Book Log – God, No!

God, No! by Pen Jillette

Pen Jillette is an asshole.

And I mean that in the nicest way possible.  He is the kind of asshole that every society needs.  Irreverant, brusque, and very direct in what he says.  There’s a lot of opinion about atheism and religion, of course, but there’s more to it, and many amusing stories of being a Las Vegas performer slipped in.

He’s good to have because even if you disagree with him (and a few times I did), he definitely makes you consider why you disagree with him.  At times, I thought I disagreed, but after thinking it through, I had to admit that he really wasn’t wrong.

It’s a thought-provoking and amusing, if scattershot, book.  I recommend it.

If it has a flaw, it’s that he tends to repeat himself.  By which I mean, he’ll reiterate what he says a lot by repeating it.  If he says something again and again, I have to believe it is for emphasis.  He gets his point across, through repitition, and perhaps extends his word count.  But maybe repeating himself, which he does often by rephrasing the same concept, is an effective persuasion technique.  Because hearing it again and again, because he writes things over and over, maybe you’ll really have to consider what he’s saying before you can move on to the next thought.

Also, Pen apparently knows a lot of strippers.

Dinner conversations

Dinner at home.

RocketBoy: Warnado [a Skylander] is coming down in price. I’m going to wait until it gets really cheap.

Me: That’s a good plan. It’s also good for computers. Buy the computer that was the fastest, hottest thing two years ago.

Stacey: And cars.

Me: And cars.

Stacey: And women. Go for one that’s been turned down by a bunch of guys.

Me: No, you go top of the line with women.

Stacey: And toilet paper.

Me: And toilet paper. Women and toilet paper. Don’t skimp on them.

RB: I think I’ll go for the woman who’s been turned down a lot. If they’re desperate, they’ll like me.

Me: No! You won’t respect a woman who’s desperate. You want one that you respect and will inspire you.

Stacey: Yeah, you want one that’s in your league. An equal.

RB: A desperate woman *will* be in my league.

Stacey: We’re going to work on your self esteem.

Scout: Are you guys talking about Skylanders?

SH*#@ My Family Says, That We Make Into Facebook Statuses

Scout: Is Donna Summer a zombie now? Does she eat brains? Is she going to come and eat my brains?
Ryan: (to Stacey) I wanted to get a daughter with an off button, but *you* said it was too expensive.

Scout: For daddy’s birthday, let’s get him something from that guy who wrote “The Cat in the Hat.” You know…the time traveler guy.

Too many Doctors to keep track.

Today, Scout was climbing on Stacey’s car.
Stacey: Do you think you’re in a rock ‘n roll video?
Scout: Your car isn’t cool enough to be in a rock ‘n roll video.

Wed is talent show day in Mr. K’s class.
RocketBoy: I think I’ll do an improv act. Mr. K can help.
Ryan: Is Mr. K a trained improviser?
RB: He’s a teacher. He improvises just to get through the day!

Stacey: An expression I never said at 9-years-old: When in doubt, google it out!

Scout: Put on Joan Jett’s School Days.
Rocketboy: Uhg! Why do we have to listen to this song?
Scout: I like School Days….even if it’s not as good as Cherry Bomb.

Stacey: Listening to Rocketboy make “zombie sucking your brains out” noises while doing his math homework. Boy knows how to multi-task.

Stacey: If I’ve accomplished nothing else during my career as an arts administrator, I take satisfaction in knowing that I’ve taught my grasshoppers to always pack extra undergarments on gala day. #soggybenefits

Stacey: When my kids play the staring contest game, they call it Weeping Angels.

Me: Scout is growing her hair for kindergarten.
RB: girls with long hair get the boys.
Me: Do you care about getting boys?
Scout: I already got all the boys in pre-K so it’s time for me to move up a level.

Stacey: I thanked Scout for our marathon day of Chinese School Field Day, Inman Park Fest & dinner at Doc Chey’s. She said, “I need to thank you. You’re the one who planned it.” #ihavethebestestkids

Me: So, would you like to see Joan Jett in concert?
Scout: I would LOVE to see Joan Jett in concert! I love her songs so much! (pause) But it will never happen because she’s so old.

Scout: I bet taking care of two kids is a little easier than taking care of an entire farm. #randomthoughtoftheday

Stacey: Do you want to go to Shakespeare’s Birthday or the multi-cultural fair?
Scout: I’ll go to the fair. But, I’ll make a birthday card for Shakespeare. He’ll be very sad that I didn’t make it this year.

Stacey: Recently, Rocketboy and his friends have started solo-roaming the neighborhood on bikes/scooters. They’ll burst into the house, eating and drinking everything in site, and then head out again leaving a path of destruction behind them. I think, “This is my future.” Then I realize, “No, this is actually my present.” It sort of freaks me out.

Scout: So, I’ve thought about it and I don’t want to get a job in The Hunger Games.

Scout: Darn it!
Me: What’s wrong?
S: I’m trying to get the dog to eat my homework and he won’t do it!

The first thing Rocketboy said after a week away: “So, how are The Hunger Games going for you?”

Me (looking for my phone): Rocketboy had it. I took it away from him before he accidentally called someone.
Scout: When I play with your phone, I like to accidentally call [Stacey’s former boss] Richard Garner.

(On the deck, grilling dinner. Rocketboy comes out)
RB: Dad, you may be asking yourself, “what are ‘extra levels’ in Skylanders”?
Me: I might, but what’s more likely is that *you* are asking *yourself*, “Why am I out on the deck in my underwear?”
RB: Oh… yeah.

Me: Hey, Rocketboy, tell your sister I picked up some doughnuts.
RB: Hey Scout! We’ve got doughnuts! And they’re FILLED WITH SUGAR!!

Me: My son doesn’t believe me when I tell him Susan B. Anthony and Lyndon B. Johnson’s middle names were Beatrice, except they didn’t like Beatrice, they just liked B and that’s all. It’s like he *wants* to fail the CRCT.

Scout is drawing.
Me: Who is that in the tree?
scout: You.
me: What am I doing in a tree?
scout: Spying on mommy.
me: why?
Scout: To see if she’s not going to work. (thinks) I should draw her a map to work, so you don’t bust her.

(in the car)
Scout: Are you going to eat your bag of M&Ms?
RocketBoy: No.
Scout: Then I won’t either.
RocketBoy: You should make your own decisions, Scout. Eat them if you want.
Scout: But I need you to eat yours first.
RocketBoy: Why?
Scout: Because if I eat mine, and I see you still have yours, I will be hungry.
RocketBoy: Fine, I’ll eat mine.
Scout: Me, too, then.
(later)
RocketBoy: Okay, I’m done.
Scout: HA! I STILL GOT MINE, ‘CAUSE I DON’T EAT AT STOPLIGHTS!

While playing “store” –
Scout: “I’ll pay with my credit card.”
Ryan J. Lucas: “How will you pay for your credit card bill?”
Scout: “A credit. card. bill.?”
Ryan explains.
Scout: OK, this isn’t a credit card anymore. It’s a gift card.

RB: I’ll prove I’m more knowledgeable than you. What were the names of the people on the Lewis and Clark expedition, not including Sacagawea?
Scout: THOSE AREN’T EVEN REAL WORDS.

Book Log – Rhubarb

Rhubarb by M.H. Van Keuren

By way of disclosure, I must clarify that I know the author. As William Hurt said in The Big Chill, “a long time ago, we knew each other for a short period of time.” Back then, he was a filmmaker, and he was funny. Today, he is a writer, and he’s still funny.

I’ve read a Van Keuren before, in unpublished, prototype1 form. It was good… really good. And so imagine my surprise when the book he actually publishes a couple years later is a completely different book.

The first book was easy to categorize… Hard Science Fiction. No doubt.

Rhubarb is… different. I expected, from the whimsical title if nothing else, something with a Douglas Adams feel. It’s funny, but it’s not eccentric. There’s more of a solid texture2 and real storytelling, perhaps somewhat similar to Adams’ later works. (As opposed to the early Hitchhikers which were pieced together from various version of radio scripts).

But this is not Douglas Adams. This has a flavor all its own. A regular guy, just getting by best he can in a traveling account manager job, starts to notice some odd things about the towns he travels through. Is his brain being influenced by the long hours on the road listening to radio call-in shows, or is he on the trail of a massive, x-files style cover-up?

I could tell you the ending, and it wouldn’t really matter. Like Hitchhikers, the joy is more in the telling than the plot (though the plot is strong). Interesting, small-town characters mixed with good dialog, witty running gags, and a comfortable pacing all add up to a darn fine novel.

I could gush, and spout hyperbole, but you’d attribute it to me knowing the guy. So I’m just going to say that it’s a good read, just in time for summer. Here’s your opportunity to discover a new author, right at the start.

“Oh I read Rhubarb when it was in its first printing,” you’ll say, racking up the hipster cred.

“Dude,” I’ll respond, “I read Legitimacy before it was even done.”

And you will all bow to me.

Probably.

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1 I’m an engineer, not an author. I’m sure authors call it something writer-y.
2 I’ve never been to the Billings, Montana area before, but now I feel like I have.