Manon Kubler – Is that Samoan for “Reader With Great Taste”?

At the tattoo parlor, they told me this means “courage, faith and eternal happiness”, but the guy at Peking Gourmet said it meant” Shrimp in Szechuan Sauce with Snow Peas”. (Image from checkoutmyink.com)

A week or so ago, I got a notice that a blogger named Manon Kubler wished to re-blog one of my earlier masterpieces.  The post was my biting commentary on the government’s attempt to make bullying illegal, though truthfully, it could have been any of my blogs, they’re all just so damn re-bloggable.  I’m doing the noble thing and not putting a link to that post in here – go over to the right border later and click on “Bully For You” if you want to read it.

As an absolute whore for blogging popularity, I was more than happy to give Manon Kubler the green light to reblog my work.  I figured his scores of loyal fans would read my post, and maybe a few of them would join the fledgling ranks of my followers.  I won’t build a massive loyal following overnight, but small moves like being re-blogged could add up over time.  One complication of it all was that everything Manon wrote in his comments was in a foreign language.

At first I was too flattered to care what he had written.  He had given me exposure to some new readers and I didn’t have to do crap’s worth of work to get them.  That’s a win-win in my book.  After a while, I got curious to see what his comments were.  As my loyal readers can both tell you, I only speak English and not all that well.  My writing is only slightly better than my speech, as I have the luxury of editing and sounding the words out in the privacy of my own home before I hit “send”.  Curious as to what Manon had to say, I went to a few translation websites and started putting some of his words in there, but they didn’t get translated to English consistently.

The words looked kind of Spanish, but didn’t all get recognized by the Spanish translator website.  Maybe he spoke Portuguese or some regional dialect like Catamaran or Pekinese.  After a solid five minutes of trying, I was as stumped as ever.

I do have limited experience with foreign languages.  Occasionally, I’ll be in the home of Spanish speaking clients.   Many of these people have the Spanish television channel on at all times.  The Spanish station around these parts is very entertaining to watch.  Most of the women on it bear a resemblance to Sofia Vergara, only a bit sexier and they tend to dress more provocatively.  They teeter across the screen in 5 inch pumps with skin tight skirts and low cut blouses barely covering their impressive chests, blathering on and on about God knows what – because they’re speaking Spanish.

EeS gonna bee cloudy tomorrow and…are chu even leestening to me? !?  Eye’s up here you steenky dog! (Image of Mary Gamarra from tvallure.com)

If the woman on the screen is standing in front of a weather map and gesturing wildly with her blood-red painted nails, one might assume that she is talking about a tropical depression off the Carolinas.  I tend to provide my own custom translation wherein she is talking about how handsome I am and wishing she had me alone in a deserted vacation home in Hilton Head.  If the woman is holding a microphone as she stands in front of the burned out shell of a rowhome, I naturally assume she is describing how her desire for me burns within her like the flames which displaced a family of four in Brooklyn last night.  As you might imagine, many of my Spanish-speaking clients get a little pissy with me since I tend to ignore them and just watch their TV’s.  There’s just no pleasing some people.

Zee Rerun, he is zee genius, no? Ow ee wearz zee beret and zee sus-penderz! Hees comedy eez, how do you zay, “what eez appening”    (Image from celebslist.com)

It should come as no surprise then, that I have decided to interpret Manon Kubler’s words with meanings of my own choosing.  Here’s the gist of his words:

Manon has written that he and his thousands of avid followers have recognized me, even before my own American countrymen, as a stone-cold genius – kind of like the French did with Grampa Al Lewis and Fred “Rerun” Berry.  I am the next Ernesto Hemmingwayo in their estimation.  Beyond seeing me as a literary giant in the making, Manon’s followers have essentially deified me into something like a cargo god.  They feel they are not worthy of my incredible talent and only read my words on the sabbath.  In the event that I ever deem it necessary to travel to the South Pacific island paradise they call home, I will be greeted in a manner worthy of a spiritual master, descended from the heavens.  Manon didn’t come out and say it, but I’m pretty sure there will be a nice buffet with a roast pig and some of those fancy drinks served in hollow coconuts.

