The Humor Page

Extra Extra

That’s what I thought I was reading – the Humor Page!  Then I looked up at the top, and realized that it was the Religion Page of the newspaper; two Christian articles, both by women.

The first was the usual tale of a young woman being told that having unmarried sex made her a terrible sinner. After slipping, and giving it away once, she lost all self-respect and began throwing it away indiscriminately.

The article was titled, ‘Why I chose abstinence again.’ The sub-title was, ‘Despite feeling let down by my Church, I still want to walk in the way of my faith.’ Oh….  So many qualified psychotherapists!  So few people who really, REALLY need the help, actually getting it.

This is masochism! ‘You’ve hurt me before, so go ahead and hurt me again.’ This is hypocrisy!  She, and others, was told that ‘sex was the cause of all the problems in a romantic relationship,’…. and she wants to let this Church run/ruin her life again.

KARMA, KARMA, KARMA, KAMELEON

The second article had my “Tough luck! Couldn’t happen to a nicer person” meter pegged over to maximum.  It was titled, “On our second date, we went to Church.”

A 26-year-old, single, white female, perhaps getting a little desperate, set up a Meet-A-Pervert (No, wait.  That’s Craigslist) Tinder account.  Seeing several others who listed as atheist or pagan, she made sure to include the descriptor, “Jesus is my homeboy.”

During a nice, restaurant first-date, her Good Christian young lad mentioned that he was surprised at the number of non-Christians listed, and asked her exactly what she meant by her statement. Following a chaste, curbside, goodnight handshake, she suggested that their next date should be going to church.

He laughed, and she thought it was because he felt that she was joking.

He took her to his Catholic Church that Sunday. He taught her when to stand, when to kneel, and when to wave her hands magically in the air – but he wouldn’t let her go up to the front for the juice and cookies buffet.

Still hungry, they went for a lovely brunch afterward, and she believed that God had a plan for her.  They parted company amiably, and she believed that He had provided her a companion.

A couple of days later, choir boy sent her a message, saying that he just felt that something was missing.  He dumped her, by text, because she wasn’t a good enough Christian (Catholic)!   😆

Book Review #6

MAGIC

Years ago, when I began reading science fiction, I was a nuts-and-bolts, spaceships-and-rayguns sci-fi fan.  Then a couple of my favored authors (both female) slipped into sword and sorcery.  I tried to follow, but I guess my structured, logical mind just didn’t wanna go there.  There seemed no “basis” for magic.  It just was, take it or leave it.  I left it.

Fast forward 40 years.  Times, and technology, and therefore writing, have changed.  In the last couple of years, the son has introduced me to four different sci-fi series wherein magic exists.  Quantum mechanics/entanglement and cosmic energy, along with parallel dimensions, justify magic, at least to me.

The last for me to read is from an author listed as Ilona Andrews.  It’s actually a husband and wife team.  She’s Ilona.  He’s Andrew.  She’s Russian.  He’s American.  No seductive superspy or licence to kill, she came to San Francisco to attend university, and they met at an English Composition course, where she outscored him.  (Where’s a licence to kill when you really need one?)   She writes the romance/sex/magic, and he takes care of guns, knives, bombs, vehicles and martial arts.

The son had acquired numbers 1, 3, and 5.  Recently he let Amazon fill in numbers 2 and 4, and number 6 will soon be released.  I’ll add them to my to-be-read pile, and get to them some time next year.

Two other series are both by the same author, Larry Correia.  The Hard Magic group are set in the Roaring Twenties era, a Raymond Chandler-esque alternate-history with Tommy gun-toting hoods, and airships instead of planes.  All people range from zero to adept at telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation etc.  Only a rare few can synthesize control over more than one talent.

His Monster Hunter series is modern-day and assumes the existence of werewolves, vampires, orcs and the like.  Silver-bullet armed groups are paid by the government to keep these away from the general population.  Non-threatening species like elves and gnomes are merely confined to reservations which resemble redneck trailer parks.  Social commentary, anyone?

The last group are the ones I’m going to (finally) review.  A female author has written several books intended for adolescent readers, but in doing so, perhaps unknowingly or unintentionally, she has written above expectations, and produced some adult-grade statements.

The Author – Wen Spencer

The Book(s) – Tinker – Wolf Who Rules – Elfhome

1-Tinker 2-Wolf Who Rules

3-Elfhome

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Review

I’m reviewing three books, because this trilogy of 550-page stories is actually one extended tale across several summer and fall months.  They can be read as stand-alone books.  Each one is carefully ended, but enjoyment and comprehension of #2 and #3 are greatly enhanced by the previous back-story.

Magic, in these stories, like cosmic rays, is ubiquitous, needing only to be gathered and controlled.  Small groups of parallel dimensions hang like bunches of tomatoes on a vine.  Those closest to the stalk receive the most magical power.  Poor Earth hangs out at the very end, receiving just enough to make magic the stuff of myths and legends.

Apparently a native of Pittsburgh, Spencer puts all of the action there.  Magic does what technology does, only faster, better, more powerfully.  Technology can harness magic, if you know how and where.  The magic is directed with crystals, or computer-printed spell sheets.  Of course, it can also be controlled with hand and arm postures, and initiated with voice vibrations, spell words, like the Weirding-module guns in Frank Herbert’s Dune book and movie.

