Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End Address || David Hunter

Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.  Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.  ~ Brooks Atkinson

At the end of my first decade on this planet, when 1979 turned over to 1980, I remember being frightened by the number. It represented the unknown, and for a little kid the unknown was awfully scary. When the 80’s ended I was more concerned at how strange the number 1990 looked. And in 1999 …

Well, you get the picture.

I’m nostalgic by nature; I used to get sentimental watching final episodes of old TV shows (The best was M*A*S*H, but the saddest was The Wonder Years …) and watching a new year turn over always gave me that weird feeling, that sensation of being hurled into unknown territory, after all, the New Year is unscripted, an unknown quality. What lies beyond December 31st, 2010? Who knows.

It’s all in the mind of course; there’s no cataclysmic changes set to occur on January 1st, 2011, but the very date suggests change, catharsis, new meanings, new resolves, new feelings, new directions; and when the winds of change take hold people tend to go with the flow. In other words, people will change things, not a date on a calendar. But oh what those changes bring!

Because it’s not just a new year, but a new decade, and if you look back, you’ll find that the turn of a decade brings about great changes (See 1950: Rock ‘n Roll, 1960: Hippies, long hair, Psychedelia, 1970: Disco, Earth-tones and Heavy Metal, 1980: New Wave, MTV, Rap …etc, etc ... and with that in mind, I guess there's nothing we can do but ride the wave of this coming decade, and see where it takes us.

“No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam.” ~ Charles Lamb

So here’s to the people we left behind, the old ideas, the old ideologies, the old words, the old fads, crazes and trends, the old clothes, the old music, the old movies, the old TV shows, the old books, the old tragedies, calamities and disasters ... but not the old friends: those we keep, along with our hope for a better world.

It’s a new decade; let’s make something new of it, okay?

Happy New Year, from David Hunter and the Writer’s Den.

Le Buzz on David Hunter

I’ve been growing rather static on the blog front, so I decided to try and improve the Writer’s Den with a few changes. Mostly, the changes consist of writing more content (and more writing is always a good thing …) and adding more features. One of those features is a new Dashboard called Wiki-Den, intended as a hub for all my activity: links to stories, articles, Writing Resources and other things. It’s a ‘Wiki’ because it’s short and quick information for the time-challenged peruser. And lord knows we’re all a little time-challenged …

I want to thank all of the Den’s readers, you made this blog possible; I know it’s been wildly inconsistent and there have been long stretches between posts, but I hope to rectify that in the New Year (Hope!) and I wish you all the best. Be blessed, and take care. May we meet again soon.

Time to go: It’s almost 2011, and there’s a party waiting.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

 "... Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia ..."


I posted 'Vonnegut's Eight Rules of Writing' a while ago, but I recently stumbled across another article he wrote on writing called 'How to Write with Style', so I decided to pair the two for your reading pleasure.   Check out the Video of Kurt Vonnegut reciting his 'eight rules',  posted below. 

Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping by!

Vonnegut's Eight Rules of Writing Fiction

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages. -- Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut's Eight Rules of Writing Fiction, from Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1999), p. 9-10:

How to Write With Style
Kurt Vonnegut

Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.

These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful --- ? And on and on.

Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you're writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead --- or, worse, they will stop reading you.

The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don't you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head.

1. Find a subject you care about
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way --- although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.

2. Do not ramble, though
I won't ramble on about that.

3. Keep it simple
As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. "To be or not to be?" asks Shakespeare's Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story "Eveline" is this one: "She was tired." At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.

Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

4. Have guts to cut
It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.

5. Sound like yourself
The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was Conrad's third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.
In some of the more remote hollows of Appalachia, children still grow up hearing songs and locutions of Elizabethan times. Yes, and many Americans grow up hearing a language other than English, or an English dialect a majority of Americans cannot understand.

All these varieties of speech are beautiful, just as the varieties of butterflies are beautiful. No matter what your first language, you should treasure it all your life. If it happens to not be standard English, and if it shows itself when your write standard English, the result is usually delightful, like a very pretty girl with one eye that is green and one that is blue.

I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.

6. Say what you mean
I used to be exasperated by such teachers, but am no more. I understand now that all those antique essays and stories with which I was to compare my own work were not magnificent for their datedness or foreignness, but for saying precisely what their authors meant them to say. My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable --- and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing, if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.

Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.

7. Pity the readers
They have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don't really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school --- twelve long years.

So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient readers, ever willing to simplify and clarify --- whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.

That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique Constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.

