Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Blog

So I started a new blog, if you'll notice. It's in my profile, and it's called Copy Editor-at-Large. I think. Yeah, that's what I named it.

Maybe some of you, my treasured readers, did not know or realize that my day-job is copyediting (by night I'm a superhero). I don't blame you for not knowing, seeing as how my blog is probably littered with typos and misused words. I'm only human, and I don't hire a copy editor to read through my posts before I put them up. I'm sure they could use a little extra help, but I have neither the time nor the money to do that.

But you should do it. If, unlike me, you have a million readers, you really ought to be paying someone (like me) to go over your posts before you embarrass yourself and publish a post with typos. You know? There are too many people posting willy nilly all over the web and spreading their word-abuses around like alcohol-filled baby bottles at the daycare—for a moment the wit is intoxicating, but in the long-run, the language neglect is only creating a monster. Am I making any sense? Hmmm. If not, don't let that stop you from paying me to go over your posts before you put them up. My rates are reasonable. And I will also go over your manuscript for you. Because I know you have one. You do. Don't be bashful.

I'll be honest. I'm only doing this so I can quit my job. At first I imagined becoming a published author would set me free, but that's taking longer than I hoped. So I'll just do what I do best—read the work of others and help them see their mistakes. I'm good at pointing out mistakes.

So go over to my new blog and subscribe. I promise to not only give you insightful advice and hilarious stories about the abuses applied to the English language, but also clever anecdotes about my attempts to wrangle English into doing my will.

I may also tell you about my wranglings with the editors I work with (with whom I work...see! Just because I break the rules sometimes, doesn't mean I don't see what I've done. I do it on purpose! I'm a rule breaker . . . but I'll slap your wrists if you break the rules . . . ;) ). Because that's interesting crap. No?

Sprawl II

Everyone's going to hate me for saying it, but Blondie and Abba. Yep. This song reminds me of those two bands. And I love this song (and I love Blondie and Abba). I was a bad fan and didn't get the albums between Funeral and this one, because I was . . . bad. And for other reasons, I guess. Because I bought Funeral in 2005 just after it was released and then they exploded and when someone explodes like that, I take a few steps back and reconsider. I don't like to get sucked into fires and explosions. Because I'm a jerk. I guess. Anyway, I really appreciate the amount of sweat exhibited in this live performance. These guys work for their money, right? I'm glad I don't have to sweat on stage, beneath the limelight. In front of everyone....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blue Beard

The song is great. The music video makes me miss the west. Haha! What doesn't make me miss Utah? you ask. Nothing. And how can a bunch of pictures of stars and pine trees make me miss anything? I have no answers. I live by instinct alone and feelings. A world of feelings. It would kill an average man to experience the sheer number of feelings I feel in an hour. I'm not lying. He would be a shivering, drooling lump of flesh if he felt all the feelings I experience in a regular day. It's rough. Yep. So watch the video and feel something. Feel what I feel. Nostalgia for the mountain west. So long!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A One Hat Woman

Dear San Diego Hat Company,

A couple of years ago my husband gave me a hat made by you. He got it from Pangaea here in Nashville. It was gray and soft with a short bill and some very faint stripes on it. I think it might have been a wool blend. It was the best hat ever. I wore it all the time. If I find something I like, I stick with it for eternity. Take the belt I'm wearing, for example. I got it eight or nine years ago, I think, and I wear it with everything. It's black with red stars on it. It goes with everything. It does. I swear.

My gray hat went with everything. I've never seen one like it anywhere. I got innumerable compliments on it, too. It went with me. It was me.

And I seem to have lost it. I wore it the last time I went to get my hair cut a few days ago, and I must have dropped it while walking through the parking lot. My heart is broken. I don't see one in your catalog, but it was kind of a tiny bit like CTH1756. I am hoping you have one laying around a warehouse or a closet or something and that you'll contact me when someone gets a second to tell me whether or not you've got one.

