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Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Crit – Part Two

Here in Donna’s Adult World (NOT to be confused with the porn shop we pass every time we visit Poppy), I’ve done a bunch of scribbling. There’s the newsletter for one of the printing companies where I toiled for 20 years, the Association of Late Deafened Adults quarterly publication, work related instruction manuals and, of course, this here blog.

Important to keep in mind but easy to forget, I gotta keep my audience in mind – at the forefront, in fact.  What constitutes acceptable tone certainly depends on the business and the company BUT when writing for a company newsletter it is AOK and, for that matter, a very good thing to rock an informal tone and bring a side of wit to the table.

Is the newsletter just a prop – an HR sop to the worker bees though? Are the Powers That Be trying to give the impression, on the cheap, that they care? If that's the case, engaging writing is unimportant. You can be as dry as crisp bread – doesn't matter, no ones gonna be reading it, not even on the can.

Now, I’d gotten the husband of a dear friend a job at the large printing company where I’d been working for, at that point 15 years. He’d been unemployed for a long time despite multiple degrees (liberal arts). He was to be a proofreader – a new position. Before the morale boosting newsletter was set to print, I asked Newbie Boy to proof my columns. My thought was, he’d catch spelling and grammatical errors, possibly suggest better, more interesting words here or there.

Nope. N.B went full metal scold. He tore the piece apart, taking out even the faintest whiff of wit. His rewrite was as engaging and readable as a licensing agreement. You know, the long lists of terms and conditions that you need to agree to before buying/using but, like the rest of us, you just check the Yes-I’ve-Read-And-Agree and move on? Yeah, that. N.B. had just started with the company, knew nothing of the environment, the milieu. He didn’t know that this was a place where creativity was appreciated and applauded (at least on the personal level). Nope, apparently he’d somehow, strangely, mistaken us for some uptight, suit and tie, banal State Street financial company. Yep, I binned his piece and put my own back in.

When critiquing another’s work, keep the intended audience in mind!

Bast knows, I’m guilty of forgetting this. For example, I was asked to write my mother’s obituary. I left out the humor (though amusing obits are THE best) since that wasn’t really who my mother was but I wrote in my general style (sans swears of course!). This wasn’t some boring ass death notice and curriculum vitae BUT it was also not a rollicking, fluorescent retelling of mia madre’s life.

So then, I liked the eulogy I’d written but failed to keep in mind the audience. My mother’s friends were a conservative bunch. Maybe they would’ve appreciated my offering, maybe not. They never had the chance to read it though as the proofreader took it upon himself to completely rewrite and submit his own writing. Instead of sending me back the marked up copy with suggestions, he submitted his own obit for MY mother!

Yup. Catastrophically clueless, no?

Still, the first rule for writing a given piece AS WELL AS critiquing another person’s work – know and understand your target audience.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gun Land

10, 581 Americans have died by gun since January 1 of this year. Of those TEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-ONE dead Americans, 462 died in mass shootings.

What constitutes a “mass shooting?”
The current FBI definition of mass murder, commonly accepted by the media as a proxy for “mass gun violence”, is three or more people murdered in one event. (source)
There have been 354 of those suckers in the US since the beginning of 2016. Today is the 266th day of the year. IF no one goes all shoot-em-up happy today – in a mall, a movie theater, at a birthday party or wherevs – this works out to 1.33+ mass shootings PER DAY right here in the good ol’ US of A., Land of the Gun (formerly known as Land of the Free).
With the latest insanity, yesterday in Burlington, Washington, the number of humans murdered in death bonanzas totals 462. But I repeat myself.

This, by the by, works out to just about two friends, daughters, sons, uncles, aunts, husband, wives, sisters, brothers, grands and other assorted loved ones killed EACH day and that’s JUST at the big Death-Mob events.

