Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kids! Read it today! The ABC's of Hate!

Dear publisher:
The most important thing to parents everywhere is that they teach their children to be ready for the world so they (the kids) can flourish. With that in mind, I propose the following to get them (the kids) ready for a hate-filled future: their own! The familiar ABC format can introduce them to many advanced concepts and give the parents a platform to share special hatreds in a safe and nonthreatening way.

As for illustrators for the text, I know it's not for the author to say, but I was thinking somebody like ... no, no, forget it. Book illustrators are the worst. I hate book illustrators. Just make it words in their naked glory. Black and white words. On second thought, not white. I hate white backgrounds like this stupid paper I'm writing on. Why didn't I use beige or yellow or green? Anyway, be creative. You're the publisher.


Joke! You wouldn't know creativity if it came up and pierced your nipple. You only have this job because of your father. Or your mother. And I hate you. Not just you. I hate publishers, all of them. You know why? Because you hate me. You're trying to squeeze out my idiosyncrasies and tell me what I really mean to say and insert needless commas up my nose. You don't give a tinker's dam about me. Or hydroelectric power either, probably, you carbon slut. You only care about money.

Which is exactly why you should take my book. Believe me, it'll sell. People actually think that this is the most hate-filled time we've ever known. Politics has done this to them. Well, not politics. Facebook. Facebook plus politics. Plus Twitter. The invasion of the "smart phones!" Those things have blinded us, turned us into a huge colony of bats frantically echo-locating prejudices so we can more successfully negotiate the twists and turns of our self-imposed darkness in a sunlit world.

And let's give it up for Donald "You're Damn Straight He's My President Unfortunately" Trump! Gotta give the man some credit! Make America Hate Again! I mean, it's bullshit: my next children's book will be entitled Fuck Them: A Timeline of Political Hatred in America, From Patriots Hating Tories to Federalists Hating Anti-Federalists to Jacksonians Hating Whigs to to Slave-o-crats Hating Abolitionists to Yankees Hating Confederates to Rail Barons Hating Populists to Progressives Hating Capitalists to Isolationists Hating Imperialists to Democrats Hating Republicans to Democrats Hating Democrats to Republicans Hating Poor People, and Vice-Versa, and I Mean Visceral Hatred of the Down-and-Dirty Variety That Wishes You Would Just Crawl in a Gutter and Die Already, but I Would Never Want to Actually Kill You (As If You Were Some Kind of Respectable Enemy Worthy of Dying in Honorable Hand-to-Hand Combat--You Flatter Yourself, You Narcissistic Pancake), and will provide children with a timely introduction to American history and adult language in the warm and comforting atmosphere of being read to by a harassed, grumpy adult who hates reading aloud because it's such elitist libtard bullshit.

Which, wow, brings us right back to dough dough dough dough: how much are you going to pay me to help you latch onto this phenomenon of Make America Hate Again!? Which, even though it's bullshit, is a thing, a big thing, and who am I to say it's not, and you need to think about that very carefully, you overeducated, gentrified twit. It could even be ... a brand. Oh lordy lord be still your fluttering clotted aorta! And you could do it! It's waiting for you! My book will get you there!

So what if I hate you? So what if you hate me? Let's join our greasy, profit-├╝ber-alles hands and sing Why Franz Ferdinand Hates Kumbaya. Hate makes the world go down down down!

And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Hasn't this shitehead ever read any advice on writing a book proposal letter? I hate people who do that! I mean who don't do that!" So okay, you insult to the written word, herewith is my book. And so what if I generated it with Google autocomplete? That's for me to know and for the Trump House to call fake news after sharing with the Russians.

The ABC's of Hate

No matter who you are or what your fate
Here are a few things I just know you hate:

Anime, Apple, alcohol, anxiety: cuz sweatshop toons can't tolerate society;
Being sober, being single, being a mom; babies: drunk married childless? Not even maybe?
College, cilantro, children, cats: your die-alone die-ploma will be lettuce for rats;
Dogs, dating, driving, dust: you'll die chasing cars while vacuuming lust;
Everything and Everyone: the letter "e" has all the fun;
Facebook, fairyland, fat people, food: "like" your dystopia, anorexic and rude;
Green beans, God, going to work: Satan wants you to Nutella and lurk;
Homework, him, high school: final proof that life is cruel;
"It when" dot dot dot: read my ellipsis--they're too hot to trot);
Jeans and java, Kids and kissing: denim and venom, espresso pot hissing;
Life and liberals and liars: death and taxes and Trump pants-afire;
Myself, my life, my job, my husband: oh, avatar, my heart you've unbuttoned;
Nursing school, New York, nursing: What? Clara Barton? On Broadway rehearsing?;
Online dating, Obamacare, onions: "Likes to stink with uninsured bunions";
People, practicing law, politics: "I'm running to represent all you guilty hicks.";
Quotes and quotations: what (s)he said--my mind's on vacation;
Republicans, running, religion, reading: unfit atheist Democrat without no breeding)
Sand, school, summer: beach with homework is always a bummer;
The moor, Tennessee: that lean and orange look, the wannabe!
U in spanish: et tu, capice?
Vegans, Valentine's Day: 'twas I ate that Cupid twerp, ok?
Work, working out: exercise job pays in brussels sprouts;
Xanax, xbox: angst of the sex bots;
You (who?) Zoo, zombies: Yoohoo! Undead Harambe!

Insincerely,
Amor V. Incitomnia



Saturday, June 17, 2017

I was a librarian sight-reading bagpiper

I was a librarian sight-reading bagpiper. Once upon a time. Today, for example.

I was one of the lucky librarians to come along when you still had to crawl through miles and miles of shelves to find what you were looking for--if in fact your library had it--or, if not, wait weeks and weeks for interlibrary loan--if in fact it was lendable; but then somebody flipped a switch (seemingly), and it was as if the sky opened up, peeled back, and lo and behold there was heaven--all of it (or lots of it), just like reaching up and shaking hands with St. Peter and living to tell of it.

That was the Internet for me. I still can't believe it.

But before that there was already the ancient magick of reading: all the symbolic systems that we can look at and go "Aha!" and translate into words or houses or music. My Hogwarts began in first grade when I took slips of paper that smelled of mimeograph, each of them with a word, and transformed their blue shapes into sounds. That was abracadabra.

Not much later my patient mother showed me how little platelets on a grill could produce a song on a recorder. Just like that. Just by looking at the little platelets and their position on the grill and whether they were black or hollow or had dots or flags. It was as if they were elves that told me where to put my fingers and how fast to move them. Hobbits? Narnia? I was Merlin with a recorder.

Then when I went to library school I learned that even quieter than a library is the whole world after a bagpipe stops playing. But it's a hush that can't exist without the sound to summon it.

So today I was at a library droning on about the world of bagpipes (It was not an invasion. I was invited) when a fellow asked me if I knew the bagpipe music from a movie called We Were Soldiers. He had come to the program and wanted to hear two things: Amazing Grace and We Were Soldiers.

One does not wish to disappoint, particularly if one is a librarian. Amazing Grace is bread and butter, but what to do about We Were Soldiers? I did not know it.

The whisper of St. Peter ("What did you do with your life?"), and out comes the cell phone, and with not so much as a leap of faith I am in the Internet: The bagpipe on the We Were Soldiers soundtrack plays a tune called Sgt. MacKenzie; a fire department pipe band in Jacksonville, FL, has posted pdf's of their favorite tunes, which includes the aforesaid eponymic air.

"Here," I tell the fellow, "hold my beer I mean my phone [haha]." With phone as manuscript and him as music stand, from out of the darkness of complete ignorance, through the fine mesh of the Internet, with platelets on a grill directing my fingers (at elfin behest), I summoned an entire cloud of witnesses and held it motionless and timeless--though with good rhythm--there in a small room in a small library.

The tune completed, I stopped, summoning the silence beyond silence. And from out of the hush came the voice of the fellow, who said, "Yeah, that was it."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The school that couldn't spell

I started to think it was my imagination: the stone sign above the entrance to my elementary school was etched with a misspelling.

I had been so sure of this that I worked it into the opening scene of The Signal Mountain Spelling Book of JuliUn Tod (self-published--as always--in 2010):
I was appalled when I saw it: etched in stone over the front porch of the elementary school were the words "Signal Mountain Grammer School."
Grammer. G-r-a-m-m-e-r.
It is, I'm sure you know, supposed to be a-r. Not e-r.
Seeing the horror of this caused me to hop around wildly in the aquarium.*

Yesterday--while on an automobile pilgrimage to hallowed family ground--I wondered, "Had my memory played me false? Had I been guilty of subconsciously elaborating the truth?" I decided to swing by to verify it.

A beautiful example of Appalachian plateau public architecture, the school was built in 1926 of mountain sandstone. It sits in a long crouch along Kentucky Avenue, fronted by a portico crowned by romanesque stone arches and a plain frieze given over in my memory entirely to a missspelling.

I approached the school from the rear, because that's the way I always walked. Squirming at the sight of the ulcerated pinko-orange fiberglass protuberance warted onto the back of the building, I drove to the front, turned off onto the short drive, and hopped out to get a quick picture (granddaughters can't be left to fidget) with the hope that a finger-expanded photo would give me the verification I needed. All it took was a quick look to tell me not only that I had been right, but that someone later had tried to correct the mistake.




Here's the detail:



Look closely at the penultimate letter. What is it? It has four horizontal beams. No letter I know of has four horizontal beams. Look also at the gilding: the gold forms a letter "A," but that doesn't begin to hide the other elements (elementary!) of the character, which clearly form an "E."

Also, the gilding might be a sleight of paint to try to trick us into not seeing the depth of the etching--how much of the "A" is etched at all?--whereas the "E" elements stand out ungilded because of the shadowing caused by the etching.


The only verificatory ladder at hand was the human one in the van that wondered what the hell this was all about, and no they weren't going to hoist me up to feel a sign.

A final observation is that  a different font might have made for a less obtrusive correction. The middle bar of the original "E" might have served as the cross-stroke for a "A," for example. But the original letter "E" wasn't done with the idea that "hey, that'll look like shit if somebody has to come up here 50 years down the road and slap a letter 'A' up here."

But look what somebody came along and did.

As to why in the world it would matter one way or the other, you have to ask horrified terrarium-hopper Julian the toad (a.k.a. JuliUn Tod) about that.


*The Courier font is done purposefully. The Spelling Book was written by JuliUnTod on a floppy and then printed out on dot-matrix Courier font; the book is therefore a facsimile.