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Aphorisms!

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, an aphorism is kind of like a proverb. You know, stuff like “patience is a virtue,” “stupid is as stupid does,” and others like that. Here is a list of aphorisms that I wrote:

Can you spot the not-so-famous one I included?

Can you spot the not-so-famous one I included?

I didn’t invent any of these, but here are my favorites:
“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.”
“Condoms don’t protect the heart.”
“Candy is dandy – liquor is quicker.”

And, of course, the one I slipped in from Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. But I’ll leave that one up to YOU to identify (if you can read my high school handwriting, of course).

So if I didn’t create anything original, then why am I posting this? As a precursor to tomorrow’s poetry, of course! Stay tuned.

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Greek philosophy and a poem about semicolons

Whether or not you like my (10-year-old) poetry, you will likely find something you enjoy in this post! That’s because the top half of my page of notes contains timeless quotes about life from Greek philosophers, transcribed here:

“Actions always planned are never completed.” -Democritus
“Old men were once young, but it is uncertain if young men will reach old age.” -Democritus
“The path up and down is one and the same.” -Heraclitus
“Nature likes to hide itself.” -Heraclitus
“The world is change; life is opinion.” -Democritus
“Theraclitus said that a man’s character is his fate.” -Stabeus (?)
“[Parmenides] speaks of perceiving and thinking as the same thing.” -Theophrastus
“All things were together. The mind came and arranged them.” -Anaxagoras
“Worlds are altered rather than destroyed.” -Democritus
“Dark and light, bad and good, are not different, but are one and the same.” -Heraclitus

Whoa, we’re starting to get deep, aren’t we? I have no clue how these quotes tied in with the poem I wrote below them (if at all); nonetheless, here it is, transcription following the image:

Top half: the ideas of great philosophers. Bottom half: my poem about semicolons.

Top half: the ideas of great philosophers. Bottom half: my poem about semicolons.

Transcript:
Poor, deprived semicolon
There isn’t even punctuation in Latin
So then, why, Anaxagoras?
The mind came,
Arranged everything
So then, why?
Punctuation, arranged for granted?
Taken for granted?
Taken at all?
The mind needs a mean
By which it can arrange;
How, then,
Is the semicolon neglected?
Rejected?
Disrespected?
Why, Anaxagoras? Why?
…why?

A few things:

  • Did Anaxagoras invent written language? No[t that I can find using Google]. Does my poem suggest this? Yes. Do I know what to make of this discrepancy? Hell no.
  • For the uninitiated, Anaxagoras was a Greek philosopher best known for having a totally badass name.
  • I took a Latin class my senior year of high school, and that is directly responsible for my use of the phrase “by which,” as we used a LOT of prepositions in that class. As a result, we learned to write by means of many prepositions (see what I did there?).

I used to LOVE writing semicolons in high school and college, but lately I’ve become a huge fan of using colons. Not just to introduce lists, mind you; my use of colons is much more advanced than that. Of course, right now I can’t think of how I could purposely write a sentence to utilize a semicolon, but that just means you’ll have to keep checking my web site for more updates so you can spot ’em when I write them!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Writing exercise: writing similes and completing sentences, 2003 vs. 2013

Yay, a writing exercise! My creative writing teacher provided phrases ending with “is/are like…” or “as if…” and we had to finish the sentence, thus forming a simile (although it looks like some of these are just sentences needing completion, but close enough). We were giving this exercise on February 4, but I’m posting it on February 2 because we then used these similes as inspiration to write a poem, and I plan to post the poem on February 4.

I’m going to actually do this exercise, meaning that I will type all of her “set-up” phrases and complete them on my own. Then, I will supply my original 2003 answer, and then we can all compare. And please note that no, not all of these will end up being “similes” strictly by definition. Let’s do it:

A writing exercise for writing similes. Try it out!

A writing exercise for writing similes. Try it out!

Similes:

A spider on an old man’s beard is like…
2013: a scorpion in a tumbleweed.
2003: a woman in an older man’s bed.

The oars on a boat rowed as if…
2013: they had no other purpose.
2003: pushing away an annoying little brat.

Nothing was the same now that it was…
2013: Friday.
2003: Halloween.

The Wino took to coma like…
2013: a Russian going to bed.
2003: a student after school.

The dice rolled out of the cup toward Len like…
2013: an avalanche of rocks spewing from the peak of a mountain.
2003: his mother’s fist did last night.

A child in _____ is like a _____ in _____
2013: A child in peril is like a princess in the dungeon.
2003: A child in need is like a stripper in jail.

Puffy clouds in your glass of wine are like…
2013: balls of lava in a lava lamp.
2003: jagged clouds in your bag of cocaine.

A _____ is like muscles stretched taut over bone
2013: canvas
2003: hug

The fog plumed through the gunshot holes in the train windows like…
2013: a creepy pedophile sneaking into an elementary school.
2003: water pours out of Daffy Duck after Elmer Fudd shoots him.

The grey honor (honor?) walked up the satin plank as if…
2013: he were going to receive a medal for exceptional swordsmanship.
2003: on his way to the ring for a shot at the WWE Undisputed Championship.

Cancelled checks in the abandoned boat seemed…
2013: like an impractical waste of space.
2003: almost as confusing as this awful analogy.

If I should wake before I die…
2013: then I should celebrate life.
2003: put me back to sleep with your warmth.

Illanah poured coffee down her throat as if…
2013: she were a robot that needed oil to continue to function.
2003: she hadn’t had a drink since last night.

Up is like down when…
2013: you’re in Dante’s Inferno.
2003: you’re completely insane.

You mine rocks from a quarry. What you get from a quandary is…
2013: a lot more difficult to understand.
2003: able to rock your mineshaft. (lol)

Marlene dangled the Parson from the question as if…
2013: I have any idea what a Parson is. (and yes, I know I ended that with a preposition)
2003: she actually made sense.

She held her life in her own hands as if it were…
2013: a chip on a roulette table, optimistically willing to let its value be determined by the arbitrary spin of a wheel.
2003: a feather on a windy day.

“No, no, a thousand times no!” he said, his hand…
2013: balling into a fist and preparing to strike.
2003: wrapping more tightly around her waist to keep her close.

The solution was hydrochloric acid; the problem was, therefore…
2013: finding a plastic container that could contain it without dissolving. (Thanks, Breaking Bad)
2003: zombies.

Love is to open sky as loathing is to…
2013: being tightly bound and unable to move, barely able to breathe.
2003: cuddly rabbits and teddy bears.

A few things:

  • Why so many drug and alcohol references? I was in high school!
  • Here’s your homework: please explain to me how a child in need is like a stripper in jail.
  • I actually really like the Elmer Fudd / Daffy Duck line… frankly, it’s completely appropriate. Well done, 17-year-old me!

I was struck by the similarity in my responses for She held her life in her own hands as if it were…; in both of my responses, “she” left her life completely open to chance, leaving fate to decide its outcome. Conversely, my responses to the very next entry, “No, no, a thousand times no!” he said, his hand…, were polar opposites, one ending in a fist and the other ending in an embrace.

It appears that over time, people are capable of changing in some ways, but not others. Or perhaps as a writer, inspiration strikes differently at different times? Perhaps some writers have killed off characters in some drafts, but saved them in others. I guess there’s only one way for me to further explore this theory: write more!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” project, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Uh oh… a serious poem?

Well, this is going to be challenging.

In a culture over-saturated with irony, it’s hard to say something serious and leave yourself vulnerable to criticism, judgment, or even simple interpretation. That’s why I’m at least a bit reluctant to post this poem, because although I did indeed write it ten years ago, it’s strikingly devoid of the irreverence typical of the rest of my work. Was my teacher somehow successful in motivating me to actually attempt a serious poem?

Fortunately, the fact that I wrote this poem ten years ago is akin to a famous actor posting a video of the commercial he did for a local insurance company in Kansas when he was 16, so let’s face it: I can’t be too sensitive about any feedback I receive from anyone. So without further ado, let’s see if I was able to muster any poetic talent after my first couple weeks of a creative writing class (note that my actual poem attempt appears at the bottom half of the page):

 

The top half is either a rough draft, or random notes... there's really no way to tell.

