Friday, February 27, 2009

(not) James Patterson's SAIL

February is almost over and I'm starting to come out of my self-imposed mourning/quiet period. I don't recall doing a book review here before, so maybe it's time to do one.

I'm generally a fan of James Patterson's writing. I even borrowed his protagonist Alex Cross for a post once. This past Summer he (or someone) wrote Sail, generally reviewed as a great beach read, summer fun, etc. And besides, it's about sailing. I didn't read it this past Summer when it came out because I was out sailing. So I wanted to get my hands on it and have a nice trip with an author I like. I should have known better.

Notice that it's in collaboration with another writer. Shoulda known. How often are collaborations done well? Most of the time they're unreadable. It is my fondest hope for this book that Mr. Patterson let this Roughan cretin simply borrow his name for sales power and that Mr. Patterson himself had nothing to do with this turd. If he actually wrote some of it... well, ick!

'Cuz that's what this book is, a big, fat, stinking turd which just sits there and smells up the house. Blech!

I won't even criticize the plot and characters. Remember that story you wrote one day when you were bored in the back of your high school English class, with the barely-two-dimensional characters, banally simplistic plot, and one hyperbolic action scene after another, with preternatural antics by the protagonist(s) and almost-supernatually-evil nemeses? That story was better than Sail.

So, I'm not even gonna go there. I'm simply gonna criticize their fact-checking. Seems to me that if you're a big, important blockbuster, best-seller author, you could afford to spend a coupla bucks to have somebody with some expertise fact-check your basic elements. Heck! I'll bet James Patterson even knows some sailors and private pilots he could have asked to do it for free as a favor to him.

Too late now.

Maybe nonsailors and nonpilots can overlook stuff that makes no sense because they have no experience with the actuality. I dunno. But for me, as a sailor and pilot, every time I read some utterly nonsensical passage, I ground my teeth til the gums bled and my blood pressure spiked into dangerous territory.

They're wealthy (Of course! Am I the only class-warfare-conscious consumer who's tired of reading about people with more money than God?) and have this huge yacht (60ish feet IIRC) but they have no autohelm. They're hand steering on a week-long passage. Those of you who've hand-steered around the clock for multiple days know what I'm talking about. (Ronnie, raise your hand, babycakes! And Bob, hand-steering for an hour in a squall pretty much takes it out of you, huh?) And everybody nowadays has an autohelm, not just 60-foot luxury yachts. But they don't.

When they blow a water line, one of the heroes "fixes" it by stuffing it with all of his clothes. First, even on cheap sailboats, water feeds come through the hull through a seacock, which has a handle which can be TURNED OFF with a simple motion, just like turning the faucet handles on your bathroom sink. Second, even granting that the seacock is broken or frozen or something, the biggest of them for an engine feed would still be just a couple of inches in diameter. Your T-shirt would fill it. Your jeans would be far too much material to fit into the hose diameter. But requiring all his clothes for the "repair" does allow this character to appear nude in the follow-up scene.

This same protagonist is the super-duper sailing expert with years of experience. Therefore, he naturally waits until the storm, which they didn't see coming (SOMEHOW!), is upon them before he attaches the safety jacklines and teaches the crew about harnesses while getting them into said harnesses. The same crew which has owned this boat for years and gone on several trips on it. For you nonsailors, jacklines go on before you leave port and any sensible captain does any necessary crew instruction then, too, BEFORE the fertilizer hits the ventilator.

Also, at this juncture, they're unable to pull up their sea anchor! Now, I don't remember reading about them deploying a sea anchor and a sea anchor is something you deploy because of a storm, not something you just have overboard for the fun of it while you're sailing, trying to get somewhere. They kinda slow you down; that's their purpose. But these dildoes have it overboard while they're sailing and want to retrieve it when the storm comes. Idiotic writing.

And the stupidity just keeps on.

I'm probably boring you but one more painful item. One of the bad guys is gonna go chase them in a twin engine amphibian aircraft. He has an engine failure while flying and attempts to correct the resulting instability by wildly and aggressively wailing on the stick which is resisting him mightily. Really? Hint: you ain't gonna fix things by simply wiggling the stick. (Hell, here's a ONE-MINUTE YouTube video of the twin-engine engine-out procedure. Are you listening, Mister Patterson, or whoever? You couldn't be bothered to even Google for it? I didn't notice Mr. King in the video having to fight the stick with every ounce of his massive upper-body strength, which doesn't look to be as significant as that of the character in the book.) Subsequently, he goes into a spin and corrects it by pulling back on the stick. Again, this is not a correct, or useful, action. Ack! In actuality, he'd crash if he did this. Of course, if it were reality, he'd be licensed and trained in recovery procedures and he'd do it correctly. (Hint: Google the acronym PARE.)

Yes! I could go on and on; but mercifully I'll stop.

This book sucked the big, hairy one. Don't bother.

P.S. Mr. Patterson, you have a long way to go to redeem youself before I spend any more of my hard-earned money on your work (or nonwork) after this fiasco.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Say it loud!

I'm American and I'm proud.

(With apologies to the late, great Mr. Dynamite, Mr. Please-Please-Please, man who sang I Go Crazy, man who sang Try Me, the hardest-working man in show business, and the man who sang Say It Loud - Mister James Brown!)

I've certainly never been one of those jingoistic, fascist, exclusivist Americans; but I am an American. However, it's been nearly a decade since I was anything but embarrassed to say so.

Tonight's speech by the president was the first time in a long time that I wanted to watch a presidential address. And ya know what?

Sure, I listened to the concepts, the meat and potatoes. They weren't seasoned perfectly for my taste but they were edible, unlike the swill we've been fed for the last buncha years. And I admired his rhetoric and oratory. Nice to once again have a president who can speak English, too. But ya know what I really and truly noticed?

