Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

The Letter S (A-to-Z Challenge)

April 22, 2015

The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas* **


The Three Musketeers is one of my five beloved paperbacks, the soft and cuddly ones I mentioned before that are as comforting as old shoes and as welcoming as old friends.  I think I read once that the real genius of Alexandre Dumas is his gift of dialogue, and if I didn’t read that somewhere I should have because to me that is the whole charm of The Three Musketeers.  Open your copy and find a place where Athos, Porthos and Aramis are bickering, possibly with one or more of their servants involved as well, and then D’Artagnan shows up and joins in.  They can go on for pages.  None of the lines needs the speaker to be identified because there is never a question of who is speaking.  I love this, and because natural dialogue has never been my forte several years ago I set myself to write from memory amusing or important conversations that happened around me.

Two recent events reminded me of that exercise.

Event the First:  This past weekend on the closing night of Young Maria Callas’ opera scenes show, Little Miss Sunshine and I took her and a new friend of hers out for a celebratory dinner. This new friend asked if we had any amusing and hopefully embarrassing childhood stories about Young Maria Callas, and since we were feeling pretty jolly by that point I took out my phone and opened one of these conversations I had saved.  I read it to him, using the various appropriate voices, and after that our table became very hilarious indeed.  It occurred to me then that it might be fun to post that conversation here, later on, after A-to-Z is finished, because it sheds light on the personalities of both Young Maria Callas and the Pokerface Joker whom most of my readers have never met.

Event the Second:  This morning I realized guiltily that although in the beginning of the Challenge I was very faithful about visiting five blogs daily and leaving thoughtful comments, I have lately gotten out of that habit.  I decided to do this before writing today’s entry because I knew if I left it until afterwards I would very likely run out of time and not do it.  So before I even got out of bed I poked through the list of participants, clicked on an appealing title, and discovered to my utter delight someone whose entire A-to-Z theme is the recounting of faithfully recorded conversations and these conversations are not only natural and lifelike but also very, very funny indeed.***

Is it not amazing how when you really want to do something you can find all sorts of signs indicating that you really should go ahead and do that thing right now without delay.

So out the window went poor Alexander McCall Smith,**** who was to have been the subject for the  Letter S, and in came Alexandre Dumas (who at least has an S at the end of his name, and plus he shares a first name with Alexander McCall Smith whose last name does begin with S) because he can serve as a springboard to the brilliant use of dialogue and from there to this dialogue exercise of my own!

And so now without further ado here is the conversation:


The Pokerface Joker and I are lying on his bed. I am reading to him. Young Maria Callas enters the room, stomping, and towers over us, frowning.

Young Maria Callas: There aren’t any band-aids.

Me: Do you need a band-aid?

Young Maria Callas: No. But I might soon, and there wouldn’t be any. PJ, did you use all the band-aids again?

Pokerface Joker: No.

YMC: Yes, you did. You took them all and stuck them all over yourself. There isn’t even one left.

PJ: No, I didn’t.

YMC: Yes, you did. When you weren’t even hurt. You just waste them. You do it all the time.

PJ: No, I don’t.

YMC: Yes, you do.

PJ: Well, I didn’t this time.

YMC: Yes, you did. You always do that.

PJ: No, you always do that.

YMC: No, you always do that.

PJ: No, you always do that.

YMC: No, you always…

Me: Stop it! Stop it!

YMC: (ostentatiously turning her head away from the Pokerface Joker) Mom, we need more band-aids. PJ took them all and stuck them all over himself when he wasn’t even hurt just like he always does.

PJ: No, I didn’t

YMC: Mom, we need more band-aids.

Me:  Alright, Young Maria Callas, I will buy more band-aids tomorrow. I cannot do it tonight. Do you need a band-aid now?

YMC: (reluctantly) No. But I might. And then there wouldn’t BE any, because PJ took them all and stuck them all over himself when he wasn’t even hurt. Just like he always does.

Me: Tomorrow I will buy some more. And PJ won’t do that anymore.

PJ: She’s the one who does it.

YMC: Fine.

PJ: Not me.

YMC: Shut up! Just shut up!

Me: Everyone! Stop it! I will buy band-aids! No one will waste them anymore! Okay? Can I read now?

YMC stares down at us with folded arms while I try very hard not to laugh. My mouth twitches. I can’t help it. She begins to retreat furiously. As she reaches the door the Pokerface Joker mutters.

PJ: She’s the one who does it.

I can’t help it. I snort.

Young Maria Callas slams the door hideously. I ignore this and begin to read aloud. Young Maria Callas opens her own door across the hall and immediately there is a terrible crash followed by horrific shrieking. The Pokerface Joker and I lie very still. We are very afraid.

The shrieking stops.

Young Maria Callas’ door opens and closes.

The Pokerface Joker’s door opens.

Young Maria Callas enters and glares at us. She seems to sort of float across the floor toward us on a wave of fury.

YMC: In case you care, even though you didn’t bother to ask, I’m okay. Except I stubbed my toe.

My mouth is twitching and I can’t seem to breathe in or out. I don’t dare blink. I speak very evenly.

Me: I’m sorry, Sweetie. Are you alright?

And then the Pokerface Joker speaks very sweetly.

PJ: Do you need a band-aid?


Alright.  Thanks for your patience.  Tomorrow we will talk about an actual book, I promise!

