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The Sting of the Bard August 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in People, Sustainable Living, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
12 comments

Which is mightier:  the pen or the sword?

We’ve been having a lively conversation on just this topic  this morning:  Jazz At The Lake 2008.

Which is more apt to bring about lasting change:  the sting of the bard’s barb . . . or poets stooping to pick up trash left by others every few feet?

I, of course, defended the pen (and poets everywhere):

* Thanks for raising awareness with this poem.  The more we talk about issues (littering, prejudice, animal abuse), the more we educate the masses to change their behavior.

After all, one poet cannot possibly stem the tide of styrofoam cups by stopping to pick them up . . . but one poet can turn the tide through effective imagery as you have done here.

Individual responsibility requires that we clean up our own mess, not that we tidy up after everyone else.

Poets use words to inspire. That is the best use of their talents.

[Poets], of course, should not toss styrofoam cups into the tide in [their] haste to share [pointed] observations with the world, but [they] need NOT stoop to pick up trash left behind by others before penning [their] poems.

Moralizing and pontificating about a specific response to a given situation does nothing about the other unresolved messes lying around.

Far better to raise eyebrows with a poem [or prose] so that people keep their own eyes open as they journey through life.

What say you . . . Pen or Sword? 

Which is more likely to turn the tide and bring about lasting change?

* * * * *

On a related note, here’s a thought I’ve had:

Instead of merely WALKING FOR DAYS to raise money and awareness for causes (breast cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.) why not arm the MARCHERS with plastic bags and gloves.  That way, they can spend their time making a real difference to the planet by cleaning up the path as it unfolds before them.

Hang On, The Future Is Next August 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
6 comments

Continued from:  Let The Past Recede From View

* * * * * 

As you read the following statement, ask whether it is true for you:

Down the road, I may need to veer from this path, but in this moment I’m happy as I am and exactly where I want to be.

Or, stated differently, who I am is who I want to be.

If either of these statements apply to you, take a moment to celebrate.  We’ll wait.

{{Pause and Applause}}

When our lives are exactly as we wish them to be, even if just for a moment, we need to celebrate and savor those moments without worrying about what’s coming down the road, or waiting for us around the next bend.

If you’re sailing the seven seas, and the weather is perfect, take your cue from Captain Lovegood:

Sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Watch the scenery. 

Relax into the moment at hand.

Enjoy this moment, it won’t last.  The future soon will be the past.  Day quickly becomes the night.  Fill each moment with delight.  

If you want to maximize your happiness, don’t emulate Captain Sinbad who squanders otherwise perfect moments worrying about storms that may never appear on the horizon.  Don’t allow the uncertainty of the future to mar your enjoyment of this moment ~ a moment you will never experience again. 

Enjoy each moment as it gently unfolds into the next without worrying about what lies ahead, or rushing to reach some desired future destination.

Tomorrow (and its challenges) will arrive soon enough.

Happiness for “a” reason, any reason, is ephemeral, and can be snatched away in the blink of an eye.  In contrast, happiness for no reason is always yours for the asking ~ but only right here, right now.

* * * * *

Tomorrow at noon:  It’s Just Your Imagination

FUN With WORDS: Anagram Antics 6 August 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play.
2 comments

Well, you’ve made it to Wednesday. 

You’re on the downhill run now.  Friday’ll be here before you know it. 

In the meantime, take five!

In FUN With Words: Anagram Antics 5, I tossed out 5 Anagrams for you to enjoy tossing about:

21.  THE EARTHQUAKES –> _ _ _ _     _ _ E _ R     _ _ _ _ E

22.  ELEVEN PLUS TWO –> _ _ E _ _ E     _ _ _ _     _ _ E

23.  PARIS HILTON –> _ _ _ _ _     _ _     _ _ _ R

24.  TOM CRUISE –> _ _     _’_     _ _ _ E R

25.  DAVID LETTERMAN -> _ E R _      _ _ _ _    _ _ _ E     _ _

Here are solutions to those 5 Anagrams (other solutions possible):

21.  THE EARTHQUAKES –> T H A T     Q U E E R     S H A K E

22.  ELEVEN PLUS TWO –> T W E L V E     P L U S     O N E

23.  PARIS HILTON –> S P L I T     N O     H A I R

24.  TOM CRUISE –> S O     I ‘ M     C U T E R

25.  DAVID LETTERMAN -> N E R D      A M I D    L A T E     T V

Did you come up with better solutions for these last 5 challenges? 

      If so, toot your horn below! 

C’mon . . . don’t be shy!  Toot it louder!

LOUDER!!! 

If you’ve enjoyed playing around with Anagrams, but find it too time consuming to come up with the perfect TWIST on your own, check out Wordsmith.org.

You plug in the starting point (either word or phrase) and let Wordsmith do the heavy lifting for you, tossing out possible anagrams at lightning speed.

The Clean (Book)Plate Club August 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Mindfulness, Writing & Writers.
38 comments

In my younger years, if I started a book, I finished it.  Period.  No ifs, ands, or buts.

It didn’t matter if I had borrowed the book from a friend, received it as a gift, checked it out of the library, or purchased it for myself:  once started, I read through to the sometimes bitter end.

That is no longer the case.

If an author hasn’t hooked me in the first 25-50 pages, I close the cover and turn my attention to another book . . . without regret.

I remember the first book I gave myself permission not to finish ~ White Oleander by Janet Fitch.  After seeing the movie, I trotted around to the library, checked out the book, took it home, and eagerly started reading.

In short order, I found myself having to back up and re-read lengthy passages, sometimes more than once.  One paragraph required 5 or 6 futile attempts to ascertain what the author was getting at.

The more pages I turned, the more I felt as if I was reading through gauze.

Rather than clear, crisp sentences, Fitch meandered about, dropping clues  to her intended meaning rather than coming right out and saying what she meant.  No one would accuse Ms. Fitch of being a fan of Strunk and White.

A few examples of White Oleander’s purple prose (using quotes from the book cited in reviews on Amazon.com):

* I am hypnotized by keys, thick fistfuls of them, I can taste their acid galvanization, more precious than wisdom.

* I sat at the empty drafting table next to my mother’s, drawing the way the venetian blinds sliced the light like cheese.  I waited to hear what my mother would say next, but she put her headphones back on, like the period after the end of a sentence.

* I press it within my body.  As the earth presses a lump of prehistoric dung in heat and crushing weight deep under the ground.  I hate him…  A jewel is forming inside my body.  No, it’s not my heart.  This is harder, cold and clean.  I wrap myself around this new jewel, cradle it within me.

Many poets out there loved the book.  I did not.  After 57 and 1/2 pages, I gave up (mid-chapter) and returned White Oleander to the library.

Toni Morrison’s Paradise met the same fate a few weeks later ~ dispatched back to the library stacks when I tired of trudging through opaque lyricism that mired the flow of the story for me.

I don’t mind re-reading a poem a time or two to extract its essence (as long as it’s not novella in length), but novels aren’t poems.  When reading fiction, I am disinclined to decipher pages filled with obtuse passages.

This past year, I’ve selected, sampled, and set aside more books than I’ve consented to read cover to cover.  I make no apology for this freedom I’ve afforded myself:

* Unlike turning away (mid-sentence) from a tedious speaker, returning an unappealing book to the shelf unread is not rude.

* Unless someone is holding a gun to my head, or I’m being compensated for my time, I see no reason to keep turning pages that offer me nothing in return.

* No longer a dewy-eyed optimist, I refuse to believe that tedious writing, ill-formed characters, and laborious story lines will  transform themselves if I forge ahead.

* Slogging through swamp water to reach a  distant destination holds little appeal.  I no longer expect to be surprised by a satisfactory ending after a dismal start.

In reading, like life, the journey matters more (to me) than the destination.  I refuse to plod along a rocky road riddled with potholes solely to satisfy my curiosity about an unseen destination which may not be worth the trek.

If I don’t like the way a book tastes after sampling a few bites, I spit it out . . . as discretely as possible.

* * * * *

Are you a member of the Clean (Book)Plate Club?  Do you feel compelled to finish a book once started?  Or do you shove tasteless literary morsels aside and reach for something more appealing to your palate?

Related post: WP Daily Prompt ~Bookworm