Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stop Liking Crap

Today's flavor - moon pie - you loved them as a kid because you had an indiscriminate palette for sweets. Now it sounds good in theory, but when you take a bite of this artificial, over-the-top, cheap junk confection, you just want to spit it out.

I am addicted to audiobooks. I have to have 3 or 4 handy at a time because I might be listening to one on my iphone, another in my car and another in my studio. I can finish one in under a day and if I'm all out of book, I start going through withdrawl and - like any addict - I desparately need a fix. So, recently it was slim pickings at the bookmobile and I decided to try a book by a popular author that I never read because I thought she wouldn't be my style. Holy mother of all things crappy. This is a best-seller. I mean, dozens of published titles = multi-million sales = millions of dollars. (I won't name names, but rhymes with fanet yuckanovich) And yet, as I listen to this drek I start to worry that my earphones are going to start spewing out puss. I tear them away, hoping to stave off infection. The writing is putrid. I mean so bad, that I expect the narrator to take a vomit break. So I don't get past the first CD. But I can't stop thinking about this. I mean, everyone knows how hard it is to get an agent and get published, especially for pop-fiction. Many of us have abandoned all dreams of having much than 148 loyal readers. So this, ahem, writer, who seems to sit with a thesaurous, a book of cliches and a map to predictability on her desktop, has struck gold with a publisher that promoted the heck out of her titles and a public with impossibly low standards. Kudos to her. Truly. I do not begrudge her the success - no matter how ironic it is that really, really bad writing got someone to best status. I don't believe that success is available in limited quantities. And I'm not mad at those agents and publishers who provide the resources to make it possible for us to take endless dips in the pool of literary crap - they are in business to make money. As an American, and a capitalist, I don't mind seeing them compromise what surely started out as a love for literature, in the shameless pursuit of dollars.
my grapes are not sour
But I am mad at you. Well, maybe not you personally, because you read my stuff, so clearly you're discerning and extremely cool. I mean the collective "you" - the general public (yeah, yeah, I guess I'm probably in there too). Stop buying the crap that bought the author (and I apply that term in the same way I refer to my 9 year old as mature) the penthouse and the botox. So if you're wishing you could have my clever, laugh-out-loud, relatably flavored novel for your summer reading pleasure, let me break the sad news that it will never happen. I can't possibly compete with the story about the brilliant attorney who looks like a supermodel and has been unlucky in love until she meets the unbelievably hunky, funny and sensitive cop/FBI guy/doctor, and they share the traumatic experience that ends in the most perfect sex ever, followed by a marriage proposal. Ick. Ick. Ick. I feel dirty just describing it. This doesn't even qualify as a guilty pleasure because it's actually painful.

Dear Publisher,
May I suggest a new medium for crappy titles?

Look, people, I'm not expecting everyone to create a Jane Austen book club and reject anything other than high-brow literature. I just want to point out that there is a whole lot of writing talent in this big world, and you have the right to good story-telling. So, please, stop liking crap because you might not be able to escape the stink.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Got MIL?

Today's flavor: vinegar chips
It's finally happened, my Flavorites - one of your lot gave me a topic to flavor: IN-LAWS!! Well...problem is that I can't write a post about my in-law situation because what I have to say about that would technically be called a book. So, instead, I will write about my very special friend, who I'll call Notme. As it happens, Notme and I have a lot in common: college educated, married in the 10-year range, 3 kids, slathering on wrinkle cream like it might create a force-field against the dreaded 4-0. We are also both afflicted with BFHMILS. What? You haven't heard of Bitch-From-Hell-Mother-In-Law Syndrome? I do count myself quite fortunate that my MIL lives in a land far, far away (and also in her own wanna-be hippie head), while poor Notme lives snooping distance from her MIL. For some, proximity to the in-laws actually works out quite nicely, what with the default baby-sitting, plant watering and emergency grocery borrowing. But for Notme, it's a constant source of teeth-grinding angst. There's her MIL, dropping in unannounced to offer such sweet complements as "Oh, look you chose that tan grout - that's good, now you can barely see the dirt at all." She likes to help out by bringing in the mail - especially on those summer days when the humidity might

You can dream, but a tornado is not
going to solve your in-law issues.

unseal a bank statement. And, the good intentions run rampant with such helpful tidbits as: "If you let that boy play with the barbies he's going to turn into one of those gays - not that some of them aren't perfectly nice, but you don't want your child to be handicapped if you can help it." And there's Notme holding tension like an over-stretched bungee and sputtering out such brilliant retorts as "Oh, well, I guess'll grow out of it." Of course, she calls me later and says "I should have said, if I let you play with books will it turn you into one of those smart people? Why can't I give her a good comeback that will shut her up!" What can I do, but assure Notme that we all come up with the perfect line when the moment's passed.
What role does Notme's husband play in this serial annoyance and frequent interloping? Mostly he's deaf and dumb. But I'm not mad at him. After all, when things get really ugly he does manage to be the peacemaker while in the unfortunate position of being the fluttering flag in their mental tug of war. Thankfully, he has the sense to be the defender of his wife's many virtues and, thereby, protector of his marriage.
Most unusually, I realize I can't tell Notme what to do as I don't live in her head or in her house. But, you know how I do: take a nasty situation and make it fun. I told Notme to turn her MIL's next visit into a drinking game. Take a drink every time she insults your housekeeping; drink every time she insults your parenting skills; drink every time she picks on your appearance; drink when she says something racist; take 2 drinks if she mentions your drinking. You can really enjoy your position by working with the criticism - ask her to demonstrate the right way to clean the bathroom. Again. And again.
If you can't make it fun, you can always make fun of it. No one can get the better of you when you use my favorite weapons: humor and sarcasm.(Bonus points for treating yourself to something cute.)

sticky post: Hello, wonderful visitors!

I hope you're enjoying my writing as much as I enjoy your comments. Keep them coming! I don't want to bore you, so send me your feedback and suggest any any topics/stories you'd like me to "flavor" for public consumption. ♥♥