THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!

Okay, so maybe it was three weeks. But hey – you know – you can’t rush genius! Or me, more to the point. At any rate – the three weeks have passed and the time for the announcement has come!!

(Are you ready?)

(You’re not ready – I can see you. You have no popcorn. And where’s the Drambuie? There must always be Drambuie to wash down the shock and awe that comes with Cat Vacuuming’s Momentous Revelations. It’s really the only thing that will do. Go get some. I’ll wait.)

You’re not going. Yeah, that’s right. I dropped the parentheses. You’re not taking this seriously, so I must resort to drastic measures. Like speaking directly to you without the buffering comfort of parentheses to cushion the blow of my mighty words. GET THE DRAMBUIE!

Thank you.

…where was I? OH RIGHT! Momentous Revelations! Are you ready? Seriously… OKAY, you’re ready. Here it is:

 

I AM A FRAUD

 

I know, right? Shocking! That’s GOT to be, like, the biggest surprise you’ve had in years! … What do you mean it’s not? No, no. This is TOTALLY more surprising than Uncle Marvin and the Shetland pony. All you ever had to do was look at him, for heaven’s sake. He pawed the ground any time he made change!

Okay… okay. So maybe it’s not that surprising, but do you know why I’m a fraud? What? No. No… No, that thing in Bangkok was totally not my fault. I mean, who brings a chicken to a bar mitzvah? Seriously. Branford was an honest mistake, too. Who knew hairpieces were flammable? I think maybe she got a bad batch of glue.

NO! You’re wrong! That’s not it. You want to know why I’m a fraud? I’ll tell you:

I wrote a book.

See? Huh? Shocking, isn’t it. ME. That bastion of non-writing, pillar of the cat vacuuming community. What can I say? When you’ve been on the wagon as long as I have you’re bound to fall eventually, and fall hard.

I am ashamed! ‘Lo, I hang my head and moan. I am a novelist! Save me from myself!

Worse yet: It’s a BIG one.

That’s where I’ve been these past few months! Wallowing in an orgy of words! Prostrate before the miserable altar of Plot and Poetic License! Forgive me! Take pity on me, dear readers! Lend me your words of support, your prayers… your cash wouldn’t hurt either, honestly. Save me from myself and my hidden shame!

Only you, dear readers. Only slavish devotion to the cause can rescue me from my ignominious and all-too-well-deserved fate! Only you, my friends, can prevent sequels. (I can feel it! It lurks and looms in the hidden recesses of my brain, longing only for my weakness and an open word processor! The horror! THE HORROR!)

I go now, but with a promise and a prayer. I promise I shall return! Only Cat Vacuuming can save me from the inhuman plight of the novelist. And I pray you will join me here, remind me yet again how terrible life as a writer must be, and how foolish those that embark upon it thinking it’s even remotely a good idea.

I know you will be by my side, dear readers. I have faith in you.

Good night! Good Hoovering! And whatever you do…

 

DON’T WRITE!

BEHOLD! The PERILOUS, HURTY DANGERS of Writing a Novel!

If ever there was ample evidence that writing a book is a TERRIBLE idea, Mary Robinette Kowal provides it in this understated post from her journal:

Debut Author Lessons: Surviving on Tour

Dehydration! Starvation! Sleep-deprivation! Exposure, social overload and a lack of suitable utensils!!

Ms. Kowal is a lovely woman, very kind and generous, but I think where she fails is in striking the proper tone of hysterical awe and apoplectic admonition. This is madness people! What sane and right-thinking individual would put themselves through such torture?!

(More on that later)

Anyway – we hope Ms. Kowal does well and that she can wisely abandon this career of horror and woe and never need face eating yogurt with a substandard spork again.

Until next time, my pretties. Be well. Stay warm. And whatever you do,

DON’T WRITE

p.s. Stay tuned for a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT in the next week or two. Big, I say. As in Very Large. Gimongous. Hugemantic, even!

HNtWYN: A Confession (AND a warning…)

I’m afraid I have an admission to make. Please – sit down before you read this. It shames me to say it. It breaks my heart to even think of it! But I feel I must tell you, my faithful readers. I owe it to you. You deserve the truth.

You see… I’ve been writing.

I know! HOW COULD I?! Who better knows the perils and pitfalls of writing than me? Wasn’t it me that built this space, this sanctuary for the recovering writers of the world? Wasn’t it me that wrote so many times against the dangers of novels and the writing thereof? Who was it but me that took on the burden of finding and providing the means for all of us to avoid that most ignominious of fates: becoming a novelist??

