Book Review #19

Paradox Bound

Paradox Bound

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. Oh, wait – I already published that, here.

Are you folks ready for some social and political commentary and satire?? Well, seat belt in. Here we go.

The book – Paradox Bound

The author – Peter Clines

The review – IN THE BEGINNING, was the United States of America. The founding fathers had a dream, a dream of what they had created, a dream of what it could be, a dream of what they wanted it to be. They wanted their dream to be real, solid, physical. Being (mostly) good Christians, they prayed to the Egyptian god Ptah.

Ptah’s father was an older, greater god. Ptah was a carpenter. He died, and came back to life after three days. Maybe they never noticed the difference – or the similarities. Ptah created a real, physical dream for them. It was stored in a safe place…. then one day, the dream was gone – Lost? Stolen? Went to North Korea with some crazy basketball player and forgot to come back?

Most Americans didn’t notice, or didn’t care, but there were many who did care, and they became the Searchers. 48 men had been created with no faces, only plastic Halloween masks. The faceless men’s mission had been to protect the Dream, but when it disappeared, they only protected their own existence. Their greatest strength was “Certainty.” They knew everything around them. They mined the almost 250 years of records of the entire United States. They hunted down and killed any Searcher who might re-establish the old status quo. These faceless bookkeepers were The Bureaucrats.

Is any of this roman a clé beginning to feel familiar? As a Canadian, it took me a few chapters.

Since this entire story is about the United States, there is no “Time” Travel, only about 250 years of History Travel. Like the Back To The Future movies, a vehicle is required. No speed is needed, only the ability to navigate the slick spaces on the roads and trails of America, to slide from one period or era, to another. Travel up-time beyond 2036 is impossible. If The Dream is not recovered and re-installed by then, American history will unravel, and the world will exist without all the wonderful things it has created.

Older vehicles were preferred, because they were stronger, and simpler, able to be repaired with a hammer, pliers and some string, if they broke down. Horse and wagons were mentioned, but usually early 20th century technology was chosen. The author mentions an Indian motorcycle, and apparently John Henry was a real person, riding the rails in a train he assembled himself.

The writer seems to love classic automobiles. He has different characters riding around in a 1929 Ford Model A Business Coupe, a 1940 Cadillac Sixty Special in factory Oxblood Maroon, a 1953 Hudson Hornet, a 1958 Edsel Corsair, a 1961 Ford Fairlane, a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, a 1969 Ford Mustang, a 1970 Dodge Lancer, a 1975 Dodge Dart Sport, and a 1978 Chrysler Newport. Without specific dates, he also mentions ‘tail-finned‘ Cadillacs, which would be from about 1953 to 1960.

Tailfin Cadillac

Since Ptah’s spell only covers the USA, all vehicles must be “American steel.” As an ex-autoworker, I know of American workers, assembling cars in the U.S. with parts produced in Canada, made from German or Pakistani steel. I guess when they cross the border, and get paid for with greenbacks; they become “American.”

Our hero and heroine are the ones driving the ’29 Model A. The author doesn’t know as much about old cars as he lets on. At one point, they make a run for the car. She whips open the passenger door, and “slides across the rumble seat.” I had a mental image of Starsky (or was it Hutch?) sliding across a smooth hood. You don’t do that with a rumble seat! There’s a large, protruding, steel T-handle that could ruin your whole weekend.

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There’s the T-Handle that you wouldn’t”t want to slide across.

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This car had the ‘rumble seat’ removed, so that the space could be used as a small trunk.

After a few more pages, he began to use the terms ‘bench seat’ and ‘rumble seat’ interchangeably. (Click above) A rumble seat is exterior to the small, enclosed passenger compartment of a coupe. It’s like a small trunk, set on the sloping rear deck, that opens to an exposed, upholstered, double seat.

It must be confusing for the History Travelers, to have the paradox of speaking to a person that they have never met, yet who has known them for years of their time-line – to speak to someone they’ve watched die – to observe the same occurrence from two – or three – different perspectives – and get it.