I’ll admit that I may have taken some poetic license with Manon’s words, but if he didn’t want to risk misinterpretation, he could have written his comments in English, or possibly Pig Latin.

Delete is such a strong word

I have to admit that, for the most part, I enjoy WordPress.

Blogging has given me a forum for my thoughts and has fueled my delusions of someday actually making money writing.  One of the cool things about it has been the ability to leave comments on the posts of writers whose work makes mine look pathetic, and then being tickled when they actually respond.

“Dear Mr. Hamill, I think you write real good, and you’re books r kewl. I know your busy being famous and righting another best seller. I just wanted to say Hi”
(Photo from nyu.edu)

I’ve never actually sat down and written fan mail to David Sedaris, Pete Hamill, or any of the other authors whose work I’ve enjoyed.  Maybe they would have written me back, but I tend to think they’d be too busy living in mansions and working on their next incredible book.

Anyway, back to WordPress.  They’ve recently upgraded their website and making comments now has strings attached.  I would always get an email telling me if an author had replied to one of my comments.  I also received notification anytime anyone commented on one of my posts, which I loved.  The other day, after the latest alterations to the site, that all changed.  Now, if I have commented on someone’s post, I started getting emails anytime anyone commented on that post.

This may seem like a minor change in how the site works, but consider this; some of the people whose work I admire can easily get 60 or 70 comments to a post.  If I read the posts early in their published state, and write a witty comment, my email box will blow up with the torrent of comments from other readers still to come.  If I commented on 4 or 5 author’s pieces, my incoming email grows exponentially by the end of the day.  Between those comment emails, ads for low cost E.D. pills, and great new recipe ideas for family-fun dinners from the Food Network, I barely have time to sift through my emails for electronic coupons from the Liquor and Wine SuperStore.

I decided to click the box on the bottom of the email to manage my subscriptions.  It was a simple process;  to avoid having my email box over-flow with other people’s comments about my favorite authors, I just needed to hit the “delete” icon below the author’s name.  “Delete”?!!  These are writers who I have “followed”.  I’ve “liked” their work on numerous occasions.  Would hitting “delete” be anything less than an obvious betrayal of my loyalty?  These hard-working, creative geniuses had earned my love and admiration.  Was I expected to delete them just because of my whiney complaints of having a full email box?

You don’t really mean that, do you?

Well…yeah.

I mean it’s really inconvenient to check my not-so-smart phone all day for emails, only to find that OkeydokeyDonkey220 has written a typo-riddled comment about The Byronic Man’s latest masterpiece.  I gritted my teeth and hit the dreaded delete button.  Almost immediately, the incessant chirping of my phone slowed to the pace of a poorly made metronome.  I closed my email then raced back to WordPress.  I wanted to hurry and refollow Byronic before he discovered what I’d done.  I was already cooking up lame excuses in my head to explain to him how I had accidentally hit the button in a tequila-addled state.  Perhaps I’d go with having my dog excitedly jump onto my lap upon hearing my laughter and hitting the key with her paw (Byronic doesn’t have know the cold truth about my dog’s disability).  Maybe I would blame it on the DEA, and tie it in with Byronic’s recent funny post – no Dave – don’t try to ride the coat-tails of someone else’s creativity – you’re (slightly) better than that.

I got to WordPress and clicked on Blogs I Follow.  There he was, still high on my list.  I didn’t understand, I’d hit delete.  My computer dictionary says that “delete” and “unfollow” are two different things, but my inner voice tells me otherwise.  I hit refresh a couple of times just to be sure.  The Byronic Man was still there, right where I’d left him.

Apparently, the people who run WordPress, a blogging site for literary wannabees with varying levels of talent, chose to use the word “delete” when perhaps a different word may have been more apropos. Was it too much to expect that the people at a website dedicated to the expression of the written word could have chosen a more suitable phrase or single word for us to click to keep from getting emails?  They could have chosen any number of alternates.  Some of the candidates which come to mind are:

“terminate”

“You deserve better than me”

“fuggetta-bow”

“neglect”

“We’ve grown apart”

“screw”

or my personal favorite,

“discontinue receiving comments on this post via email”

Obviously, WordPress has the same problem as almost every other business in the world.  They have idea guys, worker bees, and somewhere, in a room with a special key and way cooler office chairs than everyone else, they have the I.T. department: those tech savvy guys and gals with the names you may or may not have trouble pronouncing.  Like most I.T. departments, they feel the need to run massive, complicated upgrades to the site every so often.  The sleek new look of the site and “increased fluidity of the browser-main frame interface” will accomplish two significant things:

1)  It will frustrate the daily users of the site, who’ve become accustomed to finding their way around without being stranded or hopelessly lost

2)  It will give the I.T. staff plenty to do developing the next site upgrade/facelift

Luckily, bloggers like me can feel free to write any kind of criticism we care to about the I.T. types as they don’t generally bother spending much time on the actual content of the site, preferring to stand behind the curtain of the Great and Imperial Oz.  These tech-heads just wreck it for the rest of us, making life difficult while creating work for themselves to feed off the corporate teat a little longer.  I’m not afraid of some I.T. dopes.  What are they going to do to me?

In any case, I’m glad that when they said delete, they didn’t really mean it.

The Waiting Game

You know what they say that about good intentions.

This morning I posted my satirical, goofy piece titled “Castro Gives Me Gastro”.  I’ll admit it wasn’t my very best work, but it had some merits.  Most specifically, it was under 500 words, and that’s short for a windbag like me.

Normally when I post something, I check the various categories to make sure it showed up somewhere in WordPress.  Next I go to Facebook and make some witty remark about it to try to get some of the zombies there to pull themselves away from looking for unicorn eggs in Castleville and, I dunno, maybe READ SOMETHING?!  Then I go to Gmail and fire off the link to a bunch of coworkers and acquaintances who I’ve bullied and begged into giving me their email addresses.  Once that’s all done, there’s nothing left to do but sit back and wait to see if people read it.

After 30 seconds of that, I click the refresh button on the dashboard page and check to see if anything’s changed.  On a side note, this is the same way I fish.  I bait the hook, cast it into the briny deep, then 30 seconds later, reel it in to see if anything’s on the hook yet.  To those of you who don’t understand fishing, I’ll give you hint – that’s NOT how to do it.

Anyway, back to my dopey Castro blog.  If you didn’t read it, I’m about to spoil the one small joke that was in it, so you might want to avert your eyes – or better yet, click on the title link above and read it, then come back to this.  We’ll wait.

…. It’s only 400 and some words, how long can it take him?!…what the hell!…still not back?….I bet he moves his lips when he reads…Oh!  You there??…Great to have you back with us!

So as I was saying, the sad little joke I made in the Castro piece was about a news story where Obama is going to go to some summit and wear a guayabera shirt.  As I learned from the article, a guayabera shirt is supposedly originally from a region of Cuba.  Castro was not invited to this Latin Summit and he found it amusing that Obama would be wearing a Cuban shirt to a party that Cuba was excluded from.  I’ve never knowingly seen a guayabera shirt, but I’m guessing it’s one of those blousey numbers with the plunging neckline and puffy sleeves like Fabio used to wear on the cover of romance novels.  Obama will look dashing in one of those.

Anyway, my joke was to mix up guayabera with chupacabra.  The chupacabra is a mythical beast which supposedly terrorizes the desert southwest and parts of Mexico.  I know, it’s a pretty sad excuse for a joke.  Maybe that’s why I kept it under 500 words.  You can only beat a dead chupacabra for so long, even if you throw in a few Pamela Anderson references.

So anyway, now I’m waiting for it.  Under normal circumstances, I clamor for comments on my blogs.  I prefer witty ones from people who know how to use spell check, but generally anything will suffice to feed my pathetic ego.  This time it’s different.  I know that it’s only a matter of time before some person with good intentions writes me a comment which tells me that I got it wrong.  They’ll tell me they liked the piece, to put me at ease, then they’ll “just let me know” the difference between a Cuban shirt and a mythical cow maiming dog-beast.

