Monday, January 30, 2012

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I watched a long-forgotten rerun of "Cheers" last night, and when I heard the lyrics of the theme song I thought of the Jazz Club. A bar in a small hotel in town, they had a jazz trio—piano, bass and drums—every Wednesday night. My friend Bobby and I went there the first time because he knew the bass player. I was working full-time then, and thought Wednesday was an odd choice for a night out, but I quickly changed my mind. It wasn't long before we showed up every Wednesday. We'd have a drink and dinner, and listen to the music, and then I'd go home around 10:00 while Bobby stayed on until the end of the last set.

Some of the patrons were transient (it was a hotel, remember), but the club had plenty of regulars: Mark and Sharon, the young couple who knew every fancy step to every sophisticated dance; Mary, the pretty, middle-aged lady who filled a table with her girlfriends each week; Leroy, the slick romantic who seduced Mary despite her friends' warnings. And then there was Ira.

Since my diet was even more limited than the limited menu, I always ordered the same salad for dinner. Betty, the waitress, always remembered. Thalia, the Greek bartender, understood whatever hand gesture I made over the heads of other customers. I became good friends with the trio and some of their family members, and the piano player was startled to discover that the beautiful young musician whose obituary he had cut out and saved years earlier was my daughter Gillian.

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came

For a few years the jazz club gave me the feeling of community I have always sought in my life. But nothing stays the same, and so eventually the trio lost that gig, the jazz club became just another bar, and we stopped going. If I walked in tonight, I doubt I'd be recognized. But that's okay, because I suspect I no longer have the energy or inclination to make a 40-mile round trip every week to eat, drink, and be merry. I still seek community, though, and these days every other Wednesday evening is spent with a writing group. Everybody knows my name there too.

Friday, January 06, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

This week I read Lali's post on getting a Kindle for Christmas. I got a Kindle for Christmas, too, and earlier this week I wrote a blog post about it. And then I deleted the post.

The post was about all those free books that are offered for the Kindle. I'd been hearing about them for a long time, and as soon as I got my Kindle I began looking into them. I discovered that other than out-of-print classics, etc., many are self-published. While we know there are some good self-published books out there (at least that's what we're told), we also know it would be best if we avoided the rest.

I took a serious look at scores of free ebooks, reading the descriptions and the Amazon reviews. Knowing how authors' friends like to write rave reviews, I paid special attention to negative reviews. When a reviewer commented about the lack of editing (or lack of character development, lack of dialogue, lack of plot), I knew the book wasn't for me.

Often I didn't have to go to the reviews; the description gave me enough information to keep me away from the book. Some of the statements in the descriptions, although not intended to be funny, made me laugh. I thought it would be fun to share them here, so I collected a bunch and included them in my post. Then I decided it would be mean-spirited to publicly make fun of someone's sincere effort to write a book (hey, when was the last time I wrote a book?), and that's why I deleted my post.

But Amazon reviews are fair game, no? Thinking they are, I'll share one review as an example of the kind of thing that's out there . . . and why I think most of my Kindle books will come from the library.

She is such a fun writter when I am just in the mood for some fun easy romance. Her books do tend to be repeditive tho so I can only read one and then wait for awhile to read another. This was on of the weirder ones for me not my fav.