Monday, August 27, 2018

August Vacation: Fourth Monday (Q & A with Other Writers)

This blog posts every Monday. Starting this year, the fourth Monday, except when not, is dedicated to a Q & A with another writer. I'm on vacation this week so, herewith, in case you missed them, a selection of previously posted but especially crunchy Q & As:

Q & A with Sara Mansfield Taber on Chance Particulars: A Writer's Field Notebook

Q & A with Mary S. Black on Travels in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands and Her New Book, From the Frio to Del Rio

Q & A with Mexican Historian Alan Rojas Orzechowski on Painter Santiago Rebull

Q & A with Nancy Peacock on The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson and On Writing in the Whirl of the Digital Revolution

P.S. See also my Conversations with Other Writers Occasional Podcast page, where you can listen in anytime and also read the transcripts.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Eeeeeeasyyyy Geeeeeermaaaaan

Sometime in 2019 I'll be blogging more about adventures in learning German; suffice to say I am very ooohsoooveeery slowly but steadily doing the drills and more for this language that oftentimes feels like it's all elbows. One resource I've stumbled upon of late is the Easy German Youtube channel. German is not, actually, at all easy; nonetheless I find what works brilliantly for me is to play the Easy German videos at half speed so that I can follow the captions in both German and in English translation. Everyone sounds stooooned. It's hilarious. But effective. Hats off to you, Easy German! Google says the translation of that would be Hüte weg zu Ihnen. I am not so sure. Ich bin nicht so sicher. Bye! Bis dann!

German Breakfast (to play at half speed, click on the YouTube icon, once on the Youtube page, on the video's lower right hand corner, click on the tool icon. A menu will pop up; click on speed and select half speed.)



Monday, August 13, 2018

Diction Drops & Spikes

As of this year, the second Monday of the month is dedicated to my workshop students and anyone else interested in creative writing.



Thanks to the Battle of Hastings of 1066! Because it is a blend of languages, mainly Anglo-Saxon and Norman French, English offers unusual facility for diction drops and spikes, and you, dear writerly reader, if you care to dare, can employ these for a richly dazzling array of effects. Irony, comedy, sarcasm, intimacy, poignancy, revelation, poetry, punch, sass, shock... it's a long list and I'm sure that you can make it longer.

Here, taken from a few favorite books and blogs, are some examples of diction spikes-- that is, a sudden rise in the level of formality of vocabulary and syntax(wherein it all gets very elliptically Latinate)-- and drops-- gettin' funky with the grammar and using short, sharp words.

See if you can spot the spikes and drops. I separate them out for you below the quotes.

"What then, does one do with one's justified anger? Miss Manners' meager arsenal consists only of the withering look, the insistent and repeated request, the cold voice, the report up the chain of command and the tilted nose. They generally work. When they fail, she has the ability to dismiss inferior behavior from her mind as coming from inferior people. You will perhaps points out that she will never know the joy of delivering a well-deserved sock in the chops. True-- but she will never inspire one, either."
-- Judith Martin, Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior

SPIKE: "What then, does one do with one's justified anger? Miss Manners' meager arsenal consists only of the withering look, the insistent and repeated request, the cold voice, the report up the chain of command and the tilted nose."
DROP : "sock in the chops"

"Department of Transportation engineers explained that aluminum highway signs bore a chemical film which kept them from oxidizing. And that the film over time formed a halo effect, a light-purple tinge which migrated to stress points on the metals' surface. The regional maintentance engineer didn't think the sign looked a bit like the Virgin, by the way. You must of had to use your imagination. Though maybe, he admitted, he was unenlightened. The manager of the plant that supplied the aluminum sheets assured everyone that they weren't treated by monks or anything. It was done by a bunch of folks in Alabama."
-- Philip Garrison, "La Reconquisita of the Inland Empire"

SPIKE: "Department of Transportation engineers explained that aluminum highway signs bore a chemical film which kept them from oxidizing. And that the film over time formed a halo effect, a light-purple tinge which migrated to stress points on the metals' surface."
DROP:  "...didn't think the sign looked a bit like the Virgin, by the way. You must of had to use your imagination..."
SPIKE:  "The manager of the plant that supplied the aluminum sheets assured everyone..."
DROP: "...they weren't treated by monks or anything. It was done by a bunch of folks in Alabama."

"As I thought about composing a new blog post over the past couple of weeks, I resisted the idea of writing about wildfire, even as the topic claimed a growing share of mind day after day. For one thing, I've touched the subject before. For another, yet another blog bemoaning the lack of precipitation seemed tiresome. Plus, well, geez: fires are such a downer."
-- Andrea Jones, "Out of the Background" in "Between Urban and Wild" blog, July 4, 2018

SPIKE:  "...bemoaning the lack of precipitation seemed tiresome."
DROP: "Plus, well, geez: fires are such a downer."


"When I was a young man in the 1970s, New York was on its ass. Bankrupt. President Gerald Ford told panhandling Mayor Abe Beame to "drop dead." Nothing was being cared for. The subway cars were so grafitti-splattered you could hardly find the doors or see out the windows. Times Square was like the place Pinocchio grew donkey ears. Muggers lurked in the shadows of Bonwit Teller on 57th and Fifth. These were the climax years of the post-war (WWII) diaspora to the suburbs. The middle class had been moving out of the city for three decades leaving behind the lame, the halt, the feckless, the clueless, and the obdurate 'risk oblivious' cohort of artsy bohemians for whom the blandishments of suburbia were a no-go state of mind. New York seemed done for."
-- James Howard Kunstler, "The Future of the City"

DROP: "...New York was on its ass."
DROP: "drop dead."
SPIKE: "These were the climax years of the post-war (WWII) diaspora to the suburbs. The middle class had been moving out of the city for three decades leaving behind the lame, the halt, the feckless, the clueless, and the obdurate 'risk oblivious' cohort of artsy bohemians for whom the blandishments of suburbia were a no-go state of mind."
DROP: "New York seemed done for."


P.S. More resources for writers on my workshop page, including "Giant Golden Buddha" and 364 More Five Minute Writing Exercises.


> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.





Monday, August 06, 2018

Cyberflanerie: Greek Music, Ground Flow, Bowie Calls the Internet a Creature, Moda en CDMX, Hablemos Escritoras (Mexican Women Writers)

Rediscovering Ancient Greek Music



30 Minute Practice Ground Flow




Jeremy Paxman interviews David Bowie
(I admit it's not the most fascinating video unless you're a big Bowie fan, and the shots of Paxman listening are kind of strange-- actually, there are a lot of strange things about this interview--however, it quite struck me what Bowie said about the Internet):



La moda en CDMX (a video by my godson):




And for aficionados of Mexican literature, writer and literary scholar Adriana Pacho Roldán is hosting an excellent podcast of interviews with Mexican women writers, Hablemos Escritoras. Listen in! Prepare to be charmed and surprised!












> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.