Monday, November 9, 2015

Wait's Law of Anthropology

Understanding current events becomes much easier when you regard human beings as primates-plus rather than mathematicians-minus.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fahrenheit 451: A 21st Century Reaction, Upon Rereading

Several thoughts. First, and least serious, is that Clarisse is Guy Montag's Manic Pixie Dream GirlTM, the youthful, vivacious female archetype whose function as a plot device is to spur a male protagonist's awakening from depression and torpor, as with Trillian and Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Second, Bradbury's breathless, colorful writing competes well for his readers' presumed short attention spans, and might even fare well versus the spectacular domestic entertainment appliance that covers three walls of Mildred Montag's living room. Related, Bradbury's prognostications of said short attention span devices, penned in 1951, not only came true but leapfrogged past the television age into the Internet and virtual reality. He nailed the unwillingness -- or even inability -- of the domestic population to engage civically rather than distract itself with various software and circuses; chillingly, his gloomy predictions have found their full flower in today's seemingly endless cycle of optional wars.

So far, so good, with an A+ for threat recognition; but then Bradbury loses points for the third act's toehold in the academic conceit that the cultural blueprint to reconstitute a post-apocalyptic world can be carried in the heads of classics scholars and their fellow travelers. A room full of white-shirted Isaac Asimov readers taking recreational respite from lab duty might buy that as a nifty parable, but as speculation, it stretches the rubber band beyond the breaking point.

It does, however, give a new meaning to the phrase, "You read me like a book."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cheesy Four-Line Poem

Thro' edam'pest night with wind and brie's
Amber't a muensters' caravane on stilton
The goudamm feta'd stench displease --

Best rennet ye, an' sbrinz wi' yer kilt on!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


J.M. Gifford's entertaining debut novel, Bobby Q, serves up the tantalizing prospect that sizzling, aromatic meals will continue to feature prominently (at least for the lucky ones) in humanity's space-based future.

Gifford entices you into his vessel with a whiff of this quirky, somehow reassuring premise, then, once you're aboard, pulls you into a superorbital adventure plot motivated by the protagonist couple's entrepreneurial aspirations, relationships with each other as besties, herding of their fragile beasties, and desperate work to earn their daily feasties.

There's no shortage of pithy banter between the lead twosome. While the story takes the point of view of every-geek Ozzie, I found myself hoping we will see much more of Pele, the plucky, scene-stealing chef extraordinaire, in series sequels.

While easy reading, Bobby Q has meat on the bones. The chapters open with writerly, observational paragraphs worth savoring. The technology speculations regarding energy production, interorbital travel, and massive, biospheric space stations are pure Arthur C. Clarke. Given the book's central culinary conceit, I would like to have heard more speculations from the imagineering author about the animal husbandry and space ranching processes necessary to produce the perfect pulled pork parfait near Pluto.

In sum, there's plenty to carry the story forward, as well as paragraphs that are so good they almost seem out of place in a novel that slathers on the sauce. Ultimately, you either accept the Pigs in Space premise or you don't. If you don't, I must ask: would you rather Gifford had written a book entitled Rendezvous with Ramen?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crazy Enough

Versatile lead singer, rocker, and glamorous chanteuse Storm Large's frank, confessional memoir, Crazy Enough, featuring angry tales of coping with her mother's mental illness and manipulation and her own self-medicating addictions and reckless habits, starting in childhood, took me way out of my comfort zone.  That's a good thing.  Knowing that she's now a transcendent stage and club performer, using her huge voice and stage presence to the fullest, is what makes these sordid stories of her distant and not-so-distant past a hero's journey.  The only reason for rating her book at four stars instead of five is to express one smitten fan's opinion that her music is even better than her revealing, entertainingly crafted words.


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