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Great Book, Bad Marketing

Adora Myers

Amazon.com

I found the White Magic Five and DIme while browsing through eBooks. From the cover art and the description, this one looked like a nice new-age themed chic-lit novel.

It’s not.

It’s nothing at all like that.

Just to be clear: I really enjoyed this book.

Unfortunately, this novel suffers from extraordinarily poor marketing, beginning with the description:

Much to Alanis McLachlan’s surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother’s tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.

With help from a hunky cop and her mother’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother’s clients.  But the more she uses the tarot…

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Magical Law Enforcement — VoVatia

As per The Patchwork Girl of Oz, Ozma has banned the practice of magic for everyone in the Land of Oz aside from Glinda and her student, the Wizard of Oz. It’s interesting that this doesn’t include the Good Witch of the North, but I don’t think L. Frank Baum even mentions her after Road. […]

via Magical Law Enforcement — VoVatia

Greyhound Lost My Suitcase

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Photo credit: Tafv Sampson

I will be posting about my mother’s funeral soon, but this is the most pressing thing on my mind now, since it’s looking forward, rather than back. I posted this review on Yelp with all the details:

These people lost my luggage. I have filed a claim with Greyhound and filed a police report with IMPD.

When I got off the bus here, the baggage handlers told me to stay back and let them do their jobs.

When I came for my return trip, an African American woman, probably in her 30s or 40s, in glasses and a Greyhound baggage handler uniform saw that I was using a cane. She asked me where I was going (New York City), and escorted me to the front of the line in which I was standing, taking my rolling suitcase to the baggage area. It was in the baggage area when I got on the bus, and not in the baggage area when the bus pulled out. It was not on the bus when I arrived back in New York City. I have tried filing baggage claims in person, online, and over the phone (which involved over twenty minutes on hold). I was told that no lost baggage had been found. I had paid $40 to check the bag since it was ten pounds overweight, and it had my contact information written on a Greyhound tag tied to the handle

I am on unemployment insurance benefits ($139 a week) and live on a homeless shelter that gave me a three-night bereavement pass (August 11th through 14th, service on the 12th) to attend the funeral of my mother in Indianapolis (drawing off my meager savings to do so). That was the last time I ever wore my suit., which I have had for over 22 years, because it and all my ties are in my luggage, as were my shavers, medication, medical device (night splints), grooming supplies (the replacement nail clippers I found at Target are very poor quality), most of my polo and dress shirts, almost all my black socks (the only shoes that I’ve found that fit the shape of my foot (which just broadens the farther away form my heal) are black, so that’s pretty much all I wear. For days I’ve been wearing some brown socks I was given years ago at a soup kitchen), two pairs of black jeans, a bathrobe, slippers etc. The fact that I practically live out of this suitcase means that I lost almost all my necessities as the result of an act of faux courtesy. If no one had intervened, I would have put my suitcase on the coach myself as I had in New York (which even at that got moved around by baggage handlers). Not trusting the shelter to honor my bereavement pass (shelters are the new low income housing in New York, and I’ve learned not to trust staff or administrators, but they did honor it), I took only enough out of my suitcase to put in my suit, bathrobe, and night splints, which I don’t normally keep in my suitcase while it is in my locker, and most of what I took out was clothing I don’t use very much. I am glad the irreplaceable things like my opera manuscript were in my backpack, which I had as a carry-on, and left my sight only briefly during the Philadelphia layover.

I called the Indianapolis bus station from the shelter, and they said they did not find it. I couldn’t get anyone in New York to actually look at a computer and tried to find out where my suitcase had ended up (I definitely recall there being barcodes on the printout, which was adhered to the bag’s right side imagining the back as a human back). I keep pressing them and IMPD and Greyhound to look at the security camera footage to see who was the last to touch my baggage, but their responses gave me no confidence that this would be done. I hope they surprise me.

The ride I booked (which was the only one available at purchase time that would get me back in time for Monday evening curfew, when my bereavement pass expired), which was supposed to transfer to an express bus in Philadelphia, which would skip the New Jersey stops, was late, and those assigned to board that bus were told to remain on it. when I arrived in New York, my suitcase was nowhere to be found. The baggage office staff there was useless. I had to go twice before they had me fill out a paper baggage tracking form. The clerk insisted that my baggage claim ticket was printed in Philadelphia even though it says “13Aug17 10:28p,” over two hours before my ride was scheduled to leave Indianapolis, “14Aug17 12:50a”. He interpreted “CLAIM BAG(S) AT: PHILADELPHIA PA NEW YORK NY” meant that the ticket was printed in Philadelphia. I had difficulty explaining to my friends this foolishness. They couldn’t get their heads around the idea that he wasn’t confirming via computer that my baggage was found in Philadelphia.

I give Greyhound extremely high marks for the trip for New York City to Indianapolis. It was running 45 minutes behind schedule for a while, but managed to pull in at Indianapolis only six minutes late. Having lived in New York for the past fourteen years, this seemed really trivial for such a long trip. The worst thing about it was totally out of Greyhound’s control, an old woman who smelled as though she had defecated in her pants.

Had Greyhound not lost my baggage, the trip would have come in on my projected budget.

