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The Batman



The Dark Knight is set to be one of the biggest grossing movies of all time. Gross! Saw it last night, for free (due to lax payment issues). I suppose I could have driven to Moncton to add two movies to my choices, but adding an hour and a half round trip for a maybe movie and a yuck movie didn't seem worth it. So my choices were The Batman, The Mummy and The Stepbrothers. I guess gals don't go to movies in Amherst, but then what would that be? Mamma Mia and Traveling Pants? Mamma's Saggy Undies. No thanks.

What a piece of shit. Of all the pieces of shit released this summer, this has to be one of the worst. I bet geriatric Indy was better. At least it became a comic strip and wasn't based on one. People do what they're told. Everyone has seen this movie, you should too! Is it any good? Does it matter? Nah. What matters is being part of the crowd, no matter how miserable it makes you! Follow follow follow. Bah bah bah.

You know why the plot made no sense? 'Cause it didn't have to. They market these movies to international audiences, so it doesn't matter if they're fucking mumbling their lines and the edits cut so quickly you're like, 'what the fuck just happened and who that hell's that?' All they have to do is have a bunch of loud explosions and things with wheels that go fast and sad music at sad parts and happy music at happy parts and guns shoved in people's mouths and punching and cutting and angry, crazy threats and you've got a fucking movie, man, that'll screen in Nowheresville, Idaho and Nowheres District, China. Boom! Smash! Mumble! Burn! Boob! Growl! Boom! The end. That's Batman. What a piece of mindless shit.

There were a few cool shots and some nice set design. But that's it. I miss good movies in theatres. I really, really do.

You Are Not a Writer

No, you're not. I know you may think you are because you can hold a pen and put words down on paper with that pen. Or maybe you can type and you think it's magic! and wonderful! and creative! when the words you type turn into sentences, and those sentences turn into paragraphs. You might think, heck, if I can write a paragraph, I can write a story! But you know what? You can't write a story because you 1. never read them and 2. don't know what the heck a story is.

You are not a writer if you:
-think there's no difference between fiction and non-fiction. If you read a story and want to ask the author, 'did this happen' or 'is this true' then you're not a writer
-wrote a poem/menu/newsletter 18 years ago and your mom/co-worker/boy (or girl) friend-at-the-time thought it was great
-have had kids and think, heck, I created life, I can create anything!
-watch more TV than read
-have no sense of humour
-think 'I'm gonna write me a book' and start writing said book for, like, a week here and there, and then abandon that idea like you do all creative ideas in favour of another creative idea like making bracelets or bread or T-shirts with funny sayings
-like the above, get a new! unique! creative idea every couple of days or weeks that you think will sell! sell! sell!
-think you'll make money and be a famous writer like what's-her-name
-make fun of other writers who'd rather write than drink or watch a bad movie
-don't swear
-can't spell
-don't know anything about English grammar and/or think grammar is full of patriarchal rules made to be broken
-think 'why do stories always have to be sad and depressing?'
-think a story actual does not need a problem or suspense to be interesting or a story. In fact you think random words on a page are a story, that it's literature's patriarchal rules that say a story needs a problem and how dare someone published and/or educated tell you otherwise

And finally, you are not a writer if you tell people you are going to be a writer. Writers write. In a room. By themselves. They write because they have to, not 'cause they think it'd be kinda cool to try writing for a while. They would write even if there was no one left on the planet. In fact, they'd be happy no one was on the planet 'cause finally they wouldn't have to deal with wanna-be writers asking them, 'can you read this thing I wrote yesterday while I was waiting for the bus?' They'd finally have some peace and quiet. They'd finally write.

Professional Writer

That's me! According to the Canada Council for the Arts, to be eligible for a grant, one must be a "professional writer" who has "a minimum of four texts of creative literary writing...published on two separate occasions in literary magazines, recognized periodicals (including general interest magazines), or anthologies published by professional publishing houses..." So, thanks to Grain (who just accepted "Happy Meat," my sex and death on an organic farm story), I have four stories published in more than two journals. When the stories will be published, well, that's another story. I also have a story ("Diving for Pearls") forthcoming in The Fiddlehead. Sometime, in the future....

In honour of being a professional writer, here's a picture of a lovely couple, admiring the man's writing. This is what The Professor and I do each day: gaze lovingly at each other's writing, because both are things of beauty.

Into Thin Air


Just read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Normally, I hate non-fiction. Hate. It's boring; it's dumb; it's repetitive. Repetitive. No wonder non-fiction's so popular with the masses. Mostly non-fiction is a stretched out magazine article that shouldn't have been stretched out. This book is not. It's got plot, suspense, big words. It's what most fiction should be and isn't. I couldn't put it down, which I've said about other books, but not because it was easy to read. Because the story was compelling. As was the writing.

It creeped me out. And now I can't stop thinking about mountains. I'm dreaming about them. I've never seen a snow-capped mountain; I've seen Vermont's Green Mountains, but they're green, and not so tall. I gotta go see the Rockies at least. That and the Pacific Ocean. Maybe before I die...

Mount Everest is so high it's top cuts into the jet stream. Holy shit. About 1 in 4 people die trying to get there. And you need a hell of a lot of money to get there. At least $60,000. That's about 3 times as much as I make in a year. But now that I can apply for a Canada Council grant, maybe I should propose a trip? Then I'll write some poems. Big poems. The biggest in the world.

When people die on Everest, most of the bodies are left there. And 'cause it's so cold, those bodies stick around for decades. Imagine hiking on up a glacier, your brain's fucked up from lack of oxygen, and there's someone's lower torso from 1987. What do you do? Look away and keep on marching. Like war. And teaching.

Victim Lit

When was the last time I read a book in one day? I don't know. I forget. I know I've spent a lot of days marking lately. Too many. I hate June. Every kid suddenly realizes, "Hey, I'm graduating (I know, I know, I've known this for ten months) and I need my English mark. Here are eighteen assignments--can you mark them tonight? If not, I won't graduate, won't go to university, won't get a job and it will be all your fault!" Maybe some of these kids shouldn't go to university. Seriously. Take a few years off. Drink without paying thousands in tuition.

So I took Sunday off from the marking and read Towelhead, about an American girl who moves in with her Lebanese-American dad and proceeds to discover Playboy, racism, masturbating, orgasms, rape, sex, the (first) war in Iraq and good and bad neighbours. Did I mention it's another example of victim lit? Yet another passive female narrator. Sigh. Lullabies for Little Criminals, the American version. I find it problematic that so many women and girls in literature and movies get raped. I don't think rape is entertaining. So why are these stories so compelling? Why does victim lit sell?

Course, before she gets raped, almost the first half of the book focuses on the main character's discovery of masturbation and orgasms. Holy crap that was a lot of masturbating. Then, wham, rape, and, you know, it made me feel a bit off. Yet I couldn't put the book down. I finished it in one day. It was a damned easy read. I know some people think this is a mark of good literature, but a metaphor or two would have been nice.

And that was the big problem--not the masturbating, not the rape, but the simple, childish voice. She's thirteen. She sounded like she was six. What thirteen-year-old growing up in the U.S. is this sheltered? Growing up in the U.S. off a Mormon farm, that is.

Ok, and the rape was bad too. A girl discovers her sexuality and she gets raped, i.e. female sexuality should be punished. I'm surprised she wasn't murdered, got pregnant and/or got hooked on heroin. But then again, not everyone can write Lullabies for Little Criminals.

Lullabies for Little Criminals Sucks

I don't get it. Lullabies has won or been nominated for a lot of awards. A lot. Here's the list:

 

  • Winner of Canada Reads 2007
  • Shortlisted for Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award 2007
  • Shortlisted for the Amazon.ca/ Books in Canada First Novel Award 2007
  • Shortlisted for Governor General's Award 2007
  • Winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Best Novel 2007
  • Shortlisted for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montreal 2007
  • Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2008
  • Shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2008

 

But you know what? It sucks. Sucks! I am so damned tired of reading novels and short stories that involve victimized, passive female protagonists. Ladies? We have the vote. We have birth control. We can leave our abusive partners/parents and don't have to get pregnant or turn tricks to do so. What happened to feminism? What happened to roaring? I fear we're just going to lose our right to choose with a meek shrug and whimper. Hillary Clinton loses out to Obama and everyone says great! Phew! We almost had a woman leading a country. That was fucking close. We can't let a vagina anywhere near the oval office, unless she's down on her knees, blowing the president where she belongs!

Ok, what's all that have to do with the novel? Simple. The more we embrace these meek-ass characters, the further backwards we go. Stop being afraid. There is more to life than shopping, crying, dollies and marriage. Women have won more Oscars for playing prostitutes or rape victims than any other characters. And yet there are three times as many women graduating from Canadian law schools than men.

Here's an excerpt: "As I walked in (to my bedroom), I saw a horrible sight on my floor. While I'd been out, Jules (my father) had knocked over all my things. He had torn up the homework I had left lying on the bed. I would never be able to finish my project on time now. But then I saw something even worse. There, lying on the floor, was my rag doll, its arms and legs ripped off. I dropped to my knees and picked her pieces up. I'd never get another one. Jules never thought to buy me pretty things like that. That doll had been like a miracle to me. It had reminded me that I'd been loved by my mother. Now I was nothing, a real nobody."

Ok, I counted the word "that" three times near the end. This is so simply and dumbly written, my sixteen-year-old students could write better than this. It's a YA novel with swearing, drugs and hookers. Poor, poor Baby (oh, yeah, that's her fucking name. Could she be even more of a victim?) Grow up! What I don't get is it's written in first person, when Baby's older, so why does it sound like it's still written by a twelve-year-old? Seriously. Try to read this shit out loud. You can't. The words get stuck in your mouth 'cause the word order is so awkward. "A real nobody." Wah! Why does this shit sell? So middle-aged housewives can feel bad reading about the street kid in their plush family rooms? I bet those same women would call the cops if Baby ever took a walk in their gated communities.

1.5 Years

A lot can happen in 1.5 years. Here's a quick summary:
1. Worked and finished working for a Nova Scotia public online school. They cut a teacher and that teacher was me. Fuck you! Karma is getting them already. Online education is growing and they are shrinking, shrinking, shrinking. Duh! Soon you will be nothing!
2. Started working for VHS (Ontario), an online PRIVATE school. Private's the way to go. Fuck public money. Fuck waiting for handouts. Except for EI. EI's my money anyway.
3. Went on EI. Great for the writing!
4. Wrote like crazy. Have a manuscript! Fuck teaching!
5. Started my first garden! Gardening rocks. Beautiful:

6. Am also doing some correspondence marking for the NS government. Pay's ok. Wish it was more often.
7. Moved to Church Point, NS for a year. Land of Acadians. Thought about taking some French courses to be a better teacher, then realized I hate the public education system. Moved back home to Advocate. Bye bye Church Pit! Was some pretty there though:

8. The Professor got a job at Dalhousie U in Halifax! Us pokes ares gonna be big citying all over Halifax. In the south end no less. We done coming ups we ares!! Just for a year though. Maybe more. I'm sure we'll be back in the Adv, getting yelled at by locals. Collecting the dole or some form of the dole. Just like the locals. Next we'll be selling our bikes for ATVs so we can redneck in the clearcut.
9. Didn't have kids. Hooray! Kids suck. Except 10% of my students. The smart ones. The ones who want to learn. The ones who don't plagiarize. I know who you are.
10. Ate half a local sausage. First meat to pass these lips in five years. Still consider myself a vegetarian, aka "asshole" to meat-eaters.
11. Lost more faith in humanity. We are doomed.

Cover Woman

I want to say cover girl, but when you hit your 30s, girl, boyfriend, and missionary are a few words that should be left behind. Anyway, here's the cover of The New Quarterly, Issue 98 (a.k.a the Nicole Dixon Issue).

Inside you can read 2 of my stories and an interview with yours truly. For more info, click this link: http://www.tnq.ca/magazine/
back_issues/issue_98/

You can also check out issue 100, in which my defence of the short story is published: http://www.tnq.ca/magazine/back_issues/issue_100/

Thank you TNQ!

Welcome Back

Hello! How goes the world? Long time no blog, I know. I've been busy doing what Diz does best, teaching and writing. Wish it was writing and teaching. Priorities. Was away to Saskatchewan this past summer to write at a monastery:
am now away during the week in Pictou county to teach. Weekends only in Advocate - it's breaking my heart to be away so long from the blue house.

My cousin Carrie got married in September.

The Professor and I danced our butts off at the wedding.

I think if more people danced, the world would be happier and less uptight. Get on the dance floor, y'all!

My Drive In, May

What a difference 6 weeks makes.

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