Color Quiz

I found this test simple to take and eerily accurate—not only because I am a manipulating, lazy, perfectionist, who enjoys my status quo and revels in his selfishness, but mostly because of the thinly veiled verbiage of the results.

Existing Situation
Veach is working to improve his image in the eyes of others so as to obtain their compliance and agreement with his needs and wishes.

- I manipulate others by pretending to be good?

Stress Sources
Veach wishes to be independent, unhampered, and free from any limitation or restriction, other than those which he imposes of himself or by his own choice and decision.

- My stress comes from lazyness, unemployment, and the fact that I'm off the grid?

Restrained Characteristics
Veach is demanding and particular in his relations with his partner or those close to him, but careful to avoid open conflict since this might reduce his prospects of realizing his hopes and ideas. Veach also remains emotionally unattached even when involved in a close relationship.

- I keep a leash on my aloof, unloving, cowardly, bullheaded, perfectionism at home?

Desired Objective
Veach shelves his ambitions and forgoes his desire for prestige, as he prefers to take things easily and indulge his longing for comfort and security.

- I hold on to fear-of-success and lack of consumerism to insure my couch-potato status quo?

Actual Problem
Veach fights against restriction or limitation, and insists on developing freely as a result of his own efforts.

- It all comes down to my selfish rebuking of guidance, charity, and instruction?

New Quill Ting Project

I want to thank everyone who participated in last season's QUILLT. The willingness of the writers to try something different resulted in a process which taught me many things. Hopefully, they gained something from it also. I'm not only in debt to those writers who submitted 100-word patches. I'm also appreciative of those who were merely interested but became either daunted by, or disdainful of, the ongoing work. Thank you all.

For those unfamiliar with this writing project, I direct you to the site at (which can also be found under blogging machinery in my side-bar). The nineteen patches which compose the Summer 05 Quillt, can be read there.

I'm checking to see which way the wind is blowing in order to identify if there are enough contributors willing to dive in, to a new experiment—with different starting ground-rules (explained at the site).

Two writers have already informed me they are ready to start again; and, although I wrote the initial patch last time, new guidelines will permit me to perform editorial duties, solely, this time. A minimum of five writers are needed. If you are interested, please notify me at or include your email in a comment.

Surprising Thread of Flowering Weeds

While perusing some bulletin boards on IMDB to complete a film review, which I'll post in a few weeks (because the film is not a Keeper), I ran across these comments.

None of them have anything to do with the film I was researching, or any film for that matter, but I found these threads oddly entertaining and the last one enlightening. It was as if I'd been crawling through the vegetable garden pulling weeds, and discovered a bouquet of flowers growing where none had been previously planted.

First, beckmgt1 makes a self-censored declaration in regards to a small spitting-match between two previous commenters who were anon-hating each other for using improper English. The only changes I've made is uncensoring all the [bleep]'s:

Let me just throw in my two cents, to everyone who thinks writing correctly and speaking correctly are unimportant:

Society is going to hell in a hand basket, and it's because too many people out there are too fucking lazy to do anything right, including speaking or writing their own language correctly. The problem is not that there are some typos here and there, it's that people just don't care enough to even express their own thoughts clearly. And I'm not talking about just these message boards, which are kinda casual; I'm talking about out in the real world. Out there, if you try to tell me something, and with your own words you show that you are either too stupid or too lazy to learn to speak your own goddamn language correctly, then your opinion means nothing... because you have shown that you are lazy and/or stupid. Only a fool regards the opinions of a fool.

Wait, the word regard isn't a word you hear a lot of people say everyday, so maybe I should explain what it means... it means something like, "listen to; pay attention to." Am I being a smartass? I don't think so, because it has been argued very clearly by so many of you enlightened people out there, that knowing what English words mean is just too much to expect from everyone in an English speaking country. "Only Mr. 'Fancy Pants' knows big or not-commonly-used words." Well, if I treat you like an idiot, if I talk down to you, it's because you have suggested that I should; because knowing your own language is too much for you. Besides, I have no way of knowing what words are going to be too challenging for you. I’m using nothing but English words! Oh, but I’m being uppity by using words you don’t know. It’s not that you’re stupid, it’s that I’m conceited. Isn’t that correct? Well, if I'm talking over your head when I use big words, it's your fault, not mine. Those big words are not big words; they are just words that are bigger than your knowledge; and if you don’t know them, it’s your fault for being too lazy to learn.

