by | tonybrown

Posts Tagged ‘writing


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Stories are full of three letter words, little connectors that don’t hold much substance, yet often dramatically shift the direction of a sentence like ‘but’ and ‘yet’. There’s another one, too, that has hopscotched in and out of my language, my particular style of idiom, my, flavor-of-the-English class tone of writing that I find I’m using quite a bit more recently.

And that word, three letters indeed, is ‘and.’ I think it was my junior year of high school, around the time that I ditched the normal course sequence of American literature followed by British literature and creative writing for English “electives”—the courses that were split center with the students whose parents had bred and cultured since birth or shortly thereafter to write and comprehend at an advanced level—and the others who truly enjoyed the pieces and often styled their hair in ways no one else understood.

Then there were the journalism classes. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they were considered English courses simply because we produced the majority of the school’s gross domestic verbage, but I quickly learned they taught me diddley squat about prose and voice.

But anyway, it was around my junior year of high school that I really began to exercise my natural talent—spelling—and put words on a page. I’ll be the first to admit I know nothing about the technical side of the language; beyond the who vs. whom debate I’m worthless, especially if you’re talking about poetry and iambic pentometers and that sort of thing. But I do know how to spell. If I’ve seen the word once, and if it’s an especially hard one, heard it once, I can most likely without a doubt probably spell it back to you.

A funny thing happened, though, as I began to craft and develop a voice in my monthly column to the Warriors of Arapahoe High and I began to notice my use of a nasty little word, the rouser of run-ons and fomenter of fragments: those three little letters spelling A-N-D.

Suddenly it was ok for me to begin a sentence with And. This was in direct violation of every teacher since Mrs. Landsford in First who had steered me clear of ‘and’ in any use other than as a three-lettered plus sign between members of a list. ‘Only one per sentence!’ she screams from the grammar department of my brain.

That department is one of my more active departments, I should say. I could say I’m not a grammar snob but that’d be untrue. Sure, I judge you when you place an apostrophe where one doesn’t belong, but it’s ok because everyone does it. Except for me of course. Like most purists of an art, especially like anyone who refers to themselves or considers themselves a purist of the art, I’m in complete denial of myself. And my mind’s inflated perception of my own popularity. That’s all beside the point, though.

There I go again, I think. Another ‘and’ stuck at the beginning of a sentence. ‘But I know the proper use,’ I think. ‘I can place it there, I have a firm grasp of the English language. Haters be damned.’

I saw David Sedaris tonight, and I can confidently say it’s worth having that experience bucket-listed.

Things I Love Today:

NPR’s Live Concert Podcasts
The Black Keys totally destroy live shows. I’ve never seen them, but I’ve now heard them via NPR’s free podcasts. What was once a band I may have paid $10 to see is now at the top of my list. NPR has a ton of live shows you can download: The Decemberists’ SXSW performance just recently went up, Ben Gibbard, Wilco, Radiohead, The Raconteurs, Of Montreal, Andrew Bird, Fleet Foxes, Conor Oberst, Polyphoni…

Written by Tony

April 9, 2009 at 3:30 am

Posted in journalism, music

Tagged with , ,

New Year’s Promise

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Well, I can’t say I exactly jumped into my new year’s resolution this year. Last year it was to work out more (oh I know, so cliché, right?) but this year it’s to blog and write and read more.

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
Dorothy Parker

I generally don’t like to write, and I especially loathe writing about myself. There’s something about me that would rather only read something really compelling, unless it has some element of sex or violence that wrangles my hormone-driven young adult male consciousness. But every once in a while I remember that it’s easier to write about what you know, and though I know a couple people who wouldn’t hesitate to debate it, I tend to know me best.

I’m currently on break from university, sitting on a sunlit leather couch with my new dog sitting at my feet—loyal companion indeed. Maybe this afternoon I’ll head to the mountains to go skiing, but before that I have to attend a “training class” to learn how to use my new contacts. After finally getting used to wearing glasses everyday, I’m taking the next step. But the problem is I have a terrible issue with touching my eye. Even thinking about it now makes me tear up. I can’t even do eye drops; I have vivid memories of my parents holding me down to the bed as I writhed and squirmed away from the Pink Eye medication drops I often had to endure. So we’ll see how this class goes.

Of course I can’t go up to the mountains unless by some miracle a girl I’m in love with texts or calls me back. But that would be a true miracle.

Things I love today:

Into Dust – Ashtar Command
found this track when I downloaded the OC Mix 6. I’m a sucker for anything longer than 7 minutes with plenty of instrumentalism. Also see The Album Leaf and The Island – The Decemberists
Like CraigsList, yet everything’s free. Signup is a little convoluted and involved (also requires signup for Yahoo! Groups) but once you’re in it’s worth it. I’m excited to get back to school so I can take advantage of the Columbia group, which has over 5,000 members.

Californication Season 1
My roommate swears this show is modeled on my life, and I have to unwillingly agree with him. David Duchovny is brilliant, and I can’t wait to get through Season 2. The first scene in the first episode had me searching for the Thumbs Up button. Download here.


Written by Tony

January 6, 2009 at 5:01 pm