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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Shut up, Erin."

Want to know what I remember most about my childhood?

"Shut up, Erin."

Now, I freely admit that I was a talkative child. "Motormouth" is fair description, and I carried this trait on into adulthood. I love the sound of my own voice, which is probably why I became a writer. I have stuff I want to say, so I learned to make it interesting enough that other people want to read/listen. I also like to think that I learned the value of listening to other people, because what they have to say is important, too. But what I never learned is my place.

As in, Know your place.

As in, We'll get back to you when it's convenient.

As in, Shut up, Erin.

Being told to shut up -- not because I'm talking too much, or too loudly, but because I offend someone's sense of propriety or, worse, because I'm inconvenient -- incites a berserker rage within my breast.

No, I will not shut up.

No, I will not allow you to marginalize me.

No, I will not let you ignore me.

My family did it to me when I was growing up. I was the youngest of three children, with my brother 7 years older than I and my sister 10, so I can understand why my older siblings would get tired of the incessant babbling of their youngest kin. But that was a long time ago. I've since grown up, matured, gained some insights and learned when to keep quiet. Yet, when we all get together, it starts all over again.

"Shut up, Erin."

But I have things to say!


"Shut up, Erin."

But it's relevant to the situation at hand!

"Shut up, Erin."

But I have insight that you lack!

"Shut up, Erin."

No, YOU shut up, you arrogant, self-righteous fuckers! Just because you're older than me doesn't make me irrelevant! I have knowledge and experiences that you lack! You WILL treat me like an equal in this conversation! And if I have to physically BEAT you to get my turn to talk, then BY GOD I WILL!!


That usually gets their attention. For a while, at least. Pretty soon, I'm back to being ignored, marginalized, all but told not to worry my pretty little head over it, because adults are talking now. I'm 35, but I'm still treated as the bratty 7 year old girl who talks with her mouth full and interrupts all the time. My father still treats me this way, when he's not ignoring my existence outright.

(I swear, one of these days I'm gonna completely lose it, and get right in my dad's face and shout, "I'm sorry I'm not the son you wanted! I'm sorry I didn't follow in your footsteps and join the army! I'm sorry you regard me as a complete and utter failure! But I am a FUCKING ARTIST! I accept who I am, and if you can't, then it's YOUR goddamn failure, and not mine!")

Now, if I refuse to put up with this treatment from my
own family -- and yes, I have made good on my threats of physical violence at least once, to drive my point home -- why do other people think I will take it from them? Why do they think I will placidly eat whatever shit sandwich they see fit to feed me?

If you're reading this and wondering, Is she talking about me?, the answer is yes. I'm talking to everyone who promised to get back to me, and didn't, despite all the times I called. I'm talking to the editors who apparently can't be arsed to send me a single fucking email, despite how trivially easy it has to be to forward a form letter to me. I'm talking to people who promised me an NDA weeks ago, and still haven't gotten back to me.

Am I burning my bridges here? Could be. But you're the ones who came to me, not the other way around. You liked the fire and passion in my work, and wanted it for your projects. And I delivered that, oh yes I did. And now that you've gotten what you wanted, you're too busy to talk to me.

I don't ask for much, but one that I ask -- no, demand -- is that you acknowledge my existence out of basic courtesy. If you say you're going to send me something, then dammit, send me that thing. If you're too busy to spare me a moment of your time...

If you're too important to follow through on your promises without me having to constantly nag you...

If you have so much on your plate that it's too much to ask for you to say, "Good job on that piece, Erin"...

... then the next time you want me to do something for you, I might just be too busy to get to it.

Maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot professionally, but I refuse to be your whore. Treat me like a human being and not some cog, and I will work my ass off for you. Act like you own me and I will never earn you another cent.

Choose.

NOW.

----------------
Now playing: Yveline - Your Beautiful Enemy
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Smashing Crockery & Screaming at the Top of my Lungs

I'm sorry, there won't be a blog entry today. Or potentially for a while to come.

I'm busy having a nervous breakdown.

Those concerned know how to get in touch with me.


Thank you for your continued patronage, and please continue to check in regularly.

Goodnight.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How to Curse Properly, Part 5

Here I was, thinking that I had finished instructing my faithful readers on how to swear effectively, when it suddenly dawned on me that not only had I not closed out my series with any sort of an adequate ending, but I also completely neglected collegiate-level cursing, a.k.a multisyllabic invective.

Now, any proper halfwit can string together a series of potty words and call it a day, but that's hardly what I'd call poetic profanity. The problem, of course, lies in the simple fact that complex cursing which is both visceral and eviscerating is unique, made upon the spur of the moment and tailored to fit both the target and the situation.

It's rather like teaching someone to paint. Sure, you can impart the basic techniques (which I have done) but the execution relies upon the soul of the artist. I suppose one could memorize a series of complex put-downs, just as painters often copy the works of the great masters, but the drawback is that to maximize their application one must remove the specificity of the insults, and that greatly reduces their sting.

Besides, "fuck" never really goes out of style, but you can only use "cum-guzzling gutter whore" a limited number of times before it becomes passe.

Fortunately for you, I have a solution:

"Palette's Guide to Proper and Professional Profanity: A Usage Guide"
Whereas Dear Abby deals with life issues and Miss Manners has etiquette, I have decided to devote part of my time towards crafting an advice column regarding -- you guessed it -- the propriety and perpetuation of profanity.

In a question and answer format, I will provide advice and instruction on the proper ways to curse in different situations and environments, as well as helping you craft a devastating invective to unleash upon your nemeses. Naturally, this will require that people actually submit questions, either through the comment page or by emailing erin dot palette at gmail dot com.

I look forward to answering your questions, and helping everyone achieve maximum pleasure from saying naughty words in inappropriate ways.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How to Curse Properly, Part 4

At long last, here we are.

The queen of curses. The cake, the dessert, the rich creamy filling you've all been waiting for.


FUCK





As the above video so aptly demonstrates, fuck is the go-to vulgarity for any situation or occasion. Indeed, it could be said that it's fucking versatile. But as with its sister word "shit", the use of fuck in this manner has robbed the Anglo-Saxon masterpiece of much of its grotesque beauty and power. However, a simple mater of proper pornographic pronunciation can solve this problem, putting the f-bomb back in its rightful place atop the fuckheap.

Fuh-ckkkkkkkkk!

If "shit" is a rapier, then "fuck" is a truncheon. It is the large, heavy ugly-stick of the curse family. While it can be wielded efficiently in a singular form, akin to a club to the back of the head, it is far more effective -- not to mention satisfying -- to unleash it as a flurry of blows. It is the uppercut of profanity, slamming again and again into your opponent's solar plexus.

Done properly, "fuck" does not suffer from overkill. You can state it, scream it, moan it, groan it, gurgle it and mumble it, all without losing its effectiveness. However, the "slap to the face" effect is enhanced by shouting -- this is what you scream at the top of your lungs when you desire to get someone's attention, or make them cower before your wrath.

1. The first part of the word is basic, almost fundamental in its simplicity. The "fuh" sound is a breathy cough, an almost painful exhalation. Note that to achieve maximum power, you must "fuh" from your diaphragm and not your stomach. Fully extending and relaxing your jaw as you perform this maneuver greatly helps with step 2.

2. Whereas the power of "shit" lies in its buildup, "fuck" gains its punch from the follow-through, and this is where the full weight of the profanity comes crashing down. To use a baseball analogy, "fuh" is tossing the ball into the air; the "ckkkkk" sound is the crack of the bat. It needs to come from the back of your throat, full-bodied and crackling, like the roar of static on an empty channel or the sizzling of bacon in a frying pan. Curl your lips, bare your teeth, and snarl as you hiss-gargle-spit the wonderfully harsh consonants.

The beauty of "fuck" lies in its wonderfully easy windup and dynamite pitch. Done properly, you can cycle it with hardly any effort.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to Curse Properly, Part 3

Warning: From this point onward, things get hot & salty. Children, small animals, and Candlegirls should stay away lest they die of embarrassment.


Shit

Ah, good ol' scatology. Without it, and its sister expression for intercourse, the American vernacular would be much less vulgar. While not as versatile as "fuck", shit still has many uses; in sufficiently casual conversation, it can be used as a placeholder for a great many concepts ("What is this shit?" "I hate this shit," etc). In certain subcultures, such as the military, it can even be used as a comma.

The effective upshot of this is that as an actual profanity -- i.e., something that desecrates, violates, corrupts, or otherwise makes profane -- shit is beginning to lose some of its power. Therefore, proper pronunciation is essential for when you mean to use shit as an actual profanity meant to shock and/or offend, instead of just another word used to salt a conversation.

shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhIT!

If it takes you longer than one second to say this, you're doing it wrong. Shit is the rattlesnake of profanity -- the long "shhh" of the buildup is akin to the rattling of a tail, with "IT!" being the venomous strike. The longer the "shh", the more forceful the "IT!" must be.

