Sunday, September 30, 2012

Words I Wish I Wrote: 10 Inspiring Quotes About Autumn

Ah, favorite time of year. I could probably come up with a bunch of inspiring things to say about autumn if I really tried. But it's Sunday, a day to rest, and I'm trying to do just that. So enjoy these words that I wish I had written about my favorite season...

1)  "Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.~  George Eliot

2)  "Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay."  ~  Robert Browning

3)  "There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"  ~  Percy Bysshe Shelley

4)  "Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."  ~  Carol Bishop Hipps

5)  "No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face."  ~  John Donne


 6)  "A hidden fire burns perpetually upon the hearth of the world.... In autumn this great conflagration becomes especially manifest. Then the flame that is slowly and mysteriously consuming every green thing bursts into vivid radiance. Every blade of grass and every leaf in the woodlands is cast into the great oven of Nature; and the bright colours of their fading are literally the flames of their consuming. The golden harvest-fields are glowing in the heart of the furnace.... By this autumn fire God every year purges the floor of nature. All effete substances that have served their purpose in the old form are burnt up. Everywhere God makes sweet and clean the earth with fire."  ~  Hugh Macmillan

7)  "In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October, when the trees are bare to the mild heavens, and the red leaves bestrew the road, and you can feel the breath of winter, morning and evening—no days so calm, so tenderly solemn, and with such a reverent meekness in the air."  ~  Alexander Smith

8)  "Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes.  Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."  ~  Samuel Butler

9)  "Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale."  ~  Lauren DeStefano

10)  “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”  ~  Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The 20 Most Popular Movies The Year I Was Born (1978)

These were the top-grossing movies at the box office in 1978, the year I was born. I've seen a few of these, have heard of most of them, but am also completely unfamiliar with several of them.

How many of these have you seen? Are any of them among your favorites all-time? Feel free to comment to share your own experiences.







7)  JAWS 2







14)  THE END







Friday, September 28, 2012

Famous Sculptures In Countries Starting With "L"

Fair warning: This post is the very essence of randomness. What I did was to find a list of all the world's countries whose name starts with the letter "L", then Googled pictures of some of each of these nations' most famous sculptures. The only country I couldn't find anything for was the tiny African country of Lesotho. Here's what I found for all the others...

1)  LAOS

One of the many interesting sculptures
in Buddha Park, near Vientiane, Laos.

Here's another one in Buddha Park. Creepy!

Here's the largest sculpture in Buddha Park,
which appropriately enough depicts the Buddha.


This impressive sculpture stands atop the Statue
Of Liberty Freedom Monument in Riga, Latvia.

The famous Bronze Turtle, also known as Brunurupucis.

No, this picture is not turned sideways. That cow IS climbing a pole!


This ancient sculpture depicts the
 famous Egyptian queen, Cleopatra.

This modern sculpture in Lebanon depicts the Adiss Flower.

This interesting piece is called "Symphony
No. 7: Energy Of Life." Don't ask me why.


This is a classic Liberian helmet mask. Creepy!

You can find this sculpture outside of a Liberian hospital. If you
actually feel like traveling across the world to look for it, that is.

This interesting sculpture is crafted entirely out of scrapped weapons.


Gorgon Head sculpture in Leptis Magna, Libya.

Here's another interesting piece that
can be found in Leptis Magna.

This somewhat crumbly sculpture is located in Sabratha, Libya.


This fascinating piece is called "African King," and
is located in the city of Vaduz in Liechtenstein.

You can find this sculpture in the garden of the Liechtenstein Museum.

This odd sculpture is also located in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.


You can find this intricately sculpted piece
at the Neringa National Park in Lithuania.

I don't know why, but I happen to love this piece. This sculpture
is located in the Belmontas Park in Vilnius, Lithuania.

This one's called "The Feast Of The Three
Musicians" and is found outside the National
Drama Theatre in Vilnius, Lithuania.


This ancient Luxembourg sculpture
is a statue of Epona. Whoever that is.

Okay, so it's technically a mosaic and not a sculpture. But
isn't it impressive? It's called the "Victen Roman Muse Mosaic."

This impressive sculpture is part of
the World War I Memorial located
in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poems And Drabbles In The Key Of Ke$ha: Volume Two

So, I decided to go ahead and finish writing my poems and drabbles based on song titles from pop singer Ke$ha's Animal album. These pieces are all a bit "out there," but I hope you'll like them anyway. Again, they're all 100% fiction – none of the characters, including the "I" characters are based on myself or anyone I know – I just made them up. There's a healthy mix of poems, drabbles (100-word stories), and triple-drabbles (300-word stories) here. Enjoy!

"Party At A Rich Dude's House"  (Drabble)

So I was checking my email yesterday, and was surprised to find an e-invite to a party from this guy Dolby that I know. Dolby's parents are, like, super-rich. They live in a huge mansion outside of town. I couldn't understand why he'd want me at his party. I'm not exactly Bill Gates or Oprah or anything. I mean, my folks aren't broke, but they certainly aren't loaded. So I was like, this is crazy! Then I saw the note Dolby had tacked onto the end of the invite. "Bring your sister!" It all made sense now. I hit "Delete." 

"Backstabber"  (Poem)

I thought you'd always have my back.
I figured you'd support me.
You knew what I was planning –
I never thought you'd thwart me.
Give credit where the credit's due
You stole my best invention!
I won't hear pitiful excuses
Or lies of best intentions.
I thought you were my partner.
I called you my best friend.
But then you went and ruined
Everything – you can't pretend
That this is just some silly thing
We'll laugh about in years to come.
This is my life we're talking about
Stop playing me – stop playing dumb!
Your true colors are on display –
I'm blinded by their clarity.
It's too late now to pay your dues
Do I look like a charity?
I feel the blade between my ribs
The blood is slowly trickling out.
I never saw you wield the knife
But now I'm sure, without a doubt
That this is how you had it planned
I'd fade away, and you'd succeed.
Without a word of gratitude
You'd take exactly what you need
And feed your greed with rapid speed
And then proceed to make me plead
Until I've nothing left to bleed.

"Blind"  (Poem)

She sees her way by feeling 'round –
The road ahead is where she's bound.
She does her best to stand her ground
But all around she hears the sound
Of downed, and crowned, and well-renowned
Sleepwalkers stumbling, lost and found.
And in confusion, she whirls around
Slinks, sinks, drinks, and is quickly drowned.

"D.I.N.O.S.A.U.R."  (Triple-Drabble)

Lucy and Luther had struggled for weeks to come up with the perfect name for their first child. Their unborn daughter was making her presence known all the time now, kicking Lucy in her sleeping and waking hours. Even Luther had felt the surprisingly powerful little punts occasionally, primarily in the small of his back at the most ungodly hours. Lucy sometimes felt that her progeny was the Devil incarnate, and thought facetiously about giving her daughter that most unsuitable moniker. Luther wanted to name her Ina, after that hoity-toity lady chef on the Food Network. They both liked the name Nadine – it was Luther's mother's name, God rest her soul – but they weren't sure if it was too old-fashioned. Lucy thought the name Opal had a nice ring to it – Luther was unimpressed. Currently, Luther was pushing for Sara – a common name to be sure, but there was a simple elegance to it. Lucy had come up with the name Amethyst just the other day and had really liked it, but Luther had said it sounded too much like a color. Luther quietly adored the name Ursula, but knew that Lucy didn't like it, so he didn't press the issue. They both liked the name Rhoda, which happened to be Lucy's grandmother's name, but they weren't sure whether or not it was too obscure to use. One morning, Luther got the brilliant idea to give their baby girl all their favorite names. They'd simply call her by her initials. Their sweet little baby daughter, Luther proposed, would be named Devilla Ina Nadine Opal Sara Amethyst Ursula Rhoda, and would be called D.I.N.O.S.A.U.R. – or Dinosaur, to make it simpler – for short. Lucy hit Luther with a frying pan. He quickly changed his mind.

"Dancing With Tears In My Eyes"  (Triple-Drabble)

There's something profoundly disturbing about seeing someone crying while they're dancing. One is an outward display of sorrow, while the other is an outward display of joy.

How could the two coexist? How could one person be both incredibly sad and incredibly happy? I couldn't understand. Until it happened to me.

The other night, when my wife and I were at the company party, we happened to be slow-dancing to one of our favorite eighties ballads when my cell phone went off.

She looked at me and said, "Go ahead, you know you need to take it." So I did. She went to go get us some punch.

I looked at the caller ID. It was my brother Howie. He'd promised not to call me tonight unless it was an absolute emergency. Apparently it was.

"What's up, Howie?"

"How much did you put on the Packers?"

"I don't know. A hundred, I guess."

"A hundred bucks?"

"No, Howie, a hundred thousand."

"Tell me you're joking!"

"No, that's what I put down. It was a sure thing."

"Yeah, well, you didn't take into account that the replacement refs are complete idiots, did you?"

"What do you mean, Howie?"

"They blew the call in the end zone. No time left on the clock. Packers lost!"

"What? Are you serious?"

"As a heart attack – one of which I'm guessing you're about to have, huh?"

"Yeah. Listen, I gotta go, Howie. Talk to you later. And thanks...I think."

