Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

"Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go."
--Brooks Atkinson

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."
--Lord Tennyson

Day of existence: this initiates time and other drama. It's a new year they've given us, man and woman, and as for the part that occupies the quietude with it, well, you've lived now in other realms, a strategy which enjoys success, but with nasty qualms. Time was visited by them -- mystery solved after two years of periodic collisions, all divided, like a child who uses the persona of whatever cactus flower Mommy married. Thus far, because this part of the house could have been predicted, everything seems complete after years in the monkey life. The pencil remains by your feet, though, the temporary death of scribbling, and by these lights, calculation lengthens. This demands an attempt to make it father to the persona built around the people you think you are, in this or another place, in any order preferred. It remains to be seen how well all this fits in a very small compartment. But I'm over that uncertainty now! All that's required is an indication of the map of the labyrinth, a composition yet to come, though here.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Word I'm Thinking of Is 'e-book'

Fire up your Kindles, logophiles! At long last, my book, The Word I'm Thinking Of, is available as a Kindle e-book.

What, you don't have a Kindle? You don't need the device; you can download the FREE Kindle reading app to your computer, tablet, or phone here.

And don't forget that there are also print and audiobook editions available.

It's all so, so...selcouth. And cromulent.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Word of the Day: galactophagist

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

galactophagist [ga-lact-o-FAY-jist] (noun)

A milk drinker

"Edwina was determined to raise a brilliant child. 'Here you are, my little galactophagist,' she said as she gave the baby his bottle."


TWITO, page 59!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Link Mania: Whiz-Bang!

Dickensian Soup: 11 Words from Charles Dickens (via Wordnik)

Some of these lummy words may flummox you, but they won't give you the creeps, as long as you adopt a devil-may-care attitude.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

My Xmas Story

A small-town, teen-aged girl -- a religious fanatic -- becomes pregnant. (Possibly after being raped by a passing soldier -- that was the rumor, anyway.)

The townspeople are scandalized, and the traumatized girl and her boyfriend are advised to leave town.

They travel to another small town, and, short of money, are given shelter in a barn, where the baby is born.

The girl thinks, "There has to be a reason for all this!" and decides that God must have big plans for this kid.

And the rest is history, or anyway, His story.


Which story is more believable, this one or the jazzed-up one in the bible?

Monday, December 23, 2013

The T&T List

Iñaki Osa Goikoetxea
Coffee Intelligence
chlorogenic acid
Seymour Stein
St Vincent
Grown Backwards
Andrei Tolstov
"A Closer Winter Tunnel, February-March"
the Oe

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Word of the Day: alible

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

alible [AL-uh-bull] (adjective)

Having nutrients; nourishing

"'I care not how alible it is,' Humphrey hissed as he tossed his Christmas gift, a colorful fruitcake, out of the window."

There. A perfectly alible use of an obscure word, that. I feel more intelligent just knowing what it means.


TWITO, page 12!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Link Mania: 'Tis the Season

'Tis and 10 Other Fun Proclitic Words (via Mental Floss)

Yes, 'tis he season, as it 'twere. 'Twould behove you (behove?) to click the link. 'Twill enlighten you about, uh, procliticization. 'Taint nothing to be afraid of.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brain Dump

Go for the gold coin operated vending machine part two by two three blind mice eat cheese sandwich shop till you drop dead in the water park the car in the lot of money is the root canal boat dock your pay the piper. Face the music hall monitor your blood pressure point your gun barrel of monkeys around the world class clown suit yourself. Pass the salt water fish fry the egg cup of coffee pot calling the kettle black tie event horizon. Fasten your seat belt one out of your mind your own business meeting someone new age before beauty.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Photo of the Week

red thing

My cousin Herb, who works at the Comanche Ridge nuclear power plant, gave me a tour of his work site recently. This is the storage module where radioactive fuel rods are kept. When I put my hand on the door, it was warm to the touch. "Don't do that," Herb said.

Actually, I just made that up. This is the back end of a fuel-oil truck I saw in a parking lot and decided to photograph. What can I say? I like bright red shiny objects, especially ones that look as dangerous as this does. Click the pic for a close-up view. It won't burn you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Word of the Day: gaberlunzie

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

gaberlunzie [gab-er-LUN-zee] (noun)

A wandering beggar (originally Scottish)

"The gaberlunzie offered to sing for a copper, or to refrain from singing for two coppers.


TWITO, page 59!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Brain Dump

Annual Persecutional Rate (APR) for Purchases on Your DisasterCard

How long will the penalty APR apply?

If an APR is quadrupled for any usurious reason or at our capricious discretion, the Penalty APR may apply in perpetuity to future generations. If we do not receive a Minimum Prostration and statement of utter humility, submission, and adoration within 60 minutes of the date and time due, the Penalty APR will at minimum apply to all first-born children and future descendants unto the seventh generation; but if we receive 600 consecutive Maximum Payments before the due date, beginning at least one decade before the increase, the Penalty APR may stop being applied, at our sole erratic discretion, to transactions that occurred within 14 seconds after we provided you notice about the APR increase via third-class carrier pigeon.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Random Sequence

[Scene: a French restaurant]

....I decided to order a fruit crepe. "What's a 'crap'?" my son asked in a loud voice.

"It's sort of like a big Pop Tart," I hissed. "Now keep your voice down."

He decided to order the only thing on the menu he recognized -- a glass of lemonade.

When it arrived, he was surprised to find that it actually was what it purported to be: a drink made from the juice of freshly squeezed real lemons, not the frozen, sugar-sweetened facsimile he was used to.

"This tastes awful," he said.

My wife suggested that he add some sugar to it and try again. After dumping in half the sugar bowl and maniacally stirring the drink, with the ice cubes clinking loudly, he decided it was drinkable enough to take a few sips.

"I want to go home," he announced just as our crepes arrived.

"Just be patient," my wife advised. "Want a bite?"

He made a face and repeated that he wanted to leave.

"Look at that," I said, desperately pointing to a mechanical fish on the wall over our table. "What do you think of that?"
--from "C'est la vie" (by me), originally published in Hudson Current

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Link Mania: Funny Words

12 Words and Phrases That Originated in the Funny Pages

"Once upon a time, newspaper comic strips were as influential in molding American pop culture (and the way we spoke) as television and social media are today."
--Mental Floss


Double whammies give worryworts and wimpy milquetoasts the heebie-jeebies. Right?

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Word of the Day: barmecidal

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

barmecidal [bar-muh-SIGH-dul] (adjective)

Presenting only the illusion of abundance

Zenobia had a vast collection of wax and plastic fruit, which she called her barmecidal feast.


TWITO, page 19!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Photo of the Week


Riding in a helicopter sure is exciting! My friend is a pilot for News Chopper 7, and he took me for an aerial spin last Tuesday over the site of the future Newark, NJ, botanical gardens, currently under construction.

Actually, I just made that up. I took this picture of a nearby construction site (for I know not what) from my perch on the 15th floor of the building I work in. Click the pic for a closer (and dizzying) view of those trucks and cranes, and all that soggy dirt. You know you want to.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Link Mania: Eggcorns

The Eggcorn Database is a collection of interesting, sometimes almost poetic, lexical mistakes in English compositions. Examples:

"I got a call on my self-phone early this morning, waking me up."

"But it could give the neocons a new leash on life, a way to invigorate their exhausted ideological engines."

"Why can't we, as a society, treat each other with a bit of respect and give Madonna and her elk the 1st class treatment she deserves!"

No problem! If I ever encounter Madonna's elk, I'll give it plenty of first-class respect.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Random Sequence

The cats and squirrels still come and go as they please, but that isn't a problem -- except that they keep tripping our backyard motion sensors after dark.

The sensors were installed by the previous owners, who were a bit paranoid. At odd times, the floodlights will click on, and the yard will suddenly light up like a miniature nighttime soccer field. I still haven't figured out where the motion sensors are or how to turn them off -- or whether I should. Who knows how many burglars scuttle away like scared roaches every time those lights snap on?
--from "My Backyard" (by me), originally published by Hudson Current

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Word of the Day: pinchbeck

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

pinchbeck [PINCH-bek] (noun or adjective)

Something cheap or counterfeit; an alloy of zinc and copper used to imitate gold

Magdalen was counting on the sale of Aunt Philomena's wedding band to finance her trip to the Azores. It was Mr. Dash's sad duty to inform her that it was nothing but a pinchbeck curtain ring.


TWITO, page 113!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Link Mania

The Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

...according to alphadictionary.com. "Alpha" is a pretty beautiful word itself. I might quibble (nice word!) with some of list's choices, however: "inure"? "wafture"?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Photo of the Week

Exchange Place

No lie: I've been contacted by a "contract writer with the State Department, writing an article on U.S. 'diverse cities' for Span Magazine (span.state.gov), published by our embassy in New Delhi." He wants to use this photo of mine, snapped last month at Exchange Place in Jersey City, in Span. Yeah, okay... although it might raise a few odd questions among his Indian readers -- like why there is a statue of a man with a bayonet in this back in Jersey City's "Wall Street West" financial district. It's a long story.

(Click the pic for a close-up view of that phallic wonderland in the distance.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Brain Dump

This Thanksgiving, consider your fork.

Ouch! It is sharp, this most ubiquitous and useful invention of Western civilization: keep it busy at the dinner table, and tune yourself later. Admire its stick-to-it-tiveness. Don't eat rice with chopsticks. Let your meat be full of holes. So it wants to join its friends in the drawer? The knives, who always come straight to the point? The spoons, such well-rounded sorts? Let it. Don't speak with its tongue. It lifts! Consider the river. For this is your moment. Some people do go both ways, but when you come to a it, take it. And forget "the road not taken". It is done. Stick a fork in it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Word of the Day: loganamnosis

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

loganamnosis (noun)[LAHG an um NOH sis]

A mania for trying to recall forgotten words

The password continued to escape him. "I just can't shake my loganamnosis," Chet said with a sigh. "Have you seen a doctor?" Sam asked worriedly.


TWITO, page 85.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Link Mania: Death Metal English

There is American English. There is British English (which some might call "real" English). There is Canadian English, Australian English, Indian English....

And then there is Death Metal English.

"Deprivations of the flesh / A quarantine in abject absence / Euphoria denied: dripping, unsated phantom limb / Suffocated, stifled mass can feel the temperature rise / By knowledge unrealized: a tumorous, parasitic grief"
--a real lyric, by the band Vastum

If there isn't an online generator yet for creating more such random poetry, there should be.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Random Sequence

He was the only one around anymore who could do it -- take the geranium to the cemetery, clip the crabgrass around her headstone, spade up the mushy soil, and make a little green and red garden on her plot. It was what she would have wanted. She always did have a green thumb; she loved gardening.

"That's probably why," Marcus thought, "instead of being cremated like grandpa, and scattered to the winds like he was, she wanted herself, well, planted."
--from "Scattered to the Winds" (by me), originally published by Hudson Current

Monday, November 18, 2013

Photo of the Week


I tried to create a 3D self portrait with my new 3D printer, and look what happened. I haven't looked this bad since I fell down a flight of stairs, head first.

Actually, I just made that up. This is a sculpture I photographed at an artist's studio last month, during the annual JCAST -- that's the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour, for the uninitiated. Click the pic to get up close and personal with this fellow. You feel strangely compelled to.

Oddly related: Guess what The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Word of the Day: oojah

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

oojah [OO-zsah](noun)

A whatchamacallit, a thingumabob

Portia had been ruminating for weeks over what to name her "junk shop," as she referred to her second-hand gift store. Then it came to her. "Oojah," she whispered, as she fondled a lamp made from a moose antler.


TWITO, page 102!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Random Sequence

"Watch where you're going, knucklehead," the man barked. Just as he said this, another gust filched the umbrella from his grip, and the man went scuttling down the shiny sidewalk after it. It blew into traffic and was crushed by a passing van. "Shit!" the man yelled, not so much at Marcus as at a malicious world.

Marcus turned away and resumed his march toward the train station. It was raining harder now, and the bottoms of his pant legs were getting soaked. He stopped at an intersection, waiting for cars to pass.

The umbrella tugged at this hand as if it wanted to escape. The station was in sight, less than a block away, and despite the downpour, a tiny aperture of blue had appeared in the sky.

It's a bad umbrella, he thought. He released it to the wind, and it blew off into the sky, like a wild bird.
--from "The Wild Umbrella" (by me), originally published in Hudson Current

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Brain Dump

Between an explosion of painful awareness and the softness of an undecipherable dream lies the opaque blindness of the unthinkable. Certain cogitations are too vexatious to be entertained in conscious daylight; they lie half glimpsed in the caliginous oblivion of repression, forever threatening to interrupt our happy delusions. But this incertitude evaporates when a sudden inspiration obliterates the impenetrable blockage and reveals the maleable foundations of reality. The dream-self never sleeps and never wakens.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Word of the Day: zarf

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

zarf [zarf](noun)

A holder for a hot coffee cup

"The guest holds out the cup by the silver zarf, the attendant opening one hand places it under, then brings the palm of the other upon the top of the cup; the guest relinquishes his hold, and the attendant retires backward with the cup thus secured."
--David Urquhart, The Spirit of the East (1839)

Those little cardboard thingamabobs they put around your coffee cup at Starbucks are technically called "zarfs", although they will try to tell you they’re called cup sleeves.

TWITO, page 168!


More about "zarf"

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Photo of the Week


Here we see my artist friend, Herman Halpert, who collapsed in sheer exhaustion after attempting for three hours to make his concrete head sculpture lean "insouciantly" on his hand sculpture.

Actually, I just made that up. I photographed this guy, who was apparently taking a nap, at the Digible festival in Hoboken, New Jersey, last month. Click the pic for a closer view. You have nothing better to do! (Is he wearing, uh, fairy wings?)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Random Sequence

The wind began to pick up as the bike got closer, and the biker began to fishtail back and forth from one side of the sidewalk to the other. Ivan stepped aside. The bike suddenly swerved.

There was a sharp impact, and for moment Ivan's mind mind went blank.

He found himself resting on the sandy bottom of a deep pool. All around him were fluorescent fish and waving plants -- and a semi-transparent mermaid sitting on a coral throne. She was topless, and her breasts bobbed up and down like multicolored jellyfish. She was laughing at him....
--from "Chicken of the Sea" (by me), originally published in Hudson Current

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

Word of the Day: hebetude

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

hebetude [HEB-ih-tood] (noun)

Mental dullness or slowness

"The inept Mayor Smalltree's re-election would depend entirely on the hebetude of the townspeople, Malachi thought."


TWITO, page 65!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

"I Have Words on the Brain"


The TWITO paperback now has a new cover, based on Narrator Jack's original design for the audiobook. Thanks to Bill Rood and Rachel Rood for the additional design and reformatting.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Photo of the Week

norm head

For Halloween tonight, I went as a big headache. I went around deliberately annoying people at the party, asking everyone for Tylenol. A woman reached into her purse and gave me Midol instead. She said I looked bloated.

Actually, I just made that up. This is a picture of an artist friend at the JCAST opening party earlier this month. I was lucky to get the shot, since he didn't keep the behemothic noggin on too long. (He quit while he was ahead.) Click the pic for closer examination. Yes, for free.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

bloviate [BLOW-vee-ayt] (verb)

To write or speak windily and verbosely

"'I am reluctant to question Horace,' Natalia said, glancing nervously at the cuckoo clock. 'He has such a tendency to bloviate.'"

TWITO, page 22!

Random Sequence

Ivan didn't mind doing the dishes. In fact, he enjoyed it. There was something soothing and almost meditative about immersing his hands in the warm water, squeezing the sponge and wandering through the white clouds of soap suds, searching for sunken forks. Even the greasy pans and plates didn't bother him. He liked transforming their dirty faces into smooth, clean circles of porcelain and steel. It all seemed to take a lifetime, but he didn't mind.
--from "The Man and the Watch" (by me), originally published by Hudson Current

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The T&T List


Perlan II
Jacques Monod
the sinoatrial node
Abdellatif Kechiche
Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital
Santo Spirito
Boomerang Nebula
Jingpo Lacus
Horace Higginbotham
Apache MyFaces
Maenohama Station

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Word of the Day: animadvert

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today it's....

animadvert [an-uh-mad-VERT] (verb)

To remark or comment critically, usually with censure or strong disapproval; used with "on" or "upon"

"'If you are going to animadvert upon my nose ring, Mother,' said Mariellen, 'allow me to critique your collagen injections.'"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Random Sequence

He didn't believe in prayer, but he did believe in intuition and a higher self, or whatever it was.

