Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dracula, take two

It is rare that I read a book more than once, even if I absolutely love it and classify it as a favorite. There are so many books out there I want to read and discover unexpectedly, that I can't justify going back and reading a book I've already read. But, every once in a while I will revisit a book, an old friend, because it provides me comfort or it just simply suits my mood.

I am in the process of revisiting Bram Stoker's Dracula. It is one of my favorites. The first time I read it was almost five years ago and I was reluctant to read it because it is told through various characters' journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings. I thought it would be confusing and kind of annoying to keep switching back and forth, but once I started I found it rather easy to follow and enjoyed it quite a bit. I noted right away that there are significant differences from Francis Ford Coppola's movie adaptation, but I guess I didn't pay enough attention.

The second time around reading the book, I'm amazed at how a very complicated, detailed novel was condensed into a movie that stands on its own, never losing the story's original flavor of horror and romance. I almost always hate the movie adaptation of a book I like, but this time I'd say both forms are enjoyable and provide a certain flavor the other one lacks. I love a rarity such as this.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day

It's National Punctuation Day. Celebrate with exclamation points, question marks, commas, apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, periods, ellipses, dashes, hyphens, parentheses, brackets and quotation marks. Go crazy, but make sure you use them properly!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Outgrowing my space?

I spent all day today tidying up my room, which I haven't tidied up in quite some time. When I say tidying up, I mean like major overhaul, where I throw away things that have been sitting in the same spot for entirely too long for no apparent reason.

It's amazing how much junk I've racked up since the last time I decided to get rid of what is basically just clutter without any value or use to me. It's the same every time. I get one of those big hefty bags after I fill up the waste basket in my room and start throwing away stuff without thinking about it. I eliminate thinking because if I actually gave it some thought I wouldn't get rid of anything and that would be counter-productive. But even with my resolve to just toss stuff in the bag without letting nostalgia get the better of me, I still end up with too much stuff.

So, what is this junk I'm speaking of? You name it, I've got it stored somewhere in my room. Mostly-blank notebooks, lone issues of magazines so old I have no idea why I'm saving them anymore, mostly-empty bottles of lotion, earrings I haven't worn since I turned twenty-five. That's just some of what's outside of my closet.

My closet needs a bull-dozer. It is full of clothes that are out of style, but are still in such good shape I don't have the heart to write them off, but I also don't wear them, because they're super-dated. There are also shoes. Tons and tons of shoes. Mountains of 'em sit on the floor of my closet. Being a shoe-a-holic is not only expensive, but it requires a lot of space to support that I don't have and haven't had for so long I've got shoeboxes sitting in a corner housing the overflow of my vice.

I kept thinking to myself as I went through all the junk that I am a slob who needs to learn how to be more tidy, but another thought kept interrupting that one. It just might be that I have as much stuff as anyone my age, maybe even less than someone my age, but it's the deficit of my own storage space that makes me look like a pack rat when I am really not that bad. At least I hope that's the only problem . . . .

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Writing prompt for nincompoop

A nincompoop is a fool or simpleton. I’ve heard this word used by the older crowd, and it strikes me as one of those words you would yell out in frustration, like this kid's uncle does...

“You nincompoop!”

My uncle’s gruff voice rang out from the window overlooking the street, where if you were outside you could only see the tops of people’s heads moving inside. Summer was ending and the neighborhood was more alive than it was the first days of summer, so everyone heard the rumble. I threw my baseball glove down and ran inside. There was the smell of something Italian on the stove and the sound of papers rustling from below.

I took timid steps toward the stairs leading to the bottom level of the house and saw my uncle tearing apart the drawer he’d told me many times to stay away from. I’d wondered for years why he kept that drawer locked, keeping the key with him at all times and pulling the handle whenever he passed it to be sure it hadn’t been tampered with.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A new exercise

Everyday, in my attempt to broaden my vocabulary for various purposes, including Scrabble, I look at new and intriguing words. They're intriguing because some of them can hold an entire concept within those few letters stringed together to form them. They're also intriguing because they open my eyes to the worlds I never think about.

Since I forget most of these words as soon as I'm done reading their definitions, I've decided to take these new words and do something with them that will either make them stick, or at least drive me to challenge myself into using them in a sentence. I've been doing this for a few days now, this use of new words in sentences, and have found that if there ever was a writing prompt that doesn't make me think "I'll pass," this is it.

I get regular words of the day, as well as Scrabble words of the day. Here is today's Scrabble word of the day: Veery, a thrush common in the eastern and northern US, noted for its song.

And here is what it prompted me to write:

Henry sat on the porch of his colonial-style home, with its columns and french windows framing him like a king on his throne. He sat quietly, listening. There were many bird songs filling the moist morning air, but one song carried to Henry's ears, and he quickly brought the binoculars he kept on a side table to his eyes. In the years since his retirement from the police force, Henry's interest in birds grew from a hobby practiced on weekends into a way to keep his mind occupied and the giant house he lived in alone with a live-in maid.

With a squint followed by a smile Henry confirmed that the song of the thrush he'd heard was indeed that of a veery, just as he'd suspected. The bird lingered, staying put despite the breeze swaying the lilac bush. A smile tugged at the harsh line of Henry's thin lips and lit up his pockmarked face. He now knew what his column for Birds Magazine would be about.


So, with just one word, I created a character, gave him a name, a past, a present, and a future. Who knows where Henry will go from here, or if he'll go anywhere at all. Point is, Henry now exists, thanks to a little thrush, a veery!