Friday, October 26, 2007

Judging a Book by Its Cover

A friend of mine mentioned how he'd recently read some books by Lois McMaster Bujold, and how he thought they were really great. Well I'm always on the lookout for a great new author and I researched her. Well...I hate to admit it, but I don't want to be caught dead reading her books simply due to the craptacular covers. Petty and silly? Maybe. But they're bad.

<-----Take this one. Cheesy, awful picture of disembodied hands handing a sword to her? What?! It looks like a scene from the most boring first-person shooter ever. This other one ----> has a terrible split cover. Is that weirdo on the cover even human? Why would I buy and read this book? Am I 8 years old? This seems to be a problem this publisher's (Baen) books have in general. All of their books have covers uglier than Dan Dierdorf.
<------Now here's a magnificent cover. It's evocative and well-done. I want to know why there's a starship above this primitive African village. It's magnificent simplicity.

This cover from a Gene Wolfe novel has nothing to do with any story in the book...but it's still great. --------->

So I'm sure I'll read at least one Bujold book. I mean, she's won the Hugo at least three times, and surely other awards. But thanks to those crappy covers I'll probably never buy one; I'll just get them from the library and read them under cover of darkness.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Is there anything better than a turkey sandwich on white bread with a ton of mayo? (Not deli turkey, mind you. Plucked-from-a-bird turkey.) Probably...but I'll bet it's a short list.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Note to NBC

Please stop airing hour-long episodes of your 1/2-hour comedies. Even brilliant ones such as The Office can't sustain themselves over that time period. Please. Less is More.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I haven't missed this, though

By diving into the lives of teenagers, sometimes the stark reality hits you in the face.

One of the guys in my small group is really hurting at home—and it's hard to admit that lots of kids out there have less-than-prefect lives outside the church walls. So it's that much more important that we introduce him to Jesus—the real Jesus—who is the perfect cure for our imperfect lives.

I thank God for the opportunity to be a loving force in this kid's life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Boy, I've missed this

My wife and I have settled into our new church, and while she'll be helping out with the women's ministry, I've joined the youth pastor in his ministry. I'm helping out during the Sunday morning service, the Wednesday evening service, and I'm teaching a senior high small group on Wednesdays.
So we went through prayer requests at the end of our time on Wednesday, and one of the guys--a really funny kid--asks us to pray that he'll be able to make good lemonade for some sort of home economics class. I saw him on Sunday and asked him how his lemonade turned out.
Afterward, it struck me that I've really missed out on these sort of small, magical interactions with teens, as I do my best to help them understand and grow closer to Jesus. I thank God for this opportunity, and I believe I'll learn as much from these guys as they'll learn from me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Love My Wife

A lot.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Horror of It All

I went to the library the other day, and decided "I want to read a horror novel." Since I'm terribly impulsive--and the library was about to close--I grabbed one by an author I'd never read before, but whom I'd seen on store shelves. The book was To Wake the Dead by Richard Laymon.

Where to begin with this awful book? First, I have no idea whether this is typical of his books, but this was absolutely steeped in sex. It was bizarre, really. Nearly every character in the novel has sex, is forced to have sex, and constantly thinks about sex. It's the sole way all of his characters interacted, and it seemed completely silly. It makes Laymon seem juvenile. It's like he doesn't understand that it's the 1,000 small moments of the day that bring two people together, in addition to the intimate moments.

The plot was hackneyed. A mummy has been released and is wreaking vengeance on the world at night. Yes it's a simple, cliched plot, but I honestly thought he'd do something new with it. Nope. A "seal against evil" has been broken and the mummy kills until it's destroyed in Hollywood fashion. Yawn.

The characters are awful, too. I write this with no exaggeration: Not one single character acted in a believable way. I don't claim to know everything about human nature, but I'm wondering what kind of screwed-up life Laymon had (he died in 2001). It's as though he never actually interacted with people, but wrote from things he read or saw on TV.

The book has a high body count, but these characters were so poorly drawn that I didn't care if anyone died.

I think the most important question I have to ask myself is: Why did I keep reading? The truth is it was like a horrible car accident--you know you shouldn't look but you want to know what happened. Also, Laymon was quite popular in the UK, and won some awards. I kept reading thinking, Something's gotta change; this can't be all there is to him. But it was.

In the introduction to the book, Dean Koontz wrote something like, "Richard writes drastically different books than I do..." I think I know exactly what was meant by that. Say what you like about Koontz and his writing, but at its core there beats a heart--a soul. Laymon's novel was absolutely soulless, from the plotting to the characters to the sex obsession to...everything. I truly don't understand what people liked about his writing.

I will never read another word the man wrote, and I'm glad I checked this out from the library rather than spending money.