Sunday, November 15, 2009

Working Hard, Hardly Working...

The title for this piece comes from Tom Waits, just about my favorite all time songwriter. "Working hard, hardly working, if you know what I mean..." goes the whole line.
Now that's attribution. Use someone's words, credit them and credit them joyfully.
That scumbag writer who lifted nearly two or three whole paragraphs--his key graphs--from my 2001 story of the missionary plane shootdown in Peru and didn't mention my name when he used them, responded to a note I sent him, calling him out on it.
He wrote that the story happened a long time ago and that he was the editor of an international journal back then and that there was a lot of buzz about the US involvement in that plane shootdown at the time. He says he might have gotten his information from me but that he can't remember. If he did get his information from me he thinks he would have credited me but that someone else must have dropped the attribution.
A friend of mine who knows us both and has been in the loop on this--from my end--calls that the last bastion of self-defense in plagarism cases. "Attribution dropped, my ass," he says. "But how can you prove it didn't happen?"
There is no place for this to go. I'm not going to write his editor or start a lawsuit. Still, I wrote the bum another note, calling him out again, saying that was a very weak excuse, given that he'd claimed, in his new story rehashing his old one, that he'd done such a great investigative job in the original one. HA! He investigated my story, culled the key investigative work and claimed it for his own.
I sent that response on to my friend as well, who responded that he was enjoying schadenfreude at the fellow's expense.
I've heard that word but didn't know what it meant so I looked it up: it's a guilty pleasure at someone else's misfortune, according to wikipedia.
I told Madeleina, who like me, was up early this fine Sunday morning, the word and what it meant and how it was used by my friend and she immediately said, "Dad, I think I get schadenfreude a lot. I mean, not when someone breaks an elbow, but when someone at school is acting like a big shot or showing off and then they fall. I can't help it. I just get a bit of the schadenfreude. Or shadenfreudeitis. Know what I mean?"
The girl is just flat out scary smart.
Which brings us to her regional flute tryouts. If you remember, last Saturday she had mock tryouts. She almost didn't go, after voluntarily signing up for them, and finally did. This week was the real thing: She had to play in front of three different panels of judges in three different rooms. All of them were behind black curtains, in theory so that the kids wouldn't be intimidated by actually seeing the judges. I suspect the real reason for the curtains was to keep the identity of the judges secret from parents who might be outraged when their little darlings don't make the All-Regional Band.
I dropped her off at 7:30 AM and picked her up at 4. I asked how it went. "It was awful. Just absolutely horrible. I wasn't nervous, I know the scales and the songs but I still was so bad. Know how bad I was?"
"No. How bad?"
"Dad, in the middle of one song I had to make up a new note. I mean, I got stuck and my only way out was to make up an entirely new note that doesn't even exist on the flute. Don't ask me how I did it, but I did. I stunk."
"Sorry you went?"
"No way. It was great, even if I didn't make the regionals. At least I had the guts to try."
And try she did. She practiced fanatically all week long, and she already practices at least a little while every day. But this week she was up at 5:30 AM daily, at it for an hour or more each morning, and then again in the evening.
"Well, did you hear anybody else who blew your socks off?"
"Everybody sucked that I heard."
And she said it with a glint in her eye. If she'd have known the word she probably would have said she had a little schadenfreudeitis. But she didn't get that word till this morning.
And me? Where does the "Working hard, hardly working..." come into this?
Ah, that's the painting I've been doing. Yesterday afternoon I finished the kitchen. Day before, the bathroom. Two rooms, a bathroom, a hallway with four doors and the back porch down. Two living rooms and two bedrooms to go.
Plus one tiny leak in the roof.
Better get some writing work soon or I'll have this whole place spiffed up.

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