8. For really detailed advice
For a discussion of literary style in a narrower sense, in a more technical sense, I recommend to your attention The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. E.B. White is, of course, one of the most admirable literary stylists this country has so far produced.

You should realize, too, that no one would care how well or badly Mr. White expressed himself, if he did not have perfectly enchanting things to say.

In Sum:

1. Find a subject you care about
2. Do not ramble, though
3. Keep it simple
4. Have guts to cut
5. Sound like yourself
6. Say what you mean
7. Pity the readers

from: How to Use the Power of the Printed Word, Doubleday

Monday, December 27, 2010

"...It's possible to have a writing career, but you must first ask yourself if, in fact, you are a writer ..."

Yes, I know, It’s been too long between posts, but life has a way of wedging itself between me and my writing, like a fat guy (Horizontally Challenged) blocking my view at the movie theater because he had to go get some Goobers and is trying to get back to his seat.

First of all, I flamed out on that NaNo thing (National Novel Writing Month) and I felt like such a failure (There’s no shame in it, it happens) but I was nearing exhaustion from work, and time had become my enemy (is Time not always the enemy?)

And then there was Christmas. Ugh. Family, friends, constant drop-ins, get-togethers; it was like one giant unending cocktail party. I marvel at ANYone who can write during the chaos of the holidays.

The festive season tends to shake writers out of their natural state (brooding anti-socialism) and into a kind of gregarious drunken happy-state, which is not conducive to a writer’s constitution - at least not mine.  Also, trying to find an hour of peace to get something down onto paper can be a struggle; during the holidays people tend to stick around till the wee hours of the night, drunkenly talking your ear off.

Finally, After all the folks have gone home or have crashed for the night, around 3 AM, say,  I'd get all excited to write. I'd quietly sit behind the computer and open a Word Doc, the booze still coursing through my brain, and we sit there, the Doc and I, with only that cursor flashing between us, and …

Nothing. Sleep just overwhelms me. This is the usual occurrence.

Slowly I come out of this happy-ass state, usually takes a few days, because every time I look at my blog it gets stinkier and stinkier and I start hoping that the last post from a month ago changes magically on its own (alas, it won’t) …

Happy New Year! Start Writing, sucker!

A new year is upon us, and as usual writers make confirmations anew; resolutions are made, promises sworn, ideas hatched, and we can forget all about our perceived failures (Read: Self-Loathing) because the slate is clean, and we can plan that book (or plan to finish it) because there’s a whole shiny new year ahead, and anything is possible.

It always helps to define what a writer is, and what writing is, to aid us in our lonely struggle, to get some sorta perspective on things, because all that info on writing we've been absorbing must have clogged up our fragile brains over the long year. I mean, haven’t you heard millions of words pertaining to writing in the past 12 months? Time to etch-a-sketch it. I perused the web and came up with some definitions of writing and writers; call it a "Drastic Renewal of Purpose", if you will.

Keep it Simple Stupid

Definition of a writer? Isn’t it “One who writes?” … yeah, it is, but as usual I need to go deeper, because I like to confuse the issue. I like to throw some Metaphysical Mojo into the conversation just for good measure. Sure, a writer can be defined as 'One who Writes' but, does that include shopping lists?

One who writes, or has written; a scribe; a clerk.

One who is engaged in literary composition as a profession; an author; as, a writer of novels.

Okay, not bad, better than 'One who Writes', ya know?

Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols (known as a writing system).

Well Duh!

Here's a more involved definition:

I heard one person suggest that defining a writer is as simple as asking, "What makes an electrician an electrician?" In this line of thinking, an electrician is someone who installs electrical devices and wiring. A writer then is someone who writes.

If this definition is true then you are not a writer if...

1) You have a major in journalism, but do not use your skills.

2) You only wait to write if there is a reason to write. In effect you will only write if a publisher asks for an article.

3) You dream of writing someday, just not today.

I don't know if this if an absolutely perfect definition of a writer, but the truth that 'writers write' is sometimes lost on individuals who have the skills to write, but rarely do.

Around the world there are individuals today who will sit down and map out a story, they will craft a sentence, they will dangle a few participles and some may finish a story they've been working on for months.

These tenacious individuals sit down each day to write. They may not be published yet, but they have already accepted the mantle of 'writer' simply because they have given themselves to the art of writing.

"Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." - William Faulkner

It's possible to have a writing career, but you must first ask yourself if, in fact, you are a writer.

I don't want to belabor the point, but if you have the skills to write and refuse to use them you may not be a writer. This point is made by looking at a person who has gone to electrical engineering school yet refuses to actually work with electricity.

I am well aware that the notion of defining a writer is broad and often vague. It is also a point that can be argued ad infinitum, but the purpose of this article is to encourage those who are dedicating themselves to the craft of writing. Each day you are learning more about yourself and how you define the world around you. With each pen stroke you are creating new worlds or explaining old ones. With each stoke of the key you are answering questions or creating new ones to consider.

If you simply must write today, as you did yesterday, last week and last year - you are a writer.

"If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor." - Edgar Rice Burroughs


Okay then, have we sufficiently clouded the issue? Here's a more humorous take on the whole thing, by none-other than Matt Groening:

Your Guide to Artistic Types || Matt Groening


Dominant Personality Type: Self-Absorption.

Secondary Personality Traits: Pomposity, Irritability, Whining.

Distinguishing Features: Nervous Twitching, Bad Posture.

Haunting Question: "Am I Just A Hack?"

How to Annoy Them: Ask "But How do you make a living?"

(Yes, all of the above describes me.)

Writing can also be defined as a magical thing, a communication thing, an expression thing, or anything you want it to be.  Let us not say that a writer is merely 'one who writes' ...

The act of writing seems akin to transmutation of elements. Sherman Alexie, in his book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, advises “Imagine a story that puts wood in the fireplace.” In this case, the writer is like a magician, conjuring a story that creates a way to provide a home with the most elemental of home necessities: the fire in the hearth. - Suite101

 Or how about Stephen King? He thinks it's Magic ...

Stephen King believes that writing is telepathy. “All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing offers the purest distillation” (p. 95, On Writing).

He acknowledges that writing is a learned skill, but continues by asking, “…do we not agree that sometimes the most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations? We are talking about tools and carpentry, about words and style…but as we move along, you’d do well to remember that we are also talking about magic” (p. 131).


Jim Carroll, Writing as Alchemy

Some writers evoke the imagery of writing being akin to alchemy. Speaking of Jim Carroll’s writing, Cassie Carter titled her master’s thesis “Shit into Gold: Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries and Forced Entries.” Carter discusses how writers, specifically Jim Carroll, can reinvent themselves through writing. The Medieval allusions throughout Carroll’s writing support this image of the writer as an alchemist.

To Nathaniel Hawthorne, writing is Gold:

“At some future day, it may be, I shall remember a few scattered fragments and broken paragraphs, and write them down, and find the letters turn to gold upon the page.”

 So what is Writing? What is a Writer? I couldn't tell you, but it might be Alchemy, it might be Gold, it might be Magic, and yes, it could be simply what it is: A writer writes, and writing is writing.  But If I accepted that answer than what the hell am I writing this post for?  (Because I'm a writer, and I have now come full-circle somehow ...)

Thanks for sticking around.  Let's have a productive year and fill the world with words, okay? 

Your Friend, David Hunter (Happy New Year!)
Psst: Sorry about some of the links, have to fix em: It's late here, and I'm a bit groggy =)

Related Madness: 


Sunday, December 19, 2010

 This was an Interview I did a while back, so I thought I'd post it here at the Den ...

Courtesy of, and Thanks to, Natasha Hollerup for Interviewing me, couldn't have been easy!

Hello and welcome to a new installment of “What’s Your Story?” The subject interviewed in this installment is David Hunter, who is a musician and a writer, as well as a blogger of news and writing advice. So, please give your attention, applause and goodwill to Mr. Hunter.


Can you tell everyone your name and location?
-I am David Hunter, and I dwell in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Okay, David, here is a set of simple questions to begin with:

When and where were you born?

-I was born in Toronto on October 19th, 1971. Wow, that date is starting to sound ancient! I was raised there as well.

What are your hobbies?

-Photography is a big passion of mine; and playing my guitar (A 1978 Les Paul Gold Top! Got it when I was 16 and I still have it…) And of course reading books, if that qualifies as a hobby.  I’d say writing, but that’s not a hobby, it’s my obsession, my life!

How long have you had these hobbies?
-I think I was born with my hobbies! Although I started playing guitar rather late in life, at age 15, I excelled at it quickly.

What is your favorite part about this hobby?

-That I was good! Within a few weeks I joined a band at school. People look at you different when you can play a guitar! I enjoyed that look.

What kind (s) of music do you like (bands, singers, genres)?

