Hockey Thoughts

•April 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I figured adding hockey thoughts to this blog that is a little of everything is a bit too much, so I’ve created a different blog for my hockey thoughts. Check it out on the blogroll on the right or at dustinmhockey.wordpress.com

Thanks!

P.S. I hope to get back to blogging regularly soon!

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Opening Lines 2

•January 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while since I last blogged… about half a year. So here’s a return to a series of posts I had planned. I just grabbed three books lying around my dorm room and will take a lot at their opening lines:

“I was stunned by Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liar’s Club. Not just by its ferocity, its beauty, and by her delightful grasp of the vernacular, but by its totality–she is a woman who remembers everything about her early years.

I’m not that way.”

– from Stephen Kings’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


“Clare: It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays.”

– from Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife


Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.

If you’re reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom or dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life.”

– From Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief

The first example that I have is a bit weird as Stephen King’s On Writing is part memoir/part writing instruction instead of a regular novel. However, it’s one of my favorite books and is also one of the best written modern books that I have read. In my opinion though, this opening is bit lackluster. While it delivers a clear message about what King’s childhood was not like – and does so with a bit of humor – it really fails to capture the essence of the book and caliber of the writing of the book. I’ll say it’s Ugly.

Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is among my favorite romantic novels. It’s written in a unique style: alternating perspectives between the two protagonists Clare and Henry. The purpose of the first lines and first couple pages is purely to set up the crazy world of Clare and Henry while also introducing the the themes of the novel. All of these things can be seen in the first two lines of the book, and the writing is both simple and engaging. Definitely a Good opening.

Oh, young adult fiction. Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief is among the many recent additions to the genre of young adult fantasy. While this genre has a lot of shortcomings (such as way too much focus on vampires), there are many entertaining books in the genre. Rick Riordan’s series is particularly interesting as it incorporates Greek Mythology and could possibly be used in a middle school setting as a precursor the the common high school readings of Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey. Anyhow, about the first lines. Not being the target audience of the book myself, it’s hard for me to judge the opening lines. I’d have to say it definitely catches one’s attention and is simple. I find the attitude a bit unnecessary and uninviting though. In fact, the whole second paragraph seems unnecessary to me. But it does it’s job. I’ll say it’s Ugly.

Determining the Setting of a Fantasy

•June 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As some of you know, I continuously attempting to begin a fantasy story that I have had turning over in my head for a good period of time. I’ve mentioned before how important opening lines are to me while writing, however something that is equally as important is the setting. Now, typically determining the setting for a story is relatively easy – you go with something you’re familiar with, and something that fits the story in your mind. For instance, most of John Steinbeck’s stories occur in rural California while a lot of Stephen King stories at least partially take place in the state of Maine. Well, writing a fantasy is different, at least to me. My problem is I’ve always pictured two different settings for my story – Michigan – and a fantasy world that is similar to the time period of the Wild West in our world. I’ve also considered writing a story that takes place in Michigan, but in DC’s world where the likes of Superman, Batman, The Green Lantern, and others exist (of course that’s sure to be illegal due to copyright infringement). So now I’m going to take a step back and look at famous fantasies and see what kind of setting they take place in.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is probably the most famous and influential fantasy epic of all time. It’s also a set of books that I as of yet have not read in their entirety – though I do love the movies. Tolkien famously created a fantasy world for the books that he called Middle Earth. I know that he spends a great amount of time within the books detailing the setting, but as I said I stil have to read these books through to get an idea of just how he goes about dealing with his setting.

C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia came out around the same time as Tolkien’s fantasy – in fact the two were good friends. This series takes place in several worlds, though mainly our own and a fantasy world in which the country of Narnia exists. In this series children unwittingly find their way into Narnia from the real world. Lewis also plays with the idea of time, as the children can spend a lifetime in the world of Narnia, and come back into our world without losing a single second since they left. Other fantasy worlds also appear in the Narnia, as does an interpretation of Heaven. So, Lewis uses both the real world and created fantasy worlds.

In my mind, the next great fantasy series is Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, probably most famous for being offensive to Christians. I’m on the third book in this trilogy, and thus understand it enough to comment on the setting. The first book occurs in a fantasy world very much like our own, even with the same places. However, the world is different in various fantastical ways and the time period in this world is also hard to label, but seems to mimic what would have been the first half of the 1900’s for our world. Pullman’s trilogy plays with the idea of parallel worlds, and in the second book both our own real world and and third parallel world take turns as the setting. So, like Lewis, Pullman uses created fantasy worlds and the real world as settings.

The fourth important fantasy series is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. This series takes place within our own world, yet almost forms a seperate world in our own by introducing a world of magic that is secret from the non-magical. In this way, it’s almost as if Rowling also uses both the real world and created fantasy world, which would mean that three of these fantasies use both the real world and a fantasy world. I may just end up doing the same.

Great Game – Unless You’re a Wings Fan

•June 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Last night’s battle between the Penguins and Red Wings was a game that featured great hockey. It was one of the more physical games I have seen and while Pittsburgh outshot Detroit significantly over the first two periods the action really was back-and-forth. I’d actually even say that Detroit had as many chances, they just couldn’t seem to get the puck on their sticks or on net (Datsyuk’s seeing-eye feed to Zetterberg in the first minute of the game comes to mind). However, as a Wings fan it was heartbreaking to watch the team lose even though it means a chance to win the Cup on our own ice. I just don’t want to see Pittsburgh do to us what we did to them last year – which is now a real possibility though I do have a lot of faith in Detroit winning game seven. There are two things I must comment on though. First off, while I have been a fan of the refs for most of this series, the first penalty of the game was ridiculous. Jordan Staal pushed Henrik Zetterberg into Fleury after Zetterberg had just shot the puck and was off balance and Zetterberg gets called for goaltender interference. It wasn’t so much that the call itself was awful (it wasn’t a good call, but I could have lived with it) as when it was called. The game was back-and-forth at that point and while Detroit killed it off, it put Detroit on the defense, something that it seemed to take them a while to recover from. The other thing that I feel a need to comment on is Marian Hossa. We all know he’s a great talent,  but where has he been in this series? Pittsburgh has a much weaker defense than Chicago and especially Anaheim. The Red Wings paid Hossa 7.4 million to have a player that wanted to raise the Cup for the first time and would contribute in doing so. So far in the finals Hossa has not contributed, when he should have been extra motivated playing against his former team. He was Pittsburgh’s best player in the finals last year. Hossa needs to break out in game seven.

Shakespeare Imitation: So Low

•June 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I was outside on the side of my house yesterday in this screen room that we have when I observed a thunderstorm approach. I had gone outside for some peace and quiet and to clear my mind, however I was entirely entranced by the approaching of the thunderstorm. After the storm came and went, I had a sudden urge to write a quick little poem and decided to mimic the style of William Shakespeare’s sonnets (maybe because watching the storm reminded me of King Lear?). While the result was relatively lackluster and full of some of my more ridiculous writing tendencies (Satan’s hellhound?), and the poem comes off as being kind of emo – not something I ever aim for – at this point I was just happy to write something. So here it is:

Sitting in the deadly silence before

A lightning storm crashes upon my home

Turning over sad facts about my core

Rain falls, thunder roars within my very dome.

My father’s teachings fresh with me

A family’s anger pouring around

Cutting words that I have allowed to flee

From within me just like Satan’s hellhound.

Once I thought myself to be a hero

Here I am: a ghost of a villain.

My life nothing more than a sad zero

Alienated those that are my kin.

Lightning crashes, thunder roars; and I know

That you can save me from being so low.

A Chance for the Cup

•June 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

After a terrific showing Saturday night in which the Red Wings defeated the Penguins by a score of 5-0 in the game where Pavel Datsyuk returned, the Wings now have a chance to win the Stanley Cup again on Pittsburgh’s ice. This is a chance that the Red Wings need to capitalize on, as all bets would be off in a game seven. It also gives both Marian Hossa and Ty Conklin a chance to win the Cup in front of their former team and former fans. This would be particuarly bittersweet for Hossa, who signed the infamous one year contract with the Wings claiming he felt it was his best chance to win a Cup. Now, he gets a chance to show that he was right in a most dramatic fashion. I still don’t get why people outside of Pittsburgh bashed Hossa for his signing, as he did what fans want most atheletes to do: take less money for a chance at winning. Anyway, it promises to be a great game tonight!

All Even

•June 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, the Stanley Cup Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins are all even. Both teams won both games at home. As anyone who was watching or listening (as was my case) saw/heard, there was a six minute meltdown by the Wings that allowed Pittsburgh to take control of a game that was slipping away from them. As soon as Staal scored the shorthanded goal on the second of back-to-back penalties I felt as if the Wings were in trouble. And in trouble they were.

On the flip side, this is now a pretty good series for the NHL. It will be going to at least six games and a seventh wouldn’t even surprise me as these two great teams continue going to battle.

I was surprised that Babcock elected to scratch Abdelakder over Leino. I’m a fan of both players, but Abdelkader has easily outplayed Leino in the playoffs so far. Not only does he have a pair of big goals, but he also has been throwing his weight around and would have seemingly been a better fit with Draper and Maltby. I’d expect seeing Abs in for Leino Saturday unless Datsyuk plays. Either way, Leino probably won’t be playing again in this series.