Splintered Tails

Rants and prose from a deranged mind.

7 Chomsky quotes that expose the American empire

Still here.
Yup, I'm still here May e a long while before I post again, but will keep this open none the less....

LJ Update 08/28/2011
  • What to answer in a Blog Post

    What to answer in a Blog Post

    --Historical Based
    And what do you think of these famous periods and events? Research the following questions and the information speech topics will flow out of your pen:
    1. 1 . What happened? When? How? Where?
    2. 2.  What was the value or impact?
    3. 3.  What are the major parts and facts?
    4. 4.  Why was this age or period important?
    5. 5.  Who played a major role?

  • Blog Ideas

    Blog Ideas

    Celtic Myth and Legend
    British Mythology

    1. How to be the perfect gentleman.

    2. What you can't say in public.

    3. Sick for work after a lost football game - the bare statistics.

    4. 10 things you better not say in court.

    5. Fun things to do on the first day of class or the last day.

    6. Words that are hard to say when you're drunk.

    7. The advantages women think of being a man.

    8. The advantages men think of being a woman.

    9. Humorous names you can laugh about, some kind of nomen est omen.

    10. Why women say they hate sports.

    11. The 3 biggest lies on the workfloor.

    12. New York City driving rules explained.

    13. The most stupid question that's ever ask.

    14. Inappropriate Christmas gifts, and how you can discover it.

    15. How you should fire your boss or teacher.

    16. 10 ways to irritate a telemarketer.

    17. What are the signs you've had enough to drink.

    18. Book titles or articles that don't cover the contents also can turned into good speech topics for a humorous speech.

    19. 10 ways to freak out your roommate.

    20. Funny statistics or facts are great sources for humorous persuasive speech topics.

    21. How to train a cat.

    22. Your dog own you.

    23. How to make pictures of a new puppy - or any other humorous speech topic about a pet.

    24. Why smart people don't know they have the wrong ideas.

    25. What you'll wish you'd known about the future.

    26. Beating the averages.

    27. Why the nerds rule our society.

    28. Why canibals eat meat and we don't.

    29. Why you shouldn't give marriage advice.

    30. How to reach your goals with humor.

    31. The story of the perfect husband.

    32. Gift wrapping tips for men - or discuss any other houshold problem men have.

    1. What to do on a desert island. 
     2. Top 5 bad business slogans. 
     3. The 1963 Great Train Robbery reviewed. 
     4. How to install cameras in student lockerrooms nobody can discover. 
     5. The meaning of colors in different world cultures. 
     6. How to make your home burglar proof. 
     7. What I like to invent for mankind. 
     8. How to pretend to be a good international exchange student. 
     9. What to write in a message in a bottle if you're trapped on an island. 
    10. Things to do in a traffic jam. 

    Now for a few funny speech topics for students for persuasive public speaking speech:

    11. Throw constantly ringing cell phones in public out of the window. 
    12. How to solve problems during air travel. 
    13. Lawsuits and common sense don't match. 
    14. Kids should get more pocket money. 
    15. Posters with staring eyes make students productive. 
    16. A snoring partner costs you a few years of sleep in a lifetime. 
    17. What we can learn from animals. 
    18. Produce your own theater play! 
    19. Why people look like their dogs. 
    20. Lets bust myths: appearance is important and size does matter.

    How to make fun every day in life.
    The odd working of Murphy's Law.
    Chasing idle dreams is a good habit.
    Unexpected disasters that can happen.
    Funny job applicant stories.
    How I choose friends.
    People with mediocre talents have success and high talented people haven't.
    Why my - any fun speech topic - looks cooler than the ... of my neighbour.
    Rare speed limits and the reasons why.
    When I resign, I will ...
    My motto: I´m flexible by indecision.
    Ways to remember birthdays.
    For her/him who doesn't have to do it, nothing is impossible.
    How to give your dog or cat a pill.
    Why men are proud of themselves.
    How to cheat poker the nice way.
    Why I don't want to be a millionaire.
    Eating flowers is possible.
    How to determine you are addicted to the Internet.
    Wine/beer/cocktail of the month.
    How to be a charming host at any event.
    Demonstrate tasting wine in a humorous way.
    If I was my boss, then ...
    Happy puppies make humans happy.
    How to deny reality.
    Ten fun things to do during exams.
    Urban running acrobatics.
    10 ways to order a pizza.
    Your guide to life.
    How to throw a paper airplane in class.
    Ten things you've learned from your pet.
    Personal bloopers are great funny topics for a speech.
    My most profitable mistake.
    Funny computer terms and phrases.
    What women really say when they talk to men.
    Answers on the meaning of life.
    Funny holidays in other countries.
    How to find funny speech topics in 24 hours.
    Women marry much younger men.
    Bare funny facts about men.
    Funny facts about women.
    Crazy rules men wish women knew.
    How to become a rat and make a fortune.
    Rules for boys who want to date with their sister.
    Funny first date experiences.
    A true story that ain't be true in the end.
    Unusual incidents.
    Helpful pinball strategies.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

LJ Update 03/21/2011
  • 8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One

    Those first few pages have an important job: to whet your readers’ appetites for more. Here’s how to make sure your opening chapter delivers.

