Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Word of the Day: obdormition

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

obdormition (noun)

Numbness, or the tingling felt when a limb is "asleep."

"Then my leg fell asleep, so I made ambitious circles with my feet, like a nervous orangutan, to cure my obdormition."

Yeah, I hate limping around when my foot falls asleep; don't we all? Sometimes, late at night, I just wish my head would fall asleep.



Day Jobs of the Poets

Monday, April 29, 2013

Head Rattle

I saw The Place Beyond the Pines, and thought it an excellent film. I couldn't figure out the title though, since I didn't see any pines in the movie -- just lots of deciduous trees. Then I later stumbled across the meaning: the film takes place in (and was shot in) Schenectady, New York, and "Schenectady" is a Indian word meaning "place beyond the pines". My brother and nephews live in nearby Scotia, New York, which is also where some of it was filmed. I'll have to ask them how things are in the place beyond the pines and see if they know what I'm talking about.

I actually used the word "onerous" in a conversation today, without thinking about it. I was speaking with someone about my familiarity with and ability to use British spelling, so she wouldn't have to worry about it if it was too onerous. "Well, maybe we'll send you some Scottish and see how you do with that," she said, jokingly. At least I hope it was a joke. Ho ye! Whit's fur ye'll no go past ye.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fish Food for Thought

One fish, two fish, read fish, blue fish....

philosofish 41 small

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Random Sequence

She kept combing, first one side of her head, then the other, then the back, then the bangs, then the side again. I wondered how long she could keep it up and began to time her with my watch. I counted five minutes of non-stop combing, and still she didn't stop. Oh yes, that's mental, I thought. Something's not right....

After a while, she paused for a moment and opened her purse. Okay, I thought, she's getting off [the bus] soon. But no. She pulled out a small mirror, stared into it, and resumed her combing. I suppressed a strong desire to giggle. What an obsession, I thought. With all that manipulation, I'm surprised she still has a hair on her head.
--from "The Lady with the Hair" (by me), originally published by Eyeshot

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Word of the Day: erinaceous

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

erinaceous (adjective)

Like a hedgehog

"I felt no compunction about sticking a pig, if I could get near one, and all sympathy was for myself. To part company with your saddle, and to fall near these erinaceous brigands, is to be ripped from thigh to chin by their sharp tusks before there is time for rescue."
--Price Collier, The West in the East From an American Point of View (1911)

The one time I grew a little beard, I couldn't stop stroking my erinaceous chin like some evil mastermind plotting a global takeover.



William Shakespeare's Birthday Flowchart. Honoring his day of nativity. His exact birthday is unknown, but he was christened on April 23rd, which means he was born sometime earlier this week.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

Magnetic Field

We must have had a windy winter. When I ventured out into my backyard for the first time in (what seems like) months last weekend, I found that it had been invaded by unidentified flying objects. By that, I mean -- not aliens or psy projections or whatever UFOs are -- but mysterious slabs of Styrofoam, anomalous aluminum beams, and large cardboard constructions of indeterminate purpose. It all has to do with the extensive remodeling job going on in the building next door, I assume. But our house is something of a magnet for flotsam and jetsam anyway. On the public sidewalk out front, I regularly find (and trash or recycle) things like other people's bank statements, children's apparel, expired lottery cards, postcards advertising salsa concerts, tiny "airline" liquor bottles, various sorts of food wrappers, and even, recently, a battered old analog TV set. Yes, I live in a city.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Photo of the Week


The local pawn shop certainly has an unique way of displaying its wares. When I asked why they keep this particular collection of costume jewelry on the floor, and in such a peculiar receptacle, the proprietor said he finds it to be an effective conversation starter -- and that he likes to make his female patrons "bend over".

Actually, I just made that up. My wyfe dumped her entire jewelry box of odd earnings and bizarre baubles onto the bedroom floor -- and this seemed the easiest way to gather all her treasured trinkets up.

Click the pic for a closer view. You won't have to bend over.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Random Sequence

They were the darkest eyes that I had ever seen. I don't want to see them again, but I do. I close my eyes and there they are, two black vortices pulling me down to a place I don't want to go.

I woke up that morning with a gruesome headache. My brain felt too big for my skull, and my stomach felt like a small lizard had died in it. The sheets were moist and clammy. I was cold. Yes, I had a hangover.

My eyes rolled around and focused on the bedside clock. It took me several seconds to conclude that, despite the inky sky outside the open window, it was late morning.

Sitting up and watching the dark red curtains puff in and out against the window screen for a minute, I couldn't help thinking of a gigantic mouth -- breathing in, breathing out, in and out....
--from "Dark Eyes" (by me), originally published in Twilight Times

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Word of the Day: kelemenopy


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

kelemenopy (noun)

A straight-line sequence through the middle of everything, leading nowhere

"In ancient sailors' fearful imaginations, ships that sailed in a straight line toward the watery horizon would fall off the edge of the world, in a voyage of kelemenopy."

A straight line to nowhere. Things seem to be going swimmingly sometimes, and then they get suddenly interrupted. Derailed. Cut off. Somebody dies, a job ends unexpectedly, people vanish, your favorite TV show gets cancelled before all the threads unspool. The ship hits an iceberg.

Like the time my old Mustang broke down in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. Like the time I got "laid off" from my magazine editing job. Like the novel I abandoned because I couldn't figure out how to end it: kelemenopy. But sometimes you have to reach nowhere ("now here") in order to figure out how to start over again.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Ambivalent; I don't have strong feelings one way or the other about iPhone 6 rumors. Ho hum.

Rankled by the continuing presence of a "Johnny on the Spot" in front of the construction site next door. I have never seen anyone use it. Why can't they make the first thing they construct in the building a rest room?

Disconcerted by the heavy police presence at the train station I use. Clearly, it's considered a potential target.

Distrustful of various politicians suddenly taking a pseudo-interest in me. There's a local election looming next month.

Sheepish about tripping and falling in public recently.

Gratified by finally getting a break, late in the game.



Take a sad song: 'Hey Jude' reworked in a minor scale.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Random Acts of Poetry


Time Travelers

Travelers in time constitute incomprehensible questions. Their bead-like eyes see heaps of ashes, a world formed, polished and ignited but always relative. You can see the space between ellipses on their window-shade faces, always less animated than ours, and drained of perplexity. Their eyes may glow with an icy fire, but their mouths hang open like zeros. These wanderers presage a smooth cancellation of all money lust and other bubbling desires; their humanity has been crystallized. Give them a kiss and they will analyze it, turn around that affectionate moment and reject it for lacking exactitude. They see cribs and coffins as emblems of a predetermined rotation -- a paradox to be admired for its supreme inanity.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Head Rattle

Saw 42 (true story) with someone who usually obsesses over plot holes. None this time. Can real life have plot holes? Maybe.

Cognitive dissonance: Hearing an actor (Freddy Highmore) interviewed and suddenly realizing that he's a Brit. I'm guessing it's easier to fake an American accent than a British one.

Werewolf erotica? Yes, it exists, and even in audio form. I don't indulge, but the question is, who does? Truck drivers, I'm guessing. Staying awake for the long haul must be tough.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Word of the Day: somniculous

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

somniculous (adjective)

Sleepy or drowsy

"She soon went to sleep, but dreamt of distresses and vexations, of exertions demanded, and powers not to be excited; of falling from precipices, of painful adieus, and of boats foundering in shoreless waters, and was haunted by all the train of somniculous misery, which the superstitious resolve into causes, and the less weak into effects."
--Laetitia Matilda Hawkins, The Countess and Gertrude (1812)

I sometimes get that falling feeling when I'm about to go to sleep. (I suppose that's where the phrase "falling asleep" comes from.) It probably has to do with some somniculous lizard part of my brain suddenly realizing that my body is horizontal instead of vertical.


The wait is almost over! I'm very close now to publishing in book form a collection of these musings about weird words. It's a blog-to-book DIY project, and the layout work has been nightmarish, even using a template, because it's composed of so many small text blocks, rather than running text, as with a novel. Then too, life has been hectic recently, personally and professionally. Why does everything have to happen at once?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Brain Dump

Outside, you may walk in a fog, where the trees resemble a smudged pencil sketch. You may think impossible inaccuracy is then obvious, as you observe stringent manifesto machines calculating solidly equivalent price dodges. Yes, certain cogitations are too vexatious to be entertained in conscious daylight. But then, nothing is not a dishwasher. So take a rain check, then check your coat at the door of opportunity before it slips away -- because the mice will play fast and loose at your loose ends. It remains to be seen how well all this fits in a very small compartment, of course. Still, I do not believe in pure idiocy; nothing is pure in this world. Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Link Mania: Paging Laura Norder and Chester Drawers

How Not to Sound Illiterate

The 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English

Does anyone ever actually say "a blessing in the skies" instead of "a blessing in disguise"? I wonder. I kinda like the phrase "a blessing in the skies," though. It makes me think of a warm, sunny day, like today (before the thunderstorm).

If spelling is more your bugaboo, there's also this:

The 100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Random Sequence

"...Sometimes, when he was feeling especially talkative and confessional, Claggett would have me sit in a booth with him. He'd turn sideways in the booth, leaning his head against the bar's greasy paneling and letting his sneaker-clad feet hang over the outer edge of the vinyl seat, sometimes almost tripping the bar maid. The Green Man was dimly lit, and his face would fade into the shadows as he confided all sorts of craziness. He told me about his 'buddies' getting their arms and legs blown off in the war, about sinister clients who'd ripped him off when he was in advertising, and about Ruby and Peaches -- two gals out on Route 30 that he wanted to take me to see sometime. A lot of it sounded apocryphal, or maybe not -- it was hard to tell -- but I didn't mind listening for the entertainment value..."
--from "The Iron Box" (by me)

Monday, April 08, 2013

Word of the Day: philocomal

Got my hairs cut yesterday. So, what's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

philocomal (adjective)

Characterized by excessive concern with one's hair.

"There were ladies present too; and after some pleasant little discourse, all tending to the glorification of hair-dressing, an eminent professor of the philocomal art there present proceeded to a series of practical and illustrative experiments on the heads of some of the young ladies...."
--George Augustus Sala, Twice 'Round the Clock (1858)

One summer I got my hair cut -- and cut and cut. My (ahem) stylist decided that, since "it's summer now," I needed a short cut. I agreed, thinking he meant "a little shorter than usual." Instead, I got shorn like a sheep. I almost looked like I was ready for boot camp. I became obsessed with philocomal mirror gazing and even went out and bought a fedora. But the haircut grew on me -- literally and figuratively. It looked pretty terrific within a couple of weeks -- or three.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Photo of the Week


Here's the fancy bathtub drain at the Paris hotel we stayed in recently. It seemed a shame to expose it to dirty bath water, but I did, while wondering if Louis XIV would have had any such qualms.

Actually, I just made that up. This thing is vertical not horizontal. It's an interior detail from an ornamental niche at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre. There are many such over-the-top decorative elements there. Click my pic for closer inspection -- and prepare to be awed.

Thursday, April 04, 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.

where in the world is New Jersey?

It's that patch between Philadelphia and New York... I think.

nylon wadding bales

I know I've never written about these, so you've got me puzzled as to how you ended up on my page, gentle seeker. I think I will dream about bales of nylon wadding tonight. And it will be your fault.

pre made album cover art

So you finally finished your album, but you forgot that you need cover art. Find a stock image; or make me an offer for this pic of mine:


umberto eco quotes

"Absense is to love as wind to fire."

fiction objet en art

This sounds French, n'est pas? I think you're looking for a fictional artistic object. Try doing an image search for "Carlotta Valdes".

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Random Sequence

"....I began to feel dreamy and somewhat disembodied. An image of the light formed in my mind--a brilliant white dot in a sea of black, like the pupil of an eye in a close-up photographic negative.

"And then, gradually, the perspective of this mental image shifted. I was 'looking down' now, down at myself lying on the blanket with Albert bent over me, as if the sky had become a gigantic mirror. I could see the entire hill and the crowd of revelers, my house and the dark lake beyond it, and the village beyond that. I could see it all: Justin's school, the library where I work, the fields and the hills and houses and barns...."
--from "Mirror in the Sky" (by me)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Random Acts of Poetry

Ode to a Grecian Urn


THOU still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?


Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!


Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.


Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.


O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

--John Keats

Monday, April 01, 2013

Word of the Day: ingurgitate

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

ingurgitate (verb)

To gulp or swallow greedily

"But what purpose does this wealth serve? Do they use it as a means for benefiting society? Is it employed as a sword with which to defend the weak? Is it an architect that builds? Is it a seed-sower that distributes? Or, is this quality merely the capacity to take in--to ingurgitate, ingurgitate, ingurgitate?"
--Henry Ward Beecher, "Remnants," in The Original Plymouth Pulpit (1871)

We have a bird feeder hanging from the apple tree in our back yard. The free food has attracted flocks of small, ravenous birds (chickadees and sparrows, I think), as well as the occasional red cardinal and blue jay. They fight over the seeds, and ingurgitate so fast that they end up dropping a lot of them onto the ground, where fat squirrels scarf them up. It's quite a pig-out session, until the neighbor's cat strolls through the yard; then they all scatter until she leaves. I wish I had a video camera and could capture these wildlife vignettes. To me, it's far more entertaining and edifying than anything on Animal Planet.