Saturday, April 28, 2012

10 Things That Will Always Be Awesome

...No matter how old you are.

1. Your birthday cake.

What is delicious? Your cake. Your cake is delicious.

2. Someone who knows how to tell a joke. It doesn’t have to be off color, just funny.

3. Hanging out with a friend. Or visit a few blogs.

4. A really good book. For best results, read by a hot fire on a cold night.

5. Riding down a hill on a bicycle. Preferably with some padding, just in case you wipe out.

6. Dyeing eggs.

Maybe not quite so elaborate.

7. Hearing your name called during a contest. Winning is fun no matter what.

8. Figuring out something before anyone else. Like a plot twist or a riddle.

9. Eating whipped cream directly from the can. Who needs things like bowls anyway?

10. Having ice cream for dinner.

You know you want to eat this.

Hope everyone’s weekend is going well : )
If not, try one of the above.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Language of Confusion: Individual

Individual has one of the more interesting etymologies I’ve come across. It has quite a variety of words as relatives, some I’m betting you won’t expect.

The adjective form first showed up in the early fifteenth century, however with a slightly different meaning. It had a religious context to it, referring to the “one and indivisible” Trinity, not taking on the modern meaning until the early seventeenth century. The noun individual showed up in the sixteenth century referring to a separate object. A human wasn’t known as an individual until 1742.

Individual comes from the Medieval Latin individualis or the classical Latin individuus. Either way, it’s an amalgamation of prefixes. The in-, a fairly common mutation of the prefix un-, means not or opposite. Which makes sense because an individual is certainly not dividable.

And that brings us to the divide part. The di- is another prefix, a variation of dis-, which means apart. That leaves us with -vide. It comes from the classical Latin videre, meaning “to separate.” So with dis-, that makes it “to separate apart”, and then adding in that in- makes it “not to separate apart”, or something that cannot be separated.

But we aren’t quite done yet. See, videre is where it gets interesting. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European weidh, again meaning “to separate”. Weidh is also the ancestor of widow (via Proto Germanic) and, here’s the shocker, is a distant relative of with. It might seem strange, but long ago with once meant the literal opposite of what it does now. Weidh comes from wi-, separation, and with comes from wi-tero-, “more apart”. As to why it changed meanings…I don’t know. Peer pressure?

We’ve got to start writing down why we change words’ meanings when it happens. It will save future etymologists a lot of guesswork.

Dr. Rebecca R. Harrison’s page at Truman State University

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fan Fic

I came across an interesting link from Flavorwire (which if you don’t read regularly is chock-full of info about all things entertainment) about famous authors on fan fiction. Of the nine authors profiled, reactions ranged from indifferent (J K Rowling and Stephanie Meyer) to out and out hatred (Anne Rice, George R R Martin, and to varying degrees everyone else on the list).

Of course, all nine of these are well known. Most have had films/TV shows made of their works and have made a butt load of money off them. You’d think they’d be less adverse to fan fics, maybe have no trouble allowing other writers work with their characters as long as they didn’t try to exploit them for their own gain.

Not that I don’t understand their point. Fan fic has always bugged me because when I like a story, I don’t go using the characters and worlds. I make up my own. But if others want to do it, it’s none of my concern. I’d like to think I’d be flattered if someone fan ficced something I wrote. Although I think you have to be published for that to happen…

I’d like to see what the reactions would be of writers whose names aren’t common knowledge, or pretty much any writer who hasn’t had a movie made of their work. I wonder if they’d be more or less likely to object.

In general, what’s your opinion on fan fiction? What if it was based on your work? Are any published authors reading this who could weigh in?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Like It Or Lump It

A while ago I did a post where I talked about the books I read in high school and which ones I did and didn’t like. It was popular enough that I said to myself “I should do this every week!” And then I promptly realize I didn’t have enough ideas to do that. So a year later I finally have more ideas to put in there, although in this case it’s pretty much just books that I can remember reading in the past ten years, whether for school or not.

This is the most recent entry on the list and the only one I read at the urging of others and not for fun/for school. And I have to say, I’m not a fan. It wasn’t poorly written and it tried to be sensitive towards the subject of racism. But to be honest, I thought it was shallow, even stereotypical, especially towards men. Aibileen’s husband ran off on her. Minny’s was a drunk who beat her (as was her father). The father of Constantine’s daughter ran off on them. Although several white men are portrayed less than favorably, there are at least some good examples.

This is one of those books that people believe is either the epitome of teenage writing or whiny teenage bullcrap. Except me. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it either. Really, I feel nothing towards it. A little boring maybe, but somewhat entertaining. I probably wouldn’t read it again since it just isn’t interesting enough.

As the originator of sci-fi, it should be required reading for us sci-fi/fantasy writers. I enjoyed it, although it’s another one of the books that can be so exposition heavy that it’s hard to get through. I was in eleventh grade when I read this, so while my attention span was greater than a flea’s, it still required sheer determination. I might read it again, although it would be hard to put down a more action-oriented book. Overall, I’d call the plot much better than all the film adaptations. Except maybe for Young Frankenstein.

I read this book the summer before my senior year of high school. It was thick and complex, usually a combination that makes for some boring reading. But it wasn’t. It was funny, outright bizarre. It meandered from the crux of the story, yet was amusing enough for me not to care. I’d read it again (I think I have a copy around here somewhere) but Gabriel Garcia Marquez isn’t for everyone.

I always enjoy Orwell and this book was a lot of fun. It really isn’t subtle about the political allegory, but that isn’t a bad thing. It was a quick read, had talking animals, and most importantly for a high schooler was easy to write a paper about. Unfortunately my copy is quite old and threatening to fall apart in my hands. Too bad because I’d love reading it again.

So what are your thoughts, on these books and others? Is there any book you’d like to see stricken from curricula? Any you glad they made you read?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Language of Confusion: Tense

There’s tense as in a verb form and tense as in OMG-I-just-sent-out-a-full-MS-to-an-agent-and-now-I’m-going-crazy. They don’t seem to have much to do with each other, do they?

The latter tense first showed up in its adjective form in the 1660s, at first meaning physical tension, two centuries later also meaning emotional distress. It came from the classical Latin tensus, the past participle of tendere or “to stretch.” As for the verb form, it showed up in the 1670s, about a decade after tense the adjective came out. Because everyone likes verbing words.

What about the other tense, the one related to parts of speech? Could they be related.

No. What are you, crazy? That might make sense. This is etymology we’re talking about.

The other tense showed up much earlier, in the early fourteenth century, and it comes from the Old French tens, which means time. Tens can be traced back to the classical Latin tempus, which should surprise no one who’s heard the phrase tempus fugit is also the origin word for temporal.

TL;DR: they sound the same because the Old French said “tens” instead of “tems” when referring to verb tenses.