Saturday, February 16, 2008

Book Review: “Pay Dirt” by Rita Mae Brown

Mary Minor Haristeen (Harry) is the small-town postmistress of Crozet, VA. She, along with her cat, Mrs. Murphy, and corgi, Tucker, find themselves at the center of frequent mysterious activities that have been the subjects of a long series of books. Her animals, and others in the town, talk to each other outside the understanding of the humans, which gives readers access to hilarious, and often sage, dialogue.

In this story, the appearance of a black leather-clad biker in their small Southern town marks the beginning of a series of unfortunate events. He claims to be looking for his long-lost girlfriend but ends up being murdered. His untimely death added more fodder to the town’s rumor mill, already ripe with the implications of a computer virus that would reportedly target the local businesses on a future date. When a bank audit reveals missing money, and a local love triangle involves one of the bank’s officials, tongues wag about whether the events are all connected. After several more murders, the town is reeling and would never guess who is the cause of it all.

My Thoughts
This series is good light reading. Predictably entertaining but not a real mind stretcher. Probably wouldn’t be pleasing to lovers of literary classics. It falls into the category of “animal mysteries,” not unlike the books of Lillian Jackson Braun.

Favorite Lines
1. Dog to cat when seeing the male subject of the love triangle after a particularly ugly spat: “He looks like Death eating a cracker.”

2. Dog and cat discussing Harry, who is being taken out to dinner by two likable suitors:
Dog: “How do you like that?” He watched the red taillights disappear.
Cat: “I like it a lot… I want someone in mom’s life who makes her life easier. Love shouldn’t feel like a job.”

Automation Nation

I would like to know who decided that humans are completely lazy and don't need human contact. I recently returned from some traveling and am stunned at the automation that is now forced upon us everywhere we turn. As you drive to your destination, you can zoom through toll booths if you have the EZ Pass or something similar. When you arrive at the airport, you swipe your credit card to receive your boarding pass. An agent only helps if you are too dumb to know how to do this. If you have personal needs to attend to, you head for the airport bathroom. Of course, you don't have to exert any energy because you can take a moving walkway right up to the door. After you lock your stall, you can push a button and the "sani-seal" will encircle your toilet seat. If you flinch, or stand to pull up your britches, the toilet will automatically flush. (Very startling indeed if it happens while you are still seated.) When you go to wash your hands, you wave your hand under a spout for soap. Then you wave your hand under another spout for water, which is exactly the right temperature and runs for the appropriate amount of time. Then you wave your hand under a paper towel dispenser and the proper amount of absorbent material pops out. You do have to throw it away on your own. (Hotels also have these fully automated bathrooms available to the public.) If you are lucky, you won't have to open many doors on your own because the good old electronic eye anticipates you coming and wallah! The door slides open. If you need any items at a big-box store, you can go through the self-checkout aisles and avoid the bag boys. There are vending machines now for everything imaginable -- even IPods! Be careful, people, or we're going to turn into a species of idiots.
PS -- For those of you in my era, you'll recognize the picture of Rosie from the Jetsons.