The Random Acts of What the? edition

Don’t be humble, you’re not that great
(Golda Meir)

“Bullying, competition, hot and cold friendships, male and female peer role models, and comic relief are just a few of the 10 year old issues presented in the fun and fast moving plot pages for this humorous chapter book. Comic black and white illustrations decorate chapter beginnings and endings, and a comic portrait gallery of the cast of characters aids in fast comprehension. Who would believe the healing power of an ability to belch the alphabet? A suspenseful plot and precise sleuthing sells the story and teaches that Turner Creek School rocks and so does The Mighty Quinn!” — Midwest Book Review

Reading the latest review for The Mighty Quinn more than compensated for the non event at last week’s Beaverton’s First Friday street fair.  Five local authors were asked to participate, and shared three tables on the sidewalk outside of a sandwich shop (and yes, the connection still baffles me).  In summary: a yoga instructor left some flyers featuring a picture of a limber, lithe & lovely young yogi [1] on one of the tables, and, to sum it up, those flyers got more attention than the books and their friendly authors.

It was difficult for said Friendly Authors to strike up a conversation with passersby for several reasons, including (1) there wasn’t much in the way of sidewalk traffic, (2) the oldies band playing across the street made up in volume for what they lacked in vocal proficiency, and (3) the few passersby lived up to their moniker – they were passing by, and looked to be single-mindedly on their way to see something else.[2]

I did the right thing [3] – participated when asked – despite my experiences with such events which makes me deem them ill-suited (read: a waste of time) for writers.  Fine arts & craft, wine & food celebrations lend themselves to…well…fine arts and crafts and wine and food.  When I attend such events, it is to partake of/ browse/sample and maybe even purchase fine arts and craft and wine and food.  I don’t think, “Oh, and what a great place to find a good novel.”  The rare times I seen people selling books at such events I don’t even stop to take a peek anymore.[4]

The Book Table can’t compete with (nor even complement) the Free Samples of Ragin’ Cajun  Chocolate Salsa Sauce table.  The arts & crafts are on total display: you can see them for what they are, and you either like the painting or the macramé plant hanger or you don’t.  You can sample the wares from the various homemade gourmet merchants before buying – there is no preamble or teaser quotes or first chapter to the bottle of salsa or tub of hummus or glass of craft beer – a couple of sample tastes and you know what you’ll be getting, the whole way through.  You can hear the band or the lone musician playing, and on that basis decide to purchase their CD.  A book is a different animal, especially at a street fair or similar event.  You can’t just take one or two sips and be confident in what you’re getting; the decision to purchase one is more akin to taking a gamble.

At least I picked up one good tip for the next time I grit my teeth and Do The Right Thing:  Forget your standard book promo materials, and get a flyer with eye-catching graphics.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Department of Will Someone Please Explain to Me…

As a kid, I didn’t understand the light a match reference, nor the presence of a pack of matches in the bathrooms of most people of my parents’ generation.  Even after it was explained to me by an adult [5], it still seemed rather silly.  Was it a last resort, an act of religious penance (Forgive me, Father, for I have blown Satan’s bugle[6]) or some kind of ritual atonement (setting oneself on fire rather than face the shame of emerging from the host’s bathroom after you’ve stunk it up)?

Matches eventually gave way to the Bathroom Air Fresheners industry – including the aptly if not discretely named Poo-pouri [7].  This was a great loss to the budding pyromaniac that lurks in most six year olds, and also provided yet another variation on things that don’t make much sense.

Yeah, I get the point of, or rather I understand the supposed need for, commercial bathroom air fresheners.  But other than serving as an effective irritant to asthmatics and people with fragrance allergies I think it is arguable that they “work.” In my experience in other people’s houses and in restaurants, businesses and other “out” venues, it’s a tossup as to whether air fresheners eliminate [8] or enhance the odors they are designed to combat.

stinky toilet

And the varieties of masking perfumes, ay yi yi.  Here are just some of the olfactory auras available to you, Discerning Consumer, thanks to the scentmeisters of Glade, Renuzit, et al:

Frosted Pine
Clean linen
Creamy Custard® & Apple Cinnamon
Angel Whispers [9]

But really, who’s kidding whom?  Here are your choices.

Bathroom usage sans air freshener:  it smells like someone took a dump in here.

Bathroom usage with air freshener:  it smells like it whispering angels stood by as someone took a dump on a pine tree/in your clean linen/on your apple custard dessert.

Not to get all Bathroom Buddhist ® , but it is what it is.  Embrace the stone age, y’all: light a match.

A day of Firsts

Son K took his first all-by-himself road trip on Tuesday.  He drove up to Tacoma to deliver his first batch of borrowed furniture to his first off-campus rental home, and the next day, on his way back home, had his first encounter with An Officer of The Law and received his first speeding ticket.

speedtickeett

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My father, who grew up on a farm in Tennessee, once told me that one of the worst insults you could fling was to call someone that so-and-so pea picker.  I wish I could ask him why, because after spending three hours picking peas (and kale) at my CSA [10] on Wednesday, I think the pea-pickers of the world deserve a whole lotta respect.  Do you know how many pea pods you have to pick to get 78 pounds of pea pods?

I must now pause for a moment to appreciate That Which Made It  Possible for me to spend three hours outdoors, in mid-June, surrounded by pollen-spewing organisms, in relative respiratory relief (no machine gun sneezes!):  drugs.

All hail, ye mighty pharmaceutical industries.[11]  I (almost) forgive you for coming up with scents named angel whispers and Creamy Custard® & Apple Cinnamon.

blow noses

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Whatever the wind may carry this weekend, from angel whispers to Satan’s bugles, may it blow gently over you and yours this weekend, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] A yogi is a person who practices yoga.  Got that, Boo-Boo?

[2] My guess is the belly dancing exhibition that was taking place across from the bbq put on by the Masonic Temple (I am not making any of this up).

[3] Authors are never supposed to turn down an invitation to a public event and/or publicity. Unless they do.

[4] I used to, then found myself in the awkward situation of trying to get away from the table ASAP, as a glance at the covers and back pages of the books revealed that they were amateurish, obviously, self-published efforts…as in, really poorly written and in need of serious, competent editing.

[5] By my uncle Joe, accomplished match lighter, may he rest in peace.

[6] a high-pitched, keening wail of a fart, as if summoning Satan’s minions from one’s nether regions.

[7] I am not making this up, and you have to read the product reviews.

[8] Sorry.  Potty-pun unintentional. No shit really.

[9]  Because we all know what angel whispers smell like.

[11] In my case, the makers of generic Zyrtec.