"No my friend, you're mistaken. While your blog was humorous, I'm afraid you were thinking of the chupacabra. The guayabera is in fact a type of shirt.. Don't beat yourself up over it - it was an honest mistake." (Einstein image from uidaho.edu)

The longer I wait for this inevitable comment, the more my brain churns out strategies on how to address it.  I treasure each and every one of my loyal followers.  For the record, I have enough of them now to form a basketball team with substitutes!   I wouldn’t want to lose one by embarrassing him or her in the quasi-public realm of the comment section.  I’m thinking that maybe the best way to address it is to respond with some glib quip like “Ooops!  Ya got me!” or “I knew I should’ve read the whole article! Doh!”

The suspense is killing me.

I unfollowed someone…It had to be done

This stuff is still pretty new to me.  I barely have a grasp on real-time, face-to-face etiquette, there’s just no way I can be up to speed on blog-site manners yet.

When someone clicks the “like” box on one of my posts (it’s happened to me a few times – VERY gratifying), I’m notified of it, and gently urged by WordPress to return the favor and look at the blog of the “liker”.  It seems genteel enough.  A polite gesture which, if followed, will increase readership and broaden everyone’s blogging horizons.  If someone is nice enough to follow me, I mentally applaud their impeccable taste and usually follow them in return, as it would seem likely to me that they might have something interesting to say.

More often than not, this strategy works pretty well.  Many of the blog writers I follow put out consistently interesting, enjoyable work.  Once in a while, it doesn’t quite work that way

As an aside, I must say that I was surprised at the home page of WordPress.  It seemed that most of the blogs which are featured were photographic essays.  I’m all for taking photos, and I know enough about the art form to know that I may take pictures, but I am not a photographer.  Still, taking photos of the foliage of Borneo hardly compares to say, writing a humorous piece about ones wife being traumatized by early TV exposure to Vincent Price in a bald cap.  I mean, let’s face it, the biggest challenge of taking those pictures is getting your ass to Borneo without forgetting to pack the camera.  Still, to each his own.  Since the likelihood of me getting to Borneo is pretty damn slim, I’ll enjoy the pics and let that subject go.

Anyway, the other day, yet another blogger “liked” my post.  Then they decided to follow me.  Not one to turn my nose up at a disciple, I returned the favor.  Big mistake.

It turned out this person just cuts and pastes anything and everything they find interesting onto their blog.  It may be a photo they saw online, or a piece of shiny metal they found on the sidewalk.  Occasionally they post written words, which appear to have been translated to English by someone who doesn’t speak it too well.  It’s kind of like walking on the beach with someone who’s never seen a bivalve before.  You can’t take two steps without being stopped and shown the new cool clam shell they found.   Only we’re not talking about something as limited as the thousands of genus and species of shellfish found on the Eastern Seaboard of North America, we’re talking about the entire internet and anything anyone has ever posted ever about anything.  If you think I’m exaggerating, consider this.  This blogger posted more than 23 blogs in less than 24 hours.  Some were single photographs, one was a memorial about Davey Jones written by someone else, still others were essentially bad, old jokes.

Wow! Check out these cool shells I found. I went all the way to Oregon to take this pic!

Since I’m notified via email when the people I follow post blogs, my email box was blowing up.  At first I was excited, thinking there was feedback for things I’d written or comment give and take.  Instead it was post after post after post by this person.  They had seen a sports car they liked and posted a picture of it.  No description, no editorial comments, just a picture of a car.  The photo looked professional and was doubtless taken by an actual photographer in some exotic locale.  The usual excitement I experienced when I see the little envelope on my phone quickly changed to dread.

What is it Skippy?  Did you find another oyster shell?

When I got back to my laptop, I unfollowed this hyper-blogger.

I recalled a fairly traumatic unfriending episode on Facebook with a co-worker.  I saw her daily, but when she annoyed me one time too many online, I unfriended her.  She ignored me in person for at least a year.  Not a huge loss, as she may have annoyed me in person a few times too.

I’m hopeful that this “unfollowing” doesn’t have similar repercussions.  Regardless, I can’t have people sending me knock- knock jokes, it interferes with my creative process.  No offense I hope.