Monthly Archives: January 2016

What Is Good Writing?: Idiots Weigh In

What is good writing? A woman ponders the question.

Recently, I was asked to create a tweet answering the question: “What is good writing?” The finished product received a mediocre grade, which means I must not have addressed the issue very thoroughly.

“How did I manage to mess this up?” I groaned. “Any idiot could explain good writing!”

In today’s post, Any Idiot gets their chance. Continue reading


Sex-Crazed Idiots: A Trashy Book About a Classy Boat

The Pleasure Palace, by Joan Lee

Please Note: This post is thoroughly NSFW.

Last time, I explored the labyrinthine innards of John K. King Used Books. This time, I’ll show you what I fished out of said innards: Joan Lee’s staggeringly stupid 1987 sex novel, The Pleasure Palace.

Never before or since has a novel containing so much sex been so thoroughly unsexy. The characters kiss, lick, and boink their way down a non-stop stream of soap operatic misadventure, yet they fail to ever look cool doing it. Before we get to the boinking, though, allow me to mention my biggest problem with this book.


This tagline is complete bullshit, because the god damn Pleasure Palace–a much referenced luxury cruise ship–doesn’t even show up until the last 30 pages of the book. This novel should have been called Lots of Pointless Screwing, and Then There’s a Boat at the End. By the way, when the Pleasure Palace does show up, no one finds dreams there. One person finds danger, but we’ll get to that in a second.

First, let’s look at the characters… Continue reading

“Largest and Strangest”: John K. King Books

John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

“Did you know one of America’s best used bookstores is in Detroit?”

I can honestly say I didn’t–not until my friend clued me in. I knew Detroit had a fantastic art museum, incredible Greek food, and a thriving underground music scene. But the best used book store? That distinction had somehow passed me by.

“Best” is in the eye of the beholder, of course. In this case, the beholder was Salon Magazine, and what they actually wrote was this:

Standing defiantly amid one of Detroit’s many surreal, post-apocalyptic ruin-scapes is a place that has to be experienced to be believed: John King Books. Converted from an abandoned 1940s glove factory, John King is a five-story wooden maze stuffed stairwells-to-ceilings with used and rare books — one of the largest and strangest collections in North America.

Having now seen John K. King for myself, I know that no single post can do it justice. It really is a maze–so much so that one of the first things the employees do when you walk through the door is hand you a map. The stacks are organized, but only roughly, with sections as specific as 50’s-era middle grade boys’ chapter books and as general as…well…

Jesus, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

Honestly, though, the haphazard organization of the store’s estimated one million books is part of the fun. You never know what you’re going to find around the next corner. Will it be vintage adventure books with snicker-worthy titles…?

The Wailing Octopus, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

Hee hee.

Teeny Gay, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit


A Matter of Spunk, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

*spit take*

Or perhaps something a bit more on the naughty side…?

Guide New Edge, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

I don’t know what “techno-erotic paganism” is, but I assume it’s naughty.

“Something for everyone” is such a dull platitude, but it rings true in this case. I myself walked away with a book of 501 Japanese verbs (thrill a minute!) and a spectacularly trashy novel called The Pleasure Palace, which I’ll review in a week or two.

In the meantime, here are some more pictures:

Continue reading

Salem Witch Execution Site Found

Gallows Hill, Salem, 1861, Witch Trials

Never before have I dedicated a post to an article I didn’t write, but this one is right up my alley–probably up yours, too, if you read this blog regularly. The site where 19 victims were executed during the Salem witch trials has been confirmed. Here’s an excerpt from the Salem News article:

The Gallows Hill Project prepared a series of questions and answers explaining how they confirmed Proctor’s Ledge as the execution site for accused witches.

How did they pin down the site?

Marilynne Roach discovered a few key lines of eyewitness testimony in a Salem witch trials court record from Aug. 19, 1692. … The record quotes the defendant Rebecca Eames, who had been on her way to the court in the custody of her guards and traveled along the Boston Road, which ran just below the execution site.

A few hours later, she appeared the Salem court for her preliminary examination. The magistrate asked Eames whether she had witnessed the execution that took place earlier that morning as she was passing by. She explained that she was at “the house below the hill” and that she saw some “folks” at the execution. Roach determined that the “house below the hill” was most likely the McCarter House, or one of its neighbors on Boston Street. The McCarter house was still standing in 1890 at 19 Boston St.


Read the rest of the article here! (No, seriously, do it–it’s awesome.)

Animal Kingdom: Where Gazelle Prance and Elephants Hump

I have to make this post a short one, which is a shame since Animal Kingdom was my favorite of all the Disney Parks. Here are just a few of the things I was able to do there:

  1. Eat samosas.
  2. See a cheetah get an endoscopy.
  3. Go on a wilderness safari, during which I saw two elephants humping. (The tour guide claimed they were just playing, but I know humping when I see it.)
  4. Pet goats.
  5. Almost get grabbed by a yeti.
  6. Feel bugs crawl under my butt.
It's Tough to Be a Bug, Animal Kingdom, Disney World

It may be “tough to be a bug,” but it’s also no picnic getting a glute massage from an acorn weevil.

In terms of my amateur data collection, I overheard some really creepy things and saw some truly confounding shirts. Here’s the breakdown:


Continue reading

Christmas Overload: Hooray for Hollywood (Studios)

I imagine I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t: I’ve got ADHD. The condition comes with all the stereotypical symptoms–I’m hyper, I’m impulsive, I draw pictures of myself juggling eggs when I’m supposed to be paying attention in class…

Joanna Lesher juggling eggs

Exhibit A.

…but it also comes with some that are less well-known. For example, I’m easily overwhelmed. Which is why parts of Hollywood Studios were too much for me.

Imagine some lights. Now imagine some more. Imagine five million of them. Imagine they dance and change colors in time with festive Christmas songs. Imagine one of those songs is pop-punk band Less Than Jake’s Geneva-Convention-violating cover of “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas.” Imagine soap is raining from the sky. Finally, imagine all of this is happening while you’re shoulder-to-shoulder and ass-to-front with tens of thousands of other tourists, and you’ll have a fairly good grasp on the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights.

It’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. But after a few songs, I had to sit down on the ground, close my eyes and ears, and focus on something else (like how much I wanted to give Less Than Jake “nuttin'” for Christmas).

Less Than Jake, Nuttin' for Christmas

They have it coming.

It wasn’t all overwhelming, though. Most of Hollywood Studios was pretty righteous. For example…

Continue reading

Finding Religion: Epcot, Disney’s Christian Hotspot

I don’t know what it is about Epcot, but people there sure are Christian. How else to explain the five Christian pop-culture parody shirts we saw, in comparison to the zero we saw at Magic Kingdom?

You know the kind of shirts I’m talking about. If you grew up in an evangelical family, you probably wore the kind of shirts I’m talking about. The designers will use the Facebook logo, only it will say “FAITHBOOK” and ask if you’ll accept Jesus’ friend request; or they’ll use the Mountain Dew font to spell out “Jesus MEANT TO DIE for you!” (lest you think he did it on accident).



Given the popularity of The Force Awakens, perhaps it’s no surprise that the most popular Christian t-shirt at Epcot was a Star Wars parody reading: “MAY THE LORD BE WITH YOU.”


Why is Jesus Darth Vader in this picture? (fineartamerica)

Fortunately for me and my irrational distaste for matching family vacation t-shirts, there were a lot fewer of those than at Magic Kingdom. Maybe all the Jesus shirts warded them off. If that’s the case, I need to start going to church again.

Continue reading