Our teenage heroine’s grandfather produced a satellite which unwittingly causes the city to cycle from Earth to an alternate-Earth known as Elfhome.  On each such tomato-Earth in the bunch, a different, though similar, set of flora and fauna have evolved, with a different race at the top of the food-chain.

The magic-rich Elves, while not exactly immortal, live thousands of years.  There’s a world where sauroids learned to use magic, and essentially became intelligent dragons.  They, and others, can move from world to world.

The author is entranced with Asian culture.  She has the heroine in another book move to Japan to become a writer.  Aside from the action, these stories are much in the vein of Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels.  She uses satire and lampoon as social comment, to show the strengths and weaknesses of various cultures.

The regal and genteel, one-child-per-century Elves are the Japanese.  While they make a great show of manners, they are locked into a royal court and cultural rut, too slow to deal with the rapid social changes that inter-world travel has brought to them.  Everyone has their place, but, like the caste-ridden India, there is often no-one to fill newly-produced places.

The ill-mannered, pig-based Onihida, breeding faster than rabbits, busily consuming and corrupting their own world, as well as others, are the Chinese.  The diverse half-breeds are the Americans, able to use the magic to sprout wings and fly like birds, or trail like bloodhounds.

These are the tales of a wrecking-yard-owning Pittsburgh Cinderella, who rescues, and in turn is rescued by, her Elfin Prince Charming.  She uses quick wit and genius level intelligence to defeat the bad guys and save the day.  Through them all, the author cogently notes where our societies have come from, and where they might be going.

I found them good, solid reading, with lots of action and plot twists, and a reflection of life.

Unreasonable Expectations

There’s no sharp “point” to this post.  It’s just another gentle Remember When story about my growing up, although it does have a quiet comment at the end about how we sometimes dig our own trench to experience tunnel vision.

My little 1800-resident home town swelled to about 15,000 in July and August, with the influx of tourists.  They came in two basic types, the one- or two-week temporary vacationers, and the more affluent cottage-owners where mom and the kids came up as soon as school was out, and dad visited on weekends.

I don’t remember any townie–vs.-tourist rivalries, and my little circle got along with both batches well.  Perhaps it was because of the lack of size of the upper crust, but even the well-to-do group often associated with the commoners.

I was friends for years with mother and kids of the family who still run a large Kitchener wrecking yard.  I hung around with son and daughter of a couple who owned a well-known car customising/detailing shop in Oshawa.  Both these families were a bit unusual, in that they had hauled a small trailer to town, and permanently placed it in the tourist camp.

Our group was sometimes joined for bowling, or a bush party, by the daughter of the C.E.O. of a large Kitchener firm where, seven years later, the wife got her first job as a receptionist.  The summer I worked at the convenience store, I also had a two-month romance with the daughter of a minor scion of the family whose name graces a fourteen storey office building in downtown Uptown Waterloo, five floors of which constitute the City Hall, and where her uncle sat as Mayor.  Her “summer cottage” was probably worth five times what our year-round home was.

I/we also made many temporary, one-time friendships with kids from the cabin-renting crowd.  These folks paid good money to live in little wooden buildings that chickens would have rejected, just to be near tons of warm white sand and cool blue water.  Unlike the others who were around for two months each summer, these evanescent visitors were only with us for a week, or perhaps two.

And so I met Danny.  A first time visitor, he had not been in town an hour when I ran into him early Saturday afternoon on the main street, looking lost.  Probably to get him out from underfoot while his parents unpacked, he had been told to walk the four blocks to the retail area, to familiarize himself with the stores.  By the end of the day he was part of our pack.

He was thrilled.  You can only hit the beach so much.  He had envisioned two lonely weeks stuck with only his parents, but we included him in everything we did.  We got him rental skates and took him roller-skating.  We took him down to the river harbor to swim, and I taught him to dive off the fishing boats.  Despite the age limit of 18, I got him into the pool-room and taught him several games.  Where he was from, pool-rooms were dark, dirty and dangerous.  We took in a couple of movies.  All in all, the entire group spent more time and energy on him than we ever did with any other tourist.  He was a nice kid.

Sadly, all vacations must come to an end.  Two Saturdays later, he walked uptown while his parents packed, to say thanks, and good-bye.  The leaving was lonely enough but, as he got ready to walk away, I sensed something else, and asked what was bothering him.

He said, “Somebody told me that there was an Indian Reservation just outside town.”  “Yeah, so?”  “Well, in my entire two weeks here, I never saw an Indian.”  I was stunned!  “You’ve played pool with Donny Kewgeesik, and his older brother Ronny.  You roller-skated with Nathan Akiwenzie.  You swam and dived with Frank Shobadeez.  John Petoniquot took you fishing in his boat, and you took his sister Laura to a movie.”

Now it was his turn to be stunned.  “They’re Indians?”  “Of course!  Did you expect the Indians to ride into town on horses, wearing feather headdresses, and war paint, shaking spears?”  The empty expression on his face told me that that was exactly what he had been expecting.  In the entire two weeks, hardly anyone had used last names.  These “ordinary people” he had met didn’t meet his expectations of what Indians looked and acted like.

We said our last goodbyes, and I never saw him again.  I often wondered how much effort it was for him to re-integrate his understanding of what and who Indians are.  It’s occurrences like this that taught me early, not to judge a book by somebody else’s cover.