Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blogs You Should Read


An interesting phenomenon in the blogging world is the "Blogging Award." These awards are actually little bloggy chain letters and I discussed them in a post the last time I received one. Usually these awards come with requirements such as "Tell us 7 things we don't know about you and then nominate 11 other bloggers and make them do the same thing." The only way this is better than a chain letter is that my admirers who bless me with the award don't also threaten me with imminent disaster should I fail to perform in a timely manner.


Truly, I appreciate the thought behind the award. I love that someone thinks of Commonplace Crazy when asked to think of blogs they enjoy. I am flattered and grateful and humbled. But really, to shift analogies, the whole thing is kind of a pyramid scheme. There are only so many bloggers in the world, and once we've all loved up on one another with these awards, it begins to feel a little inbred. (How many ways can I mix this metaphor?)

Also, I've run out of things to tell you that you don't already know. If you're new around here, go through the archive and get caught up. It's all there.

Anyway, I've received several awards from kind-hearted and generous bloggers:



                  

I started blogging last October, and I really enjoy it. I enjoy the writing; I enjoy your comments; I enjoy the feeling of community we've established. As our little community continues to grow, I want to spread the love around a little. What I don't want to do it create a sense of obligation in those on whom the love is to be showered.


So.



I've created my own little blog award, The No-Strings-Attached Really Good Blog Award!


This award is given to blogs that I think my readers would enjoy reading because I enjoy reading them. It comes with no requirements or duties whatsoever. Just accept the award as a compliment. Anyone is free to share this award with any number of bloggers at any time.


Today, I am awarding the No-Strings-Attached Really Good Blog Award to:

The Magnificent Mr. Carlos: And not just because he's my nephew. Although with that kind of pedigree, you know he's good! Mr. Carlos likes to share magic tricks, and words of wisdom, and FANCY things on Friday. He's also in the Navy, travels a lot, and shares some stunning pictures. In addition, he has a sweet little daughter who manages to look just like him and still be cute.

Melissa at MomComm: If you're a blogger, you need to be reading Melissa's blog. She has some of the most helpful advice I've read on blogging. You should also take her Content Brew class and buy her do-it-yourself Blog Critique ebook. You will NOT be sorry you did.

Stepping Out of My Boat: Join Hannah as she steps out of her comfort zone, trusting in God to see her through. To quote Hannah: "If you read blogs to feel better about yourself and how tidy your house is and how well behaved your kids are and pretty much any other area of your life...BOY IS THIS THE ONE FOR YOU!"

Contemplating Happiness: Trish is a really good writer. She's also a little quirky, but I like quirky. If you do too, then you should definitely check her out.

Parenting Illustrated with Crappy Pictures: I love this blog! Follow the adventures of Crappy Mama and Crappy Papa and their two sons Crappy Boy and Crappy Baby. You just have to see it.

So these five bloggers are the first recipients of The No-Strings-Attached Really Good Blog Award! Be sure you visit them. You'll be glad you did!

Feel free to give the Award to any blogger you feel is worthy. Just leave a comment and let me know about it. Which bloggers do you feel deserve an award?


post signature

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Hillbilly Boy Takes Up Boxing

Friends, as near as I can tell, in The Hillbilly's opinion, a "heathen" is anybody with worse manners than The Hillbilly himself. Today he's going to demonstrate those awesome manners that kept him from being a heathen hillbilly boy.

But first, it's time for an English class Pop Quiz!
Which of these sentences is correct?
Us hillbilly boys like to roam in the woods.
We hillbilly boys like to roam in the woods.
The answer is at the bottom of this post. Now, here's The Hillbilly:

Before I was interrupted with having to defend myself from those maligning comments made by Cynthia, I was blogging about my old grade school days.  So returning back to that, I thought I would talk about my first school fight.  I mentioned in a prior blog that, though we had knife carrying boys, we had almost no violence.  In fact, in all my 8 years of grade school, I can only think of two or three fights and a couple of "almost" fights.  Come to think of it, I was in most of these, which is kind of surprising seeing as I was such a sweet, nice, dutiful, hillbilly.  Hmm!  That is just hard to understand.

Anyway, my first fight was in the first grade.  I had been in school for about 3 ½ months when we received a snowstorm. This was the longest 3 ½ months of my life!  Anyway, there were a few inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing.  It was one of those types of days where all schools would be closed in this day and time!  They didn’t close down for much of anything back then. At any rate, on this day, the bus dropped us off to a locked up school.  The roads were so bad that the teacher was running late.

So here we were, thirty-some bundled up kids ages 6 to 13 years old, all piled up on a covered porch.  What could go wrong?

Landaff, Grafton County, New Hampshire. The "Blue School" is one of 3 one-room schools in Landaff. G . . . - NARA - 521531

Well, after a short time, a bored, spoiled, heathen, hillbilly child that was a couple of years older and bigger than me, began sneaking up behind all the other children (boys and girls), and pushing them off into the snow.  I was one of the beneficiaries of his pushes.  No one particularly liked it, but no one was really that angry over it.

After a while, when everyone caught on and was watching out for him, he stopped.  So, thinking that turnabout was fair play, I waited until he wasn’t looking, snuck up behind him, and yes, I pushed him off.  Yeah, take that, you little heathen boy.  Much to my surprise, the next thing I knew, this older, larger boy decided that I was a punching bag!  Not taking too kindly to that, I began my first effort at boxing.

Giulio del Torre Zwei raufende Buben 1927

Being raised a few notches above heathenism, I had never boxed.  Yeah, I had wrestled around some with cousins, neighbor kids and such, but we were not allowed to hit.  So this was new!  All I knew to do was to act kind of like one of those old time Rockem Sockem Robots.  As fast as I could, I worked my arms like pistons at his stomach.

Affiliate Link: You can still buy these!!

This was going pretty good until the little heathen hit me in the head.  Ouch, that didn’t feel very good!  So I hit him in the head!  Yeah, how did you like that, little heathen boy!  After lots of my piston punches to the body, and a few punches to his head, the older boys broke it up.  They declared me the winner!  I have no idea if I was winning.  They may have just said this to make the little heathen angry!

The teacher finally showed up.  The teacher never did know about the fight, which was probably good for me.  Believe it or not, the little heathen was the teacher’s pet!

Anyway, the little heathen and I, never had problems again!  Hopefully, lessons were learned.  I know I learned lessons such as, watch out for spoiled, heathen children sneaking up behind you, or learn to box better so spoiled heathen boys will know better than to attack you.  Hey!  Give me a break!  I was 6 years old and a hillbilly to boot.  Life’s lessons are not necessarily far reaching at that point in your life.

Well, there is a moral here.  This little, spoiled, heathen, hillbilly boy and his actions are the perfect example of an old saying that was once commonly heard: "If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen."  This saying probably doesn’t make as much sense today as it once did.  But years ago, people, even some of my childhood neighbors, had wood cook stoves.  You can imagine how hot it got in their kitchens in the summertime.

El Cerrito, San Miguel County, New Mexico. Rooms in all these houses differ considerably as to furn . . . - NARA - 521181

The basic meaning of the saying was, that if you can’t take it, don’t start it with others.  Obviously, this little heathen boy couldn’t take what he had been enjoying dishing out to others.

From the Hillbilly’s corner!     

Pop Quiz Answer
We hillbilly boys like to roam in the woods.
It doesn't matter if you're hillbilly boys or baseball players or penguins, you still say "We like to roam in the woods."

How did you do? And aren't you glad you're not a hillbilly heathen? I never actually got in a physical fight in school. Did you?





Seriously Shawn
Linking up with these nice folks!                        
post signature


Have Commonplace Crazy delivered to your email for free!

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

My Apologies to the Fish Lovers

People, I am so sorry that this is not a blog about fish! I just don't know what to tell you. You've googled "pacu" and ended up on this blog where there's only one measly post about the Man-Eating Fish.


Pacu-01
Pacu Fish
Yes, I wrote a Pacu Fish post, and it has become my all-time most viewed post. I'm talking a big time lead over my next most viewed post, Hillbilly Hygiene.  I mean 1,411 to 310. Who knew my two biggest posts would be one about a fish I know nothing about and one that wasn't even written by me? Thank you, Hillbilly.

