Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Brain Dump

cheshire cat

A little girl -- let's call her Alice -- dreams of a mixture of kingdoms, both real and waxen. But poisoning the dream is a false sense of clarity without a subject or activity. She remains suspended between willful imagination and unconscious capacity, conjuring a slumberland of shifting montage. As a sleepwalker, she struggles to keep her head from rolling off her shoulders.

Her drowse deepens, enabling her to see the unseeable as she becomes more and more lost within her fusion of archetypes and phantasms. The dream is one-way, spiraling faster and faster through contradiction after contradiction, until confusion approaches totality and all movement stops. All length is distended. Small, colorful moths hover like elements of a Calder mobile around her head. Alice struggles to recall the single word that would shatter this mirror. Could it be... applesauce?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Word of the Day: whilom

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

whilom [WY-lum] (adjective)


"Natalia was astonished to see Bernardo, her whilom inamorato, perambulating down the street--the last person she wanted to see. She quickly hid behind a convenient pot of shrubbery."


TWITO, page 161!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Random Sequence

It was Wednesday, almost seven o'clock, still rush hour, and the honking taxis and endless flow of faces -- all different, all equally vacant -- was starting to annoy him. It was also hot, and the faint, summer-in-Manhattan smell of rotting garbage made him feel woozy. He was standing outside a fancy Upper West Side seafood restaurant called The Deep, feeling conspicuous in his soggy button-down shirt. As usual, he'd misjudged the transit time and arrived early....
--from "The Burden" (by me), originally published in

Monday, March 17, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

All of 34 degrees (1.111 C) right now. Summer seems a long way off in these frigid days. Here's something I wrote a few years ago and came across again recently. It helped me to remember what warm weather is like.


Last night: It was hot, the windows were open and my next-door neighbor was playing his tabla, a percussion instrument used in classical Indian music. (He's not Indian, by the way.) I didn't mind. It made me think of my college days, when I used to listen, occasionally, to Ravi Shankar albums, which made me feel sultry and international—never mind any subzero temperatures outside. This despite the fact that I had (and have) no real understanding of this type of music. It was just a sound to me, useful for changing the mood of a room or a situation. Perhaps this was a form of passive imperialism, an exploitation of another culture's musical heritage to create a faux-sophisticated aural wallpaper. (Although I'm sure Shankar appreciates his Western album sales, however clueless his fans are about what they're listening to.) Last night it was too hot to bother with such qualms. My mind was empty--a blank, a tabula rasa. Or a tabla rasa.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Link Mania

13 Wonderful Old English Words We Should Still Be Using Today

Tomorrow being Monday, you may well have ergophobia ("the morbid fear of returning to work"). This list also includes snollygoster (TWITO, page 138!), humdudgeon (alternate spelling; TWITO, page 68!), and ultracrepidarian (TWITO, page 153!)


10 words that only a marketer could have made up

I can't wait to see some catvertising in a fictomercial.


11 Words for People Who Hate Certain Things

Including misodoctakleidist: someone who hates practicing the piano. TWITO, page 89!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Word of the Day: oscitancy

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

oscitancy [OSS-it-an-see] (noun)

1. The act of yawning
2. The state of being drowsy or inattentive; dullness

"Melanie began to describe her shopping trip, but Nick couldn't hide his oscitancy."


TWITO, page 104!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Photo of the Week

be seated

Please be seated. (By me! Click the pic for a closer view. You know you want to.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Random Sequence

The man never seemed to notice that he was being observed as he strode back and forth, with his hands behind his back. He seemed to be talking to himself. Ivan was no lip reader, but the man seemed to be mouthing the word "future" over and over.

This went on for weeks. The man was obviously an obsessive compulsive, Ivan thought. Gradually, he began to notice other things in the room across the alley besides the pacer. There were Native American masks on the walls and dusty stacks of National Geographic magazines on tables and chairs. And something caught Ivan's eye on the table next to the crazy man's window: a gold watch.
--from "The Man and the Watch" (by me), originally published in Hudson Current

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Word of the Day: tittynope

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

tittynope [TIT-ee-nohp] (noun)

A small quantity of something left over

"Jebediah kept the late Captain Wagstaff's wooden leg in the attic, as a memento of his days at sea with the old salt. But after the cursed termites got to it, only a tittynope remained."


TWITO, page 147!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Brain Dump

Nothing Special

"Quantum theory predicts that empty space should exert a repulsive force, like dark energy, but one that is stronger than what the astronomers have measured, leaving some physicists mumbling about multiple universes."
--"Three astronomers share Nobel Prize in physics", The New York Times

Nothing is not a golden curtain rising. Nothing is not a jellyfish. Nothing is not a Starbucks coffee mug. Nothing is not a flatscreen. Nothing is not a grapefruit. Nothing is not a basketball. Nothing is not a hydroponic garden. Nothing is not a state of unrest. Nothing is not a hashtag. Nothing is not Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Nothing is not a Weed Wacker. Nothing is not a neat freak. Nothing is not a bulldog. Nothing is not a door knocker. Nothing is not a chandelier. Nothing is not a cookbook. Nothing is not "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill". Nothing is not a dishwasher. Nothing is not an anesthetic. Nothing is not a podcast. Nothing is not a skylight. Nothing is not a stop sign. Nothing is not a biplane. Nothing is not an iPhone. Nothing is not a cow. Nothing is not a corndog. Nothing is not a Douglas fir. Nothing is not a coyote. Nothing is not a watch fob. Nothing is not a creationist. Nothing is not a madhouse. Nothing is not Sacajawea or John Philip Sousa. Nothing is not a happy ending.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Random Sequence

....As for objects, they are almost too numerous to mention, right here in the room where I'm writing this. Almost but not quite. In one corner, we have an antique wheelchair containing a number of mismatched mannequin parts. On the mantelpiece, we have small replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the Space Needle, a Michael Jackson doll, and a fishbowl containing a single porcelain fish. The sideboard is covered with inherited bagatelles from my wife's deceased aunt's hoard, mostly odd costume jewelry. On the floor next to the fireplace, we have a teddy bear astride a miniature gargoyle. I could go on. But you get the point. I'm living in the Museum of Cumbergrounds.
--TWITO, page 36!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Word of the Day: pooka

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

pooka [POO-kuh] (noun)

A mischievous spirit or trickster (derived from Irish folklore)

"The moment he came in sight the Pooka changed himself into a squirrel and ran up the oak tree; Angus changed himself into a turnip and lay at the Dagda's feet...."
--Ella Young, Celtic Wonder-Tales (1910)

So it's a "pooka" who's always hiding the remote control? Hmm. There are a lot of mischievous squirrels around here. Not too many mysterious turnips, though.


TWITO, page 114!