Tag Archives: Good Words

Camping and Thinking, Courtesy of @fabeku

We went camping! Our friend and her two-year-old daughter took us camping at Beverly Beach, south of Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast. (I spent three days with a 2-year-old, and she still likes me. My mind is blown.) Wonderful campground. I spent solstice morning on the beach, doing what I always do on the beach — collecting rocks! Just the ones that say something to me, by being unusual or pretty or feeling really good in my hand. I’ve got a bag with about two pounds of rocks (mainly pebbles) to go through. It’ll be fun.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my life in general, in part thanks to @fabeku and his wonderful blog posts. He has one about how you’re Not Your Story, because that story has nothing to do with reality and was created in part by others; he has another about how you’re Not Their Story either, since their story of you is more about their headspace than yours. Then I thought, “Wait a minute. If I’m not My Story (which I’m not; I’ve been tracking down the pieces, and all of them were fed to me by others), and I’m not Their Story, then I can’t really know what I’m capable of! Every ‘I’m Not’ in my head is INVALID! I have no idea how far I can go!” This is liberating and intimidating at the same time. It means the scary proposition of getting my tucchus out of this chair and actually DOING something. Eek. It means actually setting fingers to keyboard and writing as often as I’m supposed to. Yikes. And it means no more excuses — “But I <insert story here>” is no longer an option.

And things are popping out of my online world to poke at me about it, too. “All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. ” — David J. Schartz, The Magic of Thinking Big. “Add value every day.” — Brian Tracy, which brings up “Rust Never Sleeps!” from Flashback. As soon as the back half of my body (from my knees to my shoulders) stops hurting, I’m going to have to do something about that.

Today, however, is a Rest and Catch-up Day, after three days away from the computer having a Real Life. Which was wonderful. So that’s a Good Thing, too. 8-)

BONUS SECRET: The people in the camp spot next to us came over and offered us half a pineapple upside down cake that they couldn’t finish. It was one of the top 10 most wonderful things I’ve ever eaten, which from me is saying quite a bit. It was so good the friend who took us camping went over and asked about the recipe. The lady who cooked it said it was the best one she had ever made, and that the big difference was that she found a PINEAPPLE cake (not a yellow cake) mix in the store and followed the directions on the box. So the next time you need to knock somebody’s socks off through their taste buds, find yourself a box of pineapple cake mix and go to it! MiLady wants to try it in the crockpot, and I can’t wait to play taste tester. It’s one of my favorite jobs! 8-)

This Week I’m a Babylon 5 SuperFan

My StepDaughter had never seen Babylon 5. What?!? She’d thought she’d seen parts of it, but it turned out she’d gotten it confused with Stargate. WhatTheFrell?!?!? We remedied this situation immediately — we pulled out the pilot movie, The Gathering. She was immediately hooked (no surprise), and in the last week and a half we’ve gone all the way through to Sleeping in Light. Next up: the movies and Crusade.

I wrote an Ezine article on B5 and Social Media that got accepted today; I just put a Babylon 5 post up at Popular Delusions to go with it. Why am I being such a SuperFan, especially when the series is over a decade old, and there is so much else going on in science fiction these days? I can give you three reasons.

One: as someone trying to do the internet marketing thing, the story of how Babylon 5 was made, and the communication lines that Straczynski kept open with the fans, holds a lot of lessons for building a fan base and a personal brand online. jms (as he was known in the newsgroups) constantly kept up with and answered fan question on UseNet, as well a GEnie and CompuServe; things he heard online made their way into the show. He gets credited with creating the first “internet marketing campaign,” before such things even existed. Good stuff.

Two: as a lover of SF, Babylon 5 is simply a smart show. The characters are smart, the human space station and craft are all things that we currently have the technology for, the ships move in space as if they’re really in space. B5’s future is a “real” one; by that I mean that the quarters have bathrooms, the situations have complications, and the answers are never easy. Every action has consequences, and some of them are not pretty — and there’s no “reset” button at the end of the episode either. Consequences continue. Just like real life.

Three: as a quote collector and lover of Good Words, Babylon 5 is a gold mine. There are tons of great quotes and words to live by all over this series, in every season; whether it’s quick one liners (Garibaldi: “You know, if I knew who God was, I’d thank her”) or beautiful thoughts (Delenn’s “Star Stuff” speech), you’ll find an absolute ton of great stuff to think on in this part of the Multiverse. One of these days I’d love to go through the entire series with the pause button and my laptop, and write down all the good stuff to be sent to jms for approval and then published as “Good Words: The Wisdom of Babylon 5.” Whether written chronologically by episode or arranged by character, if nothing else I’d love to own that book. It would sure make quoting things easier!

For example, from Marcus Cole: “You know, I used to think it was awful that Life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if Life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe.” Isn’t that a neat thought? I like it. Just like I like most of the wisdom the charactors spout on Babylon 5. Man, that jms can WRITE!

So I’ll quit now. This should be about enough from me about B5. But the show, the universe, really is that good. I haven’t even mentioned the CGI (incredible for its time), the unique aliens, the incredible space battles, or the truths underlying the whole Earth civil war thread. There is too much — I can’t even sum up. Suffice to say, I highly recommend watching it, beginning to end. Then you’ll love it too. 8-)

Babylon 5’s Declaration of Principles: Good Words

We’ve gotten to Season Five of the Babylon 5 education of my StepDaughter, and I discovered that I still had a file I typed out of the Declaration the first time I heard it. G’Kar (and Straczynski) can really write. In the introduction to the Season 1 on the DVDs, jms mentions that he’s heard from pagan circles that use these words in ritual; and I’m glad to hear it. They’re Good Words, and should be spread around. So I’m sharing with you. Enjoy.

Declaration of Principles, Interstellar Alliance (Opening):

The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Narn or Human or Centauri or Gaim or Minbari. It speaks in the language of hope. It speaks in the language of trust. It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors speaking through us, and the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: ‘We are One. No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the star. We are One. No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear. We are One.’ Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize this singular truth and this singular rule: that we must be kind to one another. Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the Soul of Creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are One.

– Citizen G’Kar of Narn, for the Interstellar Alliance (Babylon 5, The Paragon of Animals, 1998)

Loving the Language — and I’m Not the Only One!

I love language. You’d expect that, from a former English major — but since I spent a lot of time in band as well (football was invented to have a reason for the half-time show — you do know that, don’t you?), I also love the music of language. The flow of it, the rhythms, the way the word choices tell you about the speaker. It’s gorgeous stuff.

When MiLady first brought home V for Vendetta, I have to admit I wasn’t all that interested; yet another graphic-novel-turned-movie, which I hadn’t heard much about. But the moment V started speaking, I found myself ignoring the laptop and putting my chin in my hand and absorbing his language. It’s beautiful stuff, though not for the faint-hearted — he uses a lot of “five dollar words” — but the rhythm and flow was beautiful, and he had Good Words to say. (In our house, “Good Words” means great thoughts. It comes from The Wrath of Khan, of all places. “Just words,” says Captain Kirk. “But Good Words,” says his son; “That’s where Ideas begin.”) The entire movie is full of Good Words and Good Thoughts and beautiful language. I highly recommend it.

Because I have this little language fetish, when I saw a link go by on FriendFeed titled, “Don’t Mind your Language,” I had to check it out. It was written by a British comedian named Stephen Fry; the name was familiar, but not recognized by my swiss cheese brain (you know — full of holes) until I recognized the picture in his banner — he was in V for Vendetta! If you’ve seen it, you’ll remember him as the talk show host taken away for his sense of humor and killed for his love of beauty. I’m sure he has a much more extensive resume — I just haven’t seen any of it. But I love his writing.

He asks some basic questions — “Is language being degraded, is it not what it was? Is there a right way to express yourself and a wrong? Grammar, does that exist, or is it a pedantic imposition? . . . Can we translate from one tongue into another without irreparable loss?” He draws a distinction between the language itself and the idea of language; he talks about his own version of English and where it came from; and he brings up the pleasure of language as being just as important (for some of us, anyway) as the information it contains. It’s a long article, and I’ll never do it justice; but you really ought to go and read it. It will make you think about the way that you use language, and (if you get uptight about using it ‘properly’) show you that just because the language is evolving it doesn’t mean it’s ‘wrong.’ Here’s the paragraph that sums up his thoughts best for me:

But above all let there be pleasure. Let there be textural delight, let there be silken words and flinty words and sodden speeches and soaking speeches and crackling utterance and utterance that quivers and wobbles like rennet. Let there be rapid firecracker phrases and language that oozes like a lake of lava. Words are your birthright. Unlike music, painting, dance and raffia work, you don’t have to be taught any part of language or buy any equipment to use it, all the power of it was in you from the moment the head of daddy’s little wiggler fused with the wall of mummy’s little bubble. So if you’ve got it, use it. Don’t be afraid of it, don’t believe it belongs to anyone else, don’t let anyone bully you into believing that there are rules and secrets of grammar and verbal deployment that you are not privy to. Don’t be humiliated by dinosaurs into thinking yourself inferior because you can’t spell broccoli or moccasins. Just let the words fly from your lips and your pen. Give them rhythm and depth and height and silliness. Give them filth and form and noble stupidity. Words are free and all words, light and frothy, firm and sculpted as they may be, bear the history of their passage from lip to lip over thousands of years. How they feel to us now tells us whole stories of our ancestors.

Isn’t that just gorgeous? And, I hope, inspirational! 8-)

A Classic Killer Quote

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
there is one elementary truth the ignorance
of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur
to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents,
meetings and material assistance which no man
could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe