Flash Fiction #137

God's Dice

PHOTO PROMPT© CEAyr

CONNECT THE DOTS

Steeped in the all-permeating Christian culture of the early Twentieth Century, Albert Einstein is said to have claimed that, “God does not play dice with the Universe.”

No less religious, but perhaps more pragmatic, Stephen Hawking insists that, “Of course God plays dice with the Universe. Just sometimes He throws them where we can’t see them.”

I don’t think that I’ve found evidence of God playing dice, but this might be proof of a minor god, or a giant, playing dominoes.  (Not ordering Domino’s – all gods and giants eat at Papa John’s or Pizza Hut.)  Is that a double six?

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

WOW #14

Wedding Cake Figures

When a couple get married, they march down the aisle, stop at the altar, and sing a hymn – and that’s what the bride is thinking – I’ll alter him.

A woman marries a man, thinking that she will change him – and he doesn’t.
A man marries a woman thinking that she will never change – and she does.

A bigamist is a man who makes the same mistake twice. A husband is a man who only makes that mistake once – although, there are the serial optimists/masochists who keep trying.  They could marry anyone they please – only they never please anyone.

The Word Of the Week is

TROTHPLIGHT

Definitions for trothplight

engagement to be married;
betrothal. to betroth.
betrothed.

Origin of trothplight
Trothplight comes from Middle English trouth plight meaning “having plighted troth” or “having pledged one’s faithfulness to another in engagement to marry.” It entered English in the 1300s.

I’ve included trothplight, just as proof that Dictionary.com does include old and odd words as click-bait.  We have lots of words in the English language that we still use and are a thousand years old.  This one though, is archaic.  It’s not commonly used any more.  It’s the kind of word found now only in the historical romance books that the wife (and the son) read.

The rigid moral and social rules and expectations that gave rise to the action and the word, no longer exist. Today’s equivalent would be, ‘shack up’, or, ‘let’s live together.’  I find it interesting, and perhaps ironic, that the word contains ‘plight,’ which comes from the same basis as ‘pledge’, but it also means

plight
noun
1.a condition, state, or situation, especially an unfavorable or unfortunate one:
to find oneself in a sorry plight.

Since the advent of Women’s Rights, more and more women are saying that they don’t need a man.
Since the advent of online porn, more and more men are saying that they don’t need the aggravation a woman.

The above light-hearted, satirical comedy has been brought to you by a Happily Married Man, who has only made one marriage mistake in almost 50 years – unless you talk to my wife.   😯

 

Flash Fiction #117

long-road

PHOTO PROMPT © Peter Abbey

IT’S A LONG ROAD THAT HAS NO TURNING

Women were not allowed to be doctors….because we’ve never allowed women to be doctors.

Negroes were not allowed to sit at the front of the bus….because we’ve never allowed blacks to do so.

Women were not considered ‘people’ and allowed to vote….because we’ve never allowed them to.

Women were not permitted to be priests and preachers….because they were never permitted.

We won’t authorize same-sex marriage….because it’s never been authorized.

Even if we’re forced to, we won’t allow them to call it marriage because we never have before.

It could be called circular logic, if there were any logic to it.

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

What’s Weird About English?

 

 

Grammar Nazi

 

 

 

 

 

You say Grammar Nazi like it’s a bad thing.  Weird Al Yancovic has just released his most recent album.  To promote it, he has also released 8 music videos of the new songs in 8 days, including one sung to the tune of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.  Not a parody of that song, it’s named Word Crimes, and contains lots of examples of what OCD word-nerds like me, rail about.

Weird Al

 

 

 

 

And so, I almost swooned when I read a recent post about it.  Written by a female English teacher, from south-east England, she had all kinds of strange questions and objections.  With regards to the English language: Why are there rules?  Why is one way correct, and all the other ways wrong?  Why is the pronunciation and usage of the south-east area of England the accepted norm?  That’s Classist!  We all manage to communicate.  English is an evolving language.

Where to start?  Where to start??!  If there are no rules, then in that direction lies anarchy and Babel.  Nowhere, in English, is there the equivalent of L’Office de la Langue Francaise, which insists on what is and is not allowed within the language.  However, like a newspaper style guide, there is an informal association of rather learned scholars, who have decided on the clearest and most accurate constructions and usages.

The speech of south-east England is the norm, because that’s where the Queen lives.  If we’re going to speak the Queen’s English, then we should speak it as she does.  We don’t need to use precisioneer grade language in all situations.  It is often best to speak or write for the level of the audience, but in general, we should aspire to better usage, not be content to roll around in the gutter of the likes of exclusionary Cockney rhyming slang.

We don’t “all communicate.”  We often barely manage to communicate.  Many attempts are laughable, tear-inducing or just eye-rolling.  English is indeed, an evolving language, but I would like the changes driven and guided more by intelligent scholars who have studied it, than by some pot-smoking dude with his name on his shirt – by those who know where it’s been, and where it should go.  We’ve seen some examples from Bob the burger-flipper, and they are not for the better.

She complained that Weird Al’s humorous little rant was too “Prescriptive,” that is, insisting that one way was correct and all others were different levels of wrong.  She felt that we should concentrate on “Descriptive” language, which allows people to be creative.  We had Hippies.  They didn’t work out.

Creative people are really not all that common.  They are the occasional goat among a fieldful of sheep, some of who think they’re creative, when really, they are all baa-ing, just in different accents.  You can be creative within the rules.  Often, the rules show where creativity starts, but a bottle full of urine, with the Pope’s picture in it, isn’t creative “Art,” that’s adolescent scatology.

Would you like some “Descriptive” descriptions of most of these “creative” people??!  Try Lazy, Iconoclastic, Inattentive, Incompetent, Uncaring, Rebellious, Entitled, Incomprehensible, and far too often, (Reverse) Classist.

They look down on education and proper usage, and insist that “they are as good as anybody else.”  Maybe in providing lube jobs, or French nails, but Bubba, there are people who can use words as effectively as you can use a torque-wrench or a nail-buffer.  These are the Bart Simpsons – underachievers, and proud of it.

Jeff Foxworthy admits the Southern U.S. accent is not the most sophisticated in the world, and you may be surprised when you get to Heaven, and St. Peter says, “Y’all git in the truck.  We’s goin’ up the big house.”  Maybe, but I’m betting against it.  If you don’t get out much, and are satisfied with sounding like the rest of the redneck yokels in “yer holler”, or the “known to Police” denizens of your urban slum – that’s okay.  I want to be able to efficiently and accurately communicate with English-speakers all over the country and around the world.

If this is the best that Our Miss Brooks offers to the formative and impressionable minds of her young students, then I truly worry for the future of our language, and our society.  Drop your socks and grab your….dictionaries.  Sound off – comprehensibly.

Book Review #6

MAGIC

Years ago, when I began reading science fiction, I was a nuts-and-bolts, spaceships-and-rayguns sci-fi fan.  Then a couple of my favored authors (both female) slipped into sword and sorcery.  I tried to follow, but I guess my structured, logical mind just didn’t wanna go there.  There seemed no “basis” for magic.  It just was, take it or leave it.  I left it.

Fast forward 40 years.  Times, and technology, and therefore writing, have changed.  In the last couple of years, the son has introduced me to four different sci-fi series wherein magic exists.  Quantum mechanics/entanglement and cosmic energy, along with parallel dimensions, justify magic, at least to me.

The last for me to read is from an author listed as Ilona Andrews.  It’s actually a husband and wife team.  She’s Ilona.  He’s Andrew.  She’s Russian.  He’s American.  No seductive superspy or licence to kill, she came to San Francisco to attend university, and they met at an English Composition course, where she outscored him.  (Where’s a licence to kill when you really need one?)   She writes the romance/sex/magic, and he takes care of guns, knives, bombs, vehicles and martial arts.

