Thursday, March 10, 2011

'Butt Prints in the Sand': The self-help book that's just like The Secret, but with ass metaphors

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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​Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Butt Prints in the Sand

Author: Sam Glenn

Date: 1999

Publisher: Yakadoo Publishing, Naperville, IN

Discovered at: Trinity Lutheran Church garage sale, Mission, KS

The Cover Promises: When there was one set of butt prints, Giant Sam Glenn carried you.

Representative Quotes:

"We need to make footprints in the sands of life, and stop making butt prints! WE NEED TO GET UP!"

"We will make mistakes and fail, but BLAMING the government, the weather, or anything else does not get us to Candy Land (our dreams)."

Since even he doesn't seem too big on book reading, and certainly not on coherent book structuring, perhaps the best way to approach professional positivity guy Sam Glenn's opus gluteus maximus is simply to flip through it and marvel.

Consider this chapter heading:

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Or this page of inspirational bric-a-brac:



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Or this secret garden where words you never knew could go together somehow flourish:

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Or Glenn's greatest gift to us ...

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... the freedom to nut up our lives.

There's no way around it: Sam Glenn rattled off a book's worth of thoughts about butt prints. In his introduction -- titled "Introduction A Shot in the Butt" -- he describes life as a sandy beach upon which some of us stride, purposefully, leaving footprints, while others of us just plant our butts there and get nowhere.

That idea follows an entirely unrelated anecdote about Glenn as a child receiving a shot from a doctor.

Actual dialogue:

"WHAT!? Oh my goodness! In the butt!??"

Glenn's fullest explanation of his butt-print idea comes a page later, in the chapter "The Poem That Started It All ... Butt Prints in the Sand." There he prints the titular poem, which I presume he didn't write because he calls it "one of the best poems I have ever read" and he seems like kind of a humble guy. I mean, his most stirring personal success story is working up the nerve to do a set at Zanies comedy club.

Anyway, the poem documents the most unexamined of unexamined lives:

I look like a couch potato

The phone never rang, only the microwave letting me know my cheese fries were done

I thought about taking a walk and getting some exercise, but rolling over and taking a nap seemed to be enough

The conclusion:

Now life has passed me by, and when I look back all I see are butt prints in the sand.

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Glenn claims to have cried the first time he read it.

It fits that the central metaphor is not unique to Glenn. His short, scattershot chapters, each based on inspirational quotes or stories about getting fired up to seize the day, feel less like the contents of a book than they do the contents of your mom's e-mail inbox.

Glenn's book doesn't feel written; it feels forwarded.

Among its random pleasures:

  • On page 6, Glenn retells the plot of The Shawshank Redemption.

  • On page 10 Glenn argues that the meaning of life is Rice Krispie Treats.

  • On page 12, Glenn shares wisdom he got from Robert Schuller's book If it is Going to be Up to Me, It is Going to Be Up to Me.

  • On page 15, he spazzes out:

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Glenn goads us to dream big and stare down fear for 36 teensy chapters. These are arranged with no apparent pattern. Often, the ratio between words and punctuation marks is something like that between meat and by-products in store-brand cat food.

Much of the book is, in fairness, weirdly delightful, even if the phrase "butt prints" always reminds me of this:

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Also, he never explains what's wrong with plopping down for a rest on a beach. I mean, that's why people go to beaches, Sam!

Shocking Detail:

Glenn also wrote the sequel Butt Prints No More, runs something called Go Positive University, which I presume has nothing to do with either HIV or actual universities, and publishes "Quick Readers" books, which he describes as "A.D.D.-friendly books on topics such as Team-building, Perseverance, and Change."

Quick Readers titles include

"Skunks Are Supposed to Stink ... Not Your Life" and the confounding "What to Do When Shift (Change) Happens," the rare pun title that explains itself in a parenthetical aside midway through the pun itself.

Imagine if Entertainment Weekly's cover headline "Charlie Sheen's War" had in it someplace "(Charlie Wilson Was the Name of the Guy in the title of that Tom Hanks Movie)."

Highlight:

Glenn uses the word "butt" with the frequency and enthusiasm of a Christian high school's football coach. Here's more choice chapter titles:

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And, hey, all great artists find daring variations on their themes:

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