The Times I Wish I was a Police Officer

1. When people fly by me on Lloyd even though the speed limit is clearly posted as 30 mph.

2. When I’m attempting to cross the road at the crosswalk with flashing lights on Broadway and a truck is turning left down by the convenience store, which should mean that I only have to worry about traffic coming from my left, but some asshole comes around the truck, up through the empty parking spaces and then slams on his brakes at me, as if I’m the fuck up. I should have citizens’ arrested him. Or rubbed him around on the Bat Taint.

Ugh, people, this Bat Taint is just… it’s stuck in my head. It’s all I can think about. Not all. But it’s like I’m trying so hard not to think about it that I’m all like “Oh, cool, I haven’t thought about Batman’s taint for like ten min… oh god damn it, now I’m thinking about Batman’s taint again!” It’s like the non-balls, non-asshole equivalent of a terrible earworm.

Why I Think all these “Concerns” about Christie’s Health are in fact Just Bigotry

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Chris Christie is fat and this should disqualify him from being president at least until he’s thinner because everyone knows that being fat is unhealthy. Some people wonder if being fat is more of a disqualification than being depressed.

Here’s why I think it is just bullshit “I’m grossed out by your body” disguised as “But I really care about your health.”

Because being fat is not the most telling physical sign that your health is shitty. No, there is in fact a bodily indicator that predicts far better than a person’s weight whether that person will live to adulthood, die early, and suffer from poor health outcomes all along the way. This physical trait correlates to higher suicide rates, more violence, even higher accident rates.

And, it is even possible to mitigate some of the effects of this physical trait through medication or, in some cases, when necessary, surgery.

Medication and surgery to deal with this condition are common enough that, even if you don’t know someone who’s taken those steps, you know of someone who’s taken those steps, and heard rumors of others who have taken those steps.

And yet, no one looks at that physical trait and says that everyone who has it should be making efforts to mitigate it and that the success of their mitigation attempts should determine whether they’re qualified for public office.

People with this condition have worse health outcomes across the board than the rest of the population. And yet, if I were to argue that I wasn’t disgusted by this condition, I merely couldn’t help but notice the person’s body and the physical indicators of this condition, which are so closely correlated with such terrible health outcomes, and, out of concern for that person’s health, I am saying they must change, even if it means pills and surgery, there is not a single person reading this blog who wouldn’t say to themselves, “Wow, Betsy has some real deep issues with men.”

None of you would say “Oh, yeah, totally. We should start when they’re children.”

Because people aren’t grossed out by men’s bodies. So men can be as unhealthy as they want and no one starts talking about the correlation between being men and being unhealthy as something to be solved by trying to change what they look like. But fat people? Oh, that’s apparently a great excuse to let your disgust about a type of bodily appearance have free reign.

And everyone’s just supposed to accept that this prejudice against a type of appearance is different than every other prejudice rooted in a type of appearance, because this time, you have what “everybody knows” and “what science says” on your side. Unlike all those other times before.

Couple of Good Ones at Pith Today

It’s weird. I never worry about how hit or miss things might be here, but a few misses in a row at Pith has me worried Jim Ridley is rolling his eyes somewhere.

But today, I’m talking about Tennessee mandating teaching kids a form of birth control with an 80% failure rate among its most ardent users.

And later, at some point, will be a post about how I represent me and another guy and a third of a third guy every time I vote. It’s a responsibility I take lightly.

The Least Sexy Sex Between Superheroes

I have so many thoughts on the whole DC comics mess, because I believe it’s been the most awesome conversation of at least the latter half of the month. But I am still a little stuck on Catwoman. Not just on her gravity defying boob or her bizarre choice in undergarments (I mean, seriously, they are smart enough to give her practical shoes but not to give her a sports bra?), but this picture in particular, which is supposed to be her and Batman… you know… doing it.

Now, it’s not just that the longer I stare at this the more I’m convinced that her vagina is even with his taint (and yes, people, I am pondering Batman’s taint. That’s what the world has come to. Ponderations of Batman’s taint. You know whose taint you never think about? The Joker’s. And I for one appreciate that.), it’s that her pants are on. People, look at Batman’s body language (and I’m sorry, please try to stop thinking about his taint). His hands are down by his side. His knees are bent. She is on his lap, touching him, but seated so his boner is between them not actually in contact with her.

This–right here–isn’t sex. She has her pants on. It’s a lap dance.

Now, I know that we adults all the imagine that, after the lap-dance portion of the evening, they actually had sex. Perhaps Batman was even allowed to touch her.

