Limerick: “$catology”

There once was a woman in scatology /

who proceeded to take a class in tautology./

“$h!t, $h!t, $h!t,” she said./

She said shaking her head./

She passed the final test without apology.

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Photo finish Friday: “Bizarre, Zany, Supernatural!”

And so the story goes....

And so the story goes….

Submitted for your approval, one used paperback found in one used book stall in one place specializing in the bizarre, zany, supernatural. Such a book stall may be miles away or it may be just around the corner from your where you live or it may be even closer, as close as your imagination, for you have just crossed over into… The Twilight Zone.

Act I: One More Pallbearer

A prop woman readied the coffin. At the behest of the director, she walked up and down the length of the three-foot deep grave, adjusting the bier’s position beside the hole and trying not to knock free any of the flat-black paint sprayed on the soil to give it depth.

“No, no. A little more to the right, babe. There you go, that’s it.” T. Xavier Gabriel glanced through the camera’s viewfinder and clapped his hands.

“Okay, people, places everybody. Time is on the short.” He checked the filter on one of the cameras as four banks of Klieg lights were turned on and three separate lights repositioned.

“Hey, dim the lights,” Gabriel said. “This is supposed to be a night scene: Night scene. See the stars.” He pointed skyward, but saw instead that it was overcast with lightning dancing among the clouds.

“Damn,” he muttered.

Several of the crew laughed lowly.

He shook his head. Another snafu in the making. “Damn. Goddamn.”

Gabriel glanced at his watch: 11:47 p.m. Post mortem. Pre migraine. Petty and mundane. He stomped his foot. It was a child-like gesture, but nothing adult-like was working now or for any part of 1985 that he’d directly had a hand in.

“Places everybody. Places. We shoot in fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. Places.” The assistant director loped around waving a flashlight and a clipboard. “Time is on the short.”

Gabriel smiled. It was a stiff, brittle, unsure smile: a guest at the funeral home smile. “Time is on the short” was his personal euphemism for running into overtime, something he had been crucified for more than once. He rubbed his forehead and wondered if he’d ever get back to Hollywood, or if he’d spend the rest of his life in commercials, talking to semi trained mammals and now mimics of a dead man.

He glanced at the crumpled note still wadded in his hand. His ex-wife could find him anywhere. Two hours earlier he’d made the mistake of answering the phone.

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Haiku to you Thursday: “Sweet smell”

Thank you. The sweet smell /

of your perfume brightens my /

days behind the fence.

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Writing tip Wednesday: “Hero’s Adventure”



How do the most successful authors of our time construct their stories? If you read them, and if you also read some ancient myths, you will begin to see parallels. You will feel smacked upside the head with parallels. You’ll realize that the top authors of today use storytelling techniques that writers used back when plans were being drawn up for the pyramids.

An excellent book about ancient myths is The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. The title says it all. Across cultures and generations, some variation of a hero figures into every beloved story. And the typical story is about an individual who goes on a quest or a journey. By the end, the individual becomes a hero. This is called the Hero’s Adventure.

The Hero’s Adventure is the most archetypal story of all because it’s the basis for more novels than any other kind of story. Novels of all different genres, from romances to thrillers to sci-fi, are based on the Hero’s Adventure.

So what is the Hero’s Adventure? You know it already, and you may even have elements of it in the story you’re working on. But I suspect you haven’t yet methodically and thoroughly appropriated it for yourself.

The Hero’s Adventure Basic Recipe

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

Here is a basic recipe to demonstrate how the Hero’s Adventure plays out. This is a template you can apply to your own work-in-progress—you might be surprised by how closely it matches elements you already have in play.

  1. A messenger comes. The messenger might be human, or a message might come from an experience—like a brush with death or a dream. At any rate, something has gone wrong; the natural order of the world has been disturbed.
  2. A problem is presented. Perhaps something has been taken away from the tribe, or some misfortune or malfeasance has occurred.
  3. Someone is marked out as the person to solve this problem. She is chosen according to some past deed of her parents or by her own reputation or happenstance. This person, of course, emerges as the hero at the end.
  4. A challenge takes shape. The challenge may be refused, at first. “No way, I’m not going to risk my neck for that!”
  5. A refusal, often. But eventually the hero decides to accept the challenge. She might even be forced to accept it by circumstances.
  6. The challenge is accepted. The adventure begins.
  7. The hero leaves the familiar world. And she sets off into another world. It’s dangerous. The hero could use some help, and very often …
  8. Helpers materialize. A helper might have special skills the hero doesn’t have, or he might have special insights or wisdom, in which case he takes the form of a mentor.
  9. Setbacks occur. The hero is tested, she makes gains, she endures setbacks, she fights for what is right, she resists evil. The going’s tough!
  10. The hero regroups and gains some ground again. Maybe she needs another visit to a mentor, or maybe she makes a personal breakthrough and overcomes a great inner obstacle, perhaps her own fear.
  11. The foe is vanquished or the elixir is seized. Eventually she defeats the foe or comes into possession of something that will restore the natural order—a cure, or new knowledge that will bring justice or the return of prosperity.
  12. The hero returns to the familiar world. And the problem is fixed, or justice is done. The natural order is restored.

The person who accepts the challenge and prevails is elevated to a special position, somewhere above human, somewhere below god. She is the hero.

For examples of this in literature:

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The difference between the right word and the almost right word sill won't save some beginnings.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word sill won’t save some beginnings.

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Monday morning writing joke: “Bark worse than his trick”

Q.: What do you call a dog that does magic tricks?

A.: Labracadabrador.

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Don Pardo, 1918-2014


Little by little, like evolution in reverse, the things that make your world start to fall away.

Originally posted on You and Me, Dupree:

pardoI was waiting for the Don Pardo obit like a horror-film audience member peeking through hisser fingers, but when it finally came it was still a shock. “A light just went out,” as they say when somebody important to you passes away. Well, one just did last Monday, an announcer so strong and true that he was still strappin’ on the cans at age 96.

Don Pardo had been active since the heyday of radio, but he was best known to those of a certain age for his work on tv game shows, especially THE PRICE IS RIGHT and the original JEOPARDY!, the network version hosted by Art Fleming. (The Alex Trebek JEOPARDY! is syndicated.) We knew his voice because it was rock-solid, and we knew his name because the hosts of those shows would often call out to him on the air: “Don Pardo, tell her what she’s won!”…

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