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Three Little Pigs

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs.

The first little pig lived in a starter home that needed a lot of work. A lot of work. Fixing all the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC took all the pig’s time and money, so the rickety front door, which only closed if you pushed very hard, was just something to live with.

The second little pig lived in a tall condominium building. It was home to so many interesting people! People who loved to shop online, which brought many deliveries to the building. To save time for everyone, the access code that opened the front door was the same as the building’s street number.

The third little pig lived in a new home, inside a guard gated community. The home had a Ring video doorbell, fast Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth door locks. Unfortunately, the pig’s bank was acquired in a corporate merger and none of his auto-payment settings transferred correctly. When the electric company turned off his service, a wolf walked in and stole everything.

The end.

Book Review: The Practice

Author Seth Godwin is a contemporary writer who has managed to establish himself as a brand, thanks to the plethora of marketing and self-help books that he has published over the decades. I’ve read and enjoyed a few of them, but The Practice leads me to believe he has run out of original material.

What is the book about? Well, having read it through, the best I can come up with is that “the practice” is “the work” you must do to ship “creative projects”. At least, I think that’s what he’s saying. The book is basically a collection of 200+ short pep talks that are frequently repetitive, often inconsistent, and sometimes laughably vague. Oh, and each one is numbered, as if we are expected to refer to them as if they are Bible verses.

gordon meyer holding the book

Despite Godin stating in this very book that good ideas rarely come out of conference rooms, the apparent source for these bits of motivation/inspiration/advice came from an “Akimbo Conference.” (Whatever that is.)

The author(s?) also frequently borrows common anecdotes (mostly uncredited), but changes them so as to diminish their meaning. I turned against this book when Godin, or whoever is writing, makes it clear that they don’t understand Lou Reed, Higher Education, Apple, or Conjuring.

One interesting thing that did jump out to me is that this is the first self-help book I’ve read that directly references the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. The author ruefully observes that “the perfect tomorrow we hoped for is never going to arrive.”

Overall, I found the book to be as disappointing as it is disjointed. Godin should have “done the work” to make this a more useful and coherent book.

Book Review: Scritch Scratch

I purchased this book from Volumes, along with author Lindsay Currie’s first book, which I’ve previously reviewed. I’m glad I got them both at the same time, as although I mostly enjoyed her prior, I wouldn’t have purchased this one. That would have been a shame, as the present volume is much more fun and enjoyable.

If it surprises you that I’m speaking fondly of a book for young adults, then you haven’t read my review of Why You Should Read Children’s Books.

gordon meyer with book

The protagonist is once again an angst-filled teenage girl, but this time she’s smart and likable, and she loves Chicago. (Perhaps too much angst, but as a middle-waged man, what do I know?)

The spooky elements are worthy of an older audience. I particularly enjoyed this phrase: “I sit completely still for a moment, the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck slowly rising like zombies from the dead.”

I stumbled a bit over the book’s unusually compressed timeline. When you read 3/4ths of the way through the book that all these events happened in a week, your analytical mind yanks you out of the story to see if that statement jives with what you’ve read so far. (It doesn’t.) Until then, elapsed time was both unclear and not necessary to think about. I had the same experience reading Currie’s book, and perhaps someday I’ll get to ask her about it.

There’s also an odd fixation on a drowning that took place “in only 20 feet of water.” Like the timeline, the depth reference is not essential to the story, and its frequent citation only serves to disrupt the reader with thoughts about how the author has apparently never heard of drowning in a bathtub.

Unlike Currie’s previous book, the portions specific to the city were appropriate and accurate. (Except for referring to a gangway as an alley, but that may have been at the insistence of her Editor, as the term is not widely used outside the city.) And there is a lot of Chicago in this book, with a nice collection of history and local lore embedded within. I particularly enjoyed the pitch-perfect visits to the Chicago History Museum.

Both books taken together mesh well, although at some points it was hard not to wonder if the characters from the last book are going to pass by the characters in this book while they’re at the same locations. (An Easter egg that would have been fun for Currie fans.)

If you’re desiring a fun, somewhat spooky, Chicago-centric adventure and ghost story, this is the book you should get. You can find it on the Amazon, of course.

Automating Ulysses to MarsEdit hand-off

In my continuing quest to use both Ulysses and MarsEdit in my writing workflow, I’ve created a Keyboard Maestro automation. This one sends HTML from the clipboard to a new post, while remove the H1 tag and placing it as the title of the post in the MarsEdit window. It’s a bit brute-force, and could be more elegant, but it works. (See this macro on GitHub.)

For more on this topic, see: Sending text from Ulysses to MarsEdit

gordon meyer macro screenshot

Book Review: Bird Feeder

What an unusual publication! From what I can gather, this book began as a short story, but it is published here in sequential art form.

gordon meyer holding book

As a result of its origins, in my opinion, it’s more finally crafted than a lot of “comics” tend to be. The art, by “Rosario,” is stark and striking, while the story by Ryan Oliver sets a similar mood with its phrasing. Much of the story is conveyed wordlessly, so I’m left with curiosity about how much of the text was utilized from the original story.

I’ll not be providing any spoilers, but in brief, the story is that of love, loss, discovery, and urban horror. Something dangerous is alive and hungry in a lush, suburban backyard!

The edition I read is a limited, numbered printing (Sort of, my copy was 000). I got it at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago, but you can also get copy, with some extras, from the publisher.

Book Review: Sharpie Art Workshop

I received this book as a gift from some dear friends, and I have to admit it was the most inspiring thing I’ve received in a long time. The book is essentially a showcase for various artists who use Sharpie markers as their medium, but it’s also a complete (apparently) catalog of the many different types of pens that Sharpie manufacturers.

The book’s subtitle is “Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World,” but for me, most of the learning comes from Timothy Goodman’s encouragement and diverse examples. The use of the word “workshop” is likely to be a stretch for many readers.

If you’re at all interested in getting a quick hit of inspiration, and you appreciate those who do remarkable work with limited tools, you’ll probably dig this book too. Get your copy at Amazon.