blogging

Deep Within the Castle Walls

This would be a dream come true, but I'm not holding my breath.  (Photo credit: Mary Harrsch)

This would be a dream come true… but I’m not holding my breath. (Photo credit: Mary Harrsch)

Travel is usually a pleasure.  The change in scenery soothes weary eyes while the sights often lift the spirits.  Of course, the fortunate traveler also discovers excellent restaurants that deliver local recipes.

And then we have the eating establishments that are located inside the tourist attractions.  They’re kind of like school cafeterias except the cooks know you’re not coming back… so there’s little reason for them to make the food edible.  Some of these so-called restaurants are merely “not good” in the sense of airplane food but some look like they’d redefine the entire concept of food poisoning.

With that in mind, this week’s challenge offers several possibilities:

1- Recount an experience of eating at a tourist attraction.  What made you decide to eat there and how did the food compare to the surroundings?

2- Think of a tourist destination that you would not expect to have good food.  What is it about the location that would lead you away from culinary delights on the premises?

3- If you’ve had good food at a tourist destination, tell us about the meal.  Also provide the location so that readers can benefit.

4- Propose the establishment of a restaurant at a tourist attraction of your choice.  Include a basic business strategy and discuss why such a restaurant would be appropriate or profitable at the location you choose.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

Answer a Stupid Question

I was shopping in a department store and had the pleasure of overhearing a mother and her (approximately) sixth grade son having a conversation.  They were in the men’s underwear section and the son was not particularly happy with the experience.

The boy says to his mother, “Why do all these packages have men on the packages?  Why can’t they show women wearing the underwear?”

We all know the obvious and most clearly correct answer.  Don’t write about that.  Instead, your challenge this week is to devise a sociological, psychological, or other other intellectually infused explanation for why underwear manufacturers don’t sell their product using irrelevant images like other businesses do.

You are not obligated to write a post about underwear packaging.  Instead, consider focusing your post on the sociological or psychological (or other) phenomenon that your explanation is grounded in.

Sex sold valve caps.  Sex sells cars.  Sex sells alcohol.  Sex doesn't sell underwear?  (Image is in the public domain.)

Sex sold valve caps. Sex sells cars. Sex sells alcohol. Sex doesn’t sell underwear? (Image is in the public domain.)

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

Death, Taxes, and Quotations

He could kill and tax people, I'm sure.  (Image is in the public domain.)

He could kill and tax people, I’m sure. (Image is in the public domain.)

Nothing is certain but death and taxes, or so the old saying goes.  Another popular quote: “Always look on the bright side of life.”  Perhaps someone might also say, “Always look on the bright side of death and taxes.”

This week, you will not be writing an ode to how much you adore death or taxes, or even on how death and taxes might serve a useful purpose.  Those topics are already overdone.  Instead, pick another famous quotation and transform it into a line about death, taxes, or death and taxes.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

Dick Cheney’s Sex Appeal

Happiness is a beautiful thing.  (Photo came from this site by way of a Google Images search.)

Happiness is a beautiful thing. (Photo came from this site by way of a Google Images search.)

Are you laughing?  If so, existing research can offer a reason for that.  Humor is often structured as the juxtaposition or integration of two things that don’t go together.  It might be that “Dick Cheney” and “sex appeal” are incongruent, that “sex appeal” and that scowl in the picture don’t go together, or that a post containing the words “sex appeal” doesn’t seem to fit on this blog.  Whatever the reason, this post’s title surely got your attention.

By the same token, you might be surprised to see that this post is written in a serious tone without the undercurrents of humor or innuendo you found in the title.  If anything, the outrageous title proved to be  sober explanation of what you found when you read further.

For this week’s challenge, your title should create humor by bringing together two things that one does not normally see together.  The two things might both appear in your title or you might create a clash between your title and the picture everyone will see immediately.  Alternately, you could choose a title that will grab your regular readers’ attention for being far outside the scope of your normal tone and focus.  Whatever you choose, make sure that your post is serious yet still relevant to the title you used for your starting point.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

Reincarnation

The many lives of a soul.  (Image credit: Himalayan Academy Publications)

The many lives of a soul. (Image credit: Himalayan Academy Publications)

This week, you can write about yourself, someone else, or a fictional character.  Whomever you choose, that person is going to die twice in your post for this week’s challenge.

Imagine that someone is going through successive lives and that those lives (or individual events from those successive lives) come together to develop a person’s spirit.  With this in mind, write three stories; each story should come from a different reincarnation of that person but that person must be a different entity in each story.  The result should (at least somewhat) resemble the character development you normally find in a novel but without keeping that character in the same body.  You could also use this challenge to show how your selected person or character became the way they are or to speculate about what they’ll be like in their future lives.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

 

Deep Throat

I think the ballot box has somewhat less security than this.  (Photo credit: Tanakawho)

Deep Throat comes in various forms.  (Photo credit: Tanakawho)

Major events have a way of incorporating references from unusual places and, in return, the linguistic remnants of these historical moments find their way to even stranger contexts.

For example, think of Deep Throat.  Perhaps most commonly known as the pseudonym for the man whose revelations would lead to Richard Nixon’s downfall, the name “Deep Throat” originated as the title of a pornographic movie.  Of course, its politically tinged use has kept that phrase recognizable in English vocabulary even when the two words are used together unintentionally.

This week, you’re going to allow a phrase to travel from obscurity to fame, or vice versa.  (Fame is a relative term.)  Choose one of the following options:

1- Choose an obscure name and apply it to something more prominent in today’s political culture.  That “something” should be significant enough to end up in a history book one day.  There should be no obvious connection between the origin and the new context you choose.

2- Choose a phrase that is already prominent in today’s political culture and apply it to something unexpected and less historically significant.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

Mephistopheles and the Road to Heaven

The eternal spirit of negation.  (The image, drawn by Julius Nisle, is in the public domain.)

The eternal spirit of negation. (The image, drawn by Julius Nisle, is in the public domain.)

“I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.”

—Mephistopheles (In Faust I by Joann Wolfgang von Goethe)

We all know the cliche that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  For some reason, no one ever seems to consider the inverse proposition.  Perhaps people prefer to focus on positive results when such are presented instead of fishing for less-than-admirable motives.

Then again, no one ever exclaims “but I meant badly!” when praised.

Today, you are being challenged to consider a situation in which detestable motives lead to ethically admirable results.   However, your post should transcend mere description; you should also cast some sort of judgment on the person or actions.  Your exposition may also need to consider the nature of “good” and “bad” within the context of your example; conversely, you may choose to defend the concept of objectively correct ethical stances against relativist positions.

No matter how deeply philosophical you choose to become, be sure to select an example for which there is no obvious answer.  Also, don’t lapse into an emotionally charged sympathy for the devil.

A Box of Chocolates

Valentine’s Day arrives this week and many of your waistlines will be encountering a delectable box of chocolates.  For this week’s challenge, you will be reimagining the box of chocolates as a writing form.

To help you along, here’s a picture:

They may look similar but they're all different.  (Photo credit: ProjectManhattan)

They may look similar but they’re all different. (Photo credit: ProjectManhattan)

A collection of unique and separate chocolates forms a greater whole.  One rarely finds a single small piece of chocolate that ascends to the heights that the variety provides.

With that in mind, you will be writing a dozen mini-pieces in a single post.  Each mini-piece should be 25-35 words and be self-contained.  In other words, they should not form a dialogue, advance a plot, or otherwise interact with one another.  However, they should be unique.  You might vary the style in each one, offer viewpoints from 12 different perspectives, or devise 12 different formatting techniques.  Whatever strategy you choose, the twelve pieces should look like a coherent whole when they’re juxtaposed in your post.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

What Kind of Idea Are You?

Because of last week’s terrorist attack in Paris, I have rescheduled my previously planned prompts so that I can present one that originates from Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses.”

Have you read this man's work?  You should.  (Original photo by David Shankbone.  Photo edits by Parzi.)

Have you read this man’s work? You should. He’ll win a Nobel Prize unless the selection committee is too afraid.  (Original photo by David Shankbone. Photo edits by Parzi.)

The novel gained notoriety because a string of similarly motivated murders, death orders, and bookstore bombings followed its publication.  However, few people realize that the novel stands as a great aesthetic achievement.  You can read the novel and take pleasure from Rushdie’s writing style even if the disjointed storyline doesn’t appeal to you.

Also, contrary to popular belief, the novel does not seem to have been specifically anti-Islam in intent; people who read this book seeking hatred of Muslims will only find severe disappointment.  It’s more philosophical and critical of religion in general, but religion is arguably not the book’s central theme.  If you didn’t know that the word Islam translates literally as “submission,” you might not even recognize how Rushdie was using Islam as an example for one of his larger claims.  The “offending” portion takes up only 30-40 pages out of approximately 600 total.

“The Satanic Verses” impressed me like few other novels have and I am pleased to offer you a passage from this book as this week’s prompt:

What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damn fool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.

Play close attention to the phrasing.  The prompt does not ask whether you tend to compromise or not.  Compromise, dealmaking, and survival mean and imply different things when an idea is at issue.  Therefore, before jumping into your response to this prompt, you should consider reflecting on what it means for an idea to compromise (etc.) and how that might translate into human actions.  You might also benefit from thinking in terms of how an idea is structured; for instance, it might be an all-or-nothing proposition or be constructed exclusively of impeccable logic, etc.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

Silent But Not Quiet

Here’s an update on blog preparations thus far:

  • I have written the first seven prompts and the topics demonstrate considerable variance.
  • All prompts are scheduled for 10:00 AM EST on Mondays.  If enough people participate, I may invite other bloggers to write prompts on other days.
  • I have updated the blog’s color scheme.  It should be legible for the ocularly challenged; let me know if it gives you problems.
  • The bcandelabra tag was invented for those of you who do not like sifting through pingbacks.
  • I’ve added the ever-popular Twitter feed and Facebook like box to this blog.  The blog also has a contact form in case you should ever desire to contact me privately.

That said, everything is ready to launch as planned on January 5.