I hung up the phone and dropped it into my coat pocket, just as my wife returned with the punch.

"Is everything okay?" she asked.

"Sure," I lied.

"Honey, why are you crying?" she persisted.

She set down the punch, and we resumed dancing.

"I just love this song," I said.

And then I understood.

"Boots & Boys"  (Drabble)

"What is it about footwear that makes boys think it's edible?"

"I don't think it's just boys, dear. Girls do it, too."

"Did you eat your shoes when you were a girl?"

"No, but I'm sure I probably gnawed on a few socks in my day."

"It wouldn't be so bad if he was just chewing on a slipper, or perhaps a tennis shoe. Why does it have to be his boots?"

"I don't know, dear. Maybe he likes the taste of leather."

"There's something not right about this, if you ask me."

"I'm sure it's just a phase, hon."

"Animal"  (Drabble)

When I was a kid, my favorite Muppets character was Animal. You know, the wild-eyed, fuzzy red monster who played drums in the band? Who, when asked to "sing" (or even to speak), let loose with a bunch of indecipherable, screaming mumbo jumbo? Yeah, he was my favorite. Maybe I appreciated his free spirit. Maybe it was because I too wanted to learn to play drums. Maybe it was because I also enjoyed screaming indecipherably about any and everything. These days, I find that I'm a lot more like Kermit – pragmatic, more sedate, and content to eat flies all day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Song (And Bands) With States In The Titles: Part 4 Of 5

Today is the 4th in a mini-series of posts where I'm post a song (or a song by a band) with a U.S. state in its title. I've been going through the states alphabetically, ten states at a time. If you If you're just starting here, you may want to back up and catch the earlier installments. Part 1 covers the states from Alabama to Georgia – you can read it here. Part 2 spans from Hawaii to Maryland – you can read it here. Part 3 goes from Massachusetts to New Jersey – you can read it here. Today, I'll cover the next 10 states, spanning from New Mexico to South Carolina. In some cases, when I could not pick just one song (or band), I have included two (sometimes it was hard to even narrow it to two). Like each time before, I have included actual video links for each song (or band) whenever possible. Enjoy!

31)  NEW MEXICO:  Let's kick this off with a nice folksy tune by Heather Nova. It's called "Out In New Mexico"....

32)  NEW YORK:  You knew there'd be more than one of these, right?  From the hundreds of songs with New York in the title, I picked just two. First up, Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind"...

And then – of course – Frank Sinatra's iconic rendition of "New York, New York"...

33)  NORTH CAROLINA:  Since this is my home state, I can't refrain from adding two songs here either. First up, James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind"...

Next up, a song by my favorite blues-rock band. It's Blues Traveler with "Carolina Blues"...

34)  NORTH DAKOTA:  This was a hard one. I found a band called Shallow North Dakota, but their noise-rock music was so annoying (even for me!) that I decided not to include it. Then I found this folksy number by singer/songwriter Chris Knight (never heard of him before) called simply "North Dakota," and – what do you know? – it's pretty amazing....

35)  OHIO:  So, I needed to throw in at least one band with a state in the title to make this blog post's title accurate. What I found was surprisingly good – a six-piece mostly-acoustic punk band called Defiance, Ohio, performing their song "Hair Pool"....

36)  OKLAHOMA:  You knew this one was coming, right? It's – what else? – the title song from the  Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Oklahoma!", as performed by The Royal National Theatre and featuring X-Men's Hugh Jackman (Wolverine)...

37)  OREGON:  Now, this is an odd collaboration. It's a song called "Portland, Oregon", performed by country music legend Loretta Lynn and modern rocker Jack White (of The White Stripes)....

38)  PENNSYLVANIA:  Okay, so this was one of the hardest states yet for which to find an appropriate song. Maybe it's because the word "Pennsylvania" is too long and clunky to fit into the lyrics of a song. And putting it as part of the name of your band won't work either, because the word "Pennsylvania" is too long to print across the front of your drum kit. Either way, this is the best I could come up with. It's a song called "You've Got A Friend In Pennsylvania" by punk-pop band New Found Glory. They don't actually mention the name of the state in the lyrics of the song itself, but the title is what is is, so there you go...

39)  RHODE ISLAND:  It's never too early for a holiday song, is it? Well, either way, this is the only song with Rhode Island in the title that I could find that wasn't riddled with explicit lyrics. It's a sweet little ditty called "Holiday In Rhode Island" by a band called The Softies....

40)  SOUTH CAROLINA:  I have friends and family in South Carolina, particularly in the Low Country area of the state. So I thought it only appropriate to cap this post off with the song "South Carolina Low Country" by country singer Josh Turner...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Poems And Drabbles In The Key Of Ke$ha

I decided to do something a little different today (what else is new?). Taking only the titles from songs by pop star Ke$ha (whom I wholeheartedly do not recommend, by the way), I made up my own poems and stories. I did not try to make stories out of Ke$ha's songs themselves, as I am not all that familiar with most of them anyway. I merely "stole" her titles and wrote my own pieces. These 7 poems, drabbles (100 words), drabble-and-a-half (150 words), and double-drabbles (200 words) comprise the first 7 songs on Ke$ha's debut album, Animal. If I feel like following this up in the future (and I probably will, knowing me), I'll write stories and poems from the final 7 songs of that album on the next go-round. I hope you'll find these to be at least somewhat interesting. If not, oh well, I still like them. By the way, they're all 100% fiction. None of the stories or poems is based on any one person in real life – they're all (including the "I" characters) products of my prolific imagination. Enjoy!

"Your Love Is My Drug"  (Drabble)

Yesterday when you blew me a kiss, I caught it with both hands, carefully dropped it in a centrifuge, and spun it out till all that was left was your love for me. I inserted a syringe into what looked like thin air and pulled back the plunger. I grimaced at the needle's super-sharp point, knowing it would hurt like crazy when it pierced my skin. But I also knew it would be worth every second of the pain. Because your love is my drug. My fix. My reason to carry on. And there's no such thing as too much.

"Tik Tok"  (Poem)

The clock is ticking
Time's expiring
Ripe for the picking
Or for the firing.
What's your decision?
You have to make one.
Take me or leave me – 
You have to take one.
Tik Tok.

"Take It Off"  (Drabble-And-A-Half)

"We're not paying for that appetizer."

"Why not?"

"There was a fly in the sauce."

"Well, honey, this is a French restaurant – maybe it was one of the ingredients."

"I don't care. It's nasty, and we're not paying for it."

"So you want me to tell the waiter to take it off our check?"

"That's exactly what I want you to do."

"But, honey, this is embarrassing."

"I don't care if you turn fifty shades of red, just get the waiter to take it off. We're not paying for it!"

"Look, honey..."

"Don't 'look, honey' me. Either he'll take it off the check, or you'll ask to see the manager!"


"Of course. You're the man."

"But, honey..."


"How am I supposed to explain why –"

"I don't care how you explain it –"

"Wait, let me finish. How am I supposed to explain why you ate the entire appetizer anyway?"

"Kiss N Tell"  (Double-Drabble)

Kissandra always knew she'd meet the man of her dreams in a library. She'd been dreaming about it since she was eight years old. The fact that she spent the majority of her free time outside of school and work at the local library did much to ensure that her dream would eventually come to fruition. It was simply the law of averages. Kissandra was more than a little preoccupied the day she met Teller. It was final exams week, and she had been working long night shifts at the café and hadn't had much time to study. Exhausted, she'd fallen asleep face-down on her open textbook. Teller, the new library intern, approached Kissandra to wake her. She looked up, glassy-eyed, at the handsome young man standing before her. He smiled shyly, pointed to the "No Sleeping" sign at the center of the study table, and casually walked away. Though it wasn't how she'd dreamed it, Kissandra knew that this man was "the one." How she knew she couldn't then have put into words, but she knew. She closed her textbook, turned back to glimpse at the retreating figure of the man, and took the first step toward her destiny.

"Stephen"  (Drabble)

Stephen entered the hotel room at precisely 4pm. Dropping his bags, he went straight to the bathroom and began examining the towels and washcloths for signs of stains. Leaning over the tub, he inspected the drain for hair. Satisfied, Stephen proceeded to the bed, pulled back the comforter and sheets, removed pillows from pillowcases and sniffed each one carefully. He carefully scrutinized the desk's surface and the back and seat of the chair. Stephen turned on the television, and immediately his jaw dropped. Gathering his bags, he returned to the front desk. "I'm leaving," Stephen said. "My room was filthy."

"Blah Blah Blah"  (Poem)

Sometimes I listen to you
Sometimes I don't.
Sometimes you'll hear me
Sometimes you won't.
Sometimes when you speak
I just hear "blah blah blah."
Sometimes when I talk
You just say "la de da."
Sometimes I think that
We just don't connect.
But when I don't listen
What should I expect?
And when you don't listen
What else can I say?
I guess we just let
Ourselves get in the way.

"Hung Over"  (Poem)

I shouldn't have leaned
As far as I did.
Standing on the edge
I easily slid.
And now I'm falling
I'm reaching out
For something to stop me.
And all about
Me, images blurring
As down I go
And halfway down
I surely know –
That this will be
The last mistake
I'll wish I didn't
Have to make.