Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tolkin-esque thoughts.

I have a friend who is writing a fantasy epic, and apparently some writing officials/others have warned him against being too "Tolkien-esque" whatever that is.  It seems to me that JRR Tolkein with his Lord of the Rings trilogy set a new standard in fantasy.  Stories that would include similar elements to Tolkeins, like extensive histories of races of different creatures, would be a gift to modern readers used to blips of info from twitter and cellphone texts.   Once upon a time we sat and read lengthy manuscripts populated with many fantastical creatures - and were vastly enriched and entertained.  I hope the art of reading a long novel will  not disappear from us  (might put some of us out of work  *grin*).  

     For the record, Tolkein merely imitated and adopted myths and legends from Norse, Celtic and other mythology, adding his own twists  (and inventing the Elvish tongue while he was at it).   We all borrow from what was before - guess it is all in how you do the borrowing.    

Live long and prosper everyone  (that is from another series...) 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Rhyme or not to Rhyme (apologies to Sir William).

     There seems to be an ongoing debate raging about the merits of rhymed poetry vs. “free verse” in all its incarnations.  Academic types might argue that the reader looking for a rhyme scheme is distracted from the message of the poem.  Rhymers will insist the rhyme and meter are part and parcel of a good poem, and enhance the message contained therein.  They most likely ignore each other’s pieces, unless they need something to give their blood pressure a spike that morning. 

     To me, both styles have their merit.  I find that rhyming adds to the enjoyment of a well-written piece.  But sometimes a good free verse poem has a strong impact.  It also may force one to pay closer attention to the words themselves, the metaphors and action verbs, etc.   To exclude one style or the other is to deny readers a full experience of enjoying poetry.   Might as well be inclusive in this day and age. 

     But I suppose that is something left up to the discretion of editors and publishers.  If one magazine or anthology does not want rhyme, another one surely will welcome it.  One can always start their own blog or website these days, and rhyme to their heart’s content.  

     If you want, rhyme it,
     If you can’t or won’t, forget it;
     If you do both, flaunt it!

     In regards to reading it, there is such a variety of poetry out there that every taste surely can be satiated.  From the lush, almost vertiginous sonnets of Shakespeare to slick little ditties by e.e. Cummings.  From pithy offerings by Ogden Nash and Ambrose Bierce, to flowery philosophical renderings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horrific mutli-rhymers by E.A. Poe to Whittier and Wordsworth’s stately soliloquies, there is a ton of material out there.  And new poets are adding to the frothing word-broth all the time. 

     With websites like and, online readers have seeming billions of words to peruse even without purchasing e-books of poetry, which they can easily do now if they so choose.     Some rhyme, but most probably do not.  No matter – I still think there is a lot of good material to be enjoyed out there.  Here is hoping that you the reader find what you like and enjoy it, whether it is in perfect iambic pentameter and rhymes, or is a loose free-verse offering.    Happy  writing and reading!


Friday, February 04, 2011

Getting back to square one.

Just to rehash what we already know  (and vent some frustration): 

Thee is nearly limitless energy coming from the Sun, and other stars - to our view a limitless supply of free energy, billions of watts pouring off its surface every second.  We know that it is possible someday that we could erect giant collectors on and off the Earth's surface to harvest this energy.  The problem lies not in the knowledge - we already know where the juice is - but in the engineering.  It is only a matter of will.  Thanks to Pres. Obama and some other visionaries, the US is finally moving in the direction of building large "harvesting" installations in the deserts of Nevada and California.  Smaller-scale solar collectors are sprouting up darn-near everywhere.  So it looks like we are getting a real clue here, and moving in a good direction.  The only sticking point is transportation.  How can we capture some of those free gigawatts and pipe them into electromotive wheelbases?   Solar to power seawater-conversion plants to get hydrogen?  perhaps.  But the ocean is full of life, much of it contributing to the air we breathe.  We cannot just drain it in our quest to get from here to there.   We need to come up with other ways to get this bounty, this gigantic free supply of energy, into our cars.  Solar-powered battery-charging stations are one way that comes to mind.

But we need to break with our fossilized 20th century model of thinking.  This is a new century we are in.  Time to implement the new solutions.  We need to drink deep, not just sip, from our star's munificent bounty it sheds on us every minute of every day.   Something to think about while we are shelling out over $3.00 a gallon to get to work and back.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

     Change sweeps in and leaves us stunned.  Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan...who is next I wonder.  The young people with their social networks and twitter accounts seem to be saying, get rid of the dinosaurs.  The human ones and the political systems rooted in monarchy and despair.  Some of these governments will topple like dominos - and deservedly so.  The secret police and rule by fear is so.....20th century already.  

     It will be fun to watch the governments topple and the old dictators with their minions fleeing like cockroaches.  Only problem is, next time we go to fill up at the pump, the prices will have gone way up.   The price of progress is never cheap, I guess.  Should be a good show.