The Baby Boomer Reviewer?

I’ll drink to that!

This post started out as a whiney, complainy, bogged down piece of crap-writing that I started weeks ago and then decided never to publish. And I keep whittling it down, taking out the Poor Me stuff until this is what remains.

I’ve been on this marketing project for several months now, and not getting anywhere with it. As a matter of fact, it’s downright discouraging. Many of the new writers I have come to know are having a lot more success than I am. I am beginning to suspect that there are a lot of folks out there who have no interest in what I write, which is fine. Not everyone likes the same thing.

However! It might be time to ask, “Hold up a minute here! What’s the problem?”

So far I can’t figure out what the problem is. Whether I am not reaching my target audience or whether my target audience really would rather read the Twilight series or Fifty Shades of Grey.  

Photo by saratogajean

Where did everyone go?

Recently, I did a free giveaway of the Kindle version of Perigee Moon and got less than 200 downloads and no reviews out of it, the reviews being the main point of the giveaway. So what good did the whole exercise do? I went to all the book free day sites and made the announcement. I don’t see any positive results in doing any of it, although maybe it will take time for reviews to come in. The more good reviews a book has, the better it does. 

On a more positive note, I believe I have learned a lot about the writing craft in the last decade or so. I know what I perceive is good writing. I know whose voice I love and whose I don’t. I can recognize good writing, believable characters, and excellent stories. So I am thinking very seriously of becoming an “official” book reviewer.

I wrote a post recently about trying to find sites to get my own book reviewed, about the criteria I used to determine if a site would be a good fit. I wrote about the overabundance of people willing to review books about vampires and monsters and other foul creatures, but there were very few, make that none, that I could be absolutely positive would be a site that would want to review books about baby boomers finding their way at last, determining who they want to be later on in life, finding love.

One thing I have always believed, and still do, is that our generation is one of readers. We didn’t have video games and computers and other electronics to distract us when we were growing up, we had television and books. And while many of us have embraced the technology that makes our lives more connected and more interesting, we still basically love to read. As we start to retire, we have more time to read, and what better subject to read about than our own generation?

What if I become the Baby Boomer Reviewer? Books by and/or about that generation? They wouldn’t all have to be in my exact genre, but if they are written by baby boomer authors who just want to get reviewed then I’d be willing to do it. Hell, you don’t even have to be a baby boomer. Just a new author trying to get a start. And, of course, these reviews will be given with no currency exchanging hands.

If I can help to spread the word, help a new author, then why not?

Here’s the catch. I’d have a very hard time telling an author that I didn’t like his work. I’d have to be really honest and that will be hard for me, but a review isn’t worth anything unless it’s genuine. And who’s to say, I might not like it but someone else might love it? I’ve sure noticed that all people don’t like the same thing myself.

I’d be reluctant to give 5 star reviews. I have given them in the past, but really, I think 5 star reviews are reserved for truly great pieces of literature. Prose where I marvel at the beautiful sentences, and the exquisite phrasing. You all probably know by now how I feel about Scott Spencer and Jonathan Franzen. These men have both written books I would consider 5 star quality. But for the rest of us, well, we can’t all be authors of that caliber. We just can’t. It isn’t possible.

I’ve written quite a few reviews lately. Few of them were 5 star, but some of them were really, really good books. I’m including a link here to my Amazon reviews.

I’d post each review on a new My Reviews page as I do them, with a link to Amazon (or wherever the author would like the review directed). Here are some of the genres of books I would review:

  • General Fiction
  • Historical Fiction
  • Literary Fiction
  • Baby Boomer Fiction
  • Memoir
  • Mystery/Thrillers
  • Short Story Collections
  • Non-fiction (as long as I have some knowledge of the topic)

No genre romance, no inspiration, no erotica. No urban fantasy, no vampires, werewolves or drudges. No steampunk — and if anyone can explain to me exactly what this is, would you please comment? None of these interest me and I wouldn’t be able to give a satisfactory review of that material.

I’d love to hear if there are any new authors who would be interested in having me review their work.

Obamacare Made Us Do It!

What!!? No more Twinkies?

Hostess Brands recently announced its intention to go into bankruptcy, lay off over 18,000 workers and liquidate assets. The management/union disagreements focused on reducing workers’ benefits and salary cuts. The CEO got his pay tripled, but the rest of the worker bees doing the baking and packaging and distributing of the delectable little goodies were supposed to suck it up and settle for less. Among those reduced benefits is health insurance. But the union objected to this plan and now Hostess is one of those whining companies “Obamacare made us do it!!”

I guess it’s not unreasonable to assume that a company which makes its profit by delivering shit to kids and adults with Ding Dong addictions wouldn’t really be too concerned about healthy eating, let along health care for its employees.

And after all, those employees probably got a lot better perks than health insurance, like access to the Twinkie rejects and good deals on the merchandise. They should be willing to trade snack cakes for health care. It’s only fair, right?

But, really? No more Hostess Products? No more tasty cupcakes, no more gooey, spongy, chemical-laden “snack cakes”? No more Wonder bread? Whatever is to become of us? Oh wait. We stopped eating that garbage decades ago. That’s right. Now I remember, when companies had to start labeling their products with the actual crap that was in them. In addition to the usual: high fructose corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, palm oil, sweet dairy whey and cellulose gum, there are more mysterious ingredients to be noted. Stuff like ferrous sulfate, sodium caseinate, mono and diglycerides, stearoyllactylate, sodium caseinate, agar and a few things to “retain freshness”. Oh yeah, Hostess products have a 25-day shelf life.

Pretend you made some chocolate cupcakes. Pretend you injected them with white sticky goo and wrapped them in plastic and sat them on your counter for 25 days. Do you think you’d be wanting to chomp into one on that last day? Then think of what has to go into Hostess cupcakes to keep them from getting the way yours now look after a 3 1/2 week sabbatical.

This would be their cupcake:

Photo credit: Newbirth35 / Foter / CC BY-NC

This would be your cupcake:

fungal flouce

Photo by Psybeartist

I once worked in a small town in Ohio. Kind of an everyman’s kind of town, and I’d stop in at a tiny grocery two or three times a week in the morning to get a coffee to go and a newspaper. Invariably, I’d see high school kids in there, before school, buying cigarettes, Mountain Dew and Hostess snacks. Talk about a three-way burner! Holy headspin! We’re talkin’ some major uppers here, enough to get those kids through until third period at least.

You may think, but kids can’t buy cigarettes. Well, in this place they could, because the guy behind the counter taking in the small change was related in some way to all of them. It was that kind of town, where The Extreme Tractor Pull and The September Gopher Shoot were the two major social events of the year.

I’m trying real hard not to put a label on the types of people who would buy Hostess stuff, but it is difficult not to do that. Usually, it’s people who live for today, the hell with tomorrow, if I want to eat stuff that in no way resembles real food, then I should be able to do that. So don’t take away my Dolly Madison Cakes. And I’ll have a 20-ounce Dew and a pack of Marlboros with them.

Thankfully, this segment of the population seems to be in decline as people become more and more concerned with health issues and what kinds of foods they eat. Consumers now want organic-grown vegetables and meat that hasn’t been injected with growth hormones and antibiotics. A lot of us now really care what we are putting into our bodies. To a person, we are rejecting Hostess stuff.

So finally  Hostess reluctantly admitted that well, yes, there has been a downturn in recent years, a somewhat diminished demand for their products.

You think?

It’s getting very tiring listening to these junk food places blathering on about Obamacare. It hasn’t even happened yet. To my knowledge, 2014 is the first year anyone has to do anything about it. So why all the bitching about it now?

Maybe because, you weren’t on the winning side in this latest election? Maybe because you want to get out there and let everyone know, “Well, it’s your fault, you 51% of Americans for voting for him. It’s all his fault we have to lay off people and close down our good factories.” Bullshit.

It’s your own fault, Hostess, for committing to products that no one wants anymore. You’ve mismanaged your company for years. You’re in debt you can’t get out of. This is just a good excuse to get political and obfuscate the real reasons for your failure.

Yeah, yeah, we all know how Denny’s Grand Slam is going to go up by 49 cents and Papa John’s Pizza will cost more in order to pay for Obamacare. Sniff, sniff. Get over yourselves. It won’t work. It would be a dark day I’d dine in Denny’s. (How’s that for alliteration?). One doesn’t “dine” in Denny’s, one scarfs.

And I like pizza as well as the next person, but Papa John, think I’ll be passin’ on you.

Get a life. You lost.

So, Hostess, while it is so much more convenient to complain about Obamacare and blame the death of your company on labor unions, it was going down anyway.

Blather of a Shoe-Watcher

One thing that has always intrigued me is shoes. Especially now that I have officially become a member of the comfort generation. I like to shoe-watch, and marvel at what women consider attractive, functional, appropriate shoes. Or, in some of the cases depicted here, the term “shoes” may be a misnomer – the things women choose to put on their feet.

What is the exact history of this behavior, that women feel as if they must encase perhaps their most important appendages, that upon which they stand and which allows them to be mobile, into the most weather-inappropriate, unlovely, nay even bizarre, adornment?

It may have started in China with foot binding. And yes, there are pictures available of what this lady’s feet actually look like sans her teeny-tiny shoes, and no, I’m not posting it here because it may take the last meal away from the safe confines of your digestive tract. It’s hurl-worthy.

The strange custom may have originated among the upper class court dancers in the early Song dynasty, but this is unclear. It spread to the lower classes eventually and became very popular because men thought it to be highly attractive. OH! I get it now. Because MEN FOUND IT TO BE HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE! Well, then, ‘nough said.

The woman in the above photo is still alive today, and to assume she has a bit of trouble getting around is a no-brainer.

It’s no surprise to anyone that women dress up their lower extremities because this is what men like. Or so women think, and oh yeah, men also like butt implants, fake boobs and engorged lips. But do they really? And, more important, should women care if that’s what men like? It’s not like men are willing to don inappropriate and uncomfortable garb for the sake of a woman. But somehow, women need to do it for men? Where’s the equality in that?

Ya’ mean you want me to, like, take a shower or sumpin’?

Shouldn’t women care more about what they are doing to their bodies and say screw it if guys don’t like this? Get some Shibui!  I think that would be most appropriate in this day of supposed women’s liberation. But from the looks of the stuff we put on our feet, we aren’t very liberated, now are we?

Still, it is better than foot binding.

Here are a few reasons why women should not wear high heels, and note that they are all pretty much related to the actual health of the foot:

  • Foot pain
  • Increased chance of fractures and sprains
  • Creation of foot deformities, such as hammertoes and bunions
  • Unsteady gait
  • Stride is shortened
  • Inability to run
  • A decrease in normal rotation of the foot puts more rotation stress on the knee causing degeneration of the knee joint
  • Tendon problems

Okay, now here a few reasons why women should wear high heels, and note that these reasons are generally related to aesthetics, or man-pleasing:

  • The appearance of calves is accentuated
  • Posture is changed because a more upright carriage is required, considered seductive
  • Wearer appears taller
  • Wearer’s legs appear longer
  • Wearer’s feet appear smaller
  • Wearer’s toes appear shorter
  • Arches of the feet appear higher and better defined

Some articles even say that men are turned on by a woman in high heels because she is more vulnerable and can’t escape as easily. Now, isn’t that a good reason to NOT wear these things?

I believe that women should not be turned on by men who are turned on by high heels. Unless said women are also turned on by 24-inch biceps and snake tattoos. Then maybe. But in that case, they’d deserve each other.

Here are some examples of the most grotesque examples of “shoes” I found:

Very versatile, goes with anything!

Extra support for ballet dancers!

I love throwing on something comfortable and relaxing with a glass of wine!

Just thought I’d pop out to Wal-mart. Want anything?

Double Boots, for those who like to walk backwards.

And here are some that could be considered odd perhaps, yet not quite so freakish:

Ack! Dog shoes! Get the PETA people in here.

Feet shoes, but maybe better if those feet weren’t from an eighty-year-old guy

Ladder shoes?

Hoof shoes, for when you’re impersonating a goat

Wanta keep him away? Porcupine shoes.

Wheel shoes.Great for when you’re late for work.

Lastly, my favorites:

Ahh. Shibui!

 

 

Nothing Says “Freedom” Like Voter Suppression

Watched Rachel Maddow last night. Rachel is one of my personal heroes. Anyone who can get on TV and just talk for an hour and make so much sense and sound so interesting, is someone way up on the People I Most Admire scale. I couldn’t do it.

I’m sure she takes a lot of abuse from the Gay-Unfriendly Conservative Right Wingers but I refuse to listen to any of it. She laughingly refers to herself as “just a middle-aged lesbian in a cheap jacket.” She’s so much more than that.

She did a show on early voter suppression. Republicans naturally want to do this, because Democrats vote early in greater numbers. That’s because they (the Democrats) need flexibility, they can’t always bop down to the polling location on Election Day in their SUVs, fresh from Yoga, like the Republicans can.

Voter Fraud is a Felony! Billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin that went up in intercity and known student residential neighborhoods, which seemed to indicate that the act of merely voting could land you in jail. These billboards were paid for by an “unknown family”. I so wish I knew who that was. Eventually they were taken down and replaced with Voting is Your Right billboards, but who knows how many people were affected by that message?

Florida is required by the Voting Rights Act to offer  a set amount of hours for early voting so what did they do? They attempted to schedule early voting so that the polls would not be open on Sunday Nov. 4th because it is well known that this when churches encourage their members to vote (Souls to the Polls) and there is a huge African-American turnout after church. It didn’t work, the courts struck it down and the polls were opened, but still, they tried. And the lines! Six, seven, eight hours in line in some areas because the polling locations aren’t manned with enough people and the voting hours are structured in such a way that minority groups tend to show up at the same time, thus discouraging them from voting. You know, people who work for a living.

Back to Ohio, Jon Husted is playing the voter suppression card, this time at the eleventh hour, in a controversial new directive concerning provisional ballots. He ordered election officials (this past Friday) to shift the burden of filling out provisional ballots from the poll worker to the voter. Previously the recording of the voter’s form of ID was the poll worker’s responsibility, but not any longer. Doesn’t seem like a big deal? It is, actually. It has the potential to impact the count of thousands of votes. And, remembering 2000, we know how important thousands of votes can be.

I have been in both Ohio and Florida this election season. And while I am glad to be in a state that politicians consider vote-worthy, I am really tired of hearing about how Republicans continually try to get the vote to come out better for their side. If you can’t win with billions of dollars, then suppress the vote. It’s just disgusting.

I’ve been doing a little voter suppression of my own. Here’s how it goes:

I have a benign political discussion with someone (anyone).

Me: Who are you voting for?

They: Romney.

Me:(yawning) Well I’m voting for Obama. Hey, I hear those lines are hours long! What say both of us don’t bother to vote, we’ll just cancel each other out and we won’t have to go to the polls!

They: Okay.

Then I’m on to the next person, but then, of course, I vote anyway!

I doubt it will work but it’s worth a try.

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art.