Doodleboggery

We writers are a peculiar breed. A downright eccentric lot. Many of us live inside our heads, out there in fantasy land where the most interesting things are going on. Which doesn’t make us the most socially adept folks.

Get a bunch of us together in a room and we can go one of two ways. Half of us will talk your head off. The other half will go to a corner and observe. It’s not that half is shy. It is just that they are writers. And there seems to be nary a middle ground between the twixt of the two.

Some of us will let any ole word flop all over the place like a chicken with his head cut off. Some will make the one hundred yard dash for the word el perfecto. Our desire for literarydom can be the difference between digging for treasure or hunting for the holy grail. Some of us are Indiana Jonesys while some are Kid Galahads. Then there are others who would give anything and everything to be the Muhammad Ali of language. But he earned his heavyweight title, and so must we.

When thinking about my own eccentricities, I must admit I have a bit of all these. There are times when I would prefer the corner while other times when I can be the life of the party. Mostly I like to see words stand up and tap a little Fred Astaire across the room. It is a bit of a disease I call Doodleboggery.

When I first invite a character into a story, it’s no Charlie nor Watt nor Janice for me. I go a little funky and call the character something like Doodlebug whether it be a him or a her. I’ve used Mucker, Willy McWhack, George O’George, Helluvagoy, Puddlewhack, Blowfish, Hermittitus, Actina, Elephantitus just to name a few.

Bet you can guess what the Elephantitus is like. His ego fills a room so much that the room explodes and I have ka-blooey all over the place. Yuck. Then I have to clean up the mess. I want you to know it isn’t pretty.

I’ve used Expletive Deleted. All that came out of her mouth was a purple so prose I can’t repeat it here. Shortly after she walked on stage, I did an Elmore Leonard to her. She had her little butt kicked to kingdom come and she hasn’t showed up in any story since. Course there’s always the danger that she will return and be a major nuisance. You just never know.

Characters have a mind of their own and they can Rasputin all over the place. It took the Russian nobility an amazing amount of effort to kill him off. First they poisoned him, then they stabbed him again and again. But he just wouldn’t die. Then they drowned him. The rumor is that didn’t take either. Some say he’s been seen out in Siberia causing major mischief. Maybe we should check with Putin on that one.

That is what I am afraid of when I think about E.D. Had another character with those initials. Just can’t remember what those initials stand for but it’s not Erectile Dysfunction. He had a completely different set of issues. Had a real bad case of the casanova that caused problems up the ying-yang with all the ladies in a story called “Church”. A number of the women in that story, including the minister’s wife, showed up pregnant. I gave him the condom lecture but since when do characters listen. Last I saw him he had a husband after him with a shotgun. He was jumping out of a bedroom window in nothing but his altogethers.

Now this eccentricity that I have to suffer through doesn’t stop with names. It has a tendency to propagate into sentences and sometimes whole paragraphs when I am not sure what should be taking place. Some examples: “She stood on his lawn and hitchcocked her ex, then she went looking for a place to drop his corpus dilecti into.”

Of course, this honors the great director Alfred Hitchcock and the next one refers to the director Francis Ford Coppola. “He performed the coppola early that day, then he took a ride south to his favorite eatery for some pasta.”

You can imagine what a character might do if he spielberged or david-finchered across the planet. I am not quite sure but you can imagine.

Here’s some other ones.

He bonnie-and-clyded his way into the liquor store, pulled his gub and demanded a fifth of scotch from the clerk.” “Gub” refers to an article called a gun mentioned in the Woody Allen epic, “Take the Money and Run”.

“The artist started sloppy but he grew better. Later he found that sloppy was the way to go.” The artist in this one happens to be Jackson Pollack-ing all over the place.

“He grabbed hold of his life and shook it loose of the blues.”

“After six months, Perky broke off her romance with Hunkie. It wasn’t that the sex wasn’t peachy keen. It was. Lots of bodice ripping and muscles rippling. She just couldn’t take any more of his love for mirrors.”

“She’s the Starbucks of my life/I’m the Krispy Kreme of her heart.”

“She sprawled onto the lawn and kissed the ground he walked on. It tasted like chocolate and she had way too too much of a sweet tooth to not take a good bite out of the grass. Over the years that tooth had carried her from Hershey to Giardina to Rocky Mountain Chocolate to the Wee Willy Wonka in search of the perfect elixir. And here it was, in the footprints he left behind.”

And so forth. I know. This eccentricity sounds a little strange as all eccentricities do. That’s why they’re called eccentricities. But what can I do? It keeps my Muse amused. You see, she gets bored easily. And I do not want to bore her. No, sirree. She has a gub too and it is a big one. It is never pretty when my Muse takes over and does a sharknado to my prose.

Anyway all this doodleboggery sometimes leads me out to the edge. Unfortunately this is where it recently led:

“Jan Horstafeller vas a mighty fine fellow. He ate his haggalogen on Vod’s Day, Tor’s Day und Freya’s Day. As he scarfened down his haggalogen, his capagaggas growed to ten feet vide und twenty feet large und Jan Horstafeller vas only a vee bit of a Horstafeller. Haggalogen has tat effect on der person. It enlarges one’s capagaggas enormously. Yah, tat it does.”

I am so sorry but I couldn’t help myself. It’s just a little Doodleboggery.

High School Latin

My high school Latin teacher must have been in her sixties. She looked like she knew Julius Caesar up close and personal. I can’t remember her name but she sure made an impression. There she stood before the class with a bad case of declensionitis. Now it wasn’t as if we in her Latin class had been drafted. We had volunteered. Latin was an elective. We could just as easily taken Spanish. Since we lived in Texas, that would’ve made more sense.

But somewhere along the way the Ancient Romans cast their spell on me. If it had been offered, I would have taken Hebrew and written backwards. But there I sat in Latin class, conjugating verbs that Cicero probably never conjugated. And he was a conjugator in the first degree.

Also I had read that F. Scott Fitzgerald took Latin and I had this dream. I wanted to be not just any writer but a rich and famous one, go off to Hollywood and sleep with lots of great looking women. If Fitzgerald had done it, why not me? A pimply-faced kid with a poor self-image can dream, can’t he?

To train as a writer, I thought about taking Shakespeare. But he scared the bejesus out of me. People put him on such a pedestal. And still do. But Latin. I thought Latin would be such a lark. How hard could it be since the Neanderthals had spoken and written it? After all, pimples or not, I was a thoroughly modern adolescent.

And maybe, just maybe, speaking Latin might get me in with the in-crowd, or at least the intellectual crowd. I was a lonely kid. I wasn’t even geek enough to be a geek. I was so lonely for companionship I got a cat. I couldn’t even do that right. Should have gotten a dog, ’cause cats are not the most companionable of pets. I know there are cat owners who will disagree. But I have a cat and I’m telling you that has been my experience. Latinizing myself seemed like a plan. And who knew? There just might be a Zelda in my future. You gotta remember. I wasn’t the brightest light bulb in the store.

So there I sat among a bunch of other empty minds, waiting to be stirred by a language that had not been spoken in something like 1500 years. Then the the Declensionator sprang some news upon us. We had to drop our w and pronounce the v as a w.

We started demanded our double-u’s back. We became so riotous that three Roman lictors had to be brought in to calm us down. Finally she told us that she would allow us a pickum nickum on the school lawn if we would just calm down.

Once we calmed down, she spun us the tale of Gaius Julius Caesar. His Horatio Alger of a life only proved that any Roman patrician could grow up and be Dictator-for-Life if he applied himself and had a bit of luck. He started off with a family tree second to none but no cash. Being the ambitious kid he was, he had a hankering to conquer the world. Went off to Gaul (which was Latin for France) and gave a good whacking to the folks in Gallia Celtica, Belgica and Aquitania. The English translation for Gallia Celtica, Belgica and Aquitania is Any, Many and Minie Moe.

Pompey, the Big Cheese in Rome, was way none too happy. Told Gaius Julius that he had gotten too big for his toga and his knickers were showing. He needed to humble himself and come on home to Rome and beg the Senate to forgive him for being so successful.

Gaius was having none of that. He headed back to Rome with the Seventh Legion behind him. Unlike the Seventh Calvary, they were in no mood for a Little Big Horn and they were led by a general who was no Custer. He was more like Patton. All Gaius Julius wanted was a parade for doing to Gaul what Pompey wanted to do to him.

So he gave Pompey and the Senate the middle finger and marched on Rome. He did not become Caesar till he crossed the Rubicon, singing “We’re not gonna take it anymore.” From that day on, his business card said Caesar.

Pompey did a quick exit stage right and lit out for all parts east. Caesar followed and pretty soon he was veni-ing, vidi-ing and vici-ing all over the place, giving Pompey the what-fors here, there and everywhere. Caesar did the Napoleon thing. He went down to Egypt and all hell broke loose. Pompey lost his head over Cleopatra. Caesar was downright pissed. Only a Roman got to knock off another Roman.

Before he knew it, Cleo had Gaius calmed down. She spread her legs and Caesar went ga-ga over the original Lady Gaga. He, in his W. C. Fields of a voice, told her like he told all his girlfriends, “Veni, vidi, vici.” She retorted, with a Mae West that made Mae West think twice about using that voice of hers, “No, you veni-ed, you vidied, but I vici-ed, big boy.” She had him in the palm of her hands, showing him the pyramids.

The thing was that Gaius got bored. He’d seen all the pyramids he wanted to see. A pyramid here, a pyramid there, everywhere a pyramid. He saw so many pyramids they started reminding him of Stonehenge. All he needed was a Druid and he could have a human sacrifice. Now, wouldn’t that be a party? he thought. So he decided to get the hell out of Dodge and head back to Rome where the plebs worshipped the ground he walked on.

Bad idea. Before he knew it, he was etu-ing Brute’ all over the place. At that point, he had a bad case of the “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.” And that was that. It was the good ol’ bye, bye, Miss American Pie.

Of course, we Latineers in that high school class found all this fascinating, especially the part about Cleo spreading her legs and making ol’ Cez go gaga. We all shouted, “More, more.” Miss D thought real hard and asked, “You ever hear of a toga party?” Then the bell rang.

Over the months that followed, we learned orgy etiquette. We learned about the Roman hero, Biggus Dickus. We even conjugated a few verbs and learned ignoramus does not mean stupid. It is first person plural and it meant “we do not know.” And of course we didn’t. But what the hey. It was Latin.

I must admit that I was not a very good conjugater . Every time she asked me to conjugate, I pulled a Rush Limbaugh and changed the subject. If you can’t win, you take the conversation off in a different direction. I had been reading Livy’s “History of Rome, so I asked, “How about those Pubic Wars?”

She said, “Yes, they were really hairy.”

It all worked out. I managed to con my way through two years of Latin and end up with a B. I could now use the phrases carpe diem and per diem appropriately, and I knew semper fidelis was longhand for semper fi.

Soon I graduated and went out into the wide world, thanking my lucky stars that I would never have to conjugate another verb. Then it happened. I saw “The Life of Brian”. In it, there is this guy writing graffiti on a Jerusalem wall: “Romanes eunt domus.” A squad of Roman soldiers show up and the centurion starts correcting the zealot’s Latin, finally saying, “Romani ite domum! Now write it 100 times before sunrise, or I’ll cut your balls off.” I had nightmares over that one. I kept substituting Miss D for the centurion and I was the poor smuck of a zealot.

Could have happened. In a previous life.

Word for the Day: Wait

“Just you wait” from My Fair Lady.”

The word “wait” is a very loaded word. We wait here; we wait there; we wait everywhere. We begin our lives waiting. Nine months or less. And we believe that once that wait is over, no more waiting on our agenda. Little do we realize the waiting has only just begun. It has been estimated that we humans spend five years of our lives waiting if we live to be 79 years old.

Initially we wait for our parents to change our dirty diapers and give us a bottle. And we let them know that we are not appreciative when they make us wait. Too bad we can’t use that strategy for later on in life when we’re waiting in line at an amusement ride.

We wait on the school bus. We wait for Santa Claus to show up at our house. We spend weeks waiting on that video game we just have to have. We wait on our friends to show up at the park so we can play baseball.

As we grow into our teen years, we wait on that guy to ask us to the prom. Or that girl to give us the “Yes, I will go with you.” Later we will wait on that engagement ring or the girl to answer our plea to marry us.

As adults, we wait on the food to come at the restaurant. Or the line at the movie theater. Or the ride at the amusement park. Or we wait for the doctor to let us know we’re a-okay. And down the road we wait on retirement.

We wait on the fish to bite. We wait on the light to change. We wait for our paychecks. We wait for a response to that resume’ we sent. If we’ve been bad, we wait for that ‘get-out-of-jail” card. Or we might have to wait on a Supreme Court ruling. If we are Christians, we wait on the Rapture.

We get put on a wait-list or waiting list. A member of the wait-staff, a waiter, also known as a wait-person, asks us what we wish to order. Our computer spends time in a wait-state when we’re transferring data. The doctor makes us sit in the waiting room. For an actor, it’s the green room. But that’s a word of a different color.

When you ask your mom for a new toy, Mom may just give you that old “wait and see.” And you may have to “wait up” for your partner to get home and tell you the good news. Of course, you may have to “wait for that other shoe to drop.” And some of us may find ourselves “waiting on them hand and foot.”

That “wait” can be a threat. As in “Just you wait, ‘enry Higgins.”

Or it can be “wait” can be a warning like “We have to wait for the hurricane.”

Or it can be a Promise, such as “Just a little more wait and Santa will be here.”

When we entering a waiting state, we know a ton of bricks is coming. That ton of bricks may be something significant like being born. Or insignificant like we have scheduled a plumber to fix the drain.

All this waiting has sidekicks joining it. They are the Hope of Expectation or the Fear of Anticipation. With Anticipation, we find ourselves Anxious. If we’re not careful, pretty soon we’re experiencing an Anxiety attack. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves having a nervous breakdown. 

Or not.

Who knows? With a little Patience the waiting will soon be over. We might as well accept it. After all, it’s a waiting game.

Faster than the speed of light

Words, especially the lovables,
adjectives such as humble, kind, gentle, meek,
each a personality, each a timid thing.
The hint of a harsh noise, they go fleeing
faster than the speed of light.
Hardier stuff, a replacement,
shooting stars spewing from a warp drive of a mouth.
The prodigals make for home, begging forgiveness—
though they should be the asked, their nature the asker—
Turned away and out into the cold,
broken hearts lost in space.
Astronomers, their giant telescopes
scanning the cosmic ocean of sky, they spot
a blue dot, a wanderer named Planet 17.

 Could it be?

Probably not.

Near 500 words: Grammar-ing rhymes with hammering

Note: For all who wanted the mystery, “The Great Squirrel Caper”, it’s in the works and on its way. 

In need of a writer, I’m your man. I can make a screwdriver sound sexy. You want to spunk up your orange juice, just pour in some vodka. Then turn it with a screwdriver and that screw goes write in. Folks, as you can see. I have those mixed metaphors down pat. And talk about similes, well, we shouldn’t gossip.

If you want your house to stand, you want to use a screwdriver that’s going to drive in them screws good and hard. (Now get your heads out of the dirt. I’m not talking sex here. ‘Course if I was, same words might work in reference to condoms.)

When it comes to clichés, I’m your man. My philosophy is why take the road not taken when you can hit the hammer of the head and take the easy way out. That road not taken is going to have a lot of weeds and burrs. Who knows? It might even have some lions and tigers and bears, oh my. I know I would prefer being a cowardly lion than a dead one. So I’m taking heart and using my brain. I’m taking the Yellow Brick Road. If it was good enough for Dorothy, it’s good enough for me.

I just want you to know I got those parts of speech all wrangled and branded. Why, ladies and gentlemen, there isn’t an -ly adverb I haven’t used. And talk about split infinitives. Isn’t “to boldly go” so much sexier than “to go boldly”.

I think so. And so did James Tiberius Kirk. Otherwise he wouldn’t have written it in the Captain’s Log so many times. And after taking so much gup from Spock over “to boldly go does not compute”. Of course, it computes. It’s write there in the Captain’s Log. It may not be logical, but it sure is a Kirk-ism. Absolutely.

There I did it. I managed to put in an interjection. Don’t you think it spices up my writing a punch?

Unlike grammarians everywhere, I have a passion for the passive. When you think about it, you never want to take a pass on the passive if you want to be passionate. Why I used to date a girl who was all the time asking me, “Where were you last night?” If that ain’t passionate, I don’t know what is. And she said it so passionately. In spite of everything.

Uh-oh. I done gone and done it. I can hear them grammarians chomping at the bit, telling me not to use a sentence fragment. Here I go fragging my sentences all over the place. I can see the smoke coming out of their ears. Well, all I have to say is there just ain’t any pleasing some people. Like Abe Lincoln said, you can please some of the people all the time and you can please all the peeps none of the time. That leaves no time left for pleasing moi.

Anyway. (There I went and did it again.) If you’re looking for a writer who can write all formal like, I’m not your man. My motto, after all, is why not end a sentence with a preposition. Everybody does it. Oh, I know what my mother would say. “If Everybody jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course, I wouldn’t. It’s a cliff, and I am afraid of heights.