The ultimate paradox was that, since the Searchers had been trying to find the American Dream through 250 years of history, chronologically, the Dream hid itself, in 1963, so that they could all achieve their dream of locating it. It was never really ‘lost.’

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I liked Cline’s The Fold novel last year, about parallel time-lines. Despite its ‘Made In America’ plot line, I really liked this one too. I rate it two cheeseburgers. I’d give it three, but I’m trying to lose some weight again (still). 🌯 Tell me what you’re reading.

How To Be Taken Seriously

Serious

PLEASE ENSURE MIND IS IN MOTION BEFORE ENGAGING MOUTH

Whoever you are, whether Christian Apologist, Flat Earther, Immigration Protester, or Climate Change Warrior, to be taken seriously, it really helps if you get your facts straight before you start spouting off.

It does little good for the Pope to insist that the Bible is inerrant and free of contradictions, when one of God’s commandments is, “Thou shalt make no graven images.’ and two chapters later, God instructs, “Thou shalt make two graven silver cherubim, and place them at each end of the Ark of the Covenant.”

I’m all for combating global warming, but a do-gooding tree-hugger recently had this op-ed published; Aircraft exhaust 10 or 11 kilometers above the Earth’s surface is thought to have considerably more polluting effect per person-mile, than automobile exhaust at ground level, per person-mile.

I’m not sure what his point was. Only transcontinental flights go up to 40,000 feet – 10/11 kilometers. The pollution from a few thousand flyers each day is much more than offset by the total of hundreds of millions of cars driving around. He could fight a more down-to-Earth battle. He’s tilting at one little Dutch windmill, when there are thousands of giant wind-turbines ruining people’s lives in the name of ecology.

Your favorite jovial old tundra-dweller recently became aware of ‘Blue Monday,’ the third Monday in January. It’s not something that affects me. A sociologist did a somewhat un-scientific study. He took into account things like the weather – cold and snow, the lack of sunlight for the last month, friends and family visitors who have now left, the shopping hassles of Christmas, back to work after some time off, and now the bills arriving. He felt that Blue Monday would be the day that cumulative depression would be most likely to affect/be noticed/felt by the average North American.

Immediately, the usual suspects began their howling. Psychologists, and counsellors whined that the day somehow belittled people with depression, when it actually raises people’s awareness of the condition and its causes.

One denier objected to the way the day was chosen, complaining that, “It’s like adding the speed of your jogging to the color of an apple.” And yet psychologists and penologists know that certain colors of prison uniforms and cells help calm prisoners down. One Arizona Sheriff makes his inmates wear hot pink overalls, and violence has reduced significantly.

It should be taken seriously, yet it is no more real that the chubby Santa Claus that Coca-Cola invented. Speaking of people who don’t know what they are talking about, a local radio announcer doesn’t get it. He claimed that, “It is the most depressing day of the year.” It is not the day that is depressing. It is merely the point in time when all the previous depressing influences come together in a confluence – like the perfect wave – and people are most likely to feel depressed.

A newspaper story about a truck crash wrote of ‘semi-tractors.’ (Surely, they are semi-trailers?) In another, a 10-year-old boy wrote to every automaker in the world, and requested ‘decals.’ He got back a hub-cap, hood ornaments, trunk logos, and key-fobs…. because, aside from those little generic warnings on your car windows – auto-makers don’t use ‘decals.’  I don’t know what he (or the article writer) thought ‘decals’ were.

First my Dismantling of Faith post, then all of these, in one week. Does nobody pay attention to the details of reality anymore? It helps, if you want to be taken seriously.

A Poem About My First Car

Poetry

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There won’t be much poem
I had to tow the thing home

It was a dark British green
An ugly shade to be seen

It was never much fun
The damned thing wouldn’t run

It was a ’52 Morris
It wouldn’t start for us

I got it for free
The owner overcharged me

It came home from a farm
The chickens did it some harm

We towed it home with a rope
I never had any hope

I didn’t take time to love it
I just quickly said ‘Shove it’

Mr. Snake-Oil did offer
An older trade he did proffer

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I can’t think of a rhyme for ‘learning experience.’  If you haven’t already, but would like to read about my early automotive adventures, click to go back to read about My First Cars.

