Golden Gremlin by Rod A. Walters

Golden GremlinGolden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers

by Rod A. Walters

Kindle Edition, 228 pg.
Omega Man Press, 2016

Read: February 1 – 2, 2018


Edmund Kean (1787 – 1833) — or someone else, it’s unclear — said “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Stand-ups, actors, and writers alike will testify to at least the latter. The downside is that those that do the hard work, those that are good at comedy make it look easy. Too often it seems that people (professional and amateur alike) go for the easy approach, and it’s never a good idea.

There’s also no accounting for taste.

I’ll accept either as the explanation for why this book left me underwhelmed.

Walters assumes a curmudgeonly tone, calling himself a misanthrope and taking shots at the foibles of the culture around him. The younger set is a particularly favorite target. Too often his pieces come across as angry Facebook rants, written by someone who spouts off against social media. Still, his points are occasionally clever and his jokes show promise. If he’d subject each of these two a few more revision passes, I could imagine myself enjoying many of these.

I’d strongly encourage reading this in small bursts — the essays don’t build on each other, there’s some references between the two, but nothing you won’t remember even after a few days. I wouldn’t do more than one or two in a sitting or Walters’ charm will wear thin.

Walters says that he wrote to make Dave Barry and Ben Stein laugh. If he’d invoked Andy Rooney, I might have agreed with him. I didn’t dislike the book, but I sure didn’t like it. Walters was frequently amusing — and I have no trouble thinking that many would find him funny. But not me. At least not without a few more drafts.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and participation in this book tour.

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2 1/2 Stars

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Guest Post by Rod A. Walters: Little-r-Slash-Big-R Has to be BIG Enough

[from “Captain [OF] America,” t.b. published August, 2018]

Size really does matter if you want a really dark partial solar eclipse. Having seen a spectacular annular solar eclipse—a “ring around the moon” thing—in upstate New York in 1994, I expected the Monday, August 21, 2017, predicted local 70%-partial solar eclipse to look spectacular, too. Wow, seventy percent! That sounds really dark!

During pre-Eclipse Morning, taking our usual walk around the neighborhood, I sensed all those neighborhood cats who came trotting up to us were worrying about the upcoming eclipse darkness. This many troubled cats didn’t happen often. They seemed to want extra head pats. Certain that they had primitive cat worries about the dangerous coming darkness, and needing fatherly attention, I gave them each a short lecture about how it’s only going to get sort of dark, but no wooba-monster dog-thing will be lurking in the shadows for them. A couple of reassuring pats each, we would go on our way. Cats love science lectures.

Later, wanting to make sure the Eclipse Day turned out special, I had much earlier set a lunch date with my wife, knowing that a romantic bayside restaurant table would make just the perfect afternoon. If clouds or rain had turned up instead, we still would have gone to an excellent lunch, and called it a Solar Ecrapse instead.

Armed with ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse-watching dark glasses, I treated my date to a running commentary about eclipses, about the ones I had seen before, and about the eerie darkness which would soon envelop us. Romantically. At about 30% eclipse, then at 40%, and later at 50%, it still looked just as bright as when we sat down an hour earlier.

At the maximum expected 70% eclipse, I could feel my date’s unspoken question, “Is it getting darker yet?” Wup.

Lunch was good, the company was good, but the 70% partial solar eclipse didn’t put on any show, except as viewed through the ISO 12312-2 eye glasses. How could that 1994 annular eclipse have looked so weirdly dark, and this 70% partial not be? Why! Why!

Time to whip out the old slide rule. A quickly jotted-up equation showed that for an annular eclipse to block the same 70% of the sun’s light, the so-called “apparent” moon’s radius today would be about 83% of the sun’s. All real engineers will yawn, bored with this simple equation: little-r-divided-by-big-R equals the square root of 70%. All non-engineers  would just yawn, neither group giving a rat’s eclipse about it. But the slide rule’s mocking answer: that 1994 annular eclipse hit 90%—a much, much bigger size than today’s event. No wonder 1994 got darker! I should have done the calculation before opening my blathering mouth. I can still hear the slide rule laughing.

I’d decided to make up for it next day by explaining this crucial little-r-slash-big-R mistake to all those neighborhood cats.  I just know they will all be interested, if they bother trotting out to me again.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Golden Gremlin by Rod A. Walters

Today we’re welcoming Rod A. Walters’ Golden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers to our humble abode. We’re starting things with this spotlight post (which includes a giveaway). In a little bit, we’ll have an Guest Post from Walters, and later, I’ll tell you what I thought of this book. But let’s start by learning a bit about it:

Book Details:

Book Title: Golden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers
Author: Rod A. Walters
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 228 pages
Genre: Humor
Publisher: Omega Man Press
Release date: November 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Mild and indirect innuendo to both sex genitalia, a short essay about the fictional “AssBook,” an essay on current health-care talk, a teaser “is his cord long enough?” to get readers to choose a short piece on electric cars next, etc.)

