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   Friday, May 09, 2003  
MA / writing exercise
Writing Exercise: Week Two
One Syllable

Write a paragraph (or a few) where each word is one syllable (or is contacted to sound like one syllable- eg, don't is acceptable but wasn't is not. Paul Ford did a great example of this on ftrain, but I'm having problems finding it. Ah HA! Found it.
Leave a message in the comments if you have done the exercise and I'll link to it here.
My exercise is below and you may well feel that I've been lenient on myself with the whole "one syllable" restriction. Maybe. You can be stricter on yourself if you wish.

Ford's piece is particularly good because it conveys that sense of "skirting around the issue" which will inevitably arise if you can't name things directly. Infact, I may try doing this exercise again, this time trying to use to my advantage the cagey, non-committal language that emerges. It's good for awkward, uncomfortable dialogue, too.

Thanks to
who has not only met the one syllable challenge but has made his contribution rhyme, too.
Vlado gets an elephant stamp.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:37 AM


MA / writing exercise
One Syllable


She puts on the tight, odd wet suit that will keep cold out and warm in. In her mind is this: “It should be called a dry suit. That is what it is, in the end.” It is hard to do- get in this black sheath, and she is on the beach and there are eyes there of course. But she makes it in, bit by bit and then shows off the old burn marks on her legs from two years back. Why does she love scars so much? This can not be a good way to be.

Now she is in the seal suit and she steps, as she is told to, in to the sea and holds the Cat. She is told what to do by her Host. It is his Cat. And what a Cat it is. It has a tall sail of pink and blue and it cuts the sky like a bright thick knife. But a dull knife- a thing for play, safe. She does what she has to- push this, jump on there, duck down, and they are off. Blue. Blue. She does not want to talk. She wants to look and to think. That is the thing when you go on a trip- you must make so much chat to fill the time. But not now. She does not chat, she does not look at him- this is rude most of the time, but on the Cat, out here in the sea, it is ok- it is the thing you need to do. The sea is loud. This is good. She feels like she could sleep.

But then, just as quick, she does not need to sleep. The wind has picked up. She must hold on tight. The Cat rears up on one side and she feels a small fear, but does not let it show. She leans out. The Cat goes down. I made it go back down . Proud, now. She does not care if it is not true.

She has not thought of the Host at all, and then, he speaks and she must turn. He points up to the brown bare hills. She can see neat rows in the earth, with dead things above. Vines. A small dead crop of them. He says “The whole lot died. Poor guy. New in town- a rich guy, too, they say. All his cash gone now. Had a dream, you know. You know the sort of thing- they move here to start off new, and then they fail.”

She looks up at the dead plants and thinks of the ghost of the dead fruit. Spirits. And she can not help but smile at this dumb pun, but looks away. It is not nice to smile at loss. It does not matter what the loss is. To stop the smile she turns her eyes up to look deep in to her head and look at the dark red blank that is there.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:36 AM


   Thursday, May 08, 2003  
MA / writing / link
Flight Risk

Jill has written today about Flight Risk- a site purportedly written by a young heiress who has escaped an arranged marriage and which is almost definitely a work of fiction.

I agree with Jill that the posts are probably a bit long for the blog format and it definitely doesn't really ring true to me (why, after all, if you were seriously trying to hide, would you set up an online diary?)

It is good writing, however, and I think it's interesting that she (and I'm positive the author is a she) has not only provided an email address but comments, encouraging reader participation. This makes it seem more real.

Anyway, it's got me thinking.
Anyone interested in setting up a group ficticious blog?
   posted by *mcb* at 8:53 AM


MA / writing / link
Nonsense Poems and Gibberish

A couple of links have been circulating this week that take a perfectly sensible webpage and turn the text into random nonsense. First there was Rob's Amazing Poem Generator which extracts a poem, Angry Penguins style, from the text of your webpage. (via Daypop. Boynton has been having fun with it too.)

Then today on wood s lot there is a link to a site that does frightening things to your weblog when you give it your URL.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:40 AM


   Wednesday, May 07, 2003  
MA / online comics / link
Why do Online Comics?

Iain Hamp discusses the merits of the online environment for presenting comics. He uses demian.5 as an example of an online comic that uses the medium very successfully:
By putting this online, the options open to demian.5 as to how the art gets sequenced are at the very least as important as anything else going on here. It can move left to right, up or down, and the infinite canvas allows for ALL of the art to appear as an aesthetic whole, rather than, say, being broken down into pages in print format.

Hamp also likes the use of minimal animation in Demain5 to create a richer environment than that provided by static images alone.
The images can be animated in portions, and while this helps to convey an action like running, sneezing, etc., what is most striking about the animation is its ability to be more directly sensually stimulating. By that, I mean I look at someone sneezing (as opposed to a static photograph of this action) and feel an itch in my nose, or I see someone running and feel my pulse quicken a tad.

When I was talking to Sensei about this comic a week or so ago he pointed out the strong sense of geography conveyed by Demain5. The palace is to the left of the viewer, the countryside is to the right. Night time and dream sequences involve a downward scroll. This helps ground the viewer in the otherwise endless, limitless space inside the computer monitor.

(via Comixpedia)

   posted by *mcb* at 8:37 AM


   Tuesday, May 06, 2003  
Diary / writing fragment
I hate it when

I hate it when I'm listening to a cd at work with my headphones on and there is a sound on a particular track that sounds exactly like an email arriving. So then I look hopefully down into the corner of my desktop to see if a plump little envelope has arrived, but of course, it hasn't. And then the next time the track comes on I do exactly the same thing.
   posted by *mcb* at 4:13 PM


Diary / writing fragment

So on the Saturday we go to St Andrew's market, Thieu and I. It's one of those hippy markets, with lots of alpaca hair beanies and coats for sale. Herbs, windchimes, felafels, crystals and organic foodstuffs. It is noisy- there are several kids busking with recorders. "People who can't play musical instruments play the recorder" says Thieu. There is a chai tent. There is a guy walking around with plastic elf ears on, carrying a staff. He has a stall selling t-shirts that say "The liver is evil and must be punished." It's the hippy / bogan crossover store.

There is also a woman playing a small pipe made out of clay. An ocarina? I can't remember what they're called. "My dad calls all of those types of instruments nose flutes" I tell Thieu, just as she makes a particularly nasal sound with the pipe. And we laugh, but very quietly, because we don't want to offend the hippies. We have nothing against the hippies.

Thieu buys a tree- a tiny liquid amber whose leaves are already in their finest autumnal colours. "You know what this is going to look like in a week, don't you, Thieu?" I say and he says "Yes, I know. It'll look like a stick." I buy some decaf coffee and a felafel. Behind the felafel maker is a sign that says "Please address all complainst to John Howard, c/o the Lodge, Canberra." I point it out to Thieu. "Look, they've got the 's' and the 't' around the wrong way in complaints." I say.

As we are walking away from the stand there is a young woman walking the opposite direction, also eating a felafel. She has a pair of grey baggy tracksuit pants on and they are pulled down low on her hips. So low, in fact, that there is a 2 centimetres of pubic hair peeping over the top of the elastic waistband. I nudge Thieu "Look look!" I say and he looks and then looks at me. "Do you think she realises?" I shrug. "Dunno. Surely not. Surely no one would intentionally wear their pants that low."

But it's difficult to know.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:51 AM


   Monday, May 05, 2003  
MA / animation idea / draft

The only shop in Marie's town had run out of shampoo. After five days without cleaning, Marie's hair became so oily that a colony of miniature penguins has to be rescued from her head. Marie removed them herself, with a pair of antique sugar tongs that proved perfect for the task. The rescued penguins were covered in oil, of course, so Maire put each of them in an eyebath until their feathers were washed clean again. For the more seriously affected birds, Marie rigged up a spa bath, using an old fish filter and some mineral water. This seemed to work well.

Not knowing what else to do with the rescued birds after cleaning, Marie found an old esky in the attic and filled it with ice and water, and put the penguins in there for the time being.

By day seven of the shampoo shortage, Marie was worried. The flow of penguins needing to be rescued from her increasingly lank hair showed no sign of abating. The esky was getting full and Marie was tired of buying ice every day. People on the street had started to notice her infestation and she felt ashamed, even though she knew it was not her fault. But even more than this, Marie was concerned for the safety of the tiny creatures. She had noticed an ominous shape swimming just below the hairline of her head.

On day nine the shampoo drought finally ended and Marie washed her hair. This stopped new penguins from appearing, but she still had a sizeable colony in the esky. Not knowing what else to do, Marie rang up a local miniature zoo. She asked the zoo keeper: "Would you be interested in obtaining a colony of miniature penguins?" and the zoo keeper said "Most definitely. Miniature penguins are a very popular attraction at our zoo. They are almost as popular as the miniature lions. Bring them into the zoo tomorrow, if you can."

So Marie took the esky to the zoo and the zoo-keeper, (who was himself on the smallish side) assured her that the penguins would be very happy there. But Marie left the zoo with a hollow feeling in both her esky and the pit of her stomach.

A week later Marie was sitting on her verandah, sipping iced tea and trying to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. She heard an odd noise coming from her glass and when she looked in she saw that one of the penguins had returned and was sitting on an ice cube, making lazy circles with its flippers in her tea. The others soon followed, although how they had escaped from the high security enclave of the miniature zoo Marie could only guess.

At some point, with love, there must inevitably comes sacrifice. Marie decided to give up her freezer to house the penguins. It made a magnificent emporium and the penguins thrived in their new climate controlled home. And if Marie occasionally needed to store food in the sanctuary, the penguins felt this to be a small price to pay.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:44 AM


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