Unbalanced Humors is aptly named. The local online satire magazine, whose five issues have now been reproduced as a book, contains material that’s laugh-out-loud funny, fairly amusing, and flat-out lame, in unequal proportion. I’d say the ratio is 20:60:20, respectively.
Among the gut-busters is “Buddy: A Journal of Friendship,” a piece UH creator and editor Luke Pola penned for the Pets Issue in the summer of 2006. It’s the tale of an electronic “Pokkit Pet” that needs to be fed by pushing a button and walked like a real dog. After several funny journal entries about his growing attachment to the gizmo, we get this entry from May 7…
“Buddy shit on the floor last night. I know this sounds strange, because he’s made of plastic, and things made of plastic aren’t supposed to do any shitting whatsoever, but I don’t know who else could have done it….”
The problem persists, causing tension between Pola and his girlfriend until she throws Buddy against a wall and kicks him across the floor. “Buddy was okay. A little scuffed up, but all in one piece. It was pretty traumatic, though. I bet I’ll be cleaning up all sorts of shits tomorrow.”
Among the amusing material is a fake letter in the Pets Issue. “I have an interesting problem,” it reads. “My significant other has begun referring to me as her ‘pet.’ Alone this would seem harmless enough, but in addition she has covered the floor of my study with newspaper and sawdust. And while I find the tube maze amusing, I am frankly bored to tears by the exercise wheel….”
And the lame stuff? Well, pretty much every panel of Abner Greene, a recurring comic written (barely) by Pola and illustrated (poorly) by Simon Adams. There are several other clunkers scattered throughout the collection, but why bore you by describing them here?
The five issues of UH were posted online, in PDF format, between January 2006 and the spring of 2007. The project appears to have run out of juice, which is a shame, as it has a lot of potential. Pola wrote the bulk of the material, but always put out a call for submissions, and does so again at the end of this book. However, readers directed to unbalancedhumors.com currently find nothing but an empty blog.
[Feb. 19 update: The UH site, down during a redesign, has since been put back up, and can be visited by clicking the URL above. — Ed.]
The reason UH hasn’t taken off is simple. As Pola confesses in the book’s preface: “I suck at self-promotion.”
That’s another shame, because Pola is a very talented writer. He and the handful of contributing writers and artists take many genuinely funny jabs at subjects like patriotism, popular music, religion, and Maine. The last edition of UH, a spoof of Down East magazine, contains several winners, like two pages of fake real estate listings put together by Pola and regular contributor Tom Baldwin.
“Portland: Extremely Haunted House,” reads one. “Why do all the doorknobs bleed at midnight? Snag this fantastic restored carriage house in Portland’s picturesque West End, and find out for yourself. Newly remodeled kitchen, baths and bedrooms all tastefully obscure the unspeakable atrocities committed here only 70 years ago!”
For $10,000, you can buy the second hole on a golf course: “Prime location on well manicured greenspace. A short walk from the First Hole and the Third Hole, with great views of the Tenth and Sixteenth Holes. Very approachable from the west, especially on calm, dry days….”
Good stuff. Now get your site back up, Luke, and capitalize on whatever momentum the publication of this humorous collection can generate!
— Chris Busby
Unbalanced Humors is available at Longfellow Books in Portland, Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, and via amazon.com.