Mill Park Publishing of Eagle, Idaho was created in 2003 by author Elaine Ambrose.
The company facilitates fee-based book publication and marketing for local authors
and organizes writer's retreats.

Monday, 26 September 2011 16:15

Hand Gestures as Dialogue

 We took the bus to Noussa, a dusty old fishing village on the Greek island of Paros. The travel guide had warned of primitive conditions, so we weren't shocked when we noticed a group of fishermen casually talking to each other as they urinated off the public dock into the water. Their catch of the day hung from wooden racks: flat silver fish with sharp teeth, round black fish with white eyes, squid with wispy tendrils of upended suction cups.

 We walked through the narrow maze of stone streets past whitewashed buildings, tiny shops, lazy cats sleeping in the sun. The air was heavy with the smells of incense, tobacco, and wild roses.   We stopped at a sidewalk cafe near the ocean and ordered sharp cheese, crusty bread with olive oil, and beer.

 When traveling, I try to locate water closets (bathrooms) with the same zeal that I search for ancient castles and new wine bars. Noussa was becoming a bit of a challenge, and by late afternoon, I regretted   the second beer. We entered a small grocery store tended by a matronly, black-toothed woman. "Toilet?" I asked. The woman shook her head, apparently not understanding. to

 "Bano?" I implored, holding both palms up. No response. Words from my Greek phrase book were useless.

 Finally, with a bit of urgency, I showed my travel packet of toilet paper and plunked down a euro coin on the wooden counter.

 "Ah," she replied, nodding her head. She took a broken pencil and drew a simple map on the back of my book. I smiled and hurried to follow the map like an eager explorer with directions to the Holy Grail. I found the water closet, a tiled room with two foot rests and a hole in the ground. I'd seen these before, and can attest that strong thigh muscles are necessary to be successful. There was no sink, so I washed my hand with the wipes I carry - almost as necessary as my passport.

 Later, as we hiked back to the port, we passed the woman's shop and I waved to her.

 "Good-bye," she called in English. We laughed, and then turned toward the bus stop.

Published in Elaine's Blog
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 13:27

STOP YELLING AT ME !!!!!!!!!!!!

Every time I need to choose between hitting my head with a hammer or reading online message boards about various political and social issues, I usually pick the latter. Then, it’s with great annoyance that I realize I made the wrong decision.

I only allow myself an hour to read online “news,” but I can’t avoid clicking on the “Comments” section after I read a provocative item. That’s where I’m thrown into the sordid realm of anonymous people who communicate like deranged savages: Every capitalized sentence is just one more slobbering grunt, and every additional exclamation point becomes a series of belches and farts from their overloaded, underdeveloped brains.

I’m amazed at the horrible and nasty phrases that humans actually write to complete strangers. And they prove their enormous inadequacy by hitting “Send” so the entire world can know that their only contribution to society is to help with the deterioration of the culture. Here are a few examples, followed by my more refined commentary:

“SHUT UP UR DANMMD TRAP!!!!!!!”  

We’ve got some anger management issues here. Why would someone be so mad at someone they will never know? And, it’s about an issue over which they will never have any control.  We won’t discuss spelling because no one cares about that.

“YOUR A FU**N IDIOT!!!!!!!”

Again, we must marvel that someone this illiterate has the capacity to turn on a computer and actually find the Internet.   He doesn’t understand the different between “your” and “you’re,” and it’s probably not a good idea to inform him that the abbreviation is wrong.   Five syllable words would be beyond his comprehension.

“EAT SHT N DIE!!!!!!!”

This comment came after another anonymous poster defended a high-ranking politician. In my humble opinion, the task doesn’t make sense. But, perhaps logic isn’t the issue. Also, I’m guessing that this person doesn’t write thank you notes.

Most of the sites do have restrictions stating that inappropriate comments will be removed for violating the rules. That makes me wonder just how bad the culpable comments had to be. We’re witnessing an entire sub-culture of professional posters, people who earn badges for their popular online comments. To prove that civilization is, indeed, teetering on extinction, unnamed but prolific people who regularly post comments on HuffPost can achieve various levels of popularity and obtain separate Facebook pages to expand their fan base of other unidentified "writers."  I imagine lonely, dark rooms full of hunchbacked gargoyles pecking away on grease-stained keyboards, chuckling insanely at their own wicked messages.

Yes, I know that I can avoid all this mental anguish by refusing to read the message boards on various sites. Or, maybe I could initiate another option for those who wish to communicate through a more sophisticated, genteel, and enlightened debate that could salvage what’s left of civil discourse.   But, just as NASCAR isn’t any fun without wrecks, and fans scream for the defensive line to take down and hurt the quarterback, sometimes we enjoy our roles as spectators in life’s dark satire. Can the gladiators be next?

Published in Elaine's Blog

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