Book Review: The Omega Fatty Acids Blend

The Omega Acids Fatty Blend, by Monika Griessenberger

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Books Go Social.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The author really wants you, dear reader, to eat more omega acids–of which there are apparently quite a few–especially through plant sources.  This book is mercifully short so it does not try the patience of the reader too much, but when a book depends on its brevity to avoid causing offense there are clearly some problems.  Some of the problems of this book relate to genre, as this book follows a similar approach that many longer and sometimes better books on health and nutrition take [1] in that the author presents herself as an expert trying to get the reader to change their eating habits and, in this case, eat some really weird stuff.  As the author comes from the approach of endorsing raw & vegan/vegetarian food, the author urge the reader to avoid eating too many of the meat-based (usually fish-based) sources of the various mostly odd-numbered Omega fatty acids like Omega 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9, this means eating the oils of odd plants, some of which I must admit I have never heard of.

The contents of this book are pretty rudimentary.  Unfortunately, the author appears not to have looked at the output of whatever conversion software turned her short nutrition pamphlet.  This book is formatted terribly, with word wrap working its usual horrors to make a page look like garbage.  This should be a lesson to would-be self-published writers, and that is to make sure that when one is converting one’s writing to another format, to make sure to disable word wrap first so that the texts can be formatted properly.  It is hard for a reader–especially a reader who reads a great many books–to take a writer seriously when the page looks like it was written by someone whose word processing skills are rudimentary at best.  That is not even getting into the content of the book, which is at least passable.  It would have been better had the author cited some sources that would give her nutrition claims a bit more credibility.  When she talked about how people who ate too much of some obscure hipster plant-based oil had their urine turn red, I was wondering if she would talk about the kidney damage people could suffer from trying her diet, but alas, that was not the case.

What we have here, therefore, is a terribly formatted book that seeks to promote some trendy but dubious nutritional fads without a great deal of sources that would have more credibility than the author.  We may honor the author’s intentions to encourage better nutrition on the part of readers and we may even appreciate that she is both honest about her own dietary preferences but also not interested in causing offense to meat eaters who eschew the raw food approach.  Likewise, the author does a good job in trying to familiarize readers with various nutrients that may not be present in our diets.  So it is not as if this book has nothing to offer.  Still, this book resembles a sales pitch more than it does a book with any sort of authority.  At best, this book is well-intentioned infotainment that is selling something that I am not interested in buying.  Fortunately, this book is formatted in such a clumsy manner that most of the offense that would normally come from such an effort is replaced by a sense of pity that the author wants to write a book to show herself an expert but does such a terrible job at making the book look good enough to appeal to anyone.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/21/book-review-raw-food-diet-for-beginners/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/11/book-review-food52-mighty-salads/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/11/book-review-salads-beyond-the-bowl/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/21/book-review-beating-gout/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/07/book-review-what-the-bible-says-about-healthy-living/

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Book Review: The Art Of Getting Hired

The Art Of Getting Hired, by Brad Justice

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Books Go Social.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As someone who has read my fair share of books related to sales and marketing approaches [1], I find this book ironic on a fundamental level.  Salesmen are continually talking about how image trumps reality, how rapport and emotion trump logic and reason, and yet in order to enjoy this book, a reader will have to overcome a substantial amount of irritation because of the poor formatting of this book.  That is to say, the author has placed himself in a bind where the more the author takes his advice and approach seriously, the less he will appreciate the sloppy way this book has been made.  While the content of this book is at least decent, the book suffers from pagination problems as well as word wrap mistakes that make this book pretty ugly to read.  Someone really should have edited the .mobi file I read the book in before this book was green-lit for publication, and someone should certainly edit it to make it look good before it is released to the world at large.  I would be embarrassed to have something I write look this bad.

In terms of the content, this book is a fairly short one, but longer than it would be if the author did not feel it necessary to bookend his advice with efforts to make himself an expert.  The first part of the book talks about his supposed sales expertise by appealing to the idea that one must spend 10,000 doing something to be an expert at it.  After this, the author gives a discussion on the three activities that one is doing in order to get a job, and that is talking, meeting, and building rapport.  This seems very simple, and for the most part it is, but the author is effective at discussing how lowering the pressure of interactions makes them less awkward–this sounds like something I should try, because one has the knowledge that there will be more interactions and that interactions can be enjoyed without trying to push for something.  Of course, it would be easier for such an approach to be accepted if one did not feel the author pushing so hard in this book, but be that as it may one can appreciate counsel without feeling that the messenger is the best one to be delivering it.  After delivering such chestnuts as never leaving an appointment without another appointment, the author closes the book by talking about his own experience in joblessness, which he stated he delayed saying because he was concerned about how it would affect his credibility, which ends the book on a strange note of unsuccessful attempts to leverage vulnerability.

Ultimately, this book fails to deliver its author’s intentions because of a misalignment between the author’s apparent aims and the author’s delivery.  The author talks about the need to reduce pressure in interactions to sell things but also makes this book an extended sales pitch to his approach and worldview.  Furthermore, he does so in a way that plays to his weaknesses–his poor understanding of how to format a book, his apparent emotional manipulation of his own struggles that undercuts his previous self-portrayal as an expert salesman.  This is a book that one can only appreciate if one does as the author says and not as the author does, and if a reader is that charitable to the book, then the author’s worldview is not really succeeding.  Let us hope that the author is able to edit this work in such a fashion that it more successfully conveys his point that we need to pay attention to certain fundamental details in interactions with others in order that we should get jobs as well as better our own interests in other areas of life, like dating (which is a frequent comparison made here).  The author, though, would be well served to understand the fundamental importance of conveying his thoughts in a format that is appealing and that does not distract the reader from what is being said.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/01/book-review-your-favorite-band-is-killing-me/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/10/22/book-review-101-things-i-learned-in-advertising-school/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/21/book-review-authors-digital-enterprise/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/10/book-review-the-art-of-the-book-launch-party/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/23/book-review-how-music-works/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/23/book-review-republic-of-outsiders/

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Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Kenny G

On his entertaining video for his ten least favorite songs of 1987, You Tube video blogger Todd In The Shadows, who I am particularly fond of [1], put at #1 Kenny G’s top ten hit “Songbird,” with some expletive-loaded commentary about how terrible the song was and what a disaster it was that he had a big hot.  Unfortunately for him, Kenny G had many more hits than that one, both hit albums (including one album that is among the best-selling albums of all time) as well as hit singles where he was the lead as well as guest artist on.  If you are looking for one of the more unlikely pivotal music figures of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Kenny G is a firm example of an instrumentalist that was able not only to break into the mainstream, but to make it safe for all kinds of “Easy Listening” music to do to the same.  If you are looking at the most consistent musical acts of his era in terms of popular sales and influence on others, there are few people who had a bigger influence on music during that time tan Kenny G.  Whether you consider that a good thing or not depends on where you stand.  We know where Todd In The Shadows stands, but millions of people disagree.

The Influence Of Kenny G

The influence of Kenny G is rather striking consider that he plays the saxophone.  This is not generally something that is conducive for a career as a multi-platinum instrumentalist with numerous top 40 hits and multiple top 10 hits on the pop charts.  In order to properly understand Kenny G’s influence, we have to look first at his own body of work and how immensely successful it was.  Not only do we have to look at his own work, but also at the work he did accompanying other artists at the time, which showed his ability to add a sense of class to other songs.  Both as a sideman and as an artist in his own right, Kenny G had a striking influence on music and on the careers of many artists.  He has some of the few major instrumental hits of all time as part of his repertoire, among the few Easy Listening acts to have broken that far into the mainstream repeatedly.  Whether or not you like his music or its success, one cannot deny or ignore it, try as hard as rock critics might to minimize it and avoid giving recognition to one of the outsized talents of his time.

Why Kenny G belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Kenny G is not one of the more obvious choices one could pick for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Those people who think that dance music (like Madonna) is insufficiently “rock” for induction would give birth to calves before considering Kenny G as an acceptable rock act.  Even fans of the soft rock of the 1970’s and early 1980’s may consider Kenny G to be too soft and easy listening of an act.  Yet Kenny G has a strong case for induction.  Let’s lay out the numbers.  Kenny G’s first ten studio albums were certified at least gold, every studio album he released from 1982’s self titled debut to 2004’s At Last…The Duets Album.  Of those, three were certified platinum, three of them multiplatinum (selling at least 4 million copies), and one, 1992’s Breathless, certified diamond for sales of over 12 million copies.  In addition to this, he had three additional holiday albums certified at least gold, the other two of which went triple-platinum and 8 times platinum between 1994 and 2002, his first live album from 1989 went triple-platinum as well, and he had a triple-platinum greatest hits album [2].  His album sales alone merit induction, but he has further merit as a singles artist.  His domination of the adult contemporary chart is unsurprising, with 2 #1 hits, 6 additional top 10 hits, and 13 top 40’s aside from that.  What is more surprising is his 2 top 10 pop hits (“Songbird” and an instrumental version of “Auld Lang Syne”) along with 4 additional pop top 40 hits (including my favorite song of his, “Silhouette”), along with hits on the R&B charts and rythmic pop hits.  His collaborations are just as impressive, as on his own solo hits he has collaborated with such acts as Smokey Robinson, Peabo Bryston, Aaron Neville, Louis Armstrong, and Earth, Wind, & Fire.  He has also been a successful collaborator with others, turning his musical talents to hits from Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Johnny Gill, Michael Bolton, Whitney Houston [3], and Babyface featuring Mariah Carey [4].  Other musicians have recognized his talents, and it is time for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to as well.

Why Kenny G Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Kenny G has a large and appreciative fan base, to be sure, but it is not the sort of fan base that writes about those acts unfairly excluded from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, it seems.  As a saxophone musician with no appreciable vocal talents, Kenny G is not a very hip choice for music fans–he wasn’t in his heyday and he certainly isn’t now.  Even among those who respect his fine musicianship, it may be hard to figure out where to place him as an inductee.

Verdict:  Put him in.  At the very least he was an effective sideman who made a lot of smooth music in an important stretch of time between the mid 1980’s and the mid 1990’s, and that alone is worthy of recognition for those who do not want to induct him as a main act.  In both categories, though, he is worthy of induction.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/01/going-to-the-library-tonight/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/29/not-hunting-bigfoot/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/24/thats-news-to-me/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/08/03/come-on-come-on-its-there-at-your-feet/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_G_discography

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/02/04/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-whitney-houston/

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/01/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-mariah-carey/

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La Hotel Espero: Chapter Eleven: Part Two

A few minutes later the bellhop arrived and made his customary knock at the door.  Kate smiled and got up from her bed with a look at the supposedly sleeping form of her roommate and friend.  Ashley was doing something unusual for sure, but she would have to uncover that mystery later.  She had other things to do for now, like eat a long and enjoyable meal with the bellhop.  As she walked with him and engaged in sweet nothings with him, her mind pondered on what she should consider the bellhop.  Did they have a relationship?  Clearly there was some kind of courtship here, and she would likely not have met someone like him in her normal life.  They probably were the sort of people who went to different places and would never have met.  Yet they had, and she wondered if there would be a conversation about their status ahead.  She figured that the bellhop was a cautious sort of person, and that whatever he did he would take it somewhat slow, but she wondered if broaching the subject would make a conversation awkward or not.  She did not know it, but the answer was yes, of course.  When things were going well, as they were going well right now between her and the bellhop, the relationship was not the subject of the conversation.  The relationship was going well, there was nothing that needed to be discussed, at least at the moment.  The problem was that people who were insecure and needed reassurance tended to make an implicit matter that was going well into an explicit matter that made everything awkward.  Fortunately for her, and for him, she did not feel it necessary to press the matter.

She was surprised at how little she actually knew about the private life and history of her sorta-boyfriend.  She had spent the night in his arms and kissed him, so she supposed that there was at least mutual recognition of attraction, but he was the sort of person who managed to keep his interior life private without being secretive about it.  Without appearing to be a person who was closed or untrustworthy, he was definitely a person of restraint.  She wondered why that was the case, why someone who had such obvious gifts and was so obviously a decent person who genuinely cared about others was so reserved.  She supposed he had a story, but he might not even remember it.  She tried to pay attention to the walking and talking that she was doing so that she wouldn’t say anything too ridiculous.  She liked the classiness of the restaurant.  To be sure, there was a lot about this hotel that was sketchy, but at least they had a good restaurant.  She thought of a question.  “This may seem a bit random,” she said, knowing that it was, “but do you know why the hotel looks like it has windows on the outside but it doesn’t on the inside?”  “I’ve often wondered that myself.  I can offer a guess as to the reasons, but I don’t know for sure.  My guess is that whoever owns this hotel doesn’t want people to know, for the most part, what time it is outside.  There appears to be a deliberate effort to keep people inside, and to discourage their investigation of the outside world.”  “Why do you think that is?”  “I’m not sure.  There have been so few people staying here that I have no idea what the intent was.  I mean, no one before you has been a guest for as long as I can remember.”  “I suppose you have asked about it?”  “Yes, it’s definitely something that I have been curious about but no one has ever given me an answer about it.”  “This place has a lot of questions and not a lot of answers.”  “Yes, you’re right about that, but I think this place has enough answers, it’s just that there aren’t very many answers that you want to get.”  “What do you mean?”  “What I mean is that this hotel can send a message but that not everyone wants to get the message.  I don’t think it would be right for me to tell you all of the things I have found out from being here myself, and I am sure that there are things that you could realize that I would be oblivious to because you are sensitive to them and I am not.”

They had arrived at their favorite table near the kitchen.  “What would you like today?”  “What would you recommend?”  “Well, I am cooking up some chicken parmesan for myself again, as I am a creature of habit, but may I ask what mood you are in?”  “I would like a nice steak.  Are there any good steak cuts?”  “Well, we have a seasoned ribeye that I would recommend with tasty herbs.  I would eat more of it if it didn’t inflame my gout.”  “You have gout?”  “I’ve had it ever since I was your age, at least, and when I eat the wrong foods or the night gets too cold or I overexert myself in walking or running too much, it tends to bother me.”  “Do you have any medicine here for it?”  “No, I don’t.”  “Then how do you get rid of it when you have an attack?”  “Well, most of the time I just have to flush it out with a lot of water.”  “That sounds unpleasant.”  “It could be a lot worse, that’s for sure.”  There was a slight pause and he whipped up their salads in his customarily elaborate fashion.  “You know, about these salads–”  He waited a bit and then replied, “Yes?”  “Do you grow any of the ingredients yourself?”  “I do have a bit of a vegetable garden, yes, but I only get to tend it rarely.  Right now I have harvested what I want for now, but if I get to it more than once or twice a week this time of year it would be pretty fortunate for me.  I’m not a particularly skilled gardener or anything like that.”  “You do like your veggies, though.”  “Yes, that I do,” he said with a smile.  “You appear to enjoy them too.”  “Yes, that I do.”  They amused themselves in this fashion and at their salads as the rest of their food was cooking, which he attended to with admirable skill.  After a few minutes of cooking, he had made her a steak that was at medium level and she remembered that in their conversation she had forgotten to say how she wanted it.  “That’s fine.  I like my steaks medium.”  “That’s good to know.  I’ll try to remember that for the future.”  “Do you remember well?”  “I remember my life here very well, which is a shame as it usually isn’t very interesting.  I don’t remember much about before I was here, though.”  “Neither do I.  Why is that?”  “I’m not sure; perhaps it is better that way.  We bring our character with us here, but we don’t bring memories of the past, for the most part, that would only serve to make us dissatisfied with what we are doing now.”  “Honestly, I don’t do much.”  “Are you bored with yourself?”  “Just a bit.  I watched three hours of Judge Judy today.”  “That’s a show I’ve enjoyed.”  “Do you ever watch tv by yourself?”  “I have before, but honestly I don’t have much reason to, because it’s not usually something that greatly interests me.”

“What does interest you, besides gardening and reading?”  “Well, I am generally involved in reading.  I like to sing, but there’s hardly anyone to hear me,” he said to himself, a bit flustered.  “This isn’t a very exciting place; other than work there often isn’t anything to do at all, and since I can’t go online or play games with anyone there isn’t actually very much to do.”  “I can see how that would be difficult.”  “What about you?  What do you like to do?”  “I like dancing, I enjoy spending time with others, but honestly, I can’t remember most of what I liked to do with my time and I haven’t found very much to do.”  “I don’t suppose you’d like to work here, would you?”  “I’m not sure about that,” she answered honestly.  “But you’d like to do something productive?”  “Yes, I would.”  “I’ll see if I can do anything.  Most of the time I don’t get answers to my suggestions but it would be a lot less lonely here with someone else here, that’s for sure,” his face seemed to brighten in thought as he spoke, and she smiled, glad that if he was a reserved person that at least he was the sort of person whose emotions were disguised.  He seemed rather open at least in that he communicated openly with nonverbal communication.  As promised, dinner was tasty, and the two of them smiled at each other and ate pretty heartily.  He was certainly good at cooking, especially for someone who didn’t have anyone else to cook for, which is usually not something that encourages one to have creativity in what one did.  She supposed that he cooked well in large part because he liked food, not because he had been trying to impress anyone.  “Did you remember that I wanted you to show me your room?”  “Yes, I remember,” he said shyly, “I don’t think there is anything interesting but you’re welcome to see if you want to.”  “I thought we could go there after dinner?”  “That would be good, I suppose.  We’re basically done now, aren’t we?”  “Yes, I think we are,” she said with a nod.  He made sure that the empty glasses and plates were rinsed and put in the washing machine and then he took her to a room that was not very far away from the lobby, and he opened the door and turned on the light and they went inside.

She looked around the room and saw that it was small and filled with books.  There was a small desk with a beautiful box on it, a twin-sized bed with fabric on in that was the same as her own bed, and other than that there were a lot of books.  There wasn’t even a television in here, though one wonders where there would have been any room with all of the books around.  “You really do like to read.”  “Yes, I suppose you could say I do.”  “Are these books yours?”  “I think they belong to the hotel, actually, seeing as I don’t have anywhere else to put these books.  I suppose if they weren’t here they would be in some closet somewhere.”  “That seems like it would be a waste.”  “I’m sure I would think of it as a waste,” he agreed, “but not everyone is as fond of books as I am.”  “That’s certainly true.”  She was sitting on the desk chair as he sat on his bed, and neither of them was entirely sure about what they should say next.  She knew he wasn’t comfortable with someone else in his private space.  It’s possible that no one had ever been here before.  She wondered what the space said about him.  It was a small room but definitely comfortable.  This was not the sort of room that someone would sleep in for a week, but rather the sort of room that had been lived in for a long time.  It was rather plain, perhaps even a bit austere, but the books in it were well-read and this was a place that felt comfortable to her, aside from the awkwardness of the situation.  “I really like it here.”  “You do?  I’ve always thought it was a bit small.”  “It is small, but it looks rather homey, like you obviously have made it your own space.”  “I’m glad you think so,” he said politely, and he looked like he was about to continue on except that there was suddenly the sound of a loud siren outside.  The bellhop seemed puzzled but had the presence of mind to get up and head towards the lobby.  She followed, and saw him look at some of the closed circuit screens with a frown on his face.  “I have something to investigate,” he said slowly as he took out a flashlight from beneath the lobby.  “Do you want me to come with you?” “If you wish,” he said as he walked out of the lobby door and down the lane.  In the gathering darkness, his flashlight caught a form on the pavement near the front gate.  “You may want to help me with this,” he said evenly.  She looked with horror at the body on the pavement.   Was that Ashley?

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Book Review: A Kill For The Poet

A Kill For The Poet, by Simon Maltman

[Note:  This book was given free of charge by the author.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As someone who is slightly familiar with the writings of the author [1], I was quite comfortable pulling a Caroline Bingley and reading the second volume of this series without having read the first volume yet.  While the novel does contain several references to its predecessor, A Chaser On The Rocks, and apparently contains a similar complicated novel within a novel design, it was a novel I was able to appreciate and grasp as a standalone volume even though I was aware it was part of a larger series.  What the reader ends up with is two enjoyable noir novels that deal with Belfast and its surrounding areas and also go further afield.  The novel also has at its center a likable character, if a somewhat unreliable narrator named Billy Chapman/Brian Caskey who tries to cope with various mental health struggles with liberal doses of anti-psychotic meds as well as writing, and some amateur sleuthing on the side.  The fragile mental state of the author makes it hard to trust what the narrator says about himself, although it adds to the general appeal in being a remarkably blunt and generally positive portrayal of writing as therapy for mental illness something at least some readers of this book may be familiar with.

If you have read works by the author before, you have some idea of what you are going to find here.  A generally sympathetic Northern Irishman with a strong interest in relevant literature and with good movie tastes finds himself in way over his head and simply tries to cope with it to make it to the other side, with escalating drama.  In this case the novel within the novel shows that the author can craft his own tales while also paying homage to some of the great noir novelists of previous generations by looking at contemporary Belfast after the Brexit and also the Belfast of the postwar period.  The story itself is mostly in Northern Ireland but also takes an enjoyable detour to Belgium, and there are some enjoyable meta jokes where the narrator jokes about being an author and arranging blog tours.  One wonders, in reading this novel in the context of the author’s work as a whole, how much of the book springs from the author’s own perspective as well as from his obvious command of the relevant detective fiction.  The satisfying cliffhang ending lets the reader know that there will likely be more enjoyable and slightly unhinged adventures for the hero ahead where he tries to balance his writing, his love of solving mysteries, and his fragile grip on mental health.

Simon Maltman is a writer whose works have the terroir of Belfast all over them, and if you are a reader drawn to gripping stories with strong local color, and especially if you have enjoyed previous works by the author, there is much here that will be of interest.  What Raymond Chandler was to Los Angeles, Maltman is to Belfast, a novelist with an eye for the seedy underbelly of a city, and a way of connecting the private drama of lonely men in dangerous cities to the problems of the wider world in which they have a shadowy existence.  This is a novel that reminds the reader, if any reminder were necessary, that there are many ways that what seems like a little bit of fun and a way to spice up an otherwise mundane life and earn a bit of money on the side can lead to places far darker than can be imagined.  The way the protagonist copes with being in over his head is something that is quite enjoyable to read and possibly reflect on with regards to our own lives, which are hopefully less dramatic.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/10/11/book-review-bongo-fury/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/10/21/book-review-bongo-fury-2-holiday-for-skins/

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Book Review: A Chaser On The Rocks

A Chaster On The Rocks, by Simon Maltman

[Note:  This book was given free of charge by the writer.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

If you are familiar with the author’s other work [1], there is a lot that will strike you as familiar.  The hero of this story is a hard-drinking, hard-smoking private investigator and writer with a fragile grip on reality who serves as a slightly unreliable narrator.  Where this book excels is in its characters and its sense of place, mostly Belfast but also some surrounding areas and even Dublin as well as the protagonist does some research for his WWII-era novel.  There is something meta about this novel, as the author gets to show off how a writer learns his trade with the protagonist taking writing classes as a way of coping with his mental illness, struggling with whether to take his meds or not, dealing with absence seizures, which are no picnic to deal with, and also writing in the novel within a novel a detective with a bad case of PTSD.  As that is something which I am unfortunately afflicted with as well, let me affirm to you that it is no picnic either.  Both of the plots work exceedingly well together and the author has constructed another story that shows the reader his virtuosity and his skill in managing character and plot as well as genre.

The story itself is suitably complicated given the way that chapters alternate between the novel and the novel within the novel.  In the past, a Belfast detective solves a couple of crimes involving the death of an idealistic young woman who stumbles across some Nazi spies as well as a blackmail case gong wrong involving a lovely woman involved with her second cousin who the detective finds himself deeply attracted to.  This is handled with a nice touch, showing off some excellent historical research about the blitz in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  The contemporary storyline is a bit slower paced.  This story is not one that starts with a lot of drama, but rather it is a story that starts a bit slow and sneaks up on you, setting the stage with a lot of context and showing some funny scenes.  My favorite scene, although it doesn’t figure much in the plot, is the argument that the protagonist has with a woman who thinks he is some sort of creeper for going to the park without kids and the reply is blistering and on point.  By the end of the story, though, the reader definitely gets an appreciation for Belfast and some deeply interesting characters.

This novel, as might be expected, shows the deft touch of someone who knows genres and who also slips in some humorous references that prove to be a bit of foreshadowing.  For example, one of the scenes where the protagonist is taking a writing class shows him to be immensely fond of Chandler’s writings, and at one point it is remarked that Chandler’s The Big Sleep succeeds even though the novelist doesn’t reveal the entire mystery of the plot.  A clever and observant reader will notice that is the case here, as the novel is satisfying enough that even though there are some loose ends, the reader will be pleased because the tone and characters are so excellently handled.  This book is definitely an example of an author knowing their craft and giving more than just a wink and a nod to the great novels of the past.  One can see this particular series going on for quite some time, as the protagonist is compelling with his struggle to stay sane with financial troubles, mysteries to investigate, and novels to write as he tries to stay out of the mental hospital, and as Belfast is a place with enough stories to fill a lifetime.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/10/11/book-review-bongo-fury/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/10/21/book-review-bongo-fury-2-holiday-for-skins/

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La Hotel Espero: Chapter Eleven: Part One

Day Four:  Kate

She smiled as the bellhop woke her up and was somewhat daydreamy as he brought her down to the first floor.  She had enough presence of mind to open the door but forgot to see if the “Do Not Disturb” sign had been moved back outside of the door.  She was determined today to have a conversation with her roommate about the sign if it came to that.  She didn’t feel the need to sleep, and she wondered how she was going to spend her day.  Of course, she wanted to spend a great deal of time with the bellhop, but she knew he had a job to do and she wanted to let him do his job and not get him into trouble with whatever people were looking at the goings on.  She wondered about all kinds of things, like whether there were cameras in the rooms or how much the management of the hotel was aware of what was going on.  She didn’t want to dial the information hotline and get more cryptic and not very helpful messages, after all.  So if she didn’t want to go and bother the bellhop at his desk, and she did not want to call the unhelpful line again, that left her at a bit of a loss as to what she could do during the day.  She figured that she could call the front desk during the mid-afternoon to discuss her plans for the evening.

Speaking of which, she should probably figure out what it was that she wanted.  She thought that it would be interesting to see how the bellhop lived.  She knew he might be a bit shy about his personal space–he was certainly shy about entering the space she shared with Ashley–but she supposed that she could convince him that he should show her around his room.  She did remember him saying that he liked to read, so perhaps there were some good books available for her to borrow.  She didn’t know Esperanto, the language that this shady hotel was titled in, but at least she was mildly interested in reading and it would likely be a lot better than whatever was on television.  Today she was stuck watching what was available on the television but she hoped that she wouldn’t have to do that for very much longer because she was really getting bored.  When one had a good night’s sleep and good food and felt like one had a bit of energy, one did not want to sit in bed and watch television all day.  One wanted to go out and do things, but what was there to do?  Maybe she could walk around in the grounds, she thought to herself, but if she did that she needed to feel a bit more fresh and clean first.  Okay, so she pondered to herself that she know had something to do, at least, and maybe she could watch a few hours of television if there was something entertaining on.  That would be an acceptable way to spend time, she thought to herself.