Old Coots’ Horseless Carriages

The government allows the daughter 6 pain-med infusion treatments a year, so they are 8 or 9 weeks apart. Any further than that and the treatment wears off, and her pain levels mount quickly.  My hour drives up the highway with her are always on Tuesdays, because that’s when the doctor schedules the clinic in the hospital.

Late in July, the doctor wanted to take some vacation time, and set up a clinic on a Friday, so that people like the daughter wouldn’t have to go a couple of extra painful weeks. This was the Friday of the ‘Cruisin’ On King Street’ annual old-car show.

After the hour drive home, I dropped her off at her place, and walked a block into the big park where they were marshalling the cars. I took along my camera, and took photos of some of the older vehicles that caught my attention.

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1931 Ford ‘Vickie’ Crown Victoria

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Late ’60s Corvette, blah in straight white, side scoop should be contrasting color.

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1932 ‘Deuce’ coupe cabriolet, (convertible/soft-top) an “any color, as long as it’s black” that Ford never provided.

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It was reported that a 1939 Ford truck was the oldest vehicle in the show….and yet, here’s a 1923 ‘Bucket T’ model Ford, but it’s a kit car, with Fiberglas body and all-new frame and running gear.  While the ‘model’ is ’23, the hot rod is 2007.

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Another Coupe, this one with hard-top and rumble seat, and hot-rod wheels.

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A 1939 red Dodge Saloon, looking very much like my ’39 Pontiac, but with custom wheels.

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Now, that shade of green, or the blue above, would complement that ‘Vette.

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A 1961 VW Bug, not even ‘hopped up’, just prettified.

Back in the 60s, car companies and individuals had ideas about ‘Cars Of The Future.’ A few of them worked out – most didn’t.  We actually went back to ‘cars of the past’ for a few.  The PT Cruiser was mainly successful, while the Chevy SSR car, and the HHR van/truck didn’t fare as well.

Here are four 1960s artistic concept cars.

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A bit too Avant Garde, but this concept became the Chevy ‘El Camino’ and the Ford ‘Ranchero.’

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The Corvette’s grandfather.  Look at the models in these photos, and the clothes, shoes and hairdos.  They certainly weren’t advertising to the oil-soaked wrench jockeys.

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Somebody wanted to go back and recreate a 1923 T-Bucket Hot Rod with new engine and running gear. It was very much a niche market, and the private builders were more than enough to supply the market.

I titled my post a couple of  years ago, “Wasted Days.”  This day was definitely not a waste.  😎

COOL!

cool

You are no longer “cool” when …

 

  1. You find yourself listening to talk radio.
  2. You daughter says she got pierced and you
    look at her ears.
  3. The pattern on your shorts and couch match.
  4. You fondly remember your powder blue leisure
    suit.
  5. Your wife buys a flannel nightie and you find
    that sexy.
  6. You think Tragically Hip is when a middle-aged
    man gets a new sports car, hair piece and a 20
    year old girlfriend.
  7. You criticize the kids of today for their
    satanic suicide-inducing music, forgetting that
    you rocked to Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath.
  8. You call the police on a noisy party next
    door instead of grabbing beer and joining it.
  9. You turn down free tickets to a rock concert
    because you have to work the next day.
  10. When grass is something that you cut, not
    cultivate.
  11. When jogging is something you do to your
    memory.
  12. Sex becomes “All that foolishness”.
  13. Getting a little action means your prune
    juice is working.
  14. All the cars behind you turn on their
    headlights.
  15. You remember the “Rolling Stones” as a rock
    group not a corporation.
  16. You bought your first car for the same price
    you paid for your son’s new running shoes.
  17. You actually ASK for your father’s advice.
  18. When someone mentions surfing, you picture
    waves and a board.