-How much time you got? There are so many; Rock, jazz, folk, you name it. If it sounds good, it is good. I do hold a special place in my heart for the Beatles.  As Jazz goes, Joe Henderson is my favorite. And Vince Guaraldi.  And Dave Brubeck! (See? I need more time…)

Who is your favorite author? Why?
-No one could turn a phrase as well as Edward Abbey, even though the man himself was a bit of a wing-nut.  I picked up a copy of The Monkey Wrench Gang when I was 12 and I never put it down.  I still have that copy! His writing influenced me the most.  He was a curmudgeon and a desert anarchist who burned billboards because they were an affront to the landscape, but boy could he write some beautiful stuff!

What was the most recent book you’ve read?
-Blood Work, by Michael Connelly.

What were your thoughts on it?

-It was good; a page turner.  But the movie was better, I thought.  It’s one of those books that I forget soon after I’ve read it.  How terrible is that?

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

-I’m currently re-reading an old YA (young adult) book that I’ve had since high school; the Pigman, by Paul Zindel.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.

What place do you/have you want (ed) to visit or live in? Why?

-I think I’d like to bum around Europe. It seems very artsy and writerly; and it always impresses people when you say you’ve been places like Paris or Rome!  Also, I could use some worldliness.  I’m not very worldly.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
-Who wants to grow up?

Here are some more personal questions:

What three people are most important to you?

-Carl Sagan, Chuck Jones, and my mom and my sister.  Not in that particular order, either.

Could you describe them and your relationship to them?
-My mom is the last parent I have, so that’s self explanatory.  She really belongs in the mom Hall of Fame.

Can you describe your most recent mistake or failure?
-I should have taken writing in college instead of art; big mistake.  Here I was with all this writing ability and I was still clinging to my artistic dreams.  It was a hard lesson, learning that you’re not going to be successful at something you love, and I loved to draw, but it wasn’t my real destiny; writing was.  Thank the gods for writing; it saved me.

Can you describe your most recent victory?

-I consider all my new friends on Twitter a victory for me. My dream was to be a part of a creative community and I accomplished that in the past year; they sustain me; they inspire me!

What do you do for a living?

-I work in a Food Container plant; in the mornings I do maintenance, in the afternoons I work in the Graphics department.

Tell me about how you got into your line of work.

-I had experience as a superintendent, so I applied for this job. It’s your standard 9 to 5 job, and it’s very similar to being a super.  I needed money, and my only skills include writing and being creative, things we know are hard to make money at.  The Graphics part came about because I asked them to train me.  I wanted to move up in the company.

Do you like your job?

-It’s a job, that’s all; nothing special.  I guess that means no!

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

I would love to be writing for the local media, become a part of the writing culture here in Toronto.  Nothing says success like having your friends read your stuff in the local paper.

What do you hope to accomplish in 2010?
-What does any self-respecting writer want to accomplish? A finished manuscript, a book deal, and to move to California.  Me and California, we are meant for each other!

How do you think you’ll accomplish this/these goal (s)?
-By working my ass off.  I know of no other way.

What genre of writing do you want to write in?

-I love crime fiction, but I also love Sci-fi,  (although my lack of scientific knowledge may prevent this…)  and comedy; but I’m mostly mainstream.  I love many genres, so I hope I don’t get pigeon-holed into only one genre.

Why do you gravitate towards this particular type of writing?

-Under the Mainstream banner I can write anything, and I won’t get trapped in any one genre.  I like to be free in what I write.

Do you have any works in progress?

-I have a story called Rockfish, set in the 1960’s.

Can you give a brief summary about it?

-It’s about a kid named Everett Winsom who is dealing with his messed up family…and the fact that he has a bad leg that makes him limp, makes him the butt of jokes at school.  He has a mentally challenged brother and an alcoholic mother…

When do you plan to become published?
-As soon as humanly possible! But seriously, it’s a long process.  These things take time.  Like any optimistic writer, I plan to get published within the year, which is wishful thinking at best.

If you become a published author, would you quit the job you have now to primarily write?
-A resounding “hell yeah” would be the appropriate response.

What do you like the most about writing? What do you like the least?

-I like the creativity of it; creating my own characters, my own worlds, where I can explore things.  Plus, let’s face it, writers like to write because they can be in charge of these little places in their minds; petty tyrants lording it over imaginary people.  That’s the real reason people write, isn’t it?  What I hate is the doubt; it can be debilitating.

What do you want to be doing in five years?
-Writing for a living; traveling the world; hopefully engaged with love and life.

List five adjectives that describe yourself.

-Stubborn, sensitive, creative, easy-going and hungry (Hungry being a metaphor for motivated)

How would you like to be remembered?

-Through my writing.  I hope students will be reading and discussing my work a hundred years from now, and I hope they say, “He was pretty cool”.

