MAIL REVIEW The Best of the Bin

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Our Inbox

You have no idea how much mail we get daily at The Tech. Seriously. If you try to guess, you’ll come up short.

In the past week, the Arts mailing list alone has received slightly more than 200 e-mails. Pair this with the heavy volume of snail mail that also pours into our P.O. box on the daily and you’ll understand why it’s tempting to ignore the ever-growing pile of press releases, event calendars, review inquiries, and complementary media.

Part of the fun of editing for Arts is, of course, being able to request press copies of albums, books, and event tickets I badly want. But it’s equally fun to stumble upon new and surprising items in my mailbox, like surprisingly brilliant upcoming CDs, misguided advice books, and hysterically embarrassing DVD releases.

Though there’s no room to print each and every hidden gem that winds up on my desk in W20-483, I’ve (finally) cleared out the Arts inbox to present to you the weirdest, awesomest, funniest, and worst press items received this semester. Without further adieu, here’s the Best of the Bin.

Most Worthless Self-Help Book

The Automatic 2nd Date

By Victorya Michaels Rogers

Published by Howard Books

With a cute, smiling model on the cover and the promise to explain “everything to do and say to guarantee a 2nd date,” Rogers’ book might seem like a godsend for a bachelorette looking to increase her net of possibilities or move into the long term with a special beau. The table of contents includes deceptively normal chapter titles like “The Art of First Impressions” and “Your Male GPS: How and Where to Meet Men,” but the content is, in fact, nauseatingly similar to the creepy motivational speaker’s ramble in Donnie Darko.

Rogers, who claims to have gotten second dates with a 98 percent success rate, is the very image of a Southern blonde, and is far more focused on self esteem from a puritan Christian perspective than real modern dating tips. “You’re a doer!” she writes, “Kudos to you! Believe me, things are about to happen!”

Readers, here’s a real tip for your self esteem: Keep away from books like this, which are a waste of money, teach you nothing new, and make you look severely lame to any prospective dates.

Tastiest Promotion

Baseball As America

Museum of Science, Boston

June 15 to Sept. 1, 2008 in Nichols Gallery

Touting the traveling show as “the most comprehensive exhibition of baseball memorabilia ever assembled,” the Museum of Science probably should’ve mailed this press release to our sports editor, Shreyes Seshasai. Lucky for me, the curators felt this collection of uniforms, photos, and letters fit in better with Arts content, and they mailed me an invite … and a bag of Cracker Jack! Baseball isn’t my thing, but if you feed me, you’ve sure got my listing. Mmmmmm.

Surprisingly Smartest CD

Phantom Planet

Raise the Dead

Produced by Tony Berg

Fueled by Ramen

April 15, 2008

After the garage-rock brilliance of their 2004 self-titled disc, I thought for sure Phantom Planet would misstep after leaving Epic Records for Fueled by Ramen, the label responsible for such sources of my ire as Paramore, Panic! At the Disco, and Gym Class Heroes. Sure, Raise the Dead is poppier than its predecessor, but its conceptual lyrics and almost-orchestral arrangements make it far more beautiful and mature (even if it’s not quite as fun).

The first four tracks could all easily be leading radio singles, and the last half of the disc rocks smartly. The biggest problem is the fifth track; it seems lead singer Alex Greenwald’s collaboration with Mark Ronson on a cover of Radiohead’s “Just” has gotten to his head, and sandwich song “Quarantine” is so derivatively Yorkeian that I had to listen to The Bends just to clean out my ears. But other than that, Raise the Dead is just plain good, in spite of the label responsible for it.

2 Fast, 2 Furious, 2 Unnecessary

Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation

Directed by James Ryan

Written by James Ryan and Jay Longino

Starring Josh Cooke and Harland Williams

Remember the 1984 Tom Hanks comedy Bachelor Party? No? Neither do I, but apparently we can thank this “shocking, shameless” comedy for inspiring Hollywood gems like Get Over It and How High.

Now we have a new screen classic to add to that list: this year’s sequel, coming in 24 years later, Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation. Starring various bros I’ve never heard of, the film tells the story of a “happily engaged” couple that engages in “an outrageously sinful celebration that you have to see to believe!”

Yawn. Like I haven’t heard that one before. Any takers on reviewing this film masterpiece? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Don’t Quit Your Day Job Award

Listen Act Attract: The College Guide to Attracting Women

Ryan Clauson, a Northeastern University student, took the year off from education in order to nobly instruct college men in the fine art of wooing beautiful woman.

I’m willing to hazard that this was a poor career move.

His instructional YouTube videos and straight-outta-’97 Web site ( offer two hours’ worth of “the number one tool for attracting really beautiful women.” Over the past few months, he has sent our office various e-mails telling me how I can learn “all the elements of face to face communication” and talk to “a girl who is clearly hot and everyone knows it.”

Well. I’m a woman. Who dates a man. So. After I sent an e-mail to Clauson that only said, “Do not want,” he apologized for putting us on the list by mistake. Little did I know I’d come to miss the persistent, overly-exclamatory e-mails in which Clauson promised, “I’LL LET YOU KEEP THE PROGRAM FOR FREE!!!!” Does my longing for more contact mean his program (gasp) works? Perish the thought, but check out the Web site for kicks.