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 http://betterbasket.info/bloghop/ 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!
Leigh

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: http://islandlife808.com/fun-stuff/contests/marchs-photo-contest-voting-is-now-open/

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: http://poems.com/Poets%20Picks/Rusty_Morrison.html) 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 (http://lifejustkeepsgettingweirder.blogspot.com/2010/03/little-entries-that-couldnt.html and http://www.annsrants.com/2010/03/erma-bombeck-writing-contest-my-erma.html and http://joanie19.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/he-thinks-hes-human/#comment-27), 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:

“Fontanelles”
--
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

Langeneaology

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 (http://wordsmatter.naiwe.com/2010/03/01/words-matter-day-1-blog-challenge/#comments), 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.

####