Thursday, July 28, 2011

Something About an Old Truck

Frankly, there’s just something about an old truck that is summer. Climbing up into that solid metal frame, launching myself from the ground on to that tattered seat. Leaning far out to yank that door shut with a bang, causing a little rust to flake off. There’s something about having to crank the windows down, and adjust the mirror by hand, the metal hot from the summer sun.

An old truck is what going for drive is all about. It’s not really about getting somewhere; it’s about going anywhere. Something about that heat rolling up through the floor from the engine that roars in my ears, mixing with the cool air whipping in from the open window. I have to have my right arm out the window, waving in the speed created wind, the sun visible on my skin—trying to coax out more freckles. My feet somehow make it up onto the dashboard as I ride along, the music turned up so we can hear it over the engine hum.

I can feel the road under us; feel the thrum of the engine up my spine, and my teeth clatter every time we bounce over railroad tracks. My hair blows out around me and I continually have to tuck it behind my ear as I sing along to the classic rock pouring out of the radio. This is summer and I pity the poor souls at stoplights stuck in their little plastic cars riding low over the ground with their windows up, as the truck lumbers past them with summer on our tires. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Little Madness

Frankly, Spring thinks it's the end of times.

Perhaps she didn't get the memo about the end of the world prophecy being postponed (if anything I'm going with the Mayans on this one). I understand, its easy to get all geared up for something, I waited until Monday to mail my student loan payments. I'm sure that any day now Spring will check her in-box and get on with exchanging the lion for the lamb and bringing May flowers.

Because it's raining, in an entirely biblical way. Hail and sleet, thunder and lightning, tornadoes and high winds, no locusts or frogs as of yet, but I'm keeping an eye out. I think Spring has been taking a leisurely walk down memory lane, and found a fondness for "The Great Flood" I'm not particularly enjoying the highlight reel. It's a bit damp. 

A Midwestern spring is kind of a weather whirligig, I've come to expect sunshine giving way to snowfalls late into May. This is where Spring cleans out her closet of mismatched weather patterns, she seems a little over zealous this year. Spring is uncertainty, she's a closed book, a complete meteorological question mark. Spring decides to dance in thunderstorms one day and bask in the sunshine another, threading flowers in her hair. While I'm switching out my rain boots for sandals on a daily basis, shaking my head at the changeability of Spring,  I often think of this poem. 

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

- Emily Dickinson  

Emily is a kindred spirit of mine. Something about her concise and poignant prose perfectly captures the essence of Spring. I can only wonder what she would have written about this weather. I'm sure she would have gotten completely caught up in it, as I am wont to do. Spring fever may be the only affliction I endeavor to procure. 

Spring is nature's pretext to be a little ludicrous. That's why it's easier to act in the spring, to change without reason. To not think and just do, because it's Spring and why not? What's life without a little madness anyway? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Betrayals

Frankly, I was blindsided. 

Like Judas' kiss, it was a betrayal that left me hollow. The shock so complete, I could do no more than mumble incoherent sounds of disbelief and blink. He was dead. She'd killed him with a sentence, at the bottom of page 258. "He was dead," it read. 

The sting of betrayal is never as harsh, as unforgiving and as complete as when it comes from the heart of a well-loved book. As an unapologetic bibliophile that practically breaths the written word, I am not easily beguiled. I can find my way through plot twists, foreshadowing and character double-crosses with the care of the well-read, but everyone drops their guard eventually, inevitably you trust too much. 

Book Sculpture by Su Blackwell.
The pages bleed red. A gasp falls from my lips, my fingers floating above the traitorous words, my eyes questing for syntax that would clarify some error. How do you mourn the loss of someone that is imaginary? Surely a book is nothing to come-apart over; the character isn't really dead, just as he was never really alive. But, just as surely as he made me laugh, he made me cry. This is something deeper than losing a beloved character on the stage or film, and the more frequent deaths on the ever popular television drama. While the character may be dead, the person, the face, who exemplified that persona, lives on - it is only a half-death, a bitter-sweet leaving. 

Book Sculpture by Su Blackwell
Death in literature is whole, the character is completely erased. No more dialogue will appear, transitioned to the past tense. The characters left behind mourn, their world, however fictional, has been scarred by loss. Authors are not only the spinners of tales, wordsmiths forging great escapes into literary lands; they are the keepers of dreams, the view finder of our hearts.

"Trust me," the author says as she tears my books apart, her murderous quill tipped with blood. My fists clench, as I resist the urge to throw my book Benedict against a wall. Books are my escape, my light in dark places, my refuge. I hate when my book worlds go wrong. Authors can not be put on trail for killing off their own character, but they can be coerced, badgered and collectively pushed into fixing it.  As so learned Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he executed a spectacular betrayal of Sherlock Holmes readers worldwide.

I will not allow my faith in books, however shaken, to falter. Wearily I will wait, with breath bated, my hand cautiously extended, for the rest of the story. Authors have the ability to raise the dead, to twist even the most real betrayal into a new story with a better ending, not necessarily happier, just better. For deaths are never endings just beginnings in disguise.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Paper Boats

Frankly, I didn't want to grow up. 

It's often a comment of the old and wizened that youth is wasted on the young. Not me, I knew how good I had it when I was a kid and I informed my mother that I was simply not going to grow up. Worked for Peter Pan. 

My Mom wished me luck with my endeavor to remain a kid forever, but said I probably didn't have much of a choice. Since I was having trouble finding the second star on the left and flying pixie dust. I was forced to concede this point, but under protest. 
I've found that "growing up" is actually code for "having bills" and that the measure of maturity is whether you pay them on time or at all. By this definition I have, to the disappointment of my younger self, grown up into a mature adult. But, I am still protesting. I believe there is a much missed element of adult-ness, which can be discovered by a simple shift in perspective. 

An ant's view of the world is radically different from mine, for example. Mostly because ants don't have to worry about paying back student loans, but then I don't have to worry about being eaten by birds, so I suppose it evens out. The point is as adults we can become so stuck in a certain perspective of the world. What was it about being a kid that was so alluring (besides the obvious lack of financial responsibility)? It's being able to look at the world with a constant shifting perspective.

What we often lack, is whimsy. That innate ability to view the world by the second instead of by the hour. Whenever there is any real conundrum, or question of what it is we are all doing milling about on this planet rocketing through space, the answer is never to pay our bills. Whimsy is what changes a puddle into a sea to sail paper boats upon. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Malevolent Movie Montages

Frankly,I've discovered the downfall of western civilization. Oh, western civilization hasn't fallen? I must be mistaken, you say? Just wait. 

The "Love" Montage
Eventually society will crumble at the relentless inundation of the inescapable movie montage. They're everywhere, like ladybugs in June.  Only, to expand the metaphor, they actually turn out to be those Asian Beetles that only look like cute lovable ladybugs, until they bite you. And so is the stealthy deception of the movie montage. 

Montages did not always have a plot to brainwash and control the multi-media watching public. Originally it was just a clever cinematography tool to mark the passing of time within a story. But like so many a science fiction innocent experiment gone wrong, it's taken on a life of its own. 

There are whole genres of montage. The love montage was the pioneer. It's now the backbone of romantic comedy. The artfully pasted together string of interactions that illustrate a couple falling in love accompanied by a befitting song. Not to be out done, the memory montage came on the scene as an intriguing way to character build. After that it was really a free-for-all. 

You can't escape the montage, it's in all major motion pictures, the history channel, crime show dramas, sit-coms, TLC was basically created on the principle (enter the "work" montage, and the "make over" montage), even the news. I'm beginning to believe it's effecting my subconscious and influencing my brain patterns.

I knew it'd gone too far when I discovered yet another sub genre of montage. The thinking montage; which consists of a cloud of ideas, numbers and translucent images being connected while swirling around a characters head. I fell in love with this montage, I would put out a bulletin to others to notify me if one came up. I found myself wishing I had thinking montages. 

Then it hit me. The montage will ruin us all. Montages tell us lies. They shrink things like character building, remodeling, history, dating, and now even complex thought into the space of 45 seconds with soundtrack. And where I know the montage is just a construct, it doesn't stop me from wanting my own love montage to the song "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake.

The "Thinking" Montage Photo Credit:

Montages have become our society's waking dreams. The bits and pieces of what we wish could be, actualized. And like dreams, they can only retain malevolence if you aren't aware you're in the thrall of one. Oh great movie montage, whisper more sweet nothing in our ears. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Woman with a Sword

Frankly, swords are the answer. 
What's the question? It doesn't matter.

I picked up a sword in Scotland (the place to buy swords, obviously) and for some reason had to take it home with me. It could have been the ambiance of the armory, the racks of weapons, the extremely knowledgable Scotsman selling them, the deathly beauty of the glinting blades or a combination there of. Regardless, a sword came became mine to have and hold, forevermore. There is something about possessing a sword that goes beyond the mere practicality of having a weapon.

Seriously, though I think bringing back swords as  both an accessory and personal weapon of choice is the answer to many of this country's if not the world's current socio-ecomnic issues.

Just consider it, a new law is passed requiring all citizens to purchase, carry and be instructed in the use of a sword (daggers perhaps for children and the infirm). Crime problems? Solved. I think random crime would decrease if everyone was sporting over 12 inches of steel on their hip, don't you? Weight issues? Solved. Swordplay, is excellent exercise that also can double as entertainment. No Jobs? Solved. New industry just opened up, make swords, sell swords, repair swords, clean swords, teach about swording — the possibilities for creating capital endless. 

Swords are also stylish. So, this endless folderol concerning fashion could be dampened if not ceased. I am of the persuasion that clothing should have function as well self expression. And I think a sword is the thing.  It worked for Zena (warrior princess), do you think she could have pulled off that outfit without a sword over her shoulder? I think not.  

Sparing with the opposite sex would bring on entirely new and exhilarating meaning in this context. As one could actually cross blades. How effective would that be in finding your match? Invaluable, I say. Not to mention that swords exude an unidentifiable sexiness, especially for the fairer sex (Ex; refer back to Zena, Warrior Princess).  There's just something about a woman with a sword that is immensely intriguing to the male psyche, merely the possession of one peaks interest - even more so if the lady knows how to use it. 

Swords are so the answer to life's persistent questions. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Et tu Brute?

Frankly, politics hasn't progressed far past the bloody knife laden plots of Rome. Surely, I jest, you say, we've civilized democracy in the western world. Are you quite sure? Seems like plenty of people are feeling the sharp pains of betrayal these days . . . 

Julius Caesar, the play penned by William Shakespeare is my guide to politics. If you haven't had the pleasure to view it on the stage somewhere, I highly recommend it as possibly the most accessible and still culturally relevant play in Shakespeare's folio. I know Shakespeare isn't really everyone's native language, but luckily I speak fluent Shakespearean. So, I'll translate.

The plot is as follows; power incites fear from the loyal, creating political struggle, political struggle begets action, action spurs a public reaction, public reaction evolves to public unrest, public unrest is resolved by political rhetoric, political rhetoric sways public opinion, public opinion is used to amass power. Repeat. 

The political wheels of our dear modern age turn in very similar ways, I've noticed. Granted the modern version generally has less knives and murder involved, which is a definite plus for us. I would like to bring the focus to the political rhetoric spokes of these wheels and its' effect on inciting, resolving and swaying the public (that's us). Brutus was lost as Anthony spoke his first line "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." Brutus had swayed the public, incited them to action,  but he hadn't learned that having the right words is just as valuable as having the last ones. 

This is what I like to keep in mind when we, the public, are incited, swayed, enraged, to display our unrest with the political leanings of the time. These are old wheels, that have been turning for thousands of years, on the cart of democracy; and we, the public, are neither the horses that power it nor the road on which it treads, remember we sit in atop that cart holding the reins. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For the Love of Hermits

Frankly, I am perplexed. I am well aware that I'm an odd person, odder than the regular allotted portion of oddness allowed by social norms. But, is it really so weird to love hermits?

Okay, it's not like I have a hermit photo collage on my wall (even if I wanted to I probably wouldn't, it's hard to get photos of hermits for obvious reasons).  I've got a bit of a crush on the lifestyle, not any individual hermit, per say. The more I think about it the more I'm convinced that the hermit way is a good one.

The secret is in the solitude. The traditional hermit has been reduced to an image of a crusty, bearded character-usually missing teeth,  but the allure is not in the hermit but the hermitage. The place which the hermit resides, alone. The solitude. Solitude in not loneliness. Solitude is being content with your own company. There is something about being alone that is extremely frightening to the modern world. 

I find this fear everywhere. As if social networking, and the invention of the "status update" weren't proof enough. As a society we are so afraid to be alone we will connect with complete strangers, just to connect. Even if that connection is meaningless.  I hear it particularly related to those of my friends that are single, or rather trying to avoid being single. Solitude is the answer. If you don't want to hang out with you, than why should any one else? 

But what's the difference, if the result is still - alone?   Fret not, it's simple. Loneliness is something forced on you, you choose solitude. In that choice is the magic of being able to be by yourself without feeling that something is missing. I find my optimum solace in the dead of the night, when my house is sleeping. I can curl up with book, a cup of tea, a sketchbook whatever pleases me and just swim around in my own thoughts. Try solitude in small doses, it's quickly addicting. 

I'm not thrilled with the entire cabala of the Hermitage, while I will delight in my solitude stolen in the gloaming hours of night and continue to day dream of a hermit's life, you won't find me wandering the woods in rope sandals just yet. 


Monday, February 28, 2011

A Kiss in the Rain

Frankly, rain is miraculous. Just ask a meteorologist some time, I'm sure they would concur. As would most inhabitants of deserts or drought plagued places the world over. The weather has been vacillating between snow and rain, and any mixture there of for most of the month of February; and the sheets of dancing drops drenching the land entrance me. And I wonder how rain became so equated with dreariness and the darker side of the human psyche.

Can there not be a joyous rain? Cinema and literature have been remiss in this. The best setting rain can hope to frequent is perchance romantic. Kissing in the rain has become a beacon of romance, Hollywood has been exploiting rain for years to this end. I must admit that while I once found rain dismal in every other respect, I also found it extremely fitting and be-spelling when actors lips were meeting in it. A la "Breakfast at Tiffany's" cue Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Romance defined it seems. 

What else could we do in the rain? Rain must have some sort of amplifying quality that makes the action happening in it . . . more somehow. I believe we're selling rain short if we stop at kissing in it. Sure we've covered crying, walking pensively or broodily, and on occasion fighting in it. But these all align with the negative, dreary role rain has played. Except with it's moonlighting for romance, every now and then. And of course we can't forget it's big debut "Singing in the Rain", but that seemed a shortly lived respite. 

Dance in the rain! This is the answer. You've heard of Rain Dancers haven't you? I hardly doubt that they stopped dancing once the rain came. And while I've never danced rain into falling, I have joined the drops after the fact. It is joyous, dancing in the rain. Particularly on warm summer days, if you're thinking about taking it up. No shoes, no steps, just flinging your body around amid thousands of falling water droplets. If that doesn't feel miraculous, I don't know what does, except perhaps a kiss in the rain. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Dastardly Mustache

[das-terd-lee] - adjectivecowardly; meanly base; sneaking: a dastardly act

Frankly, it's all about the Mustache. Somehow, dastardly has become synonymous with the mental picture of a man twirling waxed facial hair between his fingertips. The authentically dastard in the past, John Wilkes Booth, Bill the Butcher,  Blackbeard,  perhaps set the precedent. Therefore, a person can appear dastardly, and be innocent of any actual dastardliness. Hence the mustache rule.

Insults are what make language fun. And dastardly is perhaps one of the most delicious to say. It is an adjective usually reserved for describing truly despicable specimens of the human race. The traitors, the villains and the scalawags. Because of the mustache rule, however, I can sidestep actually using the inferred insult on the unsuspecting by saying someone looks dastardly.(see mustache chart, for reference)
The "Dastardly Mustache" Chart.

