Reverted to Type

(The following was first posted on partner blogs
Ink-Stained Wretches and Austin Mystery Writers.
I wrote it, but, due to technical difficulties,
couldn’t reblog it here.
Had to post the whole shebang again.)

When I opened my personal blog, back in the Dark Ages, I titled it To Write Is to Write Is to Write. I intended to tell everything I know about writing.

Everything I knew filled roughly 2.5 posts.

Now I write about what I don’t know about writing and leave giving advice to those who know what they’re doing.

Reverting to my old librarian persona, I also write about blogs by writers who aren’t anywhere near running out of material. Here’s a short list.

Friday Fictioneers

Each Friday, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields invites readers to compose 100-word stories based on a photo prompt. Writers post stories on their own blogs and then link to an inLinkz list to share with other Fictioneers and with the public. It’s fun. Specific rules are found here.

Sammi Cox

Sammi Cox posts a weekend word prompt: The rules: “Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.” Participants are free to link their efforts in the comments.

Chris the Story Reading Ape

TSRA introduces readers to authors, gives authors a platform, and provides information for writers aspiring to be published.

—from Uninspired Writers“Writer’s Block? Relax! Do Something Else”

—from Jami Gold: “Tips for Creating the Right Impression of Our Characters”

—from Lucy Mitchell: “Why Some Stories Are Like Bridges to Other Stories” 

—from Anne R. Allen’s Blog  . . . with Ruth Harris: “Freewrite: How to Write About Traumatic Events Without Adding More Trauma” by Marlene Cullen

TSRA also promotes—and thank goodness, considering how much writers need it—”FUN and an OASIS OF CALM and Font of useful Knowledge andTips for Indies (please do NOT feed my naughty chimps or they may follow you home) from the woes and stresses of the real world”—such as,

“LOLs Courtesy of BlueBird.”

Kate Shrewsday

Kate was on a bit of a hiatus for a while but is back now with “Social Distancing for Dogs.” She’s posted a lot of dog stories—my favorites are about the dear (and sometimes smelly) Macaulay, the dog with the Neville Chamberlain mustache, including

“The Miasmatron: Or Never Feed Steak to a Dog”

“The Terrier’s Apprentice”

“The Day the Dog Did What He Was Told” [with video]

Rummage through her blog. You’ll find many more gems on many more subjects.

Hugh’s News and Views

Hugh posts about “this, that, and everything else,” but my favorite posts are the Blogging Tips, such as,

“7 Things To Lookout For Before Following A Blog”

“How to Use Excerpts to Get More Visitors to Read Your Blog”

and one treasure for WordPress users:

“How to Backup Your WordPress Blog to Prevent Losing All Its Contents”

A Pondering Mind

A Pondering Mind posts words of wisdom,

Old wisdom:

“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” ~ Rene Descartes

New wisdom:

“We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.” ~ Stephen Hawking

And—again, thank goodness—amusing wisdom:

“Do you know how helpless you feel if you have a full cup of coffee in your hand and you start to sneeze?” ~ Jean Kerr

*

I could go on—my first draft is twice as long as this one—but the deadline loomed hours ago. I hope you’ll check out some of these blogs. And I hope you enjoy them and return for more.

And—do you have any blogs you’d like to share? Including your own. Record them in a comment.

***

Image  of New York City Public Library lion by Chinem McCollum from Pixabay

Image of apes and books by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

Image of cowboy reading by mosla99 from Pixabay

***

My blog’s original title, To Write Is to Write Is to Write, is a fragment of a quotation from Gertrude Stein, who knew how to write and who told Ernest Hemingway how to write.

The current title comes from the first chapter of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain knew all about writing. Ernest Hemingway said so.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: X Is for ‘Xcitement, Too Much, Too Soon

 

I woke late this morning. The day was overcast, blinds were drawn, room was dim.

On the wall to my right, I saw a thing.

It was a brown, elongated thing, about four inches from on end to the other, two-thirds of the way up the wall, behind the cedar chest, pointing toward the ceiling.

I couldn’t remember any light switches or thermostats in the vicinity. I sat  up, squinted. Squinted some more.

Got up, tiptoed—why?—to lamp on left side of the room, turned it on, advanced a half-step toward the unidentified object.

Saw little horns sticking out of the end at the top.

Called for David. “Now!”

He came. “A slug!”

He picked up a shoe.

“Noooooooo.”

He ran for a paper towel.

