Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another conversation with Patricia


The things you learn while editing:  Today, finally, I confirmed the meaning of "antebellum."  Without looking it up, over time I came to decipher the meaning at least in the United States as dating back to before the Civil War.  That is where the term is used most often. Who has ever read a novel about the South that doesn't have an antebellum mansion in it?

The real meaning came up today in a conversation with Patricia.  Now, if you have stuck with this blog over the years, you know Patricia as a writer friend with whom I carried on long electronic conversations about writing.  In time she developed cancer and she died last November, leaving me with a void in my life and three expensive tickets to a Lady Gaga concert.

She also left me with a chore.  At the time of her death, she was editing her book "The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines" for a new edition.  Mostly the editing was shortening the book.  She was unable to finish it and her husband asked me to complete the edit, a chore I at first resisted, but now have embraced as it is keeping me in touch with my friend, in part giving me an answer to the question I asked at the end of the post I wrote about her passing:  What am I going to do now?  What I am going to do, what I am doing is converse with her almost daily about word choices, antecedents, references and all the little details of writing craft.  Patricia is one of those writers who is difficult to cut.  It is a burden for editors, but a joyful one, because good writers like Patricia make it very difficult to leave anything out.

As I have gone through it, I find myself looking at the ceiling wondering what she meant here, and is this going to hurt the message if I take it out, and why did you say this instead of this?  I find myself often talking to her, explaining why this or that is a good cut and why I took it out, even sometimes apologizing for what I am cutting, sometimes shaking my head to chastise, noting something I know I told her about years ago.  I can almost see the smile on her face as she patronizes me, acknowledging that I am right, while at the same time stubbornly refusing to change it.

Along the way she is teaching me, exposing  a world and a perspective very new to my way of thinking.  I wonder how much of classical mythology reaches kids in schools today.  I know from what I am reading now that what little I received in world history and Latin classes was largely male-based, highlighting the gods and relegating the goddesses to consort roles.  That's the perspective Patricia is now in the process of changing for me.

I catch myself often saying, oh that's where that comes from, while reading one entry or another and connecting a name to modern word usage, or seeing the logic in the development of goddesses in native cultures, some of whom are still with us in one form or another.  Just look at the names of all the stars and particularly constellations.

And I so much want to tell her a story.  Often when dealing with ancient cultures there are varying opinions and interpretation of people and events that occurred before written history and even after for that matter.  As a result people writing about it and attempting to show all interpretations will use the term "Some say," this or that.  What I want to tell her is that while I was in college, in an age of change, black studies and particularly history courses were quickly added to curricula.  At the University of Kansas a black history professor from a small college in Missouri was flown in twice a week to teach a huge lecture class in that history.  Twice a week we had to sit and listen to this guy drone on taking all the life out of what should have been fascinating history beginning with origins in Africa.  His favorite source was a professor "some say" as I called it, for example (and he really said this) "Some say Cleopatra was black." Eventually I quit going to class except for the midterm and the final.  At the time I was also taking Recent American History, which began in the late 19th century.  An energetic young instructor taught it and he had wound black history in the with rest of it.  How good was he?  I got a B in black history and a C in modern American history.  But the younger fellow never quoted Dr. Some Say.  And, now whenever I come across Patricia saying "Some say..." I have to laugh and look at the ceiling and wish I could tell her why I want to change it.

So the conversations with Patricia go on, in an altered state, but allowing me to feel she is still at least influencing us.  I am sure, given our conversations about procrastination, she would be laughing at the machinations I go through to avoid sitting down and cutting more out of her beautiful piece of work.  But I do it, because it keeps us in touch, and pushes further into the future that day when I have to ask again "What am I going to do now?"

And, "antebellum?"  According to Patricia, Bellona was a Roman goddess who ruled conflict, diplomatic as well as military, and the Latin word for war, "bellum," derives from her name.


Earthmaker judges the world



Conversations with Patricia: Day before the election (with apologies)



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Interesting quotations

"In the final analysis your life is only as good as the background music you dance to." – that was me

"Whether you think that you can or you think you can't, you are right." – Henry Ford

"You want to feel alive until the day you croak" – Frank Gallagher Shameless

"Smooth is good but sailing takes a brisk wind" – me

"I'm a drinker with writing problems." ~ Brendan Behan

"Religious Freedom is not about stopping persecution; it’s about being the one who gets to do it. Glory!" – Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's best Christian

It doesn't matter what you write, it only matters that you write.

"Give someone a book and they'll read all day. Teach someone to write a book and they'll spend a lifetime mired in paralyzing self doubt." – internet meme

"It's been a long time since I heard my backbone crack – Chuck Berry

“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” – JD

"I was the only person up on the hill with both racing numbers and a handicapped placard." – Kitty Delorey Fleischman, a grandmother who occasionally still races her Porsche in hill climbs.

Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day. – anon

"Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool." – Mark Twain

Shit happens; you just come up with a different plan. – Kitty

Your body is not a temple. It's an amusement park. – Anthony Bourdain

Never too late for a happy childhood – Berkley Breathed

A real writer doesn't just want to write, a real writer has to write. – Internet meme

"It was like the aftermath of an orgasm with the wrong partner" – David Lagercrants, "The Girl in the Spider's Web"

The non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

We never comprehend how heavy the things are we insist on carrying until we set them down. jd

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio talk show host

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve