Calliope Writing

Quintessential Quotes (a.k.a.: Life Is Chaotic)
July 1, 2015, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Quotes | Tags: , , , ,

This week has been a little chaotic…and I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog. Like it’s a pet I left in a hot car or a baby I left in the other room so I could make out with a boy.

Thankfully, it is neither of these things.

But here I am, to take care of my guilt. Following are a couple of quotes that made me pretty damned stoked to be a writer.

I hope you enjoy.

annoyed person


What quotes help you go on when you’re stuck in a rut or dealing with life’s various types of insanity?

Wearing Blue and White and Waving My Rainbow Flag–It’s a Big Day

“The courage of life is a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy” (JFK).

This month has seen its fair share of both tragedy and triumph.

A Racist Act of Terrorism

On June 17, a racist-terrorist attack occurred in my town of Charleston. If you’ve been away from all media and news outlets for the past week or so and don’t know anything about the Charleston Church Shooting, you can find out more on NBC News.

I won’t repeat the shooter’s heinous statements or even type his name. Instead, I’d like to take a moment and send love to the nine victims (pictured below) and their families.

Courtesy of NBC News

Courtesy of NBC News

There have been countless events, fundraising efforts, etc., to spread awareness about this horrific attack and the shooter’s motives (white supremacy–don’t even get me started), to raise funds for Mother Emanuel AME Church as well as for the victims’ families, and also simply to show support and love for our city and those who inhabit it. Today happens to be Blue and White Friday, and according to the Facebook event, tens of thousands of people are participating. The mission of the event is to “send a strong messages (sic) to the world. South Carolina is united. We are strong. We will not tolerate evil and we will not be afraid.”

All right, on to the celebration part of this post (because we have to stay positive, right?!)

Love Wins

Today, June 26, 2015, will forever go down in history as the day a momentous step was taken toward truly encompassing the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that “all people are created equal.” (“People” being my modification.)

love wins

As the final ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court determined that same-sex couples now have the right to legally marry (it was a close one at 5-4).

In celebration of marriage equality, I researched some books that look awesome and have great reviews–unfortunately, I’ve only read a few of them (in bold) and those titles are indeed badass. Oh, yeah–and the books have a LGBTQ theme. Duh!

Bonus poem: Howl,” Allen Ginsberg

“Last of the Colour Coding” by Juhan Sonin (Flickr)

“Last of the Colour Coding” by Juhan Sonin (Flickr)

Also, something to consider before I wrap up: This is my site, so it’s run according to my rules. Name-calling (I know, it sounds like I’m talking to kindergartners, but this sort of thing often needs to be said), aggressive comments, threats, or anything else that I determine is downright nasty will be deleted. I’ll tell you why, of course. But I’m doing my best to keep this site positive and sprinkled with laughs. Let’s keep it that way.

Tragedy and triumph occurring within a week and a half of each other. Life is strange (and so are people, as I learned from Jim Morrison in high school). How do you feel about any of the aforementioned topics? And are there any books you think should be added to the LGBTQ list?

PS: I didn’t even get into the Confederate Flag controversy, although I wanted to, because my word count was hastily approaching what I try to set as my “ideal.” Want to get up to speed on the Rebel Flag debate? Read this, and then let me know your thoughts!

NC Teacher Resigns After Upset Over Story Time Book
June 23, 2015, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Books, News | Tags: , , , ,

My home region of the Carolinas has been on the news recently. A third-grade teacher in Efland, NC, recently resigned. And why is that news? Because it happened following an outcry in response to his raising the issue of homosexuality during story time with his students.

Here’s the General Gist

In April, a third-grader in Omar Currie‘s class approached the teacher crying and said he had been called “gay” by another student. Currie decided to open the door to the topic of homosexuality by reading King and King to his third-graders during story time. The book is a fairy tale about a prince who meets and falls in love with another prince.

king and kingNot all the students’ parents were thrilled about Currie discussing this sensitive topic with their seven- and eight-year-olds who likely hadn’t been made aware of what “homosexual” is or what “gay” really means.

Currie was reported as saying:

When I read the story, the reaction of parents didn’t come into my mind. In that moment, it just seemed natural to me to read the book and have a conversation about treating people with respect. My focus then was on the child, and helping the child.

And after I read about Currie’s background, I believe him when he says the thought didn’t cross his mind. Although it truly isn’t anyone’s business (but he revealed it during an interview, so…), Currie is gay. And black.

If you live in the South, or have ever lived down here for an extended period, you know that being both black (or any race other than white) and gay (or any sexual preference other than heterosexual) makes a person an incredibly bigger target for bullies and general shit-givers (i.e., the mean kids) in the southeastern portion of the nation. And unfortunately, it sounds like this was the case for Currie through childhood and adolescence.

The story goes deeper and gets uglier (hate mail is just one part of it) than I’m willing to go or get. Suffice it to say, a lot of ill will was sent in Currie’s direction, and he resigned. The New York Times reports:

Though he says administrators never formally disciplined him for his decision to read the book, Currie said he was made to feel that he had done something wrong and felt pressured to leave the school. He is currently looking for another teaching job.

Additionally, the school’s assistant principal, who had loaned King and King to Currie prior to the “story time incident,” resigned. (No more details on that aspect, I’m afraid.)

childrens books 1

That’s heavy. Let’s take a breather for a minute with…

Story Time Books That Would REALLY Upset Parents

  1. A Dog’s Tail, Jamie A. Landsman – Third grade is not the age you want to learn about alcoholism…unless, like Alice the dog, you live with an alcoholic family member.
  2. The Night Dad Went to Jail, Melissa Higgins – Man. I feel sorry for the kid whose parents plan to read this as a bedtime story tonight.
  3. Maggie Goes on a DietPaul Kramer – Whoa. Is fourteen-year-old Maggie really that obese? Doesn’t look like it, from the cover (and that’s a full-body shot, y’all!). Furthermore, does any child between eight and twelve (the “recommended ages” for this gem of a book) need to even know what the word “diet” means?!
  4. My Big Sister Takes Drugs, Judith Vigna – Well, Little Johnny or Janie, that’s because she’s cooler than you. Kidding, kidding!!
  5. Don’t Drink the Holy Water!, Father Joe Kempf – If the inappropriateness of that one (in a public school) doesn’t quite make sense to you, replace it in your mind with Faatimah and Ahmed – We’re Little Muslims by Razeena Gutta. Same principle, different religion. Now does it make sense, you Islamophobe?!

Sound Off

Back to the real topic at hand: Omar Currie and King and King being read to third-graders in a public school. It’s time for you to chime in by voting in the poll below:

What are your thoughts on this story (and do you have any recommendations for books to add to the above list)?

Is “Grammar Amnesty” the Same as “Let’s Give Every Kid a Trophy”?
June 18, 2015, 9:36 am
Filed under: Grammar | Tags: , ,

If you’re part of my generation–which Research Maniacs says is Generation Y–or older, you remember a time when kids’ sporting events (whether in a city league, as part of a school team, or during PE or field days) were pretty damned competitive.* If your team lost, you lost. If you got last place in a race, the most you would get is a flimsy “Participant” ribbon–not that kickass gold medal with “1st Place” proudly displayed on it. But now, in many situations, that’s not the case.

Everyone gets a trophy!

Everyone gets a trophy!

Now, there’s an “everyone gets a trophy” mentality, and it seems that quite a few people aren’t on board with this methodology. (For more on this debate, check out Moms Magazine and Pittsburgh Post Gazette.)

But let’s step away from sports because, let me be honest: I hate sports. There are few instances where I think they’re fun (kickball, floor hockey, bowling, ping pong, darts, and the like are my kinds of sports), but sports typically equal ugh for me.

Let’s move on to the juicy stuff: grammar.

grammar amnesty 2

Earlier this month, grammar entered the (minor) spotlight when Helena Baker-Thornton, the literacy head of the Torquay Girls’ Grammar School in the UK, proposed introducing “grammar amnesty” into schools. It would encourage teachers to post pictures of themselves with a grammar mistake they recently made, and there wouldn’t be as strict an attitude in regards to grammar (see the below quote to understand my inferring this).

Her reasoning is that kids are often embarrassed to ask a language-related question because they fear being made fun of (for not having known the answer). This kind of program would assert that it’s perfectly okay to make a mistake, she says, going on to comment:

There is a culture of grammar elitism amongst people but things are moving away from that horrible legacy of the literacy hour, which was this standalone lesson with a straight faced grammar mistress leaning over you and imposing all these rules that had no life in them and sometimes grammar can be viewed as being very inflexible and that doesn’t reflect life.

Put away your red pens. Grammar amnesty is coming!

Put away your red pens. Grammar amnesty is coming!

…Am I a part of this “culture of grammar elitism”? I’m pretty sure I am (you only need to see my grammar Nazi post to gather that info)…wait! Is Baker-Thornton insulting me?! (Although “grammar mistress” sounds kind of sexy. From now on, refer to me as Grammar Mistress, please.)

After reading this section of Baker-Thornton’s quote: “imposing all these rules that had no life..sometimes grammar can be viewed as being very inflexible…” I, for one, had the following response:

grammar amnesty 5

Grammar rules do have life, thank you very much (at least in my meager little opinion), and aren’t rules inflexible? Isn’t that kind of the definition of “rule”–that it’s something that should be followed, period?** Let’s move on so I don’t have an aneurysm.

I’m sure there are those who are all about enforcing grammar amnesty. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any authoritative quotes taking that stance; however, there are tons of comments on the articles linked to within this blog post that argue both sides of the debate.

As for the opponents of grammar amnesty? They’re a little easier to find. As The Telegraph‘s Judith Woods wrote:

For the love of Dr Johnson, grammar is the scaffolding that keeps our language, our culture, our identity aloft and intact. It is not something for teachers to have a laugh about.

Otherwise everything – particularly conversation and comprehension – falls apart. When your son’s French mistress teaches him French, she doesn’t say: “Don’t worry about the grammar, it’s fine to make consistent slips.”

Well said, Ms. Woods. Well effing said.

Let's take a cue from these giraffes and debate this issue calmly (and while looking adorable).

Let’s take a cue from these giraffes and debate this issue calmly (and while looking adorable).

As for grammar amnesty, what are your thoughts? Do you think kids should be given some leeway when it comes to grammatical rules? Or is that blasphemy?

And, as I ask in this post’s title, can grammar amnesty be compared to the “every kid gets a trophy” mentality? In other words, are we being too damned easy on our kids? Sound off below.

*This is not to imply that children’s sports aren’t competitive currently. I know there are plenty of very competitive (some excessively so) kids’ leagues.

**Just in case you were wondering, yes, this is one way to define the word rule. See here.

My Inner Self Might Be a Grammar Nazi
June 11, 2015, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Grammar, Language | Tags: , , ,

Update 6/16/15: Taylor Swift is not a fan of grammar Nazis.

Grammar Nazi 2According to Urban Dictionary, a grammar Nazi is “someone who believes it’s their duty to attempt to correct any grammar and/or spelling mistakes they observe.”

While I certainly don’t lurk on blogs and social media, writing snarky comments to show others how dumb they are, I definitely notice when I see a grammar mistake, whether it be on your tweet, her vlog description, or his article in a print magazine. And deep down, I want so badly to call offenders out on their errors (yes, even in public forums). But I don’t.

Not yet, anyway.


No one’s exactly sure how the term “grammar Nazi” came about, but it’s speculated that the first time it was used (really the first documentation of its use) was on January 18, 1991, in the Usenet group comp.sys.apple2. So to whom can the phrase be attributed?

Unfortunately, the individual is known as nothing other than “The Unknown User.” After a group member commented “Ok, I posted a message on this subject earlier with sort of a ‘rediculous’…” The Unknown User responded, “ridiculous. I’m a card carrying member of the Spelling and Grammar Nazis of America.”

…And Some Take it a Little Too Seriously

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on an…interesting…situation in Moscow involving Alexei Pavlovsky, local coordinator of Total Dictation, a Russian spelling and grammar contest.

According to Pavlovsky, Russian authorities questioned him about a couple of slightly bizarre topics:

“First they started asking me about Total Dictation and my other social initiatives, then they politely asked me what I know about ‘grammar Nazis’ and if they sponsored my activities. They also asked what feelings I have toward people who make [grammatical] mistakes and whether I have a desire to destroy them.”

Whoa. NSA, if you’re reading, I am not a Nazi of any sort, and I do not encourage fascism.

Grammar Nazi 1

Now on to the Lighter Side

Please enjoy.

Grammar Nazi 3

The video gets bonus points for its Oxford comma joke.

You Can Be a Grammar Nazi, Too!

wikiHow has a handy-dandy guide with only seven steps.

My favorite of the seven? Number three:

Listen carefully to what a speaker says and ask for clarification if you need it.This will ensure that you fully understand what they said and aren’t criticizing them for mistakes they didn’t make. Use your manners, of course, and do not interrupt them while they are talking.

Need more proof that you’re a grammar Nazi? There are plenty of social media pages for that. No joke. Grammar Nazi Party is just one–a Facebook page with the description, “We are overwriting the bad reputation of Grammar Nazis everywhere and making a good name for ourselves as helpers of the Internet!”

You can't convince me that this kitty is evil.

You can’t convince me that this kitty is evil.

What’s your opinion? Devil or angel? Are grammar Nazis just good Samaritans who want to help others achieve grammatical glory, or are they assholes who want to make other people feel stupid?

What Are the 2016 US Presidential Candidates Reading?
June 6, 2015, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , ,

They should be reading the Constitution of the United States as well as the Bill of Rights, over and over and over again…but we don’t talk about politics here! We talk about literature.

So what fills up the Republication candidates’ bookshelves? Read on to find out.

*Note: Not all candidate possibles are listed below, either due to lack of information.

american flag mapThe Elephants

Jeb Bush 

  1. Coming Apart: The State of White America, Charles Murray
  2. “Something by Robert Putnam”
  3. Devil in the White City, Erik Larson – I have this book sitting on my “to-read” bookshelf. In fact, I just looked over and spotted it immediately. Definitely have to read that one, pronto!
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston
  5. Abraham Lincoln, Lord Charnwood

A special note of thanks to Bush, whose Q&A session in Michigan was the inspiration for this post.

George E. Pataki

  1. The Accidental EmpressAllison Pataki
  2. ¡Adios, America!, Ann Coulter

Bonus: Childhood Favorite: The Little Engine That Could

rand paul

Rand Paul, if he were pop art.

Rand Paul

  1. Clinton CashPeter Schweizer
  2. Zero to One, Peter Thiel
  3. Suicide Pact, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
  4. Act of War, Brad Thor
  5. True and Constant Friends, Kelley Paul

Rick Santorum

  1. Truly Free, Robert Morris
  2. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein

Bobby Jindal 

  1. The Bible
  2. The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
  3. John Henry Newman: A Biography, Ian Ker

Mike Huckabee

  1. The Holy Bible
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  3. Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
  4. “Anything by Francis Schaeffer”
  5. Theodore and Woodrow, Andrew P. Napolitano

american flagTed Cruz

  1. From Sea to Shining Sea, Callista Gingrich
  2. The Liberty AmendmentsMark Levin
  3. Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand
  4. “I don’t read books that are not the Constitution.” (Not exactly correct, Senator Cruz, judging from the above.)

Scott Walker

  1. When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan, Peggy Noonan
  2. Real Change, Newt Gingrich
  3. Leadership, Rudy Giuliani

Rick Perry (he’s a maybe)

  1. Geronimo, Mike Leach
  2. Foreign and Domestic, A.J. Tata

The Donkeys

Martin O’Malley

  1. Gardens of Democracy, Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer
  2. The New Democrats and the Return to Power, Al From
Hillary, if someone went a little heavy on the airbrushing.

Hillary, if someone went a little heavy on the airbrushing.

Hillary Clinton

  1. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt – One of my favorite authors, although I can’t bring myself to read this one just yet.
  2. Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou
  3. The Brothers Karamazov
  4. Decision Points,” by President George W. Bush
  5. The Hare With Amber Eyes,” by Edmund de Waal

Joe Biden (maybe)

  1. American Gospel, Jon Meacham
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

After doing the research for this article, I realized one large thing: I have something in common with a Bush and a Clinton. We like some of the same kinds of books. Who would’ve thunk it?

Which potential presidential candidate has literary tastes similar to your own?

Traveling Through Fiction
June 3, 2015, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , does some pretty cool stuff…namely, they’ve created a Google Maps Mashup pinpointing where various (at this time, they have 200) novels take place.

vintage mapFrom the map’s introduction:

They say reading a book is the greatest form of escapism – but where we escape to changes from author to author and story to story. You could visit Narnia, Westeros, or just the West End of London. This map from chronicles some of the greatest and most popular stories of English Literature (according to major publications) and their settings. Obviously the only condition is they have to be on planet Earth.

Pretty badass, and I was stoked to see my all-time favorite novel with its own little marker on the map.

But wouldn’t it be cool if they took it a step further and created maps of fictional worlds that provide the setting for (or are at least mentioned in) various books or stories?

Just a thought. Check the map out, and let me know if your fave was on there.


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