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Girl Scouts, or coffee? I vote books.

The No-Campfire Girls was featured Sunday on the Fussy Librarian daily newsletter; the site's all about books of various genres, and can be found here:

http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/

It costs a few bucks to do the ad, but it did bring sales. The Amazon ranking for The No-Campfire Girls rose from just over three million to 41,341 that day, which is its highest Kindle ranking, so the extra effort clearly did something.

That's especially important because half the proceeds for the book go to support my wife's Girl Scout Camp Latonka, in Missouri. (Not "former" because once a Scout, always a Scout.) This is our second such effort, with the proceeds from another book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, going to the Albion Volunteer Fire Department.

And they don't get charged for the advertising!

This is also why I didn't set The No-Campfire Girls to free: Can't raise funds that way. Not to mention the e-book is already only 99 cents. You can even pick up the print version for just five bucks: That's a lot of entertainment, for the price of an extra small plain black Starbucks coffee.

I'd planned to do a whole promotion thing around the Fussy Librarian appearance, with the idea of getting it as far up the rankings as possible. But my mother landed in the hospital (she's out now) and some other things happened, so now I'm going to launch that effort afterward instead, for about a week. I don't self-promote nearly as much as I probably should, so I think my readers will forgive me, especially when it comes to a good cause.

What will my extra promotion effort entail? In the immortal words of Indiana Jones, I dunno--I'm making this up as I go along. But look for more about the book later, and until then please support the Girls Scouts by picking it up on our website at www.MarkRHunter.com, or over on our Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0058CL6OO

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The Dog Ate My Homework

Here in dispatch we got all sorts of goodies this year in honor of Public Safety Telecommunications Week, much of it in the form of food from various appreciative members of the public. I especially liked one of the first ones, a paper bag full of all sorts of neat snacks, many of them of my favorite type--chocolate. But I wasn't able to partake right away, because right after I got home we had to leave again, to see my mother in the hospital. So, I left it on the kitchen counter until we returned.

The dog ate it.

He left most of the list, so I could see what I was missing.


Most of the chocolate was gone. Dogs love chocolate for the same reason humans do: It's bad for you. But, I'm happy to report, Beowulf made it through the crisis with a smile on his snout and an ache in his stomach. Okay, I'm not so very happy.

It's hard to tell how much of the bag he swallowed, but he didn't get to the microwave popcorn, and apparently the can cooler was too chewy. The green stuff at the bottom left is from one of those Scentsy wax smelly things--but that's another blog.


He also didn't get the gum, which is maybe for the best. Imagine that moment of panic the first time he passed gas after a whole pack of gum moved through his system.

In any case, although I remain less than happy with him, at least Beowulf didn't make himself sick going places he wasn't supposed to go. And me, I've learned my lesson: First, never take your work home. Second, whenever you get chocolate--eat it. Right now.

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A Friday For Triskaidekaphobia

It's Friday the Thirteenth, and so far it's been ...

... Friday the Thirteenth.
Actually, it's been Friday the Thirteenth all week.

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Movie Review: Ready Player One

As we left the theater after seeing Ready Player One, I told my wife, "I think that's the most fun I've had at the movies since Deadpool".

Not the best movie, mind you--but certainly the most fun. However, by happy coincidence, Ready Player One is also a great movie.

The concept is that virtual reality has sent much of the world's population into a computerized universe that's way better and more fun than the real one, which of course leads to the real world  getting that worse. In other words, it's the way things are pretty much headed in real life. By 2045 everyone, including Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is going into the OASIS, where you can be anyone you want and do anything you want. A good example of this is right at the opening, when we see some people climbing Mount Everest--with Batman.

For instance, you could have your own time machine.


Wade lives in a trailer park so overcrowded that the homes are literally stacked on top of each other, and won't that be fun the next time a tornado comes along? He's competing to find clues to a contest that will give the winner control of the OASIS, along with the fortune of its creator, James Halliday (played with relish by Mark Rylance). When Wade wins the first of three challenges, he gets on the radar of some very powerful people, which ends up endangering both the OASIS and the real world of Wade's friends and family.

Where does Hollywood get its ideas? Where everyone should: books.

Now, let's be clear: Ready Player One is another science fiction action-adventure, nothing more. But in the hands of a master like Stephen Spielberg, nothing more can become ... more. From the moment Wade hops into the Delorean from Back To The Future to race the Akira motorcycle, Bigfoot, the A Team van, and the freaking Batmobile, you know you're in for something special. And that's before King Kong shows up, and by the way, that's just in the first ten minutes. It's breathless and breathtaking, spectacular and funny, and the only thing that's missing is a John Williams score--although having said that, Alan Silvestri does a great job weaving in well known themes for a memorable soundtrack.

By the way, is there any SF fandom Simon Pegg hadn't been involved in at this point?

Spielberg has said Ready Player One is the most difficult film he's made since Saving Private Ryan, twenty years ago, and the third hardest ever behind Jaws. I believe him; but he pulled it off. Oh, and yes, there are themes and deeper issues, as well as plot holes along the way.

If you're into pop culture references, you'll probably want to see Ready Player One more than once, just to catch everything. For me it was one of the fun parts of the movie, and honestly I'm bursting to shout out all the references, from the obvious (The Shining) to the blink-and-you-miss-it (Firefly). And if you don't recognize all those shout-outs ... doesn't matter. Still a great movie.

If you don't recognize at least one of these, you'll recognize something else.

My Score:

Entertainment Value: 5 out of 4 M&Ms. Yeah, I said it.

Oscar Potential: 3 out of 4 M&Ms. There's quality in every aspect of this production, but sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if the Academy totally ignores this picture as being too much fun for their lofty standards.

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