Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lloyd Price Just Because Rare Specialty Records Cut.wmv

Lloyd Price Just Because Rare Specialty Records Cut.wmv

This song is a very rare thing in terms of the melody.  In almost every single song that you may hear, the melody ascends and descends within the bar.  This song starts at the top and descends all the way.

Besides that, it's just a great song.  "Made in New Orleans" is always a good recommendation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Monolith Monsters" Intro

Much in the news these days, meteors are popping up all over.  Here's a nice primer on the subject. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Black History Month: The Bedford Incident

To paraphrase the State of the Union Address, "the state of black America is still pretty miserable."  The current situation of race relations, far from being "post-racial," is still rife with prejudice, misunderstanding, and irrational fear.  Post-racial, my ass.  Small steps are still being taken though, as they have been for a long time.

Some of these small steps have occurred in the entertainment community, mostly in the areas of the music and the movie businesses.  One of these small steps was "The Bedford Incident."  (Put the bedford incident in the word search for my original post to see a more complete description of the movie.)

(NEXT DAY NOTE: I left out sports.  I write these things quickly, but upon reflection maybe I was right to leave it out.  The small brotherhoods were more heartfelt, I think, in music, and in the movies, like this "Bedford" thing, they were more like intellectual challenges, gauntlets thrown where safety could have prevailed .  I recall the integration of sports as being accomplished grudgingly, not so much like a step forward as a realization that a step needed to be taken.  Okay, back to the show.)  

Sidney Poitier was cast as a photographer "embedded" with an American destroyer crew on patrol in Arctic waters, tracking Russian submarines.  The great thing about this casting is that there is nothing at all about his character that is race-specific.  No mention of, not even a hint of his blackness.  I'm sure that the script was written assuming that a white actor would play the part, and then no changes at all were made to the script after Mr. Poitier was cast in the role.  This was pretty remarkable in my opinion.

It gave American viewers, at a critical point in race relations (1965), a chance to see a black man accepted as a high-level and successful professional photographer in a very natural way, to see him interact with the crew as an equal, with no discomfort attributable to his race.  Now we might take this for granted, but if we do I believe it owes to the debt we have to brave people who made casting choices like this when it was not easy to do so.

Keep taking those baby steps, America.  "A journey of a hundred miles . . ." you know, the first steps thing.  


Saturday, February 16, 2013

“Ekskyooz Mee, I Haev A Cawf”

Something called the English Spelling Society recently came to my attention. Its existence was in no way a surprise, English is famously difficult to spell and efforts to regularize and simplify English spelling have been on low simmer for hundreds of years, coming occasionally to a boil. The secretary was complaining about the difficulties posed to students of English, both the natives and the newcomers, by the intricacies of English spelling. It made me wonder if there were not more mischief in such an effort than its adherents realize.

There are certainly many languages where the spelling of words, and the treatment of the alphabet in general, are more regular and comforting than they are in English (Spanish and German come to mind), but there are many others where the irregularity and confusion equal or even surpass English (French and Polish). Others still are completely impossible (Chinese). The society suggests that we regularize English spelling? Well, where does one start? Or stop?

Why not clean up all of the other languages too, all at once?  God knows, spelling strange languages in the a/b/c's is not always easy, it's not always a good fit. 

For instance, I had a high school friend named Eddie, and it was always fun to watch adults try to say his family name. I won’t even try to spell it, his name was “kahz-mahs-ski.” The family had been in town for generations, and we all knew how to say it. First time readers would stare at the name though, making a face that looked like they were trying to extract the cube root of a three digit number by mental effort alone. “Kuzah-cheski?” We were all quite amused, we took English spelling for granted by found comedy gold in Polish spelling.

That’s what happens when a language from one linguistic tradition is married to an alphabet from another.  So, are we having fun yet? 


Speaking Of The Alphabet

The alphabet used by English is part of the problem, although I’ve never known of anyone suggesting that it be modified to better suit the purpose. The Phoenician Alphabet (or the Roman, for you cultural imperialists out there) contains only five vowels, unless you count the “y,” which the Romans, and later the Germans, did not. These five vowels are made to represent the twenty or so discrete vowel sounds employed by English, and that’s before you even consider the diphthongs.

