Somebody Else’s Play About Evil

I’ve never been inclined to having heroes.  I consider myself a heroic figure and was always supposed to be someone else’s.  But possibly I haven’t earned it.  So at the moment, I have two heroes.  Right now, I’ll just name one of them:  Dan Savage, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting at a book-signing in Washington, D.C.

I suppose between the fact that I would have never gotten to my prom were it not for gay guys, and the fact that my college (Oberlin) had one of the first, if not the first, gay student associations, I have always supported gay rights.  I would say I was a big supporter, except I haven’t done anything in particular — or any major thing, anyway — for much of anyone, besides myself, over the last blah-batty-blah years.

But I will do this.

In his newish book, American Savage, Dan savages not just opponents of gay marriage, but also opponents of much stronger gun laws (because of the much higher rates we Americans kill or fellow countrymen, you know), and opponents of what President Obama tried to enact as a universal health care system, except the compromised version isn’t so hot.  So Dan Savage refers to it as a lesser evil.  Better than the evil of having no Obamacare (no longer considered a disparaging term by the Administration) at all. 

In Chapter 15, “Still Evil.  Less Evil.  But Still Evil,” the author points out the use by the anti-healthcare faction a statement by one Jimmy John, owner of a sandwich chain.  Jimmy John said that to provide health care to his employees, he would have to raise the price of every Jimmy John’s sandwich by 50 cents.  Also, a faction of the so-called “Christian” right has opted to oppose Obamacare on the basis that it isn’t Christian, wouldn’t be sanctioned by the Bible (and I’ll leave you to read Savage’s book to hear that argument).  One of these major opponents is the biblically-named Peter LaBarbera.

So Dan Savage ends Chapter 15 of American Savage with a satirical play that tickled my funnybone.  Here it is, with apologies to worshippers of Quetzalcoatl.  Love Dan as I do, he does seem to choose which god to insult.  Safer, those gods of the extinct.

Jesus And the Huge Asshole

A one-act play by Dan Savage

Curtain.  Jesus Christ is sitting in a garden in quiet contemplation.  One of Jesus’s followers, Peter LaBarbera, approaches Jesus.

PETER:  Jesus?

JESUS:  Yes, Peter?

PETER:  I want a Jimmy John’s sandwich and a bag of chips.

JESUS:  Okay, Peter.  So go get a sandwich and a bag of chips.

PETER:  I can’t, Jesus.

JESUS:  [After a long pause.] Why not, Peter?

PETER:  Because, Jesus, the price of a Jimmy John’s sandwich just went up fifty cents thanks to Obamacare, and now I can’t afford to get a sandwich and a bag of chips.  I can only afford a sandwich.

JESUS:  You are an asshole.

PETER:  Excuse me, Jesus?

JESUS:  Are you deaf?  I said, YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE.  You’re seriously standing there bitching about having to pay a little more for a sandwich?

PETER:  You don’t understand, Jesus, the government is forcing me to pay more–

JESUS:  Shut the fuck up.  I was crucified for your sins and all I asked in return was for you people to be nice to each other–

PETER:   But the government–

JESUS:  Shut the fuck up, Peter.  All I asked was for your people to be nice to each other.  And you’re teling me that you’re not willing to pay fifty cents more for a fucking sandwich so that the guy who made it for you can go see a doctor when he’s sick?  You’re not a Christian.

PETER:  But I go to church, Jesus, and I hate gay people so hard!

JESUS:  Not good enough, Peter.  Stop bothering me and go worship Thor or Quetzalcoatl or Isis instead, okay?  I don’t want you calling yourself a Christian anymore.  You’re a dick.

PETER:  I can’t beieve Jesus just called me a dick.

JESUS: Yeah, well, you are a dick.  I sacrificed my life for you, and you can’t sacrifice a bag of chips for the sandwich guy?  Or scrounge up the extra fifty fucking cents?  Dick.

PETER:  With all due respect, Jesus, I don’t think you fully appreciate the implications of the Affordable Care Act.  The state is using its coercive authority to collect taxes in order to provide health care to the poor in what amounts to a massive redistributionist welfare scheme that, yes, in the final accounting makes health care more available to some, Jesus, but it does so while driving up the cost of Jimmy John’s sandwiches for all.  And this is not the kind of private charity that you encouraged your followers to engage in.  This is socialism, Jesus.  Socialism!

JESUS:  Do you remember that render-unto-Caesar shit I talked about in the Bible?  When I said, basically, “Pay your fucking taxes and don’t bitch about it.”  Remember that?

PETER:  Yes, of course, but–

JESUS:  Shut up, Peter.  When I said, “Render unto Caesar,” I was talking to Jews about paying taxes to Romans.  Romanswho turned arond and spent the tax money they collected from Jews on swords and armor for Roman soldiers who they sent to Israel to oppress the Jews.  The Romans were coercing the living shit out of the Jews, Peter, and I told them to shut up and pay up.  And here you are bitching about the Caesar Obamulus using a few of your precious tax dollars to provide people with health insurance — people including you, members of your own family, other Christians, the guy who made your lousy sandwich, the kids of the guy who made your lousy sandwich.  You have got to be fucking kiddig me.

PETER:  But Jesus!  It’s socialism!

JESUS:  Love one another as I have loved you, the Greatest Commandment, do unto others as you wuld have themdo unto you, take care of the poor, take care of the sick, give away all that you have and follow me — does any of this shit ring a bell?  Any of it, you stupid asshole?

PETER:  Okay, Jesus!  Okay!  I’m sorry!  I’ll go worship Quetzalcoatl instead!

The End.

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May God and Readers Forgive Me, I AM A LIAR

I have changed the name of this blog from Juno Ross Books to Juno Ross.  This is because I am finding I’m not that inspired to blog about topics related to my books, or not always.  I’m going to have to hit this as I feel it or, or else it just won’t work.  Nothing will appear, and hence, no one.  Besides me.  Every now and then.

For people to appear,  I must appear here myself with some measure of frequency.  Therefore, rather than just blog about vampires as I declared I would, AND I LIED, LIED, EHH-LIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEED, PLEASE FORGIVE ME ANYBODY WHO WAS REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT — YOU ONE PERSON  —  I will let whoever reads this stuff get to know me.  Or me, more or less. 

Alright, enough of that.

I am tagging this post with “money.”  I find that when “money” appears in a post, it attract spammers of money-making ideas.  At least that’s somebody.

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Sookie Will Grow Up When She’s Dead

Tooling around Amazon for marketing ideas, I saw a comment on the new Sookie Stackhouse. That it’s supposed to be the last novel in the series, and poor Sookie hasn’t grown up any. I’ve heard people say the same thing about Stephanie Plum.

Now, before you read on . . . KNOW IT ALL ALERT!!!

I’m not talking about these people. I’m talking about me. I’m probably about to sound pretty obnoxious.  I’m sorry. It’s just when people gripe about stuff when they obviously . . .

Er . . . I’ll say it this way. A little literary history, if you please. (Okay, I know how that sounds, too.)

The Sookie and Stephanie novels are genre comic novels, in the tradition of P.G. Wodehouse. (A little different from literary novels, like say, by Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, or John Kennedy Toole — who were influenced by Wodehouse, as all such animals are, directly or indirectly.)

Wodehouse novels were a precusor of the television sitcom. We don’t expect our favorite sitcom characters to grow and change. It’s their quirks and flaws that keep us laughing week after week. Bertie Wooster, dumb as dust, always unfailingly got himself into jams that Jeeves, the superior human being who was his personal servant, would get him out of. People used to retreat to the world of Jeeves and Bertie to enter a world where they could forget their daily troubles, knowing that whatever happened to these characters, everything would turn out alright. Just as they always do for Ray Barone, Edwina and Patsy, the cast on “Community” — whoever you like.

The same for Sookie Stackhouse and Stephanie Plum. That question your English teacher used to ask you on the big quiz: “How does the character grow by the end of the novel?” doesn’t apply to them. These gals aren’t supposed to change. They’re just supposed to keep us laughing and comforted by the story’s end. Sookie = Southern Comfort. Stephanie = Italian comfort food.

None of this is written as a pre-apologia. I’m not anticipating the criticism that my Vampires at Law series characters don’t grow. I think this novel is different from the kind of comic novel Charlene Harris and Janet Evanovich writes. It also feels different to me from any detective story or thriller. You don’t expect — or at least shouldn’t demand — that your favorite detective hero grow either. In the end, he or she with their idiosyncrasies and foibles are there to provide the same reliable entertainment and comfort as the comic hero.

But I guess I’ve already set up that my characters are going to grow and change in some way.  In fact, I believe my subconscious may have made their vampire condition symbolic of that.

Symbolic! Symbolism! I imagine I sound like the kind of weenie who tries to assign “bigness” to things where maybe it shouldn’t be. You might say, hey, it’s a frickin’ vampire novel.

Still, although I didn’t listen to my English professors, they did tell me I should be a literary critic. (As my film theory professor told me I should be a film critic.)  Hence, the terms of Literature with a capital L still beat in my brain.

And the vampire transformation is change. In Book 1, Max stated his plans to change Kenneth. He intends to mold him into his own image, give this loving, big-hearted person the mindset of a merciless killer.  Get him to accept and embrace his vampire state.

Julian is hardly perfect as a romantic hero.  By his own observation, he’s too impetuous and knows that he needs to grow up. As for Candace, the severity of her Baltimore accent is bound to reduce – certainly in order to make partner. But to survive in her new world and stave off attack, she needs to further gain confidence.

Parker . . . well, honestly, that guy’s pretty hopeless. Or is he?

BTW, I haven’t read the new Sookie Stackhouse. It may not be too wonderful for other reasons. (Not to dissuade you from reading it, though.  It could be wonderful, or at least just fine.)  But I imagine writing a series that has gone on as long as The Southern Vampire Mysteries isn’t the easiest task. At least the readers who also watch True Blood will have the new season to look forward to in a few days. And unless they run another season next year, I suppose that will be the last gasp of a fun time for all bestowed upon us by Ms. Harris. Unless it should find an afterlife (spoken in the voice of Vincent Price) as an Adult Swim cartoon. Move over, Archer. 

