“So sit back, pour yourself a glass of fine wine—that requires time, grapes, yeast, feet, and “an enormous amount of pharmaceutical-grade pseudoephedrine and various beakers and Bunsen burners” to make—and drink up the adulterated silliness of what is John Hodgman.”
“Hodgman is a bombastic scriber of schizophrenic sarcastic philippic satire. But I laughed. A lot. Really.”
That was the answer I gave when a friends asked me to describe John Hodgman’s trilogy and its final and newest entry, That’s All.
Mr. Hodgman is a self-proclaimed famous minor television celebrity, usually seen on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
This is very important information to know in order to truly understand the nature of both the character “John Hodgman” and the nature of That’s All. And the term “character” may, in fact, be an understatement for both.
The promotional material that came with my copy describes That’s All as the only book you will ever need. “For COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE, look no further . . .”
That’s All is really two books in one; Hodgman’s view and take on everything, or at least of what he considers everything, and a count-down calendar to December 22, 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar and, therefore, the end of the world.
Suggestion: Read the Count Down Calendar first then the rest of the book. It really will not help your understanding of the strange mind of Mr. Hodgman, but it will get you in the mood to float through his thoughts on sports, fine dining, mustache etiquette and how to become a deranged millionaire. You will have about one year to accomplish all of your goals.
However, the message of the book is clear. You may be able to survive the “coming Global Super-apocalypse known as RAGNAROK.” So a bit of knowledge, real knowledge, concerning Norse and Mayan myths, and Revelations would be helpful here, but not necessary.
Do not worry that this is the “third compendium (“Tri-pendium”) of complete world knowledge” by Mr. Hodgman. His newest work is well documented to his other books, “Areas of My Expertise” and “More Information than You Require,” and kindly starts where the others left off.
It is here, on page 597, that you will discover why you need to read That’s All.
“December 21, 2011—You should begin reading this calendar/tearing apart this book on THIS DAY. If you have not begun reading this day, do not worry. You have not affected the outcome in any way. There is nothing you can do to alter the future. Human civilization will end on the same day no matter what.”
Note: If your confusion meter is pegged after reading the first ten pages, you may not know Mr. Hodgman as well as you thought, especially if you are not a fan of “The Daily Show” or over 50.
Watch Hodgman explain something, anything, to Stewart on YouTube. Mr. Hodgman’s knowledge is so irreverent, singularly superior and outrageous, watching Stewart’s faux looks of confusion and his real uncontrolled laughter will make your reading easier.
Another note: Do not read That’s All if you take facts too seriously. Facts have no place in this tome.
Yet another note: Do buy some muscle rub for the sore neck you will have shaking your head at Mr. Hodgman’s silliness.
As much fun as the prose is are the various tables of tables and figures laced throughout the book. Table 40, for example, consists of what the Deranged Millionaire should wear at various functions and dinners—on casual Fridays for example, men need to wear a “three-piece denim suit and velvet slippers with little crows on them.” For the women, “A tasteful brown turtleneck. Sun pants with pantyhose pulled over them” and a bath towel that could be used alternately as a skirt or a cape.
Or the explanation of how a helicopter flies as Mr. Hodgman attempts to define the term “POSH” in a section he titles “Were you aware of it?” “A helicopter,” he writes, “is a vehicle that achieves flight by rapidly twisting gravity.” I wonder if Bell, Sikorsky, or Galileo know about this?
This book seems to cover everything, from seeing the world before it is destroyed, to the animals you can order through the mail, if the mail still exists. But it doesn’t. Mr. Hodgman fails to tackle that all-important question; how does soap actually work?
I wonder if I can find my copy of Steven Cowley’s 1981 Do It Yourself Brain Surgery?
That’s All is not a book for the faint of heart, a graduate student who takes Quantum mechanics seriously, or any sportsperson who wants to know more about hockey than the fact that you need a puck, a stick, a scary mask, and spare teeth, or more than that the objective of golf is to hit the thing with the thing into the hole.
So sit back, pour yourself a glass of fine wine—that requires time, grapes, yeast, feet, and “an enormous amount of pharmaceutical-grade pseudoephedrine and various beakers and Bunsen burners” to make—and drink up the adulterated silliness of what is John Hodgman.