In this episode, I chat with DeeCee (aka Brent Maxwell) about comedy, life in Asia, and the Kenan Thompson Comedy Experience. I also break down the news and ask the question; is Donald Trump really considering running with Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Crazytown-Georgia)? Why are Republicans pro-tax cuts, handouts and loan forgiveness for rich people and member of the GOP but no one else? When will we mind Eric Trump’s head for oil? And what does Monty Python have to do with all of that?
DeeCee and I have known each other through JokeZoom. That’s a free, online joke writing group that is amazing. If you want to write better jokes, this is a great place to do that.
Today, a man set off two smoke bombs in Brooklyn. Opened fire and spit out 33 rounds into passengers commuting to work. After the train was cleared, police found three extended ammunition magazines, consumer-grade fireworks, a hatchet and a jug of gasoline. Twenty people were injured, some critically. It is amazing no one was killed.
This incident comes as violent crimes across the city and MTA system rise. A lot of people compared what happened today to 9/11. Early reports were that it might have been an act of domestic terrorism so it really makes sense to be reminded of that awful day.
Of course, it’s something I think about often now that I am back. Growing up on Long Island, I used the World Trade Center as my point of reference to get around the city. To this day, I do that and have gotten lost more times than I would like to admit. It’s kind of pathetic to get lost in your home city.
The current crime wave hitting the city and the attack this morning reminds me of the New York City I knew when I was a kid. It was seedy and dangerous. Then, Mayor David Dinkins and Disney remade the place. I don’t think we will go back to those times but it is hard to see where we are headed.
Today, I had an amazing day walking around Stony Brook. I worked out of a cafe in the Village. I got more creative writing done than I have all year.
Yet, looking at the blue sky, I thought of Ukraine. Myanmar. The Uyghurs in China. Paul Rusesabagina falsely imprisoned in Rwanda.
Why are someone’s rights to own a gun more important than mine to stay alive? Someone told me that it was because of the Second Amendment. So the Second Amendment trumps the Declaration of Independence? Don’t I have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
I want to think something has happened to us. Something has happened to make us hate each other so much. But whatever hatred we are seeing now it’s not new. It’s just been hidden. As long as people we had oppressed since 1619 stayed ok with it — or rather, didn’t get “uppity,” things were good. Sure we subjected millions with slavery for hundreds of years and then the Jim Crow laws for another hundred and continue to use systems made by white men to keep white men in power. Even if people in the system are not racist, it doesn’t matter because the system is. Every single white person in America benefits from white privilege.
A person I went to junior high school with commented on a post about BLM protesters with this, “We will treat you like humans when you act like humans.”When you can look at another person and think you have the right to dictate what is and is not human behavior, you are proving my point. This person is not alone in thinking that. This is the attitude we have to change.
One part of almost every job I have has included me sending out mass emails. This is something that happened at almost every job I have had. There was always a big back and forth with my boss (or bosses) about when an email was ready. This is the origin of this PTSD.
Me: Can I send out the email?
Boss: Please go ahead!
Then I would go back to my desk to send out the message. Five to ten minutes later, my boss/es would rush in — Did that email go out? I found a problem! Don’t send it!
Eventually, the conversation turned into:
Me: Can I send this email?
Boss: Go ahead.
Me: Are you sure?
Boss: Send it!
Me: Are you really sure
Boss: Yes! Send it! NOW!
Me: Are you totally sure? The last time(s) you found something later. I don’t want to send it because you can’t get it back.
Boss: But (coworker) says we can unsend them!
Me: We can’t. We have to be sure when we send it!
Boss: SEND IT!
The PTSD of mass emails made me miss snail mail
Sometimes, even after that conversation, I would be asked to unsend a mass email. This got to me after a while and I used to even miss mass snail mail. None of my bosses ever expected me to chase down the mailperson to get back the letters we were sending. NOT ONE!
Today, I was working on a mass email for No Business with Genocide. To save a draft, I have to save and send myself a test. When I saw that, I thought I had already sent it and nearly had a stroke. The good news is that the person who proofs and okays my emails has NEVER freaked out and demanded messages be unsent.
Will I ever get over this strange problem? I guess if Jada Pinkett Smith can survive being married ot Will Smith, I will survive this!
If you missed my missive on the English language…
You can always get it here. Every day, my heart breaks time and time again when I see typos and grammar errors. Do these people know they are making these mistakes? Is it just because the medium they are using makes it way too easy to commit one too many language faux pas? Maybe but there are also a lot of intelligent people who don’t know if you have two cats, you do not have two cat’s.
So, if you have anything written that you want to look great, contact me! I LOVE copy editing! Let me help you put your best foot forward!
Over the weekend, a friend gave me a book written by an acquaintance of his. Before I go into what I thought about it, writing a book is a major undertaking. I have nothing but respect for people who follow through with this. This particular book was self-published. I see no issue there. There was a day when that was a bad thing but NOT TO ME.
This book broke my heart on just about every level. I had to look up the plot online because there is so much exposition and it was so poorly constructed I couldn’t follow it. As a lover of the English language, it felt like that author took it, beat the pulp out of it, microwaved it, ripped it up, and beat it some more. Rather than make this into a rant only about how bad this book is, I am going to offer my suggestions on basic stuff:
Alyson’s writing tips:
They are lazy. Use a better verb. There are rare times when you can use one but the fewer you use, the tighter your writing will be.
Stick with one name per character. For example; if you have a character named Anthony Rebbi, call him Anthony or Tony but don’t go back and forth. Bonus: use their full name when you first mention them and then whichever name you like for the rest of the book/story.
Don’t be redundant. If your character has an annoying habit, for example, just show them doing whatever they do. For example, you have a character that swears a lot. You don’t need to write, “Kelly likes to swear.” Just write her dialogue with a lot of curses. SHOW DON’T TELL!
Learn the rules of basic punctuation.
Quotation marks are not a way to add emphasis. You can do that by using the bold or italic fomatting options. Quotation marks used for emphasis give the reader the wrong impression. For example, I spent the weekend acting in a murder mystery. Another actor played my “husband.” See that shows he wasn’t really my husband. If you see a sign for “sushi,” it is probably not real sushi. If you need more information on quotation marks, check this out.
When using quotation marks, be careful where you put commas and periods. It is “I told you I hate dentists,” she said. “They have always scared me.” Note the period and comma sit inside the quotation marks, not after.
Use spell check. This is the easiest thing you can do to make your writing clearer. As a bonus, you can get a grammar check which will keep you from having sentences that omit words. This is a common issue that makes your prose make little sense. You can also use Grammarly. Great (and free!) service.
Get your dialogue right. Can you see what is wrong here?
Shelley answered the phone, “Hello she said. Do you want pizza?” You can approach this in a few ways but that is not one of them. This can be, “Hello,” she said. “Do you want pizza?” It can be in the course of a total conversaion and the whole “she said” can be dopped. Including it mid dialogue as was in the book, is just wrong.
“I was thinking we should go to Montauk” he said. You need a comma after Montauk and before the second quotation mark.
Use an editor. I was emailing back and forth with a journalist who admitted that due to budget cuts, he did all of his editing and made mistakes as a result. If you are writing on your own like that, you really need to use Grammarly. If you are looking to publish a book, or something else that matters to you, get someone who is experienced at editing. You may have a best friend who “gets you” but that person is crucial for your success (or failure) here.
Stick with one verb tense. Unless you are going back and forth with flashbacks or maybe images from the future, you need to be consistent here.
Writing resources that rock:
The Bible of writing in the English language is Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.
On Writing by Stephen King is a personal favorite.