Vampire Lives Matter?

All the colors found in the skin tone of a typical Caucasian. Note, white is the last one.

The only thing I have to say to all those people parading around with White Lives Matter posters is, you’re not white. Often you’re raw siena and alizarin crimson, or you’re cadmium yellow and carmine. You have aquamarine or viridian – depending on the amount of yellow in your skin tone – in the hollows of your cheeks, under your chin and along your hairline. 

But guess whose skin tone is mixed using mostly titanium white?  Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. So my take away is that y’all White Lives Matter folks are trying to save your guy, Drac, from that evil Buffy the Vampire Slayer, right?  Such a kindly gesture and come Halloween night, I’m sure he’ll slither on down your chimney to say thanks and invite you to donate to his favorite charity, Vlad’s Blood Bank.

But seriously, if those White Lives folks want to know who really matters, they should go to a museum.  Might I suggest the one below?

It’s the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. When you first enter this museum, you are directed to an elevator large enough to fit a football team and taken three flights underground. There, in the dim light, you relive the experience of being chained together in the dark, dank bowels of a wooden sailing vessel with no idea where you are going or what will happen to you or the ones you love.   As you make your way up the ramps leading from floor to floor, the often bloody history of the African American struggle for equality unfolds.  I didn’t get many pictures as the halls were dark and the atmosphere, reverent.

In contrast, the upper floors of the museum are full of light, color and music as they celebrate the contributions of African Americans to our culture. You leave those floors grateful that Black Lives really do matter and without them, American culture would certainly not be the envy of the world. Think the experience would cause those White Lifers to change their attitudes?

Happy Halloween everyone!  I hope you all spend it with the people who matter the most to you.

From Brownie Fright Night

First, Do No Harm

Recently a number of bloggers I respect have started writing opinion pieces stating basically that  Trump should not be blamed for the rise of the Neo Nazis and their ilk, as he is only a “symptom” of the problem and not the cause.  They admit  that  he’s a despicable and vile human being but… 

I don’t know about you, gentle readers, but those “buts” always get me.  My first thought is always “Oh no, they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.” But then I realize those bloggers have shied away from political rhetoric in the past, perhaps not wanting to offend potential readers. Thus, when they do leap to his defense, they must add a caveat to their statements such as “he’s slime but he’s not filth.”  Okay, he’s not filth but he’s also not a symptom.

A symptom is the dead canary in a coal mine, a high fever on a child, dark spots on rose leaves, or a sinister rattle under the hood. The cause is not yet known and must be acknowledged and then analyzed. Hate groups have been analyzed for a long time.  We’re way past canaries.

I think of the president as a doctor hired to heal the country.  It’s important for him to understand the country’s many open wounds but it’s equally important – if not more – to first, DO NO HARM. 

If we think about the political parties as doctors proposing cures, if you were coming down with a cold in the ’70s, Dr. Democrat would prescribe bed rest, chicken soup and plenty of liquids. Generally he wouldn’t blame you for the excessive smoking, drinking and carousing all night long that brought on the cold. He would prescribe a cure.  On the other hand, Dr. Republican would tell you that sickness was for weaklings and hospitals were for the dying.  But, if you didn’t have insurance and got pneumonia, he’d work out a long-term payment plan for his bill.  Both sides were different but not enough to confuse voters.

Fast forward to the Obama Era. If you’re coming down with a cold, Dr. Democrat would tell you to make healthy choices in your diet and exercise routines but if you did require medicine, he’d try to make sure it was affordable. 

On the other hand, Dr. Republican would tell you that you’re at liberty to live however you want, and that admonishing you to live a healthy lifestyle (as Dr. Democrat has done) violates your Constitutional rights.  If you did get pneumonia, Dr. Republican would  demand your insurance card.  And if you didn’t have one, he’d tell you that you shouldn’t be buying iPhones. But he’d also tell you to have more children because birth control is a sin.   

By 2016 the intensive squabbling between the two doctors caused patients to look for other opinions and along came:

  • Doctor Feelgood:  His cure was free healthcare for all, free higher education for all, and stricter controls on financial institutions.
  • Doctor ToughLove: His cure was to burn down all the institutions and go back to living in a log cabin. If you did get pneumonia, get a church to take care of you. 
  • Doctor Greenie: The only patient he cared about was Planet Earth, because once she was diagnosed as terminal it really wouldn’t matter how healthy the humans of the world were.
  • Doctor Denier:  You don’t really have a cold. 

Good Grief!!  It’s no wonder the country lost all confidence in doctors. So it’s no wonder that when a new doctor flew into rusty towns and villages on his magic carpet, and with all the right mojo, claimed he alone had the answers, they believed him because they’d seen him on that great altar of truth, reality television. They’d seen him in his golden tower, with his golden children and his barely clad exotic bride. Unlike other doctors, he didn’t warn them of the complications of the medicine he would prescribe if they hired him. No, there’d be no complications, there’d be no poisoned water to drink, there’d be no draft of their young sons for his wars to fight, and, best of all, political correctness would be a thing of the past. 

From Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

And when he saw those cancer cells growing in his crowds, he violated that first rule of being a doctor: first DO NO HARM. Trump isn’t a symbol of anything. He’s the Voodoo Doctor.

*The images in this post are all from Bing Images.

Breaking my Vow

When I first started blogging a couple of years ago, I vowed to stay away from three subjects: religion, politics and cats.  So far I’ve stayed away from two of them.

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Guess which promise I broke first?

Yup, you got it.  Cats! Pretty Kitty claims I vowed not to write about all animals and that I broke my vow with one of my very first posts. 

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From my second blog post “Man Training 1.0”

Well, I am about to break another.  I shouldn’t but after those two Republican debates I can’t help myself.  American people what are you thinking?  Those debates were broadcast all over the world and probably into outer space where this very afternoon the Federation of Planets is having their own debate: whether or not to  send Captain Kirk back from the future.

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“In order to save Planet Earth you expect me to go back to 2015 and beam aboard a stage full of politicians? What if they infect the Enterprise and take us back to the Middle Ages?”

And the feedback from the “man/woman/idiot” on the street was even more mind-numbing. For example, Megyn Kelly interviewed a woman on The Kelly Show who basically said: “I like Carly Fiorina because she’s a bulldog!  She’ll take on Hilary Clinton and she’ll win!”

President Bulldog, er, Fiorina - are you ready for your breakfast of liberal over-easy?

President Bulldog, er, Fiorina – are you ready for your breakfast of liberal over-easy?

Really?  This isn’t a dog fight, lady, even though you might want it to be.

To the many people who say: “I support Donald Trump because he’s not afraid to speak his mind.”

I say, yes, and that’s the scary part.  Do you really want him to call someone like Andrea Merkel a fat, stupid cow for negotiating with Russia which you know he’ll do because he doesn’t hold anything back, remember?th-2

And for crying out loud, can we stop talking about fetuses already?  Why aren’t we talking about children living in poverty?

Images are from BIng.com

Mark Twain – Inventor of the Book Blog Tour?

Writers, you know, are the beggars of Western society— Octavio Paz

One of the things I signed up for to promote the release of Willful Avoidance (otherwise known as Secrets of a Kick-ass Tax Woman) is a book blog tour. Has anyone ever done one of those?  Am I completely crazy? 

The point of a book blog tour is to spread the word about your wonderful masterpiece and to hopefully convince people to review your book (because, as every writer knows, if your book doesn’t have 35 reviews it goes straight to the shiteree.)    

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A Pius Pity Puss

Just the thought of self-promotion turns me into the most wretched of creatures – a full blown pity puss -flogging myself, over imbibing and piteously wailing: Woe is me, to whoever will listen. At this point, only the cat.

Many of us think that successful writers, like Mark Twain, would never in a million years lower themselves to take part in the wretched process of self-promotion. This notion is often perpetuated by those same authors in statements such as:

How often we recall with regret that Napoleon once shot at a magazine editor and missed him and killed a publisher. But we remember with charity that his intentions were good. – Mark Twain

Sounds as though Twain would spit in the eye of any publisher who dared to order him on a book blog tour, doesn’t it?

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From Mark Twain in His Times, the University of Virginia

Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  According to this article from the University of Virginia, Twain practically invented self-promotion. He was the first author to incorporate himself, the first author to trademark his name and finally the first to sell books via subscription (basically pre-ordering) and would not publish a book unless he had enough “subscribers.” 

Curse you Mark Twain!   

Here are some quotes from other pity pusses (err, writers) on the subject of self-promotion:

  • In other countries, art and literature are left to a lot of shabby bums living in attics and feeding on booze and spaghetti, but in America the successful writer or picture-painter is indistinguishable from any other decent businessman — Sinclair Lewis
  • Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent — James Baldwin
  • America is no place for an artist: to be an artist is to be a moral leper, an economic misfit, a social liability. A corn-fed hog enjoys a better life than a creative writer, painter, or musician. To be a rabbit is better still — Henry Miller
  • All publishers are Columbuses. The successful author is th-2their America. The reflection that they–like Columbus–didn’t discover what they expected to discover, and didn’t discover what they started out to discover, doesn’t trouble them. All they remember is that they discovered America; they forget that they started out to discover some patch or corner of India — from the Autobiography of Mark Twain

Are you a pity puss like me or a Mark Twain?  Fess up, your secret is safe with me!

Tell Me WHY

I have a hard time answering the question “why do you write.” Thiswhy, I’ve been assured, is a disaster. Being able to articulate your WHY is a key element to “building your platform,” “branding yourself” or “finding a niche.”  People who succeed in the WHY will sell books and those who don’t, won’t.

The WHY, being so important, must be answered before we set pen to paper or slop enchiladas over our keyboards in the middle of the night. However, being that I’m a half-ass backwards kind of person, I started writing long before I knew about the WHY.  I just sat down and words came out.

Philomena

The God moment

However lately I’ve had a revelation.

Revelations are strange things, aren’t they?  You see the face of Jesus in beer foam and suddenly boom/ bang you know your WHY. I wish I could say this revelation came to me while meditating on the top of the mountain or deep in the forest but it didn’t.  It came to while sitting on my butt, eating peanuts and watching Philomena, which, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is a full box of Kleenex movie about an Irish girl forced to give up her baby by evil nuns. When she goes in search of him many years later those same nuns lie about not knowing his whereabouts and so she turns to a journalist for help.  The journalist takes on the assignment not out of the goodness of his heart.  He intends to turn her story into a “human interest story,” one which will tug at the hearts of readers and reestablish his drowning career.  His WHY is money and fame.

Several times during their search Philomena balks at the idea of her story being publicized. Does she really want to expose things long unseen or forgotten?  Painful things, the revelation of which may alienate family, friends or even God?

Philomena1Would you?  That is often the dilemma facing writers. In telling a story will we incur the censor of family and community, maybe even God?

I’m sure once Philomena’s story did get published (and turned into a movie) it irked the Church to which she’d remained faithful, despite their treatment of her (where is Jesus – lost in the beer foam?). But it also brought to light an abomination and maybe even helped other poor Irish women to find their stolen sons.

So my WHY is a slippery little devil.  Sometimes I write for fun and sometimes it’s a slide down the Iron Maiden.  But if I write with the intent of not stepping on anyone’s toes (even my own), it doesn’t feel genuine.

Here are more articulate writers on the topic of why they write.

  • “Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out. Writing is essential to our well-being.” Judy Blume
  • “My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” Ernest Hemingway
  •  “Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” Flaubert
  • “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” Joan Didion
  • “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” Lord Byron
  • “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” Gloria Steinem
  • “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” Truman Capote 

Of these esteemed writers I think Lord Byron’s WHY makes the most sense to me.  How about you?