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The Snake Handlers I’m Not Electing

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My daughter celebrates her twentieth birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday to you, Belle, from me…and this, from eight year old Emily, who does an amazing “drum cover” of the Beatles’ Birthday:

 

 

*   *   *

And Now We Pause For A Primal Scream Moment

KHAN

 

Words are not adequate to describe the living hell – for those of us who don’t even believe in a hell but who do believe in being an informed citizen and thus try to pay attention to things – that the next ten months of political rhetoric will bring. [1]

Listening to the Republican candidates pander speak to the religious right in the days preceding the Iowa caucus was truly retch-inspiring, and caused many an Iowa Atheist to check their GPS systems to confirm that, yes, they were in fact at a political meeting in Des Moines and had not been somehow transported to a convention of hillbilly snake handlers in Kentucky, THANK YOU JAAAAAAYSUS .

I eagerly await the videos of rally attendees foaming at the mouth and proclaiming Ted Cruz has cured their anal hyperhidrosis.

And BTW, Republi-Cons: are any of you seriously running for Preacher-in-Chief, or President of our secular democracy? [2]

Flying Spaghetti Monster, give me strength.

 

 

You'll get your turn Jeb, after Ted and Mario have a swing at it.

You’ll get your turn Jeb, after Ted and Mario have a swing at it.

*   *   *

 

On a related note: striking a blow for equality of absurdity, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been recognized as a religion in The Netherlands.

And the faithful Pastafarians cried out, “Ramen!”

 

FSM

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Department Of Figuring It Out

Detractors…say the degree is responsible for so-called program fiction — homogenized, over-worskshopped writing void of literary tradition and overly influenced by the mostly upper-middle-class values and experiences of its students. Others describe an inherently unfair system….a self-generating track to the literary establishment, on which the most fortunate jump to fellowships, writing colonies, agents, publishing deals and professorships, where they are indoctrinated into the status quo.
(Why Writers Love to Hate the M.F.A., NY Times, April 9, 2016)

When I begin reading a book I get straight to the manuscript itself. I skip reading the cover quotes, as well as any that may appear on the inside pages. You know the ones – the remarks from other authors and/or Important People Whose Names The Publisher Hopes You Recognize, ®  people who have the same publisher/owe the book’s author money who provide alternately pithy and gushing, This is really worth whatever you paid for it recommendations. I bought the book; I’m going to read it. I’ve no interest in people I don’t know telling me why I should read it or what it’s going to mean to me. Pesky contrarian that I am, I like to figure these things out for myself.

I also don’t read the author’s bio notes (which, in the case of fiction, are typically found in the book’s final pages or back cover) before I read the book. It’s the work itself that interests me. I realize this makes me an outlier in this world of Celebrity Everything © , but I don’t give a flying fart about the author’s life story. [3]

 

REALLY

 

Yes, really.

I may peek at the bio notes after wards…but usually only if I’ve found the book somewhat disappointing and want to know, Who was responsible for this? As per that sentiment….

I recently finished reading two collections of short fiction. With each book, as I was turning to the About the Author page, I found myself mumbling, I’d bet good money this was the product of a M.F.A. program.

Can you make big $$ by winning a bet with yourself? [4]

 

SOAPBOX

 

I have come to think that the word Creative is a misnomer when applied to M.F.A. in Creative Writing. [5]  This is not to say I didn’t like any of the stories in the books. However, there was a certain…sameness…to the supposedly disparate stories, a so-what?-ness I have encountered so, so so soooooooooooooooo very many times in contemporary literature, I can practically smell it.

Bonus dis: I’ve figured out the alternate definition of the degree. A M.F.A., or Master of Fine Arts, in Literature/Creative Writing also translates as a degree in Mediocre Fucking Acts.  In my humble experience and opinion, if a work of fiction is connected to a M.F.A. program the book is guaranteed to include several/obligatory sex scenes – scenes which will be presented/narrated in a self-consciously self-important, trying-so-hard-to-be-blasé style, which proclaims, I-am-so-not-a-romance-writer-and-whatever-sex-means-to-you-it-is-not-love-making-in-these-pages. These cynical physical interludes are described with all the passion, affection, humor and significance one might use to portray a dental flossing session.

Also: the sex will be referred to, by the story’s narrator and/or protagonists, as fucking.

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Department Of: That Might Be… No

I can’t figure out if this joke that sprang to my mind the other day is funny ha-ha, or just funny…you know:

Did you hear that Caitlyn Jenner wants to try her luck in the theatre?
She’s peddling her idea to Broadway producers about remaking the classic musical about Wild West sharpshooter Annie Oakley.
The play’s working title: Trannie Get Your Gun.

trannie

*   *   *

May all of your jokes be wildly, thigh-slappingly, milk-squirting-out-of-your-nose funny and yet manage to offend no one;
May you have a (pain-free) lobotomy if you think the former is possible or even desirable;
May the Flying Spaghetti monster touch you with his Noodly Appendage,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] I know, I know, stop reading/listening to the crap….

[2] And stop asking questions when you already know the answer.

[3] Unless, of course, there’s some really icky stuff worth giggling over.

[4] One M.F.A. student and two M.F.A. professors.

[5] There are, of course, exceptions to the M.F.A.-works-smell-read-similar. Somewhere.

The Bohemian Like You I’m Not Like

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And Now You Know

This is the song I’d write, and play rhythm guitar on, if I wrote alt-type songs and played guitar.

 

 

*   *   *

And Now You Know Even More

And this is the song, I told MH as we were listening to the radio in the car on the way to run some errand, that I would learn to play if I played bass guitar.

 

 

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Although You Probably Didn’t Know This

I have written a song. It’s a C & W ditty, titled, If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead. It remains (mercifully so, in the eyes and ears of some) unpublished and unrecorded. Ah, but the year is young….

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If You Read Only One Book This Year…

Well then, shame on you. Put down your screens and read one more.  And make sure it’s Between the World and Me, by journalist-author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I won’t write a review because y’all know I neither write nor read book reviews. Suffice to say I think you’d enjoy this book (I’d like to add, you need to read this book if you’d like to consider yourself a Good American Citizen ® , but that would be too dogmatic), especially if you’re one of us who “think they are white.” [1]

 

Enlightened minds are amused by the concept of race.

Enlightened minds are amused by the concept of race.

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Department of The End

…of one of my favorite weeks of the year, that is. I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. [2]  New Year’s Eve, however, is another thing. I have a somewhat bipolar relationship to the day. Over my adult years it has seemed to be either been really fun or really dull. I’ve (almost) outgrown the We’re Supposed To Be Having Fun – Are We Having Fun Now?  mentality – the notion that somewhere out there, everyone is having a gay old time except for moiself, who is home polishing furniture or something. [3]

 

Please do tell me when I'm having a jolly old time.

Please do tell me when I’m having a jolly time.

 

Today we’ll have a few close friends over for dinner. We’ll be serving a variation of my father’s beloved New Year’s Day meal: you must have black-eyed peas and rice, aka Hoppin’ John, and cornbread and collard greens, in some form, on the first day of the year.

It’s a Southern Thing ©: eating black-eyed peas on January 1 supposedly brings good luck for the coming year (black-eyed peas were supposedly seen, by several cultures, as resembling pennies or coins). And as even the most cursory glance through the pages of an American history book demonstrates, if you’re looking for a culture synonymous with good luck, you can’t go wrong by picking a tradition from The South ®  and following it to the letter.

So. In defiance of the good luck that will not be coming my way in 2016, I’ll be tweaking the traditional menu. I’ll make black-eyed peas and rice cakes with roasted red pepper sour cream sauce, cider vinegar sautéed collard greens, and cornbread.

 

I see not the slightest resemblance to coins and would never attempt to use these objects in vending machines.

I see not the slightest resemblance to coins and would never attempt to use these objects in vending machines.

 

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Department Of Why Do They Do That?

“Our culture is not the only one that had slavery/Slavery has been practiced by all people around the globe/Native Americans took slaves from neighboring tribes/….”

Make that, Department Of Rhetorical Questions.

I know why “they” (people in general, moiself included) do “that,” which is to joke, distract or “play the devil’s advocate” when Certain Subjects ® are raised. It is an attempt to hide discomfort and/or distance yourself from unpleasant topics, particularly those that may make you feel defensive and powerless yet complicit.

The italicized comments above were evoked when I attempted to recommend the previously mentioned Book I Read But Did Not Review ® to a couple of light-skinned menfolk. Their immediate (and interruptive) comments –  the kind of Oh yeah? Well what about ___? defense-as-offense remarks which strike me as the intellectual equivalent of an eight year old sticking his fingers in his ears, nyah nyah I can’t hear you – should  have come as little surprise, given the subject (racism in America).  Still, it frosted my butt.

First of all: Hello, I was merely attempting to recommend a book I think you would enjoy reading. I was not attempting to discuss the book – which negates the kneejerk, devil’s advocate defense (“it’s no fun if everyone is agreeing…”). What would be the point of wanting, or even trying, to discuss a book with people who haven’t yet read it?

Second of all: Geesh.

If your daughter ran into the kitchen, blood gushing from her nose, and said she’d been punched in the face by the neighborhood bully, you should (1) tend to her injuries and (2) consider paying a visit to the bully’s house. I would hope your reaction would not be to tell your daughter that there have always been bullies all over the world, that Julius Caesar bullied Marc Antony, and that she isn’t the only kid who’s ever gotten punched in the nose – we know of kids in the next block and across town who also got bloody noses….

 

nyah

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Department Of Am I Missing Something?

I refer of course to watching Home Alone on Christmas Eve.

One thing led to another during our family dinner table conversation on December 24, the Another being Movies That Take Place On Or Are About Christmas.  It turned out that none of us – not moiself, MH, son K or daughter Belle –  had ever seen the so-called classic, Home Alone.

 

HA

 

We’d each been privy to a few scenes or outtakes from the movie. I pride myself on being somewhat [4] culturally literate (if only to be better equipped to do crossword puzzles), and thus was familiar with the movie’s general plot. So. After dinner we downloaded HA (either Amazon or Netflix, can’t remember) and watched it.

Really, how lame is that movie? And why does everyone [5] say it’s a classic?

MH offered a week defense of HA, with which I, at first, weakly agreed: you need a suspension of reality; i.e., pretend you’re watching a Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner cartoon, and you might be able to enjoy HA on that level. Nah. That ultimately and only made me wish for a Looney Tunes adventure, and did nothing to alleviate the loathing I felt for the excruciating “clever”, sitcom-ish, written-by-adults-trying-to-pretend-a-clever-8-year-old-kid-would-talk-like-this dialogue spewed by HA’s pint-sized protagonist.

 

scream

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Department of Last Day Quotes of the Year

This is the disadvantage of being tall – people can look up your nose.
(MH, 12-31-15)

*   *   *

May you try to engage topics that make you uncomfortable;
may you feel free to avoid classic art that sucks;
may your height bring you nothing but advantages,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Happy New Year, and  Au Vendredi!

HNE

 

 

[1] This idea – of “race” as a construct and thus, e.g., people think they are white but in fact are not – is directly, obliquely and poetically addressed in Coates’ book.

[2] Well…I love it during those years when I’m not bogged down/distracted by the it’s a new year and what the hell have you done with your life and why did the last year leave skidmarks? kind of issues.

[3] An actual New Year’s Eve activity I did one year, a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, as a one-woman protest of the hype and commercialism of the eve and to prove to myself that the event was overrated and that I could be satisfied with simple, contemplative activities, even an activity I would never otherwise undertake (wax the furniture?). And yes, it was also/partially because I hadn’t been invited to any of those overrated and hyped parties…and yes, it was also/partially lonely, and it sucked.

[4] Read: sometimes barely.

[5] Yes, everyone. When I meet people from overseas, it’s the first thing they say (well, after mumbling in their broken English some variation of “where’s the toilet?”): “So, does you are enjoying ze American classic, Home Alone?”

The Relevance I’m Not Maintaining

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Department of Thanksgiving Hangover

Yet another thing for which to be thankful – a spate of recent crisp, [1] clear mornings late last/early this week, when I could see the moon as I walked at dawn.

dawnmoon

 

Department of My Irrelevance

Medical doctors are trained in the importance of pain assessment , including how to differentiate between the many and problematically subjective human experiences of pain. Current thought on the matter is that storytelling, via descriptive prompts from doctor to patient, is a valuable lead-in to pain assessment.

Tell me about your pain. Would you describe it as:

burning, shooting, tingling, radiating, lancinating, or numbness
or achy, throbbing, or dull;
or squeezing, pressure, cramping, distention, dull, deep, and stretching

The pain I felt on Tuesday morning began as a burning in my ears. The sensation quickly radiated up the auditory nerve to my auditory cortex, where it translated into a deep, throbbing ache. It was all I could do not to jerk out my earbuds and fling my iphone to the ground.

Lay translation: the podcast I was listening to made my brain hurt.

