Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If I channel David Sedaris maybe I can understand

If I channel David Sedaris, maybe I can understand why some people do the things that they do. I can finally understand why we have sales opening on Thanksgiving or why people get mad at saying Xmas when the entire notion of punching someone in the face under a banner that reads "Christmas" to get an LED television that's 70% off, isn't any better.

Or any more in the spirit of "Christmas."

Maybe I can understand why a critic would choose to "criticize" when they haven't actually read the thing their critiquing. People say all kinds of things about the Affordable Care Act. But when I ask them if they've visited to read it, they say no. They don't have the time. But they critique it nonetheless.

Maybe I could understand why, even if I put on an elf hat and a green suit and stood next to a candy cane in a shopping mall, I wouldn't be an elf. I'd just be a creepy fat guy in a green suit. And I'd understand Christmas even less. Elves don't get Christmas. Elves were invented by department stores to sell stuff. That's the only reason they exist.

People will say, "that's not Christmas, that's just people being nasty." But you're wrong. You can stick your head in the sand if you want to.  It is Christmas. The holiday is totally that, and it gets worse every year. Democrats have been called socialists. I always wondered what a socialist looked like.  So what does a capitalist look like? Well, capitalists look like the day after Thanksgiving in a Wal-Mart store. That's Christmas, and you can hear the cash register bell ringing like a sleigh bell with a ho ho ho. Half the people will buy things that come with instructions. They won't read them. Instead they'll leave bad reviews on Amazon.

"I write and don't read," one of them might say.

"Oh really?" I ask. "What are you writing?"

"A critique of your book. I give it 2 stars because I just can't bring myself to give it 1.5."

"How generous of you.  Is there more?  I'm curious what you didn't like?"

"I don't like your character, Jason."

"You mean Jordan.  It's Jordan Pendragon," I say. "His name is in there hundreds of times."

"And I didn't like how you pulled off the time travel parts," expert critic adds.

"There's no time travel in my book. There's no time travel on the blurb or the synopsis."

"Actually this is the worst time travel book I've ever read. And why do you refer to hockey as ice hockey?" opinioned person asks.

"Because in America we have field hockey. I want to make sure people who aren't Canadian know the difference. And there's no time travel in my book."

*Snorts. "Why did you market this book as time travel? Jason Pendragon uses too many drugs. Kids don't use drugs. You should write that instead. And they don't have sex either.  What an unbelievable book."

"His name is Jordan. It's not Jason. You didn't read the book, did you?"

"I can't say I'll read any more. Saga of Jason Pendragon doesn't interest me. Lucky it was a free book. 1.5 stars. Too many other books to read."

Yeah, so maybe I could understand if I channeled David Sedaris. Or maybe not. Or maybe some people are just jerks who don't read anymore because they're too busy writing.


  1. All I can say is...oh little lordy I am sorry for all authors who have to tolerate this kind of brainlessness! I guess that means I am sorry for all authors...

    Love the association of cash register dinging with sleigh bells. ;)

  2. I see what happened, the poor reviewer mixed up your book with my latest "Jason the Abstaining Time Traveler", out in all good bookstores in time for Christmas (i.e. last June).

    Happy New Year!


  3. Extreme situations bring out people's true nature, for better for worse.
    Stop worrying about reviews and what people think of your book. You can't control others anyway and it will just make you nuts. Don't worry about it - just walk away and go write another book.

  4. Although I love David Sedaris, you don't have to channel him to make it through the irritating experiences that a PART of being a writer. Did you know you're a funny guy as well as being a great writer? Your dialogue above gave me a morning laugh.

  5. We have all had these reviews. I think the worst is when you get a one star with no review. I had a person mark one of my books as three stars before it was released. I questioned her about it, because I was concerned the book got out there. She finally admitted that she didn't read it. Ugh.

  6. You should have saved that rant for the holiday blogathon dealie. Some people are just idiots. But I agree that "ice hockey" is lame. Maybe that's because I live so close to Canada. Though the way things are going with the NHL there might not be any ice hockey left in either country before long.

  7. Three simple words

    Write what you want to write. I research what I do not because it is trendy (far from it) or well received but because I think it is a mathematical story worth telling. My work probably won't make me into the next Alexander Grothendieck and yours probably won't make you into the next Philip K Dick but as long as we enjoy doing it then we are ahead in the game relative to people who have no story to tell.

  8. @Trisha: LOL thanks for visiting Trish!

    @Moody: Indeed sir!

    @Alex: Good advice.

    @Brinda: I intended it to be funny :) Glad to know it worked.

    @Ciara: People are so irritating.

    @P.T.: I'm shocked that anything irritates a person who goes by the name "Grumpy Bulldog." Oh wait, I'm not.

    @Brad: Oh I love the gif! Brad you should meet up with me in Vegas for CES :))

  9. Michael, you did channel some David Sedaris there.
    I think people don't read anymore b/c they're too busy watching reality television shows or Fox news (oops, did I just write that for everyone to read?)

  10. Most people are morons, but luckily, most kids DO do drugs and have sex, so hopefully the next generation won't be as uptight as this one, even if they're still morons.

  11. I'm too busy reading and writing. (But I write a whole lot faster than I read.) I received a 1-star review last month that said my short story should have been a comic book. I took that as a compliment -- but the 1-star truly sucked.

  12. I'm too busy reading and writing. (But I write a whole lot faster than I read.) I received a 1-star review last month that said my short story should have been a comic book. I took that as a compliment -- but the 1-star truly sucked.

  13. I don't believe in reviews for things you haven't read.

  14. At least you can write it off when you know he didn't read it. I don't pay attention to reviews unless I halfway know what the book is even about and even then I don't always care what they said. On the other hand, if he'd read it and still gave you those stupid answers then it might be depressing.

    Please don't even think about channeling Sedaris- one is more than enough.

  15. Merry Xmas you elf-loving Commie. Now go buy something!! :P

    And sorry about the sucky stupid people who write meaningless reviews.

  16. Critics don't read your books any more than literary agents do. Sad but true. They all rely on the word of others, and for new writers that means "no word" at all.

  17. Ooh my cynical friend. Stay funny and let it roll off your back like rainwater! Thank goodness we live in a free country where we can complain about socialists, capitalists and elves in the same sentence!

  18. I think people told Orson Scott Card that kids didn't talk "like that" and weren't "that smart" but that doesn't mean THEY were right.

    This time-travelling Jason sounds like a steampunk Jason of Jason and the Argonauts. I think THAT is the book this person wants to read. Also, this person is probably on drugs.

    I am completely baffled about "time travel"...they didn't get that there were two worlds, maybe?

    David Sedaris is da bomb.

  19. Sorry you have to deal with stupid asshats. I wouldn't be surprised if they feel they should be payed for their reviews. :/

  20. If a a critic can't even remember the name of the main character even after you told them over and over again, I wonder how they function in real life?

  21. We're supposed to read instructions?

    My idea of a holiday... some good food and zone out all day watching dvds. :D

    We're all in it together, Michael. We all get crap... I don't like sci-fi, but I read M. Pax's book and I didn't like it. ??? Whatev. Look at the nice reviews. They'll make you feel better. I hope you have some Robs and Eds in your corner, rooting you on. You have me. :D

  22. If there were no Holidays what would happen to thousands of jobs in clothing industry? Clothing business makes the entire years money in the last three months of the year.
    Also, please give your gently used clothes away to the needy. I remember that you were upset with a certain charity, but there are others around. I am sure that there are some where you live.

  23. Don't even get me started on Xmas. I still have nightmares about that retail hell.

    Reviews. Why do some people bother?

  24. Please tell me that dialogue was invented and there aren't people out there that brain dead and dishonest. Then again, I know there are brain-dead, dishonest people all over the place.

    When I was a kid I loved Christmas and reveled in the magic of it. Now I kinda dread the holiday, one reason being the relentless commercialization that starts the day after Halloween and doesn't end until I'm ready for serious medication.

  25. My skin has not thickened very much, so I simply don't read the reviews. You can actually get by just fine never reading them, or saving up and reading all the new ones at once every month or two.

    There's no point to reading them. The positive reviews just tell you what you already know, and the negative ones make you feel bad. Neither cancels out the other, but they can still ruin a perfectly good writing day, and we can't have that!

  26. Your title made me laugh...

    ... and then your post made me cry.

    What it all boils down to is nastiness. Someone I cared about called Obama a communist. I have people on Facebook telling me all the big, bad things that will happen because of universal healthcare. Don't people have compassion? Can't they see beyond their own family's needs? Don't they realize that their family will probably benefit from the things they've been taught to fear?

    I remember studying slavery and finding out that the pro-slavery government was very good at making people who didn't own slaves support the system, even though it undercut their products. Heck, they fought a war for it. Killed themselves for it.

    Now we've got rich people. Like 22-car garage rich people. Like people who pay more for the care of their horses than some people have to live on people. And they're telling people that programs that save lives and strengthen the health of the nation, which strengthens all of us, that it's harmful.

    Don't even get me started on Christmas.

  27. For the first time EVER I'm contemplating Black Friday. Not for Xmas gifts though - I desperately need a new laptop and I want the cheapest (I mean most affordable) price possible. There's an online ap for that - right? I hate crowds.

    I think you'd be as good at creative non-fiction as David Sedaris :)


  28. You hit on all cylinders in this post and comparing capitalism to Black Thursday is a perfect analogy. It's a day after the holiday so people are already forgetting about the homeless that the public fed on TV the day before. Parents buy their kids $500 Ipads then wonder later why they grow up so much quicker. America in microcosm.

    I love that the conservatives have nicknamed it Obamacare. The same people that don't read the bill and rail against it don't realize it is partially socialized today. If you have a job you have benefits that covered 75% by your company and the rest split among your co-workers. I have paid probably $25,000 for health insurance over my life which means my company should have paid another $75,000 and maybe gotten $10,000 out of it. The problem is that people over use the benefit because it isn't a free market model but conservatives cling to it as if it is the last bastion of Adam Smith. A basic care single payer run by the government supplemented with insurance policies to cover catastrophic is a much better solution. Obamacare is a first step to a better system (anything is better for both business and consumers) and I really think in a 100 years it will be the president's greatest legacy.

  29. Well said, Michael...

    What happened to Christmas. it seems to get earlier every year. Now it starts in August... Yes, you read right. I have seen displays this early. RIDICULOUS.

    Growing up in NYC, I remember anxiously waiting until the day AFTER Thanksgiving to drive downtown with my parents and brothers to see the unveiling of Lord and Taylor's window displays on Fifth Ave. Then off to Macy in Herald Square. What a thrill.

    We enjoyed Halloween. We gave THANKS on Thanksgiving and we Celebrated Christmas AFTER Thanksgiving.We didn't even put up our tree until AFTER the 15th. Dec 1st we decorate just the fireplace and dusted the tables with a few holly wreaths and candles.

    I STILL keep this tradition. I know SO many people that have their tree up FOR THANKSGIVING!

    Had to laugh at the idiot doing your review. Laugh it off... I certainly did.