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The Reviewer's Choice Awards

(Program Note: I'd like to thank the good folks -- Jenn and Kyle, that is -- over at the Mug of Woe collection, who've seen fit today to cast me in their 'Woeful Spotlight', a weekly series featuring contributors to the MuggaWoe effort.

"And I got to mention Stairmasters, Zeus, Wal-Mart, Neiztsche and gerunds all in the same piece, which is nice."

The spotlight is evidently black-and-white. Which is not the worst look for me, as dual colors go. And I got to mention Stairmasters, Zeus, Wal-Mart, Neiztsche and gerunds all in the same piece, which is nice. Go read. I'll wait.

And for that matter, pick up a copy on Amazon, if you like. It's 28% off right now, for some odd reason. You can't afford not to buy this thing, probably. Chop chop.)

Since we're half-spent already at this point, I'll just share a mild but uncomfortable dilemma I've managed to weasel myself into tonight. That should be a hoot.

You may be aware of the Zolton Does Amazon series I've been writing over at It's a biweekly romp of farcical product reviews, with ridiculous scenarios played out in the virtual pages of the Amazon catalog.

(I've been doing it for over a year now. Approximately three people have heard about it. You? No? Outstanding.)

My favorite part about the series is that the Amazon reviews included in the pieces are real. They sit, live on Amazon, without the benefit of the ridiculous story or wildly embarrassing photos to provide context. They're just reviews, like any other.

Mostly, that leads to some nice perks. Most people get the joke -- or at least, find a joke in the reviews -- and occasionally leave comments to say that they got a good laugh out of it. Those are my favorites.

Naturally, there are a few WHOOSH-tastic souls who don't know what to make of the things. They've contributed conversational gems such as -- and I quote:

And the gem of the non-plussed crowd, the comment left on a 'review' of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which begins:

'That is the most ridiculous and lame product rating I've EVER read in my 15 years of amazon shopping.'

I don't know what sort of hard-hitting, in-depth journalistic insight this person was hoping for, WHILE SHOPPING FOR MAIL-ORDER PASTRIES ONLINE, but I evidently didn't reach the bar. Pity. Those sugar-glazed Pulitzers are the best kind of all.

Even these comments are usually good for a giggle. But then there are the outliers. There aren't many of these -- that's why we call them outliers; try to keep up with the fancy terminology. But there are a few. Meaning people who don't see the reviews as parody, and also don't think to simply question the sanity of the author and treat them as fiction. Every once in a great while, someone will get into their head that the review happened exactly. As. Described.

Like this plucky fellow, who recently commented on a vuvuzela gag and ended with the flourish:


Implied animal cruelty with a musical instrument apparently gets some shoppers' bloomers in a twist. Remind me never to shove a kazoo up this guy's hamster's butt.

His, maybe. But the hamster -- off limits.

Odd as that comment was, the topper has to be an email -- not an onsite Amazon comment, but an email, to me directly -- that I received this evening. It was regarding my review of a small surveillance camera, and the guy asked, in part:

'How did you record the video to watch it later?'

He's got a thief he wants to catch in the act, just like in my review.

Only, my scenario didn't really happen. And I never bought the camera. And if I had, I'd have probably dropped it or broken it or swallowed it before getting to test it out, so I have zero clue how the thing works, or whether it records video in the first place, much less saves it for future viewing enjoyment.

But the guy seems really sincere. I'm honestly not sure how to break it to him that my situation, which he says sounds a lot like his, was completely fabricated from scratch for the sake of entertainment. Plus, he clearly has interest in and access to surveillance equipment of some kind, so if I don't break it gently, he could end up stalking me. And I don't want that. Even tiny little cameras add twenty pounds. That's no good.

Little help here? Anybody have some advice on how -- or whether -- I should respond with my 'expertise' on this camera thing? Because I've looked all over Amazon for something to get me out of this, and I've come up empty. After all I've done for that site, too. Harrumph.

Permalink | Comments (3)

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Just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it. Your mind is an exceptionally fertile place for humor.
Do you ever come to the West Coast? Portland?

Charlie, you are a fountain of great humor. Do you ever come out to the West Coast? Portland?

Hey thanks, Steve!

I've only been over your way a handful of times, but I have, in fact, been to Portland. For a wedding, and I spent a night on a pull-out couch at the couple's house with their neurotic worried dog.

I'm not sure what that makes my impression of Portland, but I did have a good time at the reception. So there's that. Thanks for the note!

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