Promisses No. 14: Don’t Be John Popper

Yesterday, through a fellow baseball writer friend my editor whatever a guy I know who is those things and is also into video games, I learned about this. It’s worth a read in a train-wreck sort of way, but basically: a managing editor of a gaming site and general Twitter funnyperson named Holly Green tweeted a joke at someone else that poked fun at John Popper, the lead singer of the band Blues Traveler (you’d remember and/or recognize “Run Around” and “Hook,” 1994). Frankly, the joke was probably in bad taste, not the kind of thing you should say about anyone, even when you’re clearly joking (as she very clearly was). I don’t know Ms. Green and have no way of knowing this, but if she’d thought the man himself was particularly likely to see it, I kind of doubt she’d have sent it.

Anyway, the man himself did see it, and he responded. And responded, and responded. That first link above tells that part of the story. It’s crazy. His tweets read like they were written by a nine-year-old, but it’s clear enough that he’s bullying her, borderline-stalking her, and threatening her with what would be an utterly frivolous defamation lawsuit. It just kept going. Many others got involved yesterday — mostly tweeting ridiculous things that mentioned his name (but didn’t tag his Twitter account, because there was clearly no need, he was going to see it anyway). Mine got me blocked by Popper, right after he tweeted this:

(As I went to get the link, I noticed that after we’d blocked each other he nonetheless found something else I said mentioning him and responded. That dude from Blues Traveler appears to have some time on his hands these days, is what I’m saying.)

(Also: it appears that all of his tweets have at least one winky face in them. It doesn’t make them any less creepy.)

Anyway, it’s a weird, weird thing, but the thing that sticks out most to me is the fact that John Popper, who is 46 years old and has won a Grammy and still tours and is on TV sometimes, searches his own name on Twitter and (at least sometimes) responds to whatever he finds there. This is a colossal waste of time for the most sedentary and unaccomplished of us. And John Popper, a guy you’ve heard of and whose mid-twenties singing voice you’re hearing in your head right this second, is out there doing it.

Sometimes, I’m really glad I have a stupidly common name. Not that anyone’s talking about me anyway, but even if they were and I wanted to, I wouldn’t be sure how to find it.

Googling oneself

Fridayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

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Promisses No. 13: Hot Enough Fer Ya?

Quick, late one today: it’s been hot here. Today is lovely, but most of the past week was close enough to 100 degrees, and humid. I sat in the sun for an hour and a half for a meeting a bit ago and almost died. I walked 30 feet from my car to my office in jeans, and my legs started sweating. It’s been a bit hot.

Then I happened to notice a bit earlier today that on February 1, I posted this on Facebook:

Not even a real number.

Not even a real number.

And that in the middle of April, there was this (to be repeated as late as May 1, but I didn’t even have the energy left to take a picture then):

April 18

I mean, how miserable is life, if we don’t live in Hawaii or San Diego (which I suspect could get miserable in its own way, or at least boring), and we really only appreciate the five or six days a year when nature sets the thermostat to our own personal numbers? I’ve never minded a little heat. It’s good pool weather, and a good excuse not to do much of anything else. If I’m going to whine about the cold and snow in February and later — and make no mistake, I most certainly am going to, always — it’s time to toughen up about this.

Weather

 

Happy Friday! It’s my younger son’s third birthday today, and I hope you’re as excited, awestruck, happy and frequently confused by life as he figures to be this weekend.

Promisses No. 12: My Two Weeks Away and Sharknado

You shouldn’t apologize or explain when you’ve been away from a blog for awhile, I’m told, because nobody really cares, it’s just a blog, and there’s no reason to draw attention to it.

So…

Sorry I’ve been away! What happened was this: I bought a “spaceship” on craigslist, but the lady totally screwed me over and I actually ended up spending my fifty bucks on a damn time machine, and she ran away before I’d figured it out and had left a fake name, so I figured what the hell, lemons => lemonade and all that, right, and I went back in time to 1593 England, and because I had modern clothes and a keychain flashlight they all thought I was like a wizard or something, so I got to meet Queen Elizabeth, and I basically just spent two full weeks hanging with the Virgin Queen (sooo not a virgin, bee-tee-dubs; I know what you’re thinking and no we didn’t but we’re like totes BFFs now and *pantomimes lip-zipping*), and we rode horses and she taught me how to shoot a bow, and we watched the premiere of Shakespeare’s Richard III (meh, bit long), and I taught her how to play a couple offline games on my iPad (Lizzy loves Temple Run 2) and she made me secretly assassinate Christopher Marlowe and it turns out that the only problem is that this timeline keeps moving, and you can’t just go back to like a second after you left the way they do in the movies sometimes or you’ll run into some alternate-reality version of yourself so I came back and two weeks had passed. But Liz gave me this neck ruffle thing as a memento, so all in all I think it was a success.

Anyway. So I couldn’t blog. Again: sorry!

A bunch of people watched something called “Sharknado” last night. I couldn’t do it — something about intentionally awful movies just doesn’t do it for me the way a good earnestly awful movie might, especially one with the MST3K guys in front of it — but following along on Twitter was amazing, so funny. One fun game, I found (and I wasn’t as good at it as some others, but it’s my blog so you get my tweets anyway), is coming up with alternate animal-disaster-combination titles for SyFy to try next.

This week’s Promiss follows: Continue reading

A Partial List of Total Point-Missers (Promisses No. 11: Stuff is Complicated)

I’m not sure exactly what the rules are for what shows up in Google News, but I know the default search doesn’t go back too far, and a Google News search for “Scalia hypocrite” (without the quotes) currently returns thousands and thousands of results. More than 2000 of them are lumped together in one “see more” link, because they’re all about roughly the same thing: Justice Scalia voted to trample on the popular Voting Rights Act  and then the very next day wrote a dissent preaching democracy and judicial restraint in voting to uphold of the Defense of Marriage Act. The words for his hypocrisy are words like “stunning,” “jaw-dropping,” “galling.” 

Only, as we discussed yesterday, that’s not how it went down. Not even close. But a lot of people got it wrong, and I haven’t seen anybody else take the time to set them right.

That’s a bit upsetting to me, partly because (a) you really only needed to bother to read the tiniest little bit beyond Scalia’s second paragraph to see that he’s not saying what you’re about to accuse him of saying, and (b) it distracts from all the horrible things Scalia does say, things that dehumanize certain individuals and families and that show just an appalling failure to understand certain realities that, by now, simply everyone should understand, or at least accept.

Here’s a terribly incomplete list of self-righteous and angry and mocking articles or blog posts that are getting all self-righteous and angry and mocking about very much the wrong thing (note that many of these are excellent pieces that make a number of excellent points, but all of them rely, in an early or prominent place, on the Scalia’s-hypocrisy silliness):

The Atlantic Wire: Justice Scalia Hates Judicial Review, Except When He Doesn’t
The Nation: The Supreme Court’s Constitutional Hypocrisy
BET: Commentary: Gay Rights, Civil Rights and the Supreme Court’s Hypocrisy
The American Prospect: Justice Scalia’s Infuriating Hypocrisy
Wonkette: Supreme Court Update: Special ‘Over-the-Top Nice Time Let’s All Gay Marry Our Dogs’ Edition [Note: this one’s really funny, and vulgar. But still gets it wrong.]
News Corpse: DOMA vs. Voting Rights: Justice Scalia’s Jaw-Dropping Hypocrisy
Nashville Scene: The Hypocritical Stylings of Justice Scalia

Sigh.

Law is Hard

Promisses No. 10: Really Gross Proverbs

Well, this week has been kind of a downer, huh? I mean, I’m proud to be a feminist and to speak up for stuff I believe in, but never really envisioned this blog becoming an all-gender-stuff-all-the-time sort of thing. I’m looking forward to finding something else to get on about next week, if the world allows.

Anyway. It’s Friday, and I finally missed one last week, but Friday still means frivolity here, more or less. Today’s Promiss is another one that was suggested by my two-decades-plus friend, co-baseball-blogger and heterosexual life partner Mike:

In re. Cat Skinning

And it got me thinking about this proverb. I mean, when you think about it…what? Who skins cats? And there really isn’t more than one way, not essentially, is there? I don’t want to think about that too hard, but I wouldn’t think so. The message — that most problems have more than one solution — is a good one, but there are so many more relatable, less disgusting and truer ways of saying that. There’s more than one way to tie your shoes! More than one way to clean a bathroom! To burn calories! To win at a game of hearts! To get from Seattle to Miami! To get to Carnegie Hall! To eat a Reese’s!

But this one? Ew. It apparently originated sometime in the mid-1800s (earlier, but the “skinning” part didn’t come in until then), and it’s not clear were it came from or that it ever related to actually skinning cats. (That link suggests that at least in the American South it originally referred to skinning catfish, which makes much more sense but is still pretty gross.)

Happy Friday! Never forget:

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

Making Changes (Promisses No. 9)

Why can I only find time to write here on Fridays?

Anyway, if you’re here, and you’ve been here before, you might notice that it looks a bit different allasudden. The old theme had one thing going for it: I tend to write a lot of words, and occasionally tend toward long paragraphs, and that theme let the text take up a lot of horizontal space (it’s even called “Widely”), so it made my long posts and long paragraphs look not quite so long. But it was boring as hell.

This isn’t much better, but it’ll do for now. There are navigation/subscription links over there <<<, if you want ’em (they were at the bottom of the page before). The background picture is actually a kind of stunning shot (by total-amateur-pointing-and-clicking-an-iPhone standards) that I took of a Revolution-era house somewhere in northern Virginia a couple years ago (embiggening, would be the purpose of your clicking below):

IMG_0190 …but the way it comes out here — depending on your screen size and resolution, maybe — really only adds a nice little splash of color and a couple clouds. Oh well.

So anyway, there’s that, but there’s more. When I started this blog, I thought: I’m going to write a lot about things that make me angry, and most of those things have a left-leaning political tinge to them.

Those thoughts proved largely correct, as you probably know. But that’s certainly not what I want this to be about. I’ve also written about writing and social media and all kinds of things on which all (reasonable) people can agree, or at least can amicably agree to disagree, and I didn’t want this to be the kind of place where the name and general tone of the whole thing drove certain (reasonable) people away. I have conservative friends (a couple) and moderate friends. I’m a Christian, I’m a midwesterner who’s lived on both coasts, I don’t want to alienate anybody (who is reasonable). And you know, I can be awfully cranky sometimes, but I don’t think that’s a defining characteristic. I don’t want it to be a defining characteristic of this blog, at any rate.

So, no more “The Cranky Lefty.” Now, it’s just me. I made a few corresponding changes to the About page. The tag under the blog’s title on the left there will probably change quite often: the current one (“What you’ll need is a jackhammer”) is a snippet of a thing I wrote in my novel (or whatever) project, and it relates to writer’s block. The protagonist hits a wall because he’s afraid of the relative permanence of the words he’s about to put on the page; odds are the next line that comes out won’t be the perfect line, and neither will the next one, and the killer is that after hundreds or thousands of not quite perfect lines stacked on top of one another, editing (yours or someone else’s) can’t save you: editing is a chisel, when what you’ll need is a jackhammer. So he just freezes up straightaway. A bit depressing, maybe? But I choose not to hear it that way, I choose to hear it as kind of a call to be fearless and change-embracing in the first instance, and at any rate it can’t be any more depressing than this place used to be.

So the content won’t likely change much — alternating light/funny/musing and serious/political stuff, the occasional casual cursing just to keep you on your toes — but the look has, and I’m hoping the tone will too. Just a bit. And I’m hoping to write more often. Maybe Wednesdays, to go with Fridays? We’ll see.

Change

Promisses No. 8: Your Own Worst Critic

I’ve been writing, and it’s scary.

I mean, I’m always writing, of course, but I’ve been writing in a way that I really hadn’t been for several years. It’s fiction, this thing I’m doing. The kind that’s pompously, idiotically dubbed “literary fiction,” I guess you’d call it (it’s all “literary,” in my opinion, any given piece of writing, if there’s any shred of creativity or artistic expression in it at all), which just means it doesn’t have a plot that moves enough to apply any other genre to it, unless and until it takes one on as it goes along.

I have my doubts as to whether it’ll ever be publishable (or whether I’ll want it to be), but it’s a thing that’s important to me to write, personally, about some stuff I’ve been through. It’s therapeutic. And, who knows? Maybe it will be A Thing, someday. It could happen. The point is that I’m doing it because I want to and feel like I need to, and (for now) I’m committed to it. I’ve set, and so far (four or five days in) kept, a relatively modest goal of 500 words a day. (And I’m sure that I’ll be flexible on that, in the future, as I inevitably need it.)

And each night, at about 300 words in (and often several other times before and after), I come to the fully supportable and almost certainly correct conclusion that this thing I am writing is The Worst Thing That Has Ever Been Written. I still occasionally get that with my other writing, too; it’s just a part of the process. That feeling nearly convinced me not to publish last Friday’s post on women and tattoos, which, whether it’s a good post or a bad one, ended up being the most-viewed post in this blog’s short history nearly twice over (if you’re curious, and you’re not, the previous leader was my inaugural “Beauty of a Woman” post). I’ll often have to find a way to trick myself into sending a baseball article, which I’ve fussed over for hours already and which is the kind of thing I’ve written hundreds of times before, finally hitting that “send” button to my editors so abruptly and almost impulsively that I sometimes won’t even realize that I’ve actually finally forced myself to stop fretting and send it. I’ll probably edit this ten times before morning, and who cares about this? It’s just part of being a writer. Or at least, it’s a part of being me, writing.

That, the nagging worry, is a pretty significant impediment to my progress on this…novel or whatever it is, but I push through it. Eventually, that is — maybe after playing five games of Bejeweled Blitz and opening up four new Gchat windows and trying with limited success to start some big dumb conversation/fight on Twitter and watching an episode of Dr. Who — I do finally push through it. And I get to the end of my planned 500 words (or 600 or 1000 of them) and glance back over what I’ve done, and you know what? Well, it might not be good, per se, I’ll never be convinced it’s ever going to be anything good, but it won’t be nearly as awful as I thought it might be while I was in the middle of it. Never once has been.

Promisses missed you terribly last week, and today reminds you (me) to turn off that nagging dread and worry in your (my) already overcrowded, tiny little brain.

Own Worst Critic

Fist-bump to my lovely wife for the initial suggestion on this one.

Loveliest of Fridays and weekends.

Promisses No. 7: Being True to Yourself

Short! To the point! I forgot to do this last night!

This is pathetically short so I’ll chat a bit below the weekly necessity. Adapted from a suggestion by my baseball-writing partner and heterosexual lifemate Mike Bates.

Identity Theft

What else can I tell you? Hmm. I really liked this post by Amber about Angelina Jolie, and it goes right along with my recent theme of whining about dumb shit people do on Facebook. I’d always thought of Jolie as an obnoxious, utterly frivolous loon prior to this, and I have no idea whether what she did was smart or right or not and no idea how I could know (though it seemed pretty reasonable to me, and brave to come out with it). All I know is, she’s really rich and almost certainly consulted several really good doctors in making this really, really hard decision, and if you’re not a doctor and are judging her based on things like your own personal experience (“I have breasts and don’t have cancer!” was basically the sense I got) or a mistrust of the medical profession generally, you are a Part Of The Problem. Though I suppose it’s better than mourning Brad Pitt’s loss of her boobs.

I’m a big fan of those Damn You Autocorrect things (fake or not), so this made me laugh a lot more than it probably should’ve. You’ve gotta flip all the way to the end for the punchline (more like punch-in-the-gut-line! o-ho!), but I’m a bit sad to admit I chuckled through the whole thing.

Speaking of comedy, my wife and I are going to see Mary Mack tomorrow, and I’m awfully gosh-darned excited about that. She’s very Midwestern (northern Wisconsin, though Minnesota has managed to really claim that whole accent, so I’m comfortable calling her Minnesotan) and sings little folk-y songs and is funny. I imagine it’s an acquired taste, but I love her. Here she is solving the problem of gang violence! Enjoy your Friday.

Promisses No. 6: This Stretches the Gimmick to Its Limits

I don’t have any cutesy/unsettling phrases for today.

You know Facebook? That place where your uncle posts book-length and just shockingly racist rants about who-can-even-tell and your dad keeps accidentally posting his mildly embarrassing search terms as status updates and your mom has an account only to permit her to keep tabs on [pictures of your kids/the people you’re dating/the people she thinks you should be dating]?

Yeah. Worse than all that are the many, many shared photos or links or status updates that (much like, and having some overlap with, the plethora of phony quotes) are just completely untrue and (unlike many of the quotes) are remarkably easy to disprove or verify, via a simple Google search that leads you to a really, really useful website that (in most cases) will quickly give you a “True” or “False” and get you on with your day.

It’s annoying, like the fake quotes can be annoying, but it gets worse than that. Yesterday, a friend shared this photo (originally posted, I just happened to notice, by a racist gun nut and Benghazi-conspiracy loon who really hates our president). It notes that would-be rapists sometimes drive what appear to be unmarked police cars with lights on top and pull their intended victims over. This is true. It also claims that if you continue driving and dial 112, you’ll get straight to the police dispatcher and they’ll be able to help you. This (in most places) is false, and nowhere in America is dialing any number other than 911 a better idea than just dialing 911 is (but for God’s sake, yeah, keep driving).

My friend removed his share (maybe he Snopes’ed belatedly, or someone like me got to him), which is why I had to go through Benghazi-nut’s page and find it again. But at this writing, it’s been shared nearly 918,000 times. And that’s just this version; no doubt the same or similar misinformation is being spread around a number of other ways by now, just as you can find a dozen different images displaying the same fake Marilyn Monroe quote. 

This isn’t merely obnoxious; it could really hurt people. If you take this to heart and are in an area where 112 doesn’t work, and you’re in danger, this mistaken belief — your friend’s failure (and yours) to spend five seconds googling something before hitting “share” or just blindly trusting random stuff on Facebook — could cost you your one chance at escape.

So, people, please. Listen to Dove for once:

Snopes

Promisses No. 5: Life is Short

I almost forgot to do this today. But I didn’t!

I’m still thinking about Jason Collins and Cookie Monster Pants, and how important it is to really take charge of our lives and be ourselves, and, relatedly, to stop wasting time on things that don’t matter, that aren’t authentic, that aren’t us. Y’know, man?

Today’s Promisses message probably takes that idea too far.

CMP Promiss

Have a great Friday! It’s snowing here. On May 3. Next week’s Promiss may be “Move to Costa Rica.”