‘Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

I have no excuse. I was weak! It started as nothing! I went to bed one night and lay there steadfastly avoiding thoughts of my novel, doing my level best to simply go to sleep and put such things behind me, and then the epiphany hit me. (BLAST YOU, DIVINE MUSE! WHY MUST YOU TEMPT ME SO?!) And then it was that same old story: I thought to myself, ‘Self? What could it hurt to just write one page? Really. What’s a couple hundred words in the face of the thousands you’d have to write to finish that thing?’ After that it was all over.

One page became two. Two became four, and before I knew it, I’d gone and resolved one of the scenes that has so kindly blocked me from proceeding. CURSE YOU, PLOT KNOT! WHY MUST I UNTANGLE YOU!!

I am weak, dear readers. WEAK! I beg of you, do not go down this road. Please! Take pity. Take heed! Pray for me, my friends. Pray to whatever gods, saints, giant spaghetti monsters or galactic super beings you hold dear. I am at your mercy, for not only have I fallen from the grace I have enjoyed these past few years, but I have lost my way at the most dangerous time of the year!

Oh, you must know of what I speak – It’s nearly NOVEMBER! And we all know what that means…

NANOWRIMO

That’s right – soon, hundreds… thousands! Perhaps millions of poor, sad fools will endanger themselves once again with the words ‘It’s just a month… what could it hurt?’

How can they be so cavalier! A novel! Written in just 30 days!! What could BE more dangerous than that?! Hopes raised… fears allayed… CHAOS AND DAMNATION I TELL YOU! For every mad writer that succeeds there are a dozen more that will hear the tale and think, ‘Huh – well if they can do that, why can’t I?’

WOE! WOE AND HORROR!

Do not give in, good readers! Do not be drawn in by the temptations of ‘community’ and ‘industry’ and ‘fun’! It is madness given digital form. Writing a novel in 30 days… Why even speaking the words makes me faint with incredulity and fear!

And yet…

What could it hurt?

Forgive me, my dear readers. And whatever you do…

DON’T WRITE

HNtWYN: The American (A Review)

Jack (played by a shockingly slim George Clooney) is a hare fallen in among wolves.

As The American opens, Jack, an assassin by trade, is comfortably spending some very naked time in a snow-bound cabin in the back woods of Sweden with a beautiful woman after a, presumably, successful job. It ends badly (as it usually does) when a couple of Jack’s Swedish colleagues show up to make a job of him. He escapes to Italy where his agent convinces him to take one last assignment before retiring for good.

Jack is on edge, as he should be after having killed two people (and another for good measure) in the desperate defense of his own life. And in his line of work, paranoia is a professional necessity. He abandons the safe house his agent arranged for him and holes up instead in a little village in the hills of Italy. He has no friends, no attachments. He can’t afford them – it was attachment that nearly got him killed. He has his work, the job, and nothing more.

But that is not what he needs.

The American is a very tight, taut, quiet movie, just like its main character. It makes you listen carefully and watch closely, just as Jack does: Both eyes open and one ear cocked to hear the wolves coming. The movie is filled with long silences broken by low, subtle dialogue. There are no broad gestures, no big explosions or running gun battles. It’s a story told in the lower registers, in the cinematic equivalent of a whisper and in that way makes every word count far more than it otherwise would.

George Clooney’s performance is masterful. God knows what sort of training he had to do to get himself into shape for the role, but it paid off. Jack is lean as a whip, wiry and spare. He conveys a sharp alertness with every look and gesture, and at the same time a desperate hunger. Jack lives under a kind ascetic self-denial. He seems to attend to his body’s needs out of obligation rather than appreciation. He sleeps. He eats. He fucks. All in the same way a warrior would care for his weapon – carefully, precisely, and because it is needful. But the hunger for more seeps through. He makes mistakes. He begins to make attachments.

It can only end badly for Jack. He is, after all, a bad man. When it does, The American does not disappoint. The climax of the movie is as taut and tense as all that went before. Jack is stretched as tight as a wire as the wolves come closing in. It’s hard not to root for the hare, even though we all know how it ends. But, we think, maybe THIS time…

(The American, based on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, is in theaters now.)

It’s MAGIC all right…

Oh, Dan – you think you’re so clever, don’t you? If only it was so easy.

What’s that I hear? A cat meowing? And the subtle tones of dust falling from its fur?

Back to the vac for me.

