Friday, October 26, 2018

Product Review: Rafael den Boer

Utility: 2/10

The product does not appear very useful. After more than a week of ownership, the product has not produced anything beyond soiled diapers and a stream of saliva. Rather than generating income, the product seems to require constant upgrades, attention, and assorted repair and maintenance costs.

Aesthetics: 10/10.

Product has full head of hair, big dark brown eyes, caramel skin, and the hint of a dimple when he smiles. This is quite a bit of improvement over the previous 1982 den Boer model, John edition. The 1952 den Boer model, David edition, the den Boer 1923 model, Jan edition, and the Audet 1943, Jules edition also carried defective hairlines, so the hope is that the hairline is closer to the den Boer 1950 model, Marten edition (although I’m told that the designer only borrows from previous direct iterations).
Although this product has gunk in its eyes from time to time, this is easily rectified with a warm wet cloth. Consensus is that the product is incredibly cute.

Audio Component: 7/10

Although the gurgles, tiny sneezes, and grunting noises are endearing, it appears that the software for vocalizations is incomplete as the product does not use any recognizable vocabulary. Over the past week, multiple attempts to upload English language comprehension into the product were attempted without any result. The alarm feature, which notifies users when the product requires nutritional input or has produced a rather vile by-product, is handy. However, the product does not always sound the alarm when the by-product has been produced and occasionally the alarm sounds for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, the product does not have a snooze function and will continue to sound off throughout the day and the night without regard to the sleep requirements of the user.

Social Component: 10/10

At one point, the user was gazing into the eyes of the product. The user felt that an important moment of reflection and love was occurring as an expression somewhere between happiness and awe appeared in the product’s eyes. However, several second later the product defecated profusely and rather noisily and it became apparent that the product had merely been concentrating on that particular function.

Despite incomplete software issues and the repeated production of defecetary material, interaction with the product has resulted in an unanticipated emotional bond. Whether this bond is reciprocated has not yet been determined but, somehow, that is not important. Description of this bond seems to be beyond the capabilities of language.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Avocado Indulgence, Entitled Techno-brats Living Among Us

How about those Millennials with their techno-screens, basement apartments, and participation medals? Here are ten reasons why Millennials are the worst generation of all the generations that have existed since the dawn of life:

1)  Millennials are the most selfish generation of all time because they take selfies. If you look closely, the word self is right there at the beginning of the word selfie. In fact, if you were especially clever you would realize that all you have to do is take the E off the end of the word selfie add the letters S and H (as in “sh, you entitled millennial, you are not allowed to speak”) and you get the word “selfish.” Coincidence? I think not. If you look up the etymology of the word selfie, you will find that there is not a whole lot of information that you didn’t already know about it beyond the fact that it came into parlance sometime between 2002 to 2005. Why does the word selfie suck so much? Because it is a made-up word and made-up words are bad. Language should be static or at least glacially dynamic so that shit words like selfie do not get adopted. Furthermore, back in the day, if you wanted a picture of yourself you had to spend hours and hours gazing at the mirror and getting the proper proportions while you penciled in the lines. Then you had to mix your pigments just right as you gazed even more deeply into the mirror. Then, of course, you had to paint the whole thing. What do millennials even know about that painstaking process? They just lift up their techno-phones and clickety click them and then post the results on their snapograms.

2)  Millennials are terrible because they received plastic participation medals. A day does not go by without some entitled millennial posting up a picture of themselves brandishing a plastic medal they received for participating in a track and field day back in the nineties. Unfortunately, due to the sugary cereals they consumed as children, millennials cannot differentiate between plastic medals that say “participant” and metal medals that say “1st.” Millennials think they are winners by virtue of the fact that they received cheap medals and ribbons that acknowledged that they were present at an event and took part in it. They are oblivious to the idea that when they raced or competed in sports, there were other millennials who were faster and/or better than them. Basically, participation prizes create individuals who cannot calculate ordinal numbers. Try this sometime: go up to a millennial and ask them what they did first that day. They will squirm and frown and look utterly confused because they have absolutely no conception of what first, second, and third are. Why? Participation prizes.

3)  Millennials have too much self-esteem because their parents and teachers all told them they were special. Coddling children by telling them that they have value and deserve to be treated fairly is the worst thing you can do for them. It does not prepare them for the realities of the workplace, where they find out that they do not deserve to be treated fairly and that they have very little value. Parents and teachers really should have taken a page out of the play-books of your average Dickensian villain by telling the children that they are worthless and that no one will ever love them because they are just dirty gutter urchins. This way, when millennials do arrive in a workplace and are given an actual wage instead of a bowl of gruel, they will have the tears of gratitude in their eyes that being paid an actual wage warrants. In the immortal words of Mr. Bumble from Oliver Twist: “What have paupers to do with soul or spirit either? It’s quite enough that we let ‘em have bodies.”

4)  Millennials are entitled brats. Millennials are constantly whining and moaning about “making fair wages,” “the high cost of living,” “inflated housing markets,” and “being treated decently in the workplace.” You never saw previous generations demonstrating for these sorts of things. If you examine history closely, you will see that corporations and business owners (peace be upon them) have always acted in the best interests of their employees without any other motivation than the sheer goodness of their big capitalist hearts. Where do Millennials get off wanting to have jobs and homes like their parents had? Previous generations were happy just to have LSD trips or start large-scale land wars. Not Millennials. They want all the opportunities and low cost of living that their parents and grandparents had without the requisite privilege. That’s too bad, because the previous generations earned those things by being born into it. It was sort of a birthright they were entitled to. Millennials, on the other hand, have no birthright beyond mockery for being snowflakes.

5)  Millennials are responsible for terrible music. While previous generations are responsible for rock gods such as David Cassidy and Milli Vanilli, Millennials have only ever produced aural dissonance. Where is this generation’s equivalent to disco? When will they produce their Herman’s Hermits or their Baycity Rollers? Half past never, that’s when.

6)  Millennials are horrible people because of technology. With all their bloggerating, snapgramming, instachatting, and faceskypering, Millennials have no idea what it means to talk with another human being using their mouth-gums to reach the other person’s ear-parts while their face-peepers are looking straight at one another. If you do try to speak to a Millennial directly in their face-parts, they will mumble something about personal space and then wander off to make a tweeter post about you. Prior to the invention of the internet, all communication was carried out in a face to face manner with conversational topics only ever ranging from the meaning of life and treasured memories. Prior to the advent of the internet, which only millennials use, telephones, the radio, and television were all seen as benign influencers that would have no ill effects whatsoever.

 7)  Millennials are the worst because they use strange text speak. From LOL (Loser Old Ladies) to LMAO (Let’s Make Adults Obey) to BRB (Be Rebellious Boys) and BTW (Bad Teen Way), Millennials use initialism to try to get their unscrupulous meanings past other generations. Furthermore, the continued degradation of the English language is under assault by the millennial tendency to use shortforms, to make up words, and to not write things in the manner in which an academic essay is written. So, for example, rather than saying “Thou art beautiful, I will tarry here until that glorious day upon which I will see thee again” a Millennial will type “U r a QT. CU l8er.”

8)  Millennials are oversensitive little snowflakes. Boo hoo hoo, something homophobic, sexist, or racist was said. It’s not like homophobia, sexism, or racism are real problems in our world today. No other generation was ever offended by that kind of thing. If they were, they would have started social movements to oppose it. Language has no power. For example, if I am a judge and I call a woman “muffin” or “cupcake” because I believe she is an object, those words have absolutely no power over her unless she gives them power. So when I, as a judge, tell her that she was not actually assaulted or that if she were, it was because her clothes did not utilize enough fabric, she knows that I am doing it as an impartial judge who speaks his mind despite the current climate of political correctness. What is with Millennials and yapping on and on about respecting everyone? Gross.

9)   Millennials like avocado toast, or something. If only young persons would stop buying avocado toast and expensive coffee, they could afford to be millionaires. Learn how to budget, ya goons.

10)  Millennials are young. What really sticks in a lot of people’s collective craws about millennials is just how young they are. Millennials do not have nearly as much experience at life in comparison to the previous generations. They walk around with all their youthful skin and vibrant energy and full heads of hair like they are sooo young with sooo much to look forward to. Well, I have news for you, Millennials, Boomers and Generation X are working hard together to ensure that your future is nothing but one environmental crisis after the other. How about that for excitement?

Friday, May 04, 2018

"You can always tell a government worker by the total vacancy which occupies the space where most other people have faces."

- Ignatius C. Reilly

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Les Miserables: A Review

  What can I write about this book that has not already been written by countless readers before me? What possible insight could I have that some academic has not already built up and then deconstructed (because that's what academics do, ammiright?) in a much finer and more eloquent manner than I could possibly even attempt?

  The rich characters, the vibrant story-telling, the various themes and underlying philosophies - they've all been written up already. Some people like to retell the entire story in their review, but I always end up sounding like a five year old describing his favourite cartoon.

  "And then Jean Valjean, he was a mayor, but before that, like, at the beginning, he was a prisoner - or convict, right? And then Inspector Javert, he's this inspector, okay? And he's after Jean Valjean, but Jean Valjean stole some candlesticks. But the priest, uuhh, oh yeah and Jean Valjean has a daughter, Cosette, but she's not his daughter and she's not in the story yet and then . . ."

  See? That's just not copacetic.

  I could complain about Hugo's overzealous descriptions of every goshdarn piece of architecture that even remotely figures in the story, but I won't. I'm not afraid to admit that I skipped a lot of that. Yeah, whut? I'm pretty much a gangster when I read the classics, skippin' irrelevant words like a badass. What you gonna do about it?

  I briefly considered critiquing the translation, but that would either involve advancing beyond Beginner's French or pretending that I had advanced beyond Beginner's French. Not going to happen. Also, I really don't know which translation I read.

  Then I remembered that one review I had read somewhere focused almost exclusively on the book's bindings. Yes! I can do this. I remember the book I read was a blue hardcover with gold lettering on it. And let me tell you, that binding was 100 per cent awesome. Not only did the pages stay in the book throughout my entire reading experience, but absolutely none of them were ripped, folded or torn in any way.

  Big deal, right? Actually, it is. That book was a library book that had been in circulation since the late seventies - so nearly twenty years of the great unwashed masses pawing at every page of the book. And those pages were still turning like it was the first day that the binding had been cracked. Cracked, not split, you dig? Anyway, you could lay that book flat and turn the pages and they would stay open without you having to rest your fingers on them - that's how good the binding was.

  Okay, I do remember some of the corners of the pages had been bent by some lazy fart who couldn't be bothered to get a bookmark (I mean, seriously, you can make your own bookmark in about two seconds - fifty seconds if you have arthritis or something).

  Of course, it is not the fault of the binding that some lazy bloke (it was probably a man) had folded the corners on certain pages. And, of course, folded pages don't affect the binding at all. All this to say that the binding held up for twenty years quite well. That's a five star binding, baby.

  Five stars!

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Romancing of Gladys McCormick

Week 1

 Eddie Larocque had been going to Burrwood United Church for over thirty-five years, and he had been sitting in the same pew for at least thirty-four of those years. The pew, a gleaming high-backed oak number just like all the others, was in row five on the leftmost side of the sanctuary. He had been going to Burrwood United for more than thirty-five years, but it was not until that Sunday that he had looked over at Gladys McCormick in row three, just behind the Thatcher twins, and had fallen in love.

 She was wearing her grey-white hair in the same tight bun with that old-lady black netting over it as always. Her floral dress was covered in the same colourful sunflowers that were her favourite. Her silver slipper earrings dangled the same way they always had. Not that Eddie had ever noticed her earrings before. In fact, he only had the vaguest sense that she had been sitting two rows in front of him every Sunday since he had begun attending Burrwood back in 1982. Of course, back then her hair had been brownish-red. But even then it had been bound in that tight bun with that old-lady netting enveloping it.

 When Henry Morrison, his quiet pew neighbour for the past ten years, nudged him with the offering plate, it startled him. He had been thinking about how strange it was that Gladys’ long graceful neck had never caught his eye before. Was it the way the red and blue light from the stain-glass window to their left sparkled on the nape of her neck? Surely, like some kind of rare solar event, the light could only reflect off of her neck so perfectly on a Sunday once every ten to twenty years. He must have missed the last radiant neck in 2007 or 1997. Of course, back then, Rodney Vanderveldt had been taking up most of the real estate just in front of him with his wide shoulders and bushy hair. Rodney had left the church in 2008 after his favourite blowhard radio host, Kipp “the Lip” McCewan, had done a week-long series exposing the “soft underbelly of the leftist United Church.” The only soft underbelly in the equation, thought Eddie wryly, was the one hanging over Rodney’s stupid cowboy belt. He occasionally saw Rodney at the grocery store. He had married his dentist and was now attending a Unitarian church down on St. Charles.

What a beautiful neck.

He gripped the offering plate and absent-mindedly stuffed fifty cents of Canadian Tire money and a receipt for thirty dollars-worth of bird feed into an envelope and placed it reverently in the plate.

Week 2

 Eddie wore a yellow tie. He had seen it at Moore’s and had immediately thought of Gladys. He had bought it immediately and worn it expectantly that Sunday, hoping Gladys would notice. Despite walking past her twice during coffee hour, she had not noticed and little Daniel Kim had run into him full tilt and now it had a coffee stain.

Week 3

Eddie had asked his barber to cut his hair to the “specifications on display in the advertisement right there.” He had pointed to a black and white picture of a grey-haired model with smoky eyes and pouty lips whose hair was shaved quite close at the sides and slicked back at the top. After asking if he were certain, Eddie’s barber had shaved the sides of his head and gently and carefully combed the thin white hair on top of his scalp backwards.

Eddie wore a hat to church that Sunday, only taking it off in the Sanctuary. The usually quiet Henry Morrison made a joke about a weedwacker that Eddie didn’t really like.

Week 4

Eddie made conversation with Gladys. During coffee hour, he interrupted Beatrice Podolski and complimented Gladys’ hair. “Nice bun,” he said. She looked confused for a moment and then carefully checked the integrity of the bun before smiling politely. “Well, see you later,” he said as he escaped.

He went straight home and took a nap.

Week 5

Gladys spoke to him that Sunday. “You’re standing on the handle of my purse.”

“Sorry,” he said and lifted his foot. She had set her purse down in order to sign up for the Saturday luncheon.

“Are you signing up?” she asked him with a smile. He nodded dumbly, took a sip of coffee and then shuffled off to talk to Henry Morrison.

Week 6

She spoke to him again, “I didn’t see you at the luncheon, Eddie.”

He nodded gravely, “that is correct.”

“You should have come,” she gave him a smile that made his heart somersault in his chest.

Week 7 Gladys was not at church. Eddie spent most of the service imagining he could jump from rafter to rafter in the high ceilings of the sanctuary. His imagination even took a brief foray into envisaging using his acrobatics to rescue a helpless Gladys, trapped on a rafter because of a horrible dusting accident involving a fallen ladder. His reverie was interrupted by an overly enthusiastic hug from James Bertrand during the congregational greeting.

Week 8 “I noticed that you were not in the rafters last Sunday,” he told Gladys.

“The rafters?” she asked sweetly.

 “I meant church, you weren’t in church and I noticed,” George said dumbly.

 “I went to Hillvale United last week, my niece was singing,” she replied. They talked about singing for about an hour and a half. Beatrice Podolski had to usher them out so she could lock up after coffee hour.

Week 9

 Eddie brought a sunflower pin and pinned it to his lapel. Then, after the service, he asked Gladys if she wanted to go to a choral performance by the Hill Street College Singers that Wednesday night. 

“Yes,” she said, “but only if you wear that pin.”

 He nodded solemnly, hoping to God that he didn’t lose the pin in the duration.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Great Cities of History: A Review of John Julius Norwich's Book

• I was eager to read this book, as I knew for a fact that my hometown of Hamilton "the Hammer" Ontario would be making an appearance.

• I was hoping that I would learn the correct pronunciation of Thebes from this book. I did not. I did, however, learn that persons from Thebes are referred to as Thebans.

• I still do not know how to pronounce Thebans.

• This book has a lot of great pictures. I guess this is a coffee table book. I read it on the bus, which has no coffee tables.

• Contrary to what one might expect, the Memphis in this book is NOT in Tennessee.

• This is an actual transcript from September 2003 between two American army officers:

“Hey Chad, where do you think we should put our helicopter landing pad for this here Iraq invasion?”

“I dunno, bruh, but there is a lot of space on this here ancient Babylonian ruin. Right beside this Ishtar Gate that had existed here undamaged for over two thousand years before the United States of America was even a vague concept.”

“Oh, good call.”

“You know what would truly honor the memory of this road that the feet of Nebuchednezzar, Darius, and Alexander walked on?”

“What’s that, Chad?”

“To drive these freakin’ tanks over top of it!”

“Won’t that wreck the surface of this amazing archaeological relic of civilizations that predate ours by thousands of years?”

“. . . what?”

“I don’t know what I was saying, whoever those guys were, they would be super pumped to know that we’re wrecking this road with our awesome tanks.”

“You said it, bro.”

• One of the limitations of only having two to four pages dedicated to each city is that a city with a long and continuing history like Jerusalem only has parts of its story told until the infamous fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. I was interested in learning more about Jerusalem’s later history, but that would have been a very difficult task in a book that is laid out this way.

• The mixture of Roman, Iberian, and Spanish architecture in Cordoba and the mixture of Greek, Italian, Arab and Norman architecture in Palermo are breathtaking. I want to visit these two cities.

• I am feeling good about Hamilton’s incoming entry. Rome has had two entries so far, one for ancient Rome and the other for renaissance Rome. Constantinople snuck in twice under both Constantinople and Istanbul. And Mexico City appears under its former name of Tenochlitan. They are running out of places!

• London and Paris also appear twice by my count.

• Defenestration. Apparently that’s the preferred method of execution in Prague. The more you know.

• Defenestration is the act of throwing someone out of a window.

• Simon Schama wrote the section on Amsterdam. Simon Schama’s section on Amsterdam is the most well-written, the most concise, and the most beautiful entry so far.

• One of my fellow commuters has asked me about the book, asking if I am learning about civilizations. I gave him a withering glare and then clarified that I am merely researching the great city of Hamilton, pointing out the title of this book “great cities of history.”

• Actually, I mumbled some things about this being a coffee table book but that, yes, I was learning about civilizations and that it was a book about great cities of history. He seems nice.

• Copenhagen – apparently there’s a song that contains the old cliché about Copenhagen being a nice place? I was unaware of such a song and in my cursory research was only able to find a country song about a chewing tobacco named Copenhagen.

• The entry on Los Angeles spent most of the time talking about movies. No real mention of the (lack of ) urban planning or the sprawl.

• Art Deco is important, of course.

• Guess what? Hamilton, Ontario does NOT appear in this book. What? Dundurn Castle not good enough for you? It’s a flippin’ castle! I don’t see Uruk rocking a castle. So what if Uruk is four thousand something years older than Hamilton. Hamilton still has its castle and Uruk is just a mound of rocks. Yeah, yeah, Gilgamesh is kind of impressive, but Hamilton is where Martin Short hails from. Martin Short, he’s waaay funnier than Gilgamesh.

• Clearly there is a volume two coming out: Even Greater Cities of History.

7.5 Aldermen out of 10

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Eat Food and Don't Stare Into the Sun

Not too long ago, a report surfaced of a breatharian couple who claims to be able to survive on nothing but “the cosmic energy of the universe.” Any food they do eat, they insist, is just to enjoy the taste or to simply accede to social conventions. “Oh, this bit of celery? I’m only eating it because I’m at this raging party and it’s really the thing to do in such a situation.”

 A bite of carrot here, a grape there, perhaps some stock to quell that intense craving people tend to have for vegetable broth. As the woman in this couple explains: “humans can easily be without food – as long as they are connected to the energy that exists in all things and through breathing.”

Breatharians often practice sungazing as well. This is, well, this is just as it sounds: gazing into the sun purposely. The idea is that the energy of the sun will be absorbed directly through the face-peepers. You know, cutting out that pesky middleman, plant-based life. I do recall being told more than once as a child not to stare at the sun. Even as a child I was a little insulted to have to be told this. That someone considered me the kind of kid who would become partially blind before realizing that the burning light entering my retinas was perhaps unhealthy for them hurt my young feelings.

“You want to sign the card for Jim?” 
“Sure, what happened to Jim?”
“Oh, Jim? He went partially blind.”
“Oh man, that’s terrible, what happened?”
“He stared directly into the sun for an hour and then burnt his retinas to shit.”
“Oh . . . like, on purpose? Someone didn’t set him facing the sun with that device thingy from a Clockwork Orange as some kind of sadistic method of torture?”
“No, he was trying to absorb the sun’s energy. He deliberately stared directly into the sun.”
“Uuuh, I mean, if he’s partially blind he can’t read whether I signed the card or not, right?” 
“I suppose, but . . .”
“Gotta go.”

 Now, my hope is that every single person who reads this will have already independently come to the conclusion that both breatharianism and sun-gazing have reset the barometer of human stupidity to an entirely new level. This is the level of stupidity that can result in blindness or starvation but without the sympathy that these tragedies normally entail.

But how is it that we don’t hear about more breatharians and sun-gazers dying from a lack of water/food or going blind respectively? Surely, if people believed in breatharianism and were actually practicing it, they would die from a lack of nutrients. In the same way, if there were actual sun-gazers, they would be losing their burnt out retinas quicker than they could find braindead recruits to follow their foolish activity.

