A to Z Challenge: Zumba, Zombies, and Zing

During the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge I’m posting what I like to describe as “semi-useful” procrastination strategies for writers and others who may need a little break from the task at hand from time to time.

Z, you say? Are we there already? What on earth am I going to do with my evenings now that I don’t have to scramble to come up with a handful of delightful linky procrastination destinations for your clicking pleasure? Could it be that I’m going to be forced to actually–perish the thought–sleep at night? Respond to grossly (grossly!) overdue emails? Get back to work on my novel-in-progress?

Okay, fine. Clearly I’m not going to be starved for things to do, and in fact it will actually be quite lovely to be able to revisit some of the terrific blogs I’ve encountered during the challenge and to forge ahead with my blog visits without the same wallop of pressure that’s been spurring me on since April 1.

Let’s face it, this Challenge has had a profound couch-potato-ing influence on most of us. Whether we’re scouring the interwebs in a desperate quest for the perfect X post, or scrambling to comment on as many blogs as we can reasonably visit in between the job, the dinner-cooking, the dog walking, and he housework (I’m lying here; I managed to avoid housework very successfully for almost the entire month of April, and no, you can’t come by to see the results, because I don’t want to be responsible for your embolism of horror). Anyway, my point is that after lolling about on my bum for month, it struck me that a little movement would not be amiss in my daily repertoire of activities, and I thought I’d share two links for Zumba-ing back into the world of health and vigour.

Of course, everybody is going to be posting about zombies because (a) hello? Zombies? Who doesn’t want to talk about zombies? and (b) Zombies!!! And that’s all well and good, but I suddenly thought, hey, what if you are a zombie? Chances are good you’re going to be feeling a little bit alienated by all these people blogging about you like they can actually relate to your zombified experience, which, really, how likely is that? Dead, undead, living. Three completely different states of being, right? But, wait a second. How do you even know if you are a zombie?

Simple. There’s a quiz for that. Of course.

So, fine. The upside is now you know you’re a zombie. The downside is that everyone hates you and would as soon decapitate you as look at your decomposing face. Everywhere you go, it’s just judgement, judgement, judgement. What’s a new kid on the zombie block to do? Well, you organize, of course. Chum up with your undead pals and become acquainted with your zombie rights and start advocating for yourself and your kind. Maybe date a little. What? Can’t find that perfect undead soulless mate? No problem! Head on over to ZombieHarmony and let the experts help you find your mate, and then settle back with him/her on your zombie couch for an evening of fresh brain snacks and Zombie Family (Unfilms).

Zing Went the Strings of My Heart: While I was poking around that skiver’s paradise, YouTube, looking for a fitting finish to this challenge, I came across this old song by Judy Garland which, okay, I admit it, really doesn’t sum up the A to Z Challenge even remotely, but it does sum up that feeling you get when you finally come to the end of a project and realize you’ve made it. Okay, fine, it doesn’t sum that up either, but it’s Judy Garland singing a Z song, and come on, that has to count for something!

And that, dear friends, is that. My final (2013) A to Z post. It feels fantastic to have made it through to the other side, and I hope we stay in touch over the year ahead.  So, what do you say? Same time, same place next year?

There are some terrific bloggers participating in the challenge this year. Check them out over here.

 

A to Z Challenge: Y is for the Yum Umbrella

During the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge I’m posting what I like to describe as “semi-useful” procrastination strategies for writers and others who may need a little break from the task at hand from time to time.

Here we are at Y with only one letter remaining until the return to sanity. It’s been a blast, but I can’t say I’m not going to enjoy a bit of downtime, and not just to go browsing through all the links I’ve been torturing you with all month. Before the A to Z nuttiness draws to a close, though, I have compiled this list of distractions to give you a brief break from the blogging or whatever else you’re supposed to be up to right now.

Yellow and its friends: Sometimes it’s enough to say something is yellow and have done with it, but other times a bit more specificity is called for. When you’re painting your living room, for example, buying a bucket of yellow paint might land you with a sea of mustard walls or an eye-piercingly neon lemon ceiling. If you’re a writer, you’ll also appreciate the value of specificity in buffing up your descriptions. Knowing the names for the many  shades of yellow will help you there.

(If it’s other colours you’re wanting to describe, there are any number of sites that will help you do just that, including this list of colours on Wikipedia. Even more exciting is this delicious list of colour words and their definitions from The Phrontistry. I’m warning you, though, if you visit The Phrontistry you might have a difficult time escaping. It’s so very hard not to click on links titled International House of Logorrhea (a free online dictionary of weird and unusual words) or Compendium of Lost Words. Yes, yes, fine. I realize neither of this has much to do with the colour yellow, but work with me here and just go with the stream of consciousness linky loveliness under the umbrella of Yum.)

Yummy: And speaking of yum, if you’ve run out of steam with your writing project, your lawn mowing or finishing your child’s latest homework assignment, could it be that you’re hungry? Why not take a little munchie break, and if you’re too brain dead to figure out what to eat, maybe you’l gather some ideas by reading about the Favourite Snacks of Great Writers or popping over to the BBC website for some healthy snack recipes. It takes calories to procrastinate, people. Never forget that.

YouTube: There was, of course, no way I could A-to-Z my way through procrastinating without talking about YouTube. Whether we’re listening to our favourite singers, ooh-ing at the Evolution of Music (click! it’s awesome!), aw-ing over adorable pet antics or learning how to knit an ugly sweater (inspiration here), YouTube is the mecca to end all meccas for the dedicated skiver.

I’m sure you have your own favourite channels, and really, I was hard pressed to decide just what to link to given the vast quantity of possibilities.But wait! There’s more! You’ve probably seen quite a few of these already, but it’s worth revisiting Buzzfeed’s list of the Best YouTube Videos of 2012 (The Best Proposal Ever is kind of fabulous, as is Kristen Bell’s sloth obsession). If you’re in the mood for memory-laning, stroll through Time Magazine’s 2010 list of YouTube’s Best Videos, where you can revisit Tillman, the Skateboarding Dog or The Sneezing Panda.

And finally, why don’t we just sit back and let Neil Young reassure us that rock and roll will never die. Sure hope he’s right.

There are some terrific bloggers participating in the challenge this year. Check them out over here.

A to Z Challenge: Xylophone, Xander, X-rays and Xmas

During the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge I’m posting what I like to describe as “semi-useful” procrastination strategies for writers and others who may need a little break from the task at hand from time to time.

I’ve been looking forward to the last three letters of the alphabet with a certain amount of trepidation, and most of that trepidation was focused squarely on the letter “X.” Now, if I’d written my posts back in February and March like the sane folk did, I wouldn’t have had to worry at all, because I would have had oodles upon oodles of time to rustle up some “X” pursuits for your procrastinating pleasure. But, whatever. Wishes and horses and beggars, la la. As it turned out, though, it wasn’t quite as hard as I’d thought to find some amusing “X” activities, and I didn’t even have to resort to porn, which most of you will be delighted to hear.

For example, I found this online xylophone for you to play, and if you get tired of the xylophone, the site also offers a keyboard, Pan pipes, and a chord playing tubaphone, among other instruments.

Back in the day, I was a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I used to watch it with my daughter and my sister, and the three of us bonded over vampire slayage and demon destruction. I neglected to post anything about Buffy in my “B” post, which was horribly remiss of me, but I’m making up for it now with this collection of Xander Harris quotes.
You know what’s lovely to look at? X-rays. Truly. Just have a browse through these X-Rays of Flowers and X-Rays of Fish, or take a boo at Steven Crow’s exquisite Seashell Architecture video:

And, finally, can an “X” post really be complete without a little taste of Lou Reed’s “Xmas in February”? I think not.

Catch you all on Monday for the penultimate post of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge!

There are some terrific bloggers participating in the challenge this year. Check them out over here.

A to Z Challenge: What a Wonderful “W”

During the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge I’m posting what I like to describe as “semi-useful” procrastination strategies for writers and others who may need a little break from the task at hand from time to time.

Hard to believe that we’re down to the last four letters of the alphabet. What on earth are we going to do with all the free time, bloggers? If you’re stuck for idea, well, maybe I have a few sites to help you get over the withdrawal from the A to Z frenzy.

World Wide Words:  I was delighted to discover this site a few days ago–don’t know how I’d missed it for so long. “The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or change their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least some part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, the background to words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.”

Weavesilk:  You draw lines, they turn into smoke. It’s an elegant, beautiful, delightful way to waste your time, and Weavesilk will generate a link so you can share your magnificent creations on Twitter or Facebook.

Wordle: I don’t really know why this one’s so appealing, but it is. The developers describe it as “a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide.” You paste in a whack of text or a url, and Wordle does the rest. Here’s my latest Wordle creation:

Wordle: oddparticle's blog

Writing:

For all my fellow writers out there, if you’ve come to a grinding halt in the middle of your magnum opus, and you want to take break but still keep those writing juices from freezing in your veins, why dive into some flash fiction ? If you’re not a writer but have been kicking the idea around, this can be a  safe way to test the waters. There are many sites out there that have weekly flash challenges, and the two I’ve participated in most often and found wonderfully welcoming and supportive are:

  • Five Sentence Fiction: This challenge “is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist.” Host Lillie McFerrin (@posts a one-word inspiration every week, and anyone can participate by writing a five-sentence story based (but not necessarily including) that word.
  • Visual Dare: Every Wednesday Angela Goff posts an image, and your mission, should you choose to accept is to write a story of 100 words or less based on that image.

If you just can’t get enough of flashing, you can also check out Motivation Mondays, The Mid-Week Blues Buster, and #FiveMinuteFiction.

And, finally, I don’t know about you, but I love to hear writers talking about their works, their processes, their writing journey. All of it. And the finest–the hands-down finest–interviewer of writers has to be Eleanor Wachtel of the CBC’s Writers and Company. As I said in a post a couple of years ago, “I’ve never heard her be snippy or snotty, belittle anyone or treat her guests with anything other than respect, curiosity, and great sensitivity. She has a true gift for putting her guests at ease and for allowing the conversation to twist and turn in the most unexpected and delightful directions.”  If you’re interested in writers and writing, I urge you to give the podcasts of her show a listen.

There are some terrific bloggers participating in the challenge this year. Check them out over here.