The Fault in Our Stars By John Green (spoiler free review)

Happy Tuesday!

Announcements

I apologize for the late post, I had a midterm paper due yesterday and I was sweating all weekend and yesterday morning finishing it. Also, lectures started again yesterday after spring holiday and uggh it’s a mess over here. I’m ready for summer.

There are some changes coming down the tubes, I’m not quite at liberty to talk about them yet but it’s all good news.  However I am EXCITED to announce that I have a new writer coming on board to write poetry, short stories, and more on Tuesdays.

If you want to submit pieces of poetry, short fiction, fan art, or if you’re a band who wants to do a press release for your new music video or album, or a young author looking for a new reader, or whatever feel free to get in touch with me. Here’s a link to my contact page.

I’ll tell you more when I have more details worked out.

End announcements

Spoiler Free Summary and Review:

The Fault in Our Stars is a book by the wonderful John Green, well known for the YouTube series Crash Course (Crash Course Literature being one of my favourtes, tied with Crash Course Philosophy with his equally wonderful brother Hank Green).  If you’re as late to the party as I am on this one, published in 2012 and movie adaptation released in 2014, you are in luck, my friend, because this is probably the best romance story you’ve missed. (1)  The Fault in Our Stars.jpg

The Fault in Our Stars is a Shakespearean style love story, as the title implies. “The fault in our stars” is a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, between Hazel Grace, a 16 year old girl with cancer that has spread to her lungs, and Augustus, a boy she meets in a support group,

After some awkward teenage conversation, Hazel and Augustus exchange favourite books to read. They bond over the cliff hanger end to Hazel’s beloved book The Price of Dawn.  Augustus gets in touch with the author of Hazel’s favourite book and puts the two in touch (for those taking notes, this is an EXCELLENT move; get me a personal meeting with Mark Z. Danielewski and I think that might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.)

The story goes on develop the arc of young love, but what sets it apart from other teenage love is that going into this story we have a game of Russian Roulette being played with Chekhov’s Revolver. The three main characters, Hazel, Augustus, and their mutual-friend Isaac, have advanced stages of cancer. The whole time I was, sometimes literally, in tears with anticipation of seeing who was going to die, and wishing the whole time that somehow no one would and that they could all go into remission and live long, wonderful lives together.  However, as per the rules of great fiction: characters have to get hurt.  In this case for me, the pain was worth the pay off.

 

Footnotes:

  1. If you’re into that kind of thing, romance stories that is.  See me? I may have a cold black heart but I’m a sappy sod for a good love story.  Speaking of I’m a HUGE pumping-blood-bleeding-heart for a good real life love story,  so if you have a good story about how you met your lovely partner or former partner and want to share, send me a message.

 

**SPOILERS BELOW**

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En Defense of Pineapple Pizza (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Happy Monday!

Gordon Ramsay Ends the Debate on Whether Pineapple Belongs on Pizza

Normally I try to ignore these sort of things but I do have an opinion on the issue and I think that it’s worth talking about because I believe it talks to a deeper systematic issue of rising intolerance.

Now I can guess anyone reading this might think “But Fin, what do you know about cooking? You’re a self-described microwave chef!”(1)

I deny nothing.  However I am a guy who knows how to eat and I’ve watched a lot of Good Eats over the years and I’ve learned a thing or two.

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I hope AB brings Good Eat’s back with his new “internet venture”.

“Sweet and Salty” is a very legitimate flavour combination.  Think chocolate covered pretzels, or maple candied bacon, or a personal favourite: salted caramel(2).  Fruit jam and cheese parings are a well established thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If my opinion isn’t enough, Alton Brown (host of Good Eats) has my back:

“I don’t want people saying what should or should not be on a pizza,” Brown told People. “You put anything on a pizza you damn well feel like.”

“Alton Brown Has Some Feelings About Gordon Ramsay’s Pineapple Pizza Statement”

Now that we have that obnoxious business out of the way, I want to discuss (briefly) about what this sort of “debate” and the attention it’s garnered is telling me about the current state of affairs.  

In today’s climate binary social/cultural systems of classification are being legitimately deconstructed. With deconstruction comes confusion and from confusion comes a need for understanding and what helps with understanding? Labels and categories.  

However as much as a label can help classify a person’s identity, political/social stance, or a relationship status, it has the equal power to inhibit truly deep understanding of what is being labeled by simplifying the subject in question into a word with it’s own denotation(s) and connotation(s) that may or may not at all aid in deep understanding of the subject.  

