Yes, the culture of facts has been undermined by Trump

In a Medium piece by the often insightful Roxane Gay, she says she was attacked online for being dismissive of domestic abuse because she found the show Big Little Lies derivative. (From the context, that's like being accused of being pro-murder because you don't like CSI.)
She later says Trump's cries of fake news allow genocidal regimes like Myanmar's to use the same phrase to deny their atrocities. But but but...
1. Gay discusses how people attribute things to her which they've no right to do.
2. Cries of Fake News had been used ubiquitously (indeed, perhaps more by the Left than the Right) before Trump took the ball and ran with it. Denial of the ongoing Rohingya genocide cannot be attributed to Trump. (Bill Clinton's affairs were not responsible for Jacob Zuma's polygamy.)
3. Gay later says she's probably used similar lines of reasoning against her online adversaries as they have against her, falsely attributing belief and opinion. (I'd argue she's done so here too).
I wouldn't say anything but it's just that that Tucker Carlson fella and his ilk run rings around these kinds of arguments.
You can read Roxane Gay's piece here.

Bianca Bowers’ Love is a Song She Sang From a Cage: Poetry Review



All’s fair in love and war, as the Old Fart of Avon, or Stratford, or Wherever TF, once said. (It wasn't Shakespeare though. Okay? Do not attribute that to Shakespeare. He was the Bard. Not the Fart. Also, I just checked attribution.)
Bearing that in mind, if there’s a theme permeating Bianca Bowers’ terrific Love is a Song She Sang From a Cage, it’s love, as the title suggests. Although the love on display is not just in the negative sense described by the title, the poems are thematically driven by a loss of love, or love that is less than salubrious in the senses of romance or mutual respect.

Whether the poet’s voice is playing the dom or the sub in the relationships described, Bowers is on form with an awesome series of analogies – such as having a remote-controlled heart, or identifying with Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct character Catherine Trammell.
These images are found in two of the darker pieces.
Playing out the idea of remote-controlled love, with wires and an eponymous timer thrown in, for instance, the narrator implies that he or she’s not in total emotional control, that they could abandon their relationship at any point. Hence the opening line of this review: All’s fair in love. Sure, the devastation of heartbreak can suggest an element of psychopathy from the heartbreaker.
But this able poet captures both sides in the collection. There are other pieces that wonderfully render the poet as victim of circumstance, of abandonment or of unrequited love. Diverse in length, subject and structure, there's a haiku-like concision to some of the verse too.
I learned a new word from the collection too (or perhaps re-learned an old one, given the pliability of memory and vocabulary): Caliginous. Dark, dim or misty, according to the first definition that pops up from the Google. More of these poems might have an uncertainty to them if not for the confidence of Bowers' voice. No doubt she can pull off such a feat when she chooses, but with descriptions of such emotional intelligence, and of powerful language, what we often get instead is razed houses, or conflagrations of pages of poetry, or an insistence that memories of lust or love could be turned to ash if the poet so chose.
Indeed, again, the collection’s theme seems to tie in, both neatly and more broadly, with the fantastic title. Love is a Song She Sang From A Cage is available at Amazon.

Let Me Tell You A Story by Katie Miller: A Brief History Of Flings



Katie Miller is a half Polish, half Caribbean writer from the UK. A hilariously funny potted history of some of her dates and relationships is found in Let Me Tell You A Story, available on Amazon. The slim tome is egocentric by default; Miller, however, gets away with it, clearly willing to take the bullets for her fellow females in her confessionals, while offering advice (devoting an entire concise chapter to same) for those on the dating scene about what and what not to do. One nugget of wisdom is simply to do what you feel. Holding out, she says, does not necessarily lead to a long term relationship any more, and the reverse is not necessarily just a hook-up.
...Story, Me, and matching tee.
Accurately describing men as “basic” in certain respects, Katie Miller indeed has enough understanding of the male psyche to get the guys she wants in the short term, but, beyond a poor Long Term boyfriend with whom she entered the world of proper relationships, she fails in the conversion. 
This is – she says – sometimes a self-sabotaging tendency to have The Talk about exclusivity. 
Clearly however, these men are not the best if they flee after such a discussion, or are simply too immature to realise what they have in this fine and funny scribe.

This book is the non-fiction female equivalent of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. Miller is adept in navigating relationships, and in assessing what they are, both in the moment, and sometimes –with somewhat heartbreaking results – in hindsight. 
She provides broader insights into how women become more cynical as they realise The One might be more elusive, how immature men can be, and indeed, when to exploit them somewhat to hilarious effect.

One might hope Miller finds a Mr Right of some calibre, rather than descend into a life of utter and abject cynicism over relationships. A writer as funny and as eloquent as this deserves a supportive non-a$$hole of a guy, if she wants to find one. But if it never happens, she has the wherewithal and writing skills to mine her future relationship ventures for a sequel.
Katie Miller's Let Me Tell You A Story... is available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Apples for goalposts

When I was a kid, probably no older than eight, I was in my cousins' house, for a sleepover, and my cousin ate an entire apple, core and all, in our shared bedroom. I ate most of mine but I Ieft the butt.

My uncle came in - I believe he was sober at the time - and my cousin pointed out that I hadn't eaten all of my apple. My uncle looked at the apple core and told me to eat it.

The order at the time would almost have been as ludicrous as if he had asked me to eat a banana skin, take a shot of whiskey or light up his cigarette.
Apple cores don't taste nice. Even today they're not eaten by most people.
And broadly speaking, people didn't eat butts in bed back in the 80s.
So I just said No, making clear that his request was ridiculously unfair, that it was not part of any apple-eating compact I had made at any point in my life, and I wasn't going to be held to ransom over how to consume apples.

