The Wordsmythe's Weblog…

…On Words, Love and Life

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Criminal minds, unlucky in love.

When love is in excess it brings a man no honor nor worthiness.” Eruipedes, quoted by Gideon in Season 1 Episode 5 Broken Mirror.

I love Criminal Minds. Call it a morbid fascination or whatever you will. But I just love watching the BAU, short for Behavioural Analysis Unit, get into the mind of an unsub, (that’s criminal to you and me, short for unknown subject) and figure out what makes them tick. The BAU is a subdivision of the FBI based in Quantico, Virginia. They create profiles of unsubs based on clues they pick up from victims (who are, in almost all cases, dead) and the crime scenes or scene of discovery (sometimes the bodies are dumped away from where they were killed). It’s difficult to describe the sense of suspense I experience, heart in mouth, as I watch them put the clues together until they identify and locate the perpetrator, and they almost always do. As gruesome as some of the crimes are, I enjoy watching it because I am assured that the bad people will ultimately be apprehended or killed. Although, I have to say I’ve been caught out a few times when the killer has gotten away. However, they usually get their comeuppance episodes later, much to my viewing satisfaction but alas, usually after the unfortunate demise of several more victims.

The camaraderie amongst the team is quite endearing. Criminal-MindsIt’s interesting to watch the unique dynamics of the very different individuals who make up the team. The rather stern-faced and serious unit chief is Aaron Hotchner. I can count the number of times he has cracked a smile on the fingers of one hand. Alright, I exaggerate slightly, I know, but he most certainly does not buy into the school of thought which says it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. His smiles are few and far between. In spite of his seeming lack of a sense humour, he is a worthy leader. David Rossi, one of the original founders of the team, is the extroverted, rich, successfully published author and agent who takes a more laid-back approach to life but still gets the job done.

The sweet flirtatious banter between Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia is something I quite look forward to every episode. Their relationship is a cross between a mating dance in the wild and a deep sibling bond. Morgan can be quite aggressive towards unsubs but is fiercely loyal to and protective of his team-mates. Flamboyant and fun-loving Garcia, a reformed hacker turned FBI technical analyst, hates blood and gore so prefers to work behind the scenes and usually provides much-needed levity and comic relief for the team particularly with her know-it-all joking manner of answering the phone.

Dr Spencer Reid is the youngest member of the group. He is a genius, an autodidact with an eidetic memory and IQ of 187. He is usually the butt of Morgan’s ribbing and jokes but he takes it on the chin and has, on occasion, retaliated too. Over the years and as a result of working with the team, he has lost some of social awkwardness and loosened up a bit. Jennifer Jarreau, fondly called JJ by the rest of the team, started off acting as a liaison between friends and family of victims, the police and the press but is now a profiler.

I have to say I was glad to see the back of Jason Gideon. The man took life way too seriously, even when he was doing what should have been fun stuff like going a date or being holed up in his beloved cabin in the woods, you got the feeling that he was just going through the motions. On the other hand, I miss Emily Prentiss. I was sad to see her leave. She brought a balance to the team and got on equally well with every other member. I haven’t quite bonded with Alex Blake, Emily’s replacement and the newest member of the team, it’s early days but she seems ok.

I just watched ‘ Episode 12 of Season 8 Zugzwang’ and I have concluded that the employment contracts  of the team must state somewhere in the small print that members of the BAU are not allowed to have happy, trouble-free romantic relationships. Don’t get me wrong, I know real-life relationships are not trouble-free but my word, the kind of disasters that befall the BAU’s love life is nothing short of cataclysmic!

Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t watched this episode yet and you are planning to, I would suggest you stop reading now. Just as I was beginning to get excited at the prospect of Reid finding love, his love interest is killed by her stalker in this episode. At first, I didn’t want to believe she had actually died but with Reid’s non-communicative hibernation in the subsequent episode, the evidence was glaring and I had to accept it. This is the latest in the long  and rather tragic history of the BAU’s personal lives.

In Season Five, Haley, Hotchner’s wife, was killed George Foyet aka The Reaper. Granted they were divorced but that was also because of the havoc played on the marriage by Hotchner’s work commitments. JJ married the father of her baby, Detective William LaMontagne in the Season Seven finale but only after he had been shot and kidnapped by bank robbers and their son, Henry held hostage by one of the kidnappers. Garcia was shot by a man she went on a date with. Rossi has been married and divorced three times. Gideon’s girlfriend was murdered by Frank Breitkopf. Prentiss’ death had to be faked in order for her to escape the attentions of Ian Doyle, a dangerous arms dealer, but not before he stabs her in the stomach with a wooden table leg. She had acted as his girlfriend years back while working undercover with Interpol and he was intent on revenge.

Morgan is the only one who seems to have avoided similar tragedy in his love life and that’s simply because he does not have one. He must know something the others haven’t quite cottoned on to – if you do not have a special person in your life, unsubs can’t get to you through them. This does not mean that he has not suffered personal tragedy. At the age of ten, he witnessed his father, a police officer, shot to death. He was sexually abused as a teenager by Carl Buford, a man who acted as a surrogate father to him. His cousin disappeared while relocating to another state, only to reappear years later, apparently the victim of severe domestic and psychological abuse by her dominant partner and kidnapper. I guessed he reckons he has had enough trouble for one lifetime and there is no need to invite any more.

Achieving personal happiness or finding love on this show is an asymptote. It is as elusive as Utopia. I have no idea how much more personal trauma and tragedy this one team can withstand especially considering the nature of their work. One thing I do know, having followed the series closely for eight seasons, is that there will probably be a whole lot more and I will watch every bit of it. It is, after all, what makes this show such riveting viewing. After each episode, I just heave a huge sigh of relief and thank God it’s make-belief.

“Robert Kennedy once said “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”” Gideon in Season 2 Episode 18 Jones.

Thanks for stopping by.

Oríkì for the word.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient.

Words. Why do I love them so much? There’s just something about this unit of language that never ceases to amaze me.

The simple act of rolling a word around my tongue and sampling the possibilities it holds for expression brings me such delight. For me, just enunciating the different syllables that make up a word is a synaesthetic experience. It is like a culinary explosion of tasty morsels in the mouth when each morpheme collaborates with others to form a meaningful word. It is like seeing a rainbow in all its polychromatic glory when the sounds fall into place and you make sense of the word. It is like listening to a piece of beautifully haunting music which tug at your heartstrings as you make the connection between word and meaning. It is like solving a jigsaw puzzle, painstakingly arranging the pieces in their proper order until the complete picture appears.

I take pleasure in sounding out words, in learning how to pronounce them. I get excited when I am able to distinguish between different sound groups and understand why they differ from or are similar to each other. When I hear or read a word I am unfamiliar with, I hasten to Google as soon as I can to check it out. I look up the meaning and listen to the pronunciation thanks to the sound effects on online dictionaries. Then I say it out loud, over and over again, to get used to saying it right and make it stick.

This fascination with words, my mother tells me, started as soon as I could speak. I was a stickler for using the right words to express thoughts and At the beachconcepts. I have been told of several occasions where I corrected grown-ups for mixing up words, for using the wrong word or for being a bit liberal with their use. I recall one in particular. We lived in London but often went to Birmingham to see relatives. I do not recall where my mum was but it fell to my aunt to take the kids to the cinema. When buying the tickets, she was asked how old I was, she replied that I was two and a half. It was free for children under three. To my aunt’s consternation and in spite of a previous warning not to reveal my true age, I piped up, “no, I’m three and a half.” Needless to say, she was not impressed and still tells the story till this day.

I learnt to read when I turned four. That is when I began to decipher and decode those incomprehensible squiggles on paper. What had previously been just black markings on white paper then became keys to opening endless doors to wondrous worlds and experiences for me. That was when I began to understand the relationship between the spoken and written word. That was revolutionary, a major breakthrough for a small person.

As I grew older, my love for words grew deeper and wider. At school, I excelled at things like composition, spelling and dictation. In my spare moments, and many times when I should have been doing something else, I would often bury my head in one book or another, lost in the world I was reading about. Thanks to this preoccupation, I landed myself in trouble more times than I care to remember yet none of the punishments meted out were enough to put me off my favourite pastime.

I love watching my sons play with words. Apparently, they have inherited my love for words and I couldn’t be more delighted. They are both very particular about the use of words and how they are pronounced and crack me up again and again with some of the stuff they come up with. Once, EDU, the younger one, wanted more cereal. I asked him to finish what was on his plate first. He promptly reminded me that it wasn’t a plate but a bowl Open-mouthed smile. The other day, we were driving home from visiting relatives and Mo Cushla and I were discussing the annoying phenomenon of abbreviating and making acronyms of words that people can’t be bothered to write out in full. We mentioned some examples, ‘HBD’ for Happy birthday and ‘LLNP’ for Long life and Prosperity. WEO overheard and asked what HBD stood for. When we told him, he retorted, “HBD? Happy birthday day? That doesn’t make any sense.”

It was exciting to watch WEO learning to read. It was like going back in time and reliving my experience of learning to read. I would encourage him to sound out and then blend the sounds to make words. Sometimes I would get impatient with him when he seemed not to get it. I had forgotten what it was like when the print on paper didn’t make any sense. Fortunately for both of us, one day the penny dropped. He could read and we have not heard the last from my little scholar since. His brother is now learning to read and even though, he doesn’t quite get it yet, he’s keen to learn. I am a lot more laid-back with him, having been through the experience once, I know it’ll come to him one day so I am not sweating the small stuff.

Until then, I’ll just keep enjoying our shared love and fascination for words.

“I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees, Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.” Elinor Wylie

Thanks for stopping by.

“Stay Within Yourself”

A friend shared an article from the December 24th 2012 edition of The New Yorker titled ‘Posthumous’ by Jeffery Eugenides with me. It was adapted from a speech Eugenides, a previous winner himself, gave to the 2012 Whiting Award winners. I’m going to share what occurred to me as I read it but I would suggest that you read the entire article yourself. Though it’s a brilliant piece of advice for writers, the wisdom in it can be applied to different spheres of life.

He quoted Doug Fister, an American baseball player with the Detroit Tigers. When asked by a journalist how his team copes with the pressure of playing against big-league teams, Fister said,

“We just try to stay within ourselves. That’s what we’ve been doing all year, as a team. The important thing to do, as a pitcher, is I just try to stay within myself. So, yeah, when I’m out there, on the mound, in a game like that, a big game, what I’m thinking about is staying within myself. Because the important thing to do in a situation like this is, you know, to stay within yourself.”

Eugenides wryly pointed out, and I have to agree with him, the ‘lack of articulateness’ in the above but was quick to remind his listeners that it didn’t necessarily mean the speaker didn’t know what he was talking about.

“Stay within yourself.” Out of context, these three words may sound like some of the psychobabble we hear peddled about by self-help life coaches, yet as much as I hate mindless mantras, they resonated with me. I got the point Fister was making in spite, or perhaps because, of his lack of eloquence.

If you placed my knowledge of American baseball on a digital scale, the reading would be a big fat zero. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it played before but I don’t need to understand the game to interpret Fister’s words. Permit me to exercise my poetic licence to expatiate on what I think he meant. To me, Fister was saying, “be true to yourself, find out what works for you and concentrate on it. Don’t get distracted by what anyone else is doing. Don’t give in to the pressure of being like everyone else. Stay within yourself.”

We live in a world where there’s pressure to be like everyone else, anyone but yourself. Trying to be individual makes you stick out like a sore thumb. A quest for individuality is sometimes interpreted as rebellion and a refusal to submit to authority. You end up getting labelled as difficult, uncooperative and perhaps aggressive and argumentative.

No one really wants to be classed a non-team player so we shut the door on our individuality, that which makes us unique and different, and embrace sameness. We go with the general consensus of popular opinion. We rationalise that if we’re like everyone else, we won’t get into trouble, that if everyone else is doing something, then it must be right. But the danger of conformity is that the standards are constantly changing. Fashion trends are as fickle as the signs of a British summer; they come, go, then come back again years later. Public opinion changes.

I am, by no means, suggesting that we try to buck every trend or break every rule. I’ve learnt that not everything can be reduced to the simplistic equation of just black and/or white, that there is a kaleidoscope of colour in everything. What I’m saying is we should all take the time to learn what makes us tick. Take time to understand how we can influence our own world with our unique contribution. Striving to be the same as everyone else robs us of the opportunity to leave a mark on the world. Squelching out our individuality just to fit in with others’ expectation is an exercise in futility. It only leads to frustration as we will never be able to please everyone.

Be original. There’s only one you. Granted, not everyone will like you and your unique slant on things but that’s their problem not yours. Don’t get bogged down with the herd mentality. Start questioning why you do what you do and the way you do it. Is it because it’s what everyone else does, is it really what you want to be doing? Could you do it in a different way?

Don’t let others define you by how they think you should be or do. Liberate yourself from the expectations of others. Shake off the shackles of being self-effacing. Be you, do you. As Mo Cushla would say, “Be bold, be brilliant.”

For someone who claims to hate psychobabble, I have spouted quite a lot of it in this post Open-mouthed smile but I hope you catch my drift. This year, may we the best of ourselves that we can be.

Thanks for stopping by and remember to “Stay within yourself.”

The countdown begins

Happy New Year, everyone.

Today is the last day of the first week of the new year! As always, time is zipping by so quickly, hopefully we are making every second count.

When I was told that my book was scheduled to be published in March, it felt like light years away. But now we’re in 2013, it’s just two months away. Wow! I can hardly believe it.

In the next few weeks, I will be running some competitions with fun prizes. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the book without giving the entire plot away.

To kick things off, the first person to leave a comment on this post which also happens to be my first this year will win a free copy of the e-book.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

CloserThanaBigBrother 500x750

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Closer than a Brother

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Setting: London, UK

Publisher: Whispers Publishing

Format: E-book

Release Date: March 8th 2013

Blurb:

Daye Thompson didn’t know when it happened, but while playing the role of the-big-brother-she-never-had to beautiful Samantha Egbuson, he’d gone and fallen in love with her. Confessing his true feelings could signal the end of their lifetime friendship. Can he risk losing her altogether?

She may have fallen for her best friend, Daye but can Sami trust him with her heart when she’s had such rotten luck with men she trusted in the past?

 

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