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Governor Quinn 12-04-2005 07:09 PM

Strangest Book You Have Ever Found
 
When I was doing research in my campus library a short time ago, I found a book claiming to be the autobiography of William Shakespeare. This struck me as peculiar, for reasons that are obvious. Curious, I decided to read it.

It turned out to be even stranger when I actually read it. It was quite clear, from both word usage and style, that it owed more to the late 19th century (it was published in 1911) than it did to the late 16th, and its' claims about Shakespeare's life seem to have come more from earlier authors than from the facts.

The final weirdness came when I researched the self-professed editor (and, in my opinion, the author), expecting to find him to be some obscurity.

He turned out to be the founding secretary of the Royal Historical Society.

So, anyone else found any stranger works?

carlotta 12-04-2005 07:24 PM

The Osmond Brothers and the New Pop Scene

Back cover copy:

"Just how special are Donny, Wayne, Merrill, Alan and Jay? What do they have in common with David Cassidy and the Jackson 5?"

First page:

"There is a new sound in America, a catchy pop sound that is completely different from anything that has ever happened before in pop music. The age of the rock dinosaurs with their blaring chords and their ear-splitting amplification has come to an end"

Used book store. 98 cents

Eve 12-04-2005 07:58 PM

Whe I was working at the library of the American Museum of Natural History, I found an early 19th-century book on how to track and kill vampires of every nation.

capybara 12-04-2005 08:25 PM

There's a very very odd book published 1499 or so in Venice called the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili-- something vaguely like (multiple pun) "the Strife of Love in a Dream (but with Polifilo used as the protagonist's name as well-- Mr Many-Luvs). It's written in something like Italian mixed up with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, fake hieroglyphics, chaldeaen (!), etc in James Joyce-style portmaneau, following this character (maybe?) from one place to another-- a garden made all of precious gems-- flowers made from diamond and leaves from jade, etc etc, to a huge building shaped like an elephant, etc etc, in search of his women. And the illustrations and typography are absolutely wacky, too-- some totally graphically erotic (for the time--a Priapus character, naughty fauns, etc), others just confusing. A book for the über-elite-intellectual of 1500. It's the Italian Renaissance equivalent of Finnegan's Wake.

I want that vampire manual. ..

Tuckerfan 12-04-2005 08:53 PM

The Destruction of the Temple a sci-fi novel by Barry N. Malzburg. It's about a director filming a reenactment of the Kennedy assassination in an apparently post-apocalyptic America who somehow keeps getting looped into the bodies of participants in the actual assassination. The whole thing reads like Hunter S. Thompson wrote it, and even though I've read it half a dozen times, I still haven't completely figured it out.

Shalmanese 12-04-2005 08:55 PM

I found a book in my university library published early 20th century going on this huge crazy rant about how the move away from the gold standard was a massive consipracy by an international cartel to keep the working class down. And that the war and the recession were both deliberatly engineered to keep the population down.

Orual 12-04-2005 08:59 PM

I once ran across a purported copy of the Necronomicon in a used bookstore.

It was a cheaply bound paperback with no publishing information. Very weird.

I want Eve's vampire hunting manual too!

Paul in Qatar 12-04-2005 09:37 PM

Why Paint Cats? a satire on the art world consisting of dozens of cats painted in various styles, Gothic, classical, op-art, whatever. In addition it has discussions with the cat's owners discussing their artistic message.

The cats are done in photoshop and the interviews are pure parody.

The thing is that it is so well-done, I had the book for years before I finally and authoritatively figured out it was a send-up.

It is still on Amazon.

jasonh300 12-04-2005 09:39 PM

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. VERY strange.

The Tooth 12-04-2005 09:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul In Saudi
Why Paint Cats? a satire on the art world consisting of dozens of cats painted in various styles, Gothic, classical, op-art, whatever. In addition it has discussions with the cat's owners discussing their artistic message.

The cats are done in photoshop and the interviews are pure parody.

In a similar vein, and probably by the same bunch of jokers, there's Dancing With Cats.