***

The hipster was out, driving his new car around, with his arm hanging down the side of the car. A truck coming the other way, crossed the line and sideswiped him, crashing him into a ditch.  When a police officer arrived, he was out of the car, walking around it, moaning, “My new Porsche – my beautiful new Porsche!”

The cop said, “You shouldn’t be worrying about your car. You should be worried about your arm.”  The hipster looked down at a bleeding stump that ended at the elbow, and started moaning, “My new Rolex – my beautiful new Rolex!”

 

 

(ARCH)ON The Road Again

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WARNING, Long involved DMV bureaucratic rant.
Proceed at your own boredom.

After almost 30 years, my ARCHON vanity plates, first acquired here, are back on the road.  The wife and I bought our last car.  It’s actually a rice-burning, Kia Sorento SUV, which sits high enough that the semi-disabled wife and daughter don’t have to fight to get down into, and up out of.  Properly maintained, it should last 10/15 years, perhaps longer than us.  In any case, the next one’s up to son Shimoniac to buy.

This is the first NEW car we’ve owned in almost 50 years of marriage. We purchased two that were less than a year old, taking advantage of the 30% depreciation in value, but were still new enough to be reliable.

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For years, we’ve had the wife’s 3 TEASE plates on our cars, because they were registered in her name, and we’d been told by the DMV that that was necessary. It was all a Lie.

I’ve used the term, ‘DMV’ mostly for my American readers. Here in Ontario, we have the oxymoronically named “Service Ontario.”  That’s where you have to go, for aggravation, incompetence, poverty, hunting and fishing licenses, drivers’ licenses, licence plates, birth certificates, and certified ID cards for people like the daughter, LadyRyl, who can’t drive.

After the heart-stopping negotiation of financing this beast, yea, verily, unto the second and third generations, the first problem came when we had the salesman (try to) put my old plates on my new car.

I gave him my old plates, along with the plate ownership form, and the transfer form. The last sticker was applied in 1987.  When we went back the next day to pick the car up, he handed me back my plates (but not the two forms), and said that the licence bureau wouldn’t let him use my plates because they were registered in the wrong name. We had to take generic plates, and arrange to apply the ARCHON plates ourselves.

A couple of weeks later, we were ready to try. The first thing that the user-(un)friendly Service Ontario did, was ensure that the relatively handy, downtown branch, only 4.2 Km away, DIDN’T PROVIDE AUTO-LICENCE SERVICE.  Instead, we got to drive 9.7 Km to a branch on the other side of town.  We chose a quiet Wednesday afternoon, when the lineup was only 45 minutes long.

The first time we went, we exchanged the generic plates for the old ARCHON plates.  Having a brand-new car, the wife wondered, for a niggling fee of $93.20, if I’d like a brand-new set of plates.  It seems a good idea, except….new plates are no longer paint, baked onto steel.  They are now printed plastic, laminated on, and there have been many cases of them delaminating, costing drivers $55 to replace faulty Chinese manufacturing.  We’ll see how these ones last.

Six weeks later, my new set arrived by mail, and off we set once more, to surrender the old set, and validate the new ones. The clerk picked up each set, and found she had to struggle with the old ones.  They weighed twice what the new ones do.  She’d never seen a set that old.  She wondered why we’d gone from generic to vanity, and then to a new set.

The female branch manager was sitting at the next service wicket, and overheard our conversation. Every time I described what happened, or what I was told, she shook her head.  I explained how I was not allowed to put my plates on a car registered to the wife.  ‘No, you can do that.’ (With the proper, paid-for form)

I bitched that I wasn’t allowed to transfer the ownership of the plates to the wife, without surrendering them to the Provincial Government. ‘No, you don’t have to surrender them.  You can transfer them to your wife.’  (With the proper, paid-for form)  My clerk looked up, surprised.  “They’re registered in your wife’s name now.”  Wait, what??!  After telling me that they couldn’t do it, they changed the plate registration – but didn’t tell me they had??  And we paid to buy the wife her own set, and mine languished for decades??!  So that explains the dealer’s problem. I can’t put her plates on my car.  ‘No, no, I told you that they should have done that.  (With the proper, paid-for forms)

So we transferred plate ownership back to me – for $20. Then the clerk wanted to know where the plate ownership and vehicle transfer forms were.  “I gave them to the dealer, and I never got them back.  I assume that the clerk at the office that they use, kept them.”  Manager is shaking her head again.  ‘They should have been returned.  We’ll have to generate new ones.’

