Friday, July 27, 2012

Things that are annoying me this week...

1. Television doctors. Not only are most of them way too attractive to be real people, have you noticed how much they cry? I'm sure that if doctors cried so much in real life as they did on TV, they would drown in their own tears. Possibly literally. 

The main offender
Seriously? You're crying because you lost a patient? Yeah, okay, but do you realise that if this affects you like this EVERY SINGLE TIME, then you might need to go into another field of work. Because you know what? You're a doctor. This is what you are paid to do. 

But you know what I hate the most? Now I realise that on most shows the TV doctors are the main characters, so we're supposed to see how they're emotionally affected, but I hate -- HATE -- when TV doctors cry when they're delivering bad news to a waiting family, and then THE WAITING FAMILY COMFORTS THE DOCTOR. 

No, just no. Their son/daughter/mother/father/whatever is dying, and you're having a rough day at work. I know where my sympathy lies. Suck it up and do your damn job. 

2. My radio alarm clock can only pick up one radio station. It's country music. This morning I woke up to this: 

But at least I now get out of bed in a real hurry. 

(Sidenote: in looking for this song, I realised that the Australian version is the original. I think it's more of a tongue twister as well. ) 

3. Twilight fans and their reaction to the break-up of the century. Not all Twilight fans, probably, but ones like these: 


Take a step back, take a breath, and please try and get some damn perspective. Last time I checked, this was not a sign of the apocalypse. 

And yes, I do appreciate the irony of telling someone else to get perspective when I've just written this post. Life's funny like that, hey? 


What's annoying you this week? 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Punctuation is so important.

I left Sunday School when I was five and refused to go back. As a result, I picked up most of my knowledge of theology from another source: my mother's old cassette of Jesus Christ Superstar. I listened to it until it broke, and Mum fixed it with sticky tape and a pencil. You young people don't have any idea what I'm talking about, do you? We were also lucky enough to have the VHS. Kids, look it up. 

In addition to giving me some interesting ideas about theology, Jesus Christ Superstar also confused me a little bit on some aspects of Ancient History. 

Um. If the Romans had machine guns, why did they never successfully defeat the Parthian Empire? Were they too busy at Studio 54? 

Anyway, the point, and I think I had one, is that punctuation is important, and it relates to Jesus Christ Superstar. And here is how. 

These lyrics are from "I Don't Know How to Love Him", sung by Mary Magdalene about Jesus. 

He's a man
He's just a man 
And I've had so many men before
In very many ways
He's just one more

Do you see it? Do you see the problem? 

What Mary is singing is: "He's a man, he's just a man, and I've had so many men before. In very many ways, he's just one more." 

She is not singing (as I did for years): "...I've had so many men before in very many ways. He's just one more." 

Although, you know, she was a prostitute so the second one is at least technically true. 

Punctuation. So important. 

Has punctuation ever tripped you up in the past? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Muse Free Zone

“Oh, you write,” someone said to me the other day. “Where do you get your ideas?”

“My brain,” I said. “Why, where do you get yours?”

The Muses and Apollo, busting some moves. 

I hate when people ask where I get my ideas. Partly because I’m not a neurologist or a philosopher, and partly because what do they really expect me to say?

Oh, I signed up for this club. Every month they send me a new idea. And fruit!

My ideas? They’re not mine. The god-emperor Zork transmits them to me from his citadel on Omega Six, using the Pay TV satellite. All hail Zork.

I inherit all the ideas of my enemies when I kill them in battle and consume their flesh.

I sneak around the neighbourhood at night and steal the dreams of sleeping children using a butterfly net and black magic.

I only actually have one single idea, but it’s a master of disguise.

Because, you know what? Everyone has ideas. Every person, every single day. It’s just that some of us have got into the habit of cobbling a few of them together to see what interesting new shapes they make, and what we can do with them. That doesn’t make us more inspired or gifted than others, it just makes us more practiced.

I don’t have a muse. I have a brain that collects detritus I sift through later.

How about you? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I love my editor. Also, I hate her.

I love my editor.

She emails things like “OMG, I love your story! I choked up reading the last sixteen pages. You are great at spinning emotion!”

And I’m smugly buffing my nails on the lapels of my vintage velvet smoking jacket, going “Hells yes, I am AWESOME!”  and designing an Emotional Blackmailer badge in my head to put on my velvet vintage smoking jacket.

You know I don’t really have a smoking jacket, right? I don’t even know what one is, except it seems sort of needless to change clothing just to smoke. If I had one, and if it’s what I think it is, I would wear it with a fez.

I totally have a fez.

I hate my editor.

She says things like “Anyone reading this who is not familiar with the history of the period will be quite confused. You need a few sentences or a paragraph of explanation.” And then she says things like “I find that you slipped into telling quite a lot in his POV.”

And I’m all like “For serious? First I’m holding back, and then I’m telling too much? Make up your mind!” And then I realise that it’s not impossible that I’m doing both of those things at two different points in the story, and a part of me dies inside.

I love my editor. 

When she makes a suggestion, it makes my story better; stronger; clearer. Also, she knows how to properly use a semicolon, which is something I've obviously never figured out even though I sprinkle them through my writing like fairy dust because they look pretty. 

I hate my editor.

When we go through every single line and read every single word I feel like I’m back in school and she’s a scary teacher with a red pen in one hand and a ruler in the other, and the bits that I thought were clever are not that clever, and the bits that I kind of rushed through — holy crap, she can spot those a mile off. My editor puts me on the guilt trip my conscience didn’t, but she does it in such a nice way that I thank her for it.

I love my editor.

She turns my story into a proper book. And I have no idea how she does it. I don’t know how editors do the thing they do — immediately honing in on what needs tightening and what needs changing and moving and fixing — but I suspect black magic is involved.

All hail Abrazaxicos.

Who is the demon that editors worship. Also, I just made him up. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and google “smoking jackets”. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

American English... my old nemesis

In my other life I am editing again, which means that, once again, my spelling falls short of the stuff you find in Webster’s. Is it Webster’s? Whatever dictionary you Americans use. The one that's not the Oxford. You know the one. It's shorter, because you took out all the u's in the our endings to save on printing costs. Yeah, I think it's Webster's that doesn't like me. Also, just quietly, the Chicago Manual of Style has issues with my love of italics to show direct thoughts, but that’s a whole other thing.

But OMFG, I can’t… I just... you don’t even… that toward/towards forward/forwards backward/backwards thing gets me EVERY time! Why… WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY can you not use English the right way?

(By which, of course, I mean my way. Because everything I do is right.)

Okay. Fine. Some American usages are okay. Some actually…ahem…make more sense. But others…really, Americans, really?

Here is the brilliant David Mitchell on American English:  

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to pop out to get some printer toner and take the cat to the vet. Will you hold the fort?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An impossible question. And some work history.

A whole other lifetime ago, I worked for the Commonwealth Bank. I started out in Proof, which was where...well, the fact that I can't explain what my job was is probably a good indication of how unsuited I was to the position. There were big machines that we put cheques into, and they made an awesome noise as they got sucked into their little compartments, and we started at lunchtime and finished late which suited me. But then they closed the department and decided I could be a teller. 

The latest ad campaign. Putting the logo over the world "can't".
Oh, I see what you did there! 

I hated it being a teller. 

I hated watching CBA TV every morning -- a little five minute broadcast that told us how fantastic the bank was and how we should all work harder and praise the leadership (kind of like in Nineteen Eighty-Four except I was forced to internalise my rage). I hated how I used to get in trouble for not selling enough housing loans and credit cards when our core customer base at that branch was made up of people old enough to remember the war (and talk at length about it) and homeless alcoholics. I hated how the only fun part of the day was when Julian and I would sit in the strongroom before the branch opened and plot the perfect bank robbery. And we had some solid ideas. 

Yes. Just yes. 

But mostly I hated those godawful team building exercises where we had to Get To Know One Another. Please, if I think you're a dickhead at the office when they're paying me to be there, do you really think I'll like you anymore in what should be my own time? 

Once, they made us fill out questionnaires about our favourite things. Which is pointless, because I always lie in those anyway. Partly because there is no way I'm painting a weird target on my head by telling you that my favourite hobby is writing -- I'll just put "going to movies with friends" because that makes me seem sociable and uninteresting-- and partly because it's none of your business. 

Anyway, this particular questionnaire asked: What is your favourite book? 

I hate that question. Without being overly dramatic, asking me to name my favourite book is like asking me to name my favourite lungful of air. Because I need them all. Need. I can't narrow down the list of books I love to a hundred, let alone ten, let alone one. All I can do is keep adding to the list as I find them. Is that so unusual? 

Anyway, as I sat there mulling over how to answer such an impossible question, the trainer facilitator idiot in charge leaned over to me, saw that I was stuck, and smiled. 

"Don't worry," he said in a friendly tone. "I don't read books either." 

I hate you beyond words, I thought in my loudest fashion while resisting the urge to scream and stab him with a pen. 

Shortly afterwards I quit my job at the bank for my current place of work, where I am allowed to be as jaded and cynical as I like. Sometimes it's like heaven. Cranky, profanity-filled heaven. 


So, what's your favourite book? 
What's the worst job you ever had? 


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