See you tomorrow for Letter T,


*I did mention earlier that I’m a champion rationalizer and manipulator of rules and that the constraints of the alphabet would be as nothing to me in the way of limiting what I might choose to feature for any particular letter.

**Probably here ‘S’ should also stand for Self-Serving Segue.


****Actually nothing would please me more than to spend the day immersed in the eighteen or so Alexander McCall Smith books I’ve got lying around but unfortunately I’ve got one or two things to do this afternoon, so the signs and omens directing me to switch over to something I’d already written were very welcome indeed.  Just to clarify, I don’t actually believe in signs and omens.  Unless of course they tell me something I want to believe anyway.


A to Z Challenge: Books I Like and Why You Should Like Them Too

March 31, 2015

You will have already noticed that I am a technopeasant.*

It is obvious from the facts that I’ve chosen the most basic blog format-thingy available, just plain blue and white, and I haven’t even filled out my ‘About’ page or added a picture and I’m not even sure that when I share the good news that I’ve posted again I do so by using the correct link. I am also unable to tell people – even people who ask! – how to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ my blog.  When I set the thing up initially I bumbled around making mistakes which eventually landed me with an address I didn’t want and a username that I think is stupid and I have no idea whatsoever how to fix this, but none of this has been a real problem because all I really want to do is to write a couple thousand words two or three times a month and put it out there for interested parties to read.

This bumbling did get me into a kind of irritating situation, though.

One of the first things I did was to (sort of accidentally) both ‘like’ and ‘follow’ the very first person who ‘liked’ my debut post.  I ‘liked’ him because it seemed rude not to respond in kind when he had ‘liked’ me, and I ‘followed’ him because he invited me to do so and I assumed that this also was going to be reciprocal.  Over time it has became obvious that this invitation was only a follower-gathering ploy on his part, possibly an automatically generated one that he pays a fee for, but because my technopeasantry skills do not extend to ‘unliking’ someone, I’m stuck with him.**  [Update: I finally managed to jettison him – by clicking ‘following’ which ought to have been obvious – and replace him with someone much more interesting who also happens to review science fiction.  The two should not be confused.]

However.  There are people who say that everything happens for a reason.  I’m not sure about this, but I do know that every road you go down – accidentally or on purpose – takes you past interesting things you would probably not have seen otherwise.  So even though I’m not at all interested in the daily postings of details of this person’s life, not interested in the self-published sci-fi ebooks he reviews, not happy with the fact that every single time he so much as turns on his laptop I’m electronically alerted in five different ways, I am happy to say that one interesting and valuable item did drop unexpectedly into my lap because of this otherwise irritating experience.***

That valuable item is the A-to-Z Challenge.

The A-to-Z Challenge is an invitation (well, an opportunity to sign up) to air my knowledge and opinions on any topic I choose for twenty-six straight days.   The daily post subjects have to follow the alphabet but that’s not really all that restrictive for a nimble rationalizer like myself.  They are also supposed to be short, which might actually become a problem.  I’m also supposed to somehow ‘tag’ the A-to-Z Challenge personnel and post some links or…something…which obviously is going to be a problem, but I know I signed up properly (except for posting my blog address in a way that brings you to the page that shows my one follow-ee, rather than my own posts, and I can’t seem to fix this, and I keep sending emails inquiring as to how to fix this and no one answers me) and so hopefully one of the Challenge hosts will actually show up and read my stuff.

And if they don’t, that doesn’t really matter to me.  Twenty-six straight days!  A reason to talk about things I love and to pretend to be smarter than I actually am for twenty-six straight days.  I’ll take it; I’m all dressed up and ready to go and I don’t care if I’m not actually at the official party as long as I get to dance.

I choose to write about “Books I Like and Why You Should Like Them Too.”

I reserve the right to bend, twist and otherwise manipulate the official rules of alphabetization.****

I reserve the right to have unsupportable opinions.

I reserve the right to go off on tangents.

And as always, I reserve the right to be pompous.

You’ve been warned.

A-to-Z Challenge posts begin on April 1.

See you then!


*This is a statement of fact and not a coy invitation for you to think that I’m helpless and adorable.  I don’t do that sort of thing. On good days I fear –  and on bad days I know – that the most cursory soul-search would reveal that I only pretend to be above this sort of thing because I can’t pull it off, in the same way that I pretend to hate pretty pastel dresses because I know very well that when I wear pastel I look like a moth dressed in a butterfly suit.  You know what I mean.  Watch the next time you go hiking with a group of young people.  There are girls who can feign helplessness and immediately get picked up and fussed over and carried shrieking and giggling over a stream, and then there are girls who can stand there all day imitating those helpless shrieks and giggles and all they’ll get is an impatient over-the-shoulder shout of “Oh come on, we don’t have all day. Just cross it already!”  I don’t have to tell you which one I was.

**I was able to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ because I was presented with a little message that said “Click HERE to like and follow!” My skills do run that far. Oddly, though, I’m not receiving messages telling me to click HERE to unfollow.


***No, I’m not at all afraid he’ll read this and have his feelings hurt.  He doesn’t read my blog.

****Let us take for example the book A Separate Peace by John Knowles.  I might put that under A, S, J or K depending on what letter happens to be free.  In an extreme case I might even put it under letter P.   Of course I know it belongs under either S for Separate or K for Knowles, but what if both letters S and K are already assigned and I don’t want to sacrifice either of those books?