"All of the historical oddities and amazing true facts contained herein are lies, made up by me — and it is this astonishing innovation that allows each entry to contain more truths than if it were merely factual... Truth may be stranger than fiction, goes the old saw, but it is never as strange as lies, or for that matter, as true. Proof of which maxim is the fact that I just made it up."
Short for: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order by Me, John Hodgman, a Professional Writer, in the Areas of My Expertise, which Include: Matters Historical; Matters Literary; Matters Cryptozoological; Hobo Matters; Food, Drink, & Cheese (a Kind of Food); Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels; Haircuts; Utopia; What Will Happen in the Future; and Most Other Subjects; Illustrated with a Reasonable Number of Tables and Figures, and Featuring the Best of "Were You Aware of It?", John Hodgman's Long-Running Newspaper Novelty Column of Strange Facts and Oddities of the Bizarre.As the name implies, it is a book of trivia written by John Hodgman, better known as a PC, and as The Daily Show's "Resident Expert". Every single fact in it is a lie ... or is it?It is intelligent, absurd humour, and primarily a parody of Poor Richard's Almanack, written by Benjamin Franklin, and more broadly, a pastiche of almanacks and trivia books in general. In order to properly get every joke in it, you'd need to take a course. (In fact, one can imagine students in the far future doing so. ELL 321: Early 21st Century Comedy: John Hodgman).The audiobook version, which in many ways is even more hilarious, is read by Hodgman in his trademark deadpan style. It also features Jonathan Coulton singing the book's theme song, the songs of the various American states, and generally acting as Hodgman's foil and straightman throughout.The first in the Complete World Knowledge trilogy, followed by More Information Than You Require and That Is All.
Hodgman also gives us The Fifty-Five Dramatic Situations:
Alien Geometries: One house with a 666 phone number is described as having no right angles.
Ancient Conspiracy: Subverted: The Skulls and Bones are said to have failed in their bid for world domination, and now spend all their time masturbating and tending to the pterodactyls on their private island. The Masonic symbols allegedly hidden in Washington DC's architecture are also parodied.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": There was a species of otter called a "lobster", now driven to extinction by the New Lobsters. There's also a joke about how during the 1920s, when "gorilla" was a slang term for tough guy, the term for an actual gorilla was "mega-chimp"
The mountains of Colorado (state nickname: The Dwarrowdelf) are described as "large and fairly Balrog-free".
When describing the correct manner of raising rabbits, Hodgman describes the phenomenon of El-Ahrairah worship
When building a snow fort, "watch out for wampas."
Repeated references to Doctor Who, including using a picture of Cybermen for "typical cyborg mischief".
Repeated references to the Evil Dead series, such as the claim that George W. Bush has a chainsaw for a hand. John Hodgman was Bruce Campbell's literary agent, and Campbell is listed as an expert consulted on the subject of fake blood [likely not a joke].
Nonsense Classification: For example the column on "food, drink, and cheese", where there are "only so many kinds of foods to write about", namely "abs, polar bear steaks, chili, chili, and polar bear steaks."
Serious Business: "If you wish for sports information, might I kindly refer you to every other aspect of our culture?"
Take That: Parodied with the "attack ad" segments, in which he jokingly accuses Jonathan Coulton of being an awful catsitter, and another person of masturbating out a window on two separate occasions, while John Hodgman has only masturbated out a window once. Also, one of the Hobo Names is Nick Nolte.