BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA VERSUS RAPIER WIT – Marilyn Armstrong

The English language has more than 200,000 “official” words in its dictionary and probably another twenty thousand or so unofficial, idiomatic, or regional words used by specific groups which have meanings yet to reach a dictionary.

There is nothing you cannot say in English using real words. If you are living in an English-speaking country, using real words will not diminish your level of communication. More likely, it will enhance it while lending you credibility with other literate people.

You know: people who read books and stuff like that?

If you feel there is nothing you can say that is not cruel or insulting — and which will surely hurt someone? If you cannot make your point without hateful speech? Maybe you should consider just shutting up. Silence is golden, they say, so why not give it a try?

Hateful speech and bullying is not a symptom of how free you are. It’s a sign of a twisted soul. It is by definition ungrammatical and ugly.

Everyone knows the invisible yet obvious lines of what is acceptable speech and what isn’t. I think we all know this much by the time we get to first grade.

The people who regularly cross these lines are not ignorant. They know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. It isn’t any lack of education. It’s a failure to have sympathy or empathy for other humans.

This is a disease for which there is no known cure.

The language of the truncheon is not an accident. Those who speak like thugs do it intentionally.

You can argue this point until the cows come home. It will remain wrong.

One of the things I’ve always admired about the British upper class — possibly the only thing I admire about the British upper class — is their ability to be absolutely polite while verbally eviscerating their opponents.

It’s an art form. They at least understand that a rapier — a razor-sharp, tool — is a much classier weapon than a bludgeon. And on the whole, leaves less of a mess.

If you have to join the fray, put away the big stick and try the rapier.

BARKING QUESTIONS – Marilyn Armstrong

Barking Questions – If only we could bark a few answers!

Our dogs bark at us. They look us in the eyes, then they bark. So we have conversations with them.

Duke

Duke: “Bark, bark.” Short whimper.

Marilyn: “What?”

Duke: “BARK bark BARK bark BARK.”

Marilyn: ” Garry, do you know what he wants?”

Gibbs

Garry: “No. Duke, you’ll have to speak up. What do you want?”

Bonnie: “BARK! Bark, bark, bark.”

Garry: “I’m sorry, we just don’t speak dog.”

Bonnie

Dogs look at each other, clearly frustrated. I’m sure they want something and apparently, whatever it is, it’s quite specific. I get when it’s food because then they bark at the plate or the fork or try very hard to get right in there and eat some. But the rest of it?

Bark? Bark bark bark? Definitely a question.

They need to learn to speak more people-like. Or we need to find a better way to ask them the bigger question. Why don’t you dogs speak English? Are you aliens? Do you have green cards? Are you guys legal?

FOWC with Fandango — Question
RDP THURSDAY PROMPT – BARK

WHAT WORLD IS THIS? – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was first married we lived in an apartment on the second floor of a building that was one of two identical brick buildings. We lived in apartment 2Q, at the far end of the hallway … a corner apartment which had better ventilation than apartments in the middle.

I didn’t drive yet.

One day, having taken the bus home from shopping, I went in through the front and proceeded all the way down the hall to our apartment. As I started to put my key in the door, I realized that there was a nameplate on the door. It said “2Q, Kincaid.”

Not my name. Right apartment, but not mine. Hmm.

I took a deep breath, walked back to the elevator then went back to the apartment. It still said “Kincaid.”

I immediately realized what had happened. I had slipped through into a parallel universe, another dimension. I didn’t exist. I’d been replaced by someone named Kincaid. It took me a while,  standing there and staring at the door before it occurred to me that I was in the wrong building. It was a simple enough mistake: the two building were identical and I just hadn’t been paying attention.

What’s interesting is not that I went into the wrong building but that I immediately assumed I’d slipped into my own personal Twilight Zone. That building today is student housing now, but it was a private rental building back then.

Would most people, finding themselves in such a situation jump to the conclusion that they’d slipped into a parallel universe? Or would think they had maybe walked into the wrong building?

What would YOU think?

I sometimes wonder if a lot of my ability to get through a variety of bizarre and scary situations was because I didn’t relate to life as real but rather as if life — MY life — was a long book in which I was the main character. It was the narrator’s fault.

