Questing Beast II: Playing in a Sea of Letters

Great list of authors and books. Would you like to try your brain out on these three lists and play match game. I knew enough to feel good and know I want to learn about the books and authors I stumbled when comparing. Have Fun. Enjoy!

MacKENZIE's Dragon's Nest

As I watch it snow on the penultimate day of March (!), I leave the visual arts for the fountain pen for sontag series

Most of us know books, even love books. And some of us love them with an unruly passion. When I was growing up, I explored shelf after shelf, floor to ceiling, of novels and histories, poetry and plays. One of my favorite places in the world was the used-book store where unimagined treasures could be found. All of this gave me a thirst for literature. It also gives me an ocean of opera and authors upon which to draw for today.

This, naturally, presents its own set of problems. So many possibilities! Who to choose, who to omit. (This is where subjectivity runs amok. It is, after all, my list. 🙂 )

When I first pulled together today’s quiz, I was informed by someone who also loves books that it…

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Editor’s Corner 101.22

Trimming the Fat

Scribe small

Today I want to discuss trimming the fat we marble into our tales and presenting the cleanest, leanest work possible. (Vegetarians, my apologies for the metaphor. Think of shaping a bonsai, instead.)sculpture-1-600x824 In my experience, most verbal excess comes from a simple bad habit: writing as we talk. Unnecessary conjunctions and prepositions, qualifiers and redundancies, litter spoken English – and, I imagine, most other languages – slipping in as casually as a hem or a haw or a thought-filled caesura. But put that into fiction or poetry and the flow sputters and stalls like a crusty engine.

The fact is, most of us overwrite. Stephen King advised, look at your work then cut 10%. Draconian? Perhaps. Still, it’s a standard to which we can all – including Mr. King – aspire. (Don’t get me started on famous writers who shun outside editing! In my humble opinion, they are of a piece with fools who choose to represent themselves at the bar.)

But what to cut and where? ‘That’ is a great starting place. Ubiquitous to the point of passing unnoticed, ‘that’ in its conjunctive form is a colloquialism easily excised 90% of the time. “The manuscript that he gave his editor…” sounds better and loses not a whit of meaning as, “The manuscript he gave his editor….” Take a scythe to your ‘thats’ and don’t look back.

A slew of other prepositions, articles, and conjunctions fall into this same category, their misuse serving only to muddy syntax and emasculate verbs and nouns. “Join in on the fun,” for example, may be fine on the playground, but, on the page, “join the fun” is more effective. Likewise, judicious use of gerunds can eliminate the need for stray words, usually conjunctions: “He growled through his teeth and refused to give ground.” vs. “Growling through his teeth, he refused to give ground.” Or: “He growled through his teeth, refusing to give ground.”

Spoken English is also rife with redundant phrases: end result; complicated dilemma, enter in, completely sated, etc. All results come at the end, all dilemmas are complex, to enter means ‘go in’ and sated to be ‘stuffed to the gills.’ Choose your words with care, understand their meanings, and toss any extraneous adjectives or adverbs. (Note: Some editors say, slash all adverbs and adjectives by half. A tad extreme to my thinking, still ruthless eyes – and ears – make for more-concise prose.)

When it comes to iterating ideas, don’t give into temptation. You will simply be paraphrasing yourself, which not only bogs down the narrative but also ticks off readers eager for a story not a lecture. Write it well the first time and trust your audience to get it.

Qualifying words and phrases – verbal hedges – fall squarely into the category of literary fat, but, as they are a particular peeve of mine, I will leave them to next week. For now, read your work aloud, see where it stumbles or gets lost in verbal superfluity. Then, mindful of integrity in tone and tale, if your sentences work without the thats, ands, ins, and buts, cut as deep as you can.

Down to the bone.

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I will try to respond to messages as I am able. At times it may be in the form of a post or a direct email response. Guests who post, I will forward messages addressed to them. It is up to them how they decide to correspond.   — Shawn MacKENZIE – MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest

“…And Justice for All”

“…And Justice for All” (1979)

and justice for all

Arthur Kirkland (played by Al Pacino):
That man is guilty! That man, there, that man is a slime! he is a *slime*! If he’s allowed to go free, then something really wrong is goin’ on here!

Judge Rayford:
Mr. Kirkland you are out of order!

Arthur Kirkland (Al Pacino):
You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order! That man, that sick, crazy, depraved man, raped and beat that woman there, and he’d like to do it again! He *told* me so! It’s just a show! It’s a show! It’s “Let’s Make A Deal”! “Let’s Make A Deal”! Hey Frank, you wanna “Make A Deal”? I got an insane judge who likes to beat the shit out of women! Whaddya wanna gimme Frank, 3 weeks probation?

Frank Bowers:

Arthur Kirkland: [to Judge Fleming]
You, you sonofabitch, you! You’re supposed to *stand* for somethin’! You’re supposed to protect people! But instead you rape and murder them!
[dragged out of court by bailiffs]

Arthur Kirkland:
You killed McCullough! You killed him! Hold it! Hold it! I just completed my opening statement!

“…And Justice For All” Favorite Clip!

“Letters to a Young Poet” [Part XV of XXIX]

rainer maria rilke letters to a young poet COVER

“Letters to a Young Poet”

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Part XV of XXIX

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 29th March 2015

RILKE Painting blond

(15th week)

“All companionship
can consist
in only
the strengthening
of neighboring solitudes,
giving oneself
is by nature
to companionship:
for when a person
abandons himself,
he is no longer
and when two people
both give themselves up
in order to become closer
to each other,
there is no longer
any ground
beneath them
and their being together
is a continual
falling –
I have learned
and over again,
there is scarcely
more difficult
than to love
one another.”

 1 home large photo

One of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Homes

Dvorak, New World Symphony – 2nd Mvt Part 2,

Dublin Philharmonic, Conductor Derek Gleeson

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The Questing Beast: Cultural Literacy

A Quest, a game, a who do you remember, “I know that name, but what is it they do”? Join in the fun of testing yourself and learning more about who you know and finding out about who you may not remember or do not know but would like to find out about.

The Dragon Keeper has created an adventure into the world of the artist, a game her father taught her long ago. Would you like to join in? If so, just follow this link back to the Original Post “The Questing Beast: Culture Literacy.” Enjoy! ‘the secret keeper’ jk

MacKENZIE's Dragon's Nest

Yesterday, in heart-wrenchingly depressing fashion, it was brought to my attention that Americans are rapidly descending into a morass of cultural illiteracy. The systematic elimination of arts from public school curricula, the emphasis on preparing young people for a job rather than a life in college, all seem to be leading us to generations of uncurious individuals. Even with the world at our Internet-connected fingertips, the basic level of knowledge about our world is melting away. Appalling!

510 Persistence of Memory – Salvador Dali

I am not talking about our individual blindspots – we all have those. I, for example, am noticeably – some might say egregiously – ill-informed about contemporary music and sports. No, I am talking about a basic body of information about our cultural heritage – arts, history, literature, science – that rounds us out, sparks our curiosity, and helps us grow as human beings.

The Desperate Man - Self-portrait. Gustave Courbet The Desperate Man…

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“Unending Love”

“Unending Love”

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.”

― Rabindranath Tagore

shellet xie - yin yang - pressed flower art - balance

shellet xie – yin yang – pressed flower art – balance


“Today’s Special” Movie Trailer

“Today’s Special” Movie Trailer

TODAY’S SPECIAL is a heartwarming comedy with a culinary flavor, inspired by Aasif Mandvi’s Obie Award winning play “Sakina’s Restaurant.” Samir (Aasif Mandvi, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, THE LAST AIRBENDER) is a sous chef who dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When he is passed over for a promotion he impulsively quits and lets his co-worker Carrie (Jess Weixler, TEETH) know that he intends to go to Paris and apprentice under a master French chef. Dreams must be put aside though after his father Hakim (Harish Patel, RUN FAT BOY RUN) has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over Tandoori Palace, the nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights. Samir’s relationship with his parents and his heritage is immediately put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, (played by legendary cookbook writer and actor, Madhur Jaffrey), is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son. While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business. Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (portrayed by the icon of Indian cinema, Naseeruddin Shah, MONSOON WEDDING). Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life, and to start truly living it. With Akbar’s guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.