The House at Review Corner: Magic Bullets – Or, How to Become a Skeezy Pick-up Artist without actually using the term

As many of my stories tend to begin, I was browsing the internet one night . . . and came across an online set of discussion boards called The Attraction Forums. The top post on there was from a guy opining his issues with women, but it took me a minute to figure this out, as he was using all of these odd word choices, such as “opening,” “closing,” “transitioning.” It sounded like a corporate merger rather than an attempt to get off with a chick. As I continued to scroll, I encountered a lot more of this type of coded language, as well as acronyms I certainly had never seen before.

Enter the world of men’s self-help.

Of course, they will never, EVER call it that, because then it brings it to a woman’s level, and we can’t have that. No, call it a “system,” call it a “model,” but don’t EVER call it self-help. And be sure to include all of this ridiculous acronyms and code-words, so all the dudebros can feel like they’re in this secret frat.

There are so many of these – Love Systems, Mystery Method, Bad Boy Something-or-Other, The Game – but they all have one thing in common: they promise that, if you use their system, and retrain your brain to think in their ways, you will be swimming in tail. Even if you’re not all that hot! (I’ve looked at some of these “gurus” and “masters” online. Some of them are not that hot, but supposedly, they can get any lady they want).

My curiosity was piqued, so I managed to track down a copy of the book. What are guys telling guys about how to pick up women? They claim that they can’t ask women, because, damn it to hell, we don’t know WHAT we want!! Because of course, we’re all the same, and have teensy brains that get exhausted easily.

I honestly was surprised to find a section on “relationships” in this book. Of course, that could also be taken to mean “friends with benefits,” but in the main, this book has one endgame: sex. As a matter of fact, they encourage men to bone the ladies BEFORE pursuing any type of relationship with them.
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200th entry – A Look Back

Dear readers,

In the fall of 2007, I embarked on a side project that, to the surprise of everyone (most of all, me) has continued to this day. This blog has endured through two serious relationships and lots of bad health days. I even have survived past Television Without Pity, which I used as my model and internet idol (I used to wile away many an hour reading their recaps of television shows), as they closed up shop in 2014. My readers are mostly silent, but I always get visitors; however, in the end, it’s all about me. The minute this stops being fun, an amusing hobby, I will turn off the lights and go.

It’s still fun, so onward and upward!

For the 200th entry, I thought we’d celebrate by looking back at some of BWP’s “greatest hits,” which would be a good retrospective if you are a regular reader, and a good primer if you’re new here. Something for everyone!

The Books Without Pity origin story is all thanks to a “hygiene” book by one of the first female doctors in the United States, Mary Wood-Allen. A pioneer of the temperance movement, Dr. Wood-Allen also believed that children should be taught about sexuality, but of course, under extremely veiled euphemisms. Enter “What a Young Girl Ought to Know.” This strange artifact is in the form of twelve Twilight Talks, which a fictional young girl has with her mother, about “the birds and the bees,” sometimes quite literally!

Our next selection – Excessive Venery, Masturbation, and Continence – was a tremendous undertaking. Written by one Dr. William Howe and supposed to be used as a medical textbook, I was inundated with lots of unfamiliar terms. I think I did a pretty good job, and the majority of these entries are still popular today, if my search terms are any indication. (I just hope that people are not taking these entries seriously)!

Sorely needing a break after all the reading about Faradic currents, strychnine, and lots of cases of priapism, I decided to shift my focus a bit. I set my sights on something quite popular which I was finagled into reading and absolutely despised. My target? Twilight. I did New Moon next. Eclipse was a snore-fest and bored me to tears, so much so that I couldn’t even muster up the energy to skewer it. I did finally do Breaking Dawn, this year, in fact, and I think the break of several years honed my game a little better.