Meanwhile, ~ 40 Americans die EACH DAY by some gun-wielding, toad brained, blobfish faced, asswipian cretin OR by, ya know, a curious toddler. By May first of this year, toddlers had shot, at least, 23 (themselves or others). In April alone, there were at least seven of these horrifying accidents.
  • On April 20, a 2-year-old boy in Indiana found the gun his mother left in her purse on the kitchen counter and fatally shot himself.
  • The next day in Kansas City, Mo., a 1-year-old girl evidently shot and killed herself with her father's gun while he was sleeping.
  • On April 22, a 3-year-old in Natchitoches, La., fatally shot himself after getting hold of a gun.
  • On April 26, a 3-year-old boy in Dallas, Ga., fatally shot himself in the chest with a gun he found at home.
  • On April 27, the Milwaukee toddler fatally shot his mother in the car.
  • That same day, a 3-year-old boy in Grout Township, Mich., shot himself in the arm with a gun he found at home. He is expected to survive.
  • On April 29, a 3-year-old girl shot herself in the arm after grabbing a gun in a parked car in Augusta, Ga. She is also expected to survive. (source)
gratuitous Valhalla dawn pic
 Can they really, truly be termed accidents?
Accident: any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause.
No, the parents didn’t deliberately set out to have their wee ones shoot themselves BUT if you’ve a gun in your home AND you keep it loaded, is it any fucking, big surprise that a kiddle can get hold of it? Mr. and Mrs. Negligent, Feeblebrained Gun Owner didn't plan on this happening but how much bloody forethought does it take to make sure it can't happen?

Kids are inquisitive little beasts. They explore the world around them. That’s what they do! If your gun isn’t locked up, shit’s gonna happen. That’s all there is to it.

But, back to the general topic – Death by Gun:
A) If a foreign power was responsible for killing 10, 581 of us, we'd be at war. I don't understand why anyone bothers to kill American citizens – we're doing such an excellent job of it all by ourselves.
B) It's time to vote the On-The-Take assholes out of the House and Senate. They will always vote for what benefits their lord and master, the NRA – NOT for what's best for us. Also too, it's past time to classify the NRA as a terrorist organization.
MoveOn.org has a petition up. I signed. I don't know what else I can do. Any thoughts?

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Crit – Part One

Klimt Salome
de Kooning Woman V
I was a music and then art major in college.

Critiques of my flute chops were a simple matter of How's her embouchure? Is she hitting the notes? Sailing though smoothly/seemingly without effort? It was all about technique, skill.

The art department was different. It seemed like there was an assumption on most profs respective parts that all us lovely studenten types had mad skillz and knowledge already; that we were just there for a radical assist in freeing up the creative juices of our brains.

Maybe true for some but most of us budding Klimts and Tàpies were at the start of our learning paths. We had raw talent and were just beginning to really understand and absorb how to use the paint, charcoal and ink to bring a model’s pose or a spark in our imaginations to life.

I wanted to learn technique – HOW can I accurately represent human form. I wasn’t ready to go full metal Estes or Rothko. Yet.

I remember one particular end of term advanced drawing crit. The instructor seemed to fancy himself molto cutting edge, on the verge of breaking big in Art World. Considering that we were in a small Appalachian backwater of a college town AND his work, at the time, was more gee-this’ll-look-good-over-the-sofa than contender for a Whitney Biennial, it's an understatement to say that he was delusionally full of himself.
Tàpies Lesperit-Català

In any case, for this full class crit, I presented four small drawings. They were hyper-real pencil drawings – close ups of different body parts, muscles and limbs of athletes. I was proud of what I’d accomplished. He’d hectored me all term for being too free with my line or some such. Nothing I did made this player happy. Meanwhile, one of his fave hipster boychiks could piss on an 8"x10" sheet of Strathmore and he'd swoon with praise.

He told me that I should’ve drawn a Sunkist label around the navel. Vaughn also loudly and clearly, in front of the entire class, voiced his doubts that I’d been the pencil magician who created the drawings. (I most def was) He then gave me a D for the term.

Another by Kevin – the man had monster talent
Angry? Me? Oh yeah, there was serious steam and heat comin' off yur faithful scribe's tête.
painting done by Kevin Scott in college

Now, I’d heard that he was besties with the woodworking department's new teacher. Dude was up for tenure and I was on the student committee which was advising the department heads on whether the guy was all that and a bag of chips or not. He was decidedly not. We strongly and unaminmously suggested NO.

Hmmm, was that D meant as tit for tat? Did this doofus just not like me (animosity rolled off him in waves)? Maybe a little of both? I went to the department chair and complained – clear and firm. It was one of the first times in my life that I stood and fought versus my uzsh tactic of ignoring the beasts and walking away. The department chair asked me what grade do you feel you deserve? I thought A! but, in a moment of insecurity, said B. That’s what I got and the idiot teacher got a talking to.

