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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bad Writing?

So tell me if this is too cheesy...specifically the last part
Micah knocked on the door with gloved knuckles...

A moment later, the door opened a crack and a woman peered out at us over the security chain. I could only see half her face, but I recognized the dread locks and dimples from her drivers license photo. We had the right apartment, at least.

"What you want?" she said.

Geneva Russell, twenty six. She had co-signed for her boyfriend Ronnie's bond a few months prior but he never showed up to court. We were the unlicensed bondsmen that were there to pick him up on a warrant.

"We need to talk to Ronnie, Geneva," Micah said in a calm, familiar tone.

The eye widened at the mention of her name. That kind of familiarity from a complete stranger can be eye opening.
I think it's actually kind of funny...

Good Bad Writing

There’s good writing. There’s bad writing. Then there’s good bad writing.

Case in point: Richard Laymon’s novel The Beast House.

Here’s a paragraph from Chapter Three, in which our heroine Tyler (yes, a female Tyler) wipes blood from her face:
As the men started toward their car, Tyler knelt on the passenger seat and took a plastic container of Wet Ones from the glove compartment. She crawled out. Plucking one of the moist towels from the pack, she scrubbed her face. The paper came away smeared brown-red.
What’s wrong with this? you might ask. There’s strong active verbs (knelt, crawled, plucking, scrubbed, smeared). There’s not very many adjectives and the ones that are there add something to the sentences. And there are no adverbs.

In fact, it’s actually a pretty vivid description of what’s going on. So what’s the problem?

There’s too much going on. That’s the problem.

Laymon uses four sentences to describe the simple act of Tyler getting a Wet One out of the glovebox and wiping her face with it. A whole paragraph! Narrated step by step, leaving no action undescribed, no dot unconnected.

And hey, I understand. I’m a writer. I’ve done this too. You’re writing a story, narrating a story, and pretty soon the Narration overtakes the Story. Instead of “When he got home, he grabbed a beer and fell on the couch,” it becomes something grand, like “When he got home, he went straight to the kitchen and opened the fridge. He leaned on the door shaking with condiments and enjoyed the cool air blowing in his face. Three beers sat like soldiers on the shelf and he grabbed one. He popped the top with his bottle opener, tipped it back, and let the cool liquid pour into his mouth. He went into the living room and flopped on the couch…”

I could go on. I could even clean it up a little bit, put in some more strong active verbs, hone the adjectives a bit. (I try to skip adverbs anyway. Adverbs are very bad. And yes, "very" is an adverb and I just used it and look at how simple and meaningless that sentence is!)

So while a writer will get stuck in this narrative morass, a writer must also take into account the reader. And the reader, having the ability fill in gaps with their imaginations, doesn’t need to be spoon-fed every little action.

At least this reader.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tax Cuts For Dubai

The shit has hit the fan in Dubai. Dubai World, the company the Bush administration was going to put in charge of US ports, is in major debt.

A year after the global slump derailed Dubai's explosive growth, the city-state's main investment arm, Dubai World, revealed this week it was asking for at least a six-month delay on paying back its $60 billion debt. Major credit agencies responded by slashing debt ratings on Dubai's state companies, saying they might consider the plan a default.
Yeah, if I didn't pay my bills for six months, that would be considered a default.

Clearly, Dubai needs a tax cut to help them resolve this financial problem.

Oh, wait! Dubai hardly has any taxes.
Individuals living in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are not subject to income tax. Like most other countries in the Middle East most government expenditure is funded by revenues from the oil industry. There is also no tax on rental income, capital gains, inheritances, or property transfers (stamp duty).

Black Friday

Everywhere, Black Friday...

CNN is doing a story on where the deals are. My e-mail inbox is full of offers from every company I've ever done business with for Black Friday sales. All over the web, it's Black Friday, Black Friday, Black Friday.

Buy, buy, buy!

Because if the last year or so has taught us anything, it's that over-exuberant consumerism has absolutely no down side.

When "Drill, Baby, Drill" Goes Bad

An article for intelligent people!


Typical Republican whining about regulations:
McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy said Tuesday that "having the most punitive rules in the nation" has been a big mistake.

"As the industry was hurting, as the economy in general was hurting," Duffy said, "in comes this very anti-industry, anti-jobs approach."
Wah! Anti-industry. Wah! Anti-jobs.

Only there's more to the story than Democrats being mean to industrialists.

The rules implement 2007 laws requiring more weight be given to health, wildlife and environmental concerns when making decisions about oil and gas development. The laws were passed amid record-breaking rates of natural gas drilling and complaints from landowners, conservationists, hunters and anglers about the impacts.
When you read "record-breaking rates of natural gas drilling," think "Drill, baby, drill."

When you read "complaints from landowners, conservationists, hunters and anglers," think "socialist agenda."

Instead of asking a Republican, let's ask a "real American," Brett Corsentino, described in the artilce as "a fourth-generation dairy farmer in south-central Colorado."
"What has hindered these companies is overproduction. I know about that because I'm a dairy farmer," he said.
Clearly, we need to make it easier for these companies to overproduce even more, removing roadblocks to polluting water supplies and screwing over landowners.
I like the way Mark Udall thinks, especially about this bark beetle problem we've got going on out here.
Udall talked about converting beetle-kill trees, which are already being turned into pellets for wood stoves in Kremmling, into other forms of biofuel.

“There’s been a lot of conversations among a lot of us about how do you create markets for this potential biofuel,” he said. “You can only make so many fence posts and so many pencils and so many bark-beetle belt buckles.

“And when you put into the mix that much of this timber is not particularly well-suited for middle- or even high-end lumber markets, then there’s a natural inclination to consider whether, with the new technologies we have, could you turn this biomass into biofuels, particularly ethanols. And the Farm Act, the Ag Credit Act and the Clean Air Act all provide opportunities to provide additional incentives to see if this is a real and sustainable operation or economic activity.”
I saw this coming over a year ago.

Visionary? Me? Nah....

Haiku 2

Delirious me
Stares at the flickering screen,
The colors a blur.

A Haiku

Tired beyond pain
Gone half-mad from lack of sleep
Seeking a warm bed

Just a Thought

Perhaps it's just this recession thing we're going through, but I wonder why...

If retailers can afford to offer such steep discounts on Black Friday, the day that they supposedly start making a profit, why can't they do that for the other ten months of the year?

A loss-leader is a loss-leader is a loss-leader, right?

Investment Advice

A buddy at work was talking about how Facebook was trying to go public and said that he should get in on that.

No, you shouldn't, I said.

Facebook is tremendously popular...right now. But fads, especially internet fads, are horrible investment vehicles.

Just look at Myspace. In 2006, Myspace was at the top of the internet heap. By 2008, Facebook was kicking their ass.

I suspect next year some social networking site we've never even heard of (yet) will be kicking Facebook's ass. Don't invest in them either.

An Illustration of Just How Far We've Fallen

Pakistan...yes, Pakistan...will be trying the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks.

Something to keep that in mind next time you hear someone argue that putting KSM on trial is a bad idea...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that Dana Perino is clarifying her remarks.

By digging an even deeper hole.

I see, so when you said "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term," you actually meant the second term and you weren't talking about the biggest terrorist attack on our country ever.

I can see why Bush hired you. Heckuva job, Dana.

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful James Joyner has the integrity to admit when he's wrong, even if he still calls Bill Sparkman's suicide "the unlikely explanation."

Riiiiight. Because the likeliest explanation, based on the evidence, was that government-hating Kentucky rednecks with a meth lab killed Sparkman because he worked for the census.

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that I'm man enough to cry during a movie.

Tonight's tear-jerker? Eight Below.

I know they're just dogs, but Jesus, man. Talk about making a grown man cry.

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that the President of the United States is Barack Obama instead of some Republican with stale ideas like this nonsense from Mike Pence:
"The way to stimulate this economy and help working families is to let Americans keep more of their hard-earned money, not taking more from their wallets," he said. "Republicans have proposals to get our economy moving again, to achieve energy independence and lower the cost of health care."
Um, Mike...I've said it before and I'll say it again.

In my monthly budget, the amount of dough I put aside for taxes is minuscule. It's more than I spend on cigarettes, but less than I spend on, say, the natural gas I use to heat my home.

It's significantly less than the interest I pay to the bank on my mortgage (the bulk of it up front).

So you want to help my keep more of my hard-earned money? Regulate the banks. Reform healthcare. Invest in the United States instead of foreign lands with hostile people.

You know, pretty much the opposite of the Republican "Start Wars and Cut Taxes" platform.

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my Mom, mostly because she's, well, my Mom. But also because sometimes she doesn't get me what I asked for in the gift department, and sometimes because she does.

(After reading my post about the vacuum and the boots, my Mom ignored my request to do something nice for her wife...and instead got me a bagless vacuum. Not exactly what I wanted...but exactly what I wanted.)

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that I met a Guatemalan-Canadian woman who treats me better than any American woman ever did.

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that even though I'm working Thanksgiving and all of this weekend, I'll be putting 34 hours of overtime down on my timecard this week.

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that my brother returned from Iraq in one piece.

So many did not.

Question of the Day

How come you don't hear any right wingers bragging about how many schools we're building in Iraq?

Is it because bragging about building schools in Iraq while closing schools (and libraries!) in the US just speaks to a lack of priorities?

I seriously want to know.

A couple years ago, any right winger worth their salt was telling us to trust Washington (ie, the Bush Administration) when they said that invading Iraq, destroying it, and then rebuilding it (a foreign country with no real American population) was a valid cause for the American people.

But now? Now all I hear is "Not only do I not trust Washington, but I don't even trust my own city council" and that investing in our own country just isn't worth it.

Bah.

Way To Go, Adam

I'm one of those guys that thinks that nothing good can come from American Idol. But alas, I am wrong.

Adam Lambert, whose career I have had the joy of NOT following, is definitely a good thing. I couldn't identify an Adam Lambert tune, and I'm not really into the whole glam-rock thing (especially the 21st Century kind), but I do love his fearlessness.

And the best part? Dude speaks some common sense when he says:
"I'm not a baby sitter," he said. "I'm a performer."
YES!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Megan McArdle is Dumb

Sorry to be so blunt about it, but the woman did write this paragraph (apparently) with a straight face:
There is a right way and a wrong way to blame George Bush for future budget deficits. The wrong way is to get mad about his tax cuts and the Iraq war. By 2019--the end of the budget window, and the period with which us structural deficit hawks are concerned--the Bush tax cuts will have long since expired. We are also scheduled to have withdrawn from Iraq. You cannot explain any portion of the 2019 budget deficit with these two factors.
I mean, do I even have to explain how dumb that is?

Let me put it this way. If you pissed away all kinds of money on strippers while making less money, you might have problems when you sit down to figure out a future budget.

It doesn't matter if you've now sworn off strippers and you got a raise. You've still got a lot of catching up to do...

Kill the Cyclist

Saturday's blog about narrowly avoiding death from an oblivious motorist was true. It pissed me off.

As did this:
The volunteer firefighter who struck and killed a 14-year-old girl on a bike while driving to the fire house will not be charged with careless driving.
You know why?
The decision letter obtained by 9Wants to Know suggests prosecutors worried they could not obtain a careless driving conviction because they could not prove that Justine Little was not to blame for the crash herself by turning in front of Linnebur's truck. In addition, Little's bike did not have a headlight as required by law.
No two ways about it: this is called "Blaming the victim."

The lesson: If you're speeding in a mud-covered truck and you kill a little girl who may or may not have a headlight...better hope you're a volunteer firefighter.

And this:
Charles Alexander Diez, the former North Carolina firefighter who shot cyclist Alan Simons in the head, has been sentenced to four months in jail.
Woah, another firefighter?

What the fuck? If you fight fires, you have a license to kill cyclists? I don't think so.

O Rly?

I have not watched this yet, but allegedly it shows Dana Perino, the hottest White House press secretary ever, saying the following:
"We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term."
I'm praying context somehow vindicates her, because that's not just wrong, it's stupid.

Updated: Context does NOT vindicate her. She's talking about the shooting rampage at Ft. Hood and wondering why the Obama administration won't call it terrorism.

Whatever. I could see Sean Hannity getting a stiffy when he was linking the Ft. Hood massacre with terrorism, but then again he's an idiot and he's probably not even aware that in his zeal to make Hassan a latter-day Osama Bin Laden, he's actually bolstering the case dovish lefties made when they said the Iraq War would create more terrorists than it killed.

I mean, before Iraq how many Islamic terrorists were in the United States Army? I'm not sure, but I'll make a guess and say "None."

After Iraq? Well, according to Sean Hannity, there's at least one...

Dragging

When I got up tonight, I was excited to get through the next two days. I was under the impression that I would get off at 8 in the morning on Thanksgiving and be done until Saturday morning, the start of my new shift.

Nope. Checking out the schedule, I have to work Thanksgiving night as well, getting off at 8AM on Friday...then starting my new shift at 7AM Saturday.

At 23 hours, that's not even technically a day off, and it's certainly not enough time to adjust.

I'm gonna be dragging......

Blogoreia

Stuff I would have blogged if I had blogged at all this weekend.

Joe Perry of Aerosmith is being a complete dick. He's clearly mad at Steven Tyler, but does he have to say crap like this:
"I think that you just have to listen to what's going on in the press. Because that's the only thing I know," he explained.
I think it's been clear to anyone following the Perry-Tyler Aerosmith feud that all the stuff "going on in the press" is coming from Joe Perry's mouth.

Remember that census worker who was found hanged with "fed" written on his chest? Suicide. Staged as a homicide. Probably for the insurance money. Don't call me Sherlock, but this one was quite elementary, dear Watson.

The Broncos...Lose again. Simms got the start because Woody Paige jinxed us Orton was injured.

(I was going to link to a Denver Post article about the Broncos, but fuck em. They won't even let me look at the article without registering...which means anyone clicking over is going to have the same problem. And you know? I'm just not down with that. If you want to run an ad-supported site, then don't make it difficult for ad-free blogs --such as mine-- to link to your shit. I'm okay with you getting paid when I send eyeballs your way, because after all, money isn't everything, but why would I send eyeballs your way if you're going to be all stingy with your content? Short answer? I'm not.)

When I started this post, I thought I had more...but I guess I don't. So there you go.