This American Life , the mahvelous weekly journalistic radio show, follows a distinctive format.  Each show has a theme, and uses a combination of essays, first person narratives and interviews, archival sound recordings and sometimes even short fiction to explore and illustrate their show’s themes, in segments of up to three or four “acts.” TAL’s themes range from current events and popular culture to particular aspects of human nature. The one that made my brain hurt was This American Life #573: Status Update.

“Most of the time, the updates we share about our lives are small and inconsequential. This week, status updates that interrupt daily life.”

I had to force myself to finish listening to the first act – the ominously [2] titled, Finding the Self in Selfie. TAL host Ira Glass interviewed three teenage girls on the complex and constantly changing social media map that is primarily distributed and maintained via their cellphones. The interview consisted of the girls (Julia, Ella, Jane) explaining why they feel they must constantly tell their friends they are beautiful on Instagram and other social media sites, as well as post pictures of themselves on the same sites, which are in turn subject to commentary.

 

socialm

 

There are complicated and unwritten – yet widely known and seemingly accepted [3] –  “rules” for such social media interaction. And listening to the girls explain it made me want to puke.

Navigating the social strictures of high school was hard enough in The Olden Days, ® when your social status rose and fell via lunch table and locker room gossip. Now, kids have to obsess about their “relevance”  – they use that term, I kid you not – as per their peers’ reactions to their social media presence, a relevance (read: social ranking) both ephemeral and life-altering, which can change in minutes, even seconds.

And even as the girls complained about or acknowledged the shallowness behind the obligation of social media, they admitted to voluntarily and rabidly participating in the same.

(excerpt from a transcript of the episode)

Ira Glass: I have to say…oh my god, this is such a job.

Girls: Yeah.

Julia: It’s like I’m– I’m a brand, and I am like–

Ella: You’re trying to promote yourself.

Julia: The brand. I’m the director of the–

Ira Glass: And you’re the product.

Jane: You’re definitely trying to promote yourself.

Julia: To stay relevant, you have to–

Jane: You have to work hard.

Ella: Relevance is a big term right now.

Ira Glass: Are you guys relevant?

Ella: Um, I’m so relevant.

Jane: In middle school. In middle school, we were definitely really relevant.

Ella: (SARCASTICALLY) We were so relevant.

Jane: Because everything was established. But now, in the beginning of high school, you can’t really tell who’s relevant.

Ira Glass: Yeah. And what does relevant mean?

Jane: Relevant means that people care about what you’re posting on Instagram. People–

Julia: Care about you.

Listening to the story, I felt…I’m not sure how to describe it. I felt like some kind of Amish anti-tech/media advocate. 

 

There be no more Snapchat for thee, young ladies!

There be no more Snapchat for thee, young lady!

 

Of course, those seemingly benign Amish can get downright nasty when it comes to their community’s insular social status, and shun their own who fail to toe the line. But the threat of ostracizing, bullying or relevance banishment seems so much more pervasive in today’s all-knowing, all-reporting world of social media.

I wanted to slap some sense into those girls and envelop them in a mama bear hug, all at once.

It’s like I’m– I’m a brand…
…and you’re the product.

I wish feminism came in a can, like Red Bull, that girls and young women could chug. I wish there was a “product” to rev up their perception metabolism, a formula that would make them want to stop shoring up the system that perpetuates looksism and a bajillion-hundred other insecurities and forms of disempowerment.

 

wecandoit

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Department of Holiday Hell

A recurrent seasonal nightmare of mine involves having a friend who participates in That Most Fiendish Holiday Of Events © . This friend invites me to attend said event, and in a moment of weakness truth-telling I blurt out that I would rather dive face first into a vat of eggnog-laced hyena feces than attend a Singing Christmas Tree show.

 

Santa, shoot me now.

Santa, shoot me now.

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Department of Holiday What The Hell

Every time the traveling company for the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon has come to Portland I’ve tried to get tickets, and every time I have failed.  I did succeed in convincing MH and our son, K, in accompanying me to the next best thing: a matinee performance of The Book of Merman, which we saw last Sunday.

The Book of Merman is the story of what happens when two novice Mormon missionaries unexpectedly encounter “the undisputed first lady of the musical comedy stage.” (Well, of course it is).

I tried to make our outing as multicultural as possible. When one thinks of Mormons and/or Ethel Merman, the cuisine that naturally comes to mind is something Ricky Ricardo would appreciate. Thus, we dined before the show at Portland’s best Cuban café, [4] Pambiche,

BTW, you should know that Ethel Merman did one of the all-time great movie cameo appearances, in Airplane!

 

 

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Department of Don’t Make Me Say It 

Is it December, already?

I thought I advised you not to make me say it.

And while I religiously dodge Singing Christmas Tree invitations I do enjoy a seasonal song or two.  There is no shortage of good Christmas carols for atheists, [5] including, White Christmas, Sleigh Bells, Deck the Halls, Rudolph…and I’d say almost any tune by Tim Minchin qualifies, especially the lovely, cheeky and yet sentimental, White Wine in the Sun. A new-old favorite of mine is I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas. [6]  And please, get you and yo mama some seasonal spirit by singling along with the greatest rap Yule tune of all time, Christmas In Hollis.

 

 

*   *   *

May your unexpected encounters be Merman-esque;
may you be emotionally healthy enough to not give a flying flounder’s flatulence about your social media relevance;
and may the holiday hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Not exactly thrilled about the 20˚ temps…but the moon is worth it.

[2] For someone my age who loathes selfies.

[3] At least, by the teenagers involved.

[4] Well, it’s the best Cuban restaurant – Perdóneme, el mejor café CubanoI’ve been to in Portland (okay, so there are, like, maybe three).

[5] “Good” is defined as songs that do not mention deities. And it’s funny, when you do the research, to find out how many Christmas songs were written by atheists and agnostics…and Jews.

[6] Of course, some godless nitpicker will point out that hippo gods were worshiped in ancient Egypt.

The Time I’m Not Traveling

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Department Of Can We Stop Using This Phrase, Please?

Re the ongoing blah blah blah political rhetoric of What We Would Or Shouldn’t Do To Help The Syrian People/Fight ISIS ® : there is a certain phrase I want to consign to the idiom trash bin.  Because

1) it glosses over the gritty reality of soldiers – flesh and blood human beings who are more than the parts of their uniforms – being deployed, and

(2) it doesn’t make me feel any more or less safe, or any more or less certain that we (the USA) are doing the right thing.

I mean, Boots on the ground – c’mon. That’s a given in my home.

 

boots

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Department Of Just Wondering
Aka, Further Idiotic Idiom Inquiries

While we [1] are on the subject of idioms, you know the one some people use when they wish to emphasize their certainty about a subject?

“I ____  beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

This expression assumes that a doubt has a corporeal heft to it – a mass that could cast a shadow. Now, what would a doubt’s shadows look like? How would you know that what you saw was the shadow of a doubt? [2] And, like most physical objects, would doubt only cast a shadow on a sunny day, and thus on a cloudy day you could have no such certainty?

For the sake of further blithering discussion, suppose you indeed found doubt’s shadow: how would you know you were beyond it? Would it have clearly demarcated borders? And would beyond a shadow of a doubt mean that you were before, after or to the side of…which of the borders?

 

Whichever one of you is Doubt, please raise your hand...damn....

Whichever one of you is Doubt, please raise your hand…damn….

*   *   *

Department Of Put Down Your Green Tea And Reach For An Antiemetic

Katherine Stewart, author of “The Good News Club: the Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children” wrote an op-ed piece for Monday’s New York Times, which was one of the more disturbing articles I’ve ever read over breakfast. Stewart wrote about the Republican presidential candidates [3] who attended the National Religious Liberties Conference, wherein conference organizer, pastor Kevin Swanson, “…again called for the punishment [4] of homosexuality by death. To be clear, he added that the time for eliminating America’s gay population was “not yet” at hand. We must wait for the nation to embrace the one true religion, he suggested, and gay people must be allowed to repent and convert.”

Stewart writes that we non-conservatives might picture religious conservatives via stereotypes of  Midwestern farmers and small business owners, but warns that the leaders of the conservative religious movements to whom the seemingly benign Farmer Jethros of the nation deliver their votes have a more powerful, radical, and far-reaching agenda.

[ From Ted Cruz and the Anti-Gay Pastor, by NY Times op ed 11-16-15 (my emphases)]

When they hail religious liberty, they do not mean the right to pray and worship with other believers. Instead, the phrase has become a catchall for tactical goals of seeking exemptions from the law on religious grounds.  To claim exception from the law as a right of “religious refusal” is, of course, the same as claiming the power to take the law into one’s own hands.

The leaders of this movement are breathtakingly radical. Like Mr. Swanson, they feel persecuted and encircled in a hostile world. Like him, they believe that America will find peace only when all submit to the one true religion. … they do share the ultimate goal of capturing the power of the state and remaking society in ways most Americans would find extreme: a world in which men rule in families, women’s reproductive freedom is curtailed and “Bible believers” run the government.

I know that such people exist; I’ve heard their frightening rhetoric. Still, sometimes I wonder how much I really know about what they would like to do, if given the chance. Change the name Swanson to Imam Shafi’I and Bible-believers to Quran or Sharia disciples….in case you haven’t already noted the identical mindset.

 

clogic

*   *   *

Department Of Time To Pick On The Other Side
Subdivision Of Stop This While You Still Can

It’s not LGBT anymore- it’s LGBTQ!
(overheard from a probably well-intentioned but nonetheless shrill acronym cop)

 

facepalm

 

Not long ago, I overheard a portion of a conversation between two people, in which Person 1 corrected Person 2 for using LGBT, an erstwhile standard acronym which, according to some burr up their butts concerned citizens, is no longer acceptable due to its inadequacy of inclusion.

I’ve been reminded of that unintentional eavesdropping incident several times in the past few months, when I’ve encountered variations on the term LGBT. I’ve also encountered  More People insisting that Other People must employ a longer variant of the term (of the More People’s choosing). Most of these variations involve LGBT ‘s acquisition of Q, which, I’ve both told, stands for queer or questioning…or queer and/or questioning.

And then, earlier this week, I came across a new literary journal’s submission guidelines, which included this specification:

We are especially excited to hear from LGBTQIA + writers.

This was just a few days after I’d read some political observations online, wherein a commenter was questioned/corrected when he used LGBT instead of whatever acronym the Corrector deemed proper, which was something like LGBTQIA+ …only there was another symbol after the A, which wasn’t a + .

The Corrector didn’t say what his replacement acronym stood for, which of course led me to a so-what-does-it-mean? Web search. I found several sites which define LGBTQIA as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexuala “more inclusive term than LGBT for people with non-mainstream sexual orientation or gender identity.”

But wait,  that’s what the Q is for – inclusivity, right? One Corrector explained it to me many moons ago: Queer was for other identifications that were not specifically or mainly LGBT.

Okay; fine. LGBTQIA.  Now, what’s with the addition of the addition sign? What does + signify? There is more inclusivity to be included?

Look, I’m sorry…. Strike that.

 

sorry

 

I’m not sorry at all for holding the opinion that the acronym is becoming unwieldy. This opinion o’mine is based on matters of convenience and accuracy of usage, and is not indicative of any political or social stance. [5]

Calling all Acronym Correctors: Don’t potentially alienate supporters – don’t shut down dialog or push people away by being a usage cop. Strive to gain and maintain allies by listening to what people say over how they are saying it; i.e., go for substance over style. And BTW, since when are all LGBTQ/minority sexual identifying people part of one, monolithic community, with the same political, economic, social and cultural concerns that can be encapsulated in one acronym?

IMHO:

LGBTQIA+  =  TMI.

TMI in this case  =  Too. Many. Initials.

SOAPBOX

We now return you to our regular ranting…er, programming.

*   *   *

Department of Public Service

truth

The Tooth? You Can’t Handle The Tooth
(A Few Good Men, the Dental Hygiene prequel)

Glide dental floss is sold by the crapfull caseload at Costco; thus, a crapload whole lotta people use it. According to my dentist [6] it is one step up from useless, as are all flosses coated with PTFE (a synthetic polymer, the most familiar brand name of which is Teflon).

Teflon-coated floss slides between your teeth nicely, but that’s about all it does. Plaque doesn’t stick to it, and the point of flossing is to have the floss latch on to and remove plaque. Remember what kind of surfaces Teflon is used for? All together now: non-stick.

 

angrytoothpng

*   *   *

One Ticket For The Time Travel Shuttle,
And May I Have The First Class, Low Sodium Seating Option?

Somebody talking something [7] about the possibility of time travel got me to thinking about the temporal reality I inhabit. I’ve long considered that I live in the (near) future, in that my today is what was the tomorrow of my yesterday.

That may sound like cheating, but think about it: we are living in the future of our past. Those months and years ago, when we thought about the times to come? Every day is just that. Oh, and that proverbial rainy day that we are supposed to save for? It’s here (well, at least in the Pacific Northwest). So do it/spend it now, if/while you can.

Something else I heard from the Somebody Talking: apparently, when people are asked to imagine the option of time travel (Pretend you could travel in time; where would you go and what would you do?), they commonly elect to go backward in time to try to right some historical wrongs or atrocities (hint: fanatical German dude with unbecoming mustache).

For moiself, I’m not so sure I’d take up the offer. I’ve seen too many Star Trek episodes to think that I’d be wise enough so that my tinkering with history would produce only positive changes. Were I to travel back in time, I wouldn’t choose to do anything grandiose or ostensibly noble (I would not assassinate Hitler, nor his mother). I’d revisit more personal scenarios. There are some people I’d like to kiss that I didn’t…and there are some I’d like to punch that I didn’t. But, wouldn’t changing anything be mucking up history, even if on a smaller scale?

My brain hurts.

mybrainhurts

*   *   *

You Know It’s Almost Here

 

 

*   *   *

May the seasons you celebrate be upon you and yours,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Yes, technically it’s me who’s on the subject, but y’all are along for the ride.

[2] What if you confused it with, say, the shadow of a debit? Or a donut?

[3] Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

[4] Ha ha, made you look.

[5] And I FHTF (fucking hate the fact) that I feel obligated to make that disclaimer.

[6] Who is now asking his patients what kind of floss they use, instead of just the yes/no do you floss question, as he’s seeing more and more avowed regularly flossing patients whose teeth have the plaque buildups of non-flossers…and guess what kind of floss they use?

[7] It might have been on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s recent StarTalk podcast.

The Memoir I’m Not Reading

2 Comments

Department of Writers Sniping Other Writers:
The Reading I Did Not Attend And The Memoir I Will Not Read

Okay. As regular readers of this blog know or may assume, I never attend any author’s book readings (including my own) unless there is the proverbial knife to my throat. Thus, it’s not like it would be a crushing blow for A Certain Author to realize her recent gig was unattended my moiself.

But, I refer to was an appearance I really did not attend, with a vengeance.

“Author Speaks of Friendship With Harper Lee” bleated the headline of an article in our [1] local newspaper. The article covered the appearance last week at a local art center by a journalist turn memoirist, who was promoting her book, “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee.”

The Author Who Shall Not Be Named Herein is a journalist who claims to have befriended Harper Lee several years ago. AWSNBNH moved next door to the much celebrated but little seen Lee, author of the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird.  AWSNBNH moved next door, was the elderly Lee’s neighbor for 18 months, and got enough material out of it to warrant, at lea$t in her and her public$herS’ e$timation$, a memoir about the experience.

Unfortunately and of course, the book is selling. [2]

The notoriously private, publicity-shunning Lee refused requests to pen her own memoirs – or any kind of book, after Mockingbird was published. Nevertheless, as her mental and physical health has declined she has been exploited by editors and others, and is now featured in someone else’s memoir – a Someone who has found a way to sell a book about herself no one would be interested in save for AWSNBNH’s literary name-dropping.

Was AWSNBNH’s alleged friendship with Lee premeditated/predicated with such a book in mind? There’s no way to prove that. [3]  Still, the stench of mercenary manipulation turns my stomach.

 

badsmell

*   *   *

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

MH works for Intel, which occasionally treats its employees to Some Big Event. ®   Several months ago, MH told me about a Big Event to come: I remember how he tried to act nonchalant when he said that, as they had done in the past, Intel was planning on renting out an entire movie theater for one day, so  employees could attend exclusive/preview showings of a premiere movie.

The last such Big Event premiere we attended was the latest (at the time, 2009) Star Trek movie. Intel employees who were interested in the event received tickets for themselves and up to three guests. Thus, our family – MH, K, Belle and I – got to see the ST movie a day ahead of its official release, which was great fun for us lifelong Trek fans. [4]

This Big Event is going to be…a little different, MH said. The demand would be great, to say the least – the event organizers hadn’t yet decided how many tickets would be available per employee, or even if anyone other than the employees could attend. Employees were lobbying to at least let them take one friend or family member….

MH was hesitant, but could no longer contain himself:  the movie is Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens – the new Star Wars installment. The movie’s official premiere date is December 18. Intel’s special showing would be December 16th. Which is my birthday.

 

FB scene

 

Think of the happiest you’ve ever been. Multiply times four to get an idea of my excitement.

“It’s a sign from the universe!” non-universe-sign-believing moiself said to MH. “They MUST allow you to take your spouse!”

A day later, it was confirmed: Attendees may each invite one guest.

And several months later, the word is given:  never mind.

 

KHAN

 

The event, if it will take place at all, will be on the day of the movie’s official release. Someone with Evil Emperor status in the Star Wars hierarchy has decreed that no one will get a special sneak previewing showing of the movie.

This has the fingerprints of George Lucas all over it. He may have handed over the Star Trek directorial reins to someone else, but it appears he’s joined you-know-what side of The Force to exhibit his influence.

 

Lucas

 

Mr. Lucas, why do you hate America? More specifically, why do you want to ruin my birthday?

(Fuck yeah, I’m taking this personally.)

On the other hand…you have other fingers.

What I mean of course is that, on the other hand, perhaps it’s best for the universe that my Special Star Wars Viewing Privilege has been revoked. Truly, my gloating would have known no bounds.

*   *   *

The Memoir I Did Read
Aka, So, What’s It Like To Be A Girl Blogger?

I recently finished reading Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. CB writes eloquently (if often, IMHO, over analytically), about her early life and formative years as a musician, when she was a co-founder of that seminal  [5]  riot grrrl trio, Sleater-Kinney. Extra bonus: she makes only one reference, late in the book, to the media venture for which she is (unfortunately) most widely known: Portlandia. And that’s it – just a brief reference, alluding to the existence of the show, but nothing more.

 

hallelujahpng

 

Yet again, I digress.

One of the subjects on which CB is most eloquent is the WTF Do We Still Have To Deal With…oh, can you just guess? I refer to the infinitesimal variations on the oh-so logical questions Ms. Brownstein and her bandmates would be asked if their 23rd pair of chromosomes were XY instead of XX:

How is it for you, being a man in an all male rock band?

yeahright

Journalists, interviewers, music critics — from newbies to music industry veterans who should have known better, from those who’d already written the story before they interviewed the band to those who truly appreciated Sleater-Kinney’s unique attitude and attributes and were prone to reviewing them favorably…all of ’em seemingly couldn’t help but slip on that particular banana peel: 

“…(while attempting to talk about) our music and the process of writing an album in an interview, then (we’d later) read the article and see that the writer focused on what we were wearing or how we looked, discussed our gender, or made a sexist comment in the story.

This was the same time as the Spice Girls and “Girl Power.” We knew there was a version of feminism that was being dumbed down and marketed, sloganized, and diminished…. We were considered a female band before we became merely a band; I was a female guitarist and Janet was a female drummer for years before we were simply considered a guitarist and a drummer.”

CB goes on to compile a “representative sample” of comments from articles about Sleater-Kinney, articles CB recognizes were often meant to be complimentary but which “…fell into common traps and assumptions.”

Okay, I’m not going to list them (they’re in chapter 15, if you’re interested. Just one excerpts from one of the most nauseating, from a 1998 article in the Washington Post:

“Fortunately, their frequent lyrical challenges to gender roles didn’t devolve into rote male-bashing….It helped that the three were quick with smiles….”

 

stopsmilejpg

 

*   *   *

Serena Williams…understandably exhausted after defeating her sister and best friend Venus Williams in the U.S. Open earlier this week…wasn’t having it when, during a post-match press conference on Tuesday, a reporter had the gall to ask why she wasn’t smiling.
… no matter how insanely accomplished or famous you become, you will still be subjected to the innocuous-sounding but ever-so-pernicious “why don’t you smile?” interjection from those who feel entitled to make demands of women. … For those who say the reporter’s question was a harmless jest, they should ask themselves if Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would ever be expected to defend their stern or tired expressions.”
(Ms. magazine, “Women Aren’t Here to Smile For You,” 9-11-15)

*   *   *

Kids Text The Darndest Things

An exchange between daughter Belle and moiself, with Belle telling me about her upcoming Organic Chemistry Lab:

B: Lab is gonna be really cool today. We’re extracting essential oils from spices n stuff.

 Moiself: That sounds great! I bet the lab is going to smell really good…or really funky. I love the smell of cumin seed…any chance you’d be extracting that ?

 B: Conceived?

Moiself: Whoa! Not that smell….

Yet another lesson I’ve not fully learned: check text before sending, especially when using the microphone. My phone’s voice recognition decided cumin seed = conceived.

 

phonewhat

*   *   *

May you smile when and if you choose,
may you truly enjoy the aroma of cumin seed and…the other stuff…
may George Lucas have mercy on your birthday plans,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by. 

Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Hillsboro, OR.

[2] Many times I’ve considered how much more financially successful my writing could be if it weren’t for these pesky scruples of mine. Fortunately, those times pass quickly, when I also consider my complete lack of desire to trade integrity for profiteering.

[3] And Harper Lee, who has confined to a nursing home for many years now and suffers from dementia, cannot attest either way.

[4] No, we are Trek nerds but don’t officially qualify as Trekkies.

[5] If I can use that tern to refer to an all-female band. And since I just did, I can.

The Back I’m Not Talking Behind

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Department Of If Vegetables Could Talk

This one might say, “I’m Not A Crook!… but I am the Third [1] Memorial Richard Milhouse Nixon Eggplant.”

 

eggplant

*   *   *

Department of Succinct Advice On How To
Handle Today’s Cutthroat, Back-stabbing Social and/or Business Culture

 

If someone talks about you behind your back, just fart.

 

 

Now you know what that iconic scene was really about.

Now you know what that iconic scene was really about.

 

*   *   *

Department of H.E.L.L. [2]

Remember to involve your children in age-appropriate party prep and hosting tasks.

 

tdayhiny1

*   *   *

Department of Ugly Pretty Things

Two days ago my morning walk listen-to was the Fresh Air podcast of a recent interview with American singer/songwriter Iris DeMent. Dement was raised by a Pentecostal parents and had a very conservative religious background – beliefs that for the most part, she has since left behind. Still, her music, which critics have variously labeled in the folk/country/gospel/bluegrass genres, reflects her roots.

Early on in the interview FA host Terry Gross asked Dement to play a song that has “stayed with” her and influenced her. Dement chose a gospel tune, Pass Me Not:

DEMENT: (Playing piano, singing)

Pass me not, O gentle Savior. Hear my humble cry.
While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.
Savior, oh, Savior, hear my humble cry.
While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.

 GROSS: That was beautiful. You know, I…

 DEMENT: That’s a pretty song….

(from the Fresh Air Transcript)

And I’m thinking, seriously? You call that beautiful?

 

REALLY

 

I had to turn off the rest of the interview to keep my stomach from turning over. I’m just not as good as I used to be when it comes to pretending I don’t hear things.

Yes, the song’s piano melody had a lyrical, almost haunting simplicity, as did Dement’s high lonesome vocal styling…but, in classifying the song as “beautiful,” did either the host or guest actually pay attention to the lyrics?

I enjoy many bluegrass-influenced songs and musical groups, but that Pass Me By song crystallized my objections to much of religious/gospel-influenced bluegrass and country music. Such “beautiful” melodies and instrumentation are ruined – for moiself, anyway – by lyrics depicting a world of obsequiousness and fear-mongering – a world extolling the “beauty” of people kept on their knees with their eyes blinkered; a world where humans must continually assuage the ego of an insecure, capricious and petulant deity; a world where people question their own worth and “salvation” and plaintively beseech a so-called loving savior not to pass them by….

 

Let not thy noodly appendage pass by your most unworthy servant.

Let not thy noodly appendage pass by your most unworthy servant.

 

*   *   *

Department of H.E.L.L., The Continuing Saga

Don’t waste valuable menu planning time fretting over your home’s appearance.

 

 

hint2

 

*   *   * 

Department of Bad Halloween jokes

Consider yourself warned.

 

badcostume

 

What is a ghost’s favorite Halloween party drink?
Ghoul-aid

What is a Mummy’s favorite music genre?
Wrap.

Why do female ghosts diet?
So they can keep their ghoulish figures.

What kind of makeup do ghosts wear?
Mas-scare-a.

Why couldn’t the skeleton cross the road?
He had no guts.

Why Count Dracula use a mouthwash?
Because he had bat breath.

Why do ghosts patronize bars and pubs?
They go for the boos.

What happens when ghosts have too many drinks at those pubs?
They get sheet-faced.

Told ya.

 

derunk ghosts

*   *   *

Who’s in Charge of Feasibility Studies for Aphorisms?

I hear on the radio that old cliché about someone preparing to run for political office, and so when I got home I tried to toss my hat into the ring. It doesn’t work.

 

*   *   *

Department of Almost Random Thoughts Almost Apropos of Nothing

Or perhaps simply another scary thought that I can blame on Halloween time.

A while back I was cleaning up my home library and found a book a friend had lent me over 10 years ago (ahem). [3] I had fond memories of reading it way back when, and flipped through the book’s forward, which noted that the author had died at a relatively young age. This led to me googling said author and finding out he’d died of AIDS.

Whenever I read something about the historical aspects of the AIDS outbreak, I come across recitations of one of the few positive aspects of the epidemic – stories about how the gay community came together and took care of “their own.” During the early years of the outbreak the medical and scientific establishments were confused about the disease’s etiology and transmission, and medical personnel often acted indifferent, even hostile, toward the afflicted.

I’ve read touching stories of dying gay men, many if not most of whom had been abandoned or shunned by their biological families, being tenderly and courageously cared for by gay friends, neighbors, and even strangers – lesbians in particular. Although the AIDS epidemic in this country was initially almost exclusively confined to gay men, a high percentage of the caretakers were women (sure enough, the afore-mentioned author was, at the end of his life, nursed by his ex wife).

Any cynical – or would that be realistic? – moiself  couldn’t help but wonder then (and still wonders now): if the AIDS epidemic in America had, for whatever epidemiological reasons, struck lesbians instead of gay men before spreading into the general population, would there have been the same stories of care-giving?  Would gay men have organized to care for their dying gay women friends?

Methinks not.

There is no way for me to “prove” this. Except for extrapolating from that pesky thing called history.

 

policy

 

Gaymen, schmay men – they are still men. And no matter their interest or lack of interest in women for sexual or other reasons, men grow up with the culturally induced expectation that women will serve and care for them.

I remember reading [4] a history of the “lavender menace” as recalled by a lesbian activist, who wrote of her disappointment in the early 1970’s with both the feminist movement and the gay rights movement. Straight feminists didn’t want to take up what they saw as the “distraction” of lesbian rights. Gay rights organizations were dominated by gay men, who discounted or ignored the lesbians’ opinions when the women tried to organize and speak out, showed little interest in getting to know the women personally but still “…expected us (women) to bring them coffee.” To paraphrase the author, “The (straight) women broke our spirits, but the gay men broke our hearts.”

 

“If the world were a logical place, men would ride side-saddle.”
Rita Mae Brown

*   *   *

Department of H.E.L.L., Die Hard with a Vengeance

Welcome your guests with a hot beverage and a smile that says, I’m so glad you’re here.

 

hint3

*   *   *

Happy Halloween!

Bright pumpkin

*   *   *

May your Halloween Night be truly fit for a Bright, [5]
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Yes, more than once in my years of vegetable procurement I’ve returned home from the market/farm to discover that my produce basket contains an eggplant with a profile resembling that of our nation’s 37th President. I have led a charmed life.

[2] Holiday & Entertaining Labor-saving Lists.

[3] Yes, I returned it.

[4] In Ms. Magazine? Rolling Stone? ‘Twas way back in the 80s, I think. I remember the article, but not the source.

[5] SCM will be upset if there aren’t at least five footnotes.

The Debates I’m Not Moderating

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Department of Let’s Get this Out Of The Way:
Tuesday’s Democratic Debate

Although I didn’t have a stopwatch handy, it seemed to me that Hillary Clinton was given more time than the other candidates for answers and rebuttals. That, combined with her center position on stage and being able to speak last for both the opening and closing remarks, gave her a front runner glow. Was that all just happenstance, or was CNN’s subliminal bias betrayed by those logistics?

Upfront: I am a Bernie Sanders supporter (changed my party registration – I am typically listed as Independent – so I can vote for him in the primary). I thought all of the candidates comported themselves well, including the three no chance in hell lesser-knowns…although not for one moment did I find Clinton’s I-changed-my-mind-due-to-facts-not-polls-I-didn’t-flip-flop Pacific Rim trade pact switcherroo defense convincing.

As for the post-event question everyone seems to pose – Who, in your opinion, won the debate? I’d say, moderator Anderson Cooper.

Really. Cooper was cool, confident, and in control of a situation where all of the participants are looking for any opening to skew things their way.

* He opened by (essentially) challenging each candidate to defend or rebut what is seen as their biggest weak spot;
* He was incredibly well-prepared re the candidate’s backgrounds and political positions;
* He paid attention to the answers and asked relevant follow-up questions;
* He asked no softball or flippant questions;
* He pointed out when candidates dodged questions or answered with non-answers.

Future moderators, take note. All debates should be refereed thusly. Come to think of it, why can’t Cooper do all the debates?  Hell, I’d even watch the next Republican Clown Cavalcade if he’d moderate it.

 

Oh, stop it. I bet you say that to all the boys.

Oh, stop it. I bet you say that to all the boys.

 

I was somewhat bemused with the lesser-known candidate my brain labeled Goofy Smiling Guy, aka former RI Governor Lincoln Chafee. This was because Chafee…do I really need to say it?…had this perpetual, goofy smile, as if he couldn’t quite believe he was standing on an actual presidential debate stage, podium and everything, wheee!

Also, in both his opening and closing remarks, Chafee stressed what he apparently thought was a two-for-one bonus (i.e, both a plus for him and a jab at Clinton): that he was the rare political bird with “no scandals” – nope, not one [1] – in his many years of public service.

 

 

No scandal here...except for that lame necktie..

No scandal here…except for that lame necktie..

Well, okay. However, related to Cooper’s final question – “Which enemy are you most proud of?” – having acquired “no scandals” in a long political career isn’t necessarily something to brag about, IMHO. Instead of being indicative of your unimpeachable ethical standards, being scandal-free could simply signify that you never took a political risk, or that no one whose positions you opposed found you powerful, effective or threatening enough to try to bribe you, set you up or otherwise tarnish your reputation.

*   *   *

Department of Just Because

Lady Marmalade break. Gitchi gitchi ya ya da da, y'all.

Lady Marmalade break.                      Gitchi gitchi ya ya da da, y’all.

 

*   *   *

The Book I’m Not Reviewing

“People write on Huffington Post, they write for Goodreads…valuable sites owned by big tech companies that make a lot of money for those companies. Writers choose to write there for nothing and to provide content for nothing. That’s another issue…something that writers are doing deliberately.”
(Roxanna Robinson, President of the Authors Guild, in her article for The Bookseller, “Authors Guild Warns Authors Over Contributing Online Articles For Free.”

 

I use Goodreads, mostly as a reading log for moiself. That’s about as far as it goes (ahem, along with this blog) for me providing free content. In rating something like 437 books I think I have twice made a one or two sentence comment. I give books a star rating, even as I cringe while doing so at the oversimplification of such a system. [2].  I do not write actual reviews, FAVOR [3], including my refusal to participate in yet-another-way-writers-do-work-without-getting-paid.

However (you didn’t see that coming, right?)….

Here is something resembling a review, for a recent book I rated.