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WHEW!

I hadn’t realized that running free downloads under Amazon KDP would be draining.  But it is, and I ran two in short order:  the first for Blood, Justice, LLP:  Vampires at Law, the second one for Divas by the River.

Have learned a lot.  One thing is that while BJ ranked #4 Free in Romance-Vampires and #7 Free in Romance – New Adult, when the freebie sale was over, the only category it ranked in was Satire.

Now that I think of it, though, all that probably means is that there are fewer books in Satire than in Romance,  I guess the most important data is what appears under “Customers Also Bought,” and for BJ, that’s books by fantasy romance authors who write novels about warring factions, such as Vampire Brotherhood.

Anyway, thinking of these issues and brainstorming/discovering ways to market is fun.  Figuring out how I can automate my Twitter somewhat.  And, admittedly, a strategy to spend a minimum amount of time blogging.  I might use the John Locke strategy — write one really good, re-readable blog (more like an essay) and leave it up for a while.  Though I do notice that lately he’s blogging a lot more frequently . . .

But then he has a lot of books on his page so he can afford to.

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A Little More about DIVAS — FREE on Amazon Till 6/7/13

I wrote Divas by the River about 12 years ago and kind of petered out with sending it around to agents, when an agent I met in person asked me, “Well, certainly you’ve been something OTHER than a secretary, haven’t you?”

Now we all remember when writers (like John Irving, tip of the iceberg of many examples) had bios that included being a lumberjack.  But things seem to have changed and now it appears agents look askance at fiction writers who have not had careers as “professionals.” Hey, I worked as an editor for a while, and I was a darn good one.  I just wasn’t getting any writing done and working as a legal secretary paid twice as much without having to late at the office as much as if I were a paralegal (and again, more money, too).

Money, money, money.  I guess that’s why I stopped publishing poetry in lit mags years ago.  (Not the brightest thing I’ve done, I’ll now concede.  I probably would have been a creative writing or lit professor by now, and better impressed that agent I talked to.  Rita Dove (former 2-time Poet Laureate) and I used to read each others poetry informally when I was an undegrad.  The editor at one university lit journal said he thought I could be “the next big thing.”

But money is why I’m trying to sell books on Amazon.  I am, fatefully, a Taurus.  Just sayin, to those for whom that means anything.

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DIVAS BY THE RIVER – FREE ON AMAZON THRU 6/7

To My Truly Wonderful Vampires At Law Supporters:

Usually on this page I’ll be blogging about my Vampires at Law series and vampires.  But I just wanted you to know my romantic comic novel about aspiring jazz singers (as I used to be) and the musicians that drive them nuts, DIVAS BY THE RIVER, is a FREE DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON thru June 7.

DIVAS is currently Number 1 Free in the Amazon category  World Literature-Jewish and #25 Free in Literary Fiction.  (Which makes it #10, as far as I’m concerned, since 15 of the books above it are old classics, some of them hundreds of years old.  Not that there’s something wrong with being hundreds of years old, if you’re a book.  Or a jazz singer.  Do pardon my signifying, Tony Bennett lovers.  I’m a Mark Murphy fan, myself.)

Just soo you’ll know, DIVAS presents three separate, sometimes intertwined, stories of three aspiring jazz singers.  For the most part, each of the book’s 22 chapters is from the point of view of one of the three singers.  None of them really know each other outside the fact that they perform at the jazz club.  Two of them could never be friends, two wind up enemies, and a different two by the end of the novel possibly could be friends.

By contrast, the 61 chapters (short, thriller-style) of my comic vampire novel, BLOOD, JUSTICE, LLP: VAMPIRES AT LAW, all tell the same story, but through the characters who have their own plotline within that story.  Two are lovers (Candace and senior partner Julian).  Two are close friends (Candace and senior associate Kenneth).  Another is EVERYBODY’s enemy.  Of course, that’s Max Little (aka the Vampire Argus Maximus, former Hypaspistai in the army of Alexander the Great and name partner at the D.C. law firm of Blood, Justice, Little, LLP).

The publishing company, BELTWAY TALES BOOKS, will be handling the tweeting and such for DIVAS.  You can find them at @BeltwayTales on Twitter and on facebook.com/BeltwayTales.  They built a “twitterworld” (quotes from Divas) at #JazzRomance.

 But on this blog (outside of maybe providing stats or giving notice of any DIVAS free promotion), we’re doing vampires.  And BTW, just FYI, my lawyer-vamps have their own  twitterworld.  It’s at #VampiresAtLaw!  I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d tweet the hashtag.  And let anybody who you think hasn’t heard of the novel, but might like it, know about it. Thanks a bunch!

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Number One! (for real – in one Amazon category)

Number One! (for real - in one Amazon category)

Pic showing Divas by the River as #1 Free in Amazon’s World Literature – Jewish category. FREE THRU 6/7. One of the 3 singers is Izzy, a devout (if lapsed, in some ways) Jew. Keeps Kosher, but has this little cross-dressing habit — an impulse, due to family pressures. Struggles with it. One of my favorite characters I’ve created.

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June 5, 2013 · 3:55 pm