Thursday, April 16, 2020

As Good as Can Be by William A. Glass

This novel is a fast-moving, entertaining story about Dave Knight, a kid growing up in a military family across many parts of the globe. Dave and his siblings have their share of hijinks, and they get in a fair amount of trouble, but when the rubber hits the road, they know who is in charge of the family. I would kill to get a tenth of the respect from my family that their father gets, and he is a wayward alcoholic! Maybe I should have sent my kids to military school - it might have straightened my son out, that's for sure. I mean, he may be a college professor, but what the hell kind of adult wears velcro shoes? Jesus.

And the next generation? Hopeless. I accidentally had a conversation with my grandson yesterday, and he treats me like a senile idiot. I had called to complain to my daughter that the chicken soup she left on my doorstep had kreplach instead of matzoh balls, and she knows damn well that I prefer matzoh balls and kreplach give me gas! But after 2 minutes of silence, Jackson told me that she was "unavailable," which I assume meant crying tears of shame for sabotaging my soup. So I tried to make some small talk with Jackson by asking what he was reading these days, and he says to me - I shit you not - "I don't read."

At that moment, I felt a brief pang of something which, judging from other people's descriptions, may have been empathy. So I tried to pick him up by telling him he was almost a goddamn adult already and couldn't he get Hooked on Phonics or something to sort that shit out. He clarified that he actually can read, but that he chooses not to because he is more entertained by TV and video games. What the fuck? I gave him a list of reasons why books are superior, including the fact that you can read them whenever you want and don't have to wait all day for your show to come on, and he called me an "ignorant Boomer" and said that you can watch any show any time. If that were true, I said, why do you get TV Guide? He didn't have an answer for that one, but he insisted that everything is now "On Demand" with no waiting necessary. 

So, to prove him wrong, I demanded that he come over and show me what the hell he was talking about, and he had the audacity to use my own words against me! "Just yesterday," he reminded me, "you had said that the world is a disease-infested hellhole, and no one crosses the entryway into your house without a goddamn Hazmat suit, especially family." Fair point. I explained that yesterday, I didn't want to see anyone in my family (this is, of course, my default setting), but today, he had something I wanted, so my rules had changed. He did not find this to be a persuasive argument. 

But, he agreed to talk me through it over the phone, which took no less than 90 minutes because for some reason I have two remote controls even though I have only one TV. I mean, give me a break, they can put a man on the fucking moon, but they can't make a remote control that operates both the TV and the VCR? Idiots. And, just an FYI, remote controls are unidirectional, and Jackson says that if you don't point it right at the TV, you will turn something else off. Note, it did not work when I tried to turn off my neighbor Margaret's goddamn yippy little schnauzer. 

As it turns out, and as much as I hate to admit it, Jackson was right. You can actually watch anything at any time. I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring this new, limitless world of entertainment, and you know what I learned? There isn't anything worth watching anyway! Worthless garbage, the whole lot of it. So I have refined my argument for the next time I talk to Jackson about this, which is to basically point out that books are good, and TV is shit. Next question. And Jackson, when you are ready to expand your mind a little, I will be willing to trade my advance copy of this lovely novel for some real matzoh ball soup.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Die of Death by Kenneth B. Andersen

The Die of Death: The Great Devil War II

Well folks, we are on week 3 of social distancing, or as I like to call it, the greatest fucking thing that has ever happened to me! I finally have a legitimate excuse to never leave my home! No more knocks on the door, worrying that it might be someone selling magazines, or even worse, a family member coming to visit! My daughter Rachel said that because I have been here on my own for more than 14 days, she was comfortable with me coming over for Sunday night dinner. But oh, no, I said - sounds way too risky. Maybe I got infected from standing too close to the window or something, and I wouldn't want to put her family at risk, even for some overdone pot roast. I mean, think about the children! It was only responsible of me to decline. See ya, suckers!

To be honest, I'm not too worried, because what's the worst that can happen? Dying? Bah. I made my peace with that a long time ago. The way I see it, I'm just close to the front of the line to learn the answer to life's most confounding metaphysical contradictions. For example, if there is a loving and forgiving God, then we should all be welcome in Heaven. However, if my son-in-law Gerry is there, then it's not Heaven at all. Boom - mindfuck! Not that I'm not open to all possibilities of course. By this time next week, I may be reincarnated as a water buffalo, and you know what, I'll just make the most of it. At this point, I just need to sort out some details, like making sure all my pickle recipes get destroyed so no one can get rich off my secrets once I'm gone. And figuring out who gets all my books. I love my books, and I want to make sure each special one goes to the right person. Spoiler alert - Gerry, you get jack shit.

And speaking of pickles, while I may not be too stressed about the whole death thing, I have a real catastrophe on my hands here at home. I am down to my last pickle in my very last jar from last year's canning season. Holy shit! It's one of my secret Ghost Pickles™too. Too spicy for you, snowflakes! Try again when you lose 90% of your taste buds. But anyway, I usually try to can a whole year's worth at one time, but lately, with the world freaking out, I've been on a rapid cycle of self-soothing strategies. Mainly: pickles, gin, books, nap, repeat. It's actually a pretty great lifestyle. I just need to make more pickles next fall, assuming next fall comes. And that cucumbers still exist! Who the hell knows, these days? Oh, by the way, the book was good.