Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Conspiracy Theories and Me

Growing up and into college I was a big fan of conspiracy theories. And to a certain extent I still enjoy looking into them today, but there isn't that ability to buy into them anymore. The biggest factor in that is how the conspiracies have changed. They aren't vast overarching schemes to control people that are ludicrous on their surface, and underneath contain every famous person being a lizard person in disguise they are all attempts to smear political parties and politicians with everyday people as willing participants. Every mass shooting becomes a false flag attack to take our guns, even though no politician or group makes that push after the mass shootings. Every message sent has subversive text that normal people just don't get. The part that makes this complicated is that some conspiracy theories have been proven correct. So now everything gets a certain air of legitimacy because hey, sometimes these things are right.

When I was growing up and got to embrace the beginning of the internet the big conspiracy was the Illuminati and the lizard people. Not everybody who believed the Illuminati went in for the lizard people, but it's was more an extension that some corners took very seriously. I was willing to go in for the belief in the Illuminati, but the lizard people was a step too far, but I loved reading about them because it got so weird. The idea of a secret cabal controlling everything was such an interesting idea and it seemed to make sense. Now I know the powers that control the world aren't secret it's just all the really rich people influencing the politicians with their money and keeping the status quo the way it is. There is no secret about the control that people are using. There are obvious inconsistencies in the beliefs these people held and the ability to disseminate those beliefs. The Illuminati are all powerful, but can't shut down your angelfire or geocity site with frames and an animated graphic when you open the page.

To me it was just a fun way to spend time and have information you can talk to people about, or just horde the information like gold. They were fun stories to read and investigate and try to make additional connections on your own. The theories about the lizard people really upped the ante and are science fiction stories. It's all framed like a documentary, but the ridiculousness just makes it a fun story to read and engage with. Beside the fact that there is no way to prove any of this stuff the problem comes from the fact that these conspiracy theories also work as anti-semitic and codes for saying “The Jews” run everything. A lot of the Illuminati conspiracy is based on the existence of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” It's a faked document written to provide a basis to discriminate against Jewish people and was used by many noted anti-semites like Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler to back up their biases.

For my tastes the best conspiracy is the Knights Templar and them protecting the bloodline of Jesus Christ. Obviously this one got a big push into notoriety with the publishing of Dan Brown's “The Da Vinci Code.” it contains such a sprawling history and contains several secret societies and a huge secret that overturns how much of history is viewed. The views and details in “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” is a good read and really illuminates everything that goes into this conspiracy and the many events that happened to keep this information quiet. The conspiracy holds that a crackdown on the Knights Templar gave us the superstition about Friday the 13th and is the cause of the Spanish Inquisition. It's also what led to the false popes in France who knew the truth and were protecting the bloodline of Jesus Christ. The sheer grandiosity of this conspiracy just makes it so interesting. And that's without going into how so many famous people throughout history are linked to it and hid messages about the truth in all of their work. For me reading this conspiracy is a really cool alternate history fiction made all the better by barely being different from our real world and taking so many small parts of art and history to expand their belief about what happened.

But those are really out there conspiracy theories. The ones that make all these other theories seem more plausible are the ones that were proven to be correct and have allowed other theories sponsored by the same people get a little more traction as being real things. The first one that will come to mind didn't really have a conspiracy following for it, but is a comparison many of these theories will use to show the US government does indeed hide things, and that is the Tuskegee syphilis experiment that claimed to be curing the men infected, but really just monitored them and let them spread the disease to their wives and have kids born with the disease.

The conspiracy and other government run tests that show what the government is capable of is MK Ultra. It featured hopes of using drugs like LSD to weaken peoples mind states and make them susceptible mind control, theoretically with the goal of creating a “Manchurian Candidate.” Many of the records were destroyed so it is tough to find out all the details of the experiments that occurred and their goals. Not as damning but the Air Force's Project Blue Book which investigated all reports of Unidentified Flying Objects proved that the government took the idea of UFO's seriously, especially since there were several instances with credible reports and no explanation for them.

The big change in how I felt about conspiracy theories came after the 9/11 attacks. For a good bit of time I was a truther. Like most opinions of mine that changed while in college it wasn't from the facts changing, but realizing the people I agreed with had a lot of other dumb views that made me look at the facts and reassess them. The best way to debunk conspiracy theories is to remember that any conspiracy has to have some kind of goal behind it. Most of them are to make money of some kind. The best argument for 9/11 is that it gave the US a reason to invade Afghanistan. Not only did it give a good excuse, but we also had the backing of most of the rest of the world in doing so and their support in the war. The Iraq war shows that the government was perfectly willing to exaggerate a claim made by an untrustworthy source and use that as justification for going to war with a country.

The realization that the government didn't need the prelude to start a war. They would come up with one themselves. The best argument against it being a conspiracy is just how big of a cover up it would have to be. Too many people would have had to keep the biggest story quiet and somehow be fine with the idea of the US government killing thousands of citizens to start the war on terror. The person that made me realize I was on the wrong side was Charlie Sheen. When it was announced he'd be the narrator of an official Loose Change movie I knew I was wrong. I mean, the facts meant I was wrong, but having somebody so unstable on the same side as you really draws things into a more stark comparison.

The conspiracy theories that have come into being after this have largely been claims of mass shootings being false flag operations and the families of the victims being crisis actors. The most prominent of those being the Sandy Hook shootings. Thanks to Alex Jones many people think this even never really occurred and was used as a call to take peoples guns, despite that push never coming and the NRA and Republicans getting out there and saying we shouldn't talk about gun control so close to the event while sending thoughts and prayers to the victims. A lot of other smaller shootings have had the same accusation leveled at them by Jones, but this is the one that gets the most traction. Twenty kids were killed and because of these accusations their families are hounded by believers in the conspiracy and sent death threats.

This is the point where I stopped enjoying even my own ridiculous conspiracy theories. The kind of rhetoric is the same as used for the other conspiracies I've talked about. The signs are there if you look for them, and you can't trust the mass media. Believers in the Illuminati have occasionally boated to Bohemian Grove to investigate and been escorted off peacefully, UFO believers have tried to investigate Area 51, but been rebuffed by the Armed Forces who guard the location. I'm sure there are investigators who are so persistent that they annoy anybody involved with those conspiracies, but the idea of calling grieving parents and telling them they didn't have any kids killed in those attacks and telling them to kill themselves is too much. Seeing real life consequences for conspiracy theories just changes things.

It only escalated from their with the propagation of pizzagate. People had to believe there was proof of wrongdoing in the Hillary Clinton emails that were leaked that they believed the people running a political campaign couldn't possibly be talking about food, and specifically pizza that often. So they applied the logic they used on 4-Chan that cheese pizza meant underage porn and that the pizza place mentioned must be keeping kids there. So a man went into the pizza place with an assault rifle and told them to release all the kids from the basement, of a building without any basement. Luckily nobody was hurt in the incident and the man was taken into custody, but the sincerity with which people have started to believe in conspiracy theories is startling. When they are such a grand web of conspirators it helps to keep the immediacy of the problem away. The Illuminati is controlled by people you can't get to and you can't really do anything about. It was all about the idea of being small in the world and being oppressed by the people with power and reach. Now it's much smaller targets that can be found and hounded and that makes the conspiracies dangerous.


The older conspiracy theories helped to explain why only certain people succeed in the world and why certain information can't get out from the government. Now the conspiracies are about undermining events that would force you to reexamine your political beliefs. Donald Trump might not be your ideal Republican candidate, but Hillary Clinton visits a child sex dungeon so you can't vote for her. Somebody just shot a bunch of kids maybe we should regulate guns, don't worry it was a fake attack orchestrated by Democrats to take guns so ignore it. The call to tribalism is strong and this just gives an easy way to ignore the shortcomings of their own political party and point to the other side as being worse. While it's not completely overriding my enjoyment of looking at Illuminati and Area 51 conspiracy theories the new ones do remind me that there is an element of fact checking that is important in reality and that while these beliefs are a fun fantasy for me they are all too real for some other people.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Thanks Jim Caldwell

Over the last four years the Detroit Lions haven't done as well as I've wanted and hoped they would, but realistically they did as well as they should have for the most part. With Aaron Rodgers leading the Packers they weren't going to be the best team in the division and three winning records with two trips to the playoffs is pretty good. Especially considering the fact that they haven't been very good since Barry Sanders retired, and even then they were only good because of him. Not to mention the team is just ten years removed from going 0-16 in a season. Caldwell has finished turning the losing culture of the team around. Jim Schwartz did a lot of work on that as well, but even with the improvements he brought the culture of not being good was still there and the team needed a fresh start and that's what Caldwell gave them.

I'm not going to lie. There were many times in many games where I would curse a blue streak about Caldwell's easy going coaching manner and plays left unchallenged and timid play calling leaving points on the field. The reality is that the team is consistently a challenger in the division and has a shot of getting into the playoffs. I don't think he was ever going to be the coach that really took them to the next level, but he did what his job was and that was rebuild and rebrand the team as one that can win and is no longer a joke. He was helped by the presence of some great players in Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Ndamukong Suh. But even after losing two of those players he managed to keep them performing at a high level.

Every fan feels this way, but the past couple of seasons have had some bad officiating that really changed the way the games went for the Lions. I won't list all the calls that screwed the Lions, but there have been several big ones that hurt them big time. Might as well start with the one from this season as it would have put them in the playoffs if it didn't occur. The catch against the Falcons that everybody thought was a touchdown, but on review was called back saying his knee was down then ran off ten seconds to end the game. Considering how long it takes for refs to decide the process of a catch has been completed it seems a real bummer that a guy can be down when his knee hits, but still have to hold onto the ball when he hits the ground, but a guy who drops the ball when it hits the ground doesn't make the catch when even if his knees hit the ground. Caldwell's only losing season in 2015 saw two major calls that completely changed games that would have given them a winning record. The first being in the Seahawks game when Calvin Johnson fumbled the ball on the one yard line and KJ Wright batted the ball out of the back of the end zone which was ruled a touchback for the Seahawks when it should have been a penalty and given the Lions on the one yard line. The other call would be the phantom face masking penalty that gave the Packers another play which resulted in a hail mary touchdown by Rodgers. Replays clearly show that there is no contact, but the call was made and the Packers capitalized.

The biggest of the bad calls that went against the Lions in the Caldwell era happens during the Lions vs. Cowboys playoff game. The officials call pass interference and announce the call then get together and reverse the decision, despite replays clearly showing the pass interference. Fine, that happens all the time. Although Dez Bryant also runs onto the field to yell at the refs which should also be a penalty. So the officials just ignore all of this and the Cowboys get a free stop. Granted the Lions didn't help themselves by shanking the punt on the next play, but that's beside the point as it should never have had to happen.


Now this whining about bad calls seems like it's getting away from my point of thanking Caldwell for turning the team around, but if it wasn't for the work he did turning the team around we wouldn't be the kind of team that can point to such big deal calls working against us. I've seen controversial calls against the Lions before, but most of them I just forget because the team was bad and it didn't change the outcomes of the season. Caldwell made the Lions a team that can make it to the playoffs and be a winning team. Now they're a team were it's a disappointment when they don't make the playoffs instead of a team where fans are happy when we can go .500 and beat each of the division rivals at least once a season. So thank you Jim Caldwell for making the Lions a team that can disappoint me when they don't win.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nobody Wants to Work

The other day at work we were really busy and understaffed, which happens a lot once summer arrives as I work in a resort area. I was covering up front and while we're working a customer complains about how we're so busy at the registers and the person in charge of running the front end says that nobody wants to work. And I'm pretty sure that's quite incorrect. I know we don't have many applications coming into the grocery store I work at, but it's not because people don't want to work. There are many factors that play into why we aren't getting applications. One of the big stereotypes I'm going to take a run at is one I've been told at classes my company sent me to when becoming a manager, and that's that young people don't like working. Granted, that personally drove me crazy as I've always been a hard worker and am one of those young people, but even going outside of that personal view I can tell it's not completely accurate.
My store did recently increase the pay rate they are offering to help in the summer which has made somebody decide to quit since the part timers we're hiring would get paid more than him, but before that we were offering essentially minimum wage which is below all the fast food places in town. And as we are a tourist town in the summer all the restuarants and golf courses are hiring which means you also get tips as well as whatever their pay is. So the grocery store is offering a lower wage than a lot of other places and you can't take tips. Also once you start training we never have enough hours to offer people so if you're hired before the summer you'll get like fourteen hours after your training is done with the promise of a lot once summer starts and the business shows up. If you don't get hired until summer is here you get thrown right into the fire and have to deal with everything being way too busy from the get go. That's the kind of thing that makes retention hard to manage, and we always have high turnover with new employees.
But that's a symptom of the way businesses have been working for the past couple of decades which is minimizing hours and maximizing the labor they get out of each employee. The addition of Self Checkouts has helped that and then the rest is made up for by expecting more out of every employee for less. When I first started working in a grocery store seventeen years ago I was a bagger and the store would have three people working that role at a time. The store I work at now, is bigger than the one I started at and we have one bagger and they only work from three to eight so all the department managers handle their tasks before they show up like bringing carts into the store.
The people who complain about how nobody wants to work are from the older generation and trying to complain about the young kids not wanting to work, but what they are ignoring is that they had full time jobs, and benefits were pretty prevalent when they were getting hired. Now everybody wants to hire part time employees so they don't have to give them benefits and every part time job requires you to be available nights and weekends. Those requirements kind of suck for a full time job, but are the kind of thing a person can make work, but for a part time job you're not getting enough hours to support yourself and that means you need two part time jobs, but they both require the same kind of hours, and that means people have to choose one job over the other. Right now the backup to my department and one other is the same person and when I talked to her I found out she only wanted to work part time and wanted to work weekends, which they never told me when I'm making the schedule for her and of course we're working her 40 hours a week, even though she's retired and just wanted to keep herself busy. There's just no respect for what an employee wants to do and it's all about what works best for the company.

Now I will admit that most people don't want to work, because working sucks. I don't want to work, but I've had a job for almost 13 straight years with a couple of breaks in between and I work. We have to work in the system we have so people have accepted that and make the system work. With wages not increasing, but living costs raising people find it hard to work the same jobs that don't allow them to support themselves. So people can only take one of those jobs at a time and have to choose which job best works for them. The reality is that it's hard to make life work with one part time job and when you don't get compensated well people aren't going to enjoy their job or want to stay there. When companies don't look at what the reality is for their work force they don't understand why people can't or won't work for them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Titanfall!

With my tax return I invested in an X-Box One and Titanfall because I was going to jump into the next generation of consoles eventually and this game looked awesome. I like the One's interface menu. It's simple and very similar to the 360's so I wasn't confused when I jumped in. The party system is a little more complicated to start up than on the 360, but it runs just as well once it's going so the switch of consoles hasn't been a difficult learning experience. The odd thing was when I inserted a DVD and had to download a DVD/Bluray player program. I don't know why that wasn't just on the machine to start with.

But enough about the console let's talk about the game Titanfall. I haven't full explored all the multiplayer options, but I've got over twenty hours in the game and I've beaten the campaign on both sides; IMC and Militia so I've got a pretty solid base for my opinion. And that opinion is that this game is awesome. It's missing some bells and whistles like renaming your classes, but it does have a gender choice for classes so it does have that going for it. Any complaint I have about the game is along the cosmetic side of things. Just the peripheral stuff that CoD and Gotham City Impostors have of getting emblems and titles for doing challenges and letting people see them. The fact that there is no real benefit to prestiging is kind of a bummer. At least extra class slots and with the titan loadouts as well it would be easy to alternate gaining an extra pilot and titan loadout for each prestige.

The gameplay is phenomenal. To start with the basic FPS part of the game is very well done. Everything moves smoothly and it's a polished shooter as you would expect from the guys who brought the world Modern Warfare 1 & 2. The weapon selection is smaller than most modern shooters, but everything is balanced fairly well and serves a different purpose. Although I haven't used the LMG or the Kraber sniper much the rest of the guns all feel good. They all have strengths and weaknesses and it's good that every weapon has some kind of limitation and strong point. I don't really have a favorite for weapons, but when it comes to Ordnance I prefer the satchel charge. The others like frag grenade, arc mine, and arc grenade have their benefits, but for me satchel charge is where it's at. More oomph and all I need to do is double tap x after tossing it. Well worth the shorter range and having to manually detonate it.

The second half of this game is the Titan combat and it's exciting as well. I don't have experience with other mech games, but I like the slower, but heavier feel the titans have compared to the pilots. I'm also not very good with my titan yet, but the difference in how the game plays between being on foot and being in the titan is obvious, but how well combat is balanced between the two is perfect. Titan weapons will do good damage to another titan, but pilots can evade the damage if they are careful and throw out more damage against them with the anti-titan weapons. The way the maps work with these two different forms of combat is amazing. There are awesome wall running sections and elevated paths for the pilots to take and offer lots of different ways to move around, but the titans get more standard FPS map patterns to follow and face each other. As a pilot you can ignore enemy titans and fight other pilots or the minions that spawn for the enemy side.

Which brings me to another wonderful aspect of this game the minions and specters that spawn as NPCs in the game. They provide a good feeling when you are having a bad game or if you aren't an FPS superstar and allow you a way to help your team in a game of attrition or in other game modes to grab a Titan faster. It's a really good choice to keep the maps full when everybody is on foot and doesn't make things feel overly full once a bunch of people get in their titans which changes the size of the match. It's just an amazing job that Respawn did of balancing the changes in combat between pilots and titans and it's so amazing to look at for their first showing as a studio on a big game that is there to sell a new console and they nailed it out of the park. The game lacks single player which is fine with me, because the single player of an FPS is always more of a chore and they make the story play out in multiplayer maps which tell a basic, but solid story which is all I ask for from an FPS in the first place.

They make up for the lack of single player by having fifteen maps which is a crazy big number for a shooter to come with standard now and I haven't had any maps I don't like. Some of them are a little unbalanced in Hardpoint, but nothing that makes me hate a map. It's got five basic game modes which isn't a ton, but they provide enough change of pace amongst each other. I wouldn't be surprised to see more game modes come out with the DLC either. Although balancing a game mode with the titans and pilots might be difficult, but I trust them to come out with a strong way to do it.

I am loving this game so far. It's a great FPS that does a lot to change how the genre works and is all the better for it. Definitely a game that makes jumping into the next gen of consoles worth while and it is the game that sold me on the X-Box One as I was debating which console I was going to go with. I don't regret the decision I've made yet.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tantrum

A Chuck Wendig Contest Entry Tantrum is the name of the story and the drink so without further ado here is the recipe of the drink.

2 fingers of Vodka
4 oz Mountain Dew Voltage
1 oz Orange Juice

TANTRUM

Music pumped out from every room on the floor, it was awful in the hallway it all turned into a jumble of noise that only cleared about in each room a bit. I retreated back to my room and topped off my drink. Two fingers of vodka, half a can of Mountain Dew Voltage and a splash of orange juice, I've yet to find anybody else who liked it. I lay back on my bed and listened to K Pop as my room represented the good Korea. My roommate was gone, but a few people were hanging out in the room, anything worth taking was locked up in our closet so I wandered out to the common area where better music was playing and more people were hanging out. Tiana was at the air hockey table so I wandered over that way and watched her finish off the guy who lived two rooms down from me.

“I don't think you can take me as easily.”

“Sounds like words, but looks like a load of shit, considering I always beat you.”

“Tonight I'm feeling lucky.”

“It's probably just your stomach revolting against that fucked up mixture of liquids you're drinking.”

“Not my fault your palate's not sophisticated enough to drink this.”

“If that's sophisticated I'll stick to whatever keg I can get access to with five dollars.”

“Don't say I didn't try to expand your tastes once you leave.”

“I'll always remember you as the guy who drank that super weird drink that tasted like rancid asshole.”

“So you taste a lot of rancid asshole?”

“Not on my days off, but you only get so many of those,” Tiana said. “Now are we going to play or do you want to stand there and gossip?”

“I don't know, I'm pretty good at talking.”

“Tough it's time to put up or shut up.”

“If you win we go somewhere with good music,” I said. “If I win we go to my room and listen to K-Pop.”

“For both our sakes, I must win.”

Tiana hit the puck off the wall and I blocked it off and sent it back toward her. Not much momentum on the puck, I should have kept it on my side. She fired it back with wild ricochets off the walls and I missed it as it slid into the goal. I was down quickly, not that I was surprised. I dropped the disc on the table and fired off my own wildly ricocheting shot that she stopped and fired straight back at me. I blocked the shot, but it bounced back at her and she fired it in with an angle that I saw, but somehow still couldn't stop from going in. The game continued that way, except for one shining moment, when I countered a rebounding shot and sent it bouncing back and forth before it found Tiana's goal.

“You've already tied your high score of a goal,” Tiana said as she set the puck on the table. “Maybe you can double up on that.”

“Maybe it's just the beginning of my comeback.”

“Sure, all you have to do is score nine before I get another goal.”

“You make it sound all too easy.”

Tiana looked straight at me, I almost missed the flick of her wrist that sent the puck toward my side of the table. I lunged at it and missed as it slid home and scored her the final point of the game.

“Guess you lost,” Tiana said then finished the last of the beer in her cup. “Before we leave this place get me a refill.”

“It's the least I can do,” I said as I grabbed the solo cup.

I pushed through the crowd and refilled the cup with beer before I went to the stairs and handed the cup to Tiana then headed down one floor to her room. It was a messy room, but not too messy. Tiana dropped onto her bed and I sat down beside her.

“Everything's going better than I planned,” I said. “Losing to you guaranteed me time with you, I didn't think I'd end up in your room.”

“Sorry, I have ulterior motives, I need your help with a paper.”

“Really?”

“No,” she said. “You're brave enough to drink whatever it is you have in that cup.”

“Tantrum.”

“But not enough to make a move. It's kind of a bummer. I should have known better than to wait.”

Tiana grabbed the back of my head and pulled me forward into a kiss. Even as drunk as I was I managed to react in time to make it a good kiss, or at least as good as I knew how to make a kiss.

“Damn,” I said.

“Wish I could say the same.”


“Shit, I wasn't even trying,” I said as I leaned forward and started a kiss.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Book Review: Johannes Cabal the Detective

Time for another book review and it's the second in the Cabal series.


The title isn't as good as the first book in the series, but that cover, just look at it. It's beautiful. Anyway let's get to the real book and not just what's on the outside.

The book starts out with Cabal in prison in the fictional country of Mirkarvia after being caught stealing a powerful book filled with necromantic secrets. Luckily for him the Emperor has died recently and one of his underlings needs the Emperor to appear alive to deliver a speech and Cabal has just the skills he needs. Cabal outwits his captor and escapes during the speech and gets on an airship. The cover has the airship looking like a dirigible, but inside the book there is a drawing of the ship and it looks nothing like that so don't let that confuse you. Anyway he's on the airship and there is a murder that looks like a suicide. He also runs into Leonie Barrow, one of the innocent souls he got to sign over their soul in the last book. Luckily Cabal destroyed that contract and Leonie isn't doomed to hell and she's studying to be a forensic investigator and is stuck working with Cabal to figure out the person behind the murder.

Cabal is stuck on the airship trying to stay incognito and interact with actual people in a way that doesn't reveal who he is and it's a good time watching him do that and seeing how Barrow reacts to him seeming more like a real person instead of the monster he was to her in the first book. There's an interesting supporting cast on the airship and there is plenty of intrigue in this book to keep you reading to find out how well Cabal will do in a career as a detective.

I really enjoy this book and I'd recommend picking it up if you enjoyed the first book in the series. It has a serious story at the heart, but Howard tells it with a light hearted spirit that makes it fun to read throughout.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book Review: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer

I'm sure you saw the title of the book I'm reviewing and are already sold on it, but I'll give my thoughts about it anyway. It's the kind of title that just makes me sad I won't come up with something as good.


And look at the beautiful cover on that thing, it's a work of art, it is. This is a series of books by the same author and I've read the second as well which I'll probably review some time as well. I have the paperback version of this which of the three sizes of paperback books I've seen it is the middle size, and I hate that size because it automatically makes it $5 more expensive than a normal size paperback. Anyway probably time to get to a review and not rambling.

As you may have guessed from the title of the book Johannes Cabal is the main character and he also happens to be a necromancer who makes a bet with the devil. Turns out he sold his soul to Satan and the lack of a soul is messing up his experiments so he wants it back. All he has to do is use a demonic carnival to get one hundred people to sign their souls over to the devil in a year and he'll get his soul back. Johannes has no clue how to deal with people so he recruits his brother Horst to help him. The fact that Horst got turned into a vampire eight years ago due to some mistakes on Johannes part means it will take some convincing.

The relationship between the two men is interesting to see play out, especially with a vampire playing the role of the honest moral character among the two. They play off each other really well and the problems between them make sense even with the backstory not being completely explored. And that's a strength this book rides all the way to the end as you don't learn what's driving Johannes until the end. He does awful things and deals with bad people, but he's still a sympathetic character and Horst manages to help that fact along. It's a book that does a great job of having an unlikable main character all the way through, but you sympathize with him and enjoy the journey.

The backdrop of the demonic traveling carnival is a fun one to see all the stories play out in. There's lot of different freaks and attractions that provide nice cameos and a nice sense of humor to a story that would seem to have a really dark narrative. The balance between the darkness and serious aspects of the story while still having fun and making jokes is well done. I do find at times the author tries to be a little too cute with the jokes and language, but those only happen once in a while and it never bothers me for long.

The stakes of the bet come close to the deadline in a city that may be too good for Johannes to find anybody corruptible and with the life on the line what measures will he be willing to take to win the bet?

Read the book and find out. I recommend checking this book out. It's a playful book with a serious edge, but it's always fun to read. It's a quick read as well as everything just flows and it's hard to put down. If you enjoy dark humor this is a book you can grab for an enjoyable read.