I will pay infinite dollars for it because that's how much I love that hat, and if you ask for it, I'll try to scrounge it up, because I'll be honest with you, I'm just a low-paid editor at a publishing company. But that's how attached I am to that hat. I have no other hats. I'm a one-hat woman. If you don't have that particular hat, I know I'll end up searching for the rest of my life for a replacement, and I know, deep down, that I'll never find a substitute and will forever be unsatisfied in the head-gear department. There will be a hole in my heart in the shape of that soft, gray hat.

When I lose something I love, I never stop looking for it, I never cease to miss it, like my Birkenstock sandal that went down the creek when I was 17. It was the right foot. Have I replaced my Birkenstocks? Nope.

In summary, I will forever be loyal to this hat and to you, San Diego Hat Company. Thanks for making/designing good hats. I apologize for not knowing the style number for the hat I'm talking about. I have some pictures of me wearing the hat if you need to see them to know which one I'm looking for.


Nicole Grotepas

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Everyone Loves a Disaster

The news is horrifying, isn't it?

I just tried to read/look at the front page of a "news" website as I was eating lunch. My stomach started to do somersaults, my gag reflex kicked in and I had to navigate away so that I could eat.

But maybe it'd be better if I didn't eat at all. I could lose a few pounds. New diet! Read the news while you eat! It's a highly effective appetite suppressant! I could run ads for my new diet secret that say something like, "Lose stomach fat with one word: OBEY." But just change obey to NEWS. And then make people pay me for the particulars of my dieting secret.

My main question is, do I need to know the particulars of every evil, vile, horrific, disgusting, infernal low down thing that's happening in the world?

I just deleted an entire page of my ramblings about evil and stuff. You would have loved it, but it was WAY out there and off topic, and probably somewhat annoying. So I'm sparing you, in case you didn't like it.

I live to please.

Monday, September 13, 2010

About the Fair (or: A Post that Degenerated, But at First Was Promising)

Sometimes don't you just want to tell a person you've only just met, "At first I was into talking to you, but while the tip of the iceberg promised so much, now I realize THAT was the whole iceberg?"

Take Saturday night, for example. I went to the fair with Stoker because he wanted to get footage of neat bright lights and colorful objects with his new Canon Eos SLR camera that also does video. What I really wanted to do was stay at home and play World of Warcraft because I'm sick and twisted inside, but I adore Stoker and want to make him happy (and deep down I somehow manage to  be awesome), so I went along.

For the most part, it was a very strange environment. The fair in Utah and the fair in Tennessee are somehow, inexplicably very different. Or perhaps my memory is all screwed up (it probably is, let's be honest). I don't want to start throwing labels out, but I DID feel like I was in gang territory and to be fair (to me and my label) the Metro Police GANG UNIT was there milling about in their SWAT vests and jeans and stuff. It was odd.

Anyway, once Stoker ran out of memory card space (something that happened very quickly, because as I am told, HD video adds up fast, and a 4 gig card cost $50, which is why he only has one so far), we tried to get into the actual fairness of the fair itself. 

Perhaps it was because it was the opening day. Or perhaps it's the way the fair in TN just . . . is . . . but there were quite a lot of rides and ridiculously stupid games with outrageously lame prizes, and practically NO neat trinkets to buy. 

This may surprise you, but aside from spousal support, I was there for the trinkets, the funnel cake and corn dogs, and IF there happened to be any neat animals, I wouldn't have minded seeing them. 

As I remember the Utah State Fair, there are always lots of stupid trinkets.

Perhaps it's the idiot in me, but I love buying trinkets. I'm a sucker for China Town in any big city, the fair (if there are trinkets), arts festivals (if there are also trinkets), street festivals that feature trinkets, book fairs that have trinkets, farmer's markets with booths selling trinkets, and any sundry trinket booth/cart that pops up anywhere with trinkets on display. Pretty much any kind of event where I can peruse and purchase trinkets I will endorse. And by trinkets I mean little rings, lighters, wallets, swords (I bought a sword at the Renaissance festival this year. Oh yes I did), fake tattoos, earrings, knives, throwing stars, you name it. 

