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May 27, 2014 / scherstuhl

Everything You Need to Know About Studies in Crap


That cat is my own dear, dopey Patterson, sometime in 2008, sniffing at a Jell-O dish I whipped up from a community cookbook I found in a Kansas City thrift store. The name of the cookbook: Recipes From Old Cape Girardeau. The name of the recipe: “Under the Sea Salad.” The name of the recipe’s author: Mrs. Rush H. Limbaugh, Sr. 

In 2008, while teaching and writing in Kansas City, I talked the good folks at K.C.’s Pitch newspaper into letting me write a series of blogposts where I make jokes about ridiculous old books scrounged up at estate sales and antique shops. Soon, The Village Voice started running the posts, starting with the impossibly ridiculous ’70s men’s adventure novel Killinger!. Since then, I’ve tricked two other newspapers into hosting the column, and I still get it together to post a new SiC to the Voice every couple of weeks.  

Here’s a greatest hits piece from 2010.

Here’s the full Voice Crap archives, which I still update every couple of weeks, time permitting.

Unique Studies in Crap columns also have turned up in print and online at LA Weekly and SF Weekly. (I freelanced at the former, and at the latter I served as managing editor, a job that left me little time to write anything.)

Here’s my favorite columns from SF Weekly:

‘College Girls – If They Could Only Cook’: Amazing ’50s Quick Magazine Covers

Mermaid Romance Novels Are About as Hilarious as You Might Expect

You Love These 80’s Canadian Animal Sweaters So Much You Want to Kiss Them

Hot Dating Advice From 1939: Visit a Factory to Keep “Adolescent Love-Making to a Minimum”

“We Have Become a Race of Sex Cripples,” Claims 1968’s Sexercises [Photos]

Thrift-Store Copy of Paris Hilton’s “Your Heiress Diary” Is History’s Second Saddest Journal

Coloring Books No Kid Could Ever Want, Including David Lynch’s “Dune”

“Jogging With Jesus” Author Teaches Wives the “Nutcracker Technique” of Husband Improving

From LA Weekly:

“I Told You to Stop Talking about Your Mom”: Wonderfully Strange Practice Conversations for ESL Students

The world’s saddest self-help book, discovered in Pasadena: How to Save Your Marriage Alone

Taste-testing Charlton Heston’s Tuna Cheese Puff. Plus: other delicacies from Dining With David Wade

Taking the dick out of “dictionary” with 1988’sThe Nonsexist Word Finder

“Little Jack Horner sat in a corner reading his Bible each day”: The joylessness of The Christian Mother Goose

From The Village Voice:

Here’s the 1950s Quiz That Proves You Are a Terrible Wife

“Are You Prejudiced?” Asked Faith ‘n Stuff Magazine in 1994. Take the Quiz and See!

Meet Captain Cornelius, the Terrible ’90s Superhero Who Taught Kids About Corn

Are Dungeons & Dragons Players in a Cult? These Hilarious Warning Signs From 1989 Prove It

Here’s the NSFW Sex-Ed Book That Teaches Elementary Schoolers to Masturbate on the Tetherball Pole

“Virgins Make Good Role Models for Their Children”: The Brilliant Raising Sexually Pure Kids

Does the Harlequin Romance Unicorn Vengeance Boast The Worst Sentence Ever Published in English? Mayhap!

Sexy Mermaid Jonah and other biblical coloring book disasters

’70s wives ask themselves, “When was the last time I expressed pleasure in our sex life?” and so much more

World’s Saddest Self-Help Book Teaches You How to Live in Your Car

You’re Nearly There, the Christian sex-ed book that advises you share wet dreams with your parents

Naked tween essayists and other terrible ideas from mid-90s nudist magazines

“There’s a great future for you”: Studies in Crap presents 1965’s Your Career in Journalism

Turn Off Your Mind, Relax, And This Book Still Sucks: Studies in Crap Meets John Lennon in Heaven

The pieces posted at The Pitch were the same as at the Voice, but formatting issues at that site have made the posts pretty much unreadable. Even at the Voice a lot of the oldest posts have broken photo links. I could promise to fix them someday, but we all know that would be a filthy lie.

Finally, here’s the one time Studies in Crap got truly personal: A post about the college newspaper who called the sheriff on me for making fun of them the pre-internet way — sending them crazy stuff through the mail, including a dozen or so photographs I had taken of the book depository where Oswald shot Kennedy. In fairness, their newspaper did misspell its own name on its masthead. (And, also in fairness, I misspelled “mis-spelled” in the headline.)

The college newspaper that mis-spelled its own name . . . and almost got your Crap Archivist arrested

It’s almost a Crap Archivist origin story.

I’m currently the film editor at the Voice, where I also write heaps of non-Crap stuff about arts and culture, all of which cuts into the old-fashioned craphunting I used to relish in my freelance days. But I’ve still got boxes of terrible books and magazines to post, and I look forward to sharing them.

(Here’s my Voice author page with everything I’ve been up to.)

Thanks for reading, everybody! 

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