Monday, April 21, 2014

"Hurry," she said, "up."



175 pounds

"People who cannot distinguish between good and bad language, or who regard the distinction as unimportant, are unlikely to think carefully about anything else."
--B.R. Myers

A couple days ago a young lady submitted to my Writers Group for criticism a 100-word poem she had recently composed. One of the first responses she received is appended below:

No, I was told I should not duplicate without permission what was offered in a private Writers List posting. So I won't copy and paste it here. I'll just say that the critique was a bit harsher than those usually offered on Writers in these tamer, more boring, and less honest days.

This critique was offered by Meredith, a long-time cyber-acquaintance of mine who happens to be a holder of advanced university degrees and (I think) a one-time teacher of Creative Writing.

Of course such forcible language spurred several seemingly-supportive replies decrying the harshness of the critique and assuring the poet that her poem was just fine, implying that she should continue on her personal poetic course.

And I couldn't help remembering the many times over the past two decades when, as a member of the group, I had submitted stories and received back some (extremely helpful) negative comments from Meredith. One of those is stuck securely in my memory. I had written a short story wherein the main character was taking a trip in a Greyhound Bus, and at one point I wrote: "The Greyhound rounded a sharp corner and raced to its assigned slot, where it wheezed, coughed, and slid to hissing stop."

Good ol' Meredith critiqued: "Jesus Christ, Gene, if you want the reader to know the bus stopped at the terminal, for God's sake, just say the bus stopped at the terminal."

What? I thought when I read that, and I objected (to myself) ...but that was some good writing. Here was this woman telling me to say it simply, that I should delete all such fanciful language and use plain everyday words.

A few years later, Stephen King made how-to-write history by passing on that phrase familiar to all modern would-be writers, "Kill your darlings!"

And Meredith helped me through many more hard times in my writing attempts. I learned that it was her seemingly pedantic no-nonsense commandments that aided me much more than did all the supportive "Good jobs" and other such bland encouragements. (Not that I didn't preen and exult after receiving them.)

I guess my point is that a few short, loud barks at blatant mistakes is more valuable than an hour of kittenly purring at the pudding.

And, yes, I know there's something wrong with that figure of speech.


Did You Know . . .?

There is a frog which lets itself completely freeze into a "frog-sicle" every winter. Its heart stills, blood stops flowing, and eyes go white because its lenses freeze. In the summer it thaws and hops away, good as new.



On this day in 1930 a fire at an Ohio prison killed 320 inmates, some of whom burned to death when they were not unlocked from their cells. It is one of the worst prison disasters in American history. The cell block adjacent to the scaffolding housed 800 prisoners, most of whom were already locked in for the night. The inmates begged to be let out of their cells as smoke filled the cell block. However, the guards refused to unlock the cells.

Finally, two prisoners forcibly took the keys from a guard and began their own rescue efforts. Approximately 50 inmates made it out of their cells before the heavy smoke stopped the impromptu evacuation. The roof then caved in on the upper cells. About 160 prisoners burned to death.



Extremely large; huge; enormous: "humongous baked potatoes piled high with sour cream"

Note: I despise this made-up, poor excuse for a word, and lose all esteem for anyone who uses it.



(born April 21, 1926)
Queen Elizabeth is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states, known as the Commonwealth realms, and their territories and dependencies, and head of the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations. She is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and, in some of her realms, carries the additional title of Defender of the Faith.

(born April 21, 1958)
Andie MacDowell is an American model and actress. In the early 1980s, A series of billboards in Times Square and national television commercials for Calvin Klein drew attention to her and led to her 1984 film debut in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. In 1985, she had a small part in St. Elmo's Fire. MacDowell achieved stardom due to the box office success of director Harold Ramis's 1993 comedy, Groundhog Day, and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994

(born April 21, 1985)
Jessica Clark is a British actress. She had a central role in feature film A Perfect Ending, a 2012 film directed by Nicole Conn. She plays the fictional vampire goddess Lilith in True Blood. She appeared on the cover of the October 2012 issue of Vogue India.

(born April 21, 1982)
Brianne Davis is an American model, actress, producer and director, known for her roles in Jarhead and Prom Night. She has guest-starred in Nip/Tuck, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Entourage, Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters, Body of Proof, and True Blood, and has appeared in recurring roles on Hollywood Heights and Witches of East End.


"The greater part of the world's troubles are due to questions of grammar."
--Michel de Montaigne,