March 23, 2006

Me vs. The Da Vinci Code

When I was reading The Da Vinci Code on the plane a week or two ago, a young woman next to me said, "Oh! Is that the first time you've read that?" And I thought, people read this more than once?

But I was nice to her. You see, I cannot be honest about what I think about the book without insulting those that like it. I apologize in advance to the readers who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code - it does have some merit. What I'm attacking in this blog is the writing style of typical bestsellers, not the book on the whole.

I'm going to re-print one paragraph of The Da Vinci Code as the author, Dan Brown, wrote it. Then I will give you MY version of how I would write the same paragraph.

Mr. Dan Brown's version:


Langdon was braced for the words, and yet they still sounded utterly ridiculous. According to Sophie, Langdon had been called to the Louvre tonight not as a symbologist but rather as a suspect and was currently the unwitting target of one of DCPJ's favorite interrogation methods - surveillance cachée - a deft deception in which the police calmly invited a suspect to a crime scene and interviewed him in hopes he would get nervous and mistakenly incriminate himself.


Now, here is what I would write, if I were the author of this story:



That's right. I would not even use that paragraph. Why? Because Sophie already explains this in dialogue preceding it. It really doesn't contribute to the story by having it repeated. It is also unnecessary to know that Langdon "was braced for the words" and that he was still in a state of disbelief. I get that. I would trust my reader to get that.

It is this kind of nonsense that takes a nice novella highlighting the primary points of an old religion that honors the sacred feminine and turns it into an insulting, 400-some page bestseller.

March 21, 2006

A Review of NCAA Final Four 2001, A Crappy Video Game

The game is a piece of shit. Seriously, it should never have been made.

You can be ranked fourth and beat the third-ranked team and not even move up in the rankings. Also, there are times when you are fouled but you make the shot after the ball bounces around a little and you don't even get credit for the basket.

There is one positive to the game, though it is not any different for any other college basketball game: you can beat Duke. In fact, you can play as an ACC team and you'll get to beat Duke twice in one season. If you run into them in the conference tournament, you get to beat them a third time. If you run into them in the NCAA tournament, you can even beat them a fourth time.

BOO Duke.

March 15, 2006

My dirty phone conversation with BiBi Cambridge

Remember that blog I wrote about calling Bill Dawes all the time? Well, on that blog, BiBi Cambridge posted her phone number as a comment and it would have been an insult to the fine lady if I didn't call her! Naturally, things got dirty quickly and I've decided to share the details here:

BiBi Cambridge: Uptown Laundry.

Aaaaaaron: BiBi, hey! What's up?!

Cambridge: This is Uptown Laundry.

Aaaaaaron: Yeah, baby! I got some dirty laundry for ya'!

Cambridge: Sir, no one works here named–

Aaaaaaron: Ooo! Sir, huh? That must make me a knight! Sir Aaron to the rescue!

Cambridge: Sir, you've dialed th-

Aaaaaaron: That's right. You BETTER call me 'sir.' I'm a knight, after all. You knighted me. Don't make me use my sword.

Cambridge: Sir, you've got the wrong-

Aaaaaaron: Oh, so you WANT me to use my sword? You want me to get my sword out? I'll be honest - it's more like a small dagger or a pocket knife.

Cambridge: Sir, you've-

Aaaaaaron: I've learned it's better to be straightforward about the length of the blade - less disappointment later, you see.

Cambridge: Sir-

Aaaaaaron: But it's still sharp, made of steel and all that. Are you naked yet?

Cambridge: Sir, this is Uptown Laundry.

Aaaaaaron: Yeah, baby! You're taking me to Uptown, all right! It's up and ready, baby! Are you excited?

Cambridge: I said this is Uptown Laundry.

Aaaaaaron: Yeah, baby! We're gonna' make dirty laundry together! I'm gonna' make dirty laundry with BiBi Cambridge!

Cambridge: Sir, there is no BiBi Cambridge at this number.

Aaaaaaron: I know there isn't, darling. You're so beside yourself with passion for my steel that you don't know who you are anymore!

Cambridge: Bloody hell.

Aaaaaaron: Oh my, that's REALLY dirty! Don't worry, baby - I know who you are. You're BiBi, baby - a hot female ready for a sexual telecommunication with Sir Aaron!

Cambridge: Sir, I'm not even a woman.

Aaaaaaron: BiBi, baby, you can't fool me. Your low voice might have turned away knights of lesser courage but I can recognize a damsel in desperation when I hear one.

Cambridge: [CLICK]

Aaaaaaron: Let's go, baby! Are you ready to taste my steel? Can you taste my steel over the phone? Here, let me taste it for you.