One of the things that I like about the Thai alphabet, for instance, is that it has letters for each of the twenty-plus vowel sounds in Thai. The Thai alphabet in general is a less than perfectly reassuring companion, but at least all of the vowel sounds are represented, and at least, let’s face it, there is an alphabet in the first place. I thanked God sincerely for its very existence. Even with its many mysteries, you could internalize it in six weeks or so. Not like that infernal puzzle that is Chinese. Not that Chinese isn’t a beautiful language, ancient traditions of literary and philosophical excellence clearly attest to the fact that it is. But it must be said that learning to read Chinese is a most daunting prospect.

That’s the thing though, we should take languages as we find them. If anyone is suggesting that the Chinese adopt a phonetic alphabet to make it easier to learn Chinese, I haven’t heard about it. And why should they? There are a billion and a half of them, and most of them are already familiar with the 5,000 Kanji.

Why should the Chinese language, or English, take administrative steps to make the languages easier to learn? Tens of millions of people are learning one or the other right now, with great success, so obviously it can be done.


Who Will Be In Charge?

Perhaps the English Spelling Society would like to nominate themselves to be in charge of the effort to improve English spelling. Who would you trust to do it? Isn’t that a good question? Which great minds would be set to this task? How would the committee be composed?

And which of the currently licensed versions of English would serve as the basis of the effort? There are six or more countries in the world in which English is the virtually exclusive native language: The United States; Canada; The Republic of Ireland; Great Britain; Australia; and New Zealand. Am I forgetting somewhere? There are also many countries or regions in which English is spoken widely as either a second native language or a “bridge” language to cover the differences among the speakers of many regional native languages (India and Scandinavia).

Whose English reigns supreme? I think that the Canadians would get my vote as the most neutral and understandable English, actually.

There is already tension in the world’s language learning community about who owns World English, the British or the Americans. The British argument is that they are the English people and that it is the English language after all. The American argument is that American culture is ascendant in all of the far flung corners of the earth, including England. (See “Our Debt To The English,” years ago on this blog.) I’m still going with Canada.


What Should Be Changed?

Just the spelling? Should it be more like the title of this post? To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, "The Tuff Cawfed As He Plaowed The Doh."  If the effort is to make English easier to learn, why stop there?

(Sarcasm Alert!)

Why not change the alphabet, as suggested above? The “a” is clearly insufficient to render the many sounds ascribed to it, as are the other vowels.

Why not change the grammar too while we’re at it? English grammar is a ridiculous imposition on the patience of its students. Most languages take the subject-verb-object approach, and English also follows this pattern. Most such languages, however, hold that a simple subject-verb-object makes a good sentence. Like, “I go market.” Three words. English requires six to do the same thing, “I am going to the market.” English grammar complicates everything. Most languages eliminate articles all together; they keep their reliance on prepositions to a minimum; they keep verb conjugations simple, if they have them at all; most languages value simplicity. Why shouldn’t English follow their lead? It would indisputably make English easier to learn.

Why not simplify the vocabulary too? The vocabulary of English is ridiculously vast. There’s so much duplication, and so many fine variations on similar themes, surely something could be done to lighten the learner’s task. Notice that at some point all of this becomes linguistic fascism, like Newspeak, with its “good; plus-good; double-plus-good.”


Why Not, Indeed?

There is no need to make the proposed changes to English spelling, and even less need than that regarding my hyperbolic suggestions. English is a wonderful and eminently useful language the way that it stands. It is a wonderfully expressive language, lending itself to all manner of artistic applications; it is wonderfully descriptive, lending itself to the purposes of business and science; it is very subtle, making it very practical for political and legal applications.

I believe that English is the most fully formed and useful language in the world. I also believe that, taken as a whole and with reference to the other languages with claims to usefulness, English is relatively easy to learn.

Languages all follow a normative process of development. These processes are ongoing; English is in the midst of its development, probably its development into the pre-eminent language of the world. This is not happening because it is the “American language,” and certainly not because it is the “British language.” I believe that it is happening because it offers the greatest flexibility to its users, the greatest power to explain things, the greatest power to understand. So let English progress on a trajectory of its own choosing, let it develop on its own.

Learners of English, in my experience, are not crying out for mercy regarding English spelling, as are, I would imagine, many students of Chinese. If anything, students of English complain about the grammar. We’ll be keeping that however, grammar helps with the transmission of complex ideas.

So why don’t we just let the whole thing ride? Don’t we have more pressing problems to deal with? Like the nonsense that passes for pizza these days?

Monday, February 11, 2013

ray barretto - acid

Sure, I loved that English Invasion stuff, but even in the Sixties my listening wasn't lily white.  James Brown; Stax-Volt-Enterprise; WWRL (The Weekend Spooktacular!); even a little Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery.  In the Seventies I branched out a little bit further, and broke a linguistic barrier. 

These Newyorican cats were so out there, I mean it was shocking.  Nobody has as much fun as them, nobody partied like them.  If you could get yourself into this club you were into the zone of the really, really happening. 

This is a great album by the way, all the way through.  Stretch out!

Manfred Mann - Sha La La (Shindig! 1964)

Another English Invasion band covering Brill Building tunes, and doing a good job of it too.  And, another English band where the singer (Paul Jones) left for greener pastures only to be rapidly forgotten while the band went on to have a "second" career without him.

Manfred Mann is also another English band that could really play, and another English band whose albums are treasures, every cut. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Behold, The ARGUS-IS

There’s a new spy camera on the block. The above image is an example of the work of the new Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System, the ARGUS-IS. It’s a product of research funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA. It has a viewing capacity of 1.8 gigapixels. One day of use will produce files totaling about six petabytes. (One petabyte equals one thousand terabytes.)

The camera is highly computerized. Flying at 20,000 feet it can cover an area of about twelve square miles, separately tracking all of the vehicles and pedestrians in its field. I’m sure that facial recognition software is not far behind.

This really set me thinking.

Right now our National Security Apparatus (usually referred to simply as “them”) is listening to a huge volume of cell phone calls (usually described as “all of them”) and reading a huge volume of e-mails (see usual description of the cell phone collection). The collection, storage and analysis of this vast amount of data has caused huge spikes in American security budgets.

The system is under stress already. The NSA is currently building a very big new facility called the Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. It will have about 100,000 square feet of storage servers. Additional facilities are already planned. So the question is, with new technologies like the ARGUS-IS coming on line, what will be required to handle the colossal amounts of new data to be stored and analyzed? More importantly, where will the money come from?


The Real Entitlement Problem

I had a dream after reading about the ARGUS-IS that someday soon we won’t have any money left for anything else but surveillance in particular and for security in general. This, to me, is the real entitlement problem, that the military and the other security apparatus of America are somehow “entitled” to as much money as they say that they need. That simply outlining a problem and requesting money will always result in their being given everything that they ask for.

It was a post-apocalyptic dream where a 1984 style fascist regime (“INGSOC” in the book) had reduced its agenda to protecting us from threats that only the government could designate and define. The population had been reduced to poverty and a mean existence without financial, medical or food security. There would be, of course, a substantial elite that lived pretty well, fiction and non-fiction agree that there will always be a substantial elite. For most people, the only security left would be security against the perceived threat. A threat that would probably be totally imaginary, a threat manufactured by the security apparatus to justify the spending and the oppression.

So, the ARGUS-IS. Let’s see where all of this goes. Whatever comes of it, I suppose it will be interesting. I have a hunch that most of the intelligence generated will be in this vein:

“Mr. Bill Smith left the residence where he is the registered owner at 10:17 a.m. He drove 1.4 miles to the Vons Supermarket in the Villa Marina Shopping Center. He parked in the parking lot and entered the store. He emerged 43 minutes later at 11:15 a.m., pushing a shopping cart. He placed between six and ten bags in the trunk of the car (contents unknown). He returned to his home at 11:22 a.m. It is believed that all of the bags placed in the trunk were transferred to the house.”



The Exciters "He's got the power"

Live version; decent video quality; good sound. 

I can't believe that all of this is available free and at-your-fingertips, all day every day.  It's a dream of avarice.  It makes the Twentieth-Century almost worth living in. 

EXCITERS - He's got the Power (1963)

What a cooking back-track.  Great vocals too, and the gang looked great for the shoot.  I love this music.  Why, it's almost a reason to live. 

She's Got the Power

Many of these English Invasion groups covered New York soul records, and some of them did a damn fine job too.  This was originally by the Exciters (see above).  Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders were one of the English groups that could really play, their "Game of Love" album is front to back totally outstanding.  (This is a cut from the album.)

Boy, it wasn't easy to find this on the 'Tube.  First, I thought the title was "Power of Love," but that turns out to be another (lame) song altogether.  Then I got the brainstorm to put a couple of lines of the lyrics in the Google, that worked great.  Back to YouTube, "He's Got the Power" just showed the Exciters, until I actually added "Wayne."  To be fair, the Wayne version is "She's Got the Power," which didn't occur to me at all.  But I love it when a plan comes together.  All's well that ends well. 

Translation By Bing

When my Thai friends post something on Facebook they very often add the option of seeing a translation by "Bing."  I recommend reading these, it's some of the funniest shit on the Internet.

For instance, a post by a student of mine was translated as follows:

"See deity blessing wanting back to the wild child.  Life teen age working excessively cruel repairman."

I am a lazy student, and although I can get around pretty well on a daily basis speaking Thai my reading comprehension is very limited.  And, I do not readily leap at opportunities to spend fifteen minutes with my dictionaries.  Luckily, my student chimed in quickly and told me what she had actually said, as follows:

"I'm watching a Thai drama (soap-opera) on Channel 3 and it makes me want to be a child again.  Being a teenager and a working woman is so cruel."  

Makes a lot more sense when she explains it.  So translation by Bing is still an inexact science.

This is an opportunity for all of you entrepreneurs out there!  Internet translation software!  Just borrow some money from mom and dad and start an internet translation company!  The need is there, the market is there, and Bing sure isn't up to it. 

Django Django - Default (Official Video)

These guys are pretty good.  From Scotland.  Not going to change the world, but at least they have a proper respect for reverb. 

I came across a review of their album in a house magazine for a hotel around the corner from me while I was waiting for my take-out pizza from the hotel restaurant.  Okay, I'm glad to have heard it. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kim Jong Un Is Now In Charge Of Looking At Things In PDR Korea



Some people consider me to be fairly intelligent, and honestly I join with them in considering myself to be so endowed.  But I can be a bit slow people, slow I tell you, slow.  

http://kimjongunlookingatthings.tumblr.com/

There was Kim Il Sung, the Great Leader, followed by Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, and now we have Kim Jong Un, I don't know what they call him, maybe the "New Leader."  This is the new site devoted to pictures of him looking at things.  

It does make sense that "Kim Jong Il Looking At Things" is moribund, after all the man has been dead for years.  There were so many pictures of him looking at things that the site was still posting new ones up to about a month or so ago.  Today, finally, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, the site-masters had moved on and that by now there might be a wealth of pictures of Kim Jong Un, the new boss, looking at things in the same propagandistic manner that his dad had looked at things for so many years, on such a frighteningly regular basis.  

So let's see what Junior's style is.  And let's see if the lackeys are as obviously terrified of him as they were of his dad.  It's all fun, all the time in North Korea.  As long as you don't have to live there. 

The Spencer Davis Group - Looking Back - U.S Release only. Mods john may...

Okay, maybe the 'Tube does have ALMOST everything (see my mild complaining in the post below).  This song was never a hit, I'd be surprised if it had ever really been released in America (the record in the picture is a promo).

I have this song on the soundtrack album for "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Tree," a slightly obscure movie from 1966 or so.  Great, great cut. 

Wayne Fontana And The Mindbenders - Just A Little Bit Too Late

I started out looking for "The Jaguar and the Thunderbird" by these guys.  (A Chuck Berry song, covered on their "Game of Love" album.)  Didn't find it by them, although there was a version by the Troggs.  I never expected that. It wasn't very good, but it was an odd thing to come across, I enjoyed it.  Didn't find the great version by Wayne and the boys though.  Evidently not every single thing is up on the 'Tube yet.

