Sunday, 3 April 2016

Barb Taub: Why Everything Is A Mess


So, Barb Taub has this new book out on April 7th.  Before we get to the stuff in the title that made you click on the tweet (and it's worth waiting for!), I need to tell you about the next part of Barb's urban fantasy series ~ I've read one of them, Don't Touch (my review is HERE) and it was one of the funniest books I'd read in ages.  I mean, funny.  Anyone who's read her blog will know what I mean... oh, and if you want to read the piece she did for my last year's astrology series, it's HERE .  Many declared it the most entertaining (and it was certainly one of the most viewed) of the feature's 50-odd posts :)


Barb's NULL CITY series starts with One Way Fare which you can find HERE on Amazon UK or HERE on Amazon.com (more reviews!).  Round Trip Fare is available for pre-order on Amazon UK and  Amazon.com

That's all the linky stuff ~ now sit back and let Barb tell you....

 

Why everything is a mess


"Terry Tyler asked me to do a little guest post about my new book, Round Trip Fare. I wondered if she had forgotten about my last “little” guest post (which was only about five times as long as what she’d requested.)

She repeated the word “little” several times, occasionally embellishing it with “small” and even (because I live in Scotland now) “wee”. Nope, she hasn’t forgotten.

But sadly, I wasn’t really paying attention just at that point because I was listening to a radio call in show from America and the theme was “What would you ask a presidential candidate?” 

At first, there were the usual things any responsible voter would want to know about their candidate:

·     If you had to downsize and sell off one state to fund Social Security, which would it be? (I’m pretty sure nobody is using Idaho right now…)

·     Shouldn’t all presidential candidates be required to submit their hand measurements?

·     Do you have contingency plans during the zombie apocalypse so we won’t miss any episodes of Walking Dead?


Then came the real, most heartfelt plea of all. “Why is everything such a mess?” 

Actually, I know this one. Everything is a mess because of three things. (Four, if Donald Trump is elected and the entire Democratic Party plus most of Texas moves to Canada before Canada builds The Wall.) 

Thing one. Everything is a mess because of history. 

“If all the economists were laid end to end, they'd never reach a conclusion.” —George Bernard Shaw 

Before we had history, things were great. The universe big banged and we got our stars and planetary formations.

 This was the Dawn of Time. 


Life evolved out of the primordial soup and went looking for the primordial oyster cracker. Eons passed without a single recession. Oh sure, at primordial cocktail parties there were always those kvetching about the good old days when they had gills, and what the newer organisms were evolving into. But nobody ever mentioned inflation, mortgage rates, or health care costs."



"Then disaster struck. A few Neanderthals stopped walking on their opposable thumbs and started using them to draw pictures on their caves. Since they had very short attention spans, the cave artists mostly drew pictures of the animals they wanted to eat so that the cave hunters wouldn’t club a tree or rock for dinner. 

This was the Dawn of History
(It was also the Dawn of Shopping Lists.)



In exchange for drawing the animals, the cave-artists were given respect, power, and a fillet of mastodon mignon. But then a cave-artist (who we’ll call Milton) drew something different one day. The other Neanderthals in Milton’s cave gathered around to find out what they were supposed to hunt that day. “Don’t remember ever seeing an animal like that,” they complained. “It looks more like a… a… A SUPPLY AND DEMAND CURVE!” 

This was the Dawn of Economics. 


They ran to the next cave where the hunters had just dragged in a fresh mastodon. “Listen to this,” yelled the cave-economists, launching into a detailed economic forecast. When the cave-neighbors looked down again, half of their mastodon was gone. “The invisible hand took it,” explained Milton.

Soon the invisible hand was grabbing part of the daily hunt everywhere Milton’s group went. Cave-neighbors began to trade each other their extra mastodons so they would always have some for the invisible hand. 

This was the Dawn of Markets. 

But the cave-neighbors began to be terrified of the cave-economists. They hid from them, especially at dinner time. 

This was the Dawn of Civilization. 

Thing two. Everything is a mess because of the economy, Stupid. 

Ask five economists and you'll get five different answers - six if one went to Harvard.” —Edgar Fiedler 

The mastodons became extinct, but the economists became PhDs. They split into rival sects that roamed the land, terrorizing cave dwellers by demanding government grants and sabbaticals in exchange for their mystical formulae and incantations for controlling the invisible hand.

Eventually, the roving bands of marauding economists were rounded up and put into tall ivory towers, where they passed down their craft from generation to generation, isolated from infecting the general population except during election years. 

This was the Dawn of Higher Education. 

Thing three. Everything is a mess because of the government.

Give me a one-handed economist! All my economics say, ''On the one hand? on the other.''Harry S. Truman 

The Government tried to use some of the economists’ spells. But instead of getting the invisible hand to cooperate, each new spell only seemed to make the Government grow bigger. Every election year, the Government would complain that it needed to go on a diet. Then after the election, it would take a nap and just end up letting the seams out on the budget again.

I hope that answers the caller’s original question. (You’re not going to eat the rest of that mastodon, are you? What mastodon? Damn invisible hand…)

Oh, and about my new book. It’s really great. You should read it. (And don’t worry—if Trump is elected, a translation will be available in Canada. You betcha, eh!)"

About Barb:
In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humour column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she's lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled Aussie Dog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them travelling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American. 


Extract from Round Trip Fare:

Four more rights took her in a circle around her block before a quick turn into her garage. Most of the other Craftsman cottages in her neighborhood near the University of Washington—affectionately known to locals as U-Dub—had carports. But if the walk-in closets and remodeled baths had sold Marley, the garage had been her selling point. She thumbed the finger scanner on the garage door opener, and the door rolled open as she pulled into the driveway. As the steel-reinforced automatic door closed behind her, she stepped over to a wall-mounted cabinet that had started life in the kitchen. The scuffed avocado doors hid state of the art monitors showing video feeds covering all angles around the property.

Normally, she would have watched for longer, but she had her jeep’s upholstery to consider. After an all-clear glance at the monitors, she opened the inside door leading to the laundry room and hallway. Originally, this had been the kitchen, until a previous owner added a bright kitchen onto the back wall where it could face the garden. As soon as the door opened, Bain leaped into the garage, greeting her with the desperate all-body wag of an Aussie separated from his human for any stretch of time exceeding sixty seconds. Dog at her heels, she came around to the passenger side and opened the door. The muzzle of the gun pointing directly at her forehead was rock steady.

“Okay, Rambo. You have three choices. You can shoot me for rescuing you. You can say please excuse my bad manners and would you mind holding this gun for me? Or—and this my personal favorite—we can both stay right here while you bleed out, and then I’ll get back in this car and dump your sorry bloody ass back with those three losers at Post Alley. What’ll it be?”

She heard a chuckle that sounded way too close to a gasp for her taste, and the gun was lowered. Dark eyes considered her for a moment and then closed.

It took longer than she would have liked to haul him into the house. Marley had left a pile of clean towels near the door leading from the garage to the house. Sometimes it’s useful to have a roommate who knows you that well…After lining their less-than-hygienic wheelbarrow with the towels, Carey stepped closer to Iax and put her fingers to his neck again. He might have passed out, but at least he was still breathing. She brushed his hair away from his face and softly said, “I’m sorry, big guy. But there just isn’t any dignified way to do this.”

“D’wha…?” he muttered.

Positioning the wheelbarrow next to the jeep, she rolled him out and down. He landed hard, and she winced at his groan. Folding his arms and legs into the barrow, she backed it into the house.

“Welcome fun seekers. We thank you for joining this evening’s tour. As a reminder, passengers are requested to keep arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. To your right, I’d like to draw your attention to the bedrooms which you will not be entering. The one that looks like it’s channeling Martha Stewart’s teal period belongs to my roommate. There are matching cushions she calls throw pillows. Apparently, that’s because she throws them at my head when I make fun of them. Next we have my room, which she says looks like the trailer park after the tornado. That from the woman who deliberately commits throw pillows with fringe. And tassels.” She shuddered.

“Next we have my roommate’s bathroom which we will not be going into even though it’s bigger than mine and scary clean. But she’s kind of got this judgey hangup about strangers bleeding in her personal space, so we’ll proceed along the hallway and to our final tour stop, a little hotspot the locals call Hell’s Kitchen, at least on nights I’m doing the cooking and my roommate hasn’t hidden my Texas Revenge Habanero Sauce. Again… Please remain in the vehicle until the ride has come to a complete stop. Thank you for touring with us today, and if your future plans include getting shot and bleeding like a stuck pig, we encourage you NOT to consider the Carey express.”

She noticed his eyes were open and staring at her in amazement. His voice was barely a whisper. “Am I in…wheelbarrow?”

“Oh good. You’re awake. If you knew me better, you wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to hear it’s not the first time our wheelbarrow has been used as a gurney. But don’t worry about making a mess—we never liked the linoleum here in the kitchen anyway. So I’m just going to take off your clothes, scrub you down, slap some bandages on you, and then, if you don’t mind staying awake just a little bit longer, torture you until I get some bloody idea of why you have my brother’s photo. Nothing personal, you understand.”

One side of his mouth quirked slightly. “Nothing…personal.”

“Much better!” Her tone was admiring. “You sounded almost human. Just keep that up, and we’ll have you screaming in agony in no time.” Her hands were busy, gently pulling away his coat and then unbuttoning his shirt.

His voice was a whisper, but that mouth quirked again. “Does Kurt Jeffers know you treat his friends like this?”

“Di-rec-tor.” She peeled the shirt away and began dabbing at the blood on his chest with a warm wet towel. “Why don’t you people get that his first name is Director? I don’t want to hear any more of this ‘Kurt’ crap.” Wiping revealed a deep slash straight across his chest and a deeper puncture to the outer muscle of his left shoulder, both still bleeding sluggishly. She paused thoughtfully when the towel uncovered still more blood seeping from what looked like a recently stitched knife wound high on the same shoulder. Her eyes met his, but she just shifted the towel up to blot that as well.

“So, Rambo. Good news is that this unbelievable tattoo that covers half your neck and chest, one arm, and—although I’m very sad to say I can’t see it—your probably very excellent backside is just fine. The bad news is the rest will need to be stitched, and I’m guessing that lovely little knife wound you brought to the party will need new stitches too. Are you one of those he-men who will pull the needle through using your own teeth, or would you prefer to have me do it?”

“Starting…torture?” he managed faintly.

“Yeah, that’s it.” She stepped away to throw the towel into a bucket, and moved to the sink to wash her hands thoroughly, raising her voice over the sound of the running water. “I figure if I start at your shoulder, the closer I get to your groin, the more you’ll want to tell me everything.”

“Maybe…like your…hands…down there.”

She turned from the sink to give him a searching look. “Maybe you’d like something for the pain first?”

He moved his head in an infinitesimal negative. “Stay…awake. Might find…us. Protect you.”

She was loading a tray with items from a cabinet that looked more like a medical clinic than a medicine chest, so she didn’t even look up. “Yeah, that’s a plan. Because you’re in such good shape for defense right now. I feel safer already.”

Next to the wheelbarrow, she set down what looked like a large footstool. 

Pushing a button, she stepped back as it unfolded and inflated itself to form a full-sized bed that took up most of the available floor space. “I just never get tired of seeing that one.” She gave the bed an admiring pat before covering it with several disposable surgical pads.

One hand brushed his hair off his forehead again while her eyes looked straight into his. “Sorry, Rambo.” The other pushed the tiny needle into his arm. “Good night.” His hand clamped her wrist, and they stared into each other’s eyes for a heartbeat until his hand and his eyelids dropped.

“I hate to tell you, big guy…” She tipped the wheelbarrow until he rolled bonelessly onto the mattress. “I never got my merit badge in stitchery. At least I’m fast. We should have you nicely sewn up by the time Claire’s magic sleepy-maker wears off.” She brought over the prepared tray of antiseptic, swabs, and bandages, tearing open a box of sterile pre-threaded sutures. With a final check of his pulse, she pulled on surgical gloves, and got to work.











11 comments:

  1. Terry, Thanks so much for having me as guest today. I love your graphics, esp. the Primordial Soup! Rosie might even read it to the end.

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  2. THe usual hilarious, amazing and brilliant post from Barb!

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  3. Great post - a laugh and a good read!! What more can anyone ask of a post.Thanks both.Jx

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  4. Replies
    1. Glad y'all liked it - really made me larf!

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  5. Linda Stauffer4 April 2016 at 12:49

    I loved this excerpt from "Round Trip Fare," Terry Tyler. Thank you for posting it. I'm going to have to add it to my books to read.
    It did startle my dog from her nap though, when I broke out laughing. She's still glaring at me.

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    1. Ha ha! Thanks for reading, Linda :)

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  6. Good piece, Barb. I enjoyed the excerpt from your book. :) ---- Suzanne

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  7. Thanks, Terry, for having Barb as a guest. :) ---- Suzanne

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