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» Posts from December, 2011

December 23, 2011

The Blogosphere Vs. The Only Ones

I was going to try to write this post without using the word blogosphere. But see, I can’t make it even 15 words without resorting to such vocabulary. Oh, the blogosphere is a powerful sphere these days, right up there with the Southern Hemisphere, the troposphere, and Sphere by Michael Cricthon. And I have to acknowledge that power, or else they’ll hunt me down and take me out like this was a Dan Brown book and they were renegade nuns and I was a dashing Sanskrit expert (that’s the sort of thing that happens in Dan Brown books, right?).

What I’m getting at is this: in a market flooded with books, not every author can expect a Charlie Rose interview, a Today Show spot and a New Yorker feature to help get the word out about his/her hardback baby. Thankfully there is a passionate community of fans and critics who are doing the heavy lifting for free. There’s nothing like coming across a review online and knowing that someone out there not only read and thought about your story, but is now expanding on it. Because that’s what good criticism is: a continuation of the story, even when it’s negative criticism. I tend to read criticism after I read a book, or watch a movie, or listen to an album. I want to see if others shared in my experience or had a wildly different point of view. It helps me see more of the story. It gives it a fuller shape. Sure, it sometimes leads to me shaking my fist and screaming “Moron!” or “Philistine!” but most things in life do.

So blogosophere, I salute you.  Amazon is okay (with its “best book eva!” and “this book is the root of all evil!” reviews) and Goodreads can be endlessly fascinating and frustrating (I’m fine with one star, just tell me why!). But give me a blog review any day of the week. I’m serious. If you have a blog…give me a review! Even on a Tuesday! Follow the lead of these 10 trailblazers who–despite a dabbling in SPOILERS!–have not only shared my book with the world, but have given me new insights into what I wrote. They have made my story even longer:

  1. Mother Reader: “One, I’m calling this as a movie waiting to be made. Two, this book would make a perfect gift…”
  2. Charlotte’s Library (spoiler at end): “It’s the best sort of upper middle grade book–ie, great for an eleven year old child, and for the mg reading grown-up.”
  3. Parenthetical (mild spoilers): “This is a weird, amazing, amazingly weird book.”
  4. Librarian in the Middle: “Part science fiction, part mystery, this well-crafted story was moving in ways I didn’t see coming.  This is one that will stick with me for a long time.”
  5. Snarky and Sweet: “I can only talk in the vaguest terms about the plot because one of the absolute strengths of the book for me was its unpredictability. The reader really is taken for a ride and cannot know what happens next.”
  6. MSBPL Books (spoilers aplenty): “Starmer’s characters and story premise were engaging and thoughtful and I recommend this book to readers who are interested in human nature and science fantasy.”
  7. West Virginia Red Reads: “The end of the world doesn’t make children into monsters but it does make them into adults with both good and bad sides.”
  8. Karissa’s Reading Reviews: “Fans of well written mysteries with a little magic and sci-fi should look here. Fans of post-apocalyptic fiction with a more subtle touch to it and a lot of mystery should also give this book a read.”
  9. Alamosa Books: “A brilliant fairy tale for the modern age.”
  10. Bettina’s Book Club (some spoilers): “The premise was fascinating, the characters were unique, funny, believable and relatable, and by the time I was done reading it I was thinking, ‘Whoa, this is some deep stuff…’”

There are of course some reviews from newspapers, magazines and journals over here. And there are other blog reviews out there that I know I missed and others that are on the horizon (or so I hope). If you have one, just let me know. I’ll spread the word.

December 14, 2011

Meanwhile, at Facebook Headquarters…

INT. FACEBOOK CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes sit at a conference table, surrounded by piles of file folders, binders, etc. Mark Zuckerberg paces around the room.

ZUCKERBERG

Moving on. Who do we have next?

Moskovitz opens a file folder.

MOSKOVITZ

We have a…Jenny Richardson.

ZUCKERBERG

What do we know about Jenny?

MOSKOVITZ

Let’s see. Says here she’s from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

HUGHES

That’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Zuck.

ZUCKERBERG

Nice catch, Hughesy. Okay, so she’s an Amish then, right? Good. Somewhere to start. We wanna get those Amish fingers a-clickin’. So tell me, boys. What’s ad-sales pulling in on the horse-and-buggy front?

 Moskovitz checks the ledger.

MOSKOVITZ

Nada.

ZUCKERBERG

Damn. Strike one. No big whoop. Homerun idea is…oats! Pretty sure these people love the oats.

HUGHES

That’s the Quakers, Zuck.

ZUCKERBERG

Is it? What’s the difference?

MOSKOVITZ

I think…the hats?

HUGHES

Zippers, actually.

ZUCKERBERG

Zippers? Fascinating. How so?

HUGHES

Don’t like ‘em. Don’t want ‘em. Got no need for ‘em.

ZUCKERBERG

Who? Amish or Quakers? Know what? Doesn’t matter. Skip any zipper ads for Jenny. That includes Ziploc and all subsidiaries. Don’t want to take chances. Focus on oats. I know it’s a Quaker thing, but I’m betting every horse-loving Pennsylvanian needs quality oats. Now make me a happy man, Mister M. Tell me we got some badass oats accounts on the books?

 Moskovitz checks the ledger.

MOSKOVITZ

Best I can do is Hall & Oates. Reunion tour at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New…

(flips page)

…Jersey.

 ZUCKERBERG

Good. We can work with that. How far is Sayreville from Lancaster? Is it doable for Jenny?

Hughes pulls out an atlas, flips through the pages until he finds an overview map of the Northeast. He measures the distance with his fingers, checks the scale on the key.

 HUGHES

Looks doable, Zuck.

 ZUCKERBERG

Horse-and-buggy doable?

 HUGHES

I can’t claim to be an expert, but I think it’s horse-and-buggy doable. A full day on the buggy but, you know, it’s a reunion tour. I heard they’re doing Maneater.

 ZUCKERBERG

Good point. Jenny will make the trip for Maneater.

(beat)

Okay, so Jenny’s going to a concert. What else can we sell her? I need the deets, Mighty Moskovitz. Hit me up. What sorta books does she dig?

MOSKOVITZ

Says here she reads “just about anything good…except for sci-fi. Ack!”

ZUCKERBERG

Ack? What’s ack?

MOSKOVITZ

I think she’s just saying ack. Like…gross. Ack!

HUGHES

Cathy says ack.

ZUCKERBERG

Cathy in the SEO department? Peanut-allergy Cathy? I swear, sometimes I would fire that woman just so I could have a godforsaken Pay-Day bar every once in a tomorrow!

HUGHES

Different Cathy, Zuck. Sorry, should have been more specific. Cathy the comic strip.

ZUCKERBERG

Got it. I know that one. They still running those?

HUGHES

Not sure.

ZUCKERBERG

Know what? Think I saw some funny papers in the eighth floor bathroom. Third stall in. Right up on the tank.

HUGHES

So…? Want me to…check?

ZUCKERBERG

Of course I want you to check! Jesus, Hughesy, we aren’t LinkedIn over here, where they don’t know their Cathy from their Sally Forth! We go public in a few months, this is the sorta minutia people are gonna expect.

HUGHES

Sorry, Zuck. I’m on it.

Hughes dashes out.

 MOSKOVITZ

We still talking about Jenny?

ZUCKERBERG

(grinding his teeth)

Right. Jenny. Likes books. Good ones. Read anything good lately?

MOSKOVITZ

I really liked The Night Circus.

ZUCKERBERG

What’s that about?

MOSKOVITZ

A circus…at night.

ZUCKERBERG

Not a sci-fi circus at night? Jenny doesn’t care for sci-fi.

MOSKOVITZ

Um…no. Not sci-fi. Maybe fantasy? It’s kinda tough to peg down.

ZUCKERBERG

But you liked it? People like it?

MOSKOVITZ

It’s pretty friggin’ magical.

ZUCKERBERG

Good. Good. So I’m guessing Jenny read it too, cause she’s not gonna pass up something so magical. And she’s probably itching to see a night circus in person. Which begs the question…

 Moskovitz nods and grabs the yellow pages. He flips through.

 MOSKOVITZ

Sorry. No listings for night circuses in Lancaster, Sayreville or anywhere in between.

ZUCKERBERG

Day circuses?

 Moskovitz shakes his head.

 ZUCKERBERG

Mother-fudger! Gimme something!

MOSKOVITZ

How about circus peanuts? You know, the candy?

ZUCKERBERG

Really? That stuff is vile.

MOSKOVITZ

Maybe, but they have a big ad budget. Someone must enjoy the stuff.

ZUCKERBERG

And maybe that someone is Jenny. Or if that someone isn’t Jenny, maybe it will be Jenny because she’s all giddied up on the night circus pony. I like your thinking Dusty M. And besides, Jenny will be hungry at Hall & Oates. Oh-oh here she comes, watch out circus peanuts she’ll chew you up….

MOSKOVITZ

Nicely done.

ZUCKERBERG

Bush-league, but thank you. Just getting started. So we’ve sold stuff to Jenny. Now let’s sell Jenny. I’m sure there are companies interested in hearing more about her. What’s her relationship status?

MOSKOVITZ

It’s complicated.

ZUCKERBERG

Dammit! We should’ve never made that an option.

MOSKOVITZ

Not what I meant. It says quite clearly that she’s interested in men. But then I’ve got all these photos of her playing softball.

 Moskovitz spreads some photographs out on the table. Zuckerberg has a look.

 ZUCKERBERG

Bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

MOSKOVITZ

She lists Boys on the Side as one of her favorite movies.

ZUCKERBERG

Doesn’t prove anything. McConaughey is in that picture. Which status updates does she “like?”

 Moskovitz searches through some papers.

 MOSKOVITZ

Her friend Gina’s toddler said something funny about how rain is God “going pee-pee” and she liked that.

 ZUCKERBERG

Okay.

MOSKOVITZ

She liked that Ken Dyer was “gonna get his drink on tonight with all the L-Town hotteez!”

ZUCKERBERG

Why wouldn’t she? Sounds like a good time. How about some things she doesn’t like?

MOSKOVITZ

Um…I thought we weren’t adding that button?

ZUCKERBERG

(sighing)

We aren’t. But the data. The data should still reveal what she doesn’t like.

 Moskovitz searches through the papers.

MOSKOVITZ

Mondays. It appears she doesn’t like Mondays.

 ZUCKERBERG

Hmmm.

(beat)

So she’s a lesbian. I’m guessing Subaru would be interested in knowing that.

MOSKOVITZ

Err…horse-and-buggy.

ZUCKERBERG

Crap-balls!

 The door flies open. Hughes tumbles in.

 HUGHES

(breathlessly)

No…sign…of Cathy. But Sally….Forth…still going…strong.

 ZUCKERBERG

Bingo! You’re back, Hughesy!

HUGHES

Thanks…Zuck.

 ZUCKERBERG

Snoop Mousy Moskovitz! Get whoever draws, writes, and publishes Sally Forth on the horn and tell them we’ve got the 411 on a sugared-up Amish lesbian Hall & Oates aficionado named Jenny Richardson and ask them flat out how many dimes they’re willing to drop to know how she’s doing at Farmville.

(catches his breath)

Moving on.

December 12, 2011

Who Here at the Yorktown Pennysaver is up for a Little Gwar?

From: Darius Pogue
To: “Office List”
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011 8:39 AM
Subject: Who here at the Yorktown Pennysaver is up for a little Gwar?

Hey gang,

Sigh in relief. This isn’t another email about security software updates. Trust your humble one-man IT department when I assure you that the Yorktown Pennysaver is now a veritable Fortress of Solitude, and that this email blast is of a decidedly more personal nature. It’s sure to be the talk of the office until the steam whistle blows.

“Out with it!” you say? Fair enough. Guess who’s going to see Gwar this Saturday at Hogan’s Hideaway? That’s right. The very same fella who tells you, “don’t panic!” when you’ve got a kernel panic, who converts your JPEGs to PDFs and is a BMF besides. Me! And I’ve got an extra ticket.

So who wants in?

Now I realize some of you will probably have questions before committing. It’s natural. Seeing Gwar ain’t exactly like popping by the Cineplex for some Pixar. It’s an event, one that will quite possibly define your life. So I’ll try to walk any Gwar-dolescents (as I like to call the newbies) through the basics.

First question is obvious: What time? Well, doors are at 8 PM, but you should probably stop by my place around 11 AM so we can prep.

I can hear our favorite Mary Kay spokesperson/administrative assistant Deidre right now. “Prep? Like makeup and stuff?” Little different than that, D. But it’s all par for the Gwar course. We’ll be pouring latex molds for our festering neck boils. Doing a little mace polishing. The requisite codpiece fitting.

I know. I know. The boys in sales love a good codpiece joke, but I assure you, the codpieces are an absolute necessity. You gotta be prepared should you find yourself on the business end of a flail some goblined-up tweaker is swinging willy-nilly. Learned that the hard way during the Scumdogs of the Universe Tour.

Haley, I know you’re hip to all the new bands (I’m gonna get that Atari Fire album you keep raving about), but do you have “Scumdogs of the Universe” on vinyl? I’m betting you don’t. Let me tell you, “Sexecutioner” sounds so much warmer, and with all the lovely crackles and pops laying some ambiance down on “Slaughterama,” you can practically feel the Nazi decapitation.

But as great as those songs sound from the turntable, they sound infinitely better live, when your ears are soaked with blood. Judging from Mike’s fainting spell at last year’s blood drive, I’m guessing I lost him right there. But hold on, Mike. Weren’t you the one who told me The Blue Man Group was “the best show in Vegas?” Didn’t you forward that Gallagher video around? Gwar’s a lot like Gallagher, but instead of washing watermelon juice out of your hair the next morning, it’ll be blood…possibly pus.

Notice I said possibly pus. I stress the possibly. Gwar makes no guarantees in the pus department. They are very clear about this. My apologies if the inclusion of pus, or lack there-of, is a deal-breaker for some. Not much I can do about that.

Now I don’t doubt that Carmen, the consummate copy editor in our bunch, has printed this email out and has the old red pen poised. She’s probably thinking practicalities. I can just picture her note in the margin:

“With all the blood (and possibly pus) flying around, can we expect an adequate coat check?”

It’s a valid concern. And I’m gonna say, yes. Yes there is a coat check at Hogan’s Hideaway. But I must also provide the following caveat. Adherence to standard bathroom practices is rare when you’re talking Gwar gigs. Hard to tell a stack of coats from a compost pile by second encore.

Yep, there’s no way around it, Carmen. You’re gonna get a few stains on your clothes and codpiece. Let’s still focus on the practical, though. I have two words for you (or one hyphenated word, to be exact, Lil Miss Stunky White). Oxy-Clean. The stuff just works.

Finally, I’m reminded of one of Mitch’s daily quotes he wrote on the whiteboard. It was from Flaubert, who’s a Frenchie from back in the day. He said, “Caught up in life, you see it badly. You suffer from it or enjoy it too much. The artist, in my opinion, is a monstrosity, something outside of nature.”

Flaubert might as well have been named Nostradamus. Cause the man saw the future. He basically predicted Gwar. The monster part, in any case. He certainly wasn’t talking about those poseurs from Green Jelly.

So there it is, folks. An irresistible invitation. Now all that’s left is for you to throw your hats (or, shall I say, helmets!) into the ring. Who here at the Yorktown Pennysaver is up for a little Gwar?

Regards,

Darius Pogue
IT Administrator
Yorktown Pennysaver
dariusp@yorkpenny.com