Thursday, August 12, 2010

If you follow me, I will follow you: A new blog has been birthed!

Thankfully for you, only a brief note.

This is not actually a Genesis song. It could be, but it's not.

It's just a plug to follow my meanderings at 1WomanWordsmith, where I'm embarking on a blog to end all blogs. (Or maybe it's a blog to end my blogging career, you josh!)

I hope to take on topics not so much like the Titanic took on water, but rather as they come across my radar and pique my passions, so I'm sure to write about writing, writing contests, language and grammar, frugality, science, health, medicine, astronomy, ecology, politics, sports, and parenting (among others), and, I hope, offer a kaleidoscopic view of the world.

I hope you'll take a moment to spin the device and see what colors emerge as we journey together toward knowledge.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Microsoft Makes Me Feel Macro-Small

Hey, friends!

Most of you probably know I've been having problems with my Hotmail account. Granted it is free, but that doesn't mean I should have 0 technical support, should it?

I can't give you the exact details, because my account has been hijacked and now, apparently, shut down in a pre-emptive strike by Microsoft.

(I suppose they are taking a page from Dubya's book, but I digress.)

A friend suggested that I blog about it, in the hopes that Google Alerts or something will bring Microsoft to act to help us.

Yes, us. Because I don't kid myself that I'm the only one to whom this has happened.

Briefly: About May 6th, I noticed that I got two "returned as undeliverable" e-mails in my Hotmail account. I hadn't sent anything from Hotmail on May 6th or thereabouts. Upon investigating further, I discovered that some phantom person or other mechanical menace had sent out e-mails (spam, phishing, whatever) in my name to several colleagues and friends and family, in my name. It advised them to visit some likely squatter/sham site.

I wrote people to apologize. I contacted Live Support--still waiting for their response on that first trouble ticket from a couple weeks ago. I posted in their forum and read of others' similar, if not exactly the same, plights. In the Microsoft forums there were even--help me, for I lack the language to describe it correctly--spam bots out in all their full, foul force.

Not only have I never heard back from Microsoft, but after changing my password to one that Microsoft deemed strong; telling those in my address book to beware and that I apologized for any inconvenience to them; and contacting Microsoft for help, practically throwing myself on their mercy, noting that the false e-mails sent out in my name were also besmirching Microsoft's integrity as a business, for it had all the hallmarks of a normal Hotmail message (even advising people to use Hotmail, with a link at the bottom of the message), I get a message yesterday that I had violated Microsoft's such-and-such policy. My guess is that they think it is I who is spamming everyone, but it's really not. So, instead of helping me, what are they doing ... blocking me from my e-mail account.

An account I've had since December 2000, I might add. How's that for customer loyalty.

Well, no more. I'm sick of Microsoft.

Had I the power, as a little guy, I'd start my own company e-mail provider (purely as a joke and as a wake-up call to MS), and call it ... oh, one could call it so many funny permutations. Snotmail: E-mail for those with colds or runny noses. Notmail: Just when you think you have an e-mail provider, you really don't. Much like its sister Hotmail. Potmail: E-mail for when you be trippin (which I don't do, just for the record). Plotmail: Receive an e-mail from your favorite dead celebrity, straight out of the plot. ... Rotmail: E-mail for when you want to be a jerk (think "rotten") and, last but not least, Gotmail, for those times when you'd love to use your e-mail account to send and receive completely legitimate communiques but are barred from doing so. No, you've definitely NOT got mail, A-H-OL.{Got any suggestions for funny e-mail providers?}

Hmmm, I think I'll go switch to another provider--Gmail or Yahoo!, anyone?--while I wait for the response to my now 3 trouble tickets submitted to Live Support (Dead Support is more like it) in the last 2 weeks. E-mails that I know will never come.

Don't they say the postman always rings twice? Dang, if I could only get once, some kind of a response, even if only a "p155 off" from Microsoft, I might be happier.

Well, I'm going to pick up the pieces of my shattered Internet experience and go sulk on the couch with some cereal.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Greened Submarine

We all live in a green submarine, green submarine, green submarine.


But, seriously, did you know that Quizno's is greening their food packaging in an effort to reduce waste (not to mention that it helps their bottom line; I wish more restaurants & companies would catch onto that fact, then they'll be sold on green)? You would not believe how much of our landfills are stuffed to the brim with fast-food detritus.

That "dead zone" of plastic in the Pacific, too. So, anything toward reducing waste (part of the ever-important 3 "R's") is great in my green book.

As part of getting the word out about Quizno's efforts, they are awarding $5 gift cards to five readers in a "Choose 2" giveaway via the excellent blog called Melinda Joy here.

Melinda's blog also features everything from travel getaway/reviews to sandals (reviewed) to book, jewelry, and food giveaways.

And Quizno's? Mmmmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

(That's me munching on their green foods--the lettuce in my toasty sub, that is!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Easter Means to Me

Ah, Easter. In the case of this year, April.

Poet T.S. Eliot (disclosure: subject of my master's thesis, which I finished almost 10 years ago now! Oops, I meant "100 years ago." hee-hee) wrote that "April is the cruellest month/breeding lilacs out of the dead land." Or something along those lines.

While I dig Eliot's meaning in my more pessimistic moments (my husband would say that that's every moment for me, ha-ha!), today, as a mom, I would prefer to spin the top in a positive direction: April is a good month. Life gets a chance to take its chance anew. We all get to be reborn, regardless of our spirituality or lack thereof (in my case). If we allow ourselves to embrace peace, we can be reinvigorated by the myriad beauties of Nature.

And, in our case, we get to go out and garden. Hence the picture of DD using her brand-spankin' new watering can (I told her it looks like it belongs to the Tin Man, but she couldn't relate because she hasn't seen that movie yet). I am humbly submitting my photo to the April photo contest at An Island Life here, which talks about what the Easter (season) means to me. An Island Life, if you haven't visited it lately (or ever before now), is the well-put-together (wish I knew how to do en dashes in Blogger!) site of Kailani, a lovely lady with three equally lovely little girls. I enjoy reading her posts about life as a flight attendant--how brave is that!?!--and her darling "K"-named girls. You can find the rules of the contest at the link above--voting starts April 9th, etc.

To paraphrase another Eliot line originally about music but ostensibly much larger, "while the season lasts, we are the season," so get out there and smell the roses with your noses (with apologies to Dr. Seuss); plant the flowers, veggies, and the like; hike the hills and dales; take nothing but photos; and leave nothing but footprints, my friends!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Chocolate, Food of the Gods

Everywhere I go (and look), it seems to me that women are more fond of chocolate than men are.

{The editor in me just snickered at a permutation of the above sentence. ... If I had written "women are more fond of chocolate than men" it could be true but also very funny. That is, that women like chocolate more than they like men. Now you know the weird way that my once-new steel trap works!}

My favorite 3 C's: children (namely mine! but others can be wonderful, too, of course), chocolate, and coffee. Distant fourth: cheese. I was trying to figure out a way to get hubby in there, but I just couldn't. Maybe confidant? ...

In any case, back on subject, my parents--bless their hearts--send us WAY too much "junk" food. It's not that I don't like junk food, mind you. It's just that I'm trying to get away from the junk food. (Though a crunchety chocolate bar every now and then never hurt anyone--I'm still desperately trying to convince my husband of that!)

That's where yet another giveaway comes in. Stacie, on her blog Simply Stacie, is giving away an Organically Hatched gift card. For those who don't know, Organically Hatched is a "green" company that has committed itself to providing the gamut of organic baby products, from music toys (gotta love their wooden "Tatiri" whistle on a keychain!) to bottles to slings to awe-dorable
Under the Nile Organic Cotton Fruit Toys (I know my little guy would love these, as he's all about putting things in his mouth right now). (To be fair, I have not tried their products yet, but their green stance and the look and description of the products are very attractive.)

OH is also proudly Canadian. O Canada!

So, when you've a moment, do check out both the OH site and Simply Stacie. Stacie does a lot of book reviews (I love books; just don't get to read many of them except for work and in little time blocks throughout the day), jewelry, and really all kinds of things. From beautiful Nova Scotia.

(Long live Scotland! hee-hee. That one's for Mom & Dad.)

Peace out,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Milk, Shmilk!

When I was a kid (in the Dark Ages), we didn't talk about milk or what was in it. Loose lips sink milks, I guess.

Now, many glasses later, I have a family, and I think more deeply about things in general. (I've become quite the worry-wart, haven't I?)

So, the topic du jour spins around to milk. Some companies use steroids or antibiotics or some other chemical concoctions and others don't--we know that now in our era of product/brand transparency. Unfortunately, I cannot often afford organic or BSH-free, antibiotic-free milk.

Thus, it's up to my husband and I to do what's right, when we can. I truly believe the body is a temple and that food is a HUGE part of who we are as a society and as an individual. There was an old saying--garbage in, garbage out. If only that were true, because, unfortunately, it's garbage in, garbage stays in.

That's where freedom of choice comes in. You can choose the good stuff--it's just there for the taking. The Horizon milk, for example. Forgo the Starbucks once in awhile. Brown-bag your lunches a few days a week. Skip that ice cream cone this weekend.

It all adds up, if you're being frugal (as we are). And it just might add up to good health if you play your cards right. Plant a garden. Sow some herbs--oregano, chives, parsley, and basil are so easy to grow (take it from my black thumb!).

To that end, visit Melinda Joy's blog and take a chance on winning some Horizon milk coupons here.

As for me, make mine organic milk, naturally!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A "Sweet" Giveaway

Like many of you, I can whistle "Sweet Georgia Brown" in my sleep in large part thanks to the Harlem Globetrotters.

As a kid--in the 'dark ages' of the 1970s and 1980s--the Globetrotters would come to my town. Actually to a larger city a couple hours away, usually. I'd want to go, but we never did.

Those were the days when I was very shy. If one of the Globetrotters had grabbed my purse, being the teen that I was, I would've freaked out and tried to hide under my chair most likely.

Now, however, I see little sense in not speaking my mind and being myself, nonshyness and all.

So, were Meadowlark and some of the Globbies (that's "glow" and "bees" not "glob" and "eez") of old still around, man, would that be fun. Not that the modern ones aren't fun.

Well, speaking of fun, the point of this post is to point you to a giveaway at the Melinda Joy blog. It's a ... you guessed it ... Globetrotters giveaway featuring their signature armbands, a poster, and so forth.

Pretty cool, huh?

Now, if you win, I'll just have to beat you up. Only kidding! Maybe I'll just throw a fake bucket of water on you.

Wink, wink.

Have a great day!

Aloha Friday

Hello, all. I wish I could do Aloha Friday every Friday, but life just seems to intrude too much and too often! It was inaugurated by Kailani over at An Island Life.

She asks: What is your dream car?

Gosh, what a toughie. Hubby and I used to "collect" cars, though not so much now that we have kids. If money were no object, I think I might have either a Darren (sp? I think that was made by Kaiser, but could be mistaken), a Duesenberg of some kind, or a Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce. I would also take a Golden or Silver Hawk Studebaker, Gull-Wing Mercedes, and several others I can't remember right now, most notably the older Jaguars. Or a new electric car perhaps?

Now, my question to y'all. Where are you from?

My answer: Oh, I could take this in so many directions, as I come from many directions, so to speak! I am a North Carolinian by birth, Tarheel fan by the grace of ????, Midwesterner by choice, and ex-Virginian. (And Earth-bound only by necessity!)

While you're out surfing, do visit others' Aloha Fridays, too. Such as Xmas Dolly's here.

Have a totally tubular Friday, dudes, wherever you're from or wherever you are now. Think of it this way: If it's here that I am, I am here and it is great, for it means I'm alive! (not to sound conceited)

: )

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Get Hoppity with Your Bloggity

Hi, everyone. Angie over at A Simple Kinda Life was sweet enough to send me a virtual Easter basket. Man, can you believe it's already almost Easter? It seems like yesterday that it was January 1, 2010. (For the record, I call it "two thousand and ten"; do you prefer that or "twenty-ten"?)

In any case, the virtual Easter basket project is for a very good cause--Children's Miracle Network (CMN), which helps critically ill children realize their dreams, no matter the cost.

In honor of Angie's tapping me for this kind virtual basket project, I would like to shine the love back to her, as well as to my amazing mother-in-law, wonderful sister-in-law Robin, ever-patient hubby, wondrous kids, and awesomest best friend Mary, all of whom I have notified (not sure whether some of them blog).

If you follow the below rules, Hershey's will donate $10 for every blog post (one per person's URL):

* Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
* Create a blog post of giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger - you
can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
* Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
* Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them
a Basket.
* Leave your link at where you can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s.
* Hershey's is donating $10 per each blog participating in the Better Basket Blog
Hop to Children's Miracle Network (up to a total of $5,000 for blog posts written
by April 4, 2010).
* Please note that only one blog post by each blog URL will count toward the donation.

So, get on the bunny basket bandwagon and tap all your friends and loved ones with a Hershey-CMN basket. It's guaranteed to brighten your day.

Love y'all!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Unsprung

Hello, all! First, get over to Kailani's blog, An Island Life, to vote for your favorite springtime photograph:

Second, I humbly offer a few of my recent photographs of the kiddies, the season, the zoo. Mine are not entered in the contest--I was simply inspired by it.

Third, hope you are getting to spend time with friends and family during the delightful weather we've had in the Missouri-Illinois area lately. Maybe yours has been the same; goodness knows, after record-breaking snows in the East, you certainly deserve it.

What do you think of when you think of Spring? I usually think of two things:
1. March Madness basketball. (Hey, I'm from near Tobacco Road, where newborns either got a tarheel or Dook, I mean Duke, blue painted on their foot before they left the hospital. I grew up watching His Airness, MJ, as well as James Worthy, Brad Daugherty, Hubert Davis, Antawn Jamison, George Lynch, Tyler Hansbrough {okay, I was old when I saw Psycho T}, et al.)
2. Poet T.S. Eliot's line from "The Wasteland" that goes something like "April is the cruellest month,/Breeding lilacs out of the dead land." Natch, I wrote my master's thesis on Eliot (his _Four Quartets_ poem sequence).

And nowadays, I've got new Spring concerns on my mind--getting the wee folks (and me!) out and about. Banishing cabin fever for at least a handful of months. What can I say; I'm NOT a homebody!

So, without further ado: Think Spring!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The inedible heart, indelibly etched

Think I'm bitter. Well, eat this, friend.

It is none other than my own heart in poem-form. It's a million times bitterer and blacker than yours will ever be, I reply most humbly.

In all seriosity, for we live in cities most serious, my last posting was an attempt at being funny, but I've been told that it was a stab in the dark. I meant to clothe the sardonic bitter-heartedness of that post with a veil of inanity, but it just didn't work.

And I apologize. I'm normally fairly, well, um, not exactly happy-go-lucky, but perhaps gappy-lo-hucky is more like it. : )

Again, I wish that the Bombeck contest was every year, to reiterate--because I think there's a lot of talent out there. I would not have wanted to judge this year's contest. My beef, if there is any beef, is that Erma Bombeck was not an eternal grandma. She was a younger woman, and mom, once too, as we all know. So, I'm not sure why the top picks were all about menopause. I won't say that the judges are biased, for that's not what I mean. Just that they have menopause on the brain, ha-ha.

