Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Five Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Maurice Barkley

Well, hey, it's a blog tour! Pretty much the only tour around that hasn't been cancelled lately, so thanks, Dave. It's kind of ironic actually - when my grandson was teaching me how to use the internet so I could write this inane blog, he kept warning me about viruses and how they would destroy my computer. And now, the virus is here, and every part of the world except my computer appears to be broken. So it looks like Jackson didn't know what the hell he was talking about - AGAIN! 

Anyway, now we are social distancing, and it kind of feels like I died and went to Heaven. No knocks on the door, no obnoxious neighbors, no skateboarders on the sidewalk, just peace and quiet. Speaking of dying, before we received the beautiful, wonderful order that we were no longer supposed to interact with other people, I was at a funeral for a friend. Now first off, stop right there. Save your sappy sentiments for another day. At our age, you recognize death as a part of life, and the spirit of the occasion was generally positive. You'll understand someday.

However, having just read this book, I had some nagging thoughts. The newspaper (and my friend's family) said that he had died of natural causes, but Sherlock Holmes would remind us that things are seldom what they initially seem to be. I started looking around the room at everyone thinking, "Was it you?" I mean, killing someone our age is a relatively pointless endeavor, but my friend did have a well-curated collection of LPs, numerous bird feeders, and an expensive set of extra dentures. So the motive is obvious. The means wouldn't have been hard to come by either - a moderate bump from the side would probably have been sufficient. It could have been anyone, but when my son-in-law Gerry made a snide comment to me about wearing cargo pants to a funeral, he became the prime suspect!

First off, there is nothing wrong with wearing cargo pants to a funeral or anywhere else. I am at the point in life when function surpasses form on the priority list. And I needed all those pockets! One for my handkerchief, program, breath mints, list of people's names I was supposed to remember but didn't give a shit about, etc. One for a book for when my friend's daughter starts talking (Jesus Christmas, people, it's like a verbal Mount Vesuvius). One for garlic and a crucifix - hey, you never know what might happen when you get that close to a cemetery. And one for a bag of Takis (those things really are addictive, although in retrospect I recognize that the crunch factor and orange fingers made it possibly not the best choice for the occasion). The point is, why would Gerry be casting aspersions my way if not to deflect attention away from himself? Case closed, people. Now I just have to decide whether to go to the police or avenge my friend myself. Once social distancing is over, of course.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann

Well, it seems like all anyone wants to talk about these days is the coronavirus, and lo and behold, everyone thinks he's an epidemiologist now. You couldn't find this many armchair experts at an antique furniture convention! Every five minutes we are told to either panic or just relax, and it's starting to piss me off. Luckily, I never listen to anything anyone tells me in the first place. But I'll tell you one thing I'm tired of hearing - "No big deal, folks. It's only old people who are really at risk." Hey, fuckers, that's us! Who do you think is actually watching the news, instead of just reading people's tweets? Know your audience, for crying out loud.

The thought of contracting this virus is far less aggravating than having to listen to people talk about it all the time. The hysteria bubbling up from people's inner psyches makes me wonder about our resiliency as a species. You've got more chance of dying from being punched in the face over the last bottle of Purell at the store than from the actual virus. Yesterday I saw a pick-up truck drive by overflowing with Costco sized packages of toilet paper. What do people think is going to happen? Does coronavirus cause uncontrollable diarrhea now? Are they going to wrap themselves up like a mummy for protection? Can you eat that stuff in an emergency? Jesus.

One reason for all this panic is that people don't know actual hardship any more. All these young "adults" whose parents wiped their noses for them all through high school don't know what to do with themselves in an emergency. People like me could tell them a thing or two about hard times. Or maybe Hannah Owens, the plucky protagonist in this coming of age novel. She would handle this situation a lot better. When your mom dies abruptly, you get sent off to live as a housemaid, get stuck in a brothel, abused, cheated, threatened, and you still come out the other side, you don't freak out and go on a toilet paper shopping spree at the first sign of trouble.

So to summarize, could you please just wash your damn hands? And listen to the professionals. Last I heard, the recommendations were to stay at home and socially distance yourself from others. Sounds like a reward to me! Some generations were asked to protect their communities by going to war. You are being asked to play XBox for 2 weeks. We can do this, people.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls

So I get a call from my grandson after my last review, and he says that he and his friends want to know my story about shaving an elephant. Oh, I see. Now that you and your friends are off to college, I don't ever hear from you, I am as forgotten as PSY's followup single to "Gangham Style," and now you want something from me? Well guess what, snowflakes? Forget it! It's good to want things. So keep wanting. You can all go console yourselves with your collection of participation trophies, Fortnite, and your vaping parties, or whatever it is you do. Good to know you're reading the blog though - keep it up!

For the rest of you - want to know something else stupid Jackson and his friends did? Last weekend, they did something called the "Polar Plunge." Have you heard of this shit? A bunch of so-called adults cut a hole in a frozen lake and then jump in the water. On purpose! When I asked him what the point was, he said it was raise money for some charity I never heard of - Save the Despondent, Socially Stunted, Screen-Addicted Millennials or something like that. First of all, lost cause. Second of all, if there is a charity doing good work that you would like to support, how about you give them some damn money? Or volunteer? How the hell is jumping in a lake going to help anyone except by giving you a chance to show off your half-naked bodies on Instagram?

And get this, they are planning another one. And he wants me to do it! I think even suggesting such a thing is tantamount to attempted murder, because I am certain that if you put me in that lake, I will die. Even if I am not killed instantly by the shock, I can barely get my arms over my head these days, so swimming is pretty much a non-starter. To get to the point, I would rather get sucked through the Saint Louis arch and have to deal with a bunch of werewolves, vampires, and succubi, like the main characters of this book. Unbeknownst to them, they are Venators. Venators, for you newbies, are magic wielders and defenders of justice. Kind of like American Senators, only with actual power, capacity for independent thought, and a moral compass. I am hoping that in the sequel, Rune and Grey are released into the Senate to kick some ass.

But I do not have time to get angry about politics right now, because I am too busy still being angry at Jackson and his faux-philanthopist buddies. So here's an offer for you and your roommates, Jackson. Dig through the layers of moldy nacho cheese and hardened Ramen noodles on your couch, collect all your loose change and bring it over here, and together we can find an appropriate way to donate it to a good cause. And I will let you borrow this exciting book. And just maybe, I will tell you that story about the elephant. By the way, don't tell your mom.