Friday, May 15, 2009

Says You!

I've been remiss in responding to comments and emails so I'm going to hit a bunch of them in a row right away:

Lisa Pepin -- frequent commenter/Excellent Writer/pumpkin souffle maker (didn't think I read the archived stuff, did you, Lisa?) has offered up a little piece to help me keep my chin up as I try to get published. She writes:

To help in your continuing quest to keep your spirits up as you wait to be published (and to get you to read this book) here is the "Thomas Paine" entry in the 'P' chapter of A.J. Jacobs's book The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World.

Paine, Thomas
When Thomas Paine died, most American papers reprinted an obituary from the New York Citizen that said: "He had lived long, did some good and much harm." Today he's a beloved Revolutionary War hero; back then, the majority thought him a scoundrel.

His life had more ups and downs than the upper Ural mountain range. He failed at an impressive number of jobs -- he once tried to invent a smokeless candle, which sounds like a pretty good idea, but it didn't take off. His marriages ended badly.

On the other hand, the man could write a pamphlet. his Common Sense series was a huge hit -- the first sold 500,000 copies; a later one was read by George Washington at Valley Forge and launched the phrase "These are the times that try men's souls." Paine refused to take profits on it so that cheap editions could be sold. Things went sour after the war when Paine wrote a defense of the French Revolution. His ideas were solid -- relief for the poor, pensions for the aged, public works for the unemployed, a progressive income tax. But in England, where he was living at the time, it got him charged with treason. Things worsened when he wrote another pamphlet attacking organized religion. Though he made clear in the pamphlet that he was a deist and believed in the Supreme Being, he still got charged with being an atheist.

And that's how he died -- broke, drunk and seen as an infidel. Oh, and his skeleton was later lost en route to England. It took decades for his approval rating to climb. Point is, you just can't predict your reputation in history. I guess you just have to write your pamphlets and hope you eventually get understood.

So I will be keeping my head up by remembering that if I do get published, I will end up "broke, drunk and seen as an infidel." That is, right back where I started. ("Broke, drunk and seen as an infidel" was, I think, part of the toast at my wedding reception.)

When Lisa's not bringing my spirits up, she's bringing other's spirits down, as this comment from Part 2 of the Esme Lennox Rum Punch Review shows:
Regarding your "five traits" observation: I wrote this list last April, the last time I was in Central Wisconsin. Thought you might like it. Does any of it apply in Madison? Stuff People From Central Wisconsin Like: SUVs Sweatshirts Stonewashed jeans Restaurants with the word "grill" in the name The music of Billy Joel and Simon & Garfunkel Facial hair (for men and women!) Pickled eggs Athletic shoes Religious radio Products and services that appeal to "Wisconsin Families" Fries with that Bingo The fish fry at the VFW bar Stuff People From Central Wisconsin Do Not Like: Makeup Nail polish Sunlight Landscaping People from "out of town" Abortion Gun control Exercise House painting Food involving more than two ingredients to prepare Fruit and vegetables Parting with cars that have died on their lawns Crossing state lines (Except for da U.P. Dat doesn't count.)

Not much of that does apply in Madison -- except for the ones that apply to me. Does mixing cereal into popcorn count as more than two ingredients?

What's amazing is that Lisa exactly got Central Wisconsin right -- so she hasn't been in France long enough. (But what's wrong with stonewashed jeans? They're still cool, right?)

Finally, an update on the library feud and the accusations of library fraud: I've caved in. I'm sorry to say. The other day, I went to the library to check out a book I really really really wanted, and they hit me up for $20 for Baby Galileo and said I couldn't check out the book until I paid up, and I (sob!) did it.

But I'm not going to be magnanimous in victory, because I'm not, after all, going to be a "Friend of the Library." I will be at best a nodding acquaintance of the library. So if the library and I are forced to be together, say at a graduation party or something, I'll say hi, but pretty soon I'm going to excuse myself and go talk to someone else. And I'll probably make fun of the library at social gatherings behind its back.

All of which is apropos of nothing (I used that phrase the other day, and The Boy said "Why do you have to talk like that?" And I said "like what?" But I knew like what. You don't say apropos of nothing unless you're trying to be a word snob) because I'm using it to lead into two comments by Craig Viar.

Craig is the anonymous poster who so boldly accused me of library fraud, an accusation I took affront to. I may have cooked up a way to get more than my fair share of pizza samples in the grocery store, but library fraud? Never. Anyway, I cleared things up and Craig agreed that I've got at least one moral somewhere:

I stand (sit actually) here shamefully corrected with regard to my earlier anonymous posting accusing an esteemed winner of The States Viar Poetry Award, (and
Honorable mention) of library fraud. I too have been the victim of my wife not having a pen in her car, rendering me unable to write down the telephone number of the radio station to allow me to cast my vote on who was more attractive; Wilma or Betty.

My sincere apology.

No apologies were necessary, Craig, but I'll take them anyway. I'll need them, considering Craig then reiterated his accusations, when I wrote about how the library had come back around and tried to get me to pay for Baby Galileo, which I wasn't going to do, at which poing Craig said:

Hmmm....perhaps my earlier apology for the Library Fraud comment was a bit hasty.

But, Craig, I've paid for the DVD, which I didn't need to do, because I did return it, so can I take the earlier apology and apply it to the later comment, or should I save it for when someone asks me what, exactly, is my secret device for getting more than my fair share of pizza samples, at which point someone will accuse me of Pizza Sample Fraud?

Keep those comments coming!

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