And now to the real point of the whole thing: The problem is not that so many people have trouble learning how to spell, or how to write; it's that most of them are too lazy. They're too lazy to try. They're too lazy to even think. And if they're too lazy to even express their own thoughts clearly -- their own thoughts… nothing should be more important to you than your own thoughts -- then they're very likely going to be too lazy to pull their weight in society. They're going to be too lazy to do their job right (or at all.) And while poor spelling skills may not truly affect me, a lazy worker does affect me, and it affects you. No matter what job you have, if you do a halfassed job of it, then you are hurting the people around you. You may think that your job doesn't matter that much; but if someone is paying you to do a job, then that job is affecting someone. And if you do a halfassed job of whatever you do, then the next time you...I dunno...go for fast food, and you get home and find that they shortchanged you for an item, then you have absolutely no right to get mad. If you’re too lazy to do your own job well, then you yourself are shortchanging someone, and you have no right to be upset when someone does it to you.

(And as a side note… Employers, not all of the blame for poor workmanship goes to the employees. You have to give them an incentive to do their job well. You have to back up your diligent workers, and give everyone a reason to care. I look around and see that in so many cases, no one cares what kind of work they do; and it’s because there is no payoff for doing a good job. There’s no more benefit for doing good work than for slacking off. It seems that the people who are the happiest are the slackers who just come in for a paycheck, call in sick when they’re not sick, and leave their work for the good workers. So they get a paid day off, while the good worker gets extra work for no more pay. So you need to pay attention to who it is that’s really reaping the rewards. Your good workers won’t be good workers for long in a system like that. Do you continue to invest in something that’s not paying off? No; and neither will your employees.)

But back to the point: The biggest shame is that there are so many of you out there who still need to have these things explained to you. There are so many of you out there who just don’t give a shit about anything you do, and your lazy speech is just one way you show it. So when somebody on these message boards starts to complain about the pitiful writing skills found on every single thread of these boards, their complaint isn’t with people who try to learn but genuinely can’t; their complaint is that most of the sloppy writing is done by people who are just too lazy to do it right; and the ramifications of that are significant.

And those of us who can speak the language, and who do put in the effort, are horrified to see that such a HUGE number of you out there are so damn lazy, and so very stupid, and so foolishly proud of it; and that there are so many others who are stupid enough to defend that laziness under the pretense of “enlightenment”.

Then c g sutton chimed in:

I have to agree with your rantings about the lack of proper spelling, punctuation and grammar in today's society. I have always tried to write clearly and concisely in order to put a point across, as it is meant to be read. Although sometimes a little thing such as a missed comma or full stop can mean the difference between a question and an insult. (Personal experience after writing a hurried text to a friend).

I don't have a problem with people not knowing how to spell long words or having Dyslexia, but I do have a problem with people not making an effort to combat their weaknesses. If I am unsure of a spelling then I will look it up, or if I think I may have worded something badly then I will ask someone to double-check it for me. This doesn't make me any less of a person or harm my creative side.

Today's children are being encouraged to be more artistic and creative and not worry about such small things as reading and writing. This mainly coming from teachers (not all) who are so badly educated themselves that it saves them from having to mark the work. If you truly care about what people think, then make an effort and get it right. It will have more impact than you can imagine. (For example. All the opinions on this board may be valid, but only the readable ones will be noticed. Who wants to spend hours deciphering gobbledygook)?

Which was immediately followed by tovah987's opinions, which continue deviating most eloquently:

Although I do agree with most of what you wrote, I do have to point out that every native English speaker DOES speak their language correctly. What you are referring to is called colloquial or informal speech, there is NO set standard for the spoken English language. There are accents/dialects that are regarded as more sophisticated, but this is just a result of the ignorance of English speakers. Each dialect of the English language (whether it be Cockney, Hiberno, Southern American, or Newfoundland) has their own set of rules and as a speaker grows up in that environment, they learn those set of rules.
For example, there are several Newfoundland expressions that likely wouldn't be understood in other dialects, such as "what are you at?" (loosely means how's it going? or how are you doing?) or "stay where you're to" (don't leave!). This does not make it wrong because Newfoundland speakers understand these expressions within their own dialect.
In the Hiberno dialect (old Irish), they contract "am" and "not" to form "amn't" (e.g. I amn't joking). This form isn't used anywhere else, yet is it wrong? No. They also use archaic forms like "ye" (you formal), that has died out in just about every other dialect of English, so does that make the rest of the English speakers wrong for not retaining it? No. Our language changed because speakers felt like we did not need that word any longer.
By now you probably get the point, so just apply this new knowledge and note that there are dialectal variations among English speakers.
Also, the English language is not deteriorating. If that is the case, then English has been on a downfall since its beginning and it will continue to "deteriorate". The fact is that languages change; it is inevitable! Try all you want, you cannot stop it.

I'm sure you've heard of Beowulf, right?
Him þa ellenrof andswarode,
wlanc Wedera leod, word æfter spræc,
heard under helme: "We synt Higelaces
beodgeneatas; Beowulf is min nama.

My, my, how English has changed. If only those speakers could hear/see the language now!
Just because a person doesn't know 'big words', as you referred to them, doesn't make that person any stupider than you. They can still express their thoughts just as well as you because language is an inherent trait in the human brain. Everyone has the capacity to learn language and a person's brain does not care what language (and/or dialect) one learns. Not only that, but words are arbitrary. There is a long-standing debate among Americans about whether "pop" or "soda" is more correct for that "nonalcoholic, flavored, carbonated beverage, usually commercially prepared and sold in bottles or cans". This is absolutely ridiculous because speakers from different regions know that "pop" and "soda" refer to the same thing! In the US, "a variety of squash having an elongated shape and a smooth, thin, dark green rind" is called "zucchini", but in the UK, it's called "courgette". Lexical differences do not make one wrong.
As I said before, I agreed with most of your post, mainly that regarding written language. BUT this is the Internet, another means of communication, that people will more than likely use informal writing in (Oh my goodness, did I just use a preposition at the end of a sentence? Oh, how could I? Guess what? The rule was originally a LATIN rule, not an English one. One cannot apply one rule of one language to another. One cannot apply the rules of German to Spanish, just as one cannot apply the rules of English to Tagalog). Formal written language should be used in the workspace and in the school system, but chances are people will keep writing informally on the Internet. I hate it, but I choose to ignore it. You can do the same. Both you and I will know that the people who choose to keep writing at such an informal and elementary level will have a harder time finding a job and will have a harder time being taken seriously.

Book Recommendation: Velocity

Another capably written and suspenseful problem-themed book, which contains engaging characters and a reasonably interesting plot. This serial-murderer-with-a-twist is less full of fun and flourish. It is also completely grounded, with no Koontzish-paranormalality — as if he didn't really enjoy creating some of these characters and skimmed over the usual intricate descriptions to get this book finished. An exception is one minor character: Ivy Elgin (whom I hope gets a novel of her own very soon).

If this book is unavailable at your local library, check used bookstores.


digital rendering by veach st. glines, creative commons license 2005

September's 11 thru 20

back-forward to this story's first 1000 words

Keeping her in my peripheral vision, I turned my head and examined the tree line. Wind-surge through branches made quasi-surf sounds. I stared at one tree…on the edge, lighter than the rest—an easy focal point. Sometimes, a hawk landed there. Not today.

The phrase: unable to see the forest from the trees, referred to gaining understanding by stepping back and examining things objectively and in their entirety.

It appeared that Zuella’s puppeteer thought I was hungry to accomplish a new errand. Maybe other trees in this dragon-master’s woods were ravenous to return, no matter how sickening the task.

Voicing my quandary was tantamount to contemplating the inevitable depression, which would inseminate me while I executed Zuella’s errand. Despair would linger like hot tar scars after a tar and feathering. Nonetheless, I wanted to return. The desire for more experiences and fresh memories was stronger than the return baggage. Even if the feelings were once removed—I missed the good shit. I looked at Zuella. She was either meditating or up-linked mentally with her Cheohss (which would not surprise me). I said, “I’ll accept the punishment you have for me.”

“I’ll grant you one wish, first.” She whispered skyward.

“Tell me everything about the principle players in my next task, before I leave. Everything. Who, what, where, when, why, how—the whole miserable payload—I want to know more about them, than they know about themselves.”

“Why? What difference could all that knowledge make?”

“Not telling you why, is also my wish.”

She was a dozen feet away, eyes closed, head tipped back—now standing next to me with her hand resting on my upper arm. Her location changed silent-instantaneously as if the special effects editor removed a few seconds of film.

Goosebumps raced down my skull and back.

She said, “Don’t forget who and where you are. Why you are here. How long you have been here. And how much longer you are going to be here... Tool. Also don’t forget what this cage was like when you started.” Her voice took on a slippery note, which I couldn’t smell. “Your past wishes all have been within acceptable parameters—why not request something more sensible. Maybe a quaint lighthouse on the horizon?”

“No.” I mumbled. I thought about looking away from her too-close face, but was afraid to make any movement she may interpret as fear. “Just information.”

Her hand, which was still touching my arm, began to feel warm. Warm! I hadn’t felt anything in so long that I involuntarily smiled. Then everything switched off.

No sounds. No sights. No smells. No warmth on my arm, (which I attempted to lift but couldn’t feel) my body was gone. I tried inhaling; no air meant no talking. I was back to square one. I thought about the endless evil I was responsible for—and the small semblance of sanity I gained, over time, by slowly turning this gray nothingness into an oasis of reality with my small wishes.

Blue. Ice. Drifting. Growing. Fracturing. Other senses disconnected, but I recognized odd shapes of information drifting in the void. Wait. How did I make that illogical connection? Pain. I felt pain in my thoughts; a freezing, biting, excruciating-migraine-on-acid sensation, which would bring death if only that were again possible.

Joseph Francis Lorber Jr. born 20 years ago in upstate New York and raised by his paternal grandparents, Etta Mae and Gene, after his parents committed murder-suicide, unusual in that his mother, Francine, shot his father with a .410 shotgun before overdosing on a cocktail of weight-loss pills, alcohol, and heroin...

The details of Joe Lorber’s life gained speed...scenes, odors, foods, and noises, engulfed and shocked me. His thoughts rushed into actions that plummeted through his waking and sleeping world only to course beyond my grasp—as if he lived his life strapped into a roller coaster.

My brain-pain receded when I stopped speed-reading the hourly blur of Joe’s life and focused on the fabric of his months and seasons after they were knitted. Understanding my confusion became exciting; but would this intimacy alter the only part of me still in existence? Fear prickled. Does sanity recognize it’s own departure?

Weight and color—I have both. Both!

The first thing I’ll forget after I leave is also the first thing I feel—the constant tug of gravity on my bones. Joe’s bones. This time I know what flavor of simpering idiot I’m wearing and it makes all the difference.

The tunnel glints. Pulses. Vision takes the longest to tune in.

Although I’m still only a ride-along, I hear bustle and smell indifference and euphoria: words indistinct, pavement under shoes, grilled meat on warm eddies of passing cars. A horn. Exhaust. Damn I feel great...Joe, of course, feels slightly dizzy.

“You okay Joe-Lo?”

I recognize the voice as Robert-not-Bob’s, my—Joe’s—friend since their freshman year. I don’t try to respond; it’s too soon. Joe doesn’t say anything; he’s feeling about as good as I can see.

“Sit down, man. You look fragged all-a-sudden.”

I feel Robert-not-Bob’s shoulder under my right armpit. As he steers, colors begin coalescing. Joe sits hard. I feel cold concrete steps under and behind me. No harm in pushing things, so I try: I’m hungry. An understatement, since I haven’t eaten in over 67 years. A grack-like choking sound comes out. Definitely a good start.

Joe whispers, “I’m not me, Robert. I’m going. I need a Doc...Doctor...” then slips off the steps. As Robert-not-Bob helps me up, I continue the sentence “...Pepper.”

Although I’ve never had it, it’s a drink Joe likes. The memory of it on his tongue makes me salivate. “Let’s go eat,” I say.

I laugh woozily with Robert-not-Bob. He seems honestly concerned, glad I’m feeling better, and accepts my low-blood-sugar explanation. As we plow through jammed sidewalks toward Ray’s on Twelfth, he explains, loudly, on a phone the size of a money-clip, “...after lunch, Barbara...with Joe-Lo...yes...loveya too...”


digital rendering by veach st. glines, creative commons license 2005

Misplaced scorn, who has it?

Went for a short hike at Montezuma Well last weekend. On my way back down from the edge of the sinkhole, as I began to pass a short, silver-haired, lady standing near the parking lot, I nodded and grunted 'llo. Which is my way of being cordial to Homo Sapiens. Admittedly, I'm much more friendly to most other animals—a few of whom (turtle, squirrel, gecko, hawk, butterfly, duck) I saw on this stroll—but, since they didn't look me in the eye, I didn't nod or talk to them.

Then, the sliverhair asked, "How was it? Is it worth it?" Which sounded more like four slightly accented words — howzit? zit worth 'ate?

I wondered about her accent, but focused on her last question. Since the park is free, I assumed she meant: 'is it worth the climb for such a frail-old-bitch as myself'.

I replied, "It's nice. There's nothing like this for hundreds of miles in any direction. It's a short walk over that hill." I was now moving a little slower, but still heading toward the pit-latrines (which I could have found blindfolded since I was approaching from downwind) when I realized she had turned and was walking back to the parking lot with me; so I asked: "Are you from Australia?"

"I'm British...! humph..." She snort-grumbled.

I see we are approaching a couple standing in the shade, who must be her peers because they are all wearing similar clothes, skin, and hair, as silverhair exclaims indignantly, "Now I sound Australian! Can you believe it?" This last, obviously, directed at her mates as I continue to walk toward the loo without a 'thank yeh, cheerio' or a 'giidday'.

I wonder if—like many seem to think—the reason people hate people is really because their deity looks different or requires different acts of contrition? Maybe it's just because hate and scorn come easier to the tongue, and mind, than does kindness.

I've been asked my nationality in many different ways. In Turkey, a man rolled thru a litany of guesses, which he wanted to make ('No...don't tell meh...') until he got it right. I didn't ridicule his incorrect guesses (Canadian, British, South African) because he was playing the percentages—assuming previous nationalities were a way to predict current ones. To that man, anyone who spoke English sounded the same. Clearly, Americans didn't visit his store very often.

In Cairns, Australia, I witnessed the silverhaired lady's disdain—only in reverse. The British were scoffed at, and labeled POHM (Prisoners Of Her Majesty) as in: 'the pohmmy bastad would like anotha laga.'

The same thing happens within our States un-United: southerners are scorned for the ignorance and race-crimes of their ancestors (which may or may not have been handed down through the generations). Big city dwellers are disliked because of their rude insensitivity (caused by having to deal with so many rude and insensitive people). Suburban gated-community inhabitants are disdained for their disdain (a curable infection passed from their neighbors, which is cultivated and rarely cured).

I thought, later, that I should have asked: where are you from, rather than make a guess. But, then the silverhaired lady wouldn't have had an opportunity to reinforce my belief that even the most benignly geriatric Homo Sapiens can be impolite bigots who deserve my scorn.

Maybe you tripped and fell in, you haughty crone...maybe you got drug under by an autumnal swarm of flaming water scorpions and they handed you off to the deeper swimming leeches.

One can only hope.

Thank you for renewing my lack-of-faith, yer highness; I was beginning to wonder if I was going soft on humans. I wasn't.

September's 1 thru 10

Her hair, caught by an offshore gust, became tangled around her face. She left it—as if certain the wind would shift. “How often have we had this conversation?”

“We never tire of it,” she said. The smile in her voice didn’t make it all the way to the corners of her mouth and amounted to a long climb up a wooden stair from her eyes. “It’s slightly different every time. Like various gorp mixed into vanilla ice cream.”

I said, “our talks are like sundaes?”

“Yea...with fruit or jimmies—never the same; always similar, sweet, and comfortably predictable.”

“Boringly so?”

“No,” she said, turning her back to the sea. The wind combed her hair, exposing her profile. I once furiously struck that cheek with an intoxicated elbow. Hard. I don’t remember much about that night; but I do recall my desire to inflict some deserved damage. I obviously failed.

“Are you going to grant me any wishes this time?” I asked.

Her smile, from neck to forehead, was the kind that erased memories of anger and guaranteed people wouldn’t focus elsewhere. Looking askance, she said with her signature giggle, “maybe you need to rub a lamp or something.”

As she walked away, the giggle—a closed mouth upper nasal thing—caused me to pause: What fricassee of dream-fate-imagination has brought me to this?

Seeking to place her feet only onto cool shadows, she hopscotched planks, causing footfall echoes to vibrate the pier and startle a gull congregation into screeching flight. I followed the handrail, examining her words for possible innuendo and waiting for an ever-elusive combination of wind and afternoon shadow to indicate—from dorsal contours under her waist-length hair and lightly patterned shift—the existence of undergarments. Evidence suggested there were none. No bra, panties, or innuendo.

She stopped and leaned against my handrail. As she braved the sun-scorched wood—under her arms, now, as well as her feet—I said her name for the first time in what seemed like decades but could have been centuries, “Zuella.” I wasn’t sure I had anything more, so I just watched her alternate cooling her soles like an indecisive flamingo. Our silence endured.

Two gulls returned. Braking prior to landing, they reminded me of The Birds when their wings struck back the air. Before I could ask if she remembered it, she said, “Draw another portrait of me?”


Pens in hand, I positioned myself sideways and cross-legged on a bench. Zuella faced me. Before I began, she rotated, tossed her mane, and said over her left shoulder, “I think the wind will cooperate best, if I sit like this.”

