A little thanks a little late

Giving thanks to the guerilla artists who brighten the days of strangers.  Speaking of which, I saw this in the park today when I was walking Scout.

For more such good deeds see what cute Deb at Paper Turtle has been up too.

(PS:  It's the last week of the quarter so I'm crazy busy reading papers.  We'll have a new goddess next week.)


The Scout Report: How the Holiday Season is Shaping Up

Although retailers report a record-breaking Black Friday, hopes for a strong holiday season remain uncertain.  The continued aging of the youth market continues to result in more num-nums making if from the plate to the mouth and, hence, spillage and its resultant "bonus treats" remain at an all time low.  There is, however, encouraging evidence that the aging "gray market" will help reverse that trend.  Ever-thicker eye glass lenses and a sometimes sloppy attention to lipstick seem to support what may be a very exciting development.

However, investors looking to make green out of gray should think carefully, as is demonstrated by the disappointing market performance of "the queen."  While increasingly reliable to spill a meatball down her shirt, said meatball is also increasingly likely to land on her protruding belly, which seems to be seconding as a table.  Is there a market opportunity there?  Not if you're eighteen inches high.

Thanksgiving was, frankly, DISAPPOINTING, with only nominal spillage from all attendants, including "grandma," who, quite literally, hoarded gravy that would have made a delicious kibble topping.

Will Christmas be better?  You'd be better off burying your bone.


Goddess of the Week: Seshat

Seshat is the ancient Egyptian goddess of reco...
Image via Wikipedia
Nan, an English teacher, requests a goddess of semi colons.

Oh, Nan, I feel your pain.  Were that I had a dollar for every misplaced semi colon that I read.  Personally, I blame grammar check, which seems to want to sprinkle semi colons in the most inappropriate places.  But that's different conversation.  We are looking for goddesses; and I think I found you one.

To Nan, I give Seshat.  Seshat was an Egyptian goddess.  She invented writing, so I think we have to lay all responsibility for punctuation on her doorstep.  I certainly know that if it were up to me I would have nipped semi colons right in the bud.  They really have no use.  You can just as easily get by with a period or a comma/conjunction combo.  But goddesses have their ways, and--being that they all tend to be drama queens--they usually lean toward excess, hence semi colons and beehive hairdos.

Seshat was called "Mistress of the House of Books," which sounds like the title of an Isabel Allende novel.  I would totally read it.  It would be about this librarian and all the townspeople who hate her because she owns all the book.  Wait.  I think that's The Music Man.

Channel this goddess: When grading papers, when writing papers, when wondering if you should use that exclamation point.  (You should.)

Need a goddess: I got goddesses!  Post a comment or email me and explain what you need or want a goddess for; check back in a week or two and see what you got.   
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Goddess of the Week: Artemis

Diana (given name)Image via WikipediaAndrea needs a job-hunting goddess.  She needs Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt.

Artemis was a single gal who spent her days hunting in the woods.  She was an unstoppable archer, which is pretty impressive when you consider that she brought 50 hounds and 50 nymphs with her wherever she went.  You'd think that would create enough ruckus to scare away just about anything, but maybe deer were stupid back then.

The point is, Artemis knew how to catch her prey, and that's exactly what you need to do, Andrea, catch your prey: the elusive job.  And in this case, 50 hounds and 50 nymphs will really serve you well.  The 50 hounds will help you sniff out the right job (plus, then you can cuddle with them when you watch TV, and that will help you feel good.  Especially if they are puppies!  PUPPIES!!!)  The nymphs are your network.  You know that the best way to get a job is through networking, right?  Craig's List.  Monster.com.  Those are for the birds.  You need to connect with all the people you know, and you need to connect with all the people they know.  Join things: alumni associations, church groups, civic organizations, and show people in those groups that you are awesome by volunteering to do things and then actually doing them.  Of course, ideally, you're going to do all of those things before you even need to start  looking for a job so that your nymph network is in your corner from day one.  But most nymphs are very forgiving.  They're going to be ready to help you even if you haven't manned a single bake sale.  Why?  Because they're your nymphs!  They love you!  They want you to succeed!  So let them help you.

In the meantime, remember that, while it may feel like it, this isn't all about you.  Lots of good, smart people are looking for work.  These are hard times.   Dare I say it: you might, perhaps, be the 99%.  Maybe you need to occupy something.
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True Notebooks

I have a love/hate relationship with books by writers about writing.  Some books I like.  Bird by Bird comes to mind.  I also liked the Steven King book, even though I can't remember what it's called.

Usually, however, I hate these kinds of books.  I'm sorry if this sounds snobby, but I sort of think they are for posers. It's not that I don't think you can learn to write--I teach writing for a living--but such books often cover familiar terrain and maybe one or two books will do you.  If you want to write: WRITE!

I'm also always suspicious that such books are sentimental memoirs in disguise.  I don't like life lesson stories.  I'm still mad about the movies  "Mr. Holland's Opus" and "Dead Poets Society," and I saw those decades ago.  Mostly, I don't trust such tales.  If you want to make me laugh, make me laugh.  If you want to make me cry, make me cry.  But don't tell me that hardship is a blessing that will be rewarded in the end.  Hardship can be a blessing, but it's seldom rewarded.  That an entire industry wants us help us believe otherwise shows just how complicit in our own oppression we want to be.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I fell in love with True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall by Mark Salzman.  The title has life lesson all over it!   But it's not life lessony, and it's certainly not sentimental.  It recounts Salzman's year teaching a writing class to juvenile delinquents in LA.  The beauty of the book is that it's not really about Salzman.  We never learn how he grew from this experience.  We don't get to sympathize with how his eyes were opened to injustice.  Instead, we hear from the boys he taught.  We hear them in conversation with each other and Salzman, and, best of all, we get to read their own short pieces of writing.  The boys aren't dirty little angels.  (They've done awful things.  Most were accused of murder, although we don't really hear about that either.)  But they are boys, and when you read their writing and begin to get glimpses into their lives you mostly just feel a poignant sadness about how their lives got so out of whack.  (You know what they seem to want most of all?  Their moms, and most of their moms don't seem to have been so great to begin with.)

This is a beautiful book that sneaks up on you and hijacks your soul.  I loved it.