But what the artist is portraying is something that, I think, is supposed to read sexy, but instead reads pretty sad. Everyone is, presumably, riled up but no one is enjoying themselves. It’s so very weirdly chaste.  There’s no sex in the Champagne Room and, for as graphic as it seems at first glance, there’s no sex on the rooftop.

Do the people at DC get that this isn’t a “mature” depiction of sex but a really adolescent one? No one takes their pants off. The man doesn’t touch the woman. He doesn’t address her pleasure. He barely addresses his own?

I don’t know. It’s weird. I hope there’s not a lot of young guys out there thinking “Oh, man, I want to be with a woman like Batman was with Cat woman!” when Batman doesn’t touch her and she’s not driven to even move her pants out of the way.

You deserve more, young straight men of America, than a woman who rubs her clothed crotch against you and calls it good.

Young straight women of America, I would tell you that you deserve more than a guy who whips out his hard-on and then puts his hands by his side and fundamentally leaves you alone with his penis, but I think we both know that you didn’t make it that far in this comic book.


This story could not be more bullshitty, at every level, from calling a transgender woman a “cross-dresser” to misrepresenting her gender and so on. But I’ve been thinking about this story since I read it this morning. Often, when transgender women who are working as prostitutes are killed, there’s a kind of “gay panic” defense–“I didn’t know ‘he’ was really a dude and when I find out I freaked out and shot ‘him.'” And it works, because the “gay panic” defense still works.

But I’ve been thinking instead about the “accidental rapist,” the guy who didn’t realize the woman he was raping felt he was raping her. As you’ll recall, they’ve now done a bunch of studies that show that the accidental rapists does indeed know that what he’s doing is rape, because he has a string of victims he uses the same m.o. on and will continue to use that same m.o. to get the type of sex he desires, which is sex in which the person he is with’s opinions about whether she wants to have sex don’t count, unless he’s stopped. The whole “I didn’t know” ploy is about making non-rapist men sympathetic and defensive of the rapist by making it seem like there are circumstances in which the non-rapist man could be mistakenly having non-consensual sex. It plays on men’s empathy.

I’m starting to think this “I had to shoot the cross-dressing prostitute” argument is actually more similar to the accidental rapist. It’s easy for men who don’t frequent prostitutes to imagine a scenario in which they might be “tricked” into picking up the “wrong” kind of woman. But let’s think about how likely this actually is. Transgender women working as prostitutes know that they are at an increased risk of violence from johns (to put it mildly), especially transgender women who’ve not fully physically transitioned. Are they regularly getting into cars or going to houses of johns or hotel rooms without everyone knowing what the situation is? Just from a safety perspective, it seems unlikely. Plus, men who buy sex, you know, buy sex. There’s a reason they’re said to “frequent” prostitutes. I’m sure there are occasionally miscommunications, but not as frequently as transgender prostitutes get assaulted or killed.

I think the truth of the matter is that a small population of men like to have sex with transgender prostitutes in part because they know they can do whatever they want to those women and most people will sympathize. Beat her up? Not pay? Do things to which she hasn’t consented? Shoot her? Kill her? They have the easy “She tricked me” defense. And, in the case of the dead women, who’s around to dispute?

So, while I think it’s important to keep saying that, even if these men were “tricked,” it doesn’t justify violence. I think it’s also time to take a step back and ask ourselves if any trickery has actually happened or if this is in fact the kind of sex these men like–sex with someone who society sees as having so little value that you can do whatever you want to and with her and get away with it–and societal reinforcement of the lack of value of these women, in fact, a part of the thrill.

I think the whole “I was tricked” thing is not about the truth, but about making non-assaulting/non-killers sympathetic to the criminal instead of his victim.

I Wish It Were Bill Monroe’s 100th Birthday all the Time

So, by weird happenstance, I won tickets to the Bill Monroe birthday tribute last night at Vanderbilt. I guess it’s not weird. But it felt weird to me, because I don’t often win things. And by “often” I mean “ever.”

I couldn’t find anyone to go with me on such short notice, but I’m getting old in my old age, so I just went myself. And with my lone ticket? People, I sat in the center of the second row. I could see and study how Del McCoury’s guitar was aging, how the varnish on the bottom has rubbed away from years of sitting on his knee.

I was close enough to determine if bluegrass hair gives bluegrass players secret powers, but not discerning enough to tell.

