Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Your Weekly Cavalcade of Fussin’ and Complainin’: Week 11 Roundup!

Midway through Week 12. I know, I know....

The week started with most everyone in the USA setting their clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time. Most everyone I knew bitched about it but I’m relieved to see it light outside again after 7 p.m. Things feel so much easier.

A blogger whose page I’ve been reading since the fin de siecle, when GeoCities ruled the Internet, succumbed to cancer. I was set to post a tribute when I learned he’d ripped off a friend of mine over an ad on his blog. My friend was promoting his book with a simple, no-frills banner ad. After two successful ad runs, the blogger took my friend’s money for a third, and thanked him for the “donation.”

It was severely out of character for the blogger in question. However, I have known my friend for going on 27 years and he has never lied to me. So I know this happened. I’m hoping the blogger’s chemotherapy was to blame. Chemo fucks with the mind and body, more than most people know.

Anyway, I didn’t feel comfortable doing the tribute, so I didn’t. Why mention it at all? Because I was reading that guy on the Internet for 15 years. Fifteen years. The man’s passing, for good or ill, reminds me of what a long, hard road it’s been from Clinton to Bush II to Obama. 

Fifteen years. If only for that, I had to say something. 

That whole Russia/Ukraine/Crimea thing? Do yourself a favor and read about the issue from somebody who believes history and culture matters, as opposed to the offended sensibilities of the Guradians of the Conventional Wisdom. 

Of course, it’s about money, and who’s making more of it. Our elites are envious of someone else’s success—the very thing they often accuse those not to the hedge fund-born of doing. As a line I came up with in Chapter 27 of Grace Among the Dead goes, “Irony, like the cockroaches, marches on despite the apocalypse.”


Enough with the suffering of millions of strangers on the other side of the globe. Let’s talk about me and the anguish I felt as sales for Bleeding Kansas stumbled when Amazon pulled my 5-star reviews. Turns out they did that to all their Kindle peeps, reviewing the reviews to make sure paid shills didn’t write them. 

It’s curious, because I’d read earlier in the week that they were going to zero in on the haters. I wonder if they’re going to do something about the hater who took the time to write a one star review for changing the cover on a book he already hated because, on his planet, a man can feed his family by mowing lawns or flipping burgers, so Derek Grace shouldn’t “whine” about being unemployed for so long.

Here’s the thing about people who say you can always flip burgers if you’re hurting for work: they’ve obviously never applied for such jobs in the last few years. 

I have. I’ll never forget the sight of that old man, ten years older than me (and I’m old), looking very professional in his shirt and tie. His face was set hard. That poor old warrior was hanging on by the last shred of his dignity among the molded plastic furniture of the Burger King that day of the speed interviews. 

And for all his seriousness, despite his professional manner, and perhaps because he “overqualified” on experience, he didn’t get called back, either. I know because I had someone on the inside putting in a word for me. It turns out no one was hired that day. No one. The dozen or so people who piled into that Burger King for interviews on that raw, snowy day, myself and that old man included, were wasting their time.

And get this: according to my source on the inside, they were really hurting for the help. It’s just that the managers of these area stores felt they could be that much more selective. And they didn’t care if all the wage slaves at those stores were overworked while they took their sweet time hiring.

It’s just as well, because here’s something else people seem to have trouble with, to wit: an eight-dollar-something an hour job will just cover your gas to and from work and maybe some groceries. Eight dollars-something an hour will most emphatically not cover your rent, mortgage, or utilities, etc. 

These are the same people who are fond of the expression, “Do the math.” Yet they fail the basic arithmetic that informs the lives of people adrift in a job market in which even the lowest of jobs (“Try doing something no one else wants to do!”) is in contention.

I’m honestly curious as to what shapes the reality of people who say things like, “You can always mow lawns or flip burgers”  How is it they don’t know people who were genuinely screwed over by this Second Great Depression, when the professional salaried job market has contracted by percentages not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s? 

I’ve met people who live in these bubbles, and I can’t help wondering if their latent Puritan view of a Just World Hypothesis doesn’t force them into denial. Or that they secretly fear that, by admitting the presence of the monster taking down people they know here and there, they will bring the monster to them.

The more bilious the denunciation of Derek Grace for his sins against the Holy Church of Knowing His Place, the more inclined I am to believe the latter.

Anyway, the 5-star reviews are back up. I got a 4-star review from a reader who, God love him, got Derek Grace. He even wanted to see Grace even edgier at the end! Now I feel terrible because Grace Among the Dead is going to be about Grace’s redemption from his bitterness—although shit’s gonna get serious fuckin’ dark at the start of the book, so there’s lots more to get redeemed from. 

One of the big things on my to-do list is to lighten up that first act. Two 3-star reviewers made a point of noting that they liked my writing overall, but they felt like they had no one to root for. They didn’t dig the misanthropy. Ironically, it was George A. Romero’s misanthropy and despair regarding the zeitgeist of the 1960s that inspired his film Night of the Living Dead, Patient Zero of the flesh-eating cadaver genre. 

It turns out those themes resonated far less with most people than the idea of flesh-eating cadavers, full stop. Folks expect hugs and the promise of humanity returned at the end, not two people escaping in a chopper with very little fuel, or the lone surviving hero getting shot and burned with the rest of the cannibal corpses. Apparently I was the only one moved by Romero’s final coffin-lid slams at the ends of his first two zombie movies. Lesson learned.

One more aside, and I’m done: most critics who dislike the characters in the book say they find themselves rooting for the zombies. Hell, in the last few Romero-directed zombie films, Romero tends to side with ‘em, too!

I’ve gone on for way too long. I’m not yet done with Grace Among the Dead and the few out there who love what I’ve done are being done a disservice by this rambling, for which I apologize.

I need to find a picture of an attractive female and get my basement-dwelling backside back to work.

She doesn’t look particularly fright — oh my God, WHAT HAPPENED TO HER HANDS?