Archive | May 2012

Read The Hunger Games?

If you have read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you are likely wondering why it took the rest of us so long to get a copy and sit down to read it. Sure there was a lot of hype about the story and comments about the movie version recently released, but it’s one of those books that you have to experience for yourself – even if it is not your typical genre of literature.

This past weekend, my English-teacher son lent me a copy to read. His wife and sons kept telling me what a fantastic book it was, so on all of their recommendations, I began reading the first page. I was hooked and could not wait for the 6 hour drive home to finish it. This is not the type of book I would normally choose because I generally don’t enjoy science fiction adventure stories, but Collins held my attention from the beginning, and I’m ready for Book 2. I just need to make sure that I can dedicate the time to read because you can’t put these down.

Story line aside, there’s more to it than the main plot that keeps you riveted to the page. As a writer I’d like to know her secret. Is it the first-person point of view? Does she show rather than tell what her characters are doing? Does she include a lot of action? Does she use colorful language to create vivid pictures? Collins does all of these things, yet she does it in such a way that you are compelled to read. You are engaged and readily identify with the main character even if you’re not (or never were or will be) a teenage girl.

Those of you who’ve read this YA novel, let me know why you think it was a success? Other writers would love to know how she did it. There’s no doubt Collins has hit a home run with this trilogy.

Can you learn from an 8-year old?

Have you ever seen a large-ticket item you feel you’d like to have, maybe even needed, but have no idea where to start to make it happen?

Some people seem to be born with focus. They know what they want and go after it, usually with success. Those on the opposite side of the continuum seem to float their way through life aiming at little and becoming confused by the less than desirable results. Although you can pay a lot of money to find and read a host of books, get training or attend seminars on setting and achieving your goals, you might also like a more simplistic approach.

Instead of trying to remember what each letter of a SMART goal stands for, you can follow journalism’s 5 Ws and an H – What, Why, Where, Who, When and How. With these questions you can define

  • what you want
  • why you should have it and what challenges will need to be addressed along the way
  • who needs to be involved
  • where to find resources
  • when it should take place
  • how to make it happen

You can adapt the questions to your specific purpose.

Without any help from adults or older siblings, my 8-year old grandson came up with his business plan to obtain a trampoline and prepared it in the form of a proposal to his parents. You might like his method. The last I heard, he’s still working on the second phase. I think you’ll chuckle at his wisdom.

ETHAN’S TRAMPOLINE

Why we need a trampoline is because:  It will help with heaLth. How it will help is it will give us leg muscles and we will play outside.

Where will we get the money? How we will get the money is it will be a birthday present from Dallas, and Michael, Sabrina, and Grandma, and Grandpa, and you guys (his parents).

Where will we put it? The options of where we could put it if we got it is:  In the back yard or on one of the sides of our house.

Safety: Make sure it has a net and has unlimited weight.

Other: We can move the basketball hoop towards the trampoline. We can save money because we won’t have to go to the workout gym.

Remember Our Gang?

If you grew up during the mid 1950’s – we’re talking baby boomers again – you probably enjoyed watching Our Gang aka The Little Rascals.  Although originally created for the silent pictures, they evolved into the talkies, and MGM later syndicated the 220 segments for television. The popularity of Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Darla and the rest of the gang continued through another generation. We made telephones from string and tin cans and became part of the gang.

Interestingly, producer Hal Roach created quite a stir in several contexts with these films. When he chose his cast of characters, he included boys and girls, blacks and whites and treated them all as equals many years before diversity became the accepted mode. He encouraged his cast to improvise and act like real children unlike child actors today. Some of this occurred as a result of the cast being too young to read the scripts. The director’s practice was to explain the scene and encourage improvisation. It worked.

What I remember best was the way they created Rube Goldberg-type inventions from scrounged resources either from things discarded or those left unattended. They embodied the spirit of the depression – use what you have to create a new solution. They reinvented the wheel in many of their episodes. Who knows? Perhaps their inventions provided the inspiration for some of the technology we currently enjoy.

The plots were simple – after all they only had 20 minutes – and even their squabbles encompassed the slapstick comedy tradition. Some things may have been broken, but they were never destroyed. As popular as the movies and TV shows were then, today’s producers could not evoke the same feelings with remakes. Something – perhaps the spontaneity or genuine approach to life the original cast brought to their characters – was missing from the newer versions. Maybe it’s time to bring the originals to life again but then, today’s kids might not even find them interesting.

Top questions about baby boomers?

You’ve likely heard the term baby boomer, but do you know what one is? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Using the Google keyword search tool I discovered that 246,000 searches are conducted globally per month to find this out. This is based on a 12 month average. If you are interested in only English speaking countries, the number drops to 110,000 per month. You’ll get similar results if you ask who is a baby boomer or who are baby boomers?

