Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Story is in the Spam

Lately, I have been getting incredible spam emails. So much more creative then the usual enlargements, stocks, real estate, FREE DEGREES NOW, or drugs (just say no). No, these are very creative and almost tell a story. Has anyone else gotten these? Perhaps someone (Matthew?) can illumine me to the true puposes of these emails, but until then I have several theories:

1) As an aspiring fiction writer I have somehow unwittingly signed up for some "share your story over email project." (I cry for you, story email project.)

2) These are actually coded messages from either a) the CIA or NSA or b) terrorist cells. I just need the decoder. Please, I want the decoder! I am willing to send in cereal box tops or UPCs.

3) There is some link that I am supposed to click on in the email. (This is not working, by the way, I haven't ever even seen a link.)

4) Some nasty virus is contained in the email (since I have a Mac, nothing happens). But let's be honest. There is another type of virus that is spread by the language in these spam stories, as I like to call them.

So, for your enjoyment, I have pasted a spam story below, and included my italicized commentary and critique, as I would in a writing workshop. I neglected to save the email address to look up the domain. Next time I promise I will.


I rose quietly, so as not to waken the cowboys, took my fish spear, and went to the channel.

Very Hemingway here, but the cowboys threw me a bit. Cowboys by the beach is a fresh idea. Can they surf?

The only difficulty would be in getting the golfers.

That is always the difficulty. I prefer my golfers to be old, drunk and Scottish.

But later, when the wind freshened a little, I had to send Johnny on the outrigger itself. And then a verbose sermon, as unnourishing a crust as was ever thrown upon the waters.

WHO IS JOHNNY? We need some introduction to the character. Also, is verbose sermon functioning here as a metaphor? And for what?

To come about the canoe must be beached or sailed to shallow water where it can be held. Try to smell the clean breath of an island untainted by habitations. My heart missed a beat and my knees went weak. Now and again she would gasp with emotion, her eyes would become soft and almost sensuously happy.

This is some fine work, really. I find that islands tend to have the cleanest breath when they use Scope. But why do the narrator's knees go weak here? Is it because the island's breath is so sexy? And is the island gasping for emotion, or is this Johnny as a girl, or a new heroine?

The fish retaliated by biting Elaines tongue! Their smug self-complacency annoyed me a little. Another things I proposed to teach my children to take care of themselves. Their smug self-complacency annoyed me a little. I try to remedy this by giving her mostly drawing, at which she surpasses her older sister.

Well, maybe Elaine felt sensual because the fish bit her tongue? I admit, it is a bit of a stretch, but there are some crazy fetishes out there. I would suggest, however, placing the fish biting incident before Elaine feels sensual, unless the bite was supposed to interrupt the mood.

Elaine, trying to reciprocate her sensual feeling.

Soon we were in deep water, too far from the reef to make it swimming should the canoe capsize.

To be honest, this is how I feel about your story.

The trade wind blows fresh and fragrant through the house. Not even the whoops of the cowboys jar my nerves, for they are on the end of the wharf fishing. We pitched our camp under a big tournefortia bush, within a few feet of the beach.
The cowboys, fishing.

YES, I was waiting for the cowboys to come back, although I still wish that they were surfing instead of fishing. I think you might also include some dialogue here between the narrator and the cowboys, those saucy fellows.

Every island has a reef peculiar to itself.

No man is an island, except the one that has sexy Scope breath, and causes Elaine to feel even more sensual than when she was bit on the tongue by a fish.

I pulled him out, dropped him in my bag, and moved on. By the time we had retrieved the spears there were five sharks circling about us.

The suspense builds!

I woke at about four and put in two hours of hard work clearing a path to the north point. Probably not, for the rafters area foot apart and the roofing sheets close together. She always makes a great to-do about her pains. Johnny stayed at home, for she has a boil on her knee. The tide was low in the forenoon and the reef dry. These plaited fronds give both a beautiful effect and a raintight shelter.

I knew it! Johnny is a girl (or maybe just a cross-dressing, surfer cowboy?)

The cowboys ride off into the sunset, but where is the narrator?

