Monday, June 25, 2018

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James


Sweet bearded Jesus. Is this what our society has come to? This sadistic drivel is a best seller? I will leave aside, for now, the way my grandson tricked me into reading this book, but I worry about the damage done to his not fully formed brain if he subjected himself to it first. He probably thought that old people are just a bunch of prudes who would be shocked by these scenes, but please. You people must realize that we have been every age at one point in our lives, right? And believe me, after my wife and I got married, we knew our way around the bedroom. But we had a couple things you young people seem to lack - decorum and respect. The shit in this book is not sexy. It's abusive. You just don't realize it because you have been inundated with porn since the day the internet was invented. Which is also related to my other point. You don't have to announce, tweet, blog, instagram, and whatever else about every sexual act you engage in. Sex used to be something private, you may not realize. If you are two consenting adults, go in a room and do what you want. But leave it there, and if you are writing about it, please leave just a little bit to the imagination. I promise you I can think of it better than you can write it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers


Why is everybody so obsessed with people changing? It's like you can't be a good person these days without striving toward some kind of personal beatification with the assistance of a self-help guru. Well, here's a news flash: people don't change! People are who they are, no matter what they pretend. People always ask me, "How did retirement change you?" or some other stupid question like that. I tell them I work less, and they laugh like I'm joking. Did they think I would become someone else when I stopped working? And after my little health scare, everyone wanted to know how it changed me, expecting me to confer wisdom about the fragility of life or being grateful every day or some shit like that. Sometimes I lay it on thick for them, but I feel bad when they believe me. Which is why I appreciated some aspects of this book. A woman basically has a mid-life crisis and goes to Alaska in search of experiences that will lead to enlightenment. But guess what - she has the experiences, and nothing happens! Basic plot is, "Woman flees life, goes through potentially life-changing events, does not change." Which, unfortunately, made the book kind of boring. But at least it was accurate! We are who we are, people, so get used to it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton


I just love watching arrogant assholes get what they deserve. It's pretty much the only reason I follow politics these days. I am reminded of a time when my son was playing little league baseball. There was a dad on his team who would always yell obnoxious stuff at the kids. No one said anything, of course, because that's just how it was back then. These days, if you bring non-organic oranges for halftime, you are shunned from the community soccer league forever, but back then parents just yelled whatever they wanted. And this guy had a way of delivering lines like "Look alive!" in a way that made it clear he was saying, "You suck!" Now my son, as you might guess, was not a baseball star. He probably could have written a pretty good essay about the history of baseball at age 10, but he could not hit a ball. Or catch a ball for that matter. And throwing a ball in from left field if one actually made it out to him was pretty much a non-starter. So he was not the favorite player of Mr. I Only Shave Every 4 Days to Show What a Man I Am. But it's a free country, right? So I didn't say anything. But one day we were in the last inning down a couple runs, and the opposing pitcher was just walking batter after batter. Everyone knows that once you start aiming and stop throwing through the pitch, you are done for, but this kid was just lost. And Macho Man's kid, who was a great athlete but a little thick, was on first base with the bases loaded, and just before they walked in the tying run, out of nowhere he tries to steal second. Problem being the other runner already there. So we lost. And Mr. I Chew My Toothpick With a Vengeance said nothing. I felt bad for the kid, who probably caught it pretty bad when he went home. But I heard later that his dad got kicked out of the house and left town, so there you go. The arc of justice bends slowly. Which brings me back to my point about the book, which is that it was a hell of a lot more enjoyable if, like me, you were rooting for the dinosaurs.

Monday, June 4, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles


Yes, yes, yes! This is a truly book worth reading, with a protagonist who has something rare nowadays: dignity. Shut up in a hotel for decades, he still behaves in a way that conveys that his life has meaning and that he has worth. What has happened to dignity in our society? I went to see my son give a lecture at the university. He gets up there to talk about the civil war wearing, I shit you not, jeans and a t-shirt! Like he was a band roadie or a bum off the street who wandered onto campus and happened upon this auditorium. How could I even pay attention to him? And what message does it send to his students, who, I might add, felt it was appropriate to interrupt his lecture every three minutes with inane questions of one kind or another. And he encouraged it! Eventually I raised my hand to ask, "Do you intend to finish this lecture today, or is this more like a cocktail party where we all make small talk?" But no surprise, he didn't call on me. The whole thing was abysmal, and yet, students were clapping at the end, reinforcing all this nonsense. Your tax dollars at work, people.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow


Any fool knows that you never go see a movie without reading the book first. That is just common sense and respect, right? Jesus. So when my son walks in on my birthday wielding a couple of tickets to Hamilton like they were a magic hammer that would undo everything that has happened, I naturally ask him if he bothered to read the book. He says that it is not a movie, it is a musical, as if that should make everything ok, and says that I will love it because I like history. Do I like rap music, I ask? Which he takes as sarcasm, but truly, I am wondering if I maybe do like rap music. I mean, I don't listen to rap music, and it's probably terrible, but it is still an open question. But not to my son, who tells me that it wouldn't kill me to get out of here once in a while and then promptly takes his own advice, taking the tickets with him, I might add. So I did the only reasonable thing, which was to read the book, which was, in fact, enlightening. I don't know how you would turn it into a musical, or why in god's name you would want to do such a thing, but I recommend the book for anyone who wants to understand American history better. And for anyone who thinks things are terrible now, because it was a nice reminder that our politicians have been doing the same stupid shit since the country started.