Loose and casual graphic-blogging with random thoughts and links to interesting things.
“I’m a feminist, and God knows I’m loyal to my sex, and you must remember that from my very early days, when this city was scarcely safe from buffaloes, I was in the struggle for equal rights for women. But when we paraded through the catcalls of men and when we chained ourselves to lampposts to try to get our equality — dear child, we didn’t foresee those female writers.”
I keep forgetting I can write stuff here. There’s a Text button option, if you don’t want to upload images, music, or something else.
On the other hand, I really have nothing to say. I’m fine if everyone understands I’m politically independent; there’s nothing else to say about that. I’m spiritual but I don’t believe in a deity as most people define it; again, end of discussion.
- Find a Subject You Care About
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your hose or a love letter to the girl next door will do.
“Wait here, won’t you,” he told me. “I’ll be gone momentarily.” One thing I appreciated about him was his unfailingly correct usage of momentarily, much like how he never misspelled truly and knew that hee hee had two E’s each. He was a rare breed, rarer with each year.
I rested my hat on the end table and wandered over to a large wall of books. I knew him to be a voracious reader, and subsequently he was a collector of literature. Factoring in the sheer quantity of the books in this room, I perceived a dim and fuzzy line between librarian and hoarder, but I chose to give my friend the benefit of the doubt.
The titles on the shelf before me were unfamiliar: The Barcarole of Homelessness, by Daryl Huppert. The Apothegm of the Strongman, by Javier Manderscheid. Heskett’s Thrombus of Commonality. What the hell…
“See anything you like?” His voice, close behind my nape, startled me.
“I’m detecting a theme to these books.”
He nodded sagely. “Somewhere I developed a predilection for realistic fiction, memoirs, creative non-fiction.”
“That’s not it, it’s…” I held out The Patient of the Town.
“Ah, yes, Earnestine Nakasone! I heard about her on NPR last week. She sounded intriguing so I had to pick it up.” He took the book from my hand and hefted it, grinning at it. “I had to look up bildungsroman, too, to appreciate this tidy little novel. Nakasone really takes her time with developing the protagonist, but at the end she makes a perfectly ordinary life feel like something truly epic.”
“No, that’s not what I’m getting at.”
“Not that I have much Japanese pastoral precedent against which to measure it, of course, but-“
“The titles!” I shouted in his face. When he got on a roll, there wasn’t much one could do to dissuade him, but he absolutely hated loud, sharp noises. He flinched and took a swing at my ear. Of course I ducked, but pursued: “Why do you only collect titles that follow a noun-of-noun format?”
He looked up at his broad wall of books as though he’d never seen it before. It was five minutes before he asked, “Do I?”
- The Pornographer of Subspecies, Fernando Ricca
- The Sea of Advertisements, Eric Smit
- A Degree of Range, Harriett Yeaman
- The Flight of the Shade, Julio Lasky
- The Contemptuousness of Lissomness, Lady Chandra Dupler
- The Formant of the Presbytery, Father Ted Sebree
- Turn of the Crampon and Other Tales, Maricela Erick
- Selenographer of a Woman, Lilia Brow
- The Abrogator of Trades, Christian Roberie III
“There’s certainly a case to be made.” He shrugged. “But it’s nothing more than coincidence, I assure you.”
Something in his diffidence offended me. Seizing hold of his upper ear, I led him about the room and challenged him to find me one book that broke from this format. He stalled, claiming personal injury, so I slammed the French doors shut and shoved his china cabinet before them, guarding my barricade with my person.
Three hours later, he confessed. “I was going through a bookstore and I noticed this pattern in the book titles. I thought it was my imagination, as I could recall titles that did not fall into this pattern. This seems to be a new trend in contemporary literature.
“I decided to see how far it went, and I made it a personal challenge to buy books that used the noun-of-noun template for a title. I never thought I could fill a room, but…” He waved his arms around: he filled the largest room in his manse, with no duplicate titles, and informed me another score of crates were stacked in his garage, awaiting storage space. He planned to build some central shelving, eight shelves high, running down the center of this room.
Rather than allow him to succumb to this whimsical tastelessness, I pushed him through a window—defenestration, he called it—and set the room on fire.
Haha, the pseudo-neutrality of geopolitical citizenship can't save you. It seems increasingly like there's no way out of this without sounding like a rube or a racist so take your pick: recant or just say "Those various brown people south of us are all horrible, violent monsters."
They may not be monsters, but everyone knows they eat dogs.
...and they do it for half the price an American does it for! Why, forty years ago, a fella could make a decent living eating dogs! It was a good, patriotic, American job. Most of our finest statesmen started out in dog-eating trades: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, MLK... If I'm not mistaken, Ward Cleaver, the father on Leave it to Beaver ate dogs for a living; it was that iconic!
Yes, it used to be, the big dog-eating firms downtown had to pay an honest wage with time off at Christmas and a company picnic every Independence Day just to attract the real craftsmen, you know. Nowadays, with all these illegals coming into our country, willing to eat dogs for next to nothing, it's turned into a numbers game where quantity is more important than artistry. There's no such thing as a dog-eating apprenticeship anymore. It's a shame too. A good apprenticeship could teach a boy the sort of discipline and integrity you just can't learn from a book. The devaluation of American craftsmanship and know-how is what's going to let the Chinese take over the world and you know whose fault it is—those godless, Central American, polytheist Mexicans!
Dog-eating has gotten really expensive, what with organically raised dogs and fair wages for their handlers. It's really hard to convince a struggling lower-class family to do the responsible thing and shop for locally sourced, humanely treated dogs when they're counting pennies and have to choose between that and anti-three-month-death medicine, every three months. But those cheap dogs they're getting from Shenzhen, dogs stuffed with lead-treated dogs, that's what's giving them those bad cases of death you read about. It's a vicious cycle, but the Republicans are having none of it. Import dog lobbyists have not only dismantled dog-rendering regulation but are working to block outside media investigation, so the already-biased domestic media is increasingly unwilling to run this kind of story.
And the GOP doesn't even eat dogs! They eat people who eat dogs, but the irony is that they won't eat the lower-class families getting sick off the Chinese tainted dogs whose import they're working so hard to defend. They only eat canid-vegetarians, people subsisting off the same high-quality dogs they're working to get shut down. The blatant hypocrisy drives me blind with madness.
Just finished Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man. I’ve seen all the movies but never read the books, so I figured I’d better read the first before I do another thing.
It’s amazing, Hammett’s amazing. I can’t usually follow mysteries because I’m credulous and easily distracted, but I like reading them nonetheless. What stuns me about Hammett’s ability is the depth of his perception of human character. The hero in a detective novel must be able to perceive clues and understand nuances everywhere. S/he must be able to read into a few lines and anticipate people’s motives, to sense the disruption in the fabric of plausibility and thereby trace the criminals. Beyond that, the writer must have all those skills and much more, to a greater degree. The author has to keep the full timeline in mind, track all the possible deviations and make the lies seem reasonable, while also accounting for the variables that human motivations can spark.
One of my greatest insecurities as a writer is the challenge of writing realistic women. It doesn’t help that people are unwilling to talk about this: bring it up with guys and they don’t know what you mean. Bring it up with women and they’re offended, they sound just like anyone else.
But no, actually, men and women generally speak and think with subtle differences, and when it’s done badly it stands out like someone with their organs all pulled out in a fancy dress party. Rather than sexism, this is a tribute to observe and celebrate their distinctive qualities, and I want to make sure I do it correctly.
I think it’s problematic to assume that one gender typically sounds like the other. Here is a female-written comic, Octopus Pie, full of guys who love staying up late and discussing relationship issues. Here is a male-written comic, Oglaf, a fantasy sex-comedy staffed with women who look at the world through a horniness filter or who act on sternly worded violent impulses.
(Before you accuse me of things I’m not saying, I like both Octopus Pie and Oglaf. I never said they are bad or stupid. They are two parts of my weekly online comic ritual. Go back and carefully reread what I actually said rather than inferring things to support your more unflattering assumption.)
Do either of those sound spot-on or typical? I’m confident everyone knows one or two people who fit that template, but you can’t in all honesty say it describes everyone in your town. Or else you live in one insane-ass town, two of which cannot possibly coexist in the same world.
If they do, someone’s lying.
I’ve read plenty of sci-fi/fantasy novels where, in reading a male-written female character, it’s painfully clear the author hasn’t actually spoken to or touched a woman in about 20 years. I don’t want to be like that. I want to develop the receptors to appreciate the nuances of thought and speech that make a person sound real, instead of, “Okay, that’s how people sound in that world, I guess.” Fantasy/sci-fi literature provides a cop-out for characters, in that respect: the author can cover up his failings by insisting that that’s just the design of that foreign/alien society. But if I want to write a world more people can relate to instead of relearning new words for “child” and “sword,” I need to learn how to appreciate the patterns behind how people behave. And I don’t know how to practice that, because when you just start out and try to share your impressions, work out your theories, other people just become profoundly defensive and spend all their energy explaining how wrong you are and how terrible a person you are for not innately understanding how people operate. Not a lot of opportunity for growth, that way.