Sunday, August 25, 2019

A couple things that caught my eye last week ...

*** For all those disaffected journalists laid off by their corporations, consider buying a weekly newspaper. Seriously. It's a good way to write, report what you want, and make some bank. Been there, done that, loved it. In a buyer's market for weeklies, where are the buyers?
You might have chuckled at the “buyer’s market” line, since all the bad news about metropolitan newspapers may lead you to think that a newspaper is no longer a good investment. That’s not true of most community newspapers, because they are the sole, reliable source of news about their communities, and most of them “are doing fine financially,” says Kevin Slimp, the leading consultant to community papers.
*** This is an exhaustingly long piece by Andrew Sullivan, but very interesting and insightful.

*** Wifey and I just finished Season 2 of "GLOW" on Netflix. It just keeps getting better.

So the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), since they’re on a local cable show, are required by contract to produce a Public Service Announcement to play during their show. I thought this one was hilarious.

“Don’t Kidnap” 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Always good to have a good joke on hand ...

A guy goes into the emergency room in incredible pain. Doctors examine him and determine he has something lodged in his rectum.

They get to digging and pull out a plastic horse. In fact they end up pulling out four more plastic horses. 

The doctors list his condition as stable.


Been making a concerted effort to plant flowers, preferably native, to attract bees to the garden. Seems to bee working.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

I don't want to be between those sheets

In 1978 Ian McEwan wrote a book of short stories called "In Between the Sheets," which he considered experimenting in various forms and to "find his voice as a writer."

Two decades later, McEwan went on to write two of my favorite books: "Atonement" and "Amsterdam."

It's a good thing I read his novels first, because if I'd read those short stories first I never would've touched them. I appreciate a guy experimenting, and it apparently worked, but man was that some awful stuff i just finished.

It seems McEwan had a bit of an Edgar Allen Poe phase and dipped into the gothic and sexual, but man was it nuts. Some of the stories were almost unreadable gibberish. It's like he had some notes for a story, but no beginning and no ending, and thought "hey, I'll throw them in this book of short stories."

The ones that were readable were weird. There was the two-timing pornographer whose girlfriends decided to castrate him. There's a possible relationship between a female writer and her ape. And there's a father who is suspicious of his teenage daughter's relationship with her older midget girlfriend.

The only one that was slightly entertaining, in an E.A. Poe way, was "Dead As They Come." It "tells of a wealthy businessman's bizarre obsession with a fashion mannequin, which he purchases and takes home with him."

Spoiler alert: He goes crazy(er) when she refuses to talk to him and he "kills" her.

I'm glad McEwan improved as a writer and is now considered one of the best British writers of all time. Maybe the experimentation in the short stories helped. So at least it wasn't a wasted effort.

I like short stories and always have a couple books of them on hand for when I have only 15 minutes to kill, not enough time to sink into a novel, but enough time for a quick escape. Mark Twain's are the best. I bought a recent one by Craig Johnson with Longmire shorties. Haven't tried that yet. Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges has another one that I've really enjoyed.

And it dawns on me, if you happen to be into weird short stories (not McEwan weird), you might like some of those listed on this homepage. I wish I could say I've progressed as much as a writer as he has.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How do you insult a Norwegian?

Recently a CNN talking head got his undies in a bundle because some guy called him "Fredo", which is apparently a bad thing to call someone of Italian heritage, as in the dim-witted brother of the Corleone family.

It would never occur to me to call someone Fredo, much less occur to me that it was something bad. But, hey, I'm not exactly on the cutting edge of insults nowadays.

I know the big slur words not to say, which since I never used them (N, C, F, words) isn't really much of a lifestyle change. But occasionally there are words that I might use and not realize they are bad. But good luck explaining that to someone offended by the word in these days of instant and easy offense. I once wrote a column and referred to some Canadian as a Canuck. I then received a letter to the editor from a truck driver from Canada who said that was offensive. I didn't know that, and still am not sure of that. Not enough anyway than I refrain from using the word, as if I actually ever have reason to use it much anyway.

But this Fredo thing, which the dude said is the equivalent of the N-word to Italian-Americans (I doubt it), got me thinking. What would be the equivalent of the Fredo word or N word to Norwegians?

Seriously, what could you call a Norwegian-American that referenced his past that would even get him to raise an eyebrow? Lefse licker? Lutefisk breath?

I'm fifth generation South Dakotan. And I'm 100-percent Norwegian heritage. Both sides of my family tree are littered with Oles, Olafs and Olavs. I don't know what you could call me, referencing my heritage, that would offend me.

Seriously, Norwegians write joke books about Norwegians and sell them to non-Norwegians. We tell Ole and Lena jokes that imply we are stupid. I suppose the groups most offended would say we aren't offended because we haven't been a marginalized group. We haven't been enslaved or discriminated against like many minorities. Fair enough.

The point I'm making out of this, though, is that regardless of the wrongs done to you or your ancestors, maybe if everybody wasn't so easily insulted people would be less likely to insult you.

Because what's the point of insults? Why does anyone call anyone else a name? It's to put them down, lessen them, make them feel inferior. But if it doesn't work, doesn't get a rise out of you, doesn't make you feel inferior, what's the point of doing it? I'm not saying it would happen over night, but when an idiot discovers that what they are saying doesn't affect you, he'll probably give up eventually. If enough idiots give up, imagine the world we might live in.

In my job, I get yelled at weekly on the phone from out-of-staters. Called every name in the book. I laugh at them, joke with them, and so on. Mostly I try to remain calm, and that infuriates them more. If I took personally what everyone said, I'd be a total basket case and probably be taking it out on those around me too. It's definitely easier said than done, and I can't honestly say nobody's never gotten under my skin. Fortunately, few know what buttons to push. But, then again, I'm a stoic, unemotional, dumb Norwegian. If you don't have that going for you, it might be more difficult. Give it a try. Might work.

In the meantime, have you heard the one about Ole and Lena driving to Minneapolis?

At Luverne, Ole put his hand on Lena's knee. She smiled.

At Mankato, he slid his hand up a couple more inches. Lena smiled more.

At Minneapolis, Ole moved his hand onto her thigh.

Lena said: "Ole, you can go further if you want."

So he drove to Duluth.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Read 'The Chain' and you'll never leave your kids alone again

I was looking forward to reading "The Chain" by Adrian McKinty, as the plot I'd read about seemed very clever. For once, the book lived up to its hype. It was unsettling and left me thinking about it when not reading. That's usually a good sign. Koontz does that to me sometimes.

Goodreads sums it up well:
You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim's parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don't kidnap a child, or if the next parents don't kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.
Author Don Winslow calls it: "Jaws for parents."

This was one of the most suspenseful books I've ever read. Wasn't gory, sexual or anything over the top. I guess you'd consider it a psychological thriller, as the parents of the kidnapped children become the monsters they hate and weigh moral choices throughout.

You get hooked from the start. A couple twists shocked me. The final twist I didn't see coming.

The author shows a little humor too, as he quotes a character: “A man once told me that all books should end at chapter seventy-seven.”

This, of course, makes you turn to the end of the book to see how many chapters are in it.

Another says: “If I don’t make it, don’t let them cast some asshole to play me in the movie version of this.” And, of course, the movie rights to this book have already been sold to Paramount for 7 figures. That makes for a good rags to riches story for McKinty.

Amazonians give it a 4.2 out of 5, that jives with an 8 out of 10 on the Haugenometer. Goodreaders gave it 3.95 out of 5.

Definitely one of the better books I've read in a long time.