Hot oranges and other summer fruit.

hotoranges.jpgWhen it’s hot out, as it has been in New York City for the past, oh, most of my life (or two months, give or take), nothing refreshes like a good, cold, chocolate shake; however, I can’t write about that because my wife will become angry that I’m getting chocolate shakes which are: 1) not good for me, and 2) not being shared with her. So instead I’ll write about nothing being as refreshing as good, juicy, summer oranges.
Let’s be clear: when I say I’ll write about good, juicy, summer oranges I mean that I’ll write about the dried out, pulpy, hot summer oranges being sold by a fruit vendor in midtown Manhattan. I do not mean “stolen” oranges. I mean physically hot, notably warm, unpleasantly above room temperature oranges.
I wanted, of course, a good, juicy, summer orange. No one goes out thinking, “You know what I could use? A hot orange! One that’s really pulpy!” But that’s what I got. It wasn’t expensive. To be honest I have no idea how much it was. I saw a sign that said, “3 oranges for $2.” I only wanted one orange and carried one, a particularly plump and juicy looking one, to the man leaning against the cart, staying beneath its too small umbrella, with a bored, rather-be-standing-in-a-pool-chillin’-with-my-budz look on his face. I held up the orange and one dollar in the international handsign for “I don’t know how to say this to you so I will show you my offer of trade – this paper money for your good, plump, summer orange.” He looked at me as if I were deranged.
“How much for the orange?” I asked.
He pointed at another customer.
I looked over my shoulder at the other customer. A short man talking excitedly on a cellphone as he threw fruit into a bag. I looked between him and the vendor, holding my dollar out to no one, holding it out the space above some apples, unsure why I should care about the other customer. I looked back to the vendor who then said, “Not my cart. Pay him.” The other customer was not a customer. He was the vendor. In my haste to get away from the non-vendor, the man I am now convinced is the “muscle” of the fruit vending operation, I didn’t count my change.
So, I took my orange back to my office and prepared to peel and eat, to refresh myself with its plump goodness. Only I couldn’t get through the skin. It was the toughest orange I’d ever touched. I broke a nail on it (not a finger nail, a 1 inch wood nail I pulled from my office floor). I found a knife lurking in my desk drawer and sawed into the rind. As I peeled, the orange split open, pulp yawned out at me and an unexpected warmth rose to my finger tips.
Let me repeat that: an unexpected warmth rose to my finger tips.
Yes, the interior of the orange was warm. I was disgusted. According to Wikipedia* “warm + disgust = hot.” Therefore, I was suffering from an extreme case of hot orange.
Did I eat some of it? Yes. I convinced myself that it was only hot due to the nearly 100 degree temperature. However, once I tried it I realized my error. It was hot because it was evil. Pure, unadulterated, pulpy evil. I threw it away. Luckily in my office we separate our refuse into “recyclable paper”, “non-recyclable” and “evil,” so there was a bin for it.
Only later did I remember that I could have taken it home to give to my dog, who has recently shown an interest in eating cantaloupe.
*Not really.

Knowing when to lie, and when not to.

NoelCoward.jpgIsrael Lee knows when to do both. Or does she? The brilliance of writing a memoir in which you discuss your history of lying (in this case, forgery) is that the very subject of the memoir and the discussion of the veracity of your claims reinforces the interest in the memoir. The fact that she got away impersonating writers like Noel Coward (see image above*) makes me think she can really write, too. James Frey gets caught lying and it undermines his writing and underscored its weakness (whether or not that impacts his sales is not my concern); Israel Lee says “I’m a liar” and it will simply keep the engine of speculation and interest alive for this memoir (though at only 18,000 words I wonder if it really qualifies as a book).
Rewarding liars with book deals should be considered unethical, but I’m currently 200 pages into my latest truthful lie (my novel which hopefully is nearing the final push to the end) and I can’t say I’d be disappointed with a book deal for my lies.
*NOTE: the picture above is of Noel Coward… or is it???

The death of book reviewing.

Will it be brought about by shrinking newspaper coverage of books, by the death of newspapers themselves, or by a lack of concern for books in an era where faster, cheaper entertainment is always around the corner?
No, the death of book reviewing will be brought about by reviews like this:
Entertainment Weekly’s review of Adam Nimoy’s “My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life” (in its entirety):

Yes, this ”anti-memoir” is written by the son of Spock, but My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life isn’t your standard juicy child-of-a-celebrity tell-all, or even a behind-the-ears Star Trek geek-out. Although a stare-down between actor Leonard Nimoy and Charles Bronson is pretty fun, the sci-fi icon is ultimately as ”distant and lonely” a presence in the book as he apparently was in his son’s life. But with surprising charm and candor, the younger Nimoy recounts his own fatherhood, relating how his divorce (and corresponding end to a 30-year pot addiction) changed him and challenged his relationship with his two barely teenage kids. B

Yes, that’s the entire review. Three sentences. Three not very well constructed sentences.
Sigh.
At least the review does do one thing worthwhile. It creates comedy gold in the comments section. A sampling:

“That’s the worst review I’ve ever read in my life.”
“Let’s take bets and see if the adam v responding is the real mccoy…we needed a book like this like a Klingon on Uranus. Someone get that boy an editor!!”
“What?”
“Ah, I see now that Cliff Notes offers reviews of their notes.”
“Yes, this is horrible, this review.”
“Horrible book review, absolutely miserable.”
“Mr. Vary, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

Strangest 1-star review I’ve ever seen.

From Amazon, book and reviewer removed to keep either from being embarrassed:

“I bought this book but was unable to read it because the font size was too small, while there is nothing wrong with my eyesight. Did anybody else have the same problem? Is it possible to tell then font size by the product information provided? Many thanks.”

Michael Ian Black hates dead people.

My feud with Michael Ian Black has just escalated.
Black-M.jpgMIB3 has done it again. 1, 2, 3, 4… MIB3 has now declared a thumbwar, feud, uh… something against George Carlin. I don’t know what it is when you declare shenanigans upon someone who’s dead, but he’s gone and done it, and done it good. And by “good” I mean “bad” and by “bad” I don’t mean “bad” as in “Oh, you’re so cool you’re bad.” I mean “You’re misbehaving against societal and cultural norms and therefore you are bad, i.e. not-good.”* So, to recap: MIB3 gets to love America before I do, and he gets to hate Devon Sedaris before I do, and now he gets to rag on a dead man before I do?
If I were a praying man I’d spit in MIB3’s face. But I’m not a praying man. Nor is MIB3 a fan of tacos, so I’ll just have to cross that off the list. It was a stupid idea anyway since it would require MIB3, spit, a taco and prayer and I don’t pray, MIB3 may or may not have a taco, I have no spit (thanks three cups of coffee for dehydrating me) and MIB3 and I aren’t even in the same state (I’m in New York, he’s somewhere having sex with supermodels on a pile of “Finding Nemo” dvd cases).
So, how to respond? I could boycott his shows but I don’t go to any shows at all (thanks 90 minute commute for leaving me with no free time). I could boycott his book but it looks like it’s really funny. I could buy him a taco and… no, again, stupid idea. I’m left with only one choice. I’ll make him boycott my book. That’s right: NO BLURB REQUEST FOR MIB3.
Take that Mr. I HATE DEAD PEOPLE.
*Fun Fact: Frederick Nietzsche wrote about the etymology of the terms “good” and “evil” and “bad” in his roaringly funny “Beyond Good and Evil.” Key concept: “evil” has taken over the oppositional role to “good” which was originally (etymologically speaking) held by “bad.” “Good” and “bad” were opposite ends of a spectrum which was a sliding scale, if you will, of “goodness.” This was because the earliest terms for “bad” meant the lack of goodness but not the active existence of an opposing quality. Later, along came “evil”, a concept of an active opposition to “good.” When “bad” (i.e. not good) was replaced by “evil” (i.e. an active working against the good) our modern concept of the warring opposition of God v. Devil, good v. evil, or Jedi v. Sith was born. No longer was the lack of good the low point of the spectrum. The low point was now an active agent to destroy good: evil. I told you, funny stuff.