Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I know it's pretty lazy to get blogging subjects from the daily news. So call me lazy.

On the TV behind me right now, one of Fox News' opinion shows is debating a news item that happened recently. In Florida.

This neighbor/friend of the family/whatever guy molested a little girl and the father and a friend beat him into a coma. Instead of calling the cops. So of course they are in jail right now. The thing is, according to Florida law (the Fox guys and girls are saying) the perp could have gotten five years in prison for molesting the little girl, and her father is now looking at 15 years to life for the beating. So the debate (on Fox) is that the little girl's assault is not as important in the eyes of the state of Florida.

Now, we just can't have this terrible vigilante justice being meted out, right? What say you?

I am a writer (of sorts) and I collect similes. I collect interesting quotes, too, but that is another post. Similes and metaphors. You know the difference, right? Of course you do. Anyway, a simile has to have "like" or "as" in it somewhere, and a metaphor just substitutes unreal stuff to illustrate something or other. Ummm. Like "The moon was a ghostly galleon, tossed upon cloudy seas." Like that. But a simile has to have "like" or "as". Poets are the best source of both, of course, and Carl Sandburg is better than most:

1. "Mamie beat her head against the bars of a little Indiana town..." (Metaphor, see?)
2. "...a voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble in January." (Simile, right?)

Anyway, I came across a couple from (supposedly) modern college freshmen journalism majors. Not quite Sandburg, but poetic in their own way:

1. "He was a plate of room-temperature pork, and she was growing on him like an E. Coli colony."
2. "Her vocabulary was as limited as, like, ... whatever."

Don't leave yet. This post may still be salvageable.

Did you know that Persis Khambatta had died? I didn't know that. She died a long time ago, in 1998. I was sad when I finally found out about it today. She was Miss India when she was 15 years old, in 1965. I didn't know that either. I only knew about her from the Star Trek movie about Veeger (Voyager). Rest in peace Ilia.


  1. No offense, but there's something seriously wrong with a state where molesting a little girl gets you five years.

    What's to debate? If someone molested my little girl (either one), the cops would have to beat me to him and he'd only be left in a coma if (a) I made a mistake and (b) Lee was out of state somewhere. And I live in a state where the death penalty is used with gusto. Truth is, there are some things worth dying for. I put making sure a child molester never hurts another person on that list.

    Actually, the question reminds me of a controversy down here where someone's three year old child was badly mauled (and wife though she was mauled to a lesser degree), nearly killed, by someone's dog let loose. The man left the hospital, took a baseball bat out of his car, found the dog (still loose) and beat it to death.

    The dog's owners were not punished in any way, but this man was dragged into court and vilified, had to apologize publicly and profusely and was treated like Jack the Ripper. I love animals, but I can understand the father's reaction. I think the public here would have liked it better if he'd taken the bat to the dog's owner (who sued him for a huge sum of money - while the kid recovered in the hospital for months).

    Justice often sucks. I'd be very leery of trying to prosecute the people in your story. Juries can sympathize even if the law doesn't.
    I love the poem, "The Highwayman" - your second examples, not so much.
    I did not know she had died, that she had won any beauty titles (let alone at 15), but I recognize her face from the movie.

  2. I've always liked "the road was a gypsy ribbon". It conjures a very vivid picture to me. I actually like the two modern examples you give too - they certainly do the same job.

    Your picture for the next part was missing for a long time. I hadn't heard she died. I hadn't heard of her at all.

    It's a shame Alfred Noyes' picture was above your first section, which I've been trying to ignore. It seems to me that on this, and allied subjects, there are two mind-sets and never the twain shall meet. One set is totally convinced that being as vicious and violent as the original crime is entirely justified. The other set is certain that doing so makes you every bit as barbaric as the original offender.

    You've spoken about similar subjects a number of times now. There seems little benefit in debating it because nobody is going to change sides. I know I most certainly won't be persuaded.

  3. I'm not saying I'm right; I'm saying it's what I would do if I beat the cops to the perp. After all, perhaps the system would stop such a monster from doing it again, but I know I could. But I wouldn't do so if I wouldn't be willing to pay the penalty (legally). If our criminal justice system were willing and able to reliably deal with such monsters, I doubt I'd feel the urge. Crime in America is still a disgrace.

    I don't claim it's more than my opinion, but I'm not ashamed of it either.

  4. @Stephanie B - 5 years? Often they are simply placed on probation. I know you don't watch Fox News, but they have this project where they ambush the judges who let these guys off on probation and badger them with a microphone and camera in their faces. They run like rabbits. The idea is to get them off the bench. Sometimes it is hilarious how they try to get away from the camera. Ah, well. You had to be there, I guess. Anyway, I wasn't meaning to blog about that again, it was just on the tv in the background while I was writing about similes. :)

  5. @A. - This post was originally intended to only be about similes and metaphors and the picture of Alfred Noyes was already placed when I heard the news story debate. Sorry. Did you know that, although he (Noyes) spent most of his later life in the U.S., he was taken back home and buried on the Isle of Wight? That's wight. You wascally wabbit. Pictures of his grave, please. Thank you.

    Don't worry about debating the punishment of child molesters. They don't do anything to them here much. Just learn to skip over it because it will be brought up in the future undoubtedly. My purpose is not to try and change your mind, only to express my personal outrage. I respect your views on the sanctity of all life, even though I don't share it. What else is new, right? :) Thank you for commenting.

    Let's see if I can still remember the end, where he speaks in the present tense:

    "And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees, when the moon is a ghostly galleon, tossed upon cloudy seas; when the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, a highwayman comes riding, riding, riding, up to the old inn door.

    Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the old inn yard, and he taps with his whip on the shutter, but all is locked and barred. He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there? Bess, the landlord's daughter, the landlord's red-lipped daughter, plaiting a dark red love knot into her long black hair."


    So long ago, but it is still there. :)

  6. @Stephanie B - Talk to me about poetry. Talk to me about musical language...

    Forget the child molesters tonight.


    I was reading a piece by the venerable Ray Bradbury somewhere online tonight, and he spoke of how he didn't know what his novels were going to be about - how he only knew one part of the story, and so he would start in on that part. But then the characters would begin to take on lives of their own and begin to lead him places he had never dreamed of, and it was all he could do to simply hold on and give them a voice. He would take breaks to eat and sleep, but he couldn't wait to get back to his typewriter to learn what his characters were up to today, and how it would all turn out.

    And then, surprisingly, there was a finished manuscript lying in a stack on his desk.

    Did you know the ignition temperature of paper in most books is 451 degrees Fahrenheit? I'll bet you did.

  7. I did indeed and use a very similar system when I write.

    Here's some poetry:

    The dewdrop
    On the thistle
    As it sparkes in the light--
    There is no hint of sorrow in its crystalline delight
    There is no hint of anger
    Or of nights of tortured dreams.
    No signs of guilty pathos
    Sing out from cheery beams,
    But, is there disappointment
    And sorrow deep, deep down,
    As the teardrop
    On the thistle
    Falls softly to the ground?


    The teardrop
    On the petal
    As it slides on toward its fall--
    There is no hint of happiness,
    No hint of joy at all.
    From those cool depths, how could one
    Find the sparkle of relief,
    Or hear the silver laughter
    From a voice once choked with grief?
    But, maybe there is sunlight there,
    Despite the cloudy day,
    As the teardrop
    On the petal
    Winks once, then slips away.

  8. Or, did you want metaphors/similes?

    Music sung with special fervor
    As I sang so wretchedly.
    Streams would break through banks at beck'ning,
    They would come to answer me.
    Lyre-strings played expressest anguish,
    Both, we pleaded for my wife.
    Everything that heard came to me...
    But we could not give her life!

    I could not endure my sorrow.
    Music could not soothe my grief.
    All I saw was her, my angel,
    Falling like an autumn leaf.
    I must get her back, I realized.
    There was nothing here for me.
    What was there to make life magic?
    Without her, what could there be?

    Extra points if YOU can identify the myth this poetry corresponds to.

  9. @Stephanie B - I like the poetry very much. Very much.

    I'm afraid I'm not going to earn any extra points though. The only mythological character that seems to match your few clues is a guy named Odesius (sp?). That I can think of, anyway. He lost his wife (that was a clue) and tried to get her back, unsuccessfully. Another clue was the Lyre, which this guy was supposed to have played, I think. Played so well as to have influenced the gods and even affected inanimate things - like making rivers change their course. But that is pretty feeble and probably not close to being correct so give me some more clues!

  10. It is the right guy, exactly, only his name was Orpheus (and his wife's name was Eurydice) which is the name of the poem - this is only two stanzas of a VERY long piece. They're mine, but I was pretty sure you guessed that. I wouldn't put down poetry without citing it unless it was. The other two poems are my shortest two (other than haiku).

    I actually used to write a lot of long epic poetry like this, but it's rare for me to write original poetry any more.

    I'm glad you liked it.

  11. I can't believe I was on the right track - I know so little mythology. Mainly, I remember him in an opera (I think) about Orpheus in the Underworld. Or something like that.

    Thank you for the poetry.

  12. There are a number of operas, actually, about Orpheus and Eurydice (and named one or the other). Unlike many Greek tales, there was no hidden agenda. Orpheus wanted his wife back and "talked" (via lyre) Hades into giving her back but the small print got him and he lost her anyway. Orpheus was one of VERY few mortals to visit the underworld and survive.

    Not that it did him much good. He came back up and turned into a bum until he was ripped to shreds by Dionysus' insane female followers, presumably high on wine.

  13. Didn't know that Persis Khambatta was dead lo these many years. Odd that. Thanks for letting us know.



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