My favorite writer, Mark Helprin, once adjured an audience, of which I had the privilege of being a part, to pay attention to the world around us. This is critical for writers. The topic was touched on with respect to dialog in a previous post.
Paying even a modicum of attention to what’s happening in your family, town, or on the news will supply fodder for countless stories. Market Basket, a lowly supermarket chain, has in recent weeks given us enough storylines, characters, and sub-plots to fill several books, a few movies, and at least one mini-series. Just watch; they’re coming.
What to do? asks the humble scribe of blog posts. With so much to comment on, there isn’t time to do justice to every one. My solution to the problem is to do an occasional dump of thoughts rattling around in this mostly empty skull. This is the first in this blog, although it tends to be a regular ploy in my other blog, Limping in the Light, e.g. here.
Here are a few things backed up in my mental septic system:
Here’s a fun question for you literati: When you go to a bookstore, what section do you go to first? Your answers should lead to a lot of fascinating follow-up discussion.
I recently read a best-selling novel with a couple of egregious problems. This wasn’t mass market pop lit such as “Twilight” or some transcribed TV-show passing itself off as literature. This was a highly regarded, serious novel. Two things stood out to me. One was the author’s obsession with using the word “impossibly” to modify an adjective (e.g. “impossibly large”). I have no problem with that in principle. The aforementioned Helprin will use it occasionally. But this author used it five times in the one book! (Don’t ask me how I noticed this. It’s a curse.)
Another sentence read: “…each <whatever> was more perfect than last.” Some things can be more perfect than others? How does that work?
Although the book received mixed reviews, it won awards and was on the NY Times best-seller list for several weeks. Yet I can’t get anyone to even read my book. It must not be as perfect as that one. ((sigh))
Off the book topic: What’s with people endlessly circling parking lots looking for the closest space? In spite of sky-high gas prices and rampant obesity and the supposed busy-ness of everyone, they waste what’s in scarcity – time and fuel – to avoid what they desperately need: exercise. Just park the stinkin’ car!
Have you noticed that owning chickens is hot?
In CVS (a firm already infamous for its extravagant waste of receipt paper, q.v. photo) yesterday, I bought one item that came in a bag. The clerk at the counter put it in one of their plastic CVS bags. I asked her why I needed a bag to put the bag in. She had no answer, perhaps because there is none. Punch in folks, it’s time to bag the bags. We don’t need a bag to carry one item… unless you’re hiding something.
I usually ask for no bag, but the checkout people, who must be on the payroll of the bag manufacturer, sometimes beat me to it. When I ask them (kindly) to keep their bag, more often than not, they stuff it in the trash. Someone’s missing the point.
Living on a busy street, my front lawn serves as de facto trash dump for passing cars. We can learn a lot about the kind of person who has no regard for other people’s property or the cleanliness of the town they live in or drive through. The following items make up 90% of the trash strewn across my lawn:
- losing lottery tickets
- beer cans
- fast food containers
Who are the slobs who trash our neighborhoods? The list speaks for itself. It makes me think of the old Disney cartoon. It’s cute, but painful.
A word to the wise: Today’s phones, whether cell or landline, have the annoying trait of inserting a brief delay between the time the phone is answered and when it will register your voice. Thus, you call someone and they generally respond, “…lo!” My advice: answer the call and count to 2-1000 before speaking.
Reminds me of the old Bob and Ray routine with the fictional reporter Wally Ballou starting his on-the-spot reports by saying, “…ly Ballou here.”
When I was a kid and when my kids were kids, punishment usually meant being sent to your room. A more appropriate form of discipline today would be, “That’s it, I’ve had it with you. Come out of your room and stay out all afternoon!” Much more effective.
That was an impossibly easy post…