The camera was in the living room. “Should we take a picture first?” I stepped toward the door.

“It might get away.” Paper towel in hand, David pounced, then ran.

There went my chance for authentic photo on my blog post.

He returned. “I relocated it.”

And all was well.

But questions remain:

Where did he come from? How did he get in? Where had he been hiding?

How long did it take him to crawl up that wall? I mean, he’s a slug. Sluggish. Did he cover all that territory while I slumbered only inches away?

What if he had turned toward the bed instead of away from it? Would I have opened my eyes and found myself nose to nose with him?

And, more to the point—

Was he alone? Or did he have company? Are there more? His spouse? His children? His sisters and his cousins and his aunts?

His sisters and his cousins,
Whom he reckons up by dozens,
And his aunts!

***

Image by ariesa66 from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: Somnia, In & Socks

 

A Facebook friend asks what we’ve accomplished during this week of sheltering in place.

On Sunday, I wore matching socks.

Things have gone downhill since.

Sleep deprivation takes its toll. Reasons are varied and fixes limited. And unpleasant. I don’t mind meditating, but I do mind turning off screens an hour before bedtime so my “overly sensitive” pineal glad isn’t exposed to too much blue light.

I also mind not being able to write at night, which is my most creative time.

I’ll do what I’m supposed to, but I won’t like it.

Last night, dead tired after three wakeful nights, I fell into bed, certain I would immediately pass out. Instead, before Morpheus overtook me, I thought about Donny. He’s a fifteen-year-old boy, lives on a South Texas ranch, and has raised a Brahman bull from an orphan calf. He’s having trouble letting go of his friend, and more trouble avoiding a no-account ranch hand who’s taken a dislike to them both.

Donny is a sweet boy. I’ve known him since I created him four years ago. Our relationship was difficult at times until I backed off and let him figure out how to solve his own problems. But he’s done well. Now it’s my turn.

Consequently, he’s been on my mind a lot lately, and last night when the thought of him floated through, my brain switched on, and the revising began: In the first scene, Donny says this—should he say that instead? Or should he say nothing at all?

And so it went, and so it goes.

Again, night has fallen, and after a day of feeling ratty from lack of sleep, I’ve suddenly revived. I want to write.

I’ve yielded to temptation: The laptop should have been turned off three hours ago, but I’m still writing. I feel better now than I did when I began this post, right after dinner. Chances are when I get to bed, I’ll still be thinking about Donny.

This has to stop. When I don’t get enough sleep at night, I can’t work during the day. I must write.

Donny told me his story, but only I can write it.

***

Image by Wimpie Van Heerden from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: P Is for Poem and the Prefrontal Cortex

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.Steven Wright

My random brain, which seems to be in the ascendency where the A to Z is concerned, thought first of the dictionary again today. The first word that jumped out was

  • pachmann, who turned out to be a Russian pianist, not a computer game

followed by, among others,

which sounds like something I might have ended up with when I disinfected my eye

and

  • pachycephalosaurus – A large herbivorous dinosaur of the genus Pachycephalosaurus of the late Cretaceous Period. It grew to about 7.6 m (25 ft) long and had a domed skull up to 25.4 cm (10 inches) thick that was lined with small bumps and spikes. The thick skull may have been used for head-butting during mating displays
  • pachychromatic – having coarse chromatin threads [not thick musical scales]
  • pachydactylyabnormal enlargement of fingers and toes
Restoration of a specimen with a cranial lesion. By Ryan Steiskal. CC BY-SA 2.5 Generic.

I figured out pachycephalosaurus and pachydactyly before looking them up, I’m pleased to say, since it means I haven’t forgotten all my Greek roots.

I then thought about random thought, and so googled “random brain,” and found an article (Cosmos, May 18 2017) describing a study in which

Neuroscientists at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (CCU) in Lisbon, Portugal, reveal the unexpected finding in a report that aims to unpack how humans and other animals decide how and when to act.

Neuroscientists have long accepted that even in strictly controlled laboratory conditions, the exact moment when a subject will decide to act is impossible to predict.

In short, the scientists found that “‘[t]he brain’s prefrontal cortex – the seat of decision-making – has no input into the timing of random actions,'” but that

“‘[t]he medial prefrontal cortex appears to keep track of the ideal waiting time based on experience. The secondary motor cortex also keeps track of the ideal timing but in addition shows variability that renders individual decisions unpredictable.'”

