Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Hooked On Phonics" Didn't Work For Kara

WARNING: This post contains direct quotes from people who have commented on the previous post titled “She loves to hate me”. Some of those comments contain profanity, hatred, and bad grammar. If you are at all sensitive to profanity, hatred, or bad grammar it may be in your best interest to skip this post and come back in a week when I intend to post a whimsical tale of my latest visit to the pet store, when I was playfully mauled by a litter of adorable cocker-spaniel puppies.

It is amazing the attention a little controversy attracts. Life’s little dramas are like the universal meth of society. No one is immune to it’s addictive properties. In every aspect of our culture, even the most passive observer will witness people regularly indulging, as if by compulsion, in the latest scandal. And the centers of gossip and drama have been well known for ages. Whether you’re at the water cooler, break room, employee lounge, dinner table, or somewhere else, “What’s the latest…?” is a question that is meant to tap the ubiquitous well of gossip which allows us, at least momentarily, to live vicariously through friends and family, and make our own lives feel a little less dull.

There are those, however, who will not be satisfied with the sporadic, vicarious experience, and therefore seek to create drama on a more regular basis in their own lives. I recently “met” one such person online. I stumbled upon her blog, was under the impression that comments were welcome, left one, and then learned from her response I really wasn’t welcome at all. Without retelling the whole story I will use the words of my younger brother Tom who, I think, summed up Kara’s experience and feelings in this short allegory:

A couple of years ago I opened a candy shop on University Ave. It was a pleasant little business where my friends could come and relax in the company of familiar faces and indulge their sweet tooth. I sent around advertisements to let the locals know where I was and what they could expect from my little confection connection. One day, while dipping my apples a stranger walked through my door. A stranger! I didn't know whether to yell "RAPE", or "FIRE", but my initial thought was "Who does this bastard think she is"? I didn't know her from Eve, but there she was, bold as brass, standing in my candy shop. As you can imagine, I threw her out immediately. Of all the nerve!

I thought the encounter and the reaction of my visit to Kara’s blog were so unusual and, to be honest, humorous, I decided to write a post about it. And like all good gossip my post received a lot of undue attention. Most of the comments were from usual readers, some from new readers, and then a few from the "anonymous" demographic. Strangely enough, however, the anonymous comments were surprisingly similar and left in very close chronological succession. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge. (The comments have not been altered at all.)

(May 18, 10:56 pm)
your gay dude. get a life!

(May 18, 11:13 pm)
Your a freaking reatard. get a life dumb fag. You think your so funny dumb shit.

(May 18, 11:41 pm)
so your a teacher huh? I bet you wish you had a real job so your wife could stay at home and blog like the others. looks like the blogging is left to you instead because your wife is too busy making money to pay for your cheap ass.

Upon closer inspection any reader, with the literary skills of a 7-year-old or higher, will notice how similar these comments are. I am not proposing that there aren’t three people out there who dislike me as much as the comments would suggest. On the contrary, I’m sure there are thousands who dislike me that much, with the numbers growing with each new post. I just think it’s highly coincidental that there are three people out there who 1) hate me, 2) have such similar taste in insults, and 3) struggle with the same basic rules of grammar.

Now, I have no evidence that it is Kara who left the comments and have no desire to make such accusations. I’d like to think that Kara has moved on, and that she has not given me, or my stupid blog, another thought, and is, as I write, out swimming with her top heavy baby. But I do think the same person left them. So for convenience of writing I’ll call the anonymous commenter, “Cara.”

Despite the criticisms left by Cara, I would like to say that she is always welcome here and I wish to offer the hand of friendship and assist her with some of her writing disabilities so that when she returns her words will carry more weight. Let me preface my critique by saying all my advice should be taken with a grain of salt, as I am not an English teacher, and also struggle with spelling and grammar. But I think together, Cara and I can achieve more. Let’s get started.

In all three comments Cara has trouble with the difference between the possessive pronoun, “your”, and the conjunction of “you are”, “you’re”.

In two of them Cara tells me to “get a life” because she assumes that anyone who may have a differing opinion or different sense of humor must therefore, not have a life and should straightway go out and get one. I just think Cara has used some faulty logic here. Despite my vast differences with Adolf Hitler I would never argue that he didn’t “have a life.” On the contrary he stayed quite busy conquering neighboring countries, killing Jews, and sleeping with his generals. He had a life, despite the fact that he used it poorly.

In two of the comments Cara suggests that I am homosexual, but then turns around and contradicts herself in the last comment when she refers to my wife. This is not only faulty logic but also a poor debating technique. Your initial insult of homosexuality only loses weight when you reveal to your audience that I am married to a female. And I’m not saying that having a wife is indisputable evidence of heterosexuality, but doesn’t it help?

In Cara’s last comment she did land a hurtful blow when she suggested that teaching was not “a real job.” I admit that the teacher’s paycheck leaves little to be desired, but is society really at that point where our feelings for teachers matches the monetary compensation we provide them with? Friends and family assure me that this is not the case. But then again, they are “friends” and “family” and may therefore just be blowing hot air up my butt. It is entirely possible that they agree with Cara and think that I’m a schmuck for teaching. However, I can’t help but think that if Cara had held her own teachers in higher esteem, she may have learned something from them and, as a result not spelled “retard” like a retard when calling somebody a retard!

Lastly, when making any kind of insult you have to be careful that your wording doesn’t detract from what you are trying to say by conjuring other ideas in the readers mind. In Cara’s last comment she said that it “looks like the blogging is left to you instead because your wife is too busy making money to pay for your cheap ass.” (This again is in reference to my low paying job.) I couldn’t help but laugh here because of the way Cara makes blogging sound like one of the necessary chores on a farm, like getting the harvest done before the first frost, or fetching water from the well for drinking and cleaning. In my mind, I could almost hear my wife say, “Well I’m off to work. Looks like a storms rollin’ in, so make sure you get that blogging done early.” Also, had Cara done a little research she would have learned that my wife is a stay-at-home-mom, does not have a paying job, and enjoys her own fair share of blogging. So in effect, the argument just makes Cara sound stupid to anyone who may know my family at all.

Because I’m not one to give criticism without coupling it with praise I want to say that I think Cara has a lot of potential as an insulting hate blogger. Right now her skills are just a little raw. But with time I think she will become clear, concise, and efficiently hurtful. And with all the drama she creates for herself, I'm sure she'll have ample opportunity to practice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

She Loves To Hate Me

Whenever I hear it said of somebody that, "there isn't anybody who doesn't like him", I think to myself, all that means is that not very many people know him. One of the many things history can teach us is that anyone who is well known has been both loved and hated. As they say, "you can't please everyone."

Now, as a person it didn’t take mass popularity for me to attain the status of one who was both loved and hated. I have been on the receiving end of these two extremes my whole life; loved by my mother and hated by pretty much everyone else. Even my wife, whom I have a very close and intimate relationship with, harbors ambiguous feelings for me. However, as a writer, specifically, a writer in the blogosphere, I have only been the recipient of positive, if not neutral, criticism. That is, until recently.

One afternoon, when I should have been reviewing the finer points of the Cold War with my students, I decided to go blog surfing instead. So there I was reading up on the latest exploits of some of my friends and family when I stumbled upon a blog that belonged to Kara, who is from Las Vegas, and is the friend of a friend. I.e., I did not know Kara.

Mind you, this is not uncommon practice in the blog world. After all,, and other like sites are networking websites. People go there to read about and meet new people. (If it is your first time to, welcome. There will always be a hot meal and a warm bed for you here.)

The site that I stumbled upon was your typical “mom blog.” If you’re not sure what I mean go to the blog of some mom you know and look for one of the following:

The word “family," "clan," or "gang" in the title
A picture of one or more of their children in the banner
A subtitle that specifically references one or more of their children
A very recent post about the wacky misadventures of moms with their kids at home

Kara’s blog hit 4 for 4.

Lest any mom’s hurriedly edit their blogs to make them look less mom-ish, let me say that some of my favorite blogs are mom blogs maintained by hardworking, stay at home, American mothers. I think it’s a fantastic outlet for their creativity, and feelings (which we all know they need to unload often and in great repetition lest their brains explode). So blog on moms of the world, and be heard!