Aaaaaaron: BiBi? BiBi, baby - I think I hurt myself. BiBi, could you call me an ambulance please? I can't move my fingers now. BiBi? Can you hear me, baby?

Roadnotes: L.A. 3

I wasted most of my last day in L.A. recovering from the drunken night. By the time the haze of the hangover had lifted, we were hanging out with Victoria, whose stories are always entirely unbelievable, yet always 100 per cent true.

After food and drinks at two different places, we wind up at Birds, where I got to meet Jeremy, the man who started my whole "commission a work" project by writing this to me: "If I pay you a dollar, will you write about how great I am?"

Well, I thought Jeremy was great before, but after he drove all the way from pretty much San Diego, just to hang out with us for a few hours, his greatness increased considerably (I have a picture, Slax, of the two of us together - just to make you jealous, I'll post it when I get a chance).

Last to arrive on the scene was The Redhead - a Seattle compatriot who was coincidentally spending time in the area. She contributed to the spirit of the occasion by creating a mandala out of sweetener.

Somehow, the lot of us avoided getting arrested and I even got five hours of sleep before heading to the airport.

I'm flat out exhausted. My friend's death and all the heartache and all the travel have caught up with me. So, physically, I'm beat but my spirits have been lifted by meeting up with so many friends (thank you). And now I'm writing this in my journal while sitting next to the only empty seat on my flight home.

Maybe my luck has turned.

Roadnotes: L.A. 2

Oh jeez. I haven't been drunk like this in a LONG time.

It's comforting to know that even in the L.A. area, you can hang out in places like Tujunga (to be spoken like the AAOOOGAH horn), where seedy bars punctuate the landscape and bartenders say things like, "Don't yell at me; I get homesick."

Oh jeez. That is all.

Roadnotes: L.A. 1

Friday I finally got around to looking for tickets to L.A. (I'd planned to visit over the quarter break, despite not really having the money). I discovered that leaving the very next day, I could get tickets that were pretty much half the price.

Now I'm on the plane, sucking it up and reading the Da Vinci Code and feeling completely embarrassed about it.

It's not bad, if you like that sort of thing. Best sellers are typically filled with useless phrases like, "heart pounding," and meaningless descriptions of characters' surroundings, characters' possessions or characters' chins. And ultimately I feel a little manipulated when I read this sort of thing. I also feel insulted - if I wasn't told the main character was in peril, there apparently would be no way for stupid little ol' me to figure it out.

Yeah, but at least it's a refresher course on some of this history. THAT part I enjoy and I didn't mind the excessive description of the Grand Gallery at the Louvre, as I've never been there and would like to see it.

The flight goes well (as you can see, I'm still alive). I eat dinner with sis and then we go off to Scott "Freaking" Baio's Pointless Banter release party. I meet Kevin, of course, as it's his party, and he is entirely a genuinely nice guy. As an extra bonus, I meet the man behind Dick Stanke, a genius writer and a nice guy as well.

Then, Bill Dawes gives us a call and we rush down to his midnight show at the Laugh Factory, where we get to meet Bethany and her brother, David. They are just as sweet as their online personalities! And Bill Dawes - I guess he can be my best friend again because he didn't once stare at my sister's breasts. Plus, he's pretty damned funny, even when they make him talk in a Russian accent.

March 07, 2006

Roadnotes: Denver 3

It's been one long day ever since S----- died, but everything has gone as well as possible. I guess.

Thanks to Quinn and Penelope and Geekdork, I didn't have to worry about where to stay or about rides to and from the airport. And Trapper will make it. It will suck, but he'll make it.

There is beauty, you know, still. The service was amazing and Trapper kept saying that during it, he could feel so much love....

There is comedy, too. During an intense conversation with S-----'s family this afternoon, cell phones kept going off and they all had the most inappropriate ring tones. When one rang the tune of "The Entertainer," it was all I could do to keep from cracking up.

I'm at the airport now, starved. And I'm temporarily stymied when I get to Concourse A because Panda Express is closed for remodeling. I've been in a non-vegetarian house for days so I wanted some fried rice with egg in it. Now I don't know what to do.

So, I pee. Does anyone know how those automatic flushing urinals always seem to know exactly when I'm done? It's eerie. I shake off the last drops and before I can put it away, it starts flushing. It's like they have someone watching, that's how dead-on it is.

At some place called Jimmy's, my drink costs more than my dinner. I'm there because as much as I lamented the choices at SEATAC, there are even fewer options in DIA's Concourse A.

