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

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, 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)