Helmet heads

I'm not crazy about Fox News, and not for the same reason other people aren't crazy about it. I can't bring myself to watch all those blonde helmet heads babble within programming that resembles football pre- and post-game shows.

It reminds me of what people used to say about Alfred Hitchcock: he liked using blondes in his movies and even became obsessed with some (all?) of them. And now that I see this picture of the Fox Boss, there doesn't seem to be much difference between the philosophy or looks of him and Hitchcock.

Below are a few of the helmet heads that either have decided to dye their hair a brassy blonde or were told to. Often I suspect that they were "encouraged" to do it, otherwise the Fox Boss would move on to other chicks for sufficient entertainment. Unfortunately, these pictures do not capture the true tackiness of their helmets. If you dare to watch Fox, you'll see absolute blondeness, which is more of an orange-yellow, with none of the dark roots and strands that are in these pictures.

I've talked to Fox Fans (guys, of course) who like their women cute, and do not see any helmets, just pleasant collagen-injected lips moving to the monitors. One guy even sent me an urgent email, saying that I was wrong, that they do have a variety of non-helmeted women, but at this point, I'm not willing to watch Fox 24/7 to confirm it.


Unnecessary proofreading

Okay, I'm a bit perturbed about a translation I did about the German band Kraftwerk. I was very excited about it last year when it was finally posted at a fan site, but then it was edited by someone whose native language is not English. So now what you see is an abridged version, which has mistakes, which means I have to proofread it. I already spent a lot of time translating the 6000-plus word text from Portuguese, only to see the fruits of my labor chopped down.

The original translation was here (but I had to take it down), and the original Portuguese text is no longer available online. Pity, because it was well-written and informative (if you could read Portuguese).


Drinking god

Right now, I am drinking God, yet another weirdly-named product from Japan (I'm sure there's a website out there that chronicles goofy Japanese product names.) More specifically, I'm drinking God Mocha. What a weird name. But it's tasty.

Writing raw

Here's some raw emotion from Jon Konrath, writer and great blogger:

I have been incredibly depressed as this book nears completion, mostly because I am almost certain in my mind that nobody will buy it, read it, or even understand why I would do it...The reason I am doing this is not so I can be the next Dan Brown. I don't expect every Oprah-watching housewife in middle america to rush out and buy my book... So f@#% all of you for not buying my other books, and I don't care if you buy any of the new ones...If you don't like it, you're always welcome to to buy the latest plagarized, fictionalized, non-fiction book from Oprah's list and act like you're smart.

Okay, why do I keep writing about fiction writing? Because it's hard. A lot of things are hard, but to write and have no one care about it is disheartening. I'm not at that point--I'm progressing well as I complete a book, but sometimes I want to raise the middle finger to the world. Not just about writing, but about difficult pursuits and struggles.

I am actually quite psyched about creative victories having to do with plot and characters, but right now, they're just mine. For me to publically chronicle the creative writing strides I'm making would be like making people watch paint dry on a brick wall.


Comedy writing

I saw a video about the struggles of stand-up comedians and saw how much they have to write and rewrite and struggle to get even 10 decent minutes of an act. For some reason, comedy writing fascinates me--the successful comedians make it look so effortless, but some of them might spend an entire day on just one joke. If I wanted to endure more punishment and even more self-loathing and rejection and doubt than fiction writing already offers, I would try my hand at stand-up. It requires a multitude of talents, including the ability to face scorn with dignity.

Below are some helpful and interesting comedy writing tips I came across:

Understand that a joke occurs at the intersection of two ideas.

Connect ideas that go together or are wildly opposite.

Manipulate your audience. Take them down a particular road and then surprise them with something else.

Pull the rug out from under your audience. Employ good timing so that they don't step on the rug too early or get on it and then get off before you've had a chance to deliver the humor.

It could be helpful for a variety of writing, I think.



Whenever I see design shows or fashion magazines, I often see the word "faux" as in "faux fur" or "faux marble." Hello, people, you're speaking/writing English! Why use French? Well, it's more of a rhetorical question because they're trying to disguise the fact that they're talking about fake or imitation stuff. They should be honest and say, "We're using FAKE leather to cover this chair" or "That's made of IMITATION leopard skin."

It's all part of that hoity-toity scene--they want to be important and let consumers know that they're also precious, because they're now a part of the specialness of design. And I guess throwing French words around is perceived as sophisticated.


Action, not reaction

I read this at Joe (aka J.A.) Konrath's blog:

Are you discouraged, depressed, angry, or overwhelmed by your writing career?


Then he offered a list of about 20 complaints and said:

Each of the above complaints is a reaction to something.

Reaction is passive. In fiction, passive is a no-no.

Be active.

TRUE! I hadn't considered the fact that having doubts and feeling frustrated and scared and rejected are reactions.

You got into this business for a reason. Reaching that goal involves action, not reaction.

Getting discouraged, depressed, angry, or overwhelmed isn't going to get you closer to your goal.

But writing, submitting, and promoting will get you closer. Even if you don't immediately see the results.

Don't psych yourself out of the game.

That's what I had been doing: psyching myself out. Sometimes I am productive and feel like I will make it, but other times, when I look at books in a bookstore or read about authors' victories, I get intimidated and discouraged, and end up telling myself that I'll never make it. But that's not true, and I have to keep moving ahead or else I will fulfill my own doomed prophesy.


Lucky and sad

I was reading a bio of a well-known Chicago radio (music) host, in which he said that he landed his dream job at age 22: "You wanted something, you worked for it, and you achieved it. Life doesn't always go that way. I was extremely lucky."

Yes, he *was* lucky! How many people not only know what they're going to do at such a young age, but also achieve it? Rare indeed!

But his situation didn't remain idyllic:

I stayed at WXRT for 21 yrs. I loved doing radio there for most of the time. The last 3 or 4 years weren't much fun. It had become a corporate radio station and I became expendable. In that world, the concerns of the bottom line are more important than human connections. Connections that have a 20 year history matter not to the CEO's looking to raise the stock price and continue receiving their year-end bonus. Oh the inhumanity.

That's sad! But at least he's got a good gig at a new station. So I guess he's still lucky!


Reading Fonda

Okay, I have joined the multitudes to read Jane Fonda's memoir. I think I've only seen one of her movies and really haven't followed her throughout her career, but after seeing Larry King interview her, both she and the book seemed interesting because she seemed to be reflecting honestly about her life.

And that's what the book is: detailed and honest. And it's cool to read about the struggles and triumphs of a rich, famous person, because, well, I'm neither of those and have never hung out with anyone like that, either. So even if you're not into her, you should read this book because it's both entertaining and interesting.

I don't think I'm duped in believing this, but she seems sincere and it was that sincerity that made me curious about her writing. She's a good writer too, unless she used a ghostwriter. But she went to good schools and is well-spoken, so I'm sure she knows how to write. Besides, she had an editor who was probably thrilled to help her out. And think of the big bucks the publisher made.



Here's something I often wonder about: if males are called "men" or "guys" (or "blokes" or "chaps" in England) then what can women be called?

Sometimes I use the word "chick" but that implies someone who's not the smartest on the planet. "Guy" doesn't imply anything negative or dumb or offensive, but "chick" seems to be frivolous. I don't want to say "woman" because it sounds so grown-up and serious, and "lady" reminds me of someone who's put on a lot of lipstick and is uptight. It's also outdated, though sometimes I hear people using that word. "Woman" is more standard, as "man" is. I wouldn't say, "I need to talk to that man over there." Yuck--it's so formal and stiff. But I often, or always, say, "I need to talk to that guy over there." There's nothing wrong about the sound or implication of that word.

So what should we say about women? Sometimes I say "girl" but that's really a word for someone much younger. "Chick" seems like it's meant to be a compromise between the young and old, but it's shallow.

So what's a good word?


Peart's pic

Someone just emailed me this pic. It was hard to leave NYC, but this was a nice welcome-back "present."

[Neil Peart: a great drummer]


Going to NYC

I'm going to New York City this weekend, so I doubt I'll be blogging until Monday when I get back. I have some opinions about that place, especially the people who call themselves "New Yorkers" soon after they move there. I haven't been there since 1999 or 2000, when I went there for a wedding. This weekend is also for a wedding, and I can't believe how much we're going to spend to stay there! It is incredibly expensive, and the taxes are high too. I love it, but it's definitely a city for rich people, so I can't visit that often. And it's too bad that Islamofascists want to blow it to bits.


Muse-ish inspiration

I'm making pretty good progress on a novel that may never get published, but whatever. I shouldn't put myself down like that, but I'm just being realistic. If I say, "I'm making good progress and I have a good feeling about what I'm writing, thus I'm going to be published because of this feeling," I'm being naive. I've felt good about what I've written before and about the possibility of getting published (even in a seemingly amateurish publication), but it didn't happen. So now, I just feel good about what I write, and if I later succeed, that's an extra.

What's helping me write this novel and a previous failure are types of muses that are both real and imaginary. Actually, a muse is a female, and mine isn't/aren't, but it doesn't matter. So I don't know if they would fall into the "muse" definition (which would really be a slightly altered version), or if they're just inspiration. But whatever they are, they keep me going. Now the only problem is that if things change in the external world, then I might slip and fall, so I'm trying to write as furiously and productively as I can, lest the "muse" or "inspiration" or "muse-ish inspiration" disappears.


Beyond Spanglish

Arrogant Polyglot was discussing the direction of language in the U.S., and when I said that there should be a unifying language, he said:

My prediction is that this unifying language will take the form of a new code, the result of several generations of increasing English-Spanish contact. Something so much more advanced than code switching or Spanglish.

I have never thought about that. Sort of like an advanced creole. I'm too tired to think more deeply about it, but it's quite linguistic. :)


3 AM

That's what time I have to wake up on Sunday: THREE IN THE MORNING. I have to start work at 5:00, and since the station is northwest of the airport, it takes me at least 40 minutes without traffic, and I cannot be late because no one else will be there until 8:00. So I will be absolutely alone for a few hours. I plan to drink lots of caffeine and watch the sun rise.

I'm going to leave around 3:45 to get there in plenty of time, or just in case I'm held up by bizarre Saturday night/Sunday morning incidents, such as drunken accidents or trains passing by.

That's right: active train crossings can really make me late. Last night I was at the station until 11, and I thought going home would be a breeze. But I got stuck at two railroad crossings--two times in a row, I had to sit in my car, waiting for very long freight trains to finish their slow crawl towards wherever they had to be late at night. I got home after midnight.

I usually get up very early on Sundays, but this is going to be weird: party-types will be coming home from a long night out when I leave my place to go to work, and the city and suburbs will be transformed into a kind of country road for me to roam. I wonder if even the airport is going to have any activity--I usually see a few planes taking off or landing, but that's during the day, when the world is functioning normally.

So, tomorrow for me will begin at 3 AM. Is that night or day?


Really 20k

In under a month, I have written 20,000 words of fiction. And those are original, unlike the Harvard liar who copied others' work.

A while ago, I was in a writing group, and some of the members criticized me for not reading fiction while writing fiction. I told them that I don't want to be influenced by someone else's style or words, and I still believe that. I want to get my cues from experiences and conversations and other people's lives, not what authors publish.

I'm sure I'm not alone in being disgusted that the publisher was too lazy to check that teenager's work to make sure it was truly her own. And of course, the rest of us are out here working earnestly and diligently to create original words, but the PIC (Publishing Industrial Complex) could care less.

Another example of L.I.F. (Life Isn't Fair)


Disturbing or interesting?

I've stumbled upon The Real Housewives of Orange County, which is a reality show. I've now watched at least a few episodes of it (missed the first couple, I think), and it's very weird, but at the same time intriguing. Basically, it shows you what white trash can do with a lot of money. Actually, I don't think the people are hicks, but they have no taste, which equals high-priced tackiness! Are they the definition of what old money folks call "new money"?

At first, I found the show repulsive and disturbing, but I can now see that it's interesting. I don't know why I keep watching it. Maybe because it's not obnoxious and stupid, though the people are (well, they're not obnoxious but quasi-educated and arrogant in a mellow California way). But the editing is so good, and they've put together an interesting story. Maybe that's it: the story. One thing I have to say, though: they work hard and have really earned their wealth! Too bad their kids are spoiled and screwed up.

I don't usually watch reality shows (except for Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List) and those PBS ones that show families living in different time periods in the U.S. and U.K. I have no idea if anyone I know has been watching Real Housewives, but I'm going to find out.