Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Almost Perfect by Julie Ortolon

Reviewed by Michala T.

Maddy, Christine, and Amy have come to support their best friend, Jane Redding, who has just recently published her first book, “How to Have a Perfect Life”. They are amazed and just super thrilled for Jane but are also a bit envious that Jane has somehow done what they have yet to do, which is to have the perfect life.

The three of them get to talking and of course being best friends, they are quick to point out the other’s fears and obstacles. They decide to risk it all after Jane’s success and use her book to propel them towards their own perfect lives. In this first book, which by the way this is a trilogy, Maddy Hills is the main character.

Maddy turned away from her first love, Joe, when she was in high school thanks to winning a full scholarship to an awesome art school. She didn’t look back or regret her choice either. At least, that’s what she tells herself every day. After meeting an accountant and marrying him, she suffers through his slow death thanks to cancer. In the midst of caring for him and making sure his business was always a constant success, she ended up turning away from her passion of art.

NaNoWrMo: Judy

Now that I have finish this years NaNoWrMo write  50,000 words in 30 days I thought I would share with you our readers just a sample of what I have been working on. Let me warn you that this is very rough and there are mistakes here. But I just want to put this out there and see what kind of feedback it receives.  

By: William G. Muir
Judy O'Brian was not your average girl. It could be said that she was a tomboy, if that term was still a valid one in the twenty-first century. But Judy didn't like that term at all. A tomboy implied that she was a girl that had boy habits. While she wasn't into playing with dolls or keeping a diary, those things that were often thought to be girlie.

She wasn't into anything having to do with boys either.

If you were to ask Judy how she described herself, she would call herself a Geek Girl. Instead of writing a secret diary she blogged her every thought for the world to read. She kept in touch with her Geek Girl friends across both the country and the world through both Twitter and Facebook. When she was done with her school work she liked getting online and playing the popular MMORPG such as World of Warcraft.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Things to do with Your Website

Cleaning Up Your Website Can Be A Beautiful Thing

By Michala T.

Are you pleased with the shape your site is in? Are you gettng the amount of traffic you would like? I'm no expert at the technicalities in blogging and/or website perfectionists but I can say that I feel pretty pleased and proud of my own site. I mean in less than four months we've reached a record number over over 8,000 views. (Of course we have all you readers to thank for that!) But I would like to accept some of that success due to our talents here as well as our blog design.
So here are just a few things I think are important things to be mindful of. I'm quite certain there are a million more things that can be done to be more successful, and we are all learning together. Enjoy!

Remove Your Background Music:

            Have you ever heard someone make the statement that you can’t please everybody at once? This is one way you can definitely lose more people faster than you can gain them. Music is such a wide, vast field and the tastes and dislikes are just too much to take a chance on. You may love Eminem or New Kids on the Block but that doesn’t mean everybody who comes across your blog does. And if they don’t like the song playing they are likely to close out that webpage quicker than a smack on the arm of a blood sucking mosquito bite.

Please & Thank You

By Michala T.

A hearty thank you to all you wonderful readers of BiteMyBook. I speak for all of us here (who work so hard to create ingenious posts that are not only filled with creativity but also inspire people like YOU to want to return again and again to OUR favorite BLOG) when I say we are amazingly grateful for each and every one of you!

Thanksgiving has come and gone (and man how fast it did!). I also want to say THANK YOU to the contributors of this blog. Some of you who follow us on facebook as well as here know that myself, William, and Julie each took upon ourselves this November an exciting journey. We each embarked upon an adventure stoked with high adrenalin, wild and sometimes stressful days, and thoroughly and completely maddening, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. We each decided to take upon ourselves, as if we didn’t have enough going on in our personal and professional lives, to create a novel of at least 50,000 words in only 30 days. (Yeah…we never claimed to be sane you know!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anne Frank Diary of a Young Girl: Classic Corner

By JccKeith

I thought I’d take a break from outing the darker, more insane or unknown sides of the authors of some of the best known classics.  One can only dip into their lives for so long before beginning to think that madness was perhaps a common characteristic among them.  This week for the classic corner I thought I’d focus on one author’s depressing and yet inspiring story. 

“This is a remarkable book.  Written by a young – and the young are not afraid of telling the truth – it is one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read.  Anne Frank’ account of the changes wrought upon eight people hiding out from the Nazis for two years during the occupation of Holland, living in constant fear and isolation, imprisoned not only by the terrible outward circumstances of war but inwardly by themselves, made me intimately and shockingly aware of war’s greatest evil – the degradation of the human spirit.
At the same time, Anne’s diary makes poignantly clear the ultimate shining nobility of that spirit.  Despite the horror and the humiliation of their daily lives, these people never gave up… reading it is a rich and rewarding experience.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt on Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank was a girl of only thirteen when she received a diary for her birthday.  She began writing in it on a Sunday, June 14, 1942.  Her first few entries set the stage for what is to come.  She describes her family’s circumstances and history in the following diary entry:

“My father was thirty-six when he married my mother, who was then twenty-five.  My sister Margot was born in 1926 in Frankfort-on-Main, I followed on June 12, 1929, and, as we are Jewish, we emigrated to Holland in 1933, where my father was appointed Managing Director of Travies N.V.  This firm is in close relationship with the firm of Kolen & Co. in the same building, of which my father is a partner.
The rest of our family, however, felt the full impact of Hitler’s anti-Jewish laws, so life was filled with anxiety.  In 1938 after the pogroms, my two uncles (my mother’s brothers) escaped to the U.S.A.  My old grandmother came to us, she was then seventy-three.  After May 1940 good times rapidly fled: first the war, then the capitulation, followed by the arrival of the Germans, which is when the sufferings of us Jews really began.

