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Responses to this rant
DF   Saturday, 5/10/2008 10:32 AM
Older rants
Nov 20, 2018   My cubicle revisited, really-old ComicCon stuff, Emeli's Art, More Disney Adventures, The Zoo and Safari Park
September 9, 2018   Perimeter - an eBook thriller
September 3, 2018   Take Back the Sky Starcraft Evolution
August 11, 2018   Idaho Dunes Awesome soda Ethanol-free gas an awesome Bald Guy card Our rough dig Harry Potter Interlude story
July 21, 2018   The Cup in the Shadows (The Forbidden Powers Book 1)
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May 23, 2018   Another badbartopia email spoofer, A sunny-day Disney adventure, Raymond E Feist book signing
May 15, 2018   A rainy-day Disneyland trip The Bassoon King
Apr 28, 2018   Down and Out in Purgatory
Apr 13, 2018   Operation Hail Storm
Mar 4, 2018   American Exodus
Jan 22, 2018   Christmas, Didn't Get Frazzled, The Sea People, The Rooster Bar, Last Burial Night, Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men
Dec 15, 2017   Mistrial, City of Death and Disneyland
Nov 14, 2017   Grace Vanderwaal - Just the Beginning
Nov 11, 2017   Tim Powers Signing at Mysterious Galaxy for Down and Out in Purgatory
November 4, 2017   Return to Disneyland, Halloween at the office, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Long Cosmos Maximus One year After War Dogs, Killing Titan Daddy, Stop Talking
October 29, 2017   Bruce Campbell Signing, Hail to the Chin, Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor
October 20, 2017   Meg & Dia, Imagine Dragons in concert, 2 Years 8 months and 28 Nights
October 17, 2017   All Apologies
October 16, 2017   Thrawn
Septempber 7, 2017   The Rage of Dragons, The Lincoln Myth
August 10, 2017   The Molly Ringwalds, Dia Frampton Musical awesomeness, Beauty and the Feast
July 28, 2017   The IT Sweatshop revisited, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, American Gods and The Magicians, Rogue One, Camino Island
July 24, 2017   CRV glovebox difficulties, San Diego Comic Con rant
July 11, 2017   Beauty and the Beast at the Lyceum, Earthweeds, Sons of Neptune Book 1, Aftermath, Empire's End, If Chin's Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor
June 30, 2017   Eastwood: No Direction Home book 2
June 23, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 4/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes, my new record, record player, and Emeli's site is live!
Jun 14, 2017   A noteworthy eBook mention before I return to my vacation ranting - No Direction Home
June 9, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 3/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes...almost. More pictures of spooky old houses, trees, rocks, and other things that nobody cares about! Plus, Goonies stuff
June 2, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 2/4) - The PCH family vacation tale continues... And more pictures of trees and other things that nobody cares about!
May 31, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 1/4) - Way more detail than anyone wants about our vacation up the coast of California and Oregon. And lots of pictures of trees!
Apr 26, 2017   Resurrection America, Pizza Studio art, AmandaLynn, Emeli art, and Disney art, and Gifted
Apr 14, 2017   My San Fransisco OSI PI adventure & "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be"
Apr 12, 2017   Neil Gaiman speaks, Norse Mythology, American Gods comic adaptation, The Magicians TV series, and Dirk Gently on TV
Feb 2, 2017   A trip to the ever-less-magical land of Disney, The Prince of Outcasts, the Whistler, and a brief mention of The Magicians.
Jan 21, 2017   An update to my nerd wall at work, Found out about Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) being gone, A list of all the stuff (or most, anyway) I've given up to new homes, A review of Dave! and Warp, and a couple of new doodles.
