Lois Lerner


Lois Lerner.

Learn ‘er, Lois!

Low is Lois.


Tea Party.

Non-profit? “Tardy.

Trap tea party tardy!”


Libs: our ills, uber alles.

Liber-ills bill our ills.

Bilious bills instill all ills.


Fifth Amendment? Own it!

Fifth Commandment? Do it!

Self-incriminate? “Invocate!”

Tea Party: “Eliminate!”

Bad Review

Mystery on a BudgetI got a bad review on my book Ready or Not available at Kindle. It isn’t long, but out of respect for the writer, I link it here rather than quote it in its entirety.

At first I had a sinking feeling and not a little despair. But on reflection, my writer’s integrity asserted itself and I issued a very polite (I hope) thanks and apologetic, also available at the above link as a comment on the comment.

Two things I take away from this. One is Kay’s (the reviewer’s) take on the language. I can’t apologize for my grammar. It is what it is. And I took severe pains to actually talk down the characters’ dialogue as I wrote (and rewrote) the text. I wanted characters’ spoken words to reflect accurately the speech I knew from my years in the 70s and 80s in Iowa, swearing included. Perhaps I had grown up in a privileged (linguistically) environ? Yet everyone I knew was middle class, strictly. We were well-educated readers in those days. All my friends read, and avidly. And we fished, played board games, card games, camped, and swatted softballs around. That was we. And my characters reflect that.

Two is her lack of commentary of anything substantial to the driving plot. I worried about this as I wrote it, yet it was based on real events. A youthful girl was raped who lived in my neighborhood while walking home from a school function at night. She did try to kill herself when her parents didn’t believe her after enduring months of her growing volatility and instability. This neighborhood shock was what inspired me to put pen to paper. Further, the subjects of unplanned teen pregnancies were beginning to become rife in the 80s, as well as the prevalence of digital and video material’s easy access to society.

It is as it was, and I stand by it. I see my book as more of a record of what started to happen to a recently staid society that found itself suddenly open to new avenues of media and rapidly changing cultural norms. We’re still reaping those changes.

Spam Attack

Courtesy State of Washington

Courtesy State of Washington

Have fellow, true-life bloggers suffered the same illness as I? Suddenly several posts have gotten through the filters at WordPress. Scan the (nearly) coherent syntax to this non sequitur:

I ran into this web page incorrectly, extemerly, this really is an excellent site. The site proprietor has carried out an excellent career of putting it together, the data the following is actually as well as helpful when i do evaluation. Now im going to save our planet wide web site to ensure that I can revisit inside the long term.

“Now im going to save our planet wide web site.”  ? What is it that such posters want from true bloggers (howsoever infrequently they post)? Am I expected to dog his or her or its blogging site and follow such salivant excess?

Here’s another freshman effort at invitatory excess.

А това е да се върнат и да обяснят на простия български народ, че като го мамят, Zначи са велики!

Exclamation point, indeed. That’s the opening line in Cyrillic, obviously. I leave it to the linguistically bored to determine whether this is the gibberish I expect it is, for abandoning St. Cyril’s alphabetic contribution to Slavic orthography, the post continues.

Haha, nqma smisyl da se obnvqqsa na takiva kato vas. Zashtoto ne si struva da se vlagat usiliqta da obnvqqsash na nqkoi, koito ne razbira i ne iska da 4ue. Ili za syjalenie se zablujdavash, 4e sa dostato4no inteligentni da razberat.

Eloquent, isn’t it? More, for documentation’s sake. The following has a weird kind of A.I.-generated sense to it. Someone tried a little harder, to be sure.

After I become bored at work I just begin wiithn searching for the majority of type of weblogs. After checking a lot of content, We comparable the particular browser to become very bored because the content articles as well as evaluations work for a number of phrases come up with. Nevertheless, Which makes it very divulge i had been moving your site and i’m floored together with your posts. Lastly I discovered another kid that is able to write a rare content approximately any kind of usual affair. Well done!

The following shows some thought. Someone is fishing with a more delicately adorned barb.

I am really pleaesd to have found your blog, and look forward to reading some more of your posts. You clearly really have your hands full, and I think your children are really lucky for the way you take their imagination and run with it.

Unfortunately, my children having flown my coop (perhaps due to these spam attacks), any relevance to what I am about is lost. Nevertheless, to all your efforts, coprolites, I may thank you in one regard. You gave me material for a desultory post somewhat worthier than your own post-seizure, spittle-splattered babble.

What Felons Don’t Know – Writing

courtesy Wikipedia

courtesy Wikipedia

I always find it amazing how little the felons know whom I teach. English. Standard, edited English. I teach medium- and minimum-security level males in a prison of some 500 inmates in a facility in Wisconsin. Close to one-half of those inmates attend the prison school to chase down their G.E.D.‘s. I’ve done this for over fifteen years, the longest I’ve held a continuous position at any job.

True, I have two study hall hours and one section of lower level civics, but my remaining three sections remain my bread and butter, that-which-I-was-hired-for reading and writing. I love the latter two best, especially writing.

Having no experience in standard public schools, I can only guess as to why so few men come ill prepared for some of the most basic writing standards. Subject/verb agreement, random capitalization, never ending and period-less sentences, apostrophes thrown in at random before final S‘s, atrocious spelling, and almost universal cluelessness towards quotation marks–these are among the numerous problems nearly all men face towards writing competency.

Yet even some items of a more fundamental level (I would have guessed!) cannot be taken for granted. The choice of A as in “a car” versus An as in “an elephant”–this must be taught! The personal pronoun I ? This must be brought to men’s notice as a constantly capitalized form. Those are two egregious examples. More basics than those two abound in the men’s ignorance.

What has happened in the public schools? That question may be unfair. My students admit to having some memory of these school basics when I question them. But most of these men must write so very little (and care nothing for how they appear in print when they do write, as in a letter home) that expansion–let alone implementation–of any writing skills is next to never on their radar screens. So I do know the woeful state of their skills when each arrives and starts the long trek towards competency.

Nor are these deficits limited to race or region. White men from small towns of middle age, some who have run businesses (construction, plumbing, electrical wiring) are as likely to be ignorant of English basics as a black young man from inner Milwaukee–likewise the black man of collegiate experience or the Hispanic man with broad bilingual (spoken) ability.

I don’t know how or where to place blame, so I don’t. The decline is general and across demography. Perhaps my even questioning public schools as I have done above is unfair to those schools. The culture of writing seems to be in decline, at least among the rarefied men who drag themselves into my classes. Those schools and educators, too, are fighting the same valiant but discouraging battle.

Then too, fellow bloggers, we may be the exception as all who aspire to write have always been. We care at least to some extent about how our writing appears. We have audience; we want to shine. I wonder if prison teachers of, say, the 1940’s would have shared my sentiments almost verbatim?

courtesy swap.mag.co.uk

courtesy swap.mag.co.uk

Dusty Crabtree’s “Shadow Eyes” – Differing perspective on similar themes

Where Have All the Morals Gone?

I wrote to Dusty Crabtree, this author, that in some ways I attacked her same themes in “Ready or Not,” albeit for adults. My point is to “look-back-and-wince” at the changing morality already beginning in 1985 Iowa; worse, since all this occurs in the “Heartland” of decades now past, how much worse must our youth be facing today?

I added that “I sometimes wonder if I didn’t make a colossal mistake in structuring my piece as I did, for YA books are at such a rage.”


What may have been the toughest problem I had with this story was how to thread traditional values through so much mire and daunting material. It came up over and again, and yet, perhaps nodding towards my literary hero Theodore Dreiser, I realized I had to stick to the truth as I knew it, as I’ve known it, and where I knew it would have to go.

Curtesy http://sistercarrieclareowens.wordpress.com/

Theodore Dreiser

Ready or Not – e-published October 4, 2012

Announcing my eBook “Ready or Not.” Take a peek here. I hope everyone who enjoys Iowa, its values, and who cares about how the digital age can drag our youth will enjoy this book.

(For those without a Kindle, free reading apps are available here.)

Ready or Not

Cover illustration copyright 2011 by Liza Paizis.