However, keep in mind that shit is not a blunt weapon to be used willy-nilly (that honor belongs to "fuck"). Shit is a precision profanity, a rapier whose thrust to the ego of your opponent is fatal if well-aimed; improperly used, it is but a papercut that only serve to annoy.

Used as a coup de grace, at the end of an insulting sentence, its effects are devastating. Its elegance lies in its simplicity:

1. If you've ever forcibly shushed someone in a library or a movie theater, you know how to do this. Narrow your eyes and "shhhh!" menacingly.

2. The "IT!" sound must be forceful, but not necessarily loud. Think of a shot from a silenced pistol : short and snappy. You never, EVER shout "shit". You may cough it, wheeze it, grunt it or spit it, but if you're shouting you're using the wrong vulgarity. Again, think of a snake bite or a dagger thrust.


An interesting variation I would like to detail here is what I call "diarrhea":

shitshitshitshitshitshitshit

In this variation, "shit" is used like a boxer's jab: still quick, snappy, and strong, but the strong buildup is replaced with rapid-fire repetition. This is used in times of duress and/or panic, rather than as an insult. Still, you can't possibly shout it effectively; this is what you mutter under your breath as you try to keep your car from skidding off the road.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to Curse Properly, Part 2

Damn

There are actually two versions of this expletive: Northern and Southern. Though I prefer the Southern variation (Florida, y'all) I will instruct you in both techniques.


Northern Style:
Dddddddaaaaaaaaaammmmmmnnnnn


This is essentially a prolonged stutter, expressing bewilderment or appreciation. It needs to be uttered in one long exhalation. It is the profane equivalent of a long, low whistle.

1. The "ddddddd" sound at the beginning is made as if you're talking through chattering teeth. Under no circumstances should the individual d's be pronounced, but neither should you slur them together. Instead, it should be a barely audible "duhduhduhduhduhduhduh", as if you were imitating an idling motorcycle. Jaw movement should be minimal, with the majority of work performed by the tip of the tongue against the back of the top front teeth.

2. Open your mouth as wide as possible as you approach the "a" sound, but keep your jaw in the same basic position as before. Your cheeks should be high and tight, as if you were forcing a particularly vapid smile. The "a" itself needs to be short, but extend its pronunciation as long as possible. When you feel you are running out of breath, move on to step 3.

3. Close your lips while maintaining the "a" sound; convert to a humming "mmm" once you have achieved full closure. Let yourself run out of air on this last bit and fade the word into silence.


Southern Style:
DAY-um!


Southern Style pronunciation is like a Sine Wave: up, then down. Its use is more of a catcall or wolf whistle, and is generally complimentary, albeit in an incredulous manner.

1. Open your jaw as far as it will go in one explosive motion. The "DAY" should literally pop from your mouth, and it's difficult (though not impossible) to say it too loudly. If you feel like a barnyard animal while performing this maneuver, you're doing it properly.

2. Quickly close your mouth, as if you were attempting to swallow your previous statement. The "um" sound should be performed behind sealed lips, as if you were enjoying a delicious bite of food. The noise level of this step needs to be much, much lower than the first. Again, think of a sine wave, or a heartbeat.




Monday, April 14, 2008

How To Curse Properly

In honor of the Annual Bloodletting, aka Tax Day, I have have decided that, as a public service, I will teach you all how to curse properly.

But Palette, I hear you whinging, I already know how to curse. The potty words, they are second nature to me.

No, you don't. You may think you know how to curse, but in truth you and cursing are like two virgins fumbling in the back of car on prom night: you have a rough idea of how things should go, but you've never really gone all the way. Mark Twain once said, "Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer." If you haven't felt that relief then, in LOLcat parlance, ur doin it wrong.

Over the course of this week, I shall give instruction on how to Curse With Relief. We will start with simple, PG-13 words and work our way down into the mire of increasingly complex profanity.

Heed, listen, and learn.
Crap

Many people pronounce this as one syllable. Many people are wrong. This is in fact a multi-syllabic experience that can take several seconds to pronounce when done properly:

Cuh-rrrr-AP(uh)!

1. The first syllable should be short, harsh, and breathy, as if you were coughing or speaking the "ch" sound in chutzpah. Pay special attention to the pitch, as you should start high and rapidly fall at the end. If you manage to sound like you've just run a mile, so much the better.