Anti-Jewish decrees followed each other in quick succession.  Jews must wear a yellow star, Jews must hand in their bicycles, Jews are banned from trains and are forbidden to drive.  Jews are only allowed to do their shopping between three and five o’clock and then only in shops which bear the placard “Jewish shop.”  Jews must be indoors by eight o’clock and cannot even sit in their own gardens after that hour.  Jews are forbidden to visit theaters, cinemas, and other places of entertainment.  Jews may not take part in public sports.  Swimming baths, tennis courts, hockey fields, and other sports grounds are all prohibited to them.  Jews may not visit Christians.  Jews must go to Jewish schools and many more restrictions of a similar kind.” – Saturday 20 June 1942. 

Anne Frank, despite all of the restrictions, writes the expected diary entries of a teenage girl.  She has friends and boy friends and they go about their lives, go to school and things of that nature.

It is on Sunday afternoon on July 5, 1942 that her entire world is turned upside down.  At three o’clock, someone knocked on their door.  Suddenly Margot comes into the room and informs everyone that their father has received a “call-up.”  Anne gives us the details of what this means for the family:

“It was a great shock to me, a call-up; everyone knows what that means.  I picture concentration camps and lonely cells – should we allow him to be doomed to this?  “Of course he won’t go,” declared Margot, while we waited together.  “Mummy has gone to the Van Daans (a friend who works with Anne’s Frank’s father) to discuss whether we should move into our hiding place tomorrow.  The Van Daans are going with us, so we shall be seven in all.”
“… When we were alone together in our bedroom, Margot told me that the call-up was not for Daddy, but for her.  I was more frightened than ever and began to cry.  Margot is sixteen; would they really take girls of that age away alone?”

Anne Frank goes on to document her and her family’s existence in the small annex in detail.  She is in hiding ultimately with seven other people after one more occupant joined them.  It is a hard adjustment for all and uncomfortable in many ways.

Anne speaks of the world’s interest in the war going on around them and on her own thoughts about America’s and England’s involvement in a May 22, 1944 entry:

“The invasion still hasn’t come yet; it’s no exaggeration to say that all Amsterdam, all Holland, yes, the whole west coast of Europe, right down to Spain, talks about the invasion day and night, debates about it, and makes bets on it and … hopes.

The suspense is rising to a climax.  By no means everyone we had regarded as “good” Dutch have stuck to their faith in the English; by no means everyone think the English bluff a masterly piece of strategy, oh no, the people want to see deeds at last, great, heroic deeds.  Nobody sees beyond his own nose, no one thinks that the English are fighting for their own land and their own people, everyone thinks that it’s their duty to save Holland, as quickly and as well as they can.

What obligations have the English towards us?  How have the Dutch earned the generous help that they seem so explicitly to expect?”

We also see in Anne’s own words her struggles as a teenage girl who does not feel ‘daughterly love’ for her mother.  Also, her sexual desires are emerging and she yearns to have one person with whom she can confide everything.  She seeks this relationship with a fellow teenager, Peter, who is in hiding with them but ultimately only finds it in her diary she calls Kitty.  Her words show us the depths of her struggles in a July 1944 entry:

“How can I make it clear to him that what appears easy and attractive will drag him down into the depths, depths where there is no comfort to be found, no friends and no beauty, depths from which it is almost impossible to raise oneself?

We all live, but we don’t know the why or the wherefore.  We all live with the object of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.  We three (herself, Peter and Margot) have been brought up in good circles, we have the chance to learn, the possibility of attaining something, we have all reason to hope for much happiness, but… we must earn it for ourselves.  And that is never easy.  You must work and do good, not be lazy and gamble, if you wish to earn happiness.  Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.”

Another entry speaks of her feelings on her parents:

“Daddy and Mummy have always thoroughly spoiled me, were sweet to me, defended me, and have done all that parents could do.  And yet I’ve felt so terribly lonely for a long time, so left out, neglected, and misunderstood… How is it Daddy was never any support to me in my struggle, why did he completely miss the mark when he wanted to offer me a helping hand?”

She chronicles her thoughts and her experiences until August 1, 1944.  On August 4, 1944, the Grune Polezi raided the “Secret Annexe.”  They had been betrayed.  All were arrested and sent to Dutch and German concentration camps.  Anne’s father, Otto Frank was the only survivor of their family and only two of the other occupants survived the Dutch concentration camps.

  • Anne Frank died of typhus in the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.  She died two weeks before the camp was liberated and two months before all of Holland was liberated and three months before her sixteenth birthday. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Word of the Day: Rime

Come on in boys and girls. Gather yourselves around the fire. Is it cold out there tonight? I would expect so. We are coming to the end of the year, when the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder. Soon there will be frost on the ground when you walk outside in the mornings. Not to mention the ice on the car's windshield. And if you have an older car it will take you a couple tries to get it started. So before the winter sets in let us look at a relevant word, rime; and see what has to say.   

 Rime (rime) \RAHYM\, noun;

1. A coating of tiny, white, granular ice particles, caused by the rapid freezing of water droplets.

Make sure that you bundle up before you head back out. Also see how many times you can use rime in your conversations. And do make sure to leave us an example as well. Thank You. 

TROS BOOK-Updated with Newest Chapter!

Have you been reading The Rinse of Suppression? Well, the newest chapter is up and ready to be viewed and it ever getting a lot of views. I might be led to believe this is a favorite chapter for some reason. :)  Check it out HERE. And if you haven't been reading it consider doing so. Its an excellent read. (In small bites of course!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Word of the Day: Fainaigue

So here you are again. I know what you are up to. You come in here to check out the latest Word of the Day. That is great, the more the merrier. Just keep your eyes open. Your boss could be lurking anywhere. He could be there by the coffee machine. Or is that him in the copier room. He is a crafty one. He tries to make it look like he is busy working, just like everyone else. But in reality he is waiting to find the workers that are surfing the web when the should be working. So be careful dear viewers.

Fainaigue (fai-naigue) \fuh-NEYG\, verb;

1. To shrink; evade work or responsibility

2. To renege at cards.

Well it looks like the clock has struck 5 o'clock. As you leave work do make sure to use the word fainaigue when talking about your day. Make sure to leave us an example down below. Thank you. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Word of the Day: Amydaliform

Once again boys and girls it is time to play the world most popular daytime tv game show, What is that Word. Here is our question for the day. This word often describes the shape of Elf eyes in some fantasy novels?

Amydaliform (a-myg-da-li-form) \uh-MIG-duh-luh-fawrm\, adjective

1. shaped like an almond 

That is correct. The answer we were looking for was amydaliform. Until next time make sure to try and fit amydaliform into your conversation. Plus don't forget to share with us your examples. Thank you.

Sunday Funny

Ah Cats

By JccKeith

Devious little beasts those cats.  They seem so harmless when they're sleeping but I believe they wake up as soon as they know you're asleep and silently go about their schemes.  It's a total conspiracy.

I was going to post some inspirational picture today.  I had in mind something perhaps original or beautiful or captivating.  Then as I scrolled through various pictures online I realized that it's getting late and I have a novel to finish.  I can be inspirational next time.

I feel a little bad, though, not offering something helpful or inspiring. So here it is, your pick me up: "buck up buttercup, tomorrow is another day."

That has to be the most useless and generalized expression ever.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Word of the Day: Tergiversate

Welcome back boys and girls. I sure hope that everybody have been enjoying their holiday weekend so far. We are entering the home stretch. Not only is the end of the year in sight; the winter holiday time has begun as well. So before we all get caught up in the hectic pace of the holiday season how about a Word of the Day.  

Tergiversate (ter·gi·ver·sate) /TUR-ji-ver-seyt/, verb;

1. to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.

2. to turn renegade.

Once again I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Make sure to try and use tergiversate in a conversation. And please leave us an example down below. Thank you. 

Born In The USA: Lyric Review

By JccKeith

Born in the U.S.A. is a song written and performed by Bruce Springsteen in 1984.  Everyone knows this song, the radio stations used to play it like it was our national anthem or something.  Actually, I take that back, I don't think I have ever heard any radio station play our national anthem. So let me rephrase, radio stations play this song a lot.  

Anyone who knows a bit about this song knows Reagan used it in his campaign.  You probably also know most people don't listen to the lyrics.  They only hear the chorus where Springsteen emphatically sings, "I was born in the U.S.A."  And of course you are familiar with the fact that the lyrics are a far cry from patriotism.

In the way of opening up the chance for other viewpoints on the matter, I'll include here what Wikipedia said a couple of people said about the song in American Quarterly.  Be forewarned, you'll need boots to wade through it, 

"Two scholars writing in the journal American Quarterly explored the song as a lament for the embattled working-class identity.  Structurally, they noted that "the anthemic chorus contrasted with the verses' desperate narrative," a tension which informs an understanding of the song's overall meaning: the nationalist chorus continuously overwhelms the desperation and sacrifice relayed in the verses.  They point out that the imagery of the Vietnam War could be read as metaphor for "the social and economic siege of American blue-collar communities" at large, and that lyrics discussing economic devastation are likely symbolic for the effect of blind nationalism upon the working class.  The song as a whole, they felt, laments the destabilization of the economics and politics protecting the "industrial working class" in the 1970s and early 1980s, leaving only "a deafening but hollow national pride." 

  • For those of you out there who read that and thought, wait... what?  Or if you were like me and only read a few words here and there and thought, this is awfully complicated, then here's your chance to read a less wordy explanation. 

The lyrics by Bruce Springsteen:

Born down in a dead man's town [I was born in a crappy nowhere town] 

The first kick I took was when I hit the ground [Life has just been one problem after another] 

You end up like a dog that's been beat too much [I've lost all hope, I've given up] 

Until you spend half your life just covering up [I just realized half my pathetic life is already gone] 

Born in the U.S.A, I was born in the U.S.A. [Guess where he was born?]

I was born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A. [Yeah that's right, the United States of America]  

Got in a little hometown jam [Got into a little problem in my hometown] 

So they put a rifle in my hand [So they drafted him, put him into the military] 

Sent me off to a foreign land [Sent him to Vietnam - it's this whole other country]

To go and kill the yellow man [Fight in the Vietnam War - Asians were at one time referred to as yellow men due to the color of their skin]

Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A. 

I was born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A. 

Come back home to the refinery  [Refinery here is meant to symbolize how in small towns there is usually only one big business/warehouse/manufacturing company and that company is where most people in the area are employed - basically, it's the only job in town]  

Hiring man said, "Son, if it was up to me" [The guy who does the hiring gives him the old "It's not me, it's them" crap when he turns him down.  Hiring guy doesn't want to take responsibility for saying no;  The reason the hiring guy says no is implied by the rest of the song to be because the character singing is a Vietnam vet.  Many Americans saw returning vets as "baby killers" due to publicized atrocities committed by a select few soldiers during the war.  Vietnam vets were scorned by a large percentage of the American people despite the fact that they had been drafted to go fight and had no choice.]  

Went down to see my V.A. man [ V.A. is veterans affairs.  Character has to resort to going and pleading for help from the V.A.]

He said, "Son, don't you understand" [V.A. guy tells the character that Vietnam vets are just S.O.L.  It's not their fault, it's just that the American public has turned against them.  There isn't anything the V.A. guy can do.  So basically, the vet is told, sorry about your luck, your country has turned against you - even the people of your hometown.] 

I had a brother at Khe Sanh [His brother fought in the Battle of Khe Sanh in Vietnam] 

Fighting off the Viet Cong [To be technical, the Viet Cong were actually the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam.  The Battle of Khe Sanh was fought against the North Vietnamese Army not the Viet Cong.  However, in many movies and in popular culture, many Americans don't know the difference between the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, they simply refer to all enemies in Vietnam as Viet Cong so that may be why Springsteen used the term Viet Cong.  He most likely chose the Battle of Khe Sanh because it was a long bloody battle that America did eventually win.  Shortly after winning, Americans then abandoned Khe Sanh.  It is a media symbol of the futility of the entire Vietnam War.]  

They're still there, he's all gone [Further emphasizing how futile and deadly the Vietnam War was, Springsteen says here that the enemy is still there but his brother is dead.  So if the enemy is still there, why did we fight the war in the first place?  Why did we send so many to their death?] 

He had a woman he loved in Siagon [His brother fell in love with a Vietnamese woman, many American soldiers did fall in love with women there] 

I got a picture of him in her arms now [All he has now is a picture of the woman with his brother's son - there may be some reference here to the fact of how difficult it was for soldiers who fell in love and wanted to bring their woman home to the U.S. The U.S. public had a low opinion of the Vietnamese - another reference to futility, why fight a war to save people Americans didn't even like?]  

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary [He is still living in his crappy nowhere hometown.  There is the imagery of how his life is crappy and he's going nowhere and could very well end up in prison.  Some vets did end up in there when they resorted to lives of crime since they couldn't make a living honestly.  Also, when people go to prison, they are separated from society, much as he, the vet, has been separated from society due to what he has been through in Vietnam] Out by the gas fires of the refinery [The refinery is where everyone in the area works and yet he couldn't get a job there, so he stands outside the refinery and again is outside of everyone else in town - separated  from them] 

I'm then years burnin down the road [It's been ten years since he got back from Vietnam]

Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go [He can't escape what he's been through, can't run away from what happened in Vietnam or what has happened to him since he came back home.  He has no help anywhere, he has nowhere to go.  The idea is that America sends its kids to war and then turns its back on them when they get back home.] 

Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A. 

Born in the U.S.A., I'm a long gone daddy in the U.S.A. 

Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A. 

Born in the U.S.A., I'm a cool rocking daddy in the U.S.A. 

There you have it.  This song everyone loves to sing along to is nothing more than an anti-war anthem.  It sounds all patriotic but isn't what it seems.  It is Bruce Springsteen speaking up for the scorned Vietnam War vets.  Now you know.  But hey, keep on singing along, the Boss won't mind.  He's had almost thirty years to come to terms with the fact that a large portion of his audience have no idea what he is singing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Classic Corner: Hemingway A Hot Mess

By JccKeith

I gotta say, this guy is a piece of work all on his own.  To be brief, the guy was a raging alcoholic, adventurer, ladies man who wrote some classic works of literature and then committed suicide. 

