Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Aristotle 384 BC-322 BC
I did a lot of reading this summer. We’re talking tons, morning til night, for days on end. The result of this is I’ve become a bit of a book review connoisseur. One thing I’ve discovered is that finding or writing a useful book review is no easy task. Reviews such as “this book is awesome” or “this piece of trash was not worth the paper it’s printed on” or “the author is a spawn of Satan” are opinions that make me want to rip my hair out. They are not helpful to the writer or the reader. Why was it awesome? Why was it trash?
In a way, I’m more tempted to read the trash books because whatever was in the book ticked the reviewer off so much that I want to see it for myself. The word awesome is so over used that it almost meaningless. To me is says that the reader is probably in their 20s and has read maybe 15 books in their life, the majority of them required reading. I could be wrong and maybe I’ll start asking the reviewers what their definition of awesome is. If it includes snowboarding and punking their friends on YouTube then there you go. Not my cup of tea.
One thing that I’ve gleaned from reading reviews is with eBooks and self-publishing, just about anybody can shoot a book out there. A person with enough tenacity to put together a book deserves at least an E for effort. Some of stories are absolute drivel that would never make through a major publishing house for whatever reason – thin to nonexistent plots, flimsy characters, the ravings of a lunatic, so smarmy it borders on nauseating. Unfortunately some potentially fantastic pieces of fiction get out there without the benefit of a good editor or proof reader.
This is where it gets sticky. Some beginning authors publish their book as if they were a lizard laying an egg. Just plop and move on, never come back to check on it. It’s a shame to see a book on amazon with 8 reviews and all of them suggest the author run their book through spell and grammar check, and then go on to complain about the formatting. Not one word about the contents of the book and never a peep from the author. Other authors that are engaged check on their reviews, respond, and put out a revised edition or whatever it takes. It’s easy enough to do with an Ebook. These are the authors that I will keep an eye on.
As a result, when I do finally spit out a book length fiction story I’m going to make double damn sure that I spell check it 187 times. I’m also going to try to talk everyone I can think of in to proof reading it with me. Hopefully there will be content buried somewhere in the collection of properly spelled and formatted text. I would not want it to die the death of faint praise. “Well it was OK I guess, but I sure wish she had run it through the goll dang speller thingy a time or 2.”
To me the worst part of a hurricane is not the storm itself, but the aftermath. No matter what happens you are guaranteed to spend days of no electricity, extreme boredom, ennui, various amounts of clean up, muggy heat, and mosquitoes. On top of that is the annoying drone of generators none of which are yours, dammit.
As of yesterday none of my eighteen some odd relations in the gulf coast area had power. All are OK, no injuries, property damage, or anything of a serious or untoward nature happened. However, propriety requires that I wait at least a week before calling to use my best smug “I told you so” tone of voice and ask “betcha you’ll never do that again, huh?”
Why do we stay put for coming events that we know are going to range from mildly unpleasant to a potentially gruesome fatality? We’ve all done it. Women stay abusive relationships. A random idiot sees a funnel cloud approaching across a field and instead of running for cover, films it approaching, while muttering “oh shit” under their breath. Yes, yes we all have a morbid fascination with a disaster heading right towards us. Oooo, maybe this film smidgen will go viral on YouTube.
The trouble with Hurricanes is that they are rather uncooperative and refuse to fit themselves into an evening prime time spot on the Telly or a 30 second film on a social media site. Naming them after males instead of females has not made them any more dependable. These pesky disasters insist on dragging on and on. Long after brief attention spans have moved on to the latest titillating scandal or tragedy.
I have to say though, that I am impressed with the pre-staging of electricity repair trucks, Red Cross Aid, etc. Someone would have to be shot at dawn if that at the very least was not done in light of how horribly wrong the Katrina recover effort floundered 7 years ago.
Driving home from New Orleans to North Texas recently I took a side road for diversion. In the middle of nowhere I drove past what seemed like miles and miles of abandoned identical trailer homes. What I was seeing was trailers left over from Katrina that were never distributed. 2 of my relatives had their homes destroyed, but never “qualified” for the FEMA trailers. Now hundreds of these unused hulks sit in rural Louisiana slowly rusting away.
The logistics of administering aid to those in a crisis is obviously a complicated nightmare. I’m hoping this time for Isaac things go better and those who need help get help.
One thing that puzzles me though is why do people stay in a place that is routinely wiped off map? Part of it, I assume, is that it is not that easy to pick up your entire life and relocate it elsewhere. Greater minds than mine have puzzled this through the ages. Living in Pompeii was probably pretty rockin’ right up until the end.
Checklist for the movie outing. Keys- check, Sunglasses- check, ear plugs-check, 500 dollars for snacks- check, body armor? Oh damn, forgot to wash it again. Hun, get your clothes out of the dryer so I can put my laundry in there.
Screwed up 6 ways from Sunday is almost all I can say about the recent shooting at the Colorado movie theater. Saying that I’m shocked, horrified, grief stricken just doesn’t cover it. Mr. Husband has asked me if I wanted to go to the movie the last several days and I’m reluctant to go. Gee, I wonder why. Will I hit the floor if someone stands up suddenly to go to the restroom? Wait till it comes out on Blu-ray?
Maybe I’ll get it on the research to develop a personal force-field generator. Would it filter out sounds and smells also? Better to stay home? I don’t think so. OK, maybe for a few days or weeks to recuperate. It will take a lot longer for those poor souls in Colorado who lost loved ones. How do you get over that?
This incident is going to stoke the fires in the raging debates about the nature of violence, gun ownership, video games, TV, all the usual suspects. Will we ever know what went on in the mind of the man who did this? Will that help? I doubt it, it hasn’t in the past.
I’m still in the “right to own a gun” camp. But I ponder the implications. In the USA, it’s easier to buy a gun than it is to buy an over the counter medicine with a decongestant in it. Tap a few keys on my computer and I could have an arsenal big enough to protect a small country shipped over night to my doorstep.
If I want decongestants I have to go stand in the line at the pharmacy, show my identification and sign a form saying that I do not intend to use the medicine to cook up a batch of meth. I don’t cook for Christ’s sake. Anything that involves cooking and is also illegal is the last thing I’m going be doing, trust me.
Unfortunately, focusing on the weapons aspect of this tragedy is too narrow a focus. Disturbed groups and individuals will find a way to commit murder.
I have my own theory about what’s going on here in the USA. I think the “just do it” and the “anything goes” mentality has gotten way out of hand. Am I attempting to cast blame on the “me” generation? Hell no. What I’m trying to say is that our collective reality check got flushed down the commode somewhere along the way. Being rude, hateful, ornery, thoughtless, selfish, mean, nasty and a danger to others is glorified daily. If you spend an hour on YouTube watching “funny” homemade video clips your hair will turn gray, if it’s not already.