HNtWYN: Drunk History (NSFW)

Finally. FINALLY! Someone has found the sweet spot at the intersection of booze, film and American history.

Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking: “But Brett – I didn’t realize there WAS a sweet spot at that intersection. I thought it was just some homeless dude in a raincoat farting and asking for spare corks?”

Well, yes – you’re right, but there’s also a miraculous zone of ComEducation (that’s comedy+education, genius – stay with me) there, too! And Derek Waters has found it.

From Paul Revere to Rosa Parks; Alexander Hamilton to Frederick Douglass; George Washington to Nikola Tesla – Drunk History covers American history in the best way possible: Narrated by drunks, punctuated by the on-camera loss of human dignity, and performed by some of the most brilliant actors of our day (in totally cheap-ass costuming).

Go. Watch. Learn. (And be careful of the pineapple chunks – I don’t think they were meant to come back up.)

You can thank me later.

Sleep tight, kiddies! And whatever you do…

DON’T WRITE

How Not to Write Your Novel: Depression

Honestly… what’s the point?

(Am I back? Perhaps… Stay Tuned!)

HNtoWYN: The Census

It’s that time again, kiddies! The time when the federal government lines everybody up and counts heads. Gotta make sure the stormtroopers have enough bullets when the revolution comes, you know!

All kidding aside, there’s a lot of weird misinformation and outright kooky paranoia going around right now about the Census. We here at Cat Vacuuming despise ignorance and misinformation! (At least insofar as the elimination of such helps us waste a few hours we would otherwise spend writing…) And, as you all know, we’re here to help! So, to that end, let’s clear a few things up, shall we?

  • Why do we have to have a Census at all?

Well, Pinky, we live in what’s called a representative democracy. That means we elect people to represent us in the government rather than in a direct democracy where EVERYBODY has to vote on EVERYTHING. (We’ll assume you see the problem with the latter approach when governing a nation of around 300 million people spread out over more than 3.5 million square miles. You’re smart cookies.)

At present, the number of seats in the House of Representatives is fixed at 435 and each state’s apportionment of seats is determined by that state’s population (in relation to the population of the other states), as determined by the decennial (that means ‘every ten years’) enumeration of the People – also known as the Census! So the government needs to know how many people live in each State so it can decide how many representatives they’re entitled to, and the more representatives your state has, the more say your state has in the governance of the country!

  • The Constitution doesn’t say anything about a Census. This is an unconstitutional invasion of my privacy!

Well you’re right about one thing: The Constitution doesn’t use the word census. Instead it refers to the ‘Enumeration’. Census is just a word that refers to a count of a state or nation’s population:

Census
Pronunciation: \ˈsen(t)-səs\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from censēre
Date: 1634
1 : a count of the population and a property evaluation in early Rome
2 : a usually complete enumeration of a population; specifically : a periodic governmental enumeration of population
So there you go. Pick nits much?
  • Why do you ask all this crap? The Constitution says I only have to tell you that someone lives here.
Actually, the Constitution doesn’t say anything at all about what questions can or should be asked OR what respondents are required to answer. What it says is that Congress shall (in Constitutional-ese that’s the same as must) take a census (nitpickers, see above… again) every ten years and that they are empowered to do so as they see fit. From The U.S. Constitution Online, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3:
(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) (The previous sentence in parentheses was modified by the 14th Amendment, section 2.) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.
See there? And it just so happens that Congress decided that this year, respondents will be required to answer the questions that are being asked. The good news is: Your answers are confidential. All of your personal data are kept confidential for 72 years. All Census takers are sworn to keep the information they gather confidential. If they fail to do so they could be imprisoned, fined, or both! The bad news is: You are required by law to answer the questions they ask. What’s the penalty for failing to respond? Hell if I know, but do you really want to find out?
  • You commie bastards are just assembling a hit list so you can track me down and poop on my rights!
Okay, putting aside the whole CONFIDENTIAL thing for a minute, do you really think that if the Federal Government wanted to hunt you down and put the hurt on you they don’t have any better way to do it than to send some poor schmuck in a Tilly hat and cargo shorts to ask you where you live and with whom? Seriously, dude. When they say confidential, they MEAN confidential. Your information cannot be shared with ANY other agency, Federal, state or local. Not with police, or immigration, or IRS, or DNR. Nobody! Get over yourself for a minute, will ya?
  • They’re wasting taxpayers’ time and money sending people out to homes to take the Census!
Actually, the people wasting taxpayers’ time and money are those who DIDN’T FILL OUT THE CENSUS. If you’d completed the form and sent it in like a PATRIOT they wouldn’t HAVE to send an Enumerator out to count you in person. Since you DIDN’T, the best thing you can do to help keep costs down is to be interviewed as quickly as possible, call the guy back if you’re not home when he (or she) stops by. But hey, if you don’t want to get it over with quick and easy, don’t answer. Don’t call back. The longer it takes to get you counted, the longer that guy (or gal) has a job.
  • That Census guy is CUTE! Can he come over and count ME? I could really get into a little In-Depth Enumeration *nudgenudgewinkwink* Know what I mean?

Sorry, Charlie – Cougars aren’t among the list of candidates for enumeration this time around. Call your congressman. (They’re always up for a little funky filibuster…)

And there you have it, kids. Are we all clear now? If you really are concerned about government waste, the right thing to do is to ANSWER YOUR CENSUS. It makes sure your state gets as much of a say in the way the country is governed as possible and keeps the poor shlubs stuck counting the non-responders from racking up weeks and weeks on the taxpayers’ tab.
That’s the news from the trenches. Be good, my pretties! And whatever you do…
DON’T WRITE!

How Not to Write Your Novel: Human Target

Comic book characters have been having a very good run lately, and Human Target rides the wave handily.

Mark Valley (and his jaw) play Christopher Chance, a man with a nefarious past seeking redemption. I have to say, it seems to be a fruitful collaboration – Valley (and his jaw) look like they could have stepped right out of the pages of Action Comics. Chiseled doesn’t begin to do justice to this fella’s features. I suspect he’d be perfectly at home on the beach at Easter Island if not for the whole ‘buried up to the neck’ thing.

He’s teamed up with Chi McBride, who plays Chi McBride, though in this case he goes by the very clever alias ‘Winston’. Chi-Winston is a former cop who’s decided to abandon his life in law enforcement to pursue a career as a sort of  combination guardian angel/external conscience for Our Hero Chance (and his jaw). Of course, since he IS Chi “Winston” McBride, he also has a hefty bit of comedic outrage and exasperation to tote. It’s only natural, after all.

And then there’s Jackie Earle Haley who is squeezing every last mile out of that Rorschach gig that he can. JEH plays Guerrero, the Id to Chi’s Superego. Guerrero’s the guy with dirty hands and crazy eyes. He’s that little guy, you know the one – the little guy that did really well in biology because he wanted to make sure that when he grabs your nuts he knows just how hard to pull to keep you pliant and functional. He knows where your buttons are, and he’s more than happy to push whichever one gets him what he wants.

All together, they make a good team. Valley(and his jaw) are very easy to watch, Chi’s no big surprise, and Jackie gets to say ‘Dude’ a lot and be intimidating without hitting anybody. Is it brilliant? Nah. But it is entertaining.

FINAL VERDICT: Cat Vacuuming gives Human Target 4 out of 5 Hairballs. It’s a damn sight better than finishing your novel!

And that’s the skinny, kids. Be good. Eat your vegetables. And whatever you do…

DON’T WRITE

*Human Target airs on FOX. Check local listings for time and dates.

Moved at last. MOVED AT LAST! Thank Dog Almighty, we are moved at last!

That’s right, my pretties. I, your humble correspondent, and all the wise folk here at Cat Vacuuming have FINALLY finished the moving!! Let me tell you, the move was fraught with peril. Rife with hardship! And simply awash in cardboard boxes and packing tape. Why, it was all I could do to sit in my sedan chair and tell my minions where everything must go!

But it’s over now, at last, and I can get back to the very important business of not writing my book.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But BW, don’t you need to take a rest? Wouldn’t it be wise to take another week or two to recoup, regroup, and unwind a little before diving back into the dire task of procrastination?”

Yes. I suppose it would. But that’s just goes to show you how dedicated I AM! I’m here. I’m here for you, my pretties. Because I care. I hope you all haven’t been WRITING or anything. I wouldn’t want to be forced to punish anyone, after all.

And furthermore, I have not been idle these past weeks! Even aside from the whole lackey-direction thing, I have been hard at work conceiving of new and innovative techniques to teach you that you may be spared the burden of completing your work-in-progress and meeting the Bad End to which every poor, unfortunate ‘novelist’ comes.

So rest easy, my young apprentices. Master has returned. And watch this space for wisdom and guidance! Who knows? It just might turn up.

Be good, kittens. And whatever you do…

DON’T WRITE