I can hear some floozy saying things like, "I'm legal. I mean I'm not barely legal or anything but I'm young." I want to tell her to just hump the married guy's leg - maybe then he'd get the hint faster.

The "pasta rustica" is actually so good it surprises me. The silverware surprises me, too - it's about as light as air and made of plastic, but it LOOKS like silverware.

I'm finishing up some homework while I finish off my drink when I happen to look at the TV for a moment. I see Kirby Puckett's face and I get excited for news about my boyhood hero until I see the caption underneath: 1961-2006.

Motherfucking shit.

I pay the bill. I find my gate. I sit down and I get a phone call from my sister.

"Have you heard?" she asks.

"Yeah. I just found out. He was about the same age as S-----."

Growing up, my sister used to tease me by calling him "Kirby Spitbucket." Now, after all these years, she suddenly feels a little bad about that.

I tell her it's okay (and it is). If I believed in last straws, I'd have collapsed by now. And Kirby is no straw - he's much bigger than that.

I can take this, too. You may not know this, but you're helping me get through this. All of you. So I can take it.

I love you S-----. I love you Trapper.

I love you Kirby Spitbucket.

I love you, sis.

I'm back in Seattle, now. And I will sleep well tonight.

March 05, 2006

Roadnotes: Denver 2

My favorite story: Four days before she died, she decided she wanted a drumstick - one of those ice cream cones with the fudge coating and peanuts, etc. So her husband, Trapper, goes to get her one but he doesn't know what kind. So he just buys a box of every kind they have. It is beautiful logic.

March 04, 2006

Roadnotes: Denver 1

Two days ago at my writer's group there was surprise expressed, by several, that I, at age 31, had been to 15 or 20 funerals. I didn't think it was that many. So now I wonder how many is normal?

The subject came up, of course, when I told them of my upcoming trip. The one I'm on now. I'm going to a funeral in Denver. I'm not there, yet - I'm on a bus headed to SEATAC, wishing my suit and dress shoes didn't require me to take a full-sized carry-on. Much easier to get around with just a backpack.

I'm at the airport. A quick tour of food options made me think that vegetarians don't travel much. I had to walk what seemed like half the length of the airport just to find something that wasn't a veggie burger.

Now, I'm watching a woman eat, one table over. She stares at the cover of a fashion magazine and finishes her food. Then she flips through the magazine, quicky and efficiently taking out all the postcard size ads that would ineveitably fall out if she didn't do this.

I caught you, lady! See, we all do these little things but we usually don't consider that we are doing them for an audience. Enough, though. I'll leave her with her stack of postcard ads and quit writing. I'm not even there, yet....

No, there's one last thing. (I'm wordy today.) Is anyone else a regular Frontier flyer? If you're over, say, 5'10", you have to stoop down to see underneath the overhead compartments in order to see the row numbers for your seat assignment.

My first time on a Frontier plane freaked me out - I couldn't see any row numbers, yet everyone else seemed to know exactly where to go. It was Twilight Zone-esque. I almost turned around and counted the rows behind me. I did figure it out, somehow, without asking, and for a while afterward it annoyed me whenever I flew Frontier. Now it makes me laugh. Just a little. Deep down inside, where no one can see.

Okay. One last thing again. And this time I mean it. I'm too embarrassed to bring a book out of my bag to read. I'm on the plane and I have a copy of the DaVinci Code, but I feel like it'd be too cliche or just too stupid to show people that I, too, have stooped to that level. Incidentally, Dabi touched on this subject not long ago....

Of course, I haven't REALLY stooped that low - I have to read it for a class I'm taking next quarter. The class is called, "The DaVinci Code." Honest. I'm not keen on the book, but I am keen on the history that the book is based on, which is what the class is about. Baigent and Leigh have done some great work and I couldn't pass up the chance to study it in an academic setting. Thus, I must read the book - it's homework I've been given before the quarter has even started. Don't ask me why, but I do actually love this school.

Anyway, I have other, more dignifying, options: The Elements of Style and Ouisconsin, a book of poems by one of my professors. I'm shutting up now. Who knows - I may not have anything to say for the rest of the trip.

March 02, 2006

C-Dawg be sayin: "How come you not be puttin' me in your blogs, yo?!"

And I'm like, "Now, C-Dawg, I totally mentioned you in that one blog...and there was maybe another blog...maybe."

And C-Dawg be sayin, "Thats not enough, yo!"

And I'm all, like, "Uh...the blogs are fiction. I just make them up. Any similarity to actual events is purely a figment of your imagination."

And then C-Dawg gets all upset, yo! No time to finish - I'm busy installing a third deadlock on my door!