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As the story of Joe Biden’s open-mic cursing moves into, amazingly, its third day of being in the news cycle, we’re reminded that not all F-bombs are created equal. In what seems to pass for trenchant political debate in this country, those who are agin’ Biden have seized upon his exclamatory by suggesting that he should be assailed in much the same way that his predecessor, Dick Cheney, was criticized for using the invective on the floor of the Senate. To those folks, a simple question: Would you rather be told to go F yourself or that you’re a great F’ing person?

(It’s entirely fair to question Mr. Biden’s judgment. It’s a hot mic. You’re two feet away. Show some restraint, eh?)

Now, fair warning: We’re going to actually employ the word in question in the next little bit. If that will upset you, go here for some wholesome fun.

Seriously, we’re going to use the word.

I’m not lying.

Go elsewhere if this will be a problem.

Are you gone?

Are you still with us?

Here we go.

This excellent video outlines the various applications of the F-bomb. A speaker who wisely chooses his/her words and knows their various parts of speech is much better prepared for the rigors of oratory.

On that note, a friend of mine once showed me a grammar test that included the following exercise:

Identify the parts of speech in the following sentence: That fucking fucker is fucking fucked — fuck him!

(For the record, relative pronoun, adjective, noun, verb, adverb, predicate adjective, interjection)

As for the expletive crisis that has gripped our country, I’d propose a cooling-off period. Why don’t we all chill the fuck out and turn our attention to more pressing issues?

It’s been a strange week.

I seem to have scuttled one friendship in a stupid political debate in which I indulged a destructive tendency to answer a verbal jab with a verbal elbow to the nose. Apologies have been issued and unaccepted, and so it goes. Another lesson learned the hard way.

My sour mood over that loss notwithstanding, I was happy to see that my friend Celeste’s son has learned that a precise employment of language can deliver some nice benefits.

As she wrote in a Facebook status update:

Arguing with the boy. “You said I’d get ice cream.” He had a fudge bar earlier, so I said he’d already had ice cream. “That’s only RELATED to ice cream.”

Celeste acknowledged in a subsequent comment that she was losing the argument.

I smiled, because it reminded me of a row I had with my own mother many years ago, when I was in junior high school. We were arguing about something or other that has been lost to time, and I was prevailing in the game of point-counterpoint. Finally, Mom pulled the plug by way of a fiat: It would be done her way, and that was that.

“You’re only doing that because you’re losing the damned argument,” I said.

My invocation of the mildest of curse words, at my tender age, earned me a fresh round of scolding and the promise that more would follow that evening from my stepfather. I trudged off to school dreading what awaited me just a few hours later.

When I returned home, I was sat down for a talk. I couldn’t be permitted to go around cursing at my mother, I was told. There would have to be a punishment, a rather stern one.

(I should point out now that my folks were, and are, extraordinarily good people who rarely had to punish me, sternly or otherwise. That’s because I was a pretty good kid, my budding proclivity for verbal throwdowns notwithstanding.)

Rather than accepting my fate, I took issue with my stepfather’s characterization of my offense. I proceeded to reduce that morning’s angry sentence to its component parts, pointing out that damned was an adjective that modified the noun argument. It was not accurate to say I cursed at my mother, I contended. The better interpretation is that I cursed in her presence.

My folks were duly impressed with my grammatical acuity. My grounding was trimmed to a day rather than the longer stretch initially outlined. And I was exhorted to not curse “at” or “near” my mother again.

Sometimes, a reduced sentence is the best you can hope for.

(By the way, the word cloud above is the product of this post. Clever, eh?)

It was sometime early last fall — I can’t remember exactly when — that Adrianne Hurtig of the Friends of the Ronan City Library sent me an e-mail and asked if I’d like to bring 600 Hours of Edward to her group on March 18. It seemed a long way off, and for a long, long time, that entry on my Web site‘s list of events was the lone beacon, a sign that, yes, I did have something to do, sometime.

Now, it’s just a little more than twenty-four hours away. I’m excited as all get out to see Ronan and meet these fine folks who love books and help keep reading alive in their small town. The event starts at 7 p.m. at the Ronan City Library, 203 Main Street SW.

The long weekend that begins with tomorrow’s road trip includes two other stops:

Friday: A reading and signing at Fact & Fiction, 220 N. Higgins Ave. in Missoula. It begins at 5 p.m.

Saturday: A signing at Chapter One, 252 W. Main Street in Hamilton. It begins at 11 a.m.

If you’re in the area, I hope to see you at one (or more!) of these events.

And in other news …

If you head over to the “Craig’s novel” section of CraigLancaster.net, you can take a peek at the first chapter of my second novel, The Summer Son. I hope to soon have some salient details on its emergence.

Oh, and one more thing …

If you’re a member of Goodreads and want to read 600 Hours of Edward, please consider throwing your name in for one of five copies I’m giving away. And hurry. At last count, 144 people were already queued up.

A few new appearances have trickled in this week …

Tuesday, March 30: I’ll be at the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman for a signing that begins at 7 p.m. The address is 28 West Main.

Saturday, April 10: The Montana Book Co. in Helena, 1 to 3 p.m. 331 North Last Gulch.

Saturday, April 17: I’m doing a presentation for the Friends of the Madison Valley Public Library in Ennis beginning at 11 a.m.  328 Main Street.

There should be some news about a Livingston event in the near future. Stay tuned. And, of course, you can check out my calendar any time by visiting my newly revamped Web site.

While I cannot promise I'll wear a suit to any of the above events, as you can see from the picture, there's always a chance.

Some exciting news today: 600 Hours of Edward has been selected as a 2009 Honor Book by the Montana Book Award.

Read the press release here.

Jamie Ford’s wonderful Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet won the top prize. In addition, three other books were selected as Honor Books. They are:

It’s an honor to have such wonderful company. Congratulations to all!

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