She looked around in her closet and found a nice floral dress.  That would do nicely, she thought as she found some clean undergarments to go along with it.  She went to the shower and sang to herself while she used the body wash and then washed her hair.  Perhaps it was odd to clean up before one went outside, but she was the sort of person who knew that it was best to be clean when one was making a trip outside, even if no one was there to see her.  It was the preparation that counted.  After all, one never knew when one’s moment would arrive, when one would have an interaction where it mattered that one took care of oneself and noticed the details about self-presentation.  One never knew who was watching, and though she had not been the recipient of the amount of male gaze that her roommate had, she had drawn the attention of enough guys to know that one always had the potential of drawing either admiration or censure, and that was not even including the judgmental looks that one got from other women who were constantly trying to evaluate the competition.  They should make documentaries about that, she figured.  They should be narrated by the same people who did all those nature shows on public television, where the mean girl was in her natural domain, glaring at any who would attempt to invade her space or something equally droll or deadpan like that.  It was a pleasant thought to her and it made her smile to herself.  After she finished washing and rinsing herself she turned off the water and dried herself and then put on her dress.  She found a cute pair of shoes to go along with her dress and even a nice hat and smiled as she walked out of her room.  She looked and saw the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside of the door, and resolved within herself that she would talk with Ashley about why her roommate didn’t want her to have fresh linens.  She was not sure it would be a happy conversation.

As she walked her shoes made a satisfying sound, especially when she got to the area of the lobby with the hard surface of the floor.  She looked at the lobby to see if the bellhop was at his station, but he was not and there was a little sign saying that he was not there and would be back as soon as possible.  She wondered what he had to do that would take him away from his desk, but she supposed, rightly so, that he had to look over the rooms and that it took a fair amount of time to do the inspection that was required.  She wondered if he had to work around in the garden at all and it was a pleasing thought to her.  She walked outside and found it to be a cool but mostly sunny day.  It was sunny enough outside to cheer her up but not too sunny that she would get a sunburn from enjoying a walk around the grounds.  She looked at what sort of flowers were available, trying to see if it would give her any clues about what region they were in, since she had at least some knowledge of flowers and plants.  One thing was sure, and that was that there was a lot of grass and not a lot of plants that would give away the location. She did see some dahlias though, and she knew those flowers, at least in her limited experience, to be the sort of plants that enjoyed temperate to cool climates and could spread quite heavily.  Some of the most feared words for anyone taking care of plants were words related to the spreading habits of plants that could take over any open or available space and choke out any other kind of life.  Some people were like that too, she pondered to herself; it was not a satisfying reflection to make.

She walked fully around the hotel and saw that each room appeared to have windows, and that from the outside one could not tell that the windows were merely decorative, although one could not see into the rooms at all.  She wondered–it was only natural to wonder–what was between the windows and the interior walls of the hotel, as the bellhop had been pretty insistent and she had no reason to doubt him that the only ways one could see outside were to either go outside through the lobby or go up to the roof as they had done last night. She wished that the roof had been made up like a planetarium where one could look into the sky and know what one was looking at and even use telescopes to see.  She bet that without the light pollution that was all around in the city or the suburbs where she had spent her life that one could see a lot in the sky that was usually too dim to notice in the haze of artificial light.  She saw the dark forests on the other side of the fences and gate–there was only one entrance and exit, and the road for vehicles made a loop of sorts to the gate.  The rest of the grounds consisted of a few plants of the mostly perennial variety or the volunteer variety that could grow up again year after year.  This did not surprise her, as it meant that the grounds would require minimal care.  She did not take the bellhop to be the sort of person who was passionate about plants, but then something caught her eye.  It was not something she would have seen had she been casually looking around, but she was being somewhat through about it, and she saw that there was indeed space that was kept for an herb garden.  She thought she could recognize some basil and some vegetable plants.  She wondered if this garden was where the bellhop grew his food crops for some of his salads.  She was sure he did something of the kind for himself, as he definitely enjoyed that kind of plant.  Of course, he would be practical, she thought to herself, and then she saw the sun in the sky and realized it would probably be good for her to walk back inside before she had a sunburn.  She knew at least that even if this was a lonely sort of place that it had at least a little bit of home in it.

She looked at the clock when she got back, as the bellhop was still not back at his desk, and it was only about noon, leaving her plenty of time to spend before she felt comfortable giving him a call.  She turned on the television and saw that there was a Judge Judy marathon.  That was definitely something that would pass the time agreeably, she said to herself.  She loved the way that judge shows were formatted.  There was a structure to the drama that was appealing, and that gave plenty of opportunity for the judge to uncover holes in the claims of the parties involved and to try to regulate justice of a sort.  She remembered that the court hearings themselves were a form of binding arbitration, and not strictly civil litigation of the kind that took place in actual courtrooms, but still, it was a form of theater that she understood and appreciated.  She felt more comfortable watching the drama than being a part of it, though she could tell that the judges on television generally enjoyed the drama.  Why else would they have chosen their profession if not to be a part of the scene and to be above the drama while involved in it at the same time?  What did it mean that she was the sort of person who enjoyed watching a courtroom scene but not being a part of it either?  There was a lot more stress and pressure when one was in the scene rather than merely watching and observing it.  The sense of distance to the drama was something she found comforting.  Maybe it was because she was a bit more shy and timid than the people who relished the drama were that she felt this way.  Before she knew it, it was about 3PM, and she had watched half a dozen episodes of the show.  Now would be a good time to call, she said to herself.  She picked up the phone and dialed his familiar number.  “Hey, It’s me, Kate,” she said a bit uncertainly.  “Did you want to go out again this evening?”  “I would love to.  I think I’m hungry enough for a full meal tonight.” She really was that hungry after her walk around the grounds. “That sounds good to me.” She paid a bit and then asked the question that was on her mind.  “Would you like to show me your room afterward?”  He paused a bit in reply.  “I’m sure if you want to see it I can show you around.  There’s nothing particularly remarkable to see there, though.”  She felt it necessary to appeal to her interest in him at this point.  “It’s personal, and it belongs to you, and I’m sure it would be enjoyable to see a more personal side of you than your normal bellhop self.”  “Fair enough,” he said to her.  “What time would you like me to be at your room?”  “How about five o’clock?”  “That sounds good.  I’ll see you then.”  She gave the sound of a kiss and then the conversation was done.

