June 28, 2013

June 27, 2013

Border to Death

From the New York Times: Senate Passes Immigration Overhaul
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved the most significant overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation with broad support generated by a sense among leading Republicans that the party needed to join with Democrats to remove a wedge between Republicans and Hispanic voters.
As some of you may know, when I'm not being a fabulously unprolific blogger slash aspiring novelist, I'm a paralegal and technical writer at an immigration law firm. I've also been working on my next book, a collection of linked short stories inspired by my work there. So I've been following the news about U.S. immigration reform with more than a passing interest.

And although some of the provisions in this new bill kind of throw a wrench in a few of the stories I've been working on, I'm not quite such a self-centered author that I can't appreciate that HEY!, this is a pretty good result.

On the other hand, there's also this albatross for the taxpayer:
The bill’s largest, and perhaps most critical, change came in a package that promised to substantially bolster security along the nation’s southern border. The proposal... would devote about $40 billion over the next decade to border enforcement measures, including adding 20,000 Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing along the southern border.
I mean, Jesus. We need an extra 20,000 CBP agents in this country like we need a 12-year-old boy running the Pentagon (or, come to that, like we need a 700-mile fence). What kind of alarmist, right-wing, bordering-Mexico idiot senator came up with this stupid amendment, anyway?
The proposal, by [Senator] Bob Corker of Tennessee...
Oh, good, yes. We need a realistic proposal for the Mexican border—let's ask someone who lives nine hundred miles away and shares an international border with precisely no one. I'm sure he'll have some great insight.

Does at least one of the amendment's sponsors live on the border?
...and [Senator] John Hoeven of North Dakota.

I mean, yeah, okay, if I lived next to Saskatchewan and Manitoba I guess I would be worried about people escaping over my border, too. But I don't see anybody asking to build a freakin' fence to protect Bismarck from roving bands of Mennonites, you know?

On the bright side, this whole immigration bill process has finally clarified for me the Republican political strategy on... well, pretty much everything:
“No matter how many miles of fence we build and how many agents we station on the border, I truly believe people will come to this country illegally as long as they believe America offers a better life and a better job,” [Republican Senator Rob] Portman said on the Senate floor.
He then warmly spread his arms, adding: "So let's make sure the whole world knows that the life America offers is just as fucked up as wherever they're coming from."

June 23, 2013

I Guess I'll Take It

To try and keep better tabs on my web presence as my novel's publication date grows nearer, I've finally set up a couple of Google Alerts. (Apparently just in time for them to die, but oh well.) Mostly this means I get a lot of email about the hockey player Andrew Ladd (sigh), but because the book's title, What Ends, is a not totally uncommon pairing of words, I've also started getting random emails about, well... Pretty much anything.

Today, though, was definitely my favourite so far. Apparently, someone late last night asked Ask.com: "Is the male sperm what ends up becoming the baby in the women's fetus?"

...to which a hilarious jerk (or maybe just an even more confused person) replied: "No, it's a small part of the males penis that breaks off and it's cells divide to create BABY."

Seriously, though, abstinence-only sex education is a great idea.

June 21, 2013

Conversations With Greatness CDXXXV

Sad, but too often true.

June 14, 2013

June 11, 2013

An Open Letter to Andrew Ladd

Dear Andrew Ladd,

First of all, congratulations on the really excellent name. I couldn't have done better myself.

Oh, sure, I'll admit I was a little miffed after your first Stanley Cup win, when you finally pushed my blog off the first page of Google results—but you know what happened next? You actually made my life better. All of a sudden it was so easy to make friends in bars ("Dude, you're playing hockey on TV!"). All of a sudden I had a go-to topic for small talk. And all of a sudden I also had another team to root for whenever, inevitably, the Bruins got knocked out.

So don't get me wrong, Andrew Ladd. I bear you no grudge. But here's the thing: I have a novel coming out in January and no official marketing budget, and it would be really great if I could own www.andrewladd.com so that people can find me easily and buy my book. (The domain name is especially important because, ahem, I'm no longer on the first page of Google results.)

Now, you're probably thinking: "Why is he telling me all this? I don't own that domain name either."

True: you don't. But some squatter was betting that you wanted it and snapped it up to fill with generic hockey links. Which means instead of being able to buy it for seven bucks on GoDaddy, I have to bid at least seven HUNDRED bucks for it in some BS online auction.

You may still be wondering why this is your problem, and I guess the short answer is: well, it isn't. But I was wondering if maybe, as a gesture of solidarity with Andrew Ladds everywhere, you would go halvesies with me anyway.

Try and put yourself in my shoes, Andrew Ladd: here I am newly married, living in the most expensive city in North America, and attempting to save whatever I can for a house and a kid one day—all while trying to make a career doing what I love, in an industry that is not renowned for its high salaries. And now I have to shell out $700 for a domain name, just because some other dude with my name has already made a successful career doing what HE loves?

It's not sour grapes, Andrew Ladd. But it still kind of sucks.

And that's why I'm suggesting we go halvesies. I'm not looking for a handout—I'm really not. It's not like I think you can just spend $350 without batting an eye. You have a wife, you have a kid—and I'm sure you have a lot of other expenses that I don't. I mean, if I earned $4 million a year, I would join a gym and a wine-of-the-month club, you know? Money has a way of spending itself. I don't hold that against you either.

I'm just saying, though, I wouldn't be in this situation if it weren't for your success. So why not spread that success around a little? I'll even share the domain with you! You kick in your $350, I'll kick in mine, and we'll make sure the front page for andrewladd.com is split in two: one half pointing to me and my book, and the other pointing to you and your multiple Stanley Cup victories (and whatever else you want to put up there).

As an added bonus, when your kid is old enough, you can show him the website (if websites are still a thing then) and teach him about the importance of cooperation, and sharing, and charity. I know that's what I'll do.

So what do you say, Andrew Ladd? What do you say?


Andrew Ladd

P.S. Incidentally, if you're not Andrew Ladd and are reading this open letter anyway: hi! Great job understanding the point of open letters. Also: if you think Andrew Ladd should do me a solid, why not comment here and let him know? Or write about it on your own blog? Or tweet about it? Don't worry, I won't ask you for money; I'm too classy for that.

Except, you know, of course: you should really preorder my book.


June 07, 2013

June 06, 2013

On Salads and Editorial Rigour

Here's an (abridged) email exchange that went on for the last week about a blog post I was editing:
ME: You appear to have left out a quote from The Corrections, about some salad or something. All there is in the post is a placeholder "QUOTE QUOTE QUOTE."

WRITER: Agh, Andrew, I know! I cannot for the life of me find that damn quote... But I know it's in the beginning of the book, so I've just been re-reading in the hopes that I'll get there in time!

ME: There is a line about a salad of green beans and walnuts, which I found while googling "Corrections Franzen salad." Not sure if that's what you wanted?

WRITER: Hmm. This one had more than green beans and walnuts—lots of good ole Midwestern mayo, at least. I'll keep looking...

ME: This is a hilarious problem for someone to have, by the way.

WRITER: Turns out it's a salad of water chestnuts and green peas (and lots of other stuff), which sounds a lot like the green beans and walnuts salad you found... Hmm! I couldn't find your same google results, so I can't be sure, but I just wanted to update you on the Salad Search...

ME: Also, I thought I'd let you know that I misquoted my Google results. It was green beans and HAZELNUTS. The plot thickens...
Anyway, just as I was getting ready to post this with a self-deprecating comment about the occasional ridiculousness of editorial work, I saw this tweet from Granta linking to an interview with Franzen himself, and mis-attributing a Mitch Hedberg quote to him. (Franzen does actually say it in the interview, but he's himself quoting Hedberg.)

Some other eagle-eyed reader had already pointed out the mistake, but Granta left the tweet up, and Franzen's publisher re-tweeted it—which in the grand scheme of things is not really a huge deal, I guess. But it struck me that, hey, given that it is so easy for little mistakes like that to spread these days, maybe Saladgate wasn't so ridiculous after all. So now when you go read the (hilarious) published post, rest assured that it has been double- and triple-checked. That really is a "salad".

June 05, 2013

My Sick Day So Far

• Carlton's Trekkie obsession keeps William Shatner from appearing on Hilary's show.

• Zack and Slater come to blows when they both fall for the new girl in their senior class.

• Niles asks Frasier for advice about his relationship with Maris.

• [Break for email/Facebook/Twitter/blogging]

• A secret service agent is framed as the mole in an assassination attempt on the president. He must clear his name and foil another assassination attempt while on the run from a relentless FBI agent.

• [Break for lunch/Sunday's newspaper]

• Bart becomes an overnight sensation as the "I didn't do it" boy on Krusty's show.

• Homer goes undercover to reveal that Apu is selling tainted meat at his convenience store.

• [Break for email/Facebook/Twitter/blogging]