Friday, November 30, 2018

Calypso by David Sedaris


So Jackson tells me I have to be on Twitter. According to him, that is where all bloggers are now. I asked him, "Where exactly is Twitter?" He told me that my question - I shit you not - betrayed "a fundamental lack of understanding." Can you believe this shit? Who talks to their grandfather that way? These kids think that technological knowledge is the same as understanding the world, and they are bent on creating a world in which that is actually true. Well, we are not in that world yet, and I think those of us who have spent a fair bit of time in this one still have a thing or two to offer, if people could divert their eyes from their screens for half a second. It kind of feels like being David Sedaris's father - knowing that at some level, people still care about you, but also having to recognize that even your family sees you like a relic whose best role in life is now as a comic foil. Not an enviable position, I must say. But how do we fight against the tide? The waves of time beat against us and day by day erode our relevance. There is no escape that I can see. So in the end, I told Jackson he could set up a Twitter account for me. See you on the Internets!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Let me be clear that I don't really value other people's opinions on things. I see no reason why I would want to know how 500 people rated some coffee shop before I go there, and I don't need the hive mind to tell me if I like a steak or not. That kind of thing is for feeble-minded people. On a side note, my grandson has told me to be nicer in these reviews, and Jackson, I would like you to notice that I did not refer to any specific feeble-minded people that you and I both may know. But I have to admit that I was curious when they announced the Great American Read event, and when the final rankings came out, this was the only book in the top 10 that I hadn't read. And so, despite my better judgment, I went ahead and read it. And it wasn't terrible. Certainly not the second best book in American history or whatever, but what do you expect from a system that lets anybody vote? We seem to prize that concept here in America, and just look where it's gotten us. But I digress again. Maybe a good way of putting it is that reading this book is kind of like your parents having sex - you're happy it happened at least once, but you don't really want to have to think about it ever again.

Monday, November 19, 2018

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov


Well, Thanksgiving is upon us again, and I expect the usual bullshit. Time for all the relatives to crawl out of the woodwork and pretend they have been thinking about you with admiration and gratitude all year. These forced, rehearsed conversations remind me of the ones in this book with the early development of robots made to serve humans. "Greetings, uncle...It is with great pleasure that I reacquaint myself with you...You, who serve as a leader in our family by virtue of being old...Great blessings be upon you...Do you have candy?" Jesus, please.

When you've been doing this as long as I have, you lose patience for these ritualistic displays. But I will hold my tongue, lest the interactions become similarly apocalyptic as those with the robots. Can't get myself in trouble like I did the time I asked my nephew's kid for some details about why he looked up to me. Cat got his tongue at that one, although not so much his mother. At least I don't have to worry about them visiting this year though, so one point for me!

Now that I mention it, it makes we wonder if holding my tongue really is the best strategy here. Maybe I could pick one annoying family member at each holiday and find a way to say something that would prevent them from returning. I do like a challenge, and it would help pass the time between the turkey and the fighting about politics. If I was successful, I could have a peaceful Thanksgiving in only about 13 years. It's good to have goals, I guess. Enjoy your turkey, suckers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins


Let me tell you a couple things about pickles. First of all, you do not need alum to make them crunchy. Do not under any circumstances follow the lead of my daughter's friend Claire, who uses - I shit you not - something called Picklecrisp, which is an abomination. I mean, what the fuck is even in that stuff? In any case, you should soak the pickles in ice water overnight before canning them, and you need to snip off the blossom ends so enzymes don't soften your pickles. And don't overprocess them, for the love of God. I promise you the lids will snap if you just give the a little time. It's not that complicated if you have half a brain and a few minutes of forethought. Which is to say that you need to know from the beginning where you want to end up. Which unfortunately was clearly not the case in this trilogy. I almost hate to admit it, but the first book was pretty good. I only hate to admit because my daughter told me as much and I had assumed she was wrong because of all the hype around it. So fair play to her, but I got the last laugh because the trilogy descended into mindless garbage sadly trying to capitalize on the initial success and buzz. I can only assume that it was never meant to be a trilogy in the first place, because after the first book, nothing makes anything close to a damn bit of sense. Might as well have dumped the whole damn thing in Picklecrisp.