The clerk then charged me $20 to use information that’s already on their computer, to print out an ownership form, and another $20 for the same computer information to print a transfer form, for their own paper files.  The plate licence expires on my birthday, late in September.  Should we renew for just one year – or two??  The manager piped up, ‘The yearly fee is increasing from $100/year, to $120/year, starting September 1.  Why don’t you pre-pay for three years and save?’

I begin to understand why Canada has such restrictions on gun ownership. Do any of you have bureaucratic duel stories (shorter than this) that you want to share??   😯

HOT-DAMN HOT ROD

Mustang

Once upon a long time ago, shortly after the invention of the wheel….

One day I had to take my car in to a garage to have some work done. Back when ‘Customer Service’ was still a proven fact, and not a forgotten myth, the apprentice mechanic drove me to work and took my car back to the shop.  He, or someone else, was supposed to pick me up at 5:00 PM, when both our firms were finished for the day.

About 3 o’clock, my phone rang. They had dismantled the car, but a couple of necessary parts wouldn’t arrive till early the next morning.  I would have to leave it overnight, and find a way home and back in the next morning.

Home was almost 10 miles across town on a hot August afternoon. Walking was unthinkable.  Transit would mean over an hour, three buses, and still a good walk to the house.  I approached DORIS, a ditzy clerk, old enough to be my mother.  She lived on the same side of town, but normally took a road parallel to mine.

Sure! She could drive me home.  She was also taking Ethel, who lives near me.  At 5:00, we all left the office, and headed for the parking lot.  Doris handed me a key chain, and said, “When I’m in the car with a man, he drives.”  A little strange, but, Okay.

I know she drives a crappy Dodge Dart. The keychain she handed me was quite masculine – a blue rabbit’s foot, one die (dice), and a Ford key.  She saw me looking at it questioningly, and said, “I had to take my car in too.  I’m driving the son’s car.”

When we got to her spot, there was a new(ish) Mustang. I climbed in and fired it up, and saw a couple of reasons why she wanted me to drive.  Gearhead son bought the ‘Tang with the stock 283 cubic inch motor, but had got ahold of, and shoehorned in, a gigantic seven liter (427 C.I.) engine with 4-on-the-floor transmission.  I was raised on standards, so I was good to go.

As I backed up and pulled out, I found yet another reason. While son had installed the big motor and tranny, he hadn’t (yet) put in power steering or heavy-duty front suspension.  Here was an engine as big as Mount Rushmore, sitting over extra-wide front tires. It was like trying to steer the Titanic with a canoe paddle.

Once I got it going more or less straight, on the road home, the conversation turned to language. How could it not? I was in the car.  I mentioned that the first thing I had learned about German when I arrived, was that there are no silent letters.

I had asked a German-speaker about an Amish dish called ‘schnitz und knepp.’ I confused her by pronouncing it ‘nepp.’  This is when she told me it should be ‘kenepp.’  We had recently hired a new, young engineer, named George Kniseley.  When he came around to introduce himself, he pronounced it ‘nizely.’  I told them that, properly, it should be pronounced ‘kenizely.’

Doris said, “Who??”
“George Kniseley!”
“Who??!”
“The young engineer we just hired.  He sits upstairs, across from Bill, our chief engineer.”
“Oh, him!?  I’ve been calling him Kinsley (kins-lee) for six months, and nobody’s said a thing.”

That’s okay, Boris….uh, Doris, I’m sure he doesn’t mind.   😕