Me, I have anti-menopause on the brain. I'm fighting the men with both my paws, without pause, and with red tooth, nail, and claw, too. I'm naturally in tune with Nature, and I refuse to grow old. Take that, arthritis that runs in my family! Kapow to Parkinson's. I'm kicking the annoying ar*e that is Alzheimer's. I'm decimating the diabetes that decimated my grandparents. Fie on the fat bags under my eyes. And a rancorous, rocky raccoon to the rings under my already dark eyes.

Old age, don't you come around here no more. To paraphrase a poet named Tom. And, without further ado, thank you Stephen Crane (read "In the Desert" here, in preparation for National Poetry Month--April: and my dear readers, all 2 of you. Love ya!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Half-Empty Glass of Sour Grapes

Otherwise known as whine. This is what I've enjoyed to excess, oh, over the last week or so.

Another submission risked, nothing gained. Ha-ha! No, I won't say that. I've added another layer to the hide. That's definitely something.

The biannual (or should I say every-other-year) Bombeck humor-writing competition has come and gone. Gone, leaving talent in its dust. I can't imagine what the judges must have gone through themselves, but evidenced by these nonwinning but winsome submissions ( and and, they surely overlooked some, at the very least, honorable mentions! {If I've left you out, pleeeeeeeezzzzeeee let me know!}

Maybe the judges now have Montezuma's Writing Revenge. That is, they can only write like Faulkner or Joyce, some sort of verbal diarrhea. (If only!) Or perhaps they have contracted a horrible case of hepa-writis after a personality, er, I mean blood, infusion. Transfusion. Uh!

Dang, that was mean of me. But seriously, congrats to the winners. I always give it my best shot and am usually more or less happy with my work--all I can do is what I do and write about what I know. If the chips fall onto menopausal stories, so be it. Admittedly, I am not a Bombeckian--I know a few of her stories and books, but I'm no expert. An admirer, yes. A devotee--not yet.

Check out the self-proclaimed "leftovers" and see what you think. Oh, and here's my UNWINNING essay, too. I will celebrate it like I do an unbirthday--and, hey, since I stopped counting at 29, goodness knows how many submissions have tried and failed. Here's to another glass of Leigh's whine ...

Bombs away--my story was truly da bomb, not garnering even an honorable mention. So, I will dishonorably piss and moan here about it. There. I feel. Better.

If only I could call myself leftovers, too! For now, I'll just settle for a bad case of heartburn.

Cheers, y'all.
: )
My Bouncing Baby Boy Has a Little What?

Dr. Brusque groped. “Hmm.”

Dr. Brusque stroked. Then wiggled.

And finally declared, “It’s a bit small.”

She wasn’t our usual pediatrician, mind you. Dr. Bubbly was on vacation—and had apparently found a replacement with all the bedside graces of Dr. Frankenstein.

My mind raced. My face flushed. My heart clutched.

Then my hormone-ringed anger cup boileth over. (Think the salt on the mountain of margaritas I’d been holding off on ascending for nine long, saltine-studded months.)

“What do you mean ‘small’? As in abnormal? As in in-adequate?”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” she added, cavalier.

Hadn’t she ever heard the old maxim “Hell hath no fury like a momma scorned”?

I began to get the feeling that this doc would gladly tell Winnie the Pooh he’s a fat bastard. Or inform Elmo she’d just fed his piscine pal Dorothy to the cat.

“So what is it, anyway?” I continued, forcing a mom-frontation, however uncomfortable.

After all, no momma wants her new boy—her first—to be, um, underendowed. The nut, I mean butt, of locker-room jokes.

Holiday tunes tintinnabulated in my temporal cortex as she droned something about skull architecture.

Bells pealed as rage peeled back a fine fa├žade of courtesy to expose . . . what?

More breakers of estro-testosterone hitting the shore.

And the fan.

To combat the disbelief surging in my brain, I composed a Christmas song on the spot in honor of Dr. Brusque, may she choke on her wassail.

To the tune of “Silver Bells.”

