Win a Celery Stalks At Midnight Can A Balled Bare Bear Bee Far Behind?: Vocabulary Goes Bad with Homonyms!

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Today Vocabulary Gone Bad wanders off into slightly knew territory.  Eye no eye no, knot what ewe where expecting but poor word usage is not merely florid overdone writing or  words that stop you in the proverbial tracks with there shear horridness.  It’s also words are being used in a manner not befitting their definition, spelling or meaning. Of coarse, I wouldn’t waist my thyme on just any we problem but homonyms are popping up every wear I look and its thyme to reign this in bee fore its to late!  To misquiote  Jessica Rabbit  the words aren’t bad, they are just used that way.  OK, enough of that nonsense, back to the writing at hand.

So let’s way in first with definitions.  OK, I couldn’t resist, this quickly becomes addictive. Sigh.  Homonyms are words that sound the same and sometimes even have the same spelling, but they have different meanings and origins. Examples are so and sew, here and hear, and bear (the animal), bear (to tolerate), and bare (naked).  This is an especially important difference when it comes to m/m fiction.  Let’s not mix up our bare bears or even barely naked bears shall we?

It can be further divided into two categories.  Homophones are words that sound identical but differ in spelling and meaning, such as to, too, two; and so, sow, sew.  Two young studs busy sewing their oats takes on a hole new meaning doesn’t it?  And then there is Homographs. Homographs are words with the same spelling and often with the same sound, but have different meanings. An example is well, a hole drilled in the earth to obtain water, and well, in good health.  I am including a chart, a little simple but I like being helpful so hear it is. Ha! Tack it above the keyboard, use it often.  You’ll thank me.  Really, you will.  Back to our issues at hand.

Why homonyms piss me off.  There I was happily reading my m/m fiction.  My two handsome hunks are cheerfully engaged in all things sexual and it happened.  Alan is getting busy making Slade a very happy boy.  Alan raps his hand around Slade’s…..wait, what?  Did I just read “rap”?  Is Tupac back? Why is Alan rapping in bed? Argh! Poor Slade is waiting to get off and I am thinking its “wrapped not rapped”, doofus. I compose myself and read on, confident that it’s just one error.  This time Slade and Alan have changed things around (I love it when the boys are flexible) and Slade is making Alan moan, his nose buried in Alan’s course hair and noooooooooooo! A homonym pops up (yes, pops up) and stops the scene cold.  I don’t know where that weave has been, but I am sure Slade’s nose is not off attending any educational institute of higher learning.  I shudder and shake my head.  I eye *snort* my Kindle with dread.  Do I dare try again with this story?  One more thyme.   Our boyish babes are back on bed.  Alan is scoping out all the toys that Slade has laid out for their enjoyment. Alan tells him that he appreciates Slade’s thoroughness as well as variety and Slade replies “Honey, I love it when you complement me.” and I am done. Complement for compliment? Finished. Finito!  Another story done in by homonyms gone bad. (Names changed to protect the author)

So why is it that homonyms are running wyld through the fields of fiction?  I suspect some of the blame can be laid at Spell Check’s door.  So many people these days are dependent upon Spell Check for correcting their documents that actual proofreading has fallen by the wayside.  A machine, no matter how wonderful, can’t catch a word spelled correctly but used incorrectly.  Further complicating things is dyslexia.  Those of us who are dyslexic in any manner are aware that there are certain words that we have problems with and homonyms are the land mines of language. In addition to spell check, a good proof reader (hard to find) and a great editor (harder to find) are necessary.  And even then homonyms manage to slip through like a liberal does (that was intentional, people) of Astroglide!  Did you catch that one?  Here is a wonderful article from The Blood Red Pencil, a favorite blog of mine.  The blog is Cues from the Coach: Avoiding Homonym Headaches.  There is also a

list of typical homonyms which comes in handy at writing time.