My keyword statistics look like this:


Search Keywords
Entry
Pageviews
pacu fish
270
pacu
164
commonplace crazy
43
pacu teeth
25
pacu fish teeth
23
my sister hates me
21
disneyland photo book
14
uhura earpiece
13
cynthia meents blog
11
fish with teeth
11


So there are all these people searching for information about the Pacu and its human-looking teeth, and they end up here on this silly little blog about grammar and grandchildren and hillbillies. And I'm offering my sincere apologies for having lured you here under false pretenses. 

Would I ever take advantage of these good Pacu-searching  people and lure them here once again merely to boost my page view numbers? Never in a million years.
post signature
But I might leave affiliate links about Pacu fish. Maybe.

       

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cruelty to Bees: Fun with News Friday

Okay, when I first read the headline -- Authorities remove 3 million bees from NYC home -- my assumption was that, for whatever reason, the bees had invaded a home and were living in the walls or something. I mean, I know a little about bees, but I'm not clear on all of the particulars, such as bee home invasion.

However, I was wrong. The real story gets even weirder. Apparently the bees were being kept by the homeowner in 45 hives. There's nothing weird about beekeeping. I once shared a house with a beekeeper. The honey was great, and the bees in the back yard never bothered anybody. After all, we lived in the middle of acres and acres of almond trees just waiting to be pollinated. They were busy bees!

Beekeeper keeping bees

These bees, on the other hand, were owned by a gentleman in New York City who said they were like pets to him, like a dog or a cat. The police detective involved in removing the bees (It's not against the law to own bees, but these bees hadn't been registered along with payment of the appropriate fees.) claimed that there was not enough room for that many bees. "It's cruelty to bees," he said.

Okay, let's get serious here. Three million bees sounds like a lot. The detective actually said (I'm not making this up!), "There are more bees in this driveway than there are people in Queens."  Ummm....yeah....and? There's a point to that comparison? Does each bee take up the same area and resources as one person? I'm a little confused here. I don't want to be the one to tell the detective that there are more insects than people on earth. No telling what he might try to do about that!

Bees Collecting Pollen 2004-08-14

Of course the detective's concern for bee welfare doesn't have to make sense to me as long as it makes sense to him, right?

Nevertheless, I too worry about the bees with no almond orchards to work in. What do New York City bees do for fun on a Satuday afternoon? Apparently the neighbors, who had not volunteered to live with a yard full of bees, weren't able to leave their homes without dealing with swarms of bees.

Without orchards and fields in need of pollenization, the bees apparently turned to bee thuggery. They put on their little black leather jackets and sagged their little bee pants.  They roamed the neighborhood, whistling at girls and pitching pennies in the street. They formed little bee gangs with names like The Flyers and The Darts and met up for rumbles in the neighborhood park. Eventually a bee named Tony met the sister of a bee from the opposing gang. Her name was Maria. They fell in love, but it was ill-fated from the start.

Figure skating bees

Okay. Too much. Sorry.

Sometimes my imagination runs away. It usually gets to the corner and comes back though, because it's not allowed to cross the street by itself.

That's Fun with News Friday. Have a great weekend, y'all!



post signature

Have Commonplace Crazy delivered to your email for free!

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rooting Out the Adverbs.


Reader (and writer, by the way) Lance writes, "I despise adverbs. They're overused and lead to lazy prose. When is it acceptable to use adverbs in a narrative? ....Thank you, here's a fresh apple."
Apple 03

Because Lance was kind enough to leave a fresh imaginary apple for the teacher, he gains status as Teacher's Pet.




As for adverbs, that's more of a stylistic question than an actual grammar question. Grammar doesn't care how many adverbs you use as long as you use them correctly (See? There's an adverb right there). Grammar does, however, insist that you never use adjectives in places where adverbs belong! 

  • This is a real delicious chocolate pie. (really)
  • You write very good. (well)
  • That hillbilly is sure good-looking. (surely)


As far as style goes, Stephen King believes, "the road to hell is paved with adverbs," and that they sprout like dandelions if you fail to root them out immediately. (from On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft )

King also insists that adverbs very seldom, if ever, be used in dialog attribution:
  • "It's freezing," Tom muttered icily.
  • "Pass me the shellfish," said Tom crabbily.
  • "That's the last time I'll stick my arm in a lion's mouth," the lion-tamer said off-handedly. {snicker}
Fotothek df roe-neg 0006211 007 Zirkusdarbietung mit Löwen



It is generally (Oh, look! Another one!) agreed upon among writers that it is better to use strong verbs than it is to use adverbs to describe weak verbs. 

On the other hand, some adverbs are actually necessary. I've given you some examples on this post already. Which is necessary, and which is expendable?
Grammar doesn't care how many adverbs you use as long as you use them correctly.
 It is generally agreed upon among writers that it is better to use strong verbs than it is to use weak verbs and describe them with adverbs.
The first sentence wouldn't make much sense without the adverb correctly. The second sentence would still make sense without generally, but might not be as precise. It's your call. If you can cut out the adverb and still say what you mean, then by all means cut it out.

Strunk and White, in their book The Elements of Style , don't seem to care much about excess adverbiage (Yeah, I made that word up.) Their main concern seems to be that the adverbs you do use are not awkwardly constructed (Yep. Gonna have to keep that adverb). In other words, don't just go around willy nilly, sticking -ly onto every adjective you come across. "Words that are not used orally are seldom ones to go on paper."




By the way, words ending in -ly are not the only adverbs. On this page, I've used the following adverbs:
when     not     never     very     seldom     still     much     

Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. They may indicate place (there), time (now), manner (beautifully ), circumstance (accidentally), or degree (very). They do not have to end in -ly, as I have shown.

So to summarize, there is no "right or wrong" in terms of the number of adverbs you use in your prose. However, good writers use them sparingly and only when they add meaning that can't be added in any other way. It's a matter of style, not grammar.


What else do you need to know about adverbs or about any grammar/punctuation question at all? Always feel free to ask. That's what I'm here for. 
post signature

This post contains affiliate links.

Have Commonplace Crazy delivered to your email for free!

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We're Just Like Bonnie and Clyde!

As my thousands...hundreds...tens of readers know, we were recently on a vacation road trip. We left California, drove all the way to Atlanta, GA, and returned home by way of Missouri. You can see the highly accurate map on a previous post. What I haven't mentioned was our run-in with the law in the Deep South.

Imagine this. We're driving along in broad daylight through Mississippi. In a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. A junior high school teacher and a hillbilly who frequently speaks at church. In the back seat we've got a cooler full of ... Pepsi and bottled water. The Hillbilly is driving amazingly close to the speed limit. Well, pretty close.
The road looked something like this. Or it could have been this road. I forget.
Suddenly he says, "Well, what is he after me for?" Yes, folks we've been caught. There's a highway patrol officer pulling us over.

So we're sitting there gathering things like his driver's license and the registration when the Nice Young Patrolman comes to my window and begins speaking in a lovely Mississippi accent.

"The reason I pulled y'all over is that yer license plate frame is covering the state name on yer license plate, and I couldn't tell where y'all were from."

Ah.

The Nice Young Patrolman then proceeds to examine our documents, looks at The Hillbilly and says, "Well, if you'll just come back to my car with me, we can get y'all checked out. If everything is okay, I can just let you go with a warning."

Yes, friends. The Nice Young Patrolman is going to check us out to make sure we're not wanted felons. In a 2002 Grand Prix. With a TJHS license plate frame covering the word California. And blatantly drinking from a can of Pepsi and a bottle of water.

We're just like Bonnie and Clyde!!
So The Hillbilly and The Nice Young Patrolman wander on back to the patrol car, leaving me sitting along the freeway. It is approximately 215 degrees and 99% humidity. So I did what any of you would have done; I turned to Facebook. (Facebook must have changed my status update because it says "93 degrees and 56% humidity." That can't be right.)  I told my friends our plight.

My friends were sympathetic:
LK: Yikes! Because y'all definitely fit the profile of drug runners. Come to Ohio, Cynthia...we'll treat you nice!
CNR: Wow! Why? Did he find out about The Hillbilly?
JRH: ‎....sounds like he's bored or lonesome...
Cynthia Meents: Ohio is sounding good about now! Now, CNR, HOW would he find out about The Hillbilly? Have you been making phone calls?
Eventually, the Nice Young Patrolman comes back, leaving The Hillbilly standing in front of the patrol car. He informs me that he's just going to check the VIN on the dashboard against the number on the registration.  Now I am here to tell you that I have been pulled over my fair share of times (plus or minus), and I have never had an officer do that! But, looking like Bonnie and Clyde and all, we are apparently in need of this particular procedure.

Apparently how we appeared to the Nice Young Patrolman

So the Nice Young Patrolman checks the VIN on the window, then opens the driver's door and checks there too. As he's checking he's asking questions: "Where y'all headed? Where ya from? Going to see yer granddaughter? How old is she? Are you going straight home from there?"

And I (possibly based on my extensive criminal record) know that he has already gotten all of these answers from The Hillbilly.

Thank goodness we had our story straight. He had to let us go.

And that, y'all, is the story of how The Hillbilly and I were nearly sent to do hard time in the Deep South ... for having an inconveniently placed license plate frame.


What do you think? Should we have made a break for it? 


I'm linking up with the very funny writers at Finding the Funny! and the excellent writers over at Yeah Write!
post signature


Have Commonplace Crazy delivered to your email for free!

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

Sunday, August 19, 2012

His Side of the Story


As most of you know, I have been posting about my hillbilly school days.  Since we just returned from a high mileage vacation, and my wife was driven to cartooning, (see her last post), and I was maligned, I decided to throw in my two cents worth of vacation thoughts.

As most of our large vacations wind up being, this one was a more of a go-to-see-the-family-and-friends vacation. For the last couple of years we have been trying to mix in some sightseeing with these visits. This time, the trip included the Grand Canyon, AZ and Stone Mountain, GA.  Last year we saw Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons in WY and Meteor Crater in AZ.  This sightseeing kind of spices up the trip, (and speaking of spicing up the trip --- Well, never mind. The kids read the blog.)  At any rate, it lets me once again see places that I enjoy and want to share with Cynthia who has not yet seen them.  This also gives her more opportunities to work on her photography.  And then occasionally, we also try to include some of our bucket list items.

This year’s bucket list item, was for me to take my wife out to a particular high-falutin' restaurant.  I have been telling her about it for years, and we were going to get relatively close to it while going to see my sister.  So I splurged!  It was so fancy that we waited at the parking lot for transportation to the restaurant.
The Waiting Area

  We were then driven to it in a van by a tour guide.  We then walked by shops under a wooden covered walk which led us to our choice of stairs or an elevator.
Covered Walk
The Elevator
The Stairs

Naturally, being green, (grass stain on my shoes), and  conservative about using energy, (our energy), we chose the elevator.  Hey, give us a break!  It was 3 or 4 stories up and we had just driven the first 55% of about a 4200 mile trip.  Besides, we had already helped the nation’s economy by sharing the wealth with gas station owners all across the U.S.  Our president should be quite happy and proud of us.  In fact, he is probably a lot more proud of us than our banker – if you know what I mean!

 Knowing that the suspense is killing you in finding out where we went to eat, I will go ahead and tell you!  It was The Cave Restaurant. It's called that because it's actually in a cave.
Hillbilly in a Cave
 Historically, back during the prohibition, (when booze was illegal, for you youngins who don’t know), it was a speakeasy.  I guess in more modern vernacular, it was a dance club which sold illegal alcoholic drinks.  Being in Hillbilly Land, the illegal alcohol was most likely white lightning.  At any rate, that is where we ate.
The Cave Restaurant 

Cynthia had steak.  She has a high-falutin' appetite.  I just had a half pound burger.  You know, all I could afford after letting Cynthia eat that high-falutin' stuff!  At any rate, they gave us a small loaf of bread with butter while we waited for our other food, and things were cooked the way we asked.  My burger was good and Cynthia’s steak was OK.  I am guessing that if we had went with the Italian, barbecue, or catfish, we would have done better.  The owner used to own a popular restaurant called Dowd’s Catfish in Lebanon, MO.  They have fried stuff, (yum), like fried pickles and such!

Now consider Cynthia’s last blog with me.  Here I am taking her on this trip!  I am showing her the sights.  I take her out to eat at high-falutin' restaurants like The Cave.  And though not as fancy, I also took her to some uptown places called McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and some Mexican restaurant I don't remember the name of.  I am letting her eat these high-falutin' meals while I just struggle along with cheaper, low class meals.  I thoughtfully brought her chocolate, pretzels, and other snacks to keep her happy while we drove! I made sure she had her favorite Pepsi Throwback and that fancy bottled water. I get her to all these different photo shoot opportunities.  I constantly check on her health.  I reach over and pat her leg to . . . ahem. . . see if she is hot.  Why, I am being so sweet that honey is almost dripping off of me!

All this sweetness, and I get maligned!

Just because I remarked, "You're not as hot as you were."


Life is just cruel to a poor, misunderstood, and maligned hillbilly!

From the Hillbilly’s Corner! 


So there you have it, The Hillbilly's side of the story. Maybe I was too hard on him. What do you think? And don't you wish you could have dinner in a cave?



post signature

Just for fun, here's a video about The Cave Restaurant:



Watch more Richland videos at tripfilms.com

Amanda’s Books and More

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I've Been Driven to Cartooning!

So. I'm back from vacation. The Hillbilly and I spent 10 days traveling to see family in Georgia and Missouri. Along the way we drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri. Whew!


It was a great trip. You can see some of the  pictures in my last post. Along the way home, while driving through Arizona and California's Mojave Desert, it got...shall we say, hot.


I was very thankful for air conditioning. I was also grateful that we weren't trying to cross this desert in a covered wagon or even in one of the old jalopies of the Dust Bowl refugees. Even in my very comfy air-conditioned car, the sun felt hot as it beat down through the windows onto my legs. The windows were quite warm to the touch.

It was this situation that indirectly led The Hillbilly to put his foot in his mouth. Again. And to get into trouble with me. Again. Here's what happened.

We were still driving through the desert, but the sun had begun to set, and the air was cooler. The Hillbilly, as he often does, reached across the car at put his hand on my...knee. It was my knee, honest. (My children read this blog, you know.)

And then The Hillbilly said:
"You're not as hot as you were before."
And I reacted like this:

. . .









. . .










. . .












Poor Hillbilly. He spent the next five minutes explaining that he meant physically hot ... I mean as in temperature.. The sun wasn't shining...
"YOU KNOW WHAT I MEANT!"
Yeah. I did.




So am I  too mean? Or just mean enough?
Be sure to read his side of the story here.

post signature

I'm linking up today with Finding the Funny. Be sure to visit for more hilarious bloggers!



   affiliate links


Have Commonplace Crazy delivered to your email for free!

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Visit to The Model: Wordless Wednesday

Recently, we drove from our home in California to see our granddaughter The Model in Atlanta, GA. Spending time with her was worth every minute of the long, looooong drive. Along the way, we stopped at the Grand Canyon, which I had never seen. While visiting we also visited Stone Mountain, GA, which was quite an impressive sight.

Here for Wordless Wednesday are some pictures from the trip.

Little girl balancing on a rock in the middle of a puddle
The Model is a long-legged four-year-old. She found every puddle on the top of Stone Mountain

Puddle with grass and small flowers
Stone Mountain is the 2nd largest rock in the world. It's a massive piece of granite, but life still manages to take hold.

Little girl in her grandmother's big hat.

A cloud shaped like a mermaid
The Mermaid Cloud

Smiling little girl on playground equipment
At the playground

Little girl with big eyes frightened on the playground zip line
Zip Line Terror

Grand Canyon, 2012

Grand Canyon, 2012











post signature
               and
 then, she {snapped}