You were thinking another plural noun perhaps, but I was most definitely thinking grammar. Especially since my One and Only Squeeze informed me she reads my blogs. And I've mentioned how admiring she is of Lorena Bobbitt.
Anyway, grammar. On my reference book shelf reside The Chicago Manual of Style, foreign language dictionaries, thesauri, and two books I bought second hand in my high school junior year. One of the two is a book of synonyms, antonyms, and prepositions. The other is Writing handbook.
At any rate, when I have a grammar question, I generally reach for one of those two ancient tomes first. Then I check the answer against the Manual of Style. The handbook is half as thick as the Manual of Style, but it weighs the same and the font is bigger. I find that it is easier to find the answer to a particular question in the older books. I could, without too much trouble, find out how many words were in the "official" English language dictionary in the early '50s as compared to now, acknowledging that the language has grown, evolved along with technology and the population of humans on Earth. I think, however, it is sufficient to say, the language has evolved. Through the evolutionary process, I wonder if words pick up extra connotational baggage. So I kind of like the idea of going back to a time when the language wasn't so complex for answers to grammar questions.
Recently, I read Aristotle's Poetics. Quite something to read an analysis of poetry, drama, rhetoric, and prose back when those things had just gotten formalized to a certain extent. Perhaps that's why I'm fond of my old grammar books. Because they are from a time when language was simpler, purer.
Or perhaps it's because I've had these books and used them for fifty-seven years. Perhaps familiarity has bred content.
Well, at any rate, for writers, it is worthwhile, in my opinion, to have an older grammar book and to read the Poetics
Duty by Robert Gates.
I wasn't going to read the book until a friend of mine recommended it. He's steered me to a number of good ones over the years. Duty is another of his winners.
It is an incredible story from a number of points of view. One, a Secretary of Defense who serves a Republican president and a Democrat, that's worth reading the book for on its own. Two, it paints a great picture of how things get done inside our government. It sure isn't pretty. Three, a tale of government service spanning the jobs and decades of Mr. Gates time in D.C. is also worth the read.
I'm mad all right.
It's Lent, you know, and I decided I should give up something. Discipline is good, I told myself, and discipline doesn't come without working for it. So I decided Lent was just the ticket. Catholics have traditionally given up meat. Me, I love fish. My One and Only Squeeze, she is a much better Catholic than I am, because she loves meat and hates fish. (The especially observant might detect another reason or two to support the foregoing proposition) At any rate, if I was going to give up something, it had to be meaningful sacrifice, you know?
So I decided to give up Sudoku, Kakuro, AND Ken Ken.
Here we are, day 18 of Lent. Not even half way through the ordeal. Arrrgh! Why did I have to give up all three?
I mean, one wouldn't have been much of a sacrifice, but I could have given up Kakuro and Ken Ken, the two I love the most. That would have been sacrifice enough, and I wouldn't be going crazy now. I wouldn't be so dad-burned MAD at myself.
I quit the NY Times crossword years ago. Too many "Modern" questions from current music (If the current stuff qualifies even) and from vampire and Harry Potter books. So what's left. I'll tell you. Cowboy movies, Sudoku, Kakuro, and Ken Ken. And my VHS cowboy movies are showing their age. I'm trying to make them last. So you can see why I'm just mad, Mad, MAD at myself.
Wait, what's this? Down here minimized in the tool bar. Whoa ...
OMG. OH ....... My. God.
Cue up Neil Diamond singing "Hello Again." Cue up Juice Newton singing "Stranger at my Door," with the message being you'll never be a stranger.
Hello again, Stranger. How could I ever have forgotten you??
Pardon my Lenten smile, my disciplined Lenten smile, that is.
Petey Adler is in second grade.
Petey couldn’t remember climbing out of the ditch. Running home with the rotten-egg smell in his nose, his feet squishing his soggy socks, and the book bag his momma sewed for him banging against his leg: vivid recollections.
He passed Jimmie Joe. “Petey, wait.” He ran faster and didn’t even look when he crossed the
highway. He raced by the clumps of older kids. The girls’ gabble stopped as he flew by. One said, “Phew. He stinks.” The rest of them giggled.
At Main and Maple, with the American Legion on one corner and Kleinhammer’s new grocery store under construction opposite, he turned left, ran past Marcella Mengele’s Hair Salon, the volunteer firehouse, Kleinhammer’s current store, Grossman’s funeral parlor, and then cut through the empty lot. When he rounded the corner at the rear of the house by the cistern, Petey let loose and bawled as loud as he could. It didn’t take long. His momma opened the door.
“Petey, what happened?” “Fants,” he yelled, and he went back to sobbing. “There, there.” She hugged him and didn’t seem to mind the
stink and the mud. “Pop gets home, I’ll tell him.” Pop worked at the Farmers’ Co-operative Elevator. He stayed
late that night loading grain into freight cars. Petey was asleep before he came home.
“Wake up,” and the lights coming on jerked Petey out of a deep dark hole with his heart pounding.
Petey squinted through fingers over his eyes. His pop stood in the doorway, filling it.
“You come home bawling, you vex your momma,” he said. “Do not vex your momma.” He glared at Petey for a moment, turned out the light, and pulled the door shut.
Noble Deeds available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and
John Zerr is the author of four novels, The Ensign Locker, Sundown Town Duty Station, Noble Deeds, and The Happy Life of Preston Katt.
Follow John's blog (below) and receive updates via email:
John on Facebook
Follow John on Twitter