As I began to slash the pulpwood with her image, she said, “If I like the drawing, I’ll consider it.” Cryptic cunt. I assumed it referred to wishes, but wasn’t interested in feeding her ego enough to ask for clarification. The acrid ink commingled with drops from my face...which I assumed was sweat, spittle, blood, or all three.

After an eternity of rendering—with both of us looking inward—I stored my pens. The finished sheet tore from the pad leaving an uneven stub on the left side. Standing, I handed it to her.

“Who’s holding my bridle?”

“You may be my sole chance at salvation and eternal rest, but you’re equally the focal point of every evil I took the form of a domesticated dragon this time. I don’t know who holds it.” I lied, hoping she wouldn’t ask to see the pad.

She stood and let the wind carry it into the dark water.

I focused on the hand. After dropping my creation, it’s elbow retracted and fingers relaxed. Palm vertical, gravity caused it to cantilever slightly from the wrist—like a listless scavenger hanging on thermals above heavy automobile traffic—watching, and hoping, for death to feed it. I listened. There was no sound from the water as it consumed my mixture of fluids, ink, and paper; as it dissolved my crystallized thought-memories; my spite. As always, it accomplished it’s assignment without audible complaint. Likewise...I thought...the water and I have something in common. I wondered if it would be always so?

Eventually—after endless redundancy became, in itself, redundant—then, if I evolved into a leashed monster, there would be some symmetry. I imagine we differ very little, Zuella and I. My reasons for being here were hers: the dance of owner and pet.

“Chaos. It requires... ” Her voice now followed her gaze, which had descended with the portrait. She pronounced the ancient gods name as if reading it from a teleprompter for the first time; che-Ohss, instead of Kay-oss. The hand that didn’t destroy, climbed through her hair and busied itself behind her neck. I could hear it rustling. Softly.

All in one motion, she backed into the railing and tossed her hair. She watched me as her hand snapped from neck to waist, carrying a bunched shift-strap. The other hand, with purpose again, assisted—in a deliberate manner—to force the dress into performing as a skirt.

I examined the front of her unclothed upper torso. Having discarded all semblance of decorum into the timeless expanse—my stare didn’t leave her. Memories melded afresh. Her breathing had increased; in a temperature-less place like this, nipple non-contraction indicated a lack of arousal. Peripherally, I saw her face turn towards me.

As the wind curtained most exposed skin on her ventral side with hair, I stood—sidling—my back never to the beast. Creosote and marigold from the breeze I couldn’t feel, reminded me of little summers, teetering on hot oozing beams which edged grandmother’s garden.

Zuella said, “I doubt you’ll need much take a sabbatical.”

Although constructed like a statement, her end-inflection hinted at a question. “This sundae tastes different: A glimpse of mammary, a whiff of memories...and now I’m supposed to become compliant? Leave the pier? Wreak where pointed?”

“I think so—yes.” That fucking giggle.

Dragon rendering by IRISHWIND at Odium Generis Humani photos by Stefan Soell at FEMJOY

Keeper Alert: The Constant Gardner

The Constant Gardener (2005) directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, 2002); starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz: Snaprating=Keeper, PROBLEM theme (secondary Milieu theme). Fans of suspenseful romantic mysteries will love this wonderfully directed, edited, and acted amalgamation of Tears of the Sun, Beyond Borders, and The Bourne Supremacy.

Counterfeit Paper: A Valuable Teaching Tool

          If I were to teach an upper-level college writing class, I’d use this book as the foundation for my semester.

          Just as secret service agents need real, expertly crafted, counterfeit bills removed from circulation and brought into their classroom to learn how to identify bad paper, every writer needs a counterfeit novel which made it into circulation and received praise.  Through deconstruction of this book, I could teach almost everything writers shouldn’t do.

          Hundreds of places the author could have ‘shown us’ with suspense, but instead ‘tells us’ with weak boring sentences.  For example, this is all we are told about our main character being attacked by a mountain lion:
  ...In the end there was bad luck, because Ish missed his shot and instead of killing a lion merely raked it across the shoulders, and it charged and mauled him before Ezra could get another shot home.  After that he walked with a little limp...
          And this, I believe, is the author’s failed attempt at suspense, which results in confusion (I’ve omitted nothing): question, he knew, that they had not yet faced, and now she brought it forward.
“That would be fine!” she said.
“I don’t know.”
“Yes, it would.”
“I don’t like it.”
“You mean you don’t like it for me?”
“Yes.  It’s dangerous.  There’d be no one else but me, and I wouldn’t be any use.”
“But you can read—all the books.”
“Books!” he laughed a little as he spoke.  “The Practical Midwife?"...
          The first sentence was probably supposed to read:  …and now he brought it forward…  But even without the typo, this is not only horrible dialogue (in a book desperately short on dialogue) as well as massive misuse of exclamation points (three times on every page minimum) but an example of the authors incessant self-censorship and avoidance of certain words and descriptions.  He avoids reference to human intercourse, birth, death, pain, anger, hatred, bigotry and bloodshed.  In a story detailing a handful of human survivors in 1949 California after a planet-wide plague—avoiding those topics (or glossing over them) becomes a herd of white dinosaurs in the room.

