March 22, 2010

I told you this would happen.

Officer Bad Horse prepares to inform a suspect of his rights.
As promised/threatened/foretold, Bitterly Books contributed to the Guest Dare series over at the Book Smugglers Blog:

"For my dare, I read Scalped: Indian Country, a graphic novel set on an Indian reservation. I was excited to see how it differed from both Ralph Nader's depiction of Indians as lazy deadbeats waiting for their next welfare check and Louise Erdrich's portrayal of them as PTSD-suffering statutory rapists. According to Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra, Indian reservations have just as much sex, drugs, and violence as some of the classier parts of New Jersey, but the unemployment rate is a little higher (80%!).

The story begins as young Dashiel Bad Horse arrives on the Prairie Rose Reservation and starts kicking ass unrepentantly. This soon... [click to read more]"

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March 17, 2010

Guest Review by Dueserpenti: Lord of the Force

In JarJar We Trust
The following review was written by guest writer dueserpenti, freelance smartass.

Praise the Lord (of the Force)!
Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters

This book was written by: Dick Staub, award-winning radio personality and Jedi Christian.

What is in this book: Dick Staub knows what kids today are in to: evangelical Christianity. Just like everyone else, young people “...long for...a faith that is intellectually credible, spiritually vibrant...good, true, and beautiful.”(pg. 12). Unfortunately, “Ours is a superficial age, a culture defined by diversionary entertainment, mindless amusements, and characterless celebrity.” (pg. 65). The solution to this shallow, entertainment-obsessed way of life? A book that explains how Christianity is just like Star Wars.

One of these photos is Michael Stipe...
What is not in this book: Explanations of how Christianity is just like Star Wars. Straight out of the gate, Staub runs into a problem: the two texts he plans to analogize have almost nothing in common. For instance, “[in] Jedi mythology the highest good is...balancing light and dark, whereas Christians believe the highest good is when darkness is defeated. In this Christian lore, the dark side unequal opponent of God, the Lord of the Force.” (pg. 5). Most writers would get discouraged at having disproved the central thesis of their book so early, but not Dick Staub. When he has a point to make that can't be supported by a Star Wars reference, which is most of the time, he looks to other credible sources. These sources run the gamut from Christian thinkers like Thomas Merton (pg. 33) and Kierkegaard (pg 39) to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (pg. 19), REM front man Michael Stipe (pg. 56), conquistador Hernán Cortés (pg. 25), and “the Clannad song featured in the film The Last of the Mohicans...” (pg 46). When Staub is able to make references to Star Wars, they are, to put it mildly, rather terse, as when we are asked to recall the time Luke Skywalker said “The Force?” (pg. 8). This is probably for the best, for as the tiny print on the front of Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters tells us, “This book has not been approved, licensed, or sponsored by any entity or persons involved in the creation or productions of the Star Wars films and products.

Would you recommend this book to a secret agent? Yes. The Jedi Christian has powers far beyond those of any regular cloak-and-dagger operative: “In the film The Bourne Identity, we learn that Jason Bourne has been trained to be aware of every detail as he enters a new situation. The [Jedi Christian] possesses these same powers of observation but is also sensitized to the underlying spiritual dynamics and nuance.” (pg 155).

Would you recommend this book to a wealthy hypochondriac? No. They would learn that they likely suffer from the dread disease known as “affluenza...a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition...resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” (218), and be inconsolable until you tell them where they can buy the cure.

And the other is Lao Tzu, but I forgot which is which.
What is interesting about this book: Evangelical Christians aren't famous for their tolerance, but Dick Staub is an exception, eager to borrow words of wisdom from any source, be it James Baldwin or Bruce Springsteen. Still, it takes big, brassy midichlorians to claim Christ is the one true way and then attempt to justify it with a quote from the Bhagavad-Gita. It's just like that one scene in Return of the Jedi where...wait, I guess it's not like that at all.

Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters by Dick Staub (John Wiley and Sons, 2005, ISBN: 978-0787978945)

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March 15, 2010

Abort, Abort!

I wonder how Dr. Grant feels about abortion?
Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood
Bonus material available.

This book was written by: George Grant, an activist and pastor who previously worked for D. James Kennedy.

What is in this book: A startling exposé on "the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its sundry institutional cohorts in the abortion industry"(p.xxv), including those genocidal maniacs at the March of Dimes(p.174). It is bad enough that "the [Planned Parenthood] organization continually misrepresents the facts about its lucrative birth control, sex education, and abortion enterprises"(p.83), but they also stand for values that are identical to those espoused by heretical sects of the 13th century. "Virtually every major dogma of those heretical sects is a plank in the Planned Parenthood philosophical platform: promiscuity, greed, deception, revolution, socialism, abortion, sorcery, birth limitation, and materialism"(p.256). That's right, he said sorcery. He's on to you, Planned Parenthood, and he knows all about your secret plan to trick women into getting pregnant just so you can force them to have abortions. "In other words, the Planned Parenthood system virtually guarantees that women will get pregnant—and that they will then be 'forced' to fall back on the birth control lynch pin: abortion"(p.26).

Those rent-a-cops do NOT play around.
What is not in this book? Clinical detachment. Dr. Grant is an activist who is literally not afraid to get his hands dirty. He opens the book talking about the time he was in a car chase fleeing a hail of gunfire, pursued by a security guard trying to stop him from stealing a dead baby out of the dumpster behind an abortion clinic. And the guard looked like he meant business. "His crisp blue uniform played a stark contrast against the alley's cudulent clutter. The gleam of chrome and polished leather threw flitting reflections of sunlight on the ground, shattered triangles of morning brightness skipping across the discarded baubles and forgotten fascinations that composed the heaps of garbage between him and me"(p.11)

Would you recommend this book to a fan of pornography? No, I would recommend that they get their hands on some of Planned Parenthood's educational videos. Dr. Grant describes one of them:
"'I've never seen pornography before,' Catherine admitted. 'But this film was worse than what I could have ever imagined hard-core pornography to be.'
The film was extremely explicit. An unashamedly brash couple fondled each other in preparation for intercourse. At appropriately prurient moments of interest, the camera zoomed in for close-up shots—sweaty body parts rubbing, caressing, kissing, stroking, clasping, petting, and embracing. At the height of passion, the camera fixed on the woman's hands, trembling with ecstasy, as she tore open a condom package and began to slowly unroll its contents onto her partner.
Afterwards, several of the girls began quietly sobbing, another ran out of the room and threw up, still another fainted. Mercifully, the class ended just a moment later.
'I have never been more humiliated in all my life,' Catherine said. 'I felt dirty and defiled after seeing the film. [....] It was horrible. It was like I'd been raped. Raped in my mind. Raped by my school. Raped by Planned Parenthood.
I have seen pornography before, but clearly I have been wasting my time with the wrong stuff.

Would you recommend this book to someone about to have an abortion? Yes. It might give them an idea of what awaits them on the trip to the clinic:
"Every thirty minutes for the next two and a half hours, we watched as a fresh clutch of doe-eyed girls were whisked into the clinic by 'pro-choice escorts.' They met the girls at their cars and quickly aimed them up the sidewalk. They snarled at our offers of help and batted away our literature. If a girl displayed the least hint of hesitation, the 'escorts' would take her by the arm and rush her toward the door. So much for 'choice.'
When, despite their best efforts, a frightened and confused teen slipped their grasp and turned aside to talk to one of the protesters, to read a Gospel tract, the 'escorts' flew into a frenzied rage.
An artistic representation of the response from Planned Parenthood.Try comparing this to accounts from some of the escorts. One side of this face-off is clearly exaggerating for dramatic effect. However, the way that Dr. Grant observes a security guard at the event and notes that "his anger was hidden and subversive. It was tucked neatly into the dark folds of his uniform like a murderer's knife hidden inside an old coat on a closet shelf"(p.17) tells me that he's not normally given to creative embellishment.

What was interesting about this book? Dr. Grant has found Planned Parenthood's response to his book to be wholly unsatisfactory, especially the one that "purports to be a book review—despite the fact that it is less than five paragraphs and three hundred words long"(p.xxvii). According to Dr. Grant, an internal Planned Parenthood memo also issues a request, "please do not encourage Mr. Grant"(p.xxvii).

Special award: Because of his sense of cadence, his ear for aliteration, and his knack for vibrant descriptions, Bitterly Books is awarding Dr. Grant with the Nipsey Russell Commemorative Order of the Warrior Poet.
Did you notice Dr. Grant's use of the made-up word "cudulent" earlier? He also notes that the process of writing this book "surprised me with its fervid fervor,"(p.xxiii) as on his quest to save the unborn "I was confronted with the central anomaly of these modern times: a liberal lust for life, a lavish love of life, a luxuriant litany of life, and yet, simultaneously, a leaden loathing of life."(p.13)
His lyrical prose is capable of inciting readers to action, noting that "we need to battle the blazing concupiscence of Planned Parenthood's sex education programs [....and] rescue our own children from the flickering flames of promiscuity and perdition"(p.146). His work can also contain inscrutable wisdom, cryptically noting how "memory is a madman that hoards my colored rags and throws away my precious gems. Prescience is a school-marm that belabors what I ought to be and ignores what I thought to be"(p.18).
Bitterly Books is thrilled to induct Dr. Grant into the esteemed and august Nipsey Russell Commemorative Order of the Warrior Poet, but the occasion is perhaps best marked by some words from Dr. Grant himself:
"The city's gestalt of raw tension and hungry ambition calves its persona like an Arctic berg—splinters drifting away. The eclecticism is everywhere evident. It is a bright matrix of contradiction unfolding across a tantrum of logic and illogic, of antiquity and modernity, of substance and illusion, of objectivity and bias, of bondage and freedom, of honesty and deception"(p.184)
At least, I think that quotation is appropriate for the occasion. I'm not really sure what it means.

Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood (4th Ed.) by George Grant (Cumberland House, 2000, ISBN: 1-58182-057-7)

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March 10, 2010

Cross-Post Extravaganza!

Bitterly Books is all set to contribute to the Guest Dare series over at the Book Smugglers Blog.

The series asks reviewers to step outside their comfort zone and read something they would normally avoid, so check out The Book Smugglers on March 22 for a review of Scalped!

It's a graphic novel about Indians, organized crime, government corruption, and violent stalkers who follow drug-addled skanks around until somebody gets beaten so bad they end up in the hospital. Good times!

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March 1, 2010

Hey, Ladies! Fill Your Funnel!

Love is not a battlefield, it is a sales pitch.

You Lost Him at Hello: A Saleswoman's Secrets to Closing the Deal with Any Guy You Want

This book was written by: Jess McCann, dating consultant and reality television contestant.

What is in book: Ms. McCann's distilled sales expertise, as practiced in the meat market. For example, a skilled marketer finds success through volume. "Think about it, you can either date one man every six months and then in five years you will have dated ten guys. Or you can date ten guys in one year and in five years you will have dated fifty guys!"(p.85). It's also important to package yourself properly. "When you first start dating someone you want it to be pretty obvious that other men find you attractive,"(p.138) but be careful, because "telling a guy that you're a catch isn't going to convince him that you are one"(p.23). This business-oriented approach to dating may be off-putting to some readers, and "when I first began discussing the correlation between dating and sales, many of my friends had a hard time accepting the idea because of the stigma behind it"(p.17). However, you may not be aware of the fact that you're already selling things all the time. "From the moment you wake up and decide what outfit is most likely to impress your boss, until later that night when you convince your girlfriends where to eat dinner, you are constantly engaging in sales"(p.18). So get out there and sell your heart out, literally! (Just be sure that no money actually changes hands, because that would be illegal.)

What is not in this book: Dirty euphemisms. Oh sure, McCann talks about how "Anne should have been filling her funnel all along, instead of presuming that she and Charlie were a couple with a future,"(p.80) and "never let the funnel dry up. It's a cardinal rule,"(p.78) but it's about your funnel for sale prospects, so get your mind out of the gutter.

His life's work subverted for an off-color joke.Would you recommend this book to Emily Post? Yes. Despite urging you to date early and often, Ms. McCann is a model of restraint. "In dating, bullets are a woman's valuables, such as kissing, making out, and the biggest bullet of all, sex [....] If you throw out all your bullets right away, you have nothing left to keep a man's interest"(p.144). There are dire consequences for giving it all away too soon:
In the back of his head he will always think you sleep around. It won't matter if you tell him that you don't typically do that sort of thing and he's the only one you have ever done this with. All he will hear is the Charlie Brown schoolteacher: "Womp womp, womp womp."(p.151)
And that "womp womp, womp womp" will be the bedsprings! Am I right, fellas?

Would you recommend this book to women who do not enjoy playing games? Yes, because they had better learn to love it if they're serious about finding a man. Ms. McCann mentions that some women out there think that "doing what they feel like seems natural, and dating strategically sounds too orchestrated. What they want is to meet someone, be honest about their feelings, and have someone love them for who they are"(p.30, emphasis in original). These women are doomed.
The fact is that:
Girls that say they don't play games either:
1. Don't know how to play,
2. Are too lazy to play, or
3. Don’t have enough discipline to play.

FILL THE FUNNEL. Hopefully linking to the Seattle Weekly article that used this photo fulfills my attribution requirements.What was interesting about this book? Honesty is worthless. "You can never convince someone to date you, let alone love you, by telling them how much you need or love them"(p.21). So stay aloof, keep him interested, and never show your true colors. "Remember, as long as a guy is not 100 percent sure of how you feel about him, he will be afraid he could lose you at any moment, and that fear of loss will keep him begging for more"(p.197). Ms. McCann recognizes that this path may be difficult, and that you may be tempted just to lay it all on the line and be up front with him. "Unfortunately, you can't do that. Whether you like it or not, relationships just don't work that way, especially in the beginning"(p.30). And most importantly, DO NOT LET HIM FIND YOU READING THIS BOOK. "If you tell him you are doing all these things on purpose, with an agenda, he really will think you are playing a game"(p.126). Date as many men as you can, let them know you're attractive but don't directly tell them you're a catch, and get your head in the game even though he can't find out that you're playing a game. "Remember ladies, fill the funnel"(p.85).

You Lost Him at Hello: A Saleswoman's Secrets to Closing the Deal with Any Guy You Want by Jess McCann (Health Communications Inc., 2008, ISBN: 978-0-7573-0713-3)

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