In an effort to help “resolve” mis-labeling, an expert might be consulted or have their words used as a source of authority such as Gordon Ramsay’s or Alton Brown and as definitive as  their opinion may seem on a subject what is best to be kept in mind is: these are opinions about preferences.  

As I’ve outlined above there is scientific evidence for pineapple being a legitimate choice for a pizza just as there is scientific evidence for gender being a spectrum rather than a binary classification.  Just as I’ve outlined above some people prefer to have pineapple on their pizza and some people don’t just like some people prefer to use labels as some people don’t.  At the end of the day, it is not up to us to decided on who gets to do what with their pizza just as it is not up to us to decide how people identify.  

Here’s my take away from this whole “pineapple pizza” debacle: Pizza is like love.   You can put what you like on your pie and I can put what I like on mine.  If you don’t like what I have on my pizza, good.  More for me.  Don’t worry, I won’t force you to eat my pie.  Besides I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most places.  You do you mate and I’ll do me.

What I like on my pizza-pie? Pineapples and Anchovies.  Do I have a label for it? Naw, I don’t feel like it needs one.  I like it just as it is.

 

Footnotes:

  1. See “My first English Xmas Dinner”
  2. If you’re interested in knowing more about why “sweet and salty” works from a scientific perspective, check out the How Stuff Works article “Why do Sweet and Salty Taste so Good Together?”

 

Slaughterhouse – Five by Vonnegut (book review)

Happy Monday!

Last week I reviewed a non-fiction war novel about the Vietnam war.  This week I’m writing review about a meta-fiction war novel about World War II.  That’s about where the similarities begin and end.

Image result for slaughterhouse 5

“unstuck in time” is a good way to put it.

Spoiler Free Summary & Review:

Billy Pilgrim is a WWII vet who has, as he describes, has become unstuck in time.  This is both an allegory for his state mind and the device for which Vonnegut tells his story which is somewhat based on Vonnegut’s own experience in the war including being in Dresden during the fire bombing.  The story jumps around between episodes occurring during his time in the war, a time while he was working as an optometrist, and later life when he’s living with his daughter.  His getting “unstuck in time” was a side effect of being abducted by aliens.  As Tim O’brien says,  “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical…In other cases you can’t even tell a true war story.  Sometimes it’s just beyond telling.”(1) and I believe when he wrote that maybe he had Slaughterhouse Five in mind.

 

Footnotes:

  1. The Thing’s They Carried, 70

 

**Spoilers Below**

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The Things They Carried (book review **SPOILER FREE**)

Featured

Happy Monday!

I’m trying to read more shorter length books, 200-300 pages, because the last several months, almost a year now, I keep getting invested in these epic 1000+ page books which are generally rewarding do take me so very long not only to read but to digest (I’m looking at you Infinite Jest). In a means towards that end, I restarted and finished a book I started for a class in October, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

things

Spoiler Free Summary and Review:

The Things They Carried (TTTC) is a war novel but it’s not about war.  TTTC is a piece of non-fiction where the author blatantly tells you “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical…In other cases you can’t even tell a true war story.  Sometimes it’s just beyond telling.” (70) The Things They Carried is less about a war or about the validity of the stories inside the covers but at it’s heart it’s a story about the things these men carried with them before, during, and after the war.  The literal things they each carried, from the stockings of a sweetheart to a fully illustrated New testament bible or simply a big bag of dope, to the memories and guilt and ultimately stories they tell themselves and anyone who will listen.

Generally set in the 1970’s the novel loosely follows Tim O’Brien and his company of fellow soldiers in a non-linear story line.  The stories that take place before and after the war are the minority leaving a strange and confusing amalgamation of funny and brutal stories about their experiences over there.  The non-linear story structure really works with the content of the story in that O’Brien “[Wants] you to feel what I felt. [O’Brien wants] you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.” (179) and in this way I believe his choice of a non-linear narrative structure has helped convey this feeling that when you’re reading TTTC you are entering a shadowy and crowded room full of ghosts chattering, all vying for your attention but only a few voices come out clearly.  Ghosts and memories have no use for time as we understand it.  TTTC is a short novel at 236 pages however if you liked it, like I did, there are at least three more books about his experiences in Vietnam (Northern Lights, If I Die in a Combat Zone, and Going After Cacciato).

**SPOILERS BELOW**

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The House on Cherry Hill (comic)

Happy Friday!

