Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My First Sonnet


Water in the desert

The empty vessel, overflowing though
Its brim be wide, remains, I do so hold,
A porous liability, since so
Inadequate its sides when filled with holes.

A leaky bucket’s no alternative
When water in the desert’s found no more;
Dehydrated, no comfort do we feel
In noting water drops outside our doors.

Encircle your hands about, and bring them down;
No time is there for transport, vain or no;
You cannot say you drink enough, e’en now
When nourishment’s a dream, or just for show.

Too far to walk, too high the price to pay;
That water serves if thou, to drink, would stay.

Monday, February 22, 2010

NCTE's Definition of 21st Century Literacy, from about two years ago. What struck me as interesting: One bullet point says that today's writers "Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information." This, after multiple studies have documented just how bad multitaskers are at multitasking, that when you multitask, you do multiple chores badly, whereas focusing on one task at a time results in greater productivity. This, when we see what happens when today's news and print consumers are barraged with voices and stories fighting for their attention, so that even less sinks in than previously.

Multitasking is killing literacy. The secret is out. Shame on you, NCTE.

Your position should be, "21st century writers need to be able to select and filter multiple streams of communication, so as to absorb more and worthwhile information." But then, you didn't put me on this committee.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Slightly altered copy ghost written for a client today:

Real Men Moisturize

by Kara Sellalot, Retail Representative

My friend Mark laughed out loud when he saw me putting together a list of beauty tips for men. At the top: “Guys, make sure you keep your hands and nails presentable by applying hand cream several times a day.”

“Yeah, right,” he scoffed. “Guys don’t do that kind of thing.”

I just smiled and waited. Sure enough, his girlfriend, who’d overheard him, walked in the door.

“You do need hand cream, Mark,” she said, grabbing one of his hands and pointing at it accusingly. “Do you have any idea how rough your hands are? I feel like you’re wearing garden gloves when we get all mushy.”

“Hey, I’m a man,” he asserted. “I don’t use hand cream. It’s not my thing.”

Mark may be a man. But he also likes handjobs. Ten minutes later, Mark was using Biotone hand cream. It keeps hangnails at bay, making him more professional-looking. It softened his cuticles, making his hands much more appealing at first glance. And it helps him avoid infections, which his hands were prone to because of the skin’s weakness due to dryness and cracks.

I left Mark, Mr. I’m-not-a-hand-cream-guy, with two bottles of moisturizer and a beaming, happy girlfriend.

"But why do his hands matter if you're the one doing the servicing?" I asked innocently.

"Shut up," she hissed. "You got your commission, didn't you?"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Going back to school for a doctorate is my favorite wet dream. And then I read this: The Big Lie About the Life of the Mind. It's like a bucket of cold water dumped in my lap.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Finally, Fox gives me something that makes me feel good

"I'm Not Saying Your Mother's a Whore: Jon Stewart on the O'Reilly Factor. I don't know, seems to me the points Mr. Stewart makes are irrefutable, especially when you Youtube some of Fox and Friends' more telling moments. I'm going to use some of this banter as examples of various rhetorical tropes. There's analogy, erotesis, synechdoche, and so many others that I have to change my pants after listing them. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

My Interview with Sarah Palin Part III

Click here for the first dumb part | Click here for the second even dumber part

Again, all quotes taken from Palin's "book." Dramamine, necessary for a first reading, can be purchased at most drug stores.
ME: Ms. Palin, since we spoke last, you've given a rousing speech at the first National Tea Party Convention, where you made fun of our president for being a law professor at the lectern, and your foreign policy suggestion boils down to basically: "Reagan rocked. I say we win like he did." This is a pretty good sedgway to your own mind and how it works. You took some heat for not having enough of an intellect to tackle the job. You want to clear that up now?

SP: “[My qualifications go] beyond common sense conservatism and traditional values to the fact that [Todd and I] are everyday Americans. We know what it’s like to have to make payroll and take care of employees. We know what it’s like to be on a tight budget and wonder how we’re going to pay for our own health care, let alone college tuition. We know what it’s like to work union jobs, to be blue-collar, white-collar, to have our kids in public schools.” (221)

ME: That makes about 300 million Americans qualified for the job. Isn’t this democracy thing great? Still, I understand Katie Couric was a little dubious about your grasp of current events?

SP: “Over the past several months… I had been interviewed on energy and security issues by numerous national media outlets, including her hometown newspaper, the New York Times, for whom I had also penned an op-ed earlier in the year on another issue. Had she read those, I wondered?” (277)

ME: Probably not. But then, she was asking what you read, not what you wrote. Right?

SP: Yes. (44)

ME: Speaking of writing, there are some real gems of composition in your book. What was it you said about running that one time?

SP: “As the soles of my shoes hit the soft ground, I pushed past the tall cottonwood trees in a euphoric cadence, and meandered through willow branches that the moose munched on.” (102)

ME: [Pause] Ms. Palin, that is beautiful. I wish my kids could write shit like that. What else you got?

SP: “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?” (133)

ME: And if God had not intended for men to marry other men, why did He give them penises!

SP: …

ME: You want to see my penis?

SP: …no… (16)

ME: Okay. Too soon. Sorry. Let’s talk about your family.

SP: “Let’s debate ideas. Let’s argue about legislation and policy. Let’s talk about political philosophy. But leave my children alone.” (372)

ME: Right. Apologies.

SP: “It was reported nationally that a New York judge . . . blasted me for bringing Trig onstage during the campaign. . . No one told me that running for office means a woman candidate has to switch off her maternal instincts and hide her children from view. If that’s required, then count me out.”(372)

ME: But I thought you wanted to leave them out. Then why did you bring him…

SP: “Gossipmongers had been] spreading lies that Todd and I were divorcing…Dang, I thought. Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd?” (352)

ME: I have, actually. Does he swing?

SP: Yes. (44)

ME: Excellent. [Makes note] But when did all this gossip happen happen?

SP: “A group of left-wing bloggers had been yakking about porn pictures and videos of me that they threatened would soon be released to the public.” (348)

ME: Okay, Ms. Palin. This is getting seriously hot. But if you don’t want to bring up your family, why do you keep bringing up your family?

SP: “[Being] married to Todd, I was also accused of literally being ‘in bed’ with the oil industry.

ME: Ah. Like with TransCanada Alaska.

SP: I had to explain that as a blue-collar union hand, a production operator wearing a hard hat and steel-toed boots, Todd wasn’t calling the shots for the corporate bosses in London. In fact, I told Alaskans, ‘Todd’s not in management. He actually works.’” (95)

ME: If he’s swinging with you, I guess he does. Any other family members you don’t want to talk about?

SP: “Lena [Palin, Ms. Palin’s grandmother-in-law] is a tough frontier woman. How many American women do you know who can weave a grass basket; sew squirrel skins into a garment and adorn it with intricate beadwork; haul a thousand salmon out of the ocean, get them to market in a sailboat, then take some home, fillet them, and serve them for dinner?” (119)

ME: [Pause] What the fuck are you talking about?

SP: “We felt our very normalcy, our status as ordinary Americans, could be a much-needed fresh breeze blowing into Washington D.C.” (221)

ME: Ah. I see. [awkward pause] You’re yanking my chain, right?

SP: “I hope you get a good laugh as well!” (405)

ME: I totally did! I actually took you seriously for a minute there! Ms. Palin, you realize you’re contradictory, shallow, full of party rhetoric that you barely understand the basics of and not even competent enough to helm a rowboat across the river. But you know what? I think this book, your grandstanding with the Tea Partiers and your Fox News schtick will actually do your political career some good. And that scares hell out of me.

SP: “[I am] so Alaska. I had to share. (405)

ME: And I’m forever glad you did. You sure you don’t want to see my penis?

SP: “God didn’t give me natural athleticism.” (30)

ME: That’s a very considerate turndown. By the way, your pipeline you’re always crowing about? The one you say is helping the economy already? It hasn’t been built yet. You knew that?

SP: “Oh. My. Gosh.” (51)

ME: Well, these mistakes will happen.

SP: “Dang, I must be getting old.” (401)

ME: Not old enough, unfortunately. Good night, Ms. Palin. And good night, America.


Monday, February 01, 2010

My Interview with Sarah Palin Part II

Quotes taken from Going Rogue, just like always. Hey, I read the damned thing. Might as well make some use of it.

Click here for Part I.

ME: All right, Ms. Palin, I’ve had a chance to calm down and you’ve had a chance to Google economics, so we should be ready to start again, right? I’d like to get more into your tenure as governor. Now, what about this China bid thing? I understand you had an offer from them on the pipeline?

SP: “The bid, by Sinopec, bothered me. There was little doubt that the company could muster the manpower, technology, and funding necessary to do the job, but this proposal skated on the razor’s edge between the free-market and national sovereignty. An energy-thirsty Communist nation controlling Alaska’s natural gas reserves was not in the best interests of the state or our country.” (205)

ME: Unlike, say, oil deals with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. So why didn’t you give them the deal? I guess you would have had to have an ostensible reason.
SP: “It turned out Sinopec’s application was incomplete anyway. (205)

ME: Yeah, the Chinese are notorious for being lazy s.o.b.’s when it comes to paperwork. So who got the deal after all?

SP: “[The] Calgary-based TransCanada-Alaska, a firm that had not only met every single enforceable requirement of AGIA but exceeded them.” (205)

ME: Wow, that company with all those ties to your administration? The one you all but solicited, according to the AP? That’s a pretty sweet deal.

SP: “[National media is] too lazy to sift fact from fiction.” (203)

ME: Bastards.

SP: “It was one lie after another—from rape kits to Bridges to Nowhere. All easy enough to disprove if the press had done its job.” (237)

ME: Hey, what about that bridge? I understand there was some confusion as to whether or not you took federal money for it? And that the record states that you did?

SP: …

ME: Hmm. Well, we’ll chalk that issue up for a possible sequel. Let’s change gears a bit here: Matt Damon lambasted you for believing that dinosaurs were around two thousand years ago and that science is bogus. So to get the record straight: What’s your stance on evolution?

SP: “’[Science] proves parts of evolution…But I believe that God created us and also that He can create an evolutionary process that allows species to change and adapt.’”(217)

ME: [Lighting a cigarette] Makes sense.

SP: “And, by the way, I saw nothing wrong with students debating the merits of evolution in the classroom. If William F. Buckley—a devout Catholic and a world-class intellectual—could believe in the divine origins of man, why couldn’t I?” (219)

ME: Off the top of my head, because he wasn’t teaching a high school science course, and you’re not a world-class intellectual.

SP: “God says in Scripture, ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” (22-23)

ME: That socialist prick! Sounds a lot like our current president, taking what we all have and distributing it to the poor.

SP: “I considered the Obama administration’s panicky effort to stimulate the economy by spending enormous amounts of borrowed money shortsighted and ill conceived.

ME: But doesn’t Jesus say, through Scripture, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”?

SP: [The bailout] defied the lessons of history and common sense.

ME: So much for theologic/political consistency, folks.

SP: [Obama’s] nearly $1 trillion stimulus package was patently unfair both to future generations who will inherit our wasteful debt and to the everyday Americans who work very hard to pay the taxes that the administration seeks to spend at breakneck speed.” (357)

ME: Well, to be fair, President Bush did the exact same thing. He cut taxes and raised spending. And Senator McCain supported this, and so did you, if I’m not mistaken. That’s one reason the Democrats took the House and Senate in 2006, and another reason you guys lost.

SP: [Rahm Emanuel], now President Obama’ chief of staff, … crafted and executed the ruthless 2006 campaign strategy that won back Congress for the Democrats…” (370)

ME: Oh. I see. It had nothing to do with two wars, Hurricane Katrina, failure to find WMDs…cutting taxes on the wealthy and increasing deficit spending to fight overseas for dubious causes?

SP: “Servicing the $1.5 trillion debt is a huge annual expenditure in the federal budget. . . Our overspending today could destroy our children’s future.” (389)

ME: That must be why Senator McCain voted with the Republicans seven times to raise the debt ceiling. Gotcha. By the way, according to the Chicago Tribune, the bailout is a fraction of a fraction of the deficit. Just so you know.

SP: “That’s not entirely true.” (87)

ME: No, it is true. You can look it up on the Treasury page itself. Look at the figures on the wars, if you want to talk high spending.

SP: “Today our sons and daughters are fighting in distant countries to protect our freedoms and to nurture freedom for others. I understand that many Americans are war-weary…

ME: Nah. We love wars.

SP: “… but we do have a responsibility to complete our missions in these countries so that we can keep our homeland safe. America must remain the strongest nation in the world in order to remain free. And our goal in the War on Terror must be the same as Reagan’s: ‘We won. They lost.’” (393)

ME: Boy, if Reagan were around today, this whole mess would be gone. All he’d have to do would be to tell Karzai, “Mister President, get rid of those terrorists.”

SP: “I was in high school the day Reagan took the oath of office. On the same day, minutes after he was sworn in, a band of Iranian militants released fifty-two Americans, after having held them—and our national pride—hostage for 444 days. I had followed the Iran hostage crisis and remember wondering why President Jimmy Carter didn’t act more decisively.

ME: I think his retrieval operation was pretty decisive. Even if it sucked.

SP: From my high schooler’s perspective, I thought the question was, Why did he allow America to be humiliated and pushed around?

ME: And your adult perspective has led you to think…?

SP: “The new president being sworn in radiated confidence and optimism. The enemies of freedom took notice. In years to come, people would ask, what did he have that Carter didn’t? To me, the answer was obvious. He had a steel spine.” (46)

ME: I think that, if you’re going to exchange arms for hostages and fund contras, not to mention orchestrate campaigns that result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans, you have to have a steel spine. That pansy Carter would have been running off to weep at Stockholm at word of the first dead nine-year-old El Salvadoran refugee. Right?

SP: “…no…” (16)

ME: Well, maybe not. Let’s take a short break while readers look up our contradictory assertions and come to the inevitable conclusion that I’m right. Sound good?

SP: “I [don’t] put much stock in fickle polls.” (6)

ME: And I don’t put much stock in fickle minds. So let’s give each other one more shot.

Interruption in interview here. Palin heads to library, and the interviewer heads to a neighborhood Wasilla bar and gets the snot beat out of him for playing The Dixie Chicks on the jukebox.

Next week: The exciting conclusion!