Shirley Ujest 12-04-2005 09:46 PM

Quote:

Whe I was working at the library of the American Museum of Natural History, I found an early 19th-century book on how to track and kill vampires of every nation.
That sounds like a very interesting and odd book. I'll take two.

Evil Captor 12-04-2005 09:48 PM

Great Mambo Chickens and Transforming the Human Condition" -- a book about the Extropian movement. They're most noted for cryogenically preserving their bodies instead of burying them or incinerating them. It was a weird but exhilirating read - to encounter that kind of faith in the future.

FriarTed 12-04-2005 09:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evil Captor
Great Mambo Chickens and Transforming the Human Condition" -- a book about the Extropian movement. They're most noted for cryogenically preserving their bodies instead of burying them or incinerating them. It was a weird but exhilirating read - to encounter that kind of faith in the future.

A friend got me that from a Dollar Store! Cool read!

Alex Heard's APOCALYPSE PRETTY SOON reminds me of it, to some extent.

To the OP- Adam Parfrey's APOCALYPSE CULTURE.

SandyHook 12-04-2005 11:12 PM

Not exactly in line with the OP but, IMHO, worthy of some mentions is somethig I ran across several years ago.

I was looking in the "Writer's Market," for a magazine or two to send a short story to when I came across...........




get ready.........




"The Foreskin Quarterly"
All stories must have a foreskin/circumcision slant.

Alas, it walks this vale of tears no more.



Also, about 6 months ago I ran across a book entitled, "Mr. Stupid Goes To Washington."

No it's not about you-know-who, but was written several years earlier. It was a buck so I took it home.

Sublight 12-04-2005 11:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evil Captor
Great Mambo Chickens and Transforming the Human Condition" -- a book about the Extropian movement. They're most noted for cryogenically preserving their bodies instead of burying them or incinerating them. It was a weird but exhilirating read - to encounter that kind of faith in the future.

You know, I have this one somewhere at home.

Loompanics is a great source of bizarre books, including my favorite: Contingency Cannibalism: Hardcore Survivalism's Dirty Little Secret (with recipies)

Horatio Hellpop 12-04-2005 11:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Orual
I once ran across a purported copy of the Necronomicon in a used bookstore.

It was a cheaply bound paperback with no publishing information. Very weird.

This was actually advertised in Heavy Metal (the comics magazine) circa 1978. The photo looked like it was solidly bound with a gold-leaf pseudo pentagram on the cover.

Sampiro 12-05-2005 12:13 AM

There was once a chain of drug stores/discount stores called Phar-Morr that I loved because in addition to renting movies for $.69 each (who cares if they're good?) they sold books for a fraction of the cover cost. Usually it was a recent bestseller or the type of book you'd see in a remainder bin at a chain store, but sometimes they had "the hell?" titles, a couple of which I bought just for my bookshelf. One was a children's book about Woodstock (luckily not scratch and sniff- "stick the little Mickey Mouse tab on your tongue, then look at the paisley picture") and the other was my favorite (actually had it, I bought several copies to give as gifts): An Illustrated Guide to Chinchilla Diseases.

Buying too many copies of Chinchilla disease books bankrupted the company. Well, that and executives embezzling a half billion dollars from the company, in some order.

Ranchoth 12-05-2005 01:52 AM

I once ran across The Complete Time Traveler: A Tourist's Guide to the Fourth Dimention in an isolated antique store run by a Torgo-like fellow...a shop which later completely disappeared from the face of the Earth. (Probably because it was pretty ramshackle, and was built over the bank of a river that's prone to flooding.)

Odd little book, that. I still have it's packaged away, somewhere.

And I saw The Stuwwelpeter in Borders, but I already knew about that one, so I don't suppose it counts.

BrainGlutton 12-05-2005 02:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Orual
I once ran across a purported copy of the Necronomicon in a used bookstore.

It was a cheaply bound paperback with no publishing information. Very weird.

This? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/038...books&v=glance

tiltypig 12-05-2005 03:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Tooth
In a similar vein, and probably by the same bunch of jokers, there's Dancing With Cats.

I think the book Why Cats Paint actually came first. Same style of book, supposedly describing masterpieces painted by cats.

Dijon Warlock 12-05-2005 06:32 AM

I have a hardcover of the Simon edition of the Necronomicon (as advertised in Heavy Metal, Omni, and other magazines at the time). It makes a great coffee table book.

My guests don't stay very long.

tiltypig beat me to "Why Cats Paint." I've never heard of "Why Paint Cats," though. I could never decide whether WCP was a send-up, or not. I've seen elephants paint (and they weren't just slopping paint at random, they were painting recognisable pictures), so you never know.

The strangest book that I've every seen (and I am still kicking myself for not splurging on it 15 years later) was a very large (probably 12-14 inches tall, 10-12 inches deep, and 3-4 inches thick) book I found in a used bookstore once. I am convinced that I cannot remember the title verbatim, because I have never been able to find any reference to it on the internet. However, it dealt with the brothers and sisters of Tetragrammaton. The basic thesis was that the God of the Bible had many siblings, and this book contained the Scriptures of the rest of His family. I don't recall the copyright date, but I'm guessing it was close to 100 years ago. All of the illustrations were finely detailed engravings, and the print was very small.

They wanted $60 for it at the time, which I didn't have. When I went back to buy it, it was gone.

If it rings a bell for anyone, let me know. I would love to have this on my shelf.

jjimm 12-05-2005 07:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tiltypig
I think the book Why Cats Paint actually came first. Same style of book, supposedly describing masterpieces painted by cats.

I got seriously taken in by this a few weeks ago in a book shop - the artistic pretension in the critiques of the paintings is absolutely spot-on. It was only towards the end that I realised it was a spoof. Hilarious book.

CalMeacham 12-05-2005 08:14 AM

The weirdest Book I ever found was End Product: The Last Taboo. It's a book about poop. I have the only copy I've ever seen. Other books have come out that purport to be about this topic, but they invariably end up having a lot about non-ordure subjects, even Scatalog.




I've come across a book that must have cited Eve's vampire-killer book. And when The Master himself wrote on the topic of vampires many years ago, he cited either Eve's book or mine, because he lists a number of ways to kill vampires from various countries.

merrily 12-05-2005 10:04 AM

My brother once found a book in a small-town library, "Is Tomorrow Hitler's?"

For the record, the authors were hoping not. They also thought Mussolini was pretty cool.

CalMeacham 12-05-2005 10:09 AM

Another weird book I found -- You Can Smoke!, written by a bunch of Tobacco Industry Shills. It questioned the evidence linking tobacco to cancer, emphysema, high blood pressure, and other conditions. There were more cancers now because we had better detection methods -- stuff like that. This came out in the 1960s and I picked it up at a bargain table for $0.19. Freaked my father out when he found it, because he thought I m,ight have been convinced, and would start smoking. But I only picked it up for its curiousity value -- it was obviously a scam that I couldn't believe anyone would be taken in by it. They probably were, though.

Don Draper 12-05-2005 10:33 AM

I have the good fortune to be in acquaintance with a rare book dealer who specializes in unearthing rather odd literary curiosities. His most impressive volume though had to the genuine (certified by historians no less) Confederate States Army - guide to battlefield surgical procedures.

My acquaintance (being a bit of a scatterbrained old hippie) had left it on the floor of his apartment, at the bottom of a heap of other less interesting books, for several years (!) until one of our mutual friends happened to be snooping through his apartment (long story) and came across it. In fact, the dealer had forgotten he even had it.

Polycarp 12-05-2005 11:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by capybara
There's a very very odd book published 1499 or so in Venice called the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili-- something vaguely like (multiple pun) "the Strife of Love in a Dream (but with Polifilo used as the protagonist's name as well-- Mr Many-Luvs). It's written in something like Italian mixed up with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, fake hieroglyphics, chaldeaen (!), etc in James Joyce-style portmaneau, following this character (maybe?) from one place to another-- a garden made all of precious gems-- flowers made from diamond and leaves from jade, etc etc, to a huge building shaped like an elephant, etc etc, in search of his women. And the illustrations and typography are absolutely wacky, too-- some totally graphically erotic (for the time--a Priapus character, naughty fauns, etc), others just confusing. A book for the über-elite-intellectual of 1500. It's the Italian Renaissance equivalent of Finnegan's Wake.