The son had acquired numbers 1, 3, and 5.  Recently he let Amazon fill in numbers 2 and 4, and number 6 will soon be released.  I’ll add them to my to-be-read pile, and get to them some time next year.

Two other series are both by the same author, Larry Correia.  The Hard Magic group are set in the Roaring Twenties era, a Raymond Chandler-esque alternate-history with Tommy gun-toting hoods, and airships instead of planes.  All people range from zero to adept at telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation etc.  Only a rare few can synthesize control over more than one talent.

His Monster Hunter series is modern-day and assumes the existence of werewolves, vampires, orcs and the like.  Silver-bullet armed groups are paid by the government to keep these away from the general population.  Non-threatening species like elves and gnomes are merely confined to reservations which resemble redneck trailer parks.  Social commentary, anyone?

The last group are the ones I’m going to (finally) review.  A female author has written several books intended for adolescent readers, but in doing so, perhaps unknowingly or unintentionally, she has written above expectations, and produced some adult-grade statements.

The Author – Wen Spencer

The Book(s) – Tinker – Wolf Who Rules – Elfhome

1-Tinker 2-Wolf Who Rules

3-Elfhome

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Review

I’m reviewing three books, because this trilogy of 550-page stories is actually one extended tale across several summer and fall months.  They can be read as stand-alone books.  Each one is carefully ended, but enjoyment and comprehension of #2 and #3 are greatly enhanced by the previous back-story.

Magic, in these stories, like cosmic rays, is ubiquitous, needing only to be gathered and controlled.  Small groups of parallel dimensions hang like bunches of tomatoes on a vine.  Those closest to the stalk receive the most magical power.  Poor Earth hangs out at the very end, receiving just enough to make magic the stuff of myths and legends.

Apparently a native of Pittsburgh, Spencer puts all of the action there.  Magic does what technology does, only faster, better, more powerfully.  Technology can harness magic, if you know how and where.  The magic is directed with crystals, or computer-printed spell sheets.  Of course, it can also be controlled with hand and arm postures, and initiated with voice vibrations, spell words, like the Weirding-module guns in Frank Herbert’s Dune book and movie.

Our teenage heroine’s grandfather produced a satellite which unwittingly causes the city to cycle from Earth to an alternate-Earth known as Elfhome.  On each such tomato-Earth in the bunch, a different, though similar, set of flora and fauna have evolved, with a different race at the top of the food-chain.

The magic-rich Elves, while not exactly immortal, live thousands of years.  There’s a world where sauroids learned to use magic, and essentially became intelligent dragons.  They, and others, can move from world to world.

The author is entranced with Asian culture.  She has the heroine in another book move to Japan to become a writer.  Aside from the action, these stories are much in the vein of Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels.  She uses satire and lampoon as social comment, to show the strengths and weaknesses of various cultures.

The regal and genteel, one-child-per-century Elves are the Japanese.  While they make a great show of manners, they are locked into a royal court and cultural rut, too slow to deal with the rapid social changes that inter-world travel has brought to them.  Everyone has their place, but, like the caste-ridden India, there is often no-one to fill newly-produced places.

The ill-mannered, pig-based Onihida, breeding faster than rabbits, busily consuming and corrupting their own world, as well as others, are the Chinese.  The diverse half-breeds are the Americans, able to use the magic to sprout wings and fly like birds, or trail like bloodhounds.

These are the tales of a wrecking-yard-owning Pittsburgh Cinderella, who rescues, and in turn is rescued by, her Elfin Prince Charming.  She uses quick wit and genius level intelligence to defeat the bad guys and save the day.  Through them all, the author cogently notes where our societies have come from, and where they might be going.

I found them good, solid reading, with lots of action and plot twists, and a reflection of life.