Dec 23, 2016   My final visit to Potterland and a couple of doodles
Dec 11, 2016   Books and related comics, and free/cheap stuff. Not taco Bell Material, President Me, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, The Hedge Knight (comic), The Sworn Sword (comic) Ooma, Ringplus, Amazon prime and other money-saving stuff.
Dec 4, 2016   I'm sharing my sad doodles with the world again. They're not very good, but I'll bet they're better than your scribbles!
Nov 12, 2016   Yet another trip to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter!
Nov 7, 2016   Blathering on about a few of the books I've read recently - Spire, The Check, and Dangercide, Pirate Detective
Oct 7, 2016   Yet another Visit to Harry Potterland. Oh, and my lease-mileage calculator.
July 25, 2016   Another Visit to Harry Potterland, a new car, a new shirt, a new dog, and a whole lot of the same old complaining
May 17, 2016   Email spoofers, Phishing emails, and scammers galore!
Apr 30, 2016   Winter's Edge and a Management zombie attack
Apr 23, 2016   Harry Potter land re-visited
Apr 9, 2016   Xenia...again
Apr 2, 2016   Sing Street, Batman vs Superman, Craigslist griping
Mar 1, 2016   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood preview, fun at work, Xenia's new song, A Vanishing Glow, Our Fair Eden, Race Wars, The Force Awakens
Jan 27, 2016   Text Wars, Books I've read... Yup, that's pretty much it
Jul 30, 2015   Xenia Martinez news Still selling stuff on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half (the book), The Path Between the Seas, Trigger Warning, In Fifty years We'll all Be Chicks
Mar 17, 2015   Selling my treasures on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half, the Long Mars, Gray Mountain, Anathem, The Golden Princess, The Given Sacrifice
Mar 12, 2015   You'll be sorely missed, Sir Terry
Jan 21, 2015   More BBC 4 radio dramatizations by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice, Guards! Guards!, Neverwhere, Night Watch, Small Gods, Wyrd Sisters
Jan 10, 2015   JabberWocky, Neil Gaiman style!
Dec 24, 2014   The Good Omens BBC treatment
Aug 03, 2014   Every hobby has to end eventually, right?
Oct 8, 2013   Warning: Extreme Geekness ahead!
Oct 1, 2013   The Bloody Crown of iGoogle
Aug 26, 2013   Headphones at work
Aug 22, 2013   The guvmint is gonna getcha
June 25, 2013   Dweebs vs Big Bang vs IT Crowd
Jul 3, 2012   Xenia Martinez & Dia Frampton concert
Feb 24, 2012   Reading...just not much
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Being an idiot with Lev Grossman
Jan 7, 2012   If it ain't broke...
Aug 22, 2011   non-ComicCon report 2011
A Thousand Splendid Suns
An Act of Self Defense
May 5, 2011   On Stranger Tides
vs.
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
Ikariam
Wild Guns
Lord of Ultima
Metin 2
Lord of the Rings Online
Dec 15, 2010   Bring out your dead!
Aug 17, 2010   San DiegoComicCon 2010
August 11, 2010   I'm not dead yet...
May 3, 2010   Hero Comics
Liberty Comics
Dr Horrible
Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith in Batman
The Guild, Felicia Day
April 27, 2010   Mean Gene Wilder! Grrr!!!
April 24, 2010   If it's not one Jihad, it's another...
April 20, 2010   The Satanic Verses
March 15, 2010   Unseen Academicals
Feblueberry 8, 2010   The un-reading shelf (from most of 2009)
Feblueberry 2, 2010   Emily the Strange, the Lost Days...a novel
Nov 25, 2009   Happy Halloween, Mom!
Nov 18, 2009   Summer Vacation in Idaho
Aug 20, 2009   San Diego ComicCon 2009
Aug 12, 2009   I'm a big, fat slacker
June 05, 2009   The networks are helping me cut back on my TV viewing
June 04, 2009   Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh,
Chris Isaak's Mr Lucky
and
My name is Bruce?
and Emmy Rossum? Where am I going with this?