UPDATE Soz this is late, the wordpress delay publish function is questionable in functionality.  Thank you. **

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This Is something I drew when I was listening to Cherry Hill by The Creepshow (the art in the music video is not mine).  I like when houses and buildings play a role in a story telling.  I have a reoccurring set of surreal dreams(1) that involve me exploring a familiar place (parent’s, grand parents, old school, friend’s place, previous apartments etc) but the floor plan keeps morphing but subtly, like off screen left.

I read that many of The Creepshow’s lyrics are based on horror movies so I decided to google cherry hill and learned of the Cherry Hill Murder:

Basically Cherry Hill manour in Albany NY that started out as a farmstead built by  Philip Kiliaen van Rensselaer who then later had a carpenter, Isaac Packard, build over the original farmstead and transform it into Cherry Hill manour.  “The house combined a Georgian body with a gambrel roof, commonly found on the Dutch Colonial houses van Rensselaer’s ancestors (and indeed many of Albany’s earlier settlers) had built.” (source)

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Gambrel Roof 

 

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Gregorian body

This is my favourite picture of Cherry Hill (source)

 

Cherry Hill grew so big as to have a tannery and brewery on the estate plus 17 people(2) living there.  One of the couples living in the manour was a John Whipple and Elsie Lansing.

 

At a local tavern Lansing was approached by a man called “Doctor”, despite being a farm worker he could read and write, whom she would grow very fond of and have move into Cherry Hill. It was later discovered that “Doctor” was actually a drifter, named Jesse Strang but living under an assumed name, who faked his death to get away from his wife and kid.

After passing coy notes via house servants they began an affair which inspired Lansing and “Doctor” to run away to Canada together.  One problem: they were broke sorta.  Doc had no money but Lansing’s husband controlled her money and they decided to hatch a plan to poison Lansing’s husband via his daily medication.

When this didn’t work they conspired to shoot Lansing’s husband and let the inheritance sort it self out? Honestly not really sure what their end game was at this point because the poisoning could look like an accident but even if this assassination wasn’t almost entirely botched they would probably find it a challenge to sort out affairs.

Doc was found, tried, and confessed to the murder.   “Doctor” was executed via hanging and it was messy.  The fall didn’t break Doc’s neck and so he hung for an hour before suffocating.  This was the final public hanging in Albany.

Since then there has been reports of ghosts sightings which describe a male figure walking around the manour and it’s not clear whether it’s Lansing’s husband or Doc’s ghost.

Footnotes:

  1. I have a few of these the second most popular of which are hair dreams which mostly involves me staring in a mirror marveling at how my hair has miraculously grown several inches or my beard has filled out.  Once I had a dream where I “woke up” looking like Logan from X-2.  It was a good dream.
    Image result for x-2 logan

    Something like this.

    2. I don’t know if this includes servants or if it’s plus servants.

Post Office by Charles Bukowski(book review)

Happy Monday!

Today I have a book review for you today by this guy named Charles Bukowski. Let me give you some background on this Dirty Old Man to give you an idea for what we’re getting into:

Image result for charles bukowski

This about sums it up.

Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.[4] His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.[5][6]

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”.[7] Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”[8]

-wikipedia, Charles Bukowski

Going into Post Office, I was pretty blind.  The extent I had heard was that he was an American Beat writer and the friend who gave me my copy of Post Office told me when I asked them “What’s this about? What’s Bukowski like?” They kinda looked off, chuckled, and said “Bukowski is a bastard.  You’ll like em.”  After reading Post Office, I get it.

Image result for post office bukowski

Imagine this copy except a couple of coffee spots at the bottom left.

Post Office falls square in this sub-genre called Dirty Realism and it wasn’t named because of this book but it could have been.

Spoiler Free Summary and Review:

The Narrative follows a guy named Henry Chinaski and his drunken meanderings between Post Offices in California with a brief stint in Texas, the overall narrative reminds me of the movie, “Barfly” which is “Based on the life of successful poet Charles Bukowski and his exploits in Hollywood during the 60s, 70s, and 80s.” (IMDB)

Overall I was a little offended, the story was strange, but I found that I was so amused I couldn’t quite stop until it was done reading.  I equate developing a taste for Bukowski like developing a taste for hot sauces: it’s never entirely pleasant but when you understand the burn an appreciation can be developed.

**SPOILERS BEYOND**

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Martenisa: Grandmother March has a Spring in her Step (Folklore)

Cover Photo Source: Adventure Flair

Happy Monday!

A few weeks ago one of my flatmates gifted me a red and white bracelet with a purple butterfly charm on it.  I asked her why and she went to explain to me that it was a Bulgarian Spring ritual.  “It is just what we do.”

bulgarian spring twist

The martenitsi is usually made of red and white yarn. The red to ward off the gaze of evil spirits and the white represents long life.

