Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rest in Peace Phoebe

I just learned that Phoebe Snow died today. She's always been one of my favorites. Here's a bit about her life.

Known as a folk guitarist who made forays into jazz and blues, Snow put her stamp on soul classics such as Shakey Ground, Love Makes a Woman and Mercy, Mercy Mercy on over a half dozen albums.

Not long after Snow's Poetry Man reached the top five on the pop singles chart in 1975, her daughter, Valerie Rose, was born with severe brain damage, and Snow decided to look after her at home rather than place her in care.

"She was the only thing that was holding me together," she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008. "My life was her, completely about her, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed at night."

Valerie, who had been born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain cavity that inhibits brain development, was not expected to live more than a few years. She died in 2007,aged 31.

Years ago I went to see Phoebe in concert. It was after Valerie Rose was born and she wasn't performing much. Shortly after the concert started, Phoebe stopped for a moment. She explained that she was having a hard day and knew she wasn't performing well. She apologized and asked us all to send some positive energy her way - knowing that our attention would ground her and help her to be in the moment with us. I'll never forget it...she was that real. And the concert was fantastic!

Of course Phoebe is best known for "Poetry Man." But its never been my favorite. Here are a few that I love.


  1. A lovely voice. Sad to lose her.

    I haven't messed around with my blogger profile in some time. Maybe I could figure out how to change my name to MadameMax, so I'll be recognized in case the crowd does gather here. (Have to confess, though, that the white type on black background hurts my eyes; that's why I haven't come here a lot since you posted the link on MT a while back.)

  2. OhSoCynical here. I've just put this blog link on my desktop. I too have a blog, I was wary of putting the link on the Guardian site as it's in my real name...I'll pop in every so often if you're happy with that.....Di

  3. Hi, Di!

    I hope more do "pop in." Somehow I don't see the Beast being a place for chit chat, or LHB's poems. And there will be all those…strangers…there. And probably few if any Brits.

    And Smarty writes some thoughtful posts.

    Once a bunch of us escaped from a BBC blog to a "private" blog and then someone created a blog just for the BBC escapees.

  4. http://dirayburn.blogspot.com/

    I don't add to it much these days, but might spend more time on it now MTs blog is going...It'll be nice to keep in touch.

  5. Hey ladies. Good to "see" you!

    Wow - what a day. But enough about that. LOL

    MM - I'll work on the background and type this weekend. I had originally picked it because I thought it was soothing. So thanks for the feedback.

    I have a question for you though...when you say white on a black background, is that what you see? It should be white on lavender.

    I know the comments are white on black. There isn't a place to change that. I'll see if it alters when I change the background and font for the posts. I actually enjoy playing with that and haven't done so in a few months.

    Di - thanks for the link to your blog. I find it fun to have a place where I can say whatever I want.

  6. Smarty - The lilac background isn't so bad, but it's still hard on my eyes, but I have weird eyes so that might be the problem. (I had radial kerototomy years ago and now one eye has over-corrected so I have one near-sighted eye and one far-sighted eye, which does not occur in nature! And the near-sighted eye fluctuates so I can't wear glasses except for driving because I have to look straight ahead or I see double. Whew. Long explanation!)

    Anyway, as I recall there's something to do with templates that changes the background. I think. I had a blog for a short time but don't remember the details.

    But I shouldn't be telling you what to do with your own blog. Sorry!

    Di - I'll check out your blog.

  7. Changing the background and font color is easy. And as I said, I enjoy playing with it.

    I'm a bit of a change junkie and its been awhile. So I'll use this as an excuse to play with it a bit over the weekend.

  8. Smarty - Don't know if you're reading the My News thread. If they were really to give the blog to ViciousMisanthrope, I'm done there. Do you suppose that's at all a possibility?

  9. I hope you're not disappointed I don't have politics on my blog. I get so angry when I think of them, that I'd be abusive.
    Funnily enough we have elections for local councillors in a couple of weeks time and the Labour guy called yesterday evening. He seemed pretty decent, but in my experience scratch them and they're all the same under the top layer...He asked me to get more involved with the local party, but I'm afraid I'd lash if I met some of the idiots that run my town.

  10. Di - I am not disappointed at all. There is so much more stuff in the world that is more interesting than politics.

    We're having a really ugly dust-up in village politics here and a very good friend of mine who had the nerve to point out fraud––not known yet whether due to venality or stupidity––on the part of our new, appearing out of the blue, town manager, is being pilloried. The town manager's wife, of all people, sent an astonishingly ugly personal-attack email to my friend, calling him "a drunk who fell into the right bed." (His wife, my very good friend, is rather a local "celebrity.") He forwarded the email to several friends and town officials and jaws dropped.

    Is there somewhere to leave comments on your blog? I couldn't find a comments section.

  11. Smarty, I'll say this here and then if you think it's inappropriate I'll delete it, or you can.

    But -

    I suspect that if Elena and I were back in our shared ethnic history, she would be the one offering her jewelry to the Nazi officer to save herself from the camps, and I would be making a last stand in the Warsaw ghetto.

    I know that sounds harsh but that is exactly how I see it. Different personalities with different methods of survival but I can't pretend to respect her method, though I don't dislike her at all.

    Anyway, I really wanted to get that off my chest and better here than there, yes? Or no?

  12. Robbie

    My rule of thumb is that someone like you can say anything you want to here. The only qualification is that I've learned the hard way that nothing said on these internets is private. So we have to recognize that reality.

    As I tried to say in my last comment, I don't think I buy the idea of anonymity protecting us from being hurt by people online. I'm not sure Elena buys that either. But perhaps I just don't understand her and her seemingly unbreakable attachment to VM. Even Lefty, one of his biggest fans, would call him out occasionally when he went over the line with me.

    I'll make no bones about seeing VM's good qualities. But what I don't get is the blindness or the attempts to justify/embrace when he seems hell bent on hurting people.

    The truth is that he's a sad lonely man who has amazing potential. But as fast as he draws people in - he does whatever it takes to push them away. A really good friend would be able to see that, hang in there with him, but not give him a pass when he does something stupid.

  13. I realize there's no such thing as privacy on the internet, though a semblance can be achieved on a "cloaked" blog, as the one I was once a part of. The problem was that we had no protection from others who shared the cloak, and I, along with others, ended up leaving it precisely because someone who engaged in a really ugly attack against me was defended as not being responsible for his own actions because of his "demons," etc. I was not hurt, I was pissed as hell because he'd done it again and again to various people and always a few made excuses for him because supposedly he had a good heart, and had the correct political attitude.

    I do see VM's good qualities, but sometimes his sucking up to certain people and their lapping it up, after he's made some egregious boner, is nauseating. I wonder if even he thinks he blew it with Kevin and that's why he's disappeared too.

    There's only so many times I can stomach hanging in with someone who acts the way he does, no matter his good qualities. When this happens in real life, there's only so many chances I'll give someone before I walk away.

    I never understood why he went at me the way he did when we were having a friendly joking back and forth about his favorite poet, whom I happen to know. It didn't hurt me; I was taken aback and disgusted. He does have not have the power to hurt me the way he did Kevin, for precisely the reason you stated on MT. Your posts were excellent. You are serene in the face of conflict, whereas I have to struggle not to call people assholes.

  14. Robbie,

    You get credit for bringing this issue out in the open over there. Before you spoke up - people just tolerated it. I didn't feel like I could do that because, as he continually pointed out, he and I have "a history." He kept using his distortions about that in his attacks on me and I didn't think it was appropriate to call out or comment about it on a public blog.

    On why he went after you, I always assumed it was because he liked you. To maintain his aloneness, he had to destroy that.

    This may sound off-topic, but did you ever have any thoughts about who "Grimey" was? Its clear he was a disgruntled MT poster. I thought maybe it was VM. If there was any truth to that (which I don't really know), it was interesting to see Grimey mostly take on Elena and Lefty - two of VM's closest allies. But he needed a sock-puppet to do it.

    See the pattern?

  15. That's an interesting theory. It didn't occur to me. I too figured he (Grimey) was a disgruntled poster but don't have enough of a history on MT to know who it might be.

    One thing that works against it being VM: He is an excellent writer, and technically very skilled. It is very difficult for a good writer to write badly. It takes an awful lot of effort because writing well becomes an instinct. I find it hard to credit that he could have kept it up like that for post after post; they were banged out.

    Did you ever see the movie The Saint with Val Kilmer? The scene where he's masquerading as the bad Russian dude, he says (and I paraphrase somewhat): "You know the hardest thing about being you? Pretending to be so bad in bed."

    Well, there you have it. That's my take, anyway.

    VM liked me so said, "Fuck you, bitch"? Hmm. I can see where that would make sense in light of what you say about him, but it had not occurred to me!

  16. Except - now that I think about it, I remember that there were some posts of Grimey's that seemed uncharacteristically well-written. I remember being surprised a few times. But then I stopped reading his posts because he was so ghastly.

    So perhaps you're right.

  17. Yep, the writing style was the problem. When he came on with that female sock-puppet I spotted him right away. That was VM through and through.

    But a lot of the arguments Grimey made were typical of what I think VM struggles with as a Democrat in WV. Sometimes I thought he was attempting to take on the persona of the people who surround him. He is an amazing liar/storyteller (take your pick).

  18. Oh, and yes, I saw him immediately connect with you. And then he turned on a dime. Very typical...especially with women. Charm...connect...destroy.

  19. That female sockpuppet -- did you see the post where "she" wrote that MT's wife had been "knocked up by Rahm Emmanuel"? I knew it was VM and was shocked that he would smear his "good friend" MT's wife like that, publicly no less. No one said a word about it and I certainly didn't want to draw attention to it. Do you know what the hell that was all about?

    As for charm…connect…destroy––if there was an attempt to charm it went right over my head, but then I have become impervious to male charm, due to the strange things I've weathered that I mentioned to gunnison last night. I'm also very alert to stuff people write in blogs that simply doesn't ring true and a lot of what VM wrote sounded like pure garbage to me, despite being well-written!

    That business of what his "wife" supposedly said about various posters––I'm sure that was completely made up. I don't believe he has a wife; who would put up with him?

  20. I think I need to do some updating on my blog. Google have introduced all sorts of fancy things since I began it. I have to wait sometimes to get my IT head on but hopefully can get to it after the wedding. My lot are coming around for lunch so I'm up to my ears in getting that sorted out.
    I saw the attack on you before it was removed. I kept scrolling back to see what you might have said that offended VM, and there was nothing. I thought you were very polite in your response. We all get caught on the hop at times and you could have been excused if you'd given him a mouthful. Does he take naughty substances?

  21. Di - I thought, "Oh, someone in her family is getting married!" and then I remembered, oh, THAT wedding.

    No, there was nothing that could have offended VM. He was going on about his favorite poet and so I mentioned that I saw him in the local bookstore/cafe (and now I work for him, strange coincidence!) and he said I could be an honorary WV resident, so I made a joke about bringing the poet when I went down to cast my illegal vote, and he responded with "Fuck you." And went from there. The weirdest thing was how he kept posting his phone number (or a fake number, I suppose) and insisting I should call him. Did you see that? Do you suppose he thought I would really call him? What on earth for? It was really kind of creepy. I figured he must have been drunk.

    Good luck with the lunch and your "lot."

  22. Robbie

    I didn't see that phone # stuff - WOW!!!!!


    I don't know when you created your blog, but I signed up for this one in 2007 and for a few years kind of forgot about it. Late last year I started playing around with the templates and was AMAZED at how much you can do now and how easy they made it.

  23. Smarty, did you see my comment above about the female sockpuppet?

    I'm feeling pretty disgusted right now with voodoo and gunnison. I need to stay away from that thread, after my last two cents.

  24. Robbie

    Yes, I saw your comment above and I saw the one from the female sockpuppet as well. He did that several times to MT. I think there's a jealousy there mixed with the admiration of MT. You know the two of them grew up together don't you? If I remember right, MT was younger than VM - but has managed to go much further in his career as a writer.

    I really agree with what you just said on that thread over there just now though...it was the silence and the adulation from so many that was hard to take. And its why it meant so much to me when you spoke up.

    But perhaps where I handle this differently is that I can see and call out the abusiveness, but I'm still intrigued by what's behind it all. I can understand why someone like you wouldn't share that curiosity. And sometimes I wonder if mine is appropriate.

    I also distinguish between voodoo and gunnison. I think gunnison is really struggling with this. Voodoo on the other hand, has a lot in common with VM in that he flies off the handle on folks occasionally - he just doesn't usually get as ugly.

    I have to say that I re-read that thread in the Dylan post again today. Previously I had been mis-understanding what VM reacted to from Kev. When I read it this morning, I see that Kev did take a shot about VM being drunk - I hadn't read it that way before.

    I think Kev was sincere and has reason to worry about that with VM. But I can also see a bit more about why VM went off. Its not like what he did with you and me - going off for no reason. It doesn't excuse him getting so vile about it. But its just a different perspective than I had before. I hope that makes some sense.

  25. Yes, Smarty, it does make some sense but my take was that Kevin really liked VM and was genuinely concerned about him. While the others are, in my opinion, classic enablers. VM has a serious problem. Maybe he's bipolar? (By the way, I'm sure pumpkinface is. God, does she have a problem, which by the way, I think is due to jealousy also: I think she's mad that MT didn't mention her ATL the way he did several others, including me and bookfan.)

    I did not know VM and MT grew up together; I just knew that they knew one another outside the blog. VM made a point of making that known, which is why I thought there might be a chance that VM might actually be given the blog.

    I too am curious about why people do what they do. I've had a lot of experience with "mixed" personalities, which I might go into if this was a more private blog. It has to do with my husband and why he died. But I get really irritated when sane people are not held responsible for their actions.

    Discussing these things is fascinating, and it's nice to have a place to do so.

