Compost: Procrastination

Every writer I know, including me, procrastinates. We tell ourselves and others how much we love to write, how it is our passion, our reason for being, what gives meaning to our lives – and then we postpone this activity in order to do the dishes, go to the store to buy cheese, or watch an episode of Law & Order that we’ve seen twice before.

Perhaps this is why I was so charmed when I read that Leonardo da Vinci was also a dedicated procrastinator. He worked on the Mona Lisa for fifteen years. He probably only finished The Last Supper because his patron got tired of waiting and threatened to cut off his money. When he died he left fewer than 30 paintings, most of them unfinished; and right before his death he apologized “to God and Man for leaving so much undone.”

Me and Leonardo da Vinci. I am in good company.

 

Haiku Friday: Mosquitoes

Here’s my haiku for today, on the subject of Mosquitoes:

don’t squish mosquitoes
bloodsuckers are in the chain
good will toward bugs

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Sharing History: Lifestyles & Leisure in the 90s

More info on the updated version of my book Making History: how to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life, to now include the 1990s. Making History is divided into 8 sections, section 7 of which is Lifestyles & Leisure. This category includes food, fashion, advertising and media, toys and games, sports, and transportation. Another large category, so today I’ll just be discussing the fashions of the 1990s.

Do you remember Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle on the hit show Friends? Millions of women copied it – did you? If you had a teenage boy in your life during the 1990s, did he wear his hair like Edward Furlong in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day? Millions of boys did. In 1994 the “Wonderbra” was reintroduced and became a sensation, creating a sales spike in push-up, plunge bras all over the world. Did you wear one of these bras, or did your wife/girlfriend? Who did you know who wore Doc Martens or Nike Air Jordans?  Did you know anyone who wore sideburns ala Beverly Hills 90210? And of course, who could forget the Grunge look with the ubiquitous flannel shirts worn by both sexes?

I remember the Grunge look well, especially because we live in Seattle where Grunge music and the fashion accompanying it, was born. The Grunge look was mostly thrift store clothes and flannel shirts that kept you warm and dry (important in Seattle), and a somewhat unkempt appearance. Perhaps the Grunge look was an attempt to rebel against the flashiness of the 1980s, or perhaps as a music journalist wrote, it came about because Kurt Cobain was just lazy. I have five years’ worth of photographs of my daughters in which nearly all feature them in baggy flannel shirts, a staple of their wardrobe.

What do you think the fashions of the 1990s say about the values of that decade? What were you (or your children) wearing then and what were you trying to portray? If you have a story (or stories) about the fashions in the 1990s, please share them, and if you share them on this blog, tell me if I can use them in my upcoming edition of Making History. (I will credit you, of course.)

Ghostwriting for a dog: The Walk

Goody Beagle here. Nearly every day I go for a walk with my dog bro Alex, who through no fault of his own is not a Beagle. He was born a Terrgi, part Terrier, part Corgi. (At least that’s what my human thinks, although no one really knows. Alex does not have a Pedigree.) Anyway, Terrier, Corgi, or Terrgi, he is NOT a Beagle, so he does not know the purpose of The Walk. Alex thinks the purpose of The Walk is to Go Somewhere Else Fast. But I know the real purpose of The Walk is to Smell Whatever Is Here, Slow.

This is the reason our human gets stressed if we are on a walk that requires leashes. Alex pulls her ahead, trying to Go Somewhere Else Fast, and I stop her behind, trying to Smell Whatever Is Here Slow.

My human has not figured out a solution for this problem yet. Too bad she doesn’t just listen to me.

My solution is simple: ignore Alex. Do it My Way.

Haiku Friday: Blame

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Blame:

it’s never your fault
someone else made you do it
oh, the lies you tell!

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

 

Tip: My “must have” Writing References

I hate grammar. I still get confused about where to put the periods when using parentheses. I have to look this up every single time. You’d think I’d remember, but I don’t.

I know I’m not alone in this. So as my tip for today, here are some of my favorite references for those times when I cannot remember, or never knew, the answer to knotty questions about proper grammar.

My two basic must haves – Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, and the Chicago Manual of Style.

The grammar book most fun to read: Eat, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Quick online references to check: www.punctuationmatters.com and http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com

If you’d care to leave a comment with your favorites, I always have more room on my Favorites tab …

Compost: When is Lying Okay?

I have a thing about lies. I hate them because they destroy trust, create suspicion, and betray love.

But then there’s storytelling, especially the “tall tale” variety, which depends on lies. However, since everyone knows you’re lying, this is the one time when it’s okay.

Like the famous trapper and scout Jim Bridger, who in the 1820s and 30s explored a great deal of the American West. He was one of the first white people to see the Great Salt Lake and the Yellowstone geysers, but since he was known as an accomplished tale-teller, few people believed him. They didn’t believe him either when he told them about the petrified forest that he’d also really seen, probably because he added bits about the petrified forest harboring petrified birds singing petrified songs.

Lying is usually bad, but sometimes it is an art form.

 

Haiku Friday: Peace

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Peace:

it sounds so peaceful
chirping birds calling “breakfast!”
but terror for worms

 It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Sharing History : Arts & Entertainment in the 90s

Here’s some more info on the updated version of my book Making History: how to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life, to now include the 1990s. Making History is divided into 8 sections, section 6 of which is Arts & Entertainment.

This category covers painting, photography, books and literature, music, theater, television, and film – a huge category. So today I’m only going to discuss film. Although movies are made all over the world, the film industry began in America with Hollywood its acknowledged capital. All of us are influenced by the movies we see, and even the movies we don’t see but which by popularity change our culture.

Below are some of the popular or acclaimed movies of the 1990s – what did these movies mean to you? Who did you see them with? Did you see them in a theater or at home on video? Did you discuss them with your friends and family? What did you learn from any of these movies? Did any of them shock you, make you laugh, make you cry? Did any of them inspire you to change your actions or change your beliefs? Did any of them inspire you to become a part of the film industry? What would you change about any of these movies to make them better?

For me, of the movies I list below one I remember well is Dances With Wolves. I can close my eyes right now and see the death of that wolf, senselessly killed by soldiers out for thrills, and be filled with rage and sorrow – not only for the wolf but for the attempted genocide of an entire people and way of life for no other reason save mindless arrogance. My campaign against mindless arrogance was strengthened by this movie.

I’d love to hear what you thought of these movies – if you have a story (or stories) about the films of the 1990s, please share them, and if you share them on this blog, tell me if I can use them in my upcoming edition of Making History. (I will credit you, of course.)

The movie of the decade was undoubtedly Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time, and winner of the Best Picture Oscar of 1997.

Other Best Picture Winners include Dances with Wolves (1990), The Silence of the Lambs (1992), Unforgiven (1992), Schindler’s List (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), Braveheart (1995), The English Patient (1996), Shakespeare in Love (1998), and American Beauty (1999).

Other high grossing films of the 90s include Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, The Lion King, The Sixth Sense, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, Men in Black, Ghost, Twister, Saving Private Ryan, Pretty Woman, Mrs. Doubtfire.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Perfume, Shampoo, Soap, and other Disgusting things

Goody Beagle here. Last month I wrote about my human’s ridiculous habit of getting wet in the rain box (or shower, as she calls it.) Well that’s bad enough, but I didn’t write about what’s even worse – that disgusting slimy stuff called soap and shampoo that she puts on her hair and her body. She pours it on and then rubs it in so that sicky sweet smell seeps into her skin and takes away her lovely smell of sweat and dirt and food all mixed together with that special smell that only humans have. Why, I ask you, WHY? When you are blessed with a natural smell so perfect why would you want to disguise it?

At least my human does not usually rub that stuff into her at night before bedtime; she is a morning soaper. So by the time she goes to bed some of her own smell is back and I can bear to sleep in the same bed. Thank goodness for small mercies.