Thursday, November 29, 2012

Search Party

Here's another collection of recent search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania, featuring the usual mix of obscure enthusiasms, weird obsessions, and trivial pursuits.

gargoyle faces

I get this one a lot. They're fascinating, aren't they? Feast your eyes:

gargoyle monster waddesdon manor gargoyle

(Click 'em for close-ups. You know you want to.)

rabbit's rotting teeth

My advice: stop feeding candy and junk to your bunny. Lettuce and carrots do not rot human or bunny teeth.

herd of jellyfish

Do jellyfish travel in a "herd"? I picture a cowboy on a seahorse, rounding 'em up. Yee-haw... glub glub... no?

drip drop water into a cup

You're searching for that on Google? Not porn? You really are bored, aren't you?

O proud left foot

Proud of your left foot, huh? Don't make your right foot jealous.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Word of the Day: legatee

Maybe I should collect these bon mots in a book?

legatee (noun)

A person who receives a legacy (a bequest, an inheritance) in a will.

"You don't," said Mr. Pecksniff, with a melancholy pressure of his hand, "quite understand my nature yet, I find. No, Sir, I am not a legatee. I am proud to say I am not a legatee. I am proud to say that neither of my children is a legatee. And yet, Sir, I was with him at his own request. He understood me somewhat better, Sir. He wrote and said, 'I am sick. I am sinking. Come to me!' I went to him. I sat beside his bed, Sir, and I stood beside his grave. Yes, at the risk of offending even you, I did it, Sir. Though the avowal should lead to our instant separation, and to the severing of those tender ties between us which have recently been formed, I make it. But I am not a legatee," said Mr. Pecksniff, smiling dispassionately; "and I never expected to be a legatee. I knew better!"
--Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit

Dickens was a genius at making up odd, rather comical Anglo-Saxon names: Martin Chuzzlewit, Mr. Pecksniff, Mr. Pickwick, Alfred Jingle, Augustus Snodgrass, Mr. Bumble, Vincent Crummles, Wackford Squeers, Dick Swiveller, Mr. Toots, Betsey Trotwood, Uriah Heep, Honoria Dedlock, William Guppy, Joshua Smallweed, Mrs. Jellyby, Herbert Pocket, Nicodemus Boffin, and of course, Ebenezer Scrooge.

How would you like to go through life with a name like Wackford Squeers or, heavens, Dick Swiveller? Imagine the playground teasing.... I wouldn't mind having a distinctive name like Nicodemus Boffin, though, instead of the common one I share with thousands across the nation, some unsavory.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Much Ado about NOTHING

Snow today. We've had two snowstorms here already since early November, and it's not even officially winter yet.

I like winter -- but only when it's 95 degrees outside.

I said that today in a public forum, and a friend responded with "You're a man of subtle complexity". I guess that can be my epitaph. It's an interesting combo: subtlety and complexity. They're concepts you don't usually think of together -- like "sophisticated simplicity" or "quiet riot". They seem like contradictions on first hearing, but if you think about them, they're not.

But back to the weather. I also like summer when it's below freezing outside. I like fall in the spring and spring in the fall -- although those more subtle seasons don't often make me wish for the Earth to tilt a different way. Call me contrary. Call me perverse. Call me complex.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photo of the Week


I just can't bring myself to eat these left-over Halloween candies, which they handed out to everyone at the Samhain party I attended. Supposedly, the flavors are licorice, chocolate and almond. It all sounds good, but I can't get past the, um, macabre factor. Munching on tiny skulls would make me feel like a Jurassic Park monster or, worse, a Brobdingnagian cannibal into some kind of weird voodoo.

Actually, I just made that up. I snapped this picture at an antiques fair last August. Apparently, this used to be someone's jolly little collection of stone boneheads. Feeling morbid? Click the pic for a closer view.



Ten years ago today, I blogged this:

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a famous king from history:

Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs - Alexander the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar

But now I'm wondering: what about the queens?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

(or felt)

Awed: My nephew brought his sizable telescope to my mother's house, in the wilds of upstate New York, for the holiday weekend. There's no "light pollution" there, so even without a telescope, the cold, clear night sky is spectacular. We looked at the moon's craters, Jupiter bands, and the Orion nebula's gauzy wisps.

Tired: Formatting your own DIY book in Word is, especially when it has a lot of text blocks, quite a chore. Headers, footers, line breaks, paragraph breaks, section breaks.... I need a break.

