The Tulips I’m Not Tip-Toeing Through

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Do they still give out the Darwin Awards?

A 55-year-old man was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center Monday after accidentally sparking a fire inside his downtown Portland apartment.  Lt. Rich Chatman, a Portland Fire and Rescue spokesman, said Rafael Borgos was smoking while using an oxygen machine, igniting the element and sparking the fire.


JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers before its acceptance by Bloomsbury. Lord of the Flies was turned down by over 20 publishers, one of whom found William Golding’s manuscript “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was dismissed by one publisher with the curt counsel, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

Besides talent, imagination, hard work and perseverance, you need thick skin to be a writer.  The good news:  if you are one of those Sensitive Creative Types ® born without a hide as substantial as a rhinoceros’s, there is help for you.

Not content to rest on their laurels as one of the most prestigious online literary journals, [1] Stoneslide Corrective also provides an immeasurable service to authors via their Rejection Generator project:

“The Rejection Generator rejects writers before an editor looks at a submission. Inspired by psychological research showing that after people experience pain they are less afraid of it in the future, The Rejection Generator helps writers take the pain out of rejection.”

 It’s really quite simple.  Give your email address to the Rejection Generator, and in a few minutes and you’ll receive a rebuff that is as random, dispiriting and annoying as a literary journal’s typical impersonal rejection, and you didn’t have to bother with formatting (or even submitting) a manuscript.

I was thrilled when I received an invitation from Stoneslide’s editor to provide “Guest Editor” rejection letters.  Don’t waste another minute of your valuable time trying to actually get some work done – get yourself to the Rejection Generator, and the next snide dismissal of your creative aspirations could be from moiself.


More notes from the glamorous literary life.

Earlier this week I was researching A Certain Literary Agent, checking the agent’s listing on writersmarket.com and other writers’ resources.  I vet all agent and publisher listings against their citation on Preditors and Editors, an independent, clearing house-ish site wherein writers report their experiences with agents and publishing services.  “We’re hearing good things about this agent” is P & E’s remark about A Certain Literary Agent.  Perhaps this is due to ACLA’s list of Recent Salesto Publishers, which, among other intriguing tomes, includes the book How to Light a Fart.

My first reaction was, This is the agent for me!  Upon further reflection, an entire book on how to light a fart?  That was, at most, five minute tutorial at my grade school. [2]

*   *   *

 Speaking of students and their proclivity for and interest in emissions ignition, finally, a surefire way to get your kids interested in both science and history:

Passing Gas: a modern scientific history.

 *   *   *

I’m trying for a graceful segue to…something else.  Anything else.  Trust me.  It isn’t easy, once you’ve been bitten by the banana blaster bug. [3] Still, I shall endeavor to address more refined subjects.

Some of our most beloved literary works feature a disconcerting yet truthful depiction of the moral malaise of post-Industrial megalopolises. Brutally accurate renderings of the modern urbanite’s disdain for the ethical strictures of the bourgeois can be found in the novels of

Have you ever seen a cat fart on a waterbed?  It’s really funny.

No!  Stop!

Can you tell that my forthcoming book’s target audience is ages 9 – 12? [4]  Should my publisher and editors come across this blog post, they will no doubt heave sighs of relief to recall that The Mighty Quinn contains no references to characters piloting the posterior crop duster. [5]  Belching the Pledge of Allegiance, now, that’s another matter.

Yes, as per subject matter right now I’m in desperate need of an IQ elevation.  Where’s the Masterpiece Theatre theme song when I need it?

Much better.  Although I’m still in a mood.  Perhaps I’ve gone too long without seeing a new screaming goat remix video. [6]

Moving right along to This Stupid Day in Recent History:

April 12 is the birth date of Tiny Tim, American “singer” best known for his taste-free falsetto/vibrato renditions of vaudeville classics, and his many appearances on the 60’s sketch comedy program Laugh-In. T-Tim would have been 79 today had he not died in 1996 from stringy hair syndrome heart disease.[7]

Other notable/cultural April 12 milestones include:

1988:  Sonny Bono was elected mayor of Palm Springs California.
1966: Jan Berry of the surf-rock duo Jan & Dean received severe head injuries when he crashed his Corvette into a parked truck near Dead Man’s Curve in Beverly Hills. [8]
1954 – Bill Haley & the Comets recorded “Rock Around Clock.”
1934:  Highest velocity wind broke all records at Mt. Washington, NH, 231 mph.

That last citation was NOT a thinly veiled return to fart references.  But if you insist.

Breaking (sorry) headline of the week

From a NY Times story about prospective New York City mayoral candidates discussing the possibility that former Rep. Anthony Weiner (you remember the I got a rocket in the pocket of my mighty tighty whitey dude? [9]) might join the race:

In Mayoral Race, Would-Be Rivals Weigh a Weiner Bid

Someone got paid for writing that headline.  Is this a great country, or what?

Let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Their astute literary taste was evinced by their publication of my novel excerpt, “The Aunt“)

[2] Talented and Gifted student that I was, I mastered the basics in three minutes.

[3] Banana blaster: a long, quick, loud fart with a curved pitch like the shape of a banana.

[4] What is known in the (US) lit biz as “middle grade” fiction.

[5] Can’t you just write, “cutting the cheese,’  you euphemistic show-off?

[6] Why aren’t there more footnotes in this post?

[7] His cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” is guaranteed to send Nancy Reagan to a meth rehab facility.

[8] The song Dead Man’s Curve, which included sounds of a car skidding and crashing, was a hit for the duo in 1964.

[9] In May 2011, the married 46 year old Rep. Weiner tweeted photos of his underwear-clad, I’m-so-happy-to-see-you naughty bits to a 21-year-old female college student who’d been following his social media posts. In the ensuing scandal, dubbed “Weinergate” by a grateful press, other such pictures to other women soon surfaced, and Weiner resigned his congressional seat in June 2011.

The Weekends I’m Not Narrating


In an effort to protect the privacy of friends, family and acquaintances from the torrents of attention likely to befall anyone who has the dreadful misfortune coveted windfall of being mentioned by name in this blog, I’ve been using pseudonyms and/or first and last initials instead of names. Clever moi, until attentive reader MH (my husband) pointed out that last Friday’s blog post referenced two different people who were both “initialized” as LH.

Mistakes were made.  Initial usage will be more carefully monitored, with (are you sitting down for this?) middle name initials added for clarity. Better yet, humiliating nicknames may be assigned.

*   *   *

The 2012 election is history and the MR [1] whine-rate about why he lost has trickled down to about one per day. Isn’t it a relief to realize we can stop perusing the news sites for the latest political shenanigans and get back – to using the internet in ways more productive to our intellects and overall mental well-being? Yes, I refer to watching cute cat videos:

Mea kitty culpa.  Not what I’d intended as the exemplar. However.  A kitten de-fooding in time to “Wannabe” – how cute is that?

*   *   *

~ Things I didn’t know until yesterday ~

 Your car’s emissions control system has something called a purge valve, a device I until now associated with snorkels and body-image-obsessed teenagers. If your bulimic automobile’s purge valve malfunctions and needs to be replaced, the service bill may make you want to, well, do a purge of your own.

*   *   *

Two barfing references in a row – that was unintentional.  (Really, Mom).

As today’s title suggests, I was going to write about two recent weekend getaways MH and I had. Both were in October. Trip 1 qualifies as such only if you consider staying at a hotel a mere eleven miles from your house to be a getaway[2]. This outing was to attend the Freedom From Religion Foundation‘s annual convention, which this year was oh-so-conveniently-for-us held in Portland. Trip 2 involved a drive up to Tacoma, to visit our son, the lovely and talented K, during the University of Puget Sound‘s Homecoming/Parents weekend.

About our excursions I tried to write, but distracted I got.[3]

The past week, quelle fromage! So many award-worthy characters and incidents…I thought I was safe from such diversions, what with the election finished. Silly moi. I tried, and failed, to skim past the Yahoo/Google news headlines or the front pages of the four (yes, four) dead tree newspapers[4] to which our household subscribes. The stories I read reminded me of the plots of movies – really bad and/or surreal movies. It seemed as if an Academy Awards Ceremony of human folly was parading on a red carpet before my eyes, begging for the chance to practice their bogus heartfelt, it’s-an-honor-just-to-be-nominated speeches.

In consideration of the audience’s attention span and sanity, the Academy shall whittle down the number of awards presented, cut the opening monologue, memorial montages, nominated song performances and winners’ acceptance speeches – oh hell, we’ll skip all the nominees and go directly to the awards in three categories. The ceremony director promises to instantly cut to a SNL adult diaper commercial spoof should any of the winners attempt to thank their agents, accountants or parole officers.

~ Best/Worst Foreign Documentary ~

Asshat of the week isn’t nearly a…sufficient…moniker for those who caused the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Halappanavar, a 31-year-old, 17-weeks pregnant dentist, presented with severe back pain at Galway University Hospital in late October. After doctors confirmed she was miscarrying, Ms. Halappanavar asked for a medical termination. Savita’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says his wife asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated, but her request was refused because the fetal heartbeat was still detected (“This is a Catholic country,”[5] Savita and Praveen were told). Savita spent a further three days “in agony” until the fetal heartbeat stopped, after which the doctors removed the dead fetus and took Savita to the intensive care unit, where she died of septicemia.

Heart-wrenching, scandalous, deplorable, merciless, primitive, callous – of the many dreadful descriptions  that can be applied to this travesty of medical “care,” surprising isn’t one of them. This is what happens, outrageously but totally predictably, when governments allow interpretations of Iron Age mythologies to influence and even dictate 21st century medical decisions.  As Irish Parliament member Clare Daly pointed out, “An unviable fetus…was given priority over a women’s life.”

And so the Academy regretfully but appropriately decrees that the Hated Abyss Foe[6] Award be shared among:

* the Galway University Hospital staff
* the entirety of RC hierarchy; the incense-huffing/pederast-protecting/mackerel-snapping swarm of Men Who Dress Like Women But Refuse to Ordain Them
* the Irish government – nay, the whole damn adult population of servile, papist-toadying citizens of the country responsible for  50% of my genetic material[7].

*   *   *

~ Most Superfluous Supporting Performance in An Increasingly Silly Scandal ~

There are many deserving nominees among the dramatis personae of the General Petraeus dramedy, and the cast is increasing daily. The nominations must be closed at some point; thus, The Anthony Weiner Memorial Man Boob Award goes to Shirtless FBI Agent [8], with honorable mention to all other  XY chromosome holders who just can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to sending pictures of their amazing man parts to their (allegedly) awestruck lady friends and rent boys.

*   *   *

Pardon the Academy’s digression, but if you’ve paid the slightest amount of attention to the convoluted shenanigans of General P and his wacky sidekicks (bankrupt/deadbeat mother/military-soiree-throwing socialites are the latest addition), you may understand yet another of the 200+ WhyamIdoingthis? reasons that cause me, every day of my working life, to consider taking down my Fiction Writer shingle. Nothing I could dream up would be as entertaining as the flapdoodle follies of What Goes On In Real Life. ®

Nevertheless, the Academy soldiers on. The last award category:

~ Most Pathetic Adapted or Original Screenplay ~

WhyamIdoingthis? reason # 124 is receiving a note like the following, from the lovely editor of a respected, long-established[9] university literary press. Years ago this editor reviewed stories of mine from my first book of short fiction, and asked to see more of my work when I had a second collection ready. The brevity of her gracious response to my query belies the extent of the troubles afflicting literary publishers.[10] 

Hi, Robyn—
Unfortunately, the ___ Press is out of business.  I’m sorry, because your collection sounds appealing. I wish you all the best in your search for a publisher.
Sincerely, _____

The Academy, in a rare moment of self-awareness, is rethinking its position, and admits that any award bestowed in this category could only be a blatant exercise in self-pity. The woes of writers are nowhere near as noteworthy to humanity as, say, disfiguring genital cancers, or fecaluria,[11] or the recent reminders of how Lee Atwater, the notorious GOP political strategist, refined and promoted[12] the Southern Strategy. Thus the Academy in its infinite wisdom is suspending the ceremony, and suggests for your continuing entertainment that you imagine having the cinematic ability to inflict integrity-free political strategists with disfiguring genital cancers and poo-pissing.

Hilarity ensues.  Or not.

*   *   *

Smarter People than Us Said This

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.  (Susan B. Anthony)

Wishing you all a week filled with memorable, stray-dog-sniffing incidents.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Speaking of initials, how appropriate, if not PC.

[2] Anyone with teenagers and pets knows the answer is a resounding, Yessss!

[3] “Do or do not. There is no try.” But somebody, please, DO TRY to get this Yoda voice out of my head. Help me Obi-wan; you’re my only hope.

[4] Epithet courtesy of attorney/writer/blogger SCM. Shelley, here’s your citation!

[5] Halappanavar told the hospital staff, “I am neither Irish nor Catholic,” but they said they couldn’t do anything.

[6] Scrambled acronym: Eat Shit And Die You Festering Excuse of a Sentient Human Being

[7] I’m half Irish, from both my parents. There is no escape.

[8] Makes me wonder, what are the qualifications to join our nation’s “intelligence” services?  I’m guessing when this particular agent filled out his FBI application, at the bottom of the form where it says “sign here,” he wrote, “Aquarius.”

[9] publishing works in the humanities, medicine and literary fiction since the 1930s.

[10] the editorial assistant of the press’ parent company was not even aware that the imprint had suspended operations.

[11] The passing of feces through the urethra due to an intestinal-bladder fistula.

[12] The Nation dug up an interview with infamous GOP strategist Lee Atwater, who explained how Republicans can win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves:  “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that…backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites…. ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.'”