Archive | February 2013

Far worse than doing one’s taxes

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I’m not sure why, but people seem to assume that because one works with a pen one must love filling out forms.  And while that is true sometimes, it does not mean said pen pusher wants to do your taxes! Not even with TurboTax!

There is only one thing worse than doing one’s taxes, it’s doing someone else’s taxes. This holds especially true if said someone is an elderly relative whose idea of book keeping involves a large leather-bound ledger kept entirely in illegible Old German script.

I won’t go into detail — that would lead to explicit language — but suffice it to say I hope there’s a special sort of heaven for those who make their living preparing other’s taxes!

This Way, Mr Block.

This Way, Misters H & R Block.

Better People

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Normally I let this sort of thing slide, but  this copy is just so delightfully wrong I couldn’t keep it to myself. And since this is an advert for artists, who aren’t exactly rigid grammarians, who’s going to know if I tell you?

This video helps you Draw Better People!

Really?

If one watches this video, someone like the Queen of England or the President of the US will want to sit and allow you to draw them?

I think this video will help one to better draw people,
but it’s certainly not going to help one draw better people!
(Of which I, of course, am one.)

Are you The One?

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Apparently Lily Does Sweden book is becoming an audiobook. The publisher told me they are searching for a narrator on ACX.

So, all you would be audiobook narrators, if you (or your rag-tag ensemble) think you’ve got what it takes, sign up at ACX and go here to audition.

Be sure you can . . . .

  1. Do comedy;
  2. Male and female voices ages 10 to 50;
  3. Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, and California accents; and
  4. Pronounce Swedish, Norwegian, French, Spanish, and German words.

Good luck and God help you!

Seriously, I think you only have to narrate in English.

Every move you make, I’ll be watching you

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The definition of romance depends on who you are. For me, a Valentine’s Day weekend spent in cammo, covered in leaves, spying on those I adore with some serious binoculars isn’t creepy at all.

I must specify, however, that “those I adore” are birds and I’m participating in Cornell University’s annual Great Backyard Bird Count which runs Feb 15 – 18th this year. Geeky, weird, romantic . . . . Oui, all of the above! And below is my best catch of the year (besides Fling).

White-Breasted-Nuthatch

Hawking Up A Good Time

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Yesterday was Rose Monday. It’s the German version of Fat Tuesday, so I threw a dinner party. It was very gay, with much drinking, and generally a good time. But, there was an awkward moment.

One of my older male friends, in the middle of the main course, dropped his fork, clutched his chest, and exclaimed “My God!”

We all thought “Heart attack!” However, he immediately pointed outside — with one hand, while the other lifted a large glass of lively champagne to his lips. We all looked to the yard. But for a wildly swinging bird feeder, there was nothing there.

“Did you see? A huge hawk swept down out of the tree and picked off one of the sparrows,” he declared, breathless and revolted.

His wife shook her head. She hadn’t seen it. But she hadn’t been looking outside. No one had. So, no one else witnessed the event.

I turned back to my friend. I wasn’t sure what to say. That sort of thing happens periodically in my yard.  A feeder draws in small birds and small birds draw in big birds of prey, which I happen to like seeing. The red shouldered hawk is part of the fabric of my yard, as are the sparrows. Nature simply took Her course.

“it was horrible,” he continued, with a deep shudder.

“No worse than you.” I dropped my eyes to the decimated quail (our state bird!) on his plate.

“True,” he replied, without missing a beat. “But at least his bird was fresh and hot.”

At which point my jaw dropped. Then we all laughed and adjourned to the yard to hunt for feathers in the fading light. There were only hawk feathers strewn about, indicating the raptor had missed his mark. My friend felt better then. So much so, he had a second quail.

Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down

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In Rhineland the celebration of Weiberfastnacht starts at 11:11am. It’s kind of a women’s empowerment day. People dress up in costumes and, for the day, women get to cut off men’s ties, which are seen as the symbol of  the power (yes, a phallic symbol). The men get a Bützchen (little kiss) as compensation, but they do have to wear the stumps of their ties for the day.

As you can see, I celebrate each year by hanging a wreath made of  all the ties I whacked off the previous year — fair warning, and all that. But I have to admit, the actual whacking off is a bit less harsh than the verbal whack off, at least it is in my grandmother’s house.

I took Fling to dinner at my German granny’s for Weiberfastnacht, really it was more of a party.  He arrived with a cut tie. Yes, I cut it off. My grandmother took one look at him and said “Another scruffy, pseudo intellectual?” Which was quite unfair as Fling had been on a plane for the previous 22 hours and holds two PHds (Cultural Anthropology and 17th Century British Civil War Politics).

Fling, undaunted, replied politely, “Now I see from whence your granddaughter acquired her stunning figure . . . as well as her stunning frankness.” Then he turned and walked away to mingle and find a drink.

My grandmother’s eyes twinkled. I even saw her smile slightly. In my family, if you can’t hold your own, you’re just won’t make the cut.

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The Bad Good Review

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When one writes books for a living, a good review can be a godsend. But there is a type of review which is good, but bad.  Allow me to explain.

  • You like a book and give it 5 out of 5 stars. That’s good.
  • You don’t explain why. That’s bad.

A review helps people find books that they will like and avoid books they won’t. I firmly believe that 75% of books written could be successful good books, if they reached the right people. The problem is getting the people to find the book right for them. This where reviews come in.

If I love a book, I tell you why. If I hate it, I tell you why.  Now, you might disagree with my review, but it at least informs you about the book and helps you discern whether it’s a book that’s right for you.

One need not give away plot details to laud or excoriate a read. It doesn’t even take much time to review a book. In fact, you can give any book the perfect 5-point review in 30 words or less. Just follow this template.

  1. I found the pacing (exciting, just right, a bit slow, terrible).
  2. I was (disappointed, interested, fascinated) by the characters.
  3. The plot twists were (predictable, amazing,  ridiculous).
  4. This book would be perfect for (romance, sci fi, history) readers.
  5. This book would be deadly for (feminists,  people who dislike violence/sex/obscene language).

If a book has typos or grammatical oddities, I tend to overlook them because my interest is the story. If they are really bad and seem unintentional, I might send a note to the author. It’s not something I mention in a review because it rarely bothers me. If it bothers another review enough to mention it, I tend to assume that reviewer is a frustrated, unpublished, probably jealous writer (or holds an English degree but is now working a job he/she considers beneath him/her).