December 04, 2004

On Writing Well

Sometimes a reminder comes when you think you're answering a call from a creditor. Like tonight, for me.

I began my mental countdown-to-hangup: onethousandone, onethousandtwo, onethousandandCLICK, but I never got that far. A familiar voice answered a, "Hello, Jeneane," to my "Hello?"


I had been thinking about Ceil just last week. We hadn't spoken in what, a year? Two? I'd received the yellow postcard announcing her move from Rochester to Florida, but, no surprise to Ceil, I'd lost it a week after it came. It went the way of all my important correspondence--I put it somewhere safe.

The timeliness of Ceil's call was uncanny. I'd been thinking about her because of my new business venture. You see, Ceil taught me everything I know about writing well. She would tell you, no, not true, because she's modest that way.

A professional editor, Ceil began editing me when I was 22 and just starting out in a publishing business geared to the education market. It was Ceil's job to tweak, refine, help define, and bless every piece of writing that left our amateur paws.

In those days, editing was on hard copy, and Ceil used a color scheme along with proofreader marks to indicate the difference between a must-do edit (a typo or grammatical faux-pas) and a suggested edit (poor construction, lame writing). A third color would indicate inconsistencies throughout a document--as in, pick a way and stick with it--I recommend you do it THIS way.

And she was always right.

Over the next several years, a less mechanical form of communication developed between us--as it often does between writers and editors working closely together--a vibe that allows the two to anticipate meaning and intention (on her part) and self-correct according to the editor's keen standards (on my part).

As a writer, a young writer at that time, having the eagle eye of a professional editor--not just for errors, but also for awkwardness and sensibility--was career altering. Really. For years after we stopped working together regularly, I would hear Ceil's voice, see her perfectly-shaped proofer's marks, intuitively mark my own awkward sentences in green, reconfigure them, rethink them, and usually remove them, according to her now-ingrained standards.

In my 30s, what I learned from Ceil became so much a part of my own professional writer's soul, that I stopped hearing her voice, seeing her marks, coloring my phrases. What she taught me became inherent. I carry it with me. It informs what I say even now, even here.

But Ceil is more than a top-notch editor. She is a wise woman, well-traveled through business and life, with an eye as finely tuned to people and intentions as to misdirected prose. I am so glad I know her.

I told Ceil about weblogging today. I've urged her to jump on the party bus with us. Because she has a lot to say. It's her turn to come out from behind the color-coded key and astute corrections and have her say. Exercise her own voice. Maybe even scream some.

And in the mean time, if you're looking for editing help from the best editor you've never met, email me and I'll put you in touch with Ceil.

Thank you, Ceil. For everything.

(p.s., mark this up and send it back to me, kay?) ;-)

December 03, 2004

Eye Candy

Am I the only one who thinks the C-BLO site rocks? Not just in the usual, "It's Locke's writing--so it's bound to be funny and smart as shit" kind of way, but also in the "it's wrapped up so pretty with a bow because the boy knows how to use graphix JUST RIGHT" kind of way.

CBO. Taking us to new places. Because he can.

Bonus Points: Fun games you can play with the word CBO:

Did you CBO? (as in did you "see Bo?") No, I didn't see him. Does he have any crack?

We Bo for CBO!

Get out from behind that CBO befo it falls on you.

December 02, 2004

Blogger and Yaccs

It occurred to me today--well, 40 seconds ago actually--that I've been using the same weblogging suite (fancy sounding, eh?) since 2001. Blogger for blogging. YACCS for comments.

As much as I beat on Blogger lately for being so slow, it's amazing really that I'm still here. And even though mcd says in a comment below that he hates my comment facility, I have some loyalty to YACCS because Hossein "Made Commenting Simple" (and free) for those new to Push Button Publishing before anyone else did.

I don't know Hossein, but I could always tell by the weird way YACCS was a subdomain within the Rate Your Music site, that he must like music. A lot.

Another plus, from my perspective. Plus, the guy has kept a low profile and has done nice things for people without jumping up and down about it.

Anyway, since I could actually USE blogger this evening, I thought I'd remind myself that, besides Microsoft Office and Adobe, there aren't too many software products I've liked enough to stick with 365 days a year for 3 or 4 years.

bonus points: What company did Adobe buy to get PageMaker?


December 01, 2004

What have They done for us lately?

Last night I had so many great posts in my satchel. Blogger beat the crap out of me by losing some and working slow as molasses. Pissed me off and took away my energy. Not good.

I was going to give you an earful about Marqui and why I am glad to see bloggers getting paid and us getting used to it and what the hell has Amazon done for us, we bloggers who've been hawking their wares and loving on them all of these years?

$20. That’s how much I’ve made as an affiliate. Affiliate nothing--they should call us losers. And what about Google's Adsense? A month later, I look at my report and find out I’ve made a buck. A frigging buck? Every pixel we type into the Blogger window adds value to Google. Thanks for understanding how much I care. MOTHERFUCK YOU.

As a reader, you’re going to read the bloggers you always read. If a blogger starts sounding like a snake oil salesman, no one’s going to be left reading except the snakes’ relatives. The beauty of the net is that it’s self-correcting. When the model’s fucked, it’s quickly either righted or outed. In the mean time, nothing wrong with getting some dough.

When I complain about the professionalization of weblogging, I don't figure money into the equation. Online, our currency is different. And the currency that ruins voice here isn't necessarily dollars. It's aligning yourself with the mass media/big business model. It's sucking up. Getting $800 to perform well isn't always whoring. Sometimes, well, whoring is whoring. I think in this space, you can remain biased and hell, untethered to affiliations you may have that pay cash, AND be happy to get paid. That's what I think.

At least Marc's counsel has resulted in Marqui's attempt to pay some real money—-rent or health insurance premium money—and according to what I’ve read, you write what you want as long as you write about their stuff regularly.

Let them up the ante for these other filthy rich friends of ours who could have thrown us a bone years ago.

To the folks at Marqui, I say: please read Gonzo Marketing so you don’t screw this up.

To the bloggers getting paid, I say: good for you.

I said it a lot better last night, but the folks at Blogger must have been off figuring out new ways for me to make a dollar, and I couldn’t get into my blog.

Read also: Shelley

Marek bedtime story

from kombinat!

Iraq and Poland

I grew up in a tradition of pacifism. I grew up in Poland, a country where two world wars stole many bedtime stories away from children who never heard the voices of their fathers. Millions died because reason turned to madness, people turned to ashes and disappeared and were heard from no more. I decided I was never going to be in a business of stealing stories from children to whom they were to be told by their fathers. Perhaps pacifism chose me because as a 10 year old boy I overheard a story an old woman whom I used to visit with my mother told how she survived Nazi concentration camp running away from Treblinka in the dead of winter, a teenage girl sleeping high up in the branches of a tree so the wolves would not attack her.

I grew up in a "NO MORE WAR" tradition that rejected violence as a solution. It is that tradition that adopted me. I chose it to sustain me. It is something that gives me hope. It's always there to breathe life into my daily existence. It is I believe my Polish Nation's shared commitment to living in peace, our social remembrance of a once charted course and our willingness to continue the work. It's a tradition I can not run away from. It is a tradition we can not run away from.

It is in the spirit of this tradition that I ask you my Polish Nation: What the fuck are you doing in IRAQ?

Dear Marek,

They will tell you it is about freedom. That they are there defending freedom. Don't believe them. Freedom was coopted in 2001. It no longer has meaning. They stomped on it. It means something else now. It's New Hampshire on steroids. Live free or die, motherfucker. Free. Born Free, as free as the wind blows, as free as the medical care will be that covers your two bloody stumps with bandages. Born free to follow your heart as it's blown out of your chest. Yah. They'll use that word. A lot.

Don't listen to them. They stole your freedom word.

You keep talking. Use all the other words you can.

Frank Wrote the Book on Why We Blog

Good stuff from the Larry King Live of blogland.

Tom: To continue to hold out hope that something of a different spirit could animate what is, at the moment, a less than inspiring prospect? There’s a very long pan used by Fellini in Satyricon, I think, which moved across a giant apartment complex in ancient Rome, from one home to the next, each living room filled with screaming Romans, a vast columbarial hive of vociferousness whose apex of roaring expressivity was a self-canceling volume of amplitude resolving itself into an indecipherable hum.

Maybe it can be more


I am sorry I can’t talk to you right now. I have two hot babes on my lap and they are making me very busy. I am showing them your blog and they just love it.

Marek J


Read it. This compendium needs to join wikipedia if it hasn't.

November 30, 2004

Blogger's Latest Feature: Blog Lots at Once

Today Blogger released its newest feature, BLO - Blog Lots at Once. The new feature requires that you post all of your blogging for the month at one time. Not only does this save time, but it floods news aggregators making you the HOT blogger you've always dreamed of being.

When asked what she thinks of the BLO feature, blogger Jeneane Sessum said the new functionality was sorely needed. "The way I see it, you might as well post all of your writing for the whole year once you get into Blogger, BECAUSE IT'S SO FUCKING SLOW LATELY THAT YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF OR JUST PLAIN FORGET IT. FORGET YOU EVER KNEW HOW TO WRITE. FORGET BLOGGING. FORGET YOUR FLEEETING THOUGHTS. EITHER USE THE BLO FEATURE OR GIVE THE FUCK UP!"

Then she slammed her laptop closed.


November 29, 2004

You just call out my name, you shithead...

Ken Camp has a great post about what makes a real friend... For your reading pleasure, I present it to you:

1. When you are sad - I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you are blue - I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile - I will know you finally got laid.

4. When you are scared - I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried - I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be and to quit whining.

6. When you are confused - I will use little words.

7. When you are sick - Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall - I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

This is my oath...I pledge it till the end. Why? You may ask. Because you are my friend.

Send this to 10 of your closest friends, then get depressed because you can only think of two and one of them isn't speaking to you right now anyway.

Remember: A good friend will help you move. A really good friend will help you move a body. Let me know if I ever need to bring a shovel.


Onward Chris and Soldiers...

So HE's been blogging over here, as Chief Blogging Officer, which means I believe that he is CBO for Highbeam. Well COOL! If it weren't for technorati and spammers, I wouldn't know anything at all.

But I do know about highbeam thanks to C-BO, and I can say that it has saved my ass looking up some arcane items this past week that I'd like to write about as soon as I figure out how to use the blog this item button.

I have an email into the CBO about it. I hear you don't even have to go through his receptionist if you call his office. He answers the phone himself--right from his home office couch.

Technology. It's so cool.

Blogger's Slow Again...

And it's pissing me off.

November 28, 2004

Take Christianity Back from the Right

To reclaim language, to take back its meaning from those who would distort it, is to reclaim power. Reclaim Christianity now.

I am a Christian, too
It's time to take religion back from the haters, killers and temple money-changers


There's a bit of schoolin' that God-fearing folks in Cobb County and the rest of the nation should pay heed to as they cheer the creationist team in a federal lawsuit heard last week.

The legal spat, over a warning plastered in Cobb schools' biology texts that evolution is merely a "theory" and not a "fact," has the world press in a tizzy now that evangelicals are perceived as political 900-pound gorillas (probably not a great metaphor when talking about evolution).

Thank God (so to speak) for Cobb County, always good for when scribes need a bit of bizarre to substitute for news.

Still, there is a "gol darn, I didn't know that!" lesson hidden in the Cobb evolution brouhaha, one that should be important to every Christian. It's a gem from the earlier "monkey" trial, the 1925 drama that starred teacher John Scopes, who challenged Tennessee's anti-evolution statute. The advocate for the religious side was William Jennings Bryan, one of the great men of principle in American history.

But, oh, heavens, Bryan was a died-in-the-wool liberal. He generally was described as a "populist," but in the parlance of the late 19th century, that meant liberal. Bryan volunteered in the Spanish-American War; that experience turned him into a fervent pacifist bitterly opposed to the nascent American imperialism. As Woodrow Wilson's secretary of state, he jawboned the 30 leading world powers to agree to a one-year cooling-off period before going to war -- no pre-emptive slaughter for Bryan.

Dubbed "the Great Commoner," he castigated the capitalists as enemies of common folk. Among his most ardent allies in a 1896 presidential bid was American socialist leader Eugene V. Debs.

In short, Bryan was a man who would have earned the scorn of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Trent Lott. If he was reincarnated and ran today for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, Saxby Chambliss would air commercials putting Bryan's mug alongside Saddam's and Osama's -- just as he did to Max Cleland.

But hold on a minute. Bryan also was a fundamentalist Christian. At the Scopes trial, he thundered, "I believe everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there." He was born again, he was an evangelical.

The nation, especially the South, bestowed great reverence on Bryan, who died a few months after the Scopes trial. Country and western balladeer Andrew Jenkins, a Georgia boy, sang these words in tribute: "Oh, who will go and end this fight, oh, who will be the man?/To face the learned and mighty foe, and for the Bible stand?"

Let's wind forward 79 years. Bob Jones III is president of the racist Bob Jones University in Greenville, a favorite haunt of George Bush. Jones, a storm trooper of the religious reich-wing vanguard that claims ownership of Bush, sternly admonished the president after the election, "You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ." Ah, I get it. Bush & Co. own Christ.

The letter also underscores the message hammered home so successfully by the GOP during the recent campaign: Liberals despise Christ.That's a lie.

The example of William Jennings Bryan -- and millions of others -- makes clear that ultra-conservatives don't have an exclusive claim on Christ. It's time for Christians to start giving witness to that fact.

I've warmed you up with a little literary napalm. But what I'm going to write next isn't easy. It's the sort of thing journalists aren't comfortable acknowledging. Here it goes ...

I testify that I am a Christian. I have been ever since I came forward at a Billy Graham revival when I was 8 years old. I later fell from grace and had a lot of dark years I'll have to account for on Judgment Day. My life did not turn around until, 14 years ago, I got down on my knees and prayed. That's something I do every day now. I prefer small churches to the show palaces; Christ said to pray in private. I've felt called to be a minister, but figure I'd get to do less preaching than with this gig.

I don't pay heed to the false prophets such as Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind books because Christ said to beware of charlatans claiming to know when He is coming again.

The "rapture" isn't in the Bible, so it's not in my theology. I find it hard to conceive of Jesus returning to save a few smug Pharisees such as Jerry Falwell while brutally slaying billions of my brothers and sisters. The heaven I believe in has ample room for all men and women of all faiths who seek God and try to live good lives.

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus said, "Not everyone who saith 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father ... ." He told us his Father's will was to be meek; to be peacemakers; to take care of the weak, the poor, the afflicted; to sheathe the sword.

I believe there is truth in every word of the Bible, but as Bryan said during the Scopes trial, "Some of the Bible is given illustratively." I also believe there is truth in other faiths' scriptures, and I study them, too.

All Americans are invested in the debate over "values." It's time for Christians to take back our religion from people who have commandeered it simply to squeeze political advantage.

I believe the Ten Commandments have more impact if they are carved on our hearts than if they are hung in government buildings. I believe our leaders have broken one of those commandments by bearing false witness in concocting lies out of whole cloth that led us into war. I believe that "elective" war is another word for murder, and war to grab other peoples' oil is coveting and theft -- more broken commandments.


Thanks to Craig for the pointer.