July 24

Amazon customer reviews

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Spending a quiet Sunday morning plowing through my pile of stacked up mail and periodicals (the great, amorphous pile, my wife calls it), I scanned through a small stack of the most recent issues of the New York Observer, the peach colored, edgy, irreverent New York weekly. I can’t bear to throw these papers away unscanned (at the very least) because the writing is so delicious. And usually the paper leads my mind down some path worth exploring. Such was the case today, so I thought I would share in case anyone needs a good laugh, assuming, of course, that anyone’s sense of humor is as warped as mine. (Unfortunately, although the most current issue of the Observer can be read in its totality online, articles from older editions must be purchased.)
The article that launched me off is one by Ron Rosenbaum, The Edgy Enthusiast. In this issue, the July 18, 2005 one, Mr. Rosenbaum tackles the issue of whether or not Vladimir Nabokov, one of his favorite writers (and mine, too) was influenced in the writing of the 999 line poem that is the crux of his novel Pale Fire by a poem written by Robert Frost, “Of a Winter Evening.” The novel, one of the last century’s great works of literature, is a bizarre but hilarious book that defies being shoehorned into a particular genre.
Toward the end of the piece Mr. Rosenbaum segues into an Amaxon.com customer review of Pale Fire—the book itself has nothing to do with fire—he read about on a posting on a Nabokov discussion listserv. Someone had written about the bizarre review—reproduced below—and couldn’t quite decipher its meaning.
This Amazon.com customer review of Pale Fire is by a Mister Quickly:

Fire – a timeless subject. Perhaps rivalling the wheel in terms of its importance in human development, fire has been an important companion in our teleological quest towards perfection. This book didn’t really directly tackle the subject of fire as poignantly as would suit my tastes. If you’re interested in furthering your knowledge of fire I recommend the movie “Quest for Fire”, the song “Fire” by Arthur Brown, and “Backdraft.”

Mr. Rosenbaum smelled a spoof. He looked up the review for Pale Fire on Amazon.com, clicked on See all my reviews and found that Mister Quickly had posted some 50 plus bizarre reviews of other books and products offered on Amazon.
I couldn’t myself resist this temptation, and I can tell you that most of these reviews are hilarious. I haven’t gone throught them all yet, but of the ones I’ve read, I particularly enjoyed Mister Quickly’s review of the Komach Series 61/2 Inch Vegetable Santoku Knife, which can be had from Amazon for $19.95. Mister Quickly entitled his review “Santoku Warrior” and gave the knife 5 stars.

This knife has yet to meet an opponent who does not ultimately yield its vegetable flesh to the Santoku. The Santoku tangles with comestibles from all across the land, and succeeds with ruthless ability. There has only been one who did not kowtow; yet, even that recalcitrant turnip found its end when it was thrown to the back lawn like a swine, and fatefully succumbed its corporeality to the elements. As the turnip perished, the Santoku flickered in my parlour. Lettuce gore was carelessly smeared upon its blade, but even that could not threaten the Santoku’s radiance.
A worthy knife.

And his review of the Game Face Paintball E-Rex Elite Semi-Auto Marker, one of those guns people who dress and color themselves in camoflage use to shoot paintballs at one another in mock warfare games. (The gun can be had for under 100 bucks.) The review is entitled: “game face paintball.”

As the product title indicates, this gun is ideal for a game called “game face paintball.” I found this game is fun to play with people who have broad faces, and more challenging with people who have narrow faces. As my face is narrow, I am a difficult target; but my friend Tim has a fat moon-shaped face, and is a slow runner. This makes him easy sport, albeit tiresome to continually hunt long after you’ve pock-marked his face and further augmented its lunar qualities. A combination of faces of varying widths and lengths easily mixes things up; try tossing in a few weasel-faced people, and you’ve got yourself an afternoon!
Great product.

Mister Quickly gives it 4 stars.
The thing I find most hilarious about these reviews is the number of people who responded to them. As I’m sure you know, Amazon has a means whereby readers of its books and users of its products can report whether or not they found a particular review helpful or not. A full 23 out of 34 respondents found Mister Quickly’s review of the Santoku knife helpful, whereas only 2 of 5 got anything out of his review of the paintball gun. God help me if I should ever run into either of those two.
If you need to be cheered up, or if you simply have an hour or so to waste, peruse Mister Quickly’s reviews. He may have created a new art form. Who knows how many other Mister Quicklys there are out there plying their art. Next time I see an Amazon review I think is totally off the wall, I’ll look a little more closely.


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