Book Review #26

I don’t read anything, just to tick off boxes on someone else’s Challenge list.  I have however, recently read two candidates for ‘A Book Published Before You Were Born.’  I reread the micro-short story, The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allen Poe.  When I downloaded it from the Internet, a note appeared below, saying, People who researched this, were also interested in…. and showing several other old titles, including Herman Melville’s, Bartleby the Scrivener.  I’ve never read it, and free is my favorite flavor.

Published 1853

Back in the ’60s, Ajax Cleanser had a series of TV ads where they claimed that their product was Stronger than dirt.  Since I am Older Than Dirt, it’s a struggle to find interesting books that old.

The book: Bartleby the Scrivener

The author: Herman Melville

The review:
The entire book is an un-named narrator, relating the tale of the strange actions and attitudes of a clerk that he employed.  The titled Bartleby was hired by a lawyer as a scrivener, a man who produced handwritten copies of deeds, and wills, and other legal documents, in the age before typewriters, Xerox machines, or computers.

Bartleby drove his employer to distraction.  He produced mountains of perfect copies, but quietly refused to perform any other menial task, such as proof-reading other clerks’ work, or going to the Post Office, with statements like, ”At present I might opt for not to be a bit reasonable.”

Despite it being locked up at close of work hours, the lawyer discovered that Bartleby somehow was living in the offices.  Eventually, he refused to do any work, yet continued to firmly but politely, decline to leave the premises.

While the book is 170 years old, I can’t believe that people of the time spoke, or wrote, like this.  It must have just been the author’s idiosyncratic technique.  The entire book reads like one of those machine-translated spam comments you receive.  Scores of words with two or more definitions were used with the wrong meaning in the context of the passage.

After a few phrases touching on his qualifications, I engaged him, satisfied to have among my corps of copyists a person of so singularly sedate an issue, which I notion might perform beneficially upon the flighty temper of Turkey, and the fiery certainly one of Nippers.

Turkey and Nippers were the nicknames of two of the narrator’s other law clerks.  A third was Ginger Nut, because his desk drawer was often full of shells of various nuts, which he irritated the office by cracking and eating while at work.

The fiery Nippers, among other strange actions, had been known to grasp up a ruler, point it at the cease of the room, (taken to mean ‘the far end’) and shout, “Fee the foe!”,  an expression that neither Bing, nor Google, nor Dictionary.com are aware of.  After some thought, I came to assume that the first word should be fie??  An expression of mild disgust or annoyance.

His fourth copyist, is rendered as ¼.  The third key to his private apartment, is described as .33.  It’s a one-trick-pony, or a one-joke-book.  It never sold widely.  It was mildly amusing for what it was, but not terribly deep, or socially significant, and always slightly confusing.  Ah well, it was an adventure.  Despite being as old as it is, it ticked off a box in another blogger’s Challenge.  When was the last time you tried something new?  😕

Grumpy Old Dude One-Liners

New show, The Walking Dad….
….It’s just me, wandering around the house, turning off lights, muttering, “I’m not made of money.”

I ate an entire clock yesterday….
….It was very time-consuming.

What do you do when you see a spaceman?….
….Park your car, man.

I am not addicted to reading….
….I can quit – as soon as I finish this chapter.

I made a pencil with two erasers….
….It was pointless

I slept like a log last night….
….Woke up in the fireplace.

I finally found a good use for a stress ball….
….I throw it at anyone who makes me upset or anxious.

Dad, are we pyromaniacs?….
….We arson.

Nothing is really lost….
….Until Mom can’t find it.

I thought I was losing weight….
….Turns out my sweatpants came untied.

I may be crazy….
….But crazy is better than stupid.

Autobiographies are now known as….
….Literary selfies.

Condoms should be used….
….at every conceivable occasion.

I got a friends request from Quasimodo….
….I don’t think I know him, but the name rings a bell.

I used to work as a circus trapeze artist….
….Till they let me go.

I have OCD….
….Old, Cranky, and Demented.

Before the invention of the wheel….
….Everything was a total drag.

Why can’t humans hear a dog whistle?….
….Because dogs can’t whistle.

Insomniacs are sick human beings!….
….How do they sleep at night?

My wife woke up with a huge smile on her face today….
….I love felt-tip pens.

My son kept giving us shocks from static electricity….
….So I grounded him.

I have a goal of losing 20 pounds this year….
….Only 30 more to go.

WOW #72

I just have an irresistible urge to tell you about my new dog.  He’s a cute little thing.  He’s a registered Greek sheep-herding dog.  He doesn’t empty his bladder or his bowels in the house, but he does wander around shedding excess vowels all over the floor. We call him

Cacoethes.

