Sunday, April 26, 2015

Don't clean up my act

Even a few days after reading about the app, my body is still reacting the way it does when I accidentally bite into a burrito filled with sriracha sauce. Maybe my face did not change to watermelon red and my cheeks did not streak with tears, but the sting, oh the sting, it certainly does exist.

What is this app that has me feeling so irritated?

It is the modern-day version of bowdlerising, the so-named cleansing of the English language to make it more acceptable to some unidentified group of individuals--well, maybe not so unidentified in some cases.

To me, this is censureship at the lowest level, right down there with book burners. Yes, down there, not up there, because I am sure there is a hot place for those folks who find it necessary to make sure I do not get them verbally mixed up with the offspring of their wayward female terrier.

Clean Reader! It is available through the customary downloading sites and it will zip through any book on your electronic reader, zap out "dirty" words and replace them with "clean" words.

Can you imagine the lack of satisfaction the reader gets when reading this line?
[Frankly,] My Dear, I don't give a pitooey! (Gone with the Wind)

And how much of a rally would result if the Admiral had cried,
Gosh dang the torpedos (David Farragut)

Do you think we would still be quoting Paddy Chayefsky if his sadly disillusioned character had shouted
I'm mad as heck and I can't take it anymore. (Network)

Maybe this would be acceptable in third grade (but would a third grade kid actually be reading this play)...
Darn Yankees (Broadway musical)

 Of course, Twain has already been sanitized by the academic world so maybe this is superfluous:
Go to Heaven for the climate, that other place for the company. (Twain)

We either love or hate Shakeaspeare. I think we would really dislike him if he had written this:
…[thou] art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel female dog. (King Lear)
I had a love/hate relationship with William Blake when trying to prepare my thesis. Maybe I should have done a clean up version of his work instead.
The Marriage of Heaven and Something Else (Blake)

If I downloaded the clean up app and applied it to my ebooks, I am sure I would find many examples of the sanitized segments.

I am not going to download it! Are You?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writers do read...but do they cook?

Writers usually have fairly decent-sized libraries.

I was thinking about this as I started packing some of my personal library to make room for some of the books I’m selling on ABE.

I’ve read many of the books I’m offering but there is one catalog that I’ve been collecting for a while now and it’s pretty much a surprise to me.

See, I don’t cook. I gave that activity up about ten years ago. Okay, I do make little things, quick meals like breakfast and lunch, but I don’t consider that cooking.

Cooking happened a long time ago when I made my own won ton dough for homemade war won ton soup, when I perfected my shrimp scampi, when I made 20-pound turkeys (and all the fine food that goes with them) to feed groups of friends on Thanksgiving.

So when I looked at the number of cookbooks I’ve put together to sell, I was shocked to discover I had forty books listed on ABE!

My favorite books do fall into the non-fiction genre, especially books about the brain and certain crafting books, especially on mosaics (which is a hobby of mine) and crocheting (not because I’m very good at it but because I’d like to figure out how my mother made some of those fantastic tablecloths and afghans).

I know I’m rambling here. I guess it’s because I can hardly bare to stuff all my lovely reading material into the guest bedroom closet.

I’m just glad I don’t have the extensive libraries some writers have (or had).   (I bet there aren't many cookbooks on those shelves.) I’d have to move into bigger digs if I did.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy New Year

February 19 is the start of the lunar new year, also the start of the new year for many cultures.

This is the Year of the Goat for the Chinese New Year. If you were born in one of the following years, you were born in the Year of the Goat -- 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027. (I was born in one of them but you'll have to guess which one, 'cause I am not telling.)

So far, the New Year that started on January 1 has been pretty good, but I think the one starting tomorrow is going to be even better.

I hope it's the same for all of you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Do we really need editors? Do we really need proofreaders?

Do we really need editors? Do we really need proofreaderes?

Before anyone comes after me with hammers raised, I'll answer the questions.

Yes. We need both. But, life might be a tad easier for these experts if we had more a more effective education system. After all, look at the picture below. It's a sign that's been posted all over the complex where I live.

Almost makes you want to through (sic) up, doesn't it?

Now either someone was in a hurry to get that sign off the computer, off the printer and onto the local sign posting areas or they weren't paying attention in English class. I don't know who made the sign but if it's the person I think was responsible then I believe that person was just in a hurry and didn't proofread it before sending it to the printer.

Using proper grammar and spelling presents a problem for many people, even those of us who make a living in the writing trade. I recall writing an article I prepared about something I was very familiar with, and the final product was perfect -- almost.

When it came to the closing "For further information, call ...."

Being a creature of habit, I listed a toll free number starting with 1-800. Unfortunately, the number was supposed to start 1-888. I was embarrassed. The head of the company I was writing about was angry. And the company to whom the 800 number belonged tracked the magazine down to find out why he was getting so many calls for something that had nothing to do with his business.

Oh, my proofreader apologized, but nobody outside of the magazine staff cared. The magazine and the writer were to blame.

Unfortunately, I make mistakes, mainly because I write fast, and because I am often satisfied with my first draft. My grammar is better than average but I still goof up at times. My spelling is much better than average but I am grateful for spell check. I paid attention in all 12 years of high school English.

Still, I'd be overjoyed to have a full-time proofreader as a roommate.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Writing is the only thing ...

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.

I like this quotation from Gloria Steinem because it fits me perfectly. (I bet it fits a lot of writers perfectly.) I write in the morning, after walking the dog, of course, and don't feel guilty because I haven't emptied the grounds from the coffee pot. I write in the afternoons, after walking the dog, and don't feel guilty about not dusting or running the vacuum, or taking out the garbage. I write in the evening, sometimes eating dinner by the keyboard. And I write at night. When others might be worried about getting to sleep or not being able to sleep, I'm  hoping I don't get too sleepy to write.

You'd think I do little else, but that's not the case. Of course I'm not writing every day, morning, noon and night. But I do manage to find time to write without effort, mainly because I know I might be neglecting something, but that something isn't all that important. 

It's not even important if no one reads what I write. What's important is that I accomplish it because it's what I want to do, what I like to do, and what I do.

Just wanted to say that before I walk the dog (and take out the garbage).


Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Writer's Block: Newest Addition to Downtown Vegas

Most tourists don’t come to Las Vegas to shop at a bookstore. Of all my friends and family who have visited me over that last several decades, not a single one, not even the ardent readers, have asked for directions to the nearest bookstore.

Aside from the fact that everyone wants to cruise down The Strip at night, visit the restaurants run by the top chefs from the Food Channel, and try their hand at the tables or slots, they might not even realize the city has bookstores. And, except for the widely spaced Barnes and Nobles (and some very excellent used bookstores), that’s about the truth.

Or at least it was.

Today, my friend Ann and I journeyed to downtown Las Vegas specifically to find a place called The Writer’s Block. I’d read about it months ago and again recently and knew I’d have to check it out. A quick google search told me the place was located at 509 South Fremont, just across the street from the famed Fremont Street Experience.

But it wasn’t.

That address was a storefront with windows obliterated by brown craft paper. Next door was a café, and peeking into the windows, I noticed some magazines draped across racks, but no books.

According to the article in the Las Vegas Sun, the store was renovating an old motel called the Alicia, further down Fremont Street. Plans were to take this well-seasoned old building and turn it into a super bookstore with new and used books and the state-of-the-art equipment that turns an ebook into a print book. So, it was in the car and out on the street, looking for Alicia.

But before I found the Alicia, I found The Writer’s Block, a little store next to some kind of battery service shop (or something), where we parked.

I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe some mediocre little joint to match the rundown neighborhood (disclaimer: there’s a lot of redevelopment going on and a lot more planned), but I was totally surprised, thrilled, in fact, to find a shop that was both quaint and modern, filled with new titles and nooks and crannies jammed with the most interesting décor. To the left of the entrance was an old 1800s printing press, partially reassembled and next to it a young man who very willingly (almost lovingly) talked about restoring it with hopes of having it totally operational by the grand opening of the planned mega store.

And, despite the location, customers streamed in and out during our short visit.

It was after lunch and we hadn’t eaten, which is the only reason we didn’t stick around longer; but, we’re planning to go back very soon, very often, in fact. And we most definitely will head back to the café on the corner of Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard to have a couple of my eBooks magically turned into pBooks. (Not going to wait for the Alicia project to finish.)

We both walked out with a good feeling about the store and its future and I’m thinking those tourists, family and friends are going to start making a visit to this bookstore part of their stay in Las Vegas--or at least they should. In the meantime, they can keep track of the place via the list here.