Monthly Archives: March 2013

Give a Man a Book…

Bookshelf

Bookshelf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a young age, if my eyes were open you could bet there would be a book in my hands. I grew up in a rural area. We were surrounded by numerous small townships, and books were so plentiful it could make an avid reader weep. They could be purchased from an independent bookstore, the five and dime, and the neighborhood drug store carried a small collection of paperbacks or they could be borrowed from the local library. It didn’t matter. If I could get my hands on a book, it was mine to read.

It was in one of these townships that I found my very own small library. My mother dropped me at the entrance. I stood in front of it, an eager eight-year-old, admiring the welcoming brick exterior.

I paused at the door, reading the “open” sign hanging at an adults eye level. I entered the establishment. The friendly toll of a bell announced my presence. As I stood in the doorway, the aroma of aged literary treasures wafted over me. It was at that moment I knew I had entered the hallowed halls of the written word just primed for the taking, not to pilfer or misuse, but to carefully choose and nurture each volume.

A friendly librarian bade me hello. She was able to spot my curiosity immediately and helped me procure my first library card. With card in hand, I set off to explore the mysteries of the ages. I tend to lean more toward science fiction, fantasy, and adventure novels so as I made my way down each isle, in between towering bookcases. I was amazed at the offerings and the many genres to be had. Well worn shelves sported a slight sag from the weight they were asked to bear. I ignored the then popular Dewey Decimal System determined to seek out my treasures unassisted.

I lost track of time perusing the inventory until deciding on several titles, I made my way to the front desk and concluded my business. I bid the librarian farewell, picked up my bag, and reluctantly exited the library, the same bell offering a fond ado and an invitation to return. Much the same can be said about independent book shops. They possess a warm and welcoming environment that doesn’t exist in the mega book stores.

During the intervening years, my love of books has not ceased. The area in which I once lived has grown considerably and I have moved away, but I am heartened by the libraries and independent book shops that continue to spring-up and thrive.

Now I am a published author and for my own reading pleasure I still seek out the smaller mom and pop bookshops and local libraries. They all share a love for the written word and a deep, abiding respect for the power of storytelling. I am now proud to say that my humble novel lends it weight to those sagging wooden shelves that populate community bookstores and small libraries. Even though I occasionally visit the mega stores, I will never forget the experience of that safe literary haven that inspired me so many years ago.

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From Dirt You Came, and to Dirt You Shall Return.

English: Agri-Fab tiller

English: Agri-Fab tiller (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always wanted to write a short humorous piece on the vernal equinox, ending it on a serious note that highlights my superior skill as a writer. Oh, if only Shakespeare were around today to glean bits of wisdom from the words that flow from my pen…

But that’s another story.

Springtime. When a young man’s heart turns to fancy, and then to dirt. Before you ask, yes, I said dirt. It all happened hundreds of years ago when we beat our swords and weapons into plowshares. And the  townsfolk rejoiced. Then we brutally beat our plowshares into tillers of soil. This took quite some time, but once again, the townsfolk rejoiced.

Once we had the tillers of soil and many implements with which to cultivate foodstuffs, we then began to drill deep holes into the earth to retrieve a substance suitable to power the tillers of soil. And once again, the townsfolk rejoiced.

We then built massive refining plants to refine the suitable substance we had retrieved from the deep holes in the earth and placed it in the tillers of soil. This time, the townsfolk did not rejoice, awaiting the outcome of the running of the tiller of soil.

A man of burliness, who resided in the town, stepped forward unto the machine, which tills the soil. He grabbed the cord and pulled twice. The machine sputtered and began to hum with a loud, steady rumble. The man of burliness grabbed the handles on the tiller of soil, pulled the levers, and began to till the soil. The townsfolk sighed a great sigh of relief and then rejoiced.

Many seeds were planted and much was harvested in order to feed the townsfolk. After many years, the tiller of soil ceased to hum. Since no one had developed a curriculum in order to become a mechanic to repair the tiller of soil, the townsfolk beat the tiller of soil once again into a plowshare. Not wanting to stop there, they beat the plowshare into swords and other weapons of violence and mayhem.

The townsfolk ate the last of the bounty harvested from the communal garden. They rejoiced one last time and due to the misappropriation of a slightly-rotten string bean, a great argument arose and all were killed with the swords and weapons of violence and mayhem. The last remaining resident of the town sadly sat down and starved to death, not knowing that the bounty of potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant left in the communal garden were edible.

In order to tie this story to the craft of writing, we must look at the slightly-rotten string bean. As you’re cleaning up your manuscript, be on the lookout for the tiniest instances of rot. Even a smidgen of decay can ensnare your novel in its ever-spreading tendrils.

Now excuse me, I’ve got to douse those pesky tomatoes with herbicide.

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Have I Got a Deal for You!

Dollar Sign in Space - Illustration

(Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Have you ever paid attention, I mean close attention, to all the folks in the world who want to give you free stuff? If not free, then it’s at such a reduced price as to make it seem free.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to step back and start at the beginning. Many items, gadgets, cleaning supplies and just about anything else is offered to us in droves on television commercials and its big brother, the infomercial.

For instance, to enjoy all of the world’s niceties, we want to live a long and fruitful life. To do so, one might start exercising. You can get a complete program, including diet suggestions, work-out regiments and anything else you’ll need to become a lean, mean attractive machine.

One of these commercials would go something like this:

“…How much would you expect to pay for a weight-loss product like this? $300? $200? $100? No! You can get this complete program for four easy payments of $19.95. And if you order within the next ten minutes, we will knock off two payments and add the butt-a-lyzer, an $80 value absolutely free.”

“Hold the phones! Order within the next thirty seconds and we’ll knock off one more payment. So you get the complete workout program, including 174 CDs, a 900 page workout booklet, a 600 page diet and recipe book with thousands of recipes designed to drop pounds almost instantly, and the world famous butt-a-lyzer, the latest in home workout equipment. It works your traps, lats, pecs, quads, hams, arms, ankles, teeth, toes, ears, eyes, nose, tongue and hair.”

“A $3,964 value, and it can be yours for only $19.95. Order within the next nanosecond and upgrade to free-shipping guaranteed to be at your doorstep in 12-16 weeks.”

“Wow! What a bargain!”

Next, we have (and this includes a plethora of different categories), what I like to call “double ‘em up, big boy.” And it goes something like this:

“How many times has this happened to you? Your husband starts a bonfire in the middle of the kitchen in order to cook chili for the big game. What a mess! And then there’s that youngster of yours. He rents a paint-spraying rig and paints every house in the neighborhood black with white trim and purple shutters. Or that nagging cloths thief who breaks into your house and absconds with all of your garments, only to return them later, stained with blood, grass and red wine.”

“What will you do?”

“Introducing Kleenitol, the industrial strength cleaner that will clean it all! Mortar off of bricks, grease off that filthy car engine, and even more delicate jobs, like filthy hands. Our product can also sterilize cuts, scrapes, lacerations, abrasions, contusions, and any other medical situation you may encounter, all for the low price of $29.95.”

“But wait! That’s not all!”

“We’re going to double that offer, and all you have to do is pay additional shipping and handling. And if you order now, we’ll include a 1988 Mercury Marque!”

See what I mean? Doesn’t it give you that warm fuzzy feeling way down deep in your loins that total strangers care so much for your needs?

Or could it be that’s smoke they’re blowing up your shorts?

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Rush: A Great Rock Band, but Not a Way to Live

A typical speed limit sign in the United State...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever paid attention to how fast the world moves?  If not, step back and take a gander. If you see what I’m seeing, then tell me why we’re in such a hurry.

No sooner did I hear that once you exceed 60 mph your gas mileage suffers that the speed limit bounced up to 70 mph.  It seems to me that we are cutting our own throats to get somewhere a little quicker when all we had to do was leave a little earlier.  Of course, driving slower seems to upset those who would rather leave later, resulting in a rise in road rage. This whole scenario leads to a conundrum that could be avoided if we all just went the equine route. But then again there’s all that methane, the global warming thing…let’s skip that and move on. Quickly now, don’t dawdle.

Where would we be without the microwave?

Probably better off. We would have avoided all the processed, pre-packaged containers that slide into the magnetron so easily. The biggest disadvantage I find with the microwave is the way it cooks meat. Yes, it admittedly cooks it jet fast (which is what this blog is about), but the downside is that it’s nearly inedible. Yet we still use the microwave on a daily basis, sacrificing taste for convenience.

Take something as simple as a picture.  Nowadays we press a button on a digital camera, pick out the pictures we like, print them off and viola! You have photos ready for your album in a matter of minutes.  Now I’m not old, but I do remember snatching up my 35mm, snapping up a reel of 24 photos, rewinding the reel, removing it from the camera, placing it in a paper bag, filing out all of the pertinent information and tossing it in the mail. In a week, I may have prints to look at, that is if something didn’t go wrong during my picture taking session or in the developing process. If something by chance did go awry, I would end up with a package full of blank 4×6 index cards. They don’t exactly support that warm and fuzzy feeling of instant gratification we expect nowadays, does it?

Let’s all just slow down and take a deep breath. Relax.

Why not get a big glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and come over next Sunday? Sit on the front porch, just sippin’ and enjoying the day (after church of course).

I’m honestly thinking about penning a novel with pen and paper!

…Nah. I don’t want to slow down that much.

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Say What?

I am seriously considering forming a blue ribbon fact finding commission to study the feasibility and the possible removal from the English language of the word if.

English: So many words to keep track of!.

English: So many words to keep track of!. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now keep those feet planted firmly on the ground and hear me out. This is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction.

We’ll start off by using the word in a sentence

“If a bullfrog had wings he wouldn’t bump his butt when he jumped.”

Now as we seek to determine the validity of the statement, we find that it has no legitimate reason for existing. Then why does it? Because of the word if.

Now if the statement read: “Bullfrogs have no wings, therefore they bump their butt when they jump.” This makes perfect sense. When you add the word if, it makes the sentence pure conjecture and therefore not relevant to anything.

This formula can be applied to all the uses of if: “If I had just not left my phone at home.” “If I had just filled my gas tank up.” “If only my legs were longer I could reach the top shelf.” “If only I could quit relying on the word if.”

Take some time to think about this scenario I have suggested. Soon a petition will be circulated to every man, woman, and child in the United States including Alaska, Hawaii, and all of the U.S. territories. I urge you to vote yes and abolish this useless and confusing declaration.

While we’re on the subject of ridding the world of useless words, phrases, and other non-essential niceties, let’s examine the phrase: “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”

I can blow this one out of the water. If you’ll notice, and I’m sure you have, you can now bid on items as advertised on T.V. for extremely reasonable prices. Things like a fifty-five inch flat screen T.V. for only $9.95, or a 2013 B.M.W. for 700 greenbacks. And then there’s my favorite: A Scottish castle for only $29.95 U.S. Too good to be true? ‘Nuff said.

I will now pose two questions that we will research in depth in the near future.

Question number one: Why are words that begin with an “X” pronounced like they begin with a “Z”?

Question number two: What is this attraction between tornadoe

s and trailer parks?

If you’re an author and happen to live in a trailer park, maybe you could shed some light on this all-important question in your next manuscript.

Until next time, if all goes well…

See? It just doesn’t work.

Post script: Also, pay no attention to any instances where I may have used the word if in this document. They are, of course, totally irrelevant, and once the petition is signed, will no longer appear in this or any other blog.

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