Friday, July 4, 2014

I Hate Fireworks

There. I said it. I hate fireworks for the same reason I hate watching sports that don't involve a ridiculous obstacle course. They're boring as fuck. No drama at all. Yes, even the professional fireworks displays.

Oh look, colorful lights in the sky. And now there are more colorful lights in the sky. And now there are colorful lights in the shape of something. Apparently that's worthy of applause. Well, isn't that interesting?

There's more drama in a rerun on The Honeymooners. Hence the holiday marathon.

I don't like watching fireworks on TV even with the dramatic music and color commentators. Watching them while sitting on a lawn somewhere while being bitten by mosquitos and no-see-ums for hours while you wait for it to start? No thanks.

One year, His Awesomeness and I were in Chicago on the 4th. We sat out in the park with hundreds of other people waiting to see the fireworks because what the hell else were we going to do. There was a storm threatening, and the flashes of everyone's cameras as they documented the exciting sitting in the park and waiting kept making me think that there was lightning, which would due an excellent reason for getting the hell out of the park. HA realized this wasn't going to work, so we went back to the hotel and watched Deep Space Nine on DVD.

(Side note: I also fucking hate people who use a flash when taking pictures on the NYC subway. The locals are still a bit jumpy and the cars are well lit enough that you don't need a flash anyway so just give it a fucking rest.)

So anyway, people's attempts to convince me that fireworks are interesting actually make me hate them even more. The fireworks, not the people. I know I'm outnumbered here - like fireworks all you want. But when someone calls from the other room, "Jen! You have to come see this!" and it's just a bunch of colored lights in the sky? You have failed to impress me.

When I was a kid, I did enjoy setting off fireworks under the appropriate adult supervision. This was back before you could buy 1/4 of a stick of dynamite for fun. I enjoyed the feeling of power that comes with creating a big noise, of making something happen. But really, there are other ways to let kids feel empowered.

I started losing interest the year that I was supervising my younger cousins setting off some little fireworks that bounce around on the ground harmlessly unless you get too close. The people across the street had a yard below street level, and started setting off bottle rockets, not realizing that they were firing at us. One just missed my face.

One of my uncles used to be really in to setting off fireworks. Until one of his co-workers died in a fire started by a bottle rocket.

And let's not forget the explosion in the Grucci factory in 1983 that killed 2 fireworks professionals.

Fireworks are a bloodsport, and let's not forget it. And they're not even that interesting! Usually stuff that could get people killed is riveting. Even car racing has the whole race thing going for it.

But big noises and flashing lights? That's nothing to lose life and limb over.

Even though most people disagree with me, I know I'm right. If fireworks displays were so interesting, there would be a video game version. (In all fairness, there is a video game where you can create a fireworks display, but since it's on the Disney UK site, it's safe to say that it's for kids and we all know how easily impressed they are.)

So while everyone else is wringing their hands over whether or not Hurricane Arthur will interfere with their local fireworks display, I'll be saving my energy for all the other things I worry about unreasonably.

Monday, June 30, 2014

I Am A Couch Ninja

Some guy dressed as Batman failing on the Warped Wall.
Photo credit: blackfeathers

I haven't been posting because the dog ate my homework. And I signed up for a fiction workshop and needed to turn my novel from a stack of dusty papers into a work in progress. Which I did with 2 days to spare. And I had to take it easy because I haven't been up to doing anything for a full day in I don't know how long. Sometime before I was sick for the entire month of December.

This must be how a triathlete feels after they…I feel like there should be a verb meaning "to do a triathlon," something like "they triath."

Speaking of which, I've been watching American Ninja Warrior because G4 is gone and I can't watch the real Ninja Warrior anymore. It has all the goodness of watching people try to complete a ridiculously hard obstacle course. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they wipe out spectacularly. But because it's on American TV, it also has these inspirational featurettes on contestants who got themselves in shape to compete in just a year. Who then fall on the second obstacle. 

Or someone who's older than other contestants, but is still way younger than the oldest contestants on the Japanese version of the show and oh, by the way age is irrelevant because there are eighteen year olds who could never get in that kind of shape. Some people are never going to be an elite athlete because, you know - elite. 

Plus, ninja warrior isn't only about athleticism  Former Olympians regularly fail on this thing. The fact that someone in their mid-50s is 2 years older than the oldest American guy to do the obstacle course before now is nowhere near as interesting as the announcers seem to think it is.

It's already impressive that people are attempting this ridiculous task. I don't need mini-features that highlight how disappointed people are in their pre-training bodies. We don't all have the same priorities, and our priorities change. Considering how many people wipe out on the first or second obstacle, training for Ninja Warrior may not be the best use of someone's time. Hell, there's only a cash prize for finishing the whole thing, which no one has done yet, so thus far it hasn't been a good use of anyone's time. 

I'm glad they do because it's fun to watch. But when they play the same music over the "I didn't really exercise" bit that they would play over an "I was in a debilitating car accident" part of the story, I start hate-watching the show.

The most insulting part? There are people who complete the obstacle course, but we don't get to watch their entire 3-minute run because their backstory didn't merit an inspirational featurette.

His Awesomeness and I have started fast forwarding over the little featurettes. We've even taken to muting the commentators some times. Or HA just talks over them, doing commentary in the style of the original show.

And these contestants? Professional break dancers and parkour do-ers. (I dunno - is there a noun for people who do parkour? I would care except that one of the parkour doing competitors has traveled internationally to teach parkour to orphans which seems really low on the list of orphan's priorities.) I miss the old guy with the octopus from the original Ninja Warrior. Where are the fishing boat captains? The gas station managers? When you have professional athletes wiping out on the course, you only underscore how ridiculously hard it is. And the whole thing starts to feel stupid.

Though when I think about it, Ninja Warrior makes most sports looks idiotic in comparison. Oh, you like watching large men slam into each other, causing traumatic brain injuries while trying to get an oblong ball to the end of the field? Wouldn't you rather watch a bunch of people try to get to the top of something called The Warped Wall?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fuck Mother's Day

Can't we, as a society just agree that Mother's Day is a stupid fucking holiday that makes more people miserable than not?

Here's a short list of people who have a hard time on Mother's Day:

  • Bereaved Mothers
  • The Infertile
  • People who had difficult relationships with their moms at best.
  • People who had great relationships with their moms who has since passed away
  • Moms with small kids who have to spend the day visiting their mom and mom-in-law instead of having a day all about them even though raising small kids sucks. (As Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says in her latest book, the way most toddlers treat their moms violates the Geneva Convention.)
  • People waiting for a table so they can get Mother's Day brunch over with.
  • People who can't get the day off to spend time with their kids or moms because everyone in the fucking country has to take their mom to brunch on that one day.
  • Women who have no desire to be a mother, and have to put up with the assumption that all women are supposed to be mothers 365 days a year.
  • Mothers who would like to be treated nicely the rest of the year too.
  • Mothers who have to clean up after their husband's and children's lame ass attempt to make them breakfast.
Is there anyone over the age of 10 not on that list?

I wasn't even that old when I first had issues with the day. I was maybe 7 or 8 when my Dad bought corsages for both me and mom to wear to church. I refused to wear mine because it made zero sense - I wasn't a mother. I explained this to my mom (who for some reason was stuck with talking me into wearing the stupid thing, even though she's not the idiot who bought it), and she shouted, "You're a future mother of America."

I has barely reached the age of reason, yet this was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard. I've probably heard stupider things since then (thanks, Fox News!) but this is still up there. 

Kudos to my mom for such a remarkable achievement.

Of course, this is not an uncommon sentiment. Yet, a big chunk of feminism can be summed up thus:

Yes, the ability to gestate a human being is neato. But we can do other stuff too. Some of that stuff is even more important or impressive than baby making.

Mother's Day is a homage to heteronormativity. It's this one fucking day where we're supposed to give hardworking moms a break and honor them for ruining their lives. When they wouldn't have to work so hard if their husbands turned off the fucking game and did some housework or childcare. Or if it were more common for single parents to live together Kate and Allie style, so they could share the work. Or if we got some paid maternity/paternity leave and subsidized day care.