    I don't know much about voodoo, having seen little of him in my six or so months on MT. I do like gunnison, even though he (and Kevin) jumped all over me when I spoke out. And I have to confess that I felt a tiny (very tiny) bit of schadenfreude at first about Kevin because he had been so nasty at first when I lashed out and I was glad he at least might understand how I'd felt, and that maybe he felt sorry for the way he'd reacted. You know, VM could have just said, "Butt out, pal" and left it that at. A grown man throwing temper tantrums is not attractive.

    I wonder if MT saw the sockpuppet's comment and if that at all changed his mind about VM's being at heart a "good egg," as he told me ATL that time. Treating one's friends like VM does is just not acceptable in my book.

  26. Sorry to be running off at the mouth (or fingertips) here, but -

    I think VM must be quite a bit older than MT if he (VM) was as involved with politics at the time of Bobby Kennedy as he claims. I am older than MT and I was just a kid when Bobby was killed.

  27. Don't apologize for running off on this. I've needed someone to talk to about it as well.

    My gawd, don't get me started on pumpkinface. She is clearly a very disturbed young woman. Sometimes experience as a therapist is a curse because you see these things pretty quickly and yet have to keep them private.

    But did you watch how the men reacted to her? It was all in the avatar - she jiggered their man parts with that and they couldn't resist. Some things never change.

    I totally get your schadenfreude over Kev. He was one of VM's most ardent admirers. And its why he fell so hard when the guns were trained on him.

    I believe VM is about 59 - a couple of years older than me. So all of his talk about involvement with Bobby is just the same old/same old lies.

    Did you know he was once a book editor in NYC...then wound up working for a small-town weekly in WV. I have a hunch that's where a lot of his story lies. That might be a world you know something about.

  28. Do you know for a fact that he was a book editor, or just that he says so? I'm not disbelieving him, I'm just wary of what anyone claims under a username when no one can check out the facts. From his blog writing, he seems to have had the talent. But to end up at a small town weekly––my god, what a downfall. Even my village has a daily, ghastly and poorly edited as it is. I hope it's not like the weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, when I lived there. That would be a fate worse than death! I do wonder if it's drink and/or drugs. VM's downfall, I mean. No wonder he's jealous of MT.

    I did wonder about the Bobby stuff. It sounded more like wishful thinking than reality to me. One reason I'm a good editor (and it's not only I who say so!) is that I have an "ear" for what rings true. On the other blogspot blog I was on, I spotted two fakes way before anyone else had a single doubt. It's the little contradictions and inconsistencies. I always notice those.

    And pumpkinface––her problem started when the tin-whatever person (blond avatar) said something really nasty to her. Her lashing outs have ceased to be amusing at all; I usually scroll right over her posts these days, they're so tiresome. I reported that nasty tin post for abuse and it was removed. It's the only time I've ever done that. But pumpkin has been anti-woman and anti-liberal ever since. Shame. She seems to have had some interesting experiences.

    Well, in continuation of my little latest post on My News, and since this is at least more private than MT, here goes:


    A little review of my book (she says modestly). I'm supposed to try to be pushy about it but please don't feel any obligation! God, I'm a terrible salesperson.

    And now you'll know my name.

  29. Robbie

    I found it and will get a copy for sure!!!! Thanks so much for letting me know.

    The story about being an editor in NYC has been very consistent and I believe MT was also there at the time. VM has occasionally referred to them hanging out together there. I can't attest to the veracity - but it seems to be true.

    Did you see pumpkinface's comment where she told the story of her life? Very tragic. But she wants people to believe that she has some special powers in an ability to see the future. I'm not necessarily the type to believe or not believe in that kind of thing...who knows? But she's just way too immature and self-absorbed for me to give it any credence at all with her. What I see are some pretty disturbed coping mechanisms for dealing with a heavy load of childhood trauma.

    By the way, that's how she and fotoartsie connected. One day she shared all of this personal information and he was there to care-take her and suggest that we all join in sharing our pain. How sad that people feel the need to do that kind of thing on a public political blog.

  30. I don't know if this will work, but here's VM's profile page from Daily Kos - which is where I first started talking to him. I'm not sharing anything he kept private because he's linked to his stuff at DK several times over at MT's place.


  31. Really, don't feel like you have to get the book! You'd have to order it and pay shipping and everything. It's supposed to be with some national distributor or something but you can't just buy it from your local store, and Amazon charges a fortune for shipping and it comes from my local store anyway. Or it might come from Ingram's now. I ought to know more about this! And now hbff has asked about it and it seems rude to just ignore her. What should I dooo?

    That Daily Kos stuff was interesting. There was a link to a Guardian home page with a name and a photo and a couple of articles, both of which got sort of slammed and I must say the first one was really pretentious writing. It's hard for me to reconcile that person with the one I'd had in mind these past few months.

    Yeah, poor pumpkin, very insecure and needy. In my limited experience, people who have a sort of––what to call it?––extra sensitivity don't go around talking about it or thinking they can see the future. I thought her background was interesting but her sense of victimization is wearing. We all have our issues.

  32. I'm clearly not a professional writer or critic, but what I see in VM's writing is a struggle between pretension and the gutter. If/when he ever gets beyond that struggle and just writes from himself, he's really gifted. I suppose that's as much a therapist talking as a writing critic.

    And sure, I'll find a way to get your book.

  33. If you really do want to get the book, you can call the Boxcar & Caboose Bookshop at 888-426-3098 and save a bit on the shipping, as opposed to ordering through Amazon.

    It's a beautiful day here and I'm so glad of that because it will make this day on MT a little less gloomy.

    I agree about VM; some of his posts on MT were stunning, in the good sense.

    I didn't care to respond to voodoo because I don't think he gets it at all that what he sees as "facts" are a subjective interpretation, and my interpretation is legitmately different from his. I did not see anything at all condescending in what Kevin said. I saw real concern. Maybe it's a guy thing, not understanding concern.

  34. LOL

    I got a call-out and you didn't.

    See what happens when you stand up for yourself and others? You lose your place in the "kewl kids club."

    Remember that thread where you called VM out - its the one you were referring to where Kev stood up for him?

    At the end of it, I made a comment about "relationship aggression" (or what some people call female bullying). I think a lot of people assumed I was talking about pumpkinface (and if the shoe fits????) But what made me think of it is how VM, lefty, elena, and - to a certain extent people like Kev, created a kewl kids club at MT's place. Its a natural phenomena, but is most often used to prop up members and relationally bully those they don't want to let in.

    As lefty, elena, VM talked more and more about their lack of interest in the dialogue at MT's place, my read was that their club was no longer the focus of attention there and interlopers were taking over.

  35. Oh, you have no idea how crushed I am! My only goal in life has been to be "kewl"!

    Actually, I was so clueless in junior high school, and always a loner and enjoying sitting by myself and reading a good book, that I never realized there were cliques until as an adult I read all about the "mean girl" thing. At first I thought that that sort thing wasn't present at my school, then I realized it probably was and it all just went over my head. Or flowed past me. Or whatever.

    I pointed out the clique on one of the torture threads and VM and someone else (Kevin maybe?) got really pissed. Funny how people who claim to be so concerned with the "truth" can't see the truth about themselves.

    All that said, I think #2 on the quiz was a call-out to me (possibly because of the stuff on My News), and I like to think that at least MT likes me!

    I've got to run out now and look at the headlines to see what our local creeps are up to now. What a mess we've got here in our town these days.

  36. Funny you should say about Pumpkin. When I read her very first post I felt uncomfortable. In amongst the ramblings she sometimes says something that's quite insightful and sensible so I guess she has high and low days. I also noticed the men's reactions to her. That made me laugh. They'll never change more's the pity.

  37. By the way Robbie, I got what you were trying to say about prejudice, but It was clear that there was a concerted effort to twist your words.
    We can make assess of ourselves when trying to come across as not prejudiced. I have a niece that married a West Indian guy. He has a high profile job in the Bank of England and is far more successful than anyone else in the family. We were all ok with it, but even so, the first time I met him I realised I was trying so hard to show I wasn't prejudiced that I must have looked and sounded like a complete idiot.
    It took a while for him to be comfortable with us being ok about him. I met his mum recently and she's lovely. Thankfully I didn't show myself up....

  38. Di - How'd the lunch go?

    Did you mean Smarty's comments about prejudice? I don't recall saying anything about that. I know exactly what you mean about trying too hard to show you're not prejudiced, and I think that's exactly what Smarty meant. If we were totally color blind we wouldn't even think of trying to show we are. It that makes any sense.

    And speaking of that, as it was chiefwiley who was twisting her words, he's another one that is fawned over no matter what he says. Which I had also pointed out and that was one of the things Kevin got pissed about. And then Kevin had quite the dust-up with him over something (can't remember what it was) and I wondered if he was finally realizing what a nasty ass Wiley is. If you didn't look at the name on the comments, most of them could have been written by ngavc or wersmall.

  39. I'm so sorry. I'm awful with names. Old age I'm afraid.

    I'm so pleased to be able to talk to you about MTs blog. It's the first one I've been on where it's mostly Americans contributing. My daughters' been living in the States for twenty years now, but it's only since she re-married a rabid Republican five years ago, [honestly he is] that I've attempted to look beyond his emails on politics. If I say my son-in-law calls Obama 'massa' you'll know what the emails are like.

    Chief Wiley puzzles me. He's so much more Republican in his beliefs.

  40. Good lord! When my daughter first started dating the young man she's about to marry, almost the first thing I asked her about him was did he vote for Obama. I don't think I could handle a rabid Republican for a son-in-law. I trust yours has other qualities that make up for that? That's disturbing about "massa." What does your daughter think of it?

    I haven't seen a single comment of Wiley's that makes him sound other than a staunch Republican. My theory, and I think I even wrote this on MT, is that he runs for city council as a Democrat to keep a real, reasonable Democrat from taking the seat. It's very funny the way he tries to make himself sound like such an important politico when all he is is a councilman in a very tiny town, with a smaller population than the village I live in. And all his military talk does not ring true. On his website, his description of the military background is jumbled and confusing and so vague that what I took from it is that he is trying to misrepresent a less than stellar career. You don't suddenly leave one service for another unless someone is trying to get rid of you but they haven't got enough evidence to drum you out. It's amazing what people can make up about themselves if they've a mind to. I've learned this the hard way and so I don't get fooled so easily now.

    It's odd, at first I felt bereft over the ending of MT, but now I'm feeling almost a sense of relief. Not quite sure why. Except that it is so depressing seeing those off-the-wall right-wing comments. I'd really rather pretend, I guess, that there aren't people like that.

  41. That sounds plausible with Chief Wiley.

    As for my daughter, I've given up on her. Her first husband was a controller.

    The second one doesn't appear to be much better, although I think he gets his way by always knowing best.
    He was a CPO in the Coast Guard until a year ago, and hates being a civilian. He alienated her two girls, within months. He was also born in Alabama!
    Luckily I don't have to meet him. I can't understand her because she comes from a family of strong females. She's very forthright and bright, but has a rotten taste in men. I tend not to be confrontational, but I wouldn't have lasted two minutes with either of the ones she's picked.

  42. Yeah, that Chief is a piece of work, isn't he? I don't mind so much the disagreement, but it is his condescension that bugged the hell out of me.

    I remember watching you talk to him about the military Robbie. Of course I don't know how did fared there - but its clear he sees himself at the top of a hierarchy talking down to us from his black/white wisdom on high.

    I have really mixed feelings about the ending of MT's place. I know its been a good place for me this past year. But I might have gotten out of it what I need. And yet I still want someplace where I can hang out and chat. Don't know yet where that's going to be. But talking to you guys here has been fun!!!!!


    I'm really sorry to hear that about your son-in-law. I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I'd have a hard time coping with that. I hope it doesn't interfere too much in your relationship with your daughter.

  43. Oh, Di, that's sad. My sister was like that for a long time, marrying or moving in with totally unsuitable men. But she's remarried her third husband (out of four!), the father of her children, and they seem to be very happy this time, and he's a good man, unlike the others. (She'd divorced him because he was "boring." She's since found out there's a lot worse in life than boring!)

    I've known other women who are very intelligent except when it comes to choice in men.

    It's a shame if you're estranged from your daughter.

    If you want to see my idea of the perfect man, click on my name to go to my profile! I've been waiting for him to show up on a horse under my turret windows, but I guess I'm too far from the sea…

  44. How appropriate...Chief's parting words are to call Democrats "zombies."

    What I want to say to him over there:

    "Way to NOT go out in style Chief."

    Have to think about whether I want to ruin the buzz by doing that.

  45. Smarty, yes, the condescension was really hard to take. And he seemed to think he was The Voice of all the military, especially on the DADT and torture threads. I think it annoyed the hell out of him when I showed up with knowledge of the "upper crust" (officers) of the military. There are really decent people in the military and they don't need someone like him out there making them all look bad!

    Matt Seaton made it sound like the blog will continue with a replacement, but that they don't have anyone lined up yet. They must have had plenty of time to find someone because it's clear MT has had this in the works for a while. Only maybe he didn't tell them until recently.

  46. If a person's an ass, they'll be an ass to the end. No pun intended.

    I like your little comment, Smarty. He ruined the buzz and that might help restore it.

  47. I have some more to say that I'll not say over there.

    If you notice, I haven't said anything yet about MT himself. I find him an adequate writer, but certainly not the best in the business. (by the way, I LOVE Steve Benen, he's linked on my blogroll if you don't know about him).

    I never quite got how MT picked the stories he did to write about, but I often found him going down stray alleys and not adding much to the dialogue - although occasionally he would surprise me.

    I also found his "woe is me" about Democrats really tiring.

    In the end, I find it interesting that he's going from the Guardian to Newsweek/Daily Beast. While they occasionally do something interesting, I see them both as a sellout for him to media that is only a step above the tabloids. I'm sure he'll make more $ - but with a corresponding lack of integrity as far as I'm concerned.

  48. So with all of that said, and the possibility of a replacement that could be even better than MT - perhaps this isn't all bad news.


  49. I'm not estranged from her thank goodness. I keep lines of communication open. It's the cost that keeps Bill and I from seeing her, but she's been gone long enough that I'm used to it.
    We've never met him. I've told her I'm not keen to and she's accepted it and understands why. I know it sounds like it but I don't interfere.
    She was at a low point in her life when she met him. She was divorced, totally on her own because her first husband threatened to bankrupt her if she tried to take their two girls, and she was working two jobs because she was paying him child support. She had no health insurance and was ill. Among other things, she had Type 2 Diabetes and a damaged valve in her heart due to sloppy treatment when she was pregnant and had eclampsia. She wasn't diagnosed until she went on her second husbands health insurance two years later and saw a decent doctor. It's permanently damaged her kidneys and she is insulin resistant. At present her dad and I are in better health than she is...It's a worry.

  50. Sorry. You don't want to listen to my troubles.

    On the happy side, I have been laughing at witty comments on a couple of the threads on Cif America.

    One is about Superman!

  51. Di, don't be sorry! I'm very interested in other people's business and have to try hard not to be too nosy! It sounds like your daughter has had such a hard time so maybe her new husband looks like up to her.

    Smary, I did make a comment the other day about MT's going to Newsweek being sort of like slumming. It probably didn't go over well since everyone else is congratulating him on his good luck.

    Newsweek is a godawful rag and has been for a long time. My parents used to give me a subscription every year and when I noticed that there were more pages of ads than of "news" text, I told them not to bother anymore. And now if I pick it up in a doctor's waiting room, I'm always taken aback by how "nothing" it is. I'm sure MT will be earning more or he wouldn't be doing it, but to me it's a real lowering. I'm disappointed in him.

    It surprises me that MT thinks it's still up there with the NYT. But he thinks the WashPo is too and it's become junk. I'm just baffled, because the Guardian is head and shoulders above them. I wonder if he'll regret it.

    I like his style of writing but I can see where it's not as serious as you would like. I prefer the more flippant but that's a personality thing I guess. It's why for travel writing, for instance, my preference is Bill Bryson every time over the more serious writers.

    Now I'm really worried that you will hate my book, or think it's just silly! I don't go in for deep literary stuff. It's a very serious subject, but meant to be funny while being a polemic.

  52. Oh, I couldn't resist making a snarky comment a few minutes ago on the Trump thread.

  53. Oh, and have you noticed what's going on on the goodbye thread with pumpkin? She's finally getting all the attention she's ever wanted and she's rolling in it! It's hysterical!

  54. Robbie. Snap on Bill Bryson. I'm so proud that he lives over here and is very active on countryside matters. He recently helped organise a petition to stop our government from selling off our woodlands and forests to private companies.

    Have you read his book on England? It's brilliant and so true. He also has some neat clips on YouTube.
    I have all his books. Every so often I take one out to read and still laugh.

  55. I've read the England one. And the Australia one. And the Europe one. And the American one. And the Appalachian Trail one. And several others. What I really want to get is the History of Everything but I've really curtailed book buying. I need to ask the library to order it.

    He used to live in Hanover, New Hampshire, where I have occasion to go a lot, but by the time I moved up to this area he was long gone back to England. Drat. He used to hang out in Murphy's Pub and I might have run into him there if he'd stayed.

    Once when my daughter was visiting, she was working on a crochet project so I read aloud to her from I'm A Stranger Here Myself and she was laughing so hard she kept making mistakes in her work.

    The thing is, he is so intelligent but manages to write in a way that is entertaining but still very educational.

    His accent is also very funny, not quite American and not quite British. Unique to him, I think.

    You're so lucky to have him over there.

  56. Robbie,

    On MT's writing, its not that it lacks seriousness - although when its time for serious, I think he lacks much depth or originality.

    It has more to do with what attracts his eye. Perhaps one way of saying it is that I think he's been co-opted by "the village bubble." I have this visceral dislike of conventional thinking - and MT goes there way too often.

    I love good humor (although I have absolutely NO ability to be funny myself) - especially when its smart humor and not just the "yuk-yuk" variety. So I'm guessing I'll love your book.

    And yes, the guys just fell completely for pumpkins "poor me" routine. It was hilarious!!!!!!! Its not just women who are suckers for stupid. LOL

  57. Smarty, oh, I see. Yes, he didn't seem to go "outside the box" much (though I really hate that expression; maybe I'll post my cliche ridicule poem here, the only poem I've ever written, and I didn't really write it, I just jumbled some public radio cliches and buzz words together). A lot of the time I just read for the entertainment when the comments would go off-topic.

    As I've mentioned, I used to live in D.C. and environs and you get sort of weird when you live there, as if the rest of the [non-political] world does not exist, especially if you're in politics or journalism. It's very insular, that world, and quite often the real life of D.C. doesn't exist either.

    Well, I'm not expressing that well but maybe you know what I mean.

    Yes, a new voice (but a funny one!) might be very interesting.

    And yeah, I don't know why but I am still quite often amazed at the things men fall for!

  58. Robbie

    Oh please share the poem!!!!!

    And that reminds me, if you'd ever like to write something here at this place - please let me know. I'd love to sign you - or Di - up as an author. Of course, the audience is small (about 80 visits a day with a little over 100 pageviews on average). But I find that its always fun to express yourself and see what happens.

  59. Postmodern Public Radio (That Said)

    a laundry list
    of sea changes
    from day one


    thinking outside the box
    of the quote unquote
    perfect storm

    and a

    presumptive nominee
    on the same page
    with a smoking gun

    against a

    at ground zero
    heavily fortified
    by radical cleric

    copyright by [me] 2009

  60. LOVE the poem Robbie!

    It makes me realize that I resort to cliche's because of my lack of talent in writing...its just easy.

    But I need to mouth off about something now.

    I just went back to the Trump/Obama thread at MT and saw/commented on some drivel posted by Expat. It makes me think that there's something going on that is turning people who were once reasonable conservatives into raging lunatics. I mean really...Expat????? I've watched in happen with ngavc too.

    Sometimes I wonder if they know they're losing the argument and are left without rational arguments to make. But rather than deal with the angst of that - they just dig deeper into the lunacy bin to find something.

    Its a fascinating phenomena to watch - especially from a psychological perspective.

    Or maybe I'm just drawing too many conclusions over a couple of conservatives on a blog. If so, as Maddow says...please talk me down. LOL

  61. Well, Smarty, I'm afraid I can't talk you down. Lunacy seems to be creeping upon us from dark corners we never knew were there. Quite often I'm in the frame of mind I call the "The world is fucked and we're all doomed" state.

    I too saw and commented on Expat's drivel. It really pissed me off. Sometimes he sounds so rational and other times, like this latest, he sounds just like ngavc. What bothers me most about those two of late is that they don't rant and foam at the mouth but spout inanities in a calm, serious, fairly measured way (as does StephenO) so that one can't just immediately dismiss them, based on their tone, as nutcases. Notsofanatic is the foaming type and I don't see how anyone can take her seriously. Not that I take any of them seriously, but I'm sure others do, who might not if their posts screamed "lunatic" right off the bat. See what I mean?

    As for Expat, he's an enigma for sure. Living in Vermont one is sheltered from most of the craziness of the rest of the country, but our leftists do tend to be waaaaaay left and rather wacko, so as a conservative he gets a skewed perspective here. The conservatives are less crazy and the liberals more crazy than in most places. But this still doesn't explain how he could come out with birther crap. What can he have been thinking?

    Your response was very good, by the way. I just popped off at him.

    Also, you don't at all lack writing talent. I'm always impressed by how well-written and thoughtful and knowledgeable your posts are. With accompanying citations and links. I'm too lazy to do that stuff (which is why I read blogs where other people do the work for me!).

    I'm glad you like the poem. We all talk and write in cliches at times but when they do it constantly on the news it drives me insane because they have no business being verbally lazy. I'm exposed only to NPR so I don't know if it's the same on TV news. At one point I was keeping track of how many times a day I heard certain words or phrases but I lost that bit of notepaper. (It's possible I'm obsessive on this point and need to get out more.)

  62. Good grief. I just watched the Tomasky Talk video where he predicts that all taxes will go up in 2013 and how this is probably a good thing, and then at comment #2 there's Expat accusing him of focusing only on "them" or "the other." It's as if he heard the word "taxes" and stopped listening.

  63. Thanks for the sanity check Robbie.

    I have thought about Expat up there surrounded by liberal Vermonters and how that affects his view of things. I think the same thing is true for people like VM and Lefty - they think all the world is Blue Dogs and can't see past it. And the people on Daily Kos think the country is populated by progressives. It gets frustrating sometimes.

    But I find this one with Expat fascinating. Because its a perfect example of how our minds hang on to what we want to believe despite the facts in front of our face.

    Expat is one of those people who wants live on the edge between the two sides. And yet he's getting driven deeper into the lunacy because he can't question his assumptions.

    I think this is how much of our political polarization happens. So its an amazing test case for me.

    On a side note, I let myself get distracted by that ridiculous Pier. But I'm not going to do that again. She's just playing evil little games.

  64. And Robbie, thanks for those comments on my writing.

    I figure I do well enough to express my thoughts and have a good argument. Where I lack is in creativity. But one of the good things about getting older is that you learn to embrace what you're good at and let go of what you're not. I like how my mind works. And when it comes to putting those thoughts into words...I'm good enough.

  65. Smarty - That last is very wise. I'd been trying to be a writer for a very long time before I realized it just isn't in me to write great literary prose. And it was actually Stephen King's book on writing that helped me see this. "Use your own voice," he said. So that's what I do. And now I've written three novels that actually aren't half bad.

    As for Expat, if I can use the WWII history again, he would have been the one saying, "I'm an educated, successful, upstanding member of my community. They won't come for me. Hitler has brought prosperity and stability to Germany." And he would still be repeating this as he was forced onto a cattle car.

    Pier39, my god, why hasn't someone in her real life clubbed her to death by now? Ah well, life is full of little mysteries.

  66. My specialty in writing is brevity. I think that's why I've gotten so into blogging. Since way back in my college days, professors would assign a 20 page paper and all I could come up with is 10. I don't realize that people aren't in my mind and can't see all of the foundation that went in to getting to where I am. Truth be told, it gets boring to me to try to lay it all out anyway. I write mostly to educate myself.

    Anyway, that's why I could never write novels. And when it comes to fiction, I just lack the creativity to make up stories. So you're involved in a level of writing where I couldn't go. But I'm ok with that.

  67. And wait a second...THREE novels??????

  68. Well, only one is published. And that's the third one. The second one is being proofread one last time by someone else and will be published eventually. The first one I'm still hanging onto even though my agent (before he dropped dead, of course) thought that was the best. It's autobiographical so I'm saving it for last.

    I always hated writing papers. I can't write on demand. I did an article on an alternative high school for a local paper and it bored me almost to death, though everyone else seemed to like it.

    The only kind of nonfiction I enjoy writing is life snippets; I have a bunch of essays about road trips my kids and I took over the years, which I might make into a book. I thought of calling it "Travails with Children." Weird shit always used to happen to us on road trips.

    This is fun, chatting like this. I hope Di will show up more.

    But it's late and I'm falling asleep. 'Night.

  69. The time lag is a nuisance. You ladies are just getting into stride, and I'm about to go to bed! :)
    As for ExPat. He exaggerates. Not all the time, but occasionally he does. Recently he commented on the traffic over here, which gave the immediate impression that the whole of England is jammed up. The couple of times I've gently reminded him he's telling porkies he's admitted it.
    I think a lot of the right do that.

    My mother was a great user of clichés, and the one that always comes to mind is 'nit picking' when someone has pinned them down on a stupid statement that simply doesn't hold up. And they have to have the last word. You'll never win with them.
    Sometimes when one of them is being obnoxious I wonder what it would be like to be married to them :)
    Bill and I don't get into politics much. It's bad for his blood pressure.

  70. As for your having books published Smarty, well done you. They must be good, because there is a lot of competition out there.

    I've written a couple but couldn't get past having to go over them again and again. I got bored.

    The stuff I've had published is all about my childhood way back when.
    Our local free newspaper featured some of my articles which were a humorous look at daily life and
    some years ago I wrote some fictional short stories. I enjoyed doing them, but it's very hard over here to even get a story in a woman's magazine.
    A fellow writer that lives in Wales has an online writers magazine, and I gave her most of what I'd written so she had some 'fillers' to fall back on.
    Almost the first competition I entered which was for short stories about childhood won first prize. It inflated my ego no end, but from then on it was all downhill. One day I added up what it cost for entry fees and postage etc, and decided it would never pay for itself let alone make me a living.
    I had a poem published in a quarterly poetry magazine which was satisfying, but no fee.

    I haven't produced much since Bill semi-retired. I can't write to a routine and moments of clarity when I know I can get something decent written usually clashes with his being around.

  71. This comment has been removed by the author.

  72. The Dedicated Gardener

    He liked things neat.
    Tools cleaned.
    In place.
    Each to its own.
    Had green fingers.
    Nurtured cuttings,
    Watered, sowed.
    Spent hours digging,
    Walked miles
    When he mowed
    Out in all weathers,
    Weeded flower beds,
    Tamed unruly growth.

    But then, the dedicated gardener died,
    And though his body lies
    Beneath the soil
    In ordered row,
    His sprit toils contentedly
    In Paradise
    With rake and hoe



  73. Di, why have you removed your own post?

    Good morning. Or rather afternoon. Yes, the time difference is a problem. I'm kind of surprised more people didn't check out the link here. I can't think of anyone in your time zone, though, besides bookfan. There's redsquirrelfaction, but I doubt he'd come to a personal blog again. I know him from somewhere else. He doesn't like me because my politics aren't quite pure enough, among other reasons. : )

    My book hasn't been published by a normal publisher (and being published by one isn't any guarantee that a book is any good; there's an awful lot of schlock out there but it sells), but by a very small press that started out only as a print-on-demand self-publishing thing, which I am the independent contractor editor for, but they decided that they would also publish stuff they think they can make money on, at no cost to the author, the old-fashioned way only on a tiny scale, and mine was the first fiction they put out. And they've made their money back and more and I've made a bit less than $300!

    I think you should send Bill on down the pub and keep on writing. Of course, I'm not the one to give advice because I only sit down every few years when I suddenly feel a novel coming on. It's kind of like a months' long bowel movement, through the fingers on the keyboard. :)

  74. Nice poem! I admire people who can write poetry; as I said above, that's the only one I've ever written. I'm pretty clueless when it comes to poetry.

    In fact, I enjoy shocking high-brow people around here by saying right out loud that I don't like most poetry. You're not supposed to say that. Of course, I would never say that to my new boss, the poet!

  75. Morning/afternoon ladies!

    I agree Robbie - I admire poets. So great work Di.

    I was never exposed to poetry much until when, as an adult, I came across David Whyte. If you look at my archives, I post his poetry quite regularly. What I finally realized is that even with poets that I love, I can usually only relate to a fraction of their poems. I used to let that get in my way of enjoying the genre itself and the few I really love. Now, when I get a book of poems, I just earmark the ones I like and ignore all the rest. Because when you find one you love...oh my!!!!!

    Here's one of my favorites from Whyte that describes the process:

    The Lightest Touch
    by David Whyte

    Good poetry begins with
    the lightest touch,
    a breeze arriving from nowhere,
    a whispered healing arrival,
    a word in your ear,
    a settling into things,
    then like a hand in the dark
    it arrests the whole body,
    steeling you for revelation.

    In the silence that follows
    a great line
    you can feel Lazarus
    deep inside
    even the laziest, most deathly afraid
    part of you,
    lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

  76. That's nice, very evocative, simple enough for me to understand!

    I do occasionally run across a poem I like very much, that strikes a chord in me (cliche alert!) but I don't seek out poetry to read for pleasure and I suspect it's for the same reason I don't usually read collections of short stories. I like to get deeply involved in what I read and if it's enjoyable I want it to go on forever. (Hence, my love for stuff like Trollope!)

    To me, poems and short stories are sort of like eating a few potato chips and then someone takes the bag away. But whenever I've admitted this to anyone, they look askance at me.

  77. It's ok, I just got you and Smartie mixed up [again], so deleted and re-posted with the correct name.

    I'm not into poetry much. I joined a writers group when I first started writing and they used to give us homework including poetry. Poetry is good for squeezing a lot of meaning into fewer words. We also did flash fiction which I enjoyed and show and tell exercises. I think I'd be writing more if I still belonged to a writers group, but our local one closed down. It's a shame because it used to make my brain work hard, which at my age you really, really need.

  78. Talking of clichés here is another piece that was the subject of homework...
    It doesn't translate into American very well, because 'fag' is English slang for cigarette. :)

  79. They said:.
    It could be worse.
    Life goes on.
    You’ll survive.
    The world won’t end.

    The clichés spilled from their tongues.

    Gasping for a pill /fag / gin
    I thought
    Yeah right.
    What do you know.
    Easier said than done.

  80. Di, I really like that one! It expresses what I have felt a lot of the time. Particularly back when my husband died.

    But the most interesting thing anyone said to me then was not a cliche (how do you get the accent thingy there?). The mother of a friend of mine from high school sent me a condolence note that said, in part: "But you're young, you'll find another one."

    As if husbands were as easily replaceable as a lost item of clothing. I still laugh whenever I think of it.

    And while I'm spouting off on that subject––it drove me crazy (and still does) when someone says, "Oh, I'm so sorry you lost your husband." As if I'd simply misplaced him along with my car keys.

    Invariably my response is, "I didn't lose him. He died."

    Honestly. I'm not THAT careless!

  81. Sorry, I suppose I sound caustic and unfeeling, but the way people use all sorts of euphemisms for death so as to avoid the actual word as if it's a taboo subject is a pet peeve of mine.

    He didn't pass, pass on, pass away, or get lost. He died!

  82. Di - perfect poem for the occasion!

    Robbie - I love your honesty and humor.

    I've been off writing another post on here. This racism crap is pissing me the hell off!!!!!!!

  83. 'Passed over' really makes my teeth ache!
    We're a bit more basic when it comes to death over here. No preserving, or those expensive vault thingy's and airtight metal caskets [unless we're Royal.]
    We let mother nature do her work. Lots of cardboard coffins now because they're environmentally more friendly with deep graves to take three, and a lot of cremations but with the full funeral service. Oh and we don't do open coffins and visitations as such, consequently funerals are a lot cheaper.

    The cliché spelling is I think because I have Google Chrome. I get a spell checker when I'm typing posts.

  84. By the way...I know profanity is pretty cliche. And I also know that I rely on it as a short-cut when I get angry.

    But given my evolution from fundamentalist christian good girl - I just enjoy it too much. lol

  85. Di

    Now there's one I could use more often...makes my teeth ache.

    Love it!!!!!

  86. I have a book of slang and English sayings. It wasn't until I began writing to a cousin of Bill's in the States that I realised how many words and sayings we use which don't make sense to Americans. She had asked to see some of my fiction short stories but had an awful job making sense of some of the expressions I'd used.

    Garden shed is one instance because there's a whole way of English life wrapped around them. It's a wooden hut that stores garden tools and the lawnmower, which usually stands at the bottom of the garden and was frequently used as an escape place for harried husbands. Nowadays a lot of writers are taking to the shed to seek out peace and quiet whilst writing.
    We have lots of very small houses over here. Many of them were row houses and built in the days before cars were invented so garages can be non-existent.

  87. Smarty:
    How about 'Gets up my nose'. It has the same meaning.
    Or, as you like the odd profanity, 'Gets on my tits'. I confess to using that one occasionally :)

    Plonker is the term for a good natured idiot.

  88. Di

    I LOVE hearing the British cliches. It gives me all kinds of new material.

    "Gets on my tits" - now that one had me LMAO!!!!!

    Ladies, take a look at what I just wrote about truth being futile. Its all for Expat. I don't know if I'll link to it over at MT or not. But it felt good to say it (I did mention that I write for myself didn't I?)

  89. I love profanity and obscenities because sometimes they're just what's appropriate.

    But when my kids were growing up I never used the word "fuck," not because I was shielding them in any way, I just didn't want it to be a casual word in their vocabulary. (One of my daughter's first words was "thit," however. Fortunately, her grandmother was confused by the lisp.) So when my son was misbehaving as a teenager and not listening to me, I could shout "Shut the fuck up and listen to me!" ("Shut up" was also something used very rarely) and he would rear back in appalled astonishment and I would then have gained his attention. Overuse of anything makes it lose its impact. It was hilarious yesterday when the usually proper Maritz told RofF to Fuck Off.

    Di - Since I read almost exclusively British literature I'm familiar with all those wonderful expressions, and it also helps me catch incorrect use in writing, such as when someone says "a pack of cigarettes" instead of a "packet."

    I noticed in my own book that I had used some Britishisms in my main character's dialogue, who is definitely not British, but I like them and since no one else noticed them I left them in. (i.e. "He can't have…" rather than "He couldn't have…")

    (I'm going to be pedantic here just because I am sometimes: "Goddamnit" is a profanity; "Fuck" is an obscenity.)

  90. Smarty, I'll go read your blog posts now.

  91. Sod it for when you're really teed off, and bugger off when you want rid of someone, are good old English swear words. As is Bloody Hell! when surprised :)

    None of my family used fuck in front of us. Kids just didn't use it when I was young. The first time I saw it was in a book [I was a precocious reader] and I've only recently started using it. It's very satisfying.
    Over here flipping hell or flipping heck was frequently used as a substitute. Todays youngsters haven't heard of it.
    I used it the other day in front of eight year old Isabella my granddaughter, and she scolded me for swearing.
    I've just posted a fictional short story on my blog. It was too many characters to post on comments. It's called Blackbirds Ivy and Garden Sheds.

  92. Smartie:

    By the way, Getting on my tits, is usually used in conjunction with men getting on our nerves.

  93. I love the expression bugger off. I often use it, especially lately when friends and I have been discussing our town scandal. It's what we hope the ghastly town manager and his unbelievably trashy wife (who thinks she's very high class) will do.

    And sort of related, my downstairs neighbor is moving (thank heavens, she is an evil stupid bitch) and has put a sign on the door of the building that says "Moving Sale, 2nd floor, one flight up."

    Now, we don't have British people around here. Why would anyone need to be instructed that the 2nd floor is one flight up? Well, maybe she would…

    Smarty, I've read your recent blog posts, all excellent, and made comments. What with reading those and some emails, I haven't checked in on MT since I got home but I hope you posted them at least in part there.

    Di, I'm going to read your story now too.

  94. Di, well, I do prefer a happy ending! Egads.

    That said (cliche alert!), it's beautiful. You paint with words, which is something I can't do. My books are sorely lacking in evocative descriptions, except maybe a sentence or two here and there, and those are pretty basic. I tried to paint a word picture of a farm and it just sounded stupid to me. I tend to stick to bare necessities.

    Which is why, when my agent told me to cut a hundred pages from a manuscript because it was "too long," I was devastated. I would have had to cut a word or a sentence at a time because there were no long sections that weren't crucial to the story. Then a good friend of mine, a writer, told me a secret. She said (and she had read the ms.) that it wasn't that the book was "too long," it was that it had too many pages. "Change the font size," she advised.

    I could not believe my agent would fall for that, but I tried it. Down one font size and the ms. was 75 pages shorter. And my agent was delighted! He said it was "crisper." He never noticed the only difference was the font size!

    And this guy had been big in NYC publishing (and editor of The Atlantic Monthly for a long time) until he semi-retired and moved to Vermont.


  95. Sometimes I manage it and sometimes not. When I used to clear deceased persons estates, I was in a lot of sheds like the one I described. All I have to do is shut my eyes and remember what they felt, looked and smelt like. Luckily my long term memory is still working for a step back in time, but my short term memory is getting very shaky.

    What I have problems with is remembering to describe people. When I begin a story, I always have the characters pictured in my mind and if the story's long enough they speak their own dialogue, but I often forget to say what they look like or if I do it's very terse.
    It's because when I pick up a book to read I make my own mental picture of what the character looks like and never take in the authors description.

    I've just posted a second story. In that one, you'll notice I haven't shown what the female in the story looks like. It's also difficult fitting everything in when you have a usual magazine limit of around 1,000 words for a story. I do much better when I haven't set myself a word count, but that excludes them from most publications.

    As for your agent :) That's the first time I've heard of that. It's enough to make you sob isn't it.

  96. My descriptions of people are as terse as my descriptions of surroundings. I plowed my way through The Golden Bowl, skimming a lot so as to not cut my throat in despair, and one character's description took up six pages. I think maybe Henry James was being paid by the word at that point. There's no other explanation that I can think of.

    Have you seen Smarty's link to hilarity on the One More Argument thread? You mustn't miss it.

  97. Di, I'm glad you're not set on the shocker ending. That second story is funny, and there's no need for any description of the woman. I have a vivid imagination and enjoy minimalist writing where a lot is left to the reader's imagination. I think it shows more respect for the reader.

  98. When I begin a story I never know how it will end. The characters write the plot.

    I get irritated with books that have paragraph after paragraph of descriptions or explanations. Some of the best known authors revert to it at times and you know it's because they simply haven't had enough of a plot line to keep things ticking along.
    In a way it's satisfying when you see that even professional writers have blank spells, but at the same time I feel cheated especially when I see they've used researchers.
    If I wanted complicated explanations I'd take the appropriate technical book from the library.

  99. Di, it's interesting you should say that, about characters writing the plot. I've heard or read interviews with some writers who say they write out complete outlines of the entire plot before they begin a book, and some writing books give that advice.

    I'm bemused by that. It's not how it works with me at all. An idea will pop into my head, sometimes churn around for months or even years, then suddenly one day there's some catalyst, and there I am at the computer. With my published book, it was seeing a man at the general store who I suddenly realized was my main character of a story I'd been mentally toying with.

    I went home sat down, wrote for about ten hours a day for three months, editing as I went along as I always do. I always carry a notebook with me everywhere when I'm working on a book because ideas don't wait. I've pulled over to the side of the road to scribble down whole paragraphs or brief details of a new character.

    And then there are bizarre coincidences, and things I run across while looking up something that makes everything suddenly change direction or the characters run off in unexpected directions.

    I only ever saw that man once again; our cars passed on a rural road. I have no idea who he is, other than he drives a white Subaru Outback with New Hampshire plates, and he has no idea he's the main character in a book.

  100. Good morning!

    I think everyone is different. It depends on your personality.
    I'm quite disorganised, ideas pop in and out of my head and unless I can act there and then, I lose it. I have difficulty working to order.
    Sitting exams when I was young was a nightmare.

    One of the best things I ever used, was a random name engine on a writing site. You just typed in male or female and it threw up thousands of combinations of Christian and surnames. Some of them quite bizarre. I'd scroll through it, and suddenly a name would pop up and I immediately had the face and character in my head. From then on that character was in charge and all I had to do was control word count.
    Edward - Ted, my current character is one I put in a short story years ago. Last year I was browsing through some of my stories, came across him and realised he wasn't through with me. He slipped straight into another story line. At present we are at around 17,000 words and I there are more chapters if I wish. Occasionally I try to get him to reveal his inner feelings. [He's led a very restricted life] and I have to do more on the house he grew up in, which will help explain him. I try to use 'show not tell', which was one of the first lessons drummed into me when I joined the writers group.

    I'll write later today. At the moment I'm looking after Isabella and she's impatient to finish making the Kite we began yesterday!


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