jump to navigation

Writing Without Distracting November 5, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

220px-Arthur-Pyle_The_Enchanter_MerlinDiversity of vocabulary and a playful turn of phrase add depth and flavor when they complement the prose without distracting from the missive.

That said, writers who douse paragraph after paragraph with lexicon that is not a natural part of their vocabulary remind me of cooks who over-season food rather than letting it speak for itself.

When a writer writes with thesaurus in hand to impress readers with a depth of vocabulary not possessed in common measure, I lose interest and turn my attention elsewhere.

Not that I’m missed.

Aah . . . that’s better!

But what does our distinguished panel of experts have to say?

Woodstock-&-SnoopyJohn D. MacDonald: My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly.

Blaise Pascal: Anything that is written to please the author is worthless.

Marianne Moore: Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others.

Samuel Johnson:  Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

SnoopyAlfred North Whitehead: A man really writes for an audience of about ten persons. Of course, if others like it, that is clear gain.  But if those ten are satisfied, he is content.

Mickey Spillane:  Those big shot writers . . . could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.


Grace Metalious: I’m a lousy writer; a helluva lot of people have got lousy taste.

Snoopy2John Hall Wheelock:  Most writers are in a state of gloom a good deal of the time; they need perpetual reassurance.

Georges Simenon:  Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.

Peter De Vries:  I love being a writer.  What I can’t stand is the paperwork.

Related post:  Defending the Chamois (Silver in the Barn)

Chicken Soup . . . For The Writer In You September 22, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Writing & Writers.

Chicken-Little-PosterFor those of you who enjoy writing and storytelling, Kate Crimmons shared a link that might be of interest:

Upcoming Book Topics in the Chicken Soup Series

Topics come and go.  Right now, submissions are being welcomed on the following topics:

Alzheimer’s and Dementias Family Caregiving ~ October 30, 2015.

Angels and Miracles ~ November 30, 2015.

Blended Families ~ June 30, 2016.

Dreams and Synchronicities ~ March 31, 2016.

Military Families ~ November 30, 2015.

My Very Good, Very Bad Cat ~ The deadline date for story and poem submissions has been extended to SEPTEMBER 27, 2015.

My Very Good, Very Bad Dog ~ The deadline date for story and poem submissions has been extended to SEPTEMBER 27, 2015.

Stories about Teachers and Teaching ~ June 30, 2016.

The Joy of Less ~ October 30, 2015.

The Spirit of America ~ November 30, 2015.

Donald-Duck-DivingThe site contains additional information and submission guidelines.

C’mon . . . don’t be Chicken!

Dive in!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Experience Inspiration & Wonder July 15, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Writing & Writers.

poems_inspiration-1Life is in the details, the cobwebs in the corners, the echoes of tarnished memories tap dancing over dusty hardwood floors.

Writers bring ashes of the past to the surface, quilting tapestries of interwoven gilded threads.

Our words, when real, create connection.

Stories reel us in when driven by believable characters residing in the “real world” (even if that world is make believe ~ like Harry Potter and Hogwart’s).

When characters feel real, we understand where they’re coming from, we relate to their challenges, we feel their pain, and we want to see them succeed.

We keep turning pages.  We wonder what’s coming next.

220px-TennieldumdeeWonder is why I love Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter, and Alice ~> the perfect juxtaposition between familiar elements (British nanny, boarding school) with unfamiliar elements (tea parties on the ceiling, shifting staircases, rabbit holes).

These stories cast charming and disarming spells:  Expelliarmus!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related:  The Stanton Effect: Inspiration from a TED Talk (El Space ~ The Blog of L. Marie) * Write From Experience (El Space) * Invoking Wonder (El Space)

Sun Temples and Druids June 17, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, People, Travel & Leisure.

In 1979, my grandfather pondered the mysteries of ancient settlers in the New World, including Druids in Vermont, after receiving America B.C., by Barry Fell from my father for his birthday.

While the book has its critics, my grandfather enjoyed exploring the subject matter:

3/2 ~ “I have received the America B.C. Book. It has a good picture of the South Woodstock Temple “dirt cellar.” It is evident it is an ancient settler building. The markings are a dedication to (Gel) Sun God.”

Intrigued, my grandfather gathered a group to visit the Temple in South Woodstock in May (after the snow melted and the mud dried):

5/1 ~ “I had to write a little to inform you that a group of us, namely Leon and Marjorie, Al & Judy, Margaret and I, attended services to the Sun at the Temple.  We ran into the owner of the land and told him what we were looking for. I took 2 flash pictures inside with the party standing about. It is a sizable room. Mr. Reeves knew me by sight from Town Meetings. There is a fire place near the Temple structure. It is also of ancient origin, I think. The road was pretty fair and dried out. The symbols of fertility have been moved to a museum for safe keeping. Chapter 14 in America B.C.

