Every fall, the inebriates and reprobates at The Stranger put out an issue of advice for college students on everything from what majors to avoid (cough, sociology) to how to do drugs without freaking out/dying (carefully) to how to come out of the closet (ASAP!). This fall, the best of our collective wisdom has been assembled in attractive book form, along with tons of new material and Dan Savage's college sexytimes advice. Voilà: How to Be a Person: The Stranger's Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself. (The Bumbershoot slide show/discussion entitled The Stranger's Guide to America—info at right1—is loosely based on chapter 4 by Lindy West, which is extremely hilarious2.)
When even the most brilliant minds3 put together a large volume of words, mistakes will be made. We have identified five errors—so far4. To wit:
1. The preface of How to Be a Person states that "any errors or omissions are no one's fault but Dan Savage's" (page xvii). Of the errors located (so far!), zero are the fault of Dan Savage, including this one.
2. How to Be a Person contains (at least) one typographical error, on p. 136. Try to find it:
Scientists have only classified 15 percent of the world's fungi, and a lot of known fungi are deadly, to saying nothing of unknown fungi.
Tellingly, this error is in the "Mushrooms" section from Chapter 8: What No One Else Will Tell You About Drugs.
3. The section "The History of Gay People in a Few Paragraphs" (p. 47) states:
Then came AIDS, a word Ronald Reagan refused to say or do anything about, leading to tens of thousands of deaths in the '80s and '90s, and nearly wiping out a generation.
Christopher Frizzelle wrote this sentence, and the error here is one of letter, not spirit: Turns out Ronald Reagan did say the word AIDS, finally, near the end of his second term. Still, overall, his presidency represented what the San Francisco Chronicle called a "shameful abdication of leadership in the fight against AIDS." Indeed, Pat Buchanan, who was5 Reagan's communications director, said AIDS was "nature's revenge on gay men." According to the Chronicle, when Reagan finally said "AIDS," 20,849 Americans had already died of it. So there's that.
4. The fourth word of Chapter 7: What No One Else Will Tell You About Drinking (p. 115) is an error of my own.
Since the first velociraptor ate the first fermented prehistoric cherry-things, creatures have taken pleasure in intoxication by way of beautiful, beautiful alcohol...
When I wrote this, I was thinking of how birds will peck at cherries or berries that have fallen and rotted a bit and then get cutely tipsy; when I used "velociraptor," I thought it was a dino-bird-thing, which despite having the root "raptor," it is not. I just don't know that much about dinosaurs. Sorry, everyone.
5. And in Chapter 11: What No One Else Will Tell You About Food, I arguably made another error (p. 155), but I THINK NOT:
Julia Child was a very tall woman with a warbling voice who devoted years of her life to making a French cookbook for Americans... watch some of her old cooking shows on YouTube (if you can find the one where she drops a duck on the floor while trying to prepare it, you will learn that being uptight is just not where cooking's at—she pretty much invented the five-second rule).
Julia definitely once dropped part of a potato pancake onto the stovetop and scooped it back into the pan, saying, "You can always pick it up, and if you're alone in the kitchen, whooooo is going to see?" (see "Meryl Streep vs. Julia Child" on YouTube). But according to Snopes.com, the duck-dropping never happened. Further: "Thanks to the power of manufactured memory, fans of the show remain convinced they saw something she directly and repeatedly denied." BUT I DID SEE THE DUCK-DROPPING EPISODE—I SWEAR IT. I wrote down what she said after she picked the uncooked duck up off the floor and I stuck it in my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking: "Don't be afraid of it, just do it—and if you mess it up, nooooobody will really know."
Snopes.com says that Julia's producer, Geoffrey Drummond, reviewed every episode of her show (more than 700 total) and said, "I never saw Julia drop a chicken." A CHICKEN, he said. Nothing about a duck.
That is all.
1. Lindy West will be there, and Dan Savage, and Christopher Frizzelle, and some of our esteemed colleagues, and me.
2. In matters of hilarity, please see also Different Sexual Positions You Need to Try in College, page 32. This section was written by Stranger books editor Paul Constant, and it will make you laugh out loud at least the first nine times you read it, and probably forever. Reap the whirlwind! (You’ll see.)
3. Or, you know, the most pretty smart minds.
4. Though, as you are about to see, one is a joke crafted presciently for exactly this occasion, one is not an error in spirit, and another is disputed by the deluded writer.
6. For now.