Friday, August 16, 2013

Hit the Trail!

And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, 
books in the running brooks, sermons in the stones, 
and good in everything.
~ William Shakespeare

If you are looking for a way to hike up your creativity, then look no further than the dusty trail. For, my friends, it appears that SCIENCE has proven the Billy Bard correct.

Research from the University of Kansas found that the more time a person spends in nature, the more creative he or she becomes.

In the study, one group of backpackers was given a test for creativity before setting out on a long hike. A different troop was given the same test four days into their trek.

Results showed that the second group of hikers — the ones who were well into their “nature journeys” — scored nearly 50% higher in creativity!

The director of the study reported that “Nature is a place where our minds can rest, relax, and let down those threat responses (obviously, she has never been chased by a bear). Therefore, we have resources left over to be creative and problem solve.”

HOWEVER, before we get too over-excited and spend all of our pin money on mess kits and trail mix, I think that we need to address a major confounding variable within this research.

I call it… the bath factor.

As in, one can assume that the first group of backpackers, just setting off with high hopes on the high trail, was most likely clean and fresh. While group two — not so much.


This issue is further complicated by today’s quote-meister, William Shakespeare, who just so happened to live out a large part of his life in the 1500’s.

Do you know how often the people of England bathed in the 1500’s?



Double hmmmm…

What if it’s really crud that causes all that creative thinking?

Could it be that the REAL reason for writer’s block is…

personal hygiene?

Inquiring minds want to know.

PROMPT: Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but filth apparently makes one hell of a writer. So hit the trails instead of the showers and see what it does for that creative mind of yours. Who knows — you may even find a tongue in a tree or, better yet, a book in a babbling brook.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

She’s Gone Country

I have heard A LOT of country music this week — BIG surprise when you’re hangin’ out with cowboys, ranchers, and rodeo queens at the county fair.

And here’s something I’ve noticed — country songwriters are a bit on the liberal side when it comes to rhyme scheme.

For example, here’s part of the chorus from a little ditty called Where I Come From by Alan Jackson —

Where I come from
It's cornbread and chicken
Where I come from
a lotta front porch sittin'

Has anyone ever told Mr. Jackson that chicken does not actually rhyme with sittin’?

The entire song is jam-packed full of near rhymes like turnpike/midnight, son/from, and biscuit/fixed it. And then… and then… it’s like he gets cotton pickin’ tired of tryin’ so hard, and so he busts it all loose in verse three —

I was chasin' sun on 101
Somewhere around Ventura
I lost a universal joint and I had to use my finger
This tall lady stopped and asked
If I had plans for dinner
Said no thanks ma'am, back home
We like the girls that sing soprano

I am not making this up.

And here’s the rub — Good ol’ Al has received 2 Grammys, 16 CMA Awards, and sold a gazillion records.

Well, where I come from, Mr. Jackson — songs RHYME!

But then I got to thinkin’…

You know, country music isn’t about the rhyme — it’s about the story.

And DADGUM, those hillbilly, hoedown, toe-tappin’ tunes are plum-full of plot.

Here’s a sample of a few you could give a listen to (Yeah, Alan, it’s called rhyme) —

She was an annoying little brat, but we grew up and got hitched.

I shared a beer, and he shared his millions.

I’m not good at anything BUT drinkin’ beer — and, dang it, I’m gonna prove it.

They gave me a girly name, and I never had therapy.

And the list goes on…

and on…

and some of them even manage a right purdy rhyme.

PROMPT: If you’ve ever had a busted heart, leg, or universal joint — you could make MILLIONS as a country songwriter! Get started today by grinnin’ and pickin’ up a copy of Jim Peterik’s Songwriting for Dummies (no offense intended… really).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Who Gets the Last Word?

Dear Author:

“It’s too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant selling.”
And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street by Dr, Seuss

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”
Animal Farm by George Orwell

“You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s

“It’s too nicey-nice.”
“Nobody wants to read a book of short little stories.”
Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

“A dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.”
The Diary of Anne Frank

“An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

“An irresponsible holiday story.”
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

“We don’t think we could distribute enough copies to satisfy you or ourselves.”
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

“Not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
Carrie by Stephen King

 “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.”
Kathryn Stockett’s 40th rejection for The Help

Never, never, never give up.
Winston Churchill

Monday, August 12, 2013

Playing Fair

It's dollars to doughnuts at our state fair
It's the best state fair in the state!
~ Rodgers and Hammerstein

State fairs.

You gotta love ‘em.

I mean, where else can you see food in all its forms in such close proximity?

Why, just yesterday I saw a couple of chicken wings on a plate, and another pair on a chicken  of all places!

Yes, it’s the week of our WORLD FAMOUS Northwest Washington Fair where every year I volunteer to spend six days cooking corndogs for a good cause.

Obviously, the “good cause” is NOT the American Heart Association.

Anyway, I’m sure that this year’s BEST state fair competition is hotter than a deep fat fryer in the middle of August.

Last year, Iowa unveiled its latest weapon in the fight — the double bacon-wrapped, bacon-battered corndog.


And THEN —

They got a visit from the President.


I think not.

That was just so unfair.

Iowa already boasts the world’s largest revolving jail, truck stop, and popcorn ball —

and now they have the first corndog to come with a coupon for free use of the fair’s defibrillator.


Mr. President, if you’re reading this (and if you’re cool, I’m sure you are), I think you should come to OUR fair. We have espresso, crazy Dutch poffertjes (don’t worry, I can’t pronounce it either), and…


You know you want some.

Yeah, it’s a corndog eat corndog world out here, Mr. President.

PROMPT: Dredge up some of your old fair memories and deep fat fry ‘em into a whopper of a tale. Or get creative in the kitchen the Iowa way  bacon-wrapped Twinkies, bacon-wrapped ice cream, bacon-wrapped…