The whole evening was great. I had heard Dale Ann Bradley before, but I have to tell you, seeing her live was a revelation. They ought to just go ahead and give her IBMA performer of the year every dang year she performs. If there is an IBMA performer of the year. Maybe they should make one just to give to her.

But she also reminds me of one of the reasons that I think bluegrass–even as it fights about what it wants to be–is still so damn subversive. I can’t think of another form of popular music (and please, correct me if I’m wrong) where a woman who looks like someone you would be unsurprised to find in your back yard drinking beers and singing songs with your dad who is just bursting with talent can have success. It’s a reminder that there are a shit-ton of talented folks out there–in all genres–that you’re being cheated out of by our ridiculous ideas about what a “star” has to look like.

Everyone was great. Don’t get me wrong. So, now that I’m going to gush about the Del McCoury band, I don’t want you to think it’s because the other guys weren’t awesome. Everyone was awesome. It was a whole evening full of people at the tops of their games having a shit-ton of fun. Of course it was awesome.

But I thought that I couldn’t like The Del McCoury Band any more than I do. I mean, I already think very highly of them. But last night blew me away. I’ll admit, there are things I want to see in a live band that tell me a band is good that don’t have anything to do with how they play. I want to see people who look like they’re having a good time together. I like to see people who are generous with guest performers. And I like to see that people are really thinking about their craft.

Now, I don’t know them from Adam. Maybe in real life, they’re all jerks who beat their wives and kids and hate each other. But on stage, they seem to be having a blast. Watching them with their guest performers was amazing. They subtly moved a mic for the one guy who needed it. And when Del was doing harmonies with someone, depending on how strong a singer they were, he’d position himself either closer or further from the mic. And people moved around on stage a lot to change the sound by who was standing next to whom (though in all fairness, everyone did this).

It was just one of those moments were I felt like I was watching a masterpiece of a band. If everyone else could be said to have brought their A-game, it was as if the Del McCoury Band was not even playing that game, but subtly inventing a new one.

But I should also mention that the Nashville Bluegrass Band was amazing and they had this dude from Blair playing with them so they had twin fiddles, which was awesome. But at one point, they had three fiddles on stage! I wanted them to keep adding. Just have a million fiddles. It would have been so awesome.

Anyway, I am a lucky girl, sometimes.

Mrs. W. Develops a Strange New Quirk

She acted utterly convinced that the HVAC guy was going to eat her food. She stood by her food, guarding it from him with ferocious barks. She ate as much of her food as she could. And then, she followed him around giving him the stink-eye.

In my dog’s whole life, she has never, ever once done anything that made me think she had thoughts as complex as “You might have a plot against me. I should thwart it.” Even when we play “Which hand has the treat?” she’ll go back to the empty hand if you make it into a fist again on the off-chance the treat might magically appear there.

She’s not big on deduction, my dog.

And yet she deduced that the HVAC guy wanted her food. Wrongly deduced, yes. But still…

Energy Better Hit Me, Soon

I’m at the house, so that I can meet the air conditioning guy. I got to the house this early so that I could pick up a little before he got here. Instead, I’ve been answering emails and playing on the computer.

Because, obviously, answering emails and playing on the computer are far more fun than picking up the house.

And I keep feeling something crawling on my leg, which I know and you know is going to be a tick, but I just can’t bring myself to confirm.

Do ticks serve any purpose? I feel like we could just get rid of them and no one would notice. But with my luck, something important eats them and I’d get rid of ticks and ruin the whole ecosystem.

Let’s Just Call Them ‘Values’

Over at Out of the Blue today, Tony Marks is talking about Tennessee Democrats as superheroes. It’s very lovely. Except this part: “First, I created ‘Tennessee Democrat’ to focus instead on what we do have, an identity rooted in the Southern values of hard work, fairness, community, and compassion.”

These are now particularly Southern values? If I go visit my parents, I’m going to find them lazing about the Midwest when they’re not punching their neighbors for no good reason?

Or, if they do value hard work, fairness, community, and compassion, are they “real” Southerners, even though they’ve never lived here, while I, their lazy, jerky daughter who does live here can never be a true Southerner because I’m an asshole?

Is it rude to at least note that turning around and valuing hard work, fairness, community, and compassion is a change of direction from the last 250 years?

It’s stupid and I should just get over it, I know. But I swear to god, every time I feel like Tennessee Democrats might finally be like “Our tent is big enough even for the weirdos like you,” there’s something, some action, some rhetorical flourish that reminds me that the velvet rope goes across the entrance way right before I get there.

And it still annoys me.

I’m Feeling a Little Cheated by the Bordeaux Library

It’s fine. Really. But I’m just not seeing this kind of behavior among my librarians. Um, I guess that link is probably not safe for work. Unless you work at a library, where apparently things are at a level of sexiness surpassed only by fire stations.

But this begs the question. Why are firefighters sexier than police officers?

If I had to rank public servants, I’d go 1. firefighters; 2. librarians; 3. EMTs; 4. teachers; 5. police officers. But firefighters and police officers are natural enemies, like cats and dogs or peanut butter and jelly. So, perhaps it behooves us to wonder, just momentarily, why firefighters are at the top of the heap.

Here’s my theory: It’s the giant pants. We learn to be positively predisposed to giant pants as children, putting on the pants of our parents, being handed down the giant pants of our older relatives. Giant pants say “there’s room for you.” And then, as we get older, we come to associate giant pants with clowns, which for anyone born in the post-Stephen-King era, means we associate giant pants with heightened emotions, usually terror, and the fun of having that terror relieved. And then you stick good looking people in those big pants? With the hint that maybe we will be able to see down those pants?

It’s just a cultural recipe for sexy.

Edited to add: I should give a shout-out to Rachel for pointing me in the direction of these sexy librarians. Thanks, Rachel.

The Sun is Shining

I went down to the Corner Pub for lunch because I needed to hide from everyone for a little bit. And I sat in the window and ate their crinkly fries and half a burger. Their burgers are way, way too big. But Mrs. Wigglebottom will be happy and I was happy to have the fries.

And to sit in the sun.

I’m getting excited and nervous about “The Witch’s Friend.” I’m afraid no one will like it or y’all won’t read it because it’s long and weird. But I’m also excited to have something happening for October, just because I had no idea how I was going to follow up the stories that eventually became A City of Ghosts.

The things I’m learning about writing are as follows:

1. It can stop you dead in your tracks if you’re worried about writing the best possible, most perfect thing you can write. Better to just focus on writing a book you would like to read.

2. Being good sometimes doesn’t matter.

3. You just have to write and write and write. Put in the words.

4. Reading a lot helps.

And that’s it. All my years of blogging and writing and that’s all I know. and I probably knew it before I started, too, just not in the same ways.

Does Sarah Palin Know that Discovery Works Both Ways?

I have mixed feelings about the Joe McGinness book about Sarah Palin ranging from “I don’t care” to “that seems like a cheap shot” to “has anyone in the media read this before dismissing it?” Which is not to say that I want to read it, but I find there to be something weird about the number of journalists who made such a public spectacle out of refusing to be among the tawdry who did read it.

Hello, journalists. You are, by definition, tawdry. It is your job to read the crap and report on what’s actually newsworthy in there so that I don’t have to. Do I believe that you necessarily know what’s newsworthy? No. Does that excuse you from actually reading things? No.

This is why I can both believe that Trigg is Palin’s child AND think that no one in the media did their jobs nailing that story down.

So, Joe McGinniss. Yes, it’s creepy. But it was bound to be creepy.

Here’s the thing, though. McGinniss has been pretty open about his writing process. He has a blog. He talked regularly about the things he could confirm, the things he couldn’t, the people who would talk to him, the people who wouldn’t, the information he could get, and the information he couldn’t and why he thought that was the case.

Part of it, obviously, is that McGinniss is just a writer. He can’t compel people to talk to him. He can’t compel businesses to give him documents. He can’t get court documents on a sealed divorce case. So, whatever it is he thinks he knows, there’s just some stuff he can’t prove. Because he doesn’t have the weight of the legal system behind him.

Unless Palin sues him. Then he has the whole discovery process to get his hands on things he couldn’t get while he was writing the book.

This is what I find both baffling and weirdly familiar about Palin. I get the impulse to strike back as hard as you feel you’ve been hit. I even well-know how the queen bee in a small town gets used to running the town through fear and intimidation. And I get that those impulses, when they’ve worked for you your whole life, don’t go away just because you’re on a national stage.

But is there no one, no trusted adviser to Palin who explains to her that discovery works both ways? Can she not see how this has the potential to make matters worse for her?

It’s weird.

Prologues and the Gals who Write Them

So, my idea for the Allen project is to have a prologue that gives you a lot of information you need to understand what’s happening in later in the book without it being clear that that’s what’s happening. I guess I can spoil y’all now since… ugh… let’s not even talk about other projects. Just know that it’s a hard slog and I’m not even sure I’m still slogging. Or what. I don’t know.

Anyway, in the book, all kinds of supernatural things are real. There are ghosts. People have premonitions. There are spells and such. And there’s a portal in a cave (the likes of which I have not yet determined. On the advice of Jess, I may have to haul Dunbar Cave down here where I can use it.) which takes you to the present. This present. Though only the bad guy, Moulton Leeds Overton, call him “Lee” for short (too obvious with the name that he’s evil?) knows that’s what it does. Everyone else thinks it just kills you.

So, eventually, after crossing Lee, our protagonists start to have some troubles with a monster of sorts. In the main part of the book, my plan is that we’ll never know anything about this monster, really, except that he’s humanoid in form, can kill silently, and that he has no smell. And that he seems indestructible.

But I wanted the reader to meet him without realizing it first.

Hence, the prologue. And I am tickled. Tickled. I finished up the first draft of it tonight and I think it does everything I hoped it would. It takes place mostly at the Melrose Kroger and at a reenactment of the Battle of Franklin. We meet John and his racist asshole dad. They lose to the Union forces. And, after hearing that their other racist asshole friends have decided to turn them in to the Feds, they decide to go camping. For an indeterminate amount of time.

Poor John. He does not know that he will be camping in the past, where his dad needs him to tie up a few loose ends for him.

Cue scary music.

Lou Reed and Metallica

I was driving home from work today and the DJ was all “I have here the new Lou Reed/Metallica song. I haven’t even listened to it yet. Let’s put it in and see how it goes.” He plays it. My face makes a grimace all on its own and the grimace stays there the whole song. The song ends. The DJ says. “Well, that was interesting.”

People, it invokes grimacing in otherwise predisposed to liking it people! Metallica fans are already apologizing for it!

What’s wrong with it? Where to start? I know the whole “Lou Reed sounds like he’s reading for Alistair Crowley’s more boring diaries” part is going to bug most people. But I have to say, I felt like I kind of got what they were going for. It doesn’t work because it’s so obvious that Reed probably recorded his part in Montenegro while Metallica recorded theirs in a crawlspace in Long Beach. Reed’s voice should be like an oil slick on the surface of the Devil’s piss. Instead, he sounds like he’s singing from a hot air balloon tour of Hell. Those metaphors may not make any sense until you attempt to listen to it

The two parts just don’t gel.

Second, I can’t tell if there’s just something wrong with the mix so it sounds like Ulrich is just playing his cymbal while occasionally hitting his snare, but it really kind of sounds like his drum part doesn’t fit with the guitars. And I think he’s too high up in the mix for as boring as his playing is. It’s literally clang-clang-clang-clang occasional bap bap bap bap.

Meanwhile, it sounds like the guitars are probably doing something scary and interesting, but they’re so far down.

I’m going to give it up for James Hetfield though. I have no idea what “I am the table” means, but he makes it sound terrifying. And, let’s be honest, it’s hard to imagine how “I am the table” could be terrifying. But at least, if you listen long enough to hear him grunting in a horrifying manner about being the table, you’ll also hear a rather interesting, but too short guitar solo.

So, I don’t think this would ever be a hit, by any means. But something has gone wrong in the production of this. And I don’t quite understand what. It looks like they brought in a couple of pros to help produce it. But it just doesn’t sound good. It could have been something cool that wouldn’t have been to everyone’s taste, but this single, ugh. It’s hard for me to imagine whose taste it could be to.

Woman Things

1. You know, I’m glad comic book artists have taken into consideration complaints that women’s boobs in comic books are too round and point too often towards a woman’s face when they should be making their way towards her feet in an elegant teardrop shape. But trust me, comic book artists, when you’re hanging upside down, those things–real or fake–make their way neckward. There’s not a bra alive that could give that boob that shape in that position.

2. Dead medieval witches! Of Doom! I just threw the “of doom” part in there.

3. Oh, I didn’t tell you guys the coolest thing that happened last week. So, in general, when writing a story in which you posit that an actual historical dude was the Devil–yes, a sexy devil, but still the Devil–you try not to pick a historical dude with descendants. So, rather than making Timothy Demonbreun the Devil (and I had considered it), I picked Joseph Durard, who certainly couldn’t have had children with Elizabeth Bennett because she would have been in her fifties. Tra la la. I went on my way.

And then I found out that she did have children with Durard. Oops. Since then, I have been quietly cringing in the back of my mind, wondering if any Durards would be all “And now we will hunt you down and beat you to death with copies of your own book.” Last week, I heard from a Durard. And she loved finding a story about her great-grandpa! Even if he was the Devil. Whew. I told her all the information I had on her ancestors and it was cool.

