Bookcase Browsings #4

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On a shelf I found a National Geographic from November, 1967. That’s the month I turned nine. I remember three things specifically from the year I was nine.

I was in fourth grade and my teacher, Miss Schnupp,  I do believe  was six feet tall and she seemed to enjoy embarrassing her students. She did this to me and I still remember the embarrassment I felt at being teased about liking a boy just because I talked to him a lot in class. I mean, he sat behind me, so I talked to him. His name was Perry and he had red hair and lots of freckles.

It was also the year I first found out about sex. Seems like everyone knew what that word on the bathroom wall meant except me.

Lastly, it was the year of long division. For me, it was VERY long division. Sloppy writing had me lining up my numbers wrong and then I’d have to start all over.

This National Geographic issue had an article on Buenos Aires, Argentina. Now, I know when I was nine I’d never heard of Argentina, much less dreamed that I’d grow up and have a daughter who lived there for awhile. She loved it!

I just skimmed the article, but I came across a funny conversation with a man who was describing the parking situation.

“You find a place that’s maybe too short for your car, ” Señor Medus explained, “so you just push the line of cars in front with your bumper, and the line of cars behind, until you can jokey your way in. Nobody sets brakes; to do that and walk away leaving your automobile locked is , well, unsportsmanlike. Of course, you want to avoid parking a car at the spot nearest the corner. You might come back from your errand to find to find that your car has been pushed out into the intersection and hauled away by the police.”

All of this reminded me of an episode from Seinfield.

 

Happy Birthday, the United States of Erica

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7-4-2013

 

“Out on a spin in search of curry powder and hot peppers- a man on a voyage to the grocery- he stumbled onto the land of heroic Vikings and proceeded to get the credit for it. And then to name it America after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian who never saw the New World but only sat in Italy and drew incredibly inaccurate maps of it. By rights, it should be called Erica, after Eric the Red, who did the work five hundred years earlier. The United States of Erica. Erica the Beautiful. The Erican League.” – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

I’ve tried to avoid all the patriotic and unpatriotic posts today. But, a few jumped out at me anyway.

On one extreme was the photo of the family dressed in red-white-and-blue for ‘God and Country Day’. On the other extreme was one who was going to wear black today and she didn’t celebrate for the first time in her life because of her newfound enlightenment.

But, the very best thing I read all day was from my acquaintance/friend, Jamie, who said,

“If Lee Greenwood sees his shadow, we get 6 more weeks of freedom.”

Truer Than True

 

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I love to read statements made by authors (or their characters) that are even more true today than when they were written. The following examples are some that have jumped out at me in the past couple of years. I have ordered them backwards chronologically.

⇒  “I wouldn’t be surprised if a show about nudists was a hit…_ “ – I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (2010) 

Now we have Dating Naked, Naked and Afraid, and a host of others

⇒  “Look at television, Father had said- Dad is shown as a dummy who stumbles around and breaks things and gets into trouble, usually to be rescued by a small child or a pet. Children watch hours of this junk every week.” – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor (1985)

A 2001 study by Erica Scharrer in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media found that the number of times a mother told a joke at the father’s expense increased from 1.80 times per episode in the 1950s to 4.29 times per episode in 1990.

⇒  “We aren’t persecuted very much nowadays, we Christians, at least not overtly. But in point of fact there is a good bit of sub-rosa persecution, ridiculing if not reviling. In children’s books, death and sex used to be taboo, Now death and sex are “in”, and Christianity is the new taboo; other religions are appreciated, Buddhism, Hinduism, the pre-Christian Druidism; Christianity is not tolerated. And not only in children’s literature. It has been made taboo by those who do not understand it … of course we intelligent people don’t need God and we certainly aren’t interested in the cross. Only those poor people who aren’t strong enough on their own go in for the false promises of religion. – The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle (1977)

All I can say is this is even more prevalent today than ever before. I see it not only in children’s literature, but on TV programs, in the news, on social media.

⇒  “We have – particularly in the United States, particularly in the suburbs – allowed ourselves to live in a child-centered world; the children have become more important to the parents than the parents are to each other; and suddenly the children grow up and leave the nest and the parents find themselves alone with each other, and discover with horror that there is nobody there.” – A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle (1972)

Wow! It was surprising to me to hear her talk about a child-centered world in 1972. Today’s world is even more child-centered, from play-dates and birthday party productions to travel sports teams.

⇒  “When a city begins to grow and spread outward from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in; poorer people move in as rents fall, and small fringe businesses take the place of once flowering establishments.” – Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck (1961)

I’ve seen this happen in Jacksonville and have seen the results of it in Birmingham. Both of these towns have and are making efforts to bring people back to the city centers.

⇒  “Today, the language of advertising enjoys an enormous circulation. With its deliberate infraction of grammatical rules and its crossbreeding of the parts of speech, it profoundly influences the tongues and pens of children and adults.” – An E.B. White Reader, from the chapter titled “Prefer the Standard to the Offbeat “ by E.B. White (1959).

Here are some examples of intentional infractions in advertising:

“More power. More style. More technology. Less doors.” – Mercedes breaks the grammar rule that says “less” is used with mass nouns and “fewer” with countable nouns: “Door” is a countable noun; ergo, we’re obliged to say “fewer doors.”

“For hair and/or body, or both.” (Old Spice)

“Got milk?”

 

 

I Can’t Even With You

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Today’s PAD Challenge was to choose a well known phrase as a title. Here goes!

I Can’t Even With You

This poem will be a bit facetious
A bit about aposiopesis
It use to be all about that bass
But now that woofer’s been replaced

I can’t even with you
I don’t even have a clue
I’m just shakin’ my head
I’ll just odd with you instead

When she’s using aposiopesis
Seems to me to be a little specious
On those days she can’t even with you
It sounds like a false hullabaloo

I can’t even with you
I don’t even have a clue
Maybe you should just go girl
Maybe just give it a whirl

Cessation of brain activity
Makes for a little festivity
When she tells me I can’t even
It’s not something I believe in

I can’t even with you
I don’t even have a clue
I’m just shakin’ my head
Let’s just leave it unsaid

Three Rs

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.

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photo by MRWILDLIFE

Rhino Skin

“The failures you face as a writer are more important, because they’re what make you work harder, do better and build up the rhinoceros-hide-thick skin you need to survive in the publishing world.” – Jodi Picoult, author of 23 novels

We’ve all heard about learning from our mistakes. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s a very real concept. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we will suffer from them. But, if we use them to learn to do something better, they became another gift.

Recipe
A story needs three main ingredients: setting, plot, and characters. The type of these will depend on who you are serving. Historical fiction? Then the setting might be a civil war battlefield. Mystery? Then your plot may include a murder. Science fiction? Some of your characters may be aliens.

After you have sifted your main ingredients together, mix in some metaphors. Stir in a few similes. Use a pinch of personification. Add adjectives to taste.

Bake as long as needed in the past, present, or future. Prick with proofreading to see if your story is done. May be served in hardback or soft cover.

Rictameter
The poetry focus is a Rictameter, which is like a Cinquain. Starting your first line with a two syllable word, you then consecutively increase the number of syllables per line by two. i.e. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10; then down again, 8, 6, 4, 2, making the final line the same two syllable word you began with. I had fun crafting this one!

Summer
Wine on the porch
Scrabble after supper
The train echoes long in the dusk
Lightning bugs flicker as the dark settles
A small breeze finally kicks up
Crickets start their chorus
The frogs join in
Summer

No Mayo!

In E.B. White’s essay on New York, written in 1948, he mentions, “…being slapped down by a bus driver for asking an innocent question..” This brought to mind my one and only experience of being in New York City for one day back in the 1980s.

Chuck and I were trying to squeeze in all we could: our first taxi ride, first ride on a subway, Empire State Building, climbing the Statue of Liberty, and seeing a bit of Central Park. This worked up an appetite, so we stopped at a hotdog vendor. My mistake was asking for mayonnaise. The guy lit into me like I’d asked for chocolate on my hotdog. I didn’t know mayonnaise on a hotdog was a southern thing, or maybe it was just a thing in my family. Talk about being embarrassed.