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Friday, March 26, 2010

The "F Word" - Blame it on the Germans!

A little trivia before the weekend. I read this on MSN:

"The F word dates back centuries, according to an article on Discovery's website. Lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower told Discovery that the Germanic word's root meant, 'to move back and forth.' Sheidlower should know -- he wrote a book on it.

Its meaning changed over the centuries, eventually showing up in obscene contexts -- poems and other literary masterpieces, crisis situations, Tarantino movies, stand-up comedy shows and garden variety home repair mishaps."

(By Jonathan Lloyd

Friday, March 12, 2010

You (Only) Live Twice or Writers are Mini Gods

I don't know if the director of that James Bond movie had writers in mind when he created the title. But, boy, does it fit! Writers do live twice (or more than twice!), once in their everyday world and then in the worlds they create themselves. Their everyday world may be bland and boring but, if they are any good at all, their alternate worlds are not. No wonder then that writers often spend more time in the fantasy worlds they create than in their "real" life. That can lead to serious problems, such as unpaid bills, angry spouses, and desperate children. Well, let's hope writers are intelligent enough not to let it go that far (who are you kidding?).

Anyway, writers create worlds of their own. They design nature, cultures, characters, situations. They behave like gods, but unlike the Christian God, who gives his characters free will (supposedly), Writer Gods don't give away any power at all. Oh, no. They keep complete control over the destiny of their characters. Writer Gods are more like the power-hungry Greek gods. If they want their characters to have a happy love life, good sex, lots of money, that's what they get and no action on the characters' part can change that. If the writer feels that one of the characters has to die, the writer just kills him or her off. Easy. Then, the Writer God decides he wants a new character in his world, a gorgeous muscular hunk or a sexy woman with long blond or black hair, fantastic hips and tits, there she is, like Athena sprung from Zeus's head.

But that's not all writers want. Once their world is created, they expect others to participate in it, read about it, believe in their illusions, and, yes, PAY FOR IT.

What a bunch of selfish narcissists!
Oh, it's wonderful to be a writer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Negative Snow by Miranda Owen

It's time for a poem. This one is by ten-year old Miranda, daughter of the brilliant author Scott Nicholson (see my blog entry about The Skull Ring, 3/3/2010). Miranda obviously walks in her father's footsteps. She is an aspiring writer, poet, and photographer. Anybody who has ever languished during the long winter months and longed for a sign of spring can relate to this beautifully crafted poem. Enjoy!

Negative Snow

By Miranda Owen

Snow is bad.
It makes me mad.
When there's no school,
It's not so cool.
Sitting at my mom's work place,
I'd really rather be in space.
Snow is cold.
The joke gets old.
It falls in your hair.
And everywhere.
Snow makes ice.
Ice brings mice.
In my house.
Traps for the mouse!
Positive I try to be.
But that job's really not for me!
Snow please give us a break.
There's not much more that I can take!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How to get really old

The oldest woman in Switzerland died shortly before her 113th birthday. She fell asleep one night and didn't wake up. What a way to go! In an interview shortly before her death she said that hearing and eyesight weren't perfect anymore, but she was still able to walk. I wonder if it was genes, the daily hike, the mountain air? No, I think it was chocolate.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Book Thief

In his compelling and ambitious novel, The Book Thief, the young Australian author, Markus Zusak, breaks at lot of traditional "writing rules" and gets away with it big time. The narrator is Death himself and the time and place is Nazi Germany during the Second World War. The main character of the story is nine-year old Liesel Meminger, who is taken to live with foster parents in a small village. Besides trying to survive and mourning the loss of family and friends, Liesel has another problem--an overwhelming urge and desire to steal books. She steals her first book even before she knows how to read and continues to steal books in the face of great danger. What I found so fascinating about the book is the author's ability to present deeply disturbing, gloomy, tragic events with dark but comforting humor. You literally "cry with one eye and laugh with the other." The book is both a favorite with young as well as older adults.

A very different story about a "book thief" I read in the weekly Swiss newspaper I get to keep in touch with events in my second home country. A world-famous neurologist and professor at the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, was fired from his job and arrested for misappropriating approx. 5 million dollars to support his addiction to--BOOKS! Yep, not drugs or fancy cars or villas, but books. He collected books like a maniac. Fortunately (from my point of view), he wasn't sent to jail. He was contrite and paid back all the money, donated a large part of his collection to the university library and contributed a large amount to charitable organizations. Although the judge felt, he deserved time in the slammer, he gave him a very mild sentence. I bet the judge loved books!

The moral behind these stories: Books are valuable. So keep on writing, authors. If you're lucky enough, someone will even risk jail to read your stuff!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson

Looking for a fascinating, suspenseful page turner with a touch of romance?
Try The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson.

The young woman, Julia Stone, desperately tries to remember what happened to her at age four, when she became the victim of a terrible tragedy in the hands of a satanic cult. This experience left her with nightmares, panic attacks, and a deep distrust of everyone around her. In her quest for truth, she looks for support from two psychiatrists, her boyfriend, a cop, and a young man with an equally troubled past and a dubious reputation. It seems, however, that some of the people who profess to help Julia may have sinister plans of their own. The Skull Ring is a masterfully crafted, psychologically intense, and truly fascinating story, a real page-turner. I highly recommend it. The one drawback: you may suffer from sleep deprivation for a while since you won’t be able to put it down. Turn on that espresso machine and lock the door!