the fact that you were able to turn this florid, utter drek of a novel into something like La Traviata is a testament to your geniu...more Dear Signore Verdi,
the fact that you were able to turn this florid, utter drek of a novel into something like La Traviata is a testament to your genius. This verbose, hypocritical drivel is a fast read, but other than that, has no redeeming quality whatsoever. Your Alfredo and Violetta are a vast improvement upon the repulsive Armand and Marguerite, and your divine music is a much superior articulation of the emotions that the author attempted to convey with such cloying sentimentality. What works in a few lines of libretto could be interminable in pages after pages of purple prose.
M. Dumas fils might have been the original author of this tale, but I'd take your version over his any time.
Me: “Well, here’s the book I told you about, Molly, the one that will tell me everything there is to know about you.”
Me: “Yes, that’s a...moreMe: “Well, here’s the book I told you about, Molly, the one that will tell me everything there is to know about you.”
Me: “Yes, that’s a good girl! Let’s see, this book is written by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist specializing in animal research. She must be one smart lady. And she’s also a dog person! This should be interesting. Let’s loll on the sofa and read it.”
Molly: (jumps up and looks expectantly)
Me: “The title is a part of a joke: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Heh heh. Isn’t that funny?”
Molly: (jumps into lap and licks mouth)
Me: “Aww, stop it! I’m trying to read here. According to page 51, licking around my mouth is a manipulative behavior. You are stimulating me so that I’d vomit up some partially digested meat for you to eat. Gross. So please sit nicely and listen.”
Molly: (curls up with a sigh)
Me: “Do you know that you’re better than chimps in reading humans? They have this experiment in which dogs and chimps had to find hidden food items utilizing clues from humans. Some of the humans were made to wear blindfolds or buckets over their head, while others had unimpeded view of where the food was supposed to be hidden. Chimps begged from both kinds of humans, while dogs begged from those whose eyes were visible. See --- you’re smarter than our primate cousins!”
Me: “You’re right. Chimps are way overrated. How about this: a dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar diluted in a million gallons of water --- two Olympic-sized pools full. That’s your real-life super power, Krypto! That’s Superman’s dog, by the way. He flies around with this cute little cape --- ”
Me: “Nap time, eh? Hmm…more animal research: wolves, bees, deers, ticks. Actually, all I want to read about is dogs, dogs and dogs. Some of these researches are interesting in their own right and are useful as comparison, but others seem to be barely tangential. This writer can be very long-winded.”
Me: “An attention-getting bark, which is distinct from the rumble of a growl, or the ominous snarl (page 140). Do you know that your barks can be as loud as 130 decibels? That’s up there with thunderclaps and plane takeoffs. That's another super power! Why are you looking at me like that?”
Molly: (glances at the dining room, tail wagging)
Me: (looks at the clock). “It’s time for lunch! Your circadian rhythm tells you that. Okay, let’s eat.”
Molly: (snatches the book and runs away with it)
Me: “Hey stop that! I still have to find out why you Fox Terriers are such little rascals!”
Q: My superhero hubby has a habit of throwing expensive SUVs at villains when fighting them on the street. We’re gettin...moreParanormal Relationship Q&A
Q: My superhero hubby has a habit of throwing expensive SUVs at villains when fighting them on the street. We’re getting sued left and right for restitution by the owners. What could I do to change this bad habit?
Super-annoyed in Texas
A: Tell your hubby to look for cheaper alternatives. If he must throw something big at a super villain, he could use street lamps instead. They’re pretty effective, and the best thing of all --- they’re owned by the government! The government wouldn’t charge your hubby for them --- they’re more likely to give him a medal for taking down a dangerous super villain instead!
Q: I’m a zookeeper in a military facility that studies paranatural creatures. Lately, I seem to have fallen in love with one of my charges, which is a Selkie. I know that I’m not supposed to do that, but I can’t help it! Especially when he parades naked in front of me whenever I come into his cage to feed him. I’m thinking of running away with it/him.
Confused in NY
A: Don’t do it! Everyone knows how human/Selkie affairs end. A Selkie (Homo Pinnipedia) uses its sealskin to travel in water, but could shed it to walk on land as a human. But they’re not human! The males have a predilection for seducing human women using magic, so what you’re feeling now might be the result of it. This only works when you’re near him. So stay away from him! He’s just manipulating you to get out of the facility. You must not let your personal feelings overcome your duty to science. Besides, you’ll be committing bestiality, which is a federal offense.
Q: I met this really gorgeous woman at a party last week and we’re getting serious pretty fast. But a church friend saw us together and warned me that she might be a “succubus”. What does it mean? She speaks with a thick Irish accent. I really want us to be together. Paul
A: A succubus is a kind of a demon. She will ride you and take your seed and your soul to Queen Rusalka of the Unseelie Court. They all have Irish accents because their HQ is in Ireland (and not in hell, as so many erroneously believe). If you really love her, you must resist her. If she can’t take your soul after three attempts, their queen will punish her by turning her into an ordinary mortal woman. Then you will be able to be together with your ladylove. Good luck!
Q: I’m a newlywed whose wife happens to be a mermaid. She has the cutest tail and I love her Irish accent. We’re very happy together and always agree on virtually everything, except when it comes to food. She doesn’t like normal human food, even sushi. What should I feed her? She gets tired of the cat’s canned tuna after just a week. Newlywed in Tokyo
A: Here’s a tried and tested recipe for your mermaid bride:
Ocean Treasures Salad
Ingredients: 1 pail of cut up tuna or whole mackerel, a few abalones, fresh kelp leaves.
Cut up the abalones and kelp leaves. Sprinkle with fresh sea salt. Add a liter of seawater. Mix all ingredients in a pail. Serve cold.