 

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria

I have watched with a fair amount of grim dissatisfaction the drama surrounding the Alabama Senate race which is pitting Judge Roy Moore against someone else.  Honestly, I don’t know who he is running against, and I couldn’t be bothered to look him up even if I could.  It is testament perhaps to the grasp that Republicans are gaining on races in certain states that the race has less to do with the two candidates in question than it does with a strategy that I find deeply troubling, and that is dragging the name of Moore, most famous for being a principled judge who stood up for the Ten Commandments in a notable and lengthy case and who has faced a great deal of immense hostility from the forces of the Left before [1].  The current political climate, though, is one of witch-hunting of a particular kind.  Perhaps, if we are less kind in the future we may look at this particular moment as a time when people searched for sexual scandal at the bottom of every rock in a time of general permissiveness, making few people safe from claims that are false or at least misrepresented.

I don’t happen to know the truth of the matter about what Moore is accused of.  Fortunately, at least, he hasn’t attracted a massive bandwagon effect of accusers the way that has happened for some of the Hollywood figures who have been buried underneath the weight of dozens of accusers of all kinds of loathsome deeds.  For the moment, at least, we have accusations limited to those with a certain political worldview that can, with plausibility, be seen as a game of unpleasant political gamesmanship.  If Moore can retain the confidence of the people of Alabama as a straight arrow, and there is no fire at the base of the smoke but merely a smoke machine run by one’s longtime enemies [2], there is a possibility that he may even win this bitter campaign.  It is not as if political enemies have not stopped fairly low before in the attempt to blacken the name of other candidates.  Such is the way that life in decadent republican regimes goes, sadly.  However, no matter the extent to which Moore has been a good soldier in the culture wars against the powers of darkness, if there is any truth to the allegations that he took advantage of his power to pressure young women sexually, he should probably step aside.  Moore strikes me as the sort of person to fight to the end, however, come what may, at least from his character thus far.

Part of what makes this sort of situation problematic is the way that interactions can appear differently to different people.  We live in a world where nearly everything carries with it sexual overtones of a deeply unpleasant nature and where there are is a great deal of ambiguity and ambivalence about how sexuality is viewed, particularly with regards to young women, but also others as well.  There are some cases, as we have seen in Hollywood, where sexual violence and malice is conscious, intended, and unambiguous.  If there is a quid pro quo where sexual favors are demanded for career advancement or where people use their power and influence to try to gratify their lusts, that is clearly a form of violence that we ought to stop.  I have little sympathy for predators who are found out and stopped, even when it requires fairly heroic actions like trying to re-film and re-edit scenes six weeks before a movie is supposed to come out.  It must be freely admitted, though, that not all cases are like that.  I myself have been witness to interactions that made me feel uncomfortable as an observer where an older married man made highly flirtatious comments to attractive young women that, if taken badly, could easily be viewed as harassment or pressure where none was meant.  I could see something like this happening to Moore, where what he took as pleasant banter was viewed in as less friendly fashion by a young woman who carried a grudge for decades and saw the contemporary political climate as the best opportunity to exact a bit of delayed revenge.

We live in a world where every aspect of one’s lives is infused with something relating to sexuality.  Everything from the clothes we wear to the music we listen to to the movies and television shows we watch urges us to see others in the light of sexuality and for others to see us in that light.  And yet despite this, we simultaneously are becoming a society that is increasingly intolerant of dealing with unpleasantness from others and desiring a safe space of echo chambers where only voices like ourselves are heard.  The trade between power and sexuality has long been an aspect of many institutions, going back centuries if not far longer.  And wise women have known that the same power that their sexual attractiveness had could easily fade as they got older, or make them vulnerable to violence from those who did not want to make a deal but rather take what they wanted.  What we are finding, though, somewhat belatedly, is that even the milder tendencies of those with some form of power and influence to enjoy the company and attention of attractive people, even where nothing necessarily untoward is done, is itself a vulnerability that many people are not prepared to face.  Moore is neither the first nor the last person who is going to have to deal with the repercussions of that.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/19/book-review-so-help-me-god/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/23/to-which-office-do-i-go-to-get-my-reputation-back/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/02/14/book-review-the-reputation-economy/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/23/book-review-selected-letters-of-cicero/

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Book Review: The Broken Bible

The Broken Bible:  Picking Up The Extraterrestrial Pieces:  Part I:  The Old Testament, by John E. Chitty

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Author’s Den.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Beyond all expectation, this is not the first book I have read that engages in speculation concerning extraterrestrials in the Bible [1], nor is this even the first book that has connected the sightings of little gray men and supposed UFOs to the activity of Satan and his demons [2].  This might be taken sensibly enough as all the evidence one needs to prove that I read too many books, especially too many very odd books, and that would certainly be true.  Even so, I expected to find this book as something ridiculous and found it to be something worthy of serious thought.  The author’s approach to the Bible is one that many people share, even if their contents are far more conventional than this one.  The author, for whatever reason, considers the Bible to be broken, and mines the Bible (as well as a lot of esoteric extrabiblical literature like the Book of Enoch and others) for language that can be viewed as metaphorical for various craft and superpowered weapons, rather than looking at the Bible as having anything to say about his own brokenness.  If this book is extremely odd, it is odd from very common premises that see the Bible as a fertile ground for one’s own speculations and ideas rather than as an authority in one’s life.

