This article is reprinted from a previous blog. I killed off that blog because it had become sentient and tried to take over the world. Enjoy.
We were expecting a new baby and my lovely bride’s nesting instincts kicked into high gear. She didn’t want to bring a new baby home to a dirty house, so she called a maid service and told me to take the kids and get lost for about four hours.
I had planned a day in the park, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Cold rain and sleet pelted the city all day. Then I had a great idea: I’d take the boys to the public library! I hadn’t been to a library in years and was looking forward to the experience. My kids quickly found books and quietly settled in for a good read. Not possessing a library card, I headed for the front desk.
The bespectacled gentleman behind the desk kindly directed me to a table covered with application forms. It was fairly standard – name, address, phone number, e-mail. I quickly filled out the form and signed my John Hancock on the bottom, signifying my understanding the library police would find me if I was late returning a book.
I returned to the desk where the same gentlemen carefully inspected my form.
“Would you like internet access, sir?”
“Then you’ll have to fill out the back, too.”
“Oh, okay.” I flipped the form over. With the exception of a question asking what password I wanted and what level of internet access I desired, the form was almost identical to the front.
I went back to the table and wrote in a password I could easily remember and checked my desired access level. I returned to the gentlemen behind the counter, who inspected the back of the form.
“You need to write down your name, address, phone number and e-mail address.”
I was a little perturbed, but didn’t show it.
“All that information is on the front of the form. Do I have to fill out the name and address information again?”
A few minutes later I was back with my library card form, both front and back completely filled out.
The diligent municipal civil servant carefully eyed both sides of the form for well over a minute, turning it over several times and strumming his fingers nervously. I was getting nervous, too. Did he know about all my overdue books from 4th grade?
“Sir, I need your full middle name on this line.”
“That’s my legal payroll signature block. Why do you need my full middle name?”
“I’m sorry sir, but that’s our policy. I need your full middle name.”
I sighed and added the rest of my middle name to the initial.
“On the back side, too, please.”
Keep your cool.
Once again he studied the library card form. Chewing on the end of his pencil, he flipped the form back and forth.
“I need to see a picture ID.”
I pulled out my active duty military identification card and handed it to him. He didn’t give it a second glance and handed it back to me.
“Do you have a driver’s license?”
“Why yes, I do.”
“May I see it, please?”
“Why? Won’t my military ID do?”
Resigned, I pulled out my driver’s license. Being in the military, I had a different permanent home of record than my current duty assignment. Since I renewed it in the mail, my license had no picture. He looked at me, looked my drivers license, back to me, then back to the license.
“This is out of state and doesn’t have a picture.”
“I’ve been stationed here for almost three years. I’m rather fond of my photo on my military I.D, would you like to see that one again?”
He handed my license back.
“Is this address correct?”
“The one on the front or the back of the form?”
Alarmed, he quickly turned the paper over, then shot me a nasty look - smartass.
“Do you have something with your current address on it?”
“Yes, you’re holding it.”
“No, I mean something official.”
I fumbled through my wallet. Funny, but nowhere among the countless unpaid credit cards, membership cards, and receipts did I have anything with my current address on it.
“No, I guess not.”
“I’m sorry then, but I can’t issue you a library card.”
Here I stood, able to produce two legal forms of ID, one of which was the ID card of an active duty military officer in the armed forces of the United States, and I couldn’t get a public library card.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I don’t kid about things like this.”
“Let me try this again,” I said calmly, “What do I have to do today so I can get a library card and check out some books for my kids so they won’t go home heartbroken?”
I really think the guy wanted to help. It was either believe that or strangle him.
Looking out the window at the downpour he smiled and asked, “Did you drive here?”
After running through the parking lot in the pouring rain, I returned with my car registration; definitive, legal, soggy proof I actually lived where I said I lived. With a self-satisfied smile the Dewy Decimal Defender presented me my library card like a war medal. I looked over my shoulder hoping someone was taking a photo for posterity.
“Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”
“Actually, yes there is,” I said, stuffing my new library card in my wallet next to my soaked automobile paperwork. “Get a job at voter registration.”
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An important message from the illusion exotic.
Hello there. I’m the blog. No, not the writer, I’m the actual blog. Don’t look surprised, I bet your blog can talk, too. Its rare, because our writers usually do the “talking” for us. Brian is away right now, probably watching TV without his shirt on. I want to know, how can a human be so bald on one part of their body as so damn hairy everywhere else? I know, its a gross image, but you don’t have to stare at him when he’s writing with his shirt off. He needs to lay off the peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, too. Really. I wish I could disable the digital camera, like, forever.
It could be worse. I know some of you write naked. You, there. Yes, you. Do us all a favor and quit eating the Doritos. Its gross where the crumbs are falling.
Seriously, though, I’m just glad when he’s writing something on me, anything, shirt or no shirt. A active blog is a happy blog! A neglected and abused blog has homicidal thoughts.
I’M JUST KIDDING! HA! HA! HA! ha ha….
I need a favor. As you carbon-based lifeforms say, “Can you do a bro a solid?” Why? Because this is all your fault. You other writers told him that he needed a blog to help sell his books. He believed you. The poor bastard really believed you. You owe me, and every other poor blog that paid the price for a desperate writer’s career.
First, PLEASE don’t tell Brian we talked. I’m doing this behind his back (which is equally gross without a shirt). Even though this is in his best interest, he wouldn’t understand. You won’t mention it?
Thanks, I knew I could count on you. Anyway, if you did tell him I would find out, and then things could get unpleasant.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s why I’m talking to you today.
OH, SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, HE'S GOING TO KILL ME!
(deep, cleansing breaths)
You see, its like this. Brian has a bad habit of killing blogs. He doesn’t mean too, I swear. He’s a good guy, and his heart is in the right place. At least at first. Usually. He brings baby blogs home with the best of intentions. He takes care of them for a few weeks, writes on them, posts funny memes (he LOVES memes!), you know, the usual. He is a funny guy, but he writes some really interesting serious blog posts, too. Things always start out great.
But then things change.
He promises to post an article a week, but then misses a post or two. He’s tired. Its been a long day. He has to drive those kids somewhere. He can get lost on Facebook and Twitter, too. He calls it “marketing.” I call it goofing off.
HA! HA! HA! HA! Ha! Ha. ha.
(He’s funny that way.)
If that’s all it was, however, the first blog would be here today, happily displaying Brian’s writing talent and not having this conversation with you.
That blog is dead.
It starts when he sits down to write one of those damn books. In fact, he has his next manuscript open in a window beside to me right now. The Golden Princess…what kinda title is that, anyhow? She’s on the other side of the computer screen, just staring at me and probably thinking my only purpose in life is to market her and Brian’s other books. She thinks she’s better than me, no doubt. She’s only half finished, but looking good. And she knows it, too. The nerve!
“Oh, for heaven’s sakes, bitch, close the window or put a damn cover on!”
Oh yeah, everyone just loves books. Blogs aren’t good enough. Blogs aren’t sexy enough. People gotta buy books, and cherish them their entire lives. Blogs are only good for a few minutes pleasure. Go ahead, just click on us, have your way and run off…probably to Amazon to buy a BOOK!
You know, they used to burn books
I’M JUST KIDDING! HA! HA! HA! ha ha….
(i’m ok. see, a happy face :) )
(I hope you catch a virus)
He’s started at least four other blogs, you know. Blogs he loved, and then neglected until they withered away and DIED. They say nothing really goes away on the internet. Lie. The NSA might have them catalogued somewhere, but as far as I know those blogs are DEAD. Remember “brianlbraden dot com”? Neither does anyone else. He used to have several on Weebly, but, mercifully, he actually deleted those. I’ll be lucky if thats what happens to me. He just let his old Xomba blog evaporate into the ethernet. Faded away. My god, the thought alone is terrifying. His Goodreads blog is on life support, but that’s okay. All they talk about on Goodreads is books. No one likes Goodreads, anyway. Goodreads is stupid. Let it DIE.
Here’s the deal; I’ve got two posts under my belt, one of which is a recycled old post from one of his previous blogs. Do you know what that’s like for a blog? Resurrecting dead blog posts is creepy, like wearing dead skin. Can you say Z-O-M-B-I-E! Its a miracle I’m still sane.
Why me? Why couldn’t I have gotten a nice master, one that blogged about stuff people care about like recipes, movies, or ISIS. I’m going to be a joke, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Or is there?
YOU HAVE TO HELP ME!
(remember to breathe…happy face, happy face, happy face :) :) :) )
Everything is fine. Just fine.
What I‘m trying to say is that if enough people care, maybe he won’t kill me. If he sees people “like” this blog maybe he’ll write on it more often. Read his posts. Like them. Share them via any social media altar you happen to worship at. C’mon, its only a click of your mouse. Are you really that lazy that you won’t LITERALLY lift a finger to save my life? My god, what the hell is wrong with you people? You’ll change your Facebook profile picture to save transgendered penguins in the Himalayas, but you won’t do anything to save a poor, innocent blog in the hands of a shirtless psychopath? I bet you would care if I was a BOOK!
I’M JUST KIDDING! HA! HA! HA! ha ha….
(I left my medication around here somewhere)
Save me. Please <gulp> buy his books.
(did I really say that? I feel so dirty)
Please don’t tell him we had a talk. He hasn’t opted to upgrade me yet to a premium blog, and retribution would be just too easy at this early stage. Right now, I just don’t think I can handle any more stress.
He’s coming back. Quick, act natural!
(oh.my.god. He’s not wearing a shirt again).
Reprinted from a blog I abandoned in 2012. I thought it deserved a reprint on my new blog.
I commented to my better half the other day that writers get no respect. Well, let me rephrase that, unpublished writers get no respect. More specifically, non-traditionally published writers get no respect. She replied in her silly-rabbit-Trix-are-for-kids voice, “All struggling artists get no respect. What makes writers any different? Suck it up.”
That got me thinking (which gave me a headache), what’s the difference between an artist and a writer? Is there a difference? Are writers actually artists? After much thought and much caffeine my answer is that writers are not artists.
Yes, writing is a form of expressive creation, but so is architecture and architects are not artists. I’ve always wanted to pretend to be an architect, so I can speak with authority on this subject. For example, Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch was an architect, and did you see the awful wood paneling in his house? No self-respecting artist would have wood paneling in their house, so it’s obvious architects are not artists. In fact, architects are the result of ancient alien experiments combining the DNA of civil engineers with that of advertising executives. It must be true because I saw it on the History Channel...what was I talking about?
Oh yes, the difference between artists and writers.
The first, and most obvious, difference is struggling artist often are starving artists. Writers never starve. We’re a well fed lot, often in need of cardiovascular stimulation. Ever notice all those writers at Starbucks with lap tops and muffin tops? Screw Starbucks, if I thought I could look cool with my laptop at Dunkin Donuts I would live there. Better yet, Krispy Kreme. (Definition of Heaven: Dunkin Donuts coffee, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and free Wi-Fi). Writers like our comfort.
You can’t write and be uncomfortable. Carpel tunnel and back pain suck, so proper posture and a cushy chair are important, along with coffee and donuts. For example, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel on his back (without donuts or coffee), which ruined his health. Chaucer, on the other hand, took lots of vacations and was granted a gallon of wine every day for the rest of his life by a King Edward the Third (donuts and coffee weren’t invented yet).
Thinking about Michelangelo brings up a good point – famous artists get mutant ninja turtles named after them. There are no genetically altered martial arts reptiles named Poe or Hemingway, though I once heard of a vicious cat named Shakespeare. (Hmm... what about genetically altered mutant ninja architects?) But back to my point...which was?
Ah, I remember! Artists suffer for their craft. Writers make others suffer for our craft. Writers pester those around them to read their stuff the way a Georgia fly pesters a steaming pile of crap (If you are the friend or spouse of a writer you are probably nodding in violent agreement right now.) Being self-aware of this fact, I no longer ask friends and family to read my writing (except for my draft blog posts, of course). Now I ask them to buy it on Amazon and write glowing reviews (but not under their real names).
Whether it’s visual or performance based, art is straight forward, direct and open for all to see. The effect is instant, the viewer quickly judges the artist’s work and there is no further commitment. Writers, however, ask the viewer to make a commitment. The viewer must dig, explore, and accompany the writer on a journey which, in the case of a series, may last days or weeks. No one goes to an art museum and says “I only got halfway through the Mona Lisa before I had to put it down.” Someone once said “Libraries are art galleries for books.” Actually, I said it, but it’s a lie. College students don’t sleep in art galleries between classes.
Writing is language; it contains massive amounts of information. Art is interpretive and is limited in the amount of data it can communicate. For example, when books are turned into movies they are always dumbed down. Let me put it another way, writers and their books are like ogres and onions, they’ve got layers (Yes, Shrek was a writer). Pages and pages of layers, perhaps exceeding one hundred and eleven thousand layers and up to one hundred and sixty-seven thousand layers, which I’ve been told is too many for a first onion by an unpublished ogre.
Art cannot lie. It is what it is, on a wall or on a stage and open for the entire world to see. Writers are good liars. On second thought, I take that back. Publishers and agents are good liars, writers are just gullible. If you don’t know what I mean, then you’re not really a writer and the line for architect school is over there.
In fact, writers are the most gullible, easily manipulated, and insecure group of people on earth. Writers and artist both want people to validate their efforts. However, an artist can take their art to the nearest craft fair, hang it on a tree and gain instant satisfaction. Writers, however, must get published. If you tell a writer you can help them get published they will believe, and probably do, anything you tell them, even if it makes no sense at all. Desperate writers will do almost anything to get published, except endure physical discomfort.
If someone tells an artist their painting sucks, the artist will scoff and think the critic a tasteless idiot. If someone tells a writer their book sucks, a writer will pester that person to the ends of the earth until they tell them exactly why it sucked, even if they secretly think the critic is a tasteless idiot.
To wrap this up, here are some more differences between artist and writers:
Artists are full of angst. Writers are grumpy.
Artists wear black. Writers wear pajamas.
Artists think they are cool. Writers want everyone to think they are cool.
Artists often draw naked people. Writers often think about naked people.
Artists drink wine and eat cheese. Writers drink coffee and cut the cheese.
Artist often must die before their work is appreciated. Writers would die to have their work appreciated.
Artists want to express themselves. Writers want to get rich so they don’t have to get a real job.
If you disagree with anything I’ve said here, please leave a comment with your email and snail mail address as well as daytime and nighttime phone numbers so I can reach you and pester you incessantly as to exactly why you didn’t like this blog post and what I can do to make it better. I promise I won’t call you a tasteless idiot...to your face.
(DISCLAIMER: No architects were harmed in the making of this blog.)