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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

It’s been a couple of harried weeks, and I won’t schlep through the long tale of what’s kept me from blogging. But sometimes a video just says things so much better, and here is one that, while it has nothing to do with anything, conveys the feelings from my little timeout. Its first line says it all. And since it’s experimental animation, prepare for strangeness. I am not the creator, kudos go to guerilla You-Tube artist Narfin1000.

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Cream, Wisconsin

Cream, Wisconsin

There is a windswept intersection in Buffalo County called Cream. I drove through it one day, lingering where State Hwy. 88 meets Cty. Road E. All the 
buildings, a clustered handful, are painted the color of cream. On a blue sky day they are like clouds pulled to earth and given wooden skeletons. Pristine as sea salt. The crimson of even a lone cardinal’s wing would look garish against all that white.
But imagine the road in the photo turned to dirt, picture it in the year 1872 when Buffalo County’s first fair was held right there in the street. Those stark cream frames  a melee of horses, buggies, oxen, pigs and dusty-booted pioneers. Animal grunts, piles of manure and a table set with berry pies and cornbread.
One of those buildings housed a dance hall in 1903, and in its time it held masquerades, turkey shoots and medicine shows. It was the Broadway of Buffalo County.
The  clot of  dwellings was once called Eagle Valley, which is strange because Cream and Buffalo County are now home to hundreds of golden eagles that never used to live there. Bald eagles are native, goldens are not. No one knows where they came from. Scientists  presently  stalk them, to band their thick legs and follow them home.
As I drove through Cream and turned around and drove back again, I slipped  my Cream-the-rock-group CD into the dashboard player (truth!) and listened to their tune, “Crossroads.”
Surreality.
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I Draw Weredogs

Mungo, a character in one of my novels

Mungo, a character in one of my novels

I like to draw my characters as I write. This was a small were-dog as he appears in the beginning of one of my unpubbed novels. Drawing is so much easier than writing…

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Here is a doodle I made in my notebook some years ago. It’s a gorilla with a rose on his chest. I have no idea what I was thinking. I doodled it in Memphis, TN.

sketchbooks-0181

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black button eyes

black button eyes

So what do Brad Pitt and Newbery Award winner Neil Gaiman have in common? Buttons, of course! As in Pitt’s recent film role of  Benjamin Button, and in the spooky button eyes of Gaiman’s alternate universe people in Coraline.

I’ve always been a fan of  the button, as well as of those gents, and I own a collection of decorative sew-on fasteners vast enough to repair any given article of clothing. I even bought a book that shows you how to get that country look and enhance everything from bustiers to picture frames with a slathering of hot-glued buttons. I admit I have yet to try any of the projects. Decimate my collection for a faux-country-tarted-up bustier? I guess the book just doesn’t push my buttons .

Instead, I’ve collected these button factoids. They require no sewing or hot glue to enjoy, only your “scroll” button:

– Buttons are considered too fancy for Old Order Amish. They use straight pins, snaps and hook and eyes to keep their shirts on. The Puritans shunned buttons as crazy-evil vanity, too.

– Buttons form a major part of countless cliche expressions; cute as a, bright as a, button nose, button your lip…

– Buttons were invented 3,000 years ago but people didn’t figure out how to actually fasten clothing with them until around 1200 AD. Until then they just hung around looking cool.

– The word “button” comes from one of two French words but no one knows which; one means “bud” and one means “push.” It is NOT derived, as many mistakenly assume, from the word “butt.”

– A campaign button from President Obama’s 1996 Illinois Senate campaign sold for over $4,000. Of course, purists will argue that was technically a badge.

– The phrase “belly button” has only been in use since 1877, according to Medterms. I would have thought someone would have come up with it sooner; it just seems so basic.

– “Hnappurinn” or “Button” was the title of a children’s movie made in Iceland in 2008. I don’t know what it’s about but I’m pretty sure Brad Pitt wasn’t in it, and that the children in it aged the normal way, if at all.

I heart buttons

I heart buttons

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Call me Certainly.

I love it when people tell me stories. And because I write books about offbeat things, the shared tales list heavily toward  eccentric.

One of my favorites is also one of the simplest. A woman at a book signing walked up to confide that as a child, she named her favorite doll “Certainly.” Why? Because no one had told her it wasn’t a name.

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Certainly came to mind yesterday while I was flipping through a great handbook, “Edit Yourself” by Bruce Ross-Larson. I found Certainly plopped in the middle of a column of WEAK MODIFIERS. Turns out Certainly has many sisters and brothers: Actually, Definitely, Hopefully, and Rather, to name a few.

I’ll think fondly of the whole family next time  I’m slashing the fat from my deathless prose, and try to ignore the mental image I now carry of little dolly heads being callously lopped. It puts a disturbingly literal spin on that old editing phrase “killing your darlings.”

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