Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mean girls

So Stef and I saw The Duff and I realized about halfway into it that the film was probably based on a book I read a few years back with the same title.  I know.  I'm a genius.  I think it took me awhile to connect the dots, however, because the film is very funny and the book is primarily very angsty--no doubt because the author was actually in high school when she wrote it.  Which is amazing, but still.  Lots of angsty-angsty.

Anyway.  None of this is the point.

The point is that there are mean girls in this movie.  Really popular, good-looking mean girls who do things like humiliate other girls in public.  It's a favorite YA trope--the really popular, good-looking mean girls who humiliate other girls in public.  They show up in movies and TV shows and books.  We love to hate them, those evil fairy tale queens who persecute the ordinary nice girls.

Like us.

But, are they for real?  Or are they--you know--just evil fairy tale characters?  Because when I think about it, I have to say I've never known girls who were so pro-actively YA novel and movie mean.  Am I just being naive here?  You know--because I didn't have sisters or daughters?

Discuss please.  I don't mind if you disagree.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A letter of recommendation for myself to myself

I've been working on a letter in hopes that I'll get hired for a certain gig and gah.  It's so boring.  I sound so boring.  And yet I don't really dare to bust loose because then you become one of those cliche disasters editors always talk about when they give talks called HOW NOT TO BE A CLICHE DISASTER!  So.  Here are a few of the no-no's.

No fancy fonts.

No pink ink.

No pictures of your cats.

Nothing that screams LOOKATMELOOKATMELOOKATME even though the whole point of writing a letter about yourself is to get someone to look at you.

It's tricky, writing a thing that will make someone want to hire you when there are so many other people out there who want to be hired, too.  But I'll soldier on and try to get it right.  Meanwhile, I'll write the letter I REALLY want to write here.  For us.

Dear Fill-in-the-blank,

Here's why you want me in your life.  Because when we get together for meetings and so forth, I will not judge your bad food habits.  You want that bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos?  Honey, rip open that bag and GO FOR IT.  I'll even allow you to lick the fake cheese off your fingers and will look the other way if some of it ends up on your nose.

On the other hand, I might judge you for your good food habits.  But only a little.

See there?  You want me.  I know that you want me.

Best wishes,

Ann Cannon

P.S.  Is your name really "Fill-in-the-blank?"

Friday, February 20, 2015

What place(s) would you haunt?

I've been working on a little piece this morning wherein I ask that question, and here's how I answered my own question:

I think I’d start with Hawaii.
            Hawaii!  Seriously, what a gig for ghost!
            But my reasons are personal and not just because Hawaii is . . . you know . . . Hawaii.  Hawaii was the first big time-in-your-dreams-place I ever visited.  I went with my parents, and while we were there, I turned sixteen.  We went to a supper club in Honolulu—so glam!  Also fancy!—where someone told the performer-in-residence, Don Ho, that a certain Haole girl wearing a neon orange muumuu in the audience was having a birthday.  So Don Ho made me get up on the stage with him.  And he serenaded me while my parents looked on, wondering (no doubt) why they’d ever let me buy that neon orange muumuu.
            So that’s where I want to go.  Back to Hawaii .  And while I’m there, I want to  see myself and my parents feeling the kiss of tropical air on our skins for the very first time—with so, so much life ahead of us still.
            Your turn to play now.  What places would you haunt?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Well now HERE'S an experience I haven't had in forever . . .

I won't keep you in suspense.  Here it is.  I HAD FUN WRITING!

OK, maybe I need to walk this back a little bit.  I always have fun writing my blog.  And I often have fun writing my column.  But it has been a long, long time since I've had fun working on a novel.

There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which include the following:

1.  Writing novels is hard.  I know.  Boo-frickity-hoo.  I was raised by frickin'  Belgians.  I know this is a stupid thing to say because writing novels compared to hauling bricks on your back and walking for miles to fetch enough water for the day is a snap.  A self-imposed snap.

But here's the thing.  You have to occupy the World of the Novel you're writing for a long, long, long time.  And it's easy to get discouraged and bored.  Also.  YOU HAVE TO MAKE SENSE.  You have to tie up a lot of loose ends and make sure that the character you called "Riley" before you changed her name to "Grace" somewhere in the middle of your manuscript gets called "Grace" all the way through.  Stuff like that.  There's lots of housekeeping when you write a novel.  Lots and lots of housekeeping.

2.  Writing novels is an act of faith when you don't have a contract, and when you've lost faith in yourself or the project--no matter how temporarily--the writing can start to feel like torture as in "Who do you think you are to write a book.  ANSWER ME.  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!"

(I apologize fo assaulting you all with so many caps today, btw.)

But yesterday?  I went to MacDonald's and wrote 1000 words in an hour.  Those words were just singing falalalalalalala off the ends of my fingers.

And it was fun.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In defense of (some) men

So, not surprisingly, the Fifty Shades column has provoked a certain amount of discussion--both online and off.

YES!  I'M A GENIUS!  Just throw the words "fifty shades" in your headline and the people, they will flock to your column.

Anyhoo.  That's not the point.  The point is that I received a few interesting links this morning from a good friend about the fifty phenom--one of which talked about organized religion's long, long, long and frequently dark history of wrangling with female sexuality.  It's like religion hasn't always known what to do with us.  Make us virgins!  Veil us!  Stone us!  Burn us at the stake!  Make a man's bad behavior all our fault!

You get the idea.  And I've certainly written about this before, how resentful I felt that the boys I knew had more opportunities both inside and outside of my church than the girls did.  But as a woman who has been fortunate enough in this life to know a lot of good men, I also think that men get unfairly treated by the powers that be, too.

Let's look at the church thing for a minute, shall we?  I have five fabulous sons, some of whom are active in the LDS church and some of whom are not.  I wouldn't trade a one of them.  At this stage of my life it seems pretty clear to me that we're all on different paths--and sometimes those paths are exactly the ones we should be on, even if they seem scary and unfamiliar to others.

Also not the point of this post, but whatever.

The real point is this--one of those boys stopped going to priesthood sessions a long time ago because all they ever talked about (according to him) was pornography and how bad it is.  Which (when you think about it) is its own kind of pornography--always talking about it, I mean.  He got to the point where he felt like a lot of people think "male-ness" in and of itself is inherently evil--the source of all mankind's problems.

So complicated.  So not black and white.  But not fifty damn shades of grey either.

Bottom line.  I know a lot of good men.  And some of them are even religious, you know?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fifty Shades as Promised

Well, here's the column with all the spank-spankity-spanking going on.  Good times!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cruel Family Jokes

So I am currently sitting in a MacDo's in Santa Jorge that is infamous in our family.  Here's why.  Son Number Quatro got us tossed out of here once.  He was in the playroom and went all crazy on the styrofoam balls--nailing unsuspecting children in the head and so forth--so management told us to ram-scay.

Anyway.  For years afterwards, whenever we drove by this establishment, Ken and I told this son to duck in the back seat so no one here would see him because we'd been banned.  Not only from MacDonald's, but also from St. George.

He confessed yesterday that he believed us for years.  Imagine the burden that must have been for our poor little boy.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fifty Shades of WTH?

I just wrote a column wherein I use the phrases "slappity-slap-slapping" and "spankity-spank-spanking!"


I can hardly wait to send it to Editress Anna at the Trib.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why Am I So Pissed Off?

WARNING:  This is a story about shame.  So if you don't want to read about me making an IDIOT of myself, you should stop now.

Anyway.  Y'all know how much I love a rhubarb pie from Croshaw's here in Santa Jorge.  What you may not know is how much I love their little beef meat pies, too.  Which they don't sell until 11:00.  Well, I was there buying my rhubarb at 10:52.  I know this because I looked at my watch.  And when it was my turn, I put on my Charm Face and said, "I know it's five minutes early but could I get a beef pie, too?"

To my AMAZEMENT the young (dopey) male teenager helping me said nope.  Nope as in SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP BEFORE I GIVE YOU AN"F" TODAY."  So then I said really?  So then he said you can wait for five minutes, can't you?  And I said no.  I can't wait.  And then he said HEY!  WHY DON'T I SPIT IN YOUR PIE!

He didn't say that, actually.  But I could tell he was saying it in his heart.

Anyway.  I didn't get a beef pie because I didn't want to wait and I had places to be anyway, such as K-Mart across the street.

But I was soon peeved that I didn't get a beef pie (and also my own way) that I did something I have never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever done in my entire non-aggressive life.  I called the manager while sitting in the K-Mart parking lot and told him I couldn't believe they wouldn't sell me a pie at 10:55.

He was gracious and suddenly I felt like a raging moron.  Why was I calling a pie guy from a K-Mart parking lot because I was so mad I could feel my eyeballs squirt out of my head and onto the floor?

I truly despised myself at the moment.  Although yes.  I still want that beef pie.

So then I had to ask myself this question:  What am I really angry about?

I'm pretty sure it's not just pie.

Louise Plummer once told me that when people are behaving badly, you should ask yourself what they're afraid of.  And now I need to examine myself and honestly answer what's going on with me right now.  Because I'm scaring people.

Although apparently not enough to make them give me a pie.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Smoldering and so forth

I was working on a piece about the influential people in my life when I ran across this bit I wrote about my old A.P. English teacher, Joyce Nelson.

"When we were reading The Great Gatsby she made the surprising announcement in class that 'men like women who smolder.'"

Reading that sentence threw me straight back into my senior year in high school and how I started wondering if I were a smolder-er.  And also what smoldering looked like.  And if I weren't a natural born smolder-er if I could take smoldering lessons from a certified instructor.  I recall looking in the mirror and trying to smolder.

But bursting out in laughter instead.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The thrill is gone . . .

Not out of my marriage.  But out of flying.

Remember when flying used to be glam?  Like, they gave you free decks of cards and you watched movies and you wondered if Magnum P.I. had dated any of the stews that were plying you with peanuts and Coke.

But now?  Ugh.  Torture.

I just flew to and from H-Town on Frontier.  Oops.  Should I say?  So it wasn't Frontier.  It was Fake-Frontier.

On the plus side, the steward gave the single funniest standup I have ever heard when it came to the plane's safety features before take-off.  Dude was like THIS IS THE JUNGLE BOOK CRUISE AND BOY DO I HAVE SOME GOOD MATERIAL FOR YOU.  And he did.  I'm sort of in love with that guy right now.

Also on the plus side.  Super cheap.  So yes.  I'm grateful for that because I could go see my Texas kin.

HOWEVER.  They charge you for everything.  And I do mean everything.  Checked bags.  Carry on bags.  Drinks.  Peanuts.  The TV.  When the stews (who I doubt Magnum ever dated because they probably weren't born then) asked if I waned some water, I asked non-ironically, "Is it free?"  And they looked offended.

Also, the seats were so uncomfortable.  I suspect this has something to do with the fact that they have so many seats crammed into the hull now.  It's like the seats are at this weird angle so that your feet dangle and your bum disappears into some deep dark seat hole.  This allows, of course, for more uncomfortable seats to be installed.

And then (in another cost-saving move) there was no one at the counter to take my pre-checked bag.  As in for hours.

But remember.  It wasn't Frontier.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

One of those days

I think I've mentioned this before . . .

But I once asked a friend of mine--a psychiatrist--what two emotions he feels most strongly.  He said love and fear.  When he asked me the same question I said without hesitation love and loss.

Love and loss.

I've been in one of those moods today where all I can is count the goodbyes I've said recently.  Some of them are small.  Some of them aren't.  And they're everywhere right now--so much so that all I've been able to do is cry.

Yes.  It's been one those.  A crying day.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bea and Blanche and Blanche and Bea

So here's what a blog post turned into a column looks like.  You saw it here first, folks!

This is one of the great things about keeping a blog, don't you know.  It's a nesting ground for future pieces.

In other news I've been on the road, y'all.  In Texas with my Texas family.  It's been a blast.  Favorite detail this trip?  The fact that all the garages in this neighborhood are NOT used for cars but for man caves, complete with big screen TVs, grills, smokers, fridges full of beer and state flags.  Don't mess.

I'll be back home tomorrow and will resume blogging.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Do you remember The Thorn Birds?  I loved that book and fantasized about being a girl from the outback in love with a priest, although not one that looked like Richard Chamberlain because I never thought he was that cute.  Actually, my priest looked more like Meggy's useless husband in the mini-series, played by Brian Brown, who looked super hot whenever he sheared a sheep.

But whatever.

Anyway.  Colleen McCullough died recently and the obituary that appeared in The Australian described her as "Plain of features and certainly overweight, [McCullough] was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth."


Anyway, I asked some writer friends to pen their own obits.  Here they are.

BTW feel free to write and share an obit of your own!