I believe the answer can be placed squarely on one constant of the human condition: our never-ending capacity for self-deception. If any of the practitioners of these two mad exercises sincerely believes that they only absorb nutrients through breathing in the energy of the universe or staring directly into the sun, it is only because they are lying to themselves and everyone else. In the same way an alcoholic underestimates the number of times they have had a social drink or a gambling addict underestimates how far under they are, a breatharian will not accurately estimate the number of drops of water and bits of food they’ve had and a sun-gazer will not correctly estimate how long they have gazed at the sun.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Six of Crows More Like Pricks and Schmoes, Ammiright?

Six of Crows is a book about a gang of teenagers who need to break into a well-guarded prison in order to break out and kidnap some guy who invented a magical super drug that imbues magic users with extreme powers like some kind of supersonic heroin.

 I did not realize that this was Young Adult fiction when I started reading it. Through my powers of superior deduction I soon figured it out. Indeed, almost every single one of the main characters was seventeen years old. I asked myself why so many of the characters are seventeen

Self, I asked, why are so many of the characters seventeen?

Self, I responded, this is because I think there is a certain demographic this book is targeted at.

Like, such as?

Seventeen year olds and their ilk.

Speaking of seventeen year olds, I do not currently know any seventeen year olds and it has been a long time and a lot of hair ago that I was seventeen myself. I readily admit that my knowledge of the capabilities of seventeen year olds is lacking. However.


HOWEVER, it takes a helluva long time to master a skill, and even if you are naturally gifted like every one of the main characters in this book, you would still need more time to hone your craft to the level that these characters display. This book felt like an RPG fantasy in which every character had already levelled up to maximum before the plot has even begun. They are all smart, world-weary savants who also happen to be seventeen. I was impressed with Lionel Messi when he came on as a substitute for Barcelona at the age of seventeen and scored a goal. If Lionel Messi had been in this book, though, he would have already won a Champions League title been a runner up for the Ballon D’or and would have been smarter, faster, and more skilled than all of the other, much more experienced and mature soccer players in the world.

Not sure how soccer would make it into this particular book, except that Ketterdam is some kind of unholy representation of Amsterdam and the Dutch know how to play some good soccer. Not recently, but historically. Remember when they used to play in the World Cup? Those were great days. I think my favourite Ketterdam/Amsterdam link was the waffles with apple syrup reference. 

No, wait, that was my least favourite. It made me want to walk down “Silverstraat” and push a seventeen year-old criminal mastermind into a canal.

What the author seems to forget is that the pressure and suspense that make a story great are in the possibility of failure. If all of your characters are the best at what they do, it is difficult for a reader to fear that these characters will struggle to succeed. If you’ll forgive me for making another shameless soccer metaphor, it is like watching Bayern Munich in the group stage of the Champion’s League. You are entirely confident that they will advance, the only mystery is in how successfully they will advance. And where is the excitement in that?

Now, if I were to put these concerns aside, is this a good book? I would say that the writing is generally good with my main criticism of it being that the separate character voices for each chapter do not really feel that different from one another. Their differing perspectives were fairly well represented and their backstories were interesting for the most part. The setting was imaginative and the sort-of-early-industrial-magic-colonial time period was unique. The plot was decent, although I was expecting a little more, I dunno, tension in a break-out caper. This tension was not delivered in a large part because, as noted above, the characters are far too powerful.

There were moments of writing and plot that I genuinely enjoyed. I did feel immersed in the world a couple of times, but I was also bemused by the strange mixture of colonial archetypes with magic and irrationality as well as a truly confusing array of industrial and modern technology. How does the Fjerdan culture, for example, have such backwards religious sensibilities while simultaneously creating powerful military tanks? Sure, the fabrikators or whatever they’re called, can create amazing things with that supersonic drug, but the first self-propelled vehicle is a heavily armoured tank complete with tracks and a large calibre cannon?

I get it, fantasy and science fiction are genres in which the reader must suspend their disbelief. However, I could not suspend disbelief for this culture that worshipped a talking tree, considered wolves sacred while also inventing tanks. TANKS! Tanks, while the rest of this fantasy world is still sailing about the world, the Fjerdans are rolling forward in their tanks. Tanks.


