Word Reviews: Nerd, Geek, Dork

Had been looking forward to a few days alone to get stuff done. . . and instantly strained a groin (good thing I have one left!). So of course my mind turned to cookier things, like how I would rank these three words in order of which one I least want to be called all the way to “Eh, don’t mind.”

First the dictionary meanings.

{Geek: a peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, or socially awkward.}
Hey, I’m all three! Yay! Do note that the original meaning of this word was “circus performer who bites the heads off chickens.” Now I don’t feel as bad.

{Nerd: a person considered to be socially awkward, boring, unstylish, etc.}
Only one fits me! Okay, two, but I’m never boring!

{Dork: a silly, out-of-touch person who tends to look odd or behave ridiculously around others.}
Me, ridiculous? Never!

Right away there’s a problem: “Dork” doesn’t really fit in with the other two, at least not as tightly as those two do with each other. “Nerd” and “Geek” seem pretty specifically geared toward those who love science fiction and fantasy, gaming, tech, and so on. But “Dork” could be about anything, or about nothing, simply a perception of not being cool. But that very non-specificity hurts its reputation, as some people will gladly take the mantle of nerd or geek proudly; there’s no similar cachet to being a dork.
So that solves the worse, but there’s more fun ahead, as we have to figure out if we’d rather be a geek or a nerd. They’re actually so similar than at least in two dictionaries I checked they’re synonyms for each other. So since that’s no help, it’ll have to come down to personal preference. . . no, that’s no good either. I’ll just have to go with instinct without being able to explain it.
So I’m going with nerd as best, then geek, then dork.
Phew! That was more exhausting than I thought!

;o)

Book Reviews: Exercise, Joy, Legalities, and Archaeology

Do you think the French and French Canadians say Monterey Jacques when ordering cheese?

Undulation: Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young
An easier gentler version of yoga for those of us whose bodies are winding down.
As with all self-help books, be it mental or physical, the first part tries to convince you why you need this. Some of them are actually well-pointed, such as the difference between pain caused by regular physical labor and internal injury. There’s also the difference between small and large movements, as well as an explanation as to who really is in charge, the mind or the body. One line really made me laugh: eels have powerful strong cores, because that’s all they have. Eels can’t fall back on arms and legs.
Obviously it takes a while to feel the effects and benefits of any physical regimen, so I can’t tell you how successful this is yet, but I can recommend this book just for the names of the exercises, some of which genuinely made me laugh out loud:
Hip hiker—Octopus—Paint your head with the floor—Follow the music—Tailbone penmanship—Coffee grinder—Caressed by waves—Barber pole—Tree tops—Train cars—Speed bump—Inchworm—Snake charmer—Tornado.
There’s an appendix that lists the exercises alphabetically.
3.5/5

November Fox – Book 1. Following Joy
This novel was both interesting and weird on many levels, though thankfully most were entertaining. The philosophical ramblings tend to be too much once in a while, but basically it’s an enjoyable ride as we follow a young female rock star through many worlds and even time, all the while searching for some kind of enlightenment, semi-guided by a floating Rubik’s Cube that makes the subtitle literal.
November—thankfully we find out about the name early—turns out to be a happy loopy girl, the kind who says good morning to the furniture and singsongs to herself about everything she sees. On her travels she meets an elephant who speaks in a German accent and only wants cake. This guy is a hoot! Inspired characterization. At one point Captain Picard of Star Trek makes a cameo, and the Borg are mentioned, which makes November the nerdiest rock star ever.
I found it weird that there was an omnipresent voyeur narrating what’s going on with the protagonist. This narrator is even stranger than November, and talks—writes—way too cutesy and mannered. There’s a strange fascination with time, which here is called tick-tock, or cake time, depending on the character. By the end I was thinking I liked November’s story and Erica’s notes much more than the Architect’s philosophical ramblings, and could have done without them.
There was also a promise of music and/or video which could be accessed via an app, but even though there was animation at some points it didn’t work as promised.
Most importantly, November—the character—was so enjoyable. Her story could have been told just as well without the frames, but obviously that’s not what the author wanted.
4/5

Legal Asylum: A Comedy
The wacky behind-the-scenes travails of a state law school trying to be reaccredited and make the top five nationally at the same time leads to hilarity, though only for the readers, not the characters.
The main character is the dean of the law school, a driven and attractive woman who wants to be on the Supreme Court and have sex with just about everyone—compatible goals, I guess. But even with her leading the way there were so many points of view! To my surprise I rather like the member of the accreditation committee who writes notes to be transcribed like Cooper and Diane from Twin Peaks. I liked the tone of the whole thing; it’s not hilariously funny, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, like when the chancellor takes Viagra at the wrong time. There’s an interesting tangent on commercialism and Chinese aspirations too.
I wanna root for the Dean of Sexiness, but she’s not exactly sympathetic. And her obsession with being top 5, even if she has an incredibly selfish reason for it, is so ridiculous I can’t stand her. At one point she beats up two librarians and gets away with it, which is the main problem I had with the plot.
Funny how I only moderately liked it as I was reading it, but the ending was uplifting enough to push it slightly higher.
3.5/5

Olmec Obituary
Archaeological mystery? I’m there!
While there is a main character, and a mystery to solve—eventually—the best part is the interplay within her giant family, which has so much genetic mix: Chinese, Welsh, Berber. There’s plenty of supporting cast as well, from fellow librarians to an archaeologist she Skypes with; my favorite was the meek geneticist. But I wrote a note about halfway through where I said I didn’t know what the mystery is supposed to be, or if there was one, which is my main problem with the plot.
Food plays an important part in this family’s life, so there’s recipes—completely incomprehensible to me, of course—and a glossary at the end. But once I look back at it I find I enjoyed it, even though I had some difficulty following the chain of evidence. Didn’t think I would like the Olmec sequences, but it turned out the ballcourt-playing princess was the most interesting character of all.
3.5/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Everything’s Graphic

Time Share
If you read the blurb and expected this to be like “Back to the Future”. . . you’re right. The first panel alone made me think it. A little later there’s a part—let’s call it homaged—from “Terminator.” And just to make sure, there’s this line: “Roads? We don’t need roads!”–“We do too need roads! Dumbass!”
I wish I could tell you what this was about, other than time travel, but it would be easier to tell you what it’s NOT about, as the plot jumps around everywhere without rhyme or reason. If it wasn’t for the humor I would have quit just a few pages in. One of the characters says, “I am so lost. . . figuratively speaking, I mean. . . okay, literally too.” Join the club.
So I stuck around for the jokes, having given up on trying to make sense of it. There’s silly stuff, like “Teddy! Move!”–“Okay, but I’ll need some boxes!” Then there’s the ever-popular “Hooray for A.N.A.L.!” and “I’m keeping my eye out. . . also my penis.” We find out about the author’s fixations with the lines, “Perhaps I could interest you in some mouth pleasure?” and “Is he requesting. . . mouth love?” How naïve is the defective robot guy? He says things like, “You said a swear!” And I also “have so much sympathy for Pac-Man right now. . .” My two faves were “I was too follow to drugged” and “Horse’s ass of the apocalypse!” which was the most brilliant thing I’d read that day.
Even the cops get their jokes, like playing “One two three not it!” “We’re coming in! I can’t guarantee Frank won’t shoot anyone.”–“Jesus, Al, let it go.” “Target evaluation: Kinda sad, really.” And what are “medium warning shots?”
2/5

Brickleberry V.1—Armoogeddon
According to the recap—one huge star just for including it!—this is about how alien cows took over the planet, with one guy particularly happy about it because of the love that dare not moo its name. The protagonist looks like Peter Griffith if he REALLY let himself go, but hey, he’s the hero, gotta root for him. And since cows are racist too they make really good bad guys here.
“Steve, you’ve returned.” Oh boy, this writing is not instilling confidence early on.
Some of the jokes you can spot from a continent away. For example, I had a feeling the scientist was screwing with him about inserting all the stuff from the time machine. Likewise the “Who’s your daddy?” twist. Thankfully a lot of it is inspired funny lunacy, like the hero’s weapon of choice being a t-shirt cannon; awesome in some circumstances, not so much in others. And spike strips should not be used on humans! Owwie! (There’s a close-up, in case you had any doubts.)
“Way to think on your feet, Wayne Brady.” Wow, that’s a reference I never thought I’d see. Definitely not often Amazon and Obama get slammed back to back, and that’s probably a good thing.
Plotwise there’s nothing new here—except with cows—and a lot of it doesn’t make sense, but it’s so madcap the sense is it was never meant to in the first place. Just be on the lookout for the jokes, which are sometimes too-far or too-soon but always hilarious.
3.5/5