It goes something like this:

Baby fingers, grasping fingers
Tipped with razorlike nails
In the air there’s a smell of poo-pee.

Children crying, adults sighing
Washing load after load
And at the ped’trician’s you hear

“Fontanelles, fontanelles
They’re very small on your baby
Ha-ha-ha, what a ma
Whose baby is less well endowed”

Stand-in doctor
Uncouth doctor
Saying just what you think
As the mommies rush
To shield their treasures

Hear the insult
Feel the tumult
This is Doc’s big scene
And above all this hubbub
You’ll hear,
“Fontanelles, fontanelles,
They’re very small on your baby
Tra-la-la, what a ma,
Whose baby is less ment’lly endowed.”
In the end, I was too exhausted from obsessing over my baby boy’s pygmy fontanelles to deck the halls—or the stand-in doc—this holiday season.

Friday, March 5, 2010


The final Words Matter Week challenge asks:

What person in your life helped you understand the importance of choosing words carefully? What would you say to them if you met them today?

It's not any great epiphany, and I suspect many of us will have similar thoughts. (Yet I purposefully did not read any blog postings today for WMW just so I could keep my thoughts original.)

But my word heroes are my parents. It hasn't always been easy, mind you, to be their child--nor has it been easy to be my parent!--but I am infinitely grateful that my father read to me from the get-go. I don't remember the words so much as the act. He had to be tired, getting home from work at odd hours, yet still taking time to interact with me through a book.

My mother played her own role by serving as a positive example of a reader. She was often with a newspaper and had a gift for gab besides. (Still does, actually!)

Though neither of them is a writer per se, they are the literal wellspring of a self-defined writer (and editor). For I've wanted to be a writer since, oh, since I can't completely remember.

And to be a writer, you have to love words--and reading is the gateway.

Again, nothing ground-breaking here, but it is the simple, heartfelt truth.

Thankfully, my parents are still with me, though they live several states away. I should say "I love you," to them far more often than I do. Whatever they are, or have done, they have instilled a love of language in me, which says a lot about them.

I might not say anything beyond that other than that I hope I have made them proud. I'm not rich monetarily, but I'm not poor emotionally or intellectually either. Thanks in large part to them.

Without them, I never would have sought out Shakespeare or Eliot or Faulkner or any of the other writers I admire.

In a way, this blog posting could be that love note to them that I've never written.

Maybe I oughta let them know?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What diction to ditch?

Thursday's Words Matter Week challenge asks:

If you had to eliminate one word or phrase from the English language, what would it be? Why?

Ideally, I would send Death packing, both in word and in action. Where he goes after getting a pink slip is his business; he just needs to stay away from humanity!

However, because I could not stop to banish this big, bad bete noire, I will kick something almost equally vile to the curb: ignorance. The practice as well as the word.

Why? For it breeds a majority of our ills. Wherever it dims the path, there are pitfalls to be found!

I could mention a multitude of evil germinants from it--racism, chauvinism, cruelty, and apathy among them--but ignorance marks the spot where the already blighted seed takes root.

Now, you tell me, what are your language bugbears?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pondering Wonder Words and Lit Superheroes

Writers are people who take isolated words and craft them into memorable phrases, stories, poems and plays. Who are the writers who make your heart sing? What is the magic ingredient?

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? My writing over the years would probably indicate so.

Just a brief posting this time in response to today’s Words Matter Week challenge. I’ve been pondering this all day, and there’s just no way I can boil this down to fewer than 9 or so authors. Here are my literary heroes, in no particular order: Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, Mark Twain, Flannery O’Connor, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, and Charles Dickens.

As to the magic bullet of writing? Ah, if I knew the secret sauce, I would probably try to sell it to you now. (ha, ha) Really, I don’t think there is one. Context is everything, and each author I mention above has different talents. Being in love with language is helpful; practicing, and failing at, one’s craft--even sacrificing one’s life or sanity for its sake--is pretty essential; and world wisdom certainly strengthens the work, if not the soul.