When I began to realize there were no trinkets at the fair, I started to feel creeped out. A little worried. The lights and carousel music took on an eerie Twilight-Zone-Something-Wicked-this-Way-Comes tone*. The laughing people and joyful children suddenly seemed sinister. "Where the crap am I?" I wondered. "THIS is NO FAIR." 

But it was. It's just that I'm used to one thing and Tennesseans are used to another. 

I guess. And I'm getting to the opening quote, don't worry. 

So in my search for trinkets, I found where they keep the animals.There were only a few cows and a couple sheep. Which was also weird. Rows and rows of pens and only two pens were full. Eerie.

Then I found out that Saturday was the first full day of the fair. "But then, how do all those jars of preserves and honey have ribbons on them already?" 

That was a question I never had answered.

But I did have the chance to talk to the Bee-man and the Sheep-woman. From the names, you might imagine they're super-heroes. They are not. They were just two people having a discussion that I (impolitely, most likely) interrupted in the room with the pen of sheep. Fifty pens and only five sheep.

Still, it was like a dream come true. The only thing that could have improved it was if Chicken-man had been there. Or woman.

I want to have bees and sheep. And some chickens. And runner ducks. And geese to protect the ducks. And a little farm with some horses, and maybe a few rug-rats running around in cowboy boots and hats. 

Moronic dreams, I know. Sounds like Oklahoma! or something. 

So anyway, the Bee-man. I talked to him for just a bit and I quickly ascertained that he judged me to be a moron. My argument isn't that I'm not. My argument is that I didn't really want to talk to him after just a few quick exchanges, but I was forced to out of politeness and that's probably why I started to seem like a moron. When I saw that his main goal was to impress me with the knowledge that having bees in the city is A) easy; B) cheaper than I expect; and C) if I don't get the bees right now, he's going to force me to get bees, so help him; I just didn't want to talk to him any more. I wanted to go back to talking to Sheep-woman, who was friendly, interesting, and my new hero. 

And I'm not a moron, really. I DID want to be an entomologist at one time, and I think I really AM truly allergic to bee-stings, and I HAVE seen people wearing those kinds of black boots with the ring on the side while they ride their Harley. 

Basically, I guess, the problem was that Bee-man didn't live up to my romanticized notions about beekeeping and beekeepers. I LIKE living in a fantasy world that assumes that "getting back to the land" will actually be fulfilling and that beekeepers commune with bees in a way that's kind of magical and the relationship is mutually beneficial between the bees and the beekeeper, and not only that, the bees somehow LOVE their keeper. I want to be the queen of bees. 

Sheep-woman DID live up to my romanticized notions, although I hope that should I ever get a herd of sheep, I will not also have to begin wearing shirts with sheep on them. On her they are rather adorable. On me a shirt of that sort would only accentuate how inept I am at being adorable and cute. 

*There's a carnival in Something Wicked this Way Comes, isn't there? I can't remember. Been too long. 

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Late onto the Bandwagon, As Usual: World of Warcraft

I made a huge mistake and got the game World of Warcraft. Heard of it?

It's one of the only decent games you can get for a Mac, and I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Why do you need a game for Mac? Are you KIDDING ME? Why waste such a beautiful machine on a game?"

Some of you might be thinking that. Not all of you. Because maybe some of you are "gamers" like me. And for those of you who are like me, join my guild! I'm going to start a guild on WoW because I'm a born leader and where else to use my leading skills? Plus the guild I currently belong to is run by a fool. I still have yet to see a single thread of my guild tabard. What gives? A few days ago he was all, "I'll get back to you on that, I swear." And so far he's the only one with a tabard.

