Jewish World Review August 12, 2003 / 14 Menachem-Av, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Puffery | The sheer volume of new filler required by the Information Age is amazing. But there seems to be a never-ending appetite for puffery. I've made a study of it. Headlines anyway.

I've noticed that lists are always a surefire crowd pleaser, like the "Bad Girls of Cleveland," "Bugs to Watch Out For," or "Things in Your Garage That Can Kill You."

Ten seems to be the magic number: "Top Ten Party Schools," "Celebrities We'd Love To Kill," "Most Famous Lizards of All Time," "Bad Names For Babies"

Don't forget bargains and value. "Wait! Old Socks Mean Cash!" "Wow! Leftovers on Parade!" "Get the Most From Your Mall!"

And celebrities and animals. "Gwyneth Paltrow's Eight Savvy Shopping Tips." "Where J. Lo Buys Her Shoes --- And So Can You!" "Inside Ben Affleck's Pockets" "Celebrity Makeover Interventions: Are You Next?"

Michael Jackson? You could fill an entire magazine with his shenanigans!

Little quizzes also make a great space filler. "Ferrets. Yes or No?" "Do You Like Your Butt?" "How Well Do You Know Your Closet?"

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Cuties and hotties are another never-fail fallback, especially if they're brought into our pathetic hottie-free world: "Cubicle Cuties" "Watch Out! There's a Hottie Beside You!" "Are YOU a Hottie?" (Quiz!) "Getting That Hottie To Notice You" "When Hottie Met Cutie.?" And "White House Hotties!"

You can't go wrong with anything cute, fuzzy, or little, especially if the name Jessica is involved. Or if it's futuristic. "Bunnies of Tomorrow," "Psst ---. Wanna Clone Your Kitten?" "Tiny Animals You Can Eat." (Yum!) "Puppies In Danger?"

Food itself can provide food for thought: "Not Your Mother's Waffles!" "Beets: Worth Another Look," "New Uses For Old Corn."

And any time there's New Studies, New Polls, chock full of startling or amazing revelations about weight or hair loss. "New Study Reveals: There's Hair In Your Future." "Dead Can Shop, Expert Says." And topic tie-ins: "Discover Your Matrix " Of Love --- Unleash Your Inner Rumsfeld."

"Shock and Awwww: The Healing Power of Bunnies."

Helpful advice and home improvement. "Put That Killer Mold to Work." "Know Your Nematodes!" "Amazing Amazing Linoloeum." "Gizmos You Can Do Without" "What Your Sockets Tell Others."

Remember: these pieces are very seldom "read," in the traditional sense of the term. Instead these items provide reassurance that there is a world beyond the screen and page, a fantastic, perky, and slightly frightening world just barely outside our ken.

Mix and match. "Backyard Birdies? Give 'em a Bath!" "Insanity Defense: Right For You?" "Cool New Hobby: Nude Dentistry." "Are You a Lawyer? Find Out Now." "Woh! Iraqi Beauty Secrets!" "Elf or Hobbit? Which One Are You?" "Condi Rice's Foot Treatment." "Is Your Head On Fire? Find Out Now!" "Can Your Dog Smell a Bargain?"

Get it? Got it? Good. It's ALL good.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


08/08/03: Love that (other) Bob!
08/04/03: Is the free market doomed?
07/08/03: Hill Williams at Bay
06/30/03: The Amazing Red Faced J-Lo
06/25/03: TCB, KFC
06/16/03: Because it's there
06/11/03: The Matrix regurgitated
06/05/03: Here, Spike
05/07/03: When Hippies Retire
04/09/03: Your mommy could have told you that silence is the stoic's path to personal salvation --- hey, but who would have listened?
04/01/03: Hedging the war
03/28/03: Space: The Penultimate Frontier
03/18/03: Hour of the Narc
03/07/03: Home entertainment tips for pinkos --- no joke!
02/28/03: When Anorexia is a good thing
02/21/03: Aussie invasion!
02/11/03: This museum of my dreams would be no accident
02/03/03: Hasn't 'reality TV' always been with us?
01/30/03: Get tougher?
01/21/03: Spinning through the 'newscycle'
01/16/03: "G" for verbal violence?
01/03/03: Farewell to novelty
12/23/02: Neo-frontiers
12/18/02: A nation of hypochondriacs?
12/11/02: Cursed
11/08/02: Good news for skateboarders looking to keep up with world events
11/01/02: "Extreme" annoyance
10/24/02: Snipers are people, too!
10/16/02: Hockey Therapy
10/08/02: Cupid, the parasite
10/03/02: How to have fun in Africa
09/30/02: If you are employed, you're part of the problem
09/25/02: "Up and comers," go away!
09/18/02: Collectibilitized
09/10/02: Monotone felons
08/20/02: Will we soon need a passport to get caviar, duc a la orange, or Polish sausage?
08/14/02: Law and Disorder --- and Starbucks
08/12/02: Rummy's monkey
08/05/02: Time for some real cultural heroes
07/31/02: Yearning for a nostalgic American product that was neither
07/24/02: Voicemail heaven?
07/18/02: At the movies with your friendly neighborhood curmudgeon
07/12/02: King of Kitsch
07/09/02: Musicians' brains
07/01/02: Where's my cow?
06/24/02: Modern record stores can be a scary proposition
06/21/02: Life IS a movie?
06/19/02: Spreading fertilizer on a dictionary to try to raise a novel
06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
06/12/02: Very similar to a rock
06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2003, Ian Shoales