Service Project Ideas for Helping the Homeless

If you really want to use your service project to help the homeless, then consider doing the following: Make a List About YOU: Make a list of all of the key characteristics that describe you, right now, as a person. Try to make it as exhaustive as possible. What categories do you fit into? For […]

via Service Project Ideas: Helping the Homeless — Adora Myers

On the Turning Away

Book Review: Jack Cade’s Rebellion of 1450 by I.M.W. Harvey

Jack Cade's Rebellion of 1450Jack Cade’s Rebellion of 1450 by I. M. W. Harvey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

[Originally published on Goodreads, Apr 24, 2013.]

It seems history has been unkind to Jack Cade. Harvey’s book, while a corrective reading vs. William Shakespeare’s
King Henry VI, Part Two
, has a lot to do with the economic and political conditions of the time, but the juicy stuff–the revolt and who participated in it, and the details of what occurred (beyond a general outline of events), is sort of lost to history, although we have names on pardon rolls that Harvey does not reproduce, although she refers to them numerous times. As an Occupy and homeless activist, I was very interested in learning more for dramatic purposes, but it seems like a lot would have to be made up, or else do it in the style of 1920s Eisenstein using the “group protagonist” concept.

Harvey’s writing is not good. It is dry and informative, but it’s a challenge to read for the wrong reasons and reveals how different I, as an English major, am from a history major. Often, I would have to read one of Harvey’s sentences multiple times because she punctuates so poorly that one has trouble finding the subject of the sentence. She very frequently starts of a sentence with a prepositional phrase, but neglects to set it off with a comma. Throw in a few adjectives (some that could be nouns in other contexts) before the subject noun, and we have a mess that needs unraveling. Apparently, she is of the school that commas slow the reader down and make things boring, when the reality is that commas guide the reader from place to place so that they don’t have to reread your sentence 3 to 4 times to understand how you mean it because you didn’t give it the appropriate structure.

As far as the material, we learn that there was a great depression in the cloth industry, and people who were once making good money manufacturing cloth were losing jobs and money to trading fine cloth to Italy for cheap trinkets.

There is not enough in the historical record to really learn who Cade was. He left the country in December 1448 and returned in December 1449. Rumor has it that he murdered a pregnant woman, but it seems strange, given all the surviving legal papers of that time that make up the primary sources for this book, that such an explanation has any truth. Another claim is that Cade was a doctor who dressed in scarlet. It is known that John Cade was a vassal of Thomas Dacre and that he was forced off the land and out of the country, but there are no records as to why. The scene in Shakespeare in which Cade declares himself Lord Mortimer on London bridge is not part of Harvey’s history, although she does record that Cade was pardoned when authorities believed that his name was John Mortimer, and the pardon was redacted when they learned that it was John Cade. The most interesting chapter is the penultimate one, which deals with Cade’s undercaptains and how they led smaller rebellions in the following years. Many of them shared the same fate as Cade–hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Harvey never mentions Shakespeare’s play, nor does she ever make a direct comparison to what happens in the play vs. reality. James Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, is portrayed as an innocent by Shakespeare, but he and his cronies (including one confusingly named John Say–the book deals with a startlingly high number of people named Thomas), are clearly in the historical record as bona fide extortionists. Richard, Duke of York, is presented as a reformer, and although the rebels despised Henry VI’s coterie, they thought pious Henry was well-intentioned and needed to be dethroned for not governing well but not killed, unlike William de la Pole, the Duke of Suffolk, the Duke of Somerset, and various others. In addition, the literacy issue in the play is an element of the Wat Tyler rebellion of 1381, and has nothing to do with the set of demands that is reproduced in the original Middle English in the appendix–indeed, Harvey notes that Cade and the rebel leaders were clearly literate men with legitimate demands, even if they were quashed by lords drunk with power. Harvey’s selected reading notes that Katharine de la Pole, an abbess and sister of William, was on the pardon list, but believes that she was not involved in the rebellion, although it would be interesting to learn more about why she may have been on the list beyond the safeguard Harvey hypothesizes. The problem is that we just can’t know.

The copy of this book that I received through interlibrary loan belongs to General Theological Seminary of New York City. Oddly, the book was bound upside down. In one of the Arden Shakespeare 2 Henry VI footnotes dealing with the literacy issue that Shakespeare conflated from the Wat Tyler rebellion, it is mentioned that a man tried to get a clerical pardon by memorizing the Vulgate of Psalm 51:1. The judge knew that the man could not read at all, let alone Latin (a major issue is made in the book that it was illegal to have the scriptures in English, an element of the Lollard rebellion), and presented the book to him upside down. When he noted nothing amiss, he was tried as a commoner and executed for his crime. Having not seen another copy of this book, I don’t know if it happened to a significant portion of the print run, but the irony that it would happen to this particular book is uncanny.

View all my reviews

More Censorious Bullshit from @Twitter

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Scott A Hutchins
@scottandrewh
@_harry_tuttle_ @leslieleeiii @VerbotenPublish His attitude is become a capitalist or die.
If you feel that your account has been locked in error, you can appeal by contacting our support team here.
Tweet 2 of 2

Scott A Hutchins
@scottandrewh
@Thetownlybomb @leslieleeiii Scum like @VerbotenPublish believe in punishing the educated with massive debt and subminimum wage physical labor.
If you feel that your account has been locked in error, you can appeal by contacting our support team here.
Again, no rational, reasonable human being could object to my tweets, but not this:
capitalisttorture