Book Description:

Written to make Dave Barry, Lily Tomlin, and Ben Stein laugh, Golden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers delivers the experience of a balanced life, and the wisdom to like most of it, and then laugh at the rest of it. What the heck, Barry lives in Miami, habitat of geezers, and Ben Stein is one. The world really needs that push, vigorous or gentle, from misanthropes & geezers, the world’s most valuable golden gremlins. Misanthropes pretend to not like or need other people, but in reality they merely prefer their own company much of the time. Geezers, aside from that silly name, also like their own company quite well. Both share the virtue of seeing the world calmly. You get pointy bite-sized life pointers from these experienced gremlins, told in easy bite-size chunks. Laughter included in the price! Two out of three wouldn’t be bad either.
Life is good! So laugh a little at yourself on the way through these pointy essays, and that will buy your laughing at the world’s simpler parts, guilt free.

Golden Gremlin comprises about 70 short essays bundled into six topic areas:

NATURE: boys, ugly drivers, and coffee cups in the ‘fridge.
WORDS: the real meaning of Caucasian and Genre.
BUSINESS: deafness at the economics conference, and getting on AssBook.
KITCHENS: sushi chefs, and truth about manna.
HISTORY: when Hell froze, and Attila the Honey.

Golden boy gets to be GOLDEN GREMLIN: experience overcomes certainty.
What things could possibly be more important!

Buy the Book:

 

 

 

Meet the Author:

Rod Walters lives and writes in upstate New York to prove he can be an all-season writer. Since he wants everybody to be all-season persons no matter her or his circumstance, his writing aims sharply toward the practical—without turning into one of those godawful do it ma’ way authors. Life, after all, is practical hour by hour. Self-described as “old enough to know better, and he probably is,” his former life as Army officer, engineer, and administrative assistant could not have better prepared him to write both light and more serious short pieces pointing to creating a balanced life. Chuckling at yourself usually makes a good takeoff, he says. Giving up having to be certain makes for a good landing, especially for one’s friends! Then again, who the heck wants to live a balanced life? Mostly everybody does. That’s why he now writes. Although many friends nudge and badger him to be a Facebook and Twitter butterfly, he tries not to spend many numbing hours a day with circular keyboard tapping. Writing works better.

Connect with the author: Website

Enter the Giveaway!

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Ends March 3, 2018
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Uber Diva by Charles St. Anthony

Uber DivaUber Diva: Hot Tips for Drivers and Passengers of Uber and Lyft

by Charles St. Anthony

Kindle Edition, 62 pg.
2018

Read: February 2, 2018


This is a combination of memoir of a Lyft/Uber driver, and a guide to starting/surviving/thriving as one in a tough market. A memoir/guide written by a humorist, it should be stressed, so there’s plenty of humor infused throughout. That right there sounds like a winning book — and Uber Diva almost was one.

Sadly, it came across as a pretty good first draft or a series of short blog posts. Every chapter — almost every paragraph — could’ve used just a little more. A little more detail, a little more context. A few chapters read like a thorough outline rather than actual prose — just a series of bullet points along a theme. A little more expansion, a little more time spent with each idea and this would’ve been a whole lot of fun. As it is, Uber Diva is frequently worth a chuckle or wry smile to oneself, but it’s never enough to satisfy

I’m not crazy about St. Anthony’s organization, either — I’m not sure it ever made that much sense. Particularly, the jump from his opening to the rest just didn’t work for me, it was a jarring tonal shift. The first chapter would’ve fit better as a closing or penultimate chapter, if you ask me.

There’s a lot to like here, but it feels undercooked. It’s enjoyable enough — especially, I bet, for Lyft/Uber drivers — but it could’ve been so much better. A little more revision, a little expansion and I bet I’d be talking about a good read, rather than one that’s just good enough.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

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3 Stars

A Blogger’s Manifesto: A Modern Day Guide to Blogging by Aman Mittal

A Blogger's ManifestoA Blogger’s Manifesto: A Modern Day Guide to Blogging

by Aman Mittal

Kindle Edition, 91 pg.
2018

Read: February 2, 2018


This is a short “how-to” book for people who want to/have recently started a blog — Mittal covers the basics from getting started, some basic writing advice, how to grow an audience — and even a little about monetizing (for those who want to).

Mittal himself is a book blogger, so he writes from experience. He also spends some time focusing on how to not just to run a blog but a book blog. Discussing review policies, author interviews, book tours and more. But a lot of his advice even here is easily transferred to other types of blogs.

There’s a lot in here I responded to just because of the book blogging aspect — his plans for shelving, talking about ordering that one extra book to get free shipping, etc. I am jealous of the fact that he has a month’s worth of content prepared in advance — I think it’s pretty clear here that if I have something to publish, it’s up — I’ve tried to get a few days to a week in advance, but a month? That’s insane (and I’m so jealous). Mittal’s such a book blogger that not only does he make frequent references to books to read, he includes three lists to help bloggers with their writing, thinking and marketing.

Yeah, there were a few too many typos/editing mistakes for my liking. Oh well, it took almost no effort to guess what Mittal was going for, and didn’t detract all that much from the book.

