THE EPITOME OF OSTENTATIOUS


os·ten·ta·tious

adjective:  Characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice.

Synonyms:  Showy, pretentious, conspicuous, flamboyant, gaudy, brash, vulgar, loud, extravagant, excessive, too fancy, ornate, overly elaborate, more.


This is it. A building that is purely ostentatious. No apologies. Just gaudy and over-the-top, designed entirely to impress. It’s just one of many such buildings all over the country. Let us hope he will not paint the White House with gold and glitter. No one, apparently, ever told the man that “All that glitters is not gold.”

Quite probably, he wouldn’t care anyway.

trump-tower-las-vegas-nv-1024x541

OSTENTATIOUS | THE DAILY POST

THE BLUDGEON VERSUS 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.

rapier-swept-hilt-fance

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. Give the rapier a try.

BLUDGEON | THE DAILY POST

YOU’VE HEARD IT BEFORE AND YOU’LL HEAR IT AGAIN

It all happened so fast.

Stay in the car!

No one was supposed to get hurt.

He was turning his life around. He HAD turned his life around.

Everybody loved him.

S/he didn’t have an enemy in the world.

He needed killing.

It was self-defense!

I was only trying to protect (you) (her) (them).

I had no choice. You would have done the same thing in my place.

(For the end of any disaster movie:) Now, we rebuild.

I didn’t see anything.

“I did it for you” is a variant of “I was just trying to protect …

Music to our ears! We’ve heard them all again and again. In cop shows and movies. In westerns and science fiction epics. These are, of course, just a few of the thousands of “lines” that comprise a typical “script.”

If you’re lucky, you can get a double or even triple play, as in: “You would have done the same thing. He wasn’t supposed to die (variant of “no one was supposed to get hurt). What else could I do (variant of “I had no other choice”).” A hat trick!

They are so standard, so common, so predictable, I decided to make a game board so you cross them off as they come up. Wherever gets a row first gets to shout NOW WE REBUILD!

72-bullshit-bingo

You win the prize. A beer, a coke … or maybe one of those soft, salty, hot pretzels from one of those pretzel stands in the mall. How about a pizza?

We used to have a business meeting version of this, lovingly known as Buzzword Bingo. Whenever someone at the meeting spoke one of the popular buzzwords of the day, like “think out of the box,” “monetizing,” “prioritizing,” or the deathless yet ever-popular “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” or any of the thousands of trite, meaningless business clichés, colleagues would leap to their feet and shout “BULLSHIT!” Then, everyone, including the boss, would cheer. Over time, it significantly shortened those meetings and always enlivened them. With everyone keeping score, it was almost fun. No one wanted to be the one who got the chorus of BULLSHIT from the entire staff, so folks started trying to convey information using real words and concepts.

After which, we could all get back to work.

Now that we are retired, waiting for the classic television clichés that have become the backbone of scriptwriters throughout the world, we wait to hear those words. When we do — and we always do — it  is one of the most rewarding parts of watching the tube.

You get extra points if they say it exactly as written. The other night someone said “He was turning his life around. Everyone loved him!” A big score — two in one with exact wording. Does it get any better than this?

WHY I WRITE WHILE YOU PLAY GOLF

A friend asked me why I do this, why I blog. So I asked her why she plays golf.

This is an evergreen post for me. I’ve modified a bit with each iteration, but it says something that’s fundamentally true about the creative process and certainly about my personal creative process. Writing (and also photography) are my version of sports. They really have always been, throughout my  life. With a little bit of luck, they always will be. So here it is again because sometimes, I need to remind myself of things I already know.

I feel I should point out that writing isn’t only an art. “Real writing” can also be a craft, or “non-fiction.” Books about science or technology are no less “real writing” than a novel. I know we who toil as wordsmiths who tell others how things work or how to accomplish tasks, rarely win prizes or make a best-seller list. Nonetheless, we do not need to hang our heads because we aren’t don’t create characters and plots. I doubt most fiction writers would be good at technical or science writing. Or, for that matter, news writing. It’s not something less, just something different.

If one kind of writing doesn’t work for you, try something else. If you are good with words, somewhere, there’s a place for you in the big world of writing and writers.

One last point. “Professional” means you get paid to do it. If you’d like to get paid, but haven’t yet, you aren’t a professional. It doesn’t mean you aren’t good, just that you don’t (yet) earn a living at it. It’s not a judgement; it’s a distinction.


We do what we do because we love it, need to do it, or both. For me, writing is like breathing. If I don’t write, I strangle on words never used. My friend needs to compete, to be active. To play golf or she will suffocate.

I can’t begin to count the number of people who have told me they want to be writers, but don’t know how. They want me to tell them how. That they asked the question makes me reasonably sure they aren’t writers.

If you are a writer, you write. You will write and will keep writing because it is not what you do, it is what you are. It is as much a part of you as your nose or stomach.

75-FadedBooksFloatingWordsNK-004

I started writing as soon as I learned to read, which was about 45 minutes after someone handed me a reading primer. It was as if a switch had been thrown in my brain. Words felt like home.

Writing was (is) exactly the same as speaking, but takes longer. I have never minded spending the extra time. I love crafting sentences until they are just right. I love that I can go back and fix written words, that unlike words you say, you can take them back.

Raison d’être? I write because I’m a writer. Writing is how I express myself, how I interact with the world. It’s my window, my doorway, my handshake, my dreams.

If you are going to be a writer, you probably already know it. Practice will make you a better writer, can help you understand the techniques you need to build a plot and create books that publishers will buy — but writing itself is a gift. If you have it, you know it — and most of us know it pretty young.

computer gargoyle

Writers have words. They collect in your mind, waiting to be written. We have heads full of words, sentences, pronouns, adjectives, and dependent clauses.

My advice to everyone who aspires to be a writer is to write. Don’t talk about it. Do it. Whatever medium works for you. Blogging, novels, short stories, poetry. Whatever. I’d also advise you to not talk about your work until you’ve done a significant amount of writing. I can’t count the number of great ideas left on barroom floors, talked away until there was nothing left but a vague memory and a lot of empty wine glasses. Save your words to a better purpose.

Write a lot even if it’s mostly not very good. Sooner or later, you’ll find your thing. If you don’t write, it is your personal loss, but maybe it’s the world’s loss, too.

You will never know how good you can be if you don’t try.

Source: WHY I WRITE WHILE YOU PLAY GOLF

SURVIVAL VS. VALOR – A FEW THOUGHTS

We were watching a rerun of NCIS, an episode from a few years ago. The victim had given her life to protect others and her country’s secrets.

“She didn’t have to do it,” McGee pointed out.

“No,” said Gibbs. “She had a choice. That’s what makes her a hero.”


My cousin is my oldest friend, though we don’t see each other much. We communicate a fair bit on the Internet but hardly ever in person.

“You’ve always been braver than me,” she said.

The context was a picture of me and Garry riding the Cyclone at Coney Island. There’s a camera at the first drop. Hard to resist buying a picture of oneself and others screaming as you go down the nearly vertical first drop on an 84-year old wooden coaster.

But brave? It wasn’t as if I’d volunteered to rescue someone from danger. I paid my money and got the best adrenaline rush money can buy. Not brave. Not heroic. Fun and I don’t regret it, but there’s nothing heroic about riding the Cyclone — at least not these days since they repaired it.

Maybe it was braver — more like stupider — when I was a kid. Back then, pieces of it would fly off while you rode the rickety rails at 70 mph. But I digress.

Some people have called me brave because I’ve survived cancer and heart problems and a myriad other life-threatening ailments (so far, so good). As it happens, I would have been just as happy to skip all of that and have a pleasant, uneventful life. For excitement, there’s always a trip to the Cyclone and doesn’t require years of recovery and rehab.

I’ve managed to slouch into senior citizenship still alive but hardly deserving a medal. No one gives medals for surviving. Nor should they. Saving your own life (and occasionally, dragging others with you to safety) is your survival instinct at work. It’s not valor. N0t bravery.

Staying alive is hard-wired into the DNA of all living things. Otherwise, life on earth would have long since vanished. It may yet.

My definition of bravery or valor is the same as Gibbs’. You make a willing and conscious choice to put yourself in peril for the sake of others. There must be a choice involved. Taking risks for fun, to make money, or because your imminent demise is the only other option isn’t courageous. It’s what we do to keep alive. Some of us are better at it than others, but that doesn’t change the essence of the experience.

Medal of honor from Obama

If you do it for fun, it’s entertainment. If you’re doing it for profit? It’s shrewd business sense.  If it’s choosing to live rather than die? That’s your survival instinct at work.

I have never done anything I would define as courageous. I’ve done exciting stuff, entertaining and fascinating stuff. I’ve gotten myself into tight corners — accidentally — and lived to tell the tale. I’ve occasionally put others ahead of me to help when I could. Never did I put myself in harm’s way to save another.

The best I could be accused of is doing the right thing when it wasn’t the easiest choice. You don’t get medals for that, either.

SURVIVAL – THE DAILY POST