Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Writing on the Wall

Yesterday, I was trying to bring this blog, and you my readers, up to speed. I have managed something along those lines, but now I have to continue the thoughtstream, so what am I to talk about? Well, yesterday I was talking about some of the things I want to do in this blog and now I want to continue on that concept to talk about things like hypertext narrative and other kinds of strange literature.
See, I like a challenge, I like to make my mind-gears whir overtime, and overclock my cortex to a point where I feel like it doesn't fit in my skull. I like thinking BIG, so even when I tackle something potentially 'simple' I like to see if I can complicate it. For example: Writing.
Writing itself isn't easy to do, but it's such a straight-forward task putting words to paper. It's not that it's boring - It's awesomely fun! But I like writing that pushes the boundaries and asks for a little more. It's a little hard to explain, but would you believe that there's a word for this kind of writing? The Word of the Day is: 'ERGODIC'.

Ergodic /er'godik/ adj. 1. Mathematics Of or relating to certain systems that, given enough time, will eventually return to previously experienced state. 2. Statistics Of or relating to a process in which every sequence or sample of sufficient size is equally representative of the whole. 3. Literature Of or relating to a text requiring non-trivial, or extranoematic, effort on the part of the reader to allow for coherent reading.

This phrase is a new one, so it's not all that prevalent, but I love Ergodic Literature. Wikipedia has a page about it, but it's not required reading for this post. Basically, Ergodic comes from the Latin Word erg- meaning 'work' and hodos meaning 'path'. This is because with this kind of literature the reader is required to work a little harder to find their path through the text.

So a hypertext narrative and certain iterations of interactive fiction (especially text adventures) are Ergodic Literature, because it requires the reader to literally choose the path of the text.
There's also concrete poetry, visual poetry and calligrams, all forms of poetry where the shape of the text and the orientation of words can form a picture which aids or alters the meaning of the poem, but it also requires the reader to read through the strange patterns of the imagery.
If we go far enough, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce is another kind of Ergodic literature, as it's written in gibberish which the reader must decipher. Though, if I'm to be honest, I think that is asking too much of readers.

I see it as a kind of literature that pushes against the boundaries of what we see as 'normal'. It asks: What if the words weren't written left-to-right? What if you didn't just turn one page at a time? What if reading wasn't just a passive activity, but rather an aggressive one that required readers to go on their own adventure, along with the characters in the story?

I am quite a lateral thinker, I enjoy testing what we consider 'normal'. One idea that I've had for a while is that of 'exhibition literature'. When I lived in the city, I used to love walking along the river. There was this long boardwalk type construction, which creaked and groaned beautifully, and it had a smooth handrail all along the side.
I always thought it would be interesting if someone wrote a short story along the handrail. It was at least 20 centimetres thick and maybe half a kilometre long. What if someone wrote a story, about walking along the river, and then painted it along the banister? Hell, you could write a different story on each banister, so that you had a different story whether you were coming or going. That way, if you've walked that walk before, you can either read the story or watch the river. That could be a fun idea.

I also wondered about taking it a step further, and creating a two-storey house where words were written on the walls, on the steps and on the doors. [I guess that would make it a one-story, two-storey house]. The idea is that by reading the words, you'd walk through the house and read it's story.
Of course, this would be expensive, so you'd have to either do it with an old property or create your own building at a theme park or something (then you'd also have to worry about vandals), but I think it's an interesting idea, if a very expensive one.

I am also interested in the idea of 'self-guided tours'. I mentioned during Parody Week, in my Hyperbole and a Half parody, that Brisbane is the second most haunted city in the world. Well, what if there was a guided tour around the haunted sections of the Brisbane CBD, which gave you directions, but also told you the ghost stories as you walked from place to place?
I must admit though, while I know that I can walk and read a book at the same time, not everyone can, so this may not be the best idea . . .

Okay, some of these ideas are stupid (although I stand by my Exhibition Literature idea!) but you get the idea.

The reason I'm talking about this, is that it's something that I also like to implement in this blog. I like to blog here as usual, belching opinion and ideas, but I also like to stretch the boundaries of what I can do with a blog.
I've been learning bits and pieces of html in the hopes that I can further play with this new medium. a blog isn't a piece of paper or a book, so why treat it like one? That's why I hyperlink to related ideas and draw a picture for every post.
But more than that, I am learning html so that I can write different kinds of stories. I am here to write not only better, but different.

Thus far, I haven't found a way to write upside-down, but I can still change the style. I can write in a way you weren't expecting. I'll write until you can't read anymore.
It may be strange, or hard to read but I want to do things differently . . . 

Because this isn't about changing the way that you read
stories. this is about changing the way
that you think about
reading.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd. Writing Different. Reading Different. Thinking Different.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Late Spring Cleaning

Those of you that are paying attention will have realized that I didn't do a blog post yesterday. Things were slightly busy for me, since I've been trying to fix my car for a little while and I've been dealing with issues of work, house and home; but that's not the reason I didn't post yesterday. I was a bit flummoxed, trying to pick an idea out of so many to write, I was unsure which I should write and develop into a blog post; but that too is not the reason I didn't do a blog post yesterday. The truly attentive among you may have realized that the real reason I didn't post yesterday was because it wasn't actually a posting date. The Word of the Day is: 'LATE'.

Late /layt/ adj. 1. Occurring, coming, or being after the usual or proper time: a late dinner; a late crop. 2. Continued until after the usual time or hour; protracted: a late session. 3. Far advanced in time: a late hour. 4. Having recently died: the late king. 5. Belonging to an advanced stage in the history of development of something: late Latin. 6. of late, recently. ♦adj. 7. After the usual or proper time, or after delay: They came late. 8. Until after the usual time or hour: He works late. 9. At or to an advanced time, period, or stage. 10. Recently but not now.

See, almost three weeks ago now, on the 15th of May, I was supposed to do a blog post, but I didn't. Instead, I was a day late, and I did my second Hypothetical post a day later on the 16th. Then the next post I did was held back, since I was planning on going drinking with friends on the Friday and doing my 'Drunk Post' on Saturday, but no one showed up to the party, so we postponed to the day after and my post followed suit. I'd been wanting to do the drunk post for a while, ever since Allie Brosh did so for her blog, since I happen to like drinking, and I have a lot to say about it,so I thought it would be funny if I did the post in the style of the theme, just like I did for the impromptu Blackout post, but the fates were against me it seems.
So those two late dates then bled into the following posts, until I was posting late so often that it seemed like I was posting perfectly on time. Yet another example of The Three Stooges Syndrome.
(Boy, oh boy! I'm having fun with hyperlinks today aren't I?)

The point is, you may not have noticed, but I did. Every time I put up a post, I was conscious of the fact that I was still running late. So yesterday, when I was low on ideas, I realized I could use this opportunity to get my system back into gear.

So, the plan is, I skip yesterday's post, then I'll do two more posts to catch up. One today, and another one tomorrow. Sounds like fun, right?
There's only one problem . . . I was a little stuck on what to talk about for these two blog posts. There's all kinds of ideas that I've got going on, and I like doing those trilogy posts, like The Film With No Name Trilogy, so I thought I'd do a twofer and have two relating or opposing words to juxtapose. But then I realized that there's some stuff I want to clean up here. Some things I want to set straight and clean up, and some other things I'd like to tell you about. So this here first post of the two will be my Housekeeping post.

You may have noticed at the bottom of each post, there is a short section with the word 'Labels'. This is called the "Label Ribbon" and each post has a couple of labels that define it. There are some obvious labels: word of the day is just a regular post (with a definition), special edition is for stuff I won't do very often, or stuff that plays with the blogger template or html, hypothetical is for hypothetical posts (feel free to drop me your hypotheses!).
It may not seem important, but it's really useful. On occasion, I get people asking about certain posts or stories I've written, so if you're looking for particular posts, everything to do with writing tips and 'how to do write fiction' is labelled as a writing post, and if you want to read all of the blogfiction on this blog, it has a fiction label.
When you click on a label in the ribbon, it takes you to a search page with all of the posts in this blog that have that particular label, so you can search this blog to your heart's content under those labels.