"Tell me what to do," he thought, addressing the cosmos. "Tell me if I should structure the deal or shoot it straight, the fancy or the plain...."

Just then, he felt something cold in his lap. He looked down and saw a lump of something glistening and white, a blank blob of undifferentiated frozen creaminess oozing between his legs.

The kid was looking up at him with a solemn expression. "Vanilla," he said.
--from "Vanilla" (by me), originally published in Hudson Current

Monday, October 21, 2013

Random Acts of Poetry

I received an unexpected gift today: a poetic piece of non-sequitur spam in my email.


A heaven, yet unseen.
From where he stood to preach and pressed a path

We have learned its lessons in life, and learned from our experiences;
Shells for guns in Flanders! Feed the guns!
(Children in boxes at a play

Pinched up the atom hills and plains)


It makes weird pictures in my mind. And yes, nonsense probably is "the oldest song".

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Link Mania: Zombie Word Attack!

"There are a number of different ways to refer to the living corpse."

The good folks (and obsessive logophiles) at Wordnik have blogged about zombie-related words, which you may want to spook your friends with while conversing at the Halloween party.

They've also posted quite a howler about werewolf words.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Word of the Day: suilline

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

suilline [SOO-il-line](adjective)

Of or relating to pigs

"Little Freida’s suilline appetite surprised everyone at the table."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Link Mania: cliché

You can say that again

Is there anything so popular as a cliché? The Cliche Challenge tracks the voguishness of overused words and phrases, based on the number of references to them found by Google over a three-month period. Bottom line? At the end of the day, visiting this state-of-the-art site could be an historic opportunity, if you're monitoring the situation.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Random Sequence

"Gonna rain soon, I'm afraid," the man said in a wistful voice, to no one in particular, though Marcus was the only person nearby. Then he turned and spoke to Marcus directly: "Gonna get wet," he said.

Marcus shifted his weight from one foot to the other. It was the wrong thing to say to someone who had to pee.

"I'm not sticking around," Marcus said. "I gotta go. I really gotta go."

The man smiled. He had a kind, crinkly face. "You know what they say," he said.

"No, what do they say?" Marcus asked.

The man pointed to toward a thick clump of bushes and trees at the edge of the graveyard. "All the world is a man's urinal."
--from "Scattered to the Winds" (by me), originally published in Hudson Current

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Photo of the Week


Strange, doughnut-shaped molds or fungus-like entities recently invaded my old suitcase. They ate away both sides of it, as well as some old T-shirts I was keeping in there. I should throw the whole thing away, but watching the... things... inside grow and multiply is strangely fascinating. I wonder if they will eventually consume the entire suitcase. And then what?

Actually, I just made that up. This is an art piece I photographed at the opening party for the recent JCAST (Jersey City Artists Studio Tour). Click the pic for a closer look. You know you want to.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

World of the Day: salmagundi

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

salmagundi [sal-muh-GUN-dee](noun)

A mixture or assortment; a medley; a potpourri; a miscellany

"Clive, an inveterate packrat, lived amidst a heaping salmagundi of inutile junk."

(TWITO, page 129)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Search Party

Someone fired up their computer, turned to the Internet (Yahoo specifically), and asked:

what is a modern insult that means thou stale old mouse eaten dry cheese?

That brought them to one of my archived pages, which contained this list of "Shakespearean insults":

Thine face is not worth sunburning!
Thou qualling fat-kidneyed apple-john!
How now my sweet creature of bombast?
Thou warped common-kissing wagtail!
Truly thou art damned, like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side!
Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements, start up and stand on end!
Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!
Sell your face for five pence and 'tis dear!
How now, wool-sack, what mutter you?
Thou hath not so much brain as ear wax!
Thou stale old mouse eaten dry cheese!
Thou wimpled tardy-gaited pigeon-egg!

I have to admit I'm stumped for any modern equivalent -- perhaps I have more earwax than brain -- and anyway I wouldn't even try to best Will in the insult department.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Random Sequence

"My dad -- my dad. He fired my dad, also."

"What? What do you mean?" I asked.

"My dad was a gardener. He liked working outdoors. He worked for that guy. Said his padre owns radio stations. One day my dad was hanging a big basket full of plants over that glass porch thing. My dad fell off a ladder and broke right through a big window. My dad was cut up kind of bad. But Mr. Bastard.... He said it was my dad's fault. Called him clumsy, told him to clean it up -- the blood and everything."
--from "Dark Eyes" (by me), originally published in Twilight Times

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Brain Dump

Be the narcotic. Gently, play your games with fire. Each lying area, whether a field of fallen ruins or an impassable jungle, emerges as wakefulness when sleep reverses -- like an endlessly spiral stairway. Consider: an old city of shadows still keeps track of its citizens, even when they have disappeared, subsumed by exhaustive construction, or obliterated by implacable, yet patient, nature. Time's sand reinforces all. A dreamer's fractured mirror, in which the river of desire frees the mind from reality, generates carousels of birds, even as the dreamer loses himself within their spectral penumbra. Internal acacias thrive in the synaptic breeze off the conceptual sea, as mental clouds flee in formation, weeping joyful water from the sky. Such things are possible if you will but relax, assume a mask of light and accept these directions. Illusions melt in the beauty of intention, the shaping of the third eye, of the many faceted soul.

Don't worry about it.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Word of the Day: ninnyhammer

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

ninnyhammer [NIN-ee-ham-er](noun)

A fool, simpleton or silly person

"You silly, awkward, illbred, country sow...have you no more manners than to rail at Hocus, that has saved that clodpated numskull'd ninnyhammer of yours from ruin, and all his family?"
--John Arbuthnot, "The History of John Bull" (1712)

Sometimes I think I’d have to be a ninnyhammer to collect all of these obscure words. I’ve been doing it for years, without a clear idea of what I would do with them. Then one day I realized I could collect them in a book, achieving fame and fortune. The rest is history.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Photo of the Week: Evil Clown

evil clown

After my Great Aunt Mildred died, I inherited this ancient cast-iron clown/automaton, which I remember her scaring me with as a tot. Press a button on the back and its eyes blink and it sticks its tongue out at you -- which used to make me cry. That she left it to me in her will may have been an act of sheer perversity. Or perhaps a way of making amends for terrifying me with it. The appraised auction value of this weighty little monster is over $2000.

Actually, I just made that up. This is an antique clown-shaped piggy bank I photographed last August at the Bouckeville Antiques fair. Click the pic for a close-up view... if you dare.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

Free Money

I looked down and there it was: a small, folded piece of green and gray paper on the sidewalk, with the number 20 printed on one corner. The Victorian font made it look like a twenty-dollar bill, but I doubted it. Probably a coupon or an advertisement for some 900-number phone-sex scam, I thought, picking it up (just in case). I unfolded it, and there he was: Andrew Jackson with his shock of wind-swept hair, looking more like a mad scientist than a 19th-century president. A real twenty -- or was it? I held it up to the sun, half expecting it to be counterfeit. The ghostly little hologram of Jackson's face appeared. Genuine. What luck! Right away, as I stuffed it into my pocket, I began to feel guilty. Who had dropped it? Probably some cash-strapped single mom with a squalling baby to feed. I thought about spending it, saving it, donating it to charity, or even dropping it. Surely someone more deserving than middle-class me would find it, someone who regularly stooped to pick up all the lost pennies I was too lazy to retrieve from the sidewalk. Before I could decide, I arrived back home from my walk. Ambivalence, my old enemy, had triumphed again. Only this time I was $20 richer in defeat. For now, the improbable bill resides in my wallet, in my back pocket. I'm sitting on it, warming it, thinking about it, but I'll probably forget about it sooner or later. And it will disappear, like all the others, into some merchant's cash register. Easy go.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Link Mania: Twitter Litter

Lonely on Twitter? An outfit called Social News Watch, which claims to have been "keeping a close watch over social media since 1874" (huh?), has compiled a list of the Top 237 Twitter Users Who Will Follow You Back. These are power tweeters, with 10,000 to as many as 100,000+ followers, who apparently have a compulsion to follow anyone who follows them. She's not on the list, but have I told you that Yoko Ono follows me?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Word of the Day: operose

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

operose [OP-er-owss](adjective)

Industrious; diligent

Before his morning coffee, Winston was comatose; afterward, he was operose.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Random Sequence

"Uh huh," David said. They were at the door, and he was fumbling in his pocket under his coat. The sleet was stinging his face, and it seemed to take forever to fish the key out. He could feel her looking at him, but when he looked up, expecting to see impatience, she only looked sad.

"Want some coffee?" he asked when they were finally inside. She nodded. While he fixed it, she sat at the kitchen table, resting her face on her hands and letting her hair fall forward. She seemed to be examining the grain of the wooden table, as if her story was recorded there."
--from "Long Lost" (by me), originally published in Think.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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.

You have the vocabulary of an aspidistra in panic

An aspidistra is a flowering plant and also the name for "a British mediumwave radio transmitter used for black propaganda and military deception purposes against Nazi Germany during World War II," according to Wikipedia. I think I'd rather have the vocabulary of the latter, though when panic sets in, I probably sound more like the former.

diving bell and the butterfly

A fascinating French film about a stroke victim. For when you're in an insouciant mood.

rudolph the nasally empowered reindeer

It's a little early for Xmas, politically correct or not.

shoot luke or give up the gun

Give up the gun, I say.


We are, aren't we?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Head Rattle

My book is entitled The Word I'm Thinking Of, which is a phrase from a Beatles song ("The Word"). I discovered today that there's also a song by Sam Radseresht with the same title. (You can hear a sample from it on iTunes.) Meh. I don't think I'll be making it my theme song.

I wonder how many Tea Party people actually drink tea, or whether they serve tea at their rallies. They seem much more like Kool-Aid drinkers to me.

House flies only live for up to 14 days, I'm told, but I read an interesting article that points out that, to a fly, 14 days might seem like 80 years. They can process nearly seven times as much information in a second as a human -- which is why they are so hard to swat. We seem incredibly slow to them. To a fly, we live as long as giant Sequoias -- trees that thrive for thousands of years. It's all relative, said Professor Einstein. (Fly drawing by me.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Brain Dump

Stop Making Sense

Those who had believed, completely or hypocritically, in the order or its transmissions from the Bay of Nujin, or the movements it inspired in the abnormal garden, counted each brick and nail of the sanatorium. It was no friend of the nations, despite its relative name. It pressed on each humid eye with difficulty, and it seemed to inspire rain for many years. Between the bits and pieces that could be visualized and the agitations of the newcomers, revisions became necessary, if only by example.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Word of the Day: caitiff

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

caitiff [KAY-tiff](noun)

A despicable coward; a wretch

When a bear cub wandered into the campsite, Mr. Jones pulled the children in front of himself. "Oh, you caitiff!" cried 10-year-old Penelope, the winner of the school spelling bee.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Link Mania

Words, words, words....

107 Regional Slang Words (YouTube) Frappe? Bubblers? How many do you know?

The True Origin Stories of 7 Happy Words It's "tickety-boo"!

20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world You know, like mamihlapinatapei: "The wordless, yet meaningful, look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Random Sequence

He woke up at 2. At least he thought he was awake. His eyes were open, but his body felt heavy and cold. He could see Claire in bed next to him, sleeping, with her helmet of brown hair flopped over her eyes and her mouth opening and closing gently, like a fish.

There was a blue glow in the room, and he gradually realized that this was what had woken him. It wasn't coming from the window or the doorway. It was like the light from a TV set, he thought, but there was no set in the room. He rolled his eyes around slowly, trying to find the source.....
--from "Sleep" (by me), originally published by The 13th Story

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Photo of the Week


I'm so fed up with paying for bus and subway rides, that I've taken to riding my bike nearly everywhere. And to protest the high cost of New York City's transit fares, I've decided to attach all of my old MetroCards to every available surface of my trusty Schwinn. It's my ironic statement about the price of perambulation in this mighty metropolis. You might say I'm a "spokesman" for beleaguered Big Apple commuters.

Actually, I just made that up. This is a bicycle I observed on a side street in Manhattan and couldn't resist photographing -- just like you can't resist clicking on this pic for a close-up view.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Word of the Day: nutation

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

nutation [noo-TAY-shun] (noun)

A nodding of the head

"The audience's collective nutation convinced the dramatist to cut the fifteenth act."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Brain Dump

Let me take you down to business is bad boy band together we can do it was the best of times change your life on Mars invaded China dishes break the silence is golden parachute opens the door frame up to you never know your own strength in numbers don't lie down to business. The rain falls under the bridge the gap between the two by two steps forward march madness. I have a question authority to order in the court disaster planning a vacation time is money is the root cause and effect a change in the weather report to me.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Random Sequence

"What the hell..." Nick began. The man on the other side was tied to a pine tree with several thick ropes. He was tall, thin, dark-haired -- not unlike Nick -- and dressed only in jeans and sneakers. The word SCALPED was scrawled on his naked chest with red paint or lipstick. He appeared to be in his early 30s, a little younger than Nick, and he wore an expression of embarrassment mixed with fear....

"Who are you?" asked Nick.

The stranger stared at him for a few seconds. Then he said, "I'm from Toronto."

There was an awkward silence, filled only by the sound of wind rushing through the trees.
--from "The Knot" (by me), originally published by Fiction Warehouse

Monday, September 09, 2013

The T&T List

White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer
Maya Deren
Olaf Swantee
DTaP Shot
Sunset at Montmajour
Milo O'Shea
Center for Brains, Minds and Machines
Do the Mutation

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Word of the Day: nephelococcygia

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

nephelococcygia [NEF-el-o-kok-SIJ-ee-uh](noun)

Cloud gazing; the act of looking for and finding shapes in clouds. Also, when capitalized, the name of Cloud-Cuckoo-Land in Aristophanes' The Birds

"Terrence spent Saturday prostrate in the yard and in nephelococcygia, finding inspiration in the thunderheads."

I remember seeing a lot of things in clouds as a kid: faces, cities, fabulous beasts. I can't really do that anymore, which is sad. Now I just see water vapor, though I still can't quite believe, sometimes, that I couldn't sit on one of those diaphanous thrones if I could just get up there.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Head Rattle

I was surprised to see that my new car's manual starts out with a poem extolling the manufacturer's products. I imagine the technical writer was surprised to be asked to include a few lines of verse -- or maybe even to compose it. Or not? Maybe all manuals start out with a poetic invocation in Japan.

Samovar, odalisque, balustrade, mesallied: The Decemberists are clearly a band of logophiles.

I downloaded the Twin Peaks Archive -- an eclectic collection of over 200 tracks, ranging from jazz to country western to dark ambient. It amounts to 10 hours of previously unreleased music from the extremely melodic TV series Twin Peaks and its prequel film, Fire Walk With Me. If a sample track title like "Log Lady Presence" doesn't resonate with you... I can't explain it.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Random Sequence

My mind begins to wander. I look over at Whiskers, who is now sitting up on the back of an overstuffed chair. He stares at me and cocks his furry head a little, and I'm reminded of the Cheshire Cat. "How do you know I'm mad?" Alice says, if I recall the book correctly. "You must be," says the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
--from "Because I Can" (by me), originally published by Eyeshot

cheshire cat

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Link Mania

"Zyunsis© is a tiny round caplet for the treatment of political instability. Do not take Zyunsis© if you are white, experience sadness or have soreness around the scrotum."

"Natzyo© is a gigantic black caplet for the treatment of bagingo degeneration. Just 6 doses of Natzyo© is enough to clear your bagingo degeneration all day."

"Allgoxil™ is a small suppository for the treatment of vein pain. Do not take Allgoxil™ if you hate diarrhea or experience finger depression."