The researchers were surprised at discovering the “‘not-well-appreciated “separation of powers” within the brain.'”

Human brain. Via Wikipedia. Public domain.

Personal observation underscores the finding: It’s four p.m., and William and Ernest are lying in the kitchen, watching David prepare their dinner and insulin injections. Several times a day they watch David go to the kitchen but at four o’clock they follow him. Their actions must be based on experience; hence the medial prefrontal cortex determines their action, and David’s as well. Human experience shows that if dinnertime is random, cats chew the carpet, a consummation devoutly not to be wished.

In the course of my mental ramblings, I thought of other things: Miss Petunia, an old neighbor well worth two or three posts, and more appropriate to the day, but better left to my putative novel.

Then there was my misuse of since in the paragraph following pachydactyly, because since means because, which I just used properly.

I also thought of stories about Mr. F., Mr. J., and Miss Fl., also not the best post material. To get them out of my system, I just put them in an email to a friend who has long suffered random thoughts I can’t make post-public.

I thought about changing the appearance of my blog, because I’m tired of looking at it, but how would I display my photographs so prominently?

Gorilla in San Francisco Zoo. By Brocken Inaglory. CC BY-SA 3.0

Continue reading “#AtoZChallenge 2020: P Is for Poem and the Prefrontal Cortex”

#AtoZChallenge 2020: Lost in Time & Space

I got mixed up and posted on Sunday, April 12, which was supposed to be my day of rest. But I didn’t realize I was off schedule until after I posted yesterday’s Day N, on what was really Day M.

I could pretend I’m in an advanced time zone, but that would be dishonest.

So I’m taking today off. Tomorrow, I’ll post my Day O post on Day O.

And if I’ve got this wrong, too, don’t bother telling me. It won’t do a bit of good.

Here’s Henri.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: M Is for Machine & Misconception

 

Yesterday I loved Nancy Drew. Today I love washing machines.

The latest model is a year old, and it’s still a minor miracle. It balances the load, pours in about a teacup of water, goes swish . . . swish . . . swish . . . and, when it’s finished, plays Schubert’s “The Trout.”

Delightful.

I intended to write more about washing machines, but I’ve decided instead to address a misconception related to my novel in progress: the use of the title Miss.

One of my characters, Miss Emma, is what used to be called a little old lady. She’s a widow with a forty-year-old son.

Two editors who’ve critiqued the early chapters have the character should be called Mrs. Emma, because Miss is reserved for unmarried women.

No.

Miss is an all-purpose title. I understand the issue can be confusing, but I know whereof I speak:

Miss Ethel, Miss Edna, Miss Pearl, Miss Beulah, Miss Louise, and Miss Bessie were spinsters.

Miss Blanche, Miss Gladys, Miss Minnie, Miss Mamie, and Miss Cora were widows.

Miss Jessie, Miss Bettie, Miss Katie Maude, Miss Sammie, Miss Polly, Miss Carmen, Miss Essie, Miss Janie, Miss Lily, and Miss Sallie were married.

That’s all I have to say about that.

***

But one more thing about the washing machine.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: L Is for Love, Falling in

 

For my eighth Christmas, my grandmother gave me two Nancy Drew Mysteries: The Secret of the Old Clock and The Hidden Staircase.

And I fell in love.

Nancy Drew was so lucky. She was eighteen years old and had a housekeeper, a steady boyfriend, two best girlfriends, and a blue convertible.  The convertible seemed to have a perpetually full tank of gasoline.  She was also a blonde, which meant she had fun.*

Her father, prominent River Heights lawyer Carson Drew, was not the average parent. He rarely, if ever, asked where she’d been all day, and when he found out, he never said anything like, “Nancy, the next time you climb into a moving van driven by thugs and hide under a rug, you’ll be grounded till you’re thirty.” Or, for that matter, “Time to get serious, Nancy. Either enroll in Emerson College and start working on a degree, or find yourself a job. You can’t play detective for the rest of your life.”

Hannah Gruen cooked and cleaned, so Nancy did no chores. Boyfriend Ned Nickerson escorted her to dances when appropriate but otherwise stayed busy at Emerson College and didn’t get underfoot. Friends—tomboy George, whose pet phrase was, in 1959,  an anachronistic “Hypers! You slay me!”; and George’s “plump” cousin Bess—provided companionship as well as help with investigations.

What was there not to love?  Well, Nancy herself wasn’t perfect. She teased Bess about being plump; I didn’t like that.  And her unfailing self-confidence sometimes grated; I’d have been happier if she’d expressed self-doubt now and then.

