Tusk, the Movie

Probably spoilers. So don’t read if that bothers you.

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I saw Tusk last night. It is as bizarre, gory, and disturbing as you would expect… and yet… and yet it felt oddly compelling. I definitely did not root for the “hero,” Wallace, who is a total asshole, not that he deserves his hideous fate. (Or does he, given that he indirectly encouraged/supported the maiming and death of a young boy?)

The film shines a light on our incredibly stupid, shallow culture, which is never a bad thing to skewer, and it also mocks Canadians, but gently and hilariously.

“You don’t say Hitler in an airport.”

Michael Parks as Howard, the storyteller and surgeon macabre, presented a fascinating bad guy. His voice was hypnotic, his story at once incredible and yet believable. The two lovers who search for Wallace don’t have any romantic chemistry, though perhaps that is the point. People do often pair up out of mutual need and upfuckedness, rather than pursuing positive connection.

I was shocked at the actual reason for Howard’s complicated dance of horror with his destroyed partners, but then enjoyed the fact that it all made a sort of terrible sense. The fact that Kevin Smith could write this mangled monstrosity and end up leading us to a path in a field of logic is truly admirable.

Johnny Depp was over the top wackadoo, but would you expect anything less? (I think his “Guy LaPointe” character is an inside joke I don’t get.)

I never care what the reviewers or Rotten Tomatoes have to say. Only my opine matters. ;)

Reasons vs Excuses

After writing my last poast, even though it was jokey, I starting thinking about reasons and excuses. There’s a bright line between the two, in my opine.

To me, a reason is simply an explanation. Why did you do such a thing? Because X. There is no attempt to absolve oneself of responsibility. Like so:

- I gained weight because I ate too many desserts.

- I didn’t finish writing my story because I was tired.

- I don’t date because I hate men.

An excuse is an attempt to shift the blame away from oneself. Like so:

- People bring too many yummy cakes and cookies to parties and I can’t resist them, so it’s their fault I gained weight.

- This weather forces me to take allergy meds, which make me sleepy, so it’s not my fault I missed the deadline.

- Men have treated me badly, so it’s their fault I have no interest dating anymore.

Note how a reason for behavior is an “I” sentence, while an excuse puts something else first.

For me, it’s empowering to use reasons instead of excuses. I feel more in control of my life when I focus on reasons. Why did I do a thing that had unfortunate consequences for me? Oh, because X. Well then, let me not do X anymore. How can I arrange my life differently so that I do not do X again? I work on that, on forming new paths and habits. It’s an ongoing process and often requires much tweakage.

Excuses leave me paralyzed. If a bad result is someone else’s fault, then it’s out of my control because I can’t control other people. I might as well just give up and accept that the bad results will continue because there isn’t anything I can do about them. I am just a little leaf floating in a stream going this way and that. I can’t change direction, I can’t escape, I am stuck drifting wherever the water takes me.

Fuck that.

Take control.

And remember the famous words of Jock Ewing: “Control isn’t something that someone gives you. Control is something you TAKE.”

I answer why with “because reasons.” No excuses.

My Dearest Blog

I know I have been neglectful lately.  And I’m sorry. But you know… it’s so hot. And I’ve been tired from not sleeping well in the heat. And my neck hurts. We’ve been busy at work. The cat has had some problems (all better now, I hope). It’s not like you’ve been putting forth any effort here, so don’t just sit there acting all passive-aggressively hurt and ignored and stuff. I’M DOING THE BEST THAT I CAN.

Well, OK, sure… I could do a little better.

I will.

I promise.

Yes, I know I’ve said that before. But this time, it’ll be different. I’VE CHANGED.

OK, not really. But just hang in there because… um, well… we’ve been together a long time. Surely that counts for something?

Excuses

Fine.

Going Dark

Hai everyone! I just self-published another book on Amazon KDP. Going Dark is a second collection of short fiction and poetry, with my favorite themes of sex and depression. Somehow they just work well together for me, in the literary sense, like cake and frosting. It’s already received a great review, eeeeeeeeeeee!

Going Dark is available in the Kindle Unlimited program, which means it’s free if you’re a member. If you read a lot, like I do, I highly recommend joining. For ten bucks per month you can read as many books as you want. This has encouraged me to break out of my same-old mode and try new authors and genres. 

I hope you enjoy my book. Thank you. :)

Cover

Bookadoodle

I’ve been tagged by the lovely Jen for a bookish meme. For this one, I’m only considering dead-tree books on my actual dead-tree shelves.

“Answer the following questions about books on your bookshelf and then tag five other bloggers. You can answer the questions any way you want, whether it’s on your blog, in a video, or a combination of the two. Then remember to let whoever tagged you know when your post is up so they can read it.”

1. Is there a book that you really want to read but haven’t because you know that it’ll make you cry?

Yeah, the cookbooks. I just grabbed one at random, flipped to page 96. “Ziti with Wild Mushrooms & Fennel.” Wtf is fennel? Sixteen ingredients for a plate of pasta, gah. 

2. Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

The Story of O. 

3. Find a book you want to reread. 

Anthology of American Literature. The best stories and poems. (From high school days.)

4. Is there a book series you’ve read but wish that you hadn’t?

No, and I don’t read many series. 

5. If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?

The Antho.

6. Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

I have a small cookbook called The Happy Cooker that my mom and her retirement park friends put together. I’m not gonna make anything in there, but it’s really cute. (Read The Happy Hooker at 14 while babysitting… it was cute, too. Funny what people leave lying around… in their closets.)

7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.

The Black Swan by Taleb. It didn’t inspire me in a writing way, but in an AHA! this is how things work way. 

8. Do you have any autographed books?

No.

9. Find the book that you have owned the longest.

The Poetry of Robert Frost. A gift from friend Kathy when we were in high school.

10. Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?

I have a bunch of James Joyce, because my father was a huge fan. I hate them all. 

Tag time!

Miz Gekko and Don T 

Blue Eyes

In the giant poop pile of Facebook, I found a golden nugget: a link to the 1963 Frank Sinatra interview in Playboy. I began reading the article, no expectations, and was quickly enthralled with Sinatra’s point of view. Well, this may be because it almost exactly mirrors my own, yet I’ve never expressed it so articulately.

I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I don’t believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice.

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Our civilization, such as it is, was shaped by religion, and the men who aspire to public office anyplace in the free world must make obeisance to God or risk immediate opprobrium.

 

So, 50+ years on and that hasn’t changed in the U.S., has it? You think we’re gonna elect a self-proclaimed atheist to the Presidency anytime soon? Course not. All candidates must plop references to “God” into their speeches or risk crucifixion.

The comments suggest that Frank’s remarks were ghost-written, “evidence” being that he used too many big words. Maybe it was, idk. Or maybe Frank was well-read and enjoyed language. Whatever the case, it appears this is what he believed, even if someone else wrote the erudite responses, and that’s good enough for me. I like him, I like his music, I want to think he said or at least thought these things. (Sometimes I wish I would remember not to read comments.)

This interview also lends credence to the idea that people really did/do read Playboy for the articles.

 

MM

Sugar Kisses

Sweet Addiction by J. Daniels

OK, I admit it: I bought this book for its title and cover (pic of sugared lips).

Also, it had a lot of baking/bakery/cake/frosting stuff going on.

So, I began reading and was immediately disappointed because the narrative was first person, which I hate for a romance, unless it’s going to be a dark, crazy, deep romance, which this was not. It was typical fluff. Hot fluff, but fluff nonetheless.

How can I explain? If a story is meaningless fluff, then I want more than one POV. I want to know what the idiot hero is thinking along with the vapid heroine. I want to jump into the mind of the evil villain/ness who schemes to destroy the relationship. That’s the best I can do here.

And not only was it first person, but it was unbelievably stupid. I mean, stupider than the typical chick lit whining about moms and cramps stupid. How can that be? Well, it was. Trust me.

First, not only were the two protags the most absolutely physically stunning people you could possibly imagine, but all their friends were, too! What a coinkydink, and in Chicago of all places (meow). We had the heroine, a 26 year old bakery owner (no mention of where she got the capital), with a fabulous body even though she sampled bakery stuffs all day. This is because she went on a run every morning, and as any ful kno, that half hour of exercise will burn up thousands of pastry calories. And we had the hero, a 32 year old CPA, with the body of Adonis. In fact, the whole CPA firm was stuffed with Greek gods like a freaking studded gyro. [See wut I did there?]

Second, there was the gay best friend. My god, that’s soooo original. Who would think of putting a gay best friend in a romance novel?! He was unbearably handsome, natch, and happily hooking up with every other hot gay guy in the city, as you do, until he falls in lurve. Because like the gun on the table, once you introduce a horribly tired cliché, you must use it to its foregone conclusion.

Third, Daniels had the “plot” turn on a misconstrued half-overheard comment, which we haven’t seen since the last 87 thousand romance novels.

Why did I read it to the very end, you ask? Good question!

It was for the sex. The sex scenes were so incredibly hot, I skimmed through for the next one… and the next one… etc.

Yes, I’m ashamed of myself. I will have to atone somehow. I know! I’ll read another romance novel.

Hacking Feedspot

Apparently anything you do to change something around a bit and make it more useful for yourself is now called “hacking,” so we’ll go with that.

Anyway, I signed up for Feedspot a while back because WordPress reader kinda sucks and I was tired of bookmarking stuffs only to forget to check them. At first, Feedspot seemed great, but then (of course) it got annoying. Doesn’t take long for anything to irritate the hell out of me.

The first annoying thing was having all the posts appear in an unsorted blob. I fixed that by making folders. Mostly I check my Peeps and Writing, and if I have time I’ll look at Fun, News, Relationships, etc.

But then it happened I had added sites I no longer wished to see because they had graduated from annoying to Fucking Annoying. Mostly these were sites about relationships that began to post bullshit clickbait every hour. So… where is garbage can icon? Zomg they don’t haz one! I checked the message board to find a bunch of people complaining about this very thing.

So, here’s what you can do. Drag your link outta the folder and stick it in the main section. You can shitcan it that way (there’s an icon). But even better is this: make a Delete folder. Every time a site annoys you drag it in there. Now you can at any point delete the entire Delete folder with everything in it! W00t! (Then create a new empty Delete folder.) Or you can just leave it alone in case you change your mind.

Now my Feedspot is all good and easy to manage. Viola!

Time To Let Go

I stumbled onto this great article by Anne R. Allen. She discusses some of the protagonists that readers hate. We all know about the villain we secretly (or not so secretly) root for, but it’s important as a writer also to understand the kind of protags a reader does not want to see.

1. The Mary Sue. I never heard of this before ~ the term comes from fanfic (which could explain why). Basically it’s an ordinary person who has a massive amount of strength or wisdom to save the planet and/or attract the hottest supermodel. She (or he) is the author’s fantasy self. Boring!

2. The Special Victim. This protag endures all sorts of horror, but can never do anything about it because that would wreck the storyline. The reader sits there frustrated, urging the dumbass to walk out the open door. (This could also be called “revenge fiction” if the protag is really a stand-in for someone you want to torture in writing.)

3. The Perfect Pat. This is another fantasy writer self ~ a protagonist who does everything perfectly and never has an incorrect or repulsive thought. It’s basically a gilded memoir. More boring than a boring boring thing.

4. The Looky-Loo. Like the annoying non-buyer of real estate, this protag wanders through the story, looking and feeling and hearing and thinking. The writing may be profound and beautiful, even deep and poetic, but NOTHING EVER HAPPENS.

5. The Literal Larry. This is the star of a memoir, where no detail is omitted, no matter how mundane or irrelevant, because “it really was just like that.” Gah.

I will give you one guess which protag is the one I’ve been writing for the last twenty-five years in my fabulous epic novel Motion Sickness.

MS began as a short story where I was mocking an old boss (RIP Tony G) for his goofy dietary prefs. It was a pretty fun story called “Broccoli.” Then I decided to enter a novella contest, so I expanded Broccoli to 25K words. I overlaid it with a theme of drowning and called it “Water.” Later on I decided to squish a couple of new ideas into Water and make it novel-sized. At that point I renamed it “Motion Sickness.”

Never satisfied with the story, I kept tweaking it. Start in a different spot, use new themes such as synesthesia and depression, add in imaginary characters, throw in some hookers, create a love triangle, have a happy ending, no! change it to a sad ending…

But the problem was that my protag simply floated through all this, unchanging. She is an observer, not an actor. She is not a compelling heroine. She watches and snarks, she loves mildly and hates dispassionately. She is detached from everything, including her own neuroses and fears. She is way too much like me ~ i.e., boring as hell.

It’s time to let this go.

Good News/Bad News

I just had a lovely visit with my wonderful daughters. :)

It’s already over and they’ve driven off to their homes 400 miles away. :(

Anna has a couple new books up on KDP. Woo hoo!

But when I began reading one on my Kindle, I noticed a bunch of weird page breaks and missing sentences. The original was fine. The entire story has now been resubmitted and seems to be correct on the KDP reader. But how sucky is that?!

A writer pal told me she uploads in PDF, so that’s how future Paula/Anna writing will be sumitted. GRRRR!

I found these awesome shoes for $12 at Macy’s yesterday. EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

The girls told me it’s because they’re hideous and no one else wants them. Rude.

I took the day off to relax and do chores… forgot about leaf blowers and various ANNOYING NOISES.

I ordered super-cute little cupcake salt & pepper shakers off Amazon over the weekend and they’ve just arrived!

I spilled half a bottle of pepper in the sink while filling one of them. ACHOO!

I just switched to “classic editor” here (didn’t know that was an option last week) to get rid of the HORRIBLE new WordPress poasting layout. Zomg hate. But yay for old editor option!

Is this a GOML (get off my lawn) moment? Idk. Some old things are better and that’s the way it is. Goodnight.