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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)

Definitions September 5, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play.

A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

An insect that makes you like flies better.

Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

A no-it-all.

A story you tell to one person at a time.

A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.

The pain that drives you to extraction.

One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.

An honest opinion openly expressed.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source: e-mail from unknown author (sent by Joe M.) 

Building To The Punchline June 13, 2015

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

Andrew Stanton begins his TED talk with a joke about three men in a bar in the Scottish Highlands ~ a backpacking tourist, a bartender, and an old man.

He uses the joke as a tool to convey compelling storytelling:

* The old man engages the audience, drawing us into his world and revealing his character as he shares his tale with a strong Scottish brogue.

* He makes us care as he explains how he built the bar, constructed the stone wall out front, and installed planks on the pier . . . “with me bare hands.”

* The old man claims center stage with the sole speaking role, yet all three characters are necessary.  None is extraneous.  The tourist provides the reason for the telling of the tale.  The bartender’s presence establishes that the old man is not exaggerating.

* In the same way he crafted the bar, the stone wall, and the pier, the old man builds his story on a firm foundation, one piece at a time.  He keeps the finish line in mind.  He never veers off course.  He steers the story to its predetermined end.


* He creates drama (“anticipation mingled with uncertainty”) as he decries the fact that he’s not called “MacGregor the Bar Builder” or”MacGregor the Stone Wall Builder” or “MacGregor the Pier Builder.”

Now he’s got us!

We’re curious.  We want to hear the end of the story.  We want to know what he IS called.  We are ready for the reveal . . .

* When he delivers the punch line, he doesn’t complete the sentence. He allows the thought to hang mid-air.  He doesn’t spell it out.  He doesn’t beat us over the head.  He doesn’t insult our intelligence.  He doesn’t reveal his actual nickname.

He allows us to follow the breadcrumbs and connect the dots.

He’s given us 2 + 2 and leaves it to the born problem solver in each of us to fill in the blanks and come up with the solution.

And we do.

Mickey-OKSince he constructed his tale with the same precision he used when building the bar, the stone wall, and the pier, we lay the last piece with confidence.

There’s no wiggle room.  We cannot misplace his meaning.

“Och, mon . . . ye must be MacGregor the Story Teller!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

First published: L. Marie’s Blog ~ The Stanton Effect: Building To The Punchline

From See To Shining See May 21, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Mindfulness, Nature, Word Play.

Florida is not all blue skies and palm trees.

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We also enjoy pink spring blossoms.

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Framed by palm fronds.

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And budding families of Sandhill Cranes.


Brilliant reds dot the landscape.


While Great White Egrets patrol for lizards al fresco.


Gardens may be a wild riot of competing colors.


Or a single shade of shade-loving ground cover.


That’s why I keep my eyes open when prowling from see to shining see!


Here . . . see for yourself:

Aah . . . that’s better!

Definition of Service April 15, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Word Play.

250px-New_Orleans_City_of_Old_Romance_and_New_Opportunity_Crop_p_23_MoneybagsHave you ever wondered how the Internal Revenue Service got its name?

Doesn’t the word “service” seem at odds with its function?

I’ve never been able to reconcile “taking money” and “raiding piggy banks” with the dictionary definition of “service.”

Until today.

3D-CowWhile waiting in line at the Post Office to pay my taxes, I overheard two farmers talking.

One of them said he had hired a bull to service a few cows.

Now I understand why it’s called the Internal Revenue Service.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Inspiration:  email from unknown author (sent by Joe M.)

BTW:  Ever notice when you put “The” and “IRS” together it spells “Theirs”?

A Quagmire of Obtuse Construction April 9, 2015

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

Sometimes wading through the written word is like getting sucked into an imbroglio of briars and quicksand.

Instead of building from Point A to Point B, certain writers circle around the point they are trying to express, using as many ostentatious, esoteric, and cumbersome words as possible.

Cautious readers must wear hip boots or waders to protect against muck, mire, and the occasional thorn. 

When I can’t follow a writer’s line of reasoning on a subject with which I am conversant, I assume the problem lies with the writer and not the reader.  :mrgreen:

Lest you accuse me of hubris, I followed the less than pellucid wanderings, wonderings, mutterings, and meanderings of Kant, Hume, Sartre, Descartes, and Socrates as a Philosophy major in college . . . without major mishap.

In law school, I studied and digested 75 page “briefs” of the United States Supreme Court . . . with only rare indigestion or stomach upset resulting from the effort.

Based on these experiences, it is my reasoned opinion that good writers, even those espousing philosophical musings, manage to convey complex ideology in a straightforward manner without resorting to obscure references and labyrinthine reasoning.

They bring readers into the fold, rather than leaving them out in the cold.

When writers obfuscate, that propensity may stem from a lack of mental clarity or acuity on their part.  Perhaps they haven’t yet grasped what it is they are attempting to say.

Even if that appears the most ostensible or plausible explanation, I try to be charitable and give them the benefit of the doubt.

After all, if we didn’t know what we wanted to say, would we say anything?

In some cases, I suspect that lack of clarity in sentence after ghastly sentence stems from a latent desire to confuse and mislead readers, by throwing them off the scent.

I know that seems counter-intuitive but watching readers scratch their heads or stall in their tracks may provide befuddled or bemused writers with an ego boost derived from delusions of adequacy.

Who knows?

* He who writes carelessly makes first and foremost the confession that he himself does not place any great value on his thoughts. For the enthusiasm which inspires the unflagging endurance necessary for discovering the clearest, most forceful and most attractive form of expressing our thoughts is begotten only by the conviction of their weightiness and truth – just as we employ silver or golden caskets only for sacred things or priceless works of art. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

* I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.  ~ Blaise Pascal

Aah . . . that’s better!

What about you?  Have you ever waded into a writer’s work and become lost in a quagmire of obtuse construction?  What did you do?

Did you beat a hasty retreat or wallow a while longer?

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

Skeletons In A Cryptic Crypt March 3, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People, Word Play.

180px-Leonardo_Skeleton_1511A quest in the quire for the bones of the squire

A quick question posed to the right quarters

A quizzical quip about the queen’s mingled bedfellows

Is she queen consort . . . or consorting quean?

Inquiring minds want to get to the bottom of this box of bones!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  A Box of Bones (Kate Shrewsday)

London’s history overflows with quires, squires, inquiries, quips, quests, inquests, and queens.  To learn more lore, you might wade into London by Edward Rutherfurd ~ “a glorious pageant spanning two thousand years.”

Not enough time to ingest a thousand pages spanning two thousand years on the Thames?  Swing by L. Marie’s blog for my guest post set in a Scottish pub ~> The Stanton Effect: Building to the Punchline.

7 Pearls of Dubious Pedigree January 27, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People, Word Play.

Every so often, I toss flotsam, jetsam, and/or detritus overboard in order to keep synapses firing at optimal efficiency.

Here for your consideration are 7 Pearls of Dubious Pedigree:

Ringling Museum 018c1.  Judgment is discernment.

Judgment gives us the ability to weigh options and choose between competing priorities.  We would be lost without it.

Fundraisers unite
with one common goal ~ to take
your money and run

Even if you give ALL opposing ideas, thoughts, and opinions the benefit of the doubt, that doesn’t mean they possess any inherent validity.

Some ideas are ignorant, idiotic, and/or just plain evil.

Not convinced?  Keep reading . . .

2. Rejecting Social Acceptability.

Next time you’re in a restaurant (or, better still, the bowling alley!), reach over and grab a handful of French fries or a slice of pizza from your neighbors.

See what happens.


3.  The Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project.

If parents can’t make equitable distributions between 2-3 offspring, how would society do so for everyone?

“How come Mozart got a GRAND PIANO and I just got a stupid harmonica?”

“Be glad it’s not a rock, Charlie Brown.”

3D-Cow4.  Why are carnivores averse to cannibalism?

Why are cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys gobbled up while horses, dogs, cats, and rodents are shunned by everyone but Andrew Zimmern?

Why are we willing to donate our organs to science . . . but not to someone’s breakfast table?

5.  A “Pay It Forward” Pyramid Scheme.

There’s a Pay It Forward chain letter circulating through cyber space.

When I saw it for the first time, I refrained from leaving a comment on the post because I did NOT want to be selected to win an “unspecified surprise” . . . not if it meant agreeing to add five more people to the chain by offering to send them an unspecified surprise if they would each agree to add five more people to the chain.


Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  Ad Nauseum.  The whole thing is just too forced and phony.  A pyramid scheme gone awry.

I’m happy to perform “good deeds” and “random acts of kindness” on an ad hoc basis, but I don’t like gifts with strings attached.

And, even if I enjoyed being manipulated via cyber strings, I’m not going to agree to send out 5 surprises in exchange for one surprise I might not even like.

“Be glad it’s not a rock, Charlie Brown.”

When we are mindful, ample opportunities to be kind appear in our In Box every day . . . without the necessity of entering into contrived cyber contracts.

IMGP1368a6. Happiness is ‘eeling.

Laughter each day keeps the doctor away.

He who laughs, lasts. ~ Mary Pettibone Poole

And even if you don’t get better, you’ll feel better.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

Except the doctor.  But ‘eel get over it!

Eek . . . an eel!
Grasping on to my heel!
Whilst wrapped in chain

Oh what a sight
I shudder with fright
But ‘eel steal my pain

All’s well that ends well

The Eel that Time Remembered (Kate Shrewsday)

448px-Alice_05a-1116x14927.  No Fungus, Please.

When I was a kid, I ate a poisonous mushroom in the backyard and had to have my stomach pumped.

It left a bad taste in my mouth.

That’s why I refuse to eat fungus.

If ever I get around to writing a Vegetarian Cookbook, it will NOT include any recipes featuring mushrooms, toadstools, or truffles.

I’ll call it, No Fungus, Please!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related Posts:  13 Pieces of Potpourri * 13 Unpolished Gems . . . One Stone7 More Unpolished Stones

Homemade Cards and FOXY Gifts December 9, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Humor, Word Play.

I’m a frugal Scot at heart.

The idea of paying Hallmark $4 (or more) for a piece of card stock with a few uninspired impersonal words printed on it seems the opposite of frugal.

So, time permitting, I flex my creativity chakra and make cards from scratch ~ like this 30th Anniversary Booklet that BFF is holding:

2014-06-16 11-36-59_0004

Decisions . . . Decisions . . .

The booklet goes on for pages and pages about ways to celebrate our 30th ~ including going on a safari to watch a Zebra chasing a Lion:

2014-06-16 11-37-22_0005

“I  K~E~E~E~L~L  You!”

This year, one of our nieces turned 18.  She wants a pet fox “one day.”  We decided to get her something FOXY for her birthday.

Here’s the card I created to go with the present:

2014-11-18 19-57-12_0023

I had no problem finding illustrations for the card.

Who knew that you could find so many FOXY items for sale?  From hats to scarves to mittens to socks!

2014-11-18 19-58-51_0027

From t-shirts to earrings to stuffed animals to night lights.

2014-11-18 19-57-55_0025

That FOXY Night Light gave me a Bright Idea!

2014-11-18 19-58-05_0026

I’m sure you’re wondering what we got her for her birthday.  Here’s a hint:

2014-11-27 13-05-33_0023

And here’s the FOXY reveal:

2014-11-27 13-10-32_0025

Yes . . . it’s a horse.

2014-11-27 13-11-52_0001

But I think it’s FOXY!

Aah . . . that’s better!

An Unlimited Limerick November 12, 2014

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

Something about the cadence and rhyme of limericks always teases a smile out of me.

I don’t mind a few made up words that stretch language to its limits.

There’s something fun about limericks
Especially those that boast gimmericks
They make us smile
And ponder awhile
On the sleight of tongue trickericks

Here’s to the liberal literary license of limericks!

After all, where would Dr. Seuss be
If he had limited his vocabulary
To words already written
Would we be as smitten
If it hadn’t called it a Truffula tree?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you enjoy limericks?  With sleight of tongue trickericks?  Are you a fan of the bawdier the better rhymes . . . featuring folks from Nantucket?



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