From when I was perhaps 4 or 5 years old until a few years ago, I lived life in the third person. I had a narrator. She sat on my shoulder and told my story. She added “he said” and “she said” and provided full descriptions of people, places, and events as they were happening. She flushed out experiences by providing context and commentary. She’d always been there, or at least as far as I could remember so it seemed normal to me, though distracting.

This was nothing like “hearing voices.” The narrator was not independent. She WAS me. She didn’t talk to me but about me. She wrote me. She was a mini-me, perched on my shoulder, always watching, then instantly translating everything into a third person narrative. I was detached but watchful. I saw everything and remembered everything, especially what everyone said and exactly how they said it. I was almost never fully engaged, but I was an excellent witness.

Does — or did — everyone have a narrator at least sometimes, or it was only me? I’ve always wondered if it was something to do with being a writer.

A few years ago, I realized my narrator was gone. Did she slip away a little at a time or suddenly depart without so much as a note of farewell? I wonder why she left. For that matter, I wonder why she was there in the first place. These days, she is gone as inexplicably as she arrived.

By the time I sat down and wrote a novel, she had been gone a while, though that was when I noticed her absence. Without a narrator to tell my life story, I find I am more surprised by experiences and have lost the ability to detach.

I’m real. Not the main character in an endless saga, merely another confused soul on the road from somewhere to some other place.

RACHEL MADDOW AND CABLE NEWS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I never used to watch 24 hour cable news. But after Trump’s election, I started watching The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC at 9 PM weeknights. I love this show because it has a different format and purpose than most other cable news shows.

Rachel Maddow talks directly to you for much of the show. She rarely has more than one guest at a time and there aren’t that many guests throughout her hour. This in itself sets her apart from the other cable news hosts. She sees her job as explaining and digesting key news items of the day for her viewers. She tells her chosen stories of the day with lots of background and perspective, both historical and political. Some hours are totally dedicated to unraveling and illuminating the complexities of just one story. She starts at the beginning and brings you up to date with the complete story, boring details and all.

Sometimes you don’t quite know where Rachel is going on a story and then suddenly, what she’s saying clicks with something in the news today and the light bulb goes off in your head. Rachel will then explain the significance of today’s facts and evaluate the importance of the information. She makes sense of the barrage of information we are being inundated with on a daily basis.

You end your hour with Rachel feeling that you actually have a handle on what’s going on, at least regarding whatever stories she has covered. I find that I often can help friends understand some issue by imparting some of the wisdom I have absorbed from The Rachel Maddow Show. Friends are grateful for their new-found understanding and look at us like we are founts of wisdom. It’s not us. It’s Rachel.

Lately I’ve started watching other shows on MSNBC, my chosen cable channel. I don’t find them as satisfying as Rachel Maddow. But they do serve a more general purpose. They just report on whatever is happening or is in the news at the moment. They often use interviews with multiple people in those little boxes on-screen. The experts and/or pundits explain different versions of the story and offer different opinions about it. Often there is shouting involved.

Other MSNBC show

There’s nothing wrong with that. Very little in this world is simple or clear-cut. There is a place for the two-sided, “he said/she said” news presentation. Most of the print news I read is presented this way too.

For me, there’s something about how Rachel Maddow presents the news which I find very clarifying. After her shows, I feel like I have a better grasp of the material she covered. I don’t always feel that way when I read or watch other sources.

I find so much in the media to be confusing and uncertain, as well as unbelievable. I’m grateful for every bit of clarity and comprehension I can get. I thank Rachel Maddow for giving me an hour a day of sanity in the middle of the information storm in which we live today.

USING THE RAPIER

The English language has well over a million “official” words in its dictionary and probably another twenty thousand or more unofficial, idiomatic, and/or regional words that are used by specific groups and have meanings yet to reach any dictionary.

There is nothing you cannot say in English using real words. You can make yourself heard while speaking a language other people will recognize. Not only will this not diminish your communication, it will enhance it while lending you credibility with other literate people.

If there is nothing you can say without insulting and hurting people? Without hate speech and slurs? Best say nothing.

Hate speech and bullying isn’t freedom. It’s hate speech and bullying. It is always ungrammatical and makes my brain itch. Everyone recognizes the invisible lines of what’s acceptable speech and behavior and what isn’t. I think we know this much by the time we get to first grade. The people who regularly cross these lines know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. It isn’t lack of education. It’s lack of empathy for others and that, sadly, is a disease for which there is no known cure.

The speech of the bludgeon or truncheon is no accident. Those who speak thuggish do it with full intent. It’s wrong. You can argue this point until the cows come home. It will remain wrong.

One of the things I’ve always admired about the British upper class — maybe the only thing I admire about the British upper class — is their ability to be perfectly polite while verbally eviscerating their opponents. It’s an art form. They at least understand that a rapier — a sharp, precise tool — is a better weapon than a bludgeon. And usually leaves less of a mess.

If you have to join the fray, put away the bludgeon and give the rapier a try.

FEELING A BIT VISCERAL?

There are several meanings to the word “visceral,” but only one seems something that has anything to do with me. That would be when the word is relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect. Like when Gibbs says he “feels in his gut his crime has not yet been solved.” That’s visceral.

Personally, it’s more how I feel about people in my world as in, “The voters’ visceral fear of change” (probably referring to how on earth we elected Trump). Or “An instinctual survival response,” that is, how come we have armed militias hiding in the hills of Idaho and Montana convinced they are going to be attacked by the gubmint.

I’m not especially visceral. I’m a thinker. A meandering mental worrier and more than a bit obsessive. I only get visceral if someone make me feel physically threatened or creepy … or the dogs don’t like him or her. Or the fish is bad.

I trust the dogs. Normally, they like everyone. If the canines think someone is worrisome, I trust the dogs.

Today is going to be The Day of the Door. Owen and Dave will be here shortly to get the installation started. Garry and I are fueling up on coffee. It’s will be a long, sticky day. I don’t know if I’m going to get back to the computer until very late, maybe this evening after the work is done.

If you don’t hear from me until a lot later … you know where I am.

Viscerally replacing our front door. Finally.

SAILING – THE DAY OF THE MONARCHS – A STORY RETELLING

We named our little craft “Gwaihir,” after the Eagle Wind Lord from Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” Really, she was a wind lady and a rather dainty girl at that. The name was perhaps a trifle pretentious for such a small craft, but I thought it would be a lucky name. Gwaihir was a 16-foot Soling with a centerboard, which is a retractable keel. With the board up, she drew only 16-inches. I used to tell friends that Gwaihir could sail on a wet hankie. I believe she could.

She was a surprisingly stable craft. We carried a 5 hp outboard motor so when tide and wind were against us, we could still get home. In the old days, sailboats had to drop anchor and wait for the tide, wind, or both to shift. Today, we have to get back in time for dinner … so we have outboard motors.

Sometimes, when the sea was calm and the wind was fair, we took Gwaihir out through Sloop Channel and Jones inlet to the ocean. Even a 3-foot roller looks huge when you are on the deck of such a small craft. My sailing partner was a madman on water. He would sail through thunder squalls because he liked the challenge. His father had been equally insane, so it must have been DNA.

Mostly though, I piloted her through the salt marshes, the shallow canals on Long Island’s south shore. She was ideal for shallow water sailing. We could move silently through nesting grounds of plovers, herons and divers, soundless except for a slight flapping of the jib. The birds were undisturbed by our passage and went about their business, our white sails wing-like in the breeze.

One bright day with a warm sun lighting the water and the sky blue as a robin’s egg, I anchored in a shallow, reedy spot, lay back on the bench and drifted off to sleep as I watched little puffy clouds scoot across the sky.

I awoke a while later and our white sail was covered with what seemed to be thousands upon thousands of monarch butterflies. I had drifted into their migration route and they had stopped for a rest on my little boat.

MonarchButterflies_20090910

I didn’t move or say anything. Just looked up and watched, thinking that if ever there had been a perfect day, crafted for my delight, this was it. Then, as if someone had signaled, they rose in a flock and flew onward to complete their long journey. And I sailed home.

SAILING – THE DAY OF THE MONARCHS