25 July 2016

Barry is the Best

With my apologies for the crummy phone photo - this is what Barry the Hummingbird looks like when he's sitting outside on the feeder:

This is how he sees himself:

Good Books are Good: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This book was on a list of recommended SF&F novels I bumped into a while back. I picked up a couple of them and one was trash (literally trash - I enjoyed throwing it away more than I enjoyed finishing it) but this was excellent. It has garnered numerous strong reviews and awards so you can either take my word for it or aggregate all the feedback and decide for yourself. It is excellent. Highly recommended for all readers.

24 July 2016

Musical Interlude: Alone by Marshmello

This smash hit has been described on the radio (when I was in Hell Phoenix and had to listen to the radio) as "happy trap". I don't disagree with that categorization, but I would suggest that it's more fun than happy, and who doesn't need a little more fun in their life? Your kids will probably love it, is what I'm saying.

The mixes from marshmello are kind of all over the place but probably great in person, if that's your thing. 

23 July 2016

Good Books are Good: Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp

Do you like cycling? No? Oh. What about weird coming of age stories set in the Netherlands? No? Oh. Hmm... not sure this is the book for you.

I confess I'm not much interested in cycling or coming of age stories set in the Netherlands either but this book was good. It's very much a retrospective, first-world problems, white middle-aged guy story. (Dutch people LOVED it - they bought hundreds of thousands of copies, made a movie out of it, etc.) I fit the target demographic and as such the book appealed to me on levels that may not appeal to you. If you regularly read Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks novels then you should maybe give this one a pass. (And also you should read better books.) 

It is a difficult novel to classify - kids grow up? Kids go cycling? Bad things happen? Adults go cycling? No idea. I liked it. You might not. It's that kind book. 

Long Time No Talk

Not Actually a Bond Villain
Two weeks between posts is a long time. We have have so much to talk about! I usually fill this space with rhetoric about politics but our current two-party system has delivered only two options for a presidential candidate. One is a warmongering (though otherwise moderate) Republican, and the other is a barely sentient, toad-shaped blob of orange whip. What's a voter to do? One is bad, the other is worse. Sam Harris says he will 'hold his nose and vote for Hillary', which is an endorsement, I guess.

Anyway congrats to Drumpf on his nomination. He makes G.W. Bush look like a polished statesman, so it's true that money can really buy anything. I look forward to seeing how he blusters and bullies his way through debates. It will be difficult for a craven politician like Hillary to take him seriously, because he is not a serious man. He is a spoiled brat playing the tough guy, and that plays well with the faux-tough electorate looking to blame someone besides themselves for their declining economic influence. The only thing more embarrassing than his candidacy are the people that believe his nonsense. For a party that got extremely bent out of shape over Obama's ambiguities and vagaries back in 2008 the GOP faithful seem to be very content to let Drumpf free associate platitudes. Funny how that works.

Election season! Get excited!

10 July 2016

Read It: All Quiet On the Western Front

I picked up a copy of All Quiet on the Western Front to re-read. *(They can be had on amazon for pennies, plus shipping.) There is a very informative series of videos on youtube that can get you caught up on all the minutiae of WWI, and there are a great many historical novels that can do the same. These overarching narratives will talk at length about troop movements, and shells fired, and lives lost. So many lives lost. Too many to count. It was a nightmare beyond reckoning.

Through all that numbing information the actual cost and consequences of the war get lost. It's all well and good to know that the troops were in one place or another, but what where they doing? All Quiet On the Western Front makes an effort to bring that to light. It is a superb book that is just as thoroughly modern and relevant today as it was the day it was published in 1929.

Mostly they were trying to kill other people, at which they excelled, and also they were trying not to die, at which they did not.

The book itself is a slim volume that can be read through in a few sittings, if you have the stomach for it. More likely you will have to read it in smaller sections, as the wretched misery of trench warfare in 1916 is only occasionally interrupted by 'happy' moments.

If you read only one book about WWI, or only one book about war in general, then this is the book to read.