Although I enjoyed some of their backstories, I did not feel particularly connected with any of the characters, especially not the psychopathic eye-ball plucking leader of this misfit crew. Of course, it’s been almost nineteen years since I was seventeen. Basically, I am old enough to be two characters in this book but only skilled enough to be, say, one of the nameless extras milling about in the background.

Would I have enjoyed this book when I was seventeen? I tried to think like my seventeen year old self, but all I could come up with were fragmentary lyrics from Mambo No. 5 and vague memories of a glorious afro. Conclusion: probably not.

Obviously, I am not this book’s target audience. This book was not written for me. If I had to use a culinary metaphor for this book, it would be a gristly pork chop. That is, while it was kind of entertaining to consume and had some tasty bits, a lot of it is just bone and gristle and generally unpalatable.

3 brooding antiheroes out of 6

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Moby Dick, the Least Amount of Plot in the Most Amount of Words?

How was your day, Ishmael?

Ishmael begins an exposition on exactly what a day is, making a lengthy reference to the Babylonian origins of the twenty four hour day. Next, he begins a lecture on the number twenty-four and the use of the number six as a base by the ancient Babylonians. The many manifestations of the number six throughout history are described at length. Goliath of Gath had six fingers upon each hand and Ishmael draws this out with an analogy involving the number six and gigantism in various creatures both mythological and actual. This is followed by a reading of the book of Revelations with specific attention to the number of the beast – 666. Pulling out the Matthew-Henry Commentary and the writings of Tertullian, Ishmael expounds on the possible meanings and interpretations of 666 whether for good or for ill. An anecdote involving an old sea captain from Maine and his experience with regular occurrences of the number six is given.

Ishmael returns to the topic of days, breaking down the average lifespan of various animals and trees into units of days. This leads into a discussion of the length of days that might have occurred at Creation with Ishmael giving attention to competing theories. One of these theories is roundly condemned as having no support among experienced whalemen. Naturally, a discussion of the movement of the planetary bodies around the sun follows, which Ishmael somehow manages to infuse with derogatory remarks about the entire non-white population of the earth. The etymology of the word day is given along with etymologies of the words good and bad. A brief synopsis of what might constitute a good day is given. This is followed by a more lengthy summary of what might make for a bad day. A philosophical reflection on the subjectivity of good and bad is expounded upon. Ishmael starts singing a sea shanty, does a jig, and then wanders off muttering about landlubbers.

 (1 whale fart out of 10)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

You Won’t Believe What John Posted on His Blog!

It’s a shoe.

Dear reader, you are doubtlessly triumphantly crowing to yourself right now that, yes, you do indeed believe that John posted this to his blog. There is nothing outrageous about this post and it in no way whatsoever threatens to even approach the limits of your credulity.

Ah, but allow me the chance to open your eyes to the devious little trick that has just been played on you. John has done what we in the blogging biz call the “ol’ bait and switch,” better known as “clickbaiting.” This is a form of riotous entertainment in which any ordinary post is transformed into internet traffic through sheer hyperbole. In the future, John may gain your clicks through such cunning titles as “the Beatles are the Least Talented Band Ever, Here is Why”, “The Way this Blogger Got Back at a Negative Commenter is Hilarious!”,  “I Didn’t Wear Shoes and I Lived in a Water Closet for an Entire Year and YOU CAN TOO!”, “70 Uses for a Cinder Block: You Won’t Believe Number 57!” and “Why Shovels are Problematic: Rethinking Your Use of an Ordinary Garden Spade.”

I may have been away from the blogging game for a while now, but I am learning some new tricks of the game. *Inset a gif of a really cool guy pulling his shades down over his face slowly* Gifs are also a really hip new development in the blogging world. I do not know nor do I care to invest the time into learning how to actually put a gif on my blog so a vague description will have to do for now.

“Has John’s blog been reduced to clickbait and gifs?” you ask, your eyes narrowing as anyone in your vicinity peers at you curiously, wondering why you are talking out loud to yourself. *insert a gif of you talking to yourself while anyone in your vicinity peers at your curiously, wondering why you are taking out loud to youself*

The answer is no, John’s blog has not been reduced to clickbait and gifs. In fact, it has been matured into this ultimate form. It’s cool, it’s hip, it’s on the cutting edge of the blogging trends. Also, you can follow me on Twitter and contribute to my Patreon.

Please note that I do not actually have an active Twitter nor do I have a Patreon. John is incapable of expressing himself in less than 140 characters or whatever it is now. As for Patreon, if you do wish to contribute financially to John, you can buy one of his amazing animal pun cards. Check out the hilarious example below.

I'll recycle an old pitch for them:

"You walk to the card aisle, and you spend precious minutes trying to select the perfect one. "If only these cards had more animal puns," you sigh to yourself as you finally select Hallmark Greeting Card Number 3789A. You sense the clerk is laughing at you as you dish out over $6 for the card. "There aren't even animal puns on this card," you hear her whisper to her colleague under her breath. Normally you would be upset at such mockery, but you have to shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to the fact that the clerk is right. Not only are there no animal puns on the card you selected, but you spent $5 not to share the joy of animal puns with your loved one.

Want to avoid this routine? How about spending $15 to receive 5 (yes 5!) cards. Or you can just spend $4 and receive one card!

No, I do not have any Christmas cards, but I do have animal pun cards for most other occasions.

Also, I now have small, business card sized "Thank Ewe" cards for one dollar each. Bam!"

That is all for now.

*insert a gif of John waving goodbye over-enthusiastically*

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Wuthering Heights: A Review

Wuthering Heights

So today I will be reviewing a classic of English literature: Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights. As it has been some time since I have written anything in this blog, I will open by leaning on that old standby that I formerly employed in my high school essays: the dictionary.

The Webster’s dictionary defines wuthering as an intransitive verb meaning “to blow with a dull roaring sound” while defines it as a verb meaning “to blow fiercely.” The word heights is defined by as an “a high place above a level; a hill or mountain.” Thus, “Wuthering Heights” calls to mind a high level of blowing fiercely. Can we say that this particular book has a high level of fierce blowing? Unfortunately for this reviewer, we cannot.

He can, however, refer to all of the things in this book that do blow fiercely:
1) The incest.
2) Heathcliff.
3) The wind.
4)  Catherine, the first one.
5) Linton Heathcliff.
6) Lockwood.
7) The weather, in general.
8) The overall health of most of the characters.

Thar be spoilers ahead.

So, on the topic of incest in this particular novel, Heathcliff is adopted at a young age and establishes, early on, a deep connection with his adopted sister, Catherine Earnshaw. Their fierce love for one another is the hinge that this entire book turns on. They do not get married, and that is great. Instead, Catherine Earnshaw marries Edgar Linton who is, to this reviewer’s great relief, of no relation. Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton give birth to Cathy Linton. In the meantime, Heathcliff marries Isabella Linton, Edgar’s sister. While this is odd, it is by no means incestuous. They give birth to Linton Heathcliff.

It is worth mentioning at this point that Linton Heathcliff and Cathy Linton are what this reviewer’s wife refers to as “super-cousins.” That is, cousins whose respective aunt and uncle are brother and sister. These two super-cousins get married because Heathcliff is a horrible human being whose passion for incest is only matched by his overwhelming need to brood.

Being that most of the characters are quite fragile, Linton Heathcliff dies before anything can be consummated between him and his super-cousin (phew). Now, this reviewer neglected to mention that Catherine Earnshaw had an elder brother, Hindley Earnshaw. Hindley is a great character, in that he did not marry or obsess romantically over any relation of his. Other than that, he’s a bit of a degenerate. He and his wife begat Hareton Earnshaw. Hareton, like Heathcliff, enjoys a good brood. Hareton Earnshaw and Cathy Linton end up together, of course, as they are cousins.

Throughout all of this, Heathcliff obsesses over his adopted sister.

Now, how is it possible for this reviewer to recommend a book so replete with incest? Easy, he did his best to try to forget that area by repeating this mantra over and over while rocking back and forth in disquietude: “it was a different time, it was a different time, it was a different time, it was a different time.” For this reason, this reviewer does not recommend reading Wuthering Heights on the bus, unless you want your own section to yourself.

Areas of interest in this book that people can unpack ad nauseum as people are wont to do with literature:
1) Unreliable narrators Nelly Dean and Lockwood.
2) Is Heathcliff a vampire? Is Catherine Earnshaw a vampire?
3) Pretty cool that Heathcliff has no surname and Lockwood has no first name, no?
4) Gothic stuff.
5) Byronic heroes, why do they suck so much?
6) Damn, this book is dark, no?
7) How about this book is not particularly romantic?

Recommendation: read it, it’s a good one.

Who deh?