Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Back From Vacation And My Brain Is Bursting--Time To Swiffer The Cerebellum

Time for a good Clear-Out of the Cranial Crud, so let's just get on with it, shall we? Good!

1.  Why Can't I Quit You?    I am talking about my LoveHate, Daniel Day-Lewis.  Not to be tedious here, but my Longtime Readers know of my eleventy hundred year affair with this man and my dismay with his failure to A) reprise his Glory Days of The Last of the Mohicans by taking glamour roles and B) look handsome and dress well in public the few times he does surface.

Right now, the stars have aligned and three of my Favourite Things have come together as one:  President Lincoln, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and DD-L, for a movie has been made of her wonderful book Team of Rivals and DD-L is playing Lincoln.  When I heard this news, I was elated and thrilled.  When I saw this picture of DD-L as President Lincoln, I was excited. 
Then I saw his picture from the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he was (inexplicably) a guest of The Huffington Post.

There is no excuse for that haircut.  His next role is a 17th century Jesuit priest who travels to Japan.  It is in pre-production. It's like he doesn't even care how much he embarrasses me.

2.  Why Didn't Someone Yell Cut?  And speaking of President Lincoln and film, I could not be more outraged, disappointed, and saddened by the ridiculous movie currently in theaters (and which I will not name here) that turns our 16th president into some sort of occult action hero.  Why not Nixon or Washington, or, oh hell, let's grab a non-president with a distinctive and readily-identifiable persona, Benjamin Franklin?

from Amazon Studios
 Honestly, the whole premise offends me.  Oh, I know that I'm sensitive to Anything Lincoln--I get that.  But it's awful.  I really believe that the only reason the filmmakers and producers are getting away with this travesty is because there are no surviving direct descendants of the Lincoln line.

3.  Doesn't Anyone Else Speak English?  Now, back to books.  Those of you who actually read at my site may have noticed in the sidebar that I'm reading--off and on--a book titled The Whole Truth by David Baldacci.  It's not My Kind Of Book, but I got it because A) it was part of my campaign to broaden my reading spectrum and not be so snobby; B) it was only a few bucks in hardback when a bookstore was closing; and C) it is a genre that a buddy of mine enjoys.  So I'm reading this and I notice a sentence that rocks me up off my chaise longue and causes me to say out loud to no one,"Oh my GOD NO WAY IS THIS IN HERE!"  Here is the offending sentence from page 165: When the screams reached Anna's ear, she thought someone had injured themself.  

I. Know.  Go ahead.  Look up "themself" in the dictionary (or try anyway).  Look up "someone."  Now look up the rule governing pronoun-antecedent agreement, just for the hell of it.  Then try not to kill yourself at any point along the way.   And this sentence is only one example.  I took this sentence to lunch with a bunch of English teachers, and during our chat, I said, "I bet if I did a Fry Readability Assessment on this book, it would score only about a sixth grade level.  Seriously.  It's a New York Times best seller, and it's just so elementary.  It's a Guy Book, but it's just basic." My friend Caroline said, "Who's it by, now?"  I said, "David Baldacci."  She responded with a grimace, "Well, what did you expect from a former child star who has had a bunch of drug problems and all that?  Wasn't he the one from The Partridge Family?"  (Gotta love her. But she just had a baby and a job change and...well, she gets a pass from me.) 

Now, I look at David Baldacci's bio.  He has a ton of best sellers to his credit and I have...zero.  He established the Wish You Well foundation, which, ironically, supports "family literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of new and existing literacy and educational programs."  In the acknowledgements of The Whole Truth, he thanks his editor for doing a great job.  (But who allowed this sentence on p. 270:  Creel was actually a private investor in the newspaper and he'd been the one who'd discreetly behind the scenes orchestrated the assignment for her.)  And the Fry?  I was wrong. 

Hard to see, but my dot indicates the score. Maybe you can click and it will enlarge.
It graphed out at a 6.5 grade reading level, age 11.5.  David Baldacci is a Good Guy, but his writing is not for me.

4.  Speaking of bookstores, I want to come clean publicly for being The Responsible Party, The One Who Singlehandedly Closed Borders.  I'm sorry.  It was I.  I was the one who simply stopped going to bookstores and chose the Evil Convenience of Amazon.com.  I didn't even browse Borders and have cappuccino or biscotti or any of those other fun words to say at their cafe.  I was lured by the comfort of my chair at home and Super Saver Shipping.  I felt dirty and sinful and like a Horrid Opportunist when I swooped in and grabbed cheapo hardbacks during their Last Days, like the warty old women bartering over Scrooge's bedcurtains.  Please don't hate me.  I want redemption,  Help me.

5.  Finally, if you are sick of Sudoku and finding crosswords too conventional, allow me to introduce you to Jotto.  I have no idea how I found out about this addictive and frustrating little words and letters game, but it's too late to blame them now.  You're welcome.

Your turn.  Kick out some of your Cranium Clutter in Comments.


  1. Can I play Jotto on iPhone? I love the convenience of Amazon, but just saying that reminds me that I have a book waiting for me at Barnes & Noble.

