I received a notice recently of the availability of Medicare for Dummies, Second Edition.
For only $19.99, I can find out:
- When I should sign up for Medicare
- What Medicare covers
- What Medicare costs
- How Medicare works with other health benefits.
All of this information is undoubtedly useful, especially for an aging population in need of such advice. The “For Dummies” book franchise now has over 2500 titles. As stated in Wikipedia, “For Dummies is an extensive series of instructional/reference books which are intended to present non-intimidating guides for readers new to the various topics covered. The series has been a worldwide success with editions in numerous languages.”
But Medicare for Dummies just strikes a non-resonant chord. It raises the question* of what is next for a dummy like me. Besides the obvious – Retirement for Dummies, Medicaid for Dummies – there is the illogical step to:
- Walking and Chewing Gum for Dummies
- Answering the Phone for Dummies
- Monday for Dummies (part one of a seven part series)
- Poverty and Homelessness for Dummies
- Borderline Hysteria for Dummies
- Terminal Cancer for Dummies
- Death for Dummies
- How to be a Dummy for Dummies.
I should have realized that there is already a Blogging for Dummies, Facebook for Dummies and Twitter for Dummies. There is also Critical Thinking for Dummies which appears to be a contradiction in terms.
It’s only a matter of time before you can enroll in For Dummies University (FDU) where you can graduate Magna cum Stultus.
*Dr. Language Guy applauds the use of “raises the question” versus “begs the question” and refers readers to several diatribes articles on this subject.
November usually brings with it my melancholia. This year in my part of the world the weather is not cooperating and remains pleasant which, of course, makes me even grumpier. I know that the weather will eventually turn and I will start counting the days until the winter solstice. After that, the miniscule increases in daylight, throughout the winter, prepare me for the arrival of early spring.
For now, I offer:
by Thomas Hood (1789 – 1845)
No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
With the approach of Halloween, I am resubmitting a much earlier post of my own warped view of a literary classic:
A long time ago, I got blog-tagged. I answered the 11 questions posed as part of the “blog-tag experience” but did not create a new set to pass on to 11 people.
So here’s your chance. I am listing my set of questions and letting anyone who reads this post answer as many or as few as they please. Please place your answers in the comments section.
- Time travel becomes possible. You cannot go back in time and change history but you are allowed to time-travel and live at another time in history. What era would you choose?
- a) Paper or plastic; b) aisle or window; c) boxers or briefs; d) convertible or coupe; e) rich and dull or creative, inspiring and poor?
- You have forgotten the birthday/anniversary/special occasion of someone very close and remember it only at the last possible moment. What do you do?
- If you could be someone else, who would you be?
- By entering a few personal bits of information about yourself, the death clock will tell the day on which you will die. (I entered the information about myself and discovered that I had been dead for twelve and a half years). Would you prefer to know or not know in advance the date of your death?
- What is your favorite place on earth?
- What inspires you?
- Describe yourself as a color, a fragrance, a sound, and a texture.
- Imagine that you are a writer of fiction (for those of you who are not writers of fiction). Could you write accurately about a topic that you find repugnant like rape, child molestation or animal abuse? (If you don’t find these repugnant, then go to another blog – now!)
- What would you put on a vanity plate? (If you do not own a car, then what would you put on your bike, canoe or just wear around your neck?)
- What is the hardest question for you to ask someone else?
I was reading articles from a recent issue of The New Yorker and came across Eight Short Science-Fiction Stories (including the Penis from Venus) by Paul Simms and Omission, choosing what to leave out by John McPhee. In my tangled, warped mind, I combined them into a stream of conscientiousness (or, in my case, a swamp of conscientiousness) about writing and blogging. McPhee is a favorite author of mine: I have enjoyed Assembling California, Basin and Range and The Curve of Binding Energy, among others. McPhee has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1965, has published twenty-eight books and teaches a course in Creative Non-fiction.
McPhee emphasized that “creative non-fiction is not making something up but making the most of what you have.” On occasion, an article has to be shortened in order to fit the available space but most of the time any post, article, short story or novel can use judicial editing to improve the work. Editors, a sadly neglected and all but abandoned lot, would agree. McPhee stressed his point by using the analogy of Michelangelo as a sculptor “with six tons of Carrera marble, a mallet, a point chisel [and other tools]: ‘I’m just taking away what doesn’t belong there.’” So prose writing is as much about what is NOT written as what is.
It got me to thinking, what should I leave out of any of my posts when blogging?
- The penis from Venus – Yes, but then I would not have gotten your attention.
- The dream where I was dancing nude at my school reunion – Definitely.
- Any health issue that involves the description of one or more orifices – Most definitely.
- How to build a thermonuclear bomb from six common items found in most kitchens – Not a good idea.
- Using hot lead enemas as a means of corporal punishment – Um, yes.
- A discussion of the effect of 2,4,6 acetyl dichlorobenzene on the anechoic chamber of the rat – Yes.
- My Congressional Medal of Honor, my Nobel Peace Prize and my Pulitzer – Oh, wait, it’s creative NON-fiction.
- The moaning sounds and the God-awful smells that emanated from a dumpster near 43rd Street the last time I visited New York City – Maybe.
- Alien anal probing and sex with animals – See the penis from Venus, above.
- OOGA horns – No, there is always room for OOGA horns. http://www.ahooga.com/ahooga_wav.shtml
McPhee also quoted Hemingway saying “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.” With that thought in mind, here are the other items to omit “as though I had stated them:”
Did you cover all of them for me?
Oh, and what does any of this have to do with Eight Short Science-Fiction Stories? That’s where the swamp of conscientiousness comes in.
Posted in Rants about Writing
Tagged creative non-fiction, humor, humour, John McPhee, language, omission, Paul Simms, The New Yorker, the penis from venus, what to leave out, writing