screen" in a "dark theater". That's been done so many times. And you idiots are still falling for it.
posted by squarehead at 7:58 PM on January 24, 2007


« Older Anonymously.   |   The reason all the tuna are disappearing Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post