May 21, 2009   Randy would have really liked Fanboys...sigh
May 3, 2009   The Spring reading shelf
Apr 21, 2009   Holidays On Ice (a little late for Christmas)
Apr 18, 2009   Leviticus Cross and other Hector Sevilla comic book stuff
Apr 16, 2009   The fantastically amazing and banal Badbartopia RSS Feed
Mar 31, 2009   Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl
Mar 30, 2009   My Amazon mis-order turns out to be not so annoying as previously expected...
(AKA the Dr Horrible soundtrack)
Mar 23, 2009   Stephan Pastis & Richard Thompson have me looking forward to the 2009 SD ComicCon
Mar 19, 2009   Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
The Guild
Mar 08, 2009   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic adaptation,
Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Mar 04, 2009   Little Brother
Mar 1, 2009   Pete & Pickles
Feb 11, 2009   She & Him
Flakes
Pushing Daisies
Jan 26, 2009   The Scourge of God,
When You are Engulfed in Flames
Jan 14, 2009   On the Road = hippy nonsense
Jan 12, 2009   One-by-one, my fish have met their maker
Dec 26, 2008   My Azeroth-avoidance continues
Dec 23, 2008   Nothing to see...move along
Dec 15, 2008   New scribbles
Dec 10, 2008   The Oct-Nov-Dec reading shelf
Dec 1, 2008   Shalimar the Clown
the economic impact of the events in Mumbai
Nov 21, 2008   Star Wars: Allegiance
Nov 20, 2008   Daredevil Black Widow: Abattoir
Nov 17, 2008   Travel Team
Nov 16, 2008   A new comic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz
Nov 14, 2008   Berke's Books:
The Last Basselope
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Mars Needs Moms
Opus: 25 years
Nov 13, 2008   Return to Azeroth?
Nov 12, 2008   Goodbye, Opus
Oct 29, 2008   Halloween costumes of 2008
Project Superpowers
Marvels
Ruins
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
Interworld
Oct 16, 2008   Nation
Oct 10, 2008   The Joy of Programming
My foray into Ajax
Oct 9, 2008   My Saturn Scare
Opus ends
Terry Pratchett's condition
Oct 3, 2008   The Hitchhiker's Guide, Book 6...by Eoin Colfer?
Oct 2, 2008   Media master - music online
Sony builds a "better" camera
Sept 24, 2008   The September reading shelf
Sept 17, 2008   Still missing Randall
The Fish tank...again
The Graveyard Book
Sept 15, 2008   Slacking...as usual
The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Sept 9, 2008   The dearth of Opus strips
yes, I meant to say "dearth"
Sept 8, 2008   A new monitor goes bad...but it all ends happily
Sept 3, 2008   A Boy and His Dog,
Richard Corben,
H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror
Sept 2, 2008   A slightly newish look
(aka "why I will never be a graphic designer")
Aug 11, 2008   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in all its incarnations Mike Kunkel's re-imagining of Shazam
July 29, 2008   San Diego Comiccon 2008
July 24, 2008   Neil Gaiman
July 17, 2008   Chris Isaak!
June 30, 2008   The Woman Who Wouldn't
Legends II
Mouse Guard Fall 1152
the Jetta's latest round of repairs
fishtank overpopulation
June 10, 2008   The Reading Shelf
Fish tank jungle
Attack of the bees
June 3, 2008   Missing Randall
May 9, 2008   My French Whore
Apr 28, 2008   Fish tank fatality
Flight of the Conchords
The Dangerous Alphabet
Mar 5, 2008   Gene Wilder book signing at Borders
new fish tank
subpoenaed!
Jan 11, 2008   The Jetta Strikes back!
The Plucker
The Anubis Gates
National Treasure II
Nov 8, 2007   San Diego on Fire,
A clean break from WoW,
UCSD Extension Java I graduation (kinda)
Making Money
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Oct 2, 2007   Back to school, Java class at UCSD
AT&T's Uverse
new sketches
Blockbuster movie pass
August 28, 2007   Mandy Moore concert!
Aug 19, 2007   ComicCon 2007 - Neil Gaiman, Iron Man and all the usual suspects
May 22, 2007   World of Spamcraft (and other spamalicious topics), forum fun...gus, the woes of being a contractor and PIRATES!!
Apr 5, 2007   I'm a conservative - bite me!
Timbaland? Dumb!
Marie Antoinette - snaggle teeth and teasing glimpes. Sweet!
John Q - a lesson about fatherhood or a liberal-propoganda film?
Mar 30, 2007   Things that make me grumpy-er,
employed again at last,
Finn and assorted other ramblings
Feb 8, 2007   The search for employment continues..and the unemployment benefits are NOT pouring in!
Jan, 22, 2007   Freed from the bondage of employment, a very brief review of a few books and films
Dec 17, 2006   Sad excuses, The Innocent Man, 1776, THe Man in High Castle, Absolute Sandman, Wintersmith, garage sale treasures: Ghost in the Machine
Aug 20, 2006   Writers of the Future XXII/Tim Powers, more movie reivews
July 20, 2006   San Diego ComicCon 2006
July 15, 2006   Superman Returns, inconsiderate morons, Peewee's Playhouse returns, my plea for more pirate movies
July 8, 2006   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Wild Animal Park critters, site remodeling
Jun 27, 2006   The good, the bad and the mediocre (a bunch of movie reviews in the new forum).
June 15, 2006   Because of Romek - A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
May 21, 2006   The DaVinci Code, Aeon Flux, Everything You Want
May 12, 2006   World of Warcrack, the Office, Coraline, my apologies...
Jan 24, 2006   Christmas Vacation 2006, Syriana, Traveling Pants, Wish You Were Here
Dec 19, 2005   Festive Neighbors, the death of Olivia, Media Misinformation surrounding Brent Wilkes/ADCS, Make Love the bruce campbell way
Nov 15, 2005   Microsoft Technet 2005 launch party, Lexmark printer problem, a bad, bad day, changing dentists.
Oct 22, 2005   Thud!, Anansi Boys, Where's my cow
Oct 18, 2005   Terry Pratchet Thud! signing, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
Oct 15, 2005   A very, very late Comiccon 2005 report.
Jun 23, 2005   The black hole of Warcraft, The Years of Rice and Salt, After the Sunset, Madagascar, Mr and Mrs Smith, Taxi.
Jun 3, 2005   All is quiet on the PM Front, War of the Worlds (the novel), Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Star Wars Episode III, Flight of the Phoenix
May 9, 2005   The program managers strike again, More of my horrendous sketches, Spanglish, A Lot Like Love, Elektra, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the film)
Apr 9, 2005   Stuck in Corporate Hell, a few of my recent sketches, Miss Congeniality 2, Collateral
Mar 21, 2005   Revenge of the Jetta (car problems), a Newegg purchase, a few new drawings, more Opus
Feb 13, 2005   The Mail mystery solved, more of my crappy sketches, A few new photos of the girls, bill-bert (introducing the new Project Manager), sweet phone skills, Opus, Dungeons and Dragons, In Good Company
Jan 27, 2005   Mystery mail, new photos of my beautiful kids, some new sketches, an Episode 3 spoiler, Opus, Going Postal, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, Remember the Titans, Lemony Snicket`s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dodgeball
Jan 7, 2005   Christmas 2004, Update to the site, Elf & King Arthur revisited, National Treasure, Opus, Blade Runner
Dec 18, 2004   A new Stephanie sketch, another Target web page goof, the SD Union Tribune confirms Greg Bear`s research for Vitals, Miramar VW proves my dealer service assertions wrong, neighborhood Christmas fun, Opus
Nov 24, 2004   More of my mediocre drawings, nw russian mail-order coins, Star Wars toys, a big green spider comes to visit, Opus, Dies the Fire, Digital fortress, The Incredibles, Twisted, Van Helsing
Nov 03, 2004   Some thoughts regarding the 2004 election, rants about the environment, a memory rebate update, new computer issues, Opus, The Lone Drow, Deception Point, Roswell season 2 on DVD
Oct 12, 2004   An interesting quiz, mal-in rebates, a parrot joke, my new computer, thoughts on frame removal, web logs, Opus, Vitals, Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Ladykillers
Sep 23, 2004   My "Heath" sketch for Mark Oakley, an update on my a PNY rebate check, the fictitious AWNA Act, Browser Issues with the site, Opus/Pickles, The DaVinci Code, Garden State (Natalie Portman), Man on Fire
Sep 11, 2004   A new drawing: "Stephanie", redneck wisdom, my salary to hourly reclassification, funny video: news from iraq, an update on my mail-in pny rebate, a new rebate through Costco, Ella Enchanted, Highlander Endgame, Princess of Thieves, The Whole Ten Yards
Aug 27, 2004   Fun with my VW Warranty, Opus, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, The Land of SokMunster, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Hidalgo, Chasing Liberty, Out of Time
Jul 23, 2004   San Diego ComicCon 2004, the family summer vacation, Bruce Campbell, Opus, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, Angels & Demons, Folk of the fringe, Bourne Supremacy, i robot, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Cody Banks 2, Hellboy
Jul 19, 2004   *** PNY Rebate fun, IE Patch, Linux and socialism, liberal scum, Opus, BIM, timeline, master and commander, tad hamilton, stuck on you,cold mountain, 50 first dates, the terminal, spiderman 2, king arthur, a hat full of sky, the thousand orcs, meditations on middle earth
Jun 20, 2004   Memorial day pictures, Duplex, Mark Oakley/Heroes, Wild Animal Park Dinosaurs, B-52s concertman, Say After Tomorrow, Big Fish, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Eragon, A Hat Full of Sky, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
May 08, 2004   Pat Tillman, LOTR Toys, 13 Going on 30, Mean Girls, Tolkien Miscellany, Last Juror, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pork Tornado
Apr 06, 2004   Roswell season 1 DVD and a some other mindless drivel
Feb 19, 2004   Highlander site contest results, new downloads, princess gallery updates, lord of the rings toys, harry potter, underworld. lost in translation, the hunted, a tolkien miscellany...
Feb 09, 2004   Murder at 1600, Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, King Arthur, Spiderman 2, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Tolkien Miscellany, Mark Oakley, massive snow in Idaho...
Jan 28, 2004   Swat, Uptown Girls, Somethings Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Seabiscuit, Ashley Judd Marathon, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Science Fiction Bok Club, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, RA Salvatore, Mythology (Alex Ross), Fastner & Larson, Best page in the universe, etc, etc...
Jan 07, 2004   Clint`s rules, X-Men 2, Holes, Pirates, Two Towers, Freaky Friday (Haley Hudson), new drawings, Thieves` World, Playskool Star Wars, new Interest section
Jan 02, 2004   nothing all that interesting...
Dec 21, 2003   Nemo, Highlander page, Christmas vacation 2003, star wars kid
Dec 12, 2003   E.T. (Erika Eleniak), new drawings, Opus, Santa Claus 2 (Elizabeth Mitchell), Legolas toy/pics, How to Deal (Mandy Moore), Myth update, Last Samurai
Nov 27, 2003   Another Fine Myth, Elf
Nov 22, 2003   Dude, Where`s Bill & Ted
Nov 18, 2003   Not much to say
Nov 15, 2003   Disneyland, Astronaut`s Wife, Dumer and Dumber-er, Monstrous Regiment
Nov 10, 2003   Terry Pratchett, Matrix Revolutions
110103   School of Rock, Terry Pratchett signing, Darth Vader MBNA bust, San Diego fires
Aug 17, 2003   Johnny English, San Diego Comic-Con
Jun 17, 2003   Assorted ramblings
May 28, 2003   Not much to say
May 24, 2003   Almost nothing of note
May 17, 2003   Matrix Reloaded, Pirates
Mar 23, 2003   The Police, Pirates, Lord of the Rings grievances part II
Mar 16, 2003   Lord of the Rings grievances part 1
Super auld stuff   A big list of old submissions with boat loads of broken links

What? An update already? Say it isn't so...


Gene Wilder's My French Whore

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I went to a book signing at Borders for Gene Wilder's new book, The Woman Who Wouldn't. I eagerly took my signed books home with a goofy grin on my face and set about...not reading either one for a week or two (I was still only midway through a very good Star Wars novel by Timothy Zahn, Allegiance, so I had to wait to get started).

I decided to read his first novel before jumping into The Woman Who Wouldn't, despite the fact that the two were completely unrelated stories. And so I did.

I'll be referring to several passages from the book (quite long passages, in most cases) to show why this is such an interesting story and why you would be well-advised to pick up a copy and read it. One of my favorite quotes (and most telling) was actually not from the story at all. It was in the Acknowledgements at the end of the book.

For whatever simplicity of language I've achieved,
I thank my two mentors: Ernest Hemingway and Jean
Renoir.

It's true. The language of the novel is "simple" in construction, but that's not to say it's a book written for idiots. I appreciate authors who don't feel the need to impress you with linguistic gymnastics at least once in ever paragraph. Direct, meaningful, coherent prose is so much more enjoyable to read.

So what about the book itself? With a title containing the word "whore," one might suspect this to be some sort of sex-filled, prurient romp through the debauchery of Hollywood in the 60s-70s, when Gene was King.

Nope. The summary on the jacket notes sums it up pretty well:

World War I has almost come to an end, but for a young Minneapolis railway employee and amateur actor named Paul Peachy, whose marriage has become one-sided, it’s time to enlist. Shipped off to France, Peachy realizes how out of his depth he is — and never more so than when he is captured. Risking everything, Peachy — who as a child of immigrants speaks German — makes the reckless decision to impersonate one of the enemy’s most famous spies.

As the urbane and accomplished spy Harry Stroller, Peachy enters a world he never even knew existed — a world of sumptuous living, world-weary men and available women. But when one of those women — Annie Breton, a young, wary and beautiful courtesan — turns out to be more than she seems, both Peachy’s and Annie’s lives are transformed forever.

As I began the book, Paul Peachy immediately began to remind me of Kurt Vonnegut's creation, Billy Pilgrim (I'd have to dig Slaughterhouse Five out of the boxes in the garage to really compare the two, but I can't be bothered). Here's a little bit of what made Paul Peachy sound Pilgrimesque to me.

Twenty minutes later my heart was in my throat. I heard the stage manager whisper “Go!” and the curtain went up. There was silence for a moment as the audience waited, and then the first line was spoken.

Thank goodness the play went well, and I know the audience liked me because they clapped especially loud when I took my bow during the curtain calls. I looked out into the audience while I was bowing and saw our director sitting in the front row. He gave me a smile and a little nod of approval.

When the play was over I kept my mustache on, which I had purposely made the color of my wife’s auburn hair. I kept trying to picture Elsie when she saw it. Elsie and I had only been married for four and a half years, but the romantic part of our relationship seemed to have faded away, like the yellow roses in our backyard at the end of summer. I lived with Elsie and her mother in three rooms on the second floor of a small but clean house in the German-Polish section of Milwaukee.

On the bus ride home a pretty girl and a soldier were sitting across the aisle from me, holding hands. The girl smiled at me. Without thinking, I touched my mustache and smiled back at her. Her boyfriend turned and gave me a hard stare. I dropped my head, pretending to be reading my theater program.

The relationship with his wife is especially Pilgrim-like. Poor guy.

It's interesting to see the fortitude erupt from the mousey Paul Peachy, when he really needs it.

The seven soldiers raised their rifles.

"AIM..."

They pointed their rifles at my chest.

The curtain is up, Paul...the audience is waiting...

I don't know where it came from - I suddenly screamed, in German. "HALT! IDIOTS - PUT DOWN YOUR RIFLES!"