  2. Oy. My nine year old grandkid does better than that - in two languages.
    I am a fellow criminal - Amazon.ca is my book store.

    DDL in the Last of the Mohicans? Ahhhh.

  3. The Baldacci commentary reminds me of all those free books I downloaded when I first got my Kindle. Some of those were pretty horrible - almost in every way, but mostly in the editing.

    You know, I think I'm going to scan in & post a picture of one of the pages of my notary exam booklet. Now that I've been a notary for a couple of years I might not get into trouble for pointing out the gajillion errors on each page. It was mind-boggling. Not to mention difficult to concentrate on the subject matter.

  4. Bug--Maybe I'll be a notary. Can you notarize your own stuff? I'm also going to be a Universal Life Minister so that I can perform marriages. I'll be a cottage industry beyond my blogs.

    I am increasingly alarmed at the mistakes I find in published books when I perseverate over every word, comma, and whatnot in my blogposts. It's true that I take considerable liberty with capitalization as a Style Point (and as an homage to E. Dickinson), and I like creating compound words to suit my purposes, but there is NO WAY that the use of "themself" is permissible.

    Mary G.--Wasn't DD-L simply swoony in LotM? That flowing hair, that sort of Canadian/American patois, that intense stare...? Sigh. I watch that movie now, 20 years later (has it really been that long?!), and I almost forgive him for The Rose and the Snake. (He did it for the wife. We all know that.)

    Rainbow M.--There is a clone of Jotto for iPhone called WordWhack. It's not as good, and it is a little buggy, but free. I've tried it, but I don't exactly understand its marks. I'm still figuring it out since I just dl'd it yesterday and haven't had time to play around with it much.

    I am jumping onto Amazon today--I think--to grab a new Mary Lincoln book. It's a collection of essays written about her from various POV's by different "experts". I've been largely unhappy with most of my reading lately, and I need something wonderfully interesting. My forays into confic have been, overall, unsatisfying.

  5. Mary G--A little correction. The Rose and the Snake was a working title for what eventually became The Ballad of Jack and Rose. No matter, though. Despite another good performance by DD-L, the film is not only icky, but heavy-handed and, IMO, missable. (I know, not really a word....)

  6. So you were disappointed in DD-L'
    haircut. Too Bad. Imagine how poor Arianna felt. She had to sit next to him and pretend she didn't notice the botched hair.

    Seriously, they release prisoners from Sing Sing with a better cut than that.

    I feel the same way about so many so called "Stars". Julie Christie was so gorgeous and well spoken in "Dr Zhivago" and later appeared on a late night talk show in jeans with holes in the knee,no two hairs going in the same direction and she could not think of a thing to say. The interview was agony to watch.

    Tell your friend,Caroline,that Danny Bonaduce is too busy these days to write any books. He is making a picture called "Bigfoot" which will bring together the stars of "The Brady Bunch" and the "Partridge Family". Can you stand the wait?

    About Borders. I had a gift card for Borders and didn't use it until the last day. I'm sure the person who gave it to me would be disappointed to know that all that was left to buy was a book of maps of Tasmania. Anybody you know going to Tasmania? I know where they can get a guide book cheap...

  7. A. I think I had a hand in closing Borders. I both buy and sell books (and other commodities) on Amazon. It rocks. B. Never been a fan of DDL, but I did catch that snap of him at the WH Correspondents' Dinner. Google a Washington Nationals center fielder named Bryce Harper. I think DDL might be his Daddy. C. When did you get a bunny? I noticed her in your sidebar. Do the cats peacefully co-exist with her? D. I think you need to form a group called the Proper Pronouns Pique my Pleasure (P to the 4th power)Society. I'd like to be a charter member.

  8. Anonymous3:07 AM

    ...ack, that was me, Mikey G. For some reason the pop-up window isn't letting me give my name.

  9. Anonymous3:09 AM

    I'm struggling getting my comments in, so excuse me if this has posted several times:

    When I saw the trailer for The-Movie-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, I was absoultely horrified at the premise. I suppose they're running out of good ideas.

    Oh, and hello from Vietnam :-)

    - Mikey G.

  10. Mikey--My spam filter nabbed all four of your attempts. I rescued two. I've been reading you and your travelling companion's journey blog. Thanks for checking in here, and stay safe while having yet another adventure! Also, thank you for sharing my dismay at That Movie.

    Melissa--Oh, I've had the sidebar bunny feature for years and years here at the Dept. in order to promote cute bunnies from various places. I haven't had a pet bunny since being a highschooler. Certainly Piper and Marlowe wouldn't put up with an Intruder. They barely tolerate Rick's siphoning off any of their attention.

    Nancy--One actor long ago referred to himself as a "meat puppet"; I forget who. He went on to say that he could never be as brilliant as the characters he portrayed because the writers gave him wonderfully smart things to say. It's so true for so many actors. And some of them should remember that. They try to be erudite and get all heady and lofty--when all they really need to do is just shut the hell up and look good. (Sadly, DD-L can't even do ONE of those consistently. Sigh sigh SIGH.)

  11. You said it very well, Nance, and your hero said it this way.

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

    A. Lincoln

  12. 1. DDL:
    Not my heart-throb, but, yes, given what Hollywood can do for 55-yr. old men who haven't gone blimpo, he's certainly is not in top form otherwise. As for yours truly, I am fast approaching the big 6-0,so I will refrain from casting stones.

    2. LINCOLN:
    You don't have to be a Lincoln fanatic to be disgusted by just the thought of this film. Beyond what has been done to Ruin the Real Lincoln, I often ask myself the following: What is it with the 21st C. generation that, in spite of a high-tech profile, they are hopelessly mired in what appears to be the fantasy world of vampires as well as drowning in the narcissistic Princess Cult. Darwin: Please explain! Or is it that the modern tech world desperately needs fairy tales, myths and legends more than ever? Honestly, if I had the time I would write a book on this premise.

    3. LANGUAGE: she thought someone had injured themself.
    Close to one of my personal pet peeves is: "They have to lead their own life." Meaning that each person must lead his/her own life. Or that Isn't that a more accurate interpretation "they had to lead their own lives" ?
    (Unless the writer was referring to a collective group leading one life together as a group?) *sigh* Regardless, there is no excuse for "themself" except for a member of the Tea Party.

    4. BORDERS - I think all local bookstores are in big trouble, as are newspapers in hard copy format, regardless of the company. Borders probably bit the dust first because of bad management. I say this from the point of view of a consumer, but also from the point of view of doing sales & marketing for a publishing company and having to deal with eclectic, mismanaged Borders buyers. I see B&N headed for the same demise; lately, 90% of their business consists of customers hanging out in the B&N café because of the free wi-fi connection, which, in spite of also having merchandise to sell, probably puts them at a close second to Starbucks.

    5. JOTTO:
    Thanks for the jotto.
    Now it's driving me blotto.
    Just kidding; it's fun.

    (Although I have not gotten any better than the 5-letter easy level and 7 tries best record.)

  13. P.S. Excuse grammar errors in my comment on the grammar point, lol. I thought I had edited, but the "Prove you're not a robot" test foiled me. Right now it is giving me something fairly easy to duplicate, so I am suspicious except that part of it is either the number 11 or a couple of ribosomes.

  14. Ortizzle--Daniel can at least look presentable, and has done so before. But after he completes major filming of a bigass movie, he almost always uglies up and appears in public in ill-advised clothing and either a prison-issue haircut or a Gorton's Fisherman Persona. It's very, very upsetting.

    I just ordered two new books from The Evil Empire Dot Com: one is the new Emerson bio of Robert Lincoln and the other is the aforementioned collection of essays about Mary Lincoln. They don't arrive for another two or three weeks, for some reason, so I am bereft of reading material (although I am still slogging through BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM in snippets here and there. It is so pithy and heavy.), which is alarming.

    Here is one last awful sentence from the Baldacci book, which I set free this week (see my sidebar): It takes place at what is supposed to be a deeply poignant and moving gravesite scene where a man is finally embraced by the parents of a woman he loved but who dies before they can be wed. Katie had to keep wiping bunches of tears from her her eyes as she watched with Frank.


  16. I've spent far too much money at Amazon, I'm sorry to say. I was sad when all of the local bookstores in our area closed down. I can't muster the same grief for Borders or Barnes & Noble. I mean, I'll be very sad when our local B&N does go down the drain, because I enjoy perusing a bookstore now and again, even if it is mostly kids games and discount books. There are so many things about this that I don't like. But I'm guilty, because I spend my money on Amazon if it's more convenient and cheaper. Sigh. We, my friend, are the problem.

    Regarding Lincoln and Vampires, what? I saw the poster at the theater, and I said the same thing...'What?' I mean, come on. Buffy and Vampires, genius. Lincoln and Vampires? That's pandering.

    Mistakes in books. Ugh. Newspapers are getting worse and worse as well, and not just the online. It think they've downsized all of the editors, so now we've got people trying to edit themselves. Not a good idea, because we all know what we MEANT to say. It's what we actually DO say that's the issue.

  17. j.@jj.com--Your final point is a good one, and one that I used to belabour constantly when urging my students to seek out a peer editor when they were near final draft stage. Our brains autocorrect for us when we know what we mean to say. Case in point: my extra "her" up above. Didn't even SEE it, and I proofread my comment before hitting "publish your comment"! Yet, there it was, and I saw it later on once I had some cognitive distance from it.

    It takes me forever--relatively speaking--to deliver a blogpost. I am obsessive about its correctness, and I almost always wait for at least an hour or so in order to go off and do something completely different, then come back and read it with fresh eyes and brain. Practicing what I preached.

    Lots of weather out there in Cali again this summer. Can't you LeftCoasters ever take the season off? LOL.

  18. Oh, our weather has been gorgeous locally...cool and breezy and a bit of coastal fog in the morning. I do NOT take it for granted, believe me. Come visit. I'll buy some avocados.


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