Various and sundry

1 – Still not old: Arthur C. Clarke is reported to have said “When my past becomes more fascinating than my future, I’m officially old.” Well, I’m in my seventies, but not yet ready to dwell in the past or sit and watch Jerry and Maury all day. I still want to know what’s beyond that next hill and what’s around that next bend. If that changes, I’ll let you know.

2 – Trump 1: Many people are upset that the apprentice president spends so much time golfing. Considering what happened in Hawaii over the weekend, we should all be glad he chose to do so this weekend. Can you imagine the carnage that might have resulted if he’d been aware of the false missile alert at the time it happened? He’d have issued the launch codes immediately and since it took 38 minutes to rescind the alert, missiles would have landed on Pyongyang before that happened. We wouldn’t be here to read this.

3 – Trump 2: His description of some other nations has rightfully caused indignation among those nations. Again this spotlights his general ignorance of the world and its history. Many of his so-called “shithole” nations have given the world brilliant scientists; brilliant writers and artists in all genres, as well as successful politicians and diplomats. According to historians, many of these nations, especially in Africa, were leading the world in science, mathematics and literature while Europeans were still living in caves. Can someone please prepare a picture book for the apprentice president so he may understand just how far off-base his comments really were.

While on the topic of things he said this past week, in an interview, he stated “I’m the best athlete, people don’t know that”.  Uh huh.  The man who evaded the draft because he had “bone spurs” is a great athlete.  Sorry, but was he lying about the “bone spurs”, the “best athelete”, or both.  My Money is on both.

4 – Rogers Communications: If you live in southern Ontario, you have probably had Rogers Communications inflicted upon you for your cable, phone and internet service. Personally, I switched my internet to someone else and have no problem with my landline (remember those?), but have serious doubts about their cable. Specifically the descriptions they use on some of the listings on their channel guide. Here are some recent examples of just how fanciful some programmes have been described.
Sanctuary, starring Amanda Tapping, has been described as “dealing with spiritual matters”. Excuse me? If you’re unfamiliar with the programme, it deals with a lady who offers safety to what many would consider monsters and freaks. Hardly spiritual.

The Magicians is another example, if you’ve watched the show, you know it deals with special people, teenagers, who have special abilities and is pure fantasy. This was described as a reality show.

Finally, the movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. I think we are all aware of this movie and its plot of a husband and wife team who are assassins hired to take each other out (no, not on a date). According to Rogers, this is about two forensic accountants investigating a company but neither is aware of the other’s existence or purpose in the company,

I have to ask myself if the people responsible for these descriptions live in hermetically sealed caves, for they seem to have never seen or heard of the programmes they’re describing. They also seem not to know whether a show is a new episode or a repeat. I’ve skipped shows not marked as “new” thinking they were reruns only to discover later they were the latest episode.

Okay, enough grumbling and venting. I hope your 2018 is off to a good start and stays that way. Remember to hug an artist, we need love too, no matter where we or our parents came from.

Cat.

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Get a life

Found an interesting article on the CTV news site this morning that really shows just how much people feel their standards should govern the lives of others.

Some idiot petitioned the Toronto Public Library system to remove a book from its shelves because they feel it is too violent. Well, that complaint has been registered before against various books, so it isn’t the first time the library has heard it. But it may be the first time the complaint has been lodged against a book by Dr Seuss.

That’s right. Someone well, here’s an excerpt from the article that explains it much better (and with less sarcasm) than I could manage:

A library patron asked the library’s materials review committee to pull “Hop on Pop,” a children’s classic written in 1963, because of the book’s violent themes.

The complainant said the book encouraged children to use violence against their fathers, according to the document that listed books patrons have asked to be pulled from Toronto Public Library shelves, which was posted online Monday.

The patron recommended the book be removed, and requested the Toronto Public Library not only apologize to Greater Toronto Area fathers but pay damages resulting from the book’s violent message.

The library said the book actually advises against hopping on pop and is keeping the book on its shelves.

Now, we’ve all heard the expression that someone lives in their own little world, but in my opinion, the person who complained about “Hop on Pop” is living in their own universe. My advice would be as the title of this posting suggests: get a life. Surely there are more important things to worry about than a children’s book.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Changes – real and fictional

I had to take a bus ride to a place a couple of towns over today.  Nice thing about being a passenger is that you get to see things you might otherwise miss and you can let your mind wander, which couldn’t be done while driving.

First I noticed the Hooter’s in Whitby is closed.  How many times do you hear of a place like that closing?   Not sure exactly what that means.  Should it be construed as a statement on the young women of Whitby?  Is it just a result of the state of the economy?  Or is it perhaps more a commentary on the male population of that town?

A little further west, I passed the local Ford dealer and noticed a row of bright shiny new Mustangs on display (dang- that new Shelby is really something.)  Seeing all the Mustangs, my mind jumped to “Spenser: For Hire”, the TV series with Robert Urich. (You don’t remember it?  You don’t? Just how old am I?)  In the series, the character drove a Mustang, wrecked it and got another ‘stang.  If you read the Robert B Parker stories, especially the older ones, Spenser doesn’t drive a Mustang – he drives a Subaru.  Makes sense when you think about it.  Being a private detective, at least as shown on television, sometimes involves surveillance.  What is going to blend into the scenery easier – a non-descript Subaru, or a flashy sports car?

From there, my mind made the leap to Bond, James Bond.  007 has become synonymous with Aston Martin.  Well, there was that brief excursion into BMW, but we’ll forget about that. In the novels, James didn’t drive an Aston Martin.  The first vehicle I can recall reading as James’s ride was a “Blower Bentley”, that is a Bentley with a supercharged engine.  I don’t know if Bentley has a supercharged model in their current lineup, but the cars themselves are beautiful and, from what I’ve read, fast and powerful.  Given that, isn’t it about time the movies considered putting James back in his proper set of wheels, perhaps a Continental GT or a Mulsanne?

Since it’s Easter, enjoy your long weekend, and remember to hug an artist – we need love  too (and a Bentley wouldn’t hurt either).

Cat.

Writing 101 by Cat, or “What would I say?”

This is a repost from catsworld1

On my recent posting “Blogs: opinion pieces or news reports?” one person left a comment and made reference to teaching them how to write in the style I use.  I thought about that for about thirty seconds.  I didn’t want to spend more time analyzing it lest I become the centipede.  You know the story of the centipede, don’t you?  You don’t?  Well, I’ll tell you then.

One day a tiny ant was watching a centipede pass by, legs all moving with military precision, not tripping over its feet or kicking the leg in front of it.  The ant stopped the centipede and asked how he managed to keep everything so well organized.  Having never thought about it, the centipede had to admit he didn’t know.  After the ant went his way, the centipede sat and thought about the question and tried to analyze his actions.  Not finding an answer he liked, he gave up and decided to carry on to wherever he had been going.  That was when he discovered that in his attempts to figure out just how he did it, he’d managed to lose the ability to co-ordinate his legs and he kept tripping.   I didn’t want to spend time analyzing how and why I write as I do for fear I’d end up like that centipede and forget how to write.

But, a few things from that thirty seconds may be worth repeating.  First, write the way you speak.  That’s the best advice I was ever given.  If you don’t use “ten dollar words” in your  everyday speech, don’t get all fancy when you’re writing, even if you can get those words in a “two for one” sale”. If you try to use words you’re unfamiliar with, you will probably use them in the wrong context, so my advice on that matter is simple: Don’t do it. The way I write is the way I speak.  I know that people are told “write what you know”.  Well yes, it is always good to have some knowledge of your topic before you put a single word on paper (or screen – I still prefer to write in longhand) especially if you’re writing an instructional piece.

In addition to “write what you know” I would add “write what you feel strongly about”, be that the antics of your local politicians or something else.  If you want to write an opinion piece, write it with passion.  If you feel strongly enough about something that you want to voice your opinion, let that fire show through in your writing.  My personal view where it relates to opinion pieces is that if I’ve upset someone, then I’ve done my job properly.  Of course that attitude is probably helped by being 68 and not really caring what others think of my opinions.

There you have it – Writing 101 by Cat.  I hope I’ve offered some suggestions you may not have considered.

To my followers and readers, enjoy the rest of your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Editing ain’t easy

A friend, Rusty Blackwood, has asked me to proofread her manuscript for “Passions in Paris: Revelations of a Lost Diary” and I’m flattered she asked me.

In addition to the various rants/ravings/reasoned discussions I post here, I also write so understand the time and effort it takes to create a 900 page manuscript.  I also understand the trepidation of letting another person, even another writer, “mess” with your work.  I’ve  had people proof some of my manuscripts, so I also know the questions that pop up in the mind of the writer, such as “how badly will they screw it up?” and “will I still recognize it when they’ve finished?”

Fortunately for me, Rusty’s language skills are good, which means my editing is mainly looking for the dreaded typos.  I may also make the occasional comment, or ask about her  phrasings in certain instances, but those are only suggestions.  By no means do I consider myself the arbiter of all things proper in the English language.  And of course, while doing so, I keep repeating to myself “don’t ruin her work”.

When you are proofreading someone else’s work, if you’re doing it correctly, you are more concerned with context as opposed to content.  Naturally the two are not mutually exclusive, but the reader must be more concerned with catching the misspellings (“I can spell, I just can’t type” is my usual excuse for those) than with the storyline itself.  From what I’ve read so far though, I can’t wait until Rusty publishes this so I can read it for pleasure.

Okay, back to my reading.  Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, no matter  what field of creativity – we need love too.

Cat.

Comments on television

Lately I’ve been watching a series called “Ancient Aliens”.  The show deals with the possibility that many events in both earth’s and man’s history were caused or influenced by aliens.  In my opinion, the show is far too one-sided in that it only deals with the idea these theories are true without presenting any opposing views.

Tonight’s show, at one point, was talking about the beliefs of some religions that gods live in volcanoes.  As part of the “proof”, one of the people interviewed said something to the  effect that if the US government could hollow out a mountain near Colorado Springs and  build a secret base at Cheyenne Mountain, why couldn’t gods do it too?  Of course, his comments were accompanied with footage of the entrance to the mountain and photos of the NORAD operation inside it.  Come on now, how secret can it be?

I realized tonight that show could also be the basis for a drinking game.  Every time the narrator uses the phrase “ancient astronaut theorists”, you take a drink.  Just have a designated driver.

Another show I watched was “True Story”.  Tonight’s show looked at the actual science behind Michael Crichton’s book (and ensuing movie) “Jurassic Park”.  It isn’t yet possible  to extract dinosaur DNA, but they say it isn’t all that far off.  When asked whether, if we had the technology, we should clone dinosaurs, one scientist said “why not?”.  Another scientist, an archeologist, disagrees.

This archeologist holds that Michael Crichton got it right when he showed dinosaurs as being warm-blooded creatures who travelled in herds, were quite intelligent and hunted in packs.  His comment was “if you clone a dinosaur, it will start conniving, then it will eat you.”  Sounds serious, not very grateful on the part of the dinosaur, but serious.

The show also mentioned that dinosaurs still exist and are all around us.  They have compared dinosaur skeletons and fossils to the dinosaurs of today and feel they have sufficient proof to say that yes, they are still with us.  We call them “birds”. They interviewed one scientist who is studying chicken embryos and who has discovered that up to a certain stage of development, the chicken embryo has a tail similar to a dinosaur and the wing bones, before they fuse, have three claws, just as most dinosaurs did and vestigal teeth.  Another scientist pointed out that if you watch an emu walk through mud, the tracks are remarkably similar to dinosaur tracks they’ve found.  I’ll never feel the same about birds again.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

The world in 500 words

A reader made comment that most of my postings are relatively short.  I wasn’t sure I agreed with that, so took a look at some of them and yes, they were right,  most of them are less than 500 words, in fact many are 300 words or less.  “Honestly, I don’t care” of October 5 is one of my longer efforts at 906 words. Then again, that one was admittedly written with much more passion than are most.  Read it and you’ll understand. Yesterday’s “‘He’s an innocent kid’” was also written with a fair bit of passion and it is only 291 words.

The reader didn’t say I’d left anything out, or failed to explain  my assertions, just that I didn’t really get overly wordy either.  Thinking about this, I think I understand why many of my pieces are short – complete, but short.  I worked in offices for years, where I frequently had to write letters to Canada Customs (or whatever they call it now) or insurance companies, among others.  Business letters, by their very nature, are short and sweet – just “hi – here’s my comments – ‘bye”. No excess verbiage, no fancy frills, something Joe Friday would like – just the facts. Part of my job involved damage inspections and filing reports with insurers and carriers.  Again, something that places a premium on brevity and clarity.  (Just an aside here. One thing I had to do an inspection on  was a 12″ round steel bar that had been somehow bent in transit.  Twelve inches thick, ten feet long and weighed something like 20,000 pounds.  I saw the damage, but given the size of the bar, I really, really wanted to see what had bent it.)

So, I would suspect that all those years of business letters and insurance reports have forever doomed me to “just the facts ma’am.”  Which may be fine for these posts – I can still try to present a balanced picture, or as balanced as an opinion piece can be – but it really plays havoc with my fiction writing.  More description would be allowable in writing fiction, yet whenever I try, I feel guilty – as if I’m trying to pad my word count.

Oh well, I’ll do what I can and if there are any questions, the readers can always ask.

Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat