Tag Archives: Japan

Making The Time To Find The Rhyme

Poetry is only for snobs, right?

Um, no. Not quite. Well, sort of. I mean, not all the time, you know?

It’s possible I might be the slightest bit confused on the role of poetry in society these days, dudes. It is conceivable I need to devote more thought to it, but, honestly, do any of us believe I’m actually going to devote more than the next hour or so to thinking about poetry?

No. No we don’t.

The thing is, I think as school kids, we were given “important” poetry and told that this is a poem and it is good for you and you will like it, but first you need to understand all about rhyme, meter, iambic pentameter and blank verse and. . .

Well, you get my point. Poetry in language arts classes is like a lot of things in language arts classes: It’s had the fun and the juice sucked right out of it and all that’s left is a husk that we feel obligated to consume.

But it really shouldn’t be like that. I mean, how many of you dudes can remember just laughing your head off while rhyming silly word after silly word? Of reading Dr. Seuss and realizing that it’s not only possible, but it’s okay to make up words to fit your rhymes and people will actually tell you, “Good job!”

The thing about poetry that’s different from regular prose, from fiction or non-fiction, is that poetry is an idea stripped down to its bare bones and then painted in gaudy colors. Whereas, comparatively speaking, prose is a giant, stomping around the landscape, leaving footprints and broken trees in her wake.

That is, in a poem, each line — each word — is there only to move forward the central idea. It’s sparse, even if it’s in flowery language. As far as I’m concerned, poetry can be as hard or as easy as you make it.

For instance: Haikus are wonderful. They’re a style of poetry from Japan and consist of three lines. The first line is five syllables, followed by a line with seven syllables, ending with a final line of five syllables. Each line illuminates the central idea. I love ’em because I can write a poem in only three lines.

Poetry, Schmoetry
Haikus? Not easy.
Despite the number of lines
Being only three

See? Fun. My interest in poetry in general and haikus in particular was rekindled on some early morning walks with Buzz, the garbage disposal that walks like a dog. I’d see these shadows full of frosted grass, which were still frozen only because they were not yet exposed to the sun and I tried to think of how to describe them. Which led to the following haiku.

Winter Morning, Buzz
Frozen shadows steam
Edges disappearing quickly
As the sun rises

So what do you dudes and dudettes think? Anyone interested in a haiku-off? Or maybe just a favorite short poem you’d like to share? Join me in the comments and let’s see if language arts class has managed to kill off all interest in poetry.

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It’s Like They Have A Different Word For Everything

by Richard

There’s an old Steve Martin bit, where he complains that when he went to France it was hard to talk to the France-ians because of their language, in that it was almost as if they had a different word for everything. Laughter ensues. Move on with the show.

That got me thinking, though, dudes. It’s true that other languages have a different word for everything, but it’s equally true that not everything has a word for it in English. Here’s one of my favorite quotes about that by James Nicoll: “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

But sometimes we’re not quick enough to chase that specific word down an alley. Take, for instance, Schadenfreude. It’s a German word that means satisfaction of pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune. I’m sure you’ve all heard it, but that word is still German. We need to make an Americanizing of it to really make it ours in English.

So perhaps it’s time to be thinking about adding others to the lexicon. Malay, for instance, has gigi rongak – the space between the teeth. The Japanese have bakku-shan – a girl who appears pretty from behind but not from the front. Then there’s a nakkele – a man who licks whatever the food has been served on (from Tulu, India).

English seems like such a prosaic language, so very pedestrian. I mean, the Dutch have uitwaaien, which means walking in windy weather for fun. If we wanted to say that, we’d have to say he enjoys walking in windy weather for fun. Sorta long-winded, that.

It’s Albania, though, that has my interest captured. If only because of it’s people’s fascination with facial hair. There are no less than twenty-seven words for mustache in Albanian. I mean, really? That’s awesome.

What’s your favorite word or phrase in a foreign language that we need to import to English? Let’s get an internet petition going because you know how effective those are. What do you say, dudes?


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College Tips

by Richard

So it seems I’m not the only person thinking about the start of the college school year.

Lee Bierer is the author of a syndicated column called Countdown to College, which basically offers tips for high-school students getting ready to apply to college and students just starting out there.

Last week she offered a series of seven tips designed to help dudes and dudettes, like Sarcasmo, who are going off to college or university for the first time this August. I think they’re worth noting here.

Everyone is in the same boat. No matter how much it feels like you’re the only person not getting it all on the first try, you’re not alone. Some dudes might make it look easy, but they’re suffering just the same as everyone else.

Take advantage of your “fresh start” opportunity. We’ve discussed this with Sarcasmo and think it’s a great idea. Getting to college, especially a college where there’s not many high-school classmates attending, offers your young dude the chance to be whoever he wants to be. I’m not saying Sarcasmo or any other student has a horrible personality and needs an upgrade, but that they can choose which aspects of their personality they want to be known for. If your young dude was known as a geek and doesn’t like it, here’s the chance to change that.

Branch out. Your young dude shouldn’t hang out only with the other young dudes he meets at first. Keep meeting people and spread wide the net of possible friends.

Be a connector. The young dudette should introduce people to each other. Spread the net of friendship wide and then introduce those on one section to those from another section.

Keep your door open. Except when they’re studying or sleeping or changing, your young dude should keep his door open so people can drop in anytime. This gives them the opportunity to meet others at almost any time.

Participate in dorm events, clubs, etc. There’s no better way to make new friends than by hanging out with people who have things in common. Sarcasmo loves manga, Japanese comics, so he plans to find the High Point manga club  and hang with some of the members.

Invite someone home for the weekend or accept an invitation to visit someone else’s house. This is pretty self-explanatory, but young dudes and dudettes should first check with their parents before showing up with a dinner guest or missing a scheduled weekend visit.

Good stuff here for you to talk to your college-bound young dude or dudette about.

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