Big Nate: What’s a Little Noogie Between Friends?
This comic strip is consistent in bringing the funny, and that’s all you can ask. Whether it’s soccer, table football, Star Trek: The Next Generation. . . Nate always finds a way to pull a screw-up from the jaws of victory. You’d think it couldn’t get any worse for him than his crush moving away, but when he ends up at the movies next to his nemesis—and they’re mistaken for a couple!—noogies hardly seem to matter at that point.
4/5

Bizenghast Collectors Edition V.1
After a newspaper cutting to set the scene—thank you for that!—the story is told through pencil sketches and grayscale, in which an orphan girl claims ghosts haunt her. Deemed crazy, she escapes her aunt’s house with a boy and they explore a cemetery, finding an underground cathedral-like place that they really should not have entered. From there each chapter takes them on a different mission to help bring peace to ghosts, picking up some snarky advisors along the way.
She might have been a crazy shut-in, but she’s got an amazingly huge wardrobe, while her guardian moans about not having money. She even spouts life lessons such as: “I can do anything with the right outfit.”
That snarky little mask-faced creature easily steals every scene. Communism is bad for your eyes. . . or is that television? He was the most entertaining, with lines like, “Remember we’re parked in level. . . ocean.”
There’s over 500 digital pages and the story’s still not over! Though to be fair the drawings and panels are bigger than most. Toward the end the format changes to a more serialized story, which rapidly becomes confusing.
While the artwork is minimalist, some of the drawings are beautiful. Dinah at one point is wearing a peacock inspired dress that would have been so beautiful in color.
The author included some notes at the end, basically celebrating weirdness; this is not the first time I’ve heard a creator refer to a second version of their work as a “director’s cut.”
To put it succinctly, this was more interesting than I expected.
3.5/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Bad Jobs, Erotic Wonderland, and Online Dating

Anonymous
There are only 10 kinds of people: those who can read binary and those who can’t.

You Had One Job!
A few days ago a friend posted a photo on Facebook of a row of bottles of vinegar with the labels upside down, of course captioning it with this title. Timing being everything, here’s a whole book on it.
It’s wonderful to see something that’s exactly as described: a collection of photos showing work failures that never should have happened. You could scour the internet for days and possibly see all these, but it would take a lot of work and time, so it’s much better having it in this convenient package, especially since they come with captions, mostly unnecessary but sometimes elevating the photo. And when the author says exactly what I would have, there’s a partly creepy, partly triumphant sensation running through me. Case in point: “Pay your parking fee before existing.” I went existential too.
The forward contains this gem: “We’re not judging; we’re just laughing at how hard you failed at doing your job. Okay, maybe we’re judging you a little, but you still got paid, right?”
Star Warts? Really?
Best one: A Halloween costume of Spock with Kirk’s face on the package. (The fact the author was able to knowingly joke about both Star Wars and Star Trek means she’s part of my tribe.)
4.5/5

Girls on Campus
Lesbian erotica in a college setting, of varying degrees of well-written-ness. Some were usual—sorority pledge, library—others pretty inventive—swimming pool, garden in the rain.
Really nothing more I can say.
3.5/5

The Circlet Treasury of Erotic Wonderland
An erotic version of Alice In Wonderland? That would have been great, but unfortunately that’s not what happens here. Instead there’s short stories, some of which take place in that universe, but too many don’t. And while there are some that are pretty good, the majority fell flat. Worse than anything, too many of them weren’t erotic at all.
I suppose that in a story about Wonderland, things will get weird, but unlike Lewis Carroll, some of these were too far out to understand. It says a lot when the hottest scene features Alice with a wasp.
Can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.
3/5

ONLINE DATING: The Good, The Bad, and the Hopeless
Well, at least it’s short. . .
There was very little good here, but definitely plenty of bad and hopeless. Out of the first twenty chapters, there was at most three dates that might qualify as good, so technically the title didn’t lie. But those bad ones weren’t bad enough to be funny, mostly cringeworthy. Even worse was the writing; the casual style feels forced, the attempts at humor fall flat. Writing “just kidding!” right after the attempted joke belongs in a text or tweet, not a book. And I try not to harp on grammar, knowing a lot of what I’m reading is not the final copy, but there’s simply too many misused commas, typos, unclosed quotations, etc. Schakowsky’s 1812 Overture—seriously?
More than anything, I found this author thoroughly unlikable. He stereotypes women—the Ph.D., the Indian princess—then tries to sound so lofty for overcoming his perceptions. Maybe next time don’t make judgements beforehand.
Here’s a perfect example: “This meeting / date did not proceed as expected. Usually the dominant party (almost always the male… at least on my dates) sets the stage for the beginning, the middle, and the end of this initial encounter. The female by nature is considered the gentle gender and politely cooperates with the self-appointed take-charge male. Exceptions to this routine are rare, but when they do occur . . . they can be devastating to the supposedly dominant gender. Totally unexpected, the male finds himself in a subordinate position and cannot function in his usual dominant manner.”
Maybe it’s just because he’s of an older generation, but he’s not that much older than me.
I’m surprised I made it to the end; usually when a book is this bad I give up on it. That’s why I rarely give bad reviews.
1.5/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Funny Ducks, Bad Future, Double Exposed

“Don’t do anything you don’t want to.”
She batted her lashes. “But then how will you owe me one?”

Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting
A collection from a comic strip about an anthropomorphized family of ducks, with the father having trouble raising the kiddies, or ducklings.
This book is funny right from the intro, where after talking to other parents the author realizes that he is in fact the only one having doubts about their ability to raise a child; it wasn’t till he stared this strip that he grasped something the baby could have told him: “A lot of people are big fat liars!”
There’s some hilarious stuff that doesn’t need anything more said about it here. Then there’s some jokes that don’t hit you right away; it takes a couple of seconds for the humor to detonate. The good thing is that the LOL per page ratio is pretty high, as a lot of these get more than just a smile or a chuckle. There’s even a nice dig on Star Wars. The art work is serviceable, good enough without getting in the way of the humorous writing, which is really the important part.
4.5/5

The Shape of Shit to Come
A look at the future, as regards to technology, genetics, food, weather, and so on, as told by two British guys who think they’re writing for Benny Hill or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The sad robot on the cover, reminiscent of Marvin from the latter of the abovementioned references, sets the tone nicely.
While in general this is a good overview of what the future might have in store, the inclusion of too many not-worth-it jokes had me rolling my eyes far too often. There’s some surprising scientific logic behind the often groan-worthy humor, but it’s not allowed to flourish. The worst part for me was that all the British-isms were tough to understand; it wasn’t till they mentioned a Wallace and Grommit movie that I grasped a reference. And then after all that, their conclusion is: Cheer up—it might never happen.
This could have received a higher grade had they been able to hold in the impulse to include some silly humor that kinda screwed up their whole point. While I get them trying to parry the doom-and-gloom scenarios, having someone from Monty Python or Red Dwarf ghost-write a few jokes would have helped immensely.
3.5/5

Tough Justice: Exposed
Female FBI agent saves suicidal guy from ledge; he’s instantly shot once on the ground. But that’s just the tip of the plot iceberg, as it is then explained that she’d gone undercover to bust a mafia, then spent two years hiding from them.
Despite the FBI team’s insistence on the possibility that it could be completely unrelated to that assignment, it’s plain that it is. There were times when I asked a pertinent question a chapter ahead of the agents, except when I asked a question that the bright but angry detective never thought of, having to do with the dead guy’s girlfriend and his missing phone. It’s actually pretty good procedural-wise, though with these obvious lapses. While this is at heart a mystery, there’s also a look into the mentality of an undercover agent after a year-long job. I would say she’s suffering from a form of PTSD, except her trust issues and such began long before.
Since this is the first of a series—or I should say miniseries, because they’re novellas—it ends in a cliffhanger, but at least it’s expected.
I liked it, but not sure if I liked it enough to continue with the series.
3.5/5

Exposed
Hot lawyer in Seattle has sex, gets married, goes to sex clubs with her husband, gets divorced, then is really screwed over. Told as one long stream of consciousness, with the narrator in the present telling us about her past, this first-person chronicle takes some getting used to, but is ultimately worth the trip.
Can’t say I’m a fan of the format, but I ended up enjoying her journey. She would likely never realize how good she’s had it, preferring to microscope on the bad parts: how her parents suck, how her husband screwed her over. The good things in her life are basically the women she helps—though some are not worthy—her grandmother, and all the sex she has.
Toward the end it turns into a revenge fantasy come to life, where we find out who the true villain, the puppetmaster, is. The fact she enjoys sex with him doesn’t stop her from giving him what’s coming to him for all the misery he put her through, so the story ends with a sense of wrongs being righted and satisfaction being gained.
I did not think I would enjoy it this much when I started, especially the ending. Glad I stuck with it.
4/5

;o)