I was so busy not calling my grandmother that I couldn’t finish these two books.

I once fretted over not completing books, but life is too short and my to-read list is too long to linger over literature I’m not interested in.

This week’s Fail List comprises two books, a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction.

TLDR

(Mom, TL;DR means “too long, didn’t read.”)

Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. This is one of Time’s 100 Greatest Novels, and is often declared “one of the most important works of American fiction.”

About 50 pages in, I was confused about what I was reading, so I went to the Wikipedia page, which informed me there were 400 characters. The plot summary was a tome in itself.

I continued reading the novel. The first bit is set in England. All was well. Then the protagonist goes to some tropical resort (???) though the war is still on (??? why isn’t he fighting???) and rescues a woman from a Pavlov-trained-octopus attack (???) who is spying on him (???). This is where I lost interest, because I couldn’t figure out what these people were doing putzing around during war time and why, if they knew the protagonist’s dick could predict where bombs would land, they didn’t keep him in the place where bombs were landing. Wouldn’t that be useful? Couldn’t they use that to evacuate buildings beforehand?

If you are interested in a piece of Great American Fiction That People Are Always Talking About, I recommend Infinite Jest instead.

Steven Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought. This book about linguistics turned into That Thing I Read To Help Me Fall Asleep. It’s several hundred pages about verbs and such. This is typically the sort of thing I get zesty about. I couldn’t get into this one.

Not all is lost on the reading front, however.

I did manage to complete

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This is by Jon Ronson, who’s probably best known for having written The Men Who Stare At Goats. (I love you too much to lie to you: I haven’t read that one. I saw the movie.)

Them is a pretty light, quick read. It’s just what I needed.

It’s fun — as fun as you can have when chillaxing with jihadists, white supremacists, and paranoid people who are convinced the New World Order is forthcoming.

The overarching terror of the extremists is basically “the Jews are coming for us all, and will rule with an iron fist.”

The author is Jewish, and he talks to these people. He’s surprisingly not murdered. He might be crazy.

Most of the book is devoted to the “Bilderberg Group,” a real entity. Conspiracy theorists outside the group are convinced it’s the New World Order. Do their meetings determine the fate of the world?

The book culminates in Ronson party-crashing their event.

(There are a few other chapters in the book, about 3/4 of the way through, that are about totally unrelated things. These chapters are confusing, because they didn’t tie into the primary narrative.)

The extremists are surprisingly — and perhaps a little disappointingly — normal. They have kids, and struggle with not being taken seriously. Sometimes they’re funny. Sometimes they’re sad. Sometimes they’re petty. Typically they’re terrifying.

Sadly, if there is a Jewish conspiracy, I have not been invited to the meetings.

My Deep Dark Fears

Sirens sound beautiful, like Aretha and Adele and Beyoncé and summer bird calls — all cross-hatched and played through a vintage gramophone. When you get enough to see the sirens’ elephant skin, fractured teeth, and scraggle hair, it’s too late. They lasso you with their tails. They chop you up and eat you off plates made of shell mosaics. You are gamey. They force themselves through your flesh and have escargot for dessert.

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Questions for Soylent Green Vendors

I heard a CSI-caliber super story the other day involving cannibalism. It goes as follows:

– Girl goes on spring break, makes out with some dude. Dude invites her home. She’s all “nah, I don’t know you. Thanks for the tongue session, though.” He gives her his digits and rolls out.

– Next day, girl has a crazy rash/sore situation all over her face.  She goes to the doctor to get that maybe-herpes checked out.

– The doctor tells her the sores are side effects of a cannibalism-related disease. The doctor asks her if she’s partaken in delicious corpses lately. She says no, but she has mushed faces with some new dude. Maybe he has a weird way of getting his protein.

– The doctor gets the guy’s phone number. The police look him up, and locate a fridge full of body parts in his home. The girl totally could have been murdered and eaten.

Great story, right?

If you think it has all the makings of an urban legend, you’re correct!

Human-Flesh

The friend who told me this story was very sad when I pointed out that a basic Google search revealed its falsehood. However, the story got me thinking:

There’s totally gotta be a market for man-meat (both types!) on the black market.

As my husband pointed out:

“If you outlaw cannibalism, the only cannibals left will be outlaws.”

I have some questions for those human-meat-mongers that are undoubtedly out there:

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Oh My!

Today I hugged former lizard monster, gay rights activist, Japanese Internship historical awareness raiser, and overall fab dude George Takei.

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He had on a soft sweater and drank tea.

He told the con-goers about how, when he was in the Japanese Internment camps during WWII, he saw Disney’s Snow White. For a few hours, he was transported into the whimsical world of charming dwarf names, gorgeous ebony-clad villainy, and crashes of lightning and thunder. Behind the barbed barricades, a love of entertainment was born.

Years later, he used people’s love of escapism to draw them in. He used his social media platforms to entertain people, and, once he had their attention, to tell them things they needed to know. To talk about human rights, gay rights, equality for all.

I love him very much. I also adore his husband, with whom I got into a conversation about Space Cases.

It was lovely to meet someone who knows about the pop culture blip that transformed my entire life.

If there were a way to coordinate a 20-year reunion con, my heart would explode and I would die, so it’s probably for the best that that doesn’t come to pass.

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Me: “What are you?”
Monster on left: “I’m from your childhood. You’ve repressed me.
Me: (laughing)
Monster on left: “I’m from Zelda.”

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On the far right are… Dreamfinder and Figment from EPCOT. I basically chased them down screaming. I’m an embarrassing Disney-head. My family were card-carrying members of the Disney Vacation Club (actually a thing). I went every year for at least a decade.

For reference:

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Their ride has been drastically changed.

I feel that my blog is an appropriate place to tell you:

The new ride sucks, Disney.

Change it back.

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