His name is from the Greek language, meaning an irresistible urge – mania.  It originally meant of bad character – caco – ethos.  I’m the bad character that he has to deal with.

I’m using him to ride herd on a bunch of other Greek terms that came in through the back door, into the English language – words like cacophony – which is a loud, disagreeable noise – or euphony, which is a lovely sound, like a teller counting out $50 bills for you – or euphemism, which is a pleasant word or phrase, substituted for a harsh or offensive one – or utopia – which means a pleasant or perfect place, but who parked too close to the dictionary, and got its initial letter E knocked off – or Phi Beta Kappa – which means a loud obnoxious frat keg toga party.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s all hyperbole, anyway.

I have found a euphemism being used by (those who wouldn’t say s**t if they had a mouthful) people of delicate sensibilities, but who don’t seem to understand either English or Greek.  The phrase “fucked the dog” means idled, lazed, shirked work or other responsibility.  It is being replaced, even by some reputable authors, with the supposedly less offensive, “screwed the pooch”, but which means erred, or messed up, particularly at a significant junction.  Not the same thing at all.

My dog’s an alpha.  If there’s any screwing going on, he’s the one doing it.  Some of those sheep have a worried look.  I’m not worried.  I look forward to having you visit and read again soon.  😀

Mistaken Identity

It’s a pandemic of poseur, Pocahontas Pretendians.  America has had a recent deluge of government functionaries at all levels, falsely claiming to have Native Heritage.  It happened again!  Two more Canadian female Federal politicians, one of them the Assistant Minister of Indigenous Affairs, have been found to be pretending to have Native blood.

This goes back as far as around 1900, when an English writer came to Canada, became a trapper, called himself Grey Owl, and lived with two different Indian women to get experience and information to write a book about ‘Being An Indian.’

In the 1970s, an Italian-American styled himself as an Indian named Iron-Eyes Cody.  The government even paid him to be in an ecological TV advertisement about keeping the highways clean by not throwing trash out of cars.

While there was money to be made, these two were unusual.  Until about fifty years ago, it was considered quite déclassé for a white person to be deemed even partly indigenous, any more than being thought to be even partly Negro.

Slowly that changed.  Twenty years ago, Eileen Edwards, a white chick from Windsor, called herself Shania Twain, in celebration of her non-existent Native Heritage.  Ten years ago, Justin Bieber claimed that he was enough Indian to get free gasoline, when even full-blooded natives had to pay.

It’s become a cottage industry.  Scarcely a week goes by without another claimant being exposed.  It’s hardly an official diagnosis, but I have been told that it is a form of Indigenous Munchausen’s.  People who are nothing and nobody as a white person, claim Native background and receive sympathy as a member of an oppressed minority.  They get undeserved respect, more than their fifteen minutes of fame, and often, impressive and well-paying positions.

It’s often unclear whether these people are intentionally lying, or whether they actually believe their delusions.  A little from Column A (Or here in Canada, Column Eh.), a little from Column B.

Sailor Smart

Some people will not be educated, no matter how hard we try.

When I attended high school, each year’s English class required that all students read six non-curriculum books.  You could pick them.  They could be about anything, but to prove that you had read them, you were required to submit a Book Report on each one – remember those? – fondly??

To prevent nerds like me from submitting them all in September, rules stated that they had to be spaced out.  A lad a year older than me, from landlocked Ontario, Canada, decided that he wanted to join the Navy, so he didn’t need to read no stinkin’ books.  Nearing the end of the year, he had managed to submit only five; although I think that a couple of them were based on Classics Illustrated comic books (Remember those, too?) – so he invented one.

Possibly using a reference to Herman Melville’s book, Billy Budd – Sailor, he gave it the title Sailor Smart, supposedly printed by a known school-text publishing house – number of pages and a plot précis – the story of a landlocked, Midwest boy who wanted desperately to join the Navy.  I’d have been tempted to let him away with his ruse, just for demonstrating such creativity and inventiveness.  The tough old schoolmarm, who made Archie’s Miss Grundy look like a kindly nun, spent most of an instruction period excoriating him, and demanded a real book be read and report filed.

He must have succeeded.  He graduated Grade 12, moved to Halifax, joined the Navy, and was never seen again.  Reading for enjoyment seems to be a Yes or No proposition.  My Mother read!  My Father didn’t!  I’ve known many intelligent, successful people who won’t read a novel, even when they could spare the time.  I just can’t imagine me without a book…. Or three.

I have seen many reading challenge posts.  I recently ran into this one.

In 2021, choose 6 books that have titles that contain a:

  • One/1 (ex. One Second AfterThe 100)
  • Doubled word (ex. In a Dark, Dark WoodWolf by Wolf)
  • Reference to outer space (ex. The Fault in Our Stars)
  • Possessive noun (ex. The Zookeeper’s Wife)
  • Botanical word (ex. The Language of FlowersThe Sandalwood Tree)
  • Article of clothing (ex. Bossypants)

The writer had read 12 books in a year, for a Goodreads challenge, but had read them all in the month of January, and then added 30 more by the end of the year.  I don’t understand the point of such challenges.  It can’t be to get people to read, because those who accept, already read – usually, a lot.  It doesn’t seem to be to get readers to read outside their preferred genre sphere, because you could pick books to satisfy all these requirements – in Romance, Sci-Fi, action/adventure, murder mystery, religion or political science.

In 2020 I read almost 40 books, from all the above varieties except Romance.  I checked them against this artificially concocted list, and found that I only had a match in (Maybe) three of the six categories.  No ‘ones’ or 1’s.  No doubled words.  Outer space came with Space Vikings, Star Rangers, Star Soldiers, and When The Star Kings Die – although both of The Expanse series, Babylon’s Ashes and Nemesis Games occur in outer space, but their titles don’t indicate that.

Possessive nouns returned with Babylon’s Ashes in hand.  The mystery Kevin: Murder Beneath the Pines provided the only botanical reference.  The requirement for an article of clothing might be satisfied, if you consider a gold watch to be clothing.

I refuse to obtain books just to satisfy some synthetic list.  I read what I find, that interests me, and Damn the Book Titles!  Full speed ahead!  How about you?  Would you buy/read just to check off some list??!

Powerful One-Liners

If electronic devices can all just charge wirelessly….
….Then more power to them.

My friend kept asking me what my military rank was….
….But I told him it was Private.

Why did the optometrist set his clock to Army time?….
….Because he wanted to see 20:20

A soldier went into an enemy bar….
….He got bombed.

What do you call a Marine with an IQ of 160?….
….A platoon.

My high school basketball team didn’t have ice on the sidelines….
….The guy with the recipe graduated.

Remember, if you don’t sin….
….Jesus died for nothing.

I got fired from my job as a massage therapist….
….My boss said I rubbed people the wrong way.

Don’t ask me about my pan pizza….
….It’s personal

A friend asked, “Aren’t you afraid to eat at those food trucks?”….
….When I eat, it’s the food that’s scared.

Every place is within walking distance….
….If you have enough time.

What do you call a student who cheated on every test through medical school?….
….Hopefully, not your doctor.

I’d like a job cleaning mirrors….
….It’s something I could really see myself doing.

If electricity comes from electrons….
….Morality comes from morons.

I finally decided to start working out….
….I did 15 minutes of cardio, 15 minutes of strength training,  and three days of hospital.

What do you call a tiny mother?….
….A minimum.

My wife is taking our son to a child psychologist….
….He said he wants to grow up just like me.

To anybody who received a book from me at Christmas….
….They’re overdue at the library.

I’m glad I wasn’t born in Germany….
….Because I can’t speak German.

Whoever invented Knock, Knock jokes….
….Should get a no bell prize.

Someone once told me to search for inner peace….
….I’ve looked.  It isn’t in here.

Book Review #25

The status quo is not working!
The Republic is disintegrating!

And all of this was foreseen as far back as the early 1960s.  It is a wonderful, empathetic, humanistic thing for the government to help those in need.  The author saw how socialistic support needed to be overseen and controlled – but wasn’t.

Pay a farmer not to raise a particular crop, to protect the income of other farmers who did.  Pay a single mother, so that she and her child could be assured food, clothing and housing.  Pay welfare to a man put out of work by social or technological changes.

Soon, the farmer neglects the maintenance of his equipment, and can’t go back to his trade, even when it is allowed.  The single mother has another child(ren), to increase her guaranteed monthly stipend.  She feels no urge to obtain a provider (A man, in the ‘60s), an education or training, or a job.  The guy on welfare deals drugs or robs corner stores on the side, because it’s easier than getting a real job.

Human nature being what it is, millions of people get lazy, and get used to the new status quo.  There is no impetus to do for themselves.  They become comfortable letting the government provide a reduced, but assured, standard of living.

The book: Space Viking
The book: The Cosmic Computer

The author: H. Beam Piper

The review:

Originally titled “Junkyard Planet”

Born in 1904, Piper was too young for World War I, and too old for World War II, but he must have observed the mountains of materiėl that was left when peace was finally, suddenly, achieved.  In 1963 and 1964, after the Korean War, he wrote these two cautionary, laissez-faire tales.

In each of these books, both initially set on the same planet, after an interstellar war, the people – the society – are poor.  Despite Billions of (dollars) credits worth of goods and equipment being left behind, aside from the occasional prospector/scavenger, no-one bothers to look for it.  They are so used to Big Government taking care of them, that they don’t rouse themselves to improve their own lot.