But she was eighteen and could take off in her convertible, wind blowing through her hair, seeking and finding adventure, solving mysteries along the way. To an eight-year-old convinced she’ll never be old enough for a driver’s license, much less a car, Nancy’s freedom sounded like heaven.

But Nancy wasn’t a party girl; she took detective work seriously. She solved mysteries because she wanted to help people.

In The Clue of the Tapping Heels, for example, she helped restore a child’s trust fund. In The Secret of the Wooden Lady, she found the lost figurehead belonging to a historic clipper and helped the captain establish clear title to the ship. In The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, while looking for a valuable Chinese vase she stumbled upon a gang using immigrants as slave labor. In The Secret in the Jewel Box, she reunited Madame Alexandra with her long-lost grandson, a prince.

In addition to enjoying the stories, I picked up some interesting bits of information. From The Clue of the Black Keys, I learned about obsidian; from The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, about kaolin.

And Madame Alexandra, her long-lost grandson, and Mr. Faber, the jeweler who created the ornate jewel box, took on new meaning when I later read about the Tsarina Alexandra of Russia, Tsarevitch Alexei, and the Faberge eggs.

I said earlier that I fell in love with Nancy Drew mysteries, but I could just as well have said I was hooked. Two years after I read the first ones, I was penciling, in my neatest handwriting, letters to Joske’s Department Store:

Dear Sir:

Please send me the following books:

1 copy of The Secret in the Old Attic                   $2.00
1 copy of The Clue of the Tapping Heels             $2.00

Please charge my account.

My mother signed them. It was, after all, her account.

By my eleventh birthday, I’d moved along, fallen in love with Zane Grey’s westerns—society ladies from the East meeting up with cowboys down on the Mexican border, very romantic—and was writing to Joske’s about those.

But even though I no longer read Nancy Drews, I’m still hooked—on mysteries. Every time I pick up an Agatha Christie, a P. D. James, a Ruth Rendell, an Elizabeth George, a Martha Grimes, a Tana French, a Donna Leon, a . . . as I said, I’m hooked.

Nancy Drew made me a mystery reader. And Nancy is the reason I write mysteries.

From what my friends tell me, a lot of them are in the same boat.

That Nancy Drew has a lot to answer for.

***

How did we know blondes have more fun? Television told us so.

***

Image of clock by stux from Pixabay

Image by opsa from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: I is for I

I did not sleep last night—I mean, I did not sleep at all—and no sleep means no post. Not the post I’d planned anyway.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t sleep last night because I’d been writing the Day H post. I was engaged. I was focused—hyperfocused. My brain buzzed. I was on. I was up. I was wired.

That is my process: I’m most creative at night. And once my brain starts buzzing, it doesn’t stop.

I completed the post, clicked Publish, went to bed. . . .

. . . breathed deeply, emptied my mind, mentally repeated Ommmmmmmmmmmmm, breathed deeply, emptied my mind . . . thrashed around . . .

Three hours later, I got up, read for a while. Drank two cups of chamomile tea, which proved neither soporific nor tasty.

And here I am, nearly midnight, still awake. But not for long.

I’m writing, true. But hyperfocusing? Buzzing? On? Up? Wired?

Heck, I ain’t even creative.

G’night.

 

***

Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: H Is for Husband

Day H. I’ve worked my way from “Herman” (a kitchen monster) through “Here’s the latest from SIP” (bo-ring) to “Husband,” which I should have thought of in the first place.

Here’s the low-down.

After careers focusing on criminal codes and tax codes, David Davis creates. His Alien Resort cartoon has appeared in newspapers in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia.

Now the developing story of Alien Resort appears on his website, Alien Resort: A Website That Is Actually a Story.

A little background on that: Coy crash landed his spaceship on a Pacific island and has since been joined by other ETs—Plucky, Deadpan, and Lmao—who help him write comics. A group of earthlings, the Beacons of Night and their leader, Rash Lambert, oppose the efforts of Coy and his friends (“We stand for a united earth. If you were born here, you’re one of us. When Alien Resort makes comics, they’re stealing our jobs.”)

Before becoming a cartoonist, David Davis produced, directed, wrote, and sometimes acted in sci-fi videos. His work has appeared at the 2017 Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase; the 2017 Dallas Medianale; the 2012 Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont, Texas, and the 2012 CosmiCon and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, as well as other venues.

After Reverse Effects was screened at the 2015 Fantastic Fest (Austin), Andrew Whalen of Playerone.com wrote that the film “is almost like a living comic strip, but undeniably vigorous and fascinating.” He also labeled David “eccentric.” The jury is still out on the latter.

Last Saturday, his first animated video, Blood Bank, was screened at the Dallas Alt Fiction film festival—online, of course, in the comfort of everyone’s living room.

He’s recently completed a second animated short-short: Time Capsule.

In all his creative endeavors, David is self-taught. He also excels at  producing award-winners on a shoestring. Where some directors spend millions, David reaches into a drawer, pulls out a vegetable steamer, applies a few special effects, and—voila! a spaceship rises from the ground and makes for Venus. Or somewhere in the vicinity.

My favorite of David’s videos is Invisible Men Invade Earth, which received the Judge’s Choice award at the 2017 What the Fest Film Festival (Dallas); the Out of This World award at the 2016 Lionshead Film Festival (Dallas); and the Most Original Concept award at the 2016 Houston Comedy Film Festival.

See what you think:

Here’s a link to Blood Bank.

And one to Time Capsule.

All of David’s videos can be viewed on his Youtube channel, here.

***

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2020 master list is found here.

Find the Challenge on Facebook here.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: F Is for Face

 

The good thing about going themeless through the A to Z Blogging Challenge is that the field is wide open: You can write about anything you please.

The bad thing about going themeless through the A to Z Blogging Challenge: see “good thing,” above.

There are days when the brain is empty.

There are days when nothing pleases.

There are days when both of those conditions occur simultaneously.

You’d like to blame it on twenty-five days of sheltering in place but that would be wrong.

You’ve made it for five days, can’t cop out now, so you browse Dictionary.com for something, anything, that would start a spark.

And you scroll down . . .

Aha! face mask! So obvious! So timely. A post about Sheltering in Place Day 18, when you realized you would be going to the doctor on Day 21 sans mask, and you decided you had to have one, so you would buckle down and make one.

But then you think back over the experience, the tea towels, the patterns, the videos, the having to ask David for needle and thread because, manual dexterity not being your number one attribute, you gave up on that kind of thing years ago, and he’s a better seamstress than you ever were anyway.

You remember how fast you gave up on mask-making, and just as fast, you give up on writing about giving up on making them.

And you resume scrolling down through

and you come to

And that sends you directly to Youtube and Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell, and Ginger Rodgers.

You’re welcome.
***

Image of face masks by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

#ATOZChallenge 2020: D Is for Disinfect & Darn

 

This Challenge is not going as I intended.

Part 2 of B Is for Bowser was to run on Day C.

A spring allergy attack, however, turned Day C into C Is for Consequently & Can’t.

I then promised to finish Day B on Day D. Day D would have been titled D is for Dog.

Unfortunately, this afternoon, I sprayed a solution of Clorox and water in the wrong direction and disinfected my eyes. And thus Dog turned into Disinfect. And Darn.

Seven hours later, my left eye isn’t in the best of shape—it sees but doesn’t feel like seeing. According to the reflection in my hand mirror, it doesn’t feel like being seen, either.

Furthermore, applying a cold compress to the left eye precludes typing with the left hand.

I hate to do this, but Day B, Part 2 will post on Day E.

I don’t know what E will be for.

 

 

 

 

 

***

A to Z Challenge master list is here.

***

Image by agnesliinnea from Pixabay

A to Z Challenge badges designed by Jeremy Hawkins.

#ATOZ Challenge: B Is for Bowser

 

In my A post I mentioned the mistake I made in signing up for the A to Z Challenge: I registered my blog as “Author/Writer (craft of writing, stories, memoir),” instead of “Other and Miscellaneous.”

It really doesn’t matter. I mean, there are mistakes, and there are mistakes.

For letter B, I’m writing about another of my mistakes. It’s more of a mistake. But I can’t go right to the heart of the matter. There’s backstory to be dealt with. If you’ll be patient for just a little while, I’ll get there.

Here goes.

I planned, as much as I ever plan these posts, to write about a parody of the narrative poem “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight,” written in 1867 by Rose Hartwick Thorpe, when she was sixteen years old.

