Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: August 2012

I am challenging myself to do something I did three years ago (oh good god, was it really three years? Now I feel old). Back in 2009, I was a senior in college, and I was having the time of my life. It was about this time that I remembered an old rhyme. It goes something like this. Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one, Excepting February alone, And that has twenty-eight days clear, And twenty-nine in each leap year. (wikipedia) This floated into my head just before September started, and so I decided that I would turn it into “Thirty Poems Hath September” and write one new poem for each day of the month. It was kind of like Nanowrimo before I knew that Nano existed (it was a dark time in my life, despite my earlier statement). At any rate, I composed a LOT of poems that year, mostly during the medieval literature class that V and I were taking at the time (sorry, Dr. Napierkowski-no offense to you or your class, that was just when I usually felt the most inspired). Some of them were complete nonsense. Many of them were haiku, because I would realize I only had five minutes left in the day to write a poem. Some of them were really good. Regardless, the idea got me to write, and to focus on some creative energy that was otherwise fairly elusive. I would recommend you try it. Thirty Poems Hath September. Get ready.

Several months ago, and courtesy of V, I came across an awesome little utility called “I Write Like.” It’s a neat little tool that compares your word usage, syntax, and other stylistic choices to those of numerous famous authors. Ever curious to see if that fantasy piece stacks up alongside Le Guin or Lewis? Now you can find out. There’s something incredibly satisfying about knowing that your own fiction (or non, iwl isn’t picky) is similar in tone to the stuff you read all the time when you were younger. Don’t know the author they’ve given you as a comparison? “I Write Like” includes a link to that author’s works on amazon. Give it a try right here.

This is my entry for Sonia’s latest writing challenge. The summer competition gave us the goal of writing a short story (500 words or less) based on a photo. Here’s “Corn.”

 

Green is everywhere. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up. There’s been rain recently, and I can feel the moisture in the soil, smell it all around me. Rain’s scent lingers in the gentle breeze. The thunder’s rumble in the distance matches the one in my stomach, and I realize how far the storm has gone and how long ago my last meal was.

Corn. That’s the other overwhelming smell. Damp corn leaves. The corn is tasseled, but the ears on the stalks are still immature, still some time away from being ready for harvest. Good. I don’t have to worry about some poor farmer coming across me when I’m in this state. It’s unlikely that anyone will be coming through the rows this time of year, though. The stalks are far too tall for any wheeled vehicle to come through without crushing them, at least aside from a combine, and again, the maturity of the ears has already eliminated this possibility. I’m not certain where I am. The sun is still all but invisible behind the heavy clouds, but its position tells me that it is early evening. The worst of the storm must be moving on to the east of me, carrying with it more than any farmer would ever want. A heavy green tint to the rear of the storm system hints at the hail that lurks within. I turn my eyes toward more immediate dangers.

My backpack, or more accurately a backpack with my name on it, is on the ground, a row to my right. Examining it for any signs of tampering, I find none. It seems to be fine, so I open it. Inside, I find a flashlight, a jacket, a pocket knife, and a plastic bag with a piece of paper in it. The paper is folded four times and is written upon in black ink. The simple script reads “You have until sunrise tomorrow. You know what you have to do.”

I shrug and nod, fairly certain now that my every move is being watched, despite the apparent solitude.

Without further thought, I shoulder the backpack and stride into the green, vanishing between the rows. I leave boot prints in the damp earth behind me, following the setting sun.

I hope that I can make it.

Sometimes it’s the little victories that bring us the most joy. For me, one of the biggest such triumphs is knocking out a title from my “to-read” list. I’ve finally gotten it under control recently, though one of my coworkers at the library has described making progress on a reading list as a feat akin to slaying a hydra…

No, not the kind from “Captain America”

In my line of work, I’m generally adding a new book to my to-read list every other day. After a staff meeting a few weeks ago where one of my coworkers introduced us to the concept of the reading map via this example she created, I knew that I had to add yet another. You see, this reading map introduced me to Erin Morgenstern and her debut novel, The Night Circus. I was absolutely blown away by the book, which is a strange and fantastic combination of the magic competition presented in The Prestige and the environment presented in Something Wicked This Way Comes. Morgenstern weaves a tale of intrigue and romance as two young illusionists compete in a game with a mysterious circus serving as the venue. Celia and Marco are bound to the game by their masters, neither of them fully aware of the rules, including the fact that only one of them can survive. The Night Circus is a series of complex rings, much like the black and white striped tents that make up the titular location. I couldn’t put it down. Finishing it is one of those little victories. I can’t recommend it enough.

Next up on the reading list is another debut novel, A Once Crowded Sky. See you soon.

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry that I haven’t been around much lately. I know that we’ve been together for the last year and a half, but over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been neglecting you. I hope that you can forgive me. I’m not going to be making any excuses, because it’s really not worth wasting your time with things that may or may not be true. Instead, I’m going to be providing you with some funny and/or cool things that I’ve happened across in the last few weeks. Hopefully this will tide you over while I work on finishing up my newest piece of microfiction for you.

