Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wordy Thursday: On Writing by Stephen King



Genre:
Nonfiction, Autobiography, Instructional, Writing

Rating:
Five out of Five Stars

The following is a duplicate of my review on Goodreads for this book.

If readers purchase the book through the above preview link, I will earn a small commission from Amazon.

I have been a fan of Stephen King for many years. I read this book when it first came out and enjoyed reading it again. Of course, I am very glad that he survived his terrible accident and is now doing better.

I would not thrive writing the way Mr. King recommends: by shutting myself in a room for two hours with everything tuned out. I would start to feel as if I was in a dungeon fairly quickly. I am based in my living room where I can look out the window. I don't know if he would like my writing. I enjoy some of the elements that he recommends eliminating. However, I did learn two things from him a long time ago: mind the adverbs, and watch out for overly long and descriptive sentences.

I am glad to have this book in my library again.


1. Stephen King says, “You can read anywhere, almost, but when it comes to writing, library carrels, park benches, and rented flats should be courts of last resort."
I reckon you've gotta write where you've gotta write. However, I doubt I'd get much writing done on a park bench. Probably nothing more than a bit of note-taking would transpire there.

QUESTIONS: Where do you like to write? Have you written in the places King says should be last resorts and found them to work better for you?
I usually write in the living room with my butt parked on the dilapidated couch that doubles as my bed. I don't write much of anywhere else at this juncture.

2. QUESTION: King states that story comes first, never theme. I disagree. Do you think a theme only develops after the story has come together or can a good story be developed from a theme?
I usually don't think much about the theme beyond it planting a seed in my disheveled brain. I probably have a theme in mind when I start.

3. QUESTIONS: What "tools" do you find most indispensable when you write? Are there any you would add to King's toolbox (which includes grammar, vocabulary, elements of style and form, character development, descriptions, dialogue, tools for revision help)?
Coffee.

4. QUESTIONS: King believes that stories are "found things, like fossils in the ground." Let’s discuss King's extended metaphor of "writing as excavation." Do you agree with this theory? How would you describe writing if different from his point-of-view?
Sometimes my story ideas come sailing through the air and smack me on the head.

5. QUESTIONS: Was this your first time reading a book by Stephen King or were you a fan before? Either way, what did you think of his book On Writing?
I've been a big fan since I was about fourteen years old. Stephen King is one of those people that I'd love to meet except for the fact that he'd probably think I was the biggest loser to ever be plopped down on this lousy planet, so I imagine I'd slink off into the shadows if the opportunity to meet him ever arose.

I think that On Writing has many excellent suggestions. Not all of them work for me.



Free use image from Open Clipart Vectors





Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Tackle It Tuesday on Wednesday With the Ornery Old Lady: Old School Cool Whip Pineapple Pie

Image by Bruno Marques Bru from Pixabay

Back in 1995, when I was ten years old...

Okay, it was 1975. But the rest of the story is true.

When I was ten years old, I flew on an airplane for the very first time, from Denver to New York. Flying was fun in 1975. Everyone was very nice. My six-year-old brother and I thought the little bags of peanuts were fun, and even the awful airline food was wonderful to us. I got to listen to music on the headset. I thought it was just the most amazing time.

When we got to New York, we visited the relatives who had come to see us over the years. At one point, we went up to Amsterdam, which is where my father's maternal relatives came from. My great-uncle was an undertaker. When people hear the word "undertaker," they usually think of someone like this:

The late character actor Angus Scrimm played The Tall Man in the Phantasm movies

My great-uncle did not fit the image of the stereotypical undertaker. He was a very benevolent man who smiled a lot. He became a mortician because it was a necessary service.

My father's maternal family owned the building containing the mortuary and the chapel. My great-grandmother, who hardly spoke any English, and two of my great-aunts lived on the upper floors of the building. Another great-aunt lived in a house next door. These folks are long gone now, but at that moment they were very much alive, and the world seemed very much alive. 

My great-grandmother was an excellent cook, and everything she made was wonderful, especially the latkes. My great-aunt Isabelle wasn't as skilled in the kitchen, but she did a passable job. And she made the wondrous pineapple pie. I don't remember what else she made when we had our afternoon lunch in her apartment, but I certainly remember the pineapple pie. I could well have eaten the whole thing! 

Those days spent with my Lithuanian relatives are long gone. Latkes may be a ubiquitous if delicious favorite among Eastern European people, but I'm pretty sure pineapple pie is not a traditional Lithuanian dish. Nonetheless, it was a fast favorite among the group of Lithuanian-Americans gathered on that afternoon forty-five years ago, and my Great-Aunt Isabelle was very smart to have made it because it couldn't be easier.