Two Cheesy Things I Discovered This Weekend

When you’re laying around sick for three days, it’s not all swinging in the hammock and playing “Am I going to barf or shit?” (No, I know, that I even got to do some of that is jealousy inducing.) Sometimes, you’re just sitting on the couch trying to pass the time between the exciting stuff. I passed the time outlining, watching Todd and the Book of Pure Evil and reading the first Sookie Stackhouse book.

Sookie. Oh, Sookie, Sookie, now.

I was delighted. I liked being able to picture Eric (and Bee-eee-eel) for that matter as TV Eric and Bill.  I laughed through all the sex scenes, but with delight. I think that one big difference between the book and TV is that the book sex scenes are definitely written for women to find sexy. Lord almighty, when Bill put his bloody finger in Sookie’s cooter to “heal” her from the loss of her virginity, I laughed so hard the dog woke up and got off the couch. But it was exactly right in a way that took me aback. Like, oh, right, this is something a woman would want, even if she would never say so.

And I loved that Sookie in the book seems so Southern, so whip-smart even without an education, with a little chip on her shoulder because she thinks people might look down at her, both full of propriety and a little tacky. It’s a cheesy book, but Sookie is a lot richer a character than she is on TV.

I’ve been snobby about these books and I was wrong to be.

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. Please tell me someone else watches this. It’s a Canadian show. It’s not as good as Trailer Park Boys, by any stretch, but Jason Mewes is in it, looking weirdly hot (I don’t know people. Cut me some slack. This whole “finding Toby Keith attractive” thing has thrown me for a loop. Fine, every scuzzy dude with a cute smile is now hot. I don’t fucking know.). And there’s a threesome of dudes who look really familiar but I can’t place them. And there’s a book of evil which flies around like a bat or a bird or something, committing evil.

I watched the four episodes Comcast had On Demand and I wasn’t really sold until the fourth episode, which was so good that I’m a little worried they can’t sustain that kind of genius. There’s a lot of pot. Some Satanists. Too many skinny jeans. And the fourth episode has dudes making out.

Canada, why must you have the most awesome cheesy shows? Is there some reason the United States can’t have nice stupid shit?

Sick Day–the Recuperation

I tried to pretend like I wasn’t still sick this morning. I went and did my park and came home and did a load of dishes. By the time I was done doing the dishes, I was sweating so bad that you’d have thought I ran a marathon. So, clearly not done being sick.

I napped most of the afternoon, but when this is your sick bed?

It’s hard to complain.

I have to tell you, the thought of moving from my house someday doesn’t really bother me. I like my house fine, but I’m not in love with it. But the thought of having to leave this spot? Where I’ve planted trees and dug in the dirt?

I’d as soon build a whole new house more to my liking in this very spot than leave here.

I’m Out Sick One Day and the World Goes Wacky?!

I’m a little bummed because I liked my life in whatever parallel universe I lived in up until yesterday. It’ll be weird if the Mrs. Wigglebottom in this universe is suddenly well-behaved or if my dad has blond hair or if my brother is a hair-dresser or something.

But I’m kind of digging the changes I’ve noticed so far. For one, there’s an actual funny, charming story in the New York Times about mushrooms. For another, I’m agreeing with Toby Fucking Keith?!

This is a strange, new universe. Diet Dr Pepper still tastes the same, though, so I think it’ll be okay.

I Have Made It to the Couch

So, sleeping for ten hours seems to have made a dent in the “feeling exhausted” symptom. And not standing up keeps me from being dizzy. I may have to experiment with whether lying down on the couch make me less nauseous, but “All Girls on the Couch” times are so rare that I hate to disrupt it.

Though even as I type this, Mrs. W. has gotten on the floor. The new kitty may be in for a bit of a surprise. The other day, as the new kitty was tromping through the house taking swings at everyone and then attempting to woo the Butcher with her cuteness, he asked me “Do you think the new kitty is Nermal?”

And I laughed and said, “Probably.” On the other hand, did I tell you about the time I caught her face-down in the enchiladas, like Garfield used to get in lasagna? So, hard saying. I’ll just say that, until this cat, I had no idea “Garfield” was so realistic.

In other news, I read this thing, thanks to a link Newscoma had up at Facebook. I am going to have nightmares about that Normal Rockwell picture now. But also, can I just say that, while I already got and was mortified that we’d done the equivalent of burning down someone’s church and trying to call the smoking remains a “sculpture” in their honor, I had no idea about the rude gesture part.

I laughed. I admit. God, what a bunch of assholes we are as a species.

I also finished The Last Werewolf which I really liked. I wouldn’t say that I loved it, exactly, because I’m tired of books that seem to be setting me up for a sequel instead of just being well-crafted self-contained units without divulging ahead of time that that’s what they’re doing AND yet feeling free to not wrap up story-lines so there’s some slight cliff-hangers. But I did like it as a meditation on what it means to live in a time when it feels like we have everything figured out and, in the figuring, have discovered that it means nothing.

Why I Love Nashville

This post over at Pith pretty much sums it up. I love a city where people are such assholes and where the people who work for the city are so hilarious about it.

I think I’m getting sick. I thought that migraine the other day was just a stand-alone issue, but ever since then I’ve felt kind of off-kilter and today I’m pretty sure I’m running a low-grade fever. I’m also sitting here at work and I keep finding myself daydreaming about taking a nap. There’s something cruel about unbidden daydreams about naps.

Oh, a nap. I could open up the front curtains so that the sun would pour onto the green couch. I could coax the dog to curl up by my feet. And then, I could shut my eyes. And I’d dream about daydreaming about napping and dreaming I’m daydreaming about napping.


Well, At Least It Wasn’t That Much Booing?

I’m still trying to process this whole “and now we boo at the military” and “and now we politicians don’t even bother to thank a dude for his service” change in the Republican party. I’m liberal, so I’m used to there being some jackasses in our crowds who don’t know how to comport themselves. And I know how it usually plays along class and regional lines. Liberals with rural and/or poor roots are the least likely in any crowd to be booing military people, because we know so many people in the military. Our boo-ers are almost always young idiots who are just becoming politically active and their anger feels, to them, righteous and therefore unquestionable. If you don’t like it, get out of their way. Occasionally, it’s some older idiot. But only rarely.

I don’t know how to read the few jackasses at a Republican presidential debate who would boo gay service-people. I just don’t know what to make of it.

But I have to tell you, the part I find stunning is that not a single politician on that stage said “Thank you for your service.” Or said to the audience, “Enough of that. We can disagree in this country without disrespecting the people who are willing to give their lives for it.” It’s not like they don’t know the possibility for jackasses in the audience is there. They had people cheering for letting uninsured people die, for executing a bunch of people–they know the crowds are rowdy and prone to outbursts that play strangely outside of the room.

And no one had thought through potential responses? No, they couldn’t have known it would be the gay soldier that set the crowd off. But they knew the chances were good that the crowd would be set off by something.

And that it was a soldier?

This is the other thing I don’t know. The mere rumors of people spitting on Vietnam soldiers was enough to put a sliver of permanent doubt between the military and Democrats. How does silence by presidential candidates when a soldier is booed play? How does not one word of thanks play?

My feeling is–who cares about the crowd? There’re always assholes. But I find it stunning that the people who want to lead us would show such an open lack of respect, a refusal to not even defend, but just to stop the rudeness directed at, a member of the military?

I don’t know how it reads to others, but it read like cowardice to me. How can you stand there and say nothing when you are arguing that you’re fit to run the country? How can you lead a nation if you won’t even lead at a debate?

And what does the military make of that, watching Americans back home booing a guy on active duty?

Could the Republicans be stupid enough to loose the military vote?

Two Cool Things

1. Another Nashville writer at Qarrtsiluni! And she’s writing about Piggly Wiggly, which means she’s writing about Dickerson Pike. But I must say, I realized upon reading this that I don’t really consider Dickerson Pike to be East Nashville. I mean, yes, technically. But I feel like maybe it should have its own name.

2. All afternoon I watched as this story became about how scientists had broken the speed of light. But I like it at this moment where it’s still a story about a genuine “What the fuck?!”

“My dream would be that another, independent experiment finds the same thing – then I would be relieved,” Dr Ereditato said.

But for now, he explained, “we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result – because it is crazy”.

“And of course the consequences can be very serious.”

Grandma A.

My Uncle B. sent me this picture of my Grandma A. He says it’s her high school graduation picture, which would make her, I think 15 or 16. Did I ever tell you about this? My grandma was the youngest in her family and she blew threw all her studies at the one-room school house by the time she was 11. So, they were trying to decide if they would go ahead and send her to high school or if she’d just not go to school any more and, if they did send her to high school, how she’d get there.

My great-grandparents bought her a car. She got her driver’s license at 11. And off she went to high school. And then to college. And then she had to be a beautician for a year or two while she waited to be 21 so that she could get her teaching license.

But then she was a teacher at a one-room school-house.

And then she got married and moved to Battle Creek and then she became a real estate agent and then she was my grandma. Ta da!

God, I miss her.

Between her and my other grandma, I guess there was no question I’d have curly brown hair.

What If Kids Today Do Not Suck?

No, I know. Impossible. Have I heard their stupid music? Do I not know how they think “everything the [sic] do is somehow worthy of being posted on Facebook & Twitter & Tumblr. They have grown up with an audience for their every banality and expect it. They are vain and shallow. Believe me, I know this well.”? And look at the ridiculous ways they dress. Ugh. Kids today. Suck, suck, suck, suck, suck.

What do they suck about now?

They want to be writers, but they don’t want to read.

Giraldi’s right: it’s both crazy and prevalent among budding writers. I’d also welcome theories on why it’s prevalent—is writing a more natural activity than reading? Does watching stories unfold on TV or in film give kids the same creative urge that reading does? Is it just that it’s easier to see your ego in words you wrote yourself?

This is, by far, the stupidest thing I’ve read all day. People–kids today–read all the time. They read all day long. I heard on NPR that people under 25 send, on average, 110 text messages a day. These are not people who don’t read.

Let me posit a counter-theory–there’s a lot of terrible shit out there. Why just yesterday, I finished a book so bad that it made me wish there was a Mystery Science Theater for books. This book ended in a bout of mutual necrophilia, which I think was supposed to be horrifying, but ended up being hilarious. Because nothing says “Sure, I can get my actually dead dick up” like a ghost impersonating and somehow embodying the corpse of your wife. Who the fuck cares if kids today don’t want to read terrible shit like a “horror” novel that makes no sense and ends up with a dude gratefully and without compelling explanation fucking the thing that killed his wife and the teenager he was trying to fuck?

To that, I say, “Good decision, kids.”

Or let’s try another theory–Maybe Harold Bloom was right and writers–I would argue especially young writers–are very concerned with writing stuff that is derivative of other stuff. Shoot, I felt like throwing up when I realized the Sue Allen thing is going to be like The Terminator, but with methed out asshole neo-racists and post-Reconstruction Confederates. I’m going forward anyway, both because I at least want to write the first chapter where the evil post-Reconstruction Confederate complains bitterly about what a bunch of pussies all the men in his Civil War reenactment group are while they contemplate whether they should turn him over to the Feds, because he’s such a racist crack-pot that he seems like he might actually be a danger to others or whether he might be a Fed posing as a racist crack-pot trying to get them to implicate themselves in something.

And I’m sure that seems fucking derivative of something as well and the Butcher will read it and go “Oh, so that’s like [thing I forgot about] meets the Confederates.” And I will want to throw up again.

Oh, right, my point. Maybe young writers want to write without reading because they’re actually trying to say something about their anxieties about influence and their uncertainties about how to be original without shutting oneself off from influence. It’s funny to me that, when Harold Bloom says it, it’s smart and something we should all consider, but when kids try to express it, they’re narcissistic assholes.

Or my third theory–kids who want to write and who are asked to read by the teachers they want to teach them to write have no idea how to read a book like a writer. They literally don’t understand what reading can teach them about writing and teachers of writing, who are usually also teachers in the English department, do a pretty bad job of switching from “What does the rose symbolize?” to “What’s Faulkner doing with this rose? Does it work for you? What would you do differently?” It’s a different skill-set–reading for lit crit reasons and reading for ideas about strategies of writing (and both are different from reading for pleasure).

I only had a couple of classes–one I remember particularly vividly, even after all these years–where we read something, could be fiction, could be non-fiction, could be theory, hashed over what it meant and then turned around and tried to write something using what we’d just figured out. And both of those were taught by the same person. And I’m still in regular contact with her because she fucking rocks.

Are some kids narcissistic assholes? Sure. But are you teaching them how to read as a writer? Are you discussing with them anxieties about finding out that what they want to do has already been done? Or anxieties about “ripping off” someone?

There is only one way that I know of to become a writer–get words on the page and rip off people better than you. And the only way I know how to rip off people better than you is to read them. Sure, we don’t call it “ripping off,” but you know what I mean. If a writing teacher is only focused on teaching you how to get and shape words on the page and not on how to figure out what better writers are doing in order to emulate it, the writing teacher sucks, not the students.