Later, before I graduated from that ego ridden, emotional cesspool, the prof cornered me in my studio and attempted to justify why he gave me that D. You see, he says, he wanted me to challenge the grade, to stand up for myself. He felt I was too timid and meek – too much a thrall to my best friend. . HAH! Gee, rilly now? Nice try asswipe boy but there's no gold star in your future. You've failed Machiavelli 101.

I asked him why didn’t you just talk to me about this? Present your concerns and offer support? And then I walked out.

Rule numero uno in giving someone – a student, friend, coworker – a critique, get your goddamn ego and emotions the fuck outta the way. If you can’t? Don't do the eval.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Surprisingly, VERY much so, in the 80 days since my Amazing Bob has been gone, he hasn’t made so much as a cameo appearance in any of my dreams. The nerve! On Tuesday and Wednesday nights of this week though, he gave all-night-long, trance-time, standing-room-only performances.

On Tuesday night, my beautiful man had returned from the dead but was still in dire health. He and I were at MGH throughout every chapter of this nightlong chimera – sitting stooped over on hallway benches in agonizing pain, morosely cooling our heels in doctor’s waiting rooms, dejectedly standing in line for meds. I had my arms around him, trying to shore him up and shield him from his body’s virulent self destruct mode.

I was thrilled beyond ken to have him by my side. I didn’t want to lose him again BUT I couldn’t bear to have him in such horrible torment either.

Of course.

All night this went on. Exhausting shit, I'm tellin you!

The meaning? Pretty obvs. I want TAB back with me but I know that his body was waving the white flag – it’d had well more than enough and had given irrevocable notice. In Dreamsville, I was once again facing the horrible decision that I'd had to make in life – do we keep fighting the harrowing, ultimately doomed battle or do we let go and welcome peace.

Yeah, so this was a nightmare then, eh? Except for the part where I got to hold him again. Jesus, that was good.

On Wednesday night, my man was once again back with the living. This time, it was so’s he could attend his after party (*cough* memorial service). In this dreamscape, the party was held at our home – a cavernous old factory building which we’d converted into a splendid crib.

Absolutely everyone who knew my wondrous hunnypie was there, including the owner of the printing company where we’d met. TAB dubbed him Blinky. He was a big, old, furry bear of a man who always seemed a bit off in the ether. While he possessed an incredible, ferocious intellect, he was also deeply plagued by some, not insignificant, madness. When I first started working for the company, Blinky would, reliably, vanish for a month or two in winter. Was he off to some warm place like Florida? Oh no. It filtered down to us bumpkin, worker bees that he was at some high end bughouse in Colorado, getting the cure. Whatever that was. When back he’d seem upbeat, good as new BUT with a synapse or 12 shorted out. Yeah, he blinked a lot. Spoke slow. Reaction times were on a serious delay. Still, he was a cool guy. TAB and I liked him and he seemed to like us a lot too. Did his lunacy see ours as kindred spirits? Mebbe so.

In any case, the shindig went on for more than 12 hours. TAB and I were sitting in an out of the way corner, wishing we could just be alone together. Then, as I held him close, he began to fall ill again.

I need a vaca from my dreams. Obvs.
~~~
You may be wondering, wut up with all the Winnie the Pooh drawings? The Amazing Bob was always Winnie and I was always Piglet.
Should I Stay or Should I Go – The Clash

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Miscreants R Us

Oh look, white guys can be bomb makers/throwers and gun-happy, maggot headed, canker-blossomed puke-stockings too! Quel shocko!

Cary Lee Ogborn’s not a big league terrorist. Nope. He’s just some gunned up, bomb happy asswipe who’s got a hard-on to kill, or at least financially cripple, a neighbor
“The idea we have for this person is, while he sleeping we put grenade in back of truck and run to our car 20 to 30 meters away, then the truck blow up, he heres [sic] truck blow up and come outside while he outside we blow up house,” he wrote Sept 14. “Tell me about the grenade please. How far do we need to be away? What postal carrier for this package?” (source)
Gee, he seems nice. Eloquently charismatic too!

Richard Poplawski is a white supremacist,
who killed three three Pittsburgh cops in 2009 when they arrived at the house he lived in with his mother. (source)
Apparently he was threatening her, she called the cops and BOOM, he whips out his AK-47 and three officers are dead.

James Von Brunn – you may remember him from the 2009 D.C. Holocaust Museum shooting spree which left security guard Stephen Johns dead.
The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America’s money. Jews control the mass media. The 1st Amendment is abrogated.” (source)
That first amendment that he feels has been “abrogated?”
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (source)
James Holmes – nice dye job, man!
Also:
Abrogate:
Verb
to abolish by formal or official means; annul by an authoritative act; repeal:
to abrogate a law.
Dude apparently had wicked poor reading comprehension.

In 2010, Andrew Joseph Stack flew his plane into an office complex in North Austin killing himself and Vernon Hunter, a guy who worked in Building I of the Echelon office group. Something about not liking to pay taxes. Sounds bright, eh?

TOTALLY looks sane, right?
Jared Loughner’s the cretinous bag of rat feces who killed six people in his failed effort to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.
Centerfold for Neo-Nazi Today

You may not have heard of Daniel Cowart or Paul Schlesselman who, in 2008, plotted a cross-country murder spree targeting102 African Americans. The planned cherry killing on top of his ice cream sundae of death, the assasination of Barack Obama.
Although the plot was never close to being carried out, Cowart and Schlesselman, who met on the Internet, had created a very detailed plan outlining their attack on Barack Obama and their other African-American targets. (source)
It seems these dangerous clown sphincters had "Honk if you love Hitler” painted on their getaway car’s hood. This drew the local authority’s attention. Hmmm, not so clear on the concept of stealth, are they?

There’s Byron Williams who, inspired by Glenn Beck’s delusional, pernicious theatrics:
 “loaded up his mother’s Toyota Tundra with guns, strapped on his body armor and headed to San Francisco...with one thing in mind: to kill workers” at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation, hoping to “start a revolution.”
 James Eagan Holmes seems to have been spurred on more by insanity than Glenn Beck. One can reasonably argue that there’s not a dimes bit of difference between the two though.
More Neo Nazi Porn

Frazier Miller, Jr. murdered three people but wanted to kill more. His targets? Motive?
Miller said he shot his victims because he wanted to kill Jewish people before he dies. (source)
OK then!

And there’s our old friend Timothy McVeigh who killed 168 people when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

What do all ten of these boys have in common besides a dearth of melanin? Amongst other things, a complete inability to appreciate and respect other human life. McVeigh referred to the children he killed as collateral damage.

I think I'm gonna go back to bed and read comic books for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Valhalla Nocturnes

Dreamt that I was assigned a new life partner. It was Tom Cruise. Oh...rilly? Mind you, Tom's not a bad looking dude BUT he belongs to some religious cult, right? Also, who IS this official org and WHY are they appointing a replacement mate so soon after my fabulous Amazing Bob’s death? I was angry about this in Dream Land and continued being royally pissed off when I woke. For those of you playing the home game, TAB’s been gone just 78 days. Hells Bells, his Diet Caffeine-Free Coke’s still in the fridge! What the everlasting fuck's the deal here?!

I suspect this shit's got roots in mia madre's doctrine that, without a husband, my worth was close to zero. Yeah, très lovely. I suppose you won't be surprised to hear that me and Ma weren't real tight.

Another one – my father was up here in Valhalla, teaching a Pure Math type class for folks who weren’t mathematicians (just so’s ya know, Poppy's much more of a  Prob and Stats kind of guy). The group’s assignment was to illustrate some complex equation using the tools of their specific trades. My pal Tim (who in real life is a graphic designer) created the most wondrous, intricately woven, luminous lace dress which perfectly illustrated the particular quadratic equation that Daddy was talkin' 'bout. This was one awesome sheath, I’m tellin’ you!

Oh and class met on my front porch. Huh. After they all left, I stepped out there to find both my tux’s sitting there – OUTSIDE! No, they weren’t making a run for it but still, Coco and Rocco need to be indoors where the local off-leash dogs, foxes and other assorted predators can’t hurt them.

I picked up Rocco (something that, by the by, canNOT be done in Wakey-Wakey World) and brought him inside. He seemed fine with this (which is how we know this was a dream, of course). I stepped out to bring Coco in, only to find that Rocco was right back to his original porch position. I brought him in again and, once more, he transported back out. ‘the fuck?

Luckily, before frustration could swamp me like typhoon Ferdie over Itbayat. Rocco woke me up. Good cat. I whispered to him that he should avoid dude's named Schrödinger at all costs.

And last night Jen dreamt that she and Oni were at some faraway airport, headed for home. They were cooling their heels at a pub near their gate, sippin' adult bevs, minding their own biz when Oni looked up and saw his father sitting just a few stools down. (n.b., Much Beloved Bruce died five years ago – he was even younger than my TAB) Oni casually popped over for a hug and chat, as though running into his father in airport lounges was a regular thing. When Oni got back to Jen's side, he was holding a large, weighty, antique magnifying glass. Bruce had told him to give this to me , saying, this will help her see what she needs.

Yeah. Chills!
Harlem Nocturne – The Viscounts

Monday, September 19, 2016

TABday Poetry

I'm thinking of changing this first day of the week's name. It will now be known as TABday. Instead of dreading the day, the start of the work week, the return to rush hour traffic jams, sack lunches and mountains of tedium, it'll be a day of poetry and wonder.

Laughs too. And cats. Always with the cats, don'cha know.

My Kat

My kat
looks out the window
Ready for anything
Expecting nothing—
Maybe a nap’ll
Sneak up on him:
He likes those
Slow Surprises.

~ Boston 1/91

This was written for our evil/wonderful thug of an orange tabby, Ralf.

Velveteen Bunny

Dear Ken,
By the time you read this, I’ll be gone.
I’m going to New England
where the weather will age me
Punks will upstage me,
and acid rain rot my convertible.
I don’t want to lie fallow
sensational and shallow.
You never asked how I felt when they decided I’d be
a stewardess in ’63
an astronaut, a hippie, in ’73
a doctor, then a disco babe,
aerobics instructor in ’84 –
what a bore –
you accepted it when they rearranged my life,
short-changed my life.
You never wondered what it would be like
to have callouses, pot-bellies, children;
you classed them with career-threatening injuries.
I’ll buy my clothes in Filene’s Basement, go to school,
get a job, hang out at Fenway Park,
let the home team break my heart
every season. I’ll listen to Miles Davis
 and Bonnie Raitt on my walkman in the subway.
No more heavy Mattel music for me.
I want to go to a place where there’ll be
static on the radio, ice on my windshield,
winos and cops in the coffeeshops.
My eyes will bag,
my tits will start to sag,
I’ll curse my cramps and grease out on Burger Death.
Roaches will bring out my killer instinct.
Tell your friends I got a Spiritually Transmitted Disease:
I’m biodegradable now.
I’ve got an urge to take risks, get laid,
rule my life with love.
Sincerely,
Barbie

~ Boston 4/90
  
The Secret

There is a secret which separates me
from the Suits
         from those who delegate
         those who relax and theorize
         those born to luxury
I have the ability to stand naked and alone
         at the center of unutterable bleakness and silence
         entirely alone in an alien and desolate landscape
         without hope of mercy or meaning or redemption
         frozen in the cold heart of darkness and silence
                  and yet continue to function
                  to do what must get done
                  to survive    to survive
                  to stagger on into another hopeless day
And I am marked by this terrible difference,
I can sense in others this ability to survive the horror –
We are brothers and sisters, we walking wounded
We slow healers whose laughter echoes in the abyss
We slow learners who share a determination to put
         one psychic foot in front of the other
         day after day, year after year
         in spite of what we know
this is our stark secret
                  We can survive anything!

~ Boston 12/91

Sunday, September 18, 2016

First Flash of Eden

Home
Away
The upside to having cats who absolutely MUST be patted, skritched and otherwise cosseted to hell and back at 5 AM, is that I’m up. Coffee gets made and I'm able to hit our little beach in time to witness the brill colors and peace of dawn. I can also motor down to Nantasket for same. Either, both!

These last two mornings, the tide’s been way the hell out so I’ve gotten in a couple really fab beach walks. With the cooler temps of mid/late September, most vacas are done, kiddles are back at school – the beach is nearly empty at that early hour. It’s just me and a few fellow sunrise watchers, walkers and joggers. Molto tranquillo and shit.

There's always a story. It's all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything's got a story in it.
~ Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.
~ Emily Dickinson

There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.
~ Jean-Paul Sartre

The Doors – Waiting for the Sun