March 10, 2011


Rule the World: 119 Shortcuts to Total World Domination. By the Editors of Klutz. Klutz. $16.99.

Me vs. You: Head-to-Head Brain Races. By Michael Sherman. Klutz. $10.99.

     Apparently Klutz is not satisfied to dominate the “books-plus” field of crafts projects, in which all needed materials are packaged along with instructions. Now it is creating a new area of domination – the “dominating others” field – and is determined to dominate it as well, thus achieving a sort of meta-domination. The question is whether you would want to live in a world dominated by Klutzniks; the answer may be that you already do. The solution (assuming this is a problem) may be that if you can’t beat them (or it), join them (or it.) And that is the invitation kindly extended by the Klutz galactic empire in Rule the World. This is not a traditional crafts book by any means, although it certainly contains a few crafts projects: the Oath of Righteousness to be signed, a series of Flash IDs to be created (“Drive Anything License,” “Ultra Gold-Plated Platinum-Embossed Double Diamond Club Member,” and so on), facial hair to be cut out and applied appropriately, cut-out eyeglasses to make you look intelligent, even a random-facial-expression generator that helps you figure out how to look not only on a given day but also within specific time periods of that day. But the core of this book is the 119 recommendations that, if put properly into effect, will surely lead to world domination – except perhaps over others who also buy the book and implement its ideas. Let’s not go there, though, at least yet; instead, let’s go to recommendation number 103: “You are a great and terrible ruler, so your pets must be extreme” – photo suggestions include a platypus and a shark with blood dripping from its jaws. Or number 75: “Be blasé. …To get the look, let your eyes glaze over, let your jaw hang open and yawn. Then yawn again…and again.” Number 36, “Tell a near-death survival story,” comes with six helpful openings to match with six possible continuations and six more continuations and six more continuations and, finally, six possible things you could say you learned from the whole experience. One example among 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 possibilities: “I was returning from the future when the deadly four-beaked squid that lurks [beneath] both land and sea started to bury me alive. I dematerialized in the nick of time. From this I learned [that] you shouldn’t disclose your vacation plans to anyone.” And do not forget number 106, “Sound smart,” which explains how to use “caliginous” when you mean “foggy,” “bruxism” instead of “grinding your teeth,” and “commorancy” instead of “house.” There is so much plainspoken Klutzified advice here that Rule the World really leaves only one question unanswered: once you are totally in charge of, like, everything, what are you going to do next?

     One answer may be that you will fight off the other world dominators (okay, now let’s go there). You can do that with another Klutz offering, Me vs. You. This is a deceptively simple paired set of wire-bound booklets, one on red cardboard backing and one on blue, that are packaged together but break apart along a perforated line when opened. Each booklet comes with a color-coded pencil, and each is filed with a series of challenges. You and your nefarious opponent, who wishes to assume world domination when of course you are the one determined to do so, agree on a challenge (which should be easy, since both of you will believe you are superior and sure to win at anything), then count down together and start at the same time. Whoever finishes first wins that particular event. Among the brain games: make words from letter piles by connecting letters that share a side in the diagram; count the bees swarming around a honey-eating bear; fill in boxes on a grid to reveal a picture; list 12 words starting with the letter M; unscramble the names of six musical instruments, then unscramble letters from those words into a bonus word; find four differences between two nearly identical pictures; draw a line between the setup of a joke and its punch line; and so on. The one thing the Klutzniks appear not to have considered is that these books contain 42 puzzles in all – an even number – so it is possible that you and your evil, depraved, unworthy opponent will go through all of them and end up in a tie. Then you will simply have to settle your world-domination differences (or whatever other differences you may have) by attempting to blow each other up. You know, just as adults do.

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