I digress.

When I stumbled upon Kara’s blog I happily read about her most recent mom experience, which included a swim with her young son at an outdoor swimming pool. In said post she expressed her concern for her son’s safety, as he is very top heavy and not yet stable on his feet, thus necessitating her constant attention. Cute, right? That’s certainly what I thought. Her crafty wordsmithing combined with a few charming pictures made me want to run to my own children, scoop them up, and drown them in my love. But they were having so much fun playing their favorite game, “knife fight," in the street I decided to leave them undisturbed and continue reading instead. At the very bottom of the same post Kara left these words:

“I want to thank all my faithful friends who leave me comments. My last post had a record # of comments and it made my whole week! You have no idea how it makes my whole day to get comments.”

Reading this I thought, great, here’s my chance to make somebody’s whole day. And they can probably use the pick-me-up being from Las Vegas and all, with their lives steeped in drugs, gambling, pornography, prostitution, and violence. I felt like a modern day Good Samaritan.

I don’t know exactly what I wrote, since Kara has since deleted my comment, but it said something about human babies being born with the innate ability to swim similar to dog babies and therefore she need not worry. Harmless enough. Or so I thought. Soon after my comment was posted, Kara visited my site and left this comment:

“I don't even know you, but Anjie [Anjie and her husband are close friends of mine] says you're just a funny guy. I'm just wondering why you post comments on a complete stranger's blog?? You don't have anything better to do, than to stalk Anjie's friends' blogs? It kind of freaks me out a little, so can you please mind your own business. Thanks.”

Surprised by her reaction, and fearing the misunderstanding might permanently prevent any chance of our becoming life long bosom buddies, I decided I better write her back and clear the air. This is what I wrote;

Wow, I'm sorry. I must have really offended you. My apologies. But you should know, your blog is on the WORLD WIDE WEB! It's not unusual for people to surf blogs and to stumble upon friends of friends. Take a deep breath and count to ten before you blow an ovary.
-The UnMighty
PS. If you're that paranoid about strangers reading your blog you can put a privacy block on it where only invited parties can look at it.
PPS. Thanks for visiting my site and leaving a comment.

Needless to say, this comment too, was immediately deleted. But I politely respect Kara’s right to run her blog as she sees fit. In fact, the whole purpose of this post was to thank Kara, who, in my opinion, facilitated my arrival as a writer. I’m not saying that I am now a good writer. Quality has never been a criterion for success in the arts. I just believe that anyone who experiences any real breadth of influence is, without question, going to be loved and hated. And with her short comment I have officially achieved both sides of that line.

I would also like to express that I bare Kara no ill will. And I’d like to encourage all my readers to visit Kara’s blog, which I’m sure you will find stimulating, artistic, heart-warming, and really really special. Once there, please, leave Kara a comment and let her know how much you appreciate her. And that you think she is doing a great job as a mother and a writer. And that you would like to meet her sometime… at night… when she’s not expecting you. And that you are currently in Las Vegas watching her, and her family… through binoculars. And you’re waiting… just waiting… for the right time.

But don’t be creepy. Kara hates that.

BLOG UPDATE - 5/15/08: Yesterday Kara put a privacy block on her blog, so all the helpful links I provided in this post are now useless. From what I've observed, from outside her window, she had become inundated with comments from admiring readers and had to slow the flow as to provide ample time to catch up on comments already left. This became understandable only after I got ahold of, and read her medical file and learned she has severe dyslexia. So lets all just be patient with Kara. I'm sure she'll be back soon.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bad moments to experience spontaneous, explosive diarrhea

While spinning naked, at zero gravity, in the space shuttle

While stuck in a broken elevator with five strangers

The exact moment you pass through the metal detector at airport security

While delivering your first baby (you’re the doctor)

While standing on the diving board at the public pool

While performing the “how many clowns can we fit in this VW Bug” trick at the circus

While lying face down on the proctologist’s examination table

While climbing into bed on your wedding night

While leading a post cave-in escape through a very narrow passage

While looking down the barrel of gun of a man with a hair-trigger and a sensitive nose