Monday, April 29, 2013

What Are We Reading?

On one of the writing sites I frequent there was a discussion recently about whether book sales said anything about the quality of the writing in those books. This particular discussion centered on the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy. I got to wondering just what were the genres of the books we are reading.

Here is the list of the top 100 on by genre. Classification interpreted by me with some assist from the Amazon categories. Totals are at the bottom.

1.   business
2.   science & religion
3.   self-help
4.   diet
5.   self-help
6.   self-help
7.   novel
8.   diet
9.   self-help
10. children's book 
28. erotica
29. health
30. self-help
31. children's book
32. comic
33. diet
34. romance
35. self-help
46. erotica
47. diet
48. diet
49. erotica
50. diet
51. children's book
52. self-help
53. fantasy
54. diet
55. children's book
56. novel
57. self-help
58. erotica
99. novel
100. diet

Children's Books - there are 15 children's titles on the list. I am told that holiday purchasing inflates these numbers by nearly 50% in the weeks leading up to Easter when I took my little survey.

Diet Books - 14 titles in the Top 100 is fairly average year in and year out.

Self-Help - a total of 16 offerings is also about average for this category.

Novel - 22 novels plus 7 in the "fantasy" category are just below the steady average of 1/3 of all best-sellers being novels.

Erotica - the 4 such titles on the list all come from the Fifty Shades series.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Checking in on "Truth"

 "That’s why the perfect is the enemy of the good."

This is a somewhat difficult post for me to write. As you know I have a long-held distain for both American political parties. Every four years I implore my friends and enemies to vote for a third party - any third party. But it serves us in a profound way to periodically take out our long-held beliefs and expose them to the light of the other side. Or in this case to the reasoning of someone actually on my side but not as attached to a particular position as I am.

The article I am about to recommend to you will be saved and I will attach it to my Quadrennial Political Rant which shall not appear again until 2016. What I am suggesting is that if you are truly sick of the two party system in the United States, perhaps you need to ponder the implications of the actions you and I take in that regard. 

If you held your nose and still pulled the lever next to Obama's name or if you finally said - No! I ask you as one who has not voted for either party since McGovern, I ask you to take some time and read this article by Rebecca Solnit. Written last September in the midst of the most recent long-winded, chocked full of lies campaign; it was too much to hear back then. But now with the rhetoric buried in the landfill, it is time to think about what we did or didn't do and how we might rational and morally act in the future. A future that will include another presidential campaign coming soon to a internet device near you.

Here is just a taste:

"You don't have to participate in this system, but you do have to describe it and its complexities and contradictions accurately, and you do have to understand that when you choose not to participate, it better be for reasons more interesting than the cultivation of your own moral superiority, which is so often also the cultivation of recreational bitterness."

For my friends at the other end of the political spectrum, I did search for a conservative response in this same vein. I couldn't locate one, though I am sure it must exist. If you find it please let me know as I am always attempting to present a 'Fair and Balanced' report of what passes for life on this planet.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

With an Indirect Comment

I was invited to attend a photography exibition recently which was: ". . . based on their experience last year with the Run Across Palestine, a 5-day ultra-marathon to raise funds and awareness for organic olive farmers in the West Bank."

If you are anything like me, and I assume you must either be this way or have some interest since you read this blog. If you are anything like me or share some of my interests, you will probably contemplate for a moment the elements of a 5-day ultra marathon followed at least for me by several additional eons reflecting on organic olive farmer in the West Bank.

Putting the two thoughts together was quite beyond me this day, though I must confess to having experienced raised awareness. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Going Forward

I have found my blog rhythm for the near present future. 
On Monday I will have something to say, 
come Friday something to see. 
Please enjoy.

Yes it is,
a chocolate rose
and this is Friday.

Monday, April 08, 2013


"To change our life; 
Start immediately 
Do it flamboyantly 
No exceptions" 
--William James

Psychologists are divided in opinions on whether we should share our life changing resolutions. Certainly if you tell someone you are going to quit smoking or go on a diet, they can provide support and encouragement. On the other hand, truly life altering changes happen so seldom that we might want to wait and see if our old ways are not indeed our true ways. How many new year's resolutions fail before the light of spring or the gold of fall for reader's in the southern hemisphere.

I choose to wait until my life changes had taken hold. I'm sure someone will tell me when that occurs.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Mike Matusow

Four years ago we were waiting for Check Raising the Devil to roll of the presses and hit the bookstores. My good friend and writing partner Amy Calistri and I had finished a two-year project getting Mike "The Mouth" Matusow to tell us his story of poker, drugs, jail, strippers, psychiatrists and redemption. We had edited and re-edited Mike's words capturing we hoped his authentic voice to tell his life story.

The book was greeted with great reviews from the poker press but only one acknowledgement in the psychological literature, even though Check Raising the Devil remains one of the only honest depictions of a bi-polar and ADHD success story. One thing we did hear a lot was that we were too late. The poker boom was over or Mike's career was done.

Well the poker boom continues around the world and a few weeks ago Mike won the 2013 NBC National Heads-Up Championship and a cool $750,000. Way to go Mike. Pretty good for a guy who is over-the-hill.

Monday, April 01, 2013


A couple of months back we had a power outage. No big deal it was basically five hours and lasted only into the early evening. I know where my candles are, right up there on the mantle with matches right next to them. So I was prepared. I mean this wasn't Sandy or Katrina. However, the experience left me with some questions and a few answers that all pointed to being not very well prepared.

How good was that full charged laptop? Sure the little battery up there in the corner of the screen looks full, but is it? When was the last time you pulled the plug and tested how long the battery actually will run your computer. Mind you, I hope you understand you will only have access to what's on your computer not the internet. You knew that right?

Got a Kindle or other ereader? When was the last time you charged that baby up? As the sunset I was all ready for an evening of Kindle reading, with my handy dandy lamp accessory, now where were the spare batteries for that? And thinking of batteries, why isn't the big flashlight where it's supposed to be? And what about batteries for that one, if I can find it by candle light.

As I mentioned the outage began mid-afternoon but you know that makes no difference if your bathroom has no windows. Think about it.

There's no light in the refrigerator and the longer you stare into it using a candle or the light on your Kindle, well all of that coldness is getting away. Did you really just put that cold cup of coffee in the microwave. No sure, you're right, microwaves aren't the same as electricity.

How about that garage door, you got a back-up battery unit on that? No, well don't worry there's bound to be a hand release lever. You can find it in the dark can't you?

Might I suggest an interesting test for those who Mother Nature has not already gifted with the experience. Get up one weekend morning and pull the main breaker switch. Do it for at least four hours. Try it when the sun goes down. No cheating, if you don't know where the candles are - find them in the dark. Make some notes on what you need to do to be better prepared, you've got one of those pens with a light in it, right?

Don't forget the whole battery situation. Where are they? Are they fresh? Can you change them in the dark? What needs back-ups batteries? Are you in an area where a back-up generator might be a good investment?

Now I know I have readers who will find darkest a good thing, shed the cares of the world. Put aside the to-do list, you can't read it anyway. You're sure you can find things to do without electricity. Can you find the condoms in the dark?