Friday, August 31, 2012

Couldn't even try to say it better.

"Mormons need be realistic about garments and the world. Most people who know us, know about us or think they know us are well aware of our two-T-shirt thing. Garments are not a secret anymore. They never really were.

Today, you can look them up on the Internet, see them peeking out from under regular clothing, find them left behind in Laundromats and even spot them hanging on clotheslines.

Here’s another secret — they aren’t sacred, either. Not to 99 percent of the rest of the world, they aren’t. Furthermore, you can’t make them sacred by pitching a snit whenever people don’t treat them the way you think they should."

- Robert Kirby
Full article found HERE.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why does every day involve a fight with an American?

If you haven't been watching Downton Abbey, you should start. And let me know what you think of this theory:

Mr. Bates is the valet to the Earl of Grantham. His primary character trait is nice. His secondary character trait is spineless.

Miss O'Brien is the ladies' maid to the Earl's wife and Thomas is the first footman. O'Brien and Thomas despise Bates, for various reasons, and since O'Brien and Thomas are constantly smirking and plotting, we're meant to believe that they are Bad and Bates is Good.

Except in the final episode of season 2 (spoiler alert ...), Bates is convicted of murdering his wife.

And I kind of hope he did it.

One, it would be nice to add a third character trait to his dossier. And two, I hope it turns out Bates was a sociopath all along, and that O'Brien and Thomas (much like Sgt. Doakes or Det. Quinn in Dexter) were right in their irrational dislike of him. TWIST! 

(Remember when Bates took that fancy shoehorn away from poor old Mosely? YEAH. Dick move there, Bates.)

(Theory number two: What if Bates and the Fake Patrick are in cahoots in some sort of long con?)

Come friends. Help me speculate.

Monday, August 27, 2012

grumble grumble grumble

Or, This is why I hate the internet: Part 2.

There is a difference between public and private spheres.  Thanks to Internet, a lot of us have been confused about the distinction. But once upon a time, around the mid-90s, there was a thing called "private information" and a thing called "public information."

I'm as guilty as the next girl of blurring these lines on occasion, but I also do my very best to maintain certain hard lines.

You will never see the actual names of any of my relatives or friends or guys I date on this blog. You will never see a big enough picture of my house that you could identify it. You will never hear about my job or my doctor appointments in any detail.

And this is not because I think you, dear reader, are creepy. 

I would be the creepy one if I were to start sharing my private information in the public sphere.

I would be the one getting dangerously close to the line of exhibitionism.

But at the same time, I want to be as open as possible about my public information. I like talking about the books I read and the movies I watch, college football and bar exams, the funny things that happen to me here and there, some of my goals (emphasis on some), and my thoughts on political and philosophical issues. And I like hearing your thoughts on those same topics.

The trouble, I think, is when someone starts blending their public persona for their private benefit -- or in other words, their financial benefit.

You see, I don't make any money off this blog. I probably couldn't if I tried, but I don't want to try. If this were a money thing for me, I would worry about the fact that I lose just as many followers as I gain, that some days I get 200 page hits and some days I get 30. Blogging would become a chore instead of a fun thing I do.

People who make money off their blogs are in a bit of a pickle.  Most people don't read personal blogs religiously to hear about funny anecdotes and TV recommendations--they do it because they crave a pseudo-personal connection with the blogger.  Which is why, I suspect, the biggest moneymaking blogs all prominently feature professional-level pictures of the blogger's children, houses, husband, and self, along with information that you would never share with a stranger on a bus, but for some reason is okay if the stranger is on the Internet.

And that is fine, if that's how you want to be.  (Although, I've said it before, and here I'll say it again -- your kids are never going to thank you for putting cute widdle nakie pictures of them online. But the virtual child pornography industry will.)

But you can't turn around and say, "You don't know me."  Because while you're right, your readers don't know you, you have successfully tricked them into thinking otherwise.

If you don't want people to think they are friends with you on the internet, don't tell them overly private details of your life. The feelings of personal connection inevitably follow.

I don't aspire to be friends with strangers on the internet. Most people -- probably 99% of people -- fall into this category.

If we do somehow become friends, well, that's another matter. (Hi, internet friends who became real friends!)

But when you come out preemptively and say, "Don't try to be my friend," it irritates me on two levels. The first is that you were happy with pseudo-friendship when it resulted in your financial benefit. Very happy indeed. There was no encouraging anyone to know their place in the social hierarchy of life when they were giving you money, no sir.

And the second is that it presupposes I actually wanted to be friends with you. It makes me feel like I've somehow been creepy, when in actuality you are the one who chose to put pictures of your children, house, shoes, Social Security card, and sixth grade class picture on your blog, Instagram, and Twitter.

In SAT terms, I am to the viewers of E! network as you are to Kim Kardashian. Perhaps a classier, smarter, funnier, nicer, or more talented Kim Kardashian, but Kim Kardashian all the same.

One of us crossed a boundary, and it wasn't me.   

I don't mistake your over-sharing for actual friendship. I seriously doubt anyone stable does. So it bothers me that people who became successful, partly due to all their oversharing, insist that I do. Yes, you've been creepy! Don't try to be my friend! We aren't friends! Now gush over this sonogram and my adorable shoes and don't you DARE ask where I bought them!

Do I think all successful bloggers, etsy shop owners, and authors on the Internet think this way? No.

But I think most of them think at least a little this way.

And a few of them think a lot this way.

Unfortunately, that is enough for me, the consumer, to find myself annoyed with almost all of them on a regular basis.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My sad puppy and me

Somehow, Spence has injured himself.

He yelps when you pick him up. He yelps when he jumps off furniture. Last night he even yelped after curling up on a big pillow.

The vet says that as far as he can tell, Spence has no compromised bones or joints, so it must be a bruise or sprain somewhere. His solution? No running, playing, or otherwise frolicking for my little pal for two weeks. No jumping on or off furniture. No Charlie snuggling time. 

It is going to be a long fortnight, folks.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"I'm going to say this in a way that you will understand."*

Me: I just feel so bad for some of the guys on this site. Like ... ok, I'll talk to you.

Diego: No. Think of dating like a zombie attack. If someone falls behind, that's sad, but you can't go back for them. Keep your head in the game.

* That is a direct Diego quote which prefaced his dating = zombie apocalypse metaphor.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

how to critique

A friend of mine once auditioned for American Idol. A professionally trained Broadway singer, she didn't make it on the show, but she did learn a lot about its inner-workings. See, before you ever meet J.Lo, Steven, and Randy (or, in my friend's day, Paula, Simon, and Randy), you go through several rounds of judging with non-famous professional judges. They sort the wheat from the chaff so the celebrity judges don't have to.
Have you ever wondered how those completely tone-deaf fools make it on camera, only to reveal that they are terrible singers? Well, I always assumed they were just actors willing to poke fun at themselves, and that may be the case for some of them. But, according to my friend (who was kindly informed by a judge that though she sang well, she was by no means pop-material), it's because the really bad singers are complimented by those initial judges.

They may be sorting the wheat from the chaff, but they're also saving the chaffiest chaff for national humiliation at a later date.

So after several rounds of, "Wow, you're so unique!" and "I think we could really use a voice like yours!" these poor shmucks wind up on television, completely convinced of their own skills, and utterly shattered when they find out how wrong they were.

There's a strange phenomenon in the writing community that says you can only say something critical about someone's writing if you start out with what you liked first, and then ending by soothing over the criticism with more compliments. The compliment sandwich, if you will, where you tell someone what they want to hear, the truth, and then some more of what they want to hear.

Writers are such delicate flowers, I suppose, that you can't just tell someone, "Wow, this is all over the place and should be re-written" without adding, "But you've really mastered the semi-colon!"

And yet readers, agents, and critics the world over are going to obviously dismiss things for reasons as simple and varied as, "I didn't like it," "I found it disjointed," "Characters and situations are unbelievable." So why is a person critiquing an unpublished writer forbidden from simply saying these things?

Of course, no one wants to engage in destructive criticism, in which you tear someone down without any advice about how to build back up. But while you may not want to do that, if you think there really is nothing redeeming in a piece of work, and you stand by that opinion, why would you let someone waste their time?

Sure, there are trolls out there who will rip on you for the sake of ripping. But assuming you are not a troll, what are you to do when you genuinely don't like the story, character, or voice? Should you really hang your hat on, "Well, sentence structure is top-drawer"?

Don't dance around the subject just because you want to be considered "nice." If it turns out you are a troll and you just don't know it, no matter. The person on the receiving end of your vitriol better have thick skin, because you won't be the last hater he or she encounters.

I've heard quite a few people in the bloggersphere and twitterverse claim that unless you have a suggestion on how something should be fixed, keep it to yourself. I couldn't disagree more. While ideally you will have a suggestion, your gut impressions matter, too. Because if you think a character is a creepy sexist stalker, do you really have to add, "I think you should make him less of a creepy sexist stalker"? Can't it just go without saying?

If you wouldn't let your best friend go on a date looking like a hot mess, why would you let a writer submit a project full of stilted dialogue? Or historical inaccuracies? Or typos--for crying out loud, you have to tell them about the typos.

When someone is critiquing my writing, I want to know if their compliments are genuine, or just the patronizing preface to the real problems. I don't care if the cons outweigh the pros and I definitely don't care whether you arranged your comments in smiley face-frowny face-winky face order.

At 28, I'm old enough and confident enough to decide for myself if I consider criticism valid or not, if it's a helpful suggestion or just so much hot air. Yes, I'll probably be sad or offended, because that's human nature. But grown up nature is to keep hurt feelings to yourself and focus on fixing problems, and I don't think you should ask someone to waste their time helping you unless you can say you're a grown up.

So just lay it on me. I'll do the same.

Monday, August 13, 2012

writing update

I have returned from the Great Work Conference and I have much to share! And almost none of it is about work!

One, I will attempt to figure out this Write On Con nonsense at some point this evening. If anyone has any tips they'd like to share, I'd like to get them, because I suspect I will be sort of overwhelmed by the soup I plan to make for dinner. (In my defense, it sounds really complicated.)

Two, I came up with a new idea that makes me a little giddy. I don't really usually share that sort of thing, but I consider this one a good sign.

Three, I've decided that when I finish JRgtC (see that little progress bar there? yes, over there, up and to the right ... you've got it) I will reward myself with something awesome. I'm thinking ... a dishwasher. Or an iPad. Although I think the roommates might smother me in my sleep if I choose iPad over dishwasher ...

Four, I would love to expand my group of critique partners. So here's the deal. If you would like a critique partner with a pretty solid grasp of grammar, story structure, characterization, and a lawyer-level degree of scrutiny for plot holes, I am your gal. I love mysteries, horror, YA, contemporary, historical, romance, and can be persuaded to like just about anything else if it's well-written. In exchange, you have to (sometimes) read what I write. (I am a much faster critiquer than writer, so the balance is tipped in your favor.)

If you need more details, I plan to blog tomorrow about my theory of critiquing. And yes, it's going to as pretentious as I just made it sound. LOOK FORWARD TO IT!

Picture of the day: Please, step into my office.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Picture day: blast from the past

(Well, I don't know what happened here, but since no one but me can see that picture, this is just a blank spot for now. Half-hugs and air-kisses!)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August 4th Pic

Fair warning: I am planning to shill the crap out of friends and family in this blog. You have been warned.

Do you know what is super hard?

Building a website.

My good friend Chris Wharton (who may or may not be described pseudonymously somewhere on this very blog ... ) has decided to open his own practice. And in an effort to be a good friend, I decided to help him build his simple website until my sister's company Leuly is able to build him a far awesomer one.

Lessons learned in building a website:

Registering a domain name is easy!

Getting that domain's ISP and the website design's ISP to link up is hard.

Finding pictures to put on the website is easy!

Finding pictures that are legal to use is hard.

In short, I am so glad that there are nerds out there who do this for people professionally.

But in the meantime, if you, or anyone you know, need an AWESOME attorney to help you with family or criminal law issues, contact Chris Wharton -- because on top of being a stellar attorney, he is also super nice. And who doesn't want a nice attorney?

Added bonus: he knows my secret identity.

(Which he won't tell you, since he is a lawyer and we are both ethical as the day is long. But it would be fun to try to get him to blab, don't you think?)

Friday, August 3, 2012

A picture (almost) a day

Hey, I just barely heard about this! Susannah Conway is hosting a bloghop where you just post a picture a day during the month of August. Fun times, eh? And it's not that late into the month, so go sign up!

August Break 2012

August 3rd, 2012: Spence wondering why we keep watching Breaking Bad instead of Parks and Recreation.

I am going to miss this little pal next week while I'm at Work Retreat.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pencil Pusher

Blind date guy: So you're like a pencil pusher?

Me: Umm. No.

Blind date guy: I actually don't know what a pencil pusher is.

Me: Oh. OK.

Blind date guy: Do you know what it is?

Me: Yeah. It's someone with no actual skills who doesn't actually contribute to society in any way.

Blind date guy: Oh. Guess I won't be using that phrase anymore.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sorry, future spawn

I've been re-watching season 3 of Breaking Bad to get ready for my inevitable marathon of season 4. (This is just what happens when you have an obsessive personality, people. Deal with it.)

Aside from my general distaste for Skyler (the most annoying wife on the planet), what is the deal with listening to Old McDonald in your car just because you have an infant in the back? A three month old can't tell the difference between nursery songs and adult music. Gag.

I'm calling it now: I will not change my music listening habits post-kid. (And yes, I know that a lot of people will predict that apparently your entire personality and all opinions change post-kid ... but just go with me on this one.)