Now, this post is labelled housekeeping. That's what I call blogs where there's stuff about settling issues to do with the blog itself, answering questions and filling you, the reader, in on the technical side of this blog, or what's going on with me as a blogger. That label isn't as fun to click on, but it's fun for me because not only is it easier to write 'housekeeping' posts (like this one) about what I'm doing, like some kind of work-log; it also means I get to fill you in on stuff I'm doing, and stuff I'm planning to do!

Sure, this post was made so I could sort out my posting schedule, and I wanted to make sure people were aware of the labels, but I've been working on a bunch of stuff that I want you to know about. Just do me a favour and don't get too excited about it just yet.
There's a good chance that I won't get to do everything I plan, and especially with stuff that's long-running, it requires a lot more effort (such as Hypotheticals), and I've found that ideas are more likely to die off if reader participation is required.
So, without further ado, here's some of the stuff I'm working on behind the curtain:

Webcomics
A few years ago, when I was bored, I started scribbling a little stick-figure comic on spare pieces of paper that I had lying around. It was called "Larry & Harry" and it was about two brothers who lived together, and how they deal with life as stick-figures in a comic strip, and made fun of the medium.
It was very meta, but each strip was a maximum of 6 panels, so it was just a short little piece. For a while now, I've been wanting to update the drawings and include them on the blog somewhere.
But when I was working on that, playing with Blogger, html and the stuff I could do, I was looking through my old folders and came across some older comics I'd drawn.
When I was very, very young, (I mean when I was still in primary school, here) I drew a couple of silly comics called "The Adventures of Willy the Worm", using the help of an artistic school friend named Christian. The idea was simple, it was about a worm that gained superpowers who was living in a secret underground base and fighting crime on a small scale.
I also came up with an idea called "Barry Bungalo's Weird World", about a man who moves into a house with polymorphic technology, which had a bad habit of glitching out and sending people to an alternate dimension. I drew a few pages of that comic, but it never went too far (and it's likely never going to be a comic, the plan is to cannibalize it into other projects) but it helped me to learn to draw.

The point is, I have enough resources, time, ability and ideas to make a simple webcomic in many different structures. I know it won't be as funny as  XKCDPenny ArcadeOrder of the Stick or Cyanide & Happiness, and it will never be well drawn, but I can promise good story.
I'm wondering if anyone is interested in a meta sitcomic about two stick-figure brothers living together, or even a comic about a super-worm that fights crime on a small scale. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Gameblog
No! Before you get too excited, no, this is not a blog about videogames. As much as I'd love to make a game in flash and drop it in here for you to play, it's also not a videogame that you can play on a blog.
I'm a writer, not a game designer!

Rather, have you ever heard of Choose Your Own Adventure books? What about those Goosebumps: Choose the Scare books? Well here's a fun fact for you. The correct name for those kind of books is a 'gamebook', a book which is interactive in the same way as old computer games.
For those of you unaware, a C.Y.O.A. book or gamebook is a story written such that the story has branching paths which the reader can choose from, and by choosing different paths a reader can see the different outcomes of a story. Ever since I started this blog, I've been interested in playing with the html to make what can be a "hypertext narrative" in this gamebook style, which I have dubbed a 'gameblog'. I'm really excited about this, but I haven't worked out any narrative yet, since I'm still too busy with figuring out the technical side of things. Because writing a gameblog the way I'm planning would mean filling the blog with posts that are just pages out of context with the whole story. I don't want to do that to people, so I'm trying to figure out a way to write a full hypertext narrative within the blog which doesn't get in the way of the rest of the blog proper.
I will do a gameblog someday, but it may take a while figuring out how . . . so keep an eye out of that one, and if you have any technical know-how in this area and are kind enough to share it with others, let me know. It will help make this project a reality.

BlogSerial
Oh, here we go. This is the fun one. See way back in my second ever blog post, "Fictionary", back when I was still trying to figure out what to do with my little corner of the internet, I talked about serialized fiction and how a lot of the greatest writers in the world used to submit their stories that way. At the time I dismissed the idea because I figured that turning this entire blog into a novel would be a great excuse to write poorly and eventually abandon the project, since it would be so hard to do on top of everything that I'm writing which isn't a blognovel. But then I had an idea. What if I wrote a serial more like they did in the magazines? What if I continued to write the blog, but every now and then, I wrote an instalment for the serialized story?
I was worried then about making people read so much. It's not fun reading very long stories on the internet, since you have to sit at a computer screen for hours on end. Then I realized that I could amend that worry by writing episodic stories. Stories which may have a story arch throughout the series, so that you can read them together if you want to, but which serves as simple background information for new readers.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked this idea, so that's something that I've been working on in the background for a while now (ever since Mother's Day). I probably won't write the first instalment in a long while, I'm talking fortnights here; but I do have some story worked out for this one!

I don't want to give out too much information or too many spoilers, since I want it to be a surprise, but I'm so excited that I can't help giving you little hints about it to whet your appetites!
It's going to be Science Fiction. Not 'hard sci-fi', the story is going to concentrate more on the adventure, comedy and drama than the science, but I love having a whole universe to explore. It's based off of a popular science fiction series, but the plan is to have the story so loose that it could take place anywhere (and I can do crossover stuff if I so choose), so you don't have to be a fan of the show to understand what I'm talking about. That's all I'm going to reveal right now, except for this incredibly cryptic statement:
  "In Case of Emergency, Do Not Use the Elevator."

If you can decipher that, you deserve a lollipop.


Right. Well, that's what I'm working on lately, and what I'm hoping to put up on this blog as soon as possible. If you're interested in any of these things or you think it's a terrible idea and I should stick to what I'm already doing, then feel free to leave me a comment. I write this stuff to be read, so if no one wants to read my work I'll set my sights on other projects.

That's all for today, but tune in tomorrow for some insight into some other stuff I'm thinking about with fiction, writing & the evolution of stories . . .

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Terror is . . .

The other day, a pair of Islamic terrorists savagely murdered a British soldier in the South-East London area. I'm not going to talk about it because it really doesn't deserve it. I'm not denying the worth of the man's life, but I am denying and decrying the publicity of the murderers because I see that by watching these videos and spreading these images we are in fact letting terrorism get the best of us.
More on that in a bit, but firstly it seems that there are some people who don't seem to know what terrorism means. I know, because there was an online article from the Guardian (a UK newspaper) asking the question of whether or not the attack was terrorism at all. The writer of the article, Glenn Greenwald, argues that the United States is often killing unarmed civilians with their unmanned drones in Afghanistan, and since we don't call that terrorism, how can we call this terrorism?
Mr Greenwald, your heart is in the right place, and I respect what you're trying to do. But we really need to have a little talk. The Word of the Day is: 'TERRORISM'.

Terrorism /'terǝrizǝm/ n. 1. The use of terrorising methods: The enemy gained control by terrorism. 2. A method of fighting a government or governing by acts of armed violence.

I'll also include a second definition, just so we're perfectly clear here.

Terrorize = Terrorise /'terǝruyz/ v.t. 1. To fill or overcome with terror. 2. To control or force by the use of terror.

Terrorism is pretty nasty. In fact, that's the whole point. The very goal of terrorism is to commit acts so horrible that they force people, especially those in government, to pay attention. They are committed by those in a position of weakness. That's not an insult, it's a fact.
Without political strength, weapons technology & numbers on their side, soldiers are forced to fight using guerrilla warfare. They use small groups of people to do quick missions designed to do as much damage as possible. As I see it, terrorism is a form of guerrilla politics. Without a president, king or queen on their side & without news media or offices of propaganda to spread their message, soldiers use terrorism in the same way on the political battlefield.
They commit these heinous crimes, creating as much damage as they can with a single act so that they can get your attention. They do this to make you listen to them, because they want to control you through fear.

