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Kasper Hauser's Sky Maul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane

Reviewed by Shannon McCormick, Fri., Dec. 15, 2006

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Kasper Hauser's Sky Maul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane

St. Martin's Griffin, 128 pp., $14.95 (paper)

We've all been there – colossally bored on a long-distance flight – finished with whatever diversions we've brought, when our fingers reach out to SkyMall, the junky onflight catalog. Pointless consumerism, sentimental knickknacks and geegaws, bizarre movie tie-ins, all in a glossy package that invites reality-show-style enthrallment disguised as moral superiority. Is there anything more American? How could anything be more of a parody of itself?

The Kasper Hauser Comedy Group, a quartet of comedians from San Francisco, have managed just that – a satire of one of our stupidest cultural touchstones. With a wicked sense of the absurd and a pitch-perfect ear for both perky ad copy and the voices of desperate loners and weirdos, Sky Maul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane has every twisted item that the real catalog should stock. Where else could you buy a commemorative Black Power fist from the Mexico City Olympics, rendered in white chocolate (the accompanying photo is of a Caucasian's hand)? Or a tube of Christian Over-the-Clothes Massage Lotion? A child's night-light depicting Hitler turning into a werewolf? Even better are the items that open up narratives into the lives of their potential buyers, such as the Divorced Dad "Pancake Time" Trumpet or a taped series of motivational lectures delivered by a gentleman who turns out to be a PCP-addled psychopath.

Like recent compendiums put out by The Onion, Sky Maul is a social book, destined to be shared and handed around at gatherings. The spot-on layout and design, along with the endlessly inventive products, assure that the book is guaranteed to become a minor comedy classic. It'd also make a perfect holiday gift for your comedic-minded friends – and, fortunately, you don't have to order from a plane to buy a copy.

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