A Few Definitions

definitions

English is a wonderful language.  It works like a river, flowing along, constantly changing and always finding its own level.  Words appear and disappear.  Definitions change.  Meanings mutate.  And, yet, we all kinda understand each other.  To that end, here are a few definitions that might not appear in any dictionary, but I’m sure you’ll recognize them, all the same.

Tomorrow – A place where all human activity and productivity is stored.

Calories – Nasty little creatures who live in your closet and eat the sizes off your clothes.

Avoidance Behaviour – The somewhat boring stuff we do when we have more important boring stuff to do.

Internet – An essential tool of avoidance behaviour.

Pockets – Those things that fashion designers have been denying women for centuries.

Leftovers – Food that lives in the refrigerator for a while– before you throw it out.

Selfies – Photographs of people who have no friends.

Full-length Mirror – A rather useful item when you have clothes on that turns remarkably evil when you’re naked.

Shower – A place to hold imaginary arguments and sing songs that were popular when you were a teenager.

Bae – A stupid, made-up, millennial word that doesn’t mean anything.

Wikipedia – The arbitrator of all arguments.

Exercise – Sometimes pronounced “extra fries,” depending on your self-esteem that day.

Man Bun – A one-size-fits-all way to look ridiculous.

Junk Food – Stuff that everybody eats but nobody admits it.

4 In The Morning – An elusive place where the truth lives.

Family – People who know too much about you to be your friends.

Lottery Tickets – A tax on people who can’t do math.

YouTube – Moving pictures that eat time.

And my favourite:

Vegans – People who announce the menu when nobody’s even thinking about food.

Winter News

news

Late winter news is never as weird as late summer news, but sometimes the combination of too many coats and too much cold just aligns the stars properly and strange things peek out.  Here are a couple of items I found that might tweak your brain on an otherwise ordinary day.

I don’t ever wish bad luck on anybody (That stuff has a tendency to come back and bite ya!) but this week’s Oprah Winfrey news just screams “just desserts” — with extra sprinkles.  The news is Ms. Winfrey has lost somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 million dollars from her investment in Weight Watchers.  We all know that for someone of Winfrey’s financial girth, 40 million is chump change, but still there’s a certain poetic justice here.  The thing is Oprah Winfrey made her money (at last count $3.5 billion) from telling women there’s something wrong with them – and then mercilessly selling them the cure.  (Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the headlines on any O Magazine.) Therefore, it seems only fair that she should lose some of her ill-gotten gains while trying to suck even more cash out of the self-help industry.  Karma’s a bitch, huh?

Meanwhile, according to France Vingt-Quatre (the Gallic equivalent of the BBC) Le Beverley, a quiet little movie theatre on a quiet little street in Paris, has closed.  It seems the 90-seat cinema simply wasn’t pulling the customers in anymore and the owner, Maurice Laroche, 74, decided it was time to retire.  And this is news because …?  Le Beverley was the last porno theatre in Paris.  Actually, “erotic” movies have always been a respected part of French cinema.  Back in the day (I’m talkin’ late 70s) many of them (Emmanuelle, Immoral Tales, Tendres Cousines) even made their way into the mainstream.  Unfortunately, these days, when every movie except Toy Story has a complimentary nude scene, most people don’t understand that erotic is a whisper, not a shout, and they just call it all “porn” and get on.  Anyway, Le Beverley, like most movie theatres that aren’t Multiplexes, has disappeared into the 21st century where Netflix is king and Pornhub gets 80 to 90 million views a day.  (That’s right! A day!)  Personally, I’m not much for porn, but, considering Parisians invented the modern porn industry by selling racy postcards to uptight Englishmen, I think it’s only fitting that their last erotic theatre should get a few international headlines.

And finally:

A guy from the Isle of Wight has written a book — with his nose.  Apparently, Josh Barry (who has Cerebral Palsy) just got tired of dictating his thoughts and decided “The hell with it: I’ll do it myself” and for the last nine years has been typing away – one letter at a time – and now his book is finished.  Normally, I’m not interested in inspirational tales at all, but this story has such a cool “Archy and Mehitabel” vibe that I’m going to go with it.  Honestly, I can’t imagine this kind of perseverance, but, the next time I’m moanin’ about a 500 word Friday blog, I’m going to try my best to take a page out of Josh’s book, cowboy-up and just get on with it.

Writer’s Block — A Cure

writing a blog

I realize that talking to a bunch of bloggers about writing is like trying to teach a dolphin how to swim.  (It isn’t really necessary and annoys the hell out of the dolphin.)  However, here I am because I know that anyone who’s ever touched pen to paper has suffered from writer’s block, writer’s cramp and — that worst of all literary maladies — writer’s fatigue.  I’m sure even the great Billy Shakespeare sat around, on more than one occasion, twiddling his quill and thinking, “I’m going to quit this bullshit and sign on with Drake.”  (Sir Francis, not the other guy.)  So, in the interest of keeping literature alive in these troubled times, here are a few tips to get the ink flowing again, when, for some reason, it gets stuck in the pen.  (I know, I know!  Nobody writes with a pen anymore – but I like the metaphor.)

Walk Away – It took Margaret Mitchell 10 years to write Gone with the Wind.  Turning your computer off for a couple of hours isn’t going to kill anyone.

Make a Cup of Tea – The Brits, who are the most literary people in the world, use tea as a cure-all for everything from a broken leg to a totally botched Brexit.  And they’ve been doing it since John Milton versed out Paradise Lost in the 17th century.  (That’s a lot of words under Tower Bridge, my friend!)  What tea does is slow you down.  It separates you from the real world.  It gives you a wall or a window to stare at.  It’s warm, it’s cozy and it forces you to think.  Which leads us to Item #3

It’s About You – Instead of trying to forge a Brave New World out of thin air, you need to get back to basics.  Start with you, because even though you might be the most kale salad, whole wheat, Friday night Netflix, middle-class-dull person in the history of ordinary … life has happened to you.  You have memories.  A red house.  A stupid Tweet.  A grocery clerk.  Morgan Freeman’s smile.  Grab one (it doesn’t matter which one) and write it down.

Ask The Questions – Every story from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to Niall Ferguson’s The Square and the Tower is merely who, what, where, when and why.  It’s not brain science or rocket surgery – that’s all there is.  Answer those questions and you have a story but …

Don’t Paint A Picture – Insisting on the exact right word ad infinitum eats up creative energy, so keep it simple.  Lose the adverbs; lose the adjectives.  This isn’t War and Peace, for God sake!  Call it a sleigh not a seasonal horse-drawn transportation device.  Less is more.  Tell the tale.

Some Things Don’t Matter – I don’t know how long it took Herman Melville to come up with “Call me Ismael” but he could have written “Call me Brenda.” and Moby Dick would still be unreadable.  So, don’t waste time sweating the details.  Your job is to get words on paper.

And finally:

Remember – If you have the audacity to string words together, you have a responsibility to your audience.  Because, as Galadriel said to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, “This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will.”

And that’s a sin.