Naturally I was curious for more and went digging around.  What I learned was that Martenisa is a spring celebration starting on March 1st when Martenitsi are tied around children’s wrists and necklaces of the same colours are hung around young women’s necks.  Martenitsi are always given as gifts, never bought for one self, and are given to loved ones, friends, and people they feel close to (aww thank you Tsveta!) with  the wish of good health and luck.

The Martenitsi is meant to be worn until the wearer first sees a stork, swallow, or blossoming tree (all signs of spring). What is supposed to be done with it at which point varies however I was told to tie it around a blossoming tree branch to pass on the good health and luck I have been gifted over the last month to the tree.  I like this a lot, trees are okay people.

The idea of wearing the Martenitsi is to protect the wearer from Baba Marta (Grandmother March) who is subject to mood swings bringing more cold weather.  By wearing a Martenitsi it’s a sign of welcoming Baba Marta and asking for a short and less bitter end to winter.

With that being said, I’m still wearing my Martenitsi but I’m hoping that soon (seeing as today is the first official day of spring) that I’ll see a blossoming tree so I can pass on the love.

If you want to read more, check out this wonderful post on Adventure Flair “What is Martenisa?”

Happy Spring!

 

The Passage by Justin Cronin (book review *SPOILERS*)

Happy Monday!

Spoiler Free Summary and Review:

This book should come with a warning: “Buckle up, this book will grab you by the FUCKING throat. Read at your peril.”

I read a lot(1) however it’s not often when I pick up a book that gives me problems, as in when I start reading the book I have such a strong compulsion to continue reading that I start stealing time from other things like sleeping or coursework(2).  That being said, I should say that this book is less of a page burner from page 1 but more of a shadow slowly stalking up on you until about page 241.  At the time, I didn’t realize it until about page 315 that I was screwed.

the passage

Cronin isn’t messing around with the “Something is coming.” subtitle.

At 963 pages, The Passage by Justin Cronin is a physically daunting book and it’s ambitious. The story takes place over the course of 97-1008 years depending on how you count, the setting spans most of the United States west of the Mississippi from New Orleans LA to Southern Oregon, and there are about 9 core characters.  This both works for and against the passage.

It can be exhausting keeping track of that many characters and the first and last part of the book has several separate story lines to keep straight.  Some of the characters and story lines I found more interesting and while nothing in the book is boring, some story lines felt jarringly interrupted by switching gears to other story lines.  However for the majority of the book when all the character arcs are plaited together it transforms into a tour de force of action, drama, intrigue, science fiction, fantasy, Gothic horror.  Highly recommended.

Footnotes:

  1. I average a book a week/300 pages.
  2. I lost 2 solid days reading 648 pages.

 

**SPOILERS BELOW**

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100 posts and going!

Happy Monday!

This here post, is my 100th post for Offbeat On-point and it has been a ride.  I have to be honest, I have not spent much (any) time thinking about doing anything particularly special for this post.

I feel like maybe this would be a good time to let y’all in on my some details of my master plan(1).

Image result for evil master plan

“”Master Plan””

Steps towards “The Vision 1.0”:

Merch:

I plan to start making stickers of my comics.  I’ll start a test run this summer trading stickers in person for schwag (things we all get) and rides, however due to my living situation(2) I won’t be able to mail stickers until October.  Eventually I’d like to make t-shirts and a line of emoji and other stuff.

Volunteers:

I am semi-actively looking for freelance or reoccurring or even better a recurring  writer.  I have plenty of stock ideas and am open to pitches for Mystery Monday and Rewind Wednesday, and I’m not sold yet but I’d be willing to open up Funny Fridays to pitches.  I cannot offer you pay however I can write you one hell of a recommendation letter(3) and some free stickers (when available).  If you are good at doing social networks (really could use a hand with twitter in specific) or feel like there is some other skill you could offer me, feel free to contact me.

#finandlouie4president2020:

This is not a joke.  I am determined to get “Fin and Louie” on the ballot for the American Presidential Election in 2020.  I must clarify, I (as in the writer/artist) am not running for the presidency but my creations, Fin and Louie, are.  There is historical precedence for this in the United States(4) and after the 2016 election results I’ve been inspired to start the “We Could Do Worse” Party(5).  However we need YOUR help.  If you Believe in the Fin or want to Follow Louie, whenever you see a political post somewhere on the internet post in the comments #finandlouie4president2020 #ibelieveinthefin #followmelouie #wecoulddoworse use all of them or one but the most important one to get traction is #finandlouie4president2020 and feel free to link to the comic too.  That will help understanding I am sure.