2. Now that you're at a low point, shift from breathy exhalation to an alveolar trill, better known as "rolling your r's". You may if you wish adopt a slight accent for this; both Spanish and Scottish work well for this purpose, and I myself favor the latter. Either way, your voice should begin rising in both pitch and intensity, much as Ed MacMahon did with his "Heeeeeerrrrrrrre's Johnny!" introduction.

3. The final syllable should practically explode from your mouth as you over-enunciate the "puh" sound your lips make when forming a P. In fact, if you can eject spittle from your mouth whilst popping your P, you are indeed a curser of the highest order.


Tomorrow: Damn

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

WNW: Deconstructing Dr. Doom

Since everyone and their stuffed bull is jumping on this one, I might as well put the final nail in its coffin:


Hmm. A bit too ghetto, methinks. Perhaps a pinch of Pirates of Penzance will perk up the place:

I am the very model of a modern Marvel mastermind,
You heroes are like Laura Bush's children who've been left behind,
My plans they are quite devious with multiple contingencies,
So kindly do not bore me with your tedious soliloquies!

I'm very well acquainted with your profiles psychological,
Your powers and your gadgets and your incantations magical,
I've run the simulations and in ev'ry single one I find
I thrash you all quite handily so to defeat please be resigned!

I have all matters well in hand so do not further prattle on,
My plotting is perfection, I am preparation's paragon,
And when it comes to evil I am terrifying yet refined
I am the very model of a modern Marvel mastermind!


Ah yes. Much better.


(Apologies for not fitting this into the picture; I couldn't shrink the text enough to fit and still remain legible)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Facts about me you'd better find adorable

These are all humorous but 100% true.


1) I never go into a dark room. Ever.


This isn't born out of neurotic fear of the dark but sheer bloodyminded practicality. Sure, I want to avoid stubbed toes and barked shins, but that's not the reason why. No, I do it because in every instance of fiction where a person -- usually a woman -- goes into a dark room without turning on the light, there's something horrible lurking in the shadows.

Do I rationally think there is something waiting the shadows of my bathroom to attack me mid-pee? No. But it's such a trivially easy thing to do, turning on that light; it costs me nothing and potentially nets me everything, i.e. my life.


2) I know my way around my house, in the dark, and can easily make it to a locked room or source or source of weapons in seconds.

This may seem contradictory to Rule 1, but in fact it's a corollary. Sure, I don't want to needlessly expose myself to lurking shadowy peril, but I also don't want to be crippled in case all the lights go out suddenly, whether by thunderstorm or crazed serial Hello Kitty fetishist. Besides, those scenes where Daredevil or Batman beat the crap out of someone in total darkness? Very cool.

So, late at night, once I've made sure that no unauthorized lunatics are in my house, I turn off all the lights and sit quietly on the couch until my eyes have adjusted. Then, in the half-light, I practice my ninja moves, which involve getting into some ridiculous position on the furniture while clutching a bokken. Then I close my eyes and do it in reverse. If I can get down off the curio cabinet without breaking anything, and make it back to my room within bumping into anything, I win.


3) I always look at a chair before I sit, or at the ground before I walk on it.

Chalk this up to living with a Vietnam vet and hearing waaay too many stories about Viet Cong booby traps. People think I'm depressed or avoiding eye contact because my head is down when I walk, but in reality I'm checking for tripwires and bouncing bettys. Again, this costs me nothing if I'm wrong, but has a huge payoff if I'm right.

Also, I never fall in the toilet at night, because I always look before placing my genitals somewhere.


4) When I go to a crowded, public place like a movie theater or restaurant, I immediately look around to find the locations of the bathrooms, kitchen, and emergency exits.

Because you never know when you'll have to evacuate the premises due to fire, a gunman who wants hostages, or a zombie attack.

Plus, bathrooms.


5) I think better in bare feet.

Over-warm feet distract me. Plus, I don't have to worry about tracking dirt onto furniture if I'm barefoot.


6) Sometimes I blog naked.

Like right now! I am so totally naked in front of this computer. Hey, if I think better barefoot, then less clothing = better thinking. That's logic, bitches.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I am an idiot

Apparently I was high on crack or something yesterday, because a complete set of BSG dogtags is $119.95, not $199.95.


But if you wanna spend two hundred bucks, send 'em to me instead. That much buys you a deep tongue kiss the next time you see me at a convention.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Send me your questions about 4e D&D!

Continuing a theme here....

Remember this post?

