The Hungry Scholar

…an intellectual feast…

Looking For a Few Good Suckers May 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — literahtzi @ 6:34 pm

Finding work as a freelance writer is hard enough. It’s an endeavor fraught with rejection, competition (India at $2 an hour…) and incredulity from potential clients (“How much for a newsletter?!?”). It’s not an easy way to earn a living. Hell it’s not a way to earn a living if you can’t find clients! The aforementioned factors have sent me trawling craigslist at least once a day on the odd chance there’ll be a decent gig posted. Recently I’ve learned that it if looks too good to be true, it is.

Of course, by too good to be true I mean that it looks good. Or looks okay. Or even looks like it might, maybe, somehow, be a real job. But it’s not. The truth is, that unless there’s a recognizable company name, it’s probably a scam.

And there are all kinds of freelance-gig scams. There’s the one where someone’s looking for copywriters for a variety of projects. They pay $25-30 an hour. Less than average but enticing for a newbie. They have a long list of requirements, they spell everything correctly. After you apply, they send you an email telling you that some other company is their recruiter for freelancers. The new company charges a one-time sign-up fee of $45. Yee Gads! Important rule in working for yourself: if it’s not the local Chamber of Commerce, never pay someone to find you work. Good recruiters charge the client a fee, not you. Further investigation reveals that this “recruiter” makes fraudulent charges to your credit card after you sign up.

The next scam is the “send us your best work ” scam. Now this one isn’t always a scam. Spec work (speculation) is abhorred by many, but can be the only way to get your foot in the door and build a reputation. I’ve done some spec work. I didn’t know it was spec at the time, but after a client decided not to pay I choose to look at it as thus. The danger with this type of anonymous spec work is that you have no idea who is really collecting your writing and what they’re doing with it. I’ve heard stories of freelancers coming across work they sent in on spec being used as another copywriter’s sample.

My least favorite scam, because it requires only that you respond once, is the one that takes your email address and sells it. Within 24 hours of applying for what looked to be a legitimate job, my Junk Mail count tripled. Of course I never heard about the “job” but I do have lots of options for increasing my…pencil…size.


March 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — literahtzi @ 7:52 am

The Hungry Scholar was spending a fabulous evening at my favorite librarian’s house and waking up in the morning I heard a voice echoing from the past. “Entertainment Tonight” past, that is. You guessed it (or maybe you didn’t), Mr. John Tesh! My first thought of course, was that the robots had finally invaded, but further examination revealed that the ivory-tickling Mr. Tesh was in fact on the radio. It seems that every morning around 4 am (Miss Janet wakes early), John’s on the air, spinning discs and dispensing folksy wisdom with his soothing voice. Now, who wouldn’t listen to anything John Tesh says?

This particular morning he had all sorts of advice the Scholar was keen to listen to. Some kind of fancy LA shrink recommends that in order for us to be happy, we ought to spend the first hour of each day working on our passion. Great, I think, I’ll spend an hour reading a good book. No wait. I’ll spend an hour writing a good book. Or how about an hour on the new business? Making salsa? Miss Janet’s already dressed, so an hour spooning is out of the question. Just what the heck am I supposed to be doing? This strategy might work for those folks with only one passion, but what about the Hungry Scholar!?!

Here’s the problem: I’ve got too many passions. Is this why I’m hungry all the time? Maybe I should give John Tesh a call and ask his sage advice

Next Week: John Tesh weighs in on the Hungry Scholar’s passion problem. Or not.


“The Road” Movie Review December 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — literahtzi @ 10:57 am

9 am on a Sunday is pretty early to go see a movie, but for a film based on a Cormac McCarthy book, I’ll put on some pants. I am after all unemployed, so Sundays have little relevance to me other than being the hardest day to find new job listings online.

I went to the theater with a lot of questions: will they stay true to “The Road’s” ominous vision? Will the actors be able to capture the despair that McCarthy’s characters bleed with each struggling step along the tarmac? I spent two hours Sunday morning in an attempt to discover the answers to these questions and just like an episode of “Lost,” I left with even more.

Did anyone who worked on this movie read the book? Did they read it more than once? Did they read it sober? Did they know that Cormac McCarthy is still alive and could have been consulted for his views on it?

The movie came off like something made by the cousin of some guy who read “The Road” and then told his buddy about it. Yeah sure, they got all the set dressings right, the environment was bleak, the characters were dirty and it really looked like a crappy place to raise a kid. But as anyone who read “The Road” and got it understands, the real setting of the book is inside the characters. The true depravity of the world is internal, each of the few people in McCarthy’s bleak America carry a part of it and it comes out not just in the words they speak but in those they don’t. This is perhaps where the director most missed the mark, the dialogue.

McCarthy’s words resonate on paper. It is easy to imagine he spent hours crafting the particular arrangement of seven words to give life to a sentence. The words on screen attempt to fill in the gaps, bring definition to McCarthy’s sparse prose and in this attempt they remove the mystery, fill the gap that should be filled by the viewer’s imagination.

If you’ve read the book and liked it, go see the movie. You know you want to anyway and no matter how much it misses the elusive mark, it’s still okay. For those who haven’t read the book, there’s not a lot here for you. It would be understandable if you watched this wondering just what the hell the rest of us see in this McCarthy guy and this supposedly epic novel we can’t shut up about. For everyone, I highly recommend checking out “No Country for Old Men” which still reigns as the best film made from a McCarthy novel (we disavow Billy Bob’s “All the Pretty Horses”).

The Stats

Directed by John Hillcoat

Starring: Viggo Mortenson, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Robert Duvall

Rated: R

Who it’s for: Diehard fans, even those folks might want to wait for Netflix.

Word Feast Rating: 2/5