May 18th, 2005

Wedding day

Customers who purchased The Passion of the Christ also purchased S&M 101: A Realistic Introduction!

I got an e-mail today from somebody wondering whether or not I made up the song about Joan Crawford rising from the grave (referenced in Chuck & Bernie for the week of April 10th). It's a real song, and the real lyrics can really be found here. Really.

Anyway, I see that one of The Onion's News In Brief stories this week discusses the dismay of an author looking at his book's page on, specifically the reviews and recommendations. I've wondered about this myself; thanks to the Internet there's no longer any buffer between artists and consumers. What must it be like to see your work panned in detail by everybody -- not just professional critics -- in a public forum? I don't actually purchase from Amazon very often, but I do use them for reference quite frequently (how much does this cost? How many pages long is that? How many editions has something been published in?). I find myself reading the reviews and looking at Amazon's recommendations.

The recommendations are made by tracking my purchases and comparing them with other customers' purchases. Sometimes they're startlingly accurate -- if I go to Amazon and click the Colin's Store tab, I already own eleven of the fifteen items that pop up. However, if I click More Results, I start getting weirder recommendations: Ace of Base albums. Ann Coulter books. Anything and everything pertaining to the movie Grease. A baseball bat. All kinds of Mac hardware.

If I click on "Why was I recommended this?" for Ann Coulter's How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must), I learn that people who bought her book also bought the soundtrack from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which makes me wonder just what kind of conservatives are shopping on Amazon.

Amazon also thinks I would like Bambi because I purchased (drumroll please) Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Nothing complements talking animals like a silent movie with overtones of communism and a sexy robot. I would like the 2-disc special edition of Underworld not because I've been purchasing horror novels, but because I bought Shock Treatment on VHS in 1999 (which, contrary to popular belief, has never stopped being available). Apparently I'd like Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey because I bought The Seventh Seal. Er, wait. The connection is obvious if you've seen both movies, and I have since um, own bought Bogus Journey, too.

Still, these guesses at my personal tastes were made by gathering statistical data. I'm never going to purchase The Lizzie McGuire Movie, but the top recommendations are quite accurate and I understand that I have slightly ecclectic sensibilities. The real travesties are the reviews. I picked out some of my favorites tonight, and you don't need to be familiar with the original works to appreciate Collapse )
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