CSotD: Strange Days Have Found Us

Alex offers a grim prediction for writers, or at least those who don’t go to the right cocktail parties in the right cities.

Publishers already use the term “slush pile” for the vast quantities of unsolicited manuscripts that arrive on their doorsteps, and it’s newsworthy when something from the slush pile gets published. It’s nearly newsworthy when one of them gets read past the first few pages, but the percentage that deserve it is pretty small.

I’m not sure AI can add to the burden there or in the offices of agents, where the AI would have to crank out query letters rather than full manuscripts, and I’m not sure how producers make decisions but I’m pretty sure it isn’t by reading manuscripts or queries.

The real trick is to be interesting.

My one-time newsroom colleague Anne was in NYC about to fly out to her native England and was telling someone at a party how she intended to spend much of her visit doing research for a novel she was writing set in the court of Richard III.

A woman nearby said, “Excuse me, but I couldn’t help overhearing …” and to date Anne’s got five historic novels published, thanks to having gone to the same party as an agent.

Let’s see AI pull that off.

The way to get a movie produced is different: You have to create a doll that sells a kabillion copies and branches out into not just doll clothes but cars and houses and friends to go with her.

People toss around the fact that a woman invented Barbie, which sounds like she dreamed it up at her kitchen table, but she was president of Mattel at the time, which did provide something of a leg up.

The Barbie movie and Oppenheimer are opening simultaneously, which has caused wags to speak of “Barbenheimer” and suggest seeing both movies for an ironic look at the world.

Guy Venables, however, counters with a vision not of the Oppenheimer crowd seeking irony at Barbie but at the Barbie crowd wandering into Oppenheimer.

He’s right that not everyone is an intellectual wiseass.

I remember going to see Kagemusha and there were several people in the theater who apparently thought it was going to be a chop-socky action flick and left about 15 minutes into it. And I can top that by having gone to In Cold Blood with a date who wanted to make out during it.

As Dorothy Parker said, “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.”

Speaking of which, Daniel Boris was quick on the draw, memorializing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s astonishing display of, in the words of Congressman Robert Garcia, dick-pics at Wednesday’s hearing on something or other but not that.

She claimed Hunter was “making pornography” despite the fact that the pics needed to dug out of a lost laptop which is, I guess, yet another way of being accidentally published, though I doubt she plans to pay him.

Greene did not show nude photos of Melania Trump, who had been paid to pose for pictures that were commercially published, which is a more traditional definition of pornography, nor did she display nekkid pics of Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal.

And to pick up on another ginned up GOP outrage, I’m sure that, had either of those two women become pregnant and carried to term, the child would have been featured in White House photos during its father’s administration.

Which is a joke because even Tiffany didn’t get near the place very often.

Though my goo’ness gracious, as Lee Judge (KFS) points out, you can’t expect the majority party to pursue every problem in the country. They have to choose the ones that really matter.

The fellow in Man Overboard didn’t pick out that ball cap at random. His life may be a disaster, but at least his government is pursuing the problems that matter.

And speaking of living paycheck to paycheck, my reading about Reconstruction and the Gilded Age continues and it’s pretty depressing. The racist bloodbaths in the South are horrifying — Tulsa was only more recent, not more deadly — and the flagrant betrayals and unnecessary warfare against native people out West is depressing.

But there was also a more systemic failure throughout the country, in that the victory of the industrial North and the freeing of the slaves was supposed to usher in an era of “free labor,” meaning workers who were free to choose and negotiate their work, and who would naturally climb the ladder to what a later generation would call the middle class: Owning their own homes and enjoying comfortable lives as a reward for the hard work in their early years.

Well, it worked out for some of us, nearly a century later, for two or three decades.

Which either proves that it could happen, because it did, or it proves that it couldn’t, because it didn’t reach everyone and it hasn’t sustained.

But we can trace at least some of its failure to this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Kal Kallaugher — Counterpoint)

(Pat Hudson)

There seems, Kallaugher suggests, to be a contest this election cycle to see who can make the most outrageous, counterfactual, transparently nonsensical claims.

There is some comfort in the fact that RFK Jr is falling out of favor with Democrats, which I suspect means that his earlier supporters loved his father and hadn’t yet heard the idiocy that comes out of his mouth.

But that doesn’t always turn people off: In yesterday’s hearing, he blatantly denied saying things that are firmly documented, infuriating Democratic committee member Debbie Wasserman Schultz but making him a hero among conservatives who claimed her pushback against his bigotry, nonsense and lies was “censorship.”

He’s ostensibly running as a Democrat, but he’s gaining favor among Republicans, who may see him as another vote-splitter, much like the No Labels group or Green Party candidate Cornel West.

Anything to help find those 11,780 votes.

Meanwhile, as Hudson points out, they’re seriously considering re-electing a man who told them tens of thousands of lies as president and is now facing felony charges, including for several types of disloyalty to the nation, and who has already been found guilty of one more rape than Hunter Biden.

But, after all, he’s three-and-a-half years younger than his likely opponent.

4 thoughts on “CSotD: Strange Days Have Found Us

  1. Wow, Mike. You really took the gloves off today. Slightly more acerbic than the Irish diplomacy that you usually practice. And I’m here for it.

  2. If there is any way to get a collection of “Man Overboard” (I googled and can’t find any) please give us the link. That strip is a gem !

    I glanced at “Judge Parker” today (it’s next to a strip I always read) and noticed that Ces has resorted to having Ted Forth turn up in his bear costume.

    Wayback Playback : Well put !

  3. Other than his Facebook page that Mike links to above,
    Man Martin has a blog that also carries Man Overboard
    (with an archive of 13 years*) https://manmartin.blogspot.com/
    Scroll to the bottom of the opening page and signup
    to get every new Man Overboard delivered to your inbox.

    Of interest is a 2019 interview about his religious comic strips:
    Man Martin from the interview: “…This unfortunate tendency of losing sight of the main point
    is not reserved to theologians, disciples, and other crackpots; every Sunday, I am reminded there
    are two laws—only two—love God and love your neighbor, and every Sunday I’m back in church
    needing forgiveness all over again because I couldn’t do those two simple things.”

    *The comics (Inkwell Forest/Man Overboard) start around 2016.

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