My editor over at Another Castle forwarded me this email:
We are actually planning a desk side tour in April, which will end with a series of phone briefings at the end of the month (April 21-24). Although we're still working out which spokespeople will be available, if you could send me your (or I guess Erin's) best time slots to do interviews during those dates and we'll work something out from there. It would still be helpful to have Erin prepare her questions so if the phone briefing falls through we could go back to the questions.
Yeah, I had no idea what a "desk side tour" was, either, until I googled it.

Anyway, it looks like I have the opportunity to ask questions about the upcoming 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragon. The problem here is that I haven't been rabidly following the rumors and speculation regarding 4e, so I really don't know what to ask.

Rather than squander this opportunity, however, I figure I should try to exploit the resources inherent in teh intarwebz. If you are a fan who has a burning question regarding 4e D&D, either leave a comment here or email me at erin dot palette at gmail dot com. I will collect the best and most popular questions to ask during this interview.

Buy my stuff

Remember this?



This is the character biography card that accompanies the Battlestar Galactica replica Starbuck dogtags. It, along with replica tags for Apollo, Adama, Athena, Helo, Tigh, and Chief Tyrol, can be bought from Quantum Mechanix for $19.95 each, or the full set can be yours for $119.95.


Quoting from the website:
Each character dog tag has been recreated in metal, plated in bronze and weathered to exactly match the tags as seen on the series. All dimensions are taken directly from screen-used dog tags. All serial numbers are screen-accurate, as well. Each set of dog tags is packed securely in a Battlestar Galactica-themed blister pack and features a matching neck chain and collectable character biography card with a description of that character's story so far (as of the end of Season 3).

If you're a fan of the show, I encourage you to buy a pair. If you're a fan of Palette, I encourage to you buy a bunch, because the more profitable they are, the more likely it is that QMx will be able to have me do more freelance projects (or, Lords of Kobol willing, maybe even hire me full-time.)

Support your local Geeky Goth Girl, and all that. ;)



EDIT: If you're not into wearing someone else's dogtags, you can always order a customized pair with your name on them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Remembering Salem

With yesterday's passing of Salem MacGourley, the world has lost a delicate, poetic soul.

Sure, he adopted an air of cool indifference, but his perceived callousness was really a dark, heavy coat that he wore to protect himself from emotional harm. If you could coax him out of it, like a bunny from its burrow, you would find (like I did) that he had a soft, fluffy, almost marshmallow-y heart. This man, who so carefully cultivated an aura of detached disdain, would giggle like a schoolgirl in anticipation of the next Dr. Who episode.

I remember he weeped openly when Rose Tyler died. Great, shameless, wracking sobs that made his entire body shudder, as if his grief was a hole into a dimension of unthinkable pain and despair. He was inconsolable for months after.

Not many people know this, but Salem and I were lovers. I was keenly aware of the problems he was having in his marriage, and I tried my best to counsel and comfort him. I soon fell in love with him, this broken man who only needed tenderness and sympathy to mend his wounds.

I eventually became the other woman that ended his marriage. I'm not proud of it, but it's true, and it's something I'll have to live with for the rest of my life.

What I found most remarkable about Salem was the fact that he never once judged me, even when I revealed to him that I was (at the time) a pre-operative transsexual. When we met in June of last year, he was incredibly open-minded about so many things. He was also skilled and tender in his lovemaking. Innovative, as well. The things that man could do with his tongue...

We hadn't announced it yet, but he proposed to me last month, on my birthday. It was all I could do not to shout from the rooftops that I would soon be Mrs. Erin MacGourley. His wedding gift to me would have been an experimental uterine transplant, in the hopes that I'd be able to bear his children. We were planning to have as many as possible and name them after characters from Dr. Who and Serenity. We would've made a killing on the convention circuit, winning costume and trivia contests.

Of course, there was also the subjugation of the blogosphere. "Sonic Lurkings from the Rhythmic Stapler", the merger of our two blogs, would have crushed all others like a juggernaut. Salem, wonderful, sensuous, robust, caring, virile man that he was, promised me Chris Sims' head on a pike.

He would have approved of the way he died: in a drunken stupor, pantsless, t-boned by the Oscar Meyer wienermobile and then hit head-on by a Wonder Bread truck. That the accident happened in Roxfall, Texas, and everyone died in the crash, would have suited his impish sense of humor. Of course, as an Irishman, he would have preferred to have drowned in a vat of Guiness, or at least Harp lager, but it couldn't be helped.



Good night, sweet Time Lord. May flights of Gallifreyans sing thee to thy rest. And I, ever your Rose, must bide.

Until your next regeneration....

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