Prescription Drug Name Generator

Monday, September 02, 2013

Word of the Day: sudoriferous

What's "the word I'm thinking of" this Labor Day? It's....

sudoriferous [soo-duh-RIF-er-us] (adjective)

Producing or secreting sweat

"'It is absurd to expect a man of my capabilities to engage in sudoriferous efforts,' declared Dr. Smith as the Major handed him a shovel. He considered any physical labor beneath him, much to the annoyance of the shipwrecked crew."


Be forewarned; the Google images for this word are icky.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Flying or Falling?

falling man

It's often hard to tell. You can do both at once -- metaphorically speaking.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brain Dump

Important Safety Information about QUALMIZONE

QUALMIZONE is not right for everyone, including introverts, who have reported uncontrollable karaoke and moonwalking impulses when taking QUALMIZONE, as well as anyone with delusions of grandeur, or women who are crabby, cranky, or who may become cranky. Your doctor should do sanity tests before and during treatment with QUALMIZONE to monitor the associated intermittent hysteria. Unexplained satyriasis or nymphomania could be a sign of a rare but popular side effect and should be reported to your friends, acquaintances and coworkers right away. Elevated sleaze levels have been reported with QUALMIZONE; be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any resulting crap. Side effects: The most common side effects are anal hiccups, incompetence, silliness, and compulsive blogging.

Monday, August 26, 2013

LInk Mania: Zentences

"Our tragicomic dialogue can make everything beautiful"

At zentences, you can generate a seemingly endless number of gnomic pearls (as above) and rhetorical questions (requires Flash). They might even serve as prompts for quirky essays (or daydreams), if you're a philosophical sort. Examples:

Sanity approaches the infinite?
Diligence has its roots in the earth.
Silence is seen by the Third Eye.
Perserverance seems to be a mad dance of electrons.
Wonder feels warm?
The Garden of Eden cannot be a majority decision.

That last one struck me. I don't think the "Garden of Eden" (meaning paradise, nirvana, utopia or even "the good life") can ever be defined by a majority. We all have to find our own little island of satisfaction, even if it takes a lifetime. Your heaven might be my hell, or purgatory. And vice versa.



How to Be Yourself

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Word of the Day: habile

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

habile [HAB-ihl] (adjective)

Generally able or adroit; handy

Professor Allenby fixed the roof himself, and thought he'd proved "habile" with a hammer and nails. Then the first rains came.


Nice word, but I don't think I'd trust a handyman who said he was "habile with a hammer".

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Random Sequence

Will watched a troop of ants scuttle across the train platform's miniature moonscape. They seemed to be dragging crumbs toward a crack in the concrete. He ticked off a list of adjectives in his head: mindless, obsessive, disgusting. He had a sudden urge to drop the heavy stack of paper flyers he was holding and kill them all.
--from "The Burden" (by me), originally published by Ululation.com

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Head Rattle

Let's say a wormhole appeared under your sofa. Would you be tempted to jump in, not knowing where you'd come out on the other side? I'm "reading" a novel about that very subject. In the book, many people feel tempted and jump in, never to return. Which led me to an interesting thought: Don't we all end up in a hole, sooner or later, never to return?

I have shelved any near-future plans I may have had to visit the Pyramids.

Hello, NSA analyst. I hope this blog brightens your day.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Link Mania

"The Codex Seraphinianus was written and illustrated by Italian graphic designer and architect Luigi Serafini during the late 1970s. The Codex is a lavishly produced book that purports to be an encyclopedia for an imaginary world in a parallel universe, with copious comments in an incomprehensible language. It is written in a florid script, entirely invented and completely illegible, and illustrated with watercolor paintings."

You can read more about this strange book and see examples of the Bosch-like illustrations here. It shares some similarities with the famous (infamous?) Voynich Manuscript.

T'would be an interesting volume to possess in full-color print, if it didn't cost "from $295" on Amazon....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Word of the Day: coriaceous

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

coriaceous [kor-ee-AY-shuss](adjective)

Having the appearance of leather

"After so many decades at sea, Captain Smyth's coriaceous face told a salty story, punctuated by two oceanic eyes."

Don't forget your sunscreen....

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Random Sequence

I backed off through the bushes and began to look around for Claggett. He was nowhere in sight. I didn't want to call him, because whoever lived in that hovel would surely hear me. After wandering around for a few minutes and still not seeing him, though, I decided to chance it. I yelled, "Claggett!" and instantly the forest birds stopped their twittering. There was no reply.

I began to have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I'd just made a big mistake that there was no undoing.
--from "The Iron Box" (by me), originally published in 3 AM Magazine

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brain Dump

Each hearing file discards a sacked associate lecture with a frown during monthly integrity convictions. The chair has a disconnected buffer handle that pushes reserved persons into blogging accidents and passe video-accented evenings of abusive left-wing demonstrating. This formatting is a sort of kindly recursion of roof melt, a long-lasting river traveling though a doubtful autobiography, conveying a mystic, messy sigh. A band with forceful toes appears outgoing, posing as rejects with their reserved dynamic murder buckets. Impossible inaccuracy is then announced, as they capture stringent manifesto machines with solid equivalent price dodges. Next, hardy, obligatory pints are examined with reservations, owing to drastic expressions of overflowing torrents and terrorist scenarios. Such hallucinatory bombing is suitable for a parity schedule network, yes?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Photo of the Week

house of spiritual candles

They call this shop The House of Spiritual Candles. I don't know what's so spiritual about an oversize rooster (seems more Freudian than Judeo-Christian), but this window intrigued me enough to step inside. The clerk tried to get me to buy a Jesus candle, but I opted for a Joan of Arc one instead.

Actually, I just made that up. I was merely a passer-by on a Jersey City street one recent evening, and snapped this photo using my eye-Phone. Click the pic for a closer view -- and perhaps to have a religious experience.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Word of the Day: sedulous

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

sedulous [SEJ-uh-luss] (adjective)

Diligent; painstaking; industrious

"All of his sedulous efforts came to naught when a meteorite crashed through the roof."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Random Sequence

The wind was tearing at their breath now, and she began to shout: "Never mind. He was helping me to discover myself as an artist. God, that sounds so.... He was teaching me photography -- that's better."

"Uh huh," David said. They were at the door, and he was fumbling in his pocket under his coat. The sleet was stinging his face, and it seemed to take forever to fish the key out. He could feel her looking at him, but when he looked up, expecting to see impatience, she only looked sad.
--from "Long Lost" (by me), originally published in Think (UC Davis literary magazine)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Head Rattle

Why aren't girls ever named "Olive" anymore?

Unspoken summer BBQ and pool-party rule: only men and children actually get into the pool.

You can buy diapers for dogs now. What a wonderful world!

Automobile brands used to have distinctive looks. Now they mostly look like variations on the same theme: vaguely cat-eye-shaped headlights and cat-eye-ish taillights; grills that grin. It's boring. I want a car that looks like this:

Blue Cadillac rear, Elvis Presley Auto Museum

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Link Mania: Tick, Tick, Tick...

A 10,000 Year Clock

The CEO of the company that owns the company I work for has donated at least $42 million to build a giant clock that will tick for 10,000 years deep inside a mountain in West Texas.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Word of the Day

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

spanghew [SPANG-hyoo] (verb)

To throw or jerk violently, to cause to fly into the air, to jump like a toad or frog

Damien enjoyed sneaking up behind Mildred, tapping her on the shoulder, and watching her spanghew.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Random Sequence

"Folks, we can't be one-hundred percent sure if all the landing gear is down," the pilot said. "It probably is. Indicator bulbs in the cockpit do burn out from time to time. But, as a precaution, we're going to make a low pass over the runway, and an observer on the ground will radio to tell us if all our wheels are down.... Don't be frightened by any fire trucks and flashing lights you may see on the ground. It's just a precaution." Wagstaff still had his head down. His lips seemed to be moving slightly, as if he were praying.
--from "Wagstaff's Dreams" (by me), originally published in The Square Table

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

Do real men wear "lounge pants"?

In a clothing store I frequent, I see "lounge pants" on sale for men. These are plaid pants made of thin cotton fabric with draw-string waists. They look like pajama bottoms. Do any guys reading this actually wear these? My "lounge pants" are usually sweat pants (or "sweat" shorts in hot weather). That's what I wear to bed and for any lounging I do when I get up in the morning or am near bedtime. I don't really have a lot of leisure time, and don't feel the need to be specially attired for it when I do have it. And I've always thought that draw-string waists look very silly on men, unless they are yoga instructors or something.

But perhaps I'll buy some lounge pants. They're quite cheap, and maybe they'll inspire me to carve out more leisure time, somehow, from my 12-hour work days. I'll stop and smell the roses, wearing lounge pants.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Photo of the Week


Listen up, logophiles! My book is now an audiobook -- with its own very thoughtful cover image.

Audible (mobile)

(If my book had a theme song, it would be track 6 on Rubber Soul: "The Word".)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Word of the Day

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

rannygazoo [ran-ee-ga-ZOO] (noun)

A joke or prank

"Bob couldn't think of a proper rannygazoo, but then, in an idle moment it came to him: he would serve Tom a peanut butter and tuna fish sandwich."

An idle moment. It seems people either don't have enough of those these days, or they have far too many. And when you have too much time on your hands, well, you may start planning a few too many rannygazoos.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

I'm not sure why, at this point, people still want to go to Mars. The environment there makes Antarctica seem like the Garden of Eden. In all the pictures the rovers send back, there isn't a single plant visible, not even the tiniest cactus. The atmosphere contains very little methane, which would be present in significant quantities if life was present, even if underground. (So forget about sand worms.)

Despite looking deceptively like parts of Arizona, it's not a place where anyone could walk around without a spacesuit. Whatever running water was present disappeared billions of years ago, along with most of the atmosphere. So, it's a dead world -- even if we do discover a bacterium or two there someday. It would be incredibly dangerous for humans to travel there, something that would require months with current technology. If anything went wrong, there would be no chance of rescue -- which was true of the moon landings too, but the moon is only three days away by rocket ship, so there was much less time for something to break.

Just keep sending robots, I say, until we discover something like a warp drive or anti-gravity propulsion, and can get there and back in a few hours. Then we can collect all the precious Martian rocks we want.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Random Sequence

"Because why?" I murmured.

"I don't know why, exactly," he said. "It's... a weird place, a weird box. They ran away, and I followed them."

"Uh-huh." I didn't know what else I could say, other than to ask what brought this yarn on. He didn't take kindly to those kinds of questions, though.

"I've been thinking a lot about that box lately," he said, "and doing research."

"What do you think it was?" I asked, in what I hoped sounded like an interested tone. "A box of what?"

"Well, that's something I've been thinking about for many years," he said. "And I think I may have figured out the answer. What do you know about local history?"
--from "The Iron Box" (by me), originally published in 3 AM Magazine

Monday, July 22, 2013

Word of the Day: arsiversie

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

arsiversie [arsy-versy](adjective)

Meaning: upside down?

"...he was a botcher, cheese-eater, and trimmer of man's flesh embalmed, which in the arsiversie swagfall tumble was not found true."
--François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (1567)

I think this word means "upside down." It's hard to find a definition for it.... I've always enjoyed looking at the topsy-turvy sky and world you can see on the surface of a calm lake. One dropped pebble and the universe is destroyed in a burst of concentric circles. It gives you a new perspective on things. Maybe I should spend more time arsiversie.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Search Party

Here are some recent search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania.

shack for sale

Looking for a little old place where we can get toether? Here's one I photographed, and it is for sale. Click the pic for a closer look. And don't forget my commission.

love shack for sale

rob's amazing poem generator

I think I linked to it once, but it appears that the amazing poem generator is no more, alas. As compensation, here's one of my "bad haiku" pieces. (Believe me, it's better than anything Rob's geneator produced.)

Dear little puppy
Alone in the soft sunlight
Smashed to smithereens

smotp walking on glass

SMOTP is an author, apparently a purveyor of erotica, aka Essemoh Teepee. Not sure what the name signifies. Something nasty? Sado-Masochistic Oxymorons and Terrible Pain? And I don't recall writing anything about walking on glass. That does sound painful.

writing a book hippie?

Yes, it seems I'm always writing my book, even after it's published. Stay tuned for further details.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Quote of the Day

I like this page of quotations by writers about writing. As you might expect, they're quite pithy.

"Know something, sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them." --Allan Gurganus

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Random Sequence

"No," she said. "I haven't seen him in a long time. He -- just took off one day. Disappeared. Good riddance." She giggled again. "He was a bad man, and I wasn't so nice either. People didn't want us around, so we came up here. This is our mountain. I thought he'd be better to me up here on Mount Olympus, that we'd live like nature gods or something. I was Aphrodite, but he was still Mars. Or Hades? Anyway, I became this. And he got real mad at me and then disappeared. 'Course part of him disappeared a long time before that. He only had one arm, ya know. Always bothered him -- the imperfection."
--from "The Iron Box" (by me), published in 3AM Magazine

Monday, July 15, 2013

Word of the Day: mumpsimus

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

mumpsimus [MUMP-suh-muss](noun)

Someone who adheres to old ways that are obviously wrong

"The best of the joke is, that Johnston, who seems here to have deserted for a moment the old mumpsimus, contradicts himself in the very next page, and having laughed at 'broken' metaphors in one breath, attempts, in the next, to 'reduce' one, after a manner of surgery almost as awful as that of Warburton himself."
--T. D., "On the use of Metaphors" in Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine (1825)

Hmm. Who might we apply this word to? I'm thinking of a certain mumpsimus from a certain political party. Maybe you are, too, even if it isn't the same party. That's politics.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Head Rattle

I wanted to buy some Vans shoes, just like the ones I saw a guy on the train wearing. They come in (seemingly) hundreds of two-tone colors, but I can't find exactly "the ones", which are more subtle, colorwise, than most of them. Who says you can find everything on the internets?

When you hear someone else reading aloud the words you've written, it's on odd experience. Not cringe-worthy, like it might be if you heard a recording of yourself reading them, but you realize that every reader "hears" your words differently in his/her own head -- not exactly the way you hear them in your head. It makes you realize that you'll never know the exact effect your writing has until someone else reads it.

I had lunch yesterday in a crowded diner on the the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was surprised to also see a somewhat famous comedian (initials J.M.), whose act I've never liked, also eating lunch in this rather downscale hamburger joint. Nobody was bothering him, staring, or asking for autographs, although the waiters seemed to be giving him some extra attention. It reminded me of why celebrities live in New York.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Link Mania

To make a long story short

The One Sentence archive is a collection of stories told in, yes, one sentence. The 50 most popular sentences/stories, as rated by visitors, are on the linked page, but as the site notes, "Just like high school...sometimes the losers are the cooler kids to hang around with."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Link Mania: Zootaxa


I typed my name into Google Story Creator, and this was the result:


Great Lakes Entomologist. 2005.

It actually went so close to perfect that we could hardly believe it.

And when they do, we nail them.
Those parts range literally from boots on our feet to satellites zipping overhead.

They had night vision gear, so they moved quickly.

Interesting. It seems to have something to do with a successful clandestine military or espionage mission (code name "Zootaxa"?) in 2005 that involved "nailing" an entomologist -- possibly near the Great Lakes. Some poor scientist studying insects at night - a real threat to the government? I wonder why my name generated such a creepy tale.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Word of the Day: fantods

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

fantods [FAN-tods](noun)

A state of extreme nervous irritability

"He said we mightn't ever get another chance to see one, and he was going to look his fill at this one if he died for it. So I looked too, though it gave me the fantods to do it."
--Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896)

Insects and other creepy-crawlies around the house give me the fantods. I don’t even like to look at bugs. I take off my glasses before squishing them.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Random Sequence

A weird, powerful stink came out out the the box, like a dead animal.... The first thing I noticed was a lot of money -- lots of little piles of strange-looking money tied up with string. They seemed to be mostly twenty- and fifty-dollar bills, though they looked bigger than regular bills. There was some other stuff in there, too: dusty whiskey bottles and what looked like old ledgers. But I didn't pay much attention to that stuff because lying on top of the money was a mummy -- a dried out corpse, literally skin and bones, dressed in ragged jeans and a T-shirt. And it only had one arm.
--from "The Iron Box" (by me), originally published in 3 AM Magazine.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Photo of the Week


This is "Candy", the plastic zebra. It's a long story. Short version: When Sandra, my 14-year-old niece, was grieving over the death of her pony (also named Candy), the family decided to contact Pet Memory Solutions, Inc., a company that creates life-size replicas of deceased animals. Sandra didn't want an exact duplicate, but rather one that honored Candy's, as she put it, "sweetness".

Actually, I just made that up. This is a display outside a pet store in my neighborhood. Click the pic for a closer look. You know you want to.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 42 small

Agree? More clip-art philosophy by me (and Anonymous). You can catch the BIG fish here. And more Philosofish here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Word of the Day: peregrinate

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

peregrinate (verb) [PARE-uh-Grun-ate]

To journey or travel from place to place

"I wish I could peregrinate around the world," said Will, "and still sleep in my own bed."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Link Mania: Paging Mr. Otto Shumake...

Stuck for a moniker? A random name generator for writers creates lists of interesting appellations. 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.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Head Rattle

Mapquest GPS lady on my iPhone, your directions are appreciated but occasionally puzzling. Do you know a shortcut? Should I trust you?

Is it cooler upstairs or downstairs? Restaurant workers don't want to answer this question on a hot day. They are not thermometers.

When everything about the decor of a doctor's waiting room has a blandly neutral, quasi-"Japanese"/Zen vibe, and they have a gurgling white-noise generator going while you're sitting there reading an old copy of The New Yorker, you have to wonder what this particular interior decorating strategy signifies. Is it a palliative to the inevitably distressing issues discussed behind all those closed doors?

They don't make French doors like they used to. Now they have grill inserts to indicate the idea of panes, rather than separate panes. This is another example of how more and more things are "meta" these days: an abstraction to indicate the idea of something, rather than the thing itself.

The "secret" of Gertrude Stein's peculiar writing style The New Yorker says is that she rarely used commas and that makes her prose sound both deceptively simple and profound in case you were wondering.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Random Sequence

The street was still crowded. Will looked into each face he passed. A few made eye contact for a moment; most didn't. It was hard to believe, but all of them had a life somewhere -- a family, friends, a job, a home. Millions of them. Or maybe a few didn't. Maybe some of them were faking it.

He came to a subway station and, without thinking about it, descended the stairs. He walked through the turnstile and sat on a bench near the tracks. While he waited, he stared at the cigarette butts, gum wads and crumbs that littered the concrete floor. An army of ants was trying to move a tiny piece of candy, and he reach over with this foot and crushed them.
--from "The Burden" (by me), originally published by Ululation.com

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Word of the Day: gowk

gowk (noun)

A fool, simpleton or clumsy person

"Conceited gowk! Puff'd up wi' windy pride!"
--Robert Burns, "The Brigs of Ayr" (1786)

You might be a gowk and mistake this word for another: "gwok." According to the Urban Dictionary, gwok can mean “ugly”; it can also be a synonym for money. In Cantonese, it means “country.” Hmm. An ugly money country. Suitable for gowks, no doubt.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Search Party

Here are a few recent search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania.

treatment for boanthropy syndrome

boanthropy is the belief that one is a cow or an ox. Probably the cure would be to offer the person a hamburger.

cheshire cat lewis carroll

"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "otherwise you wouldn't have come here."

einstein fish

A smart fish? Dolphins come to mind, but they aren't really fish. If Einstein were to be reincarnated as a fish, maybe he would develop a Theory of Infinity.

doodoocaca flesh

Wow, I'm number 3 on Google for this phrase? But I think you mean doodoocaca FLASH.

conversational terrorism how not to talk

Conversational terrorism is when two people stop talking.

rastafarian proctologist

You mean a Pokemon?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Link Mania: Tea Time

"Like Proust be an old teahead of time"

Like, wow: Jack Kerouac's 30 Cool Tips for writers. They're not very practical (neither was Kerouac), but they have a subversive, Gertrude Stein-like quality that just might put you in the mood to write. After all, "You're a genius all the time."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Link Mania

Sing Along with Webster

Dictionaraoke.org, 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 17, 2013

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 16, 2013

Word of the Day: obtenebrate

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

obtenebrate (verb)

To darken or place in shadow

"...thus do I return to you, dearest Ingeborg, to lay my head upon thy bosom, that thou mayst fan away the vapours which obtenebrate my soul, whilst placing thy warm hand upon my heart."
--Fredrika Bremer, The Rectory of Mora (1845)

Just before a thunderstorm on a hot August day, the wind rises and the whole world obtenebrates. I love that moment.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Random Sequence

I knocked, and after a few seconds -- it seemed like a few minutes -- Justin said "come in" with a tone of utter resignation. We found him hunched over his desk, examining a book about insects and apparently writing something on a sheet of lined paper. He didn't turn to greet us.

"Hi, fella," Albert said.

Justin looked back at us, mildly surprised to see Albert. "Oh, hullo," he said, "Mr. Barstow."

"Albert," Albert said. "Watcha reading?"

They both turned to look at the book. I had seen this insect book, with its huge, grotesque pictures of glistening mandibles and segmented thoraxes, before. So I took the opportunity to surreptitiously examine what Justin had been writing.

To my surprise, it didn't seem to have anything to do with schoolwork.... it seemed to be some kind of odd poem that snaked down the page in an S-shaped curve of text. I could only make out some of it:

We have come a long way
to tell you what most of you
have long suspected:
that your home is elsewhere,
that your exile is self-imposed.

--from "Mirror in the Sky" (by me), originally published by Cenotaph

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Photo of the Week

cat book

I'm tempted to say "even cats like my book!" This feline has fallen in love with my paperback's glossy cover, which he likes to rub his whiskers against -- while purring like an outboard motor.

Actually, I just made that up. A friend snapped this (staged) photo because her cat -- yes, this very cat -- is mentioned in the book, in the entry for the word "absquatulate". You'll have to read it to get the story and context; suffice it to say that this furry fellow absquatulated when I was visiting one evening, despite the fact that he only has three legs -- no lie. Click the photo for closer inspection and say "nice kitty". (If I had said that at the time, maybe he wouldn't have absquatulated.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Head Rattle

If you have the opportunity to go to Paris, there aren't many good reasons to say no.

Some people can't take a hint. But if the hint is strong enough, you start to wonder if the person is purposely not getting it.

Many people are into social media, but some people are into anti-social media.

Texas is another state of mind.

Sometimes you don't want to be reminded of the past, but you don't want to forget the good parts either. This can lead to contradictory behavior.

Love is not about entertainment value.

I'm pretty sure that you know that I know that you're pretty sure you know that I know.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Word of the Day: relume

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today it's....

relume (verb)

To make bright or clear again; illuminate again

"Open the blinds and relume this domicile," the pretentious Mr. Wexfordcromby commanded. "It might help if you removed your sunglasses," Millicent retorted.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Link Mania: Book Page

Do you like pages? Do you like liking pages? Then by all means please "like" my new book's Facebook page HERE. You'll then receive periodic lexicographic amusement from it.

And by the way, do you have a mellifluous voice? My book is seeking a narrator HERE.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Random Sequence

One of Wagstaff's dreams was all about me, or so he said. I was a tropical bird with purple and blue feathers, and I was searching for my mate. When I found her, she was a tiny woman, like a fairy or Thumbelina, in a golden birdcage suspended from the branch of a tree. The cage door was open, but she was afraid to leave, because she'd lived her whole life in the cage. And I was afraid to go inside to rescue her, because I thought the door would shut when I did -- and we'd both be trapped.
--from "Wagstaff's Dreams" (by me), originally published in The Square Table

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Photo of the Week


I'm a lover of words, so when my uncle asked me to paint his storefront's metallic shutter, I couldn't resist covering it with some of my favorite lexemes (in addition to a Mondrianesque design): sneakers, kolossal, passion, galaxy, vibes, mind, destiny, retro, spirit. Yes, I'm both a graffiti artist and an urban poet.

Actually, I just made that up, though this is a storefront's shutter. (It's a shoe store, I think -- there are some shoe references in there.) I happened to notice this mural while passing by on Central Avenue last week, and snapped the pic. Clearly, someone decided to transform an ugly surface into a canvas for self expression. Click the pic for closer reading.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Word of the Day: blatherskite

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

blatherskite (noun)

1. A babbling, foolish person; 2. Absurd and foolish talk

"Oh, that's nothing but blatherskite!" cried Miranda when Viola suggested that Mr. Crave might only be interested in her fortune.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Link Mania

It's All Too Much?

Take the concept behind the Sgt. Pepper cover, expand on it exponentially, and you just might come up with something like The Picture of Everything. Sit back and let the evening go.


Funny Face

The Eric Myer Photography site features a random face generator that allows you to combine 20 different head shots (mostly of, shall we say, nonconformists) to make new faces. Loads of puerile fun, and it might even serve as a brainstorming tool for creating fictional characters. (Click on Stereotypes: Edition 1)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Random Sequence

His eyes adjusted, and he saw a little white statue on the sill, some Greek god or athlete. Beyond that was a couch that looked like a giant pin-cushion from the 1920s, and next to that a polished wooden table with leaves and vines carved into its legs. On the table was a little painting in a gold frame, propped up against a stack of books. It was a picture of a place he knew: the place where the river bends in Easter Park.
--from "Sleep" (by me), which originally appeared in The 13th Story

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING


I spent some time at my lawyer's office today, so I could sign my "Last Will and Testament" -- yes, the document really is called that. Just like on TV and in the movies, it stated, among many other things, that I was of "sound mind", which is mostly true, I guess. Anyway, I signed, and even learned a new word: stirpes, which has to do with the method of dividing an estate if the beneficiary of the will dies... uhh, you don't want to know.

The semiotics of the legal office's conference room were interesting. I had plenty of time to study them while waiting for the official document to be presented and witnessed. On one wall was a painting of a group of posh-looking people in riding gear and on horseback, during a fox hunt. On the opposite wall was a black-and-white photograph of a group of construction workers eating lunch while seated on a girder high above Manhattan. I suppose the message was that the lawyers serve both upper-crust and working-stiff clients in need of legal representation. I must be somewhere in between or outside of those classes, because I didn't identify with either portrait.

On top of an imposing bookcase full of legal tomes there was also a small photo of a kids' baseball team, apparently one the office sponsors. I felt more like one of them: smiling on the outside, but worried about strike three.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Word of the Day: sermocination

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

sermocination (noun)

The making of speeches or sermons; sermonizing

"Ephraim's park-bench sermocination drove away everyone except the squirrels."

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bloody Link Mania

'Ave a look, right, guvnor

Thanks ter The Dialectizer, yer can now read the Cockney version of this site. It is ter larf.

(You can also read it in the following dialects: Redneck, Jive, Fudd, Bork, Moron, Pig Latin, Hacker, and Censor.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Random Sequence

He waited half an hour before opening the closet door, and grimaced as it squeaked. He moved toward the bedroom in slow motion, letting each foot land softly on the carpet, shifting his weight to it, then taking another step. He reached the foot of the bed and looked down. The woman's unconscious face was familiar: It was Shelly -- an older version of Shelly with platinum blonde hair. He was unable to move for several seconds. Then he reached down and grabbed her toe.

Shelly's eyes flicked open and focused on him. Then she began to wail, loudly, like a police siren. He suddenly realized why. He still had the knife in his hand.
--from "Long Lost" (by me), originally published in Think

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Head Rattle

Book title of the day: Father Christmas Needs a Wee. It's a British kids' book that's about exactly what it sounds like. TMI, if you ask me.

Meditation CDs for... dogs. Yes, there is such a thing, I've discovered. That's stretching it, right? Someone told me they tried one, and it made their dog start barking.

Reading over my new "Last Will & Testament" last night. It's not like on TV, where you leave your various tchotchkes to distant relatives and deliberately cut out anyone who's been nasty to you. Someone specific should get my antique wheelchair full of manikin parts, though....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Word of the Day: tatterdemalion

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

tatterdemalion (noun)

A person who dresses in rags; a ragamuffin

Despite his sizable fortune, Cedric insisted on dressing like a scarecrow. Though he was often mistaken for a vagrant, he told anyone who cared to inquire that he was "a mere tatterdemalion."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

I keep seeing small stickers stuck to traffic signs all over the city. They say this:


...in the creepy Fraktur typeface. It means nothing to me, and a Google search turns up zilch for those words -- if they are words.

Putting them through the Internet Anagram Server yields some interesting, and vaguely disturbing, results:

Endemic Rots
Deceit Norms
Encoder Mist
Creed Monist
Medic Stoner
Dice Monster
Iced Monster
Demonic Rest
Dormice Nest
Cinder Motes
Credit Omens
Cited Sermon
Scorned Item
Code Minster
Mice Rodents
Crimes Noted
Cretins Demo
Erotic Mends

There are some cool band names in that list, perhaps.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Random Sequence

We did as she said, getting pricked and tripping over roots as we went along. Amazingly, she seemed to have no trouble keeping up with us. Obviously, she knew every inch of this forest. "Think she's taking us to the cave?" I whispered to Claggett, after we'd walked for what felt like a mile. "Or just someplace where she can hide our bodies?" Claggett glanced at me and whispered, "or both."
--from "The Iron Box" (by me), originally published in 3 AM Magazine

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Photo of the Week

jug 2

The assignment this week in my pottery class was to create a "vessel" in the form of a self-portrait. As it turns out, I'm not a very good potter, since this was the best I could come up with. I'll leave it up to you to decide how closely I resemble this mug jug. I couldn't figure out how to include my glasses, which I'm sure would have made the likeness much more obvious.

Actually, I just made that up. This is a photo I snapped at an antiques show a few summers ago. It's a haunting visage, don't you agree? Click the pic to get close up and personal.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Word of the Day: absquatulate

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

absquatulate (verb)

To leave in a hurry; vamoose.

"'Time to absquatulate,' Hiram whispered to himself as the drapes went up in flames."

I was playing with a three-legged cat one night at a friend's house. I offered him a catnip toy, but it seemed to startle him. He absquatulated. I was a little miffed, but then he came back and sniffed it. Nice kitty. It's amazing how fast a three-legged cat can move.


By the way, you can purchase an entire book (by yours truly) of these bon mots from a river in Brazil: The Word I'm thinking Of

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Random Sequence

The plane seemed to rotate ninety degrees. Then, finally, it skidded to a halt. Everyone was silent for a moment, then all the passengers started to talk at once. I turned to Pete. "Well, we made it," I said. "You can open your eyes now. It didn't come true after all, huh?"

He didn't answer.

"Pete?" I said.

"Hey, Pete!" I put my hand on his shoulder, and he slumped over onto my lap. Wagstaff was dead.

--from "Wagstaff's Dreams" (by me), originally published in The Square Table

Monday, May 13, 2013

Random Acts of Poetry

Break Time

Somewhere above
the arctic circle

stars form
absent faces in a dream.

These are signals, symbols
that come in waves

from an inland ocean,

as the periodic breezes
of a clouded afternoon

in the summer of the dog.
It's time for a break

at the dance school.
Time for the coffee,

the whiskey,
half an hour of it,

before each coat hanger
takes another spin.

Let's make a joke of structure!
Drop all our mail in the furnace.

So many people today
are made of paper.

No more a threat to us
than a snake in a cage,

than my mother
with her wooden spoon.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Link Mania: 'The Word I'm Thinking Of'

Dear Sir or Madam,

Will your read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look?

The Word I'm Thinking Of

Yes, the rumors are true. I've written a book.

So far, I'm just a paperback writer. But someday soon, I hope you'll be able to peruse it on your e-book reader. And even listen to it....

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

Adventures in Driving

I was chauffeuring a relative around Northern New Jersey today, trying to obey the commands of the female voice barking from by iPhone GPS app. I got to where I needed to go, but, thanks to the quirks and eccentricities of New Jersey highway construction -- like routes physically divided into "express" and "local" lanes, running parallel but never allowing drivers to cross from one to the other -- I was a little late. And a little sweaty, after receiving an unexpected tour of the Newark warehouse district.

The adventure ended with a peregrination into Manhattan. For that leg of the trip, we took public transit, since I avoid driving in The City whenever practical. The NYC subway, when crowded, provides an excellent opportunity to experience the discomfiture of inadvertently making eye contact with strangers. You almost always end up where you wanted to go, though, and by the expected route. And no one honks at you.