Nicholas Sparks is a Woman

Back in 2011 V.S. Naipaul (full disclosure, I’ve never actually  read anything by V.S. Naipaul) pissed off women the world over with two statements.  First, that he didn’t think there were any  women writers, living or  dead, who were as good as him.  Second, that he could tell if the writer of a book was a woman within a couple of paragraphs.

Nicholas Sparks (if you believe that)

Nicholas Sparks (if you believe that)

Well, I thought, the first statement is outrageous arrogance.  Mary Shelley was a revolution in literature, she pretty much invented science fiction.  Ursula LeGuin wrote The Dispossessed, which was brilliant both as sci-fi and as social commentary.  I liked all of Jean Auel’s books.  And, of course, there is J.K. Rowling, who I practically worship.

But, I wasn’t so sure about the second statement.  The way I see it, it is not sexist to point out that there are differences between the sexes and, if the man says he can spot a woman writer within two paragraphs, maybe he can.  Certainly, he’s  somebody who knows a thing or two about the craft.  I didn’t think I could do it, though.

Anyway, in response to the controversy, a quiz soon popped up on facebook: can you spot which of these passages was written by a woman?  So, I had to take the test.  I only had to discount 2 or 3 of the passages because of actually knowing them, but out of the rest I got almost a perfect score.  I don’t know how.  I was guessing wild, totally by feel, but the score was beyond a fluke.  It definitely is possible to tell if something was written by a woman or a man.  We don’t write the same, any more than we think the same.

Now, I have another confession to make.  I choose my reading materials pretty much the same way I eat, and the way I used to drink back in my alcohol loving days, i.e. pretty much anything that’s put in front of me, without a lot of premeditation or discrimination.  Which is why I’m reading a book by Nicholas Sparks.  My wife loves him and she uses my kindle more than I do, so that’s what’s there.  I swear, it was not my choice.

But, in reading this novel  (The Rescue, about a single mother with a special needs child and her trouble finding a good man) I came to a surprising conclusion.  Nicholas Sparks is a woman.  It’s probably  actually Nicole Sparks, and she just hires a random actor dude for the cover photos.  Or, maybe he is technically a man, in possession of male body parts and such, but he is totally a woman inside.

It was a conversation between two men, best friends, in a bar, that made me realize it.  Guys just don’t analyze their  emotions in that much depth, unless one of them is a psychiatrist.  It was like that facebook meme where they transcribe a woman’s conversation and then have two very hirsute men reading the lines.

I  don’t know what I’m going to read next.  But it won’t be Nicholas Sparks.  I get the stories told to me anyway.

About these ads

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

The Age of Archaeology

Every day, it seems, we discover new exoplanets, they are apparently as common as litter on a city sidewalk.  Likewise, every day, it seems, we discover some ancient shipwreck, or the bones of a previously unknown dinosaur, or the ruins of an ancient city which was thought to be mythical.

They'll need to actually dig it up to see it in more detail

They’ll need to actually dig it up to see it in more detail

It is no surprise.  Space stretches out, on and on, almost forever, as far as we can tell.  And the past stretches back, and back, and back.  A shipwreck from 1899.  The body of Richard III under a parking lot.  The tomb of Alexander.  Ruins of an ancient Greek city on the floor of the sea.  The extensive underground ruins of Stonehenge.  Dinosaurs.

For hundreds of millions of years, life has been leaving litter all over the place.  A little here, a little there, but it’s been adding up and now it’s pretty much everywhere we look.  The world is really not that big a place and we have pretty much blanketed it with stuff.  Most of which we’d thought was lost forever, we were living without it just fine,   and it’s kind of  bizarre to find it again.

One find I’m particularly excited about is the Stonehenge thing.  Apparently, there are lots of stone formations, just under the ground, all around it.  A lot of archaeologists, of course, are still talking about its ‘religious significance,’ and talking about it as an ‘ancient temple’ but it seems to me that’s what they say about everything.  It sounds like an ancient city to me.

Like the Nazca lines.  I was watching Discovery Channel once and they were saying that they were an ancient well worn path, as if people had had frequent religious processions along these routes, and I thought, “well, or else they were actual streets.”

Sometimes things have a mundane explanation.  More often than not, I suspect.

Anyway, with Stone Henge I think what they ought to do is go whole hog,  dig up the whole  area.  A few farmers will lose their fields,but sheep can be moved.  A small price to pay to unearth, and recreate, a full blown ancient Celtic (maybe) settlement.

It could be awesome.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Dear Police, Stop Being Assholes

There is no doubt the police in the United States are completely out of control.  They shoot people for jaywalking, they shoot people who are holding a toy rifle in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart, they invade the wrong homes because they either can’t read a map or can’t read an address, and then beat the hell out of everybody inside, they pepper spray people who are sitting down, they shoot people in wheelchairs and old men, they beat the shit out of little old ladies, they taze and abuse just for shits and giggles, they throw stun grenades innto baby’s cribs, and they get away with it damned near every time.

Danielle Watts

Danielle Watts

Perhaps today they stepped over the line, because they arrested a celebrity.  Not a huge celebrity, but a celebrity.  Danielle Watts was in Django Unchained and is currently in a TV series.  She is black.  Her husband is white.  They were kissing.  So, police thought she must be a prostitute.  Silly police.  They got angry when she wouldn’t show them identification, although you are definitely not required to, and there was no evidence of any crime.  So, they handcuffed her and forced her into the back of a police car.

Eventually, they realized their mistake.

But, it was a mistake.  Not only had no crime been committed, there was no reason at all for them to think a crime had been committed.  No one was dead or injured.  No property was missing.  There was no reason for the police to even approach the couple..

If only the police in real life were like the police on TV, chasing down bank robbers  and murderers, spending lots of time at crime scenes examining clues, being fearless and upright and diligent and conscientious, there would be almost no crime and everybody would love the police.

So, here’s a suggestion, dear police people: be more like that.  If nobody’s hurt and nothing’s been stolen, just keep on walking.  Nobody needs you to worry about jaywalking, or two people kissing, or pretty much anything other than actually assaulting somebody else or stealing.  You can spend all day riding around doing nothing, or hang out for hours in the donut shop.  It’s O.K.  Make things easier on yourselves.

And leave people the fuck alone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Do You Know Who I Am?

“Do you know who I am?,” George Zimmerman said, to the man in the other car.  “I will fucking kill you.”  Of course, “I will fucking kill you” is the kind of thing that people say all the time, but it’s a little bit more frightening when it comes from George Zimmerman, who has killed before and apparently has very little remorse over it.  In fact, he seems rather proud of it.

Yes, George, we know who you are.  You really should not be proud of that.

Yes, George, we know who you are. You really should not be proud of that.

“Do you know who we are?,” Sarah Palin shouted out when the owner of the house tried to kick her and her family out of his party on account of Track, the oldest Palin boy, starting a fight almost as soon as they got there.  Yes, Sarah, everybody knows who you are.  You are the extremely corrupt half term governor and failed vice presidential candidate who has exposed her abject ignorance on TV again and again and again, who couldn’t think of a single answer when a reporter asked her what newspapers she read.  You are the mother who goes on and on about Christian values and teen abstinence, whose teenage daughter got knocked up.  Yes, Sarah, we know who you are.

“Do you know who I am?”  It’s really a pathetic question.  Maybe if you’ve just woken up from a 6 month coma and your spouse is standing over your bed, trying to figure out if you’re conscious and whether or not there’s been brain damage, it makes sense.  Perhaps if you are at your 10th  High School Reunion, and you meet somebody you dated only once and she still looks pretty good, it’s a reasonable question.

One time I heard about (and this may well have been urban legend) a student who was taking an exam in college, in a lecture hall with about 200 other students, and kept writing after the professor had called time.  When he came to the front of the room to hand in his paper, the professor said “I’m sorry, you’re late.  That’s an automatic fail.”

“Do you know who I am?” the student asked, in a very sarcastic voice.  The professor looked right  back at him and said “No, I do not.”

“Good,” the student said,  shoved his test paper into the middle of the stack, and left the hall.

But, usually, when shouted in rage by someone who thinks they should be a lot more famous and important than they really are, it’s just kind of embarrassing.  Especially with people  like George Zimmerman and Sarah Palin.  They should be hoping people do not know who they are.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Should They Stay or Should They Go Now

As an American living in Prague, I won’t be directly affected by whether or not Scotland decides to become independent or not.    In a way, I’m kind of hoping for a no vote, but that’s just because I’m used to the status quo and, despite my claims to be a liberal, there is a natural hesitation to embrace change.  I didn’t like it when Pluto lost its planetary status, either.  In a way, I’m kind of hoping for a yes vote, because Scotland, fuck yeah.scotland

But  mostly I don’t think it will make much difference.  They’re not going to stop making whiskey or having a funny accent, either way.  I’m pretty sure Paul McCartney won’t need to sell his home. (What will happen to all of the royals’ Scottish  properties, though, I don’t know).

It’s  being decided by referendum, so there isn’t going to be any problem about it, either way.  England isn’t going to send in the tanks and bombers to force them to stay in the Union.  Horn-helmeted Norwegians are unlikely to come over in their longboats and start burning villages and carrying  woman and children off.

It’s what should have been done in Ukraine.  A bit late now.

It’s more like what  happened in Czechoslovakia in 1993.  Neither Slovokia nor the Czech  Republic sank into the ocean. (we’re nowhere near the ocean).

I’m interested in whether there will be a knock-on effect.  Will there be referendums in Catalonia and the Basque Region?  I suspect the Spanish government will not allow it because of the likelihood of them passing.

If the British government had thought this referendum would pass, they probably wouldn’t have allowed it.  Fooled them, huh?

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Palin Punchout

I don’t want to write about the anniversary of 9/11 because, despite the fact that we all saw the same footage, over and over and over again, we don’t all agree as to what happened that day, specifically who was to blame for it, and probably never will.  I’ve stated my reasons for believing it was an inside job on many occasions, and will again, but not tonight.  I don’t want to start an argument during the middle of a memorial.

Do you know who I am?

Do you know who I am?

I don’t want to write about the Pistorius verdict, because that’s just too depressing for words.  He murdered his  girlfriend, shot her deader than hell, and got  away  with it.  The final verdict isn’t in, but it will probably  be for some weak ass charge like negligence with a firearm.  The low-life murdering prick got  away with it.

No, I want to write about this because it’s funny.  Apparently, last Saturday night, the Palin family went to a party.  Sarah, her husband Todd, their oldest son Track, daughter Bristol, and grandson Tripp (Bristol’s kid) who is 6.  The party was at the home of Chris Olds, who races snowmobiles so probably knows Todd quite well.

Anyway, Track apparently had a disagreement with another guy there, a former boyfriend of sister Willow’s.  It got kind of noisy and Olds asked them to leave.  Sarah started screaming “Do you know who I am?!”  (Yes, Sarah, everybody knows who you are.  Did the thought cross your obtuse, little mind that maybe that’s WHY he asked you to leave?) Bristol punched Olds in the face.  Several times.  Someone from the crowd  shouted out “This ain’t some damned hillbilly reality show.” (Except, of course, it sort of is)

Eventually the Palins, severely outnumbered and clearly unwelcome, left.  Todd was bleeding from the mouth and Track was standing on the sidewalk, shirtless, giving everybody the finger while his proud Mama stood behind him.

Two observations:  First, it seems that their friends and neighbors in Alaska are just as sick of the Palins’ bullshit as the rest of America is.

Second, this happened Saturday night.  Today is Thursday.  Why is it taking so long to hear about it?  Would we have heard about it at all if some bloggers in Alaska hadn’t reported it?  Seriously, the first major newspaper to report it was the Washington Post and they wrote about it a full 5 days after it happened.  In this age of high speed communications, I cannot escape the suspicion that the main stream media is deliberately trying to NOT report the news.

1 Comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive

Poet Voice

I just read an article and I’m not going to link to it for two reasons.  One, because I totally disagree with the premise and, two, because it’s been floating around facebook for a while so, if you are interested in poetry, especially if you write poetry, and double especially if you read at poetry readings, you’ve probably seen it already and,  if  you’re not interested in poetry, you probably couldn’t care less about the topic.

The premise was that poets tend to read their poems in ‘poet voice,’ which the author seemed to think was fake,  pompous and annoying.  How does he expect poets to read their poems?  In a doctor’s bedside manner voice?:  I’m afraid I have bad news for you.  Sit down, please.  So much depends upon the red wheelbarrow…. Perhaps in a policeman’s voice:  Give me your license and registration…the wretched refuse of your humble shore.  Perhaps he thinks we should speak more in a teacher’s voice:  I think that I shall never see (Johnny, pay attention, please) a poem as lovely as a tree.

My point is that since we are reading poems, of course we use ‘poet’s voice.’  Whatever voice we use  inherently adopts the definition.  Of course, I know the voice he means.  A little bit pretentious, kind of breathy and dramatic.  It’s why Shatner and Franco, out of all the dramatic actors out there, are the ones who like to read poetry out loud.

But, still, I see it as fair enough.  A poem is not a conversation.  When I’m on stage, reading something I’ve read, where I intend every  word to count, I don’t want to sound like I’m in a casual conversation with a friend, or making small talk with the checkout lady in the supermarket.  I want to emphasize each word, I want to have pauses at strategic points, I want to make the audience think what I want the audience to think.

The author seems to think that ‘poet voice’ is one of the reasons nobody likes poetry any more (except, of course,  for those of us who do).  He’s wrong, though.  The reason most people don’t  like poetry is because most of the poetry being written today sucks.  It’s got nothing to do with the voice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs' Archive