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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Here is my advice - Tank you verrry much.

Speaking of unfortunate Reader's Digest columns, the most unfortunate of these is the highly unfortunate "Ask Laskas". (Like how I keep working the name of the blog into the post?)

Ask Laskas is an advice column. This is of course the type of column where complete strangers write into a national magazine writer whom they've never met, pour out personal and sometimes intimate troubles to this individual, and then ask for that strangers advice on how to conduct their lives from henceforth. The letter writers frequently use psdeudonyms like "Tired in Toledo" or "Masochist from Manhattan."

In other words, it's like psychotherapy conducted by performance artists, only without the nudity and chocolate.

I am completely unaware of the qualifications this Laskas person has to answer questions about people's personal problems. Generally though, the personal advice columns in newspaperes are a demotion from Horoscope writing or putting together the obituaries. Since Reader's Digest has neither of these features, I'd have to guess she was probably demoted from a position as Michael Crowley's go-fer for his That's Outrageous column. Either that or they felt Word Power was too stressful for her.

Anyway, advice columns sicken me. The writers obviously adore being smarmy little know-it-alls, and the writing is frequently tepid or obnoxious (save the jokes about this blog for e-mail please.)

If Andy Kaufman were still alive, I would strongly suggest that the Reader's Digest replace this Laskas person with Andy, doing his old character from Taxi. The new name of the column: Ask Latka.


Dear Latka:

I'm having great difficulty reaching my new stepson. He is sullen and blames me for the breakup of his parents' marriage. Frequently, he won't speak to me, or walks out of the room when I enter. He's not a bad kid most of the time. What can I do to gain his respect?


Stepmom from Sacremento


Dear Stepmom,

Tank you very much for writing me and my best vishes to you and your family. I tink you are responsible for dis boy's broken family. How dare you try to...to infiltrate...dis boy's life, you...you brazen hussy. You should lick his boots in thanks for dee privelege of living in his home, rather dan being out on de streets where you obviously belong.

Tank you very much,


That would be much better.

However, since Mr. Kaufman is no longer with us (He's living in a tent in Kathmandu), I have no effective weapon with which to fight such drivel except that of the pen, or keyboard in this case.

So, just to see what kind of response I might get, and if possible, to needle this silly columnist, I've sent the following letter to Ask Laskas. The address is advice@rd.com, just in case you'd like to join the act.


Dear Laskas,

Due to a tragic freak accident my mother suffered at an archery range, I was born with an arrow through my head. I grew up the butt of jokes from cruel schoolmates and unsympathetic family. Lines like, "Arrow-head!" and "You're lucky she wasn't into hatchet throwing, boy," still sting.

I was unable to get dates in high school or college, because girls thought the arrow made my head look like the handlebars of a tricycle.

Worst of all, I am constantly unable to buy hats. In fact, the only hat I have ever been able to wear is a Little League batting helmet, but only because of the holes by the ears.

Just recently I was fired from my latest job, as a waiter, because the arrow kept poking customers in the forehead while I took their orders.

Doctors tell me that I could have surgery to remove the arrow, but that it could result in severe brain damage from the feather, when they pull it through my brain. My only alternative though is to live like a freak, to look like Steve Martin doing the arrow-through-the-head-bit, only without the semi-curcular bar that actually keeps the arrow outside your skull.

What should I do Laskas? Tell me!!


Brokenhearted Bullseye
Co-Editor and Contributor
The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas

Responses to this letter are considered consent to publish said responses on The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas.


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