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Book Review - Wedding Chronicles

Back cover excerpt:
Life's a wedding for Bobby Bo, who's traveled to nearly 100, from Tenerife to Singapore and Chile to Iceland. He’s been best man, groomsman, "father" of the bride, and bridesmaid—but always the single guy, whether with a girlfriend, flying solo, breaking up, meeting a new flame, or witnessing an ex take her vows. A colorful cast of diverse personalities from all rungs of the socioeconomic ladder entangles him in a kaleidoscope of comedic conversations and adventures that unveil the wounds and wonders of the places, cultures, and religions he encounters [...]

*********

Bob N. Boguslavski's Wedding Chronicles, the first in a trilogy, is an enjoyable read about Bobby Bo and his wedding adventures. He's living quite the life, attending various weddings across the universe, mingling with different cultures, interacting with all manners of people, and learning a great deal about marriage.

The book is funny on some aspects. It's told from a male point of view and definitely aimed at the male audience. There were a lot of curse words and quite a lot of 'guy speak', and this, along with the overall language and tone, echos my sentiment that it is essentially the male audience that can fully appreciate the narration as a whole. I did like the structure of the book; the grammar and flow of words were very exact.

Having said that, I felt there were a lot of wasted words in the book. There were several paragraphs full of big, unnecessary phrases that I had to read over in order to fully understand its context. A lot of beating around the bush before getting to a point. It wasn't as straightforward as I hoped it would be.

I wasn't too impressed with the terms the narrator's 'friends' used to refer to their exes, one-night-stands, random encounters, etc, even though they appeared jesty about it. 'Bitch' was quite a common term that was mentioned a lot throughout the book, and even the narrator himself referred to his female encounters as 'chikitas', which isn't at all derogatory, but is somewhat un-pleasing nonetheless.

The main character - the narrator - didn't grow or improve much at the end of the novel, like I thought he should have. He was the same person he was from the beginning, the only thing he gained was more determination to put off marriage for as long as he could, having been to quite a lot of weddings within a 30-year span, and seen how marriage changed the lives of his friends... for the worse.

It is an adventurous travel literature largely for the male audience, and quite informative in the cultural aspects of the various wedding destinations. If you or your spouse are looking for something along this line to read, then Wedding Chronicles is for you.

Enjoy!

OVERALL RATING: 7/10
COARSE LANGUAGE: Very high
VIOLENCE: None
SEXUAL CONTENT: Average


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wedding Chronicles on Amazon


Original Posting: Ije Kanu, Literary Fiction Editor | Fall 2015 | Source Link: BellaOnlinesm The Voice of Women


Subject: London #15 - In the pub (on the piss)
(Posted on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:56PM ) Tags:
Pubs—there certainly seemed to be a LOT of them about in the UK in '89 when Bob first visited the place. At a March '91 wedding, the topic of their number came up in conversation. The lads were standing around for a few hours in The Kings Head in Shepperton, to "take the edge off" before that much more serious church ceremony stuff began on a Saturday afternoon.

Pubs and churches went hand in hand, and were often physically side-by-side—as close
as possible to marrying the two, short of actually serving alcohol during the ceremony.

Now that would be awesome.

This physical proximity to pubs wasn’t reserved solely for churches; pubs were everywhere
in this country.

“Some 74,000 or thereabouts per current measure,” Rowland had told me. “Factor in another
35,000 on-license locations between restaurants, private clubs, other residential, and the
off-licenses, and there is no shortage, my boy.”

You could be anywhere, doing anything, and if you fancied a pint, a short walk or drive in any
direction would lead to a place to wet your whistle.

Pubs are friendly places, where even complete strangers can have a deep and meaningful conversation on just about any topic. This classic Monty Python sketch originally aired in 1969 (when Bob was not yet even in kindergarten) ably demonstrates that.


Yo, that’s the way British humo(u)r rolled back then. The Two Ronnies take another run at things in the pub with their What’s My Line approach. 


And what cultural pub overview would be complete without a little “mixing it up” a la Hale and Pace.
 

In all fairness to the ladies, we must give them a say about the pub, drinking, and what their guys may be up to, especially when the girls may have other things in mind ... nudge nudge wink wink, know what I mean? Here’s the Loose Women crew having a natter on the matter, even though it takes them a few minutes to make their points.


Say no more! Remember ladies, even if you're not from Purley and haven't been around, menfolk are simple, and not mind readers. Best to always give them a heads up on things, especially as a relationship / marriage (d)evolves over time.

So, back to the numbers and related things about pubs. The count quoted above re watering holes matches up with this source here, but seems to be significantly different from this source here, and echoed here. Well, you can chalk that up to being the nature of statistics many a time—someone always has a different way to count stuff of note. Dig deeper on your own if you feel the burning desire to demystify that.

Anyway, bottom line, it’s always better when one need not stray far for a glass of liquid cheer. With all the pubs out there, it seems many names get used repeatedly per this piece. Regarding the specific pub on that particular wedding day, it is but one of 240 with that name. There may not be a lot of creativity at play.  The Red Lion takes top spot with 518 places electing to name their establishment with that. But there are still a few examples of imaginative names with the likes of The Pyrotechnists Arms, The Cat & Custard Pot, and The Legend of Oily Johnniesamong others, as this piece highlights.

The number of UK pubs has actually been in a slow and steady decline the last decades, as pointed out here and here, for a few reasons. Other options for drinking are present now with bars and clubs, consumption patterns are changing, and lots of supermarkets are selling too, so one can drink at home more easily than ever before. Historically, there’s a long and deeply ingrained culture at play, going back to a time when drinking water may not have been so clean, so beer was a better, safer opttion—one simply had to go where that was to stay hydrated. Some of the history and background can be dug up here and here

Despite the modern day decline, there are still plenty about today if you need to get your drink on.  If you’ve never been to a real authentic pub, how does one explain the differences between pub and bar cultures? Two pieces here and  here expand on that. The best way to sort it is experiencing it firsthand if you can. 

With this talk about pubs and drinking, is it all a bit too much, and is there a problem? Australian comedian Jim Jefferies may have the answer, with his focused and artful spin on drinking, and subtle comparison between the UK and US.


We won’t bother to dig further on comparisons with other pub cultures such as Ireland and Australia—let’s save that for another drink and time. However, Bob couldn't resist pulling up an Oirish gem (from some refreshment oasis, no doubt) that wisely tells folks not to worry about most matters in life. It adheres to the KISS principle. 


Whether or not hanging around the pub fits with your own personal socializing style and/or life-knowledge gathering modus operandi, as some single-guy, occasional wedding guest and part-time typist, Bob has gleaned the following kernel of wisdom, as this pub signboard below points out. More similarly insightful and informative pub signs can be seen here.



This be TRUTH and deffo, is stuff they ain’t teaching your sorry ass in skool [sic]—maybe sumpin' best mulled in situ in some "appropriate" spot with our culturally- and world-aware Aussie mate, Jim from above, and those of similar ilk.


If you're lucky, the opportunity to experience this may be there just as it was for Bob, traveling the world for weddings. Or just read about it all in his book.




Subject: Barcelona #62 - Cookin' Cucu in Cugat
(Posted on May 17, 2014 at 02:57PM ) Tags:
So, you find yourself on your way to some outdoor wedding ceremony in Sant Cugat del Vallès outside Barcelona, sitting on a bus (or motor coach if you wanna be fancy pants about it) with other guests. You’re killing some time in your mind, and wondering about the origins of the place, its name, and what was up with all that trying to get rid of some cat called St. Cucuphas way back in the daze of antiquity. The place ended up being named after him (initially, it was Castrum Octavianum) because of what happened next. 

Well, it seems the Roman prefect at the time was going a tad creative with trying to get rid of our man. Judging by the following 3-step process, you’d think like maybe, somebody was going to consume our cat Cucu once he was deemed "ready."

1) Tenderize - Get a dozen soldiers to soften him up by whipping him, and then tear up his skin with nails and scorpions. Inspired
2) Marinate - cover him with vinegar and pepper. Creative kitchen
3) Cook – Roast him alive. Wuz it low 'n slo'? I dunno.
 
But something miraculous seemed to happen, and our man Cucu escapes death and injury per the tale. Hmmm, the prefect has a rethink on things, deciding to have a really BIG bonfire made and burn him up. Ooopsy, next thing you know, something backfires, and his executioners all die in the flames, but Cucu's okay. Righto.

The prefect has him thrown back in his cell, and then softened up some more with iron whips this time around. Presto majesto, said prefect mysteriously went up in flames in his carriage by divine intervention or sumpin' like that. Lesson learned, and his replacement decides to keep things really basic and has our man finally done in the old fashioned way by having his throat slit. See, keeping it straightforward and not trying to get fancy worked just fine in the end.

                                 Painting: The Martyrdom of St. Cucuphas, (Public Domain); Ayne Bru (1504-07 estimated)

And that’s the way it supposedly went down for our man Cucuphas back in AD 304 during the Diocletianic Persecution.

Now, as a take away point, you generally don’t see girlfolk messing around with making things complicated for no good reason. Case in point was these two women deciding to take out a “player” back in March 1881. In this fine recounting, our man Francisco "Chico" Forster, 40, was sleeping around  under the guise of marriage promises when he got his sorry ass caught out in L.A. Here's some more detail on all that.

Our slighted gal, 18 at the time (guess FCF was goin' younger), just popped him straight through the eye with a pistol shot. Ba-Blam! No messing around entertaining more sophisticated torture approaches a la Roman prefect earlier in history per above. 

           Image: Twoons.com | 2009


Then, as a huge bonus, and no doubt benefiting from a crack legal team, our girl Lastania Abarta gets off employing a defense of “female hysteria.

         Artwork: KarynIronSides on Deviant Art

Go figure. Alas, the ladies can no longer plop that ploy away for potential recycling down the road when there is a need to get rid of your man, whether he be cheatin’, or not. Said medical condition was taken off the books as this informative video points out.


All I can say, as some simpleton single chappie out there attending weddings all over the place, is a man gots to stay on his toes. Sometime, reaching deep for knowledge is needed to remedy what ails, just like our man Dr. Swift here below, and the tale of his special treatment for female hysteria. 
 
                                                                   Vintage Ad: Dr. Swift's "Healing" Massage


 
Super Entertaining Read

Bob's adventures in the world of weddings are close to home - for anyone who either is married, been married or contemplating marriage! Beautifully described, with background music to boot, Bob's sometimes offbeat stories, keen wit and fine observations kept me engaged, laughing and sometimes even squirming as I recognized my own experiences in his tellings.

I read the book over a period of time - the stories are individually entertaining and you don't lose the thread as the characters and stories develop. Highly recommended, an easy and entertaining read.

Rating: 5 / 5 *

Original Posting: Neville Chamberlain | May 12, 2014 | Source Link: Amazon.CA


So what was that drink that took out Dr. LoveSexy the night before the wedding in Jordan, and gave him a big hangover the next day?

Arak is a well-known, anise-flavored spirit distilled from grapes that is consumed all over the Middle East. It is usually accompanied with food, just as it was with the fine open-air mezze dinner on the shores of the Dead Sea. The drink does a great job of clearing the palate, even better than wine.


A lot more on how it is made can be found here in this Wiki piece. This Economist article from 2003 goes on about the history of the drink, the Arab invention of distillation, and other drinks related to Levantine arak like pastis, ouzo, sambuca, raki, mastika, and absinthe, and others. Note the arak in the Middle East, should not be confused with the drink of similar name arrack (and sometimes even the same spelling) in South East Asia that is NOT related at all, has no anise in it, and is coconut, sugarcane, or grain derived.

The process by which this clear spirit turns cloudy white when it is mixed with water is called louching. Basically, the anise oil which is colorless in the alcohol, emulsifies when the water is added, and presto, the drink transforms to its milky color as this short video shows.


Arak is usually served in a shorter glass with some ice already  in it, and mixed with water thereafter, in a 1:2 ratio.


Maybe it wasn’t just the arak that knocked things out of the box for Dr. LoveSexy, but perhaps the combination of beer, sucking on the hookah / shisha pipe, and any other alcohol that, collectively in combination, may have been the culprit for his hangover the next day and putting him in need of some serious greasy food as a cure. In any event, right or wrong, as a scapegoat perhaps, I claimed that "Haddad haddid him in."

The brand being consumed by all that night was Haddad, a local Jordanian brand made by Eagle Distilleries Co. that was established in 1953, and one of the first companies in the country (number three actually) licensed to manufacture alcohol.


When you’re some single guy hitting weddings all over the world, it pays to be open, flexible and chillaxed about the food and drink going down around you. It’s all part of the fun and experience of different cultures and traditions.

In any event, no matter where you are, or what you are drinking, it’s all about the "Cheers!" or fe sahetek / fi sahitak in Arabic [say Figh sa hee' tik], or literally "to your health." This handy table lists the greeting in 60 languages.


Some things in life, you don’t need to necessarily experience to know enough to stay away from altogether, like, erhm, say sumpin’ like  anal electrocution.

                                     Illustration Credit: Bobbissimo

Or when someone who has been there already with some life experience,  usually suffering for it, and offers up some deep and heartfelt advice. One needs to remember that stuff for future reference. You just know from the way they said it, that they have lived it, and it’s sooooo true. Those kernels of wisdom doled out from time to time most certainly apply to marriage. Stay alert and focused to pick up on these gems when they come across your radar.

Way back when, when I was a teen, I got some of that type of insight from Lulu as recounted in the book, when I asked him what it was like to be married 42 years. Tough to follow and fathom when you’ve just turned 18 at the time, and he’s 63.  His reply was short (at only six words total, and two words were each used twice to boot, for added effect). I still ain’t no closer to getting married after all these years, but know that Lulu’s words ring really true. He had it going on, when it came to life lessons like that.

Here are a few more tips for all the married fellas out there, on how to navigate those perilous waters with longterm success. Learn from your other shackled comrades in arms and their past faux pas and serious speed bumps they have experienced along the way. We guys can all learn!

This guy knows what he’s doing for sure in this sweet little clip, and it all sounds so much better and credible with a posh British accent.


Then there's the scoop on all the poop when a guy is thrown into the proverbial doghouse by da Boss in his life for having a crack moment or brief lack of focus with disastrous consequences.


Tim Hawkins has a fine singing version chocka blocka of good advice for all the married fellas out there.



There are always those simple but highly effective tips humanity can borrow from the animal kingdom. This one is a classic around out there on the Web for several years now in various locations, but it still presses home the message effectively. 

SINGLE


MARRIAGE


DIVORCE


MARITAL BLISS
                              Source: Serkan on MemeCenter.com

So, at the end of the day, why would any (soon-to-be) married guy listen to all this marriage knowledge / experience coming from some still-single guy who has spent a lot of his time, effort and $$$ going to weddings all around the world?  Well, as the ever-astute  Dr. LoveSexy once said, "Yo, I ain't had no safe fall on my head yet either, but I know it would hurt."

You can bank on that for sure.
 
Subject: Montreal #12 - Hockey, Politics + Language
(Posted on May 7, 2014 at 04:11PM ) Tags:
Two things that haven't changed with my hometown since childhood, have been the city’s devoted following of les Habs / Canadiens (especially now that they're in the second round of the playoffs battling it out with the Beantown Bruins, another place I know well) and provincial level politics with its discussion / debate around Quebec's (potential) separation from the rest of Canuckistan. 

It was the case when I was a kid, and again at the time of the opening wedding of the novel back in 1987, and just as true today decades later. The talk of an independent Quebec may be quiet now for a couple years given the election outcome a month ago today, but it will be back again no doubt one day. It just sort of seems to take a break every now and again, to regroup and rear its head once more. But both topics can always be a good excuse for a sprited discussion at a wedding, or any other event for that matter

I might be out of Quebec a long time now, and cross-polinated (or polluted, if you prefer), by many other countries and cultures, but on the plus side, I can still get a fix of maple syrup, poutine, and a smoked meat sandwich as needed, but not necessarily all at the same time though (which you really won’t be getting at any wedding), and I certainly don’t miss winters out East in Montreal anymore either.

Then there’s one of my local flavor favorites on the humor side that has emerged in Têtes à claques (TaC), which has been around now since August 2006. It was all originally in French (still the best version by far if you can understand the language), but there are quite a few sketches that have been translated into English and Spanish too. However, for full effect,  one can’t beat the original ones for their authentic local Québecois accent, which bemuses many folks in France and other countries in the French-speaking world.

Here’s one TaC sketch in French with English subtitles, so those that don't speak the language can pick up on the local Quebec French accent and still follow along otherwise.



This cat Obsesik does a good job on breaking down the difference between how French speakers in Quebec and France sound like when speaking English.
 

And this gal Julie Supastar doles out a good basic primer on how to speak some of the more important local French words in Quebec, handy for any tourist or  Bruins visit  to Montreal and La Belle Province, be it for a wedding, hockey game, or otherwise. Just generally useful everyday French 101 stuff going on here. 


And as regards the outcome of the current Montreal – Boston NHL series, kinda just like with the fate of marriage longterm, as they say in Spanish, “vamos a ver lo que pasa,” or we’ll see what happens. I ain't got no crystal ball or nothing, since i'm just some single bozo bumpkin attending weddings all over the place. C'est beau, c'est bon. 

Hilarious, clever and unique!

A hilarious and well written read. Through the life milestone of a series of weddings, Bob Boguslavski, the colourful narrator, takes us on a journey through time and culture, immersing us in the climate of each of his settings. Through his interactions, beginning when he is young, Bob introduces us to a group of lively characters, friends and guests, and these people affect and reflect the man we come to know.

We get to eavesdrop on Bob’s conversations as he cleverly and lightly pokes fun at the concept of marriage and provides insightful social commentary. We have all been to weddings. Boguslavski gives us a new and unique perspective. His witty, gritty, and direct style will appeal to both men and women. Read this book. You will laugh yourself silly. Bob is not yet ready to settle down. I look forward to hearing more from him. 

Rating: 5 / 5 *

Original Posting: Ben11222 | April 06, 2014 | Source Link: Apple iBooks (CA) 
I really wanted to like this book because the author provided it to me for free and was very nice about it, but I just found it painfully boring. It was trying to be a sort of sociological look into weddings in different cultures, but it didn't really provide any insight into those cultures, it just showed you dull conversations that happened to occur at those weddings. It was also trying to tell some interesting wedding related stories, and it failed at doing that too.

I also got really annoyed by the borderline asinine level of detail provided about each wedding that the author couldn't possibly have remembered (exact number of guests, as an example) and which no one cares about anyway. He references people that you don't know as if you do, and generally just writes way, WAY too much. There's potential for the book to be decent if it were tightened up a LOT, but until about 50% is cut out, it's just too clunky. I couldn't finish it. 

Rating: 1 / 5 *

Original Posting: Arielle | April 01,  2014 | Source Link: Goodreads
Life Jim,...

I laughed, sniggered, argued, farted in your general direction-eh Bob, zoned out, zoomed in, remembered, relived and connected my various wedding trips. Boguslavski hits nails on heads, goes off on wild tangents, produces more off-the-wall alliterations than Will.I.am and a soundtrack to suit your ever changing mood.

Rating; 4 / 5 *

Original Posting: Maurice van Sabben | March 16, 2014 | Source Link: Apple iBooks (UK)