Brief, but comprehensive; helpful; all in all useful — this is a good book for the asprirtional blogger, or the experienced blogger needed a quick refresher on some basics to reinvigorate their blogs. Well worth the time.

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3.5 Stars

My Favorite 2017 Non-Fiction Reads

Like every single year, I didn’t read as much Non-Fiction as I meant to — but I did read a decent amount. These are the best of the bunch.

(in alphabetical order by author)

Luck Favors the PreparedLuck Favors the Prepared

by Nathaniel Barber

My original post
Nathaniel Barber has a real gift at taking embarrassing (mortifying?), frustrating, and/or inexplicable episodes from his life and turning them into amusing tales. Some of the best descriptive passages I read this year — no matter the genre. I won’t promise you’ll like every story in this collection of short autobiographical pieces, but you’ll like most of ’em — and you will find something in the rest to appreciate. Fun, heartwarming, and disturbing — sometimes all at once.

4 Stars

How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at OddsHow to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds

by Alan Jacobs
My original post

As Carl Trueman asked Jacobs, how do you give this book to someone with that title? It’s a shame you can’t give it as a gift without implicitly insulting someone, because this needs to be given to everyone you know — especially everyone who spends any time online. Entertaining, convicting, convincing, challenging. This is as close to a must read as I came across last year (maybe in the last two).

4 Stars

Reacher Said NothingReacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me

by Andy Martin

You know how many times I’ve tried to write about this book? I read it back in January and am still enthused about it. Part literary criticism, part author biography, part fan letter — Martin follows Lee Child through the writing of Make Me, and delivers one of the most enjoyable reads from last year — easy. It’s like the one of your favorite DVDs with a fantastic set of commentaries and special features, but somehow better (for one thing, it’s not like Martin’s drowning out the best scenes with his blather). It reminds me of talking about Child/Reacher with a good friend (which I do pretty frequently) — but Martin’s more erudite than either of us. Just so much fun.

5 Stars

Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to AmericaHenry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America

by Katrina Shawver
My original post

Unlike the Jacobs book, I do know how to give this to people — and I have. The writing could be sharper — but the story? It’ll reshape the way you think about the Holocaust — not by lessening the horror, but by broadening your view. This story of survival is one that will stay with you.

4 Stars

Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor: Code Red Diamond by Isaac Alexis, MD

Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor: Code Red DiamondLife and Death Behind the Brick and Razor: Code Red Diamond

by Isaac Alexis, MD

Kindle Edition, 100 pg.
2017

Read: December 12, 2017

I wanted to use science to heal people and simultaneously teach them about how their bodies functioned and how to properly take care of their bodies. I also wanted to make a difference in the lives of people who traditionally did not have access to care to begin with. So I chose correctional medicine. It had its challenges but also opportunities to save many lives. In my opinion, it also had areas that seriously needed to be addressed.

Years after this decision, Dr. Alexis has turned to writing, using his experiences and point of view, to discuss some health tips and suggestions to help teens through some hot-button and pressing issues.

After a quick autobiographical chapter, the chapters revolve around the treatment of one particular patient, and then using that patient’s particular diagnosis (or lack thereof) and struggle as a launching point for health tips and/or discussion of some of the struggles that young people (or everyone) go through related to STDs, Drug Abuse, Gang Membership, etc.

There is so much energy, so much care, conviction, expertise behind this book that it’s a shame I can’t heartily endorse it. There’s a lot of heart here, and I admire that. But it’s just not that well written. Maybe it’d be more correct to say that it wasn’t that well-edited and re-written.

First of all, it needs a thorough editorial pass on basic grammar. But it needs some work on structure, too. Within the various chapters, things can seem to be randomly organized with a lack of transitions, or foundation for some of what he’s talking about. That page count of 100 pages should be 150 at a minimum — he really needs to flesh out everything just a bit. He’s got the material, he just needs to work with it a bit more so his readers can better understand both his experiences and perspective. The nature of the facility he works at — and its relation to other prisons and hospitals, is a good example — I think I have a decent idea how all that works out, but it takes using information from all parts of the book to come up with my guess; that shouldn’t be, I should’ve been given a one or two (or more) sentence description of that so I can appreciate his struggles to provide adequate care.

Now, what he doesn’t need to give us more of us medical jargon — often he’ll unleash a couple of paragraphs of almost non-stop medical terminology. This is not a bad thing, but I think he could help the non-informed reader a little bit more than he does with some of those streams of terminology. What I eventually decided is, the book reads like a transcript of someone telling stories about his life to a new friend, people just sitting around a table swapping stories. The hopping around, the unclear writing, and so on come across just the way people talk. If you think of it that way, the book is a lot easier to take.

If you can find some way (my suggestion or something else that works for you) to overlook/make your peace with Alexis’ style, you’ll probably enjoy this book. You can even appreciate the book without that — it’s just harder. Alexis writes from conviction and passion — with a healthy dose of morality. There’s a lot to be gained from this book. I liked Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor, but it woulnd’t take much to make me like it sooo much more. He has important things to say, I just wish the book did a better job of providing the platform.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for this post and my participation in this tour — I appreciate the opportunity, but my opinion remains my own.

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3 Stars