Groundhog Day (A Time for Taking Advice from Animals)

scene from the movie, Groundhog Day

scene from the movie, Groundhog Day (Are they looking into the future together?)

Another Year Gone By

I can’t believe it, already February has already arrived and now it is Groundhog Day. Currently, the weather out here in central Montana is a mixed bag. This morning was bright and sunny, but in the afternoon show squalls flew in from the west and at present are depositing a very thin layer of frozen precipitation along the banks of the Missouri River. I’m not quite sure what this means, but if my memory serves me right, Punxsutawney Phil always emerged from his winter hideout first thing in the morning. So it goes to say that the early morning weather determines the groundhog’s prediction; at least that’s the way it was in the movie. So I guess out here on the high plains we should expect another six weeks of winter weather, even though the ground is bare and the ten day forecast is for above average temperatures. Has anyone informed Punxsutawney Phil or any of his cohorts about Global Warming? Maybe, in the near future the possibility of global warming could be worked into the groundhog’s forecast.

Over the years the popularity of Groundhog Day has risen remarkedly

Over the years the popularity of Groundhog Day has risen remarkably.

The Holiday

February 2nd is a bit of anomaly as far as national holidays go, for not only is an animal involved in this holiday, but the animal involved (that’s the woodchuck) is able to give us (the human population) some long term advice that we might not be able to discern on our own. Considering the state of the human race today, this is no great feat, for mankind seems troubled with all kinds of modern malaise and could do with some good common sense advice. If you don’t believe me, all you have to is watch a few minutes of our presidential primaries. That should relieve all doubt.

the groundhog awaits his special holiday,

the groundhog awaits his special holiday,

Moon

A Mouse Drawing

This picture was created entirely in Photoshop without the use of any actual images. All elements were created by using the various  tools that are part of the Photoshop repertoire. Some of the tools used include the elliptical tool, the gradient tool, color fill, the line tool and the brush tool. The only drawing tool used was the mouse, which went into making of all parts of this drawing. Presently, I am in the process of creating similar images with outer spaces photographs supplied by NASA.

An image with many moons

An image titled Many Moons

A Writer’s Quickie Guide To New Year Resolutions

Homer Simpson busy at work at the typewriter

Though seldom used today, the typewriter is a perfectly acceptable means of writing.

It Really Doesn’t Matter How You Write

I guess it kind of goes without saying that it doesn’t matter so much as to how you put the words down, just so long as you write. Really, all you need is a pen or pencil and something to write on. Paper products, such as notebooks, napkins, paper towels or actual plain sheets of paper are preferred, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter what the material is.

Corn writing is not recommended because the writing surface is left exposed to the elements

However, Corn Writing is not recommended because the writing surface is left exposed to the elements, which can lead to a rapid deterioration of your content.

Resolutions Condensed

The following New Year’s resolutions are condensed so that you will have more time to enjoy the New Year’s festivities. You can worry about writing something profound after the First of the Year.

OK, guys and dolls, here they are…..Write better and more often and sober. Try something new, finish it. NETWORK!!! Procrastinate less and read more. And don’t forget that perfectionism is the death of creativity.

There you go; I can’t be much more precise than that. Now go out and party and don’t think about writing until next year.

Happy New Year everybody

Happy New Year everybody

More Christmas Hullalaboo

Christmas card from 1940, from wikipedia

Christmas card from 1940, from Wikipedia

So This Is Christmas

As John Lennon would say, “Another year over, And what have you done.” Actually, “So This Is Christmas” by John Lennon, has to rank as one of my favorite Modern Age Christmas songs. The lyrics, though quite simple, are very poignant and always deserve a good listen right about this time of year.

For this blog, reflections on the year that is about to end, will come shortly, but I would like to pause for a moment on what I like best about the Christmas season….and that  is, its pagan nature.

I am quite aware that come December, there are lots of signs and placards put up to remind us how important it is to “keep Christ In Christmas”. Nonetheless, what I like most about late December are all the festivities that seem to revolve around the time of year, when the days are at their shortest and the nights are so very long.

These are the times that are ripe for storytelling. For it seems that the long, cold nights are the perfect catalyst for spurring the human mind into creating fantastic apparitions and riveting insights into why we are here on the planet and what monumental efforts might be required for our survival. And in our present-day situation, our survival may be more in peril than ever before.

 

Santa Claus emcounter

Santa Claus encounter, copied w/o permission

Christmas Quotes

  1. “What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus? Claustrophobic.” – Anonymous
  2. “Always winter but never Christmas.”  by C.S. Lewis, from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  3. “Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!”  by Charles Dickens
  4. “The worst gift I was given is when I got out of rehab that Christmas; a bottle of wine. It was delicious.” by Craig Ferguson
  5. “Glen had a disability more disfiguring than a burn and more terrifying than cancer.
    Glen had been born on the day after Christmas………”My parents just combine my birthday with Christmas, that’s all,” he explained.
    But we knew this was a lie. Glen’s parents just wrapped a couple of his Christmas presents in birthday-themed wrapping paper, stuck some candles in a supermarket cake, and had a dinner of Christmas leftovers.” by Augusten Burroughs, You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas
  6. “It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.” by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
  7. “If my Valentine you won’t be,
    I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.”  by  Ernest Hemingway
  8. Santa Claus: “Don’t you know who I am?”
    Joe: “Sure, you’re a nut.”
    Santa Claus: “I’m Santa Claus.”
    Joe: “Right and I’m the tooth fairy.”
    from the movie, Santa Claus
  9. “Don’t be scared if a big fat man comes in to your room and stuffs you in a bag… I told Santa I want you for Christmas!!!” Anonymous
  10. “Tales, unlike stories, never lie.” Lord Autumn

Another Glimpse from the Past

Santa Claus gets some attention, Puck Magazine 1904

Santa Claus gets some attention, Puck Magazine 1904

So You Think Writing In Your First Language Is Hard: A Look at ESL Novelists

Homer writing a letter

Homer writing a letter

So You Think Writing In Your First Language Is Hard

If you are tired of struggling with the oddities and peculiarities of trying to make a sentence make sense, then you might want to take a look at some of these noted novelists, who had to learn English, as a second or even a third language, before they could get their story finished. And that says nothing about getting it published.

A group portrait of some of the Beat writers

A group portrait of some of the Beat writers

The Most Influential of the Beats

Of all the beat writers, which includes the likes of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, most literary critics tend to agree that Jack Kerouac had the biggest impact on the American literary scene. Lesser known is that even though Jack was born in Massachusetts, he grew up in a French-speaking household. Jack didn’t even learn English until he was six; and never completely mastered the language into he was well into his teens. Nonetheless, he went on to produce a body of work that is still widely read today.

Most recently (Feb. 2015), a Quebec publishing house by the name of Les Éditions du Boréal, has recently announced that they will publish some of Jack Kerouac’s French writing. The collection, titled La vie est d’hommage, will feature a novella and Kerouac’s first attempt for On the Road, which was penned in his native French. This publishing effort will underscore the little known fact that Kerouac continued to write in his mother tongue, even after having achieved substantial financial and critical success with On the Road and The Dharma Bums.

 

Illustration for Cheer of Home Fires, drawing by Will James

Illustration for Cheer of Home Fires, drawing by Will James

The Strange Life of Will James

And while I am on the subject of French-Canadians, here is a tale of a Quebec man, who eventually ended up as one of America’s most appreciated cowboy writers and artists.

One of the strangest literary stories of the twentieth century concerns the western Cowboy writer, Will James. Over his lifetime James wrote over twenty books detailing the ranch hand’s life that he had known in such places as Montana, Nevada and also California, where he had briefly worked as a Hollywood stunt rider. Will James was also a gifted artist, evident by the numerous drawings and paintings that were included in his literary efforts. Nobody knew of Will James’ early life until he passed away in 1942 of severe alcoholism. Then a search for next of kin produced a brother living in Canada under a different name.

Will James was born Joseph-Ernest-Nephtali Dufault on June 6, 1892, at St. Nazaire de Acton in Quebec, Canada. Then as a teenager, he left the province of Quebec for the wilds of Saskatchewan, where he learned how to be a cowhand. Eventually Joseph went south-of-the-border (possibly to escape rustling charges), changed his name and became a Montana cowboy. After years of working on various ranches, a man now called Will James began to write down his working experiences. Amazingly, he was also able to illustrate his text with captivating drawings and paintings, like the one seen above. One of his stories, Smoky the Cowhorse received a Newbery award and was also made into a movie. Even today, his books are still available and read by many.

Khaled Hosseini with the two main actors in The Kite Runner.

Khaled Hosseini with the two main actors in The Kite Runner.

Out of Afghanistan

“I write exclusively in English now. I could likely feign my way through a short story—a very short story—in Farsi. But generally, I lack a narrative voice in Farsi, and a sense of rhythm and cadence in my head, because it has been decades since I wrote fiction in Farsi. English has become very comfortable for me.” Khaled Hosseini

So begins the story of Khaled Hosseni, whose first novel The Kite Runner, recently became a bestseller and a popular Hollywood movie. He was born in Kabul in 1965, but left with his family in 1980 to escape the Russian War in Afghanistan. His family relocated to Southern California, as Khaled also graduated from high school and college in the U.S. The Kite Runner was published in 2003.

Joseph Conrad learned to speak fluently in Polish and French, before tackling English.

Joseph Conrad learned to speak fluently in Polish and French, before tackling English.

Joseph Conrad

Conrad, who is probably best known for the novel Heart of Darkness, did not learn the English language until he was in his twenties. Polish was his native tongue, but he was also completely fluent in French, before he started writing short stories in English. Although he always spoke English with a heavy accent, his prose was clear. Born in the Ukraine, Joseph went to sea as a merchant marine when he has still a teen. At age 36 Joseph retired from a seaman’s life and began writing.

Other Writers

The list of other authors, who write in English, despite the fact that it is not their native tongue include, Gary Shteyngart (Russian), Salman Rushdie (Hindu), Nadeem Aslam (Pakistani), Francesca Marciano (Italian), Andrei Cordrescu (Romanian) and Yiyun Li (Mandarin Chinese). And then there is the Irishman, Samuel Beckett, who wrote in French despite the fact that his mother tongue was English.