Friday, October 23, 2020

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger


So I read This Tender Land, and it was brilliant, so I decided to dig into this guy's catalogue and see if he wrote anything else that was halfway decent. I figured not, but I was wrong! It still pissed me off though, because when you start at the wrong end of an author's book list, it's almost like reading a book backward. You miss the evolution of the voice and all that shit. You know what I mean? Things are meant to happen in a certain order, and if the order is wrong, it fucks everything up.

It's kind of like going to Golden Corral and just diving into the key lime pie right off the bat. It's good enough, but you can't deny that something is off. Your son in law Gerry is giving you the "what the fuck is wrong with you" look, but at the same time, you have already been kicked out of a Golden Corral once, and if it happens again, at least you got your pie and didn't waste your time eating gumbo that came out of a dust covered #10 can that has been propping open the walk-in cooler for the past 6 months. And you can't get salmonella from key lime pie, which puts it in the top 10% of foods on the buffet safety-wise, so the more I think about it, the better the key lime pie option is sounding. 

Maybe a better analogy is when I took my grand-nephew to see Vanilla Ice in 1990 (opening for MC Hammer, to be precise - I was the cool old guy even then, although I did not understand the pants). Vanilla Ice comes out on stage and goes right into Ice Ice Baby. I'm thinking, motherfucker! That's his only song that doesn't sound like a bunch of people hitting you in the head with kitchen pans, and now we have to listen to a cacophonous noise salad that would make Schoenberg sick without even the promise of Ice Ice Baby at the end of it. As it turned out, I had no cause for worry that day, because a half hour later - I shit you not - he played it again! Twice in a 45 minute set. How's that for pathetic?

And while I'm at it, how about these fools who do Star Wars marathons starting with Episode I? Obviously, in that realm, chronological order doesn't really matter. It's about character development! If you don't know he is destined to become Darth Vader, who gives a crap what happens to Anakin? Sorry about the spoiler, snowflakes! Deal with it. Which is not to mention that Episodes I, II, and III are so terrible that they should never be watched under any circumstances. Truly the most disappointing movies of all time. Except maybe Pirates of the Caribbean 4 - I really thought they were going to turn things around with that one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Venators III: Legends Rise by Devri Walls


If I get one more unsolicited phone call from a polling company doing a survey about this election, I swear to God I will punch someone in the face. Or if I can't get my arms up above my head, which has been difficult lately, I will punch them in the ribs. What is even the fucking point, anyway? First off, after the 2016 election, nobody is going to believe what your poll says. No one. Not one goddamn person. I don't want to hear about your improved methodology or sampling process or any other shit. You guys blew it, so piss off. Furthermore, as you repeatedly harass me, do you really think anyone out there gives a crap what I think? Hell no! The last time someone asked my opinion in earnest was 25 years ago when my daughter Rachel sat me down to ask me what I thought about her boyfriend. I told  her in no uncertain terms what I thought, and she married him anyway, and now they live in a house painted orange with pink trim. And God help me, Gerry, if I hear you utter the words "homage to a sunset" one more fucking time. Take this book, for example. Maybe I think that it was well-written sequel that gives us more development on the relationship between Rune and Grey, as well as some much appreciated backstory for the secondary characters. But if you weren't going to read it anyway, are you really going to read it just because I said so? Jesus, I hope you have more self-respect than that. Pathetic.

The pollster problem has turned out to be more complicated than I initially thought. I figured at first I could just go with my Plan A for most problems, which is yelling at people. But before I could even say, "Listen here, you parasitic nobody, spending your time harassing the elderly while your parents try to dig themselves out of debt from all the money they spent on your liberal arts education just so could end up in a dank, dirty cubicle with 100 other philosophy majors who couldn't cut it as baristas, without even so much as a picture of them up on your tackboard wall because of your intense internalized shame, why don't you go follow your passion and start an Etsy store or some shit before I report you to human services for elder abuse," they typically would hang up, and I felt unsatisfied.

Then one day I forgot to put my hearing aids in, and I enjoyed the conversation a lot more! So I decided to go with that, and even when I had them in, I started having conversations like this:

"Hello, sir, can I ask you a few questions about the election?" 
"What was that, sonny?"
"I'd like to ask you some questions about the election, sir."
"Well, you're a couple decades too late for that, not that it's any of your business!"
"Now don't you yell at me, you parasitic nobody, spending your time harassing the elderly, etc..."

Much more enjoyable, but still, over too quickly. As you well know, I try to be a force for good in the world, and I figured that I would be doing society a service if I could keep these morons on the phone as long as possible to prevent them from ruining other people's family dinners, so my new act is the eager, bumbling idiot. It's more along these lines:

"Hello, sir, can I ask you a few questions about the election?"
"Oh, of course! I would so much love to help!
"OK, first question: who do you prefer for president, Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden?"
"Oh my, what a choice! Can I only pick one, or can I vote for each of them, so neither feels bad?"
"Just one sir - who do you prefer for president?"
"Oh, I see. President of what exactly?"
"President of the United States, sir."
"Oh my! That is a lot of responsibility, isn't it? You sound like you know a lot about this stuff - who do you prefer?"
"I can't tell you that sir - would you like to answer the question?"
"Oh, but didn't I already?"

This approach has really allowed me to tap into my creativity (maybe I should have an Etsy store), and yesterday I set a new record by keeping a pollster on the phone for - I shit you not - 47 minutes! During which time, I hope, someone was able to read this book in peace. You're welcome, America.