Book Review: The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne


First published a decade ago, John Boyne's The House of Special Purpose (here at his site) features the Romanov dynasty's final years at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg and their subsequent detention after the 1917 revolutions in Russia.


Told via flashbacks, its narrator is Georgy, a peasant teenager who takes a bullet for the commander of the armed forces as he passes through the young man's village, and is subsequently employed as an attendant to the crown prince.



Roddy Doyle covers a concurrent period of social upheaval in Dublin via Henry Smart.
If both books have a failing, it's the creative flair employed in changing historical details to suit the narrative. Doyle's A Star Called Henry extends the Volunteers' takeover of Dublin's General Post Office by a day during 1916's Easter Rising, as Doyle had too much going on - or so he claimed at the time. But there's very little in the novel that he couldn't have worked around in terms of the historical details - even calling the shenanigans.
For Boyne, Rasputin's death (as just one example) could have been mined for far more sh1ts and giggles. The crazy libertine attitude of the starets lunatic monk man and his cabal of princes and prostitutes could also have been hyped up.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the historical details before they start into the book might be disappointed with certain elements due to expectations - although the storyline itself entertains through the life of the protagonist and his wife.
Although it has its moments, the writing is surprisingly simple much of the time too.
There's a thread or two left hanging a little too loosely, involving espionage, and a lack of closure related to bereavement - in fact plenty that doesn't seem to round out as it could.
But so, too, is the life, with the threads that be a-hangin'.

Would I recommend it? Da. Nine thumbs-up here.
Here it is on Goodreads.

The Wire: A brief note

The Wire is a very rich series.
Terrific characters with numerous arcs.
Spoiler alert for the fifth and final season
One thing I will note is that the fabulist who manufactures stories for local paper The Baltimore Sun had previous experience at two other news outlets. One of them is the Kansas City Star.
The reporter goes around the spots in the city where the homeless hang out, in his tee-shirt, seeking information on a serial killer who's been picking off vagrants. The killer is himself a fabrication of Det McNulty's, who is keen to divert funds so that the police can get overtime money to catch the drug dealers.

The Kansas City Star logo is printed on this reporter's shirt. Perhaps reading too much into things, or perhaps it's part of the show's beautiful poetry, but Kansas is famed for numerous things, one being The Wizard of Oz.
The fantastical embellishments of Scott Templeton go a long way to forcing City Hall and others to grant the police the funds to ultimately crack their case. One tiny element of a series that's well worth catching if you haven't already.

Poison for Dogs

Chocolate is poison for dogs. But if a dog eats one selection box worth of chocolate over a whole Christmas period, he might only have mild symptoms of poisoning. 

By the age of four, when a dog eats chocolate, he is at "third-level". 
If the dog eats chocolate at this university stage, it's the equivalent of an elephant giving live birth to a mini-van.
The only human equivalent would be if there was someone hiding behind the bushes and jumped out to give you a fright.
Would you feed your dog slices of processed ham, that is 20% water and lots of preservatives, and salt? Would you feed your child? 
Would you feed your child to your god, as was asked of Abraham?
Never, ever -
Don't 
feed your dog.

Myk Pilgrim's Write Tip: Tracked Changes while editing YOUR OWN STUFF

So Myk Pilgrim (whose books are available at Amazon) has shown off his self-editing chops from his Instagram account.
Tracking changes is not something I had considered while editing my own stuff but I took to it after seeing Myk post his own material and his hilariously self-critical comments. I added a few to my own edits below.

One thing that I hadn't considered was how important this tool can be for making changes that work - often, if switching around or adding a clause, for example, you think it's "fixed" when in fact it's been potentially worsened by a clarification (or whatever else).
Maintaining tracked changes allows you to return to that same section and see how it reads later with a cold eye, once you've left the editing alone and/or moved onto another section.
If you're not doing this at the editing stage, perhaps you oughta!
Great stuff altogether.

Formatting typos on this blog



Okay. I would like to put this on the record.
I did not put the bulleted point in that format. Okay?

It does look good though. I think I will leave it like that. It’s not that I am a big fan of bullets or want one for myself. It just looks good.
There’s a prominent Irish journalist whose interview I parodied a couple of years ago in this dump. He was discussing the adoption rights of same-sex couples at the time, expressing conservative views. 
For some reason unbeknownst to myself, the word “Yehkunchya” (again, parodying his own writing – a terrifically creative workaround to avoid scatology in mainstream media, and highlighted in the image) went into bold on my blog. I didn’t put it into bold.
I don’t know for how long it was in bold, and it may well have been more than a year, but the standalone word seemed far more severe in bold than it would have been if it was normal, like the surrounding text. I wouldn’t want this journalist to see that and think “In bold and everything. Harsh!”
Bad enough slightly misrepresenting his opinions through parody, I feel it also misrepresents my own opinion of the journalist if it's in bold.
I don’t know what to say beyond making these points. I don’t know if the blog is being hacked occasionally. 
Very odd that these very specific changes occur. And it only gets a few visits a day. If any other bloggers notice weird stuff with their blogs, maybe we can discuss it. I just don’t know.

I do know, however, that I have the sudden urge to become a carrot now more than anything in the whole wide world. I am fearful that this entire abandonment of binary options might further undermine my status as a top influenza virus. So it’s back to business as usual! My next blogpost might just have a picture of a poo.

I did not write that last paragraph. See? WTF, like. (Ah, no. I did.)