Friday, January 09, 2009

The Secret Saved My Life!

...and other reviews by Ari Brouillete

A former co-worker e-mailed this Amazon customer review of Rhonda Byrnes' Oprah-hyped self-help book The Secret because she believed (as I did) that it was written by someone we know, someone with a similar writing style and sense of humor. It turned out it wasn't, but it turned me on to the funniest reviewer I've ever read on Amazon, Ari Brouillette of Kensington, California. Not content to skewer the claptrap self-help genre with his Secret testimonial, Ari has also commented on Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Dr. Philip M. Parker's The 2007-2012 Outlook for Public Building Stacking Chairs Excluding Bar, Bowling Center, Cafeteria, Library, Restaurant, and School Stacking Chairs in India (is this for real? Do people write books like this and do people buy them for $500? I thought it was some parody published by the folks at The Onion!), and even offers enthusiastic feedback (!!!, to be exact) on a galvanized metal water bucket someone was selling on Amazon. Ari is a smartass - and I love him. For your reading pleasure, I've reposted Ari's Greatest Hits below. (And I eagerly await his review of Dr. Parker's inevitable follow-up study Outlook for Bar, Bowling Center, Cafeteria, Library, Restaurant and School Stacking Chairs in India.)

The Secret
by Rhonda Byrne
Atria Books/Beyond Words (2006)
The Secret saved my life!
December 4, 2007
By Ari Brouillette

Please allow me to share with you how "The Secret" changed my life and in a very real and substantive way allowed me to overcome a severe crisis in my personal life. It is well known that the premise of "The Secret" is the science of attracting the things in life that you desire and need and in removing from your life those things that you don't want. Before finding this book, I knew nothing of these principles, the process of positive visualization, and had actually engaged in reckless behaviors to the point of endangering my own life and wellbeing.

At age 36, I found myself in a medium security prison serving 3-5 years for destruction of government property and public intoxication. This was stiff punishment for drunkenly defecating in a mailbox but as the judge pointed out, this was my third conviction for the exact same crime. I obviously had an alcohol problem and a deep and intense disrespect for the postal system, but even more importantly I was ignoring the very fabric of our metaphysical reality and inviting destructive influences into my life.

My fourth day in prison was the first day that I was allowed in general population and while in the recreation yard I was approached by a prisoner named Marcus who calmly informed me that as a new prisoner I had been purchased by him for three packs of Winston cigarettes and 8 ounces of Pruno (prison wine). Marcus elaborated further that I could expect to be [...] raped by him on a daily basis and that I had pretty eyes.

Needless to say, I was deeply shocked that my life had sunk to this level. Although I've never been homophobic I was discovering that I was very rape phobic and dismayed by my overall personal street value of roughly $15. I returned to my cell and sat very quietly, searching myself for answers on how I could improve my life and distance myself from harmful outside influences. At that point, in what I consider to be a miraculous moment, my cell mate Jim Norton informed me that he knew about the Marcus situation and that he had something that could solve my problems. He handed me a copy of "The Secret". Normally I wouldn't have turned to a self help book to resolve such a severe and immediate threat but I literally didn't have any other available alternatives. I immediately opened the book and began to read.

The first few chapters deal with the essence of something called the "Law of Attraction" in which a primal universal force is available to us and can be harnessed for the betterment of our lives. The theoretical nature of the first few chapters wasn't exactly putting me at peace. In fact, I had never meditated and had great difficulty with closing out the chaotic noises of the prison and visualizing the positive changes that I so dearly needed. It was when I reached Chapter 6 "The Secret to Relationships" that I realized how this book could help me distance myself from Marcus and his negative intentions. Starting with chapter six there was a cavity carved into the book and in that cavity was a prison shiv. This particular shiv was a toothbrush with a handle that had been repeatedly melted and ground into a razor sharp point.

The next day in the exercise yard I carried "The Secret" with me and when Marcus approached me I opened the book and stabbed him in the neck. The next eight weeks in solitary confinement provided ample time to practice positive visualization and the 16 hours per day of absolute darkness actually made visualization about the only thing that I actually could do. I'm not sure that everybody's life will be changed in such a dramatic way by this book but I'm very thankful to have found it and will continue to recommend it heartily.