 Of course, few people are dastardly through and through. Many can act dastardly. That sneaky, mean, innate coward lurks in the dredges of everyone's soul, mustache or not.

But, remember this is why those who don a dastardly mustache seem innately suspect and look unnaturally good in black leather.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crazy Like a Goat!

Frankly, goats are crazy. It's alright though, they seem to be pretty okay with it. They've been caught willy and nilly flouting their craziness. I, however, not having the time to non-nonchalantly stalk a solitary goat or tail a tribe of them; have instead collected some photographic proof from other generous goat watchers. 

This is a Crazy Goat.
Don't scoff, I hear goat watching is a very popular and respected past-time in mountainous regions. As illustrated in the photo above, goats are perhaps unparalleled in outrageous behavior. It makes me want to be a goat. Not literally, obviously. But figuratively, I think we could all do with a bit of goat-ness. 

Brings a whole different definition to "rock climbing" and "family outing".
 What is goatness? Well, I'll tell you (since I just made it up). Goats only appear to be crazy. I mean, we humans think they've a screw loose for scaling sheer rock faces, hanging about in trees and the like. But it is all perfectly logical to other goats. Thus, brings us to "goatness," goats have an uncanny confidence and awareness of their own abilities and combine it with a "devil may care" attitude.

Ahh, this is what I call landscaping. A goat just adds a certain something to a tree, you know?

If you could ask a goat WHY he was standing in tree, he would most likely respond WHY NOT? (goats also like to answer questions with questions but that's just a quirk).Goats do not question their goatness. If a goat has a desire to stand in tree, and the means to get him there, he will do it. And he'll bring a bunch of his goat friends. 

Goats are also silly. Silly for the sake of it is practically a goat motto. If goats had thumbs I'm sure it would be emblazoned on mountain tops the world over. The goat angle on silliness can be summed up in one word: frolic. They frolic, to and fro, in fields, over rocks, on mountain tops. If goats recruited, frolicking would cinch the deal. 

The definition of "frolic".

So, I am going to get in touch with my inner goat and frolic often. Though, this may procure strange looks from the passerby, "Are you crazy?" they'll ask. And I'll smile and say, "You betcha, crazy like a goat!"

More Photos of Crazy Goats!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Julia Child was a SPY!

Mata Hari was double agent for Germany in France during WWI.
Frankly, I was shocked. While watching the History Channel last night, a program about the Revolutionary War and the Culper Ring (i.e. spy ring) , when a bomb of information was dropped on my unsuspecting head. Julia Child and Mata Hari were given as examples of female civilians that had become spies during wartime. Wait, Julia Child? A spy? What!? I realize I might be coming a little late to this party of knowledge; but, come on History Channel, how can you lump Julia Child and Mata Hari in one illustrative example sentence, like a passing thought? I, of course, had to investigate. As the History Channel spent all of 20 seconds, three sentences and a photo collage on the subject. As it turns out I'm not THAT late to this influx of covert intelligence. 

Julia Child worked for the OSS during WWII.
Julia Child didn't spill the beans of her super secret spy career until 2008, when records on the OSS were made public record. I'm still stunned that before Julia Child was a cooking legend she was in China dishing out secrets (pardon the pun). Though, the stark difference between Mata Hari and Julia Child (beside the fact that Hari was horribly executed)  is that Julia was on the intelligence end of spy intelligence. 

Working in an office filing, typing and cataloging. Not as sexy as the "undercover" cloak and dagger life of Mata Hari, perhaps, but then she didn't get shot by a firing  squad either. I'm with Julia on this one, I'd rather sneak quietly via file cabinets.Though Julia did help develop a shark repellent to put on explosives targeted for German U-boats. That's pretty bad-ass, if you ask me. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weird Word Wednesday

Welcome to Weird Word Wednesday. I love words, especially weird ones and I believe we can all do our part in adopting the rarely spoken word or two so that these fantastically bizarre words are not lost to the pages of dictionaries. And it might help you score ridiculously high in Scrabble (you just never know when you'll have an impromptu game of scrabble). 

Today's word is: 


–noun Rare. the estimation of something as valueless 
(encountered mainly as an example of one of the longest words in the English language)

It's a whopper ain't it? Not only is floccinaucinhilipilification one the longest words in the English language, it was first longest word: appearing in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (it was edged out by pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in the second edition).  Floccinaucinihilipilification was created, quite understandingly, as a joke. A Latin joke, no less. 

This is a lot funnier if you have studied English, learned Latin and went to Eton College in the eighteenth century. 

Some, undoubtedly witty, youth created the word by stringing four latin words together flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili (which all mean "nothing" or "little value")  as they appeared in a text book and stuck -fication on the end making it a noun.  

Thus flocci, nauci, nihili, pili-fication is the act of deciding something is completely worthless. Ta Da!

 Most of my weird word selections will be more vocab friendly but I couldn't resist the longest word word about nothing. Long words are entertaining, it is such a human fixation to string the most letters together without slipping into gibberish. A fine line indeed. 

The down fall, as we can see from floccinaucinihilipilification, of having a longest word is that it is then unspoken challenge to the human race to create a longer one. The contest has even been taken to naming places (I'm sure this was a scheme cooked up by shrewd sign makers). 

A prime example is the longest place name in the USA, a lake in Massachusetts, topping out at 45 letters.

Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg; sometimes facetiously translated as "you fish your side of the water, I fish my side of the water, nobody fishes the middle". It's also know as Lake Webster, what cheaters. 

Long words seem to be the founders of the inside joke. Need proof? How about the longest official geographical name in Australia? 

Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill is a Pitjantjatjara word from the native aboriginal language literally translating as "where the devil urinates." Now that's funny. 

*Many thanks to Michael Quinion at 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Winter Spell

It's winter, and what's worse it's February.
The worst month of the Midwest, I'm convinced. There is no special place in my heart for February, because not only is it frigidly bleak, it's impossible to spell (there are just too many letters in it). This years saving grace has been snow. Winter's beautiful child. I was never quite so enraptured of it until I ran across this poem that showed winter in a fonder light.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

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 downy 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. 

Robert Frost
New Hampshire
I believe everyone can find some familiarity in the last stanza, famous poems are regularly reduced to a few oft quoted lines. Reading it in it's entirety was nothing short of delightful , it is such a lovely winter poem. I would think having the last name like "Frost" would be too much pressure concerning  writing on winter subjects.
Winter gets a bum rap sometimes as a season because it lacks frills and sunshine. Through Frost's eyes, however, winter personifies the beauty of solitude and silence and secrets.

I am undoubtedly under his spell, and I am content to stay there until spring.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Frankly, my dear . . .

. . . I don't give a damn

The immortal words of Clark Gable were never "Gone with the Wind" and are, quite frankly, a personal mantra I'd like to adopt. It is such an awful story, really. 

Scarlett blinded by her own unrequited love until it is too late. It should be abhorrent, as an ending, as a viewer I should be devastated or at the very least a bit cheated. As far as love stories go, romance films end with a kiss. Right? Oddly, I was satisfied. There was something about the succinctness. There was nothing else left to say. It was so . . . honest.

That is what "frankly" means. To be honest, to in truth say something. I believe honesty is quite underrated. It is rare and slightly terrifying to not only say what you are thinking or by god feeling, because we are rarely truly honest with ourselves. That is perhaps why honesty and truth aren't mutually exclusive principals. 

Seeing such unbridled honesty I believe is like bearing witness to a live birth; a riveting, awkward, slightly horrifying, and strangely beautiful experience. 

I don't know how frank became an adverb and then a modifier; the english major part of my psyche loves it for that alone, but I'm intrigued. While using the word "frankly" infers the following words are part of some truth or at least honest, it doesn't ensure it. 

Quite frankly, I think Rhett was lying. He gave a damn, all right.