Set in 17th century England, the poem tells the story of Bessie, a young woman whose lover, Basil Underwood, has been imprisoned by the Puritans and sentenced to die that night at the sound of the curfew bell. Oliver Cromwell is expected to arrive that night, but after the bell has rung. Bessie begs the sexton not to ring the bell; he says he’s never failed to ring curfew and that he won’t fail to ring it tonight. But Bessie is determined to save her lover. The next lines describe her heroic actions.

Wild her eyes and pale her features, stern and white her thoughtful brow,
As within her secret bosom, Bessie made a solemn vow.
She had listened while the judges read, without a tear or sigh,
‘At the ringing of the curfew, Basil Underwood must die.’
And her breath came fast and faster, and her eyes grew large and bright;
One low murmur, faintly spoken. ‘Curfew must not ring tonight!’

She with quick step bounded forward, sprang within the old church-door,
Left the old man coming slowly, paths he’d trod so oft before.
Not one moment paused the maiden, But with eye and cheek aglow,
Staggered up the gloomy tower, where the bell swung to and fro;
As she climbed the slimy ladder, on which fell no ray of light,
Upward still, her pale lips saying, ‘Curfew shall not ring tonight!’

She has reached the topmost ladder, o’er her hangs the great dark bell;
Awful is the gloom beneath her, like the pathway down to hell.
See! the ponderous tongue is swinging; ’tis the hour of curfew now,
And the sight has chilled her bosom, stopped her breath, and paled her brow.
Shall she let it ring? No, never! Her eyes flash with sudden light,
As she springs, and grasps it firmly: ‘Curfew shall not ring tonight!’

Out she swung – far out. The city seemed a speck of light below ―
There twixt heaven and earth suspended, as the bell swung to and fro.
And the sexton at the bell-rope, old and deaf, heard not the bell,
Sadly thought that twilight curfew rang young Basil’s funeral knell.
Still the maiden, clinging firmly, quivering lip and fair face white,
Stilled her frightened heart’s wild throbbing: ‘Curfew shall not ring tonight!’

It was o’er, the bell ceased swaying; and the maiden stepped once more
Firmly on the damp old ladder, where, for hundred years before,
Human foot had not been planted. The brave deed that she had done
Should be told long ages after. As the rays of setting sun
Light the sky with golden beauty, aged sires, with heads of white,
Tell the children why the curfew did not ring that one sad night.

When Cromwell arrives, she tells him her story, and, touched by her heroism, he lets Basil live. Basil emerges from the prison expecting to die but instead finds Bessie holding his pardon. And—

In his brave, strong arms he clasped her, kissed the face upturned and white,
Whispered, ‘Darling, you have saved me, curfew will not ring tonight.’

For years, “Curfew” was exceedingly popular: A favorite of Queen Victoria, it provided inspiration for a play and and for three silent movies. It was recited by one of the characters in Anne of Green Gables. It also serves as the basis for chamber music composed by Richard Cohn for the Music & Magic Lantern Slides project. View a performance on Youtube.

Now. I know I haven’t gotten to Bowser and Bleh yet, but the hour is late, and I am tired, so I’m off to bed.

In other words, B Will Not Be Writ Tonight.

#AtoZ Challenge 2020: A is for April (Fools’)

 

As I wrote in Monday’s not-Theme Reveal, my A to Z Writing Challenge has no theme. Officially, it’s listed as “Other and Miscellaneous.” The Archon’s Den blogger claims “chaos and confusion” as a recurring theme. I wish I’d thought of that.

Anyway, the obvious and easiest A topic is April.

On April 1, 1968, my junior English class put out a special issue of the school newspaper.

(The school was small; we twelve were the only juniors.)

One article reported the purchase of new and badly needed uniforms for the girls’ basketball team. A drawing of the outfit was included. The shorts were of your plain garden variety, but the top featured cap sleeves, a bib enhanced with vertical pin tucks and  pearl buttons, and a Peter Pan collar. There might have been a ruffle somewhere. They would spend off seasons in cold storage.

Image of Ford Mustang logo. By zopalic. Via Pixabay.com.
Ford Mustang logo.

A second article reported that the school would buy two new Ford Mustangs for use in an onsite driver’s ed. course in the fall. At the time, students had to travel ten miles to a larger district to earn the credit. Driving a Mustang, which Ford had been producing for only four years, was a Certified Big Deal.

A third item announced that the girls’ choir would sing at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign rallies that summer, which, of course meant nationwide travel. Dredging up words from the junior English vocabulary list, the reporter quoted the choir director: She said we’d been spuriously honored and that the tour would go a long way toward ending the mal de mer running rampant through the student body. I think she also said the girls were proud to be invited, and that she was sure they would continue to prosit.

