Subtract this you you you ape you!


083) Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less by Leidy Klotz, finished July 29

This is one of my December 31st books and the one I've been reading since. The basic conceit of the book is that we, as humans, are more adept at finding ways to add when solving problems as opposed to finding ways to subtract—even though subtracting is often the superior solution.

Klotz is a personable host, but I'll bet this book is waaaay better with him as professor than with him as author. Part of the problem is me taking too long to read the book; various callbacks and such lose their resonance when too much time passes between first and second read. Plus, he shares some nonce words like "satisfice" that can be slippery.

But his major points are made with extreme persuasion and I'm absolutely convinced that less is the solution to lots of problems, for instance, in education. This is something I and some of my colleagues have been playing with, but now I have science on my side! His sum-up of his argument is something I intend to make very visible from my desk so I return to them again and again.

I don't they'll be as persuasive divorced from his examples and analogies, but here they are—let them persuade you to give him a try:

two hundred eleven days

This seems like a good time to remind everyone that I get kickbacks for my Amazon and Bookshop links. One year I broke twelve dollars!

084) Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley, finished July 30

What a weird book this is! It starts on a movie lot and we get some of the day-to-day activity on a lot. Two guys pass by a garbage truck filled with rejected screenplays. Scripts are falling off the truck and they start picking them up to mock them. But then they discover the script of Ape and Essence and it blows their mind. They go hunting in the California desert for the author only to find he had just died. One of the two creepily picks up a teenager while out there and then the rest of the book is the screenplay.

And it is, as they said, unfilmable. Some of the early scenes may have inspired 2001 (anyone know?) but they are trippy and weird and baboon-filled. Then we move to a post-apocalyptic California where some New Zealand scientists have just landed to check out what the nuked world looks like allllll these years later. And things go poorly right away, but the plot follows Dr. Poole who is almost killed by these wastelandians only to squeak out a survival when they learn he's good at making plants produce food.

What follows is a satire of religion (the devil rules!) and sex (once a year, blood and orgy!)—no mercy, as you should expect from Huxley—but he provides a rather sweet ending with both love and God, which surprised me, just as our hero couple are about to head across the Mojave, across the Tehachapis, and into the San Joaquin. So an ending I enjoyed, obviously. I love seeing local sights.

At times, I couldn't believe I was reading this nonsense. But its absurdist humor and final act were fully enjoyable.

But never coming to a multiplex year you!

two or three months

085) Urban Legendz by Paul Downs / Nick Bruno / Michael Yates, finished July 30

We picked this up last time we were at Comic-Con and gave it to the kids and I finally picked it up and . . . it's fine. Diverse cast, working together, serious issues, fun monster nonsense.

It was fine.

(My opinion must be common as the promised sequel still ain't here.)

two settings

086) The Best Film You've Never Seen by Robert K. Elder, finished August 1

These interviews with contemporary directors about movies they love but are not widely known were great fun to read. And while I still don't expect I'll like Boom! or Killer Klowns from Outer Space, now I want to watch them anyway. And movies I've never heard of like Arcane Sorcerer and The Super Cops are now on my wanna-see list, and movies I already wanted to see like Le samurai and The Trail bounced higher up that list. (Plus, one interview I held off reading until I could finally—finally!—watch my dvd.)

In his intro, Elder suspects that anyone who would pick this book up will have seen at least one of the films. He likes that because he wants readers to feel like they had a way in. And I guessed it worked, because I think I read those interviews (F for Fake, Joe Versus the Volcano) first.

(Maybe. Click on that Joe link and you'll see that I finally watched the film that time because I was reading this book. My guess? I checked it out from the library once before and just read a couple interviews, then returned it. But why didn't it get me to watch Beaver Trilogy that time? Mysterious.)

The point is I enjoyed the interviews and I've added a lot of movies to my various watchlists. Stay posted.

two or three weeks i guess

087) It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth, finished August 4

I've read Seth before. I'm familiar with his aesthetic. But I'm not sure I've read an entire Seth book before.

Well, this was a great place to start. Besides being a terrific example of his cold, fraught aesthetic, his doppelganger gets to complain about things getting worse and worse while wearing oldfashioned clothes and thinking about oldtimey cartoonists. So Seth!

He bumps into a cartoon in The New Yorker from a cartoonist he's never heard of before but wants wants wants to know more about. But it ain't easy. By the time this book goes to press, he's found but eleven. He's interviewed members of the guy's family but he hasn't learned all that much. Not in the way of facts.

But even though he's curmudgeonly company, you do come away feelins like maybe we did learn something after all. Anyway, we don't regret the journey.

this day

088) Spencer Kimball's Record Collection: Essays on Mormon Music by Michael Hicks, finished August 7

These essays cover a lot of ground and also seemed, before I started them, longer than they needed to be, but each one fascinated and provided food for thought / fun trivia / new insights.

I now think a lot about how Emma Smith's hymnal suggested a different trajectory than the one we finally too. Or how minstrel shows found their way into LDS culture. Or some albums only now on old vinyl that offer something we might not be able to get anywhere else (example, example). Or the process of writing Mormon history and all the, ah, friends it can make you. And even one album from Spencer Kimball's I'ld like to get for myself.

