Like a Field of Shoes
Got to substitute teach today at the high school. Offered writing tips. Like beware sentence fragments. Abjure staccato rhythms. Be very wary of the word "very" and of useless, overwrought, purple and unnecessarily effervescent adjectives. Avoid cliches like the plague. And so on.
I sit on the downed tree and watch the black steers slip on the creek bottom. They are all bred beef: beef heart, beef hide, beef hocks. They're a human product like rayon. They're like a field of shoes. They have cast-iron shanks and tongues like foam insoles. You can't see through to their brains as you can with other animals; they have beef fat behind their eyes, beef stew.
Why do I like that so much.
Because the repetition of the word "beef" is like the repetition of the cows themselves as they move about -- undifferentiated, members of not merely the same species but the same breed, designed for efficient conversion to steak, burger, and meat byproducts.
Because the similes are simple. There are no loose words. "They're like a field of shoes" is a line that can't be improved. I would have written something like, "Shoes, being made of leather, which comes from cow hide, are what leaps to mind whenever I see a bunch of cows."
Because almost all the words are one syllable, and one-syllable words get you so quickly where you need to go.
Because she's found a novel way to describe something mundane.
Because she mentions that zoned-out look that cows give you -- that glazed expression that suggests that the grass contains THC.
More grizzly talk: Here's Sean at Cosmic Variance: "Science is being used as a stand-in for a constellation of things against which many Americans react viscerally -- elitism, paternalism, snobbery."
And a contrary view from the Volokh Conspiracy: "...we have a specialized agency (many of them, actually) that hands out money for worthy research projects -- it's called the National Science Foundation, and it funds many, many worthy projects. May it long continue to do so; I've got no problem with Congress increasing the NSF's budget. The problem is that there are thousands of worthy research projects out there, and CONGRESS should not be deciding which ones are worthy of support and which aren't. That's the problem with pork and earmarks and the rest -- not that they don't ever do any good, but that the law-making process cannot possibly decide between the good projects and the bad ones, and will, inevitably, make those decisions on the wrong (i.e on political) grounds."
Brief but amusing reference at Jezebel: "I like the bear lady."
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