The two stories are essentially the same, only in one, Piper offers a social/financial solution, while in the other he shows a more political/military answer.  It’s the Stone Soup Theorem.  In each case, an exasperated, instigator protagonist starts a cycle of getting individuals and groups off their lethargic asses, by promising them something for nothing – if they’ll just put some work into his plan.

His credulous followers do not receive what he promises them – they get something much grander and better.  Companies are started, jobs are created, construction and trade is stimulated, unemployment almost disappears, wages go up, welfare goes down, taxes are paid, and infrastructure is rejuvenated.  The people are given back their pride, self-respect, and an incentive to continue to improve themselves and their society.

If only this would work in real life, but it won’t happen until we get a real leader – an honest visionary – who can convince a populace of passive takers, and a government of enabling vote-buyers, that more projects like the TVA – the Tennessee Valley Authority – and the Hoover Dam, will ultimately give back far more than they cost.

Flash Fiction #262

PHOTO PROMPT© Ted Strutz

CANON LAW

…. But the Contessa’s brother is left-handed – I showed that in chapter III, when I had him defend Uncle Auggie from that footpad.

She can’t approach the Duke, because I had her in Milan when the robbery occurred.

I could have Rodrigo, the valet, carry the message, but I’ve already showed that Duke Milburn refuses to converse with other noble’s servants.

Could my cook tell his cook?

Writing this historical fiction isn’t as easy as it seemed.  I should have put up that story-board when Bob suggested it.

Where’s a really good Deus ex Machina, when I truly need one?

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Fibbing Friday – III

My teeth are like the stars.  They come out at night.
With a smile and a wave to Pensitivity101, and The Usual Gang of Idiots who compose these lists, this is my most recent chance to lie through my teeth.  I just blow gently, as they sit beside my hot chocolate.
1. What is a tie dye?

That’s what might happen to me, if I try to self-accessorize.  My wife, the Mistress (or is that distress?) of circumlocution says, “Are you wearing that?” – which means, ‘I may have to strangle you with that tie, because I would dye of embarrassment if you went out in public with it on.’
I quickly reply, ‘This??!  Uh, no!  This must have been right beside the one I should have picked.  Why don’t you grab it for me, Honey?’
2. What is a raglan sleeve?

That’s what’s on some of my older gently-used tee-shirts.  I don’t want to say that I am old – and cheap – but I’ve watched silent movies in some of them.  Now, if I don’t keep an eye on them, the wife makes them into muscle shirts by ripping the sleeves off, and using them to dust.
3. What is seersucker?

That was the last suit I purchased, before we were married.  Seers Sears sold it, and a sucker bought it.


4. What is meant by a dropped waist?

All those stops at the French fry trucks had to have some consequences.  The doctor told me to watch my weight…. so I put it out in front, where I can keep an eye on it.  I put a roof over the tool-shed.
5. What is a yoke collar?

See number 1, above.  Wifey says, ‘You think you’re going to wear a tie with little dollar signs and dollar bills to the funeral of a Catholic nun who swore an oath of poverty??  Is that some kind of yoke joke?’
6. What is meant by pigeon toed?

That’s the hottest, most recent, culinary trend, already replacing smash-burgers.  Instead of the usual turners, cooks are using three-prong garden scuffles to flip patties.  It leaves a birds-foot-like impression, and three holes that cheese can melt and sink into.
7. How many pleats are in a kilt?

I don’t know about you, but I just need one big one, in the front.
8. What is bias binding?

That was an explicit BDSM passage from 50 Shades of Grey.  And then he put a blindfold on her, and fed her strawberries as she lay on the floor….  No, no!  That was from 9-1/2 Weeks.
9. What is Velcro?

I’m not sure.  Why don’t you stick around while I do a bit of quick research?  Don’t tear yourselves away.
10. What is twill webbing?

That’s an adroit, multi-tasking Scotsman, surfing the Internet while playing the bagpipes.

 

Flash Fiction #261

PHOTO PROMPT© Roger Bultot

WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR?

I took Psychology as a major, and got a job as an Uber-Eats driver.  The two fit like pliers handles.  The most intriguing are hotels/motels.  I knock on the door and often get, Who is it?  I wanna say, it’s your damned pizza.  Who were you expecting?

With a glimpse inside some rooms, the answer might be – a hooker, Border Patrol, irate management, FBI, an exorcist priest, or all of the above.  Many of the paranoid use the peephole.  Sometimes I put my eye about an inch from the lens.  Once, I had to slide the pizza in vertically.

***

I’m keeping notes.  I’m pretty sure there’s a bestseller in there somewhere.  😉  😯

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If you’d like to join the fun, go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Click the title to hear The Genies do another oldie but moldy goldie.