          There are thousands of poorly constructed sentences (like this one, which contains a large word-proximity hiccup):
…He began to temporize, just as he used to do when he said that he had a great deal of work to do and so buried himself in a book instead of going to a dance.
          Factual errors, which could have been avoided with a small amount of research, are prevalent (here are two):
…batteries with the acid not yet in them...they made the experiment of pouring the acid into a battery…put it into the station-wagon. It worked perfectly… (I guess in 1949, putting battery acid in the battery charged it too!)
…The clock was run, he knew, by electrical impulses which were ordinarily timed at sixty to the minute. Now they must be coming less often… (AC power is 60 pulses per second).
          This book contains a main character and dozens of secondary characters we never grow to care about.  On almost every page a situation unfolds which could be easily re-written to involve the reader in the action, infuse the character(s) with depth and emotion(s), or add suspense to the plot.  Instead, the story centers around an emotionally dead man who preaches to a bland cast of less-than-ordinary idiots about their failure to reach for a fraction of their potential, while he wallows in an uncomfortable rut and never lifts a finger to attain any of his own potential.

          Aspiring writers and educators should use this counterfeit paper, available for less than the price of a cup of coffee at used bookstores, as a valuable learning/teaching tool.  In a time when there are so many books filled with examples of great writing—it's nice to have something chock-full of such a concentrated and vast range of terrible, boring, writing to weight down the other end of the scale.

Improve yer ogling skillz

Yes, it is puerile. I know; it's not—at all—a valuable asset. I'm equally surprised that I was even remotely interested enough to play it several times...until I won....with 10 seconds to spare.
So, I also know you won't want to try it here.

Book Recommendation: Common Nonsense

I can take five minutes of Andy Rooney and not be too bothered by his crotchety befuddlement. These 150+ essays, however, are redundantly crammed with balderdash and misspellings (which made it through spell-check, but were—obviously—never eyeballed). One strikingly obtuse slice of balderdash, which he repeats at least twice: ...more people are alive today than all the people who ever lived..., caused me to become a fact-checker. I found some plausable semi-science by using the keywords: number-of-people-who-have-ever-lived. The results indicated that maybe 100 billion+ have been born in the last 50,000 years. The current world population is less than 6% of the people ever born, Mr Rooney.
These blog-like essays wouldn’t bother me if they were posted in a free web journal (and may even receive my applause) but compile them in a book and I expect editors, fact-checkers, and publishers have earned their percentages. Not true, here.
If someone gives you this book for free (I’m re-gifting mine) stick it next to your toilet. It’s not worth buying, but a couple of the essays will maybe pass the time while you take a dump.

August's 21 thru 31

aware of th' measure—yea, I did things
think o’ yer pleasure—'n cat gut strings
tomorrow’s rose pink; Friday may be toooo
new for a blazin' visibly different taste

certainly I examine—the sound brings
wild familiar famine—your voice sings
of sorrow pour que; Friday may be toooo
true a sound you’d hate to waste

restrain celebration—hoop ear rings
change th' station—grow punkin wings
borrowed foam spray; Friday may be toooo
blue for mohawk, shave my face

Two fingers in th' pie,
Three quail—the sky,
Just so ya know why,
freckles won’t cry,
on Friiiiii-day.

Children and teenagers are insane. Failing to interpret gray areas when things are not clear-cut right or wrong, a child sees only black and white situations. To stab someone is wrong, to hug them is right; unfortunately people’s indifference registers as punishment because it isn’t praise.
Begin the correction process! Tell him, "I’ll never care about anything in your videogame world, ever." And tell her, "Repeating all your melodramatic 'she said’s' bores me." Teach children that the vast majority of their accomplishments fall somewhere between what you ate for lunch and what the DJ talked about during your morning commute.