But until then, we'll just have to settle for greeting cards and feeling bad because we're not Claire Huxtable.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Comments I Did Not Post on Facebook

This is what I look like when I visit Facebook.
...but totally wanted to. Not all aimed at the same person, natch.

Happy Birthday, person who I haven't seen in 20 years and who used to bully me.

Jeebus, is there anything you can't complain about?

Dude, first world problems are still problems. People are allowed to complain about stuff even though they have reliable access to clean water.

There's a child walking down my street and wailing like they're being dragged to the gas chamber. I'd say that a complete lack of perspective is a childhood thing, but I know too many adults who never grew out of it.

We really need to get together more often because you're so much less pretentious and annoying in person.

Hey casual acquaintance, I really wish I saw you more often, but I know that your social anxiety makes it hard for you to keep up with the friends you already have, so the kindest thing I can do is to never see you in person again.

Thank you for forcing me to see pictures of injured and abused animals. 

Sorry that dog is going to be euthanized today if no one adopts them, but I live 8 states away and I'm allergic. Oh, and neither one of us has any reason to believe that this post is from today and not 3 weeks ago.

Also, you've really got to love animals to adopt a dog from death row and then not regret the decision every time they throw up on your carpet.

I'm sorry your dog died, but since you talk about him/her like it's a person, I had to click around your profile to make sure that you hadn't actually lost a child, so, um, perspective please.

Please tell me the secret to raising such perfect children. Or it is just conveniently misplacing the camera whenever they act like real people?

Thank you for posting a picture of your kids playing and getting dirty. I was starting to think that kids these days only stand around posing for pictures in their church clothes. While hugging their siblings who they adore and never, ever fight with.

Hey, you wanna come to that thing with me? Oh wait, I'm not sure I like you enough to spend an entire afternoon together with just us. Never mind.

Seriously? You believed a news story from some weird web site that no one's ever heard of?

Snopes, mutherfucker! Try checking it some time before posting some crazy shit.

I won't believe what this video shows? I can't believe this video is any more shocking or surprising or impressive than any of the other world's most shocking videos.

OK, your turn - what comments have you wanted to post on FB but didn't because you want people to keep speaking to you?

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Crisis of Blogging Confidence

As if my health issues weren't enough to interfere with my blogging, for the past few months, I've been at a bit of a loss about this blog. (Don't worry - this isn't some lame announcement about how I'm shutting down the blog because I'm not.) This is just me thinking out loud. Or typing, you know.

As I've been building my freelance writing career, I've followed the advice of some online gurus. (If you want to know who, e-mail me. I'm not going to mention any names here because I'm not going to be 100% complimentary.)

Guru #1 offers loads of great advice. But she's only human, so sometimes she contradicts herself and sometimes she's just wrong. I've learned a ton from her and recommend her to people. 


She's agin' personal blogs. Says they're a total waste of time. You could post every day on a personal blog, but since you're not focusing on one topic, that personal blog isn't good as a work sample. She says that it means nothing to post every day on whatever you feel like writing about. Even though producing a lot of content on a schedule is something that clients are looking for.

Guru #1 encourages freelance writers to launch a topic-specific blog, and build it into a business. Even though you're trying to build a freelance writing business at the same time.

Then she complains about freelance writers with just a few months experience setting up blogs about how to be a freelance writer. I don't think she's realized that at least some of them did it because she told them to. 

And as if that contradiction weren't enough - she also teaches that writers aren't experts. Yes, you can leverage your past work experience to get assignments writing about a certain topic, but if you want to get paid, you need to interview other experts, not sell yourself as an expert. And yet, she tells her readers to set themselves up as experts.


So this is what led me to launch The Famished Freelancer. Since I focus on food writing instead of recipes, it's probably not good enough for Guru #1, but my health issues have kept me from doing much cooking, so I'm not about to launch a recipe blog. 

Guru #1 has held some free phone calls with Guru #2, a more successful professional blogger who makes a very good living teaching people how to build successful blogs. After a couple of his free lessons/pitches for his classes, I realized that this approach they've been pushing isn't for me.

Guru #2 asked everyone on the call to think about where they want to be in 5 years. Well, I want to be published novelist. Not a high profile blogger. I want to put my entrepreneurial energy into raising the profile of my clients. While leaving time to write fiction. Not spending 20 hours a week managing a blog.