Copies were distributed at the beginning of first period. Paper staff, mouths shut and expressions innocent, waited. The response was more than gratifying.

Sitting in the front row of geometry class, the co-editor and I watched the teacher/girls’ coach, brow wrinkled, examining the new basketball uniform and wondering aloud who had chosen it and why she hadn’t been asked for input. She didn’t say it looked gosh-awful, which must have taken immense restraint. While she was puzzling, the team, most of whom sat behind us, showed no restraint. They said plenty.

In the hallway between classes, students raved about the Mustangs. The district was small—high school enrollment numbered no more than fifty—and had to watch its pennies, so its splurging on two sports cars was almost too good to be true. One 1950 Chevy would have made a splash.

Image of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966. By Yoichi Okamoto.  Public domain. Via Wikipedia.
Johnson greeting a crowd, 1966.

With the exception of the co-editors, choir members hadn’t been informed that they would sing at political rallies. They appeared confused but accepted the story. It made sense; we knew a number of patriotic songs.

No one mentioned that the night before, President Johnson had announced on national television, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” No one asked why the student body was seasick. The choir director, who doubled as our English teacher, issued a compliment. She said the quotation sounded just like her.

Finally, about noon, someone noticed the date on the first page—April 1—and we were busted.

Readers were good sports. They laughed; no one chewed us out.

Some were disappointed: The choir wouldn’t sing at rallies, and the business about the Mustangs was too good to be true.

But sighs of sorrow were as nothing compared to the sighs of relief: Peter Pan collars were out.

***

Note: The choir would been happy to sing for a different candidate, but Hubert Humphrey forgot to invite us.

***

I hoped last fall’s Great Unearthing would produce a copy of the April Fools’ issue. No such luck. I would like to read it again. I would love to see the drawing of that uniform. It would make a fine illustration when U rolls around.

***

I just checked the A to Z master list and discovered that I slipped up and registered my theme not as “Other and Miscellaneous,” but as “Author/Writer (craft of writing, stories, memoir).” That is unfortunate, because the only things I know about craft are that it would be wrong to put a colon after the are in this sentence, that the lack of a properly placed Oxford comma drives me crazy, and that the price of a dedicated, supportive critique group is above rubies.

***

Here’s are links to the A to Z Blogging Challenge master list. (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YphbP47JyH_FuGPIIrFuJfAQiBBzacEkM7iBnq6DGDA/edit#gid=1617533974

Themes appear there. If you visit some of the blogs, you’ll make the writers happy. If you click Like, they’ll be even happier.

***

Image of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966. By Yoichi Okamoto.  Public domain. Via Wikipedia.

Image of Ford Mustang logo. By zopalic. Via Pixabay.com.

 

 

Still Sheltering, No Theme

 

For the second year in a row, I’ll participate in April’s A to Z Writing Challenge—twenty-six posts, one every day in April except Sundays. So far, nearly four hundred blogs appear on the master list, here. About half have announced themes: history, books, education, animals, gaming, parenting, personal, women’s interests, and on and on.

I didn’t do a Theme Reveal post, because because that would require me to know the theme. I registered under Other and Miscellaneous. I’m not about to say, “I’m going to write about _____,” only to get stuck at Q. If a theme emerges, we’ll know in May.

If I were going for the obvious, I’d spend April posting about sheltering in place. This is day 16. David has picked up groceries at the Walmart parking lot several times. We’ve placed small orders, trying to fill some gaps. Tonight I found myself considering which I would prefer, Wolf Brand Chili or sardines. The surprise was that both sounded appetizing. I chose something else.

Federal social distancing guidelines now extend through April 30. Davis household guidelines were extended that far two weeks ago, and we’ll go further if necessary. We don’t want to expose ourselves to the contagion, and we don’t want to expose anyone else. We’re grateful for those whose work allows us to retreat.

I hope reading this post isn’t as dull as writing it has been. If it has been, please don’t mention that in the comments.

As to comments, I want to thank the folks who’ve been reading, liking, and commenting while I’ve been doing none of those. I’m on my way to get a good night’s sleep, after which I’ll work on getting up the gumption to do better.

We saw a couple social distancing in the green space yesterday. A walk in the park can be gumption inducing. I’ll put it on tomorrow’s agenda.

Here are a couple of cats.