Reader Comment: More Thoughts on the Foxes

My favorite part of running this blog, by miles and miles, is reading the comments. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me think, and sometimes they are very moving. Often it’s all of the above.

And then there are those that make me proud. Because they say flattering things about the writing (thank you, everyone!). Or because I’m proud to see the beautiful expressions of thought that my story has inspired.

Wonderful Reader quarteracremile responds to Object #26 – The Offering:

This is a lovely article. It always stuns me when people think of animals as wild and incapable of complex thought… Since I live and breathe animals every day and only WISH that much of humanity could compare. I’m glad you learned a bit more about that from your experiences. I wonder if you realize that the fox likely felt much the same way about your housing situation that you did… That they would have loved to live the safe, happy “grown up” fox life that they dream of… With no bb guns, no butterscotch colored dogs, no landlords ruling over their lives, without even being able to come and go freely in their own space, without being able to use their whole space as their own because of their landlords lingering presence… Of course the landlords in this case being your own family. And perhaps even that offering you a payment of “rent”, to help you feed your family, could smooth relations.

Of course, animals are not as complex. But we have a hubris of thinking we’re a lot more complex than we are. Thinking that complex emotions are anything more than glorified instincts and adaptability… And, truly, you were never in any danger (foxes, especially a healthy successful breeding pair, are unlikely to try to come close to a human unless you threatened the kits) and neither were the foxes… But neither of you knew that.

I hope you’re happier where you are in your life now… And I hope nature continues to grow on you. Animals are so insightful, loving, and thoughtful… Just because they do not dwell needlessly doesn’t make them dumb. Indeed, I wish I could dwell less and live more. So I also hope you end up living more as well as you find your inner fox.

Congrats on being freshly pressed!

Thank you! And thank you for the comment, which makes me want to be a better person. Onward and upward, everyone!

Today’s Comment of the Week: Backhanded Compliments

Wonderful Reader RR listens to Episode 4 of The Jacke Wilson Show and writes:

I had to giggle at ‘easier to follow’.

Ah yes! This was where I noted that my friend’s response to a particular story was that the story was “easier to follow” than one of my other stories. Easier to follow! Because I wanted to give my friend (and my poor little stories!) the benefit of the doubt, I chose to interpret “easier to follow” not as a euphemism for “your other story was terrible,” but as “I see where you’re trying to lead me with these, and I put up less resistance to this one than to that one. But both were rich with thought-provoking ideas.”

The odds of that interpretation being the proper one are probably about two percent. Maybe less. But I’ve gone with worse odds than that before. (Hello, career path!)

Anyway, we’re big fans of backhanded compliments here. In fact, didn’t we analyze backhanded insults (or front-handed insults) before?

RR continues:

It might be a stretch but it reminded me of that episode from Roseanne where Jackie took on acting. She was so elated about the newspaper review, saying that her acting group was ‘less confused’ this time around. A compliment that might not be a compliment that we can all live with.

Man, I wish I had more Roseanne in my own memory bank. (I could do with less, um, It’s a Living or Angie. But I’ll hang onto The Jeffersons, Family Ties, The Facts of Life, and Bosom Buddies. And don’t touch my Hello Larry!).

Roseanne was big during a period where I wasn’t watching much television. But I’m in favor of it. Norm MacDonald (who got his start writing for the show) has a lot of interesting things to say about it in his podcast interview of Roseanne. I listen to all my podcasts on audio (because I have insomnia and use a pillow speaker to try to tame the night chaos in my brain), but what the heck, let’s link to the video, queued up to where the interview starts:

RR concludes:

The story of your mother and the ufo is very charming. You are vague about whether your stories are completely true, but that had a feeling of truth to it. Very sweet.

Yes! Thank you very much. It’s not all that common to have a sweet story about UFOs. I was lucky to have this one in my back pocket. I suppose you might say there’s another one in The Monster, but maybe that’s a stretch.

I can’t really pick among theme songs here, so let’s go with a twofer onward and upward.

Onward, with the real deal (Billy Joel! Tom Hanks! What a show!): Continue reading

Today’s Comments of the Week: The Foxes (And Some Good News for Jacke!)

I’m very pleased to announce that my post The Offering (A History of Jacke Wilson in 100 Objects #26) has been selected for WordPress’s Freshly Pressed showcase feature. Hooray! There it is, right between a terrific post about the new black stormtrooper in the next Star Wars installment and a post from Longreads (a wonderful site, by the way) about the essays of Charles D’Ambrosio. Pretty good company! I feel a little out of place, like maybe the invitations got mixed up in the mail and I got one by mistake. But I’m enjoying the party anyway!

With each Object I hope for some kind of connection with readers (that’s the goal, after all), but I never know what will resonate and how. Continue reading

“Help! My family hates my pen name!”: The Response

Wonderful Readers! You have proven yourselves to be some of the wisest and most thoughtful people I “know.”

Yesterday I posted a comment from a Wonderful Reader struggling with her family’s objection to her pen name. She had an interesting twist on the issue – and your comments were amazing. For everyone who’s arriving late to the conversation, you can read the original post and the comments here.

I’ll post the resolution soon. But first, I thought I’d post my original response. This was my effort before I had the benefit of your feedback: Continue reading

Today’s Comment of the Week: The Paralegal Checks In

Wonderful Reader K.C. writes:

The Promotion is definitely my next read. My “day” job is as a paralegal and the description is genius. Can’t wait to read.

Oh boy! A paralegal! Reading about “when big law meets big trouble…” This should be interesting


It kind of reminds me of that time I walked into the kitchen at work only to find a paralegal sitting at a table, eating potato chips and reading a book called Kill All the Lawyers. I made a joke about it, thinking she’d quickly try to hide the cover. I thought she’d be embarrassed, having been caught reading this book at a law firm.

I thought she might apologize. I thought her face might turn red.


She looked at the cover, looked back at me, and shrugged.

And now, the powder keg of The Promotion rolls its way into a firm, looking for a good spark. I’m sure K.C. will find much to enjoy. I’m sure she works with some crazy people, and she will enjoy finding that all the lawyers in the book are crazy too. Unless only some of them are. Or maybe just one.

In any case, I hope she reports back on whether she recognizes anything familiar. (And for her sake, maybe I should hope she doesn’t…)

If you’re a lawyer and/or you hate lawyers, or if you just work with them and hate them (no or in that clause!), or if you’re indifferent to those questions but you just like the idea of a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe character let loose in a law firm to cause whatever mayhem he can while still trying to pretend nothing is wrong, you may enjoy The Promotion, the book that’s been called “an exceptionally fast read” and described as having “humor, depression, and hope all together in one short book.” Amazon’s running a sale on it, people. A buck for the Kindle version, and $4.49 for the paperback.

That’s right. It’s a promotion of The Promotion. A phrase I try not to overuse but which always reminds me of this, which makes me laugh, so I guess it’s okay:

Today’s Comment of the Week: About Those Vampires…

Yesterday I posted about the Magic of Storytelling. Yes, I got a full head of steam going on that one (it happens!), and we definitely achieved liftoff. Fortunately, Wonderful Reader Rain, Rain was there to keep the post anchored in the comments.

To make one of my points, I asked readers to fill in the blanks in this dialogue:

Reader: Genre? I don’t care about genre. I’m just looking for__________.

Author: Genre? I wasn’t trying to write in a particular genre. I was just trying to_________.

I then filled in the blanks and challenged my readers to try to top me:

Reader: Genre? I don’t care about genre. I’m just looking for a good story.

Author: Genre? I wasn’t trying to write in a particular genre. I was just trying to tell a story.

QED, right? Well, along came Rain, Rain with this topper: Continue reading