Impending Greatness

I’ve been reading blogs for a while now, and if one thing has become clear to me it’s that starting a blog is the first step on the road to greatness. Given that this blog has been up for over a week, and this is my third post, I’m expecting to have a best-selling book in a matter of days. Three weeks, tops.

Don’t believe me? Allow me to elucidate the many ways in which I am similar to other bloggers turned best-selling authors.

Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess)

  • Incredibly snarky sense of humor. Check.
  • Propensity for swearing inappropriately. Check.
  • Grew up in rural West Texas. I grew up in suburban Southwest Denver. I’m going to count it.
  • Struggles with anxiety and depression. Check.
  • Vast collection of creepily taxidermied animals. No, but nobody’s perfect.
  • Fascination with vaginas. Best not to comment on that one.

Wil Wheaton (

  • Huge sci-fi nerd. Check.
  • Semi-professional actor who is less successful than his talent warrants. Check. (No really. I was paid to act on at least two separate occasions.)
  • Super awesome facial hair. Check.
  • Has met Felicia Day. No, but not from lack of trying.

Pamela Ribon (aka

  • Okay, so I don’t really have anything in common with Pamie (though I am a fan of roller derby) but I still feel kind of bad for being disappointed by her latest novel, so I’m taking every opportunity I can to compliment her. (I guess I’m assuming that being on this list will be taken as a compliment. It’s certainly intended that way.)
  • This is the lamest bulleted list. Ever. I’m pretty sure that’s the sign of a great blogger. It’s ironic, people. Look it up. (Check.)

I could go on and list lots of other bloggers with whom I share many important commonalities (where “lots” means “zero”), but I have to go back to refreshing my inbox.

I’m expecting an email from a publisher.

Book Review: You Take it From Here by Pamela Ribon

You Take it From Here by Pamela Ribon.

Warning: There are some minor spoilers in this review (See Disclaimers, Section Three). Review continues after the fold.

TL;DR: Disappointing compared to Ribon’s other books, but still very well written. Recommended for those who enjoy dysfunctional friendships and crying.








I’ve been a fan of Pamela Ribon (aka for several years. I’ve read her blog religiously since around 2003 or so. I haven’t taken the time to go back through her archives and I wasn’t around in the TWOP or Squishy days. But I feel like my fandom is pretty well established.

I love the way she writes and I love her sense of humor and I kinda have an internet-semi-celebrity crush on her.

I’ve read and really enjoyed Ribon’s three other novels. I can earnestly recommend them to just about anyone who likes to read. All of this explains why I pre-ordered You Take it From Here months in advance and was eager to consume it.

It really bummed me out that I didn’t like it more than I did. Pamie’s writing is, as always, crisp and accessible. She often makes me laugh out loud while reading. (And not in that instant messenger “I’m gonna say ‘lol’ but no sound is coming out of my mouth” kind of way. I mean sitting alone in my house at 11pm laughing. Out loud.)

I wanted very badly to like this book. But in the end I couldn’t.

This book is principally about a relationship. The narrator, Danielle, and Smidge have been best friends since they were fourteen. When Smidge gets terminal cancer, she asks Danielle to take over her life, stepping into the role of mother for her teenage daughter and wife to her widowed husband. The idea at the heart of the book is a good one. It’s a premise that is at once absurd enough to be entertaining and realistic enough to be compelling: that a friendship could be so powerful that it could cause the someone to completely uproot her life. That’s a beautiful idea, and one that resonates with me.

So what went wrong?

It’s Smidge. I didn’t … couldn’t … like her.

I know that Smidge has some real-life inspirations. Pamie has written about her, as she calls them, “bossy friends” enough times, and she’s always done so with good humor and love. They are women who I’ve never met, but from the obvious affection that Pamie puts on the page (err … blog) I would like to. But in You Take it From Here their fictional surrogate, Smidge, is so pushy, needy and demanding that she elicits no sympathy in me. Much of her bad behavior is motivated from a desire to maintain control while her life is, literally, falling apart. I get that. But she has no caring, generous side to counter-balance that behavior, or if she does it never appears on the page. Danielle tells us over and over how lovable Smidge is, but in the face of her behavior I just couldn’t believe it.

What’s worse is that once I realized I didn’t like Smidge, I started to not like Danielle either. Our narrator allows herself to be pushed around in egregious fashion by someone who obviously views friendship as a one-way street. This eventually caused me to lose respect and affection for Danielle.

Secondary characters like Tucker and Smidge’s husband and daughter are more sympathetic and engaging, but they are just that: secondary. Their humanizing influences from the margins were not enough to draw me back into the story.

I hate being so critical about an author who I really like and admire. Don’t imagine for a moment that this (to me) misstep will diminish my love for Ribon’s work. I’m probably going to go back and re-read Why Girls Are Weird for the fourth time, just to rediscover that affection. It is only because my expectations were so high that I was so disappointed.

I hope you’re not mad at me, Pamie. I promise to buy two copies of your next book. 🙂

Origin Story

So, what’s up with the name of this blog, you ask? Well, pull up a chair and let me tell you a story.

Many years ago, I worked for a time at a company that was a subsidiary of an Israeli company. At one point I found myself working on a project that integrated some of our local code with code from the home office in Tel Aviv. I don’t remember a whole bunch about the project, except that it went poorly and was perpetually behind schedule. The main programmer in Israel and I exchanged many frustrated emails typified by our inability to communicate effectively. The language barrier was a palbable, living thing; a great wall that stood between us and understanding.

Finally, one night, in a desperate effort to move things forward, I stayed at the office really, really late so that we could talk on the phone. I don’t remember how late exactly, but it was a serious inconvenience for me. As far as I can remember part of the conversation went down like this:

Me: Okay, I understand that there’s a problem. Can you tell me what the error message says, exactly, so that I can debug it?

Him: No is workee. Your code is suck.

Me: Huh.

… and scene.

(Quick note: It is not my intent to mock anyone for whom English is a second language. It’s more to acknowledge that language difference occasionally give rise to funny moments. Heck, he spoke at least some English. I spoke no Hebrew. Then again, I don’t get super warm fuzzies towards this guy either, because, no matter how poorly we communicated, it was clear that he was deliberately trying to insult me, or at least my code.)

As I recall I took a couple of deep breaths and tried again. In the end we got it to work, and I don’t really remember whose code was at fault. It certainly could have been mine, though I like to believe that my code generally is not suck.

Through the years since I’ve told this story to many of my co-workers and programmer type friends. Back when I was part of a two-man consulting business, we used to tease each other with the phrase all the time. People have even told me I should get t-shirts made. (If you agree, let me know. I just might do it. I gotta save for retirement somehow, you know.)

Just recently, when I finally decided to get off my butt and start writing a blog, of all the names that I came up with, was the one that stuck. (Though “Crateful of Charientisms” will always hold a special place in my heart.)

So, welcome to my humble blog. I hope you like it. It will not all be about programming and computer things, but I am a huge nerd, so expect some nerding out.