Can you name three to five things you want to do before you die?

-Meet the perfect girl, fall in love, have children, become a published writer, and bowl a 300 game.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me.

Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
That call me on and on across the universe,
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box they
Tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe

Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a
Million suns, it calls me on and on
Across the universe

Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

(A Soldier Died Today)

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

© 1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Writer’s Den Dictionary of Stupid Words
(Brought to you by the Merriam -Webster Jest Division)

I love words as much as the next person, but some of them are just plain ridiculous and have no place in the English language (except in ridiculous blog posts like this one) and they also sound rather strange when uttered during casual conversation. They're also fun ... so without further ado, I give you the first edition of the Dictionary of Stupid Words (all entries are listed non-alphabetically for your inconvenience)

for•sook (-s k ), 1. To give up (something formerly held dear); renounce: forsook liquor.
2. To leave altogether; abandon: forsook Hollywood and returned to the legitimate stage.

The fear of running out of reading material

Wearing a wig.

To kiss, To come together.

Snobbish: Pretentious.

A soviet citizen denied the right to emigrate.

Depicted as a boastful coward or buffoon.

Shaped like a sword.

An attendant, a servant, or a lesser official in a royal or noble household. 

Any of various tropical American weevils of the genus Zyzzyva, often destructive to plants.

om·buds·man (mbdzmn, -bdz-, -bdz-)
1. A man who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements, especially between aggrieved parties such as consumers or students and an institution or organization.

mammothrept - a child brought up by its grandmother; a spoiled child

footle - act foolishly, as by talking nonsense

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis - exposure to volcanic dust. 

Absquatulate ~ To leave or abscond with something.

Bloviate ~ To speak pompously or brag

Brouhaha ~ An uproar

Callipygian ~ Having an attractive rear end or nice buns

Discombobulate ~ To confuse

Fartlek ~ An athletic training regime

Gardyloo! ~ A warning shouted before throwing water from above

Sialoquent ~ Spitting while speaking

Snollygoster ~ A person who can't be trusted

Hemidemisemiquaver ~ A musical timing of 1/64

Slangwhanger ~ A loud abusive speaker or obnoxious writer.

Fatuous ~ Unconsciously foolish.

Eructation ~ A burp, belch.

vomitory ~ a passageway leading to a tier of seats in a theater, (especially a Roman amphitheater), or a stadium.

Tittynope ~ refers to a small quantity of anything left over be it a measly morsel of gristle remaining on a dinner plate, or the dregs of draft beer left nestled behind in the bottom of a tankard at a tailgate party.

 Silly Etymological Artifacts

• There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger. 

• Have you noticed that there is neither apple nor pine in pineapple. 

• English muffins weren't invented in England. 

• French fries do not originate in France. 

• A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig

• And there are no hogs in Hogmanay

• And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? 

• You cannot buy boots in Boots nor virgins in Virgin. You cannot buy threshers in Threshers and the Superdrug chain is a big disappointment. 

• Quicksand only works slowly 

• If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? 

• One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? 

• If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? 

• If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? 

• A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.

More Wordy Stuff

1. Barking: Thought to be named after the London suburb, home to a former asylum site; hence 'Barking mad'.

2. Binge: A bout of uncontrolled indulgence. 

3. Blighty: A word much loved by RAF types in WW2. Originally from the Hindi word "bilayati" meaning foreign. 

4. Blimey: Could be shorthand for "God, blind me."

5. Chum: A "chummy" used to be a chimney sweep’s assistant. 

6. Cuppa: First used for tea by PG Wodehouse, the playwright. 

7. Dear: From an old English word, "deore", meaning "much loved." 

8. Grotty: Sixties Liverpool slang. 

9. Jolly: From an old French word meaning "festive". 

10. Slag: Derived from a 16th century German word meaning "dross".

 More Stupid Words, for your reading pleasure

A group of twelve or more cows

According to Merriam-Webster, "a gliding monosyllabic speech sound".

Pronounced "awk si put", it's a word for the back of the skull

A disagreeable smell.

So evident it can't be doubted.

Another word for "staginess" or "melodrama".

Partnership; comradeship.

To move a short distance. In a sentence, "The inchworm scootched across the branch."

To make a big deal out of something of little importance. Also means to add flashy or excessive decoration.

When you start partying on Friday and it lasts well into lunchtime on Saturday.

Adjective used to describe something neither overwhelming nor underwhelming. In other words, something that's just right.

To kill a cow.

A morsel left after a meal.

To be in a good mood and the opposite of disgruntled.

More earth-shattering literature to come: stay tuned!

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