A few weeks later, he shared his photos with Joseph B. Johnson, who had served as 70th Governor of Vermont in the 1950’s:

6/25 ~ “Another event of the year is past. The Parade of Springfield Alumni. Lucia took Margaret and I to the Johnson’s at 10. An open car picked us up at 10:30. Joe was in front and Margaret, Virginia and I were in back. We are now the second car of old people. A doubtful honor for us.

“I took along a picture of the South Woodstock Temple. It was news to both Joe and Virginia. Joe may get a copy of the book. Margaret is OK after the parade. It is nearing dinner time and we have berries. So I am all set. The sun is out and porch livable. And so we drift into Summer.”

The next year, he expanded his reading to encompass the Druids of the Old World:

1/14 ~ “It is about time I wrote thanking you for Christmas gifts. Margaret is reading the book on the Druids. They were a secretive sort of religious people. The So. Woodstock building seems to match other buildings in Europe, Scotland, and England.”

That’s one of the delights of reading.  The end of a book need not be the end of the inquiry.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related articles:  The Mysterious Stone Chambers of New England (The South Woodstock complex consists of stone chambers, standing stones, and cairns in a natural bowl surrounded by hills and ridges. Besides having close proximity to waterways connecting with the Connecticut River, the beehive structures would have been interconnected by an intricate network of footpaths.)

Related posts re dad’s dad:  The Other Side of Retirement * How NOT To Cook A Turkey * Pragmatic Thoughts on Life & Death * Wry Observations on Dry Politics * Flying Squirrels & Other Silly Bits * Quaint Colloquialisms * DIY Projects, Work Bees, & No Cavities! * Until The Worm Turns * A Real Straight Shooter

Mr. Turner Is A Real Oinker! May 16, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor.

Although Mr. Turner got stellar reviews from film critics, BFF and I had to rely on subtitles to clarify the garbled, mumbled, marbles-in-the-mouth, muddy dialogue.

Not that all the utterances required translation.

Far from it.

We heard the many, many, many, many, many, many, many pig-like grunts and groans from the lead actor loud and clear.

Leaving us to conclude that Mr. Turner is a real oinker!


Aah . . . that’s better!

Synchronicity x 3! April 13, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Magick & Mystery, Mindfulness.

Mickey-SurfingThree times in three days, synchronicity has whispered at my door:

(1) On Thursday, in her comment on A Quagmire of Obtuse Construction, Barbara (Silver in the Barn) mentioned The Elements of Style. 

That night, the Final Jeopardy answer was . . . The Elements of Style.

2014-10-31 15-41-03_0012a

(2) On Friday, I watched Annie (2014) for the first time.

What an adorable attitude <~ Annie’s . . . not Ms. Hannigan’s.

That night, as I resumed my bedtime reading of A Woman’s Place, the author mentioned Annie:

Still I wondered whether Kikit was in bed and what babies were sleeping with her and if she was singing them to sleep in her child-sweet soprano ~ my little Annie, singing her favorite, “Tomorrow,” pretending that I was listening and beaming with pride. ~ p. 176

The Universe’s orchestration made me grin.

I just happened to stumble into the only mention of Annie in the 405-page book on the very night I watched Annie . . . for the first time ever.

Perfect timing!  Especially since I only managed to read 10 pages that night before turning out the light.

(3) On Saturday, I added Annie (1982) (with Carol Burnett) and Annie (1999) (with Kathy Bates) to my Netflix queue.  Ever helpful, Netflix tossed out a suggestion ~> Black Narcissus (1947).  Glancing at the synopsis, I ignored the suggestion.

Maybe I shouldn’t have.

On Sunday, while scrolling through TV channels at lunch, I saw Black Narcissus being aired on PBS.

Maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something?  Let’s hope it’s NOT whispering, “Get thee to a nunnery!”

Aah . . . that’s better! 

A Sense of Wonder January 2, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Life Balance, Nature.

As Rachel Carson considered the impact of pesticides and DDT on the environment, she realized she did not want to undertake a writing project of that magnitude, but she knew the book needed to be written.

When every author she contacted declined to get involved, she decided to write an article, just that.

As she researched, the material grew.  She contracted to write a short book, and allocated 7 months to the project.  Two and 1/2 years later, she was still researching and hadn’t started writing.

A year before her death from cancer at the age of 56, Silent Spring was published.

The chemical companies were outraged and lambasted her.  She was called a paranoid old woman.  She was likened to Joseph McCarthy and his “witch”hunt.

It was publicity her publisher could never have afforded.

President Kennedy assigned a task force to look into the effects of DDT and other pesticides on the environment.

The EPA was born.  DDT was banned.

Rachel Carson continued to make speeches, addressing audiences about the dangers until shortly before her death in 1964.

Some authors create ripples.  Rachel Carson started a tidal wave.

Aah . . . that’s better!

“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

I Am December 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Life Balance.

Tom Shadyak, director of Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Liar Liar, Patch Adams, and other films sustained a broken arm and a concussion in a biking accident in 2007.

Despondent over the side effects of the concussion, he thought about death and, from there, began to ask what he wanted to share with the world before he died.

From those questions, he chose his next project.

In I AM, Shadyac asks some of today’s most profound thinkers, two questions:

* What’s wrong with our world?
* What can we do about it?

Several interviews touched upon the view that excess consumption and consumerism is a form of mental illness resulting from social conditioning which values competition more than cooperation.

In order to simplify his life, Tom sold his 17,000 square foot mansion and moved to a mobile home park in Malibu.

He rides a bike to work.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Speaking of I Am ~> today I Am over at Lively Twist as part of Timi’s series Did We Do Any Learning [3].

You may also be interested in Learning [1] and/or Learning [2].

CHEF Left A Bad Taste In My Mouth November 5, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Happiness, Humor.

Snoopy5Some movies leave a bad taste in your mouth.

It’s not just that you feel you wasted your time by watching it, but you feel they wasted their time by filming it, marketing it, distributing it.

CHEF is just such a movie:

* Chef Carl Casper loses his job at a prominent L.A. restaurant when he refuses to compromise his creative integrity in the kitchen.

* He teams up with his pre-pubescent son to launch a food truck in Miami.

* He reignites his passion in the kitchen by pressing paninis and frying yucca.

A plausible premise poorly prepared and implausibly served . . . with plot holes large enough to swallow a Food Truck.

The biggest problem is the time line.

In a single day, a short 24-hours, Chef and his 8-year-old son manage to clean out a dilapidated, worn out 1988 food truck (delivered with food rotting in the fridge), shop for ALL the supplies they need to trick it out, install new kitchen equipment (flat top, stove, fryers, etc.), buy food, test out the menu, and get the messed up exterior of the food truck  professionally painted ~> effectively turning a rotting pumpkin into a gilded chariot overnight.

Cinderella couldn’t have accomplished that level of transformation with the help of her fairy godmother’s magic wand.

By Day #2, Chef, his son, and a faithful sous chef (who dropped everything to fly across country and get the show on the road) start serving Hot Cubanos on South Beach.  To immediate acclaim.

A police officer parts the crowd to ask Chef and his Merry Men if they have a permit to serve food.

They do!

How’d that happen?  When’d that happen?

But wait!

Satisfied that they have perfected the panini, the trio commence a road trip across country, stopping for beignets in New Orleans ~ a promised treat for the son.  In the time it takes to eat a bag of beignets and brush the sugar dust from their lips, a line forms around the block with people anxious to eat Chef’s Cuban sandwiches.  They’re just that good!

Who knew that a food truck license from Miami would transfer to the Big Easy?

But wait!  They continue on to California, with a pit stop for Pit Bar-B-Q in Austin Texas.  Chef believes he has reclaimed his Culinary Integrity by serving cubans, sliders, beignets, and fried yucca ~> not exactly the inspired menu we envisioned him creating when he quit his job because he couldn’t exercise complete Creative Control in the kitchen.

Now, instead of crafting Molten Lava Cakes around frozen ganache, he and his merry band are sliding ham & cheese sandwiches out of a panini press, frying up yucca, and serving barbecue sliders . . . on store-bought rolls.


I could think up a more creative menu than that and I don’t even own a Chef’s knife.

Or a magic wand.

But wait!

The food critic who panned the Chef’s mundane menu falls in love with Chef’s glorified grilled cheese sandwiches and offers to partner with him by opening up a new restaurant.

Of course he does.

So Chef abandons the food truck (and his longed for autonomy and creative freedom) to work for someone else.  Again.

Why do I have the feeling of déjà vu?

Oh, right . . . because he’s right back where he started.

Of course, by following his heart, Chef reunites with his son, re-kindles the flame with his ex-wife, and they remarry.

In his new restaurant.

How’s that for a happily-ever-after ending?

Aah . . . that’s better!

For NaNoWriMo ~ Two Top 7 Lists November 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.


Top 7 Reasons Writers Don’t Read More:

7. They are too busy writing, writing, madly writing.

6. Their reading skills are rusty.

5. They are feeding Tweets to Twitter every 5 minutes (WWPD => 2456).

4. They are bleeding from self-inflicted wounds.

3. They’re worn out from inviting Facebook friends to “check it out.”

2. They are lost in a maze of amazing words.

1. They are daydreaming about writing fame and fortune.


Top 7 Reasons Writers Should Read More:

7. To take a break from writing, writing, madly writing.

6. To improve reading (and editing) skills.

5. To expand vocabulary and explore the amazing world of words.

4. To shift perspective and look through life via another lens.

3. To strengthen writing muscles by hearing other writers’ voices.

2. To imagine giving (and receiving) constructive criticism with panache.

1. Sheer enjoyment and escapism.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you read more than you write?  Or write more than you read?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,456 other followers