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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gaiman on Piracy

Watching this interview with Neil Gaiman only further entrenched my view that the move towards ebooks and away from paper books is going to kill the publishing industry.

Gaiman notices that releasing free electronic versions of his books leads to more sales of actual printed copies of his books. This phenomenon, of course, wouldn't happen if there are no actual printed copies of the book.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Well That Explains It

Last night, there was a small army of emergency vehicles at the end of my block. All I could see were the flashing blue and red lights, so I couldn't tell if it was a fire truck, an ambulance, cops, or all of the above.

It was probably all of the above.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Confession

I ain't gonna lie.

For the past year or so I've been on a big western kick. Blame Clint Eastwood. It was watching Gran Torrino that got me to watch the Man with No Name trilogy again, which got me to watching The Wild Bunch again, which got me to watching everything by Sam Peckinpah and branching out from there, going backwards with a particular emphasis on the "revisionist" westerns from the 70s.

And all this time I've avoided John Wayne. The guy is only the biggest name in westerns, but look at where I'm coming from. John Wayne was dead before I turned 3, and even then, his best work dates to a time when my parents were 3. I know John Wayne from John Wayne impressions, "Well, Pilgrim," and all that. What's worse, I didn't want to know him. John Wayne? Cliche.

But such close-minded nonsense tends to fall away if you let it.

It's been a couple weeks now, but I finally watched The Searchers. And I fucking loved it.

My Netflix queue? It's now filled with John Wayne.

Cutting Spending for Cutting Spending's Sake

This is why Matt Yglesias has an award named for him.
Any year is a great year in which to cut low-hanging fruit. By why cut the non-low hanging portion of the budget? There could be good reasons. Maybe we need to sacrifice in order to build more tanks to beat the Nazis. But that’s not happening. Or maybe high interest rates are crowding out private sector investment. But that’s not happening. Or maybe monetary actions necessary to keep interest rates low are leading to ruinous inflation. But that’s not happening either. So why make program cuts that have real negative impact in every district across the country? Shooting ourselves in the foot in 2011 doesn’t make it easier to afford Medicare in 2020, it means we’ll have more injured feet.
I'm all for cutting spending. I think it's necessary.

I just don't think we need to ask Republicans for their views about it. These same fools spent years telling me that the best way to waste my money was by building schools in Iraq and bringing jobs to Afghanistan. Now they're telling me that a food aid program for pregnant women and babies is too much???

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bad Writing

There's a documentary called "Bad Writing" that's coming out, and while I'm interested to see it, I don't think I want to see anyone slam some unpublished nobody for being a bad writer. If you're not getting paid, and only a handful of people will read what you wrote, the rule is that you're allowed to be a bad writer.

Write your crap poetry. Write your boring blog. Not all of it will be bad, and the bits that are good make the rest worth it.

What offends me, not just as a reader but as a writer myself, is when the bad writer is getting paid to do it.

I tried to read this book, title and author will go unnamed, twice now and I can't do it. The writing is just too bad. Check this paragraph:
Maggie Walking Hawk Taylor turned, hands propped on her hips. She stood five feet six inches tall. Her round face betrayed her Indian ancestry. The faint breeze teased unruly strands of her short black hair around her dark eyes, and broad cheekbones. She wore a Park Service uniform and tan boots on her feet. The belted brown pants hugged a trim waist. She cocked her head and smiled.
Dude...that's awful.

You may read that and think, what's so bad about that? Look at it again. It's not description writing. It's a list of sentences, no, a list of things dressed up as sentences.

She stood five feet six inches tall. You know why? Because I measured her. And then I wrote it down on this index card here, which I will now continue to read from...

Her round face betrayed her Indian ancestry. Maybe her ancestors betrayed her when they gave her a round face. Didn't think about that, did ya?

The faint breeze teased unruly strands of her short black hair around her dark eyes, and broad cheekbones. This is easily the most "writerly" sentence in the bunch, "faint breeze teased unruly strands" but again, it's just information from the index card. Hair: black. Eyes: Brown. Oh, and "broad cheekbones." No, seriously. Check the comma. That's how the sentence was published.

She wore a Park Service uniform and tan boots on her feet. If the editor couldn't get rid of the "on her feet" part (because where else will you wear tan boots?) maybe they could have used that comma in the last sentence. I seriously doubt that Maggie Walking Hawk Taylor wore her Park Service uniform on her feet...

The belted brown pants hugged a trim waist. The belted brown pants have little arms, and they're full of love. Oh, and Maggie Walking Hawk Taylor? Totally fuckable. (That's what they're trying to say, right?)

And you know, on some level I understand bad writing like this. If I said I've never put together a listicle of mundane phrases and dressed it up in paragraph form, I'd be lying.

But I think upon re-reading it, going back over it in that other writing process called revising, I would have cut it out.

Maybe we need to know Maggie Walking Hawk Taylor's boots are tan and that her pants are both brown and belted. But we probably don't. Readers can be pretty imaginative, ya know.

Kill the Bill

I've gotta hand it to Colorado state Republicans. They're not as dumb as their voters. Here they see problems down the line and do the conservative thing: stop moving.

Sad to say, this may cost them a few jobs. I expect Randy Baumgardner's will now be added to every "don't retreat: reload!" list in the state. Craig Silverman's going to bitch about it on the radio, bet.

Illegal immigration remains a problem, but these "Arizona-style immigration bills" are not the answer.

You know, it's really easy to turn an "illegal immigrant" into a "documented resident." You just have to fill out a few forms...

Seems much easier than asking everyone, "Papers please."

I wonder, too, how much of this legislation is sponsored by people associated with GEOGroup. That's my conspiracy theory. It ain't got nothing to do with a birth certificate. There are literally people out there making fortunes running ICE detention facilities. Think about that for a second. Getting rich, running a prison.

So what if a raid puts that meat-packing plant out of business? Cha-ching!

The Plight of the Pretty Girl

This morning, there was a very pretty girl riding the train to work. At both the Nine Mile station, where we picked up our initial train, and the Southmoor station, where we picked up our transfer, this poor girl had to fend off several douchebags asking her the time, when the next train is coming, et cetera.

She looked really annoyed.

If I had to put in words what her face looked like, it might sound like this: "Jesus Christ, do I look like a wrist watch? Do I look like a train schedule? I'm just trying to commute, not pick-up douchebags. Leave me alone!"

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Snow Day

This is exactly how I got to work this morning.
The music is "The Gnashing" by Baroness.

Upside/Downside

Today the weather was so bad, I took the bus/train combo to work.

Upside: A co-worker was kind enough to drive me home.

Downside: I was so car-sick by the time I got home that the first thing I did was shoot tendrils of puke through my nose.

Yes, my nose!