Widgets Magazine

Review: ‘5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and Other Useful Guides)’

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth

Courtesy of Andrew McMeel Publishing

Confession: sometimes I forget basic grammar rules, including appropriate apostrophe use. I don’t usually turn to a style guide or Google for quick instruction, but instead turn to the Oatmeal blog, known for its satirical comics, snarky commentary and illustrated instructions to get you through the more mundane aspects of daily life (not to mention the abundance of cartoon dinosaurs).

So when I got my hands on the Oatmeal’s new book, “5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and Other Useful Guides),” I was ecstatic to start flipping through its colorful pages and bask in the pretentiousness of mocking customer service representatives and obnoxious Facebook friends–you know that one person who bombards your News Feed with Farmville updates all the time? There’s a comic for that. My inner geek also loved “How to Use a Semicolon”…one that everyone should take the time to read.

The book is mostly just a published collection of cartoons and comics from the web site. Some of them are useful, including “How to Use an Apostrophe,” while others are randomly entertaining yet unrealistic (“Why it would suck to live next to a volcano”). The blog has been a favorite procrastination device of mine for the last year, and having it in print form is a nice break from surfing (okay, creeping) on Facebook every study break.

Flipping through some of the pages, you can’t help but laugh at how relatable the material is (see “crappy hugs”) …but then you cringe a little when you remember that your bad handshake or misspellings could easily be the butt of any of these jokes.

The comics become increasingly vulgar as you flip through the pages. Ultimately, the comics portray what we point to as first-world problems–bad interviews and giving computer help–at their finest, and toward the end, the gross jokes become tiresome. The premise behind “5 Very Good Reasons” is interesting–an exhausted, angry web designer quits his corporate job and publishes his first year’s worth of cartoons that spawned the Oatmeal, but ultimately, the book is redundant in its targets and a bit whiney.

However, the comics are great for mindless skimming, cheap laughs and some education (“Twenty Things Worth Knowing About Beer” counts, right?), but it’s not something to spend hours poring over.

If it weren’t for the pullout posters, I would stick to just reading this online. As for the dolphins, I’m not sure I’m convinced.