For the past 30 years, I've wanted to be a published novelist in 5 years, so I'm done letting having to earn a living get in the way. (Though I tried being a slacker in my early 20s, holding down lousy day jobs while writing and it didn't work either. Working a job I hate sucks away my will to write.)

Novelists need to build an author platform, but in very few cases does it include a big How To blog.

I don't know what that means for what I'm going to be writing here, or how I'll be promoting my two blogs. What I do know is that I'm going back to writing about whatever the fuck I feel like writing, without thinking about whether or not it's good for my freelance writing career. I'll be continuing with The Famished Freelancer because I like writing about food, and I'm currently trying to get more food-related clients. But I'm not going to use either blog to try to build an online empire. And I'm not going to shut them down because they don't fit into someone else's idea of what I should be writing.

Anything you'd like to see me write about? No promises, but this could be fun. Suggest something silly, or serious. Or nothing at all. Do what you want.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who Would You Save?

The other night, I watched The Buddy Holly Story starring a pre-crazy Gary Busey. Really, it was amazing how not cuckoo he was.

Anyway, the minute the characters started talking about Buddy going out on tour towards the end of the film, I started playing time traveler in my mind. I do this a lot. Like when I read and watched Daniel Deronda - there are some Jewish characters living in Germany, which is fine for the 19th century, but I wanted to yell at the TV that they needed to get the hell out of there.  You know, like you'd yell at a horror movie, only the characters aren't doing anything stupid. It's just that I know more than they do thanks to history and all that.

I've learned from Doctor Who that you can change some things, but not others. You can't kill Hitler for example because so much history hangs off of him. There was a character on Sanctuary who did kill Hitler, but it didn't do any good - he was replaced by a double and the Reich carried on.

But there are some things you could change without damaging the time line, or whatever. While watching The Buddy Holly Story, I started thinking that you could probably prevent that plane crash without causing too much damage. It's only music history, after all. It's not like the crash led to a bunch of safety reforms. And entertainers still get on those dinky little planes and die sometimes, so it's not like the crash served as a cautionary tale that saved lives.

Buddy Holly's music influenced The Beatles, but his death had nothing to do with that. His wife remarried and had kids with someone else - but if he'd lived, they might've divorced anyway.

Maybe Ritchie Valens still would've been a one hit wonder, but he was so young and his family would've preferred to keep him around. Same thing for the Big Bopper.

But Buddy would've kept making music, maybe going on to produce other people's music since he produced his own. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert posited that had he lived, Buddy would've continued to be unique and influential, or he might've been the next Paul Anka or Barry Manilow.

Then again, when Rose went back and saved her father on Doctor Who, the whole of space and time started to unravel. So maybe we shouldn't change anything in the past, given the chance. 

Thoughts? What do you think would've happened if Buddy Holly & co. had lived? Were their deaths so inevitable that their bus would've crashed instead? 

Who from history would you save? And what consequences do you think that would have? 

Given the chance, I'd like to save some victims of the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts. There were so many that saving a few wouldn't affect history.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poll - Have I Made an Oops?

A few years ago, I told my hairdresser that I wanted to dye my hair red. He thought for a moment and then sagely declared, "Copper."

So when I finally took the plunge, I went with copper. (I dye my own hair because I'm cheap and because my old hairdresser used to tell me that I only needed highlights. Then she said I should try lowlights too and my hair looked stripy. Never again.)

But there are a few downsides to copper. All red dyes fade really fast. And they're really bright at first. I like that, but some people don't. I read in a magazine that dying your hair red is so tricky that you should never do it at home. Which is why it's damn near impossible to find my copper dye in the store.

And sometimes when I see someone with bright auburn hair, I covet it. 

So on impulse, I took the plunge. On the one hand, it beats the impulse I had to dye my hair black because the drug store carries ten shades of black but no copper.

But now I'm wondering if my skin is way too ruddy for auburn. Or maybe I just need to get used to it. 

Which is where you come in:
Jen with copper hair
Jen with auburn hair

Which hair color looks better? free polls