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Picks and Pans Review: Over-Extension University Bulletin

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by Gerald Sussman

Sussman is former editor in chief of the National Lampoon (as well as author of such books as The Up Yourself Book), so it’s not surprising that this parody of continuing education school catalogs seems like a long bit from his magazine. While he gets bogged down a little in the descriptive text, his course titles alone keep the laughs going. Some samples: “Flophouse and Love Hotel Management,” “Brothers of Famous Psychiatrists,” “Overcoming Hypnosis Through Fear,” “A History of Shaving and Shaving Techniques Workshop,” “Taking the Mystery out of Buying Salt,” ” 100 Years of Greek Jazz,” “F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Beatles: A Study in Counterpoint,” “A History of Raincoats From Noah to Calvin Klein” and “Van Gogh and Leroy Neiman: The Artist in Torment.” There are real-life extension schools whose catalogs are free and almost as funny, but, except for a dead mother joke or two, Sussman avoids the doltish lack of taste his magazine is infamous for, and the result is a diverting, clever 64 pages. (M. Evans, $3.95 paper)