Crazy Ideas About...
Crazy Ideas About... is a series of books aimed at teaching ordinary people how to capitalize on their "crazy ideas". It is similar to the ...For Dummies series, but not to be confused with The Complete Idiot's Guide to... series, which is completely different. Despite the title, the publisher takes pains to emphasize that the ideas of the books' buyers are not crazy; this have may contributed to the popularity of the series. The subtitle for every book is "A Reference for the Mentally Interesting!"
The series's target audience is the group of people who come up with crazy ideas without being able to follow through on them. For example, the first title of the series was Crazy Ideas About Nurseries (1991) by H. Ythers, a "how to" guide on how to add a nursery to your house for your new baby, published by Headquarters Inc. It was slightly thicker than your average For Dummies... book at 500 pages, foreshadowing the exponential expansion of subsequent books in the series. This is partially explained by the greater depth an author needs to go into in order to explain how to fully carry out a person's crazy ideas about nurseries, but critics attribute the excessive thickness to bad writing by the author, in particular, to the fact that the sin of wordiness is present on every page and sentence of the book.
The second installment in the Crazy Ideas About... series was Crazy Ideas About Going To The Moon (1992), also written by H. Ythers. Although somewhat popular in China, this tome appeared on the New York Times's Worst-Seller List due to not being up-to-date. The moon landing, for example, wasn't mentioned, and if one didn't know better, one would've gotten the idea that the author had no idea it even happened. Yes, that moon landing. This book was slightly thicker than its predecessor at 550 pages, a 10% increase in depth, but a 80% decrease in breadth.
Headquarters Inc. reeled at the huge deficit it gained in publishing ...Moon, but increasing success in the For Dummies... series lead the publisher to give the series another try, provided that the author of ...Moon become unaffiliated with the rest of the series and that he'd be eviscerated. (To be fair, most people didn't think ...Nurseries was that bad.) Whether Ythers was actually disemboweled is not known, though many conspiracy theorists suggest he wasn't, because he was supposed to be eviscerated, not disemboweled.
While the controversy of "eviscerate" vs. "disembowel" was being played out, the publisher decided they needed a helpful book on the subject. The result was Crazy Ideas About Vocabulary (1993), written by J. Shish-Kabob, which went beyond typical vocab reference guides and suggested ways the reader could create their own vocabulary and redefine existing words. This book was 605 pages long, a 10% percent increase above the previous book and a 200% increase in breadth. This book was successful financially and helped paved the way for further installments of the series. It also influenced the creation of Encyclopedias Anyone Can Edit.
In the next few years, many more books were released, including four in 1993, 12 in 1994, and 56 in 1995. However, several problems began to creep up. First, each subsequent book was larger than the previous one; the last book in 1995 was approximately 526 thousand pages long. Initially, publishers dismissed this, saying that many bills passed by Congress were longer than 526 thousand pages, but even they acknowledged that after a few more books this would no longer be true. The second problem was that the subjects of the books were getting crazier and crazier. After ...Vocabulary came ...Pigeons, then ...Electricity, then ...Pigeons and Electricity, and by the 20th and 21st installments there was Crazy Ideas About Housekeeping In The Nude and Crazy Ideas About Peace, Love, And Understanding. By the end of 1995, the craziest idea yet was implemented, resulting in Crazy Ideas About Using Music To Sonify Data. Book stores and the general public had had enough.
On January 6, 1995, a mysterious fire burned down the headquarters of Headquarters Inc., located near Boston, Massachusetts. Onlookers thought it was rather amusing, saying "Hey, look at how Headquarter's headquarters is burning down"; they also thought the fire looked pretty. The one who wasn't amused, however, was Headquarters Inc., but they couldn't do anything about it for lack of a headquarters. Fortunately Headquarters's hindquarters were located in New Jersey, thus surviving the fire, but it would take them seven long years before they butted their way back to the top.
A Brief Renaissance
With nothing else to do, the people at Headquarters Inc. surfed the web for hours on end. Finally, in late 2002 they came up with the idea to create a guide anyone can edit, realizing that 1.) hundreds of thousands of pages can fit easily on the web, and 2.) that writing hundreds of thousands of pages would be easier with millions of potential authors. Unfortunately, by that time Wikipedia had started becoming popular, pushing the new Crazy Ideas About... series off the internet. It is not known whether Headquarters Inc. plans to release a new book in the future.
Style and Form
Each Crazy Ideas About... book has the same general format. First comes the cover, on which the title is presented. Inside is the text, arranged page by page, which is presented plainly and wordily and surrounded by bold icons about things to remember and boxes about things to forget. The book is split into chapters, splitting the main crazy idea into numerous little ones. For example, here are some of the chapter titles in Crazy Ideas About Going To The Moon:
- 1.) Doing the Unthinkable: Sending a spacecraft from Earth's gravitational influence to the moon's.
- 2.) Doing the Undesirable: Crashing on the moon.
- 3.) Doing the Astonishing: Landing safely on the moon.
- 4.) Doing the Unnecessary: Playing golf on the moon.
- 5.) Doing the Obsequious: Letting the Russians get to the moon first.
...and so on. In each chapter is a list of ingredients followed by step-by-step instructions on what to do. Excerpts from chapter 1 and 2:
- Millions of tons of solid hydrogen fuel.
- Millions of tons of liquid oxygen. (Note that by 60's standards, having a rocket with solid and liquid fuels was innovative).
- One million ton measuring cup.
- One ten million ton measuring cup.
- A computer with at least 256 KB and a 32-bit processor.
Step 1: Label the ingredients in alphabetical order. If two ingredients start with the same name, say, "Aardvark" and "arithmetic if statement", label the first one A1 and the second one A2. Step 2: Place slot 3 of B25 onto post 4 of V45...
- see ingredients for chapter 1
Step 1: Do steps 1 through 4243 of chapter 1. Step 2: Steer rocket into moon.