Q: I’ve just found out that my dad is a demon. I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do. Help! Teen Damian
A: Yours is an increasingly common problem nowadays, with so many children from human/demon unions just finding out about their mixed heritage. Don’t worry! There are support groups for half-demons in nearly every major city in the US. Join the H.D.A (Half Demons Anonymous) group in your area. Remember, being half-demon doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend your life doing evil. There’s hope for everyone --- even for Lucifer!
Q: I’m reading this really thick book about paranormal romances. It’s a collection of short stories about people who date seals, vampires, ghosts, demons, Djinns, etc. A few of the stories are decent, but the rest is just unromantic, unreadable, tedious, stupid crap. I’m reading it for something called The Twelve Labors of Goodreads.* What should I do? Sandybanks
A: Throw it away! Life’s too short to read crappy books that you don’t enjoy.
Well, that’s all for this week’s Q&A, folks. Remember, relationships with paranormal beings can be challenging, and even downright dangerous (and perhaps illegal in some cases), but if you make the effort, the rewards could be very great indeed. They’re mysterious, they have cool supernatural powers, and they ALL have gorgeous faces and hot bods! What more can you ask for?
Supernatural Dating Tips of the Week
- Unicorns hate non-virgins.
- For a vampire, 4-day old blood is fine vintage.
- If you are dating someone hairy called Wulf or similar, he is likely to be a werewolf.
- Succubi and mermaids generally have Irish brogues.
Finished Vol. I Book I only. Lost interest because it's only a rehash of familiar biblical stories so far. Perhaps will take up again if the Librivox...moreFinished Vol. I Book I only. Lost interest because it's only a rehash of familiar biblical stories so far. Perhaps will take up again if the Librivox recording have reached the post-Biblical parts.(less)
I have a confession to make: I am allergic to sci-fi. The kind that has as its hero a humanoid who lives i...moreThis review is for the first two books only.
I have a confession to make: I am allergic to sci-fi. The kind that has as its hero a humanoid who lives in 23345 AD on a dystopian red planet, where he must fight slimy insectoid aliens whose sole purpose in life is to lay and hatch their filthy eggs on human bodies. The guy is barely human anyway, with half his face swathed in shiny robotic gear with glowing red eyes that look like the battery-powered tip of my 10 year old’s toy laser gun. Or instead of being half-android, he is half Vulcan or Neptune or whatever and thus has the emotional life of a plant. He would speak in pseudo-scientific jargon, something like, “ I must get the quark-photon-intercellular battery on my jet-propulsion pack to work so that I can get back to my Hyper Drive Interstellar Pod and shoot off to Alpha Centauri XYZ2345 in 10,000 times the warp speed along the space-time continuum”. I could feel my brain slowly turn to mush after barely ONE page of dialogue like that. He would have a robotic sidekick that looks like my Brabantia Dome Lid Waste Container with a string of blinking Christmas light around it, except that it can also speak in a metallic voice that somehow sounds like my mother-in-law in one of her bad days. Oh, and there will be other more sympathetic alien life forms that look like the misbegotten offspring of a camel and an orangutan, or some rubbery stuffed toy that the dog had chewed to bits. In short, I just can’t see why I should care about the fate of these monstrous, barely human creatures. Why waste precious time reading about some trash can android or an alien that looks like the Elephant Man on a bad hair day while there are perfectly normal, realistic HUMAN characters out there?
My favorite genre is historical fiction; you know, those books about human beings who either have been dead for centuries, or never existed at all, written by people who cannot possibly have any first-hand knowledge of the period that they’re writing about? Nothing could be more different than science fiction, something that I have not touched in 20 years or so.
So, what am I doing with The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Omnibus, 832 pages of sci-fi drenched in techno babble and redolent of the smell of a million alien armpits?
Well, for one thing, it’s included in the BBC’s 100 Big Reads, which for some reason has become my guide to a worthwhile reading list that is not solely composed of the classics. The other thing is that it’s supposed to be one of the funniest books ever written ---I can always overlook the sci-fi for the funnies. And the characters are recognizably human, or at least sort of human, although one of them is called Zaphod Beeblebrox, (which, incidentally would make a good brand name for a laxative) and has two heads and three arms. The other two are genuine human beings from Earth --- or carbon-based ape-descended life forms --- take your pick, and the other one is a human looking alien with ginger hair (a hideous genetic mutation that should be bred out in real humans). And he is conveniently named Ford Prefect. No need to memorize ridiculous alien names when a simple English one will do.
And now that we are superficially acquainted with the protagonists, it’s time to summarize the plot of this sprawling intergalactic tome --- except that there is no real plot to speak of. Well, actually there is something about looking for the Ultimate Question --- ‘What is the meaning of life?’ --- which is of interest to all life forms in the universe, at least to those that have the brain capacity to ponder such things. But mostly they just bounce around from one bizarre planet to another, having weird adventures in which they meet, among others, a paranoid android, rebellious appliances, a comatose intergalactic rock star and a megalomaniac book publisher. Ultimately, the barely there plot is nothing but an excuse for an absurdist farce through which Adams pokes fun at organized religion, meat-eaters, politicians, big businesses, environmentalists, the publishing industry and other pet peeves. Some parts are brilliantly funny, especially in the first book, while others had me scratching my head and wondering whether he was high on something when he wrote them. Certain sections are mind-numbingly boring and confusing in that special sci-fi way. Oh, and the constant smugness and non-stop zaniness are grating after the second book or so, and I just lost interest completely after finishing it.
At least I know now that ‘babel fish’ is not just a strangely named online translation program. And that it is possible to write a book about what is essentially nonsense and have it become a major pop culture icon. But I’m also mightily relieved that I can stop hitchhiking through THIS universe, which is probably too cool and too clever for me to completely understand.
And this shall be my last sci-fi book for the next 20 years. (less)