30 April 2011

24. Red America

Red America - Doomsday Warrior Book 2 - Ryder Stacy

Defiantely not as good as book one, but I enjoy these books. What a ride.

See also Doomsday Warrior.

23. A Field Guide To Left-Wing Wackos

A Field Guide To Left-Wing Wackos And What To Do About Them - Kfir Alfia and Alan Lipton (Founders of ProtestWarrior)

Kind of like a field guide for bird watchers, but it is for identifying different kinds of left-wing people. Frickin' funny actually.

Each group is discussed in typical field guide format with sections covering the following: identified with a name and description, identifying charachteristics, photos or drawings, the origin of the species, behavior, habitat. call or slogan, the party line, between the lines, in their own words, required reading, best of breed, and handling tips.
Which "wackos" are covered? Anarchists, Communists, Intellectuals, College Students, Hollywood Activists, Blacktivists, Hacktivists, Proud Marys, Granolas, Peace Moms, Self-Hating Vets, Acid freaks, Dylan Wannabees, Performance Artists, Islamothugs, Closet Nazis, Security Goons and Employed White Males.
Anarchist: Someone who advocates the abolition of the state, private property, and anything else that prevents him from feeling good about himself. Like a political two-year old, he will throw a fit if he doesn't get what he wants - or throw bombs instead.

Communist: Anyone who likes the things you have, wants them for his own, and doesn't mind if a totalitarian state is what it takes to make that happen.

Intellectual: The spiritual leaders of the left, Intellectuals give lectures and write arcane tracts on political analysis with the sole purpose of providing protesters with the assurance that the hatred of America is thoroughly justified.

College Students: A product of higher learning eager to emulate superficially the political unrest of the sixties and to express a newfound concern for stolen elections, America's failed capitalist system, and America's history or facist aggression.

Hollywood Activists: A member of the Hollywood community elite who uses the capitalists fruits of wealth and fame to promote a socialist agenda.

etc etc etc...it is funny making fun of stuff sometimes.

10 April 2011

22. American Gods

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

This is another of those books that I added to the list because it got tremendous reviews. Many of those reviews said things such as "the greatest book ever" or "my all-time favorite". As far as my own experience with American Gods...it fell well short of the expectations.

Maybe I just don't get Neil Gaiman? That could be. I enjoyed Good Omens (a collaboration with Terry Pratchett). I have heard that Neverwhere was outstanding. Maybe I will try it out some day.

I did find something interesting early on in the story. When Shadow met a bunch of folks with what sounded like Slavic names. I know some Russian and recognized that the names meant more than just being a name. Well, I thought Mr. Gaiman had a little fun when naming the characters. I did a quick search on the names and found that he did not make it up. They were actual names of "gods" from old Slavic beliefs. So, I didn't find out that Neil Gaiman was a multi-lingual practical joker, but I did find out that the names and what I thought were actual Russian words was dead on. I understand Russian better than I thought. Woohoooo!

Russian word for for black: cherny
Russian for god: bog
Man's name: Czernobog (guy just happens to be a bad fellow) (found this Czernobog)

Czernobog has a brother Bielebog
Russian word for white: biele
Bielebog happens to be a good guy (found this Bielebog)

These guys had sisters they called Utrennyaya, Vechernyaya and Polunochnaya. Shadow had some "thoughts" about Zorya Utrennyaya. She just happened to be the youngest and prettiest. Explanation to follow.
Russian words:
Morning: Utra (the youngest sister)
Evening: Vecher (the older sister)
Polunoch: Midnight (the oldest sister)

And then I looked up Zorya, which I thought had something to do with stars. I found this: Zorya. It explains the Slavic mythology associated with the morning star, evening star and midnight star.

So, Gaiman has written a book about "gods" that exist because people believe in them. When immigrants came to America they brought the gods with them. Over time the belief in these gods faded and the gods were no longer gods in the way they were in the past.

There is a buildup to a battle between the new gods and the old gods for supremacy in America. Shadow thwarts the war by explaining to them all that America is not a good place for gods and they should all return to the old countries. Blah blah blah.

It is very interesting in concept. The capabilities of such stories are endless. But, the book seemed to drag on and on and on. It was slow. It took so much time to build in the old mythology into a current American world that it lost excitement and, well, fun.

I didn't hate it. I didn't "like" it either. Fun at times. Boring as all heck at others. I read it because it helps me with two challenge goals this year. This book counts towards the Chunkster Challenge because it is 588 pages. it also counts for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge because Neil Gaiman is from England (not American).

02 April 2011

21. America (The Book)

America (The Book: A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction - Jon Stewart etal

I like Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. I don't agree with him much, but he is a funny fellow and he makes me laugh. I expected this book to be the same kind of humor as displayed on his show. It was. It cracked me up.

The book is set up as a text book. It is a spoof or parody of a high school government or civics class text. It has a zillion little charts, side-bars, graphs, explanations, expository notes, etc etc...just like all the text books have today. Many of them are just down right hilarious.

For instance, there is a full page portrait of George Washington. On the page is printed a quote. It says "Jefferson, you're on the two. Hamilton? You get the ten. I'm calling dibs on the one. That's all me, baby. What's that, Adams? You wanted the one? All right, that's it: You don't get to be on anything. That's right, I'm taking back the quarter. Anyone else want to complain? I didn't think so." George Washington, 1789 

There is a history lesson at the beginning. One part I found funny that really made me laugh out loud for quite some time and still makes me chuckle is:
"1492- In fourteen hundred ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue......and discovered America. Now, some have argued that Columbus actually discovered the West indies, or that Norsemen had discovered America centuries earlier, or that you really can't get credit for discovering a land already populated by indigenous people with a developed civilization. Those people are communists. Columbus discovered America."
HA HA HA! THAT is some funny stuff...if you like Jon Stewart humor anyway.

Now we get to the part where the colonists have declared independence and the Revolutionary War is under way. They write The Articles of Confederation. It is ratified in 1781. There is a quote in this area that is funny. It says "The Revolution is over. America has triumphed. Let us continue to solve and and all disputes by using violence." - American General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Yorktown (1781)." That made me giggle a little until I realized that we do tend to just use violence. Argh...I hate it when I laugh at truth.

I will just type stuff I found funny or interesting now....

"Before the invention of the moral compass in 1907, Presidents had to rely on the crude and unreliable "moral sextant."

"The Oval Office. Because it has no corners, there is nowhere to make the president sit when he has shamed the nation."

"Quoting the President...On The Economy..."The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933    "Oh, and starvation. We might all starve." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933"

"Presidential Nicknames: Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon - Richard Nixon was regarded as an agile and "tricky" political opponent. Also, he was a dick."

In the section describing the American Court System, at the very bottom is Mom and Dad. "Arbiter of all curfew, allowance, and homework-completion related matters. Frequently Draconian; often arbitrary, citing legally questionable precedent of "because I said so." Jurisdiction confined to "under their roof." God, you hate them. Hate them, hate them, hate them."

"Landmark Supreme Court Cases: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954): The Court overturned the Plessy ruling, declaring the establishment of separate public schools for black and white students inherently unequal. This landmark verdict paved the way for integration, the Civil Rights Movement and the Beastie Boys." Think about it...it really did...That was funny.

"Election Day is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is because having it on the first Thursday after the second Saturday in November would be silly."

There is so much more, and a ton of it is visual. I could never explain it.

If you are a Jon Stewart fan or like the Daily Show...you will enjoy this book.