I made a short list of homonyms that bug the hell out of me. They include my personal favorite – marine corpse.  Think about it.  Marine Corpse?  When did the Marines stoop to zombies to fill their ranks?  Are the Marine now looking for a few good zombies?

peak/peek/pique
your/you’re
rein (horse tackle) vs. reign (political rule)
waste (exhaust) vs. waist (center of body)
there (place) vs. their (ownership)
coarse (rough) vs. course (direction)
than (comparison) vs. then (sequence)
it’s (it is) vs. its (ownership)

I am sure you can come up with more.  Unfortunately, it’s easy.  Just pick up a book, blog or magazine.  So let’s get the word out, people!  No more homonyms!  We’re madder than hell and won’t take it any more!  Proof readers unite!  Let’s all rise to the occasion and make our fiction a homonym free zone.  Let Alan and Slade romp free of false meanings! Let our balled bare bears frolic naked in the woods, content in safe word usage.  The world will thank us! Or at the very least, give us a M & M, make it green.

Freedom Is Not Free and the week Ahead

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It looks as though the sun might come out for our Memorial Weekend here in Maryland after all, humid but at least it’s sunny.  I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.  Please don’t forget to spare up time to think about our veterans, what they have sacrificed for us and the Nation.  With so many still fighting abroad and many more fighting to survive their injuries here at home, take the time to send a prayer if you are religious, send thanks if you are not and perhaps visit a memorial.  If you are close by, start with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial here in DC and Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.  Two places where service, honor, and sacrifice spreads out before us in stark contrast to each other.  One in black, one in white.  Unforgettable and painful in every way.

Freedom Is Not Free is a website dedicated to aiding wounded service members, their families and the families of the fatally wounded. Listed here are poems from the enlisted honoring veterans and sharing what it means to them to be a part of the military.  Be prepared with tissues, as many of these poems strike straight into your heart.

My thoughts also turn to the fallen gay soldiers for whom the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was far too late.  Let us not forget their additional sacrifice as well.  I would leave you with these images for Memorial Weekend:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for the week ahead and some outstanding new books:

 

Monday:                                Reviews of several short stories by Silver Publishing

Tuesday:                                Armed and Dangerous, Cut and Run series #5 by Abigail Roux

Wednesday:                          Infected: Shift  (Infected #4) by Andrea Speed

Thursday:                              Acrobat by Mary Calmes

Friday:                                    One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and MJ O’Shea

Saturday:                                New Vocabulary Gone Bad – When A Bare Rises To the Occasion Due Ewe Here A Yelp?

 

Destination Anus or Where No Starfish Has Gone Before – Vocabulary Gone Bad #2

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Note: Let’s just agree that this column is for mature audiences only shall we? If you continue reading, you are clearly over the age of 18 and don’t need your parents approval.  We are serious, people! Words used in the most despicable manner is no laughing matter!!!  Ok, well it is a laughing matter or we wouldn’t be here.  Getting off course again. Sigh.

So, here we are back again for our second installment of Vocabulary Gone Bad.  I have spent the last week or so toiling in the basement of the sentence horribilus.  OK, not really, I have been gathering together a list of poor phraseology that drives us right up that proverbial wall and over.  So many in fact that I think I must have enough material for a book or at least a graphic novel – the mind reels doesn’t it?  Today we are going to concentrate on two male body parts and the inexplicable, somewhat confusing, and just plain hilarious words we sometimes use to describe them.  Once again it’s that usage that  stops us dead mid sentence in a novel.  Backs us right up for that second looksee!  Makes us doubt our eyes and check the prescription on our glasses.  You know! THAT word!

