Assorted Opinions: Grab Bag

Posted by ractrose on 24 Aug 2018 in Nonfiction

Photo of orange tabby and grey tabby

Assorted Opinions: Grab Bag

Laser monsters












When cleaning my garage, I came across a forgotten laser pointer.

The cats my father had given it to me for the entertainment of, are all past cats now; but recently I’ve adopted two brothers, Ed (grey) and Chester (orange), about a year and 3 months old. I checked the internet to see if pointers were considered dangerous, and the only objection highlighted was that being unable to ever catch the red dot might be frustrating for the cat.

My guys, not frustrated, learned in a hurry where I keep it; they emphatically come running when they hear the drawer slide. They beg and pestify as soon as I sit down at my computer cabinet to work, Ed rocketing himself through the five pillows I have to stuff in open spaces to block him, getting in among cables, chewing on these (which has to be stopped at once); also chewing up my notes.

My little kitties are obsessed…they find the laser pointer the Toy of Toys.

I’ve tried playing it over actual toys, or pieces of food, so they’d have something to catch, but they’re not really interested. Chester’s favorite thing is watching the dot vanish down the cold air duct; Ed’s is just chasing it round and round in circles.



The Heave-Ho



Cartoon of rejected writer


There’s a certain curiously-worded type of rejection I always wonder about.



First of all, let me say that none of these writing career setbacks should be found very critical, for the excellent reason that…

Well, consider the process. If a journal receives five hundred poems entered in a contest, the task at that stage—of choosing one above all—is plainly impossible. You would have to be able to memorize each and every, and bear all in mind simultaneously. You would need, also, to be equipped with a mind free of prejudices, conscious at all times of clearly delineated standards.

So, dunked in the submission pool, your work begins by being sieved. Are the sievers reliable? That depends on a definition the submitter can’t know, and that may (must?) be variable and individual. To a given publication, is relevance relevant? Is the reader freshly trained to dislike this, find that outdated…and the next thing not sufficiently sensitive? Is the reader an old hand, confident of his/her own taste, willing to shoulder controversy?

And does that matter, since the ultimate choice, out of maybe thirty, then ten, etc., is still an amalgamation of tastes, prejudices, fears, aspirations.

Just as are the submitted poems.

But, now and then, you get a rejection that says, in effect, “Good luck someplace else”. And here I tend to question, are they sincere? Do they believe this sounds encouraging? Do they not notice that it sounds like, “Never send us your work again”?



Ern Malley Hoax
You may enjoy this, hopeful poets. (Right now, we’re in a pesky phase of online exigencies, where sites not carrying a proper certificate are being labeled on Google “not secure”. If you like to dig up more of Malley’s poetry, and judge its merits—yes, there are some well-curated lines—a number of them are out there, but mostly on http sites.)



A Few Nice Turns of Phrase


Caesar and Grannie came back, both in fearful outbursts of Sunday clothes.


The Manxman, Sir Hall Caine 1903


The bathroom that he now whistled in was a utile jewel[non-italics mine]


Mildred Pierce, James M. Cain 1941

(‘Utile jewel’ so perfectly captures American mid-century bathroom pride.)


It is singular, however, that those who hold up the pigs as models to us never hold us up as models to the pigs.


My Summer in a Garden, Charles Dudley Warner, 1880





Times A’changin’


One of the greatest advances in modern technology is the freedom, which will only be meaningful to those who lived under the old system, to not receive, thus not have to store, electric, gas, credit card statements…all such as we were once guilted into making a second career out of ordering chronologically (if not alphabetically), and tucking away in hanging files, then in shoe boxes, then years later—for the bold—shredding and dumping. Some had such a fear that the Paper Trail Police would kick their door in and demand to see every grocery receipt from 1972, on pain of foreclosure, that they could never throw old documents out, even when the garage held thirty years’ worth of them.

No doubt the survivalists will chortle over these digital developments. When the apocalypse comes, everyone else’s identity will be wiped out…

But, just possibly, a handy thing in the midst of apocalypse.




Assorted Opinions: Grab Bag

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With Malice Towards None
















(2018, Stephanie Foster)



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