Archive for December 17th, 2011

17
Dec
11

What I’m Reading: Blogs to Books

With the Internet now being responsible for roughly 97 percent of all entertainment content generated in the universe, it’s inevitable that many of the more popular websites would find their way into print. Present company excluded. :sigh: Anyway, today I’m going to take a look a a pair of Christmas collections of content that either appeared online or got its launch there.

Let’s start with Wreck the Halls. For a few years now, author Jen Yates has been keeping us entertained with her website Cake Wrecks, where she presents hilariously mangled pastries that barely deserve to be called cakes. As funny as the terrible cakes are, though, it’s Yates’s writing that really makes the site work. She’s a wonderfully funny commentator with a sharp sense of humor and great skill at assembling the pictures in a way that sets up the jokes even better.

Wreck the Halls is her second book, following last year’s Cake Wrecks. This time out, she’s focusing on holiday-related wrecks, and again, it’s a real joy to read the book. She splits the book up into several sections, including chapters related to Thanksgiving wrecks, Christmas wrecks, and even Hanukkah wrecks, with several other cakes along the way that wouldn’t technically fit into their assigned category (or even this book) were it not for the way she manages to pull out a joke that fully justifies their inclusion. Plus, if you’re a fan of the website, the majority of the cakes in this book never appeared online, making it even more vital that you read this book, and right now.

On the other side of the Internet spectrum, let’s take a look at The Onion. (And yes, I know the newspaper version of The Onion actually precedes the website by several years, but most people are familiar with it primarily as an Internet source and, more importantly, without that segue I’d have no way to put these two books into the same blog post together.) If you’re one of the few people who’ve never visited the website, The Onion is a satirical website that mocks the news — newspapers, news websites, and even news television now. I’ve never been a faithful reader of The Onion, to be honest, but reading this book reminds me of why it’s popular. It’s really very funny.

Until you get past the headline.

That’s the problem with The Onion, and that’s why I never seem to keep reading it on those occasions when I stumble onto the website for one reason or another. The faux news articles, which this book mostly collects, usually have a very clever and inventive headline that pokes fun at something in popular culture, or takes something serious and juxtaposes it with something terribly mundane. (One of the best, for example: JESUS ‘REALLY DREADING’ THIS NEXT BIRTHDAY.) The thing is, once you read into the article, it’s clear that the writer didn’t really have much to go on past the headline. The jokes aren’t good enough for extended commentary, and the articles are almost universally weak. The short blurbs are the best things in the book, probably precisely because they’re short. Once you get past a first paragraph, the articles ramble on with variations on the same joke over and over again.

If you’re looking for a Yuletide chuckle, jump at Wreck the Halls. Pass on Christmas Exposed.




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