davidbeem

I’m swearing off the news. (Message me if it’s the end of the world.)

In Humor, Politics on May 14, 2016 at 2:22 pm

America loves measuring itself against Adolf Hitler. Maybe it’s the mustache. Maybe it’s the stylish red and black arm bands. Maybe it’s because everyone loves to measure their equipment against a micro-penis. We may never know exactly why it’s so awesome to call people Hitler—but we know in our bones that it is indeed friggin’ awesome.

We know this because we read the news.

Democrats and Republicans are equally Nazi-esque, says the news, and once you accept this stone cold fact, then you have to conclude that Americans themselves are basically Nazis also.

(I mean—you voted, right? Gosh, maybe you didn’t vote. Maybe you got out-districted, or didn’t have i.d. Crap! That means the poor, teet-sucking, cardboard-bed-surfing, jobless parasites aren’t to blame!)

So yeah. I’m totally swearing off the news. I know, I know. It’s terrible. How ever will I keep abreast of the important issues qualifying a person to become President of the United States of America? (And by “abreast” I mean Kim Kardashian’s NSFW Instagram pics. And by “presidential qualifications,” I mean the size of Donald Trump’s hands.)

But, no. I feel I just don’t need the news anymore. I’ve watched enough and am confident that I’m self-sufficient at this point. They’re not going to report on anything that’ll change my mind, and they’re not going to change yours either and you know it. Besides, you can do what they do just as well as them. Cut out the middle man.

Here’s how it works:

You take a news story, carefully analyze it for historical comparison to Nazi Germany, and then enter the variables into your Sliding Hitler Scale. Next, and this is the important part, you break the little plastic doohickey that allows the sliding part of the scale to actually slide. That way, everything’s like Hitler!

WHICH IS REALLY, REALLY SUPER COLOSSAL SPECTACULAR!

(And totally easier than reading a bunch of boring history books yourself so you can actually know what you’re talking about.)

Here’s an example: Banning 1.6 billion people from entering the country (until we figure out what’s going on) is equally Hitler-like as the passage of the Affordable Care Act. You know how I know? Because I just said it.

Here’s another: Suggesting the passage of responsible gun legislation is equal on the Hitler Scale to hunting down and killing the families of suspected terrorists.

And another: Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, (emails) Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, ($14 million). Hitler.

Oh yeah. Bernie Sanders is basically a Jewish Nazi. Because Jewish Nazi.

If we could all become self-sufficient in our hatred, this country would be a much more American America. Think about it. We should be asking ourselves WWHD? (What would Hitler do?) Would Hitler hate himself for being so Hitler-like? No! He’d just shrug it off, and then go and build a few more gas chambers. Invade another country! We should all be so industrious!

We are all so industrious.

We may not be building gas chambers, but we’re pretty damn good at building straw men. (And women! And transgender bathrooms!) The point is, you can’t hate people for supporting Donald Trump. Think about it. Your Hitler may be Donald Trump, but their Hitler is Hillary Clinton. So what are we even arguing about? I mean, everybody’s got their Hitler, right? And isn’t that the most important thing?

(Any by “everybody,” I mean everyone but John Boehner. That guy’s got a Satan. Because when Hitler isn’t hyperbolic enough to describe Ted Cruz, Boehner reached down deep, manned up, went the distance, and revealed to a nation that, yes we can stoop further. Such an inspiration.)

But Hitler is the new American Pie. And I’m not just talking about sticking the nation’s metaphorical micro-penis into an actual cherry pie, like Jason Biggs in that movie. No, I’m talking about needing someone to hate. I’m talking about greeting each other on the street with the phrase, “What’s up, my Hitler?” I’m talking about waking up and taking your first bracing inhalation of those aromatic Americana molecules and saying to yourself, “Goddammit! I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”

Because, at the end of the day, Obama’s a Kenyan, Trump’s daddy was a Klansman, and Ted Cruz is literally Lee Harvey Oswald.

The Good-Morrow

In Arts and Education on March 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

a poem by John Donne, 1572-1631

I wonder by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not wean’d till then?

But suck’d on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be;

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

For love all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.

Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;

Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;

Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

Where can we find two better hemispheres

Without sharp north, without declining west?

Whatever dies, was not mix’d equally;

If our two loves be one, or thou and I

Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

The Road Often Traveled

In Humor on March 9, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Writing a novel is straight up demonic possession. You create a world teeming with characters, and then your characters conspire against you. They decide the balance of power is all wrong. And when that happens, you better watch out.

Picture it. You, spell-casting sorcerer, bent over your cauldron in your favorite star-studded purple robe. I summon thee, protagonist. Live! LIVE!!

Later that afternoon, you’re shoveling the front walk with your:

  1. Snorkel
  2. Swim suit
  3. Rubber duck floaty
  4. Flippers

Neighbors drive by. Your chin juts out. “S’up?”

Fiction writing is madness. Madness I say! For some, it’s Jack Torrance at the Overlook Hotel. For others it’s Paul Sheldon trapped in Annie Wilkes’ home, and forced to rewrite the fate of Misery Chastain. For still others, it’s Stephen King being Stephen King.

Fiction writing is a lonely process. Perhaps that’s why we invite our characters into our personal lives. They keep us company. They care about what happens in the book, even before anyone else has had a chance to see it. They care about our book even when no one else cares enough to read it.

This isn’t a pity party. This is how it goes. Not every story is for every reader. Mind boggling, I know. Finding your target reader can be weird. It can be a bit like internet dating. The profile looked good, but then you meet in person, and—BOOM—your date is Zergladon the Zornk. Only you’re still getting over the last Zornk you dated. Just think. If this Zornk would’ve been up front about being a Zornk, you could’ve spared each other a lot of embarrassment. But no.

Every fiction writer knows what it is to complete a first draft. (For those who don’t write fiction, the process is commonly called “shoveling shit.”) Every fiction writer knows what it is to produce a second draft. (AKA, the delicate alchemy wherein, if you’re lucky, shit becomes Shinola.) Ah, but now we’ve reached the third draft! Cue the choir of angels. Things are getting good. There is much hand sanding. This may be the point where you find yourself shoveling snow in your swim suit–but wait, we haven’t even begun the final stretch. You can’t afford to be totally out of your mind yet. You’ll still need it for what’s to come.

Perhaps you’ll enlist “BETA readers” to take the temperature of the book. (Read: blind date with Zergladon the Zornk.) But if you’ve been burned by a Zornk, you may instead decide to put that book on the shelf for a few years. Get some distance while you go through the whole process again with a different book. One that has you contemplating homicidal thoughts, because this one is about a mother whose child was killed in a school shooting, and is now hellbent on revenge. She targets politicians and NRA executives. It’s bloody and mean. It’s John Wick, but with a pissed off grieving mama.

Ah, there are personalities we can’t inhabit, it’s true. But we find our way into them anyway. Usually no one gets killed.

There are jokes that fall flat and need fixing. There are entire novels without a single believable character. There are others where every characterization is a cliche, yet each cliche is somehow central to the plot.

There are rewrites, and rewrites, and rewrites. Eventually that manuscript may go to publication, if you’re lucky, and then there’s the next lengthy process. And on it goes.

But in the beginning, it started with you, alone, and words on a glowing screen. I’ve noticed there are always words, writing books. Curious. I’ve further noticed the words are numerous, and most of them get left behind.

It can be a lonely road, but at least it isn’t  one of those stupid “less traveled” ones. This road is shared by every other fiction writer. You’ll recognize us by the fact that we wear blinders. (Or maybe rubber duck floaties, depends.) If you should ever be fortunate enough to see one coming down the street someday, be sure to go right up to him and kick him where it counts. When he asks why, say, “Misery loves company.” And if that doesn’t work, say, “My protagonist told me to do it.”

 

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