What it’s really about…

That last political post left a sour taste in my mouth. Stupid polidiocy.

Today was Grace’s first day of seventh grade. Here’s a picture that helps wipe away the foul stench of politics. My beautiful daughter, growing up…

Grace on the morning of her first day of seventh grade...
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Sean Hannity On Obama: ‘I Don’t Think He’s That Smart’

I try not to post too many political things on this page, mainly because I don’t think anything I can add to the moronic national political culture can really improve things in any real way, but also because it’s a blog most about writing and the writing life. But Hannity…man that guy’s idiocy knows no bounds. Incensed by a quip about Rick Perry’s intelligence (or lack thereof) Hannity provided an epic rant in which he pondered why the media didn’t question Obama’s intelligence (the article about the rant follows below my comments).

I felt the need to respond, for myself, not for Hannity. Hannity’s an idiot, plain and simple, but a mean, devious idiot who knows how to rile up the folks who listen to him.

Maybe folks didn’t need to question Obama’s intelligence because it’s pretty clear the guy is intelligent. Has Hannity ever listened to anything Obama has said? I fear not. But I have. There’s no doubting the guy’s intelligence. I however, have only heard a few sentences uttered by Rick Perry, and every one of them makes me question his intelligence. His entire stance on evolution vs. creationism causes me to question his intelligence. He recently told a young boy that in Texas, they taught both schools of thought and that he (Perry) thought the boy was smart enough to figure it out on his own. Pardon? Perry isn’t smart enough to figure it out on his own, panders to his base by claiming to believe creationism, and then tells the boy that he (the boy) is smart enough to get the whole thing straight? Well, good luck to you sir (and to all of us) as you discard the sciences. It’s that sort of thinking that prompts me to question Perry’s intelligence. I can suggest a couple of very good books about evolution that could help him, but if he’s of Hannity’s ilk, I doubt he’d be interested.

(Hannity article below)

An enraged Sean Hannity reacted to a controversial Politico article about Rick Perry’s intelligence by questioning President Obama’s intelligence for almost eight minutes. The Politico piece had a blunt title: “Is Rick Perry Dumb?” Writer Jonathan Martin spent nearly 1,800 words pondering the question, essentially concluding that, while Perry is not an “ideas man,” he has a sharp and potent political mind and should not be underestimated. Hannity was incensed, though, seeing a clear case of liberal media bias. “The question of intelligence is one the mainstream media never bothered to ask about President Obama,” he said. He then brought on Tucker Carlson and Democratic cable news mainstay Steve McMahon on to discuss just that. “If he’s such a genius he would have not lost two and a half million jobs,” Hannity began. He then ran through a series of gaffes Obama has made over the years before settling on his favorite one: the president pronouncing the word “corpsman” as “corpseman.” “What’s a navy corpseman?” Hannity mockingly asked. “He read it three times in one speech, he doesn’t know what a corpsman is! Genius that he is!” McMahon started to say, “The conversation we should be having,” but he was cut off by Hannity. “I want to know!” he shouted. “That’s my conversation.”Hannity also said he would like to read Obama’s Harvard and Columbia theses, and see his grades. But he kept returning to that “corpsman” issue.”He read his teleprompter three times and he doesn’t know ‘corpsman’!” he said to McMahon at one point. “And he’s the commander in chief and you don’t have the courage to admit it!” Eventually, Hannity just started repeating the word “corpsman” over and over again. “Every liberal’s a genius that drives the economy into a ditch,” he concluded. “…I don’t think he’s that smart.”

True Grit

Hurricane Irene was nothing but some stiff breezes and a lot of water by the time it got to my part of  New Hampshire, so I have nothing to report concerning the weather. The entire day, the wind wasn’t strong enough to knock our birds from their feeders. Still, we lost electricity for a few hours. Luckily, before the power went out, we watched True Grit, the 2010 Cohen Brothers’ film. Man is that a great movie. I simply loved the whole thing. Story, characters, cinematography. I know I’m late to “praisin'” this film, but I felt like I should put in my plug. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Here’s a clip. The actress, Hailee Steinfeld, who plays the young protagonist Mattie Ross, is stellar.

Expectations

It’s been a long time since I posted. Vacation and general business has kept me…well, busy. Generally, this is a post about writing and I struggle with taking the time to write or taking the time to write about writing. You’d think, since I’ve been staying away from the blog so long, that I’d have plenty of fiction to show for it. I laugh at your expectations!

Actually, expectations killed my writing over the summer. They were honest expectations, of course. Last summer, I had an incredible writing experience. Eight short stories in nine weeks. I hit the desk even though I was busy. I wrote through two weeks of teaching (the class was from eight to two everyday, but I still managed to write) and a ten day trip to Seattle, where I managed to write, and a week long trip to Virginia, where I managed to write. The stories were solid; messy but solid. I worked all fall and winter on revision.

I expected to write the same this summer. Crankin’ out lots of words. I had a project and a goal for the work. What happened? Who knows. Fickle muse, I suspect. I did spend the time at the desk, but the work was like pulling teeth.

Partly it was the subject matter. I spent several weeks worried that I was writing simply because I thought I could sell a zombie book. My “artistic honesty” was at stake. This is a blog, so you can’t see the sarcasm dripping from those words. But it’s there, believe me.

Partly it was me being disappointed in my own writing. It’s supposed to be easy to write genre stuff, right? I figured anyone could crank out a zombie book. I figured I could write this thing quickly. Turns out, I can’t write anything quickly. Turns out, the zombie craze may be over before I get this done. Turns out, a whole mess of literary writers are publishing zombie books this fall, so what’s the point. Oh, the futility.

Partly, I’m still mourning the last manuscript that I couldn’t sell. It’s silly that I can’t let it go. It was a strange book and I have a feeling it was more for me than anyone else, but I really like it and every time I sat down to write about zombies, I felt like I was writing down from that book. I was trying to make the book as solid on as many levels as I could, but I couldn’t help feel that The Aurora Project was dead in the water so what’s the hope for Apocalypse Nation?

But mostly, it’s the weight of my own expectations. Today, for instance, my last day of creative freedom. Or at least the last day in which I might theoretically devote all of my time to this creative project. I expected too much. The daily life of chores pushed forward and I relinquished the time I had at the table to do those things. That’s my fault. It’s nothing that other writers don’t deal with every single day. But I expected something different and if I’ve proved anything to myself in my years trying to write, it’s that whatever I expect my writing life to be like…is wrong. The idealized writing life–the writer I’ve always imagined myself to be–doesn’t exist. The only writer that exists is this one. The writer I am.

 

Grace and I at Mt. Vernon

Haven’t been updating for a few days because Grace and I are traveling. We are dropping in for a quick visit to Virginia and hauling my dad back to New Hampshire for a longer visit. Today, we went to absorb history at Mt. Vernon (I’ll write about this more tonight). It’s a beautiful place. I snapped this picture after touring the mansion.

New Roads

Although my major writing project at the moment is Apocalypse Nation, my zombie story, it hasn’t been moving as quickly as I’d like. When I started, I thought, “Oh, a zombie book. I can crank that out.” But this summer has proved that for me, no piece of writing moves quickly. That’s probably one of the reasons I’m forty-five and don’t have a book yet. Waaaayyyyy toooooooo ssssslllllooooowwwwww on the page. Or maybe it’s a case of suddenly switching “genres.” I’d always considered myself a literary writer (whatever that means) and suddenly I am trying to write something more commonly associated with the horror genre (whatever that means). I’ve never read zombie books and have only a passing familiarity with the conventions of the genre. Of course, I thought that would make it easier. I wouldn’t be bound by any of the rules, man. I’d pave own asphalt. Or something. Turns out, I have the same struggles as I always do–character development, POV, plot. I’d grown really frustrated with the story by the end of July and had stopped working on it. I even took a few day jobs moving furniture so that I didn’t have to think about it. I had a major existential struggle over a zombie book. If I couldn’t finish it, did that mean I was done as a writer? Was I writing a novel “true” enough for my standards? Would this mean I could only write zombie books for the rest of my life? I seems so silly to even note at this point that I hadn’t even finished this manuscript and I was already worried about how it would affect the rest of my writing life. How about I just keep my writing life on the page I’m working on today, okay?  Fortunately, I got over myself. I switched POV from first to third and the whole story shifted and came into focus. It means more work (I was 150 pages into the story) but I think it will open the story up in many fascinating ways.

I turned forty-five at the end of July and Gail bought me some art supplies. I’d been making noise about learning to draw so that I could make my own graphic novel version of The Aurora Project. TheAP is my last manuscript about the end of the world and mankind’s renaissance. I worked harder on that book than I’ve ever worked on anything. I think the prose is really strong and the story really intriguing. Still, I couldn’t get anyone to look twice at it. It is a strange, unwieldy book, though. I knew it’d be a hard sell. I mean, it takes place over six thousand years. There are four sections divided by about 2k years each. So, it’s sitting in a drawer. Earlier in the summer, I read Maus and Persepolis and I started thinking of TheAP in terms of its major images. I’ve never been much of an artist, but I can see the book so clearly. So, thanks to Gail, I’ve started drafting some of those images. Chances are, this is just something that I do for me, but if I’m going to be switching genres, finding my way into creative spaces for the sake of adventure, I might as well go for it. I’m hoping that the next forty-five years of my life sees me living in a number of different creative spaces. Thanks to my lovely wife for getting me started.

Below are the first two pictures from The Aurora Project drawings. They are images from Part One: Landing.

More treasure

Started digging this afternoon near the back of the yard, on the far side of the old barn foundation and might have hit the mother load. I had to stop digging to run some errands, but I have a hunch there is much more than what I’ve uncovered so far. The clear bottle may be my all time favorite find. It is MOXIE NERVE FOOD. Is there a better drink name anywhere? Here’s what our good friend Wikipedia has to say about it: Moxie originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food,” which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, Maine. Thompson claimed that it contained an extract from a rare, unnamed South American plant, which had supposedly been discovered by a friend of his, Lieutenant Moxie, who had used it as a panacea. Moxie, he claimed, was especially effective against “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.” What I love most is that it helped “softening of the brain.” That sounds like something Monty Burns might suffer from. That or Bonitis. The squat brown bottle once held Paul Jones Whiskey. Paul Jones was one of the “big” names in American whiskey, apparently. The green bottle has no identifiers. But I’ve included a picture of it’s bottom–quite concave. I have no idea what this means in terms of how it was made. I hope that tomorrow brings good weather, for I plan to move a lot of dirt and rocks in search of more treasure left by the folks that lived here between one and two hundred years ago.

And in case you are just joining this treasure hunting conversation, I use the word “treasure” rather liberally. This stuff isn’t worth any actual money, but I find the process vastly entertaining. Plus, this is all stuff that belongs here.

click on the photos for nice big pictures…

Bottles on the Ford Bumper...
Moxie Nerve Food
Paul Jones Whiskey Bottle
Concave green bottle bottom...