Friday, June 30, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

orc (n)

A monster, demon, goblin, etc.

"Not six feet away, busy cleaning a vacant table, was an orc. And not just any orc. This one clearly had some man in its bloodline somewhere."
--Andy Duncan, "Senator Bilbo"

This word occurs most frequently in fantasy literature, most notably in Tolkien's works. The orc around these parts would be the Jersey Devil, a creature most often described as being somewhat similar to a pterosaur that supposedly lives in the Pine Barrens.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Thoughts

Consciousness Streaming

I'm wondering what it means to dream about finding a large insect in your bathtub... There's lots to do at a water park. But swimming isn't one of them... Watched the movie Troy on HBO in our motel room recently (nothing better to do). So did they actually have blond, surfer-dude-looking guys in ancient Greece? And, no matter how hot she was, why fight a war over Helen? (Though, admittedly, that's at least a reason, something the Iraq war apparently lacks)... What would happen if you sent a werewolf to the moon?... Someone told me yesterday that all paper currency in the United States has minute traces of heroin and cocaine powder on it -- so not to put it in my mouth. I don't know how credible this factoid is, and it never occurred to me to put money in my mouth anyway. But could you become addicted to stuffing money in your pie hole?... Why don't I... drive in one direction until I reach the ocean?

Visual Version

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut's wit and wisdom

"What are people for?"

"Tiger got to hunt. Bird got to fly. Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'"

More such wisdom can be found among Kurt Vonnegut's confetti prints, a series of adages rendered in graffiti-like form with watercolors. Many are attributed to "Bokonon," a character Vonnegut created for his novel Cat's Cradle.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


Tending to imagine,
at the post office, even,
he made a white dove
out of an envelope.

At home, the walnut mother
sat calmly in her bowl,
happy among framed pictures
until night fell.

His wringing hands
roiled the clouds,
made weather wetter
for chessboard royalty.

Nine-o'clock black
was the nothing of space,
or an empty mind
long erased by age.

Dropped matchsticks
formed broken crosses,
stick-figure portraits
of starving saints.

Later, he turned pages,
touched dead heron wings,
let his insides bleed
a comet tail of words.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Pax Nortona tell us How to Spot and Handle a Sociopath. Having worked for such a person in the past, with fairly disastrous consequences, I found this edifying.

I like Verlag, a sharp new typeface based on one originally created for the Guggenheim Museum. (via Maud Newton)

Feel small: The Size Of Our World, compared to various other objects in the universe. (via The Presurfer)

Yes, homeless people blog. And thanks to library connections and free wireless access in some cities, more homeless people have e-mail accounts than postal addresses.

Poet Amit Chaudhuri constantly mishears the word "rioting" as "writing" while listening to the BBC, which has resulted in this. (via the Literary Saloon)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

mondegreen (n or adj)

A mishearing of a phrase, so that it acquires a new meaning

"Maybe the reason I like 'Hotel California'," said Parker, "is that it's one of those mondegreen songs."
--John Martin Hill, The Christmas Hour

I mishear song lyrics all the time. For years, I thought it was "sweet Loretta Modern" in the song "Get Back," and I was disappointed to find out that it's actually "sweet Loretta Martin." I still like my version better, and it actually makes sense in the context of the song, I think.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Random Thoughts

Consciousness Streaming

?aixelsyd eriuqca ouy naC ...I'm directed to wear "dressy casual" clothes for an upcoming event. I think I know what they mean. But isn't that a contradiction in terms? Sort of like being carefully sloppy?... Why are there no chain restaurants for Indian food? Not that I want there to be, but it's puzzling... Today is the first day of summer (here in the northern hemisphere), which means that, in about a week, people will start saying, "I can't believe how fast the summer is going!"... Why don't I... stop making sense?

Visual Version

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Blessing Generator

Holy Syncretism!

The Worldwide Blessing Generator puts blessings and prayers from all world religions into its computerized blender and then whips up a "random hybrid of spiritual goodness." Example:

May a kindly spirit, a kindly genius be present,
and let you live with happiness and hilarity together.
Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
Be aware and dream.

I feel vaguely sanctified now.

(via The Presurfer) - The Singing Dictionary

Sing Along with Webster, aka "The Singing Dictionary," is a collection of downloadable mp3 files created by combining karaoke versions of pop songs with audio pronunciation clips from online dictionaries. Pretty amusing. I especially enjoyed the site's versions of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" and the Beatles' "Martha My Dear." You. Silly. Girl.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

After Hard Rain

A puddle
makes a sad mirror,

another plane
of shadows.

Here a sky,
there a darkling

any fool can say

what's true.
At peace,

your thoughts paint

a slow river.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Rare find: Blue Tea has discovered some art photography that is also "cute, humorous, and fun."

John Baker has some wise counsel for writers. Are those clothes on the floor -- or a blue shirt, a green sock and a pair of khaki pants?

The decidedly uninhibited (and non-PC) Mere Existence is thinking about doing "God's work." By sowing his oats. On an island. Off the coast of Croatia.

"The legs I'll suck on later." Spinning gets literary about lobster.

I don't know if Witold Riedel is a surreal essayist, a poet or a stream-of-consciousness diarist. Does it matter?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Word of the Day: catawampus

Word of the Day

catawampus (adj or n)

askew, crooked, diagonal (adj)
an imaginary wild animal (n)

"Parking was no problem. We got out and walked toward the entrance, which was recessed into the corner of the building, catawampus to the sidewalk."
--Stuart M. Kaminsky, The Cold War Swap

I'm trying to imagine what an animal called a "catawampus" might look like. I'm picturing a swamp-dwelling creature that would be a cross between a lion and an octopus.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Mystic Seer Knows All

Be careful what you ask...

If you've ever seen the classic Twilight Zone episode "Nick of Time," you'll want to pay a visit to the The Mystic Seer.

Or maybe not.

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Several cool dollar-store DVDs that I bought a few months ago (Charade, The Lady Vanishes, One-Eyed Jacks, etc.) sit on a shelf, unwatched. Not sure why. Actually, I think I know why: I spend all my free time blogging... Seen on a walk today: a brown Christmas wreath on someone's front door, looking sad and bedraggled. Hello? It's June... How come as soon as I buy a new pair of sunglasses, the sky clouds up? Similarly, when I buy an umbrella, the weather clears. Could it be that I can actually control the weather? This might be a lucrative skill to have... Am I drinking too much coffee if I have traces of blood in my caffeine system? But coffee is the wind beneath my wings... Anagrams! "George W. Bush" = "he grew bogus." (Actually, he always was.)... Why don't I... have a comedic sidekick?

Visual Version

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mystery Faces

Weird and Wonderful

Check out these strangely haunting photos of young women from the 1950s and '60s, probably from an orthodontist's office. (That's my guess, anyway; the origin of the images is unknown.) What's even more interesting than the pics is the wild speculation by many of the site's visitors about the purpose of the photos--and why most of the subjects have their initials written on their foreheads.

The photos are at the SWAPATORIUM blog, and the whole site is worth a look. It describes itself as "A Journey Through Junkland: flea markets, thrift stores, antique shops, garage and estate sales, found photographs, collecting, odd finds, swaps and more." Lots of interesting and arcane stuff there.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry: Scenario

Random Acts of Poetry


The soft-focus roses arrive.
White clapboards flourish
in green, indefinite suburbs.

Smiling in driveways,
with a hint of guitar,
model citizens emote,

almost kissing their phones.
Mouths coo blurred words,
children tumble and scream--

so happy it's frightening.
Even the dog is euphoric.
Under a blue-blank sky,

you say distance is nothing
to your white-haired,
cable-knit grandparents,

far off in their golden cameo.
As the commercial fades to black,
where do you, where do they go?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Inspired by 666, Watermark rants brilliantly about AIDS.

Steve has a close encounter on a city bus. Public transportation is a goldmine for writers, isn't it?

Morsels for meditation: fait accompli continues his sophisticated fortune-cookie thing. Chew on this: "Maturity: the state of mind that allows one to love a friend even when that friend does not admire one's writing."

Ouch! Amazing Dutch painter (I almost wrote "painer") Erik Suidman captures some disturbing emotions.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Word of the Day: ratiocination

Word of the Day

Ratiocination (n)

The process of exact thinking or a reasoned train of thought

"...I doubt he knew of its existence. Ratiocination it was. He was quite intrigued with ratiocination."

"What?" Mike asked.

"The process of deductive reasoning. Old hat to you and Mr. Wallace, perhaps, but when Poe wrote his first tale of ratiocination--'The Murders in the Rue Morgue'--the word 'detective' had not yet been used in the English language."
--Linda Fairstein, Entombed

It's annoying when authors create stupid characters who say "What?" simply to allow the protagonist to explain some obscure word or concept. These Dr. Watson characters are stand-ins for the reader, of course. I suppose they're a necessary evil in mystery stories.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Random thoughts....666

Consciousness Streaming

Today is 6/6/06. I'm not worried. Did anything especially bad happen on June 6th 1966? On June 6th 1906? Or June 6th 1006? Not that I know of... My Star Wars obsessed offspring has a question. Why is it that every time a spaceship in those movies crashes or is hit by something (anything, even a rock), it explodes in an enormous fireball? Why do the "walker" machines explode when they simply fall over? Are they all full of dynamite or gasoline?... Weird: A couple I met recently apparently doesn't realize it, but I used to live next door to them. I used to see them all the time while standing at the kitchen sink (doing dishes) and looking out the window. I could see right into their apartment and would often see them walking back and forth. Not sure if I should mention this... Women can be named "April," "May," or "June." Why not July? Or February?... Two people I know have recently decided to change their names, informally, not legally. OK. Why don't I... ask everyone to call me, oh, I don't know, Desmond from now on?

Visual Version

Monday, June 05, 2006

Writer Resources - Name Generator

Paging Mr. Otto Shumake...

Stuck for a moniker? A random name generator for writers creates lists of interesting appellations, in English, French, German, "Celtic" or Japanese. These sound like interesting fellows: Byron Honse, Otto Shumake, Dennis Peyre, Dallas Ogas, Nick Koko, Norris Higdon, Kenneth Somsy, Nicholas Nichois and Millard Shihadeh. Perfect for a story about a quirky softball team. (Female names can be generated, too.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Beach Day

It resembles a limeade spritz:
this crashing of the sea.

The rock pool pumps
like a heart.

Foam suggests
mounds of dirty meringue

or nothing in particular.
I've run out of metaphors.

Up on the highway,
a rumble machine

wavers in the heat and rolls
its belt of black tar.

Stones will be sand
one of these millennia.

I lie down, thinking of magma
spreading its ooze of fire,

and the whole day dissolves.
They will find me fossilized

like a Mesozoic fish
in a stone that falls out of a wall.


I don't know what brought this on -- except that summer is coming and I was shopping for some new swimming trunks yesterday.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Found Elsewhere

Nota Bene

Google giveth: grapez searches for wisdom, finds some, and makes a sonnet out of the results.

Dark Lanes offers "Rules for When You Find Yourself in a Horror Movie." Example: "If your car runs out of gas at night on a lonely road, do not go to the nearby deserted-looking house to phone for help. If you think that it is strange because you thought you had 3/4 of a tank, shoot yourself instead. You are going to die anyway, and will most likely be eaten." Hmm. Where would the horror movie genre be without stupid motorists, car trouble, and that nearby deserted-looking house (and the endless variations on this plot device)?

Kristina Wright has many questions, some of which I've thought about myself, such as "What the hell is Humanities?" (are Humanities?)

The Literary Saloon reveals that the "Recommended" table or rack you always see in chain bookstores isn't what it seems to be. You thought the staff read the books? And then chose their favorites? Hahahahaha...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Word of the Day: deliriant

Word of the Day

deliriant (n or adj)

1. A poison which causes a persistent delirium, or mental aberration (n)
2. Frenzied, delirious (adj)

"Train stations kept filling up; deliriant crowds, people involved for the first time in their lives, could not get enough of Peron and Eva."
--Evita: Truth or Dare, Ricardo Blaustein

Did you know that antihistamines are deliriants? My seasonal allergies were acting up yesterday, so I took some over-the-counter Loratadine (Rite Aid's antihistamine knock-off of Claritin). No hallucinations, no rabbits with pocket watches, but, thanks to the "fourth estate," I did see a square watermelon and a three-armed baby. Hey, isn't there a blonde missing on Aruba?