Overall I’m interested in building more of a relationship between us here at OBOP and you, the reader.  If you have ideas, suggestions, or anything please feel free to leave comments below.

Thanks for sticking with us for 100 posts and we hope to see you here in 100 more posts!

Also, don’t forget to check back in this Wednesday for the Press Release of Lady J and Paleface new music Video Link’s Arousing!

 

Footnotes:

  1. I read somewhere that a successful business is not grown on potential but vision.  If you exhibit a vision and give people, consumers and employees, a reason to believe in what you’re doing you’re more likely to build the kind of loyalty that nurtures relationships versus royalty-loyalty.  Though I guess that’s easy to say at this point when this a one-man show running on stolen time.
  2. I’ve been accepted into Lancaster University as a degree seeking student however in order to renew my visa, I must return to the United States.  For normal people this wouldn’t be much of a problem however as I am a hobo (DO NOT mistake my kind for bums, being a hobo means that one works to travel and travels to live; we earn our living and our way along the road we walk) I don’t have a home to go back to in St Louis.  So I plan to fly to San Francisco and walk the beach, looking for stories, adventure, and work while killing time until October.  This as you can imagine, does not afford the luxury of a set mailing point or address which would facilitate my sending stickers to you but when I get back to uni, I’ll have three hots and a cot again (probably, honestly haven’t looked into housing for next year but I’m not worried).
  3. I’m very excited at the prospect of getting to use the word “mogigraphia” in a recommendation letter.
  4. See Mickey Mouse Party and the Cthulhu Party, in fact I supported Cthulhu in 2016.
  5. Name isn’t set in stone, we could also name it the “Fin or Louie? Why Not Both?” party or “The Re-Tweeters” or “Team Not-Trump” or “It’s Just Politics, How Hard Could It Be?”, honestly were open to suggestion.

Zheng Shangyou (Card Game)

Happy Monday!

A few months back my friend taught me this game he picked up called Zhen Shangyou which is a Chinese card game.  He translates it as “Swim to be the First”. It also appears to readily be known as “Winner”.  Either way, it’s a fun and simple game for two players with variations for more players.

Number of players: 2

Goal: Be first to get rid of all their cards.

Hierarchy of cards and combinations:

Highest  -> Lowest:

Spades -> Hearts -> Diamonds -> Clubs

3 -> 4 -> 5 -> 6 -> 7 -> 8 -> 9 -> 10 -> Jack -> Queen -> King -> Ace -> Joker

Red Joker -> Black Joker

 

  • Single cards: Any card from the deck, ordered by rank with suit being the tie-breaker. (For instance, Ace of Spades will beat the Ace of Diamonds, which will beat the King of Spades.) The red Joker is the highest single.
  • Pairs: Any two cards of matching rank, ordered as with singular cards by the card of the higher suit. (A pair consisting of the King of Spades and the King of Clubs will beat a pair consisting of the King of Hearts and the King of Diamonds.)
  • Two [or more] pairs. Any number of pairs of cards with consecutive rank, e.g. 5-5-6-6-7-7
  • Three of a kind: Any three cards of matching rank.
  • Full House: A composite of a three-of-a-kind combination and a pair. Ordered by the rank of the triple, regardless of the pair.
  • Straight: Any five or more cards in a row. Twos are low in a straight (so K-A-2-3-4 is not valid, but 2-3-4-5-6 is), and Aces can be played high or low. A-2-3-4-5 is the lowest straight. If a [x] card straight is the current play type, it is only possible to beat it with another [x] card straight with a higher lowest card.
  • Bomb: Any four cards of matching rank. Can be played on all tricks excepts higher bombs (i.e. the four same cards having a higher value) or straight flushes.
  • Straight Flush: Any five or more cards in a row of the same suit. Same rules apply as a straight. A straight flush can be played on any tricks except for a higher straight flush [see straight].

 

 

Rules for Play:

  1. Once the cards have been shuffled, deal out the entire deck including jokers.
  2. Who ever has the 3 of diamonds goes first, however the 3 of diamonds does not need to be played.
  3. The player who goes first lays down the lowest card they have as a single, double, or triple (as if player one has two 3’s they could play one 3 or both).
  4. The next player plays the cards that are of the next highest available combination or if they cannot or choose to they can pass.  The first player to run out of cards wins.