Okay, I read this book that I wrote. OUT LOUD. And I recorded it, which means you can hear me read it. OUT LOUD.
That's right, finally you can read oneOkay, I read this book that I wrote. OUT LOUD. And I recorded it, which means you can hear me read it. OUT LOUD.
That's right, finally you can read one of my great titles without reading. And I won't judge you for being lazy. I WILL judge you for sloth because that's a sin. That's a sin, and you are going to pay for that one. Also, if you just want to use audiobooks because you eat so many Cheetos that you can't help but get Cheeto dust on your hands...I'm torn on that one. On the one hand, it spares books your orange dust. On the other hand, I'm afraid Cheetos are beginning to have a bad effect on your life that can't be ignored.
Join me! There are thrills! Gyrocopters! VERY lazy skeletons! Industrious dwarfs! Treacherous wizards! Lady wizards who are either sexy lady wizards or very empowering characters depending on which perspective will trick you into experiencing this amazing book right here.
It's all here. Listen up, and if you can, write me a review once you've listened. And do me a favor. Either make it glowing or make it sting. Frankly, a very insane, negative review will be a lot more fun for me to read than an "Eh, it's a thing." So go for broke!...more
Guys. I hated school. Like to the point that I can't even step foot in a Target between August and September because I get thIt's back to school time!
Guys. I hated school. Like to the point that I can't even step foot in a Target between August and September because I get the dry heaves.
So this book has some okay career advice. I mean, it's good, it's just that advice is always hard to take. I appreciate the attempt to make it palatable, and I do think it offers one good point, which is that you should pursue stuff you're interested in, even if it doesn't have a strong A to B career path. Because hell, you probably won't end up in the career you planned on anyway. I don't know if I work with ANYONE who has done that.
Anyway, back to school.
This book made me think about school and why I hated it and what I would tell my young self if I had to go back and give myself some advice on getting through school. Because I can't honestly say I was bullied or anything like that. Some people weren't very nice, but that was more about using their status cachet to copy homework or something. Nobody ever tried to beat me up. Which is a good thing because they could have EASILY beaten me up.
What would I tell myself?
1. Don't mess around being in plays and junk like that. Great for some kids, not for you, Pete. Those are not your people. They smoke and make out. You're really bad at both of those things.
2. You'll have to take about 5 dumps at school. Which isn't bad. But when it happens, just accept it.
3. Don't worry, you won't have to double-date in adulthood. It just becomes going out and sometimes couples come together and sometimes they don't. In this one instance, it does, in fact, Get Better.
4. Don't trade Blade on DVD for Blade on VHS just because you don't have a DVD player at the time of the offer. About 6 weeks of patience will really pay off here.
5. Columbia House will completely collapse. You can probably just bilk them out of penny movies plus free tote bags without fear of repercussion.
6. When this movie called The Matrix comes out, just go see it. Don't download trailers on the internet, which takes hours anyway. Just go and watch it and you'll have more fun.
7. Some of the best times of your life will be waking up early on a Saturday morning with a video game you rented waiting in the Nintendo. It sounds sad, but you'll get over worrying about that part. Man, enjoy that. Milk that shit.
8. You could probably curse more. Nobody cares. Especially in school papers. Nobody even really reads that shit.
9. There's a page in that little green trig book where there are two tugboat operators named Yank Hardy and Frank Pullyum. Find that and laugh and laugh because math is dumb and names that sound like masturbation are hilarious. This page will sustain you through many math classes.
10. Programming Drug Wars into your TI-83 calculator is why you had such a hard time with derivatives. And it's totally worth it because nobody cares about that, meanwhile everyone cares about the fast-paced world of drug sales. There's like a primetime TV show about it now.
Overall, I guess the message is that school totally blows and there's not much you can do about it, so I guess enjoy everything else as much as you can....more
This one started a little slower than Agent Cold Beer's last assignment. It almost felt like, you know in a TV show like Modern Family where they haveThis one started a little slower than Agent Cold Beer's last assignment. It almost felt like, you know in a TV show like Modern Family where they have a Hawaii episode for almost no fucking reason? It's an episode where you're like, Geez, I think they could have learned these lessons about liking themselves or whatever in Illinois? Or wherever, really?
But then you realize, Ah, you shoot a two-part episode of your show in Hawaii, that's like a free almost-vacation. Makes sense.
This book felt a little like that. Maybe Charles Hinton took a trip to Japan and wrote it off as a business expense? As research for his next novel? Is that possible? Could this be the greatest scheme of all time, indie writers doing up super-short books and then using them as a catalyst to take fabulous vacations.
But we got back to form when Beer kills his mark, Bad Temper Ninja, using a Conan-style broadsword. Which, it turns out in a nod to the first book in the series, is actually a shotgun in disguise.
Yep, that makes two foes Beer has defeated by bringing a gun disguised as a knife to a knife fight.
And Beer lives it up on his flight back to the states, flying in a private jet with a naked stewardess who brings him chicken nuggets, peanuts, and beer. Again, is it a scheme? "I need to fly in a private jet with a naked stewardess bringing me chick nuggets. It's the only way to capture the authentic experience."
Charles Hinton. If we didn't already suspect he was a literary genius, we now know he is probably the world's most brilliant accountant. And watch the fuck out if he ever has a knife anywhere near you....more
My friend and I did a library program. As part of it, we made a bet. Whoever did a better job had to read a short KindlI'm going to tell a truth here.
My friend and I did a library program. As part of it, we made a bet. Whoever did a better job had to read a short Kindle book of the other's choosing.
I lost this bet. And gained a copy of The Bench Made From Green Recycled Plastic.
Now, to be perfectly honest, this is a lot better than Agent Cold Beer On Assignment and The Time Traveling Racist, the books I picked for my friend to read if she lost. The prose in here really isn't bad.
But it's the kind of book I don't dig, where everything is a little confusing. The narrator is unreliable not only in the events and who's at fault when it comes to a murder, but also in a lot of other ways. Really, nothing the narrator says is reliable. Which means that I really didn't have any idea what's going on at any point. There was a time I read the same two pages twice, IN A ROW, and didn't realize it until I got to the section break and thought it sounded familiar.
Which kind of says best what I'm trying to get across here. I was seeking structure so desperately, or something concrete, that I latched on to the section title because it's all there was.
Also, I think I might have done myself a disservice in deciding early on that this story was a combination of two Simpsons things:
Leprechauns who tell people to burn things:
And a murderous butterfly:
Not even kidding. And once you get Simpsons in your head, there's no unringing that bell. No unexploding that grammar bot. No unseeing the lemon behind that rock. No un-everything coming up Milhouse....more
I've been very worried about the cat I live with. The very thought that I might be living with a GAY!? Cat!? I mean, ME!?
So I picked up this guide toI've been very worried about the cat I live with. The very thought that I might be living with a GAY!? Cat!? I mean, ME!?
So I picked up this guide to try and help me out.
First off, it's for dude cats. Not lady cats. Already, strike one in terms of helping me with my problem.
Second, some of the stuff is like, "Does your dude cat go out on dates with other dude cats wearing leather motorcycle outfits? Dates that end in tender make-out sessions?" How does that help? I can do the math on that one, thanks.
Third, this book claimed that a gay male cat will break into your supply of Chanel No. 5. Are the rest of you NOT regularly spraying your cat with Chanel No. 5? What are you spraying them with, then? If you even start to say the words "White Diamonds" I will call the ASPCA on your ass so fast...
Frankly, I was hoping to discover that some of the cat's bad behaviors were the result of being gay. That's an actionable issue. I even called one of those re-education camps. They DO NOT take cats and get VERY angry when you ask and then hang up and call again and in a different voice, by the way.
It turns out that behaviors like scratching up nightstands, drinking out of my glass, and galloping around the house in the night are not so much gay behaviors as they are cat behaviors. Which I had to learn by calling a re-education camp over and over with different voices. And I gave them a lot of credit card numbers, which seems, in retrospect, like a poor decision.
If this book had been a little more responsible and helpful, maybe Camp Straight Arrow wouldn't have my credit cards and use those cards to buy weird vans to go pick up kids against their will. Sorry about that, kids. But we wouldn't be in this situation right now if this book had been a little more researched....more
Interesting blend of fantasy role-playing and fiction classes taught by Gordon Lish. Worlds collide here. My big piece of advice, if you are setting oInteresting blend of fantasy role-playing and fiction classes taught by Gordon Lish. Worlds collide here. My big piece of advice, if you are setting out to read this one having never played Baldur's Gate, read a little plot synopsis and character bios first. My big struggle was keeping track of the characters and what was going on.
Okay, this isn't my favorite of the Boss Fight Books, but that has a lot to do with me and not the book.
Confession, I played about an hour of Skyrim last night. I wouldn't say I loved it.
Bethesda made Baldur's Gate and later went on to make Skyrim, which I understand to be the pinnacle of the sandbox-y, swords and sorcery games. And in a lot of ways, it was pretty cool. Of course it looks good. The only games that don't look amazing anymore are the ones going for a cheaper look on purpose. The controls are fine, and you're able to slide between a first and third person perspective, which I liked a lot.
But it had all these aspects I just don't care for.
First off, Bethesda is in love with customizing characters. I experienced this in Mass Effect, where I decided to make the ugliest possible ugmo of all time as my main character.
If I'm being really open and honest about it, I started trying to make the guy look like me. And then it was kind of hideous, and I went with it, ending up with what I'd describe as a real-life version of Popeye after a couple decades of drinking so hard that the only thing keeping him alive was the futuristic medicine of the Mass Effect universe.
It was distracting. I didn't realize how jarring it would be to see an ugly protagonist.
Anyway, the next thing I didn't like so much in Skyrim, man is there a lot of picking up shit and rearranging armor and weapons and stuff.
I had this buddy who was really into World of Warcraft. He's actually a real person, not a stand-in for me. I'm reading books about video games on the regular. I don't have anything to hide as far as being cool.
This buddy, when I went to his (mom's (sorry, but it's true)) house, he was always showing me his new WoW armor. And then he would ask me questions like, "This one is slightly more powerful. But THIS one looks cooler. Which one do you think I should pick."
Admittedly, I was worthless on that front. I just figured you'd use whatever was best. Sort of like how everyone was shitting on Marty McFly's Barbie hoverboard. I always thought, "Fuck that! If I had a hoverboard, it could be imprinted with a picture of my naked grandmother, I'd still ride that thing around." But I wasn't all the way invested in the world of Warcraft, so a decision that was easy for me was difficult in the context of the game.
This buddy also described to me, in detail, a "date" he had in-game where he and another person watched the sunrise on horseback and chatted.
I don't say these things to embarrass this buddy. What I'm saying is I understand that these games, with their dragons and their loot and their questing, they appeal to a lot of people, and appeal on a deep level I don't always reach.
For me, I just don't get into it. I find the characters boring, usually one of a few, stock fantasy types. The idea of a dragon isn't all that thrilling to me. Swordfights are sort of unexciting too.
I really WISH I enjoyed it because there's such a depth of stuff you can experience if you're into fantasy. But I'm just not.
Oh, there's one other thing too, which makes Skyrim and this book less fun, to be completely honest.
You make the storyline.
It's a thing lots of games were doing for a while, and Bethesda is really into it. You, as the player, can kind of do whatever the hell you want within the game. The advantage, you can end up feeling a lot of player agency. The disadvantage, a lot of that agency is kind of cast off in order to zip things up at the end so that most players experience one of a few different scenarios. Also, it takes away an element of gaming I really enjoy, which is the light touch you feel from a game designer here and there.