It was a book I wanted to like, because it revolved around stories of certain ruminant of which I am fond.

 

Coulda had a three star rating, but not enough goat screaming.

Coulda had a three star rating, but not enough goat screaming.

 

I liked the brief excerpt the book’s author read during one of those local/community arts “literary events” in which I overdosed on Valium and forced myself to attend was invited to participate.

For those of you unfamiliar with such events, they are sometimes called Book readings or Literary fairs, are oftentimes sponsored by a local independent bookstore, and are almost at all times attended by only the local authors themselves, a smattering of the author’s friends and family, plus a few wannabe authors who wannabe picking the brains of Actual Published Authors ®  for free advice as to how they can go from wannabe to Actual Published Authors ® .

(Translation: few or no books are actually sold. [4] )

The wannabes hang around afterward to tell you how much they enjoyed your reading, and gosh golly they really want to get a copy of your book (which is usually right in front of them, or twenty steps away, at the booksellers’ table), and will try to find a used copy online or check out a copy at the library. They say this as they flash their wide-eyed, isn’t that great? grin, ostensibly expecting you to be overjoyed at their “interest” in your work, despite the fact that none of the book acquiring venues they mention provide any remuneration to either the book’s author or the event’s sponsor. [5]

My favorite comments from book fair attendee/writer wannabees – comments I have heard too-much-more-than-once – come from those who’ve wonder in awe to me about how I managed to have more than one book published by “real publishers” –

I think I should start by self-publishing. It’s easier, right?

yeahright

 

About my few or no books are actually sold observation: sometimes the event authors buy each other’s books…which in my book doesn’t count…and which is how I came to obtain a copy about the Book That Shall Be Reviewed But Not Named.

Once again, I digress – this time, in getting on with my non-review.

Due to hearing the afore-mentioned enjoyable excerpt, I violated my oft-mentioned, principle-from-experience (which is: in general, I do not buy self-published books).  I bought the book, which has been in my enough-to-read-until-the-nuclear-holocaust pile for almost a year. I hadn’t gotten to cracking the covers, but as per the Sad Events mentioned in an earlier post, I was looking for “light” bedtime reading. But, by light I was referring to emotional impact, not basic, compositional competency.

Yep, the book was self-published, but not exactly in the Literary Lone Wolf manner. Many euphemisms have arisen to disguise self-publishing ventures. This book, as per a blurb in the book’s back pages, was the product of a “too tiny to be considered a micro-press.”

Micro press. In my petty imagination – aided by anecdotes participants in such ventures have shared – I picture the micro press members gathering coffee-klatch style to trade woe-is-me-bitches stories about the nasty mainstream publishers who reject their work [6]….

 

nymphpng

 

I’m trying not to be mean. Really. But no matter now micro or macro your press may be, please oh please, if you have a book in print, make it print-worthy.

Of course, with CreateSpace and Kobo and the ever-increasing number of self-publishing platforms (the term, before the e-book debacle revolution, was subsidy or Vanity Press), everyone from the pontificating drunk at the corner bar to my late Aunt Erva’s Rottadoodle can now have a book in print. [7]

So: you no longer have to go down to the copy shop to construct your spiral bound “book” for friends and family – you can have something that looks like a real book. And maybe you don’t care to be taken seriously as an Actual Published Author.  But whether you consider yourself a “real writer” or hobby publisher, for FFS, structure, plotting, grammar and punctuation matter.

And if perchance you want to be taken seriously as an author, don’t have your spouse (or any member of your family, or someone who owes you money) write your author bio/intro. Also, have your copy professionally edited, and by professionally I mean someone who knows what they’re doing, not your best buddy in your sewing circle/Tupperware party/retired fisherman’s club  micro-mini-press group. Find a truth teller, not a cheerleader/ego massager. Find someone outside your circle, someone who isn’t afraid of hurting your feelings, someone whom you will reimburse for their work. Isn’t the point to improve, to learn to be a better writer?

Here’s a bit of advice, for which I am once again violating my High Professional Standards ® (i.e., giving it away for free): a clever descriptive phrase used once is…well…clever. Used repeatedly, it becomes annoying and embarrassing – the literary equivalent of a sitcom character’s catchphrase (Dy-no-mite, anyone?).

 

grits

Instead of writing we couldn’t afford a certain purchase the author used something ala my bank account groaned.  Yep, that’s a nice variant, and a chuckle-worthy image comes to mind. Now, be honest with yourself: that phrase isn’t destined to become a classic, no matter how many times you repeat it. Don’t use it a second time (and certainly not a third) in the same chapter.  As per my earlier advice, a good editor would have fixed that.

*   *   *

It’s Good to Dream

Earlier this week, during one of my morning walks, I was thinking about how I’d like to hear musical genre variants of classic TV show theme songs. [8] Disclosure:  you could inscribe the sum total of my musical talent on the tip of my index finger and still have room for the Declaration of independence; thus, this is not a project I moiself can undertake.  But for all you musical geniuses who follow this blog [9], I would be eternally grateful if you could come up with the following:

 

* a mariachi version of the Star Trek (original series, or Next Gen) theme
* The Ramones telling me how to get to Sesame Street
* A hard rock version – I’m thinking AC/DC – of the theme to The Love Boat
* a polka-flavored rendition of  that bad-ass, eight note riff from Mission: Impossible
* The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme as interpreted by Run DMC
* Weird Al Yankovic’s take on the ticking stopwatch intro to Sixty Minutes
* an all-tuba performance of the theme to Bonanza

 

And of course, Luciano Pavarotti singing the theme to The Brady Bunch. The gripping story of “the lovely lady/who was bringing up three very lovely girls” is one that lends itself to operatic treatment, Nest-ce-pas?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your dreams be good and filled with melodic variety,
May you be proud of your enemies and patient with your literary critics,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] And if that isn’t a call for people to try to dig up some dirt on him, I don’t know what is. Anyone remember Gary Hart?

[2] Yo, Goodreads, how’s about at least a half and quarter star options?

[3] All together now, ye acronym amnesiacs:  FAVOR = For A Variety Of Reasons.

[4] Your friends and family already have your books, right?

[5] Really. They fucking say this to your fucking face.

[6] Heartless bastards who insist on basic grammatical proficiency, coherent narratives and other nit-picking shit.

[7] My late Aunt Erva – who was in fact quite punctual – never owned a Rottadoodle (a breed which to my knowledge doesn’t actually exist, but should).  But if Erva were alive today and had a dog, I’m sure her pooch would have a self-published memoir in print.

[8] Because, why not?

[9] Not to get all zen on y’all, but what is the sound of one mouth chortling?

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