Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If You Can't Say Something Nice

Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted has some excellent advice for writers today. In her "Dear Author: Don't Be a Jerk. No, Really." post at Red Room, she takes authors to task for distasteful behavior. Things you'd think authors would realize, like not calling out other authors, not dissing authors who have been kind enough to give you a blurb, restraining yourself over negative reviews, not blasting the art department over a bad cover, not acting like a know-it-all, etc. All of this seems common sense, but...

...there are far too many people in the world who just don't get this sort of thing. Thankfully, I was raised in a Southern family, which means the Golden Rule applies in all situations, but when you feel you just can't be nice, you either
1) Smile and say "bless your heart," or
2) Practice the art of being nice-nasty.
My mother is the World and Olympic champion of nice-nasty. She can be sweet, sweet, sweet and say something so truthful that if you have any consciousness whatsoever, you realize you've just been eviscerated. Eventually. Some folks are too thick for nice-nasty and don't get it even if they're tripping over their own entrails.

But mimi! I hear you cry. Isn't being nice-nasty just the opposite of what you proclaim in this here blog title? Yes, but no. Yes, because you are, indeed, saying something not nice. No, because nice-nasty is conducted in private, between yourself and the offendee. It is the total opposite of Ms. Baratz-Logsted's list of offensive behaviors, since all of those are conducted in public and with flair. As in, "notice me and how important I am." Like this author person I know, who, upon initial publication, declared to another author friend of mine that she needed to change her book title, because newly-published author's book had a similar one, and newly-published author of course, OWNED it for time and all eternity. Or something. Let's just say this author person has had her bad behavior come back to her in spades. People now know how toxic and awful she can be, as if every time she pauses for someone to speak, the next line out of her mouth is, essentially, "Camera back on me." This is not a way to win friends, which you certainly need in this business, heartless and fickle that it is.

mimi is a lucky, lucky girl to have her beloved Puffs and her "Contract in 12" partners in crime along for the ride. Good times and bad, they are supportive, caring, and know just when to administer hugs. Or chocolate. Or a whiskey sour. These friends will get all the blessings they deserve, because they are, as we Southerners also say, "Good People."

That, and they have sense enough not to need Lauren L. B-L.'s advice.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Bed List/The Dinner List: Special Edition

Why, oh why do we take so long sometimes?


Those iconic blue eyes enchanted women for years. He was so handsome, he actually lost movie roles during his early career because he was too good looking.
Good thing they got over it so we could drool over him in Hud, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, and dozens of other roles. No offense, Robert Redford, but you were outclassed--I'd take Butch Cassidy over the Sundance Kid any day.


Newman himself found it humorous that he'd probably be more widely remembered for salad dressing than for his films. The Paul Newman of Newman's Own donated nearly $200 million to charity thanks to profits from products like popcorn, marinara sauce, lemonade, and yes, salad dressing. He founded the Hole in the Wall Gang camps for terminally ill children and their families and to anti-drug charities in memory of his son Scott, who died of an overdose. In his later years, he charmed moms and kids alike with his wise, careworn voice work in Pixar's Cars. Best yet, and definitely sexy, was his long, long love affair and marriage with the fabulous Joanne Woodward. For dinner, something wonderful--he was a talented amateur chef--with the cost of the meal donated to charity. Now that's a legacy to be proud of.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008



Friday, September 19, 2008

Cool Chick: Nancy Drew


In our eyes, she is forever eighteen, resourceful, and smart. She is Nancy Drew, and she is the ultimate Cool Chick.

Nancy had boatloads of freedom and resources while those of us sucked between her yellow covers (this was, after all, the 70s) ached for them. She had Ned, a hot boyfriend, but didn't suffer by the phone praying for him to call. She had a kicky blue convertible. She had her best buddies, Bess and George, to provide some necessary girlie/tomboy balance in the adventure. And she went everywhere. That Carson Drew, successful attorney, must have been raking it in to afford all of Nancy's smart clothes and private lessons in everything from equitation to ice skating.

What can we learn from her? Loads. Just ask Jennifer Worick, author of Nancy Drew's Guide to Life, a tiny gift book I gave Kels for her birthday a while back. The guide contains Nancy-gleaned advice about Survival Strategies, Dating: A Primer, Sleuthing 101, The Delicate Art of Etiquette, Wilderness Tips, On Being a Lady, Powers of Observation, and Accoutrements. Here's a sample: "When bound and gagged, you can still tap our HELP in Morse Code to attract attention," from
The Clue of the Tapping Heels. Or "If you see something resembling a shark in a river, don't fret. It's more likely to be a small submarine operated by thieves." (The Mystery of Lilac Inn)

With advice like that, how could you go wrong? Which Nancy Drew adventure was your favorite?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reviewer Fun

Clever, clever spoofage going on at Amazon.com.uk. Check out the reviews for Bic Crystal pens sometime. Good Lord, that's some funny stuff. Some excerpts:

I Look Like an Idiot

By Janille Parry
I thought I would add one of these to my order because it was so cheap. I received it and took it to work with me. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the consequences of my actions. The pen itself is nice. It writes smoothly. It is also small enough to fit in the middle of my spiral notebook rings, while the useful little tab on the lid keeps it from sliding in where I cannot get it out (like those crummy pencils without caps). It made my life decidedly simpler. (It is as if I am only carrying one item, instead of two!) However, I was just getting comfortable with it when I was sharing my meeting notes with a coworker. Turns out that this pen writes in British English, not American English! He laughed, then took my notes and showed them to the person next to him. Pretty soon they were all laughing at how I had added an extra "l" to labeling and labeled. They mocked my use of an "s" instead of a "z" in realize. They couldn't understand why I had added a "u" after the "o" in words such as flavor, color and odor. And don't even get me started on the "e" I added at the end of gelatin and glycerin. Now all my coworkers think I am an imbecile. But it's because my Bic Crystal ballpoint pen has been set to English (U.K.) and I can't figure out how to get it to English (U.S.)!

Left handers beware...

By Disappointed User
Worked fine with my right hand, but when I came to use my left hand my writing came out looking like the work of a complete imbecile. I can only assume Bic have created a right-handed only pen, and would caution left-handers to "try before you buy".

Is this pen telepathic?
By O B Vious
I have noticed that what this pen writes in my diary are the exact same thoughts that i have in my mind. Can this pen be reading my thoughts, i mean, is this at all possible?

Who are these people with all that free time? Do I really care? Thanks for the big laughs at work, though. It's progress report week, and I could use all the hilarity I can get.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gender Bending

This is why I love Jon Stewart today:

Can we just dispense with the hypocrisy, please? Some issues--real ones, like what to do with the economy, education, foreign policy, and the like--would be nice.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lasagne Princess!

Today, the music department at church sponsored its first annual Lasagne Throwdown. I entered a couple of pans, and lo and behold, I won a prize! I am now the proud holder of the "Take Two Servings and Call Me in the Morning" ribbon for Healthiest Lasagne. Once you read this recipe, you won't find it particularly healthy. Any sauce that begins with the directions "melt two sticks of butter" can't claim health. Maybe the chicken and spinach fooled 'em. At any rate, here is today's prizewinning recipe for:

Lasagne Chicken Marsala Florentine

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
1 T minced garlic

2 T olive oil

1/4 C marsala

1 lb. lasagne

2 sticks butter

1/4 C flour

2 cans evaporated milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 lb. ricotta

2 eggs

2 oz. grated parmesan cheese

1/4 t salt

1/4 t nutmeg

2 C shredded six-cheese Italian blend

4 oz. fresh baby spinach, rinsed and dried

Slice chicken breast into strips. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add garlic. Sauté chicken in olive oil mixture over medium heat. Halfway through cooking, add marsala, cooking until liquid evaporates. Remove chicken from heat and chop; set aside.

Cook lasagne noodles according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium heat in large skillet. Mix in flour until smooth. Slowly incorporate evaporated milk to create a white sauce. Add soups and stir to combine. Season with cayenne pepper. Add chopped chicken and stir; set aside.
Combine ricotta, eggs, parmesan, salt, and nutmeg in a separate bowl.

Heat oven to 375°. While oven is heating, assemble lasagne in this order: one-third of the sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, spinach, cheese blend. Repeat layers and top with sauce. Bake lasagne for 30 minutes until heated through and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.


Saturday, September 13, 2008


One thing owning a convertible teaches you is to put things away. Lock them in the trunk, take them with you, whatever, but put 'em away. Especially if you park with the roof down.

I'm pretty good about putting things up when I leave the top down. But there are some things I just don't worry about, like my parking tag, the flower in my vase (Inga is a Beetle, after all), and my goggles. Ah, the goggles. Bright yellow obnoxious biohazard goggles Mrs. Comic Book bought me from Hot Topic when I got Inga. I've worn them. Frack has worn them (and had her picture taken by strange people while doing so). I've been parking with the top down for three years now, and the goggles have been fine. Normally, they hang from the rear-view mirror.

Until today. Some jerkface took 'em right out of my car. While we were at Little League, no less. Reasonably, the culprit is either 1) an adult with no morals, 2) a kid. I'd think a kid, since bright yellow goggles really aren't an adult thing (unless you're me, and you have a silly side). If it is a kid, though, that makes it an adult problem: What adult, when realizing that a child of theirs is now in possession of something the adult in question didn't purchase, lets the child keep it? If my kids came home with some stray sunglasses or whatnot, you can bet they'd face the Spanish Inquisition about the new item. Stealing is trés uncool at Chez mimi. Too bad more people just don't get it.

So now I'm goggle-less, pissed--at myself for being a trusting soul in an untrustworthy world, and at nameless thief for being a jerkface--and forlorn. What could possibly have the same cachét as bright yellow biohazard goggles?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Where's the Moose?

Back in the eighties, Wendy's released a classic TV commercial. Octogenarian Clara Peller captivated the nation by demanding to know just one little thing about a Wendy's competitor's burger: "Where's the beef?"

Sarah-mania (Palin, that is) is now captivating the nation. Palin is, so the reports go, a maverick executive. She takes on corruption and wins. Her nickname in high school was "Barracuda." She's a take-no-prisoners, salmon-gutting, moose-huntin', rifle-totin' evangelical Christian force of nature. Oh, and she's a woman. Did you miss that part?

First, props to John McCain for having the cojones to name a woman to the Republican ticket. That one came out of the clear blue. But still, Sarah Palin? She's been the governor of Alaska for roughly two years, and that somehow qualifies her to stand second in line to the presidency?

I have no problem with Palin's gender. I'm all for smart women. I have nothing against ex-beauty queens. I have nothing against women who play ruthless politics, man-style. But seriously. What can this woman possibly offer the country as a whole that makes her objectively far more qualified than other Republican woman like Elizabeth Dole, Christine Todd Whitman, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, or Olympia Snowe? If the McCain party folks picked Palin because she's the best candidate, that's one thing. But if they picked her because she's good looking and happens to wear a skirt and they're trolling for that slippery soccer mom vote, then I'm insulted. Do those people seriously think I'd vote for McCain simply because he's got a girl on the ticket? If so, they've underestimated the intelligence of the female American voter. No way in Hades I'm voting for Palin until she can, unequivocally and thoroughly, answer this question:

Where's the moose?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Musings: On Writing

I heart Stephen King. I read the daylights out of Stephen King years ago, stopping when the books resembled (and weighed as much as) concrete blocks. But after reading, and re-reading, his wonderful portmanteau of a writer's manual and memoir, I'll probably have to revisit the "K" shelf at the library soon.

King's memoir is by turns hilarious, heartfelt, and as bracing a slap as a shot of whiskey (King admits he got braced and slapped a lot over his career, at least until his wife and friends staged a huge intervention and finally got him clean). The behind-the-scenes look at this hugely successful writer is fascinating, but the real meat of the book is in his advice for aspiring writers.

King has no patience with literary snobs, whether they be readers or writers. As he said when he accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation (under much protest from the literary intelligentsia),
Tokenism is not allowed. You can't sit back, give a self satisfied sigh and say, "Ah, that takes care of the troublesome pop lit question. In another twenty years or perhaps thirty, we'll give this award to another writer who sells enough books to make the best seller lists." It's not good enough. Nor do I have any patience with or use for those who make a point of pride in saying they've never read anything by John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Mary Higgins Clark or any other popular writer. What do you think? You get social or academic brownie points for deliberately staying out of touch with your own culture?
Amen to that. If you've ever read popular press about romance and women's fiction authors, you're screaming in solidarity with the horrormeister from Maine. King is proud of his work not because it's made him gazillions of dollars, but because it tells the truth.

The thing that resonated with me on this reading was this solid-gold piece of advice about the art and craft that both drives me on and drives me crazy:

Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Some of this book--perhaps too much--has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it--and perhaps the best of it--is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Time for Some Campaignin'!

I love the folks at JibJab. They really can stick it to the man. In this case, they're stickin' it to two men, a couple of women, and a whole bunch of Washington types. Brilliant!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Clearly, He's Never Been in a Real School

Several years ago, the spineless weenies at The Orlando Sentinel decided that Doonesbury was way too political for the comics page, and they shifted it to the editorial section instead. A couple of years ago, a new crop of spineless weenies decided that they were being unfair to the meat-eating red staters 'round these parts and went a-huntin' for a "conservative" comic to balance all that Doonesbury liberalism (guess they haven't read much Doonesbury, since Garry Trudeau skewers everybody eventually). They chose Mallard Fillmore. Every time I read it, I wonder if Bruce Tinsley knows how outclassed he is. That, and where his brain cells are located. Anterior or posterior, if you get my drift.

Why the ire? This:

Tinsley's been socking it to teachers all week. According to his viewpoint, we're all undereducated boobs who can barely get out of our own garages, let alone college. We're stupid. We don't know the subjects we've been hired to teach. Basically, every dumbass canard that's been spewed from the right-wing voucher proponents for years. You know, the ones who think that public schools have all gone to hell in a collective handbasket because you can't pray in 'em (staff and kids can pray all they want, privately--we just can't lead corporate prayer), they talk about sex (which might make teenagers go out and have it, 'cause clearly learning about condoms is way more titillating than--I don't know--their HORMONES), and they talk about other countries like they're as good as we 'Muricans are (heaven forfend that the rest of the world's population might be something we can learn from, seeing as we're a country of immigrants and all). Sigh.

I ought not to read this tripe, I know. It's better for my blood pressure all around. But I can't help myself. Guess that's Tinsley's issue too, bless his heart.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

No Book for You!

The teen reading world is dealing with Richter-level quakes this week ever since the news broke that Stephenie Meyer, of Twilight fame, has announced that she will shelve Midnight Sun, a retelling of Twilight from the vampire Edward's point of view. Apparently, a rough (very rough, she admits) draft of Midnight Sun was posted to the Interwebs, and so now she's put the book on hold "indefinitely." Of course, the reading juggernaut that is teenage girls is up in arms. They're posting on Meyer's site, on Twilight fan sites, and just about everywhere else what they think, with the comments split between "OOO! No fair, Stephenie Meyer! We want Edward's story, you meanie!" and "OOO! No fair, anonymous leaker! How dare you do that to our precious Stephenie Meyer!"

Now I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the Twilight series. Kudos to Stephenie Meyer for tapping into the teen female zeitgeist, but Twilight itself did nothing for me. So I won't be crying in my Dr Pepper because I'm missing the new book. But I do have one big question:

What in the world was a complete draft of her new work doing floating around somewhere where it could be anonymously posted on the Net? Most of my writer friends are far more careful with their drafts. Obsessive, even. They have copies on hard drives and copies on flash drives and printed copies in boxes under the bed, but not whole copies lying around waiting to be snatched up and posted. Maybe snatcherdom is something you worry about only when you're an NYT best-selling author, but I doubt it. I've read too many paranoid posts from unpublished writers who refuse to enter writing contests because they're convinced someone will steal their precious work.

Here's where it gets weird.
Meyer herself uploaded the initial chapter of Midnight Sun to her own website to whet her readership's appetite. Fine. I get that. But where did the rest of it come from? If she didn't leak it herself (and I assume she didn't, given the hurt tone of her posts regarding the leak), why would Meyer play fast and loose with a manuscript worth millions of dollars, one she freely admits is very messy and loaded with mistakes? The mind boggles. I empathize with Meyer--how awful to have your privacy violated in that way--but seriously. Keep your work yours until you decide it's time to float it out there in the big ugly world of publishing!!

Oh, well. No more vampires. Can't say I'm missing them, or that I'm going to be hunting the web looking for what could have been.

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