Friday, March 27, 2009

Saved from the Embarrassment

Tonight is the big night—the debut of the Timmerman School production of The Little Mermaid ballet.

Tuesday night, we had dress rehearsal. No, I didn’t get to do my “Lobster Rap,” but to the utter dismay of my daughter, I did go buy a pair of size 13 ballet slippers and I put on my old wrestling tights. I am, after all, playing the role of King Triton.

Again, I mortified my little princess, but fate, it appears, has stepped in to save her from total embarrassment. I will be unable to wear the tights for the performances. I have been out of the professional wrestling world for nearly 10 years. It has been that long since I have slipped on my gear, and apparently, I have become a little rounder. (Taller would make me feel better, but let’s be honest here).

I put on my tights, excited to do that once again, a thousand memories sailing through my brain—Ricky Steamboat, Wahoo McDaniel, the Super Enforcer, the Patriot, the Dorton Arena (my first television match), the Winthrop Coliseum, The Florence Civic Center. The first sign that they weren’t quite the fit they used to be was, as I slipped my arms through the straps, I felt my genitalia push up into my abdominal cavity. I’ll suffer anything in the name of art, even becoming a castrato, I told myself. However, when the waistline of the leggings kept folding over threatening to drop down around my knees, I knew I was done for.

Then my daughter practically begged me not to wear them because she didn’t think it was right for me “to have my boobies showing.”

I agree.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hey, Governor...Examine Your Zipper!

Allow me to recycle a lawyer joke: Do you know why South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford wears a necktie? To keep the foreskin from flipping up over his face. That’s right. My governor, my leader, the steward and chief executive of my state is a walking, talking, giant penis.

He has said on a national stage that he will turn down $700 million of federal stimulus money headed toward South Carolina. His favorite metaphor, which he has used on the local news as well as in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal is this: “…if you’re in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging.”

Yes, I could stoop to make another anatomical reference from that comment, but I’ll refrain. I will continue the metaphor, though, and say this to my governor: “If you’re already in a hole that’s over your head, you might as well join everybody else at the bottom.” When it gets cold, they just might share a blanket. If you’re hungry, they may feed you, but you’ll get none of that perched upon your “principled”, self-righteous ledge, and you won’t be any better off. Does that make sense to you, there Dick….er, Mark?

To understand the Gov, you need a little background. Several years ago, he got voted into Congress. His hallmark was sleeping on a couch in his office rather than renting an apartment at taxpayer expense. He also abided by a self-imposed term limit. Those were, in total, his greatest accomplishments.

How much of the legislation he proposed got passed? Zero. When the vote came up to support a breast cancer stamp for the post office, out of 435 members of Congress, three voted against it. Guess who was one of the three? This is principled leadership?

Here’s the real deal. Mark Sanford is the eighth-grade kid with the horn-rimmed glasses who always ran the projector; the panty-waste, math geek know-it-all who was always standing there to say, “I told you so.” He’s so taken with watching the bottom line that had he been a civil rights marcher in the 1960s, he would have checked his wallet for bail money before he ever hoisted a sign. He’s principled all right; it’s just that his principles and his vision are limited by dollar signs.

In his inaugural speech, did John Kennedy say we would put a man on the moon by then end of the decade if we had the budget for it? No. Did Ronald Reagan say, “Mr. Gorbachev, if you have enough money, it would be nice if you considered spending some of it on taking down this wall?” Somehow I remember that line as more commanding, decisive, and powerful.

What is so utterly stupid about Dick’s stance on the stimulus money is this: if we don’t take it, the $700 million will go to another state and WE WILL STILL HAVE TO PAY IT BACK as if we had received it. Some right-wingers across the country have hailed Sanford as the new conservative messiah. They want him to run for president in 2012. I wish him well. Anything to get him the hell out of here. A word of advice, however. If you draft him to run, make sure he brings his eyes, ears, arms, and legs. Otherwise, you’ll just get the walking penis, and you don’t want him screwing the country like he’s screwing us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vegetarian Vampires...Yeah, Right

Far be it for me to judge a book by the movie extracted from it. And who am I to criticize Stephenie Meyer, an author whose sales are more in the 50 million range versus the (perhaps) 50 books I sold last year? So let me stick to the movie itself.

To steal a line from my younger friends’ texting…WTF???!!?

A VEGETARIAN vampire. Gimme a break, but if Meyer’s (and the producer’s) visualization of a “vegetarian” vampire is one who sucks only animal blood, then let’s see it. I know it’s rated PG-13 for the tween crowd, but even most of them have seen hyenas tearing into a zebra on Wild Kingdom. Once or twice the film shows blood on the vampires’ lips, but damn, I’ve seen more blood than that when I cut myself shaving.

Trashing nearly 100 years of movie tradition and probably another 100 of vampire lore, the undead in this flick CAN come out in the sun. The only reason they don’t is because when sunlight hits their skin, they glisten “like diamonds” and people would immediately know they are different. Ahhh… Wrong again, bucko! Everybody knows vampires don’t come out in the sun BECAUSE SUNLIGHT KILLS THEM. Just like silver bullets and wooden stakes to the heart.

Then there’s the scene where Bella (the love struck human) visits vampire Edward’s home. It’s not a LAIR…oh, no. It’s a 7,500 square-foot mountain villa with lots of glass, sculpture, and bright colors. It’s straight out of Architectural Digest. When Bella expresses surprise, Edward says, “What were you expecting? Coffins, dungeons, and moats?”

Well..ah…YES! Because (again as everybody knows) vampires sleep during the day in COFFINS because SUNLIGHT KILLS THEM.

And what’s with all this leaping around in the treetops crap? Did the vegetarian vampires eat a family of flying squirrels? Hey Edward, you’re UNDEAD, not superhuman.

And speaking of Edward, British actor Robert Pattinson who played the part said he based his accent and portrayal on James Dean. If there’s a sequel, here’s a tip. Go back and watch East of Eden or Rebel Without a Cause a few more times. The way you played it, it was as if you were auditioning for the next Queer Eye. There’s angst, and then there’s just being a puss. Guess which one you were.

All of this sarcasm just to say this. It’s not that Stephenie Meyer’s characters, at least as they are portrayed in this movie, aren’t interesting and believable, they’re just not believable as vampires any more than if I threw on an eye patch and called myself a pirate. But if I did and made a movie, there would be blood, and swords, and swashbuckling (whatever that is), and my movie would be rated (wait for it), “Aaarrrrrr!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So Who Fiddles While Your Uterus Burns?

Madison Avenue may be ruled by men, but in my little corner of the universe, the advertising, marketing, and communications industry where I have spent the last 12 years of my career is dominated by women. Women understand that all buying decisions—from your brand of soap to multi-billion dollar acquisitions—are determined by emotion. Women emote better. They communicate better; therefore, the industry is commanded by some extraordinarily talented and intelligent females.

As a result, I have had plenty of women co-workers, many of whom have become my friends. I contend that I’m one of a handful of straight men in America who watches Bravo TV, so at lunch, I can talk with the best of them about Project Runway, Top Chef, America’s Next Top Model, and Sheer Genius. I even do a pretty mean Tim Gunn impression that has brought my sexuality into question a time or two. That’s okay. I’m secure.

The downside is that my XX chromosome buddies often forget there is an XY chromosome combination at the table (namely, me) and sometimes the conversations turn to things only women should talk about. I have discovered, for example, that if you’re trying to get pregnant, some people suggest putting your feet up after sex to help the sperm swim downward. Others advise taking a certain cough medicine to thin out the membrane that the sperm swim upon.

Here is my take on that: eeewwww! Yuck. Pass me a barf bag. It’s probably the male coming out in me, but I don’t need to know how the car is made, just tell me where to stick the key, if you get my drift.