In a game like Super Mario Bros., you can see it. You can feel the places where a designer really looked at what the game could do and said, "If Mario can jump this high, a player who is running at this spot would hit a hidden block if running at full speed. Then that block would knock the player into a pit." It's a cool way for a dialogue to happen between the designer and player. The player wants to sprint through the game, the designer wants to slow her down.
It's something that happens in writing too. For example, you can use a long, complicated word to slow a reader down. You can make paragraph and line breaks to set the pace. You can vary your sentence length. Repetition. All ways that you can turn your work into a back and forth.
When a game is a total open world sandbox, I don't get that feeling in the same way. The designers do cool things, but it's up to you as the player to make sure you're experiencing them.
It feels like an epic novel, but one where there's no room for interpretation within the text. There's no back and forth. It's the creator's world, you're just walking through it.
The best parts of Skyrim, for me, would be the parts where I felt like it was a game meant to be played. That's what I like. I don't mind the feel of something being a game.
The best parts of this book were not the video game parts, but the parts where Bell talks about his fiction writing and the shame of writing a Dungeons & Dragons novel. I won't elaborate because that's the best part, and why ruin the best part?
Baldur's Gate, like Skyrim, is so open and free, and there are so many narrative possibilities that it's not all that interesting to hear about the story. Every turn comes with a big fat, "Now, if you didn't do X, you won't experience this."
I figure this book took a couple hours to read, so I can give Skyrim the same amount of time. See what happens. But overall, just not for me....more
Here we have a story about Agent Cold Beer. Not a secret agent name. This dude is named Cold Beer. Hi, my name is Beer comma Cold.
And he is, as thWow.
Here we have a story about Agent Cold Beer. Not a secret agent name. This dude is named Cold Beer. Hi, my name is Beer comma Cold.
And he is, as the title says, On Assignment.
Normally I don't like to do plot summaries as a review. It kind of ruins the experience, and it's not really a review, review. But in this case, the story is only 6 pages long, and I really feel like the plot speaks for itself. So if you think you might want to read Agent Cold Beer On Assignment, skip the rest of this and go get you some.
As a "secreted" agent, Beer is tasked with taking down Jack Knife Joe, an evil...some kind of guy who knocks over liquor stores that don't exclusively stock his brand of beer. Oh, and he owns and operates a bar where he holds a monthly beer drinking contest, the winner of which receives $1,000 and free drinks for a month. Jack Knife Joe, in what can only be described as a Ponzi scheme that's either VERY complicated or MASSIVELY stupid, always wins his own contest, pays himself $1,000, and drinks for free for a month.
Cold Beer is tasked with getting close enough to Jack Knife Joe to bring him down, and the way to do that is clearly through winning the beer drinking contest.
But before the assignment begins, we stop by Shorty's lab.
Shorty is the Q of the Agent Cold Beer universe, the Beerniverse, if you will. And he hands over some very important gadgets:
Beer Can Grenades (6) Knife That Shoots Bullets (1) Recording Cigar (1) [note: apparently a cigar that, when lit, records audio] Bulletproof Jean Jacket (4. One white, one blue, one brown, one black)
Beer then uses exactly none of these devices to win the drinking contest. Which is the big build-up scene that lasts for all of two sentences. And not only does he win the contest, but he picks up a lady who he bangs in the back of his pickup truck about ten feet from his burning trailer home (which was destroyed in an explosion after some thugs, looking for Cold Beer, decided to wait and ambush him in his home. They helped themselves to a beer, which just so happened to be a beer grenade!).
Then, Beer and Jack Knife Joe sign a contract that says Beer and Joe will have a knife fight, and the winner will get the bar forever.
They square off, and then Beer shoots Joe with the knife that shoots bullets. He wins the bar, and he changes the name to Beer Rock And Roll Place.
In the end, Beer reports back to his supervisor, who gives him another assignment.
Beer: What's my new assignment?
Boss: I'm going out of town for a week. Your assignment is to babysit my nine kids.
I don't know what to say other than there's nothing about this I didn't like. It's exactly what I want out of a lark Kindle purchase: fast, short, and stupid....more
Charles Hinton has a good collection of books on Kindle. Including The Billion Dollar Lottery, War of**spoiler alert** Well, I've got a new obsession.
Charles Hinton has a good collection of books on Kindle. Including The Billion Dollar Lottery, War of the Dinosaurs, and Agent Cold Beer On Assignment.
In The Racist Time Traveler, we meet a professor who decides to quit his job, buy a tractor and convert it into a time machine. Why? Because he's decided that he'd be happier in the south during the pre-war-of-northern-aggression era. Specifically because he doesn't like black people, and the whole slave owner thing feels like a good gig.
Now, the racism in here is...shamefully for me, sorta funny. Because it feels like the author is not racist and had to kind of imagine what a racist person would say. For example, this sweet burn:
"I've been working on this tractor for so long that I didn't realize so many blacks moved in this neighborhood. But where I'm going, the only moving they'll be doing is moving cotton."
DEFINITELY a professor of speech and communication.
So this professor is building his time machine, and a neighbor comes over. The neighbor and the professor take a time jaunt to the future where the neighbor sees winning lottery numbers for three days in the future. Which he then uses to win the lottery.
Now, a CRUCIAL detail that's missing here, this neighbor is black. And it's CRUCIAL because this neighbor uses his new wealth and the professor's time machine to go back in time himself and somehow reverse American history so that white people are slaves and black people are masters. Therefore, when the professor heads back, ready to begin his new plantation life, he discovers his neighbor in the position of power. And the professor is enslaved.
Smashcut back to the present, a newspaper is delivered to the professor's front door with the headline "The First White Secretary of State." Which is just a bizarre choice. I would think a higher OR lower office would work better here. President? Great. Governor of Alabama? Also great. Secretary of State? Ehhhhh...
I have a few questions:
Why this racist would give a black man a ride in his time machine is beyond me. I guess he's maybe a jerk and has no friends, and he just takes who he can get.
When building a time machine, how does this professor elect to start with a tractor? That seems like a strange place to begin. Although maybe it's genius. Maybe we haven't cracked time travel yet because no one has gone tractor.
This could go on forever.
The big question, is Charles Hinton a secret genius? Because I was legitimately laughing my ass off. I guess we'll find out once I read Agent Cold Beer on Assignment....more
I'm gonna give you my foolproof tidying plan. Ready?
Seriously, put everything you own into boxes, put those boxes into a vehicle, and move them sI'm gonna give you my foolproof tidying plan. Ready?
Seriously, put everything you own into boxes, put those boxes into a vehicle, and move them somewhere else. Because that's the easiest way to clean up your life. All that shit you don't really want? Gone, baby! I didn't move for eight years, and then I moved twice in one year. The difference between the first and second move was pretty damn noticeable.
Okay, as for this book, here's the good.
Go through your crap category by category. All your clothes at once. Big pile on the floor. Handle every item, and see if it "sparks joy."
That's the part that's a little strange to think of at first. Holding something and seeing if it sparks joy. And I'll admit, it's a little tough because, for example, the shirts I LIKE and the shirts I have to wear to work don't necessarily cross over. Same with pants. I warned my partner when we were on vacation that I had to pack a pair of khakis because I didn't have enough clean pairs of jeans before we left. I warned her specifically because I thought the shock of my wearing non-jeans on vacation would be a potential health risk.
But I suppose there are lots of people who don't have that problem. I mean, there are grown men who wear plaid shorts and the kind of sandals I wore into the shower while living at a college dorm, so what do I know?
Second, do it all at once. I actually get behind this. Many a great plan is foiled because we say, "I'm going to throw out one thing per day." Who can keep up with a daily thing? That's the hardest shit to do. Face it, we're wired to do a big, exhausting project, not to chip away at stuff one little bit at a time. I've always thought it would be great if you could go on a single, 20-mile run and have that be the same as going on 10 2-milers, or if you could just take one long dump every couple weeks, that would really solve a lot of the world's problems. Or hell, we've all thought how it would be great if you could sleep 56 hours straight and then stay up for a week, right?
But it doesn't work like that with most things. So when it's possible to cram it all in, I say go for it, and so does this book.
The book made a pretty good point about the difference between divesting yourself of stuff and organizing. You can be organized as hell, but that just means you have more room for stuff you probably don't even want. Solid advice.
I also liked how this book, unlike so many others, didn't subscribe to an "X number of things" contest. I hate that shit. Oh, look at me. I have less than 100 objects in my house. I bet everyone would be really impressed if they came over, which they don't because every time it's a lecture about minimalism with you. I really appreciated that this book didn't go down that road.
There were a couple things in the book I wholeheartedly disagree with.
I'm a person who buys three tubes of toothpaste at a time. Or three things of deodorant. Because I've got my brands, I will absolutely use them, and running out only makes me feel like a dope. I know some people go overboard, but advising that people only have, say, one bar of soap in the house is kinda silly, to me.
Also, the thing where you don't keep anything in the shower seems like too much work. I hate to be a knock it before I try it guy, but I have two bottles, bar of soap, and a razor.
As for the thing where you talk to your objects at the end of the day...I actually kind of dug it. I mean, I don't have the guts to do it really, to look at my shoes and say, "Thanks for carrying me today." But I will say, I have this yearly ritual where I wear my old running shoes on a rafting trip, and by the end of the trip they're destroyed and have to be tossed. And when I throw them in the dumpster, I think about how far we went over the last year, and that's a good feeling.
While it's weird to talk to your objects, I think it's one way people can show respect to the things they love. Most of us don't wear shoes that require polish anymore, most of us don't dress in a full suit that requires an undressing process in the evening. For the most part, our lives have made it easier to replace a worn object as opposed to maintaining it. I'm pretty charmed by the idea of thanking objects, especially as a stand-in for the maintenance that's really no longer required for our stuff.
While we're on that and the idea of sparking joy, and with my move in mind, I've got this thing. A boombox that I couldn't throw out. I tried. When I moved this last time, I carried it to the dumpster and opened the lid, but when it was time to toss it in, I didn't want to.
It's this boombox I've had since I was a kid. Like a little kid. There are marks on the radio tuner I painted on so I could turn the dial and get to my favorite stations real quick. It works, it's giant, and if you've got about 4 D batteries, you could even run the thing unplugged. I assume. I don't know if I've EVER done that successfully.
I couldn't get rid of it. Or, more accurately, I didn't want to. When I held it in my hands, there was too much good feeling wrapped up in that thing.
That brings me to the part of the book that I felt the most ambivalent about. The author said something about how you should live the life you want for yourself today, for the person you are today. Not the life of yourself from the past.
I don't have a ton of nostalgia, really. I kinda thought everything sucked from kindergarten until about the end of high school. Not because I was some cool outsider, a real Bender type or something. Because I was pretty lonely and worried about stuff all the time. If we're going with our John Hughes tropes, more of a Cameron from Ferris Bueller, I guess. I DID like the Red Wings. And I did stay home sick a lot, although I didn't have an asshole buddy who dragged me out of bed to be the third wheel on a city-spanning date with his girlfriend. What a dick.
Anyhoo, I don't hold on to a lot of stuff because it reminds me of a better time. But there are a handful of things, like that boombox, that I just feel too strongly to get rid of. Where I don't know if they spark joy, but they were the point of light in an otherwise bad time. Where they're maybe something that doesn't take me back to that bad place, but rather, remind me how it's possible to get through the bad places.
I'm gonna try this with my clothes. But for now, the boombox stays....more