Sincerely,

Philip

1.) Collective nouns for the supernatural:

"A Wall of Text"

2.) The Guide

Hmmmm…

3.) A coworker creates incredible art from discarded books.

See more here: http://ppld.org/whats-new/library-employee-gives-new-life-library-discards

4.) We mock James Patterson some more.

From Booklist:  http://www.booklistonline.com/ProductInfo.aspx?pid=5532399&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

“An author who writes books faster than readers can read them–it must be fiction, right?”

 

In honor of my state’s birthday, I am going to share with you a few facts about Colorado. (Please note: these facts come from an article by Jerry Kopel, a journalist with the Colorado Statesman and a former state legislator who passed away in January of this year.)

Which state is bigger, Colorado or Wyoming?
If you said Wyoming, you were wrong. Colorado is 6,034 square miles larger than Wyoming. Incidentally, Colorado and Wyoming are the only states having unbroken and almost straight-line boundaries on all sides.
Why does it feel so good to be in Denver (or in the Colorado mountains)?
Normal atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.7 pounds to the square inch. That is the pressure exerted against the body by the weight, or density, of the atmosphere. The greater the altitude above sea level, the lighter the pressure.
In Denver, the atmospheric pressure is 12.2 pounds to the square inch. Having less pressure against your body is like having a load lifted off your back, which is actually what takes place.
What famous memorial and cemetery back east were built with Colorado Yule Marble?
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. In Denver, the Federal Reserve Bank Building is a good example of Colorado Yule Marble.
This marble, mined on the Yule Creek near the town of Marble in Gunnison County, is white, medium grained, generally banded with pale-brownish streaks and contains angular fragments of chert.
The Colorado state capitol building in Denver was completed one hundred years ago in 1896. What was placed in its cornerstone?
The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1890 by the Masonic Lodge and contained a bible, American flag, Colorado and U.S. constitutions, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, census reports, speeches by government officials, newspapers of July 4th, 1890, and gold and silver coins of all denominations. Denver became the permanent capital of Colorado by territorial legislative law Dec.9, 1867.
How many people lived here around the time Colorado became a state?
In 1870, Colorado had 39,864 residents. By 1890, the population jumped to 194,327. In 1870, the U.S. population was over 38 million, which meant Colorado then held one-tenth of one percent of the nation’s population. Today, Colorado has 3.8 million people.
What is the penalty for picking the state flower, the white and lavender columbine (Columbine Aquilegia, Caerulea) off of public land?
You have committed a MISDEMEANOR, and while you will not go to jail, if convicted, you will pay a fine of not less than $5 nor more than $50.
The columbine became the state flower in 1899 in a statute passed by the 12th General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Charles Thomas on April 4, 1899. From 1899 until 1925, it was okay to pick the flower, but in 1925, the Colorado legislature passed the following:
“It is unlawful for any person to tear the state flower up by the roots when grown or growing upon any state, school, or other public lands or in any public highway or other public place or to pick or gather upon any such public lands or in any such public highway or place more than twenty-five stems, buds, or blossoms of such flower in any one day, and it is also unlawful for any person to pick or gather such flower upon private lands without the consent of the owner thereof first had or obtained.”
The penalty hasn’t been changed in 71 years. Five bucks was a lot of money in 1925. In some hotels today, it will buy you a cup of coffee and a roll.
What well-known Colorado author wrote about the “trickle-down” economic theory forty years before it became famous during the Reagan presidency?
Barron B. Beshoar, Colorado native and author of Out of the Depths, the history of the Ludlow massacre and the insurrection by Colorado miners. In his forward to this 1942 book, Beshoar writes:
“On the one hand, firmly entrenched and in full power and strength, were those who held to the theory that all benefits properly trickle down from above, and on the other were those who devotedly maintained the democratic proposition that men and women who toil with their backs and hands are entitled to share in the fruits of their productive labor.”
When was the first time Colorado participated as a state in a presidential election and whom did we vote for?
It was 1880, and Colorado voted Republican 27,450 to 24,647 for James A. Garfield. President Garfield died in office at age 49, having served from March 4 to Sept. 19, 1881. He was succeeded by Chester A. Arthur.
What party dominated the first statewide elections and who got the nod?
The Republicans in 1876. All of the following were Republicans: John L. Routt, first state governor; James B. Belford, first congressman; Henry M. Teller and Jerome B. Chaffee, first U.S. senators; William M. Clark, first secretary of state; George C. Corning, first state treasurer; David C. Crawford, first state auditor; and A.J.Sampson, first attorney general.
Who was Lafayette Head?
A Republican, Lafayette Head was the first lieutenant governor of the state of Colorado. Since 1876, no other state official ever elected in Colorado has had the first name, Lafayette.
There’s your Colorado history lesson for the day. Happy birthday, Colorado!