In case you’re curiosity is getting the better of you, I won’t keep you in the dark any longer. A baby boomer is a person born within the period of 1946 to 1964. And according to an article entitled Just How Many Baby Boomers Are There, the 79 million counted in the 2000 census were far too many for the 30-somethings anxious to take over their jobs.

So, what other questions along this topic ranked the highest? According to Wordstream after the generational type question/definition, baby boomer dating seems to be the hottest query followed by references to the PBS baby boomer TV show and health concerns. Other topics with higher rankings were somewhat alarming.

  • baby boomer selfishness
  • why are people afraid to speak about baby boomer euthanasia
  • the government should seize baby boomer assets before they retire

Interestingly, the most competition in these searches came from advertisers and marketers. No mystery here. Baby boomers represent both a large segment of the population and the wield a lot of buying power.

I’ve decided that baby boomers don’t identify themselves in this category so they’re not the ones searching. Boomers consider themselves to be real people rather than being pressed with a label. They are concerned more with specific themes or issues and use the Internet to locate more related information.

So here’s my query today dedicated to baby boomers all over the world.

What are the specific topics you regularly Google / search?

BTW: If you’re not a baby boomer, pass the question on to some you know and let me in on their responses.

Pun fun

My husband is a nuts and bolts kind of guy. He can fix anything or come up with an innovative solution to make the work easier or the process more efficient. He’s passionate about his tools and has a roll-away full (and neatly arranged) so that he can find and use the right tool for the job.

In a similar way, writers are passionate about words. We lexophiles (lovers of words) relish the nuances of meaning and employ various literary devices and figures of speech to achieve our purposes. One of my favorite figures of speech is the pun or paronomasia. This play on words uses deliberate confusion of similar words or phrases to create either a humorous or serious metaphorical effect. Puns rely on the apparent similarity of words (homonymy) or various tones one word might convey (polysemy).  Though serious authors like Shakespeare often used puns in their works, most today enjoy the more humorous uses of this device.

In this example, “A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion,” the play on words comes from using poultry instead of poetry. I must admit, I like reading puns but lack the talent to develop my own. Like anything else, it requires practice, and hmmm, trying my hand at it might even be a cure for writer’s block.

A friend of mine sent me an email this week with Punographics in the subject line and when I opened it, I laughed out loud at the clever examples he’d enclosed. Some of them are included with these puns. I hope they’ll kick start your weekend with a smile.

Where’s hope when you need it?

Today’s headline about former NFL star Junior Seau’s suicide certainly impacts those closest to him: his family and friends, his San Diego Chargers’ team mates and countless fans. Yet, it touches more than those who knew him because it focuses on human need at the very core.

We may never know what circumstances drew Seau to commit this act, and in some respects, the reason is not important. What this tragedy points to is Seau did not know where to find hope and strength to carry on when he needed it the most.

Ironically, it was available 24/7, 365 days a year irrespective of his location or anything else. All he had to do was cry out to Jesus Christ. The Gospel is clear that Jesus died for all sinners and that includes each one of us. Whatever Seau could not cope with was not uncommon to humans, but he needed God to help him.

It does not take long to realize that a house with an ocean view, multiple cars in the garage, or any other material possessions do not bring lasting happiness, nor do they provide any measure of security. In an instant, they can be gone. Yet Jesus never fails. So whether you’re afraid, depressed, discouraged, lonely, tempted or experiencing any other trial, know that Jesus is there and offering you hope. One of my favorite Bible passages says it so much better than I ever could.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38 – 39)

Where’s hope when you need it? That hope is in God, and He’s just waiting to give it to you – free.

A thunderous gift

I awoke this morning to flashes of light and booming claps of thunder. The rain poured down, and my spirits followed with each drop. Later the storm cleared, the sun came out and my spirits rose with the warmth of the day. So what was the difference? My health, my relationships, my finances remained the same, yet the sense of well-being seemed to follow the light.

Perhaps the real issue had to do with my perspective. Subconsciously, I saw the gloomy morning as a hindrance, a force out of my control, preventing me from something – like going outside of my comfort zone. After all, if I went outdoors, I’d be required to carry an umbrella or wear a raincoat. I would not need these items if it were sunny. In other words, I was looking at what I could not do instead of what I could or what benefit this rain would bring.

As a matter of fact, the strawberries I had transplanted had begun to shrivel up for lack of water. The pollen count continued to creep higher because there had been no rain to knock it out of the air. Oh, and there were other things I could do as well. I did have to venture out in the rain, but my car – currently parked inside a garage – would keep me safe and dry, as well as get me to my destination. The more I think about it, this storm was God’s gift.

Sometimes it takes me a while to make lemonade from life’s lemons. I’m glad the Lord is patient to wait for me to see the light.