Thursday, May 31, 2012

Link Mania

Read any good books lately? How about these:

Rough Consort
The Green Crying
The Butterfly's Sorcerer
The School of the Servants
Forgotten Witches
Academy of Night
The Silvery Husband
Death's Wings
The Game of the Healer
The Burning Dream
The Angel of the Moon
The Trembling Secret

They may sound vaguely familiar, but the titles above, spawned by the Random Title Generator, are entirely fictitious. Rough Consort sounds like it could be a nasty Princess Diana bio. Forgotten Witches could be about Salem's B-team. The Silvery Husband--hmm, or I Married a Robot? The Burning Dream--the story of an overly ambitious pyromaniac, perhaps. And The Trembling Secret sounds like a long-lost Wilkie Collins page turner.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Word of the Day: foofaraw

foofaraw (n)

A great deal of attention paid to a trivial matter; much ado about nothing.

"Walking in on this foofaraw confirmed his conviction that, Christ, he'd earned doing one thing for himself, hadn't he? Just one? 'I don't want your stupid scrambled eggs!' Flicka was wheezing when her father entered the room. 'I don't want to spend all Saturday afternoon with my speech therapist, and occupational therapist and physical therapist. I'm going to die anyway, so just let me watch TV! What does it matter?'"
--Lionel Shriver, So Much for That

Foofaraw. Another great name for this blog?

The cord to my headphones is driving me mad. It kinks, it curls, it tangles, and twirls. I tried suspending the headphones upside down from a hook, thinking that gravity would straighten out my situation. But no, or at least not for long. I like to listen to... things... on the train while commuting, but I'm somewhat embarrassed to pull the headphones out of my man purse and start unknotting the cord while some slack-jawed passenger stares at me from across the aisle. The untangling doesn't go well. I fasten the headphones on, and instead of a nice, smooth, draping line I have an unholy snarl beneath my chin. It's sad, because the headphones work fine, and I don't want to replace them just because of the mess with the cord. But I hate looking rumpled in that way. I'm the Rumpelstiltskin of audio accessories.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Head Rattle


There's something about driving on the New York State Thruway (as I was over this US holiday weekend) that has always puzzled me. Why is it that when you move into the passing lane, the car you are trying to pass will often speed up, so that you can't pass without really stepping on the gas? It's as if the driver is daydreaming and doesn't realize how slow he/she is going, until he/she notices you trying to pass, and then "wakes up" and thinks: "Oh my goodness. I'm only going 55 miles per hour [88 kph]. No wonder he's trying to pass. I better speed up!" I hope that's all it is. That's annoying enough. If it's actually some kind of male competitive thing, that would be infuriating.


Yesterday was Memorial Day in the US, a day to remember and honor the war dead, and also a day when many people tend the graves of their dead relatives at the local cemetery. The one where my father is buried, which is way out in the country, is interesting to me. While we were clipping the grass around the headstone and planting some geraniums, I noted, as I've done before, that the older graves (some from the early 1800s) have slim, simple stones, nearly unreadable now thanks to weathering. The more recent ones get gradually thicker and more elaborate as the death dates move through the Victorian era -- and often feature more overtly religious iconography. The more modern ones are again simpler, more minimalist. I guess there are fashion trends in headstones, like everything else. How soon before they start incorporating videos about the dearly departed? .... I nearly always see something strange when I visit this cemetery. This time it was a huge dog, almost the size of a pony, that some visitor had brought along. He (she?) was sitting in the cab of a pickup truck at first, looking like he was about to drive away. Take a look.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Photo of the Week

fish face

There's something strange about this new fish I've added to my aquarium. He keeps staring at me. He floats very still in his 10-gallon box, gazing at me with those penetrating eyes. It's as if he's accusing me of something malicious or insane. I keep fish in order to observe them, but instead he observes me, night and day, until I think I may be going mad -- as deranged as a character out of Edgar Allan Poe. That almost human fish face, with it's devilish little goatee, chills me to the marrow. It's to the point where I'm thinking of scooping this scaly monster out of his glass prison and letting him asphyxiate -- then "burying him a sea", as it were, with a simple pull on the flush handle.

Actually, I just made that up. This is a big, rather friendly fish I recently had a staring contest with through a glass wall at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey. Click the pic to get up close and personal with this handsome fellow. He's not just another pretty face.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Search Party

Here are a few recent search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania. This week, it appears my visitors have been searching for some rather esoteric imagery -- X-rated covens, mythological coffee tables, psychedelic body parts, etc.

thou crusty botch of nature

Why thank you, Mr. Shakespeare. If I have to be insulted, I like it to be poetic.

nude witches

So sorry to disappoint, but this isn't that kind of site. But, um.... check it out.

You are not a big fish in a small pond, or even a small fish in a big pond, but a small fish in a big fish

Amen to that.

ice rained in uzbekistan

Freezing rain? Ah, my favorite weather. It must be even more enjoyable in Uzbekistan.

what is a gargoyle

waddesdon manor gargoyle

King Arthur coffee table

Maybe you're looking for this? I knew he had a roundtable, but it's news to me that he had a coffee table. Did he have a sofa, too? Drapes? I guess I should look up the history of the coffee table and maybe write about it. It would make a cool subject for a coffee table book.

a groovy hand

Are you sure you didn't mean a groovy band? Or maybe you did mean a hand. Hmm. No one has said "groovy" since the sixties, except ironically. A sixties hand... "Thing" from the Addams Family?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Word of the Day: adoxography

adoxography (n)

Skilled writing on a trivial subject.

"It should be appreciated that the author's use of words such as tokology and phenology is not just an indulgence in logodaedelic adoxography or in logomachic proselytism."
--G.W. Potts, Fish Reproduction: Strategies and Tactics

Maybe "adoxography" would be a good name for this blog.

Oh, fish....

A company in Taiwan has developed a tropical fish that glows in the dark. It's a zebra fish (one of the most common aquarium critters -- I own four non-glowers) that's been genetically modified with jellyfish DNA to give off a ghostly green light. It's also been made sterile, so it won't breed more eerie glowfish if it somehow gets loose in lakes and rivers. Might make an odd but fun addition to an aquarium, though they're rather pricey at US$17 per. I find that pet fish die too often to just flush 17 bucks down the toilet (more or less literally) every time one expires.

If we have to play God with DNA, I suppose glowing is a benign enough innovation. What's alarming, though, is that other companies are apparently working on modified fish from the tropics that will survive at colder temperatures. And that could present a big problem, even if they're sterile. Just imagine dipping your foot into your favorite lake or stream and having it nibbled on by a piranha.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Much Ado about NOTHING


Root Words

Today was my root canal ordeal, Part I. One of my back teeth, in which, according to Dr. _____, "the nerve has died", was power-drilled and "cleaned out". It actually wasn't painful, since most of my mouth, if not dead, at least felt that way thanks to the miracle of Novocaine or whatever endodontists use these days. The most disturbing thing was the high-pitched whine of the drill and the odd smell of my own pulverized tooth enamel. I have to go back for Part II in about a week so the tooth can be "filled up" with solder or concrete or something. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to take three Advils and two Tylenols every three hours and an antibiotic four times a day. So I'm not feeling any pain here. It's like I'm on the over-the-counter answer to morphine. Wheee....

I love how dentists like to fill up your mouth with apparatus and then start asking you questions, forcing you to grunt like a taciturn Neanderthal. This one, it turns out, is a fan of the company I work for and its products. I run into them in the strangest situations.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The T&T List


InterPhase 4P Peach
Lord Atisha
edamame bean
Bar Refaeli
Acqua Pazza
Levitated Mass
Battle of Mehran

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mansfield Pork

Here's a story I submitted to NPR's "Three-Minute Fiction" contest, slightly altered here. Needless to say, I didn't win. The competition is steep: over 6,000 stories were submitted. They have to be under 600 words and there's always a "prompt" -- in this case, the first sentence, which I've revised a bit for this blog version.

She closed the book, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.

"Well, it's about time!" Ma screeched, shaking her nimbus of frizzy gray hair. "How many times do we have to call you to come and EAT!"

Linda slowly lowered her lanky teenaged body into her seat at the Formica table, placed a paper-towel napkin on her lap, and looked down at her plate. Pork chops again!

"Please forgive me for my tardiness, Mother," she said, trying to affect what she imagined to be the voice and cadence of Fanny Price, the heroine of the novel she'd been reading. "I shall endeavor to be more punctual when you call."

Ma glared at her.

"'Mother'? What's this 'Mother' crap?" Linda's father growled, wiping some stray pork grease from his double chin with the back of his hand. "We're Ma and Pop to you."

"Don't go all hoity-toity again," Ma said, "or those damn books are going out the window.”If you have to read something, I got a whole stack of People magazines on the back of the toilet." This comment produced a snicker from Tommy, Linda's chubby 14-year-old brother, two years younger than herself. Ma raised her hand, as if to strike him, but she put it down again when Tommy picked up his chop and began to gnaw on it.

Linda cut a tiny piece of meat and conveyed it to her mouth with her fork. "Pick it up and eat it for god sakes," Ma said. "It's gonna get cold."

Linda swallowed and gazed off toward the window. "I prefer to dine slowly and with a degree of refinement," she said. "It aids the digestion and makes for a more pleasant banquet, don't you think?"
Tommy burped and asked, "Where did you learn to talk funny like that?"

"From Miss Jane Austen," Linda replied. "She was a lady novelist whose family was part of the landed gentry in nineteenth-century England."

"Well, you aren't living in England in another century, and you sure aren't part of any landed gentry, whatever that is," Ma said. "Sounds like dirt farmers to me."

"They were the aristocracy," explained Linda. "They read books. They had manners."

"'They had manners,' repeated Ma sarcastically. "And what? We don't?"

Linda looked down at her plate, then lifted a forkful of mashed potatoes to her mouth. She hoped her silence would serve as an answer that neither insulted her family nor forced her to prevaricate.
"Well?" her father said. "These made-up people are so much better than us, huh? Is that what you're saying?"

“I haven't said any such thing," said Linda. "However, Father, I must point out that when one becomes accustomed to the finer things, as one often does when reading the classic literature of the nineteenth century, one can't help but make comparisons to our own rather ramshackle circumstances. And I'm afraid we do suffer greatly in comparison."

"Oh, that DOES it!" Ma said. "Leave the table. You can come back when you return to Earth, Lady Jane."

"Gladly, dear Mother," Linda said as she rose. "Please excuse me, everyone. I shan't disturb your dinner any further. Please enjoy your repast in my absence. I bid you good evening."

Ma, Pa, and Tommy all rolled their eyes in unison as Linda left the kitchen, retrieved her book from the living room, and climbed the stairs to Mansfield Park.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Word of the Day: iqueme

iqueme (adj)

Pleasing or agreeable.

"Not content with a glossary, the author has woven these relics into a collection of turngiddy tales (in which Teneris the Knight is prominently featured), snirtling telephone conversations with a Miss Fleak ['an insignificant person'], hoful synonym studies, and iqueme poems that cannot fail to confound and amuse."
--Verbatim: The Language Quarterly, Vol. IV, No. 3

According to wordnik, this is not a valid Scrabble word, which isn't very iqueme, is it?

I can't figure out how to pronounce it: "eye-cue-me"? "ick-ew-may"? "I-cweem"? If I was an audiobook narrator, I'd be in trouble. It's hard to imagine what sort of book such a word would appear in, though. Apparently, it's Middle English. But that's all the more reason to resurrect it in your daily conversation, gentle readers. Pronounce it however you like, though if you say "I-cweem" someone might think your saying "ice cream":

"That perfume you're wearing is so I-cweem."
"Ice cream?"
"Yeah, you know, delicious."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Sick(ish). I've got a slight sore throat and a bit of a sniffle. I can't tell if I'm coming down with a cold or if it's just spring hay fever. The good news about this: I postponed my root canal.

Frustrated. I've got this corny 1980s pop song, which I heard while spinning the radio dial, stuck in my head. At odd, preoccupied moments, I catch myself humming it. I won't say what the song is, because I actually hate it and am too embarrassed to reveal the title.

Transitional. It's time to break out the short sleeved shirts, the thermometer says. Usually I wait till June, but global warming seems to have altered my sartorial schedule this year.

Smooth. I only shave every two or three days lately, what with the stubble look being so "in" now. (It must be driving the razor blade, aftershave, and shaving-cream companies crazy.) And who wants to bother with it? Last night I shaved, though, and felt good about it. When your face feels like sandpaper, you tend to rub it too much, and germs from your hands then get transferred to your mouth, which can make you sick. (See numero uno above.)

Caffeinated. I drank five mugs of coffee today. That's excessive, but it keeps me going when I'm feeling a tad rundown. It keeps me running to the office restroom, too, which is a good thing, since moving around is better than sitting for hours on end. You sometimes have interesting or comical manly chit chats over the sinks in the restroom, too. However, I frown upon the recent phenomenon I've observed of men who talk on the phone while peeing. Don't do business while doing your business, I say.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo of the Week


They look like fancy chocolates, don't they? But really these are foil-wrapped condoms. They're designed for people who want to keep their love gloves ever-ready on the bedside table without being too obvious about it. As it says on the box these come in, "Casual observers will simply think you've been eating bon-bons in bed.... Not for internal consumption."

Actually, I just made that up. This is the box of candy I won for being the "most dapper man" at the recent Kentucky Derby Party/fundraiser I attended. I won for the second year in a row. Apparently all you have to do to win is to show up in a jacket, tie, and a hat that's not a baseball cap. Click the pic for a mouth-watering close-up look.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Head Rattle


Somebody was just reciting a lot of Lost plot details, and I realized I've forgotten most of what happened in the latter episodes, when it got very convoluted. Yes, I've lost it. Strangely, I don't feel any desire to rewatch the series at this point. Maybe that will change in a few years. I don't think it's another Twin Peaks, though, maybe because there are too many episodes to keep the whole thing straight. And something that went on too long may be less appealing than something that got cut too short.


Strange how I can enjoy a novel in which not much of anything happens, at least so far. About the most dramatic plot development is that someone's pet iguana died. Other than that, it's mostly a character study in which a 400-pound sociology professor decides to interview a twentysomething homeless sex-offender -- who is still a virgin. They become friends. Opposites attract. And their stories about how they got to be who they are have me hitting the old page-refresh button. It's Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, if you're curious.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Word of the Day: prognathous


prognathous (adj)

Having a protruding lower jaw. (Thanks to Worthless Word of the Day for this one.)

"But he cuts no ice. If your business is big, you get behind him and find a prognathous Westphalian with a retreating brow and the manners of a hog."
--John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps

Ick. If you click on the word/image link above, you'll see that this word mostly applies to Neanderthals and insects. And bulldogs, I suppose.

As a kid, I was the opposite of prognathous. I had an over-bite, and had to wear braces for a few years on my top teeth to pull them back a bit. Not fun. My dental dilemma was complicated by the fact that I'm missing two upper adult teeth for hereditary reasons -- thanks, Grandma! -- so some adjustment was needed to fix the spacing between my upper choppers too. And I had to get a couple of false teeth -- otherwise, I would look like a hillbilly or maybe a crack head every time I smile.

Later this week, I have to get a root canal. Pray for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The information contained in this website is for mental fermentation purposes only. The associated bemusement and disorientation is provided by Twists and Turns, and while we endeavor to keep the information waggish and facetious, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, puckish or pokerfaced, about the surreality, inanity, inscrutability or dementia experienced with respect to the website, or the wonderment, randomness, provocation, or jocularity contained on the website, for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such skylarking is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any smirking or guffawing, including, without limitation, indirect or consequential, any giddiness or inspiration toward tomfoolery, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from mental confusion or beguilement arising out of, or in connection with, perusement of this amusement.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Random Acts of Poetry

Waiting Room

We sat in fixed positions,
he and I

so that we wouldn't disappear.
Our day had fled through the window.

This waiting had the quality of enamel,
like a souvenir plate spinning in place.

Most of the furniture was vacant
and the radiator spat in the corner.

The chair had a frayed edge,
and the receptionist used bad grammar;

she had a problem with her larynx.
I felt a sensitivity

to her wrenched voice,
as she gargled into the phone.

Then my leg fell asleep.
So I made ambitious circles

with my feet
like a nervous orangutan

while the man across from me
pretended to be blind.

I was inclined to disturb him,
ask what was so fascinating

about his year-old Newsweek.
It might have inspired

a ping-ponging argument
to smash the tedium

of that afternoon room.
But the dull lines of his face

revealed no devilry,
not a single urge

to step forward
though the door of living

until his name was called.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Search Party

Here are a few recent search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania. This time around, it appears I've had quite a few visits from surrealists, or maybe A.I. programs spitting out random keyword phrases.

animal planet monster week mermaid fins

I can understand liking Animal Planet, and especially their "Monster Week" episodes, and I get the fascination with mermaids. But mermaid fins may be a step too far in the direction of esoteric fetishism.

scrap metal like Halloween

"Like, let's go punk and decorate with junked car parts this coming Samhain."

broken doll face

You've given me an excuse to post one of my Lynchian photographic masterpieces:

broken doll

insane people clipart

What do you need clipart of insane people for? Are you the editor of the Creedmoor alumni newsletter?

ultrarealistic pencil

This is the only type of pencil I feel I can depend on. Nonrealistic pencils are pointless, and simply realistic ones have always lead me astray.

a glass of beer poem summary

A poem about a glass of beer? I'd rather just read the summary, too.

chemical meth drop pitcher

I'm guessing this is a crossword puzzle clue. I'll help you out: coffee break.

dirty noir

Sounds like you've defined a new film genre. I must admit, I do like a certain amount of filth in my noir.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Word of the Day: rantipole

rantipole (n, adj, v)

A wild, reckless person.

"This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming Katrina for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and though his amorous toyings were something like the gentle caresses and endearments of a bear, yet it was whispered that she did not altogether discourage his hopes."
--Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

In the Bizarro universe, I suppose I would be a rantipole. As it is, I'm the opposite of wild and crazy, at least in my outward behavior. My interior life is a bit more rambunctious. About the wildest thing I do (and I don't do it often) is to scream into a pillow when feeling especially frustrated. I recommend it. It's quite cathartic and doesn't alarm the neighbors. A few decades ago, there was even a psychotherapy technique built around screaming, called Primal therapy. (There was a popular book about it, The Primal Scream.) John and Yoko took it up, and the result was a great easy-listenin' album (or two) called Plastic Ono Band. You don't hear much about Primal screaming these days, though, and it's too bad, because the world has plenty to scream about. Grab a pillow, I say....

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Much Ado about NOTHING

Hawaiian Shirt Day

Friday at work was "Hawaiian Shirt Day" -- the theme for the weekly Friday afternoon beer blast. Shocker: I happen to own a Hawaiian shirt. That's because I was once invited to a friend's mid-winter "beach" party and so went out and bought a cheap, very loud one with a hibiscus and palm tree pattern. That was the only time I ever wore it, I swear.

I took it with me to work in my backpack on Friday, rather than wearing it, because I suspected that everyone would chicken out -- and I didn't want to be the only one wearing an asshole shirt at work. To my surprise, however, quite a few guys showed up wearing tropical togs. (Women don't seem to own Hawaiian shirts, probably because they have better taste.)

So, at lunch time, after some prodding from co-workers, I changed into it. It felt weird doing work while dressed like a character from Miami Vice or Hawaii Five-O. It probably seemed even weirder to people who weren't similarly attired. As our producer, Scott "Sugar" B., said, "It's Hawaiian shirt day at the office and it looks like I'm surrounded by assassins who are trying to blend in."

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 35 small Agree? More clip-art philosophy by me (and Haruki Murakami). You can catch the BIG fish here.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The T&T List

winchester cathedral window 3
Liquid Phase Coalescers
zombie ants
The Scream
Benedict Cumberbatch
multi-tiered haptics
The Calusa
I Am a Pole (And So Can You!)
Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo
burr grinder
Sound Graffiti

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Brain Dump

corruption (negative)
Consider the reason for resistance to this: The text is not a book and the book is not a text. The size of the text is only limited by the size of one's physical (or, indeed, mental) library. Reference is infinite – and cannot even be limited by the capacity of the world, or of the limits of reality or being, and is not (especially) subject to the concepts of "same" and "other". That is to say, history and the "real" world cannot place limits on the text, which is always, in any case, a symbolic rendering of a symbolic (“unreal”) concept. Thus the movement toward interpretation and contextualization always incorporates a network of differences, and therefore referral to an "other" – the implication being that alterity (difference) can never be reduced to mere apples and oranges. Discuss.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Head Rattle


Yeesh! Too many things coming back in the past week.... In the tempting fate department, how about that Australian billionnaire who's going to build an exact replica of the Titanic? What else will it be but a ghost ship? And what sort of morbid sickos will want to cruise on it? How many lunatics or terrorists will see it as an opportunity to repeat history? One could ask the same question, I suppose, about the new One World Trade Center, still unfinished but already New York's tallest building. And the space shuttle Enterprise landed at Kennedy Airport a few days ago, on its way to becoming a museum piece -- an obsolete spacecraft named in memory of a 1960s TV show landed at an airport named in memory for a slain 1960s president. It's all too much nostalgia for lost glories and might-have-beens for one week, surely.


I am attempting to read a book on my e-reader (Russell Banks' Lost Memory of Skin) and listen to an audiobook on my iPhone (Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang) at the same time -- not simultaneously, of course, but in alternating sequence. Two very different books, but it's creating the weird effect in my mind of conflating the two. I'm confusing which characters and plot points belong to which book, as if it's all one long, bizarre story. Maybe multitasking is not the proper strategy for imbibing modern fiction.