I like riding my bicycle to work. By the time I arrive at the office, my body is flooded with my three favorite substances: adrenaline, endorphins, and self-righteousness.
For those of you wondering why Tricks of the Trade was AWOL for much of last year, here’s the story in a nutshell.
When the original Tricks of the Trade article ran in August of 2004, I was immediately contacted by an editor from a well-known publisher, wanting to know if I had enough tricks to fill a book. Not even close, I told him. My original call for tricks had netted about 100 responses, from which had culled the 30 best. That left me with only 70 more, most of which were too specific, not specific enough, redundant, or otherwise unusable.
“Well,” he said, “do you think you could get more? Because I think this would make a great book.” I said I would try.
So the following week I started tradetricks.org. By my reckoning, doling out tricks on a regular basis would slowly build up a following, while making it easy to submit tricks would increase my accumulated store of tips.
Both of these prediction proved to be more-or-less true. By spring of 2005, I had amassed a couple hundred tricks–not nearly enough for a book, and sufficient to serve as proof of concept. I spent a week or two writing a book proposal and sent it to the editor. His response, while more subdued that his original zeal, was still positive and enthusiastic. He said that they were having a planning meeting later that week, and he would see about getting the book onto the 2007 slate.
Anyway, long story short. We corresponded for a few weeks thereafter, and at no point did I receive any indication that he was losing interest in the project. Then, one day, and every day thereafter, all my emails to him apparently disappeared into the ether. No responses from the guy whatsoever. No bounces, either, so presumably he hadn’t been 86’ed or anything.
I keep the site going because … well, because why not? It’s pretty easy to maintain and people like it.
A year later I get another email from another editor at another fairly large publishing house. I tell her the above story, and she says, what hey? No one is currently looking at your proposal? Send it over! I do so, warning her that it’s the first proposal I have ever written and therefore probably subpar; she replies with “no, this is perfect, and I totally want to take this to the next level.” (Most of this is paraphrase, but she honestly said “take it to the next level.” In 2006.)
So this goes on for a few weeks, and eventually she and I wind up on the phone together. And I say, “well, all this sounds great, but, you know, I’m kind of wary. Because the last editor just stopped returning my emails.”
To which she chuckles knowingly and says, “well, I can assure you that’s not going to happen here!”
So: any guesses as to what subsequently “happened here”?
Maybe this is just how editors at big publishing houses routinely end communications of all kinds: one minute you are chatting amicably with them around a water cooler, the next they dash off in mid-sentence and hide in a broom closet so you can no longer speak to them. At any rate, the experience(s) soured me on the whole Tricks of the Trade thing, as well as publishers, editors, books, words, and literacy.
Why, then, did I restart the site last month? Mostly because I got a surprising amount of email from people saying it was missed. Also, the tricks continue to flow in even while the site was inactive, and I had to do something with ’em.
A few notes. The old tricks have been removed, but will presumably resurface in this chimeric “book,” assuming that ever happens. Some people asked for a full XML feed; I implemented that suggestion this morning. And the submit form is currently off-line–I hope to give this place a modest facelift in the coming weeks, and will re-add it then. (In the meantime, you can send tricks to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are so inclined.)
And I still have this book proposal, sitting on the thumb drive in front of me. If you interested in it, and have an attention span of four weeks or greater, feel free to drop me a line.
Last Friday I got email from my friend Phyllis Fletcher:
Subject: Help--need jokes!!
I will represent KUOW at Town Hall's Seattle Follies, Thu April 26, 7:30PM. Send me some jokes!
* * *
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!
How many Seattlites does it take to replace a light bulb?
One to propose replacing it with a traditional light bulb, one to propose replacing it with a energy-efficient fluorescent bulb, one to propose replacing it with a single candle in protest of the Iraq war, and 100,000 to vote on a non-binding referendum.
* * *
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!
Hahaha. But I will be delivering a fake newscast, so what I really need are jokey/satirical news items.
* * *
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously today to reappropriate the $4 billion currently earmarked for the 520 floating bridge replacement project. The funds will now be given to the research department of Blue Origin, to be used for the development of jetpacks and hoverboards. Richard Conlin, chairman of the council's state Route 520 committee, defended the decision, pointing out that the creation of such alternative commuter technology for crossing Lake Washington would likely require less time and prove more feasible than finding a 520 plan everyone can agree on.
Meanwhile, the Seattle chapter of NORML unveiled another 520 replacement proposal last Friday at the Hempfest benefit concert: the 420 floating bridge. The six-lane "high-way" would have a speed limit of 7 miles an hour and just kind of meander around aimlessly, without any real direction.
The Queen: Do you want to watch America’s Next Top Model with me.
Me: Ah, no. I did that once in my lifetime, so I’m good, thanks.
The Queen: Oh, come on.
Me: Sorry, but I just don’t understand the appeal of a bunch of stupid people prancing around like idiots and blurting out whatever damned-fool thing flitters through their heads.
The Queen: … says the guy who reads political blogs.
Apple Fritter, Arkansas
Brown Bobby, California
Nut Top, Connecticut
Old Fashioned, Delaware
Cheese Danish, Florida
Hush Puppy, Georgia
Golden Puff, Iowa
Boston Cream, Massachusetts
Lassie Loop, Michigan
Cinnamon Twist, Minnesota
Maple Bar, Missouri
Bear Claw, Montana
Beaver Tail, Nebraska
Blueberry Crisp, New Hampshire
Berliner, New Jersey
Churro, New Mexico
Devils Food, New York
Zeppole, North Carolina
Elephant Ear, Oklahoma
Chocolate Log, Rhode Island
Custard, South Carolina
Powdered, South Dakota
Creme Horn, Tennessee
Rainbow Sprinkle, Vermont
Frying Saucers, Washington
Glazed, West Virginia
My Aunt V., creator of the word “Rovenge,” has come up with another neologism:
e-social: A subset of asocial, where someone is so distracted by electronic devices that he ignores the people around him.
Inspired by watching a high-end SUV pass us one night with both flip down DVD players on for the back seat. I felt sorry for the kids, who will grow up never knowing how to fight with a siblings in the back seat.
If the e-social person is focusing exclusively on his phone, I would also suggest the term “cell-centered.”
Alberto Gonzales testifies before Congress tomorrow. Oh my goodness, I’m giddy as a schoolgirl. That crescendo of rumbling you hear is a train wreck a-comin’.
If you’d like to get up to speed before the spectacle, I would refer you to my The Purgegate Primer.
The latest twist in the tale, revealed after I wrote my cheatsheet, is that the Justice Department has been stacked with graduates from the “tier-four” (i.e., “pisspoor”) legal school founded by religious-right zealot Pat Robertson. Read all about it here, or have it explained to you by Bill Maher there (video). Expect Gonzales to field a few questions about that.
Also, a group of longtime conservatives called for his resignation earlier today. (That is, they made their request earlier today–they are not requesting that he travel back in time and resign four hours ago.)
Spider-Man 3 will hafta be pretty goddamned good to beat this.