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Posted October 29, 2001
Recent Follies as Documented Gallows Humor
If you liked The Darwin Awards, you will find this book to be another winner. Like The Darwin Awards, let me note that if you do not find witless death and mutilation humorous, avoid this book. Three of the mutilation examples have a sexual context and are pretty gross. If you find fatal and grisly mishaps funny, you will enjoy the book greatly. In fact, this has to be the best articulated book ever written about stupid ways to die and lose fertility. Anyone will feel smarter and better about themselves after reading these stories! This book is about people 'removing themselves from the gene pool in sublimely idiotic fashion' in ¿true accidental blunders.¿ The incidents involve ways that people ¿unthinkingly engineer their own downfalls, oblivious to warning signs that the rest of us automatically heed.¿ The book's premise is very well framed to put you in a humorous mood. The idea is that when people do stupid things that get them killed or keep them from having children, they thus perform a service by improving the gene pool for the remaining humans. Ms. Northcutt uses many witty essays and quotes to emphasize this point, and establishes the mood well. She has rules for these awards. To win the Darwin Award, you must (1) die or be unable to procreate after the incident, (2) show ¿an astounding misapplication of common sense,¿ (3) cause your own downfall, (4) have the ability to use sound judgment (are not too young or permanently mentally impaired) and (5) have the incident verified by someone else. If you don't meet all these tests, you can still get an honorable mention, or be described as an urban legend or a personal account. I thought these distinctions made good sense, because the story's focus and credibility weighs heavily on the interest it creates for the reader drawn to this subject. In an improvement over The Darwin Awards, Ms. Northcutt has shared feedback from her readers challenging the veracity of various urban legends, personal accounts, and honorable mentions. As a result, this book is tighter than The Darwin Awards. In another improvement, the stories much more carefully document the victim¿s involvement with illegal drugs and alcohol than in The Darwin Awards. In this way, the cautionary lesson about using these substances is brought home more correctly The stories are grouped around themes: violating the seven deadly sins, women as the genetically removed party, water misadventures, problems with technology, men acting macho, misadventures with animals, explosions, and criminal capers. There is also a chapter on stories that do not qualify, and a dozen of the all-time favorites of on-line readers. Here are a few of my favorite stories: The woman who pretended to have been robbed in her fast food restaurant, and died of hypothermia in the cooler pretending to be immobilized . . . even though she could have walked out at any time before she lost consciousness. The man who jumped off every bridge crossing a river, including a drop of 70 feet into 3 feet of water . . . without checking the depth in advance. The man who wanted to lift off in his lawn chair a few feet into the air with helium-filled weather balloons, and ended up at 16,000 feet along the air lanes into Los Angeles International airport. The heavy man who decided to save money on liposuction by having his neighbor who was not a doctor do the operation in his house. He died of an overdose of lidocaine. The construction workers who cut a hole in heavy concrete 100 feet up around the spot they were standing on. The man who killed himself operating a forklift unsafely while taping a safety video. The woman who drove her car into a canal and called 911 on her cell phone. Told that she should lower the windows or open the door and get out, she refused . . . hoping the water would stay out. She forgot that a back window was open, and drowned. The man who looked down the rocket la
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Posted December 28, 2012
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