Dear Sister, Kim Yo-Jong, won't have to wait long. She'll take power easy as you please, if her brother keeps eating wheels of cheese.
Surely, I have misunderstood,
“Put my head where, you say?”
“But I have bones, don’t you know?”
“I wish I could obey.”
“Now, you say, my feet are too wide?”
“Really, what the heck!”
“You said put my head ‘tween my feet,
have you seen my frickin’ neck?”
“I wasn’t built to stand on my head!”
“What do you mean, ‘We’ll see?'”
“I’m not sure that you’re acquainted
with a thing called gravity.”
I don’t know what it says about me that:
-I equate these machines with the boss from that first scenario,
-(like the aforementioned people) I’m too scared to go through with it.
I realize that these devices make life much easier…
except when they don’t, and it’s only then that I want to
murder destroy them. Of course, the person who wants to murder her boss doesn’t want to do it when there is cake in the breakroom or when an unexpectedly generous bonus comes through — just, you know, the other times.
Unlike the original Luddites, I don’t hate machines out of a fear that they will replace me.
They already make a better economist than I ever did.
And even if the machines pick up their poetry-writing game,
that’s why I have the yoga instructor gig to fall back on…
[Because I’m convinced it will be decades before humans feel comfortable learning backbends from an entity that can twist rebar like a bendy-straw.]
No, I detest our silicon brethren because I have been sold a line that they can (and do) only do what I ask of them. [Hence the reason I don’t get so enraged by humans; anytime a person does something I ask is an unadulterated victory.] Instead, sometimes the computer does what I ask, but the next time something else entirely may happen. If the machines were consistently unable to complete the task, I would chalk that up to my failure to understand them. As it is, I’m left with a landscape of disturbing possibilities:
One, the machines are pranking me. (If this turns out to be the case, I think we can, eventually, be friends.)
Two, my computer’s desolate existence is causing it to try to commit “suicide by user.”
Three, we live in a glitching universe, and at any given moment the machine may produce a random unexpected result.
I don’t want to go back to the Stone Age, but I do have a newfound understanding of the allure of Steampunk. Contrary to the name, no one ever got punked by a steam engine. (Scalded and blown up, yes, but never punked.) The same cannot be said of a smartphone.
At an optician’s office, I was being sold a scratch-proof coating for my new eyeglasses. I usually summarily reject last-minute add-ons designed to squeeze additional profit out of the consumer, assuming they are all like rust-proofing, extended warranties, and muffler-nut re-torqueing plans — which is to say, needlessly complicated ways to toss away money.
But this guy was compelling. Well, in part he was compelling, and in part I tend to drop things [phones, glasses, remote-controls, toaster pastries, etc.] with great regularity. So, when I was offered this space-age scratch-proof coating, a coating that I was promised could survive being tumbled around in a cement mixer, I was sold.
Then, as this salesman was packing up my glasses, he said, “Here is your special cleaning cloth. Make sure you use this cloth — and ONLY this cloth — when cleaning your glasses.”
To which I replied, “Uh, why…, exactly?”
“Because you’ll scratch the coating,” he said patronizingly, as one might to a child or an adult one suspected a court of law had deemed mentally incompetent to dress himself.
“So this ‘scratch-proof’ coating, the one that’s supposed to survive a five-story fall and sidewalk bounce, the one that nearly doubles the cost of the glasses, that coating can’t survive whatever grit might remain lodged in a freshly-laundered cotton T-shirt?”
“Exactly! Now you’re getting it. So, just make sure you only use the special cloth, okay?” he said in a manner that I feared would end in the tousling of my hair.
Do you know why I believe this salesman was so good at his job? Most people would get severe cognitive dissonance-induced headaches from trying to maintain this matrix of logically-inconsistent information in one brain. This individual was unplagued by such difficulties. That allowed him to not only maintain a straight face while being challenged on the issue, but to truly believe that it is those who have trouble reconciling these conflicting pieces of information that are defective.
This might sound like a rant, but it’s not. I’m convinced that it is people such as he who will inherit the earth, and I’m in awe of their special gift.
The condition can become exacerbated by certain common treatments — all of which are popular replies of the adult human being, such as:
-“… because it just is, that’s why!”
-“… because it’s always been that way!”
-“… we’ll get there when we get there and not a moment sooner!”
Side-effects may include: the use of words such as: propensity, affliction, and exacerbate; as well as a marked tendency to make up one’s own words.
This is the third installment in a trilogy that began with “John Dies at the End.” The series takes place in an undisclosed and rundown Midwestern town that is prone to various catastrophic supernatural shenanigans. It’s a humor-horror cross-genre work that is heavier on the former than the latter by virtue of the fact that the tone is consistently lightened by the duo of doofuses’ jokes and unreliable narration – often in the face of apparently calamitous events.
In the first book, the narrator, David, and the titular character, John, consume a drug (street-named “Soy Sauce”) that gives them the ability to see supernatural phenomena to which the general citizenry are blind. This book continues with that idea, but — given their experience with supernatural happenings, limited as it may be – they’ve become paranormal investigators of sorts (usually unpaid and sometimes without anyone asking for their services.) Also, Amy becomes not only a more firmly established love interest to David, but also a full-fledged member of the team – albeit the one that plays straight-[wo]man to the buffoonery of the other two.
The central event in this story is a child abduction that turns into a chain of abductions, but soon it becomes in doubt whether the children ever existed in the first place – or whether they are mass delusions implanted by a monstrous source. The book unfolds as the story of the trio trying to find the “children,” to find out what their true nature is, and then to figure out what to do about them. The villain’s henchman is capable of shape-shifting and takes several forms throughout the book – including that of David, thus casting suspicion upon him.
The author takes an interesting approach to perspective. The perspective shifts between David, John, and Amy, but only the David parts are written in first person (John and Amy are allotted sections from their perspective, but they are written in third-person limited perspective.) There are section headings to clarify whose perspective is being used and so it’s not hard to follow (even context would provide a great clue.) The shifting perspectives serves three purposes. First, one can see points in time during which David is not present, allowing the team to divide and conquer and for humorous confusion to be exploited. Second, it allows one to see the difference between the various accounts of the same event, which is helpful in building confidence about what actually happened — given the unreliable narration. Third, it allows for unreliable narration to be used for comedic effect. John, in particular, is famous for being especially unreliable among the unreliable narrators, though most of his embellishment is along sexual lines. [Amy is the most reliable in that she isn’t prone to flights of fancy. However, she has no ability to see through the shapeshifters and implanted hallucinations, and so she might – in fact — be the least reliable.]
There is not a strong and satisfying conclusion to the story. In part, this is because it’s not entirely clear what really transpired. We know at the end that there is another version of events out there, an account written by a scholar of the paranormal who is a secondary character in the latter half of the book. However, it also seems that the author tries to end one the lesson that sometimes the best thing to do is to wait and see, and not create problems by one’s need to be active. That is a fine lesson, but it doesn’t make for a satisfying conclusion to the story. There is also a muddled motivation of the “missing children.” I don’t think this lack of a definitive ending is about setting up a fourth entry in the series because the author states only vague intentions to (possibly) continue the series at some undefined point in the future. I also don’t think it’s a matter of having painted himself into a corner, but it maybe that he’s trying to say something about what really happened that I didn’t actually get. That’s a risk with so much going on in a multi-perspective, unreliably-narrated book.
There is a humorous attempt to engage with the challenge of mental illness, with John and Amy encouraging David to get help toward the end of the book. [This is also addressed in the epilogue.]
This is certainly a fun read. It’s humorous throughout. The story isn’t the strongest (or perhaps isn’t the clearest.) If you’ve read the other books, or at least the first one, and enjoyed it, I’d recommend you give this one a look.
He held half-baked ideas in
his twice-baked brain.
He’d grab his umbrella when they
shouted, “Make it rain!”
–the umbrella he should have left for a
friend stuck home under the weather.
But his glasses were bent out of shape, and
he was hell-bent for leather
So, he couldn’t find his coat, nor gloves,
nor ass-less chaps.
And, thus, was running better late
than never — perhaps.
He couldn’t afford to miss the boat
that had sailed, my friend.
He needed his job, ’cause a penny
earned was one he’d spend.
When told he was skating on thin ice,
he maxxed out the AC.
All his blessings were disguised too
well for him to see.
He’d thought he was okay when told
he had stiff competition.
–the nuns taught him to fix that with six
Hail Marys and an Act of Contrition.
But they said his co-workers were
really on the ball.
He’d have gotten a Pilates chair,
but was afraid to fall.
When he heard the new guy was up-and-coming,
he got up and left.
He wanted to be thick as thieves so he
went out for a supply closet theft.
[There isn’t as much agreement about the form of this French style — compared to other styles I’ve done so far (e.g. sonnets, haiku, sestinas, etc.) Adding to the complication, there are similarly named styles with much different forms. Suffice it to say here, the version of Lai that I’m doing is a 9-lined poem with a rhyme scheme of aabaabaab, a meter of 2.5 / 2.5 / 1 feet (i.e. 5 syllables – 5 syllables – 2 syllables,) and a narrative element.]