It was icky enough in 9th grade science class. Do we really have to talk about this kind of thing now over sushi?

I took an English course at the University of South Carolina once. One of my friends there asked me to tell the professor she wouldn’t be in class one day because she was going to try out for a part in The Vagina Monologues. Can you say that kind of thing out loud?? Is it simply for shock value? I just told the prof she was sick. It was easier.

Today at lunch one of my friends explained how tomorrow she will have her uterus burned.

Pass the ketchup, please.

It will stop her period.

How nice. Cancel that ketchup. I don’t want it anymore.

But enough ranting for today. I must get back to writing. I’m working on a play about a guy who wants to be a urologist. It’s called I Studied for My Testicles. It’s only equitable that I get my turn to talk about it, my friends, next time we go eat hotdogs. Turnabout, they say, is fair play.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Surrounded by the Junior League

So at long last we get to baseball game number 2. Four weeks have past since game 1. Two have been cancelled by weather, and one because the league officials didn't bother to check the standardized testing schedule before they made out the game roster.

According to the calendar, spring begins next week. It's been overcast all day. Tonight a fine mist chills the air, forms little ice crystals, and makes the surfaces of the aluminum bleachers as slick and cold as an ice rink. For the second little league game in a row, we've broken out the coats and blankets and paid for hot chocolate.

To top it all off, tonight I'm surrounded by the junior league.

Umpire: "Batter up!"

Coaches and assorted team members: "Come on Joey. Good eye. Outta the park, baby!"

Buffy, oblivious that her son is pitching: "I rushed right over from tennis. I don't USUALLY play singles, but we have so few who are willing and Grace Anne practically BEGGED to put me in the line up."

Umpire: "Ball one"

Muffy: "Yes, Grace Anne and I were having a triple latte mocca frappacina ice at Starbucks on Tuesday and she said she had agreed to play. I was practically bowled over that you agreed. How wonderful, Buffy. By the by, how's Chad's business faring in the current crisis?"

Umpire: "Ball two."

Buffy: "Oh, he had to let go a few of his Mexicans, but he'll get by."

Umpire: "Ball three!"

Mary Margaret: "I'm glad to hear that, Buffy. Phillip is not doing so well. We may even have to cancel little Avery's tennis lessons (tear up, sniff, sniff). She's okay with it. I'm sure she'll manage somehow with ballet, violin, and French lessons...but I think she'll miss tennis. You know how she loves to whack things."

Let me hear you utter that sentence when she's 16.

Umpire: "Ball four. Take your base."

Buffy: "Oh, look. The referee is sending that young man on to base. Wouldn't it just be marvelous if they used racquets instead of those sticks?"

Tonight, there's not even the drone of an Arctic rescue plane. Someone please hand me a visor, (and perhaps a vodka tonic) so at least I'll blend in...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maybe It's Just Me

I paid a nice long visit to my cardiologist today, long partly because of the time I got to spend in the waiting room. I have the same attention span as my kids and after a while, I started looking around in search of something to do. The first thing I noticed was a dearth of magazines, which, as a writer for a handful of periodicals, rather irked me. The second thing I noticed was a Gideon Bible on every single end table in the place.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Christian, but aren’t we sending the wrong message here? Bibles in the cardiologist’s office? Following that logic, shouldn’t they allow funeral home calendars and catalogs from casket companies, too?

It’s all a little too “Last Rites” for me.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Language of Sex

The American Dialect Society routinely names a “Word of the Year,” a new entry into the American English language that is emblematic of the tone, the atmosphere, or the “buzz” for that year. The Word of the Year, for example in 2007, was “Subprime.” Doesn’t that sum it up nicely? Just the sound of it makes me want to rouse a mob with torches and pitchforks and head over to my nearest banker’s house.

In 2000, the ADS also chose a word of the millennium. It was the word “she,” which prior to the year 1000 did not exist. The Old English word for the fairer sex in 999 AD was “heo.” It changed, according to scholars, because it sounded to much like “he,” and a gender who won’t even wear the same color dress that another woman has on to the same event, just couldn’t have that. Oh, no sir-eeeee.

(“Sir” came from “sire, by the way, which means “senior” because men, allegedly came first to the earth, but that’s a man thing and really doesn’t matter, so to all my women friends, just forget I mentioned it).

Yep, like a superhero, they just added an “S” to their chests, and what a nice “S” it was. And rather than faking the big “O,” they just dropped it all together.

Linguists say all language is metaphorical. If this example isn’t a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In general, I try to say something light and funny here just to make this blog interesting reading. I’ll continue to strive for humor, but today I want to say something a little more serious about my fellow authors from Echelon Press and Quake.

These comments (like my last posting, which I hope you found somewhat funny) flow out of the recent book festival. Just last week, someone (a PR Professional), told me that all communication is a performance. I agree, but for it to be effective, I believe it has to be sincere. So many times at these festivals, authors assume some holier-than-thou personas. They appear to believe that because a publisher has published their book or books, they are somehow a notch or two above the hoi polloi. They expect a line at their signing tables.

I suspect that some of these folks are well meaning, but have fallen victim to their own visualization of success—you know…if you’re going to be taken seriously as a member of the literati, you must act the part and believe in yourself. I had one tell me Saturday that he had sold 27,000 copies of his book in just the first three months of last year, yet the publisher had only sent a $4,000 royalty check thus far. (I mean really, Muffy!!!—that’s me being snide and funny)

Seeing these authors makes me appreciate the people with whom I share the Echelon booth. We’re all real people. Certainly we think our books represent the best products at the show. If you don’t think your book is the next blockbuster, then you don’t need to be out there selling it. It's really up to us to make a compelling case that our books are the best ones out there. Still we seem to approach selling with a level of respect for our readers as well as our fellow authors that, to me, is remarkable.
We expect a line of people at our table because we’re fun, accessible, and engaging. We’re kind of like the NASCAR of authors only without the cool suits, fast cars, sponsors, big rig trailers…well, you know what I mean!

Every time I attend a book festival with any combination of Echelon authors, I am blown away by their sheer talent. I’m grateful to be counted in their ranks, and more importantly from my standpoint, I appreciate the humility and respect with which we all treat each other.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Postpartum Book Festival Blues

We just finished a run at the South Carolina Book Festival. As usual, despite the weather, it was a great event. We sold well. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Now, maybe it’s just me; maybe I’m just tired. I know we’re supposed to have our game faces on. We smile. We compliment the lady on her beautiful necklace just to engage her in conversation to hopefully make a sale. We ask the gentleman, “How did Carolina do in the game last night? Did Zam score plenty?” for the same purpose.

Here’s my quandary. I sometimes ask, as many of my fellow authors do, “What do you like to read?” (hoping, of course, they will say “Police thrillers,” so I can sell them my book!).

Then there’s the kicker: “Oh, I don’t like to read,” or the curt alternative, “I don’t read books.”

Say what? Then why are you at a BOOK FESTIVAL????!!!


Do philatelists hoping to add to their stamp collections root around football stadiums filled with half-drunk, rowdy, popcorn-and-Coke-laden, jersey-wearing fans? Do sci-fi enthusiasts head over to the Kenny Chesnee concert dressed like Darth Vader hoping to meet some blue-skinned chick with horns coming out of her head?

Hell no. They don’t go to these places. So why, then, are you in a room filled with books and authors if you don’t like to read? Isn’t that like watching Telemundo and not speaking a word of Spanish?

It’s not just South Carolina with our lack of interest for anything that doesn’t involve a gun, liquor, or a four-wheel drive vehicle. We get that response in Chicago and Los Angeles, too.

I got a tip for you. Why don’t y’all start your own “I Don’t Like Books Festival?” You can gather in a room full of empty booths and sit around not reading a damn thing to each other. You’d LOVE an event like this.

Maybe it’s just me…maybe I’m tired. I’m going to take a nap!