Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Don't Laugh...

Sometimes people I like will surprise me and say something or do something that makes me think, "Oh man... do they think I'll like that?"

Somebody sends me an Obama joke, I'll laugh at Obama jokes. He's president. I don't like stuff presidents do... I open it and it's not a president joke. It's racist. I don't mean mildly racist. I mean the punch line is that he's black or mixed or... that's it. That's the punch line. Um. That's not funny. The part where they THINK it's funny, or derogatory makes me sad for them. Here's the thing. And it's not news to anybody. Our. President. Is. Black. So, as a punchline it kind of sucks. I know. He knows. Everybody knows. The thing about a punchline is it's unexpected. It's a surprise. "Two guys walk into a bar; the third guy ducks." THAT'S funny. It's unexpected. It's a play on the word bar. "Obama is half black and half white..." Um, not funny. Stop thinking I'll think it's funny.

Grown ups falling is funny. Kids fall and it's like "EEP!" *thud* and it's over. They fall so fast. They're only like >< that far from the ground anyway. No time to react. Adults though? We pinwheel our arms, we stagger around, we have lots of time to make amazing faces and noises. It's great. Unless they get hurt. Then it's not funny. Then they're hurt. That's not funny. Somebody getting hurt isn't all that funny to me, especially if it's somebody I know. Even if I don't like 'em I don't wish them ill. I don't want people to be hurt. Well, most people. You know who you are. :P

I'll leave you with this found over on reddit's long page of offensive jokes, many of which I found funny.

A girl in a bar said to me, "I wouldn't fuck you if you were the last person alive." Leaning over and whispering, I replied, "But who would be around to stop me?" Wiped the smug look right off her face.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review: Inquisitor by R J Blain

I have no idea why I didn't read Inquisitor by R J Blain sooner. I've had it on my kindle forever and just never started it.

Once I did start it I had problems putting it down and that's a good problem to have. I really liked the characters and the story. I didn't know what was going to happen next. I didn't feel like it was reusing all the standard urban fantasy tropes and I genuinely enjoyed myself reading it.

I suspect I was paranoid about a female protagonist written by a female author. I was really burned by Twilight when those three came together, urban fantasy, female protag, female author and I was really really really hesitant to do it again but HOLY CRAP what a mistake!

If you're being stupid like I was and being afraid to read it because of that stop now. This doesn't have a pining wimpy female protagonist wandering aimlessly from hunky male secondary character to hunky male secondary character all while pining for her primary love interest who is in fact just a friend or some crap. No love triangle. No pining. All that junk from the "other" one I mentioned, completely absent here.

This is a tightly told story in an interestingly invented world that is different enough from ours to be fantastic (as in fantasy) but still recognizably our own. The world building happens throughout the book and I don't remember any huge info dumps where she got so in love with sharing her world with us that she forgets to engage us with good story, that's another thing that sometimes happens. Didn't happen. The story was faster paced and more tightly written than this review.

Don't back burner this book. It's a mistake to do so. Go get it now: Inquisitor by R J Blain.

Over on goodreads I gave this book 4 stars. I haven't given very many books 5 stars so 4 stars is pretty good. I give a LOT of books 3 stars. That means I liked it. 4 stars is significantly better than liked it and five stars... well, that means I don't think it can be done any better at all by anyone. Don't be hating that I don't just throw out five star reviews. I know that's the norm any more but I don't do it. If you've read my book and not yet reviewed it feel free to do so now. :) I'd really appreciate it and I'd take a four star review as a HUGE compliment and would be very happy with a three star even.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Angst & writing book #2

Once upon a time it was a dark and stormy night and I wrote a book. You can't tell from this cover but Jump/Drive, my book, won an award even from TheKindleBookReview.net for best YA from a new author in 2013 which I find pretty cool.

I have been very lucky and found quite a few very kind people who have enjoyed my book and the reviews are pretty nice as well, especially when they're from people I don't know. *grin* Hey, if you've read it and haven't reviewed it yet feel free to go drop me a few stars, the more the merrier, over on amazon why don't you? lol

I've started a second book with the same protagonists, Caleb, John, and Devon back in the town they'd lived in their whole lives. It was, and is, a sort of modern day Hardy Boys, a Scooby Doo & the Gang with a smaller cast and less Scooby & more gang... I've started that second book three different times three different ways, they're around here somewhere on a google drive, or dropbox, but the problem is as I write it all I can think about is this book and how well it did for me. Now, it didn't do Stephen King well for me. It didn't sell enough for me to buy a car, but it has garnered me some royalty payments from more than one country and that's fun right? But all I can think is what if book two isn't as good as the first book? Then I freeze and the words dry up and I can't do anything. Caleb and John sit around in the Prius just looking at each other wondering what to do next. Devon sits at the ice cream shop eating a banana split waiting for a call to come that never does. Adrian... well, he's not really in any of the other books so much. He's alive out there, just not necessary in future stories really.

So, I've decided, after being asked yet again, when the next book is coming out, that I can't handle it lol. That sounds funny because I should just shut up and write the next book. I'm not good at that though. I need to do something else. I need to write some other story, some other different story to sort of free myself up to revisit those characters that people really connected with. I'm a little scared to visit them so soon after the minor success, major for me as a new author, but in the scheme of things not really all that great.

So, I'm going to write another book, I've been going to write another book for a while. Now I know it's not going to be in the same series as the first book. It'll be new, no pressure that way, no expectations. Same target audience. It'll be Young Adult with male protagonists, no love triangle, no vampires, but maybe a little urban fantasy just because fantasy is cool right? I like to read it, and well... it's different from the first one and I need that right now.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ptoday Pterry Died...

Terry Pratchett (Pterry) , author of the Discworld series and other books including, with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens, died today, March 12, 2015.

I read the news while I was on break from work and spent the last two hours of work wondering if I was going to cry. I sniffled and my eyes burned but I haven't. I don't know if I will or not but I want to.

I discovered Terry Pratchett at the recommendation of a friend of mine over 20 years ago when he introduced me to Rincewind and the Wizard books. (The Discworld books are often broken up into various subsets, The Wizards, The Witches, and The Watch with some others like the Death books that mix with the various streams that form the river that is Discworld.) I was immediately in love with them. Pterry's writing only got better and more complex and enjoyable as the years went on.

Samuel Vimes is a real person in my head. Captain Carrot is just as real to me and Granny Weatherwax feels like family. All characters, all real, and all, now, passed away with their author, their creator. That's the thing about an author dying. Their world dies with them and that hurts.

I'm a Reader. I have been for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is learning to read from big, over-sized flash cards with the letters in the shape of people. Since then I've read in good times and in bad times. Books are escape and they're relaxation. The characters in the books, the really good books, become as real to me as people I've known but don't see any more. They're all real aren't they? They're people whose actions you remember but that you don't see any more. How is that less real than a person you've met in the flesh? Some are more real sometimes, or they feel that way. You get inside the head of a  protagonist. You hear their thoughts, their dreams, their fears, and their desires. I've bought very few authors' books in hardcover. Pterry is one of those authors... He was. And now he, and his world, his characters... all gone.

I still have his books. I have them all in paper, on my kindle a lot of them, and in audiobook, also a lot of them. But listening to them now, reading them now will be a bittersweet reminder of what was... the quiet delight of waiting for a new story is over. The excitement of seeing what happens next is gone. The light's gone out in the Discworld and this world, this round blob of dirt, suddenly seems a little darker and a little colder with him gone from it and that sucks.

"No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…"
–Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Restaurant Review: Smokeworx or "Why restaurants should have desserts"

Smokeworx is the newest restaurant to open in Ft. Dodge. It's a St. Louis style bar-b-que restaurant that opened a couple weeks ago. I'm hesitant to go to a restaurant their first month of opening as I prefer them to practice on other people and then I'll go after they've worked out the kinks. I really love Bar-B-Que though. I lived in Memphis for two years and loved the BBQ there. I worked in Texas for several years and ate really good BBQ there as well. Some of the best brisket I've ever eaten was from a roadside stand outside of Terrell, Texas. I worked for a while in St. Louis and ate that BBQ as well with gusto. I am a fan of BBQ.

As we walked into the restaurant one thing struck me immediately. This was a restaurant but of a "certain type." You ordered at the counter, paid at the counter, viewing the small menu on a monitor behind the cashier, and then sat down to wait for your food. I also noticed a lack of desserts. This becomes important later.

When we sat down in booths that still looked like Long John Silvers booths (The building was a Long John Silver's last summer, and had been for decades) we commented on the similarity to the previous restaurant. The booth seats had been replaced with what looked like pallet wood that'd been reclaimed, sanded, and varnished, perhaps with polyurethane(?). They were as uncomfortable as a Southern Baptist Church pew where comfort is seen as a sin. You don't GO to a Southern Baptist church to get comfortable and the same could be said about the seating here as well. The lighting was the second thing we noticed. I've been in operating rooms with friendlier/warmer mood lighting. It was stark, far too bright, and not at all conducive to an intimate dining experience. I should have known that from the part where we ordered at the counter like at a McDonald's. But it's just lighting right? We'd come for the food.

The food came soon, our appetizers, quaintly called Armadillo eggs (Armadillos are mammals and don't actually lay eggs, but I quibble) and they were fried jalape├▒os stuffed with, I think, cream cheese and brisket. I say I think because when they arrived and I took a bite out of the huge things that were impressive to look at I realized I couldn't bite through them. Sadly, they were still frozen, not cold, frozen... hard.

I think the grease was too hot because the outside of the armadillo eggs was pretty dark, the replacement onion rings were also pretty dark on the outside but doughy on the inside still... They weren't crisp at all but were a little greasy...

You know. I don't want this to be a laundry list of the sides and here's why, they weren't great or even all that good really and I was really afraid until I tried the brisket. That brisket really was good. It was in the top three briskets I've ever had. It was smoked perfectly. It wasn't overcooked and dry and it mostly fell apart with my fork as I ate it. The rub/seasoning on the outside was delicious. I really really enjoyed the brisket. I'll get that again. I said as we were leaving that if we came back I'd just get the meat and they could keep the sides.

I've rarely been to a BBQ place where I raved about the sides. At a BBQ place it's about the meat and if I'm honest, mostly I don't care about the sides. They have them because we feel silly in front of plate as big as our head stacked high with just meat. That, however is what I want at a BBQ place and if I'd ordered that it would have been one of the better meals I've had lately. The sides? Don't eat them. We had 4 of the ones they offered and all 4 were "Meh" at best. (The grease really is too hot. The fries he got were a) burned, they looked like sweet potato fries and weren't and 2) stale. They'd been done a while before they made it to our table.

We had a problem with our order right out of the gate but we'd already paid so they couldn't take any off our check. They couldn't really DO anything at that point except offer us a free dessert which would have been a GREAT gesture. It would have been the pitmaster, who came to our table to apologize for the frozen food we were served, and was very gracious about it but the fact remains we paid full price for food so bad it had to be sent back and resent to us... that's not enough at a restaurant. At most places fixing a mistake is enough. At a restaurant we've come, as a public to expecting MORE than just fixing it when something is that badly messed up and this place with their McDonald's style ordering and lack of a dessert they could offer us meant they couldn't really DO anything to make us leave thrilled with the experience. I wasn't. He wasn't. Both of us said "If we go back..." and not "When we go back..." that's not a good thing. Some of it was the frozen appetizer and lack of an attempt to fix it better than just fixing it... some of it was the sides were just "meh" at best. Some of it was the atmosphere.

We need a good BBQ place in Ft. Dodge and if you want good BBQ meat get it to go and JUST get the brisket. Any money you spend on sides is money you'll regret having spent. We'll try again in a month. Hopefully they have a dessert by then and have turned down the heat a little on their fryers.