Atlas Shrugs

Although compendiums of hilarity from The Onion are published annually, it's been more than eight years since the arrival of 1999's Our Dumb Century, the last all-original book from "America's Finest News Source." According to Megan Ganz, the Onion assistant editor who co-authored Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth, 73rd Edition, which is being introduced tonight, the wait for the newspaper's next volume has paid off -- sort of. "I think we do a good job of waiting until we have something we really feel we can knock out of the park," she says. "Unfortunately, we ended up with this book instead."

For Ganz, who teamed with Onion editorial manager Chet Clem on World, the project's broadness initially seemed daunting. "When we decided to do a book that included every single country in the world, we thought it would be really funny," she notes. "In practice, it was this horrible trial of getting information on countries no one's ever heard of before and don't even have Wikipedia pages." But before long, they found a style that kept the jokes rolling without letting facts get in the way. The scribes portrayed the once-conjoined nations of Serbia and Montenegro as "spurned lovers" and simply made up the entire entry for Tonga, a Pacific island nation. "The Tongan delegation isn't going to contact us to complain," Ganz predicts -- probably because they'll be laughing too hard.

Meet the creators of Our Dumb World at 7 p.m. at Neighborhood Flix, 2510 Colfax Avenue. Admission is free. Get more information at 303-777-3549 or www.neighborhoodflix.com.
Thu., Jan. 31, 7 p.m., 2008

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts