Department of Petty pleasures and Cheap Thrills
I miss the stamps.
Although literary and publishers have the (deserved) reputation for being resistant to change and slow to adapt to technology, the past few years have seen even many of the olde-time journals modify their guidelines. Publishers and journals who only accept hard copy/snail mail queries and submissions have become, in my experience, the minority.
Being able to submit manuscripts and correspond electronically has significantly reduced business expenses for me and other writers. I enjoy the lowered postage and paper and toner costs, and increased efficiency of correspondence. But, I miss the postage stamps.
I’m no philatelic by any stretch of the definition. Still, on the increasingly-rare opportunities when I have to mail a manuscript, I enjoy choosing the stamps for the task. A sixteen page story, plus cover letter and SASE, requires 4 ounces of postage, and as much as possible, I will “customize” choosing the various stamp combinations which will total the necessary $1.50 for the first class/large envelope fee.
My customization is idiosyncratic, peculiar,  sometimes admittedly petty, and until this daring revelation, known by and meaningful to only moiself. It includes such “guidelines” as:
* When submitting to journals with all-male names on the masthead, I choose stamps featuring female authors and artists
* When sending materials to publishers located in southern states with a history of slavery and/or segregation, I go for stamps honoring African-Americans and/or civil rights.
* For journals whose guidelines have overt or implicit religious or spiritual overtones, I choose stamps honoring scientists or other secular achievers.
And now you know.
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I don’t often watch the network news or any TV news. For a reason that now escapes me I turned on ABC World News Tonight earlier this week and saw, for the first time, substitute host David Muir. Muir is apparently a legit reporter  and not a Chippendale’s model posing as a newsman on special assignment for Donald Trump’s latest reality show. I was taken…aback? affront? a-sideways? by his nudge-nudge-wink-wink delivery style. His sly glances, his way of slightly turning to the side and then looking directly into the camera made me think there was some off-mic photographer urging him on (in a heavily exaggerated fake Italian accent):
“Yes, yes, zer zey are, give zem more, you makealove de to de camera…”
Hmmmm. Maybe it’s just me, I thought. Or, it’s something to do with the specific story he’s reporting. I changed channels for a few minutes, then returned to ABC. There he was, on with another story, and those playful intonations and coy mannerisms. Every man, woman, and golden retriever staring at their television set was receiving this unmistakable subtext: “Yes, it’s true, I know what you look like naked.”
A Google search revealed that Muir is considered something of an “info Hunk,” a category I heretofore had no idea existed, by both gay male and straight female news groupies devotees. Ah, the joys perils of enlightenment.
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Department of Sorry, Too Late:
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Should the USA and its allies prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and thwart North Korea’s series of underground missile testing? Can the Social Security system be reformed, or should it be gutted and redesigned? How can renewable, non-polluting energy sources be developed in the face of ongoing budget crises and societal inertia? The answers to these and a myriad of other pressing questions are complex almost beyond belief. But, thank the FSM , there is someone willing to tackle one of life’s most insidious dangers: demonic possession of used goods.
Y’all might need to get out the smelling salts for this revelation. You know that hideous vintage Rudolph the Red-Nose reindeer Christmas sweater you got for next to nothing at the thrift shop? Did you think you were being a smart consumer when you got that crockpot at a garage sale instead of buying a new one? A certain religious evangelist, whose thoughtful intellectual discourse is rivaled only by that of a weed whacker, has some news for you.
In the World According to Telewhackadoodlery, not only do demons exist, but these evil spirits can attach themselves to inanimate objects. That classic thesaurus you found at the Goodwill for only $1.50 – you don’t really know where it has been, do you? You’d better pray the second hand Roget away , lest it rise up in the night and unleash its demonic  powers upon you.
Thus, the return of the Horseradish-and-Batshit Crazy Yap Flapper award
goes to perennial award contender, Pat Robertson
Last weekend MH and had lunch at PF Chang’s. As usual, fortune cookies came with the tab. MH opened his, and unlike many fortune cookies, this one contained an actual fortune; i.e., a forecast or prediction. He read his aloud, we both had a laugh, and I eagerly tore my cookie in half and discovered…nothing. No fortune; it was empty. Apparently, there is no future for me.
The busy week: Monday, Belle and I had our last CAT volunteer shift. Due to financial considerations, the feline-exclusive, no kill-shelter is closing a couple of its outreach adoption sites, including the one at the Hillsboro Petsmart, where we’ve volunteered since 2007. We’re still in a bit of shock and mourning over this, and hope to be able to volunteer for CAT in some other capacity in the future. The closing of one volunteer opportunity freed me up for another one, and on Monday, I fulfilled a long-time I-should-do-this goal and interviewed at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. I will assume weekly volunteer duties there starting next Monday, where I will be helping gather information for a biologist’s small mammal survey. My new motto is: I Love Voles.
This week also saw the beginning of high school track season, which means Belle juggles two hour daily track and field practices with an afterschool job, her Oregon Zoo Teen volunteer duties, and the homework that comes with taking a bajillion AP classes…and which means MH and I juggle the resultant teen conveyor duties. Where is the transporter promised by Star Trek? Where is the Jetson’s Jetpak? Dammit, the future was supposed to be here, by now.
Thursday night we had a most yummer dinner with friends, the lovely and talented couples MB & RB, and JR & DC. After dinner we all attended the opening preview reception for the Celebration of Creativity, an annual art show that, this year, runs through Sunday 3/3. This juried fine arts exhibit and sale features original works from 80+ artists in 15+ different media categories, from photography, jewelry, sculpture, fiber, glass, oils, wearables, acrylic, water color, pastels, garden sculptures, woodworking, pottery, mixed media…. Friend and artist LAH has a variety of pieces in this year’s show. MH & I have purchased many objects ‘d’art at the show (read: there is no more room on our walls), and look forward to seeing this year’s works.
As a patron of the arts  I often find myself thinking about the differences between fine art and fiction, especially when it comes to public showings or “sales.” At an art show, the art is right there – it is immediate. You see a painting or sculpture in its entirety. You can walk away from it, or it can grab you by the throat right then and there, or come back to haunt you as you peruse the other booths but keep thinking, I really, really love that enormous cable fish. There is little or no leap of “faith” required in its purchase.
In my few experiences at book fairs, both as a buyer and an author, I’ve come to think of them as dicey ventures. You walk by a table, there’s an author with a book, you see the author, you see the book and its jacket illustrations…but there are a whole lotta pages in between the front and back covers. Perhaps you can scan the cover blurbs  , perhaps the author reads select passages from the work, but you don’t know you’re going to like (or loathe) it until after you’ve bought it.
FYI, Cable Fish was rubber chicken-free at time of purchase.
May your weekend be artful, and may the hjinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 And also limited by the currently available stamp selection. I hate it when they discontinue my favorites.
 which is probably no news to everyone except moi, who, as stated, does not kept up with TV news.
 (crazed; diabolical; fiendish; satanic)
 Attention, fortune cookie makers: complimentary statements are not fortunes. “People like you,” is not a fortune. “People like you are destined for disfiguring automobile accidents,” now, that’s a fortune.
 thanks to budget cuts, the bus doesn’t go where she needs to go at the times she needs to get there…and she still hasn’t taken her driver’s license test.
 My definition: I buy stuff. Art stuff. From artists whose works make me go, “Wooooo!”
 Hardly the place for objective recommendations. When’s the last time, after reading a mediocre novel, you realized you should have heeded the quotation on the book flap, which warned, ” Destined to become a classic the truth is, the prose is boring and derivative, the plotting is plodding. Get yourself a book of KenKen puzzles instead.”