Thursday, September 20, 2012

On books

I've been reading a bunch lately, thanks to my use of mass transit. Not just mass transit, but the slower, cheaper (for me) version. I put my makeup on and catch up on everything that happened on Twitter and Facebook after I went to bed, but then I read the rest of the way there, plus the whole way home. One day last week I was so involved in my book I wasn't paying attention to the stop announcements and ended up going too far. That was a great day. :-/

It's nice to have so much dedicated reading time during the week. I love it. I love it both as a consumer of books and a student of literature. It's fun to read something fluffy and light and be done, but it's also fun--dare I say more fun?--to really engage with it and look behind the curtain, as it were. The whole mechanics of how and why authors do what they do is fascinating, and of course helps me/us write better.

The downside, of course, is that it also shines light on all the flaws. To use one example, I recently(ish) read The Hangman's Daughter, which I was given to understand was a fairly successful book. Had to be, to get translated to English. But maybe it was mostly because it was cheap on Amazon Kindle? It has four stars out of nearly 600 ratings, but...man, I guess people have low standards. I did not like it and considered giving up enough times that if I weren't such a fast reader I probably would have. (See also the #4 Amazon Prime lending library book [behind the three Hunger Games books], War Brides, which I recently started and just  could not get past the bland prose in the prologue. I get that you need exposition, but man it just wasn't very gracefully done. As far as I could tell; I literally did not finish the prologue, I was so fed up.)

For one, the book isn't about the hangman's daughter at all. I mean, I spent a good half the book waiting for her to show up at all. And then she was at most a secondary character! She really didn't impact the plot much at all. She, to quote Friends, lifts right out. And, this is my pet peeve of all books and why I'll never read another Dan Brown novel, it's written like a screenplay. If the character pries back the tile above the fireplace and is shocked by what he sees, or finally recognizes the voice of the villain, you don't get to cut to another character somewhere else. That is cheating. That is how you add drama in a movie or TV show, not a book. You don't get to be as omniscient as you want until it ruins your cliffhanger.

Anyway, yeah. I don't regret being an English major. Except that my get rich "quick" scheme is to write a popular, though not particularly literary, novel and become comfortably wealthy and relatively anonymous. All I'm saying is if Stephenie Meyer can become a bajillionaire on a so-so idea, why can't I?

And in that vein, I am now open to your suggestions for story ideas.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What's in the daily news? I'll tell you what's in the daily news.

Name that musical.

Besides all the terrible attacks and deaths and things going on--honestly, I can't tell why flags are at half staff on any given day--I read a couple articles today that really rankled. So now you can read them and be rankled too. If you want to. No pressure.

The first one was titled (somewhat provocatively) "How To Buy a Daughter: Choosing the sex of your baby has become a multimillion-dollar industry." Bottom line, this is messed up, both as a concept and in the woman's individual story. People want so badly to have daughters that they will pay tens of thousands of dollars to try to get one. Okay, that's not great. A little eugenics-y, no? But the woman! Oh, my. So she keeps having boys. The last one she considers aborting just because it isn't a girl. Seriously? Seriously people? This is okay? "Oh, well, we'll just terminate our child because we can't paint the nursery pink and play pretty pretty princesses"? How nice it must feel to be THAT son.

Not that things are great for any of her sons, I'm guessing. You know they know, either having explicitly been told or just being around. Kids pick things up, figure stuff out. But surely you had to tell them! How else do you explain why mom and dad disappeared to California for a few days, then dad came back a few days before mom? That would be a pretty strange "vacation." How do you explain that mom (a nurse, who generally work 12-hour shifts) worked six days a week for over a year during and after her pregnancy--72 hours or more a week for months and months, and no doubt sleeping all day on her day off--so that she could pay for Dr. Frankenstein to pick her female embryos and implant them? How could those poor boys feel knowing that they rarely saw their mom, and certainly her not particularly well-rested when they did, because of all the money she spent trying to get a girl? Talk about second class citizens in your own home. It just disgusts me, really. All of her reasons for wanting a girl are so shallow and selfish. And newsflash? Boys can bake, sew, and do hair and makeup, too. Go fig.

The second article is about Nanny Bloomburg's soda ban. But not so much a soda ban as "we're going to make it inconvenient for you to get a large soda in these very specific places." Look, I enjoy soda, but I drink it, oh, maybe three times a month? And I have no need for bathtub-sized vessels. But I don't really think it's the government's place to say no. Sin tax, fine. Post calories on the menu, fine. None of that actually controls one's choices, they merely attempt to influence them. But honestly, the soda thing is ridiculous.

Also ridiculous is the last blurb, which argues that  the sodas bans "are not infringing on personal freedom, but helpful ways of making it easier for people to simply say 'No.'" Um, how can you choose to say no if there's no option to say yes? If you force someone to make the right decision, it isn't a decision at all. Of course, this same blurb also says that requiring them to post the calories on the menu resulted in customers buying 6 percent fewer calories at a Starbucks they studied. Six percent. Do you know what that means? It means instead of buying the 600 calorie chocolate chip muffin, they went for the blueberry at 564. I'd hardly consider six percent a rousing success. Regardless, at least they could still choose the extra whip cream if they wanted to.

So, that's what's been bugging me lately. Oh, and loan officers. I just looove when they get all snappish and rude in the conversation log, only to have been the one in the wrong the whole time. And do they ever follow up with, "oops, my mistake"? Of course not. People are just terrible, you guys. Just terrible.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stalker songs

Every time I hear The Police's song "Every Breath You Take," I'm reminded of a quote from Sting I once saw or heard somewhere (or smelled or tasted or felt?). The gist of it was that he was surprised that people choose it for their wedding song, since it's mostly about stalking/controlling someone.

I was reminded of that the other day when I was leaving work, singing The Bangle's "Eternal Flame" to myself. You know, as one does. But for perhaps the first time ever, I considered the words as statements, rather than just lyrics. "I believe it's meant to be, darling. I watch you when you are sleeping--you belong with me. Do you feel the same? Am I only dreaming...." Dude, you guys, the narrator is totally a stalker. I mean...you watch him while he sleeps, but you're not sure that he feels the same?" Hey, I get it; sometimes on a Saturday I'll wake up before Adam and he'll wake up and be freaked out that I was looking at him. (Which always reminds me of the episode of Friends where Chandler freaks out when he finds his  roommate watching him sleep and the roommate asks "But what about all the times you didn't wake up?!") But at least I know that he shares similar views on the longevity of our relationship.

I suppose this isn't unique, the romantic sinister songs. But it's...it's weird. I know I heard another one lately, but it escapes me. Anyway, moral of the story, neither of these songs should be your wedding song. Especially since it's 2012 and how much are you living in the past? but mostly because they're creepy and not lovey.

Friday, September 7, 2012

stupid Blogger

So...there has been an issue with people (mostly Jane) commenting and it not showing up, except I get an email with the comment, so we had no idea what was going on--turns out they were being marked as spam. I don't see why, since they don't have any links (let alone links of dubious nature) nor are there suspicious keywords about overseas pharmacies or b00bs. Anyway, there you have it, and if you have comments missing from your blog, that's probably where they are, too.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Resumes

I suppose it would be funnier if I didn't point out the post title, since it's actually résumés but who bothers with the accents? and it's been a while since my last post so now my posting resumes and..and it's just a great play on words and I have to make sure you all acknowledge how clever it is.

Anyway, yeah. Résumés. I have been volunteered to edit a lot of résumés lately--mostly by my husband--and I realize that while I can make a terrible resume good, I can't make good résumés great. (Which explains why mine is so pedestrian.) But last week I totally overhauled a résumé for someone, and I was pretty pleased with myself, so now I'm telling you about it. (I'm kind of tired of being volunteered, though, since I do put a lot of time into it and could reasonably make a side job of it, except I can't exactly shake down unemployed relatives, now can I?)

You see, I've decided that a good résumé is like a good outfit. It minimizes your flaws and plays up your assets. Not that I would ever falsify or condone falsifying one's job history, but you can present it in a way that puts you at your most attractive.

So I realized off the bat that the standard reverse-chronological format was not going to do this...well, I can't call him a customer, since that implies payment, and client isn't much better but I guess it will have to do...client any favors. Lots of gaps, hopping from field to field, short two- or three-month gigs, etc., and the typical format would do nothing but highlight that. I remembered when we were interviewing at my last job for a temp to replace the temp who replaced me, and the one we ended up picking had a unique format that highlighted the types of jobs and industries she had worked in. I can't remember specifically what it looked like, but it was enough of an idea that I came up with this:



Well, not this exactly, obviously, as the fake contact info and heavy blurring would hardly get you a job, but names have been changed to protect the innocent, etc. You get the point, though. Instead of highlighting the time at each job and how the history jumps industries, we highlight the different fields and how much experience he has. There was some debate as to if we should put the dates for each job, but I don't think people really care that much, especially for entry level applications. They're more interested to see how much time you have in that line of work, which we did include.

It took some selling, but I finally won over the client to my vision for his résumé. And I think once the logic of my air-tight reasoning sunk in, he was actually really enthusiastic about it. He handed out a bunch on Tuesday and by Thursday already had a couple interviews scheduled. And again, like a good outfit, a résumé you feel good about can give you the boost of encouragement you need to get out there and show people how awesome you actually are.

So there you have it, that's what I did last week. (And then I went to Utah this weekend and took zero pictures with me in them, which was stupid because there were SO MANY cute babies to pose with.) And not that I am volunteering to overhaul your résumé--unless you make it worth my while, heh--but you can at least consider this my permission to do something totally unorthodox with your résumé.