Oct 28, 2019

Billy's Books 26: Wichita Lineman

Here is a whole book dedicated to one song,"Wichita Lineman": its history, and all the players involved. It's definitely good reading for a songwriter. I don't know if it's good for any ol' music fan, but my guess is yes.

"What makes a record sound good in a car? It's not going to be a hit if it doesn't sound good in a car."
Jimmy Webb

The book review has the song starting halfway through. With hesitation, I offer the imperfect performance here in its entirety.

Oct 21, 2019

Who reviews the reviewers?

Who polices the police? Who reviews the reviewers?

I just read the New York Times book review of Thomas Chatterton Williams' Self-Portrait In Black And White. I offer no opinion about the book itself, even though it is popular to have strong opinions about things we actually haven't read.

But really... professional reviewers! I tell ya. Below is a quote from the review. The pot calling the kettle black?

Williams writes beautifully, but his pages include quotations from great men that sometimes seem like scattered proof of his sophistication, a reflection of insecurities he disavows. Some readers will find his rhetoric perfidious and reactionary, with its dismissal of identity politics and the concomitant particulars of the African-American experience.

Well, I had to look up a few vocabulary words reading this article, most easily translating to commonly known phrases. Dare I say, I find the concomitant particulars of this reviewer's rhetoric most perfidious, a reflection of insecurities he disavows.

Oct 20, 2019

Billy's Books 25: Thunderstruck

Billy reviews Erik Larson's book, Thunderstruck.

Be forewarned, unlike most of my reviews, this actually has some spoilers. So, here's your warning: SPOILER ALERT. It's really more of a pseudo-spoiler, telling what doesn't happen, as much as what does.

Oct 19, 2019

Trump is #2

People are often confused about Donald Trump. They think that he follows one rule, that is to serve #1, himself. Donald is actually #2. He follows two rules:
1. The "Is it shitty?" Rule
2. Me
His first priority is the "Is it shitty?" Rule. This all you need to know:
Flunky: Sir, should we do this?
Trump: Is it shitty?
Flunky: Yes sir.
Trump: Then do it!
We've seen that this is his true rule, often overriding self-interest. Many of his acts and words do not benefit him at all. Sometimes they undermine his own well-being.
But no matter! There are plenty of times when he does benefit, so rest assured. The "Is It Shitty" Rule holds true. Shitty is Job One. Donald is #2.

Sep 18, 2019

Whole Paycheck Tweet

I've never blogged a tweet. Is this natural?

Sep 12, 2019

Billy's Books 24: Circe

Today's review is actual fiction. I guess it's more fantasy, but certainly not my usual science fiction. It's a novel seen through the eyes of a lowly nymph, Circe. A nymph is a Greek immortal, but much less than a god. Circe's father is a proper god, Helios, the sun: the guy in the chariot that crosses the sky every day. What a temper has he! (Like so many gods.) Circe encounters a few other gods in this book (Apollo and Athena, for example), and some notable mortals as well, most famously Odysseus.

Please excuse my butchering of the pronunciation of so many (ancient) Greek names and words. I think I incorrectly say Circe's name throughout. You're welcome.

It should be noted that there is some violence (sexual and otherwise) in this book, but it is not explicit. PG-17?

Perhaps this quote sums up the entire novel:
Penelope said, "What is a witch then If it is not divinity?" 
"I do not know for certain," I said. "I once thought it was passed through blood, but Telegonus has no spells in him. I have come to believe it is mostly will." 
She nodded. I did not have to explain. We knew what will was.

A recurring theme is the chasm between mortals and gods. Since gods can do so much with a wave of the hand, they draw satisfaction from inventive forms of destruction. She appreciates that mortals work to create instead, especially their handiwork. Circe is intimate with another mortal, a thousand generations her junior:
"I want you to know, if you go to Egypt, if you go anywhere, I want to go with you."
Pulse by pulse, his life passed under my fingers. "Thank you," I said.