Monday, October 16, 2017

THE ORIGINS OF STRANGE FRUIT

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

If you visited my blog yesterday or today, you know that I've re-joined the Battle of the Bands and that my first competition is between Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. The song is Strange Fruit.

The lyrics to Strange Fruit made their way into the world in 1937 in the form of a poem by "Lewis Allan," a New York City teacher who put his thoughts into an extended metaphor after seeing a photo of two African-American men who had been lynched.

The lyrics of the song are copyrighted, but they're quite easy to understand in either of the recordings posted HERE for my Battle of the Bands. (If you haven't voted yet, I hope you'll do so after listening to Simone and Holiday.)

Now, where do I go from here? Do I tell you about the man behind the pseudonym Lewis Allan, or do I write about lynching?

I guess I choose lynching, with information about the writer of the song soon to follow.

I won't include any photos of people who have been lynched. If you want to see them, they're not difficult to find. It was common for the murderers to photograph their accomplishment, and even to put the photos on post cards.

"Lynch Law" means a punishment without trial. For black men in the U.S., a lynching meant being accused of some fault or crime, being dragged from their homes or pulled off the street by a mob––often members of our oldest hate group, the Ku Klux Klan––and then hanged. Sometimes these human beings, thought of as sub-human by white supremacists, were tortured and their bodies burned. In addition to making the photos into post cards, the killers sometimes kept body parts as souvenirs of their great triumph.

How many people have been lynched? Probably upwards of 4,000, but I can't give you an exact figure. Black people aren't alone in being the targets of such hatred, although they are the largest group. Jews, immigrants, Catholics, and gay/lesbian people can be included as common targets of hatred.

To learn more about lynching, please visit HERE to see a map of the United States that shows where lynchings took place between 1835 and 1964. This site also has more information about mob violence. Another good source of information is the Southern Poverty Law Center.

It's well past lunch time, but for some reason, I have no appetite.

I guess we know why Lewis Allan felt compelled to write Strange Fruit.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug










Sunday, October 15, 2017

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: STRANGE FRUIT

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Welcome to my return to Battle of the Bands, hosted by Mr. Stephen McCarthy, who blogs at STMcC Presents 'Battle of the Bands'.



On the 15th of each month, I'll present two versions of the same song. You vote for the one you prefer in your comment, and I'll tell you the winner on the 21st. Voting remains open until midnight on the 20th.

Our song for this month is Strange Fruit. The "strange fruit" to which the song refers is that of "black bodies"––victims of the horrific practice of lynching.

I wasn't going to use Billie Holiday's rendition of the song for the battle because she made the song famous, but I find Nina Simone's singing so compelling that I decided to let the two compete against each other.

This week on my blog I'll provide more information about the song and its composer, who played a role––probably unknown by most people––in the story of a family torn apart because of the execution of the parents by the U.S. government.

Here's Nina Simone:





Here's Lady Day:



Now I turn the question over to you. Do you vote for Nina Simone or Billie Holiday?

 Please visit STMcC Presents 'Battle of the Bands' to find the list of participants in this bloghop.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I SPAT OUT THE PHISHING BAIT

To read the first part of this story, please go to I WAS PHISHED AND I NIBBLED ON THE BAIT.

To read the second part, please go to WHEN I NIBBLED THE BAIT, IT DIDN'T TASTE THAT GREAT.


To read the third part, please go to I CHOKED ON THE BAIT WHEN I WAS PHISHED.

All right, Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Let's finish this damn story no matter how long it takes. I'm sick of it.

Here's how I figured out that I absolutely, positively was being phished. I went to the Sas Web site and took a look at their employment information. It said that recruiting emails and job information would only come from sas.com verified email addresses.

William George, Jessica Julious, and Dexter whatever his last name was all had gmail addresses.

I informed Willy Dunne Wooters, who said if I had set up the Google Hangouts interview with Dexter, that is when he would have asked for my birthday and Social Security number under the guise of performing a background check so they could give me this great job. Fortunately, when the bait didn't taste right, I didn't swallow it.

It occurred to me that this experience was a lot like the fake news stories that are online (and I'm talking about actual fake news and not the real news that the doofus in the White House claims is fake because it tells the truth about him). The stories might seem interesting, but if you read them, any sensible person can tell that the "news" isn't real. The source isn't respectable and known. The stories are often badly written. The whole thing doesn't make sense.

Sas also had an email address in the employment section of their Web site, so I sent them the fake emails. I received a very nice note in return from an HR person––with an sas.com email address–– who confirmed that it was a scam. She also said she'd forward the emails to their legal department to keep them informed because they try to prevent Sas's name from being used in this way.

A couple of days later I received a recruiting email from a business that's not too far from my home. I know it exists. I know where it is.

But I didn't apply for the position until after I called them, asked for HR, and spoke to someone who confirmed that the job was real and they were recruiting me. It hasn't led to an interview––yet. Maybe it will. I try not to lose hope.

In other news, I'm returning to The Battle of the Bands on a once-a-month basis. Each month on the 15th, I'll present two versions of the same song. You can vote in your comments for the one that you prefer. I'll announce the winner on the 21st.

The 15th of October is this coming Sunday, so be there (here) or be square.

I've already chosen the song for my return. It's hauntingly beautiful and its composer played an unusual and rather interesting part in history. Yes, Silver Fox, you know what it is, but don't reveal the title, please.

See you all soon. Thanks for sticking with me throughout this story. Maybe it will help you avoid being phished.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug





Monday, October 9, 2017

I CHOKED ON THE BAIT WHEN I WAS PHISHED

To read the first part of this story, please go to I WAS PHISHED AND I NIBBLED ON THE BAIT.

To read the second part, please go to WHEN I NIBBLED THE BAIT, IT DIDN'T TASTE THAT GREAT.


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It wasn't right. I knew it wasn't right. Why would I send my résumé and cover letter to Sas one day and receive an email from them about an interview the very next day? Why did the first email come from "William George," while the second came from "Jessica Julious"? Both names seemed suspicious to me.

I got in touch with Willy Dunne Wooters to ask him about Sas.




He said that Sas (pronounced sass) is a real, high-end company, and I should be prepared to sound tech savvy in my interview.

But I'm not tech savvy, I said.

I mean that you should be able to tell them that you know they do data analysis instead of saying you don't know what they do, WDW explained.

His final remark was, Just be careful you aren't being phished.

I already suspected I was being phished.

Sas is in the data analysis business. I'm not a technical writer. If you read the second part of this story and saw the comments, then you know that the email asking me for an interview was filled with errors. Besides, what kind of high-end company does interviews on Google Hangouts?

When Favorite Young Man got off work that day, I told him the story. He was like me. At first, he wanted to believe it was true. Forty-eight bucks an hour to work from home? (Sas does not have an office in my city. I learned that in my research.)

Want to believe it's true = It's too good to be true

We went back to the Sas Web site. That's where I found the definitive answer to my question. I'll tell you what I learned when I continue this never-ending saga on phishing.

Except we will have an end.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, October 6, 2017

FRANKLIN FRIDAY: MOM WANTS ME TO CHEER YOU UP

HI! Hi! Hi! Hi hi hihihihihihihi Every Buddy! It's me. It's me. It's mememememememememe. It's Franklin the Bordernese and here in Florida we never freeze!


Mom says that lots of sad things have been happening in the world so it's a good idea for me to take over today. She thinks I'll cheer you up. She also says that next week she'll continue the story about how she was pissed.

Oh.

She says it's phished, but that doesn't make sense to me because that's not a word but I know Mom is pissed a lot. We love her even though she's grumpy and always saying Chicago prefers, Chicago prefers. Who cares what Chicago prefers? I don't.

So anydog, this funny thing happened in the backyard. It was a super duper hot day. Penlapee was wandering around, sniffing every blade of grass before she could decide which one she wanted to pee on. Penlapee is like that.

I was getting hotter and hotter waiting for Penlapee and I noticed that there was a shady spot underneath Mom's nightgown. She hadn't gotten dressed yet because she says people who work at home get to work in their jammies, but I never see Mom do much of any work.

Because of the shady spot, I stuck my head under Mom's nightie. And you won't believe what I saw there. You really will not believe it. MOM WAS NOT WEARING UNNERWARE!

It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. snicker snort NO UNNERWARE! snicker snort Mom looks so funny under her nightie without her pink granny panties! I would describe everything to you but I'm snicker snorting so hard from remembering it that I don't think I can explain it. You have to take my word for it that Mom looks hilarious without unnerware. snicker snort

The man next door was out in his yard. He's nice and he likes me a lot. I thought he could use a good laugh so I took my head out from under the nightie and I barked to get his attention. I tried to say Hey! Come over here and look under Mom's nightie. She's got no unnerware, but I was snicker snorting so much that I couldn't tell him what there was to see. He said, Hi, Franklin, and he went in his garage. Boy, he missed his chance for a snicker snort. snicker snort

I'm so tired from telling this story and snicker snorting so much that I need a nap.


Before I fall asleep, would you like a kiss? Put your face down close to the box with the light in it, and I have my face up close. I'll give you all the kisses you need. I love to kiss, but I'm not kissing Mom under her nightie with no unnerware. Nope. I draw the line there. But you can have a big kiss on your cheek or smack dab on your mouth. Ask me for a kiss anytime. My kisses make every buddy feel better.


Okay. I love you. Bye-bye.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

WHEN I NIBBLED THE BAIT, IT DIDN'T TASTE THAT GREAT

To read the beginning of this story, please click on I WAS PHISHED AND I NIBBLED ON THE BAIT.

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

After I sent my cover letter and résumé to "William George" of Sas, which is a real company that has a beautiful, professional Web site, I was surprised to find another email from Sas in my inbox the very next day.

This time "Jessica Julious" wrote:

Hello, 


        Sas Institute has approved your application for the position of a Content writer/Editor after careful review of your resume/portfolio and we want to arrange you for an immediate interview with our Human Resource hiring Manager Dexter Jackson ASAP.

        To begin the process you need to get a Gmail account and install Google Hangout on your PC or phone and add Dexter on his hangout ID then send him a message on hangout to communicate with him, you can do the hangout chat interview either on your computer or mobile.

        We look forward to hearing back from you asap and i wish you best of luck with your interview.
         

Human Resource,
Dexter's Hangout ID: I removed the link because I don't want you to click on it

Interview code: Saswriters007.

I had already started to suspect that the job was too good to be true. When I received the second email, "scam scam scam scam" wouldn't stop running through my brain.

What is it about the second email that you think tipped me toward believing it was a phishing expedition?

Once again, to be continued . . . .


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug





Tuesday, September 26, 2017

TIP TUESDAY: SO TO SPEAK BY THE SILVER FOX

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present The Silver Fox, who blogs at The Lair of The Silver Fox (where else could he possibly blog?), with his tips for writing dialog. Considering that The Silver Fox writes the best dialog of any blogger I know, I hope you'll take his thoughts to heart, and I hope you'll follow his blog. Even if you aren't interested in comic books and dead celebrities––he writes some killer short stories, too––I recommend that you read his blog every time he posts something because he's a great writer. We can all learn from the greats.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug




Today's post is a "simulcast" of sorts, due to be posted on my blog and on Janie Junebug Righting and Editing, the blog of "Janie Junebug." That's all you need to know, I guess.

*  *  *  *  *

People who've read stories that I've written have often complimented me on the way I write the dialog -- or "dialogue," if you prefer -- between my characters. Janie asked me several months ago if I would be interested in writing a guest post for her blog. Typically, I procrastinated, but finally, here it is.

In the guise of presenting this as a cohesive article, I'm just going to give you a bulleted list of random thoughts on the subject of dialog, in no real order.
  • The most important thing is to make your dialog sound real, "real" being defined as true to how the individual character would speak.
  • This may sound painfully obvious, but one of the most important parts of writing good dialog is to listen to people, and the way that they talk. Since I'm a nosy little cuss anyway, this has never been a problem for me. I've "overheard" a lot of conversations in my time.
  • Keep in mind that people rarely speak correctly. Even educated people will not necessarily talk the way that they write. (This is a case of first learning the rules, and then knowing which rules to break, and why. Don't be afraid to use improper grammar in your dialog, but don't overdo it.) 
  • Even a Grammar Nazi like myself, who cringes at the way some folks speak, will often say "can I" when I should really say "may I," or "I don't feel good" when we all know I should say that "I don't feel well" instead. How often do you hear someone say "I will" instead of "I shall," "who" instead of "whom," and "I could care less" when the correct term is "I couldn't care less?" Quite a bit, right?
  • Having said that, if your character is a college professor or someone similar, he or she might very well speak using proper grammar. Let me repeat that you should always use dialog that's appropriate to its speaker. When I had a writing partner, we shared a blog on which, among other posts, we had an ongoing serial featuring characters which were idealized versions of ourselves. I usually had to re-write the dialog he'd written for the character based on myself, because his dialog just didn't sound like me. To list just two examples: Once, he posted a supposed email I'd written, in which I used the popular abbreviations "LOL" and "ROFL." Well, I never use either of those (although I do occasionally use "IIRC," and "btw" for "by the way"). And in another post, his original version of my dialog had me using the expression "goddamn," which I absolutely never say. But I digress...
  • Even people with an extensive vocabulary don't always utilize said vocabulary when they speak. Personally, I've found that using so-called "big words" in a conversation can often derail the conversation itself if and when the other person or persons speaking to each other didn't understand some word that I used. I once used the term "disparage" when talking to someone who interrupted me to ask what the word meant. I began using the word "motivation" rather than "impetus" for the same reason. I used to get a lot of funny looks when I used the word "impetus." Maybe they thought I was saying "impotent." Anyway, there's also the fact that using certain words might make people think that you're trying to impress them, and they'll resent it. I once heard Jon Stewart use the word "vituperative" not once, but twice, during a single week of broadcasts on The Daily Show. Although it would have been easy enough for someone to discern the meaning of the word from its context in these two examples, I don't think I'd dare use "vituperative" on an everyday basis.
  • Real people use contractions. Constantly. Of course, if the character whose dialog you're writing is an uptight, stuffy, pain-in-the-ass kinda guy (or woman), an absence of contractions in his or her speech may be just the thing you're looking for to convey the character's stodginess to your readers.
  • Have you ever prepared for a confrontation by planning in detail what you're going to say to your employer, boyfriend/girlfriend, or someone else the next time you see him or her? It almost never worked, right? That's because you may have written a "script" for yourself, but you can't do it for the other person, too. In effect, that means that they're ad-libbing to your script, and they'll interrupt you, or change the subject slightly, or misunderstand something you said and question you about it. Anything might happen, and recognizing that may help you to write an interesting and realistic exchange among your characters.
  • Remember that in real life, nobody likes to feel that they're listening to a speech, so one person will often interrupt another, even if the interrupter in question only says things like "uh-huh," "right," "I see," etc.
  • People don't always finish their sentences. Sometimes they can't put their complete thought into words, and their voices just trail off.
  • No matter how many times you've read that proper grammar dictates that you should never end a sentence with a preposition, people do it all the flamin' time when they converse. In fact, I just did it purposely in my previous bullet point.
  • People split infinitives frequently, even though you're not supposed to ever do it. Heh.
  • Somewhere along the line, most people got it into their heads that the word "me" should almost always be avoided. That's why you hear things like "The police came to question her and I," when "her and me" is correct. On a related note, I've often heard people begin a sentence with "Her and I," as in "Her and I went to the store." Is that an incorrect usage? Of course it is. The correct expression would be "She and I." Do people make that mistake all the time in conversation? Sure they do.
  • With the exceptions of characters who primarily used contemporary slang -- like "Say, what kinda hooey are you tryin' to hand me?" -- actors and actresses in movies of the 1930s and 1940s were often given lines that one would never use in a real conversation. To list only one example, in Now, Voyager, Bette Davis said "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." That's a great, memorable quote, but who the hell would actually say something like that in the real world? Try to avoid things like that.
  • I'm going to wrap this up by telling you one of my little tricks, and it applies not only to my dialog, but to a lesser extent, my narration. I use italics to stress certain words. Using italics pretty much forces your reader to read the sentence in the way that you want it read. And the placement of that stressed word is often very important. For example? "Hey, that's my wife!" means something akin to "Hey, I know that woman over there! Boy, do I ever!" And then there's "Hey, that's my wife!" which probably means something to the effect of "Don't kiss her. Go home and kiss your own wife." And "Hey, that's my wife!" no doubt means something like "I'm not married to any of those other women. I'm married to that one." My former writing partner had a tendency to stress words at random, and that frequently made for some awkward reading. Try that sentence this way: "My former writing partner apparently stressed random words, and that frequently made for some awkward reading." Just doesn't sound right, does it? I sure had my job cut out for me when I worked with him!
I'm sure there are several other points that I should have mentioned and didn't, but I think this'll do for one post!

Thanks for your time.

Janie Junebug here: Thank you, Silver Fox, for enlightening us. I love your writing! And I think you'll like knowing that I do use "vituperative" in my everyday life.