 Anus/Rosebud/Ass Lips/Starfish:Since time began or at least kindergarten, the anus has been a source of humor and fascination.  When young, you’re preoccupied with it and rightly so.  There’s examining the stuff that comes out of it, potty training it, being taught to wipe it, clean it, and by all means cover it! The  anus has been called the shit hole, pooper, poop hole, shitter, butthole, and of course, the ever popular and widely used asshole.  All of which have many appropriate usages from noun to adjective and beyond. You can say of course “Look, you little shitter, stop calling your brother a pooper!”  And “Hey asshole,  when are you going to move out of that shithole you call an apartment?” or “Hey, poophead” (it all depends upon your actual or emotional age). See?  All widely used and totally appropriate!

We rarely use the correct term – anus. Why? I mean really, think back to the first time your class had to memorize the planets in our galaxy and some poor schmo had the task of reporting on Uranus! He turns red (why is it always the guys who get assigned this one) and shuffles his feet in preparation for what’s coming. He only gets one word out “Uranus” and the class breaks out into Beavis and Butthead  giggles and snorts.  From there we head over to Carter from South Park and his anal probe. To  quote Rodney Dangerfield, it gets no respect.

So imagine the difficulty authors of m/m  fiction have when writing sex scenes and the anus literally comes into play. The characters have fallen into lust/love and are getting ready to consummate away. The lube and condoms (safe sex please) come out. What happens next is a toss up as the anus still has that ability to produce guffaws instead of lust laden groans and all because the author got adventurous with their word choices.

Think about it. There you are reading along, happy with the two or more frisky men having at it in the story in front of you when you come across  “…and then Zane teased my ass lips with the vibrator..” Wait!  What?  No, it really  reads “ass lips”.  My mind immediately conjures up a posterior with red lipstick on it and shuts down, sexy men forgotten.  I take a deep breath and bravely continue on with “… pressing on the center of my anal starfish while probing… “.  *blink blink blink*  Apparently Zane has taken a hike and arrived at a nearby beach. Anal starfish? Really? When did we start using benthic fauna to describe male anatomy?  Can sexy sea squid be far behind?  Further into the abyss I go (yeah, I went there).   Zane continues on. “He jabbed another couple of inches into my shitter…”. Kindle drops to the bed and I start to giggle.  The book is a hopeless cause.

And this author is not the only one to lose me over their descriptions just the most recent. These aren’t the only poor word choices I’ve read lately.  I have run across man cave (yikes, spelunkers ahead), man pussy, and man cunt.  As with man tits (see When A Tit Should Be A Nip Or Leave Those Orbs Alone  -VGB#1), a huge absofuckatively no on the words man pussy and man cunt. Even if you are transgendered or are genderqueer, I can’t imagine you would use those terms. If I am wrong, give me a shout out and let me know.  Otherwise, can we just agree to let those words sink into vocabulary quicksand where they belong?

The Penis aka Throbbing Member, Dong, Pulsating passionate pestle, Joystick, Fuckstick, Mister Happy.   When it comes to the penis and it’s many monikers, a little research sees a veritable floodgate open and the names pour out.  Weenie, whang, tool,dick, cock, tool, manhandle, man root, and so many more.  My earliest memory of penis names comes from the schoolyard at elementary school.  Wee wee, peter, dingaling, and willy spring to mind. Yep, went there again. There are instrument based penis names like meat whistle, skin flute, blue-veined piccolo, love trumpet, and roaring horn.  There are animal based names like lizard, pecker, python, one-eyed snake, spitting cobra, and my personal favorite trouser trout. And of course the ever popular food based names that include pickle, banana, pork sword, cucumber, gherkin, wiener, manmeat, tubesteak, hairy sausage, and mutton dagger.**  I am sure you will think of more. One site alone lists over 400 terms for penis.  With that many to choose from, how it is that some authors are still using words that stop us dead in our tracks, kill any sexy mood they were trying to achieve, and  just leave us dumbfounded? Over and over, poor vocabulary has left me giggling instead of sighing.

I like the terms cock and dick.  They can give a sexual scene a rough and immediate feel of lust.  Prick and junk also get honorable mention as most of the instances where I have seen them used get the appropriate response.  Glans works too.  Member and shaft, while anatomically correct, get downgraded when they hook up with unseemly companions, hence, throbbing member and loveshaft.  There are many wonderful and sexy ways to describe the penis without giving it a name.  “It/he/name  hardened under his touch” or “his pants tented”.  Many authors give the scene texture by describing how it feels, the skins and veining.  That’s sexy too.  But when someone starts to jerk the  “that pocket rocket”, that “flesh piston of power”, then all bets are off.   Purple prose, my Aunt Fanny!  I would call that the Skittles of Prose.

Just because I like you, I have included some examples below.  These are literary passages, people!  Get those minds out of the gutter! !

The Skittle Prose memorable entries:

”  …Jacques’ admirably distended weapon…and indeed this massive weapon sprang from a hiding place of thick, shaggy, graying fleece…”* Wow, Jacque’s weapon was both distended and massive.  Go Jacques!- *The Autobiography of a Flea by Anonymous 1901

“Shai Hulud”, I responded, “Because it’s a gigantic life-giving spice worm that’s worshipped as a god, that’s why.”  Live chat tweet. That is just so wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to start.

“I couldn’t wait to get down on my knees to start sucking on his engorged pleasure-stick” remembered story recollection that still burns in the brain of Graham from my GR’s group. Thank you, Graham, Katey, Kate, Steelwhisper, Tam, Stacey Jo, Lisa and so many more for your contributions.

“…Harry’s ebony shaft. Joey, the Italian kid from across the street had his salami up my ass”  from *Happy New Year by Kenn Dahll. This author is also responsible for Zane and his antics. Free from Smashwords.  Please go download it.

So to wrap this puppy up, at least for now.  I am begging you authors, present and future, back away from those descriptions that make us cringe.  When in doubt, reach for the Pinot Noir and not the Rigid Digit.  If it makes you giggle when you say it aloud, think of its impact upon us poor helpless readers and just say no!  Of course if you don’t say no, if the temptation is too great, if you wake up at night covered in sweat because the term love muscle just  calls to you then don’t be surprised if it appears on another Vocabulary Gone Bad.  I am everywhere, just waiting for the purple prose to fall! And researching. And reading! See you at the next Vocabulary Gone Bad!  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!  The list grows ever longer.

Find the first Vocabulary Gone Bad When A Tit Should Be A Nip or Leave Those Orbs Alone here

**These lists and more  Penis Word Lists from the Penis Resources Blog, 101 Penis words.  What an invaluable resource!

When a Tit Should Be A Nip Or Leave Those Orbs Alone!

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It is rant time on Scatteredthoughtsandroguewords because my breaking point has been reached, people!!!!  Since I became a guest reviewer on Joyfully Jay and started my blog, the number of books I have been reading has gone off the charts.  So it won’t surprise you all that some of the books I have been reading have been less than stellar and some have been just outstanding. The quality of the books has been all over the place but some truly awful world usage has popped up again and again.  And I can’t take it any more! So to all authors out there (and you know who you are), please I am begging you, cease and desist from the following:

Orbs: The use of the word orbs when describing eyes. No, no, no, and absolutingfuckatively no!  Eyes may be described as many things, windows of the soul, soulful, leering, squinty, bedroom, vacant but never an orb. Unless you are describing an alien, no that still doesn’t work.  Then its eyes on stalks, like these beauties pictured here.  Orbs are spheres, globes, balls, spheroids, spherules, circles.  One can say “My what a lovely orb you are carrying today, destruction of the universe on the agenda?” What I don’t hear or want to hear?  “My what lovely gray orbs you have? From your mother’s side of the family?” Yet, I have picked up two books in a row (and read several more) in which the main character describes the hunk in front of him with blue gray orbs, or fiery orbs, or who cares what color orbs.

It stops me cold. Especially when the author has done a wonderful job otherwise.  So please stop. Run over to Val Kovalin’s site and read/buy the article How To Describe Eyes  on obsidianbookshelf.com.  Then laminate it and stick it above the laptop or whatever you use to write with. When you get the urge to splurge with the vocabulary and start to type orb – stop.  If you have already done the deed, then become acquainted with Find and Replace.  Use it often. Find “orb” replace with “eye.” It’s simple.  I am begging you here! Don’t make me come find you!

Of Tits and Nips: There I was, happily ensconced in bed with my Kindle, reading this smoking hot sex scene.  I have my glass of wine and I’m popping bon bons like bullets shooting out of a AK 47 as the two main characters finally strip off each others clothes as a prelude to some hot man love.  John/Ethan/Insert Name runs his hands lovingly over Zane/Troy/Adam/Whoevers chest and then gives his tits a twist. Wait! What?  Did I just read that right?  I quickly put down the bon bons and scan that paragraph again. I enlarge the font and read “Hank/Ralph/Morey then proceeds to lick and bite Stan/Harry/Mordecai’s tits like a milk-starved calf reunited with his mother.”  Yep, it’s still tits.  The Kindle gets cold in my hands as I contemplate a chest and sex scene gone wrong.

When I think of a man’s chest  (and the good Lord knows I do), it’s those wonderful sexy nipples that grab my attention first.  Large or small, tight or at ease, all colors, it doesn’t matter.  I just love them.  I like to look at them. I like to read about them. Except when they are described as tits.  Right or wrong, to me the word tit has feminine connotations.  Woman have beautiful tits, gorgeous breasts, outstanding tatas, basooms, gazongas, whatever.  We have oodles of names for womens breasts.  Men who gender identify as women and men transitioning to women have tits. But men? Straight or gay men? Well then, it’s nipples all the way or nips if you prefer.  If you have a man nipping the nip in a story, I am allfor it.  Go on, lick that nip! Have your way with it! Just please don’t call it a tit.  I have read descriptions where they were called tight buds, and I am okay with that.  Nubs?  That’s good too.   Rub that nub !  But tits? When you get the urge, just take a gander at the picture above. And just say no.

 
Smiling Crookedly:  This is just a minor pain that is looking to evolve into a major one with each new book that I read.  Again, don’t get me wrong, I love characters that have that snarky, crooked grin. Usually it is pasted on the face of some scalawag trying to get a rise out of our hero and that grin just says you know he will succeed.  But lately, some authors just can’t leave it at one or two references a story, or even a chapter.  Once they start, the use of that crooked grin just steamrolls until it is the only facial expression that one character has.

I love it when the character beams, smiles from ear to ear, or has a broad or shy grin. And what has happened to the scowl? The frowny face?  The leer?  Please let us not forget to have our characters frown, glower, glare, grimace, give the occasional black or dirty look.  I do see lots of smirks these days as well.  Let’s not forget our characters can still be smug, snicker, and have a smothered laugh every now and again. This is just a cautionary plea to all authors.  Please don’t botox your characters into facialimmobility and one expression hunks. The characters,your stories and the reader deserve far better than that.  Just picture your male ideal, leaning in that oh so sexy manner against the wall, watching you.  Could you take a crooked smile all day or after a few hours or so are you ready to slap his face off? See?  Let’s keep those crooked smiles at a minimum please.  Thank you.

I am winding down here.  Just writing about these things will give me nightmares. Oh, and I am sure this is only Part 1 as other poor or overused word choices come to mind.  So let me leave you with a visual to make some of this come together
.What do you see when you look at these? Are those orbs on tits? Or eyes in jars?  Can orbs with crooked smiles and tits be far behind? Thoughts like these will send me running into the closet and shutting the doors. *shudder*   You authors out there !  You have the power to stop this!  Use the force wisely!  We beg you!

And send me those words that make you hurl when you see them in a story.  I am making a list. And checking it twice!

And stay tuned for more Vocabulary Gone Bad!