My cover gets blown
The other day I was depositing the house-loan money in my local bank with a teller I didn’t recognize, a vacation sub who travels from branch-to-branch. We got to chatting, then when I went to leave, she said, “May I ask you something?”
“Are you a writer?”
I keep my professional life and my town life separate and try to avoid letting locals know what I do. If somebody must know I tell them I’m a totally obscure blogger who does “political and lifestyle” content. Then I change the subject.
“Um … yeah. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I noticed your name on the check and I’ve been reading articles for years by a Claire Wolfe who lives somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. So I thought …”
This happens once in a while and I’m never thrilled about it. Always slightly amused and bemused. She turned out to be a Backwoods Home reader, of course. But she mentioned reading me in “several publications.” The idea of a respectable bank employee being a faithful long-time reader … now that really boggled my mind. An Outlaw Mole, maybe?
One crazy dog story
On the same day, I had another, truly cool encounter.
I got a pending comment here at the blog that I first assumed to be spam. The comment was on a month old post. This post. From somebody who wanted to put the artwork into a book.
“Yeah, sure,” I thought. “Surrrrrre you do.”
Then I looked the person up. She turned out to be very much for real. Quite interesting, to boot. A commentator on art and culture based in Italy. I was jazzed, not only because of the reprint request but because it turned out my rusty Italian is less rusty than I thought; I could get the gist of her articles and her bio without resorting to one of those All-Greek-All-the-Time translationbots.
I don’t want to jinx it by getting prematurely specific, but it appears my holy greyhound, St. Guinefort (revisited), may soon be published. By someone not me. In a dead-tree book. A book I’ll get a huge kick out of reading. On one of my favorite subjects. In il linguaggio più bello del mondo.
When crazy people are right
Anybody else here watch Netflix’s series, Orange is the New Black? I love that show. I’m always behind the curve on it because I get the DVDs, which come out long after all the streaming subscribers have binged away. Once I get it in my hot little hands, though, I devour the season whole.
Anyhow, I’m on season four right now and the show is just getting better and better. The latest episode I watched (like many others) made me howl with laughter at the same time it said profound things about abuse of power.
The setup for this particular laugh:
The series takes place in a women’s federal prison, which as of last season was contracted to private management. The inmates are being hit with huge changes, nearly all of them terrible. Ruthless new guards with military backgrounds rule. The guards regard all prisoners as The Enemy.
There’s a recurring character, Lolly (Lori Petty) who in her worst moments suffers psychotic breaks; even on her best days she’s driven by paranoid conspiracy theories. In episode seven, another recurring character, Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), returns to the prison after months away in a punishment unit.
Nicky walks in to unexpected chaos and a foreign environment. When she innocently asks a question of a guard, he rounds on her, hurls abuse, and threatens her. Shocked, Nicky turns to the first familiar face — Lolly — and asks incredulously Why did that just happen?
Lolly leans in close and whispers as if it’s the deepest, darkest secret: “It’s because he works for the government.”
While I’m laughing at that, Lolly proceeds to explain, quite lucidly, all the horrible changes happening in the prison. Nicky tries to back off, stammering (I paraphrase), “I forgot. I shouldn’t have asked you. You’re … I mean … I know you’re … crazy. None of this is really happening …” But of course this time Lolly is no more than relating the awful truth about the control state they live in.
Haven’t we all had a “Lolly moment” as we tried to explain a verifiable reality to some clueless “Nicky”?