I found the recipe for Pineapple Dream Dessert at Amanda's Cookin'. This is the Amazing Pineapple Pie recipe, only in a square pan. I didn't have any graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs, but I did have a couple of pre-made graham cracker pie crusts, so the Pineapple Dream Dessert went back to being a pie.

Here is what you need.

If you are going to follow Amanda's directions and make a square dessert in a 9 x 9 pan, you will need 2 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and 1/2 cup of butter to make the crust. If you are going to use a pie shell, you can omit those.

For the filling, you will need to soften 1/2 cup of butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese. 

Combine the softened cream cheese and butter until smooth. I finally broke out my Hamilton Beach stand mixer and used it for the mixing tasks. Once the cream cheese and butter are blended, incorporate 2 cups of powdered sugar one cup at a time. Beat until smooth. Blend in one tablespoon of drained, crushed pineapple from a 20-ounce can.

Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the crust.

Mix together 8 ounces of Cool Whip with the rest of the crushed pineapple.

Put the Cool Whip and pineapple mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.

Raise a glass or cup of whatever you like to drink with pie and say a toast to the memory of a relative, or you can say a toast to my Great-Aunt Isabelle if you can't think of a relative that you'd like to toast.

Bone Appetit!
Cie the Ornery Old Lady



Visit the Artist

Ghost Town Grover Sez:
"I know y'all said that pie was easy to make, Ornery, but it shore does taste fancy!"


Cactus Clem Sez:
"Ornery, y'all really need to git some more of that pineapple juice. That right there is the best part of the pineapple!"

The General Store


Monday, January 20, 2020

Boycott Aaron Carter: Art Thief and Asshole

So, dumpster fire and talentless hack Aaron Carter is ripping off the work of an actual artist to promote his shitty merchandise.



Here is the location of the tweet in case you’d like to respond to Aaron’s entitled temper tantrum. https://t.co/MG78rgCwZr

Here is the article on Forbes where I first learned of this incident. It includes a picture of Jonas’ art.

I added the following sentiment to my retweet of Aaron’s cosmically shitty response to Jonas Jodicke’s classy request that Aaron stop using his art without his permission.

It's probably too much to ask for @aaroncarter to not behave like a complete trash fire for once in his arrogant, entitled life. Aaron is ripping off @JoJoesArt because he doesn't have an original bone in his entire body. Don't buy his overpriced merch, he doesn't deserve a cent.

I wouldn’t wipe my ass with Aaron’s overpriced clothes. Please share this so everyone knows what a colossal douchebag Aaron the Art Thief is.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sly Speaks + Fat Friday + Friday Flashback: Diet Culture Rhetoric Is Not Poetry



This poignant gem was originally published on 17 January 2010 on my now-retired poetry blog.

life It would be far easier to diet if I didn't like food.

This, apparently, was the entire-ass poem.

A year later, I would finally take the long-needed step of ditching diet culture for good.

That is a terrible statement, let alone being a terrible poem. 

It isn't even a poem, it's a blurb. A very stupid and brainwashed blurb. It's a tweet that shouldn't have been tweeted. It is a lot of things, none of them good. A poem it is not. 

The Chili Bean Tanka is a better poem, and it is not a good poem. In fact, it is close to Vogon poetry in its poetic injustice.

It goes a little bit something like this.

I ate the chili
between the beans and the spice
digestive horror
beneath the cover of night
noxious eruptions take place

As I mentioned previously, I struggled over the holidays. My abusive partner ED (Eating Disorder) reared his ugly head and I relapsed into my old restrictive eating and self-loathing patterns. Which, by the way, never made me thin, they just fucked my metabolism over and made me hate myself even more. 

However, reading this micro-poem that should not be, I could see where I'd been myopic in my criticism of a poet whose book I reviewed recently. I gave the book overall high praise, but I stated that her "poem" which read as follows, and I quote:

love ends but calories are forever

was not so much a poem as unfortunate diet culture rhetoric, and I wouldn't want to read it as a tweet, let alone in a book of poetry.

Given the unseemly evidence above, that critique was hypocritical of me.

However, there is a lesson to be learned.

Next time you think publishing a pithy pearl of poignant perspicacity such as this...

Go to the kitchen and grab yourself a snack. Or at least have something to drink. Your blood sugar may be low because if you think that's worth publishing, you obviously haven't been thinking clearly. Step out for a breath of air and clear your head of the Diet Culture nonsense. You've obviously bitten off more of it than you can chew.

That being said, Words Written in the Dark is, overall, a thoughtful and thought-provoking volume of modern poetry, and I recommend it highly.


Fat and Ornery
Image copyright Open Clipart Vectors

Sly and Snarky
Image copyright juliahenze @123rf.com


Monday, January 13, 2020

About Me Monday: Ornery and Sly: Stop the Bullying and Stigma

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Today isn't FOAD Thursday, but "The Biggest Dickweed" and anyone who supports it can FOAD every day. Please read about and sign the petition to stop this horrible, hateful garbage from being resurrected.

If you're one of these people who are so indoctrinated into diet culture (I was one of those people for 33 years, and it never made me thin, it just made me miserable) that you believe that shaming and bullying large people "for their own good" is a great idea, here are some key points refuting that belief.

This show caused so much harm to the health of contestants and viewers alike by perpetuating weight stigma. Since the show went off the air, we have research related to how weight stigma and yo-yo dieting actually harms people in larger bodies. Additionally, there is research from prior Biggest Loser contestants indicating long term negative effects:

Participants not only gained the weight back due to a slowing of the metabolism but that participants had increased leptin levels that cause extreme hunger: 
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/health/biggest-loser-weight-loss.html

From The National Association of Eating Disorders:
“Weight stigma, also known as weight bias or weight-based discrimination, is discrimination or stereotyping based on a person's weight. Weight stigma can increase body dissatisfaction, a leading risk factor in the development of eating disorders.” 
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/weight-stigma

From Abby's Kitchen:
DANGEROUS SECRETS FROM THE BIGGEST LOSER & MY PETITION TO MAKE IT STOP
“A study published in the Journal of Obesity suggested that watching even one episode of the Biggest Loser increased hateful weight bias among viewers! This is particularly concerning to me when there are children watching, as it’s easy to sense and duplicate the disgust for fatness when they see it in their peers or even themselves."
https://www.abbeyskitchen.com/nutrition-dangerous-secrets-biggest-loser-my-petition-make-i/

From Today’s Dietitian:
January 2018 Issue

The Health Impact of Weight Stigma
By Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 20, No. 1, P. 24

“The health risks of weight discrimination are consistent with the observed effects of racial discrimination.”

Being the target of weight stigma increases the risk of poor mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and eating disorders. These associations happen regardless of BMI, so it's unlikely that body weight itself is a cause.”

“Harrison says. "The majority of the clients I've treated for disordered eating cite bullying or shaming for their weight by parents, peers, coaches, or health care professionals as the initial trigger for their issues with food."
https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0118p24.shtml

My reason for signing the petition is this.

Promotion of size shaming and eating disorders does not equate with "health."

I have had an eating disorder since I was twelve years old. I was not fat at twelve, but I was so terrified of becoming fat that I became bulimic. 

I never felt direct hatred for fat people, but I saw the way that they were bullied and shamed. I was already the target of bullying. I couldn't bear the idea of the bullying being stepped up if I got fat. 

I am fat at this point. Not the "I feel fat" kind of fat. (By the way, "fat" is not a feeling.) I am really, genuinely, truly fat, and yes, I am "that" fat. My size, like everyone's size, results from a combination of factors. The first and most important factor in determining a person's body type is DNA. 

One of the waitresses I worked with at the job I had eighteen years ago was a tall, sturdy young woman. One time in the break room she ended up telling me about her sister, who was bulimic and anorexic. She told her sister: "we're big people. We come from a line of big people. It isn't natural for us to be skinny." 

So, which sister was the "healthier" of the two? The one who accepted the way she was built and went on with her life, or the one who was so obsessed with the idea of becoming thin that she was going to extremes to manipulate her body to a perceived point of acceptable slenderness?

By the way, health is not a measure of personal worth. I am not asking which of these sisters was more worthy of being treated with common decency. They are both worthy of that.

I had a very difficult time during this past holiday season. My feelings of self-worth plummeted to the depths. I ended up starving myself. I also ceased my daily walks. I didn't feel motivated to walk, and I felt as if everyone was staring at me and judging me. Also, walking can be painful for me. No, not because I'm fat. I was fat back when I was waitressing. I was fat when I was working as a nursing assistant and later as a nurse. These jobs contributed to the spinal problems I now have. So did engaging in behaviors consistent with orthorexia, such as spending five hours a day at the gym on my days off from work. My size did not.

I don't know how people can fathom that it's okay to say whatever they want to a big person. Okay, I actually know how it happens. It happens because larger people have been othered and dehumanized. One of our neighbors saw me having trouble shoveling the snow off the porch. He came over to help. In fairness, he wasn't trying to be cruel, and I think he is in the early stages of dementia. But this is what came to his mind, and what society has led him to think is perfectly okay to say.

"My wife was built like you. She was obese. But at least you're trying. She didn't try, so she died."

If you think that "obese" is a harmless word, think again. Obese is a shaming, othering, dehumanizing word which leads to people being denied proper health care and even basic respect. Obese is a word that kills people.

I'm fat. I'm not stupid. I know when I'm being condescended to. I know when I'm being looked down on. I know when I'm being othered.

Sometimes my bad attitude prevails and I let the middle finger fly and go on about my life.

Sometimes I get broken and relapse into unhealthy behaviors (starving myself) and self-loathing.

I got broken over this holiday season. I starved myself, and I stopped taking my walks because I felt like I was being watched and judged and the walks weren't bringing on the almighty WATE LOOZE!!11!!! Which, of course, is the only thing that matters.

I am getting back in the saddle and charging back into action on my very large horse.

So, if you're one of those people who thinks it's okay to behave badly towards me and others who look like me because we don't fit your criteria of beautiful or fuckable or because we don't fulfill your criteria of perfect "health"...

Let's face it. It's never really about health. 

You may expect that this is where I tell you to FOAD.

Actually, I'm going to ask you to read the words above mine again.

Then I'm going to ask you to go read these blogs.

Big Fat Science
Dances With Fat
Heavyweight Heart

If, after reading those blogs you still think it's fun to ridicule fat people or concern troll fat people or you still think The Biggest Dickweed is good wholesome entertainment for the family...

Then you can fuck off forever.


Fat and Ornery
Image copyright Open Clipart Vectors


Sly and Snarky
Image copyright juliahenze @123rf.com






The last diet you will ever need.
 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Wordy Thursday: Ornery Reviews: Ashes of Raging Water



Genre: Modern Fantasy/Science Fiction

Rating: Five out of Five Stars on Amazon and Goodreads


Disclosure: I received a promotional copy of this book. This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission from Amazon if the book is purchased through the preview link. This review is a duplicate of my review on Amazon and Goodreads.

An intricate and cerebral novel about a garrison of phoenix guardians known as a Shield operating in Atlanta. There is one phoenix for each element, plus a Shieldheart. The main protagonist is Aquaylae (Quayla), a youthful and impetuous water phoenix whose Shieldheart, Vitae, dislikes her and finds reasons to punish her.
The Fae in Ashes of Raging Water are not friendly pixies and fairies happy to grant human wishes because it's the kind thing to do. For a human to accept assistance from a Fae is akin to selling one's soul. Many of the Fae are badly behaved. The story opens with Quayla attempting to defend helpless pets waiting for adoption at an animal shelter against unscrupulous Fae hellbent on taking the animals for their own nefarious ends.
The reader learns more about the strange world of the phoenix and the fae as they read through this intricately woven tale. Humans should be careful what they wish for, because the fairies may be willing to grant wishes, but the price will be high.


Image copyright Open Clipart Vectors
Will Work for Links and Tips


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Sly's WTF Wednesday + Ornery Reviews: Don't Be Like a Girl and Play Through the Pain



Disclosure: If readers purchase a copy of the book through the preview link, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

Man Mission is actually a very enjoyable book, and I recommend it. The following comes from a discussion of the Pink Bracelet Rule: he who whines loudest wears the pink bracelet. 

This rule is amusing in the context of the book and is in keeping with the book's characters. However, I had a few thoughts.

I've always found the "don't be like a girl" thing to be both sexist and untrue. Girls have plenty of strength and ability. What are we telling boys about girls when being "like a girl" is an insult?

The pink bracelet bit was fitting for the dudebro camaraderie in the story. However, in real life, "playing through the pain" tends to lead to lasting problems, and it isn't only guys who do it. I ignored numbness and tingling in the fingers of my left hand and kept working a job with a lot of heavy lifting for months until one day I woke up with my left arm in excruciating pain. I didn't have insurance and had to quit my job and wait a month until I could get Medicaid and get physical therapy. The pain was so bad that I considered committing suicide. It took a long time for the arm to become anywhere close to normal again. It still isn't entirely normal, and I still have to be careful with it so I don't exacerbate the injury that I allowed to become as bad as it did by "trying not to whine" and "playing through the pain."

Last time I checked, I was a woman. This bad idea isn't reserved for men, although for some inane reason society pats them on the back for it.

What the fuck, you guys?

~Sly Has Spoken~

Image copyright juliahenze @123rf.com



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Will work for links and tips