I want that vampire manual. ..

It's fairly likely I'm being whooshed here, but just in case you're serious, have you ever encountered The Rule of Four? And here is a source for the [url="http://www.thamesandhudson.com/en/1/0500285497.mxs?&0&0&0"]Hypnerotomachia Poliphili[/ url]

bup 12-05-2005 11:24 AM

A novel called Krazy Kat. Not by George Herriman, but featuring his characters - it was a stream-of-consciousness novel based on the comic strip, that had no plot that I can recall (except for Ignatz occasionally throwing bricks at Krazy and Pup locking him up).

Very hard to get through.

cbawlmer 12-05-2005 12:11 PM

While cleaning out a storeroom in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department headquarters in Austin several years ago, I came across a pamphlet from the early 1960s about the importance of keeping orderly files. It was important, you see, because after a nuclear attack we'll need orderly files to make sure the remaining irradiated mutants can get back to business as usual as easily as possible. Seriously, that was the reason they gave. It was full of little illustrations of a stereotypical secretary in heels and pearls taking orders from her boss and typing and filing everything to his specifications.

KlondikeGeoff 12-05-2005 12:59 PM

A very strang, but wonderful book (I think) is The Circus of Dr Lao

CalMeacham 12-05-2005 01:15 PM

Quote:

A very strang, but wonderful book (I think) is The Circus of Dr Lao
Strange, yes, but not, I think as strange as many isted here, or as obscure. It's been reprinted many times, and made into a film by George Pakl. I highly recommend it.

Another book by Charles G. Finney, but harder to find, is The Unholy City.

ITR champion 12-05-2005 01:45 PM

Arrival at Easterwine: The Autobiography of a Ktistec Machine, by R. A. Lafferty. Indescribable, but absolutely brilliant.

Lama Pacos 12-05-2005 08:41 PM

Wow, I read this thread earlier today, hit up the bookstore this afternoon, and what's the very first book I see on display when I enter the store? Why Cats Paint, of course.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor 12-05-2005 09:01 PM

The Book Of Weird by Barbra Ninde Byfield

It was once entitled The Glass Harmonica.

Page 88 explains the differences between Hermits, Anchorites, and Recluses.

Page 104 deals with: Parchment and Vellum, Port, Prince Bishops & Cardinals.

Page 158 contains tables of
.
  • Canonical Hours
  • Sacraments
  • Deadly Sins
  • Splendid Virtues
  • Pertinent Seas
  • Pleiades
  • And the Seven Wonders

Spectre of Pithecanthropus 12-05-2005 09:17 PM

I remember a book published around 1970 called Telecult Power, which p to promised to teach anyone how to read minds, perform telekinesis, and silently compel others, through telepathy, to do things. You would also learn how to will physical objects into being.


I shudder to think what it would have meant if all that had been true. Sort of like what we say would happen if we all had those flying cars we were promised, raised a few orders of magnitude.

Moirai 12-05-2005 09:23 PM

The Demonologist, about a ghost busting couple named Ed and Lorraine Warren. IIRC, she was a trance medium.

It allegedly chronicled their various adventures amongst the otherworldly!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/059...books&v=glance

Guinastasia 12-05-2005 09:49 PM

[i]Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book[/b] by Terry Jones (illustrated by Brian Froud). Gorgeous, but wacky portraits of fairies "pressed" into an album by a made woman. Hilarious. I wish I had bought it (I first saw it along with "Dance with Your Cat" at a Dopefest).

Shirley Ujest 12-05-2005 10:08 PM

Bloodletters and Badmen 1, 2 &3 ( three being my favorite)

was a trio of books that I constantly took out of the library when I was in high school. I don't think it was normal then ( or now) for some catholic high school girl to take out books on serial killers and murdering lunatics.

I still wish I had these books. (they helped keep the perky cheerleaders at bay.)

AskNott 12-06-2005 12:50 AM

The Man Who Folded Himself is a time-travel yarn with a weird wrinkle. Our hero is presented with a time machine built into a belt by a strangely familiar old man. Along the way, he finds out that every time he travels, he leaves himself in a separate reality stream. He starts to run into himself all over the place. Somehow, one of him becomes female, and he mates with her. He happens on to a place where he dies, over and over again, witnessed by several of him, and her. He figures out that the old man who gave him the belt was him. Very strange.

Naked Lunch by Wm. S. Burroughs is a painfully strange book. It may be the only book in the world where the movie was better, and much, much stranger.

Topsy Dingo Wild Dog is a very strange book. It starts out odd, and gets really weird. It's very funny. It's brutal, too, but more funny.

Hilarity N. Suze 12-06-2005 01:05 AM

I ran into an odd little book called something like "Tea and Sympathy for the Devil," proving that Prince Charles is the anti-christ. Proving it several different ways, as a matter of fact.

It was of course self-published, and very poorly edited, and not well laid out (no margins, very few paragraph breaks).

In the cat vein, I love the idea of "Why Paint Cats?" (as opposed to Why Cats Paint but there is an actual book called Calculus for Cats and . . . it's pretty good. You can actually buy this one from amazon.com.

Dijon Warlock 12-06-2005 01:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Guinastasia
[i]Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book[/b] by Terry Jones (illustrated by Brian Froud). Gorgeous, but wacky portraits of fairies "pressed" into an album by a made woman. Hilarious. I wish I had bought it (I first saw it along with "Dance with Your Cat" at a Dopefest).

:confused: "MADE" woman??? Are you drunk again? ;)

You should wish you had bought it. First editions are selling for quite a profit nowadays. I have one, if you want to negotiate...not that I'll sell, mind you. But you can negotiate, if you like.

The idea (for those who haven't run across this tome) is that a young girl was seeing fairies, but no one would believe her. So, in the tradition of pressing flowers, she would capture the fairies she saw by squishing them between the covers of her book, thus preserving them for posterity.

As a result, it is full of...well, basically...squashed fairies. Including their juices. Interspersed with Miss Cottington's (a riff on the Cottingly Fairies, mind you) diary entries as she grows up. Quite a lovely book, really; and as Guin notes, quite hilarious.

Terry Jones of "Monty Python" fame, and Brian Froud of "Dark Crystal" fame...amongst others for both of them.

CalMeacham 12-06-2005 08:22 AM

Quote:

The Man Who Folded Himself is a time-travel yarn with a weird wrinkle. Our hero is presented with a time machine built into a belt by a strangely familiar old man. Along the way, he finds out that every time he travels, he leaves himself in a separate reality stream. He starts to run into himself all over the place. Somehow, one of him becomes female, and he mates with her. He happens on to a place where he dies, over and over again, witnessed by several of him, and her. He figures out that the old man who gave him the belt was him. Very strange.
That's by David Gerrold, who gave us (among other things) The Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles". TMWFH was an attempt to jam every time travel cliche he could think of into a single story.

Nature's Call 12-06-2005 08:43 AM

Back during the height of the Rubik's cube craze I bought a book written by an English prodigy on how to solve the damned thing. It wasn't well written and I got nowhere with it - started looking for another, better book.

When our Scholastic Book catalog featured Not Another Cube Book, I place the order then awaited the day I could show off to my friends.

Book arrived. Not a whit of an instruction contained therein. It was a spoof of how the cube shaped history, tracing its roots back to Adam and Eve (illustration of a forsaken apple while Adam was twiddling). Strange, obscure, and dumb to boot!

----
More recently, on a whim in Chapters I picked up a copy of Time's Arrow. I'm not sure how obscure it is; I've yet to meet someone who's heard of it.

Strange though. It's written backwards. No, not like the movie Memento where you see the end scene, followed by the scene that happened just before it, leap frogging back to the beginning. It's more like watching a film while it's rewinding. The story begins with the protagonist dead - then a few seconds later he feels much better, surrounded by doctors, ultimately concluding with his birth - the other end of his life. Conversations begin with "Goodbye" and end with "Hello" The description of going to the bathroom will make you clench! The strange device works though, adding drama and unique perspective on the Nazi atrocities.

Gulo gulo 12-06-2005 12:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nature's Call
More recently, on a whim in Chapters I picked up a copy of Time's Arrow. I'm not sure how obscure it is; I've yet to meet someone who's heard of it.

Strange though. It's written backwards. No, not like the movie Memento where you see the end scene, followed by the scene that happened just before it, leap frogging back to the beginning. It's more like watching a film while it's rewinding. The story begins with the protagonist dead - then a few seconds later he feels much better, surrounded by doctors, ultimately concluding with his birth - the other end of his life. Conversations begin with "Goodbye" and end with "Hello" The description of going to the bathroom will make you clench! The strange device works though, adding drama and unique perspective on the Nazi atrocities.

I have! I bought that on a recommendation from a friend. I wasn't too into it the first time I read it so perhaps it's time to try it again. Thanks for the reminder. :)

NailBunny 12-06-2005 12:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EJsGirl
The Demonologist, about a ghost busting couple named Ed and Lorraine Warren. IIRC, she was a trance medium.

It allegedly chronicled their various adventures amongst the otherworldly!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/059...books&v=glance


Ooh! I had that book in middle school, and the pictures of the "floating" objects used to freak me out immensely.

The strangest book I've ever found is a used copy of a Kreskin book...I'm fairly sure it's called "Kreskin Predicts Your Future Through 2000!" but I'm unable to find it on Amazon or anything. It was a most amusing read about things to expect up through the year 2000, including large cities sinking into the sea (not anything so obvious as Los Angeles or anything...I believe it was Denver, possibly?!), alien attacks, and the world coming to an end sometime in the mid-nineties.

The coolest/strangest thing, however, was that at some point someone had tucked several newspaper clippings of accounts of people vanishing between the pages of the book. Not vanishing as in they were never heard from again, but vanishing before someone's eyes. At least ten different clippings, dating back to the 60's if memory serves. We've still got it somewhere.

iamthewalrus(:3= 12-06-2005 05:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CalMeacham
That's by David Gerrold, who gave us (among other things) The Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles". TMWFH was an attempt to jam every time travel cliche he could think of into a single story.

Sounds like he ripped both stories off from Heinlein. The time travel story appears to be a mix of By His Bootstraps and All you Zombies..., while tribbles bear an uncanny resemblance to the martian fuzzballs in The Rolling Stones.

Tapioca Dextrin 12-06-2005 06:56 PM

When I was about 13, I found a guide to the Toilets of Paris. That was strange.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor 12-06-2005 07:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tapioca Dextrin
When I was about 13, I found a guide to the Toilets of Paris. That was strange.

But handy, if you're in Paris, & just had 12 cups of coffee & a bran muffin. :D

ryobserver 12-06-2005 07:19 PM

I still have my copies of Bloodletters and Badmen. The author, Jay Robert Nash, wrote a number of other true-crime books just as lurid, if not more so.

I work with scientific and scholarly books all day, and every now and then one comes through with a title that makes it sound a lot weirder than it is, like Colour Atlas of the Autopsy or Ballistic Trauma: A Practical Guide. I thought of this very thread today when I saw Handbook of Drowning in the day's delivery.

Guinastasia 12-06-2005 07:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Guinastasia
[i]Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book[/b] by Terry Jones (illustrated by Brian Froud). Gorgeous, but wacky portraits of fairies "pressed" into an album by a made woman. Hilarious. I wish I had bought it (I first saw it along with "Dance with Your Cat" at a Dopefest).


That should be Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book. And she was a MAD woman.



Dijon Warlock, I don't know if it was a first addition-it was at Borders in oh, 2001? Isn't the book a lot older than that?


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