So, I said that yesterday's review of A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge may have been the best one yet. I might have spoke too early. Here's an excerpt from today's, on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.
"The author is obviously very knowledgeable of Charles Dickens' work, as he brilliantly weaves a humorous story which includes annotated footnotes interwoven throughout the story that helps readers who are not familiar with Dickens' classic novels. The author's subtle wit provides the reader with an amusing tongue-in-cheek and laugh-out-loud funny sequel to the classic Dickens A Christmas Carol. I couldn't help but snicker as I turned the pages, the witty dialogue and humorous interactions between the characters are hilarious, what more could a reader ask for than to be entertained by a contemporary twist on a classic story that leaves a smile on their face?
"A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge would be the perfect addition to any reader's collection of Christmas stories that are annually read during the holiday season. It is a lighthearted fun book for readers of all ages."
But here's the funny thing in the hellacious world of book reviews. After that truly lovely write-up, full of continual praise, and not a quibble in sight -- the book received four stars. Now, that's quite good, and I'm fine with it -- except that that actually lowers my Amazon rating! So, this wonderful review works against me, at least on the ratings end. If one actually reads the review, that's another matter...
That's the last of the review on this month's "virtual book tour." Overall the reviews have been extremely positive. The worst few have been three stars, when reviewers didn't seem to get that this was a humor parody and were bothered that there were footnotes where footnotes are supposed to be, rather than at the end. Yet this huge rave was only one star better! Go figure...
Ah, 'tis a bewildering, fanciful world.
God bless them, everyone.
I have a few thoughts from the experience of tracking down all these reviews, and have jotted down some notes. Hopefully I'll get to them soon and post the piece here.
On Tuesday night, I went to an event on the Westside for Lenovo. I've mentioned recently the spate of Windows tablets that are upcoming, of which Lenovo has one, but this was to introduce a different of their new products, the Yoga tablet which runs Android 4.2.
I haven't had time to really test the unit, but it has some intriguing, indeed unique things about it, which is rare for a tablet these days. Most notably, it has an 18-hour battery life, which is remarkable. (To be clear, that number is under ideal conditions.) And with a microUSB plug, this long-life battery can be used to charge other devices, notably your cell phone, so you don't necessarily have to carry an extra battery pack. Also, unlike other tablets, this one isn't completely flat -- it has a sort of rounded "handle" on the side. This makes for a better, more comfortable grasp, and it also can fold down to a tilt stand position for typing, or as a full stand for watching movies.
(I'm not 100% sold on it. It does make it easier to hold the tablet, though it adds some weight -- in fairness, I believe that's where the batteries are installed that allow the long-life. But it also means its back won't lay down perfectly flat. It's not problematic at all, though, and some people may love the benefits of it. Most especially if it's what allows the 18 hours of battery life.)
The specs are good, not great. It has 1 GB RAM and 16 GB capacity. It doesn't have the highest resolution, nor is it the most powerful, but the display is very crisp, and the unit is perfectly responsive. It comes in both 8" and 10" models.
I like that the two speakers are on the front -- and the volume control "up" button cleverly will be up even when you flip the tablet end for end. And the sound was surprisingly respectable – a bit thin, of course, but quite crisp. Although the capacity isn't great, it has a microSD slot to expand storage. And there's a slot for a SIM card. It uses a lower-end MTK processor, but as I said above, the unit seems responsive, and most importantly this MTK processor allows the price to be impressively low. The 8" model is just $249, and the 10" is only $299.
What I'm also intrigued by is an accessory that is available for the 10" tablet: a bluetooth keyboard which doubles as a screen cover. It retails for $70. I haven't had a chance to test this though, so I don't have any reaction to how well it works.
For those who keep tabs on such things (no pun intended), the event was hosted by Ashton Kutcher, who in an amusing video explained that he wasn't just a spokesman, but was hired by Lenovo as a project engineer, complete with name tag and cubicle.
All in all, the Lenovo Yoga is a very interesting entry into the Android tablet world, that offers several features that standout as uncommon. With Windows tablets on their way, it's an interesting time for the market.
My favorite Halloween memory came about 15 years ago. And it involved a Staples office supply store. No, really.
In the late afternoon, I parked in the lot of my local West L.A. Staples and headed towards the building. And coming outside at that moment was Ray Bradbury.
Now, mind you, that alone would have been good enough. I've always loved Ray Bradbury's writing, and the first book of his I'd read was his classic Something Wicked This Way Comes, which centers around Halloween. But then, so did many of his works. He wrote a collection of stories, The October Country. One of his creepy stories is The October Game. He wrote a short novel, The Halloween Tree. And much more. And there was Ray Bradbury.
I tend not to go up to celebrities. And Ray Bradbury was clearly not in the best of health, helped by a caregiver. But...this was Ray Bradbury. And it was Halloween, for goodness sake. You don't ignore that and expect to have any self-respect.
So, I walked over, simply said how much I enjoyed his writing and expected to leave it at that. But he was charming, and engaged me in conversation, helped in part by him finding out that I grew up near where he did, in Waukegan, Illinois. (Glencoe is about 25 miles directly south.) I don't recall a great many specifics about the conversation, though I do remember his saying how Halloween was his favorite holiday. (Gee, no kidding!)
Which is why it came as a thrilled -- and is my favorite Halloween memory -- when, as we parted, Ray Bradbury wished me, "Happy Halloween."
Back in March, as the state of California found itself floundering deep in the red, I wrote an article here about how much and why I disliked California ballot initiatives, updating an article I had written four years ago for the Huffington Post, "The California Proposition System is a Bankrupt Idea."
Among many other things, I said --
"However poorly one thinks of politicians, the Proposition System is worse. It starts with the faulty premise that the voting public is going to willingly study a thick guidebook. The voting public didn't willingly study even thin guidebooks when they were in high school and required to. Instead, with propositions, they turn to watching 30-second TV ads to learn what the laws are about.
"Watching 30-second TV ads to learn what a law is about is like reading a fortune cookie and believing that you now understand Eastern Philosophy."
Thanks to some more twists and turns and changing the laws and state constitution and also a situation where the state Senate, Assembly and Governor all now are from the same party (in this case Democratic), the bankruptcy has at least been turned around, but most of the post legal horrors live on, starting of course with the Grandaddy of the All, the infamous Proposition 13, which makes it near-impossible for the state to raise taxes, all the while ballot initiatives keep voting for issues that cost a great deal of money.
I mentioned back in March that I've even gotten to the point where I almost never vote on any proposition measure anymore unless it meets strict Elisbergian Standards. I just think it's such a terrible way to make laws that I don't want to give it any credence, even when I like the measure. It's the wrong way to fly because one day (many days...) there will be issues that are mind-numbingly galling which come around to bite you on the butt. It's a small protest, I know, but one I feel is necessary for my well-being. And hopefully for others'. "Not thinking" and watching TV ads, is not only a terrible way to make laws, but it opens the door for such efforts to subvert the system as we've recently had in the state by the Koch brothers and Mormon Church, which only point to that with huge klieg lights.
So, it came with great pleasure when there was a commentary in the Los Angeles Times this past Sunday by George Skelton in his "Capitol Journal" column that began --
Willie Brown, the legendary Assembly speaker and former San Francisco mayor, says he has never voted for a ballot initiative.
Another club member! O huzzah!
My sole, very-minor disagreement with Mr. Brown is one of basically semantics. I don't precisely think that "Democracy" requires what he says, but rather "Representative Democracy" does, and that's the system we have in the United States. But all his other comments are spot on. Including when he comments, that "devious initiative campaigns too often result in voter decisions that are 'inconsistent with good and quality judgment.'"
But mainly, I smiled when the former long-time Assembly Speaker and Mayor of San Francisco noted, "'I clearly understand that I am in a distinct minority. People in this state are out to lunch' in their love of the initiative system."
Ahhh, the distinct minority is larger by one. Huzzah, again.
By the way, one of the most telling comments at that reform conference came from former California Chief Justice Ronald M. George, a critic of the current system. He mentioned that the California Constitution has been amended over 500 times since it was originally written in 1879. He contrasted that to the United States Constitution, which of course has been around almost 100 years longer, just has only been amended only 17 times after the Bill of Rights.
"So something is wrong" in California, George said.
The article mentions a few ways that the woeful problems of the Ballot Initiative system can be at least addressed, though I thought they were far too minor for my taste. But any step to fix it is in the right direction.
I do have have on quibble with the article. Its last sentence ends the piece by saying, " The consensus — with the exception of Willie Brown — is to mend it, not end it."
He may have been the exception at the conference, but we trundle on together...
You can read the full article here.
And scanning only took a mere 13 hours! Talk about doing a meticulous job...
Well, I'm back at Control Central for Elisberg Industries, rather than working out of one of our satellite branch offices. It was a bit inconvenient -- there were some things I wanted to post here but didn't have access to material that only resides on this computer, but that's a minor matter. Thankfully the laptop was there for our executive team to use.
Usually when a virus is found and deleted, and you're told to reboot, it's a minor matter to clear out the pipeline. But I guess the virus that got detected had been in the boot sector, so the scan was needed. But...ackkkk.
As I've mentioned, I’m doing a promotion for A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge and have been getting a bunch of reviews. Most have extremely very positive, though when people somehow don’t get that this is a humor parody but actually think it’s a serious sequel (??!)!, they tend to be mediocre. But today was one of the best, and…well, if I can't pass it along, who can?
The whole review is here for the skeptical among you, or the full-review afficionados, but for everyone else, this is keeper excerpt --
"A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge by Robert J. Elisberg is a real treat. While many retellings of Scrooge's transformation have come to us over the years, this is perhaps the most unique twist of the story I've seen, and it certainly is one of the funniest. I'm hoping I might be able to sneak in another reading of it before the year ends. Some of the text will be familiar to readers of A Christmas Carol, and though the style has a modern feel to it, it also captures the essence of Dickens. This reader feels that while this is a light and humorous story, it highlights an issue that plays itself out in political and social circles today. If you enjoy tales of the season, you won't want to miss this one."
The Book Connection
We're at 10 hours now and counting, and the boot scan of my desktop computer is still going on. Thank goodness for having a notebook...
Okay, so yesterday I mentioned songs in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown that are little known, and posted one of my favorites in the show that fits well-into that category. But this one is even less known, even to people who love the cast album and have listened to it repeatedly -- because the song is not even on it! And I absolutely love it for a couple of reasons -- one is that it's a lunatic idea for a song, and I love the kind of mind that would think of doing it, and two, I admire that they used a song that wasn't original, which is so deeply rare for a musical, so I love the selflessness of that.
It's a difficult song to perform, requiring challenging timing, since the words (as you'll see) pour out quickly over one another, and much of the humor of the song is its overlapping, and the words have to be song clearly enough over the arrangement. (In fact, I tried to find a live performance video of this, because it's perfectly fun when performed live and also hearing the audience reaction at how unexpected it is. But none of that found handled it clearly enough, and that 1973 animated TV special does.)
So, this below is why I love "The Glee Club Rehearsal."
I notice that there are two, recurring criticisms that get posted online about the Affordable Care Act. Each a bit contradictory of the other. One is that "the ACA plan is more expensive than what I now have." The other is that "I don't benefit from the ACA plan."
The thing is, most of these laments are meaningless because a) they offer no detail, and b) they tend to be information gotten when checking if they qualify, not by looking at the actual plans.
For those who say the ACA plan is more expensive, they're ignoring several things. First, if their own plan is cheaper, that's because they have a plan through work, are being subsidized by their company. That's why it appears to be less. Second, the monthly cost of an ACA plan doesn't tell the full story of the savings. For instance, the monthly cost may be more, but there is likely a significantly lower deductible. (So, you might save thousands right there.) And the costs of procedures covered by the ACA plan might likely be much less than they coverage they now have. Moreover, the co-pay of the ACA plan may well be much less. Plus, there are many ACA plans to choose from -- with lower monthly costs, but higher deductibles (and vice-versa). So, there are a great deal of savings that people aren't "reporting."
And as for saying that they don't benefit from the ACA -- that's just not true. Even if you don't quality for a government-subsidized plan, you still benefit. The Affordable Care Act is MUCH more than just those plans. You benefit because a great deal of preventative procedures are now fully covered. Colon cancer screening exams, mammary screening exams, a lot of prescriptions, doctors exams and a great deal more -- all fully covered, 100%, whatever medical coverage you have. And you now can't be turned down for instance if you have a pre-existing condition. And there's no longer a lifetime cap on how much will be covered. (That could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars, let along for some people literally millions.) And your children up to the age of 26 can now be covered on your policy. All that whatever your policy is, whether it's a subsidized plan or the one you have now and are keeping. So...you DO save, it DOES benefit you. Even if you do nothing.
And as for not qualifying for a government-subsized plan...the ACA is not intended to subsidize everyone. That part of the plan is meant for people who don't have health insurance through work or who can't afford it. Everyone else, if you have health insurance and like it...you keep it.
(If your insurance rates go up -- blame the insurance company. They're the ones who raised your raised. Other companies haven't.)
The thing is, for all those people who are complaining that they don't qualify for a government-subsized plan -- hey the next time this comes up, you might want to consider supporting Single Payer. Y'know, that thing you were against before and are complaining you don't have now...
As for the computer glitches --
Yes, they're lousy. Most state exchanges don't have the same glitches and are running much better, but that's no excuse. The glitches on healthcare.gov are bad. Forgetting for a moment, however, that almost all big rollouts have had computer tech glitches, and Republicans loudly defended the big glitches of the Bush Medical D rollout, my favorite comment on all this was a simple statement that read --
"I'd rather support a party that has a big computer glitch than one which didn't offer low-cost healthcare at all."
And in the end, it's a computer glitch. The actual program itself? It's very good -- see above.
So, this morning when I checked my computer, the overnight scan had detected a virus and was waiting for me to delete it. Fine, deleted, gone. Then it suggested doing a boot scan -- restarting the system to scan before Windows loaded. Fine, always a good idea, I figured that it would take 10-15 minutes.
Silly me. It's over four hours later and still scanning. (I think it's also scanning my back-up drive, which is what's made it seem SO long.) And since this is all before Windows has loaded, I can't use the computer, while simply scanning in the background.
Then, feeling like a fool, so focused on my desktop system running through its scan, I realized that I actually have a notebook computer, sitting off there elsewhere at home.
So, I've started that up, and here we are...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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