Sunday, May 24, 2009

The End

In case there's anyone out there who has been following this blog, first I want to thank you for reading my ramblings. I had to set up this blog for a Comp II class I was taking, which has now ended.

For the time being I am going to switch back to one of my other blogs to post more current meandering thoughts.

At some point in the future I may revive this one.... just not sure yet.

Happy reading to all.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Old vs. New (poetry)

The question has been posed do I prefer "old" poetry (before 1950).

Well, the answer to the question lies in what is being termed "poetry".

For most of what is studied or discussed, I prefer "old" poetry. Some of my favorite poets include Euripides, Chaucer, and Shakespeare. With all of these poets it is more their take on the absurdities of human behavior that draws me to their work.

Which brings me to my all-time favorite poet, OgdenNash, who himself was a master of the absurd. Of course, it can be argued that Dr. Seuss writes in a similar vein, so he is on my list as well.

Now, with that being said, should we include lyric as poetry, I would say that there are songs which speak to me across the eras. There is often a timelessness that can be found and applied to current points in our lives, no matter when the piece was written.

The uses of poetry

Without a doubt, there are times that using poetry to convey sentiment is much more effective than using prose.

Poetry allows more emphasis on the feelings and thoughts behind the words that could be lost if simply written out as prose. Poetry presents the emotions and speaks to the senses of the reader (or listener). By using poetry a writer can allow himself more freedom from the tight strictures of prose, even though both prose and poetry can portray the same message.

With prose, there seems to be a greater chance that the message that the writer is speaking of can get lost. Poetry stands out due to the style or format, allowing for emphasis if necessary. There are entire stories and books written in poetry format that allows the writer to tell a story in what is usually perceived as a prose format. The works of author Sonia Sones are good examples of how poetry can be juxtaposed into a traditional prose format.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"The time of my life..."

A lifetime ago, when I first fell in love with my "first love" we shared a love of music. The musical styles in the 1980's were quite eclectic, just as they are now I suppose, and we covered the gambit.
I think that was when I first learned that I fit music to my mood, since we were surrounded by music while at work and while just hanging out either by ourselves or with other friends.

When we first began dating the movie Dirty Dancing has just been released. Our song became the love theme from the movie, "I've Had the Time of My Life" sung by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes.

Even now, more than 20 years later, when I hear that song I think of that time in my life. And at that point in time, I was having the time of my life. We were teenagers thinking we were adults- and we were in a number of ways, but there was still so much we didn't know.

We spent about 2 and a half years together as a couple, then eventually grew apart and went on to date and marry other people. Ironically, or not, a couple of years ago we re-connected via some mutual friends and we are now once again friends. There is a sweetness to our friendship, which I think is only a product of all of the years between then and now. Since neither of us married people who "knew us then" it is a blessing (and occasionally a curse) to have someone who really does know a lot of your silly, teenage secrets & fears.

But no matter what, I know I have the love of a real friend (even after all this time) and I owe a lot to him and that time in my life.

Lyrics- "I've Had the Time of My Life"
composed by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, & Donald Markowitz
performed by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
from the movie, Dirty Dancing

Boy: Now I've had the time of my life
No I never felt like this before
Yes I swear it's the truth
and I owe it all to you

Girl: 'Cause I've had the time of my life
and I owe it all to you

Boy: I've been waiting for so long
Now I've finally found someone
To stand by me

Girl: We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical fantasy

Both: Now with passion in our eyes
There's no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each other's hand
'Cause we seem to understand the urgency

Boy: just remember

Girl: You're the one thing

Boy: I can't get enough of

Girl: So I'll tell you something

Both:This could be love because

Both: I've had the time of my life
No I never felt this way before
Yes I swear it's the truth
And I owe it all to you

Girl: With my body and soul
I want you more than you'll ever know

Boy: So we'll just let it go
Don't be afraid to lose control

Girl: Yes I know whats on your mind
When you say:
"Stay with me tonight."

Boy: Just remember
You're the one thing

Girl: I can't get enough of

Boy: So I'll tell you something

Both: This could be love because

Both: (CHORUS)

Both: 'Cause I had the time of my life
And I've searched through every open door
Till I've found the truth
and I owe it all to you


Boy: Now I've had the time of my life
No I never felt this way before

(Girl: Never Felt this way)

Boy: Yes I swear it's the truth
and I owe it all to you

Both: (CHORUS)

Both: 'Cause I had the time of my life
And I've searched through every open door
Till I've found the truth
and I owe it all to you

The poetry of memories

I can not recall the first poem I ever heard. This is especially true when you take into account that we are surrounded by poetry from birth forward.

I do have memories involving forms of poetry. One is singing the rhyme "Knick knack, paddywhack" with my father on the way to school when I was in kindergarten.

Another "poem", though it was actually a song, that I have memories of is the song "Delta Dawn" by Tanya Tucker. I knew all the words to the song and would sing it at the top of my lungs while swinging on the swing set in the backyard.

Overall, I while I do tend to mark moments with music, I've never really related the music to poetry per se. I do not feel a connection to most poetry- not all, just some. And with that being said two of my all-time favorite poets are Ogden Nash & Dr. Seuss.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Brave new world or hopelessness?

In Ayn Rand's novel Anthem a cataclysmic "war" occurred which allowed the Councils to then set up the new society and government in such a way as to eliminate individuality completely. The most prudent way to both isolate and integrate people was to guide them from birth with no emotional contact at all. By eliminating emotion first, they then moved on to keeping the sexes strictly divided and as men and women grew to adulthood their every thought and movement was constantly monitored.

For such a drastic shift to occur in modern America, it would again have to take place following an event just as the magnitude of whatever set the stage in Rand's Anthem. The main reason it would be most difficult to perpetrate such a change would be the sheer amount of information and people in the world today. It would be necessary for only a select few to "survive"- those chosen as leaders or worthy, so to speak. Just the magnitude of curbing free will and thought on that scale now is beyond comprehensible.

On the other hand, the scenario set up in the movie version of Allan Moore's V for Vendetta has a much more plausible outcome. This is because the fascist government does not care if the people remember a time prior to their iron-fisted control, they simply remove whatever obstacles are placed in their path. In the view of the government in V for Vendetta, the people, or society, have given them a mandate by willingly relinquish their rights in return for safety- or a presumed safety- in spite of the fact that the one the people need protecting from is the government itself.

Fascism in the Future?

Once upon a time, I would have never believed that the U.S. would succumb to the possibility of having a fascist government- particularly since we as a nation have been one of the main fighters against the spread of such evil and have supported countless countries overcome their own dark pasts.

However, events in recent months make me wary and afraid that we are on the cusp of just such a happening here in the United States- and it breaks my heart.

I can trace my ancestry back to 1540 when they first arrived in Virginia seeking a new life. A life free from oppression, a life of opportunity, and a life to pass along to future generations.

Since those first settlers, just on that branch of my family tree, I have had family members who fought in every major military (and plenty of non-wartime service as well) up to the present War on Terror. (And yes, I know that is no longer the official terminology, but that just goes further to support my fears).

The one's who came before me willingly sacrificed everything they had in the name of freedom, yet now people seem to be sacrificing freedom for things they are too lazy to provide for themselves. This is the same scenario as in the movie V for Vendetta, where the people are lulled into a nanny-state, that the government knows best.

I know there are many grassroots movements gaining momentum across the country- to which I exclaim, "Hallelujah!!!" Truly, all is not yet lost- and that gives me hope to keep my fears at bay for another day.

I fervently believe that in the end, should we slide into a fascist state, it will be short-lived, though sometimes you have to lose everything to truly appreciate what you have.

So, I pray.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Beginning after the End

The ways the economy is spiraling out of control, followed by growing mob violence, it is easy to wonder if this is the beginning of the end of modern society.

No matter what occurs, there will still be everyday needs that must be met. We will still have homes to live in and families to care for- though admittedly it will be rough going in the initial stages simply because whatever "control" will be loose at best.

As for my part, I would hope that I could serve as an example. I would want my children to be instilled with the principles and values that the country was initially based upon. I would want them to know their religion- and have faith in themselves.

I would also hope to be an example of perseverance. That we can take all of the bad that has happened and maintain our sense of self. I would want the new society to focus more on what we can do for ourselves and less on what is expected of others to do for us. That is what I believe will bring about the downfall of modern society- the entitlement mentality.

Hopefully, the sound of common sense will once again move to the forefront, but should it not there is still hope that people as a whole will not cause themselves to become extinct.

If nothing else, there is always hope.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Self in Society

The question this time around pertains to whether or not someone can maintain their individuality and still be in harmony with society.

I firmly believe that it is essential to be an individual to be a part of society at large. When one stays true to their own thoughts and beliefs they enhance society because they can offer a fresh perspective that is sometimes lacking when people try to conform to a degree that they lose there self.

While there are definitely physical traits as well as character traits that are common within a society. It seems that when the individual is diluted to the point of being all-inclusive and the similarities are favored over the differences that the trouble begins.

The only way for societies- or civilization- to survive is by evolving to meet the needs of the people who make it up.

Right now certain members of the United States government appear to be toying with moving the country away from the focus on individual gains to a form of collective system. I am vehemently opposed to this on a number of levels, not the least of which is that such a move weakens a person's initiative to think for themselves. People should not be treated as animals- particularly by their government.

Society is the outgrowth of people living, working, worshiping and relaxing together. That there are mores and values that mark that society is a given parameter, however throughout there is still the individual decision to either conform or make the changes necessary for their own survival.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shades of grey

Where do we draw the line when it comes to prejudice?

We all have our own personal bias, based on our own life experiences, values and beliefs- that is unquestionable. And, while we like it- usually- when people agree with our opinions, often that is not necessary for us to maintain them. There is no real need for validation, it is just our own personal view. Though we do like it when there are others who do agree with us, if for no other reason than there is strength in numbers- which in turn can be equated to being power. Ultimately, it is power or the desire for power which (to me) fuels prejudice.

There are too many forms of prejudice to list- and it goes much deeper than skin color or religious belief. There are childless people who feel superior to couples with children, and vice versa. People comment on the houses other's live in- either with envy or derision. While both the decision to have children or the house one lives in are both personal choices, outsiders view these choices and apply their own values to these decisions- which is false, to say the least.

Of course on of the main influences that shape our values and beliefs is our environment. This is best illustrated in the oft reproduced poem "Children Learn what they Live" by Dorothy Law Nolte. Perhaps there will come a time when we simply allow one another to live.

Here is the approved abbreviated text:

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

More things are different, the more they are the same

In a recent viewing of the 2006 movie V for Vendetta the way humans as a whole persecute one another is an underlying theme.

This brings to mind the many ways in our everyday lives which highlight the way people are persecuted for their differences- be they physical differences, economic differences, educational differences, or philosophical differences.

We like to believe that in the year 2010 we as a people have evolved past such mean-spiritedness
that marks generations past. For centuries people have warred and persecuted those they have vanquished.

I think the reason persecution persists is because people tend to fear what they do not understand. In the movie V for Vendetta it is mentioned that the totalitarian government gained power through the use of fear. This assertion that fear is a weapon which can be used to control the populace while culling out those who think differently, act differently, etc. is the main concept throughout the movie.

Until a time comes when there is harmony for all people- acceptance of all personal choices- and true understanding that we are all the same, in spite of our differences, persecution will continue... either in the public condemnations as exhibited in the past... or in the private, subtle forms which are beginning to prevail now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The wordiness of words

I love words.

I love to read the dictionary- just for the pleasure of learning about words. Where they are derived from, how to use them correctly, their accurate definition.

I refuse to dumb down my vocabulary, which more often than not sends my children to the huge dictionary we have here at home- usually because I refuse to simply tell them what a word means, I would rather them seek out that knowledge for themselves. The phrase "go look it up" can have some quite comical results at times.

So, in the spirit of using words and knowing their power, I have made a short list of words which I feel are over-used. These are words which have been hyped or taken out of their normal context and set to the extreme definition of the word. We all know of innocuous words we have heard and spoken for years that have suddenly become blase simply based upon the popular usage of them.

Here goes:

1. anyways- Yes, there are several ways in which we can do things and anyway technically covers them in a broad sense of the word. However, it is when we use the word "anyways" as a filler word to cover a gap in conversation or as a means to change the subject that suddenly makes it redundant. We can change or close topics without adding "anyways" to the discussion- even if we are nervous. We manage, most of us at least, to omit it from our writing in that context. Rather than say "anyways", why not simply use an appropriate transitional word and shift or close topics more smoothly? If we can accomplish that feat while writing, why not doing it also when we speak?

2. can't- If there was ever a word which makes my blood boil more, it doesn't come to mind. Admittedly, there are always things which can not be done- and that is fine. But when a word is repeatedly used as a mantra, as in the case of "can't". It is much more effective to say "I have difficulty" or "I'm afraid" or even "I don't know how", than to fall back on the word "can't" which too many have turned into a crutch word- meaning it props them up and facilitates their inaction.

3. google- The word "google" wasn't even really a word until the advent of the google search engine. Now the word "google" is used synonymously to mean "look something up". Now while it is perfectly fine to use the Google search engine, there are still a multitude of people who choose not to, prefering rather to use one of the other available search engines. The popularity of "googling" something is a bit of a phenonmenon in that people know they are doing research- so why not simply say "research"?- and they know that Google hits are not infallible, so that the results are a bit suspect. All in all, if you are going to look something up online- state that. Terming your actions as googling/ to google has gotten a bit obnoxious to some of us, to say the least.

4. hope- Much of the time we see/ hear the word "hope" nowadays it is not to convey the altruistic wishes of our yearnings, but it is more in line with our desires. Many of us hear hope and think of emotions, sometimes sacred but always those ideas we hold close to our hearts. This standard meaning of "hope" has shifted in recent years both in popular culture and most recently within the political arena. He now akin our desires to be our "hopes", no matter how much spin we attempt to apply to the word. It is sometimes as if by using the word "hope" in place of the word "desire" we can appear less selfish and self-serving. Through the use of "hope" we convey a feeling of wanting to better mankind- let's just get past all of this candy coating and say we want and desire something, not that we merely "hope" fpr it.

5. change- Why has the word "change" come synonymous with political agendas? I know that any time there is a shift in leadership, the new powers- that-be wish to make their own personal mark. But what is it about professing "change" that is supposed to make the pills of politics we are sometimes forced to swallow easier? "Change... change... change...", we have been subjected to the theory for months- but there is nothing really supporting the theory... no substantial hypothenus, no comparisons... how do we know what to "change" when there is no consensus? Let's set the word "change" aside and replace it with "rebuild", "revamp", "restore", "innovate".. or any other of a dozen words which would better illustrate the path we are being led down. I sometimes wonder in the case of the word "change" that such an ambiguous word was chosen simply to keep a light from being shone on what was really occuring- you can just never be to sure.

I know that there are many other words which need to be tossed out for being ineffective now, but I do hope you've enjoyed reading my perspective on the use of a few words which hear repeatedly in modern daily life.

How to write...

The new question that has been posed is about how to write, or what writing process do I use when I write.

For me, this is a complicated question because writing- just as reading is subjective.

I tend to write from my point of view, or at least in a manner which I hope engages and encourages someone to participate in whatever my chosen subject was- which again is subjective.

When I am writing, I mostly write and edit simultaneously. Now I know this is not always the best way to write, but after years of having to write something more or less off the cuff and have it polished and ready to print/ publish in a very short period of time, you learn to do this.

Of course, I would not recommend this technique to most people. I know that many people do not write the way I do. And, even though I write/ edit together, I still take time to organize my thoughts prior to beginning my writing. Admittedly, there are times that the organization is the hardest part of the writing process. Knowing the points you wish to make, remembering them, and stating them succinctly are key to writing- and then you must add the rules of grammar into the equation as well.

I believe the best thing for someone to remember when they are writing is who they are writing for and what they are trying to achieve with their writing. If you are writing a news article you may need to be more persuasive, especially if the goal of the article is to sell or promote something. If, on the other hand, you are writing for your own personal pleasure or release you might convey whatever your thoughts and feelings are on a particular subject- which in present times equals the incessant blogs and other online forms of communication.

The main premise of all writing is to put your thoughts on the topic in order, whether you are writing, speaking or in come cases just thinking. Everything goes back to how we organize our points of view, which in turn translates to how effective we are at conveying this thoughts & ideas to others.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Then & Now

Probably one of my all time favorite literary characters is Scarlett O'Hara from Margaret Mitchell's book, Gone with the Wind.

The character of Scarlett has become a bit of a caricature in modern culture thanks to the movie version of the book, but the essential elements that made Scarlett a formidable woman in spite of overwhelming circumstances where real. There really was a Civil War- or rather the War of Northern Aggression, depending on your viewpoint. And following the War, there was complete economic chaos in the South. People at that time had to dig deep within themselves to find the will to survive- just as they had during the War.

Margaret Mitchell set Scarlett's home Tara on the south side of Atlanta, even though stories such as Scarlett's were being enacted all over the state of Georgia- in fact, it was a common tale in most any area affected by the War. That a reader could be taken to Tara, both the pre-War and post-War versions is a testament to Mitchell. Through her words we can see the grandeur and contrast it with the poverty. We can taste the joys and despair of the people during this time. We can smell the fields in bloom and the acrid smoke when Atlanta burned.

But overall, what makes Scarlett such a remarkable literary character is that she was born from the life of a real woman, Rebecca Felton. Margaret Mitchell and Rebecca Felton had a writing relationship and it was from the real life tales of Mrs. Felton's portrayal of life following the War that Mitchell based Scarlett on.

The spirit of survival, patriotism, and being a uniquely Southern female comes alive in Scarlett, and can be paralleled to the hardships and uncertainties we are facing now with our current economic instability- we don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that I can look to Scarlett as an example to draw strength that tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Memories of Reading

I don't recall a time that I have not loved to read.

I even remember the first book I "read" by myself when I was about 4 years old. It was the story of a mouse- one of the Little Golden Book books that were popular way back when. I know it wasn't so much me actually reading the words independently, it was really that I had memorized them from hearing the book so many times. And yes, I know that saying I learned to read via memorization goes against the grain of conventional thinking nowadays- we live in a time when phonics are touted to be the only "real" way to learn to read (of course, if you don't read or learn phonetically, you are more or less on your own- but that's a discussion for another day).

I couldn't really say what my favorite reading memory is, there are too many to choose from. I am the person who reads everything, just for the sake of having something to read. I normally read multiple books at a time- all for pleasure. Different subjects- and type- of books serve different purposes.

I recall the first time I read Eugenia Price's Savannah, I was 13 years old and it was Thanksgiving holidays. I remember reading Woodward & Berstein's All the President's Men in 7th grade for a book report project mainly because I wanted to know more about Watergate. I remember a friend turning me on to Victoria Holt's gothic romance novels- yes, everyone goes through a spell.

I know there are books I simply do not like, no matter how many accolades they receive. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, pfftttt... completely overdone. Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, I wish I could get those moments of my life back spent reading it. All of which feeds my personal credo- "Life is too short to read things which are personally unappealing."

Overall, I would have to say that some of best memories of reading stem from my years working as a Children's specialist with a public library. I shared so many wonderful- and mediocre- books with so many children and teens. I think that being able to share a book with someone and watching them get caught up in the story is one of the best ways of sharing a love of books.

If you ever want a challenge, figure out a way to read and act out Shakespeare in such a way that 4 year olds stay still and 8 year olds are intrigued! Yes, I promise it can be done- but it is definitely not a task for the faint of heart!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Literature from Media

There can be no doubt that both television shows and movies revolve around the printed word, even though the words are transmitted visually in the finished product.

The concept of media- mainly television and movies- being a form of literature to me seems a bit complex. In the case of movies a large number of them are based on books or stories from print. Now admittedly there is often a large amount of creative license between what was in the original book, and what is in the final product that makes it to the screen.

Movies, and in a smaller way television shows, bring the words to life and cause us to visually become a part of the story being told. Through the use of the basic literary elements, the script writers set up the storyline parallel to writers of print materials. There are settings, perspectives, and while the audio/ visual elements rely on actual sights and sounds, they still evoke the feelings which are being conveyed in the piece. The main difference is that television and movies bring all of the viewers senses into play, not just relying upon mental stimulation to conjure up the images.

Based upon these similarities, I would have to concur with those who argue that movies and television shows would fall under the realm of literature. Just as with traditional print materials, the worth of the piece relies on those who choose to indulge- which goes to personal tastes in either venue, print or media.

Understanding Literary Elements

Whenever we read, we impose our own perspective onto what the writer has written.

As a result of this it becomes even more necessary to apply the elements of the story- as it is written- so that the true tale is not lost.

If we are aware of the importance of the setting to the story, it helps to keep the context as intended. By knowing and understanding what elements are incorporated into a story- the literary elements- it helps us to feel the story and be aware of the subtle nuances which add to the atmosphere.

Sometimes it is easy to overlook elements such as sound and sight, while at other times the imagery comes through so vividly from the author's choice of words. Everyone can call to mind a particular phrase that evokes an image, something that speaks to you individually and lingers long after the rest of the story fades away.

Also, recognizing the perspective of the narrator is key to understanding the work as a whole. Should the author choose a perspective which does not necessarily make the reader feel that there is a cohesiveness, it is good to be able to recognize the shift in perspectives.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Touch of the Impossible

It would seem that in today's world, cynics that we are, there would be little room for fairy tales. To me though, I think that the opposite is true.

The fairy tales that have been passed down through the centuries still serve their purpose as cautionary tales, even when dosed with modern ideals or political correctness.

If fairy tales were not still relevant- or able to be applied to modern life- they would have long since been cast aside and replaced with tales that fit the palate of people living and interacting in the 21st century. That these tales can be adapted and still retain their basic story is in itself a testimony to the underlying fact that no matter how much we learn or invent, there are still some aspects of life that are just human nature and that the best way to "explain" them is through the use of fairy tales.

This is possibly one reason that many cultures share common themes in their fairy- or folk- tales. The Anasi stories of Africa have been retold repeatedly throughout the ages, as have the various Cinderella stories. Each updated to be recognizable- and pertinent- for their modern audiences, but still holding true to their integral storyline.

Fairy tales help us learn to dream and hope- as well as teach us lessons that are sometimes hard to comprehend in the abstract without the use of fairy tales.

Modern society is lucky to have fairy tales, because not only do they enable us to understand life's many lessons, they also entertain us and provide a continuity between the eras of history.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Experiences vs. Perspective

The question has been posed that asks if being a modern student affects what I read, or my level of enjoyment of books selected to be read.

For me personally, I believe that being a modern student is simply one more layer that in a way enhances certain materials but does not necessarily alter overall my overall perspective in terms of what I am asked to read.

Part of this is most likely due to the fact that I do not fit the traditional student mold. I am 20 years past my high school graduation, I am a mother, I have been a wife, I have been- and am currently- active in my community, and I am much more secure in myself and my faith than I have been at other past points of my life.

Based on these things, I simply relegate the role of student to it's appropriate place on the list of what makes me who I am- and leave it there. It is not the sum of all of my parts, it is just another part.

Now, to the other part of the question, I do believe that it is our perspective- based on past experiences, tastes in reading and personal values- which help to determine whether or not a work is enjoyable. Do I feel the need to dissect each individual work into what the author means, or if there is a hidden meaning in each word, most definitely not. Of course my perspective, and in turn experiences, are what will determine if the work has any meaning for me personally, but being a student is a fractional consideration.

I read for information and enjoyment. Of course, being a student means that I am often required to read materials that do not appeal to me in the least. At these times, I simply choose to read the material, gather what I need and move on. In my experience, if a book, poem, etc., does not make a connection with me, I do not retain it.

Of course there is the philosophy that one should never waste their time in reading things that which do not appeal to them- and I admit, I subscribe to this belief as well. We should never squander our time, since it is an irreplaceable commodity.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
~ Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and snowy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

When reading this poem, one is taken to the snowy woods near the village. You can hear the wind in the trees and feel the coldness radiating from the snow. You can also feel the peace that the rider finds there amongst the trees- the welcome respite from his day to day life that calls to him to stop there in the woods and take a moment just for himself.

The images of the woods, the horse and the snow combine to bring a type of peace that the traveler is not aware that he needs, though from the choice of words Frost appears to invoke upon the reader. That the stillness calls to the traveler despite that he knows there are many more things to be done or tasks to be completed on this long, cold night before he can truly stop for the day.

For me the feelings that are stirred are those that this is a gentle reminder that no matter how chaotic day to day life itself can be, we must each take time for ourselves so that we may both complete our daily duties as well as take care of one's self.

Without the audience, is there writing?

When reading a literary work, it is important to note how the Speaker, the Setting, Sound and Visual Imagery, and the Audience are each interconnected to give substance and structure to the piece.

Of each of these, the most important could be said to be the Audience for which it was written for. If the Audience will not be able to see the Speaker, Setting and Sound & Visual imagery in the way in which the author intends, the meaning and even the very spirit of the work will be lost.

For this reason, when a writer is developing the concept which will be the foundation of what they are writing, it is primary that the Audience play a key factor in the choices made.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

1460... 1459... 1458... 1457... 1456...

We are now finishing up the fifth day of the new administration's term in office...

I have studiously avoided all of the coverage of the inauguration- admittedly since I do not have cable or satellite tv service at home this goal has been much easier to achieve than one would expect. And before there are any flames thrown at me, my decision to not participate even passively in the spectacle that took place this week is not based on who won the election.

I have heard snippets of the speech here and there- and if nothing else I give Mr. Obama credit for having the foresight to hire wonderful speech writers. And Mr. Obama himself has the knack for delivering those words so that people catch a mood- though to my ear there never seems to be any passion behind the words he speaks. It is almost as if he is a very careful automaton who can deliver the words with the correct inflection, while simultaneously keeping himself separate from the meaning of the words.

The second reason for abstaining from my civic duty to participate in the inauguration- even vicariously - was the fact that this country is in a serious recession and the excesses, some would refer to as festivities, which were planned and carried out to commemorate the ascension of the new President brought the same feelings to mind as those words attributed to Marie Antoinette just prior to the outbreak of the French Revolution... "let them eat cake... ".

While I realize that the goal of the President is to lift the morale of the people and act as a symbol of American ideals, my gut reaction so far into the new era is that our leader is not quite ready to lead. We lead by example, even when we do not realize someone is watching. Spending millions and millions of dollars in the wake of record unemployment numbers nationwide seems to smack of the adage "do as I say, not as I do". The American people have repeatedly been called upon to tighten their belts and get through these tough times- though the new administration who has touted change as their catch phrase soldiers on into Washington with a business as usual demeanor.

Unlike the botched swearing in ceremony, where the next day Mr. Obama was given a "do over", the managing of a nation- especially one as mighty as the United States- does not allow for mistakes. There are too many lives depending on it. Hopefully Mr. Obama will come to realize this sooner rather than later.

Either way, we are another day closer to the next inauguration.

Between the covers...

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The subject of today's topic is the daunting task of talking about my favorite book.

For me this poses a huge problem simply because I have multiple favorite books and the notion of limiting myself to one smacks of censoring a part of me. I read based on where I am in my life- strictly for my own pleasure and enjoyment. Because of this, my reading tastes run the gambit of what I find appealing at that given moment. I suppose it could be said that I am a genre reader- basing the genre of the material on whatever is going on in my life and the subject which compliments it. In other words, a literary soundtrack for my life.

If I were to compile a literary ipod (so to speak), here are a few must-have titles:

  • Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
  • 1984- George Orwell
  • A Woman's Place- Barbara Delinsky
  • Gone with the Wind- Margaret Mitchell
  • Saving Grace- Julie Garwood
  • A Circle of Friends- Maeve Binchy
  • Savannah- Eugenia Price (the entire Savannah quartet)
  • A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens
  • The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas
  • God Save the Sweet Potato Queens- Jill Conner Browne
  • Born in Death- J.D. Robb (the entire In Death series)
  • Among the Hidden- Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • White Knight- Jim Butcher (the entire Dresden Files series)
  • The DaVinci Code- Dan Brown
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel- Baroness Orczy
  • The Well- educated Mind- Susan Wise Bauer
  • What Southern Women Know, that every woman should- Ronda Rich
  • How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater- Marc Acito
  • Garfield- Jim Davis
  • Rats Saw God- Rob Thomas

I could go on and on... there are so many, but you get the gist. Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another fresh start...

Once again I am starting yet another blog. Honestly, at this point I have lost count of how many I have floating around, though I'm sure there are those out there in the cyber-ether who could help jog my memory if they so chose to.

At one point I was an intrepid blogger- posting if not daily, at least 3-4 times per week. Several years ago now, I had the opportunity to take a class on blogging. Somewhere, in the vast files of miscellaneous material I seem to horde, I still have my notes and codes for personalizing and making my blog an extension of me. I may have to see if I can retrieve those notes- and of course, if anyone happens to stumble upon my ramblings here and would like the notes as well, please just let me know. I will say that from setting up this current blog, the ones responsible for maintaining have definitely come a long way since the first blog I had hosted on Blogger.

As I mentioned, in the past I would blog regularly. But then as my life changed and my interests waned, I let my blogs fall by the wayside. I think that one of the biggest challenges I will face with this new blog is to remember to keep it going. There's always hope, even if there is little else.

Until next time, wishing everyone the best...