Slow blink. A colorful left eye. Iris contracted. Visible toward the bottom of the frame, almost in profile, it focuses up and beyond, over the stark nose’s bridge. Centered above the eye, the fast sloping skin of the nose tapers from the lower-left up to an angular arc of brow. Quite a few dark eyebrow hairs are visible at the top. Above the swoosh of nose is a distant, unfocused, background of bright peacefulness. The eyelid lowers. Slowly. The head descends within the frame. Pauses. A youth-tightened eyelid’s wrinkles, clean and shallow, open to reveal a complete lack of make-up.

I have difficulty empathizing with anyone who professes to have Coulrophobia. I understand being afraid of heights; fall off a building—you could die. I sympathize with a fear of sharks; even those who eat little fish, because big teeth can maybe mean dead. Spiders? OK, some are poisonous. (Aren’t all these just fear of pain?) But, a fear of clowns...Jesus tap-dancing Christ! If you are incapable of rationally identifying a person wearing makeup and a costume, then you chose your fear, want this phobia, and—like any addict—must be getting something out of your ridiculous, Bozo fear.

Either you’re the most beautiful-ugly, mouth-breathing, genius on the unpleasant side of the lake, or you’re a raven out of the tarry night: claws firmly gripped in a dead fetus buried in the landfill.
You are a killer whale swimming into a pride of sea lions, hunting in the open; I’m ice fishing.
Just collecting letters between people attempting to move from internet to phone to meeting—each ending when Durden Tyler tells enough 'truth' to make them avoid being hit by a onrushing VW, like crows fleeing fresh road kill. Two crows to land on the squirrel?

I’m glad your money pit is still making you both happy (a gouging contractor is a learning experience — much like a kitchen ghost). I can’t recall the space over your garage; in fact, envisioning where the door will be installed, for the room you’re making, is not possible. Left-top of the stairs, I draw a blank. To the right of your beautiful wooden staircase I picture: guest room, hallway around it, and your bedroom; but my neurons failed to save images to the left. Funny, I recall your entire Brady Bunch house including bomb-shelter, loud walls, and mandatory nose icicles.

Puffy writing—riddled with phrases skittering tangentially along the periphery of the direct object, blurring a sentence’s focus, (interesting, at times, in an esoteric rhetorician’s way) and intentionally luring the reader away from the message that eventually, hopefully, every sentence reaches—stymies objective thought, enjoyable reading, and informative communication. Like a ladle-full of recently consumed alphabet soup vomited in your lap, it can be tolerated and forgiven...once. A continuous and never-ending torrent of vomit in your lap becomes inexcusable after a very short period. Say, five seconds...maybe ten at the outside. Puffy writing is bad writing. Nuff said.

Stranded in Maine while her husband was at sea in submarines, she had no friends and didn’t ask anyone how to care for you. Her family thought she was a fool to marry and get pregnant, so they didn’t talk. She thought you could survive on formula, so that’s all she fed you until you were almost a year.
You cried and cried; she gave you bottle after bottle. You never stopped crying.
She was a strongly stupid woman. Your first checkup, the doctor said: "He should have been on solid food for months". Now it’s labeled under 'cradle scars'.

"The feces created when ignorance eats too much blind devotion" — is the best label I can compose for a wedding without a prenuptial agreement. Still insist on going ahead without one? Please be kind enough to remember my scorn once you stop referring to each other by unbearably cute, food-based nicknames and half of your earnings, as well as a sizeable chunk of your future pension, becomes sole property of the third party — formerly known as: sweet cakes. Yes, it is as unromantic as applying pre-sex foam and condoms; but even Herpes doesn’t take 25% out of every pre-death dollar.

“If someone took money out of my wallet without permission — what should I do: punish him, or give him a second chance?”
“Ummm...” I could almost hear his confabulation slamming against the damned-if-I-do and fucked-if-I-don’t. I almost laughed.
“Doesn’t matter, now. You just admitted to it.”
“No, I...”
“It would be immeasurably stupid to blame your brother. After failing the question, don’t compound it by lying.”
“But, I...”
“The only words that might improve your position are: ‘sorry for taking your money and I won’t do it again.’
“Sorry for taking the money. I won’t do it ever again.”

Self-awareness is anchored on a full container’s ability to pre-decide how it’s eventual empty self should be disposed. Some opt to become vulture shit. Others choose reduction to ash. Many are pickled, packed, and wrapped in lead-lined concrete before being buried below the frost. The decision is, ultimately, the only act of importance. Since every container’s actual choice matters less than the color of it’s undergarments and quality of it’s last dessert — I wish to become fish food. Weight my container and sink it deep. If cost is prohibitive: cremate, and drop the urn in any available ocean or sea.