    When you decide to go to a restaurant for a special dinner, you enjoy the anticipation. You’ve committed to spending sufficient time and money, and now you’ve arrived, and the place looks good and smells good. You smile and order an appetizer. When it comes, you enjoy it as a foretaste of the larger, more complex courses that will follow, but you also savor it for what it is: a delicious dish, complete in itself. If it’s a truly great appetizer, you recognize it as an exquisite blend of flavor, texture and temperature. And you’re happy, because you know you’ll be in good hands for the entire evening.

    Isn’t that what it’s like to begin reading a terrific book?

    The first chapter is the appetizer—small, yet so tremendously important. And so full of potential.

    As an aspiring author, the prospect of writing Chapter One should not intimidate, but excite the hell out of you. Why? Because no other part of your book can provide you with the disproportionate payoff that an excellent first chapter can. Far more than a great query letter, a great Chapter One can attract the attention of an agent. It can keep a harried editor from yawning and hitting “delete.” It can make a bookstore browser keep turning pages during the slow walk to the cash registers. And yes, it can even keep a bleary-eyed owner of one of those electronic thingamajigs touching the screen for more, more, more!

    Fiction, like food, is an art and a craft. Here’s how to blend inspiration with technique and serve up an irresistible Chapter One.


    Let’s be honest: Agents and editors like to make you quiver and sweat as you approach Chapter One. All those warnings: “Grab me from the opening sentence! Don’t waste one word! If my attention flags, you’ve failed—you’re down the toilet! In fact, don’t even write Chapter One! Start your book at Chapter Four! Leave out all that David Copperfield crap!” From their perspective it’s an acid test. They know how important Chapter One is, and if you’re weak, they’ll scare you into giving up before you begin. (Hey, it makes their jobs easier: one less query in the queue.)

    Here’s the truth: Agents and editors, all of them, are paper tigers. Every last one is a hungry kitten searching for something honest, original and brave to admire. Now is the time to gather your guts, smile and let it rip.

    Your inner genius flees from tension, so first of all, relax. Notice that I did not say agents and editors are looking for perfect writing. Nor are they looking for careful writing. Honest, original and brave. That’s what they want, and that’s what you’ll produce if you open up room for mistakes and mediocrity. It’s true! Only by doing that will you be able to tap into your wild and free core. Let out the bad with the good now, and you’ll sort it out later.

    Second, remember who you are and why you’re writing this book. What is your book about? What purpose(s) will it serve? Write your answers down and look at them from time to time as you write. (By the way, it’s OK to want to write a book simply to entertain people; the noblest art has sprung from just such a humble desire.)

    And third, if you haven’t yet outlined, consider doing so. Even the roughest, most rustic framework will give you a sharper eye for your beginning and, again, will serve to unfetter your mind. Your outline could be a simple list of things-that-are-gonna-happen, or it could be a detailed chronological narrative of all your plot threads and how they relate. I find that knowing where I’m headed frees my mind from everything but the writing at hand. Being prepared makes you calm, and better equipped to tap into your unique voice—which is the most important ingredient in a good Chapter One.


    Most readers are totally unconscious of tense and POV; all they care about is the story. Is it worth reading? Fun to read? But you must consider your tense and POV carefully, and Chapter One is go time for these decisions. It used to be simple. You’d choose from:

    a) First person: I chased the beer wagon.

    b) Third-person limited: Tom chased the beer wagon.


    c) Omniscient: Tom chased the beer wagon while the villagers watched and wondered, Would all the beer in the world be enough for this oaf?

    … and you’d always use past tense.

    But today, novels mix points of view and even tenses. In my Rita Farmer novels I shift viewpoints, but limit all POVs to the good guys. By contrast, John Grisham will shift out of the main character’s POV to the bad guy’s for a paragraph or two, then back again. (Some critics have labeled this practice innovative, while others have called it lazy; in the latter case, I’m sure Grisham is crying all the way to the bank.) It’s also worth noting that studies have shown that older readers tend to prefer past tense, while younger ones dig the present. (If that isn’t a statement with larger implications, I don’t know what is.)

    Many writing gurus tell you to keep a first novel simple by going with first person, past tense. This approach has worked for thousands of first novels (including mine, 2002’s Holy Hell), but I say go for whatever feels right to you, simple or not. I do, however, recommend that you select present or past tense and stick with it. Similarly, I advise against flashbacks and flash-forwards for first novels. Not that they can’t work, but they seem to be off-putting to agents and editors, who will invariably ask, “Couldn’t this story be told without altering the time-space continuum?”

    The point is, you want your readers to feel your writing is smooth; you don’t want them to see the rivets in the hull, so to speak. And the easiest way to do that is to create fewer seams.

    If you’re still unsure of your tense or POV choices, try these techniques:

    Go to your bookshelf and take a survey of some of your favorite novels. What POVs and tenses are selected, and why do you suppose the authors chose those approaches?

    Rehearse. Write a scene using first person, then third-person limited, then omniscient. What feels right?

    Don’t forget to consider the needs of your story. If you plan to have simultaneous action in Fresno, Vienna and Pitcairn, and you want to show it all in living color, you almost certainly need more than one POV.

    And if you’re still in doubt, don’t freeze up—just pick an approach and start writing. Remember, you can always change it later if you need to.


    When you read a good novel, it all seems to unfold so naturally, starting from the first sentence. But when you set out to write your own, you realize your choices are limitless, and this can be paralyzing. Yet your novel must flow from the first scene you select.

    Let’s say you’ve got an idea for a historical novel that takes place in 1933. There’s this pair of teenagers who figure out what really happened the night the Lindbergh baby was abducted, but before they can communicate with the police, they themselves are kidnapped. Their captives take them to proto-Nazi Germany, and it turns out there’s some weird relationship between Col. Lindbergh and the chancellor—or is there? Is the guy with the haircut really Lindbergh? The teens desperately wonder: What do they want with us?

    Sounds complicated. Where should you start? A recap of the Lindbergh case? The teenagers on a date where one of them stumbles onto a clue in the remote place they go to make out? A newspaper clipping about a German defense contract that should have raised eyebrows but didn’t?

    Basically, write your way in.

    Think about real life. Any significant episode in your own life did not spring whole from nothing; things happened beforehand that shaped it, and things happened afterward as a result of it. Think about your novel in this same way. The characters have pasts and futures (unless you plan to kill them); places, too, have pasts and futures. Therefore, every storyteller jumps into his story midstream. Knowing this can help you relax about picking a starting point. The Brothers Grimm did not begin by telling about the night Hansel and Gretel were conceived; they got going well into the lives of their little heroes, and they knew we wouldn’t care about anything but what they’re doing right now.

    If you’re unsure where to begin, pick a scene you know you’re going to put in—you just don’t know where yet—and start writing it. You might discover your Chapter One right there. And even if you don’t, you’ll have fodder for that scene when the time comes.

    Here are a few other strategies that can help you choose a starting point:

    Write a character sketch or two. You need them anyway, and they’re great warm-ups for Chapter One. Ask yourself: What will this character be doing when we first meet him? Write it. Again, you might find yourself writing Chapter One.

    Do a Chapter-One-only brainstorm and see what comes out.

    The truth is, you probably can write a great story starting from any of several places. If you’ve narrowed it down to two or three beginnings and still can’t decide, flip a coin and get going. In my hypothetical Lindbergh thriller, I’d probably pick the date scene, with a shocking clue revealed. Why? Action!

    It’s OK to be extremely loose with your first draft of your first chapter. In fact, I recommend it. The important thing at this point is to begin.


    This step might seem obvious, but too many first-time novelists try to lure the reader into a story by holding back the main character. Having a couple of subsidiary characters talking about the protagonist can be a terrific technique for character or plot development at some point, but not at the beginning of your novel.

    When designing your Chapter One, establish your characters’ situation(s). What do they know at the beginning? What will they learn going forward? What does their world mean to them?

    Who is the strongest character in your story? Watch out; that’s a trick question. Consider Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. The main character, Stevens, is a weak man, yet his presence is as strong as a hero. How? Ishiguro gave him a voice that is absolutely certain, yet absolutely vacant of self-knowledge. We know Stevens, and because we see his limitations, we know things will be difficult for him. Don’t be afraid to give all the depth you can to your main character early in your story. You’ll discover much more about him later, and can always revise if necessary.


    Another common error many aspiring novelists make is trying to set an opening scene in too much depth. You’ve got it all pictured in your head: the colors, sounds, flavors and feelings. You want everybody to be in the same place with the story you are. But you’re too close: A cursory—but poignant!—introduction is what’s needed. Readers will trust you to fill in all the necessary information later. They simply want to get a basic feel for the setting, whether it’s a lunar colony or a street in Kansas City.

    Pack punch into a few details. Instead of giving the history of the place and how long the character has been there and what the weather’s like, consider something like this:

    He lived in a seedy neighborhood in Kansas City. When the night freight passed, the windows rattled in their frames and the dog in the flat below barked like a maniac.

    Later (if you want) you’ll tell all about the house, the street, the neighbors and maybe even the dog’s make and model, but for now a couple of sentences like that are all you need.

    But, you object, what of great novels that opened with descriptions of place, like John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath or Edna Ferber’s Giant? Ah, in those books the locale has been crafted with the same care as a character, and effectively used as one. Even so, the environment is presented as the characters relate to it: in the former case, man’s mark on the land (by indiscriminate agriculture), and in the latter, man’s mark on the sky (the jet plumes of modern commerce).

    Another way to introduce a setting is to show how a character feels about it. In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov seethes with resentment at the opulence around him in St. Petersburg, and this immediately puts us on the alert about him. The setting serves the character; it does not stand on its own.


    Your Chapter One must move along smartly, but in being economical you cannot become vague. Difficult, you say? It’s all in the context.

    The genius of books as diverse as Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Robin Cook’s Coma lies in the authors’ generosity with good, authentic detail. Cervantes knew that a suit of armor kept in a junk locker for years wouldn’t merely be dusty, it would be corroded to hell—and that would be a problem to overcome. Likewise, Cook, himself a doctor, knew that a patient prepped for surgery would typically be given a calming drug before the main anesthetic—and that some patients, somehow, do not find peace even under the medication, especially if they have reason not to.

    If you’re an expert on something, go ahead and show that you know what you’re talking about. One of the reasons my novel Damn Straight, a story involving a professional golfer, won a Lambda Award is that I know golf, and let my years of (painful) experience inform the book. I felt I’d done a good job when reviewer after reviewer wrote, “I absolutely hate golf, but I love how Sims writes about it in this novel. …”

    Let’s say your Chapter One begins with your main character getting a root canal. You could show the dentist nattering on and on as dentists tend to do, and that would be realistic, but it could kill your chapter, as in

    this example:

    Dr. Payne’s running commentary included the history of fillings, a story about the first time he ever pulled a tooth, and a funny anecdote about how his college roommate got really drunk every weekend.

    Bored yet? Me too. Does that mean there’s too much detail? No. It means there’s too much extraneous detail.

    How about this:

    Dr. Payne paused in his running commentary on dental history and put down his drill. “Did you know,” he remarked, “that the value of all the gold molars in a city this size, at this afternoon’s spot price of gold, would be something on the order of half a million dollars?” He picked up his drill again. “Open.”

    If the detail serves the story, you can hardly have too much.


    It’s no accident that many great novels have first chapters that were excerpted in magazines, where they essentially stood as short stories. I remember being knocked to the floor by the gorgeous completeness of Ian McEwan’s first chapter of On Chesil Beach when it was excerpted in The New Yorker.

    Every chapter should have its own plot, none more important than Chapter One. Use what you know about storytelling to:

    Make trouble. I side with the writing gurus who advise you to put in a lot of conflict early. Pick your trouble and make it big. If it can’t be big at first, make it ominous.

    Focus on action. Years ago I got a rejection that said, “Your characters are terrific and I love the setting, but not enough happens.” A simple and useful critique! Bring action forward in your story; get it going quick. This is why agents and editors tell you to start your story in the middle: They’ve seen too many Chapter Ones bogged down by backstory. Put your backstory in the back, not the front. Readers will stick with you if you give them something juicy right away. I make a point of opening each of my Rita Farmer novels with a violent scene, which is then revealed to be an audition, or a film shoot or a rehearsal. Right away, the reader gets complexity, layers and a surprise shift of frame of reference.

    Be decisive. A good way to do that is to make a character take decisive action.

    Don’t telegraph too much; let action develop through the chapter. It’s good to end Chapter One with some closure. Because it is Chapter One, your readers will trust that the closure will turn out to be deliciously false.

    #8: BE BOLD.

    The most important thing to do when writing Chapter One is put your best material out there. Do not humbly introduce your story—present it with a flourish. Don’t hold back! Set your tone and own it. You’re going to write a whole book using great material; have confidence that you can generate terrific ideas for action and emotion whenever you want.

    If you do your job creating a fabulous appetizer in Chapter One and follow it up well, your readers will not only stay through the whole meal, they’ll order dessert, coffee and maybe even a nightcap—and they won’t want to leave until you have to throw them out at closing time.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

mega vs micro or is mega and micro
Blogging and micro-blogging can co-exist.

We are only really here for a nonce.
clipped from
Puddle thinking
coined by Douglas Adams

. . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be all right, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

Don't get dragged down by the things of this world, just think of the plight of the puddle.

LJ Update 06/27/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

LJ Update 06/26/2009

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LJ Update 06/09/2009

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LJ Update 06/06/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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