DEPARTMENT OF ODD SOCKS III — REVENGE OF THE ARGYLES!
by Rob Lopresti
A few months ago I told you about the theft of maps and other material that my library suffered. The thief, James W. Brubaker, has pled guilty and on September 15 he was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay something like $23,000 in restitution TO his various victims. Doesn’t begin to cover what he stole, but it’s something. I’m just glad it’s over.
Signing for a living
And speaking of crime, here’s a bizarre story about an anonymous publisher wanting to hire people to sign books so their bestselling authors don’t have to bruise their pretty hands. I’m no lawyer but I believe the technical term for selling those as author-signed would be “fraud.” Now I’m fantasizing about having that problem — so many people wanting my autograph. Ann Landers used to call such things “high class worries.”
Putting you on notice
I invite everyone who attempts to write creatively to read Beth Macy’s article in the August/September issue of American Journalism Review, entitied “Notice What You Notice.” While she is aiming at feature writers in newspapers there is plenty of meat there for fictioneers as well. The starting point is Sam Roberts, a New York Times writer who was amused to spot a semi-colon on a subway sign. Then he went the extra mile of asking whether he could get a piece out of it. In fact, his article was the most e-mailed NYT story of the week.
Macy’s title has two meanings, I think. First, the writer’s job is to do what Roberts did: realize that you have noticed something you can write about. But secondly, she suggests that by looking at the mass of what you have written about, you can spot your themes.
“It’s our job,” says Macy, “to nurture our inner tugs and goosebumps, and to know without a doubt: These are my stories, the stories that I was born to tell.”
Inner tugs and goosebumps.” That’s perfect, isn’t it?
Great moments in police work
Downtown in my little city there is a bus station. Teenagers used to hang out on the sidewalk outside and this bothered some people. So when they remodeled the station they put a little police office in the station at that spot and hung a loudspeaker outside from which they play classical music. This does indeed chase the youngsters away. I thought it was pretty amusing until one day I biked past and they were playing Celtic music, which I like. Hey, that’s offensive!
Of course the youngsters have mostly moved across the street to the sidewalk in front of a CD store, which interestingly enough, doesn’t play any music at all outside.
Writing what you don’t know
Leigh wrote several wonderful columns about writing from points of view other than your own — men writing as women, etc. — and the same day I read one I heard a song that reminded me that there are point of view problems that don’t involve gender. A lot of musicians write songs about the common working man. Some of them don’t seem to firm a grasp on what that involves.
The Washington Squares, a folk-rock band from the eighties, have a song that begins “got up in the morning at the stroke of eight.” And all of us working stiffs like me who get up at 5:30 AM to be at work by eight hear it and say “oh, poor baby.”
I remember a DJ in New York who was on 6 to 10 AM. He said a lot of rock musicians called him the “late night disc jockey.” Sweet dreams.
A critic short
Do you read Mystery Scene magazine? If not you are missing a major source in our field. I am sorry to report that, after many years of faithful service, Mat Coward has stopped writing his excellent column reviewing short fiction. I hope they find a replacement soon. We can scarcely afford to lose a good reviewer of mystery shorts.
Why I can’t remember where I parked the car
This is horrifying. Yesterday I was listening to the NPR show Says You, which is usually about language, but this time they asked six questions about old comic strips. These were tough questions and most of them stumped the panel
And I knew every damned one of them. Didn’t even break a sweat. I knew which cartoon characters provided the names of the command and lunar capsules on Apollo 10. I knew the maiden name of Lois in Hi and Lois. I knew the name of the Green Hornet’s great uncle’s horse.
And yes, I knew that the Green Hornet was not a comic strip, but a radio show. (Which is a hint about the answer, by the way.)
How many of my brain cells are taken up with this stuff? No wonder my Nobel Prize has been delayed again.
Letters to the Journal of Experimental History
I think that somehow in this blog I have yet to mention my extensive collection of published science fiction stories — both of them. The one with the title above is available for free at The Town Drunk, an e-zine dedicated to humorous speculative fiction. Enjoy!