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.