Tuesday, July 31, 2012



Wow, what an interesting way to approach the cultural issues of masculinity, the power struggles in a marriage, and environmentalism. Red Green takes on these topics and many other deep and all encompassing aspects of life through the symbol of a car. The car seem to be used as the metaphor to delve into deep philosophical arguments, mostly dealing with North American culture. I missed the whole Love Story that was mentioned in the title, but, perhaps that was a narrative too deep for me to catch onto.
Now I see why I found this book in the 'Literature' section of the library, in the same aisle as Shakespeare, Wordworth, and other greats.
I never realized how decisive cars were in determining social class and even moral values. After reading this great philosophical work I feel enlightened...and, a bit lighter (in the physical sense) as well, since at two points I peed my pants - once a full bladder release, the other just a little. In terms an '86 Monte Carlo owner would understand - it was freakin' hilarious man.

Rating : READ

This was my second book in my dewey decimal countdown challenge. It was my 800 section pick. Quick read which helped me get through the intimidating literature section of the dewey decimal system. Now onto 700s...sports.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It All Started With The Squirrels (#1)

= Chapter 1 =
(The Real Chapter 1)

“Get down from that tree, Goldman!” Missy was chok-full of digust and embarrassment. “You are embarrassing me!”
“Why are you embarrassed,” came Goldman’s chipper response from behind the leaves twenty feet up in the embarrassment causing tree, “I’m the one up here?”
“Uhg,” one of Missy’s famous noises. “Just get down,” she demanded while multitasking – putting on another layer of Chic brand lip gloss, checking the shine on her nails, and texting someone. That someone wishes to remain anonymous.
For a moment Goldman considered the demand. His foot had started to cramp and he also realized he forgot to pack sunscreen. Another perk, if he chose to get down, was the only squawking he would hear would be the birds in the park, not the birds and Missy. But, just like gas, the moment passed.
“I can’t get down. I’m stuck,” Goldman lied.
“Good. Now I have a reason to call the fire department,” Missy shot back, her eyebrows unconsciously wiggled up and down.
“Hold on. I’m not stuck.” Goldman’s lying strategy never seemed to pan out. “I cannot bear to see this tree cut down. I need to make a stand.”
Another voice cut into the Goldman/Missy conversation, “a stand? Like, a tree stand? Well, I sure can help. I made a real nice tree stand, I use it every year for huntin’. Way back there in Bastard’s Bog. It’s got one of them swivelly office chairs I stole from a job site once. Only problem with it is that I fall asleep, seein’ as the chair is so comfortable. And, well, I do tend ta drink a bit seein’ as there is enough room for a cooler full a beer.
Hey, I gotta idea. I’ll check back at the truck. See’s if there is any lumber we could use?”
Another guy, carrying a rather large chainsaw, put his arm out. This rather unorthodox stop sign succeeded in stopping the treestand project manager from heading back to the truck to check for lumber. “Gary! What the hell?! We’re here to take down that god damned son’a bitch tree, not to build an f’n tree house!”
“Tree stand, I believe the man said,” Goldman commented.
The interruption promted a glare from the chainsaw holder.
Goldman continued, in his chipper voice. “Sorry, not a tree house but a tree stand. I believe one has a roof whilst the other…”
Chainsaw man bellowed, “we ain’t building a tree nothin’! Now, stop humpin’ that god damned tree and let us do our god damned job for Christ sake!”
Gary quasi agreed, “ya, sorry man. I don’t think we’ve got any long enough two by fours anyways. Or, a swivel chair.”
Missy pleaded, “Goldman, listen to these guys. They are making logical sense. Well, not the tree fort thing, but, the getting down part. Please, get out of that tree.”
Goldman knew from past experience that Missy’s pleads were disguises for her anger and rage. He did not want to get now to join that costume party.
“Oh, no,” Goldman said.
Treestand Gary, confused as usual, asked, “what kind of ‘oh, no’? Oh, no we have no two by fours to build a tree stand? Or, oh…no, I’m not coming down!?”
“Probably, oh no I’ve got a god damned splinter where the sun don’t shine from huggin’ this god damned tree.” Chainsaw laughed quietly to himself at his joke. Sadly, his joke was being used as a defense mechanism against a phobia of splinters. In an attempt to hide this phobia he overcompensated by continuously making questionable jokes about splinters in unusual places and taking on the job of chainsaw operator. Nobody had any reason to suspect. Nobody ever found out.
“Neither oh no. I just remembered that I have forgotten to call the media. The power of the press would be of great help in furthering my cause,” Goldman started to lecture. “The word of this injustice on nature must spread, like the branches of a majectic oak, to the people…”
Still confused, Gary raised his hand.
Goldman pointed to him through the foliage, “yes, you. Question?”
“But, this ain’t no oak tree.”
There was silence for a moment as Goldman tried to compose himself and figure out an appropriate response to this non-question.
Strangely, an agreement came from Missy. “It’s true Goldman, this guy here is right. This is not an oak tree.” She turned to Gary, whose hand was still in the air, and apologized. “oh, how rude of me. I’m sorry I referred to you as just ‘guy’. What was your name again? Greg or Harry? Something in that class?”

Pecked to Death by Ducks


This book has a number of pros and a number of cons. My opinion flip flopped from good to bad as I read through the 300 or so pages. I eventually settled on a Do Not Read...although there were many parts I enjoyed...so it's a very tentative Do Not Read. In other words, I might recommend it to a specific person but not to everyone I know.
The title is what initially drew me in. Pecked to Death by Ducks - that sounds funny. I noticed a comment on the cover comparing Cahill's writing to Anthony Bourdain and P.J. O'Rourke. Great, I was in the mood for a snarky, wit filled, pithy travel log. The book's prologue is an explanation of the title where Cahill suggests he has a great sense of humour and that is why his books have such funny titles. Great, a humour book..or in this case, my first expectation shot down.
The first chapter is intense. Very well written, not in a funny way, but in a shocking way that pulls you right in. Cahill describes a trip to Kuwait post Iraq war. Dead bodies, eerily quiet abandoned beachside resorts, and the flaming hells of the oil fires. It's a scene out of the apocalypse. What a great start to the book. A five star rating...but, that chapter soon ended and the book never made it back to that level.
Many many more stories followed. From quick snippets of Cahill's trips to strange and exotic South Pacific islands to mundane accounts of his local travels through Montana. A handful of his travel accounts were interesting, but, the majority were mediocre and bland. Perhaps it was because I don't rock climb or take part in 'rope work' (there were more than a few chapters dealing with his mountain climbing or cave dropping) that I lost interest rather quickly.
The humour and wit that was advertised on the book's cover was non existent from what I could tell. The few attempts at sarcasm, witty references, or jokes fell flat (like my souffles or
Flat Stanley). I was very disappointed because my expectation was for a funny travel journal.

RATING: Do Not Read

I have started a new reading challenge for the months of July and August. I call it the dewey decimal countdown. I'm reading a book from the 900 section, then a book from the 800 section, and so on. This was my 900 choice. 900 consists of History, Geography, and Travel...so, kind of a tough section to start off. I have a feeling my 800 choice will actually be hilarious. 800's include Literature. And, for some reason Red Green falls under the literature section?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

RELICS - Star Trek


Haven't you always wondered what would happen if a member of the original Star Trek series was thrown ahead a century and put into the TNG series? Unless you are a trekkie/trekster who spends hours contemplating time warped Star Trek scenarios, which I'm sure happens more than one thinks, you probably have not taken the time. Luckily Michael Jan Friedman has done it for you - and done it well.
The story general story goes a little something like this. Scotty, the chief engineer from the original Star Trek, is stuck in a time loop for 75 years. He is rescued by the TNG Star Trek Enterprise (Enterprise - D to be precise). He feels a little out of place, useless, and old. The story delves into these themes in a number of ways and eventually Scotty uses some of his 'old' knowledge to save the day and the ship and all of its crew. He feels much better about himself and his situation and we are left with him sailing into the sunset bound for more galactic adventures.
So, your typical Star Trek plot. Happily ever after.

There were lots of high points that I could point out, but, if I did I may ruin the surprises for you. I will say that Friedman makes Scotty out to be this MacGyver type inventor who can make a ship run warp 9 with a cue tip, some gum, and a can of Red Bull!
The really dorky, yet interesting, thing about this book is the contrasting of the old (Original series) and the new (TNG) played out through Scotty and Laforge. There are so many situations were they act completely different because of technology changes. Then there is the non work related behaviour. For eg. Alcohol. Scotty enjoys a nice bottle of scotch quite a bit, while only synthocol (replicated alcohol without the effects) is what is served in TNG times. Scotty also says questionable things to the ladies on the ship...apparently cat calling and constant borderline sexual harassment was acceptable in the original series?

The overall storyline is a classic. Ship runs into a cosmic anomaly. They get sucked into a dangerous situation where the ship is in danger of crashing or blowing to pieces. There is a power outage on the ship and they cannot get away. Someone has to come up with an ingenious idea to save everyone. I don't know how they do it, but, I swear I've seen this scenario played out hundreds of times...it seems like every second episode is like this...but, this one felt fresh and exciting. Another adventure I liked getting transported into.


Friday, July 6, 2012


Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People

7 incredibly crude and disturbing tales reminiscent of kids fairy tales but with a modern twist.
I'm sure you've made a comment on how violent and frightening classic fairy tales are. Like those curious kids, Hansel and Gretel, finding a nice candy house only to be thrown in an oven. Or, Little red riding hood, who is hoodwinked by a hungry wolf whose head is eventually chopped off. Right, for some reason these were deemed appropriate for children. Well, the stories in this book are along the same lines but deal with minivans, action figures, and juice boxes instead of witches and wolves. And, as with all modern things sensitivity prevails, hence the title 'inappropriate tales for young people'. Now for adults it's an entirely different story.
These seven tales are a hilarious take on the lives of modern kids. I heard an interview with the author and he commented on how kid's lives nowadays are filled with so much stuff - iphones, juice boxes, toys, toys, toys...then his mind started working, in the strange way his mind works, and he came up with the idea of 'what if these things came alive and turned evil?" Well, this is what would happen.
There is tale of a juice box who's aim in life it to destroy other juice boxes. He punctures their frail tinfoil holes with things. He tricks them into being run over by cars, exploding their insides onto the parking lot. His destructive impulses increase and he takes off into the streets, burning fast food containers on the way.
There is a tale of a terrible babysitter who makes kids shoplift, burn houses down, and walk through cemeteries late at night.
Another extremely violent tale was about a disturbed action figure. He seemed to suffer from PTSD and is living on the streets. A boy stumbles upon him on day and takes him home. The action figure feels trapped in this situation and needs to break out, and take revenge on his kidnapper. The violence brought down on this boy from a tiny plastic action figure is frightening...and slightly disturbing that someone would think about it!
My favourite was 'Kevin, the hobo minivan with extremely low morals'. It hit close to home. We have a minivan, and I cannot imagine it being a low life character who shakes down children and seniors for loose change to feed its addictions.
Overall, the stories were very imaginative and funny. A nice satire of children's fairy tales with modern gadgets and slang thrown in. I did laugh to myself countless times while reading as well as think 'wtf', by the strange twists or outright disturbing violence. It is definitely not a book to read to children right before bed. Perhaps if they are sixteen and the power is out and nobody wants to play monopoly, it would work then.