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Archive for September, 2007

(I guess today is my day for writing bossy letters.)

If you have more than one CD you have CDs.

If you have a CD and that CD is  Hey, I’m A Musician Not A Grammar Police  then you would say “My CD’s title is ”Hey, I’m A Musician Not a Grammar Police”.

I have read no fewer than 9 blog entries today talking about plural “CD’s”

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Dear Naked Women,

I don’t mind at all that you’ve made the choice to be vegetarian. I admire vegetarians. I like most vegetarians. Unfortunately I also like to eat meat, so that whole lifestyle is not on the table for me personally.

As far as your choice goes, good for you. I’m happy for you.

But if you’re going to make claims such as “I look better than I did 11 years ago” then we have come to where you and I have a problem.

Because you’ve talked about sweet and funny cows and loving animals. You want us to believe that you’re telling the truth about your new lifestyle.

So why do you lie in your pictures? Why do you pose for airbrushed glamour shots that fail to tell the truth about human bodies, that perpetuate the national body dysmorphic disorder?

veggie.jpg

When PETA stops exploiting women in order to get the world to stop exploiting other animals, I may take them seriously.

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Sometimes I just really love the Grumpy Old Bookman

Various people are asking whether trade paperbacks can save literary fiction (see Galleycat for a summary).

The answer is no. Nothing can save literary fiction. It isn’t a question of format or cost; it’s a question of boredom.

You can fool some of the people some of the time, and you can even fool the same people for several years — or books — at a time. But eventually the penny drops.

Honestly, this whole thing cracks me up. I do like literary fiction, but it’s an admittedly acquired taste. And honestly, even the phrase “literary fiction” bugs the crap right out of me. It carries that weighty implication that This Book is more worthy of being a book than All The Other Books and further the idea that reading This Book makes a person of more depth than the folks who read All Those Other Books.

Of course, there are books which are objectively better than other books. Using two examples from among my lifetime favourites, I would honestly say that To Kill A Mockingbird is vastly superior to any of the books in the Harry Potter franchise, judging with a critical eye on plotting, pacing, characterisation and theme. Yet I still love both, reread both, and am spurred to think about larger deeper thoughts when I read either one. But they both engage me.

It’s increasingly difficult to find literary fiction which engages me. More often than not when I pick up a piece of literary fiction I get the vibe that the author is trying to work through his therapy, impress his coffee klatsch from the MFA class and have others praise him for how loftily smart he is. More and more often I’m less spurred to new ideas and instead spurred to understand why so many people don’t read for leisure anymore.

Because leisure reading, after all, implies leisure. Fun. Enjoyment.

This current cover debate is cracking me up specifically because it’s as though the Literary Fiction people are coming ever closer to admitting that people don’t enjoy their books. So maybe if they instead made them look like the books people DO enjoy, they could trick a few readers into buying these tomes by mistake.

HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK THE BOOK-BUYING PUBLIC IS?!?!!!

Oh never mind. They’ve already answered that question.

I know I’ve already written about this, but I have to say that perhaps actually making your literary fiction interesting would be a good start.

For instance, I’m in the middle of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. This is a beautifully written book. It’s as literary as you’d expect from a Pulitzer Prize winner, yet it’s as entertaining as you’d expect from a Clancy or King.

And it has the most hideous cover art I’ve seen in awhile. Yet I’m reading it. Why? Because it’s engaging, not loftily haughty and entertaining.

Oh, and I’m reading it in hardcover, too.

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I know a few parents of kids with autism or autism-related disorders. I know several teachers who teach autistic kids, and I’ve read quite a bit about the subject.

I know that many children who suffer from autism have issues with sensory integration. Everyday noises, touches and sights are overwhelming to many of these kids.

Which leads me to wonder.

If your son is autistic, is it really a good idea for you to be dating Jim Carrey? I mean, come on. That guy is one long and floppy scream for attention. I can just imagine his flailing googly-eyedness sending the poor autistic child into fits of unknowable misery.

The only possible worse choices to my mind are Robin Williams or a one-man brass band.

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I like this song.

I don’t know why.  I don’t know why anymore.

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Blame Casey

Yesterday evening my Sims 2 crashed to the desktop. After an hour of trying to resurrect all my fake people, I pretty much said “screw it. This is a game. It’s supposed to be fun and I are not having fun.”

Then I saw my Civilization IV game just teetering on the stack of crap on the corner of my desk. I didn’t like it back in December when I got it for Christmas, and so I lent it to Casey. He loved it, bought it for himself, and sent my copy back to me. (See how law-abiding we are! ::pats self on back for not pirating software::)

So there it was, right where I “put it away”.  Because in the world of my desk “putting it away” actually means “finding a place to set it where it won’t cause the whole stack to topple.”  It’s as though I work in the middle of a giant monkey-infested software Jenga game.

Thus I broke it out and started playing.   It’s a very good game–as long as you don’t come into it hard and fast on the heels of another turn-based strategy game.   Which is what I tried to do in December, which is what frustrated me.   I still have problems with the AI being frustratingly limited, but whatever.  I can get over that.

The best thing, though, and the thing I’m here to actually tell you about once I’m done sidetracking myself with ponderances of my messy workspace, is that the soundtrack to Civ IV is off the charts phenomenal.   There are EIGHT HOURS of some of the best, most relaxing and atmospheric pieces I’ve ever heard.   Much of it is classical, some of it is composed directly for the game.   All of it was spectacular enough to motivate me.   I spent 20 minutes last night copying the music files into iTunes.  It’s that great.

Playing this game is like playing a pavilion at Epcot.

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Why I am queasy all the time?  (I can’t spell “nausea-ous” today)

This is really getting old!

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We had a German exchange student who came to visit me on my college campus.   I’ll never forget her loftily pronouncing that “all [we] Americans had too many hang ups about the sex.”   See, I went to one of those colleges where they talk about waiting for marriage.  This means that all the girls in the dorm were circled around a recently-married alumna who was telling us about What It Was Really Like using vague hints and steamy intrigue.    My German visitor loudly and proudly announced that The Sex was a no-big-deal thing she’d done lots of times and we were putting too much emphasis on the Mystical Union Between Two People Who Love Each Other while downplaying the whole bodily-fluids-weird-noises aspect.

Sometimes I think that is part of the thinking in a lot of Americans.   We generally aren’t fond of fluids, musky odor and rude noises–all of which are the animal part of sex which has been with us either 7000 years or 500 bajillion–depending on your philosophy.

Which, I suppose, is why it makes for a favourite weapon in politics.  Pointing out someone’s underground sex activity is the best way to subconsciously link mankind with the other animals in the minds of Americans.

Frankly, I think it needs to stop.    Because we’re very concerned with what kind of environment our kids will inherit.   We care that they get clean oceans and clean air and tall piney forests.   But in our eagerness to thwart our political opponents we are making sure that our (and I mean “your” because I have none) children are heirs to a world that makes sex seem like the ultimate villain.

My main concern here is when people talk about child molestation as a sexual crime.   I’d really like for that to stop.   Because sex in and of itself is not a crime,  just as a bucket of water is in and of itself an object without moral relevance.  When sex is used as a weapon–whether in the rape of an adult or a child–it becomes as onerous as a bucket of water which is used to drown someone.

I keep seeing stories about Bill Clinton or Priests or US Attorneys or Baptist Ministers being some form of sex predator, usually followed by a knowing sneer about how we all knew Those People were sex perverts.

None of these crimes are about the sex.  They are about controlling the weak.  They are about the thrill of exploiting vulnerability.   They are about the joy of hunting and the satisfaction of snaring prey.   They ARE animalistic, but in a way that destroys.

I’d love for us to stop emphasising the sex and start emphasising the emotional aspects of the crime.   Because we need to set sex free.

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Is It Just Me

Or does Viva Laughlin look like the stupidest thing on TV this fall?

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There’s a discussion going on over here about Quiver Full families. I’ll perhaps share my feelings on the whole QF controversy at another time, but the thing I would like to address right now is a throw-away remark early on in the discussion.

William, my favourite Doctor Of Guitar Performance says

If I had a daughter, I’d encourage her to be a doctor or an astronaut, not simply to learn to be submissive to men because that what “god wants.”

I appreciate what he’s saying, and it does look very pro-woman on its face. Very “you go, girl” and all that. Which is nice, but I don’t think it’s what daughters need or want to hear, because it still forces a choice. It still values one path above another by saying
“doctor/astronaut=complex and challenging life but other roles=simplistic and boring life.”

Instead, this is what I plan to tell Magdalen:

Life is long. Life is varied. Life is filled with unexpected joy and sorrow. Do your best to meet the challenges of life with the gifts you’ve been given. Maximise your strengths, strengthen where you are weak. Seek to know love in its purest forms. God has shown you what is Good and what is required of you. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

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