The top half is either a rough draft, or random notes… there’s really no way to tell. Either way, feel free to ignore it!

Transcript:
Darkness, stars, shattered dreams
Golden Idol among blindfolded denial
Cry of the Lifestream
Bloodshed of war
Fall of the epic hero
Hardcore
Body falling endlessly
Fallable, Falling, Failing
Hopeless destruction
Ultimate end
Hopeless failure
Goodbye to a friend.

A few things:

  • “Lifestream” is a Final Fantasy VII reference, and knowing me, I used “Hardcore” in the context of professional wrestling. So I guess I did go a LITTLE “inside” with this poem.
  • I feel like this poem would be awesome at a beat poetry open mic, probably because it doesn’t have an obnoxiously generic rhyming scheme.
  • Is this perhaps some kind of analogy for the life of a video game character?

You know what’s weird? I wanted to write some commentary on the poem, so I scrolled up to read it. And seeing it written on a blank white screen in sans serif, Italicized font… well, it made it un-readable to me. Am I totally crazy or what? But seriously, I feel like I can only read this in its original hand-written form, or I’m not able to really “get into it.”

Anyway, what do you think? Is this any “good” or is it just mindless high school drivel? I took the creative writing class to learn how to be more poetic (whatever that means), but I think that at the conclusion of the class, I never really learned whether I was any good at it or if I just got better at feeling like I knew what I was doing. Does that even make sense? Probably not. But I’m going with it anyway.

Clearly, I need to practice writing some more… good thing I’ve got this web site! Thanks for joining me for the ride. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share my project with anyone you think may be interested. More posts to come soon!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Free-flowing thoughts of a high schooler

And now for something completely different!

Apparently, we listened to music in class while writing down a free-flowing stream of thought. I don’t remember what music was playing, but that kind of makes this page of notes more awesome; in fact, go ahead and try to imagine what kind of music I was hearing at the time I wrote this: I’d love to hear your theories!

Actually, I’m very interested in whether you find this interesting at all. When you read the lucid thoughts of a teenager below, are you able to paint yourself a picture of anything? Does it outline any sort of character for you? Or is it all just completely nonsensical?

I understand most of what is below on some level, whether because I’m familiar with the cultural references I make, or because some of it just makes sense on its own (i.e. the part about Irish girls). But do you? Please send me a message or let me know in the comments how you respond to this – I’m quite curious!

In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the free-flowing thoughts of a 17-year-old high school student in a creative writing class:

The free-flowing thought of a 17-year-old. What I wouldn't give to know what music was playing during this writing exercise...

The free-flowing thought of a 17-year-old. What I wouldn’t give to know what music was playing during this writing exercise…

Transcript:

Suikoden
Captain, making fun of Suikoden
Final Fantasy 6 opera
Celes, Setzer, Gau, Terra,
Locke Edgar, Strago, Relm
Strago / Relm / Shadow connection?
Why is the tape so quiet then
so loud? Crappy player?
Is it the school’s or the teacher’s?
Want to practice with
All-City Musical Orchestra
What the hell is this from?
It’s not very good
Almost sounds Irish, only bad
Brynn’s Irish
I LIKE Irish girls
Now it REALLY sounds Irish
I want to marry an Irish girl – probably a
redhead
I hate Captain’s watch
Why did that just cut off?
What the hell (once again)
It WAS like Ty Cobb
This is like Linkin’ Park
Nice saxophone, nice beat
Cool band, I like it
I need to ask what this is
Who was that woman
singing?
I bet she wasn’t Irish
This sounds like something
off of a soundtrack
Specifically, Lord of the Rings
Gosh that movie sucked
War, blood, violence
I never think the IMAGE
of blood, I usually picture
grey swords clanging together.
This is from the 20’s
I wish I was in love
I kind of AM in love, but in
an ambivalent, restrained
kind of way
I knew that would end
right there
This HARDCORE sounds
like Final Fantasy
That one song… either “We
Three Kings of Orient Are” or
“Tuxedo Kamen Piano Suite”
from Sailor Moon
Really sounds like 3 kings
Too bad that had to end
Secret of Mana time
Very nice… wish I was more
proficient at the piano
It stopped
“Creative juices” made me
think of sex right away

The only things I’ll point out are that “Captain” is the name of my best friend, who took the class with me, and Brynn is the name of another close [always platonic] friend who sat next to me in that class. Their names will come up several times in the future, I’m sure, so you may as well be aware of their existence now.

Please let me know whether this is all completely meaningless to you, or if disjointed personal writing like this sparks something in your imagination! I feel that so many things online today are cut-and-dry, spelled out for you, and not really open to interpretation. I want to know if I’m adding something deeper, or if I’m just adding nonsense to the noise. And please feel free to share with friends if you think any of them would like to add their thoughts!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Futuristic poem of the future

My first poem of my creative writing class! This should be exciting. Let’s see what I came up with ten years ago today:

Futuristic poem is futuristic

Futuristic poem is futuristic

Transcript:
Watching the grey cat crap,
I pick you up and jump over it,
Taking you across the creek to enjoy
The liquid in the plastic cup awaiting us
In the futuristic house
In the futuristic world
In our futuristic lives
…..of the future.

A few things:

  • What. The hell. Is this.
  • I legitimately never drank alcohol in high school, so I’m assuming the plastic cup contains Mountain Dew. In fact, I am positive this absolutely has to be the case.
  • This “poem” is the kind of thing that makes me wonder where thoughts come from. And somehow, I don’t even care that I ended that sentence with a preposition.

I don’t have any record of what assignment spawned this obviously brilliant poem, so I won’t be writing a “modern-day version” of the assignment this time. Let’s hope things stay this ridiculous in the future!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

How I’m like my shoe

My first creative writing assignment: write about how I am similar to my shoe. Okay, easy enough, right? Here’s what I came up with ten years ago today:

This is how I'm like a shoe. How are you like a shoe?

This is how I’m like my shoe. How are you like your shoe?

Transcript:
“I’m like my shoe because we’re both afraid of spiders, tripping, and werewolves. My shoe is very old and thus could become a BED TIME SNACK for spiders, and I’m REALLY scared of spiders, and of bugs in general. Also, I hate tripping on things or accidentally kicking hard objects and ending up in pain. Also, werewolves are really freaky and violent and fight like girls. FOR NO REASON.”

A few things:

  • I don’t know how old shoes can become a “BED TIME SNACK” (why was that in all caps??) for spiders, but that line still makes me laugh.
  • I’m still really afraid of bugs, but centipedes scare me much, much more than spiders ever have. Boxelder bugs also scare me out of my mind.
  • To clarify: werewolves fight like girls because they kick and bite and scratch, which boys generally don’t do. Sorry, ladies, but you can’t call science sexist.

I don’t have much more to say, so now comes the hard part: I will try to describe how I’m like my shoe today. I wish I had attempted this before reading my original response from ten years ago, but I can’t do anything about that now. So here is my 2013 explanation of how I’m like my shoe:

I’m like my shoe because we’re both comfortable, we both age well, and we both have spring in our step. My New Balance shoes are comfortable, and the word “Cody” literally means “cushion,” which is what I feel like the soles of my feet are stepping on while I walk. We both age well, probably because my shoes avoid the rain and I avoid the sun. I also like to walk with a little bit of swagger, which my shoes also do as they spring my feet back up with that classic cushioning. This is the part where I’d love New Balance to pay me large sums of money for my ringing endorsement. Although to be completely honest, I haven’t purchased a pair of shoes other than New Balance shoes since my sophomore year of college, which was nearly ten years ago. They’re just, like, the best shoe brand ever. I think I got off topic, but let’s face it: blog posts that stay completely on topic can become a BED TIME SNACK for spiders.

…some things never change.


This blog entry is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

A letter to my creative writing teacher

On the first day of my last semester of high school, our creative writing class was tasked with writing a letter to our teacher – who also happened to be my sophomore English teacher – outlining our expectations of the class. Here is that letter, complete with the teacher’s notes, followed by a transcript with her comments in bold:

A letter to my creative writing teacher (formerly my sophomore English teacher) on my first day of my final semester of high school.

A letter to my creative writing teacher (formerly my sophomore English teacher) on my first day of my final semester of high school.

Dear Teacher:

Well since the English curriculum in school generally hasn’t involved any creative, fictional, non-objective, or otherwise fun writing whatsoever, and I RUN a role-playing game on message boards online which involves constant original fantasy writing, I hoped to gain some semblance of an idea of how to write and/or whether or not I’m even any good at writing fiction at all. Also, are you really going to read this? [Yes, Cody I’m reading this.] I bet you are. I’m going to give you a really hard time if you don’t, though. Actually, that would just make me a difficult student [Who you?], and I don’t want to be particularly difficult this semester. This class is gonna rock – and I can buy coffee and creme [sic] and hot chocolate mix for you too [Well, I thought I’d institute the “Elvis Slush fund”], since I did in Speech class last semester anyway. Food RULES. So does this class. No, seriously. [Well, I hope you have a good semester. I’m glad you’re in the class. Where’s Gohan been?]

Sincerely,
Cody Gough

A few things:

  • I didn’t really start drinking coffee until partway through college, so I have no idea where the “coffee and creme” reference originated, nor do I have any recollection of an “Elvis Slush fund.” I guess you forget some random small details after 10 years!
  • In contrast to the Elvis reference, I actually do understand the Gohan reference, but I will explain that long story in a future post.
  • This is actually the second time I’d asked my teacher in my class notes whether she was actually reading them; my first time doing this was as a student in her English class my sophomore year of high school. To put that in context, though, I really wasn’t being a jerk, because I actually quite liked her classes, and pretty much everything I did (and still do) is at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Believe me, I’ve inspired a lot of eye-rolling from my teachers over the years.
  • Instead of ending the last sentence with a period, I nearly ended it with a smiley face emoticon. As a direct result, I am now wallowing in self-loathing.

This letter pretty much sets the tone for my 10-year Idea Reunion. At the time I wrote this, I had written a lot, but had no idea whether the writing was any “good,” I got along with my teacher well enough to be allowed a certain level of irreverence, and I was excited about the idea of finding new creative ways to express myself.

I hate shameless self-plugs, but if you’re interested in following my journey through this class, then please follow me via WordPress! It’s going to be a long – and hopefully very entertaining – journey.

My 10-Year Idea Reunion

The time is nigh.

It's like my own personal Bible... of IDEAS

It’s like my own personal Bible… of IDEAS

I took a creative writing class during my last semester of high school in 2003, and I still have the “idea notebook” I created while enrolled in that class. Our first day of class was January 21, 2003. Guess what day is coming up soon?

That’s right: January 21, 2013.

Over the next several months, I will be reproducing the contents of my “idea notebook” in their ENTIRETY on this site. All of my poems, stories, notes, and more will be here…exactly 10 years after I wrote them.

I want to be clear up-front that the humor contained in these posts will not come from the sheer awfulness of any of it. Quite the contrary: I consider myself to be a pretty funny teenager, and from what I’ve seen flipping through the pages of my tome of brilliance, I was a pretty funny teenager 10 years ago, too. I didn’t – and still don’t – take myself too seriously, so everything you read will have more than a slight dose of irreverence.

And I won’t just be regurgitating old content; after all, where’s the challenge in that? Instead, in addition to writing commentary on my old treasures, I will also re-do some of my old assignments and compare them to what I wrote 10 years ago. We’ll all find out together how much I’ve changed in the last decade.

Stay tuned. This is going to be fun.

Apparently I turned in a paper to my science teacher on January…

tumblr_mesutrERxl1rv9lbbo1_500.jpg

Apparently I turned in a paper to my science teacher on January 4, 1998 (I was in 7th grade). From what I can tell, my assignment was to address how to prevent the outbreak of a virus that had recently been found in some horses. But rather than write an entire paper about that, I outlined a simple – and overtly inhumane – outbreak prevention plan in three sentences, and then proceeded to present “fictional story time” to my teacher.

I… can’t believe I turned this in. I must have been the most awesome 7th grader ever to blatantly turn in a ridiculous story instead of actually doing my assigned work. As you can see, I was given a 0/100%. In the teacher’s words: “Sounds good – story was not what I asked for.”

Well played, teacher… well played.

My teacher had a good point, though: the story DOES sound good.

via Tumblr

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