He smiled. And Joe Biden smiled. And it was genuine.

Think back to the last time you saw Emperor Palpatine Dick Cheney do anything but scowl and denigrate the American populace. Our new government is composed of human beings, real human beings, with real feelings and deep thoughts, not rabid ideologues who'd rather see our country sink into oblivion and destruction than admit that their ideology is flawed, no matter the proof amassed against them. Those ideologues are the YECs of realpolitik.

Ding-dong! They're gone!

I'll hate them forever but what else is new? I still hate mother-fucking Nixon and don't get me started on Ronald Ray-gun. Yes, they left behind an immense hole for us to dig out of. A buncha holes. Fuck it. We can do that. We're Americans, bitch!

So all you radical-right anarchocapitalist dickheads just get back outa the way cuz we got important shit to do. Go have yourselves a pity party on the scrapheap of history. You could make yourselves some Neopuritan Nosh. You might even learn something if you read the associated story.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.

In an earlier post, I told of the girls' naming of their guitar and bass, respectively. I also asked about naming my synthesizer, which I've had for twenty years or so, but which I never bothered to name. It's a lot easier to cart around than a Hammond C-3! Heck!, it's even smaller and easier to transport than my old Farfisa Combo-compact.

Anyway, Stephanie came up with the unbeatable name, so I'm just gonna go with it. Meet Synthia:

However, Synthia is a fairly long name, so a nickname seems appropriate. Perhaps Gloria, as Steph suggested; everybody could then help spell her name when we perform the eponymous hit song by Van Morrison. Perhaps Vera, she's Jayne's favorite; mine, too. I could write a new song called Vera. Or perhaps you could suggest a nickname for Synthia?

Arte y pico

The gracious and generous Ginger has handed me a handsome honorarium. How could I possibly refuse? My only caveat is that I don't read blogs because of their design or because they "contribute to the blogosphere," whatever the hell that means. I pretty much read my friends' blogs to see what they're up to. Nonetheless, here it is.

These are the rules to accept the award:
1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award. No, sorry. I don't give awards to people and then turn it into a left-handed obligation to me, or worse, to some unknown third party.
4.The award winner and one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y Pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award. Same as #3. If this is an award to someone whom I enjoy reading, then it is, by definition, not an homage to the originator of the concept, no matter how fabulous he/she might be. I'll put up the image but not a link. If you really wanna see the origin, I'll bet you can figure out how to get there on your own.
5. To show these rules.

In no specific order:

Ronnie, the KreweQueen of the good ship (and family blog) Zombie Princess. She writes about our (my!) life and I barely recognize it because it sounds so much better when she tells it.

Linda at FourLittleBirds because she's honest and interesting.

Laura at CenterDownHome because she's genuine and is one of the few blogs which I can reference which has an artistic component. She's very skilled.

Nonimaginary Kelly at ShesInTransition because she's insightful and an innovative writer.

Mary at Zenmomma'sGarden because she's The Conference Goddess and a swell person.

Laureen at TheExcellentAdventure because she's a thoughtful writer and lives on a 47' cat.

P.S. For those of you wedded to limited, small-minded, schoolish versions of what they laughably call "math," the above list is 5 - for large values of 5. Ok?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A rose by any other name

Chloe bought a soft "gig" bag for her bass, which is male, and officially christened Cornelius. The bag should arrive soon.

I hope the shape is not adumbrative of our performance results.

And in naming news, MJ's guitar is a girl. She's Isolde.

I've had my synth for 20 years. Maybe I should think of a name, huh? Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

We're gonna add some bottom...

so that the dancers just won't hide!

We're continuing forward in our quest for serious family rock-ness. That's kinda like Loch Ness but it has a good beat and you can dance to it. I give it a 95!

Chloe was completely enamored of the Ibanez GSR200FM bass we looked at today so she bought it.

Keep on rockin' in the free world!

With Ronnie's collection of percussion devices (drums)

and my venerable synth (Ensoniq ESQ-1)

we're ready to get down to some full-on rockin'.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Things you need while hibernating

While we were fantasy shopping (Ask Ronnie about the Yamaha electronic drum set!) at the local music store yesterday during our hibernation, MJ found a guitar she really liked. We researched it, tried a buncha other guitars at a coupla other shops, and went back this morning to buy it.

MJ is now electric-acoustic on a beautiful Gretsch G3700!

She can hook that badboy up to the little amp I bought and really work on her part for our LIG talent show song!

P.S. But I'm still looking for a CHEAP short-scale electric bass for Chloe.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Memories of future past

Time and space are fluid and interchangeable; you know that. You don't need me to clutter up this post with a lot of physics, do ya? Cuz I'll do it! Fair warning.

I'm missing my dad and hadda look at some old photos and visualize the parallels between us. From there, I could (in my head) make a little fold in time and see us floating along on the great Temporal River simultaneously instead of serially. It's comforting and lightens my sadness; so you hafta put up with it. Or you could just go read something more entertaining. I've said before that this blog is my psychological dumping ground and right now it's neither upbeat nor engaging. Sorry.

Check back in March for a post which is blithe and amusing. Meanwhile...

Dad in his Army uniform at the end of WWII.

Me in my Marine JROTC uniform during the buildup in VietNam.

Dad's wedding.


Middle-aged kid-on-the-shoulders mode.

Me, too.

Here we are at a more advanced age. Dad's hippie persona is, of course, a wig and a costume.

Mine is pretty much just how I am.

This is the shot we used for Dad's obituary. It's how I tend to remember him.

This is probably an appropriate obit photo for me. I hope my kids remember me this way!