Three of four of the soldiers were confused and lowered their rifles halfway. Pig Head went nearly crazy with rage.

"WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH ALL OF YOU? - SHOOT HIM!"

I started walking, quite calmly, toward the sergeant.

"You - Pig Head - come here!" I said.

Now it was Pig Head who was confused. I shouted at him, "ASSHOLE! COME HERE, QUICKLY!"

Pig Head didn't know what to do. He started stuttering and sputtering. "But, but, what? But..."

"Give me your rifle!" I ordered.

The sergeant looked at the other soldiers, unsure of what he should do. I slapped him twice across the face. In reflex, he quickly handed me his rifle. I screamed at him, "Is this what you do when you capture an enemy soldier? No interrogation? Division?... Battalion?... Company?... Officers?.... To what rank? Tanks? How many? Artillery Support? Cavalry? Is this what we've been teaching you? To capture a prisoner and shoot him, without one word coming out of HIS mouth? You are a disgrace to Germany!"

The sergeant was dumbfounded. His mouth hung open, but nothing came out. I turned to one of the other soldiers. "You, Corporal! - You're in command. Now take me to your company commander, and for Christ's sake - LET ME SEE A GERMAN SOLDIER!"

After the corporal gave a command, I walked behind them as they all marched away, with Pig Head trailing behind, bewildered.

Commanding, self-assured, and quick-thinking. Not like Billy Pilgrim at all...on the surface. To appearances, he's a closer match to James Bond, but underneath it all, he's still a wreck.

Later, he meets Annie, the book's namesake, and you see some of his anxieties leaking through.

"Tell me the truth - I'm your friend - would you like to be with a woman tonight?"

I felt like a fool. I didn't know what to answer.

"Forgive me, Harry," Steinig said, "I would not exactly win a prize for tact. of course you would. It's probably been a long time for you. May I make the selection? I've lived with your reputation for so long that I think I know even your taste in women." He looked across the room, searching for someone. "Her name is Annie Breton, and she is standing...there!"

He pointed to a small brunette, quite thin, who was wearing a red-and-blue gown that seemed out of place somehow next to all of the elegant gowns around her. She looked to be about twenty-seven or twenty-eight. I couldn't tell if she was pretty because she was wearing so much makeup that it made her look cheap, but her small body was attractive. She was talking with a young officer.

"Annie is French, Harry. She has great class...and she's a pig. That's a nice combination, don't you think? If you're disappointed, tell me tomorrow and you can pick any bottle you like from my cellar."

"But she's with someone," I said, hoping for relief.

"Oh, pooh! He's a captain; you're a colonel. She'll like you more. You go over and get something to eat while I make the arrangements. Try some of those Napoleons - they're delicious."

As Steinig walked away I went directly to the pastry table and looked at all the beautiful cakes and tortes and, of course, the Cremschnitten. I picked one up and took a bite...it was delicious. Much more delicate that the "Napoleons" we had in Milwaukee.

"Colonel Stroller?"

I was so absorbed with my Cremschnitten that I didn't realize someone was talking to me.

"Harry Stroller?" the voice repeated. I turned to see that it was the little brunette with all the makeup who was talking to me. She was smiling.

"Don't you know your own name?" she asked. She spoke in English with a slight French accent.

"I'm sorry..I forget sometimes."

"Maybe you should tie a string around your finger," she said.

"What if I forget to look at my finger?"

"Would you like me to stand next to you all the time, just in case?" she asked.

"It might look a little funny."

"Then why don't we dance?" she said. "That way, no one will notice."

She had a sense of humor - thank goodness. I smiled, wiped the whipped cream off my face and hands, and led her into the waltz that the string quartet was playing. My mother had taught me how to dance the waltz, so I was comfortable, at least for now.

As we danced, I caught Colonel Steinig's eye. He smiled and nodded a sign of approval. that was how I met Annie Breton.

"But surely a book about a French Whore must have some sex," you wail.

Of course it does. It's not exacly "graphic," but it's about what you'd expect for a wreck like Paul Peachy.

A romantic French song began to play as Maria put the needle onto the phonograph record that was already in place. Then she turned down the bed and left the room. After a few moments, Annie came out, dressed - or I should say, almost undressed - in a very sheer lavender negligee.

"Would you pour us some Champagne, Harry?" I was more than a little nervous as I poured two glasses of Champagne. Annie took off her negligee, exposing her bare bosom. She had small breasts, which relieved me somehow. I know it sounds silly, but I always found small breasts more erotic whenever I saw young women talking together on the train, even though they were fully clothed. I told my "small breast theory" to Murdock once, when he was eating lunch, and he laughed so hard he nearly choked.

Annie sat at the edge of her bed and crossed her legs, wearing only her white panties. I'd say it was a sexy pose except for all of her garish makeup, which dampened my sexual impulses. It made her look like the whores I used to see walking on Fondualc Avenue in Milwaukee, with lips covered with so much lipstick that you couldn't tell what they really looked like, and with blue eyelids, fake rosy cheeks, and eyelashes loaded with mascara. Annie's naked body was very small and I think attractive, but her nakedness made her makeup seem that much uglier to me. The strong perfume she must have doused herself with in the bathroom make ne feel slightly ill. I had a strong inclination to just walk out. And yet...

"What shall we drink to, Monsieur Harry?" she asked.

"The Kaiser," I said, stalling for time.

"Oh, you - let's drink to us!"

We clicked glasses and I took a sip of Champagne. Then she stood up and kissed me tenderly, on both cheeks, as her tiny breasts pressed lightly against my shirt. She slipped off her panties and sat back down on the bed. Elsie was the only other woman I had ever seen completely naked, and then only after she turned the lamps way down.

"Harry, I don't know if you're trying to look at me or trying not to look at me," she said, half smiling but with a puzzled look.

"Both," I said.

"Why don't you come closer and let me help you with your clothes?"

I stood still, looking at her beautiful body. It was so smooth it reminded me of the alabaster figurines I used to see at the museum in Milwaukee.

"Don't you want to make love to me?" he asked, almost like a little girl.

"Yes, I do."

"Its not that you like boys, is it?" she asked, suddenly quite serious.

"No, nothing like that. Would you take your makeup off?" I asked.

She seemed a little startled.

"Why?" she asked.

"So I can see your face."

"I'd rather not," she said. "My face is very ordinary. Anyway, what's wrong with my face the way it is? No one has ever complained."

"It makes you look like a whore," I said, regretting how terrible it sounded when it came out of my mouth, but that's how I felt.

Peachy reminds me a little of Holden Caulfield in the prostitute scene of Catcher in the Rye and also of Mersault in his discussion of marriage with Marie in The Stranger. Mersault, like Peachy, is also inclined to say exaclty what's on his mind, regardless of the other person's opinion. That's an honesty that's hard to find in one's own self, but probably even harder to endure in a friend. And Holden was just as reluctant to despoil his prostitute (for different reasons, ostensibly) as Peachy is.

When I finished My French Whore, I was really looking forward to jumping into Gene's next novel, but I decided to try another author I had never read (on the advice of Ms. Clack, my Eighth grade English teacher): Steve Martin. So I picked up Shopgirl and read it instead. And then I decided to mix things up a little, so I'm now three hundred pages into a collection of short stories, Legends II. One of the stories is from George RR Martin's excellent Ice & Fire universe and I think there's a Neil Gaiman in there somewhere. But I digress...

My French Whore is one of those books that may get you to look at yourself and people around you a little differently. I think there's a little Paul Peachy or Billy Pilgrim in all of us. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.



The fish tank has been doing some neat stuff lately, so I may get around to showing some photos of how cool it is becoming in a day or two. Oh, the missing shrimp has also mysteriously re-appeared! Woo-hoo!



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