Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: The Supreme Bean

By Sally Putterman
Gonzo Publishing, 445 pages
Reviewed by Christamar Varicella 

While perusing Sally Putterman’s exhausting countdown to the world’s most perfect bean, I was reminded of all those random lists generated by the entertainment industry.  You know the ones I’m talking about: Hollywood’s Fifty Sexiest People, Twenty One Hot New Stars, One Hundred Stars from the 1980s that You Forgot Existed, One Hundred and Twenty Two Botched Nose Jobs, Thirty Seven Grizzly Celebrity Auto-Erotic Asphyxiations.  The lists go on and on.  And now, unfortunately, they stretch into book form and onto the subject of beans.  Why?  I read the whole book—all four hundred and fifty pages of it—and I still don’t know the answer to that question.



Sally Putterman, a former blogger for the Daily Brass,  has taken her post from December 19, 2005, “The Daily Brass Ranks the Beans” and expanded it into a massive tome.  The Supreme Bean is also her long awaited follow-up to her 600-page history of tree bark. 

Starting with number two thousand four hundred and thirty three, the Calcuttan Navel Bean, and slowly working her way to number one, which I will come to shortly—Spoiler alert: If you don’t want to know what it is you should probably read this article with your eyes closed—Ms Putterman has put in an awesome amount of time and effort in on a subject I’m pretty sure no one cares about.  By the time I reached bean number two hundred and forty three (The Chilean Pepper Bean) I could no longer tolerate the boredom.  I had to skip to the end.  The shock and disbelief I received when viewing her choice of best bean was so great that I almost choked on a jelly bean (#52).  But I digress.

Ms. Putterman is sure to raise the rancor of bean lovers everywhere when she rates the Navy Bean (37) over the Great Northern Bean (113), and no doubt she will bring forth a storm of controversy among bean purists by including the Black-Eyed Pea (227) on her list, but these are but the tip of the iceberg when cataloguing her list of outrages.  For instance, The String Bean (#11) is rated lower than the Green Bean (#3).  They’re the same bean!  She ranks the Legume at forty eight, completely ignoring the fact that a legume isn’t a type of bean!  It’s the family of vegetables from which beans come! 

These are just a few examples of what makes this book so frustrating.  Here is another: 

While each entry is accompanied by a short paragraph in which she summarizes the pros and cons of any given bean, there is no standard system of measurement.  All the rankings and accompanying descriptions seem to have been pulled straight out of Ms. Putterman’s fanny.  To truly understand my agony, look no further than the following entry:

                        #459 The Pinto Bean
                        This bean might have received greater ranking had it not reminded me
                        of the car I drove in college.  That Pinto was always breaking down on
                        the interstate.  I must therefore assume that The Pinto Bean is equally
unreliable.

Do you see what I mean? 

Sometimes when reading this book I got the feeling Ms. Putterman was just making stuff up.  I am fairly sure there is no such thing as The Charlie Sheen Bean (#717), or the Mr. Green Jeans Bean (#1323).  And what about entry number two thousand two hundred and twelve: The Lean Mean Fighting Ma-Bean?  Those aren’t real beans!  I can’t tell you how many times I closed this book in disgust, only to pick it up again just to see what crime against the English language (and against beans) she would commit next.  And yes, I even kept reading after I skipped to the last page to discover that, to my horror, The Supreme Bean was none other that The Mexican Jumping Bean, or as Ms. Putterman so eloquently put it:

# 1 The Supreme Bean is…
The Mexican Jumping Bean
It’s a bean that can jump! 
Let’s see you top that, other beans!