Monthly Archives: August 2014

Weird Finds: Angelic Messages as Given to Tina Michelle

I’ve had this book for over a year, but I’ve hesitated to post about it.  I was bullied as a kid, so I have a hard time picking on specific people–especially people this crazy.  The turning point for me was realizing that “Tina Michelle” is almost certainly not the author’s real name.  Also, if she gets really upset about this post and tries to end it all, we can take solace in the fact that an African American angel will save her.  Read on to learn more!

Tina Michelle-cover

I bought this book for three dollars at one of those shops that has to be a drug front.  It has no customers, yet it’s been thriving for the better part of a decade.  Kind of like the store in my old hometown that was selling Buzz Lightyear novelty telephones in 2008.

Anyway, this is a book about angels.  More specifically, about angels as they’ve appeared to an Appalachian woman with the improbable moniker Tina Michelle.  I’m not referencing the Appalachian thing to drum up any latent prejudices against “hillbillies,” by the way.  Tina Michelle herself mentions it on the back cover.  Apparently “her Appalachian humor embraces her audiences, as her teaching technique unfolds their inner knowledge.”  That’s right, this woman is a motivational speaker.

Something else she mentions on the back cover (and countless times throughout the book): Tina Michelle has almost died four times.

Four near-death experiences

Tina Michelle has been snatched from the jaws of death by her guardian angel on four separate occasions.  That sounds nice until you really think about it–her guardian angel has almost let her die four times.  Wouldn’t that be a sign that her guardian angel kind of, well, sucks at his job?

Continue reading

Advertisements

One-Star Reviews of Famous Literature

There’s no accounting for taste.  What one person considers a classic of modern literature, another person thinks is “a dumb book w/ dumb caracters and satanic materiel.”  In the spirit of representing all viewpoints, no matter how divergent or insane, here are some one-star reviews of famous books.

Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • “I could not read this book. It is so small, about the size of your hand I’m sure the actual story is good”
  • “Long and pretty boring I don’t like the old timely language they use in this book I know it’s translated from German or Russian maybe but I was bored to tears”
  • “I mean, after he killed the two ladies I felt guilty!! As well written as this book is, it is demented, and the things that he says and feels(especially the things that are true)should tourcher any sane person down to their very soul.”

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

  • “Heathcliff and Catherine, and basically everyone in this novel, are just crazy, okay? Catherine is a raving lunatic, and Heathcliff seriously creeps me out, like, I’m pretty sure he is a serial killer. Just saying.”
  • “I only have 2 years of college and I’m 71 years old. 20% of the words used in her sentences were words I have never heard of, consequently there was absolutely no interest in reading past the mean boy in this child’s life.”
  • “Rags to Riches. A story that will suffice for most Bitche$”

Continue reading

Shameless Self-Promotion: Free Stories!

One of the skills a writer must learn is self-promotion.  It doesn’t always come naturally.  (For example, writing this post was worse than scratching my corneas with one hand while giving a prostate massage to a grizzly bear with the other.)  Nevertheless, it is an invaluable ability, and one I shall endeavor to exercise now.

I have not one, not two, but three stories currently available online.  The first, Nature Abhors a Vacuum, is a weekly science fiction/murder mystery serial that can be read for free in weekly installments at the Mid-Michigan Prose and Writing Group Blog.  The first installment is here!

I also have two pieces of short fiction available on Smashwords.  I plan to put them up on Amazon eventually, but that involves reformatting, and I am lazier than you mortals can even comprehend.  The first of these two is called “Rumble at the Robot,” and it’s also available for free!

Rumble at the Robot

Of three-story robots and childhood turf wars. A short memoir about children misbehaving.

The second, “Dear Asenath,” is a mere 99 cents–a bargain if you enjoy Lovecraft or Lovecraft parodies, or if you’re the kind of person who scoffs at denominations smaller than a dollar!

Dear Asenath: An Eldritch Romance

For most, the town of Dunwich, Massachusetts, offers terrors outside the realm of human understanding. But when intrepid Tracy Pickman opens a used bookstore in central Dunwich, her new neighbor–a mysterious young man named Wilbur Whatley–offers her something quite different: a chance at love. A Lovecraft parody of romantic proportions!

And thus do we reach the end of the shameless self-promotion post.  Thanks for muscling your way through it, friends!

Five Grammar Rules (for You to Poop on)

Ah, there can be no more promising start to an article than a reference to the Insult Comic Dog.  This blog is both hilarious and timely!

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog“Joanna has a great grasp of current pop culture…FOR ME TO etc. etc.”

Anyway, to business.

If there’s one thing my years as an SAT/ACT grammar tutor taught me, it’s that the English language has a lot of rules.  If there’s a second thing it taught me, it’s that I knew precisely none of them.  Thanks to a nifty phenomenon called Universal Grammar, I had been able to understand and use proper English without ever explicitly learning how.  Consequently, my first day teaching was spent alternately mumbling: “So that’s what a participle is!” and refusing repeated requests for refunds.

Violent studentKid, if your parents are rich enough to pay for a private tutor, they’re rich enough to pay me to fart around on grammar.com for forty-five minutes.

I know English grammar inside and out now, of course.  Four years spent drilling kids in preparation for a bullsh*t standardized test will do that to a person.  But as I picked up the rules, I happened to pick up something else: the realization that some of what we’re taught in English class is absolute crap that can and should be ignored.  For example…

1. “Don’t end a sentence in a preposition.”
We can blame Latin for this one.  Once upon a time, English had a perfectly functional native grammar that allowed speakers to use terminal prepositions with impunity.  Then a bunch of jumped-up Classicists got a hold of it, furrowed their brows and declared: “Nah, bruh.  Latin.

Roman bath houseYou love the Classical period so much, why don’t you, uh…do whatever the hell it is they’re doing in this picture? (from english-heritage.org.uk)

But Latin is not English and never will be.  For starters, English is a Germanic language, not a Latin/Romance one.  Furthermore, the practice of grafting Latin rules onto an English framework was based in the misguided belief that Latin was pure–at least, purer than whatever mouth-farts the Anglo-Saxons had been lobbing at each other.  You can see why that’s an arbitrary and chauvinistic justification.

2. “Don’t split your infinitives.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, "Don't split your infinitives."Darling, I love you, but I will throw down over this one. (from uproxx.com)

This one also comes to us courtesy of the Classicists, who never met a Latin rule they wouldn’t take to bed and press against their clammy loins.  The most famous example of a split infinitive occurs in the opening narration of Star Trek: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

“Actually,” the fussy prescriptive grammarian pipes up, “it should be: ‘Boldly to go,’ or ‘To go boldly!'”  To which I respond: “Boldly go on this!” while extending my middle finger.  Everybody laughs and high-fives me.  I am finally popular.

Continue reading

“What the Hell Did I Just Write?”: When Authors Hate Their Creations

I spent all of yesterday writing a horror story that I just might hate.  It’s partly the subject matter (a bereaved young woman finds herself rotting alive after wishing she could trade places with her dead brother), partly its basis in personal experience (a death in my family), and partly the fact that I hate just about everything I write.

Though there exist certain weirdos who wax rhapsodic about the jewels that flow ceaselessly from the nib, the bulk of writers feel at least some dissatisfaction with their work.  Indeed, there’s some consensus that you haven’t “made it” until everything you write makes you want to barf.  If you’re at that point, you’re in good company.  Welcome to the hallowed ranks of…

1. Stephen King, Pet Sematary

Stephen King, Pet Semetary

Even horror writers have a sticking point.  Stephen King’s was apparently reanimated toddlers.

During a teaching stint in Maine, King lived with his family along a busy highway where many household pets met their end.  So many animals had gone squish, in fact, that the neighborhood kids had taken it upon themselves to establish a burial ground for the furry departed.  From this kernel grew Pet Sematary, the tale of a man who resurrects first his cat and then his son by burying them in an ancient Indian graveyard.

The completed story badly upset its creator, who hid it in a drawer for five years before reluctantly submitting it to a publisher.  King believed he had pushed the subject beyond the limits of reasonable good taste and still cites Pet Sematary as the most troubling entry in his body of work.

2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes portrait

If your patience for Holmes has been worn thin by his rabid following on Tumblr, spare a thought for poor Mr. Conan Doyle.  His antipathy for Sherlock Holmes ran deeper than that of Moriarty and Moran combined, yet try as he might, he couldn’t escape the guy.

“I think of slaying Holmes…” he wrote to his mother in 1891, “and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.”  Those better things, incidentally, were his more serious historical novels, which few people now remember.  Conan Doyle sent Holmes over the Reichenbach Falls, the Sherlockians of the world shat a collective brick, and the ensuing uproar caused the author to bring Holmes back ten years later.

“Lol jk not dead!” Holmes declared, mumbling something about Japanese wrestling.  Meanwhile, Sir Arthur sobbed softly in the distance.

3. Ian Fleming, The Spy Who Loved Me

Ian Fleming, The Spy Who Loved Me

“Man,” said Ian Fleming. “Everyone thinks James Bond is soooo cool.  Let’s see how they like a James Bond book with hardly any James Bond!”

They didn’t.  The Spy Who Loved Me, which centers on the romantic travails and near-rape of one Vivienne Michel, went down like a cement laxative.  Fleming’s apparent intention was to expose Bond as a misogynist and dispel some of the cool mystique surrounding the fictional spy.  It didn’t quite come off, and critics tore the thing to shreds. 

Fleming later sought to bury the book.  No one tried to stop him.  The film version of the novel uses exactly zero plot points from the original, which is pretty damning when you consider how many silly elements made it into those movies.

4. Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess’ story of ultra-violence and the old in-out in-out, has always been more than a malenky bit controversial.  Its graphic depictions of delinquency, rape, and wanton destruction fascinate some and repel others.  Thanks largely to the movie version, the book’s author can be counted among the latter.

At the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film, our wayward protagonist, Alex, is cured of chemically-induced aversion to violence and given a job to compensate him for his suffering.  He gleefully contemplates the acts of physical and sexual violence he will perpetrate now that he’s back to normal.  This stands in marked contrast to the original ending of Burgess’ novel, which depicts Alex outgrowing his violent ways and longing for fatherhood.

Burgess considered the movie little more than a glorification of violence and lamented his unavoidable association with it.  Tough luck, droog.

5. Kafka, More or Less Everything He Ever Wrote

Franz Kafka

As he stood on death’s doorstep, Franz Kafka looked back at his body of work and decided he just wasn’t feeling it.  He wrote a letter to a close friend, read posthumously, that asked him to burn virtually all of his writing.  His friend responded with a curt: “Dude, no,” and got it all published instead.

What we have of Kafka’s work comes to us courtesy of that one traitorous guy.  Thank you, sir, for being such a divine frenemy.