The interesting thing is, despite how much people detest terrorism and hate what it does, it keeps working. How many times have news programs shown the footage of this latest terrorist? How many times has this been the top story on a news program? And how many more times will we here a follow-up story involving the investigation into the murder, the recovery of the terrorists & the response of the politicians?
As much as we'd like to believe that we can stand strong in the face of terrorism, the fact that we're even listening to these people proves that they are getting our attention. They are controlling us through fear.

That's why I know that Mr Greenwald doesn't know what he's talking about, and doesn't know what terrorism is. Because the truth is that the only reason he is even asking this question and debating this topic is because of this terrorist act. Do you know what that means?
A young soldier dies on a civilian street, and two days later a newspaper journalist is debating the ethics of War: Cause and Effect.
In essence, this brutal murder has become just another sentence in the political conversation between the two sides of this conflict. This means that the terrorists got what they wanted. They got our attention. Are we saying that terrorism is a valid form of communication? Is this setting a precedent for future terrorists to get our attention? I don't know. I guess we'll find out.
But one thing is for sure, this is Terrorism.

But I haven't covered the second point, which is in my opinion the more valid point:
  What about us? Are we too the terrorists, here?
Mr Greenwald argues that any murder of a civilian by a soldier is an act of terrorism. I don't agree, but as I said his heart's in the right place. Because as far as I'm concerned, this is a semantic issue. Killing a civilian may not be terrorism, but it is wrong on a different scale. Then I have to ask about the bigger picture . . .
Soldiers running through your country with advanced technology and killing people with no provocation and with no way to defend yourself? That's goddamn terrifying! I don't know what it's like or if message of these heartless slaughters spreads from one town to another, but I'm sure the civilians of the Iraq war are afraid of the attacking soldiers. Is this not terrorism?

I've thought about it, and studied the etymology carefully, and I've come to the conclusion that, yet again, this is not 'terrorism'. I'm not saying that America has never undertaken terrorist missions, I'm sure they have. But I'm talking about the big picture, and looking at the war as a whole, I believe that it is much worse than mere terrorism.
I understand terrorism. It is trying to do something, trying to communicate something. As disgusting as it is, it is none the less a means to an end for a political agenda; but these American soldiers, unmanned drones and battle machines are not utilizing this terror to accomplish something. They aren't fighting a political battle, they have politicians for that! Rather, the terror here is merely a symptom of the much larger disease.
Because this isn't terrorism. It's termination.

So, the question is not so much "Who is the Terrorist?", but rather, "Who are we to Judge?"
News journalists have called this act of terrorism 'brutal', 'savage', 'barbaric', 'horrible' and 'criminal'; because it happened on a city street. But death is death, whether it happens on a battlefield or a boulevard.
I don't approve of misused language, especially when you're trying to argue a valid point, but I think this is the point that Mr Greenwald, and now I, myself, are trying to make:

 Terrorism is nasty business; but so too is counter-terrorism.

I have never understood the Iraq War, the War on Terror or any of this nonsense, really. I'm sure that people have justifications for it, and I'm sure that there's a lot of politics behind it. I don't know, I don't care.
All I know is that there are a lot of victims on both sides, and at this point in the conflict, it's seems like the Western side is the bigger bully. So much of this 'collateral damage' is done intentionally that I know civilian casualties can be reduced, and I hope something will happen to that effect.

But, as I have always said, I'm a narrator not a dictator. I may change your mind, but I am not trying to change the world. So on that note, until next time, I'm going to be thinking about the meaning of the word 'WAR'.

I'll get back to you on that as soon as I understand it, but it could take a while . . .

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Bold and the Bravado

There's a little boy in the hospital, at time of writing. He's there because he was thrown 10-metres from a spinning ride at a school fete and hit his head, he's in a coma. I'd like to imagine he was having a fun time before he hit his head, and was having the time of his life flying through the air, but otherwise this is a very serious situation. The doctors are wary to release too much information at this critical point, but the boy is fighting for his life. Many people have commented that this victim is a very brave little boy fighting for his life.
Uh, NO, he's not. The Word of the Day is: 'BRAVE'.

Brave /brayv/ adj. 1. Possessing or showing courage. 2. Making a fine appearance: A brave new world. ♦n. 3. A North American Indian or other fierce warrior. ♦v.t. 4. To meet or face courageously: to brave misfortunes. 5. To dare; defy: To brave the storm. ♦v. 6. Brave it out, to ignore or resist all opposition.

I heard a story of someone who fell into a river, but was unable to swim (I believe they hit their head) when a man passing by saw this poor sod, he jumped into the river and saved them - this  was not brave; Angelina Jolie recently had both of her breasts removed due to potential cancer risk, and told the world her story - she was not brave; I have heard multiple stories of children who have called the police when their parents are incapacitated and there is a burglar in the house - these children are not brave.
A while ago, I did a post called Deepest, Darkest Cigarette about Chrissie Swan telling the world the truth about smoking during pregnancy - she was not brave then and is not now. You know, I think a lot of my opinion here has come from that post, so I recommend you read it first, but even if you don't, allow me to explain.
I am not saying that I don't like these people. These are good people. Some, if not all, of these people can go under the title of 'saviour', 'icon' or 'saint', and can be described as 'valiant', 'just' and 'beneficent'. There are many kind words to describe these people, but not brave. Not to me anyway, or anyone who respects language, or even culture.

Let's start with the lexicographical side of things because that is (disputably) less important [feel skip to ahead to the next paragraph if you're not in the mood to be educated, or some other kind of moron]. See, the word 'Brave' comes from the Italian word bravo, meaning good, capable, obedient, skilled or clever. But that word comes from a fusion of the two Latin words prāvus, which means 'crooked, deformed, depraved, perverse or wicked' and barbarus, which means 'foreign, savage or uncivilized'.
A wicked, deformed and uncivilized savage may not seem very brave, but it's cultural meaning, at the time, is understandable. It is referring to a soldier or warrior. A creature of war, a brave soldier must have no fear.
Moving this word into the modern century, to be brave is to be fearless, but we've come to understand that courage is more than just fearlessness. It's about overcoming fear and it's also about being a soldier and a warrior. It's about being bold. We can't ignore that history. To me, none of the people I mentioned above are being 'bold'.
Sure, they are showing fearlessness, but fear isn't always expected in these situations. But more than that, so often these people have no choice.

This is the big issue. This is what pisses me off about using the word 'brave' in these situations. I've heard at least three separate stories of young children calling the police and being called 'brave'. Often they lock themselves in a room and use their parents' mobile phones to call the cops and tell them they are in trouble. Congratulations child, you've done What was Expected of you.
These kids aren't brave, they're just competent. If these kids are brave, what do we call the kids that DON'T call the cops when they're in trouble? Normal?

What about the guy who saved someone from drowning? In some places, there is no legal obligation to save someone that is drowning, and if you're taught well at school you'll know that diving in after a drowning person is frowned upon unless they are unconscious (you'll more likely drown yourself). But I prefer to think that helping someone in trouble is normal. If you see a person in mortal danger, you should do what you can to help them, even if all you can do is call an ambulance. If this guy is brave, what do we call the people that keep on walking? Average citizens?

Someone who just walks away from someone in need isn't 'normal' in my eyes, they're a heartless monster. Or just incompetent.

Angelina Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy. That's a pretty serious piece of surgery right there, and was a big decision, but she's not brave in my eyes because she kinda had to. She has a high risk of cancer! If you have risk of breast cancer, then it's still your decision to roll the dice with the potential of being cancer-free. There's nothing wrong in that decision, it's your body. But doctors recommend having a mastectomy, so that your risk goes down.
What she did was medically appropriate! I agree that what she's done is good for women out there who are unsure of the procedure, and she'll help those women feel good about themselves. But for that she can be called an 'icon' or a 'poster girl' or maybe even some womens' 'saviour'. But she isn't much braver than someone getting a flu shot, and telling others to as well.
She did the right thing.

  "So what is brave in your eyes, Absurd Word Nerd?" I hear you ask condescendingly. "Are you claiming bravery is some unattainable goal, or can we mere mortals achieve bravery in your eyes?"

Yeah, of course it's attainable. Bravery isn't impossible, but I want it to regain it's standard as something we should strive towards, something above and beyond the call of duty as opposed to the above examples where people are 'brave' for doing things that would be more trouble if they didn't do them.
So for you that wish to be brave, I have compiled a list of four criteria for acts of bravery, so you can judge your actions for yourself.
To be considered Brave, your action must have at least three out of four of these criteria:

1. Difficult
If something is easy, then we could all do it. This doesn't have to be physical difficulty, this can be mental, social or even political difficulty. Something as simple as "coming out of the closet" can become very difficult, if you're in a hetero-centric environment or unsure how people will treat you afterward. Bravery is overcoming Difficulty.

2. Scary
Fearlessness is a key feature of bravery, but I'm fearless almost every day! So the situation must be one that could considered scary. But to be fair, I mean scary subjectively. Fear is personal, so while I don't have a problem with heights, the act of climbing a tree would be very brave for those with acrophobia. At least, it could be, so long as your tree-climb also covers at least two more of these criteria. Bravery is overcoming Fear.

3. Selfless
This is, essentially, to cull out the weasels. There are people who do scary, crazy things to get attention. Unless you want to call every skydiver 'brave' for jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane, acts of bravery need to help other people. But also, if you're doing something to promote your own ends, or benefitting yourself in the long-run, you're not being brave. Sure, you may be helping people, but bravery is about 'going above and beyond'. Making life better for yourself is not brave. Bravery is overcoming Selfishness.

4. Avoidable
Okay, this is a big one, this is about 'going beyond'. If you get hurt or sick or in trouble, you want to get out of it, heal or overcome the situation. But that's just natural. It's not so much being brave, as coming to terms with reality. In turn, not going with the flow is often cowardice or laziness on a severe degree. So if you have no choice, then I don't see how what you're doing is brave.  There is nothing bold about accepting the truth, that's just going with the flow. That's what it means to be an average citizen. That's just life. Living an average life isn't brave. Bravery is overcoming Mediocrity.

I didn't just pluck these criteria out of thin air. I worked backwards from the many definitions (and etymologies) of the word 'brave', and I defined bravery as best I could. I'm trying to define bravery so that it's not only attainable, but has a deeper meaning.
If we use the word as people are currently, then we are watering it down, and diluting it so far, it's become synonymous with the word 'helpful'. But I want the word to retain it's might, because there are people that I consider brave.

When we call people heroes, I don't want the greats to have to stand next to children who can operate a telephone and imply they're on the same strata.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and I am not being brave by writing this post.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Drunk Responsibly

Today is Turesday the 8th of May, and I'm drunk/

For the longwest dime, in my plans, I have watnted to do a drunk post. I have held off pecause, I do not get drunk on m,y own. If youi want to drink, the best idea is to do it amongst people you know and trust, and so I have been waiting for a mommebnt to do this when I can be drunk in a safe environment. Today I am, so you can enjoy the pleasure or freading my bad spellling abnd grammer.
the WORD of trwe Day is: 'DRUNK':

Drunk /drungk/ adj. 1. Under the influence of alcohol. 2. Controlled by strong feelings (followed by with): drunk with joy; drunk with success. n. Colloquial 3. Someone who is drunk; drunkard. ♦v. 4. Past participle of drink. -drunken, adj. 

I am Australian, so I like to drink. It is a [part of our culture, and it helps to define the people we have becme. But if you are reading this,. I want you to remember to DRINK RESPONSIBLY. I am not promoting drinking, and I am certyainly niot promoting binge drinking.
bUT THE fact is. drining alcohol is a prt of the Australian cutluire, whether we want t o admit it aor not>

Damn, nmy spelling is worse than I thought.

The original; plan was to have a drink every paragraph, but that went out the window.

Likie everything that is enjoyabkle, drinking has its upsides and downsiides. For one, you can't spell. But more importabtly, co-ordination adn self-control go out the fickiong window. The filter that exists betweeen who you are, and who you want tyo present yojuself as: That does not existr.
I have been ateempting (badly) to not swear throughout this post, and I am failing because that is who I am while drinking. I am the unfiltered me.
|Which leads me tothe upsides. You can'
t fake it. You can't pretend you're cool when you'tre not, you can't axct like som,eone you're not, you have to be you. It's an experien ce worth  experimenting with, This can be defined as an upside or a down, but I thinjk it is an uspide. Aso long as you're not dangerous, it's good so see who you really are. It's good to make sure you're not going therough life pretending thatr you're who you are, when reaLLy you're a regular pewrson who doesn't know how to deal; with wheat comes your way.

Of course, theres issues with liver damage and kidneys and biological mescellany, but so long as you drink responsibly, that is not a n issue. What m,atters is that you respect your host. Respect your self and respect the nightr. Because wqith lowetred inhibitions and dfrunken participants, you ca n easily take advantaqge. Ao *so* make sure that you are in contrlo.

And don'[t take yourself too seriously. This whole post I have been trying to talk straight, and it is grinding my nmental gears to their limit. So long as you're not out on the street, and are around people you can trust. njust go nuts with it. Because drinking is like setting off a bomb. So long as you'tre understanding what you're up to, and reaqlize that it's a dangerout s plan, then remove the anger [danger8*] and enhjoy you're youer (I can't spell) youir true, unfiltered self.

GodDAMN I am barely half-way through the post/
Mkay. Uh . . .l I am really fond of Bundaberg Rum. If you haven't tasted it, I'm sorry, it is an excluseively Australian alcoholic beverage, so you'll have to visit outr shores to taste it. Tonight, I've been goning mad with Asahi and "Wild Turkey". Asahi is weak, but Wild Turkey is worth a taste if you mix it right.

I have been planning this post sincve the beginning, but I havent had a computer handy when Ive bneen ba out drinking with mates . I've al;ready pmentioned i,t, buyt you really should do this aqround people that you trust. The first time I was drinking, I was with a girl I was courting, adn I was not sure what it woukld do to me.  I thought that having a drinmk would turn me into an anti-social asshole. Bit the truth is, so long as you are a kibd kind* person in regular life ,you're not going to be bad while drinking,. You're not going to cange dramaticlally, itr's just going to be you, multiplied by the power of liquor.

I am running out of things to sau. Say*.

Oh, heres a fun one!

In my experinecence, when you restric alcohol from kids, as in, if you do the French thing [link?] where you allow children to drink winde, they get over it pretty quick. Y'know, if yuo pretend alcohol is this dangerous thing that causes pain and death and car accidents - then kids rebel against it. They think that parents are bmaking a big deal about it.l Like tyhey do with nmost illicit substances. But the truth is, alcohol IS dangerous, but like most dangerous substances, it can be controlled.

When we make tgjhese horror stories, about kids who drink adn end up jumping off balcomnies, or kid who end up dying in char CAR* accidents, we are l dilluting the truth. The truth is that alcohol IS a confusibng, obfuscating, mi MIND-altering substance. But it's all about safety; environment & control.

So long as you't are not a morojn, it's not dangerous.

See, as much as I am having trouble controllngi this computer - I'm not driving a car, I' am not controllinbg heavy machinery or wandering around in public. I am at a frien'ds house, safe and spun - SOUND, watching movies, playing ganes GAMES& GAMES* and avoiding strangers and difficult situations.

(beyond spelling)

So I am casuing no harm to anyone.

Oh, I just remember.ed. One thing  I wanted to talk about was "Drinking to get Drunk". Some people frown upon it, but I don't understand that  concept. I IF I was drinking because I lied the (liked) the flavour, I would drink non-alcoholic drinks or something funjky with no effect, like sarsparilla. I would drink water & orange drink and enk enjoy the night withy a clear head. Bit BUT*, I don';t want to do that. I am not going to pretend that alcohol is some other drink like sarsparilla, apple juice or tang. I drink to get drunk because that is what alcohol offers me. I like to know that when I have no filter I can still manage to spell correctly.
I like to know that when I drink I can talk to people without insulting them.
I like to jknow that when I drink I'm not going to make a complete foole of myself.
I can't pretend tyhat wine is some 'pretentious' drink for rich people. The fact is, I submit to that bitter or harsh flavour because I want to feel the effects of the drink. I want to lose myself a little. I want to rprove tghat I am who I am, even when aeffected by the Creature.

Mklay, I've wrtitten enoucgh.

I hope you've enjoyed this. If not, dopnm't pworry. Ths Tgh This was a one-time experiment. I'll be getting back to proper postinbg for my next due date deadline.

In the meantime feel d free to commebnt. Let me know wh HOW you feel about drinking alcohol - especially "Drinking to get xdrrunk" and remenb REMEMBER:

Drink Responsibly.

I'm the absurd Word Nerd, and I'm gojng to getr another drink.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Hypothesis: Old-Timer

Hypothetical: What would you do if you woke up, and were 81 years old?
- submitted by M.R. Pritchard

My neck hurts. A stiff, sharp pain in my neck. I open my eyes to the dark grey dimness of my room. But I can barely see it, I'm staring up at the my ceiling fan. From this distance it looks like a pasty, grey mass of blur. I groan and reach towards my desk for my glasses. As I reach across from the bed, my arm aches, I must have been sleeping on it. I gasp and let out an animal sound of pain as I stretch my arm out to grab onto my glasses. But when I do, I struggle to close my hand. I figure the blood is having trouble creeping through my arm, since I slept on it, so I pull my arm back and cross my arms, rubbing them together to warm up. When my arm starts to feel normal again, I  push against the bed to sit myself up.
  "Ah, FUCK!" I cry out, as I feel a stabbing pain in my neck. My voice sounds deep and croaky. I must have slept with my mouth open. I instinctively reach a hand up and rub the back of my neck to try to soothe the pain. It must be stiff from sleep or something. I try to tilt my head to crack my neck.
 "AARGH! God-DAMN it!" I cry. My neck feels like it's got red hot needles stabbing into it whenever I try to move it. I open my eyes, only just noticing that I squinted them shut from the pain, and attempt to fetch my glasses again. My hand lands lazily on top of my glasses, and I clench my fingers around them. I sit them on my lap, with both hands unfold them, then bring them up to my face. As I do my hands shake slightly, and it takes me longer than usual to put my glasses on my face. But when I do, I can't see.
What the hell? I think to myself. I pull my glasses down my nose slightly and peer over the top of them. I still can't see, but it's even blurrier. My vision's gotten worse? But I could see yesterday!
I hold up my hand to see how bad my short-sightedness is. I bring my hand closer and closer to my face until I can make out the detail. Then I stop. I freeze as best I can until I am staring at my hand, floating unsteadily in front of my face. There are wrinkles on my hand, defined, deep and unmistakeable. I turn my hand over and look at my arm. My arms too are wrinkly, and covered in spots. And the hair on the back of my arm is all white, long and bristly. It's an old man's arm.
 "What the hell?" I say. But when I do I hear it. I hear it properly for the first time. My voice, it's not dry or sick from sleep. It's aged and tired. It's an old man's voice, but it's mine. I stare at my hands, trying to understand. But I recognise the short fingers and wide palm. That's my hand!
I throw the blanket off of me, as best I can, and push my desk chair out of the way so I can stand up. As I do, my neck whines with pain every time I try to move it; my back crinks and groans as I straighten it out; my legs bend under the sudden weight and I exhale heavily like a deflating balloon.
I want to run, but the attempt only results in a stumble, and I can only manage a slow shuffle as I head towards the bathroom. I lean on the bed, my loungechair, the dining room table, the hallway walls and the bathroom door as I creep along on my unsteady old legs; all the while, my neck still aching from how I slept on it wrong as I curse my bad vision, struggling to squint through the blur to see where I'm going. I head into the bathroom and, leaning on the sink for support, I lean towards the mirror until I can see my face.
The first thing I see are my eyes. Staring directly back at me, I see my eyes, framed by my glasses which have flecks of dust and dirt on the glass. Those eyes are mine. As bad as the vision has gotten, I know they're mine, though my brow looks a deal more wrinkled and my crow's feet are more defined. Then I see my nose. It looks larger, and less smooth than I'm used to. Then I see my mouth. I can barely make out my lips anymore with the colour faded, It's just a thin, grim, uneven line. All around that is my beard. It's a salt-and-pepper grey, with my unshaved whiskers growing wild over my neck and age-hollowed cheeks. I see the hair atop my head. I have a full head of hair, but it too is a mix of grey and shocking white. It's also quite thin, meaning I can see the shiny dome of the top of my head through it. It's still wild and unkempt, but now looks more like a petrified forest than a bird's nest. I also notice that my ears are much bigger. And all together, I notice that my head is tilting slightly to the left, but I dare not straighten it to avoid the sharp neck pain.

I'm older. Much older. At least fifty years older! But why? How?
I rub my hand over my face. The curly wisps of my unshaven face, and the weathered skin all feels rough under my fingers. I stare into those eyes again. At first I wonder if I have cataracts, but realize that's foolish. I can still see, but obviously my astigmatism has gotten much worse with age.
My legs, arms and back, they are all weak. Perhaps my muscles are getting tired, but I heavily suspect I have arthritis, like my Nanna. I don't know what's wrong with my neck, but I suspect it has something to do with my three head-pillows.
  "What happened to me?" I ask, still touching my newly aged face with a hand and listening to my deeper, harsher voice. After a minute or so, I turn away from the mirror and stumble back towards my bedroom. The struggle doesn't take long, but the amount of effort just to walk ten metres annoys me to no end. I head through my bedroom door and pull the sheet off my bed. I throw the doona aside and yank the bottom sheet off, looking through the piece of furniture, looking for my youth. I try to lift the mattress, but quickly give that up.
"What Happened To Me!" I yell. Then I think. Time. Is it a different time?
I head over to my desk, and leaning down close to see, I push aside the keyboard and mouse, the paper and books looking for my books. Nothing. But as I push the computer mouse, the screen comes to life. I left it on last night! I drag the mouse down to the toolbar and hove it over the clock it says:
  16 May 2013 Thursday
What? It's today? Then why! WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?!! I let out a wordless cry of pain and frustration. What's happened to me? What can I do about this? Can I ever be young again? I slowly step back and ease myself into my loungechair, ignoring the bag that I left on top of it and sitting down to stare into dark, empty space.
What can I do with myself? I don't know how I did this or if I can ever change back. I'll do whatever I can to fix this . . . but what do I do if I can't? I can't live here with my parents for the rest of my life, but what can I do? I don't have the money for a house! Will I move into a nursing home? My mother runs a nursing home, maybe I can stay there. But what can I do with my life?
I look at my hands again. I just stare at them, I can't stop staring at them.
I'm an old man. I'm nearly dead. What have I done with my life?
Do I have enough time to write that novel? To learn how to drive a car on my own? To buy a house? To teach in a classroom? Is there time for any of that?
What about the little things?
Is there even time to finish reading Sherlock Holmes? To learn how to drive a car on my own? To have my own garden? To have a kid? Hell, will I even live long enough to kiss a girl for the first time?