Scrooged: My extended family has decided not to exchange Xmas gifts this year. Just as well. We end up getting things that we would buy for ourselves anyway (and sooner), thanks to online "wish lists". Humbug!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Word of the Day: runcible

Happy Thanksgiving! (Note to international readers: It's a US holiday devoted to gluttony and, ideally, gratitude.) If you celebrate, you'll undoubtedly be using a spoon at some point, so here's a semi-relevant excerpt from my upcoming book of wacky words.

runcible (adj)

A nonsense word with no particular meaning; sometimes referring to a spoon with fork tines.

"'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon."
--Edward Lear, "The Owl and the Pussycat"

Since this word, invented by Lear, has no precise or standard original meaning (spoon manufacturers simply glommed onto it), we can, I think, use it to mean whatever we want it to mean. (Isn't it interesting that the word "mean" can mean both "malicious" and "what you have in mind"? This indicates a jaundiced attitude toward human nature, I think.)

I have a runcible mannequin sitting in an antique wheelchair in my living room.
I have 166 runcible friends on the Book of Faces.
The tofu burger I had last night at LITM was runcible indeed.
Is Eraserhead or Inland Empire the most runcible David Lynch film?
"I Want You (She's So Runcible)"
I drink my coffee runcible.

Let's all try to slip this word into conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table and see what kinds of reactions we get.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Head Rattle

Myanmar has been in the news recently, thanks to a US presidential visit. I prefer to call it Burma, not Myanmar. Myanmar sounds like an antidepressant or a type of acrylic.... Every time I hear the word "Burma", I think of the classic advertising campaign for Burma Shave shaving cream. It was a bit before my time, but it's legendary. The Burma Shave company erected roadside signs all over mid-20th-century America with humorous, rhyming, punning slogans, such as:

Keep well / To the right / Of the oncoming car / Get your close shaves / From the half pound jar / Burma-Shave

Thinking about that today, I had a sudden inspiration for a different type of product:

Reading while steering / Will not get you very far / So listen to a book / While driving your car

Audiobooks, get it?

Also in the news: Israel. It's the 21st century; where is all the sci-fi technology we were promised in a million books, TV shows and movies? Israel needs a force field.

Oh, and Washington, DC's "fiscal cliff"? That's probably an overly dramatic metaphor. It's more like a fiscal sinkhole or a downward slope. Words matter.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Photo of the Week

marilyn bookshelf

Yes, I keep a poster-size photo of Marilyn Monroe on top of my bookcase. This is so I am reminded of "MM", the Roman numerals for the number 2,000, which reminds me of $2,000, which is how much I need to save up to buy a serious camera, so I can shoot artistic close-up portraits, like that iconic one of Marilyn Monroe.

Actually, I just made that up -- although I do need a new camera. My SLR was stolen recently, so I've been using my iPhone camera, which is okay for routine shots, but not for art photography -- although I'm not particularly interested in creating close-up portraits. If someone of Monroe's pulchritude came along, though, I'd want to be prepared.

Anyway, that's not my bookcase. I shot this pic while visiting an artist's atelier during this fall's Jersey City Artists Studio Tour. Click the pic for a sexy close-up view... of the book titles on the spines, of course.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Random Acts of Poetry


My arms are limp
as seaweed.

My collar encircles
the base of a beehive.

My front opens,
then closes,

admitting a trunk
full of ropes and pulleys,

pipes and an odd
timpani drum.

I hide in a closet,
I hang on a hook

when I'm not
touring the town.

I'm like the peel
of a plantain,

the hurricane globe
that shelters

a slow-burning flame.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Word of the Day: piste

Yay, a holiday week is coming up. I'll be visiting my erstwhile haunts in the upper reaches of the Empire State, where I'll have time to work on -- and maybe finish -- my loony lexicon. Meanwhile, here's a little excerpt.

piste (noun) [pronounced "peest"]

A beaten track or trail

"A 'lost' track recorded by the band in 1967 and performed only once in public could finally be released, Paul McCartney told the BBC in an interview.... 'I like it because it's The Beatles free, going off piste.'"
--The Observer (UK), November 16, 2008

(McCartney was talking about this, which I hope to live to hear.)