This book, in over 350 pages, manages to briefly (!) cover supposed interactions with God, the angels, and demons as highly advanced human-like species with immensely complicated technologies from the biblical material in the Old Testament.  At several points the author states that books could be written about certain things, and one getes the sense that such books may be written and published by the author in the future if time permits.  The chapters of the book cover material like Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Kings & Chronicles, Ezekiel, and Isaiah & Jeremiah.  The author also intersperses material from Job and the Psalms.  The approach is fairly similar throughout, with the author looking at the Bible through the lens of his perspective and interests and seeking to interpret passes analogically as if the various ancients of biblical times simply lacked the language to describe the advanced technologies they were seeing, which they described as best as they could.  This is, it should be noted, the way that contemporary futurists view the book of Revelation.  The author even admits at least some of the times he engages in speculation, which is something to appreciate even if the author’s conclusions are highly unconventional, to put it very mildly.

There is a certain type of reader that I can recommend this book to.  If you like unconventional books that are written from the perspective of the contemporary and that mind the Bible for evidence to support personal theories, this book may be something viewed as entertaining or enlightening.  This book is one of those books where your appreciation of it will depend either on you agreeing or at least understanding his presuppositions.  I happen to disagree with his presuppositions and approach, but it is an approach at least that I understand, and one that is fairly common in my reading.  The author is clearly serious about his writing, and this is not a book that was written as a joke, but rather as a labor of love from a man who clearly reads and takes seriously the wide literature in the field of supposed close encounters with aliens.  Whether or not this is the sort of book that you want to read will have to depend on your tolerance for the author’s perspective, as is the case often with works of this nature.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/12/26/book-review-would-you-baptize-an-extraterrestrial/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/12/06/book-review-there-are-no-space-aliens/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/07/11/book-review-the-paranormal-conspiracy/

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Book Review: Angels With Fur

Angels With Fur:  Do We See Our Beloved Pets In Heaven?, by Sandra Joy Eastman

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Author’s Den.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As I comment from time to time, I have little personal experience as a pet parent [1].  As a small child I adopted a bright and freckled stray Brittany, and other than that I have spent a fair amount of time around the pets of friends and family members without having any of my own.  I have seen dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, and occasionally more unusual animals being cared for lovingly by adults and children without having any particular desire for having pets myself.  Being a somewhat awkward and standoffish person myself, although certainly not an unaffectionate one, I have never thought that the cramped and semi-nomadic conditions of my life and the limited amount of time I spent at home would make me an ideal pet owner, and I have no desire to be cruel to animals by ignoring or neglecting them.  Most, people, though, have a great deal more experience with pets than I do, and so there are many people for whom this book will have a great deal of emotional impact, at least more so than for me.

This short book of about sixty pages is made up of ten chapters that mostly deal with the pets that the author and her family have had that have particularly touched thier hearts.  Besides the author giving a narrative about the pets and their behavior, some of which is deeply poignant, and a great deal about the factors and situations that led to their demises, there are some poems included and even a solitary citation from scripture that deals with the new heavens and new earth where there will be no longer any death or sorrow or crying in contrast to this present existence.  Included among the pets are a dog with horrific suffering from fleas that was put down because the author’s family was unable to treat the problem due to poverty, a variety of dogs who were put down as their life ebbed away from organ failure or slow bleeding or other such factors.  Among the more unusual pets included was a mischievous feet with a taste for shoes, keys, and anything else shiny, as well as dog food.  So while the book has a great deal of sadness in its reflection upon the death of pets, there is also a recognition of the joy that pets provide to many people.

Ultimately, though, much of this book relates to a speculation on the afterlife of pets.  It must be conceded that the Bible says noting about the afterlife of pets or any sort of offer of eternal life for our beloved animals.  Even so, we know that there will be animals in the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ and that their nature will be changed [2].  The author has no belief in reincarnation, thankfully, nor are any of her beliefs contrary to scripture.  Rather, this book is about speculative matters argued with a strong amount of emotional reasoning.  The author’s rationale appears to be that animals are full of love and life and that one could not imagine a happy afterlife for us without thinking that eternal life will be granted as well to those beings whom we love.  This is speculation, it must be admitted, but it is not the sort of speculation that I am personally bothered about or offended about.  The author talks a lot about a supposed rainbow bridge where pets await some kind of resurrection into eternal life, but whether or not a reader believes in that, there is still much to appreciate here about the love that pets and people share and the desire on the part of at least some people that pets share in the blessings given to believers by our loving Father above.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/05/11/we-are-siamese-if-you-dont-please/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/17/book-review-where-is-simon-sandy-3/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/10/02/any-more-than-horses/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/04/22/a-dog-with-no-illusions/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/03/30/the-alpacas-of-oregon/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/11/16/a-change-in-the-nature/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/20/growing-up-in-the-millennium/

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