"Just A Little Bit" is a good tune though, and it illustrates a point:  these guys could really set up and play.  This is a tricky song, and they nail it.  Good clocks all around, very good time keeping.  Always interesting too, "Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders."  It was Wayne who dumped the band to increase his chances at the big money, and yet it was the band, working as "The Mindbenders" whose careers stretched out for a few more years with a hit or two.  Wayne disappeared. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Preface To A Memoir

I get tired very quickly of “I.” Even on this, my blog. I try to keep the incidence of the first personal pronoun to a minimum. So the whole question of memoir writing is problematic for me. I’m just not wild about the “I, I, I” thing, even if the “I” is someone else, and I positively disapprove of the “I! I! I!” thing. I wonder though, if “I? I? I?” could be more interesting.

A big part of my chosen profession was counseling, giving people legal advice. The advice that I gave other people was always much better than the advice that I sometimes gave myself. I advised myself to go to law school, for instance, and that turned out to be terrible advice. I’ve never had clear ideas about things like: what should I do? Where is my best interest? Who am I? I can see other people’s problems quite clearly. My own? Not so much.

That being the case, if my advice to myself is not to write a memoir, perhaps it would be a good idea to do so. How would I know?


Writing Focuses The Mind

There’s another way to look at memoir writing. In my current incarnation I am a university lecturer and I freely offer advice to my students. Not about career choices, I don’t have much of a license to talk about that. I’m very comfortable, however, talking about good study habits and how to prepare for important tests. About the former, I have a wealth of experience as both a very bad and a very good student, I’ve seen that one from both sides and I know what is required. About the later, as an adult I formulated, practiced and benefited from techniques that made me a great test-taker.

The key to both things is the same: study with your pen.

In my opinion, it is impossible to master complex material simply by listening to lectures, reading the material, reviewing it, and considering it all. You can read and understand it, even highlight the good bits, and it may seem to you that you have learned it, but you have not. When you review the material it will look familiar to you because you have read it all before. This reinforces the illusion that you know the material. On-the-fly note taking in lectures doesn’t add much advantage.

If you try to write about the material, in your own words, under time pressure, especially if you try to relate the material to a given set of facts, you will find that you don’t know the material as well as you thought you did. This is what happens on a test. Why should the test be the first time that you tried to write anything on the subject?


The Secret

The secret is to write your own summaries of the material, in your own words, over the course of the study. Include all of the key words and concepts in sentences and lists of your own design. Then combine them into an outline of the material written wholly by yourself. Composing the sentences and writing them down with a pen gets your whole brain involved in ordering the material. When you first attempt this process, I guarantee you will discover that you don’t really know the material, not really. Further study may be required, or at least further contemplation.


Understanding Ourselves

That’s where the memoir angle comes in. It could be that when one merely contemplates one’s life, one gets it wrong. Maybe thinking about our lives only brings us to that illusion of understanding. (The lies that we tell ourselves complicate this process further, but that’s a different subject.)

The writing of a memoir could be a critical step in understanding one’s own experiences in life. With that in mind, I’m reconsidering the idea of writing a memoir.

Please control your anticipation though. No memoir will be written before considerably more dust has settled on this old earth. Count on that. Protecting the guilty, you know.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lactasoy Five Baht

The influence of that ubiquitous Korean pop music is now expected to affect the after school choices of grammar school students in Thailand.  Cute commercial though.

"Lactasoy hah baht!" In a 125 milliliter plastic bottle for five Baht.  It's a soy milk thing.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Randy Newman "God's Song"

Oh, that Randy Newman, he never shies away from the big subjects.  God, midgets, crazy people, Cleveland, slavery, it's all grist for his mill.

And oh!  How young we were! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Phang Nga Tourist Free Zone


Here's a picture of the "no swimming" beach in Phang Nga.  Typically deserted, one night I saw a family frolicking but that was about it. 

This part of Phang Nga was really devoid of tourists, Farang, Thai, Chinese or otherwise, nada.  The restaurants across the street were doing good business, but it was all locals.  Half of those were groups of men who probably brought their own bottles of whiskey and just sat and bought club soda and ice all day.  One group brought their own caged birds and hung them in the trees around their table, no shit!

Quiet, quiet, quiet. 

Phang Nga Hotel Shower




This is the "warm shower" unit in my $14 per night hotel across the street from the "no swimming" beach in Phang Nga.  It was warm too, the water pressure was low but it was warm, a decent shower was possible. 

I love the showering bears, Asians have an endless appetite for kitsch, good Engrish slogan too.  I especially love the "aero spacy" Grilon label, what is that, seventy years?  ten years?  Who knows?  Sometimes you just can't tell over here. 

This unit is okay with me though.  The stickers are kind of worn out, so it's been in service for a while.  It's still delivering the warm water, the low pressure is not the machine's fault.  They got their money's worth with this thing. 

(Kevin) Ayers, (John) Cale, Nico, (Brian) Eno - Heartbreak Hotel

John Cale, Kevin Ayers, Brian Eno, and Nico.  I don't know how this concert came about, but the resulting album is just called "June 1, 1974."

It's a keeper.  I already loved John Cale and Nico from the Velvet Underground, and Eno from Roxy Music.  Kevin Ayers I didn't know from a heart palpitation, but he worked out okay.  Olie Halsal on guitar, I totally approved.  Great material and a skewed point of view, Herculean attitude all around.  Screw the Sixties; the Seventies were much more happening. 

And don't make fun of the clothes, it was the times, don't you know.  We were so impaired that we needed the bright colors, you know, just to be safe.   

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Scream, And The Yelling


It's not so hot these days, so I've been sleeping with the windows open.  The other night, within a couple of hours after midnight, I was treated to a first-class, all-out scream, a woman's scream, nothing held back.  Think of Fay Wray in "King Kong." 

I couldn't tell where it came from, but it was close.  I live in a twenty-story condo building, and there are big buildings nearby, so with the bouncing around the source of a sound can be hard to locate.  It could have come from my building, I wouldn't be surprised.  It could have been the building across the way.  It could have come from the whore house up the block, maybe some guy wanted something that wasn't on the menu and was willing to force the issue.  I don't think it was the whore house though, they tend to keep the windows closed and the air-con on. 

The scream was followed by protracted, loud, angry yelling by a man.  I couldn't tell what he was talking about, he was speaking Thai and the words weren't clear in any case, but he went on and on and boy, was he furious. 

Ah, the joys of urban life!  I was waiting for the gun shots, but that didn't happen, not this time.

(The painting is, of course, "The Scream" by Munch.) 

GSXR Powered VW Bug HotRod

Oh, go on, it's just a car.  What are you getting so excited about? 

Destroy All Monsters - Nobody Knows

A Seventies Detroit band, Ann Arbor maybe.  My friend Norman was a big fan, that's how I found out about them.  Admirably lackadaisical, don't you think? 

I love how everybody on the 'Tube is a critic.  "Oh, good band but the singer sucks," and like that.  Better they would go write an essay about the contents of their refrigerators.  Then at least they'd be writing about something that they knew something about. 

A Kinder, Gentler Fox News

Here in Asia we are treated to a neutered version of Fox News. It has some of the bitter taste washed out of it with large doses of what is called “Fox News Extra.” These are short pieces of fluff that may be medical alerts, interviews with people in the news, cooking tips, or interview/biographies of musical artists, among other things. The musicians are invariably either old war horses or young whippersnappers fresh on the scene.

I recently saw one about someone named Colbie Caillat. I was sure that it was a made-up name, but her dad’s name is Caillat too and the Colbie part isn’t so strange. Yes, I Googled her, but I’d never heard of her before seeing the Fox piece. On the show she was described as “Grammy winning,” and as having sold “six million copies” of something. Both things were hard to believe. I spared myself the Wiki-details.

She’s not particularly attractive, and the snippets of songs sounded pedestrian and derivative. In the live performance shots she appeared out of place on stage. A forgettable act, and a typical subject for a Fox News Extra.

I suppose that these bits are required to fill out the time that in America is spent whipping people up into a frenzy about one thing or another, usually about President Obama. I’ll be visiting the “Land of the Free” later this month, and I’m curious to see what the full-strength Fox News is up to now that “insuring that President Obama is a one term president” no longer functions as a goal in life.

Mixed Reviews Are The Best Reviews


Oscar Wilde said about the same thing over one hundred years ago.  If all of the reviewers love your book, it sucks.  A mixed bag of reviews is the surest sign that your art is hiting the mark.  After all, being different things to different people is an important goal of art, is it not? 

Should any two people who look at the same painting in the same museum at the same time see the same thing?  I don't think so. 

So never let bad reviews get you down. Unless it's unanimous, that is.