Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bye-Bye, George!

Out of the mouths of babes...

George, you've taught us so much.

First Recipient of the Flaming Red Pen of Death™

You thought I forgot, didn't you?

First, let's recap the qualifications for the Flaming Red Pen of Death™:

This award will be given to the bloggers who exemplify the spirit of the Red Pen of Death™ by consistently exhibiting at least 5 of the following traits:

  • Ruthless honesty in writing;
  • A knack for irresistibly engaging the reader, compelling him or her to immediately act - or at least leave thought-provoking comments;
  • Ability to argue one or both sides of an argument effectively, without being wishy-washy or Namby Pamby as to which one they agree with;
  • Ability to make clear distinctions between personal opinions and assertions of fact;
  • Ability to distinguish truth from cruelty, tact from "political correctness," and worth from popularity;
  • Unflinching appreciation when presented with constructive criticism, and the ability to let hateful negativity fall off their shoulders like chocolate cupcakes off a well-greased pan;
  • Fearlessness and uncompromising honesty when giving constructive criticism, coupled with the ability to find something positive and encouraging to say without "sugar coating" the truth.

It was a tough decision - and yet, an easy one. Tough, because I know over half the nominees. And there's a softer, kinder side of me that would like to give each and every one of them an award - which, come to think of it, I have done - often to their annoyance. The Red Pen of Death™ allows for no sentimentality. It is not given out of friendship. I mean, honestly - "Here, I love you, have a Flaming Red Pen of Death™!"? Don't think so. Those who have been passed over may breathe a sigh of relief, in a way. But beware... I do plan to give this award out monthly, and you may yet find drops of flaming red ink gracing your blog.

Without further ado, the first recipient of the Flaming Red Pen of Death™ Award is...Redzilla Attacks!

A few quotations from Redzilla's blog that exemplify the spirit of the Flaming Red Pen of Death™:

"We actually elected somebody who wants to give us a talking to at his inauguration.  I love that he's not going for the cuddly, but telling us we've got to get to work and be responsible."

"I've said it before, but it's the writer in me that makes me want to critique everything around me.  Or at any rate, it's the little shriveled part of my soul that survived an MFA program that makes me want to critique everything.  Including attempts to fake one's own death." Read more here...

"Why there are so few gangs in northern Minnesota - Because it is hard as shit to throw up gang signs when you're wearing mittens. Also, there's a much higher risk of having someone misidentify your mitten-clad gang sign and shoot your freezing ass."

"...if you need help you'll get it, as long as you send me very pleasant and reasonable e-mails making requests, rather than coming into my office to fling yourself onto my non-existent fainting couch in a melodramatic huff and spewing demands for immediate attention."

"I am happy to say that the next night, Hubbicula came around to my mathematical theories, and first advanced the solution of a power saw." Yeah, I know you want to read the story behind that quote.

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to have this for a cat.

I think it's uncanny that Redzilla and I were blogging about these deadly little nuggets of chocolate (presumably, unbeknownst to each other) at about the same time:

Redzilla: Killer Truffles

Me: Addictive "Palm Kernel Oil Blobs"

And this made me laugh, but not as hard as the one right before it. I'm going to give you the link to the writerly one, because this is about writing - mostly. But if you're female and profanity doesn't make you faint, do check out the entry right before this: Weird things writers do (on the internet)

I discovered Redzilla what seems like many, many years ago. Her blog entry, "Abortion is okay," written on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, prompted me to write a pro-choice post that got me into an intense debate with a Catholic father who'd married his girl after, well...making a life-changing choice: to become a husband and father. The exchange that followed is, I like to think, one of the best examples of debate-without-flaming you're likely to find on the Internet. The breadcrumbs are all still there, if you want to follow them - just look for comments by ClamouringChampion (who should, maybe, be nominated for this award, himself).

Congratulations, Redzilla - I hope you'll wear this badge of honor proudly, and remember that you were the first, ever, to receive it. I also hope that you will nominate another blogger you feel exemplifies the spirit of the Red Pen of Death™.

Nominations are now open again for next month's winner! (This award will be given monthly, provided any qualifying entrants are nominated.) Just click Mr. Linky, below - instead of entering YOUR name and URL, enter your nominee's name and URL:

Friday, January 23, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons, Tag 'em, Bag 'em, and Make Lemonade!

Tag Award from Debb

Tagged Debb, author of "Home is Where the Cars Parked," has bestowed upon me the dubious honor of a  Tag Award. I say "dubious" because I swear, there just aren't seven things about me that interested readers don't already know. The award calls for "seven random and/or weird facts." I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, and I have another friend over on Facebook who seems to think I can cough up another sixteen things. I think someone needs to come up with a new meme. But here goes:

1) My big toe is longer than my second toe. My mom and I used to argue over who was smarter: People with long big toes or long second toes. I think the smartest people are the ones who realize that the brain isn't connected to the toes.

2) I met President Clinton, once, when he was Governor of Arkansas. My mother complimented his mother on her turquoise and silver belt buckle. His mother said, "Let me introduce you to my son, the Governor of Arkansas." It was at Wiederkehr's Winery in Altus, Arkansas, during Octoberfest. I don't remember the year, but it was sometime between 1980 and 1984. Not that memorable. Maybe it was the wine.

3) I speak INTJ. Except when I'm feeling INTPish.

4) I have never experienced a need to "go find myself." I never lost me.

5) I spent three days in hospital quarantine, once.

6) I've made (and eaten) "Tubby Toast." It's the closest I've come to seeing Mother Mary on a Cheese Sandwich.

7) My grandmother and I woke up one night at midnight, looked outside, and saw a tiny red light floating slowly past the balcony that overlooked Daytona Beach. Having just watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we were sure it was a UFO. We jumped up and ran outside to get a closer look - and waved at the guys in the Goodyear blimp. They were almost close enough to touch, but surprisingly enough, they did not have pale green skin and huge eyes.


Now, I'm supposed to tag seven other bloggers - randomly. Or was that seven random bloggers, in a somewhat orderly fashion? Debb cheated. She only tagged me. And she foolishly failed to say "No tag backs."

Kidcessory Haven

Home is Where the Cars Parked

Rena Jones

The Blonde Diaries

The Anti-Jared


Jane's Ride


Now read this, folks - no tag backs! Honored as I am to be tagged so often, I'm really running out of weird and interesting bits of trivia Let's talk about YOU for a while.


Lemonade Award from Lisa

lemonade_award Lisa, author of "Kids Accessories by Kidcessory Haven," has kindly given me the “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade” Award!

This one's a bit simpler: Nominate 10 blogs you feel are worthy of the award. Here's my list (though it is hardly comprehensive - there are more than 10):

Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap

Home is Where the Cars Parked

Susan Smith Thompson

My terrene reality

Ian Paul Williamson

Garden State Foodie

Lion's Ima

Apron Strings

Dead Rats in my Freezer

Sharing with Writers and Readers


More later, but I'm sure my coworkers would appreciate it if I showered and dressed before gracing them with my presence, and time's a-wastin'!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ALA, Books, and the CPSIA

Dear Jessica McGilvrary,

I read, with disappointment, the latest news from today's District Dispatch regarding the meeting with the CPSC. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is overreaching and will have devastating effects on our economy at a time when we can least afford it - without affording children the "protection" that is its purported purpose. I am a mother, and as such, my first concern is my children's safety. I don't believe that the CPSIA does anything to assure that safety; however, it may deprive them of access to books - both old and new - and to handmade goods made by individuals and small businesses whose main reason for being was to produce safe, original children's products as an alternative to the mass-marketed toys and clothes that have been the subject of recent recalls.

I looked through those recalls. The only ones related to books involved faulty (dangerously faulty) technical instructions, and a few books with painted wire bindings (lead content). Most recalls involved toys or jewelry made in China, or clothing with small detachable parts (choking hazards) or drawstrings (strangulation hazards).

I have been following this since the holidays, which is when I first learned of the CPSIA. As a children's book author, I am affected by this law. My publisher is a small, woman-owned business (its president is a retired teacher and fellow author) that publishes mostly children's and young adult books.

As a mother and an author, I am horrified at the notion that our public libraries are faced with a choice like "remove books from the shelves" or "ban children from the library." As a mother and an author, I hope that your decision is to (temporarily) ban children from the library and mark the children's section "Intended for Adult Study of Children's Literature." (We subversive parents can still check books out for our children, but the ban might help to publicize the ridiculous, largely unintended - I hope - consequences of this law.) I am urging solidarity between authors, artisans, publishers, printers, clothiers, and others affected - we need to repeal this law, not get multitudinous tiny exceptions to it that will no doubt tie up valuable resources in numerous court cases, while small businesses die off waiting for relief.


Holly Jahangiri

I'm in Such a State! Junior Geography Detective Squad Wants to Know...

What's wacky, cool, interesting, or fun about the state YOU'RE in?

Who or what is the Junior Geography Detective Squad? So glad you asked!

State of Wilderness (cover art) - click to buy! In the book State of Wilderness, Elysabeth Eldering presents state-related facts in an entertaining, playful format. Matt, Guy, and Mary Beth explore a handheld video game, "Junior Geography Detective Squad: 50 States Mystery Trivia Series," that helps them with their social studies in a fun and challenging way. Together, they become the Junior Geography Detective Squad, eager to discover new facts about geography and the fifty states. And isn't fun the key to learning?

Author Elysabeth Eldering makes learning fun with her book, State of Wilderness. As Matt and his best friend, Guy, play the game, they are given twenty-seven clues, and each boy writes the number of the clue beside his guess. Matt's sister, Mary Beth, helps them out along the way. The one who correctly guesses the state first wins. Matt and Guy raise the stakes, making a bet: the loser has to do anything the winner tells him to do. And given the friendly rivalry between these two, it's sure to be something embarrassing!

Readers can play along as each clue is revealed. Questions vary in difficulty, getting easier as the game draws to a close. Geography, history, weird laws, and politics are just some of the areas covered by the clues. Can you guess the state? I was halfway through the clues before I guessed!

At the end of the book, you will find more learning activities related to the subject state: a map quiz, a cryptogram, facts about the state flag and motto, and a bibliography for more information. Teachers' guides, available for all books in this fifty-state series, will make this a fun addition to the classroom, too.

If you love Geography, and want to learn more about the 50 United States of America, you're in luck!

State of Quarries, second book in the JGDS 50-state, mystery, trivia series is coming this month. The third book, State of Reservations, is due out in spring 2009.

Where will the adventure take you next?

My adventures led me to settle in Texas in the early 1990s. Texas is a huge state, second only to Alaska in size. Did you know that six different flags have flown over the state of Texas since 1519: Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan, United States, and Confederate. The name "Texas" comes from a Spanish misunderstanding of the Caddo Indian word for friend. Houston is home to the world-famous LBJ Space Center and the Astrodome.

What can you tell us about your state? Leave a comment, below, and give us some fun, wacky, strange, little-known fact about your state. When you do, include a valid email address and you'll also be entered to win some state-related goodies from author Elysabeth Eldering - but be sure to enter the email address in the body of the comments section, since I can't see the one that validates your comments! If you're worried about spam, you can enter it like this:
email [at] - as long as Elysabeth, who is decidedly human, can read it, you're entered!