Review: "Don Juan in Hankey, PA" by Gale Martin

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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At January's Prose in Pubs, Gale Martin read from her recently published book Don Juan in Hankey, PA. That night, she elicited boisterous laughter and applause from her all-too hysterical characterization of Leandro Vasquez, the chauvinistic gaucho-turned-opera-star and hope of  the floundering Hankey opera house.

As Martin read, I was rolling with every instance of humor and wit. It was unfortunate, then, when the book did not live up to my expectations.

There is a great story within Don Juan and some incredibly interesting characters, but the problems I encountered with the book detracted so much from the good that I found it hard to read at points and, at other times, slow and plodding.

What I believe suffers Don Juan the most is premature publishing. It seems that very little time was spent revising and editing the manuscript to tighten it up. Just when the flow of the story becomes comfortable and you settle into the world of Hankey and its opera house misfits, the writing becomes profuse. Martin has a tendency, throughout the book, to over-explain for the reader. A small example:

"He's a major talent," Oriane said brightly, like a piccolo introducing a lively motif to advance the drama at a faster pace." (p.72)
Describing Oriane's voice by comparing it to the piccolo could have been beautiful. A perfect image of the small, chirping voice I had already imagined the character to posses. Instead, the image is smudged with direct instructions of what a piccolo does. This is the type of writing which constantly pulled me from the pages and the world of Hankey. I kept asking myself, "Why did she tell me this?"

For me, the overwriting outweighed my enjoyment of the book. It had me skimming at times, something I've rarely done. There were also a few discrepencies in the story line which confused me, prompting a reread of certain areas to see if I had, initially, read them wrong. Again, it is simply due to the fact that things were not tightened up prior to publishing and this, for me, significantly tarnished the novel for me.

It's not that I experienced no enjoyment while reading Don Juan. On the contrary. If you clean away the loose passages and overwriting, you're left with a good story which lends wit and whimsy to the world of opera, a form of art and expression more often associated with stuffy, upperclass blue-hairs. Martin's characters are all interesting in their own regard and you get quite a sense of who they are without the extra explanations throughout.

Simply put, I wanted to really enjoy Don Juan. I wanted to laugh through the entire book. I thought I would be following Martin's reading at Prose in Pubs. But it just fell short. And disappointingly so.

There are laughs. There are great passages throughout the book and the premise of the story is a great one (though I could do without the ghost angle) and, for that, I congratulate Gale Martin. Hindsight is 20/20 and suggesting to tighten up the manuscript is a bit of a moot point now, but it's what I wish Martin had done.

Maybe I should simply place a significant burden of blame on Toddie Downs's editing, or lack there of. Here's to hoping that Ms. Martin will find an alternate editor for her planned follow up to Don Juan, Ms. Manon in Hankey, PA.

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Don Juan in Hankey, PA is available in both paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon.com. You can read more about Gale Martin at galemartin.me.

Sick Day

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, February 17, 2012

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my mind is not my own today.
it is cold pavement. wet snow.
grey, chilling winds and
overcast memories.

in my skull, an ocean
fluctuating high and
low frequencies. crescendos.
atomic blasts.

scrawled words the
tongue struggles to pronounce
cut my mouth like chewing
gravel, spitting
sand.

and the day tightens
steel jaws around
my bones.

crush my eyes
to diamonds,
they cut
through
the fog.

                                                                                                     ~Dale Wilsey Jr.           

Smart as a FOX: Mr. Gainor, Your Bias is Showing

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Thursday, February 09, 2012

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There's one thing that every "news" team has gotten right: there's a lot of bullshit in the news. What they all fail to realize, however, is that it's spread around on all sides. Left-wing, right-wing, and everything in between. Today, I had a delightful reminder of all of this and an incredible look into irony and complete jackassery.

A close friend of mine had pointed out VP of Business and Culture for Media Research Center Dan Gainor's Twitter account. The MRC is an organization founded by conservative activist L. Brent Bozell III. Its goal is to "prove — through sound scientific research — that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values, but also to neutralize its impact on the American political scene."

You can click on his name above to get the full scoop on Mr. Gainor from the MRC's site, but it does state that he has had almost two decades of experience in print and online media editing for multiple papers and magazines as well as contributing to the Fox Business Network and the Fox Forum.

At the time my friend brought him to my attention, though, he was lashing out at a gay individual who happened to be a Christian. Apparently, in Mr. Gainor's eyes, this made the individual a "pretend" Christian.




Seeing as how Mr. Gainor's remarks seemed a bit un-Christian, I reminded him of Matthew 7:1-5. There must be some hidden meaning behind the words of that particular section of the Bible to Atheists. When I woke in the morning, I found this reply:


Interesting considering that I had not even mentioned abortion (this, I assume, is what Gainor means by murdering "babies") and was simply defending the other person who Mr. Gainor said was "violating basic tenants of the Christian faith". Again, I fail to see how Mr. Gainor was adhering to the basic tenants by vehemently judging another individual, but maybe it's just my blackened, soulless self who is blind. I also fail to see how the gay individual was a baby murderer considering he never has nor ever will have an abortion.

So began my conversation with Mr. Gainor throughout the day. And he displayed hypocrisy and abundant idiocy splendidly. 

The individual who Mr. Gainor was bashing had brought up the recent firestorm over the Susan G. Komen foundation's decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Mr. Gainor contests that Planned Parenthood is the "number one abortion operation in the U.S.". When I reminded him that less than 3% of Planned Parenthood's services were abortion related and that countless lives have been saved due to their breast cancer and STD screening services:


OK. I'll bite, Mr. Gainor. How and why is that statistic bogus?


I wasn't quite sure how this response answered my question considering 1) he was offering a single number and doing math with a single number is rather pointless and 2) that his un-cited statistic proved nothing contrary to my own statistic that only 3% of their services were abortion related. 

What I was looking for was some supporting evidence that his "1,000 daily abortions" comment was, in fact, correct. Again I asked him to provide a citation for his statistic, at which point he furnished me with this link: Planned Parenthood Releases Annual Report: Abortions top 329,000.

Convenient that Mr. Gainor provides a link to an "article" written by the very news corporation which he contributes to. Also convenient that the article doesn't actually link to the annual report, but to other articles referencing Planned Parenthood. All, of course, portraying the organization in a negative light. This is a common practice, I've noticed, of many "news" organizations online. There are very few references to the actual reports and, when there are, there are even fewer links to them.

The casual reader, and especially those who are die-hard fans of one bias over the other and who obtain their news from a single source, would more than likely take what Mr. Gainor sent me as proof and believe what he said. And, judging by his response while I was looking for the information ("Hmmm, you appear to not have liked that stat") he more than likely assumed I had done just that and felt "beat" by his spin and omission of all the facts.

Taking some initiative and Google searching the report, I came to find this (link):

Planned Parenthood 2009-2010 Annual Report

According to the statistics, Mr. Gainor's stat of approximately 1,000 abortions per day was correct. Let's look at the rest of the chart, though. I notice that, in 2010, "Total Services" equaled 11,003,366 while "Abortion Services" totaled 329,449. 

Mr. Gainor suggested that I "do some math", so I'll try that now. Keep in mind that I was never spectacular at math, but I believe I remember how to figure percentages. Also keep in mind that these are the numbers which Mr. Gainor provided himself and used to refute my claim that only 3% of Planned Parenthood's services were abortion related.

329,449 / 11,003,366 =  0.0299407...
Abortion Services / Total Services = 3%

Planned Parenthood 2009-2010 Annual Report

Mr. Gainor has yet to explain to me just how my statistic was, as he states, "bogus" while his statistic, which uses the same set of numbers and he claims is undeniable truth, is not. He presented his case and his own data and, in doing so, supported the very argument that I had made. Yet, somehow, my claims are "bogus". Unfounded. 

Through the conversation, Mr. Gainor kept asserting that he was "pro-life" and for the protection of innocent lives. The fact is, Planned Parenthood helps to save innocent lives by offering affordable services to those in need. By offering STI/STD treatments and screenings, Cancer screenings, and various other services, the organization helps to prevent the loss of innocent life.

Yes, they do provide abortion services and yes those abortions work out to be approximately 1,000 per day, but that is a fraction of what Planned Parenthood does. That is a fact. And until Roe v. Wade is overturned within the Supreme Court, these abortions are legal and safe regardless of your religious or moral stance.

Mr. Gainor exemplifies what is wrong with "news" and the spread of disinformation in this country today. A huckster who sells you his biased and altered perception of the world through spin and hysteria. Do not swallow what he or any of his kind, be it Right or Left, have presented to you as the "truth". 

The truth does not up ratings. The truth does not feed the machine. And to find it, you need to dig and wade through the muck and shit that is presented to us every day by smiling, raving, talking heads.





Your move, Mr. Gainor.



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