Who is your word Wonder-Woman (or man)?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Small Sheik Escaped

Whom haven't experienced a a grammar gaffe?

A spellling snaffoo?

A: peccadillo, of a punctuation, slipup;

Years ago, I myself was stung by a misspelling mishap in which I forgot to uppercase the capital of Alaska (A: Juneau) in a school spelling bee.

As a professional copyeditor and writer--and sometime proofreader and fact-checker--I experience all of the above and more on a regular basis. Not many rise to the level of Jay Leno's "Headlines" segment, however.

One of the funnest and most visually evocative goofs I saw in a manuscript was "A small sheik escaped from her lips." (She meant "shriek.") That one kept me laughing, well, for years. (Thank goodness I caught it before it went to print!)

To get serious for a moment, one I made as a student reporter was that I wrote in a serious book review something to the effect that "you would not typically do that," a very poor juxtaposition against "imagine choking someone for two minutes," when what I meant was an attorney would not typically force the jury to wait out a two-minute period to imagine what it would be like to choke a victim to death, thus illustrating the cruelty and premeditation of that particular crime (in a murder case the book was discussing).

Then there was the local paper's grocery advertisement selling "eight leg chicken fryers." (No, it was not Chernobyl chicken, and I have no idea what they were trying to say.)

And the bulletin board stating "Humane Society Trivia Night Saturday" on top, then just below that, "Meat Shoot Sunday at noon."

Or a journalism professor's tale of a bad headline break in a story about the "Pale-stinians."

In any case, these and many other examples underscore the importance of writing it right, or working triply hard to do one's best in the endeavor(s) of writing and editing.

The importance of being earnest in editing and writing cannot be overstated. For words truly do matter, in everyday conversations and in writing.

The poet on whose work I based my master's thesis might have characterized human life, much less a poet's existence, best as "the wrestle" between words and meaning (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets).

Then again, Hamlet might have been the most succinct.

"Words, words, words" indeed!

What feats of linguistic legerdemain, or lack thereof, have you experienced? Participate in Words Matter Week and run through the language gauntlet, ahem, gantlet to challenge yourself and others to choose their words as carefully as possible. If we don't, our words just might pursue us evermore--to the grave, even--in this ever-digital age.

English major-y stuff: A Bardful of Fun Monkeys

It really shouldn't be this way, but I guess it just might be.

Reformed (or failed, some might say) English majors like myself are invariably interested in Shakespeare.

In a way, the bard is a bit of a substitute for religion, for me. Thy Will be done, so to speak!

So, when I heard of a contest featuring Shakespeare's quotes, I was immediately intrigued.

"Words, words, words," in the words of Hamlet, interest me greatly. Always have. I remember reading the word ptarmigan (basically an Arctic bird) as a child and being enthralled with its look and sound. I turned it over again in my mind and in my mouth, polishing it until it was a smooth stone.

In any case, author Lisa Mantchev is throwing around prospective titles for her newest book, the third in a series of Shakespearean-titled tomes.

She has drawn on Hamlet thus far, with a working title of So Silver-Bright (King John) for her third.

It is for her third title that she seeks submissions.

I'd like to pitch another from Hamlet--that most quotable of Shakespeare's works, if I may say so myself!--that I've always loved.

"Quintessence of dust."

It appears amid a great monologue by Hamlet, who is despairing about the human race and pondering which path he ought to take in his life. There are a few other great candidates in that same speech--namely, "most excellent promontory" and "infinite in faculties," but they just don't have the novelesque ring to them that "quintessence of dust" does. The other best candidate there, which I thought long and hard about using, was "paragon of animals."

I wish I could say I've read Ms. Mantchev's two previous titles, but I haven't. YET! Would I love to pick up Perchance to Dream and Eyes Like Stars--which is echoed, methinks, in a movie I DID just see again, and appreciate more, recently: "2001: A Space Odyssey," as well as its sequel, which basically quotes it ... "My god, it's full of stars!"--absolutely!

You can search for the aforementioned works by Ms. Mantchev here, for those of you looking to gift {or bribe} me with something wondrous strange.

What three-word title would you use, friends, followers, and countrymen? Enter the contest here and you'll enter a brave new world.

One that has such people in it! And it's probably full of sound and fury, as it struts and frets its hour upon the stage.

And now I'll get me to a punnery and then, you Will hope, be heard no more.

Monday, March 1, 2010

All Us in Wordland

In homage to Words Matter Week (, I sculpted this little piece. I hope you like it!

The girl was playing among the blooms in her dictionary one day, for it was a garden-variety tome, when she spotted a trail of three dots. Those dots slipped off the page and soon were rolling down the path toward a hole.

The girl, being quite sharp, followed the trio down the rabbit hole.

And came to a door. Before she could do anything, the door called to her.

"Knock, knock," it said.

"Who's there?" she replied, as you would expect.

"Think," it said.

"Think who?" she asked.

"You're welcome" came the reply. And then the door opened.

She entered a room that seemed to be both shrinking and expanding. In this turvy-topsy place, she spied a table with a bottle upon it.

Moving closer, she saw it had a label affixed to its side. That label was emblazoned with the words "Love No. 9."

No sooner had she read the words than the bottle's opening formed into lips. Its Siren song to her was simply "drink me."

Again, being the bright child that she was, the girl did as instructed. After all, who could not but obey a speaking bottle?

After ingesting the potion, the girl felt as if her heart might shoot out of her chest like a cannon, or that it just might be growing at least three times the size of her body.

Whatever the case, she felt she had arrived at an epiphany.

She had found the things that had mattered most, while in search of a few stray dots that just might have been utterly meaningless.

"Hmm, to think and to love."

She pondered deeply these concepts until she found herself again in the garden. And she knew that beautiful, beginful place for the first time.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just Ten?

Alrighty then, TCM has an ongoing, presumably changing, listing of random people's 10 best movies of all time over here,

My list differs from theirs a little, if you care! Here's mine. Sadly, I'm supposed to include only 10, all of which I have viewed at least once, but I fudge it just a little:

1. Casablanca
2. Brazil (directed by Terry Gilliam; check out this brilliant dystopian vision!)
3. North by Northwest
4. Rear Window
5. Petrified Forest
6. Inherit the Wind
7. Blade Runner
8. The Great Dictator
9. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to...
10. Modern Times
11. Poseidon Adventure (original)
12. Enter the Dragon
13. LOTR trilogy (Okay, this is cheating technically!_

Some of these could possibly perchance perhaps maybe be supplanted once I view "Citizen Kane" and some other so-called classic movies like "Taxi Driver." Then again, maybe not.

What's your top-10 (or 13) list look like?

TCM's 31 Days of Oscar Moodboard

Monday, February 15, 2010

Help a Special Child Afford an Equally Special Bike

The little girl's name is Emma. Her mom's name is Jaime. But she just as easily could be the little girl next door. Your niece. Your child's friend. Your own daughter.

Emma is the victim of an inconceivably brutal act of abuse--shaken baby (or shaken child) syndrome. Her mom manages a blog that I read and enjoy, Revenge of the Book Nerds, and I learned about Emma through her mom's book blog. You can read a little more about Emma's story here,

As a mother myself, I cannot imagine what Jaime is going through, but I pledge to do my best to help her little girl raise money for a special bicycle that will help her build up her cardiovascular system.

Please give what you can, and please spread the good word even if you can't give anything now.

Have a great day, and hold your friends and loved ones close always!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday: Help Haiti Now

Image courtesy of the UK's Telegraph at

I have only one root idea for this post.

Please help however you can--by donating blood, money, or time. Or by dispensing information (tell a friend who tells a friend who tells...)

Find information on the American Red Cross' blog,, about how to donate by texting. It says: "You can donate $10 to Haiti relief by texting “Haiti” to 90999."

Help Haiti now, my friends.