Saturday, November 7, 2009

There is no "e" in patriot.

Congress took a page from The Breakfast Club and is holding a Saturday session today.

Since I had to work today I wasn't losing any sleep over this situation...especially since word on the street is that Nancy Pelosi was going to take Olympia Snowe into the bathroom for a makeover sure to catch the eye of the captain of the Senate flag football team.

But, driving back to the house from dropping things off at the magazine I had to run a security gauntlet on Pennsylvania Avenue because of those rascally self-appointed patriots of freedom, the Teabaggers.

Which led me to think, "If you're really that concerned about the state of the country, isn't there something else you could be doing with your Saturday besides standing on the side of the road holding up signs that not only demonstrate your lack of organization but your inability to spell (1)?"

So here's what I'm thinking.

Maybe, instead of standing along the side of the road screaming that no one is doing anything (2), you could...you know...do something.

Like spend your Saturday volunteering at a local library so that they don't need to close on weekends in response to budget cuts.

Or spend your weekend volunteering at a local hospice so that you can put all that poster-making energy into making a difference in the final days of someone who maybe didn't have the great healthcare you all apparently have.

You...yes, you with the giant poster of an aborted fetus...maybe you could...um...you know what. Never mind. You've obviously found your calling and I like the idea of you staying where someone can keep an eye on you.

There are after school programs, youth athletic leagues, rehabilitation programs, halfway houses, rec leagues, church outreach programs, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, transition re-education programs.

In other words, there's a whole lot of folks out there who actually need help. People who are struggling. People who don't have healthcare. Who don't have jobs. Who have lost their homes.

So maybe, just maybe, instead of standing on the corner swinging your "Don't Tread on Me" banner and acting like you are doing anything other than causing folks to wonder, "Why the heck is that guy swinging a 'Don't Tread on Me' flag?" you could, I don't know. Do something productive.

Like take an English class.

1. General note: "It's" is the contraction of "it is." "Its" is possessive. So, what you meant to write is "It's my country." Yeah. I'd feel good with you in charge.
2. As we're still on the it's vs. its discussion this might be pushing things but I'd like to point out that you, standing along the side of the road, screaming at passing motorists that the government isn't doing anything useful, is what some of us would consider to be ironic.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stop the presses!

This just in from the folks at the Wall Street Journal.

Writing is hard.

As in, being an author is like working an actual, real live job with challenges and expectations and typing and stuff.

"Behind the scenes, many of these writers say they struggle with the daily work of writing, clocking thousands of solitary hours staring at blank pages and computer screens. Most agree on common hurdles: procrastination, writer's block, the terror of failure that looms over a new project and the attention-sucking power of the Internet."

Next up: math is for nerds.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The first time I have felt the need to use: ROFL

So, the Teabaggers came back to Washington today...and they brought Jon Voight.

Jon Voight.

Jon Voight, who earlier this week at a fundraiser for Governor Tim Pawlenty's new Freedom First PAC said, "I say that they're taking away God's first gift to man: our free will."

The "take our country back" good times kept rolling today at a rally where Voight said to the cheering crowd, "We do not want our freedom of choice taken away from us."

I'd keep typing but it's all I can do to not pee myself from laughing this hard.

Whoa, man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Consider for just a moment the number of fables, fairy tales and folk tales that revolve around the problems that arise when someone gets what they ask for.

Like, I don't know, if someone were to wish to be a writer. A writer with lots of interesting projects to do and two or three story ideas on the hook.

Perhaps even a post-it on the edge of his laptop (1) with the word he's been looking for: "Parasomnia." And another post-it underneath that reads: "Parasomnist?...Parasombulist? (2)"

And then that writer sits down and opens up his laptop, pours himself a cup of tea and...stares.

And stares and stares and stares and stares and stares and panicks and stares and panicks some more and eats a peanut butter sandwich and stares and wonders what Ina Garten is cooking on Food Network and then wonders what it would be like to have a show on Food Network because the grass is always greener and having a show on Food Network must be so much easier than all these writing projects and stares and stares and stares.

And puts laundry in the dryer.

And stares and stares and stares and stares and stares.

Do you get where I'm going with this (3)?

1. Yep. That's how I roll. I put post-its on my computer. Today I also used my Crackberry to hold open the pages of my linen covered agenda so I could write down some important dates.
2. Which to the best of my looking are not actually words but I was trying to figure out what the equivalent of somnabulist would be.
3. In case you're wondering, she made grilled clams with basil bread crumbs and hamburgers for a beach barbeque that was set-up by two folks from Ina's army of gay designer friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From away.

I was born and raised in the state of Maine.

When asked I blame all number of personality traits and quirks on this simple fact of geography.

I do not like change.

I hold a grudge (1).

I have a memory like an elephant when it comes to the categorization of slights and arguments.

I will eat or drink anything flavored with blueberries but will defend the low bush berry to my dying day.

I believe that lobsters should be boiled whole. That's it. Boil them whole. Eat them with potato chips.

I am prone to hard core cravings for Pat's Pizza.

I say soda, I say sub and I cringe whenever Tom Bosley's sheriff character appears on a rerun episode of Murder She Wrote.

Like a good many Mainers that I have encountered who now live our lives "away," I have moments when I wonder what it would be like to move back.

And then things happen like yesterday's vote, a vote where the majority of people casting ballots chose to repeal marriage rights for same-sex couples and cheer because they managed to make an entire community of people second class citizens.

Which leads me to think that living "away" is okay for right now.

Until I am reminded of the fact that everywhere that marriage has been put to a vote it has lost.

Think about that.

Every time people have been given the opportunity to allow same sex families to enjoy the same rights, responsibilities and opportunity to live as citizens recognized equally under the law, the majority of people have said no. The majority of individuals living (or, more accurately, voting) in 31 states have said, "Your relationship is not worthy of recognition."

The reason that gets played over and over is that it is a redefinition of marriage.

Well here's the kicker. The state of Maine ranks in the top 15 for divorces.

The top 15.

The United States as a whole ranks #1 in the world for divorces.

Don't look know, but maybe some kind of redefinition might be in order.

Like marriage as an opportunity for two people to commit to spend the rest of their lives together. To love one enough to not just be there to celebrate the victories but to cry and fight and struggle and get up the next morning to do it all again. To do laundry and pay bills and buy groceries and forget birthdays and remember anniversaries and develop car pool charts that would put the planning of any military action to shame.

To laugh at inside jokes and groan at that story that's been told one time too many and know to never try to order for one another at Starbucks. Not without having it carefully written down.

To eat chicken three nights in a row because it was on sale.

To count change so that you can order pizza on the fourth.

To warn the other one when they walk in in the middle of an episode of Murder She Wrote that Tom Bosley is in.

But what do I know.

1. Tightly. With both hands. White knuckle holding.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Consider Yourself...informed.

The good folks at The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the National Arts Journalism Program have been handing out cash.

Not to me. But that's okay...I'm currently training a small band of English orphans to pick pockets for me.

I'll be okay.

"The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the National Arts Journalism Program are pleased to announce the results of voting for projects entered in the National Summit on Arts Journalism, held October 2 at the Annenberg School Auditorium on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles.

First Prize of $7,500 goes to Glasstire of Texas. Second Prize of $5,000 goes to FLYP Media of New York City. Third Prize of $2,500 goes to San Francisco Classical Voice. Additionally, all three projects, along with finalists Departures (a project of KCET in Los Angeles) and Flavorpill, previously were awarded $2,000 each for being chosen finalists for the National Arts Journalism Summit.

Voters are members of the National Arts Journalism Program and alumni of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Arts Journalism Institutes, in a kind of informal professional academy of arts journalists."

You can read all about it and watch the competing videos here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's a thin line.

Have you ever thought about the line between being eccentric and being affected?

No?

Oh. Okay.

Well...I have.

For several months now I've had frequent encounters (1) with a woman who is always wearing a pair of white gloves. To this point she's always paired these gloves with skirts and twin sets and it's all come together to be this kind of retro thing.

The first few times I thought it was kind of interesting. Kind of.

But then it started to get a little on my nerves.

This, I know, is completely unreasonable. What this woman wears is absolutely none of my business. It has absolutely no impact on my daily life. It's a pair of gloves, not a t-shirt with a racist slogan or an advance copy of Sarah Palin's book.

But this week the glove lady showed up wearing a small leather jacket and pants. And little white gloves.

It was the kind of outfit one would expect to see on a prime time forensics investigator...which she is not (2).

This is when I started to ask myself, "What is the line between eccentricity and affectation?"

And then I asked myself, "Are there any diseases where one would have to wear a pair of white gloves? Is there a religion that requires women to wear white gloves? Is there a cultural reason for these gloves that I am completely missing?"

And then I thought, "Why on earth am I putting this much thought into this woman's exceptionally annoying white gloves?"

Maybe it's because I just taught The Tell Tale Heart in my writing class, but I'm thinking it's in everyone's best interest for me to figure out a way to let this one go.

1. Exactly once a week.
2. At least, not in the setting where I see her.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Text and the Single Girl

Publishers Weekly put out their list of top books of 2009 and here's the kicker.

No women.

From the good people at the colorful and graph-ridden USA Today (with all due credit to the lovely and talented Leslie Pietrzyk and her blog Work in Progress for bringing this topic of conversation up):

"Year's best: Publishers Weekly today names its top 10 books of 2009: Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science; Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply; Victor LaValle's Big Machine; Blake Bailey's Cheever: A Life; Neil Sheehan's A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon; Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders; Geoff Dyer's Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; David Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon; Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft; and David Small's Stitches: A Memoir."

These are the kinds of ridiculous lists that can make a girl want to fill her pockets with stones and head for the nearest river.

(Note to the folks at Publishers Weekly: That last line that I wrote? It was a reference to Virginia Woolf. She was a female writer.)

And before it's said, yes, I understand, these lists are usually created using all kinds of data and statistics and rituals involving chicken feet and lizard heads...but here's the thing.

Did no one at Publisher's Weekly read the list and think, "Huh, that's odd."

I'm thinking no.