I need your signature for my guild charter, so let's meet by the bank in the big tree in Darnassus and you can sign it and we'll get you hooked up with a guild tabard, like, right away. And then we'll do things like ride our battlecats through the mountains outside Ironforge and get treasure and stuff. It'll rule.

See? That's why it was dumb to get WoW. Because now all I want to do is raid dungeons, get treasure, sell my treasures at the auction, buy pets, and explore. And what real world application does this even have? Is it making me a better human being? IS IT?

Well, to answer that question, the other day Stoker and I were at La Hacienda, our favorite restaurant (there are like ten La Haciendas in Nashville, all owned by different people), and I was in very good humors. Before we went, Stoker was joking about imposing a time limit on my WoW gaming . . . joking, because he would never ever do that. Never. Ever. Because he knows to never come between me and my games.

That's a joke. If my marriage was seriously on the rocks because of my devotion to gaming, I'd toss the games. No problem. None.

Anyway, while we were eating at La Hac, I made the observation that everything in life is much better if you pretend you're in the cantina in Star Wars, and all the humans are actually aliens and we're all from foreign lands with weird ideas, rules, and social norms. Because if you think that way (because really we ARE all kind of crazy and alien to each other, right?), then it's easier to get along, and everyone is much more interesting and exotic if you make believe that it's because we're all from different planets or completely foreign lands.

I also threw in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series to illustrate my point.

Stoker found it immensely funny. He humored me, but laughed and joked that he was mistaken when he suggested a time limit on my gaming in WoW. It was making me amiable and laid back. He suggested playing it more, and reading more fantasy because he really liked this new me.

And I'm right. I am. The problem with our world today, or at least one of the MANY MANY problems with our world today, is that we think we can streamline everyone into one big happy culture despite the societies and peoples that have developed over thousands of years with all their own ideas and ways to do things. I think that at the root of this is the politically correct movement. We are not all the same. From culture to culture, there are vast differences in world view. From family to family, even, there are vast differences.

In an effort to make everyone feel good about everything, to smooth over and politicize everything so that no one is EVER offended or hurt by the abhorrent thought that they might be wrong or slightly different, we pretend the differences don't exist.

The weird thing about this is that on the one hand, the politically correct movement says that diversity is good. Let's celebrate our differences. Let's have a week dedicated each year to the different cultures and races. One week it's Mexican week. Next it's French. Next it's Russian.

But on the other hand and at the very same time as supposedly being joyous about our differences, if you even point out or notice a difference between races or cultures, SHAME ON YOU. And the PC police arrest you and give you a thousand lashes for even DREAMING there's physiological or social differences from race to race or culture to culture.

It's dang hilarious. It's the old paradox, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I, for one, love the idea that there are differences. Different races. Different cultures. Different ways to run a society. Because I love fantasy novels and World of Warcraft. I love that there are elves, humans, dwarves, gnomes, faeries, dragons, Wookies, and whatever race Yoda was. And that guy who played the clarinet-thing at the cantina. He was weird with those big eyes and that wrinkly nose. But I loved him. He was great. And I bet he played the clarinet-thing better than a human could because I bet he was physiologically more fit to be a clarinet-thing player.

Ha! Who KNEW?! Who knew I could make World of Warcraft have a real-life application? And one with so much insight, if I do say so myself.


More video game magic:

How Dragon Age: Origins Interferes With Real Life

Inadvertently, I Let the Metaphorical Cat out of the Metaphorical Bag

Infamous and Flying in Video Games

Mercenary Team Deathmatch: How Call of Duty Relates to Real Life

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Email Death Threats: A Fantastic New Way to Make Money From Home

So my friend received a most alarming email recently. A threat on his life, from hired man Razak Akin, if you can believe it. My friend will be alright, if he'll just give Razak some money. Razak decided he'd give my friend a chance to not be killed if only he'll deliver some money to Razak. Razak says . . . well, I'll just let him explain it to you. Here's his email, unchanged, in all it's aggressive, death-threaty beauty:


I felt very sorry for you, that your life is going to 
end this way if you fail to comply, no matter how much security you
can acquire, everything will depend on you to choose you own path, i
was paid to eliminate you and I have to do it within 5 days. Someone
wants you dead by all means, and the person have spent a lot of money
on this, the person came telling us that he wants you dead and he
Provided us your names, photograph, and other necessary information
we needed about you. If you are in doubt of this, then I will have no
option that to carry out my duty immediately.

Meanwhile, I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried
out the necessary investigation needed for the operation, but I
ordered them to stop for a while and not to strike immediately because
I just felt something good and sympathetic about you. I decided to
contact you first and know why somebody will want you dead by all
means, probably I believe you have done something very terrible to
him/her. Right now my men are monitoring you, their eyes are on you, and
even the places you think is safer for you to hide might not be. Now
do you want to LIVE OR DIE? It is up to you. Get back to me now if you
are ready to enter deal with me, I mean life trade, who knows, and I
might just spear your life, $20,000.00 USD is all you need to spend.
You will first of all pay $15,500.00 USD then I will send the tape of
the person that want you dead to you and when the tape gets to you,
you will pay the remaining $3,500 USD. If you are not ready, then I
will have no choice but to carry on the assignment, after all I have
already being paid before now.

Warning To You  Do not think of contacting the COP or
even tell anyone because I will extend it to any member of your family
since you are aware that Somebody wants you dead, and the person knows
all members of your family as Well as employees of CRIME FIGHTERS.

And For your own good I will advise you not to go out alone once it is
9pm until I make out time to see you and give you the tape of my
discussion with the person who want you dead then you can use it to
take any legal action.

Good luck as I await your urgent respond. Do response to me on this email…
If also you think you can ignore this mail and feel all is well then let’s see.

You’ve less than 24 hours to reply this mail.


Can you believe that? Pretty awesome. My friend had no idea he was important enough to acquire a hit from a professional hitman service.

The best is that Razak doesn't even know how to add. First he says he wants just $20,000 (is your life not worth a measly $20,000 USD? Surely you can spear that much!), then he only gives instructions regarding the first $15,500 USD, followed by $3,500 USD. Maybe he changed his mind about that last $1,000 USD, in which case, yay! My friend only needs to come up with $19,000 USD to have his life speared.

What will he do with that remaining thousand*? He might as well do something FUN with it. Perhaps a trip to Cancun? Wait, no, Mexico is swarming with drug cartels and murderers at the moment. They've repopulated like lemmings down there, what with the rampant murders, hostages, and human/drug trafficking. First it was like, Mexico is a great place to vacation. Yay! People are sweet. The food is good. The beaches are fun. And then bam! Drug cartels and potential murderers moving across the countryside and through the cities in droves.

Where were they all this time? I'll tell you. They were underground. Mating like lemmings or rabbits. Suddenly, conditions underground became too crowded and bang! They came above ground and began the killing and drug trafficking (which, incidentally, is also what lemmings do. It has to do with natural population control).

In short, my friend would have to have a death wish to use that thousand bucks to go to Mexico. Perhaps he'll get a new Mac? Or an Ipad? Who knows. The possibilities are limitless. Plus he has a new lease on life, after all, this was a close brush with death, was it not?

Razak, if you're out there, somewhere, reading this, well, I know my friend would want me to tell you thank you. Thank you for spearing his life and listening to your conscience. It's good to know that hitmen have a little Jiminy Cricket crying out above the bloodthirsty roar of the demons camping on their shoulders.

Jiminy Cricket! 

*Of course we already drummed up the money to save him. Duh! Wouldn't you? Everyone knows all Americans have hundreds of thousands of dollars at their disposal. It's petty cash! Some of us store it in banks, while the rest of us wiser individuals keep it in our mattresses. 


You might also love this cynical post from my years as a slightly more bitter person: