Posts Tagged With: writing

English, Thou Art Cruel

You may have heard this before. But there is good reason to despise the English language. Especially for non-native speakers! Thing is, I love to write. I really do. So it pains me to admit that sometimes my writer’s block stems from loathing the English language and all of its dysfunctionally absurd “exceptions” to established rules of grammar. Follow me for a moment…

  • WOMB is pronounced “woom” and TOMB is pronounced “toom”, but BOMB is pronounced “bahm”.

Oh, uh… okay. :-/

Image result for wait what

  • A “pair of glasses”, a “pair of scissors” and a “pair of pants” actually refer to one item or article. But a “pair of shoes” refers to two items.  It could be argued that you’d look pretty silly with only one pant leg. But I think you’d also look pretty silly with only one shoe.

Here is a list of words that at first glance you would think rhyme. Think again. All of them are pronounced differently. ALL. OF. THEM.


  • Colonel is pronounced “kernuhl”. So Colonoscopy should be pronounced “kernoscopy” right? WRONG.
  • It would also stand to reason that “take out” should not be “brought home”, but yet, it almost always is.
  • If one person doesn’t “show up” for a “showdown”, it ain’t gonna happen.
  • A “flight of stairs” involves no air travel whatsoever.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on Contranyms. That’s a can of worms even the most confident native English speaker would find disconcerting. If you dare, here’s a list.

Yet, I persevere. Because my love for writing outweighs my disdain for the words from which I must choose. 🙂

Categories: commentary, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hostage Situation

In many of the books that I’ve read lately, I seem to get to a place in the story where the plot, which was original and engaging up to this point, seems to be taken hostage by Cliche Renegades. All of a sudden the author resorts to unexplained resurrections, healing or super power elixirs, deus ex machina, or any number of contrived plot devices that cause my interest level to plummet.

Sometimes, I simply sigh and keep reading. In the back of my mind, I’m secretly hoping that the author will vanquish the renegades and the captivating, unpredictably fascinating and cleverly worded plot will return. Sadly, this rarely happens. The renegades threatening the plot (in cahoots with the author I suspect) usually subject me, as the unsuspecting reader, to a few more chapters of cliche-induced torture before finally ending my misery with some strange, ambiguous “to be continued” type of non-resolution… as part of a “planned trilogy”.

TANGENT: Is every book written these days part of a planned trilogy?

My real question is this… don’t most authors plot their stories with meticulous detail from beginning to end? I mean, like ALL THE WAY to the end? As an author, my approach to storytelling is to first create a unique or slightly altered world or universe, and then describe specific events occurring within it.

I’m sure there are other approaches that are effective. I’m just a fan of a good story that takes me on a colorful journal down an unpredictable path to places I’ve never been before. Maybe they start out that way and simply lose interest two-thirds of the way into the story and decide to go with a cookie cutter ending just to say that it’s finished.

I don’t know.

But I feel that while the author of a book I just finished (which of course, is part of a planned trilogy… that will remain nameless), has done a terrific job of providing great content, the “trigger” moment was a hug letdown. Especially when they teased me with an exceptional buildup of emotion over some impending event that was sure to signal the final lead-up to the climax and satisfy the part of me that has invested my time and mind to the story.  Unfortunately, the “trigger” moment wound up being an oft-used fall-back involving an abruptly administered chemical injection that has turned a portion of the population into mind-controlled killing machines. This segment of the population happens to include characters I’ve grown to care about.

When I read it, I sighed and was like, “Really?? A syringe filled with a mind-controlling substance?? That’s the cheap snack you’re feeding me after promising me a 4-course gourmet meal??”

Ugh… pay me no mind. I think I’m slowly becoming a book snob. 😛

Riis Book Snob

Categories: commentary, opinion, personal, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Words

I have a dear friend with whom I often exchange emails.

In our most recent exchange, I mentioned that I sometimes imagine our emails are actually quill and paper letters delivered by some medieval courier. My mind’s voice reads each word in some strange accent that harkens back to an old world.

Crazy? Maybe. Maybe not.

There was a time when even casual correspondence was afforded the kind of detailed attention that all relationships, regardless of their depth, deserved.

Before lolspeak and emoticons, we had carefully chosen words that were full of emotion and personality. Misconception and misunderstanding were the exception.

Hand-written letters were an intimate matter between souls where the words of men and women ended careers, established dynasties, altered the course of history, and even caused them to fall in love.

Now, the power words once held has been dispatched in favor of satisfying our impatient nature. We tweet. We pulse. We text. We snap chat. Instead of expressing myself fully so that you will not only understand my intent but hear the heart behind my words, I am asked to condense the entirety of my thoughts into 140 characters… or less.

I fear we do ourselves a disservice.

I often encourage people to speak at length when commenting on my posts. While I don’t mind the occasional succinct response, my belief is the longer, the better. Words serve to flesh out the skeletal framework of a person’s personality. As you share more, the details of who you are come more into focus. And ultimately it is that complete picture that I most desire to see.

Categories: commentary, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Return From Hiatus

I just wanted to let those who read and comment here (the faithful few ;-)) that I have returned from my self-imposed hiatus. This was precipitated by the realization that my life had gotten out of balance. Instead of taking advantage of brief moments throughout the day to stare into the wonder-filled eyes of my beautiful wife, or giving my full attention to my energetic children as they told me stories about their day, I found myself using those moments to think more about the next witty Facebook status update, posting articles to my WordPress, or uploading cute pictures and funny family videos.

Feeling as if there was never enough time in the day, I had none to throw away. Time is precious and I’d rather be putting that time toward more important endeavors. So I took a break to re-examine this balance. And in the end, I’m glad I did. I’m slowly finding the balance I was searching for. Not surprisingly, this discovery and self-imposed hiatus coincided with vacation from my job that started on December 28th and just ended on January 21st. It was a wonderful, amazing time spent just loving my family, reassessing my goals and enjoying life.

So as I make my way back onto the WordPress landscape, I will be backdating a few articles that were written during the break. I look forward to catching up with everyone! 😀

Categories: family, personal | Tags: | Leave a comment

Acceptable Enough

I sometimes wonder what makes it so hard for some of us to accept a compliment. What was the event in our past that has thoroughly convinced us any positive statements regarding our ability or appearance is somehow misplaced? We become suspicious of the person’s motive. We question their sincerity and sometimes believe it’s just empty flattery for their own gain. I see it in so many people. I see it in myself.

I know that I’ve battled with being acceptable to myself. For a long time I would write music and sing songs hoping that someone would enjoy them and tell me so. Only to find myself with smiles that were often undecipherable. Maybe you put on a new outfit or get your hair done and the only comment you get from someone is in regard to how it was overpriced and you could’ve gotten it cheaper somewhere else.

I used to maintain a blog series that featured other bloggers I thought deserved recognition and a larger audience. At last count, I’d managed to do 90 of them. Of those I’ve asked, there have been a number of people who have turned me down for various reasons. In most of the cases there was a recurring feeling among them that somehow they weren’t pretty enough, popular enough, or a good enough writer. It always had to do with them not being enough. Well, I think enough is enough.

I don’t know what you’ve gone through, but I do know that who you are is more than a collection of self-deprecating remarks and the opinions of strangers. I know that you don’t have to be all that you hope to be in order to be happy with who you are right now. So if someone compliments your outfit, your writing, your smile, your personality or your art, just embrace it for the truth of that moment… and say thank you.

Choose to not be skeptical. Because you, my friend, are acceptable enough.

Categories: opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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