One of my absolute favorites is up next. Phil Phillips is probably not a name you’ve heard, unless you grew up in a certain type of religious household in the 1980s. I had never heard of him, until the Southern Fried Ex told me about this book that his mother read when he was a child, basically ruining any and all popular culture motifs that were de rigueur for any one growing up in the “Me Decade.” And he was not alone. Turmoil in the Toybox was apparently responsible for ruining many a childhood, for all of the cartoons the rest of us loved and cherished are actually Satanic and evil, and no good Christian parents should let their children watch He-Man. Or Care Bears. Or Rainbow Brite. I ended up losing my notes after writing up half of the book; I would later check the book out and finish the rest. Phil Phillips would make a separate appearance in a different book, entitled Halloween and Satanism.

My second favorite set of posts is from the Life Cycle Library, a set of family life type books from the 1960s. A set of four books, the one I snark here is for teenagers going through puberty, and dating and relationships. It’s like a Prelinger Archive film, but in text form!

The rest of this crazy ride includes the horrible trilogy that should not exist: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. Apparently, I am a masochist. There are also some Golden Age comics, Life magazine articles and adverts, and even some V.C. Andrews up in here!

I hope that this has been a worthwhile look into the last eight years of snarkdom. See you really soon!



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The House at Review Corner – Make Every Man Want You

Go to any bookstore (do people still do that?) and you will see hundreds of them – books that fall under the category of “self-help.” Sometimes you will find people standing in these aisles, paperbacks up to their faces, eagerly devouring whatever nuggets they can.

I am not one of these people. I don’t “do” self-help as a general rule, as the very words just make me think of Dr. Phil and his Southern-fried philosophy on “communication.”

Do you point at me, sir? How dare you!!

People change, however.

I don’t delve too much into my personal life on this blog, except where it intersects with my current snark-fest. If you’ve been a reader of BWP for a while, I used to occasionally drop references to “the boyfriend” and then, later, “husband-to-be.” Well, it didn’t work out – and by this, I mean it exploded in my face in a spectacular fashion last year. Suffice to say, I was utterly blindsided and crushed. The verbal bomb was dropped on a Sunday morning (see ‘spectacular fashion’) and I had maybe three humiliating hours in which to take my things and vacate the premises.

Breakups happen; they’ve happened to me. This one has hurt way more than anything else. A good friend recommended a self-help book that she found useful after she had her own relationship crash and burn. I gave it the mental side-eye for a second, but then, I thought, Let this be a new era of Nicole, and give it a try.

Imagine my surprise when I actually found it helpful! I moved on to another one, and that one was also useful in its way.

Of course, there have been horrible ones. Let’s face it: everyone and their cat is some sort of guru or expert these days, and most of it is the same rehashed BS we’ve all heard before. And, getting back to the snark, THOSE are the ones on which we will be focusing for this new occasional segment I’d like to call, The House at Review Corner.

Let’s begin with one I finished last night, entitled Make Every Man Want You: how to be so irresistible you’ll barely keep from dating yourself!

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Creepy, creepy Comix (All Romances, Volume 2)

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since we last visited with each other, dear reader. Especially since I found the following gem RIGHT AFTER reading Garden of Shadows.

“He Suspected the Worst,” from Volume 2 of All Romances. The year is 1949, and this is the second story in the magazine.

We open with a girl standing on a broken bridge, rescued by a handsome youth with an unfortunate-looking jacket. Once on safer ground, the girl introduces herself in an odd way:

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 11

Not, “Hi, I’m your step-sister, Leslie?” Not that it matters, as our young man is suddenly obnoxious, calling Leslie’s mother a gold-digger, but not exactly in those terms.  “Uncle Jim,” as Leslie calls him, is determined for the two young people to be friends.

Ross is being a bit intimate with his second cousin, Mavis, when he discovers Leslie kind of spying on them. Then this happens:

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 12

“I also forgot that Ross was my STEP-BROTHER.”

Ross decides to leave and head for New York, because he knows where he’s not wanted; he’s going to go with Mavis and Friends to the West Indies, because that’s where winners and not-gold-diggers go! (And this time, he actually does say “gold-digger.”)

Leslie is sad that Ross is going away, because feelings, I guess. And then “Uncle” Jim makes up his will, but her mother and Leslie are not privy to his decisions.

Jim kicks the bucket soon enough, and Ross is all “I’m’a kick you outta this house because I’m the king now” or some shit, but in reality, Jim left everything but $10k to his wifey. Ross also has to stay at the house for the next two years if he wants the dough to which he is entitled. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but according to the inflation calculator (love that thing, especially when looking at old prices in magazines), it’s equivalent to ~$100k today. Cha-ching! Of course, Ross doesn’t believe that his step-family were ignorant of the changes to the will, so he is pouty and goes to his rooms.

He starts insulting Leslie about the gardening, and then Mavis shows up again. Mavis essentially invites herself to the house, and then is insolent and lazy, not to mention a bitch. Ross piles on about the girls duping his father out of his money, and maybe even murdering him. After the spat, Ross leaves and then Mavis goes out for a walk. Down by the water, where the suspension bridge is out!

Mavis is in trouble and Ross dives right in to save her, which nearly kills the both of them. Until Leslie and her canoe save the day.

So, is Mavis grateful when she comes to? Of course not! She tries to spin another story, this time about Leslie trying to kill her. Ross has finally had enough of it, but before he can say anything else, Leslie faints from all of the exertion.

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 17

Which is the 1940s version of:

And now, for the squicky conclusion!

All Romances    Ace  archiver USA #2 (1949) - Page 18

What in the . . . WHAT??

Ladies, if the man you love is a close relation, SHUT IT DOWN.

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Garden of Shadows; or, A Different but still kind-of-the-same perception of evil [Dollanganger, Book 5]

When last we left the Dollanganger family, we would have been looking at Seeds of Yesterday, which was so scintillating I completely forgot to write about it! If you absolutely MUST know, there is a Wikipedia page to fulfill your desires! This book, however, is a “prequel,” if you will. It is written from the point of view of Olivia Foxworth, nee’ Winfield – aka, the evil grandmother. Honestly, it very nearly makes one pity her – even taking into account the inconsistencies between this volume and the others in the series. According to sources, the ghostwriter finished this one from Andrews’ notes, which may account for some errors.

We begin with a prologue, where Olivia states that she is forced to tell her own story, when she would have much rather kept it to her grave. She dares her readers to judge her after you discover what she’s been through. I know someone who might be up to that task . . .

What Olivia has been through is a doozy – or de rigeur for Andrews books, depending upon your perspective.

Olivia’s mother dies when she is young, leaving her father to bring her up. He treats her like a son, teaching her about his business accounts and training her as an accountant. She is far from truly feminine and in fact, is pretty gangly and awkward-seeming. She dreams about finding twoo luv some day, and imagines life as the pretty people in her fancy dollhouse. She is not having much luck finding a husband, despite her father’s best attempts.

Until the day Malcolm Foxworth comes to dinner, and seems quite taken with her. Especially her head for business and the fact that she is mature and not flighty. After a walk, a dinner out, going to church together, and some horseback riding, he proposes. Malcolm cites the fact that they have much in common and would make a great partnership.

Olivia is over the moon, as she has fallen for his dashing good looks. It is only later that she realizes – he never once mentioned the word “love.”

The wedding is put together very quickly. Olivia waits with bated breath for her first kiss at the altar, but it’s merely perfunctory. The wedding is attended by her father, her aunt, and her cousin, John Amos (the creepy butler from the other books). And indeed, he is creepy here, too; he has barely met Olivia, as he is from the “poor” side of the family, but he begins insinuating himself right away.

There is no honeymoon; indeed, the bride and groom board the train to Virginia that afternoon. Olivia begins to see already how megalomaniacal he can be – and stingy (he won’t let her order too much food on the train, to save money).

They pull into a deserted depot late at night. The butler/driver meets them and drives them to Foxworth Hall, which Malcolm tells her is her responsibility. She is given a quick tour of the rooms they pass; one of these has a white door. Malcolm says it was his mother’s room, and no one is allowed in.

Olivia is given her own bedroom. She hopes it is just for appearances and puts on her sexiest lingerie (with a V-neck! *gasp*) to await Malcolm’s return. But he never does, and she remains an “unlit candle.” By the way, the dollhouse never comes with her to Foxworth Hall, so it’s unclear how Corinne eventually gets hold of it in Flowers to give to the children.

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Kristy’s Big Day, Or, Who’s Really Getting Married Here? (Baby Sitters Club, #6)

We open with Karen, Kristy’s soon-to-be-stepsister, waxing poetic about old Ben Brewer, a family ghost that apparently lives in the attic. Kristy is concerned that Andrew, soon-to-be-little-stepbrother, is getting frightened by all this ghost talk. Yes, I mean, Ben Brewer eats fried dandelions, I’d say that’s pretty scary.

Kristy exposits that her mother is getting married to Watson, the kids’ father, and they will be moving to his mansion on the other side of town. This will be a good thing for everyone – everyone but Kristy, that is. I know, she’s a kid, she’s never lived anywhere else, all of her friends live close by, blah blah. With her flair for the dramatic, however, you’d think she was moving to Mars. Stoneybrook can’t be terribly big. Also, Watson can be a jerk.

I don’t remember seeing any evidence of that – he’s paid you for watching his kids even though you’re nearly family; he seems to treat you and your brothers well enough. Oh, I get it, you’re just pissed that he’s taking your mom away. To live in a friggin’ mansion.

Anyway, the step kids and Watson have come over for dinner of “pasketti,” as Andrew says, who is perturbed that worms are on the menu. Kristy sets him straight. Kristy wants to eat outside, her mom makes a joke, and Kristy acknowledges that her mom has been in a “great mood” since the engagement. So maybe you should stop drinking the Hatorade? Kristy goes around the table and gives a long detailed explanation about how the family comes together. She wonders if the two youngest will be fighting over toys and things.

Karen pipes up and basically repeats what Kristy has just thought. Charlie asks for wine, but they tell him no. Wah-wah.

Mrs. Thomas announces the wedding date to the table. Andrew needs to have a wedding explained to him. Kristy finds out that she’s going to be a bridesmaid. She’s excited to wear a dress and flowers, and I must ask where the girl is coming from. This is tomboy Kristy, right? Sweatshirts and jeans and sneakers? And now she loves dresses?

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Dawn and the Not-So-Impossible Three (Baby Sitters Club # Five)

This is the first Dawn book. As she pedals to her next job, Dawn informs us that she’s the newest member of the BSC, and that the club is the most important thing in her life. Not school, or family, but the club. Dawn is from California. California is awesome. Connecticut sucks, because it’s too cold. Dawn talks to the meteorologists every day. Sounds like she’s a bit crazy.

Speaking of crazy, Dawn’s job today is at the Pikes, the family with the metric ton of children. However, only half of the clan will be home. Mrs. Pike is heading to a trustee meeting – how does she have time to do anything with all of these kids? Dawn tells us that Mrs. Pike is super-organized, “a baby-sitter’s dream.” A bite-sized version of Foreshadowing skates across the hall tiles.

Dawn tells Mrs. Pike she has a BSC meeting at 5:30, which gives her leave to recap the club members and what they’re like. She leaves Mary Anne for last because she’s Dawn’s new best friend. And their parents, who were high school sweethearts, are dating again.

Mrs. Pike tells Dawn that one of the kids is playing at the Barretts, a family Dawn doesn’t know. Mrs. Pike tells her that Mrs. Barrett is “very relaxed,” and the kids go back and forth between the Barretts all the time.

Baby-sitting happens. Dawn is asked about her “new-old” house, which is from 1795, and it’s dark, and narrow, and you have to duck if you’re tall, but gee golly wow, so much history! Mallory, the older Pike, is all ears about Dawn’s mom and her dating escapades. Dawn doesn’t know the whole story about why they broke up, but she does known that her parents were unhappy together and got divorced. Mrs. Schafer is crazy – not “nasty crazy,” more ditzy, seems like. But, Dawn, what is nasty crazy? Is that a Cali thing, like “hella?”

Anyway, the musing is interrupted by the Barretts making their first appearance, Suzi with a skinned knee. Dawn takes care of it and the kids stay and hang out.

As Dawn is in her driveway, Mary Anne runs up and says she has “great news.” Ooh, what? Kristy came out? Claudia can spell?

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