Dear Email-a-Story Project Participant,

On the whole I thought the piece lacked the focus it needed to succeed. The revelation of a female Johnny comes too late. The split-personality disorder of the narrator (as Johnny, Elaine, her own children)has been overdone, e.g. Fight Club, Identity, and etc. Continuous description and unification of voice would help achieve a greater clarity. I also wondered about the endearing cowboys, so obvious in their comraderie, and why they would exclude the troubled narrator? The loose end of the problematic golfers still bothers me as well. In short, you have some work to do.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

LA's Dopest Attorney

The following picture is of Allison Margolin, and appeared in (as far as I remember) LA Weekly, in an ad that claimed that she is "LA's dopest attorney." It also feautured bullet points of benefits that clients could expect from hiring the talents of Margolin. The one that caught our eye, combined with the photo and the claim of "ivy-league educated" was "want to smoke pot on probation?"

Margolin giving her sultry stoned look.

I had a good laugh over this one, but as it turns out, Margolin does have an ivy-league education. She also seemingly takes cues from "Legally Blonde" in that she is not afraid to use sex appeal to win a case or attract clients. She favors the legalization of marijuana (hence the pun, or perhaps half pun, on "dopest"). She has an explanatory video on youtube, and the LA Times recently wrote an article on her.

You can't imagine how disappointed I was to find out that she wasn't a model hired to look like a sexy lawyer to garner business for a failing firm. That would have been perfect for Hollywood. She is, however, more of an enigma.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Grandmother (a poem)

This is a first draft of my second poem I wrote for my poetry class.

I look into eyes of tall sagebrush on a still day,
green and silver without the polish of recognition.
Cumulus hair on skin cracked like deadwood.
The storm has lived here for months.

Hello I say, but she is buried.
Clogged lungs, dirtied eyes, how can she breathe?
The dunes are so high and so wide,
and the wind only keeps piling.

I have seen the future and it is dust.

Dust blows over everything, drifting until the farmers pack up.
Fields are worthless and the sky is dark with grime.
Get the kids in the car and head west.
Have you heard? There is gold in California!

She says Take me home,
but her home has dried up—
there are no crops that can take root in this soil.
She says If you loved me you would take me home,
but love must obey survival.

I want to tell her You are not from Kansas.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Why a Radiohead Concert Might Be More Like Heaven Than a Church Service

This is a provocative title, and I partially mean it. I'm not just using hyperbole to praise Radiohead.

I had the privilege of seeing the June 28th show in San Diego. If you ever have a chance to see a show at Embarcadero Marina, do it. The venue is outside right near the harbor and if you are clever (I wasn't), you can go to shows for free by simply putting a boat in the water and sailing around the outside of the venue. The view wouldn't be bad either, probably about the same as from the edge of the bleachers.

Thom Yorke responded in a humorous way to the surroundings when he acknowledged the concert crashers. Yelling into the mic he said "Hey you there in the lake, did you pay then?" Of course, everyone loved this. I can't remember which song they went into after that, but it was a good transition. I'd like to say it was "Everything in Its Right Place," but that's probably a falsification.

Thom sings Happy Birthday to Colin Greenwood, photo borrowed from limegreeneye@flickr.

In what way was the concert more like heaven than church? I was reminded of at least two ways (that I probably originally felt at a U2 show). I don't mean that I feel closer to God at a Radiohead concert. Rather, I think that there is a sense of eternity at a good concert. That is, no one there wants it to end. After Radiohead played for nearly two hours everyone yelled until the band came out for an encore. If this method continued to work, I'm fairly sure that most people would have stayed all night. It's that kind of special feeling that is hard to explain and create. Historically significant events have the same sort of quality. Sometimes I do feel this way after worship, but there is no way that the majority of people in the church do, because I can always tell who can't wait to get out of the service. Why does Radiohead do a better job at captivating people's attention?

Probably it's because Radiohead doesn't play every Sunday, and because the audience adores the band. Although this is most likely bordering on idolatry, there is a great sense of unity in the crowd because of this shared acknowledgement of talent. While I do feel unified with other Christians at church, I don't always share the same attitudes toward the worship and sermon. I imagine that in Heaven everyone will justifiably adore their creator, and this sense of adulation will be a very powerful unifying force.