“Once upon a time, cigarettes weren’t bad for you.” So begins These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves: A Love/Hate/Love/Hate/Love Letter to a Very Bad Habit ($12.95, www.atomicbooks.com), Emily Flake’s hilarious and candid account of her tumultuous relationship with cigarettes—from that first sweet, satisfying drag to failed attempt after failed attempt to nix the habit. The critically acclaimed writer and illustrator’s brilliant little book is always honest and never preachy, and will have both addicts and their naysayers laughing (err, coughing) out loud. Whether you’ve been adevoted fan for decades or you just want to understand what drives seemingly intelligent folks to savor deadly cancer sticks, this 112-page gem is for you.
Freak Show & Tell
As Coney Island enjoys its last hurrah before transforming into a glitzy Vegas-style resort, Archie McPhee has come out with the perfect line of keepsake toys to help you preserve the history of the great land of carny sleaze in your very own living room. TheLi’l Sideshow Frog Girl & Lobster Boy play set ($13.95, www.mcphee.com) features two half-human, half-animal creatures: he is plagued with red pincers and a tail, she with green webbed feet. Standing 2 1/2 inches tall, mini freak and freakette also come complete with a plastic stage and vinyl banner featuring an old-school sideshow illustration for added realism. And if you’re really feeling nostalgic, you can make your home circus complete withLi’l Sideshow Strong Man, Li’l Sideshow Bearded Lady andLi’l Sideshow World’s Tallest Man & World’s Smallest Man—of course, that last one’s all relative so theyreally only have each other to prove theirclaim to fame. (Jill Colvin)
A Stiff Upper Lip
Nothing is more inspiring than a man who devotes his life to a cause or ideal: men like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Now, another hero joins their ranks. But instead of equality or freedom, filmmaker Jay Della Valle works tirelessly to save the elusive mustache—that much-maligned mouth muff usually associated with pedophiles and porn stars. In his documentary, The Glorius Mustache Challenge ($14.99, gloriusmustache.com), Della Valle records the month-long journey experienced by a group of men under 30 as they each grow their very own flavor saver. The newly mustachioed guysruminate on both the benefits of the push broom and the challenges of growing a cookie duster. One disappointed lip cultivator bemoaned his nose neighbor: “The two girls in my life have both abandoned me, and they actually did say it was because of my mustache…Granted, I cheated on both of them.” Ah yes, life with a mustachio isn’t always fun and games. One musician with a’stache la Dalí warns, “If someone is really confident about their mustache, go into a truck-stop bathroom and hang out for about 20 minutes. Then see how confident you are about it, ’cause it can get prettyfucking creepy.” Not only does the oft-hilarioius film gather more soup strainers in one place than the average man sees in alifetime, it comes complete with free fake face fur and a whole hour of extra features, including Della Valle’s adventures on CNN, “The Today Show” and (of course) “Geraldo.” (Josh Saul)
I’d Know That Butt Anywhere
With the Cat Butts magnetic mini kit ($6.95, www.runningpress.com), you’ll never mistake one breed of feline for another again. The extremely detailed illustrations on these handy die-cut magnets make it easy to distinguish the subtle differences between various cat asses. As a bonus for those of you unsure how to identify that which spews forth from the other end of your pussy, there’s also a hairball magnet. The Educational North American Cat Butts Field Guide completes your education. At 32 pages, it’s chock full of everything you ever wanted to know about the rear ends of five specific cat breeds—Persian, American Shorthair, Siamese, Siberian and Black and White—and useful advice like, “It is not recommended to touch a Siamese on the anus directly.” (Jane Warsaw)