Aretha Franklin has the song of the day. Go ahead ... crank it up. Franklin wrote the song for 1968's Aretha Now album with her husband of the time, Ted White, who is assumed to be the source material, as well.
And, for that matter, don't use other verbs instead of plain but reliable said.
Elmore Leonard gave these bits of advice (you can read more in the cartoon above) that are included in this admirable collection on Open Culture of writing tips from a variety of esteemed authors.
It's all good stuff, and I must say I felt pleased to read Leonard's advice on avoiding alternatives to "said." It's a tip I pass along the time. (We don't have to worry about it broadcast journalism, as the clip speaks for itself; in print and in online, though, we by necessity quote people.)
I remember once reading a piece from a newspaper that involved a lengthy interview with a single source - and the verb "said" was replaced each and every time by a different altenative. The verbs used were ones like "exclaimed," "posited," "related," "explained," "joked,' and so on. And so on. There were, indeed, more than 20, no two alike, and I know this because I counted them after noticing the trend.
And that explains the very point why it's best to avoid such verbs: they draw attention to themselves, and not what's being said. Plain old "said" carries the writing along, keeping the focused on what actually matters: the content.
I just put the kettle on for the fifth or sixth time today ... I'm not actually sure. When I have a chance to do some extended writing, I make a lot of tea. Yes, I'm primarily a coffee drinker, but making tea is as much about getting up, stretching my legs and thinking something out as it is about getting the next caffeine hit. (It definitely, though, is about that caffeine hit.)
... something like this happens. This video was produced by Delta Air Lines, and features a suitcase filled not with clothes but with cameras. Six of them. Apart from a blackout at the security screening, they together give the luggage-level view of an airport journey none of us has made. (Well, I'm assuming that's the case!)
I love this: a list of possible parodies of The Hunger Games, with imagined posters to match the styles of directors from Nancy Meyers (romantic comedy for the middle-aged set) to Michael Bay (eye-candy for hormonal boys) to Roger Corman (all-exploitation, all the time!).
Next month, Laura Nyro will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's a great honour for a singer and a songwriter who never achieved the smash success of her peers, even though she wrote many of their best-known hits.
And When I Die, which would be come a big hit for Blood, Sweat and Tears, appeared on Nyro's debut album in 1967, the year that she turned 20. Given her age, the maturity of the song, like her other tunes, was something else; she used jazz orchestrations (she was devoted to John Coltrane and the jazz masters she heard growing up in the Bronx) and the harmonies of the girl groups and doo-wop singers she also admired. The album was not a hit: it was reissued not once, but twice.
Nyro died of cancer in 1997. It's nice to see that she's still remembered, and respected.
And When I Die - the opening notes of which made my eyebrows pop when I first heard her version - is the song of the day for today.
We were in the car the other day when Nick asked what was playing. "Talking Heads," I said. "Burning Down the House." I figured he had absorbed it by now, but evidently not. Talking Heads were probably my favourite band in high school, through university and beyond; I think I played Speaking in Tongues nonstop during the summer of '83. I always got a kick out of the video, too, which was goofy and also prepared to challenge: the last shot, featured an image of David Byrne's head projected on to a roadway, runs for more than a minute.
In any event, as part of my parental obligation to make sure the kid knows his basics, Burning Down The House is the song of the day.
Those who remember the beer strike in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1985 (if I have my dates right) will surely remember Old Milwaukee ... which quickly gained the nickname "Old Millwater" from less-than-impressed consumers who nonetheless took to the U.S. import as a crutch while the strike dragged on.
Charitably, Old Milwaukee is called a "bargain" brand .. a polite way of saying that's it cheap, and there's a reason for it.
I haven't paid much attention to the brand at all until I read that Will Ferrell, of all people, is not only doing commercials for Old Milwaukee (apparently out of affection for the label), but that they're airing in just a few markets. Have a look at one of them - it was probably done on a shoestring, but Ferrell makes the timing of a 30-second spot work right till the last split-second.
I consider it an achievement that each weekday, I pack a nutritious, fairly balanced lunch for my son, even if the staples include a pre-packaged box of apple juice. The point is: by 7:30 every morning, it's good to go.
I rely, though, on lunchbags that we've been using for a while, and which are showing their wear and tear.
I saw this today: a gallery of paper bags, each one tremendously decorated by a dad who has two things I evidently don't have: 1) most importantly, talent. 2) time. Seriously, even though I start work during early shifts, I couldn't imagine finding the time to sketch something different every day ... and to do it this well.
It's not often that a "traditional" tune isn't attributed to "Traditional" in the songwriting credits. Calliope House, which has been recorded numerous times in the last few decades, was written by Dave Richardson, a member of Boys of the Lough.
One of the versions I like best is by Lick The Tins, which had a name right out of a Monty Python sketch and might be best known for a cover of Can't Help Falling in Love with You, which was used in the Eighties movie Some Kind of Wonderful. This is their go at Calliope House.
Another version I like was used as a medley, of sorts, attached to The Waterboys' A Man is in Love, from Room to Roam. The jig covers the last minute or so of the tune. Listeners of Weekend A.M. here in Newfoundand and Labrador should recognize this version; it was used for many years as the theme that closed out each episode. (It has a little family significance for us, too; when our son Nicholas was barely verbal, he would get excited to hear the start of the tune, but wanted to go straightaway to the jig. "Watching her dress! Watching her dress!" he would bellow as he clapped, waiting for the melody at the end.)
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.