I could elaborate with all that pretty wording about how his straightforward prose and understated style had a hefty influence on future generations.  But to be honest, I rarely use words like prose and understated style, they just aren’t me.  To even understand what that statement about prose and style mean, you would just have to read his work and trust me, there is plenty of it.  Mostly written between 1920 and 1950, he produced seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works not including the suitcase full of unpublished stories his wife lost at the airport.

That's Him:
Ernest Hemingway
That’s pretty much the jist of it.  Ernest Miller Hemingway lived quite the life filled with lots of war and four marriages, a few affairs and friendships with some other amazing people.  This experience shows in his work and is part of what makes them classics. He wrote mostly about tough people like soldiers, hunters and bullfighters who are full of courage and honesty.  These people are portrayed against the often cruel and brutal modern society.  These people, as many people do in rough situations, lose hope and faith.

But that’s not what you’re here to read about.  You want more.  You want the juicy sordid details of his crazy life.  Honestly, it took a while to find any good bits although I knew they were there.  Most sites are just a summarized biography and leave out the best parts.

Young Hemingway
We’ll skip over his early life by saying his parents were well off, his dad was a doctor, his mom a musician.  He grew up in a suburb of Chicago.  After graduating high school, at the age of seventeen he started his career as a writer at The Kansas City Star, in, you guessed it, Kansas City.  But that Hemingway, he wasn’t happy with just being a joe schmoe reporter, he had to run off and enlist.  The United States had entered WWI and Hemingway joined as a volunteer ambulance driver in Italy.  He was shipped to New York and then to Paris just as the city was being bombed by the Germans.  Finally he made it to Italian front. 

**Now take notes of all of these things I’m telling you about him, they all come into play in his writing**

It was in Italy he met John Dos Passos (another important novelist of the Lost Generation).  Right after he arrived in Milan, Hemingway was dispatched to a munitions factory explosion where he helped gather first the complete bodies of the dead and then the pieces of bodies of the rest of the dead.  A short time later, in July (he only arrived in Italy in June), Hemingway was injured from mortar fire on his way back from a delivery to soldiers on the front line. He received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery because despite his injury, he carried an Italian soldier to safety. Hemingway had sustained substantial injuries to both legs and had to have an immediate operation then spent five days at the field hospital before being transferred.  He was in the hospital for six months where he met a couple of other important writers, “Chink” Doman-Smith and Henry Serrano Villard.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Word of the Day: Fob

Oh my...I wasn't expecting you so soon. I have barely had a moment to myself. So if you will forgive me, I need a few seconds to prepare the Word of the Day. Please come on in and make yourself at home. There are refreshments on the coffee table for you. I think there is coffee and tea, along with some finger sandwiches.

I will be back. Just give me a second.

There you are, you will never believe this. The fault is all mine. It seems I forgot to wind my fob watch and therefore it stopped working about two hours ago. I do apologize for the inconvenience. Let us have a look at today's word.
Fob \ FOB \   
1. A short chain, usually with a medallion or similar ornament, worn hanging from a pocket. 
2. A small pocket just below the waistline in trousers for a watch, keys, change, etc.

1. To cheat someone by substituting something spurious or inferior. 
2. To put (someone) off by deception or trickery.

Once again I am so sorry for any inconvenience that I may have caused you. I will really try to have my fob watch in working order the next time you come around. In the mean time please share what you have learned here today with both your friends as well with us. Thank you.


Hasbro! Racist?

By Michala T. 

Hasbro better put on their boxing gear! Suit up and get ready to fight! No…not the six year old who wrote this letter (or the 27 year old mother who probably had more to do with this than she’s willing to admit) but all the other people who are now growing more confident about their refusal to be overgeneralized, stigmitized, and made to feel like one of the little people. Because the little people are standing up!

I get that there are people out there who have endured racism and face the hatred of ignorant people. These people feel they have been wronged and I'm confident a great many of them have indeed been done so. And these people are getting younger and younger by the day. With internet bullying almost every child out there has been wronged by someone. Bad enough many of them endure this within the confines of their homes they now see it online too!
But I'm just overly curious where such a thought (for a six year old) could have come from.  Children learn from their environment and I'm curious just how angry this mother is about other ways she has been wronged for it to spill over onto her child. And  I am sure that where one child in such a case exists...there are more. If a six year old can notice (and take offense) to the few female faces in the game Guess Who you can likely expect others to start popping up.

What to do with those skeletons

By: Michala T.

        I find this a funny quote by Shaw but one that every writer really should be well acquainted with. I’m not absolutely certain why people originally begin writing. There are those who began writing to escape the trials of childhood, those who longed to share with others how they survived some horrific experience, and there are those who wrote because they had a passion to help others so they put their knowledge all in one place: a book. 

        Andrew Blackman, author of On the Holloway Road, said during an interview that after he watched the World Trade Center towers burn he went home, ‘caked in the dust of other people’s bodies’ and decided he would not die doing something that he didn’t want to be doing. So he began writing. Can you imagine the feeling of death not just all around you but on your clothes, up your nose, in your ears? Now can you imagine going to your own death having never done something that gave you joy? This is what Blackman experienced; it changed his world.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

This Week's List: My Top 9 Protest Slogans

By JccKeith

Alright I’d like to start off by saying, things are getting progressively worse.  I would also like to state that this is not my personal list of phrases but the results of yet another slightly unsuccessful poll.  Then I would throw in that this week’s list all started with an article about the upcoming movie The Hobbit.

Yeah that’s right, I said The Hobbit.  I logged onto Yahoo and saw an article about PETA planning to protest the openings of the movie because several animals died during the filming.  Technically, the animals died at their farm where they were housed inbetween filming but whatever.  This led to my finding that grand protest phrase, “Meat Is Murder!” 

As many of you know by now, my mind does strange things- it took that phrase and ran with it.  I thought, what a great thing to make a list of, protest sayings.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  People love protest slogans, I mean who doesn’t like to shout.  Protests are awesome stuff.  Anyway, that’s how this all got started. 

So I thought, who cares what my favorite slogans are, I’ll use that fancy smancy thing called facebook and take a poll.  Anyone who read my Top Eleven Costumes for Halloween knows, my last poll yielded disappointing results with only about ten people actually giving answers.  But hey, here’s to trying again!

For this poll, I not only polled the same 335 people from last time but added a whole other 469.  That made my grand total of people polled to be 804.  So without further ado, here are the answers they gave me and the percentage of the total vote, in the order the answers were received:

1.       “I’m Mildly Upset”  - .0012%
2.       “God hates those who claim to know what God hates”  - .0012%
3.       “Mince Meat, Not Words”  - .0012%
4.       “Men are cattle, Women are Chattel”  - .0012%
5.       “Listen, Asshole” - .0012%
6.       “Fuck the Pope but wear a condom”  - .0012%
7.       “We are only trying to get us some peace”  - .0012%
8.       Silence – no really just silence, no answer, no acknowledgment a question had been asked
9.       I choose not to answer because it is Tuesday or because Thanksgiving is in two days or because I have blocked your posts from my newsfeed and never saw the question or I never saw the question because I never check facebook or I ignored the question because I want people to think I never check facebook or I do not participate in polls of any sort or I have no idea what you’re talking about or I do not exist in my own mind or I have been temporarily sucked into an alternate dimension or I am with the Dr.    – 99%

There you have it.  As you may have noticed, with your astute math skills, that the percentages once again do not add up to 100% it is because I suck at math.  I particularly suck at calculating percentages involved in poll taking.  It is also because only 5 people and one cat responded out of the 804 polled.  It is further out of whack because some of the people gave more than one answer and because it is Tuesday.  Also, my cat was sleeping when I asked.

As I stated above, things are getting worse when it comes to my polls.  Perhaps my polling procedures are lax or ineffectual.  Perhaps it is because I only gave all 804 an hour with which to notice the question of the hundreds of things in their newsfeeds and to respond.  It could also be that I include animals in my polls and they tend to not respond or offer some incoherent meow or wuff instead of a legitimate answer.

I am noticing an awful lot of excuses in this post so I will excuse myself entirely and be done with it.  Good night good people of the world.  I doubt this post enriched your vast storehouse of knowledge within that brain of yours but maybe it gave you a chuckle.

Entertaining The Senses Edition: Milosz

By: Michala T.

A Song on the End of the World

By Czeslaw Milosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.
On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.
And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.
Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.

Video borrowed from Youtube courtesy of The Lovely Universe

Tuesday Photo: A Writer Dreaming

Spanish writer Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos.

Word of the Day: Tartar

Hello students, school has begun! I am in command. (students moan) What was that? For that little out burst each and everyone of you will spend three hours in detention, today, immediately after school in the basement. What do you think you are doing...Word of the Day? What kind of man desecrates a defenseless text book? I got a good mind to to slap your fat face. You are destroying your life with that...with that garbage. Alright Mister Word of the Day, I want you to tell me...No better yet stand up and tell the class; WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE? (adapted from the Twisted Sister I Wanna Rock music video)   

Tartar (tar-tar) \TAHR-ter\, noun;
1. a person of irritable or violent temper
2. one that proves to be unexpectedly formidable
Now you go out and spread the word. I want you to tell everyone you know about the word tartar. That will be your burden to bear in life. And you must leave us an example down below. Thank you very much. 

Joseph Conrad says...

By Michala T.

A writing tip based on Joseph Conrad’s quote:

“A man’s most open actions have a secret side to them.”

Look at one of your leading characters. It could be your protagonist or their sidekick. It might be your antagonist. Whoever you are writing today, right now, give them a secret. Look at the way they behave and the words they speak. Now look beneath them and find out what their secret it. They have one. I promise you they do. You just have to find it.

When you find out what this secret is, continue writing with this character but now look at how their actions slowly begin to reveal throughout the story what their secret is. Is this secret going to crush them when found out? Is it going to break up their relationship? Is it going to get them fired? Is it that they are dying and refuse to write that will?
Once you find their secret, writing the character will be so much more fun!

Monday, November 19, 2012

What They Said: Thomas Paine Being A Pain

By JccKeith


“The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” – Thomas Paine Janurary 29, 1737 – June 8, 1809

Now that is some serious wisdom people.  But I cannot disagree more.  I will overlook Mr. Paine’s shortsightedness, however, since he existed prior to the technological age. 

I say, do not delay, let your anger overtake you!  Rise I say!  Rise to the occasion!  Now is the time, right when you are angriest, to search through the object of your anger’s emails, phone calls, text messages, snail mail and personal belongings. 

Grab your own phone and fire off a few angry text messages.  Say the nastiest, most terrible things you can think of while they’re fresh in your head.  Bring up old wrongs and past misdeeds.  Let them inspire your anger onward.  Make an angry phone call and leave that hateful message.  If you don’t act now, how can you possibly be expected to properly overreact? 

Emotional drama requires immediate response to wrongs done to you whether actual or merely perceived.  You will need that anger to fuel your rage.  You will need that energy to carry you through the impending argument.  Let your anger go, let it rest a while, and you risk losing it forever!

Blind emotional fury requires anger to ignite.  Strike while the iron is hot.  Anger is one of those wonderful emotions that once fueled is easily increased beyond control.  It has that amazing snow ball effect. You become angry about one thing then everything enrages you and fuels the growing fire.

I mean come on, Mr. Paine, everyone knows the best remedy for anger is really getting it all off your chest.  Let the other person have it!  Don’t hold back, why should you carry the burden of pain all on your own?  Be mean, be vindictive and be right.  Don’t let reason have its way with your mind, no sir, block out all rationality in exchange for anger.

If you cannot search the home or car of whoever made you angry, or cannot find your own phone or can’t act right away then don’t be dissuaded.  Refuse to let go of that anger, keep it simmering there just beneath the surface.  Use the time to plot your revenge.  After all, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Seriously, Thomas Paine was a brilliant man.  His statement is simple and to the point.  The best way to calm down is just to give it some time.  Anger is an instant emotion and not a rational one.  It rapidly gives way to reason.  So while the above litany was amusing, it is unfortunately how some people react to being wronged.  

Don’t be one of them.

What They Said Edition: Truman Capote

By: Michala T. 

When asked what are some of your writing habits, Capote replied:

I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don't use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.
The Paris Review, Issue 16, 1957

I personally do not smoke (anymore) and I've never drank coffee, though I do enjoy a hot chocolate every now and again. I can, however, completely understand where he is coming from when he said he can't think unless he is lying down. I love the ideas that I get in those moments right before I fall asleep. The problem is...when you are so close to sleeping you either 1.) are too lazy to get up to write the idea down, or 2.) fall asleep and forget the idea upon waking.  Now, I have found the perfect solution to this problem. Keep a recorder beside your bed so you can just hit the record button and voila! Idea saved and sleep embraced.

Word of the Day: Helter-Skelter

Sorry for the irregularity in posting of the Word of the Day lately. I have been working on a project; so my mind has been elsewhere. You could go so far a saying it has been really helter-skelter. But don't worry I am here with offering to you today. I am sorry for not sticking to the schedule better, and I will try and stay more focused in the days to come.  

Helter-Skelter (hel-ter-skel-ter)\HEL-ter-SKEL-ter\, adverb;

1. in headlong and disorderly haste

2. in a haphazard manner; without regard for order

Like I said I will try to be more regular in my posting. But as always try and work the word helter-skelter in your conversation today. And please leave us an example down below. Thank You.

Kill Your Productivity in 5 Easy Steps

By Michala T.

1.     Let hesitation rule you!

Whether you are starting a new novel, a new line of a poem, or even a new chapter in your autobiography you are likely going to meet the buzzkill named Hesitation. He knocks on your door and there goes all your potential creativity…all your productivity is stalled. And hesitation comes in many forms: planning, outlining, researching, reviewing feedback, or editing & proofreading your previous work.

2.     Dream BIG, Work BIG!

Dreaming big is great. Unfortunately those BIG dreams require SMALL baby steps. You need to scale down your BIG ideas to SMALL, executable concepts.  Once you have a solid outline of your SMALL steps you can easily see yourself making strides towards that BIG dream. Revisit your SMALL steps and make regular changes as you progress.

3.     Attempt to do it all in one sitting.

Any project requires serious creative mo-jo and maintaining momentum is a hard thing to do. It’s exactly that reason people attempt to get it all done in one day or one month or even one hour. The problem sets in when your momentum begins to dwindle. The best way to curb this from happening is to make the project a routine project. Do a little every day, or even a lot every day. But it must be a routine because your brain gets used to this routine and goes into that space where it begins creating the mo-jo needed to do what it is you are trying to get done. This also makes your project more manageable.

4.     Say YES to everyone!

Whether you are a boss of your own web-based company, a mother of four, or a part-time freelance writer, EVERYBODY has people who come to them asking for something. “Can you write this 300 word article?” “Can you make cupcakes for the spirit drive this weekend?” “Can you reschedule the meeting and send the memo to everybody under the Orion’s Constellation?” Learn to say no! How important is your project? If you continue saying yes to everybody you are only saying NO to yourself that many times!! It’s great to help people and to give of yourself but you can’t ALWAYS do that and still manage to give to yourself too. Say NO. And then say, “I’ll help out on the next one.” Or “I can’t do that but I know someone else you might want to ask.” Let someone else say YES for a change. And if they don’t, don’t feel guilty. Your project is important. Say Yes to it for a change.

5.     Stick to the Rules!

Sometimes the rules are made to be broken. YOU know YOU better than any self-help book, any blogger with tips, and any published writer with the ‘how to score big’ book out there. Breaking routines, habits, and going off the road most taken is sometimes going to be exactly what you need to help recharge those batteries and get back into the action.

So what do you do that ruins your productivity?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Photo: Renegade Cows

Cows on Vacation
By JccKeith (That is not my cow in the photo)

First off, to all of you doubters out there, I'd like to point out that anything is possible.  On a more rational note, whoever did this photoshopping did an excellent job, I mean, look at the water and there is even a shadow for the cow on it.  Those are mad skills. Clearly this person had a lot of time on their hands.  I wish I wasted my time as productively as this photoshopper.

Secondly, I would just like to say that I cannot rule out the possibility that cows can play with dolphins (or porpoises whatever).  Perhaps this is a special cow who can not only swim remarkably well but can also jump out of the water similar to the way dolphins do.  Maybe this cow was lost as a calf and adopted and raised by dolphins.  Maybe he doesn't know he is supposed to be a cow.

Lastly, I feel it would have been a much better photo if the cow were water skiing instead of just randomly jumping.  I mean, really.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Revolutionize Your Thinking

By JccKeith

It’s time for a revolution people!  Wake up and smell the coffee.  Actually, wake up and smell the stench of something rotten.  Seriously people, this is my day to rant and this is it.  How many people have to roam the streets homeless and hungry before we stop going about our lives as though there is no problem? 

How many innocent people must be killed to destroy one monster hiding among them?  How long will we look the other way while tragedies occur all over the world, people live and die miserably and we bicker amongst ourselves about not getting what we deserve? 

Was your coffee from McDonald’s this morning too hot?  Did it burn your tongue?  Awww… you poor thing, you should sue.  Did that woman at the Homemade Pie Kitchen not give you a big enough scoop of ice cream?  You should complain.  Did your coworker get that promotion at work instead of you?  You should talk about him/her behind their back to others. 

Curse You Technology!
Was it too cold this morning for you, did you have to put on some gloves?  Awww… that must have been terrible.  Are your shoes wearing out, need to run off to the nearest store and buy a new pair?  Maybe your steak was a little too done at the restaurant?  Is your new iPhone not working the way you want it to?  Is your internet running a little slow?  Is your Halo game lagging?  Maybe it’s worse than all of that, maybe you have no cell phone service wherever you’re resting your comfortably clothed fanny.

Revolution is at hand, it’s time for a changing of our ways of thinking.  I’m not asking everyone to give up their lives and join the Peace Corps or give all of their belongings away and serve the poor.  I’m just saying that as people we need to stop focusing on the minute ridiculous details of our own individual lives.

Look around and see that not only is the US economy in trouble, everyone is in trouble.  This world is falling apart around us.  People are not caring about people.  We are focusing on our differences in culture, political affiliation, religious beliefs and nationality.  We should be focusing on what binds us all together, on our commonality as members of humanity. 

I’m just asking people to make a difference by refusing to continue the trend of narcissism overtaking the world.  Be a rebel and don’t complain about your cell phone for an entire day.  Practice a random act of kindness.  Pay it forward and all that benevolent stuff.  Stop being so petty. 

The next time you find yourself about to complain about something, ask yourself if your complaint will serve any useful purpose, will it benefit anyone, will it make any difference at all other than contributing to ruining someone else’s day or perpetuating a negative environment?  The next time someone deliberately antagonizes you or is mean to you, really piss them off by being nice in return.  Smile, compliment them, refuse to engage in a meaningless and useless argument.

For future reference however, I would like to state that I will continue to complain as I see fit over anything that perturbs me in any way because my complaints are always justified.  Also, I will make a point of stating my opinion whenever someone voices theirs because my opinion is that important that it should always be known to everyone at all times.  Now see how ridiculous and arrogant that sounds?

Happy Thanksgiving anyway.   Now go out and be grateful for all that you do have, no matter how small or meager that may be.  If you are able, share the wealth even if it’s only a smile. J