Monday, July 30, 2012

50 Shades of Potato Salad

One would think popular culture might advance beyond its genitalia.  Alas…
What’s behind the success?  Sex still sells; shazam and golly-gee-whiz Wally!  Whodothunkit , and all that.
Trip down memory lane; once upon a not too long ago, towns had special little stores with painted over windows where men parked blocks away and then walked.  Grandpa and grandma called them dirty books.  Ah, but a few years and now it’s the rage.  Marketing is an amazing thing.  Not only does it advertise, but it creates desire.  Now that’s seduction.
If memory serves, I’m trying to remember something here… Oh yeah, that fifty-percent divorce rate and half, yep half, of all children born out of marriage.  Wait till these kids raise their kids.  Won’t that be fun?  But the boomers and the x’ers and the y’ers never were ones to gargle much with self-restraint.
Then there was the London opening.  No Shakespeare, no Wilberforce, no good old Churchill.  But a healthy dose of vapid reflection about the wonders of the cell phone and music and young people dancing and having fun, with just a flash of Winehouse, the throwaway starlet who ain’t going to rehab, no no no.  But the queen was there.  Yes, fun I tell you.  That’s the addition and the display of London culture to the earth.  Can you imagine watching all that in some sub-equatorial group-hut on the village television?
There was something else not too long ago – Holmes at the theater and Warner Bros. descrying the violence, all the way to the bank.  That particular franchise started in 1939.  Get yourself some early ones, see if you recognize anything but the utility belt.
I don't know boys & girls.  Some days I just don't  know.  Maybe 50 is too many.  Maybe we were better off with plain old black and white.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My First E-Book

I wanted to title this post ‘Learning Curve.’  But that’s a cool title that can be used for something else.
Anyways, my first e-book is out.  This post is about the process of getting it there and not about the book itself.  Well, maybe a little about the book.  I wrote Punk Smith in November of 2007 as part of NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month).  I wrote it and put it up.  In the spring of 2008 I proofread it.  I put it away and then sometime in 2010 I reviewed it and edited out some of the content and sent it to several agents.  An agent is someone who takes manuscripts to publishers and tries to get them published.  The agents returned my letters and said things like it was an interesting concept but there is no market for this sort of thing.  So I put it away until late last year after looking into e-publishing.  After some research I decided to do to this.
In late April of this year I began reviewing and editing the manuscript one final time.  The cover is from Rebecca Swift.  She is great to work with and anyone in need of a book cover can expect nothing but a pleasant professionalism from her.
Part of e-publishing is formatting for the various and sundry types of e-readers.  It’s not like a writer can just send their Word document and push a magic button and voila’, out pops an e-book.  Now, I’m not a Luddite when it comes to this here internet stuff.  I know how the thing works and have done programming in the past (both customer-facing and back-office getting the data to the servers and crunching them there numbers).  Algorithms don’t just write themselves and I’ve done some of that.  My guess is I could format my own e-books and may in the future.  My guess is it won’t be long until someone invents that magic button to do the work.  But first time out I thought I would get it right so I went to the good folks over at 52-Novels.  There too, I found professionalism and prompt responses.  It’s nice to know such people still exist the world.
I splurged and bought a Nook.  It’s a nifty little thing and I’ve found a number of sites with free books and because I’m cheap I use them.  I also bought the Nook for testing my own stuff. It’s a business expense (that’s what I’ll tell the IRS).
When everything looked about as buttoned-up as it could get, I created an Amazon account, a Barnes and Nobles account, and an account at a place called Smashwords.  Smashwords is an e-book distributor to different sites, including the big ones.  They offer a system scary-efficient.  I mean that in a good way.  Amazon was easy to work with as well.  Of the three, Barnes and Nobles has the clunkiest interface and user experience (at least when it comes to submitting a self-published e-book).
So today it’s all done and you can get your very own copy of Punk Smith for $2.99 at any of those fine companies.  For that money most people can’t even drive to a Starbucks.  And once you get there, three dollars won’t get very much in the way of a frappuccino, which is what you need when it’s hot like it’s been.  My advice is to stay home in the air conditioner and buy my book instead.  At least help me pay for the Nook.
Even if you buy it and hate it and think it’s too wordy and preachy and that nothing much really happens, and why don’t we find out what happens with Carol and Pete and how come there’s not a big car-chase, that’s still a lot more than you ever get with a frappuccino. 
ps - other e-books are on the way.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


When will the CIA stop using those black highlighters?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Red Bramble Blue Bramble

Pardon my absence.  I have been a busy little Baptist - trip to the east coast, teaching, preaching, and an e-book coming soon! More about all that some other time.

This here posting is about politics, seeing as we are near unto another election.  I have my own thoughts on the matter of course.  But everything I need to know about politicians is found right here:

Judges 9:8 – 15  The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.   But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.  But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.  And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

There’s a good set-up to this parable.  You should read it.  That’s your homework.  And why the good and useful trees would want a king in the first place is beyond me.
But really today I would like to draw attention to something that has been around for almost twelve years.  It’s a type of prism through which we identify ourselves and others in terms of politics.  That's a fancy way of saying we label one another.  It appeared shortly after the presidential election in 2000.

Let me type it.  I’ll set it aside just a bit with some white space.  Read it and pause.  Stare at it a minute and try to imagine having never seen the phrase, then continue.


Is it just me or is this idea simple?  Perhaps it is a little too simple.  It sounds like a child’s game.  It reminds me of ‘Chutes & Ladders’ and how just when you think your little plastic person is going to win, down he goes and then the other plastic person is winning for a time.  Or, substitute the word ‘state’ for ‘fish’ and we arrive at the title of that book written by Dr. Seuss in 1960 for new readers.

I bet you know what color state you live in.  I do.  That’s nice; that way we know if we live in enemy territory, or not.
Red State / Blue State has marketing and public relations written all over it.  Public Relations is just propaganda wearing nice clothes.  It is an ingenious idea, a slogan more readily recognized than the NIKE swoosh.  It is a fulcrum for manipulation and keeping masses of otherwise docile consumers angry and upset towards one another.  It is Branding 101.
Coke and Pepsi – which are you?  They are both brown.  They are both carbonated.  They both have sweeteners and caffeine.  They cost about the same.  I don’t know the secret recipes but I imagine there’s not a dime’s worth of difference in a bottle of each.
Truth is, we’ve been living under the shadow of the brambles for quite a while.  At this point I would say they are all of the same root.  I urge my fellow Americans that if we want to be angry at someone then let us point our anger towards the right tree.