The 2007-2012 Outlook for Public Building Stacking Chairs Excluding Bar, Bowling Center, Cafeteria, Library, Restaurant, and School Stacking Chairs in India
by Professor Philip M. Parker, Ph.D.
Chaired Professor of Management Science
Icon Group International (2006)
Dr. Parker has written a masterpiece!
November 12, 2007
By Ari Brouillette

I first discovered Dr. Parker's brilliant analysis and forecast of Indian stacking chair consumption while completing my thesis on the roll played by wheel based ergonomic office chairs in workplace fatalities. In particular, I found fascinating the statistical modeling employed by Dr. Parker to determine governmental stacking chair purchase requirements for the year 2011, which is well know to be the year that the Indian Civil Service Entrance Exam switches to a "Standing Only" testing methodology. Indeed, after months of careful study I can find only two obvious faults with the findings put forward by Dr. Parker. Firstly, and far more seriously, while Dr. Parker's analysis included over 2600 Indian municipalities, his thoughtless exclusion of Indian bowling allies cuts short any possible insight into the scarcity of stacking chairs and the effects on Hindu-Muslim bowling alley violence. Perhaps the infamy of the religious riots in Pune, following Mohinder Singh's perfect 300 game in 1998 led to this exclusion, I only hope that this obvious gap in analysis does not alienate future generations of readers and lead them to repudiation this otherwise thoughtful and deeply insightful study. My final criticism has to do with the quality of the publication and lack of full color illustrations. The choice to use black and white illustrations may be in keeping with the scholarly focus of this publication but I find it hard to distinguish between the Duo and Cello stacking chairs featured prominently on pages 316-318.
Finally, I must comment that Dr. Parker's treatise on stacking chairs has reinvigorated my own personal interest in furniture based consumption modeling and the related effects on the medical industry. I have recently begun a study of metal folding table usage in the southern United States and the corresponding rise in emergency room visitation. I won't provide any spoilers in this forum, but I can't help but tease the fact that I have found a widespread correlation between metal folding table usage at Baptist picnics and emergency room visitation for trauma in the distal and proximal interphalangeal joints. I encourage the many fans of this book to check back soon for my own publication.

Wanderlust: A History of Walking
by Rebecca Solnit
Verso (2002)

A Walk to Forget
December 5, 2007
by Ari Brouillette

Let me preface this somewhat negative review by stating that I come from a family of walking enthusiasts and I myself am an avid collector of all literature dealing with personal locomotion. I must therefore judge this effort via comparison to the great pantheon of walking literature and not merely as an isolated effort. If you are a walking neophyte this book may well be the catalyst that sparks your interest for further study but I would not suggest this work as a thorough or exhaustive study of two legged ambulation. Indeed, this scant 335 page work rarely delves beyond walking and completely fails to examine other forms of personal transport such as tottering, strolling, or even waddling. It must therefore suffer in comparison to the exquisite detail in Sarah Bernhardt's "One leg too few: A history of hopping", in which the author painstakingly details and diagrams the kinetics achieved by Anthony Cumia, the only one legged person capable of moseying. It also suffers from a very sparse history of walking and does not cover any of the critical walking related achievements from our rich colonial times. I believe that most readers will be greatly displeased to know that no mention is made of Margaret Brent's trailblazing non-stop saunter from Philadelphia to Boston or the ensuing legal trials that resulted in her convection and lengthy incarceration for inciting civil unrest by "walking in a salacious and wanton manner". While most historical treatises on American women's suffragist movements make no mention of the early campaigners for equal walking rights I certainly expect more from a novel claiming to be a "History of Walking". I know that the casual reader may take offense to such detailed scrutiny but it is a great sense of passion for the subject which guides my critical eye.
Dover Parkersburg 610 Galvanized Metal Water Bucket (2-Gallon)
Sold by Denny And Kathys Ace ($5.99)

This Bucket Changed My Life!!!
May 13, 2003
by Ari Brouillette

The highly versatile Dover Parkerburg 610 2- Gallon Galvanized Metal Water Bucket was recommended to me by my neighbor Jim Anchower. Jim is something of an amateur consumer products testing buff and assured me that when it came to galvanized buckets the Dover Parkersburg reigns supreme! Jim had previously turned me on to the the Swiffer WetJet Mop Total Cleaning System and the Hoover Quik-Broom S2561 so I knew he wouldn't [mess] around when it came to my metal bucket needs.

At first glance the Dover Parkerburg 610 is clearly a step above the competition, the smooth galvanized exterior is indicative of the more modern electrocoat process which produces much less surface bubbling and insures a uniform surface. Jagged Edges? Not on this baby! Also of note are the two horizontal ripples which are placed 6 inches from the base. A simple structural analysis and crush test showed the slight corragative additions to be more than simple decorations, they actually produce an increase in tensile strength of 35.8% when compared to smooth walled galvanized buckets of the same carrying capacity.

Although I have used the Dover Parkerburg less since installing our new fangled "Water Closet", I display it with pride, knowing that I own the best 2 gallon galvanized bucket in town.


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