Monthly Archives: April 2013

Banned Words

kim kardashianYou’d think a gory-horror-movie loving, rock-n-roll heathen like me would be opposed to censorship.

Normally you’d be right, but when it comes to protecting America’s collective intelligence from inane, trendy words and phrases that spread through the world of online journalism like an Old Testament-grade cockroach infestation, the oppressive dictator in me comes out.

That’s right. I’m calling for a ban. A burning even.  I’m saying, “Let’s go Fahrenheit 451 on its ass.” If you’ve been anywhere near an entertainment page recently, you know the term I’m talking about: baby bump.

Please, gossip scribes of the world, I implore you for the sake of substantive writing everywhere… stop saying “baby bump.” Every time I see it, I feel as if a rabid goat is chewing on my last nerve. Outside of my general compassion toward all humans, I really don’t care about Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy. I wish her and Kanye a healthy, happy child, but you really don’t need to tell me every time her “baby bump” makes a public appearance. Women have been giving birth for at least 70 or 80 years (as far as I know; it could be longer), but we haven’t had to hear about baby bumps until about 2 years ago. Do we have nothing better to talk about?

And while you are in the process of learning how to make better choices, entertainment writers, can you also rethink the wisdom of “Sideboob”? You know, like when an actress shows up on the red carpet wearing a top that exposes her flanks and you seem to think it warrants an article with a sideboob declaration in the headline. Amanda Seyfried’s sideboob! Scarlett Johansson’s sideboob! Louie Anderson’s sideboob! Holy crap, three-dimensional objects can also be seen from the side! Why didn’t Stephen Hawking tell us?

Where are all the frontboob stories, by the way? I think every time a female celebrity steps outside and isn’t wearing a deep-sea-diving suit or some other encumbrance that obscures the existence of her breasts, we should get an article about it. Newsflash: Anne Hathaway’s frontboobs arrive at a given destination .05 seconds before the rest of her body!

Perhaps calling for an outright ban is a little too Kim Jong Un for a patriotic blog like this one. I know entertainment writers are under a lot of pressure to generate material in the internet age. How about I just foster the notion that self-respect and dignity are, in the end, at least as worthwhile as a few clicks.

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There are certainly plenty of songs with “baby” in the title for me to choose from. Here’s a pretty good one by The Supremes. Note: My apologies to anyone  who is offended by the gratuitous frontboob taking place in this video It’s hard for them to sing in deep sea diving suits, I’m told.

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Technology – I Spit at Thee

Do you remember early in Jurassic Park when we learn that Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) can make an electronic device fail just by looking at it? This is a foreshadowing of later events in the film when a storm causes the high-tech dino-security system to break down, and it’s also a metaphor for what happens when man tries to clone flesh-eating monsters: Something will go wrong.  Mother Nature is not impressed by our silly inventions!

Jurassic-Park2

I’ve got the same problems as Dr. Grant, minus the T-Rex running around, which is why they won’t make a movie about me. Anyway, nothing that plugs in ever works the way it’s supposed to for me, and none of the latest features or applications is remotely interested in my clicking and screen-touching.

Let’s clear one thing up right away: I am not a dope. I graduated from my university with highest honors. I learn complex concepts pretty quickly, and I can hold my own in lofty discussions about philosophy, art, and Godzilla movies. To the point, I use computers all day at work and manage to get stuff done. But at work, I have access to a kick-butt IT team. When I have a problem, they have a solution, usually within three minutes. Unfortunately, we part ways at 5 p.m., and suddenly I’m in shark-infested waters with a bucket of chum and no lifeguard around for miles.

For starters, my house phone doesn’t work. The unit itself turns on and all the features operate, so I replaced the phone jack and the wire. The modem/router is distributing the signal, and the maintenance guys in my complex confirmed that the juice is flowing as it should. Nevertheless, no dial tone.

My wireless network doesn’t work, either. Again, I have a new modem/router that is confirmed operational. It’s sending a signal to my laptop, my printer, and my wife’s laptop. All those devices acknowledge the network. Nevertheless, no internet without wires. That’s a problem in a three-level apartment.

My new printer stopped working, though I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve rarely had to change ink, because none of my printers has ever lasted long enough to run out. If I were Jacob Marley, I wouldn’t be dragging chains and locks behind me; I’d have a mile of broken printers. All these devices do is sit there on a desk. Why do they keep breaking?

You'll just have to take my word for it that I can play this guitar.

You’ll just have to take my word for it that I can play this guitar.

It’s not just hardware, either. Today I planned to release the first single from my album through a music distribution site. For 10 bucks, they will put it on iTunes, Amazon, et al, with 100% of royalties going to me. Good deal. That is, if I could get the damned song to upload! I downloaded the latest iTunes player, formatted the bits, bytes, wavs, and whatever other technonsense they told me to format, and clicked the pretty ‘upload’ icon. For an hour.

File nowhere to be found. Somehow, I don’t think Lady Gaga has these problems.

I hate technology.

If I had an iPhone, it wouldn’t ring. If I had iTunes, they wouldn’t sing. I don’t know what an iPad does, but if I had one, it wouldn’t do it. Sure, my stuff is wireless. Why plug things in that don’t work?

My files don’t attach. My pixels don’t match. My blue tooth is red. My blu-ray is dead.

My high definition is low. My DVR records no show. The stream of my video went dry. My HDMI cables curled up and died.

I guess I’m just an analog kid living on a digital planet.

How about you? Are you living la vida gadget, or do you want to help me look for a cave?


Why I Never Made it in the NBA

Not me

Not me

Different people have different talents. Michelangelo chiseled marble better than just about anybody. Lennon and McCartney were geniuses at composing hit songs. I am good at coming up with grossly misleading blog-post titles.

I discovered I would never be an NBA star in ninth-grade gym class. A several boys, including me, were given basketballs and told to practice jump shots and lay-ups. A few shots went in, some bounced off the rim, and most rebounded off the backboard. Except mine. Mine were off by 10 feet. I was throwing ‘em over the backboard, under the backboard, into the bleachers… everything but net. There was something about the timing of jumping and throwing that I couldn’t quite get.

After about three minutes of this mayhem, the gym teacher (a barrel-chested little bulldog of a man whose name I can’t recall) pulled me aside to have a chat.

“Eric,” he said. “I want to get you some help. I know it’s tough being a kid these days with all the temptations and everything. But we’re going to get you cleaned up.”

I stared at him, baffled. What the hell was he talking about?

He went on. “It’ll just be between you, me, the school nurse, and the guidance counselor. So what are you on? Quaaludes? Percocet? Meth?”

My face expression must have been like that of a nun being asked her favorite sexual position. “But I don’t take–”

“Now, don’t worry. We aren’t going to tell your parents. We just want to get you some help.”

“I don’t take drugs!” I said. I’d never even smoked a cigarette.

“Look, son, no one can be that bad at basketball naturally.”

I had two choices at this point. I could quit basketball, or I could practice my butt off, every day after school, to prove to that gym teacher and the world that I wasn’t the world’s worst basketball player, sober or otherwise. What do you think I did?

I certainly didn’t stay after school to practice basketball, that’s for sure. I suck at it. Why should I torture myself just so I can move up a notch or two on the spazmo scale and force some other poor shmuck to be the worst? I’d rather spend that time doing something I’m good at, like writing.

The moral of my story is that showing determination is great, but not if my reason for doing so is because I’m comparing myself to someone else. Had I loved basketball but been bad at it, I might have stuck with it. Eventually I would have been OK. But I really don’t care if I suck at that sport. Let someone else be good.

Writing, on the other hand, I love. I want to keep improving so I can tell better stories that are more exciting and emotionally powerful for my readers. I’m probably a more skilled writer than any of those kids in my ninth-grade gym class turned out to be, considering the time and effort I’ve put into the craft. But who cares if I’m not? I can only be the best I can be.

So the moral of the moral of this story is, “Comparing yourself against the achievements of others will only make you irritable and more likely to eat too many potato chips.”

[Special thanks to Phil’s Misadventures in Fiction for partially inspiring this post]

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Today’s theme-appropriate music selection is from Annie get Your Gun

 


A novel writer’s five most dreaded words

1. Synopsis

2. Query Letter

3. Chapter One*

Janet-Leigh

 

 

*inspired by my blogging buddy Megan Cashman at MeganCashmanBooks