I don't know. I have a whole life that I wanted to live. There just isn't enough . . . time.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mummy Dearest

Today, the weather was terrible. It was dark and dreary one moment, and stepping outside meant being wet and cold. Then the sun would come out, and you either had to freeze in the shade, or deal with the sun shining in your eyes. It was dreadful. But I had a really good day. Do you know why?
Because today is the second Sunday in May, so it is, of course, Mother's Day. I had a good day today because I spent it with my family and my mother. The Word of the Day is: 'MOTHER'.

Now, I have to say, my father picked me up from my cousin's place to come around today, and I forgot that today was a posting day so I left Dictionary behind. But I have a replacement. In celebration of today, and its word, I will be borrowing my Mum's dictionary. The old girl's a little old-fashioned, her pages are wrinkled from water-damage, her binding and spine is a bit worse for wear and she's been enjoying a nice retirement in the study for a good long while now. However, her basic definitions are pretty solid despite having a different system and she still has all her pages, so I see no reason why she can't help us out for today, of all days. here's her definition of 'Mother'.

Mo'ther (mŭdh-). 1. n. Female parent (become a ∼, bear child; also fig., as necessity is the ∼ of invention); head of nunnery &c.; old woman (M∼ Shipton, M∼ Jones &c., esp. as derisive substiture for Mrs). 2. v.t. Be ∼ of (usu. fig.); act as ∼ to. M∼ Carey's chicken, stormy petrel; M∼ Church, the Church personified; M∼-Church, one from which another has sprung; ∼ country, country in relation to its colonies, one's native land; ∼ earth, the earth personified, (joc.) the ground; M∼ing Sunday, 4th in Lent (with old custom of visiting parents with gifts); ∼-in-law, one's wife or husband's ∼; ∼ of pearl, iridescent lining of oyster & other shells (∼-of-pearl∼-o'-pearl, made of this); ∼ of thousands, ivy-leaved toad-flax; ∼ ship (having charge of torpedo-boats, submarines, &c.); ∼'s son, man or boy (esp. every ∼'s son of, all without exception); ∼ superior, head of nunnery &c.; ∼'s tongue, one's native language; ∼ wit innate common sense.
∼-ho͝od n. ∼lėss a., ∼lў a. (-iest, -iness), (-ŭdh-).

I love my mother. It seems most people do, and saying so has gotten to the point where it sounds cliché, but I say it now for two reasons. Firstly, because it's the truth. I have a very good mother. She's allowed me to live my own life and make my own choices, taken care of me alongside my father and supported me with house, home, food, comfort & care.
Secondly, because I know that I'm lucky. I have seen mothers that scream at their children when their kid asks for a hug. I've seen mothers who can't handle the pressure and take it out on their family. I've heard about young women who've given birth to unwanted kids and left them to die in dumpsters or on the street. I know about mothers who drink or do drugs, and leave their children to clean up after them. I even hear stories about mothers who kill their own children, for selfish or other horrible reasons. There may even be people reading this who are in such situations, or know people who are or have been. I feel sorry for these people, it's a terrible fate and more common than anyone will admit or is aware. So I am  fortunate to have a mother that's normal, but to have a mother who loves me and provides me and my two older brothers with so much? I am blessed.

However, I didn't buy my mother a present for Mother's Day. Some people may think that this is somewhat contradictory, to say that I love my mother but that I didn't bother to get her a gift. These people are morons. For one thing, I am getting sick of presents. For your birthday, okay. That's not really a holiday and sometimes you don't have time for a party, so by all means celebrate with gifts. But for Christmas? Easter? Anniversaries? Valentine's Day? Mother's Day? Father's Day?
That's ridiculous for two reasons. Firstly, it's a waste of money. If you live with your mother, then you're probably going to be using your father's money to buy the present. Your taking money out of the family's budget, which means that your mother will be paying the consequences of the expense. This is especially true of single-income families, and I see no use in it. Secondly, tradition. Christmas is celebrated with family. Easter with eggs. Valentine's day with expressions of love. These all have meaning and significance, so what does it mean when you give your mother a gift? How is it any different from a birthday? It feels so heartless. Even if you give your mother a present that she really appreciates, to me it still seems like you're saying:
 "For being my mother, I reward you with material possessions."
That doesn't fly with me.

Don't misunderstand me though, I didn't get my mother nothing. I didn't waste my money on a purchased gift, because I think my mother is worth more than that. That's why I think these people who buy gifts are foolish. I didn't buy my mother a gift, but I gave her more than that: I gave her my time. I gave her one day, out of so many, when I and the rest of my family get together and spend a day with Mum, and spend it for her. It is, after all, a mother's day, is it not?
Today I went to my brother's apartment, where he cooked Mum (and the rest of us) breakfast. Then, although it was rainy and horrible, we wandered around town and went to the markets, because Mum loves shopping. Then after we walked the whole block, we went back to my brother's place, and watched a DVD on his projector. It was Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is a horrible movie and painful to sit through since it's so blatantly stupid, annoyingly unfunny and occasionally racist. But I enjoyed it, because I was with my family. Then we went home, and mother sat on the couch to read, because although content, she was quite tired. So I told her I loved her, said goodbye and drove back here so I could feed the cats & dog.

It may not seem like much, but don't underestimate the importance of time to a mother. She spent so much time taking care of you and herself and her work and her life, that just having a moment to herself can mean a lot. Especially when her kids get older and leave home. It can't always be done, but you should always endeavour to spend time with your parents. Sure, you can buy a gift if that's all you can manage, but don't go thinking it's equivalent to a moment of your time.

But if you do see your mother, whatever you do just don't get too weird about it . . .

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd. Say 'Hi' to your Mum for me, and have a pleasant day.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Three Stooges Syndrome

I must be getting back into the swing of posting all the time, since I'm finally posting late again. I consider this a side-effect of writing every three days, but today I have a good excuse! Okay, not really a good excuse; but it caused me to find a Word of the Day, so I think it gets me off the hook. See, yesterday I was very tired. I've been spending the last few days attempting to right my sleeping patterns, with only marginal success, and as a result I've been feeling tired. That alone doesn't excuse me, however, it meant that when I was looking for a Word of the Day, I was under some mental duress. I was having a lot of trouble finding a word. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I am running out of ideas. I have heaps of opinions, concepts, stories, hypotheticals & all manner of other crap to write about and share with you. But see, that's kind of the problem. Every posting day, I have to find something to talk about from the plethora of miscellany that makes up my mind and it's a bit of a mess in my head at the moment. Even more than usual. Seriously, even a sub-conscious sherpa would get lost in my mental minefield at this state of mind. Usually, the way it works, is that there's something that I've been thinking about a lot that sticks out. But yesterday, I had no such luck. I was thinking about everything. So I was having trouble picking a single word of the day yesterday. So, today, I'm going to talk about that.
The Word of the Day is: 'LETHOLOGICA'.

Lethologica /leethōlojikǝ/ n. The inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word.

The term lethologica is also used for the mental disorder of forgetting words, so while you can still use the term in your day to day life you should be aware of that. But the term is quite appropriate as our word today for two reasons. Firstly, I could not decide on a single word yesterday, because I'm thinking about so much. Such as story-writing and fanfiction; the rise of the 'adult' cartoon; the death of the 'whodunnit' murder mystery; science fiction vs. fantasy; a list of my favourite things; the rarity of female protaginists; the oddity of daytime television; 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe; human/animal interaction; how to characterize an iconic figure; my back-burner blogfiction & movies that suck for no good reason.
That's a lot of stuff, and that's just off the top of my head, so I couldn't really pick one. Secondly, and most importantly, I was actually looking for a word to describe this state of mind. I am thinking about a LOT of stuff, but the thing is, despite all of this activity, I can barely think. It's a weird feeling, a kind of static motion, and when I tried to find a word to describe it I came up empty-handed. I couldn't find the word to describe my state of mind, because it seems that such a word doesn't exist!

It's a little bit like the Centipede's Dilemma, or Analysis Paralysis, conditions wherein a usually easy task becomes more difficult to do when we concentrate on it (e.g. driving a car). But that's not the same thing as what my brain is doing. In fact, the only published material I've found that's relatively similar to it, is a joke from The Simpsons. It was from the twelfth episode of the eleventh season: "The Mansion Family". In the scene, Mr Burns is recieving his results from a series of medical tests:

BURNS: Well, Doc, I think I did pretty well on my tests. You may shake my hand if you like.
DOCTOR: Well, under the circumstances, I'd rather not.
BURNS: Eh?
DOCTOR: Mr. Burns, I'm afraid you are the sickest man in the United States. You have everything.
BURNS: You mean I have pneumonia?
DOCTOR: Yes.
BURNS: Juvenile diabetes?
DOCTOR: Yes.
BURNS: Hysterical pregnancy?
DOCTOR: Uh, a little bit, yes. You also have several diseases that have just been discovered -- in you.
BURNS: I see. You sure you haven't just made thousands of mistakes?
DOCTOR: Uh, no, no, I'm afraid not.
BURNS: This sounds like bad news.
DOCTOR: Well, you'd think so, but all of your diseases are in perfect balance. Uh, if you have a moment, I can explain.
BURNS: Well . . .
Doctor puts a tiny model house door on his desk.
DOCTOR: Here's the door to your body, see? And these are oversized novelty germs.
Doctor bring up some small fuzz balls with goofy faces and limbs from under the desk.
DOCTOR: That's influenza, that's bronchitis, and this cute little cuddle-bug is pancreatic cancer. Here's what happens when they all try to get through the door at once.
Doctor tries to cram a bunch through the model door. The "germs" get stuck.
DOCTOR: "Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo! Move it, chowderhead!".
We call it, Three Stooges Syndrome.
BURNS: So what you're saying is, I'm indestructible!
DOCTOR: Oh, no, no, in fact, even a slight breeze could-
BURNS: Indestructible . . .

It may just be a joke, but I believe that this is what my brain is up to. There is just so much crap in my head, that when I try to think about one idea and flesh it out, all the rest of my head comes flooding in and my brain is overloaded with the information, and seizes up, resulting in this kind of mental Three Stooges Syndrome.
I find it strange that I have to resort to fiction to find an explanation for this state of mind, since I'm sure that I'm not the first to come across this concept. Not only has every writer had this particular brand of writer's block, but I know for a fact that others have come across a situation wherein something is so prevalent that it negates itself.
Allie Brosh, of Hyperbole and a Half, wrote a blog post about how she was so depressed that she started to feel good about herself. Many people as cynical as me know of someone who is so nice and likeable that you couldn't help but hate them. Yogi Berra was once quoted saying: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded," on the subject of Ruggeri's, a St. Louis restaurant. There's that crazy moment when you go out for a night of drinking, and you stay out so late at night that it's actually early morning. From TV Tropes, there's the movie rating So Bad It's Good the judgement that a movie is so poorly made, so badly acted and has such a bad story that people can enjoy it for it's failings.
Surely everyone has had that moment when you've heard a joke so funny and laugh so hard that you stop laughing because you run out of breath. Then you do that silent-laugh where you shake madly with your eyes closed and your mouth open until you can take another breath. If you haven't done this, then I suggest you watch some Jimmy Carr stand-up and try to experience it for yourself.

I could go on forever with examples, so obviously this "Three Stooges Syndrome" isn't some rare condition, it's quite common in everyday life. I'm not even the first person to blog about it! So I wish there was a single word to describe it (especially since I don't like calling it a 'syndrome') but unfortunately Dictionary has let me down in this instance. Maybe it's because it's on holidays . . .
If you happen to know a better word for this condition, I'd love to hear it.

Huh . . . you know my brain is still a little worse for wear, so I'm a little stuck on how to go about the end of this post. If nothing else, what you should take from this is that minds are complicated things. Hell, let's do another one of those fun A.W.N. Quotes:

  "The human brain is a complex engine."
- The Absurd Word Nerd

We are all prone to these kinds of hiccups, so for any other writer, caught up in an overactive imagination, I have a couple of suggestions. Make sure you've had a good night's sleep, because a tired mind is already pretty sloppy. Don't try to force words out, because inspiration is natural & forced writing is often contrived writing. Most importantly, exercise your mind; you can't climb a mountain without training for it, and you can't write a story without building up to it and preparing yourself.
I think this is why I had trouble yesterday. I was hoping to write blogfiction, but I hadn't prepared for it and so I was flustered and I tripped up on the cogs of my fast-spinning mind. You have to ease into this kind of thing. That's also the reason you're supposed to write every day, because it loosens up your writing muscles.

Right, well, that's enough from me. If you've ever come across Three Stooges Syndrome at any time in your life, or ever come across an idea that doesn't have a word for it, why not let me know about it by leaving a comment?
Until next time, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, working through life one word at a time.

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Different View of Perspective

When I was young, I had a very active imagination. Of course I did. For one thing I was a child, and for another thing, I grew up to become a writer (here I'm using a very strict definition of the term 'grew up'). But one of the things I used to do, as a kid, was lie on the couch upside-down. Not only was it weird to have the blood rushing to my head, and to wiggle my feet free in the air, but when I hung my head up-side down and looked at the ceiling, after a while it would begin to look like the floor. Staring at this new upside-down room, I wondered what it would be like to live in my house up-side down.
All of the doorways have a lip near the top. You have to be careful not to step on the lights or, if they're the hanging kind, make sure not to bump into them, incase they fall up and smash on the ceiling. The floor would never get dirty, as all the dust and dirt would fall up. Although you'd have a much worse problem with spiders. And on a hot day, you'd be risking your ankles whenever you turn on the fan. 
If you've got the time, I suggest you try it out for yourself, at least for a few minutes. Some of the simplest things build into an entire universe of parallel existence. It's interesting how everything can change, just by looking at it from a different angle.
The Word of the Day is: 'PERSPECTIVE'.

Perspective /pə'spektiv/ n. 1. The art of showing the three-dimensional quality of a scene, building, etc., on a flat surface. 2. The relation of parts to one another and to the whole, in a mental view or outlook. 3. A scene, especially one stretching into the distance; vista. 4. The appearance of objects in relation to position, distance, etc. 5. in perspective, a. According to the laws of perspective. b. In true proportion. ♦adj. 6. Of or relating to the art of perspective, or represented according to its laws.

So what's all this noise then? Why am I talking about perspective? Well, because recently mine has changed. I look out the window and I see a different landscape. By the way, I don't mean that poetically. I literally see a different place, because for the next week or so I am house-sitting for some of my family. They're off on holiday doing whatever, and I am here taking care of the house and pets while they're away.
I brought Dictionary with me, since I plan to continue blogging throughout, but lately that ancient vessel of profound knowledge has been spending its time lounging in the bedroom under its own covers. So while that old volume is holidaying and spending time away from its shelf, I've been enjoying some of the differences that the new domicile, vista and environs avail me.
There's the computer, for one. I don't own a laptop, so I've left my great lumbering monolith at home and am instead using my cousin's computer in the guest room. It's an old machine, running Windows XP, and it sounds like the motherboard works by punchcard since the main console makes a clunking noise whenever it's processing. I didn't think a computer had that many moving parts, why is it making a mechanical clunking sound? Then again, here I can watch a movie, copy across 12 seperate files & use the internet all at the same time with no problems, meanwhile my own computer's CPU overheats if I open a Word document while copying a file, so I can't really say my computer is 'better'.
Also, I think that these people single-handedly support the CD manufacturing industry. When USB keys were invented and illegal downloading became unpoliceable, I effectively left 'compact disks' in the dust, so since coming here I have doubled the number of CDs that I have ever seen in my lifetime. I like AC/DC as much as the next person, but does one really need fourteen CDs of one band?
Now quickly, say AC/DC CDs three times fast!

Okay, I get it, I'm sort of just pointing out stuff I'm looking at in this room. It's not a very big picture, and isn't really perspective, I'm just pointing out little things. It occurs to me that, since I don't describe my study desk at home, it defeats the point of describing this room for contrast. But when you think about it, it's all about perspective.

See, even the small things can change perspective, because your eye is a very small thing. The devil's in the details as they say. or as I would put it:

  "You can't paint a portrait in one brushstroke."
- The Absurd Word Nerd
 
The 'bigger picture' is a collection of littler things that make up the whole. I mean, when you think about it, I wouldn't even be writing about the CDs if I had been home. I wouldn't be thinking the way I am now, and the word of the day would probably be Symmetry, or something like that. Which brings me to the real change in perspective.

One of the things that writers like to do is change their surroundings to get their thoughts going. They like to 'get away from it all', and clear their mind to get thoughts moving. Sometimes this is done during times of stress or writer's block, or maybe just because they are bored with the stories they are writing, and want to invigorate that passion for the story again. But the thing is, clearing the mind isn't what you need to do when you're feeling a little 'stuck' mentally. What you need is to fill it with something different.
Lately, my change in perspective has given me new understandings of things. For one: perspective; I'm starting to see it as more than just a bigger picture. But also, I've been thinking about freedom.

See, I am at a house, with a computer, with the internet and I have with me all the clothes that I need, a bed to sleep in and food to eat. You might think that I am free, but I'm not. Because as much as I can leave the house, and even take the pets with me, I don't really want to go anywhere. There's nothing interesting around me but shops (to get more food) and parks and things. I am stuck in this house, with nowhere to go.
However, I am not trapped. Because to me, location doesn't mean very much. As I said, I have the internet. I can still blog as I please, and contact people I know. I can access all the information and entertainment I could want. Also, I have my Dictionary with me, lazy as he is. I have my pens, pencils, paper, writing books and some of my folders of writing information. I even brought a USB full of my "Story Stuff" folder.  I can write stories at a whim, and I plan to. My point is, I have come to understand something about freedom.
Freedom isn't about where you are; it's about what you have. If I had books to read and write, then I could happily be in a prison cell. Not that I'm equating this place to a prison cell, I'm just saying that a wide open space with nothing, while feeling open and free, without a pen and paper to me it's nothing but a gilded cage.

I guess what I'm saying is that even really small places can feel big, depending on your perspective.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Killing Time

      The train must have been running late. I reach into my purse to pull out my phone and check the time. Almost five minutes late. I’m the only one catching the train at this time of night. Perhaps they’ve finally stopped running this service. With nothing much else to do, I sit down on the seat and open up the gaming application on my phone. Perhaps I could kill some time getting the high score while I’m waiting for the train.
      “Good evening,” says a low, smooth voice. I look up from the little screen to see a man in a neat business suit lounging on the seat beside me. I didn’t even hear him step onto the platform.
      “Hey,” I say curtly. I really hope he’s not trying to hit on me.
      “Catching the eleven o’clock?” he asks.
      “Mhmm,” I grunt, turning back to my phone.
      “Now, don’t be like that,” says the man. “The train’s fifteen minutes late, I was just hoping to make conversation while I wait.”
      “I’m married,” I say. Without looking up, I raise my left hand, and wiggle the gold band with my thumb.
      “That’s fine,” says the man, “I just want to talk.”
I sigh, and stare off into space, filled with darkness and tiny, flying bugs.
      “The train’s really running fifteen minutes late?” I ask the man, turning to face him. He nods slowly and deliberately. I put my phone back in my purse and turn to face him.
      “My name’s Lincoln,” he says, holding out a hand.
      “Phoebe,” I reply, accepting the handshake. His hands are quite strong.
      “So, what do you do, Phoebe?” he asks
      “I work at the nursing home,” I say, pointing off where I’d come from.
      “You’re a nurse?”
      “Receptionist,” I correct him, “what about you?”
      “I’m a murderer.”
I stare at him for a moment, before I burst out laughing.
      “Don’t laugh at me,” he says slowly. I’m still grinning when I look at him, but when I see the cold stare on his face, my smile drops.
      “You’re kidding right?”
      “No.”
I’m sure he’s just joking, but he stares at me so deeply, I almost can’t look away from his dark, brown eyes.
      “Should I be scared?” I ask, playing his game.
      “Well, that’s up to you.”
      “Okay. What I meant to say is: ‘Are you going to kill me?’”
He raises his eyebrows, glances down at my feet, and slowly his eyes scan along my high heels, up my legs and along my body. The entire time, a shiver runs up my spine, almost as though he were following the tingling sensation with his eyes.
      “No,” he says finally.
      “Okay . . .” I say. I have no reason to believe what he’s saying, but I don’t find this particular joke funny anymore. “Why would you tell me you’re a murderer?”
      “Because I’m an honest man.”
      “Come on, seriously.” I scoff, “If you were a murderer, you wouldn’t just tell people. If you did that, you’d get found out. They’d tell people and you’d go to prison.”
      “Why? Who are you going to tell?” he asks, smirking.
      “Well, you know . . . the police!” I say, a little louder than I intended.
      “And tell them what, exactly?”
I don’t answer. What can I say? It already sounds ridiculous. I stare at him a moment, but as the seconds tick onwards, the silence makes me feel smaller and smaller.
      “If you’re a murderer . . . who have you killed?” I ask quietly, almost whispering.
The man shrugs casually.
      “I don’t know their names.”
      “Well, how many then?” I ask, emotion creeping into my voice.
He stares off into space for a moment. I feel my stomach sink as he starts to quietly count on his fingers. He suddenly clicks his fingers loudly, making me jump.
      “Twenty-eight.”
      “Twenty-eight . . .” I mumble as the number sinks in. I feel sick.
      “Well, it might be twenty-seven. One girl was pretty feisty, managed to kick my knife away. So I had to use my hands. Goodness, it was messy . . . she might’ve survived, but she wasn’t moving when–”
      “Why are you telling me this!?” I shriek. He looks at me, and frowns.
      “Isn’t it obvious?” he asks, staring back at me with those dark eyes.
      “No,” I whimper. He sighs heavily.
      “I’m invisible, Phoebe. I could scream and kick and punch, and nobody would look at me twice. No matter what I do, I don’t exist. Even if I take someone’s life and throw it away, it doesn’t even matter. Even though I can prove that I am stronger, smarter and faster than the people I dispose of . . . nothing changes. Because I can’t tell a soul and it cuts me deep. Deeper than I’ve ever cut anyone before.”
In the distance, I can hear the train coming. I suddenly gasp for breath. Lincoln glances at the train’s headlights in the distance, then back to me.
      “Until now, nobody has ever seen who I really am. I want to thank you for that.”
Suddenly, he stands up, grabbing my arm as he lifts me to my feet.
      “I guess it’s time to die, now. I’m so sorry, Phoebe,” he says. Lincoln leans towards me, and I feel my whole body tense as he leans his face towards mine. He kisses my cheek and whispers to me: “Close your eyes. I don’t want you to see this.”
I squeeze my eyes shut. I can hear the train coming closer!
      In an explosion of sound, I feel the train rush past. When I finally open my eyes, I’m alone on the platform. Oh, God . . .
      Someone raises the alarm. I see a transport officer running toward me.
      “Holy hell! Are you alright, ma’am?”
I’m not. I can’t even speak. I can barely believe what just happened, how could anyone else? I’m so alone. I almost feel invisible.

–  –  –

This story was written for the 6th Annual Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest, which is a writing competition hosted by Laura Thomas at her website.

If you're a writer, and between the ages of 9 & 21 years old, I implore you to give this a go and flex your writing muscles. You need merely write a story in
under 1,000 words and submit it before the Deadline of June 30, 2013.

All content, genre and themes are allowed, the only limit is your imagination. Check out the Rules and how to Enter at 
LauraThomasCommunications.com/JuniorAuthorsContest/.

And, since you'll be competing with me . . . GAME ON!