This is a varied collection from an expert with varied interests. "Mormon Music," it ends up, is a lot of different stuff. And Hicks makes for a fun tour guide.

about a year


Previous Posts

001) U Is for Undertow by Sue Grafton, finished January 4
002) Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin et al, finished January 7
003) Joseph Smith and the Mormons by Noah Van Sciver, finished January 7
004) The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, finished January 11
005) The Art of Perspective by Christopher Castellani, finished January 11
006) Bad Kitty Goes on Vacation by Nick Bruel, finished January 12
007) Remina by Junji Ito, finished January 15
008) The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill, finished January 15
009) The Tea Dragon Festival here by Katie O'Neill, finished January 15
010) A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, finished January 18
011) Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Shannon & Dean Hale and Victoria Ying, finished January 26

012) Just Julie's Fine by Theric Jepson, finished January 28
013) The Art of Description by Mark Doty, finished January 28
014) Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh LĂȘ and Andie Tong, finished February 5
015) Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope, finished January 9
016) The Art of Mystery by Maud Casey, finished February 11
017) The Art of Bible Translation by Robert Alter, finished February 13
018) No Longer Human by Junji Ito, finished February 15

019) Zatanna and the House of Secrets by Matthew Cody and Yoshi Yoshitani, finished Febraury 17
020) Fuzz by Mary Roach, finished February 19
021) Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection by Junji Ito, finished February 25
022) You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis, finished March 4
023) Audience-ology by Kevin Goetz, finished March 4
024) The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, finished March 7

025) Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, finished March 8
026) The Croquet Player by H. G. Wells, finished March 11
027) Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It by Michael J. Trinklein, finished March 12
028) Nightwing: Leaping into the Light by Bruno Redondo and Tom Taylor, finished March 13
029) Batman: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, finished date
030) Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist by author, finished date
031) Ghosts of Vader's Castle by a slew of folks, finished March 15
032) The Flintstones Volume 1 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, finished March 16
033) The Flintstones Volume 2 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, finished March 16
034) The Jetsons by Palmiotti/Brito/Sinclair, finished March 16
035) Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan, finished March 18
036) Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia, finished March 19

You tell me whether it's garbage-in or not

037) Bride of the Far Side by Gary Larson, finished March 23
038) Batman: Night of the Owls by the entire DC bullpen, finished March 23
039) The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, finished March 25
040) The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash, finished March 25
041) Slaugherhouse-Five or the Children's Crusade: a Duty Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut / Ryan North / Albert Monteys, finished March 28
042) The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith, finished March 28
043) Jem by Frederik Pohl, finished March 31
044) The Mundane Adventures of Dishman by John MacLeod, finished March 31
045) Because Sometimes You Just Gotta Draw a Cover with Your Left Hand by Stephan Pastis, finished April 4

Books: extralong edition

046) Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 1: Hooked On A Feline by Leth/Williams/Allegri, finished April 9
047) The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner, finished April 11
048) Weird Al: The Book by Nathan Rabin with Al Yankovic, finished April 11
049) My Year of Flops by Nathan Rabin, finished April 16
050) The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet, finished April 19
051) Beast of Burden: Occupied Territory by Dorkin & Dyer & Dewey & Piekos, finished April 16
052) Building a Better Life by Stealing Office Supplies: Dogbert's Big Book of Business by Scott Adams, finished April 22
053) On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, finished April 27
054) Salt Magic by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock, finished May 5
055) Star Wars Adventures: The Weapon of a Jedi, finished May 6
056) Hemingway in Paradise and Other Mormon Poems by Scott Hales, finished May 8
057) Romeo and Juliet: The War by a team assembled by Stan Lee, finished May 10
058) The Dark Horse Book of the Dead edited by Scott Allie, finished May 14
059) A Little Lower than the Angels by Virginia Sorensen, finished May 15

060) Irredeemable by Mark Waid, et al., finished May 20
061) Stanslaw Lev's The Seventh Voyage by Jon J Muth, finished May 23
062) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage, finished May 28
063) Heike's Void by Stephen L. Peck, finished May 30

064) Night Weather by JS Absher, finished June 2
065) Will Eisner Reader, finished June 2
066) Pen Pals by Aaron Cometbus, finished June 4
067) I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, finished June 6
069) Pluto: Urusawa × Tezuka 001 by Naoki Urasawa et al, finished June 16
070) The Gadget War by Betsy Duffey, finished June 16

071) Sensational Wonder Woman, finished June 22
072) Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin, finished June 27
073) 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by The Oatmeal, finished June 29
074) Socks by Beverly Cleary, finished June 29
075) The Ultimates Volume 1: Super-Human by Millar/Hitch/Currie, finished June 30
076) In China with Green Day by Aaron Cometbus, finished July 4

077) V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton, finished July 7
078) Spin by John Bennion, finished July 10
079) The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker edited by Robert Mankoff, finished July 11
080) The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett, finished July 23
081) W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton, finished July 25
082) How About Never—Is Never Good for You? by Bob Mankoff, finished July 28

final posts in this series from
  2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012 = 2013
2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020 = 2021

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