When I was growing up in the wilds of upstate New York, there was a woods and a river behind my house. (There still is.) Through the woods along the river was a narrow trail, about a foot and a half wide and a half-mile long, with dense foliage on either side. People -- kids and teenagers mostly -- used this foot path to go from the town park to a certain point in the river where they used to skinny-dip. I don't think any of this happens anymore, and I suspect the "piste" has disappeared by now. It's probably a "lost track". (I should find out the next time I'm up there.) Anyway, as a kid I used to have dreams about this trail, nightmares sometimes, about walking along it at night or being chased by someone -- or some thing. I think I still do, but I don't often remember dreams anymore.

It's strange the byways of memory that stumbling across a certain word or phrase will take you down.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Head Rattle

Past tense, past perfect tense, present tense, future tense.... things are tense when you're trying to transform a screenplay into a book. Screenplays are written in present tense, as are many literary "MFA" narratives. Someone has been asking me about how to turn his sci-fi/horror script into a genre novel. Put it all in past tense, I advised. It works for Stephen King. Agree?

The glossy "handbook" has been printed (see November 7 post below), and there it is, my smiling, bespectacled visage, one among many in a sea of diverse faces: black, white, Asian, male, female.... It almost looks like one of those old United Colors of Benneton ads. This is actually my third modeling gig. A couple of years ago, the back of my head was featured in an online ad promoting Newark, New Jersey, as a place for businesses to set up shop. And back when I was twentysomething, I posed for the cover of a book about... teenage alcoholism. Modeling is glamorous alright. Yep.

What if tormented poet Sylvia Plath, said by several biographers to have enjoyed whipping up a culinary masterpiece now and then, had written a cook book? Here are some of "her" holiday cooking tips. "Turkey: Make sure you tender the meat. / Care for it as you would a child. / Sadness tastes bitter on anxious lips." (No "head in the oven" jokes...)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Sequence

[random phrases (from here) worked into a story]

Maximal Hooey: A Love Story

"That's just maximal hooey," said hunky Dr. Quentin Kraft, who, in addition to being a corporate scientist, was sort of a semantic nabob. "Supernatural flimflam," he added, addressing his new laboratory assistant, the lovely Melinda Beaker. They were hard at work testing a new type of mouthwash, or at least Melinda was.

"Concerning polymerization..." Melinda began.

"Subatomic nefariousness," Quentin interrupted.

"Meaning what?" Melinda asked. "The projected dysfunction did not not occur. Therefore..."

"Supernatural flimflam!" Quentin repeated.

"I am trying to convey experimental results, Dr. Kraft," said Melinda. "I'm not engaging in metaphysical speculation."

"I'll be the judge of that," Quentin said. Then he did a cartwheel. "Look at me! I'm a centrifuge!" he exclaimed.

"Doctor! What is the matter with you?" Melinda gasped.

"I think it's the nitrogenous carbonation," he replied while staggering back to his feet. "It's doing strange things to me. I feel giddy!"

"Oh, you didn't gargle with it?" Melinda asked. "Why would you do such a dangerous, unprofessional thing?"

"I accidentally swallowed some, I'm afraid. I had sauteed garlic and onions for lunch and didn't want to offend you, my dear." Quentin gave the stunned Melinda a sloppy kiss on the lips.

"Weeee," he squealed. "I think it may contain too much alcohol."

The mouthwash never made it to market, but it proved to be a potent ice-breaker, as Quentin and Melinda were married the following June.

[not to be continued]

Monday, November 12, 2012

The T&T List

White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer
fairywren mothers
Xenoceratops foremostensis
"The Word"
Oliver Luckett
The Corn Islands
Rap Genius
North American Quilling Guild
Orhan Pamuk
Thunderbird Mountain
Sounds That Can't Be Made

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Word of the Day: williwaw

Readers: Post-hurricane life is slowly returning to what passes for normal around here, so I'm back to working on my demented dictionary. Here's a little excerpt that seems oddly appropriate:

williwaw (n)

A sudden gust of wind or a violent commotion.

"The parting of a staysail-sheet in a williwaw, when the sea was turbulent and she was plunging into the storm, brought me forward to see instantly a dark cliff ahead and breakers so close under the bows that I felt surely lost, and in my thoughts cried, 'Is the hand of fate against me, after all, leading me in the end to this dark spot?'"
--Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World

I often feel that the "hand of fate is against me." Don't you? But sooner or later (often much later), some williwaw comes along, and the perspective changes, and I think, "That's the way it had to be, so boo hoo hoo...." Well, I don't usually cry.

Sometimes I feel like I'm "sailing alone around the world" too, but that's a different bottle of whine.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Photo of the Week: TV R.I.P.


The picture tube era is over. Eventually, I believe, today's digital television and the Internet will merge. Already, you can watch TV on your computer and surf the web on your flat-screen. The death of the TV cabinet, especially, is at hand. So, when I came across this forlorn relic while out rambling one day, I decided to make a point. I went home for some paint, and then returned to elevate this sad carcass to symbolic status as a emblem of a bygone analog era. Television, R.I.P.

Actually, I just made that up. I had nothing to do with this display -- if that's what it is -- other than photographing it. I assume some graffiti artist was trying to make a point by turning this idiot box into the headstone for a dead technology. But who knows? It could have been labeled as part of an ESL program or by trash collectors so that it could be sorted and sent on its way to a Chinese landfill -- which is where a lot of old TV sets end up, I hear.

What do you think? Try a closer view. Be nimble, be quick, and click on the pic.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

(or felt)

Bushed from working 10-hour days at home, which is just as exhausting as working 10-hour days in an office, I've discovered. What has the Internet wrought?

Disgusted by the whole year's worth of different types of weather we've had here over the last 10 days.

Elated by the election results. Now everybody in D.C. can go back to bickering and prevaricating. Oh wait... they never stopped.

Panicky because I ran out of coffee this morning. I had to head out into the snowstorm to score some more.

Handsome, since somebody has asked me if they can use a picture of me in a "handbook". "Your name will not be associated with the photo", they say. Hmm. Maybe it's just that I look nice and generic?



David Lynch analyzes this year's presidential-campaign commercials

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Mr. President

He got my vote!

Here are some things you might not know about Barack Obama:

  • He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics.
  • He was known as "O'Bomber" in high school for his skill at basketball.
  • His name means "one who is blessed" in Swahili.
  • His favorite meal is his wyfe Michelle's shrimp linguini.
  • He won a Grammy Award in 2006 for the audiobook edition of Dreams from My Father.
  • He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper while living in Indonesia.
  • He had a pet ape named Tata while in Indonesia.
  • He repaid his student loan only [eight] years ago after signing his book deal.
  • He uses an Apple Mac laptop.

More here.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Word of the Day: kthxbye

Working 10-hour days from home is interfering with my blog schedule. I didn't blog yesterday, and I'm too fricasseed to blog today. So here's something mildly appropriate for this confusing, frustrating time, a little excerpt from my little book-in-progress.

kthxbye (adjective, adverb, interjection, noun, verb)

Okay, thanks, good-bye.

"'Kayso, now I must fix my makeup and pick an ensem and then wander the lonely night, searching for the Countess and the vampyre Flood, and maybe drop by the love lair to totally overwhelm Foo with my haunting and eternal but still small-chested beauty. Kthxbye. Being immortal rocks! I can type like demon speed. Fear me! L8z."
--Christopher Moore, Bite Me: A Love Story

"Kthxbye" is a sort of mash-up of those auto-phrases we all tend to use so cavalierly. It's used a lot when leaving a voicemail, I've noticed. Why do humans think they need to cut off the message abruptly at the end with "kthxbye", enunciated at hyper speed before (metaphorically at least) slamming down the phone? It's not like the tape is going to run out on the answering machine anymore. Say good-bye to this...word(?)...okay? Thanks.

Seriously, you never know when it's going to be the last time.

All correct. Thank you. God be with you.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Search Party

Here are a few recent search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania. It's amazing what you people will type into Google. Time on your hands?

cat with wooden leg

I know a couple who have a three-legged cat (no lie) named, of course, Thumper. The cat does not have a wooden leg, and he walks very slowly. But he can run as fast as a four-legged feline. Strange.

dental root canal clip art

Just look for a picture of a guy with his mouth open, looking terrified.

grey insect chrysalis on curtain

That's a lovely decorating idea -- especially if the chrysalis hatches a butterfly. Of course if it hatches a moth that won't be good for the curtain.

metal haunted house to color

Something for the kiddies at Halloween, I guess, by why metal? That sounds more like a haunted bunker.

koi carp desk

For the goldfish who has everything....

front door color for beige house

Flaming red. Has to be.