It Came From the CR Lettercol II

“It Came From the CR Lettercol” will appear in URBMN and UR this time, since UR hasn’t had any new content since the last U.S. presidential election (I think) and because I really want to get this series over as some sort of an audience attraction.  This shall come on the heels of…well, I want UR itself to be updated more than five times a century, considering I’ve never had anyone else write for UR since before “Bush is a babykiller” chants became common.  If you like this article, read on further and don’t forget to e-mail me so that maybe I won’t feel arsed to shut the site down like I REALLY SHOULD.  Maybe I’ll actually get an e-mail from somebody!  WOW!

Anyway, you know who that guy is wearing the Pee-Wee Herman getup?  That’s Irwin Landau.  This is the guy most directly responsible for the Golden Age of Consumer Reports, the age of better ratings graphs and increased readability.  There’s no real reason why I find this picture notable.  I’m just amazed that the man who made Consumer Reports what it is today didn’t have better fashion sense than the manchild alter ego of the world’s foremost porno-theatre wanker.  Consumer Reports has more gold like this than the results of a baby’s mining expidition, as you shall soon see.

September 1987
MY FAITH IN CONSUMER REPORTS, RUINED BY A PECKER

Twenty-six years of reading the magazine and this anonymous reader (eventually the magazine printed real names, because what’s the point in being secretive on a damn letters page) writes to be anal about how great the woodpecker is.  We get it, the woodpecker’s a beautiful bird and its beak is useful for catching grubs.  Hey, let’s wax poetic about the Parliament of Trees now!

I know this is supposed to be a funny letter, but it’s only funny in the Garrison Keillor sense – meaning the letter isn’t funny at all to anyone aside from the listeners that waste moments of their time listening to that godawful NPR program.  Don’t believe me?  The letter writer is referencing Mahalia Jackson, for crying out loud.  I’m not a follower of gospel music, but apparently Mahalia Jackson is one of the greatest gospel singers in history.  The letter writer’s still making a fairly obscure reference, and writes like a prick besides.

Consumer Reports reporting does not lend itself well to poetic lectures about the prowess of the turtle or how Beta Ray Bill ended up with Storm Breaker.  Thank God it doesn’t, either, because a woodpecker is not the Wen All Saw.  Saws are supposed to be smooth, aren’t they?  You want woodpecker-like action on a circular saw?  Maybe you do, since I’m not the world’s greatest judge of taste.  Idiots.

June 1991
WHERE’S THE PRODUCER?  I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS COFFEE

Sometimes it’s good when companies write to correct oversights in Consumer Reports‘ reporting which might reflect badly on the company or companies in question.  A lot of the time, though, companies tend to write these nitpicking letters about how their products are better than Consumer Reports reported them to be, and here’s six paragraphs why.

Look, I know Fres-Co is trying to tell CR that it’s being unfair in its reportage of vacuum-sealed coffee packaging, but the letter reads like a sales pitch and the point of the letter is to prove that Fres-Co® Brand Vacuum Seals Keep Coffee Fresher, Longer.  Thanks, Fres-Co, for overblowing a blanket statement about coffee freshness and being somewhat offended by ONE LINE IN A CONSUMER REPORTS BLURB.  It’s not as if I’m constantly referring to Traci Lords as “that bitch porno slut” (which she is, but that’s beside the point) or quashing news about the Isuzu Trooper‘s propensity to randomly catch fire when breathed on.  Fres-Co’s reacting to one line in a thousand or so.  It’s patently ridiculous.

January 1995/February 2005
THE AMAZING REPEATING MACINTOSH PEDDLERS

One of the constants of the 20th century is the superiority some Mac owners have toward their computers, and the owners tend to spout off rhetoric duly repeated from some Apple propaganda machine in the heart of Jobsville.  Note the following things said about Macs that I’ve NEVER HEARD BEFORE FROM ANY MAC USERS, EVER:

1.  Macs are more stable than PCs.
2.  Macs come with a software bundle while PC owners have to buy most of their software.
3.  Macs are more user-friendly since they don’t use DOS like PCs do.
4.  MICROSHAFT WINBLOWS IS CRAPPY RIP-OFF OF MAC OS SYSTEM
5.  Macs are more expensive because they’re better.
6.  WHY WOULD YOU BUY FROM THE PUTRID COMPETITION?  MAKE MINE MAC, TRUE BELIEVERS!

Granted, at least two of those reasons for buying a Mac are true, but the software bundle argument is dead in the days of Sourceforge and Freshmeat.  Also, Macs aren’t as flexible in terms of upgrading as PCs are.  Hell, it was Apple’s reticence in allowing clones of its Macs that almost killed the company in the mid-1990’s, yet Mac owners tout expensiveness as a VIRTUE.  You people.  It’s enough to make me go Linux to spite the lot of you.

Look, it’s not 1992.  There’s no longer a choice between just the Macs and IBM PCs anymore.  Hell, I jumped ship from Intel to AMD and I’m happy with my accursed PC clone.  I admit I was tempted by the iMac Mini, but only because it’s the only Mac that entered the market I could afford.  Hell, I’m running Windows 98 on my computer and I’m quite content with my setup.  If I ever decide to go Mac and never go back, it won’t be because of some Mac user’s snobbish fanboyism toward The Better Computer.  Take a deep breath and relax.

July 1994
MAYBE IF YOU ATE MEAT YOU’D HAVE A NATURAL LUBRICANT

It’s all well and good that this reader is a bread connoisseur, but it’s rather annoying to chide non-fans of the basic foodstuff this way, isn’t it?  One can appreciate bread and eat it the bastardized way, you know.

Seriously, I can’t stand this sort of condescending attitude from anyone.  It’s bread, not a bloody Merlot.  Sure, there are better breads than others, but this writer’s chiding Consumer Reports for not including the option of “no spreads” in AN ARTICLE ABOUT SPREADS.  What do these people expect from articles about food, anyway?  Am I supposed to share in this reader’s tastes?  Does this person know something about bread that I don’t?  Are other Consumer Reports readers heathens in the war against jam?

Sakes alive, is this what people bother to spend their time writing to Consumer Reports about?  God forbid one should write about condoms condoning sex or some similar hot-button issue, or write a helpful letter about how to depill a sweater.  No, the most important thing to write about is how to eat bread properly.  I’ll keep that in mind just like I keep in mind how a wood saw should sound like Mahalia Jackson, thanks.

June 1992
SEE, I CAUGHT YOU MAKING A GRAMMATICAL ERROR ON THE COVER, I WANT A NO-PRIZE

Haha, Consumer Reports showed you.  That’s funnier than English teachers on the Internet complaining about question marks appearing inside quotes at the end of a sentence and yet managing to spell random words wrong.

I know this is the age of Internet – some people have a perfect command of the English language yet can’t say anything more profound than the reason why they hate Oprah.  Conversely, some incredibly intelligent people write like they’re five with all the spelling mistakes and obnoxious LOLs their e-mails contain.  Still, I can’t imagine a more useless letter to Consumer Reports or any other print media than the “grammar fag” pointing out what (s)he thinks is an obvious mistake on the front cover of what (s)he’s reading.  That would actually be the last place a typo should be, as typos on the cover give the impression of terrible content inside.

This isn’t like The Charlatan advertising an interview with the “Governal General” on its front cover, which wouldn’t amount to much if not for the fact that CARLETON UNIVERSITY IS SUPPOSED TO BE ONE OF CANADA’S BEST JOURNALISM SCHOOLS.  This is Ellie-winning, awards-for-best-journalism-earning, sixty-nine-years-of-reputable-content-and-we’ll-take-you-to-court-if-you-rubbish-it Consumer Reports.  If an issue of Consumer Reports has a typo on the cover, at least four million readers would know.

You know how many editors this magazine has?  As of September 2005, there are four people employed purely to check copy and an entire production division.  If a typo appears on the front page of Consumer Reports, it reflects on at least two divisions allowing such terrible proofreading.  That’s not to say mistakes don’t occur within the pages of this magazine, but such mistakes are usually due to poor research and not poor proofreading.  This isn’t Sterling McFadden-level “quality” we’re talking about here.  Oh, I know Sterling McFadden merged into some other company, but it didn’t kill Metal Edge and it doesn’t stop Metal Maniacs from dragging its dreary tonnage wherever it goes.  I think the Consumer Reports proofreaders know what they’re doing, otherwise they wouldn’t have jobs there.  God knows how little I want to see an idea like Consumer Sludge rear its ugly head.

I just ended the article on a reference to Metal Sludge.  Please kill me now, for I have connected consumer journalism to Dokken.  I hate myself.  C U Next Time!

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer