Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fiction Repeat: "Diastolic Boisterousness"

It was time for another holiday dinner at the Brinkerhoff manse. Young Spencer, the black sheep of the family, was not looking forward to it. His father was a fishing boat captain and had no respect at all for Spencer's profession -- that of dictionary editor.

As the family sat down to a repast of brazed sailfish and checkered chitlings, the patriarch began to deliver his traditional rodomontade, which, as usual, was filled with imbecilic windiness. No one paid much attention, though. Spencer's comely sister, Adelia, exhibited her usual luminescent lassitude, with her chin planted firmly on her palm. His long-suffering mother, Philida, simply stared into the tureen of mashed potatoes.

Spencer, who fancied himself the Brinkerhoff's closest approximation to an upscale cutup, decided he'd had enough of his father's complaints about the fluctuating price of flounder. "I dig a sorrel pintaloosa!" he suddenly shouted, though he wasn't sure why. They were words he had been working on for the new edition of the dictionary, and they had simply come to him. His father halted in mid sentence and glared menacingly. Spencer was sure he had sounded like an adenoidal landlubber engaging in undignified ebullition to everyone at the table.

"What? What kind of fish is that?" Captain Brinkerhoff demanded. "It's not a fish!" replied Spencer. "Look it uuuupppp!" he bellowed, pounding the table with what he intended to be a raffish drub.

His diastolic boisterousness had the intended effect. His mother and sister began to giggle, nervously at first, then uncontrollably. And Captain Brinkerhoff was uncharacteristically silent for the duration of the feast.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Photo of the Week: Bricks (by me)

patio moss and bricks

Because moss. In December. Click for a closer view. You have nothing better to do.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Random Sequence: oppugnancy

"Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
And make a sop of all this solid globe...."
--William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act 1, Scene 3

oppugnancy (noun) = contrariness, opposition, antagonism

Our politics today is full of oppugnancy. But wasn't it always?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Link Mania: This-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism....

23 Perfect Words For Emotions You Never Realised Anyone Else Felt
Oh, so I could call it "jouska".


20 Latin Phrases You Should Be Using
"Barba non facit philosophum" -- I should tape this to my bathroom mirror. And let's all start slipping "Carthago delenda est" into our conversations.


Merriam-Webster announced their pick for the 2015 Word of the Year, and for the first time, the winner isn’t an entire word; it's a suffix
Absurdism? "This-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism
All we are saying is give peace a chance."


26 Beatnik Slang Words and Phrases We Should All Start Using
Interview your brains and focus your audio! Reading TWITO will keep your claws sharp. And this list may help you to know your groceries, slang slingers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Photo of the Week: Lonely Tree (by me)

lonely tree - reaching for the sky
This aint no Christmas tree. Click for a closer view. You know you want to....

Monday, December 14, 2015

Word of the Day: distichous

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

distichous [dis-ti-kuss] (adjective) [TWITO, page 42]

Divided into two parts or two rows

"His eyes? Nor pen nor camera can present them. Imagine a black pearl imprisoning a diamond; imagine a dewdrop trembling on polished jet; add to these beauties life, and you will have the dormouse eye. His tail? Distichous, say the books. Feathers are mostly distichous, hair-partings are distichous, the moustache is distichous. So is the dormouse tail; but the hairs along it do more than merely part. They curl, upwards from the root, downwards to the point, and form a plume."
--Douglas English, Wee Tim'rous Beasties (1903)

(photo by me)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Story Cubes 13: Gurgle (fiction)

I stood on the bridge, ready to drop my phone into the river.

I wouldn't regret losing the contacts, but I would miss the photos. So many faces, some cheerful, some gloomy. There was Henry, with a light bulb in his hand, illustrating a joke: "How many millennials does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

There was Evie (with Adam), from Halloween, in her flesh-tone tights and caressing an apple -- Adam and Eve.

And then there was the image of my own eye -- an extreme close-up with a tear in the corner. The one I sent to my false friends. The ones who turned me in. The ones I didn't want to know anymore, now that I was out of the slammer. Now that I was starting over.

The phone made a soft splash and sank out of sight. But just before it disappeared, I heard a gurgle. It was ringing....


(The bold-faced words are interpreted from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Monday, December 07, 2015

Random Sequence: evitate

"Since therein she doth evitate and shun / A thousand irreligious
cursed hours."
--William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V, Scene 5

evitate (verb) = to shun; to avoid

I've often wished I could levitate in order to evitate.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Link Mania: Snaketongue Truffleclub?

40 Vibrant V-Words To Revamp Your Vocabulary
Including "verbigeration" [ver-bij-uh-RAY-shun] (noun): compulsive repetition of meaningless or stereotyped words and phrases [TWITO, page 155]. Isn't that vecordious?


70 Totally Amazing Common Names for Fungi
Need a name for your punk or metal band? How about "Bitter Poisonpie" or "Hairy Nuts Disco"? Not sure if any of these are edible mushrooms. Anyway, they don't sound appetizing. Snaketongue Truffleclub?


7 Beautiful Words only Nature Lovers Will Understand
They forgot "bosk" (noun): a small wooded area or thicket (TWITO, page 23).... Are you a "nelipot"? Even at this time of year?


Guess the Surprising Meanings of These Really Weird Words
Do you engage in "epeolatry"? Feel free to consider TWITO your altar. And are you one of the "bibliobibuli"? I'm not sure such people exist.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Word of the Day: exflunctify

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

exfluncticate / exflunctify [eks-FLUNK-ti-kayt] (verb) [TWITO, page 50]

To destroy completely

"Interrupted again! my blood boiled, and I resolved that I would do my best to 'exflunctify' the animal at once."
---"Extract from the Journal of an Odd Fellow," in The Parterre (1834)

(photo by me)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Story Cubes 12: Coffee Calamity (fiction)

All I wanted was a steamy cup of wicked black java, something to perk me up and obliterate the sleepy funk I was in. I needed that fix so bad that I felt like a dying fish, a falling star, a bee without a buzz.

Turtle-slow, I shuffled toward the local caffeine emporium, a scruffy establishment that nevertheless ground a good bean. My feet were tied to bricks -- or so it seemed -- and for the first time in my life, I wished I had a cane. The door of the shop was loath to open, and for a panicky moment, I thought it might be locked, that this temple of caffeination might be drained for the day.

Inside was a skinny, acne-scarred teenager behind the counter, munching on an apple and waiting on a gray-haired man in a wrinkled business suit. "I'll have a mocha coconut Frappuccino", the man said. The counter-boy turned away to mix it, which I knew would take until the heat-death of the universe, since he seemed to be the only barista on duty. I rolled my eyes, and they landed on a hipster slumped in a corner armchair, snoring softly. I knew I'd be similarly narcoleptic if I wasn't sipping a mean grind soon.

Finally, it was my turn at the counter. I handed my debit card to the teen and barked that I wanted "a large black". "A large, black what?" he said, smirking. A rhetorical question. I said nothing. "Anything else?" he said. "No!" I retorted, with what I realized was too much insistence. His expression soured, and he proceeded to pour with the speed of an arthritic glacier. "Here," he said as he set the dark remedy before me at last. "Sugar?" "No, no thanks," I growled.

The paper cup was so hot that my fingers throbbed as I found a seat at a table. The first sips scorched by lips and tongue, but I didn't care. I needed jolt therapy to slam me back into radiant consciousness. I imbibed half the cup within two minutes, but the thunderbolt didn't come. In another minute I knew I'd been subjected to perfidy. I stared up at the ceiling and hissed a curse-word at the wagon-wheel chandelier: "decaf!"


(The bold-faced words are interpreted from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Random Sequence: horologe

"'Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep.
He'll watch the horologe a double set
If drink rock not his cradle."
--William Shakespeare, Othello, Act 2, Scene 7

horologe (noun) = a clock

My alarm horologe goes off at 6:30 AM. I'm tempted to call it a horrorloge.

museum of london clock

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Link Mania: The Taming of the Xanthippe?

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is...
...an emoji pictograph. Hmmph. Even "they" or (haha) "lumbersexual" would be a better choice.


Big Words Can Come in Small Packages
Including "benthic" (adjective form of "benthos", TWITO page 20) and "preterist" (TWITO, page 115).


40 Xcellent X-Words
Shakespeare could have written "The Taming of the Xanthippe". I'm kind of glad he didn't.


9 words to use instead of ‘toilet’
No, not that one you're thinking of.... Et tu, Shakespeare?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Photo of the Week: Looking Down (by me)

At the One World Trade Center Observatory
This is me and my son at New York City's One World Trade Center Observatory, standing 102 stories above street level and looking down (at a high-definition video screen, silly!). Click the pic for a scarier close-up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Word of the Day: fissiparous

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

fissiparous [fih-SIP-er-us] (adjective) [TWITO, page 54]

Tending to break apart

"This endless multiplication of somatic cells has been going on under the eyes of numerous observers for forty years. What observer has watched for forty years to see whether the fissiparous multiplication of Protozoa does not cease? What observer has watched for one year, or one month or one week?"
--Herbert Spencer, "Professor Weismann's Theories", in Popular Science (1893)

Cactus wound (fissiparous):
cactus wound
(photo by me)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Story Cubes 11: To the Rescue (fiction)

I couldn't sleep again, so I got up, took a pill, and let the cat out. Then I stood on the back porch, puffing a cigarette and gazing up at the star-spangled sky. The bulb in the porch light had fizzed out, so I had my flashlight with me. I dropped the butt, stamped it out, and was about to go back in the cabin, when I heard on odd sound off in the woods. It was a faint "ahhhh" sound, and for a crazy moment, I thought it sounded like the bleating of a sheep. Then I realized it seemed human, someone wailing weakly off in the trees. Somebody in trouble.

I have a hero complex, so I set off in the direction of the moaning, if that's what it was. I crossed the rickety footbridge over the stream and trotted into the woods. My flashlight made eerie shadows as I hurried down a path, and I started to worry about bears. I kept hearing that disturbing "ahhh" sound, louder and closer. It seemed to emanate from above, not just ahead. Finally it seemed to be coming from directly overhead. I stopped at the trunk of an enormous tree and pointed my flashlight up.

There was a man there, suspended by cords and fabric from the branches. What the hell, I thought, and then realized he was a parachutist. The missing pilot -- the one they couldn't find after the plane crash. But that was on the news a week ago. "You okay?" I yelled. No answer to my question, just another "ahhh." I didn't know what to do. He was way up there, higher than I could climb. I pulled out my phone, thinking I'd call 911, but there was no signal.

I lit a cigarette, closed my eyes, and tried to think. But then -- it was very odd. When I opened my eyes, I was back on the porch, without knowing how I'd gotten back there. The cat was in the yard, coughing up a hair ball and making "ahhh" sounds. I really, really have to stop taking Ambien.


(The bold-faced words are interpreted from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Random Sequence: oppugnancy

"Take but degree away, untune that string,
And hark what discord follows! Each thing melts
In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
And make a sop of all this solid globe...."
--William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act 1, Scene 3

oppugnancy (noun) = opposition; resistance

I just can't "oppug" (?) a word like this.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Link Mania: Jam or Jelly?

Joanna Newsom Vocabulary List: A Guide to All Her $10 Words
My kind of singer/songwriter/harpsichordist.


12 Exceptionally Long or Extremely Special Words
If you've been searching for a word that means "a fricassee comprised of rotted dogfish head, wrasse, wood pigeon, and the roasted head of a dabchick, among other culinary morsels", you'll find it here.


The Weird Words You Learn From Video Games
Have you ever added crenels to a previously unbroken parapet?


18 awesome ways to say awesome
Jam or jelly?

Monday, November 02, 2015

FREE Kindles

Got a Kindle (or the FREE Kindle app on your phone/computer)? Two of my 4-star books on Amazon will be available as FREE Kindle downloads starting Wednesday, November 4, and extending through Sunday, November 8. Tell your friends -- especially if they are logophiles or would like to read a short story about "oddness in the Adirondacks".

The Word I'm Thinking Of

The Iron Box

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Photo of the Week: Mummy (by me)

Photo by me; mummy by artist Norman Kirby. Click the pic for an even scarier view.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Story Cubes 10: Parachute

Trevor stood on the bridge, staring down at the rapid water, and tempted, for the hundredth time it seemed, to jump. A beetle was crawling along the edge, and he kicked it over with his boot. He smiled as it tumbled down, but then his face went blank. "I'm a chicken," he thought. "I'd wish for a parachute the second I stepped off." The gurgling of the water reminded him of the ridiculous little fountain in the backyard of his house -- his former house, the one that caught fire, consuming his dog, his cat, and him photographs. His life's work. All that was left was ashes and that damn, mocking fountain. "Where's my rainbow?" he whispered, thinking of the picture on the saccharine Hallmark card his ex-wife had sent him. At least he still had his Nikon. He aimed the camera at his feet, with the toes of his boots peeking over the edge at the current below. "Decision," he said to himself. "A nice, ambiguous title."


(The bold-faced words are interpreted from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Random Sequence: frampold

"Now, when the credit of our town lay on it,
Now to be frampold, now to piss o'th' nettle!
Go thy ways, I'll remember thee; I'll fit thee."
--William Shakespeare, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Act III, Scene 5, line 58

frampold (adjective) = peevish, moody, disagreeable, vexatious, quarrelsome

Having a bad day? Heave a heavy sigh and say, "I'm feeling frampold today." Then enjoy the puzzled faces.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Word of the Day: sylvestral

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

sylvestral [SILL-vess-truhl] (adjective) [TWITO, page 144]

Pertaining to trees

"Xavier, lost in a thicket, was nevertheless awed by the sylvestral beauty of the canopy overhead."

Photo by me. Were you expecting autumn leaves?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Link Mania: Unsmedish!

The Proper Names of 17 Bodily Functions
Halloween is coming. Let's all try to work "horripilation" into conversation.


25 of the Happiest Words in English
What, not "ataraxia" (peace of mind), TWITO, page 14?


Big, Beautiful Words You Need To Start Using Immediately
Surely YOU don't have hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.


8 Shakespearean Terms We Still Haven't Cracked
When he couldn't think of the right word, he made one up? That's unsmedish!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Story Cubes 9: Peculiar Magnet (fiction)

It was beautiful day on planet Earth, and more specifically along the lakeside path in Bayville. But amid the blooming dahlias and honeybees and rainbows, a question occurred to Sylvia. How much of a shake of the dice was it to agree to meet Boris here? His impassive face and taciturn manner didn't square with the pleading text he'd sent her, insisting she join him at the lake because he had something important to ask. "So, what is it?" she murmured. She wasn't sure she wanted to know, but the suspense was a nagging itch.

For a long time she'd felt drawn to Boris, a Russian-accented nobody and yet a peculiar magnet, attractive yet distant, a young man always seeming to be mired in morose Eurasian thoughts. Maybe he was finally ready to crack open? She pictured a dialog balloon over his head that needed to be filled. "What is it?" she repeated, louder this time, allowing insistence to color her tone.

He exhaled a leaden sigh, and stared across the lake, then cleared his throat. "Can I borrow a hundred bucks?"


(The bold-faced words are interpreted from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Random Sequence: serpigo

"Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum / For ending thee no sooner."
--William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act III, Scene I, Line 32

serpigo (noun) = a skin eruption, like ringworm

Oh, yuck.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Zen Books That Never Were

Zen and the Art of Dishwashing
Zen and the Art of Coffee Drinking
Zen and the Art of Shoe Tying
Zen and the Art of Telephone Dialing
Zen and the Art of Stair Climbing
Zen and the Art of Tooth Brushing
Zen and the Art of Showering
Zen and the Art of Peeing
Zen and the Art of Shirt Buttoning
Zen and the Art of Floor Sweeping
Zen and the Art of Dusting
Zen and the Art of Vacuuming
Zen and the Art of Weeding
Zen and the Art of Lawn Mowing
Zen and the Art of Stamp Licking
Zen and the Art of Hair Combing
Zen and the Art of Recycling
Zen and the Art of Window Washing
Zen and the Art of Parallel Parking
Zen and the Art of Bill Paying
Zen and the Art of Pot Stirring
Zen and the Art of Nail Hammering
Zen and the Art of Email Checking
Zen and the Art of Door Locking
Zen and the Art of Pillow Fluffing
Zen and the Art of Cork Screwing
Zen and the Art of Can Opening
Zen and the Art of Water Boiling


"After enlightenment, the laundry." --Zen Proverb

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Word of the Day: gallimaufry

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

gallimaufry [gal-uh-MAW-free] (noun) [TWITO, page 59]

A hodgepodge, a jumble, or a confusing medley

Photo by me. Long story.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Link Mania: Some Pumpkins?

11 Words That Prove The English Language Is Meaningless And So Is Life So Let’s All Give Up
Yeah, it's awful....


Behave Yourself! 10 Words for Good, Bad, and Indifferent Conduct
Are you feeling stolid or bellicose? If you are excessively sanguine, you may become insouciant. So watch yourself!


12 Lost American Slangisms From The 1800s
Not "some pumpkins", but you might find this a "lally-cooler". Alas, the "shoddyocracy" is still with us.


11 Stellar British Swear Words That Americans Should Borrow
Not Kermit! Including "gormless" (TWITO, page 62).

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Random Sequence: conventicle

"Ay, all you have laid your heads together—
Myself had notice of your conventicles--
And all to make away my guiltless life."
--William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part II, Act III, Scene 1

conventicle (noun) = a secret meeting, often by people with unconventional opinions

I'm sure that, somewhere, some people are having a conventicle right now. Let's hope they're good people.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Story Cubes 8: Waning

It was four o'clock and already dark on that wintry day. My eye was nearly touching the telescope lens as I squinted at the moon. Then my cell phone bleeped. Was it her? She'd vanished months ago without saying good-bye. Was it her? That was the constant question mark that hooked me like a fish every time the phone rang. When I answered, it was a female voice saying "hello?" I smiled, and a little shock of surprise and momentary hope traveled up my spine like an electric insect. "Nadia?" I said. But it wasn't her. Just a woman reminding me about an upcoming dental appointment. "Thanks," I said and hung up. I stamped my foot, because my feet were getting cold, but also out of frustration. The moon was waning, and so was my patience.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Word of the Day: gelastic

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

gelastic [jel-ASS-tic] (adjective) [TWITO, page 60]

Provoking laughter

"Only Desmond's gelastic comments made the tedious seminar bearable."

(See "Photo of the Week" below.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Photo of the Week: Empty Waders

RNA Flea Market & Park Fest (1)
I don't know why I snapped this picture at the local flea market. And maybe you don't know why you want to click it for a better view. But you do.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Link Mania: Is it "beer o'clock" yet?

From bants to manspreading: what's new in the oxforddictionaries.com
When it's "beer o'clock" is it also "wine o'clock"?


23 emotions people feel but can’t explain
Such as "chrysalism": The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.


12 pronunciations to help you avoid embarrassment in literature class
If you live in Schenectady you won't have too much trouble pronouncing "synecdoche".


7 Deep and Darkening Words Only Those Who Love the Night Will Understand
Writing a story about vampires? This list might help. But they forgot "mesonoxian" [mez-oh-NOX-ee-an] (adjective) [TWITO, page 88]: pertaining to midnight.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Random Sequence: hugger-mugger

"First, her father slain:
Next, your son gone; and he most violent author
Of his own just remove: the people muddied,
Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers,
For good Polonius' death; and we have done but greenly,
In hugger-mugger to inter him...."
--William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act IV
Scene V

hugger-mugger (adjective) = secretly

Or...someone who mugs people but then gives them a hug? "Sorry, sweetie, but I need the money!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Story Cubes 7: Fish Tale

"I suppose dreams are the key to unlocking our repressed thoughts," Jacob said. "But why do I keep dreaming about a fish?" he wondered. "I took a nap earlier today, and it happened again. It seems so real. It's disturbing. I'd rather just keep snoring away and not have any dreams."

"What happens in the dream?" the psychiatrist asked. "Are you in it?"

"Yes, my hand reaches out for a stick, some kind of magic stick -- a wand. I wave it and a beautiful fish appears, swimming in midair. It makes me happy at first, but then, after a while, I feel sad."


"The fish is dying. Maybe because it's not in the water. It suddenly starts sinking toward the floor, heading right down, straight as an arrow. Plop! I pick up the fish, and it feels all slimy. It's dead."

"Hmmm," the psychiatrist said. "What does that suggest to you?"

"That I'm a fish out of water?" Jacob mused.

"I think you may have something there. But our time's up for this session."

"Here's my credit card," Jacob said. As the psychiatrist took the card, he could not help noticing a slight fishy smell emanating from Jacob's fingers.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Word of the Day: ostrobogulous

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

ostrobogulous [os-tro-BOG-yoo-luss] (adjective) [TWITO, page 105]

Something weird, bizarre, unusual or pornographic

"Mother doesn't want to go to the movies, She calls them agglomerations of ostrobogulous fantasies."

Furry teacup
The furry tea cup ("Object", 1936) is by artist/surrealist Meret Oppenhieim. I saw it at the Museum of Modern Art a couple of days ago. Photo by me.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Photo of the Week (by me): Tailfins

Chevrolet Biscayne 1959
I met this 1959 Chevy during the annual Madison-Bouckeville Antique Week in upstate New York earlier this month. It's not an antique car show, so I was surprised to see this well-preserved specimen of flamboyant mid-century styling there. I'm a fan of the the tailfin era, but those wings were a bit much, even for 1959.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Link Mania: Do you have 'cachet' or 'panache'?

7 Deep and Darkening Words Only Those Who Love the Night Will Understand
They forgot "mesonoxian" [mez-oh-NOX-ee-an] (adjective) [TWITO, page 88]: pertaining to midnight. Writing a story about vampires? This list might help.


Don’t Be a Ninnyhammer: 11 Old-Fashioned Words for Idiots
Including "jobbernowl" (TWITO, page 78) and "ninnyhammer" (page 96). My favorite here is "dunderwhelp".


16 Little Words and Phrases for Describing Small Amounts
Do you give a...hoot? Ouch, they forgot "pinch".


10 Words With Difficult-to-Remember Meanings
Nonplussed? Then you won't find this list dilatory. Do you have "cachet" or "panache"? Both? Wow....

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Open 'The Iron Box': Free Audiobook (and Free Kindle)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled cavalcade of ostrobogulous links and lexemes for this commercial message. My new audiobook (a short noir thriller with a 4-star customer review) is available from Amazon and Audible: The Iron Box. I have 25 FREE codes to distribute to anyone who would like to download and listen to this one-hour audiobook. Just leave a comment here and I'll send you a code.

You can also download the Kindle ediiton if you prefer to read. It's free on Kindle Unlimited: The Iron Box.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Random Sequence: exsufflicate

"Exchange me for a goat,
When I shall turn the business of my soul
To such exsufflicate and blown surmises,
Matching thy inference."
--William Shakespeare, Othello, Act III, Scene 3

exsufflicate (adjective) = puffed up, windy, inflated

This word makes me think of a certain presidential candidate currently generating much media blather.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Story Cubes 6: Bedtime Story

I was lying in bed, asleep and snoring softly (no doubt), when I heard a key twist in the lock. Immediately my eyes flicked open, thinking it must be Mona at the front door. The bedroom was pitch, but I could see the moon and a star framed by the window. Why hadn't Mona called if she was going to be late? Then I remembered -- I had lost my phone to some thief that day when I forgot to close my gym locker.

I heard the front door creak, but no further sound for a long time. If that was Mona coming in, she was moving as slow as a turtle. All I wanted was to hear her voice, to see her smiling face. Any second I expected to see her in the bedroom doorway. But no one was appearing. Not yet. Then I remembered. I had also lost my keys....

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Word of the Day: penetralia

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

penetralia [pen-eh-TRAY-lee-uh] (noun) [TWITO, page 109]

The innermost part of a structure, especially a temple sanctuary; the most private or secret part of something

(photo by me)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Photo of the Week (by me): Paperweight Girl

Somebody's great grandma
"There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid."
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, August 10, 2015

Link Mania: Don't Be a 'Windy-Wallets'

The 20 Weirdest Words Added to the Dictionary Because of Technology
Srsly, is fat finger your First-World problem?


14 Victorian Insults to Unleash in Casual Conversation
Don't be a "windy-wallets". (Time is money.) Includes "gongoozler" [TWITO, page 62]. It's not polite to stare!


10 Common Crossword Puzzle Words You Should Know
These "common" words include "asea", "iambi", and "smee". That last one has nothing to do with Captain Hook. I guess you could say "psst" is common -- if you do a lot of whispering.


21 Interesting Words from David Foster Wallace's Vocabulary List
David Forster Wallace's writing was a cornucopia of unusual and interesting words. My favorites here are "privity", "tarantism", and "afterclap".

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Random Sequence: questant

"[S]ee that you come
Not to woo honour, but to wed it; when
The bravest questant shrinks, find what you seek,
That fame may cry you loud: I say, farewell."
--William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well, Act II, Scene I

questant (noun) = a seeker, someone on a quest

Where are my keys? I'm a questant.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Story Cubes 5: Backyard Dreamland

When he was a kid, Hector's favorite pastime was camping out in his parents' backyard in his makeshift teepee under the fulgent moon. He would watch the darkened sky for alien spacecraft. When the UFOs failed to show up after an hour or two -- all he ever saw was the occasional winking airplane -- he would take out his magnifying glass and pretend it was a magic wand that could materialize anything he wished. He would draw it up to his eye and imagine, through the blurry image, that he was under the sea, gliding like a fish. When it was past his bedtime, his mother would call him from the backdoor and insist that he climb inside his sleeping bag. He'd do so reluctantly but couldn't drop off until he started counting sheep. Eventually, though, he would drift off to dreamland -- and always miss the midnight saucer floating overhead.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Random Sequence: hilding

"If your lordship find him not a hilding, hold me no more in your respect."
--William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well, Act III, Scene VI

hilding (noun) = a good-for-nothing fellow

This word is good for something -- like insulting a guy without him knowing it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Word of the Day: curwhibble

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

curwhibble [KUR-wib-ul] (noun) [TWITO, page 37]

A thingamajig or whatchmacallit

"Many thanks to your honor. What pretty curwhibbles and etceteras! I'll hang 'em to my watch to give it a travelled air."
--Anonymous, "A Captivity among the Rockites," in The Metropolitan (1831)

thing 4
(photo by me)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Photo of the Week: Dragonfly (by me)

Glass Dragonfly
A dragonfly landed on my lamp. Click the pic for a closer view. You know you want to.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Link Mania: 'Uvula' Makes Me Gag

34 interjections you should be using
Prove your bravery by saying "geewillikers!" instead of "wow" or OMG.


18 Fancy Words for Specific Shapes
Have you ever seen a flying acetabuliform? And: "If it looks like a grain of barley, it’s hordeiform." Remember that next time you see something shaped like a grain of barley.


11 words we should start using more often
Including "mumpsimus" (TWITO, page 92). Here's wishing you a "eucatastrophe". But will you remember these "overmorrow"?


10 words for body parts that you probably didn’t know
Including "gowpen" (TWITO, page 63). Did you know you had one of those? And "uvula"? It makes me gag.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Open 'The Iron Box': Kindle Thriller

Michael Gates, author of The Word I'm Thinking Of, doesn't just write about ostrobogulous lexemes (weird words). He also writes short fiction, and one of his stories, "The Iron Box", is now available on Amazon Kindle. It's a noir thriller about two men on a treasure hunt in the Adirondacks wilderness who encounter a bizarre and dangerous adversary. Two short bonus stories are also included. So fire up your Kindle and download it today. You have nothing to lose but your sangfroid.

The Iron Box

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Random Sequence: lunes

"I dare be sworn
These dangerous unsafe lunes i' the king,
beshrew them!
He must be told on't, and he shall: the office
Becomes a woman best; I'll take't upon me:
If I prove honey-mouth'd let my tongue blister
And never to my red-look'd anger be
The trumpet any more."
--William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

lunes (noun) = fits of lunacy; crazyness

I suppose you could say that loons are loony-tunes and subject to lunes.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Story Cubes 4: Soaring Eagle

"Time to go on", Dillon thought, glancing at the clock. He finished applying his makeup, put on his costume -- which mostly consisted of a loincloth -- and reluctantly left the makeshift dressing room. He got into the elevator and pressed L for the lobby, where the temporary stage had been erected in this tenantless office building. Community theater in this theaterless town had to set up wherever free space was offered, and this play, called "Scales of Justice", would be lucky to break even, no matter how much manipulating of the abacus the volunteers did. The flat at the back of the stage had been freshly painted with a rainbow, he noted with disdain. Dillon adjusted his war bonnet and got into the paper teepee. "Native American stereotypes. Uhg!" he moaned, thinking about his lines. "Even if it is about tribal justice. For this I went to drama school?" As the curtain rose, though, the ragtag audience gave the tableau a big hand. He picked up his bow and arrow, and once again the miracle occurred. He became Chief Soaring Eagle.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Word of the Day: nullibicity

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

nullibicity [nuhl-ih-BISS-it-ee] (noun) [TWITO, page 98]

The state of being nowhere (the opposite of ubiquity); nonexistence

"I had a desk, a chair, some bookshelves, a computer and a printer, a plug-in coffee pot, and clients who insisted on nullibicity."

no sign
(photo by me)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Photo of the Week (by me): Griffin

Click him/her/it for a closer view. A "griffin" is a monster, usually depicted as having the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Talk about an identity crisis!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Link Mania: A Monkey's Wedding?

32 Long-Forgotten Weather Words
Few things are more confusing than a "monkey's wedding".


18 awesome ways to say awesome
Overused "awesome" is losing its power, so here is an eximious list of prestantious alternatives.


Calling all tonguesters: Refresh your gossip with old words
Are you a prattle-basket? Bite your tongue!


8 of the best "new" words to make the latest English dictionary
"'Twerk' is not a new word; that's where people from Yorkshire go in the morning."

Monday, July 06, 2015

Random Sequence: othergates

"If a bloody coxcomb be a hurt, you have hurt me. I think you set nothing by a bloody coxcomb. Here comes Sir Toby halting. You shall hear more. But if he had not been in drink, he would have tickled you othergates than he did."
--Twelfth Night, Act 5, Scene 1, William Shakespeare

othergates (adverb) = otherwise or in another manner

I feel strangely drawn to this obsolete word.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Story Cubes 3: Up All Night

"Why can't I get to sleep?" Evan thought. He'd tried everything, even counting sheep. Ever since he'd broken his ankle, he'd mostly been confined to the house, and the restlessness this induced just wouldn't leave him. "Might as well get up," he thought, grabbing his cane from where it hung on the bedpost. He was vaguely hungry, so he hobbled downstairs to the refrigerator and found an apple to munch on while he built a pyramid of sugar cubes on the kitchen table. Then he went to the living room, settled on the couch and began to doodle an abstract figure on his sketch pad.

Just as he was beginning to nod off, there was a knock on the front door. "At this time of night?" he thought. He shuffled over to peer through the keyhole. It was his prodigal brother, no doubt needing a place to stay again. He'd have another tearful tale to tell him, and Evan would have to decide how much of it was true. There would probably be a dust-up. So, an exhausting night of turbulent emotion ahead. At least in the morning, with luck, he'd be able to sleep.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Word of the Day: tohubohu

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

tohubohu [TOE-hoo-BO-hoo] (noun) [TWITO, page 147]

Chaos, confusion

“....it is now easy to see that this bird is the Creator walking in chaos, brooding over the primitive mish-mash or tohu-bohu, and finally hatching the egg of the world.”
--Viktor Rydberg, Rasmus Björn Anderson, James William Buel, Teutonic Mythology (1907)

electric eyes
(photo by me)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Quote of the Day: Shakespeaere on Gay Marriage

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

--William Shakespeare

paraphrase and analysis

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Link Mania: Insulting twerking liars? Hm!

8 of the best 'new' words to make the latest English dictionary
"'Twerk' is not a new word; that's where people from Yorkshire go in the morning."


9 ways to call someone a 'liar'
Annoyed by far-fetched accounts of unlikely veracity? This list is for you.


11 Early 20th Century Insults We Should Bring Back
Names will never hurt me.


22 Two-Letter Words To Boost Your Scrabble Score
I et za today....

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Random Sequence: asseveration explanation

"She gave Marie a full account of her father's unflattering portrait of Miss Dupont's supposed betrothed; the predictions of ruin in store for him and for her, if she married him, dwelling longest upon the asseveration that he would horsewhip Lorraine if he ever presumed to lift his eyes to one of his daughters."
--"Nobody to Blame" by Marion Harland, in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

asseveration (noun) = an earnest, solemn, or emphatic declaration
I guess whenever you're talking about "horsewhipping" someone, you're always making an asseveration.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Story Cubes 2: The Breeze

Owen felt like a turtle in a shell. He'd been staying in his apartment for far too long, but tonight he was still too paranoid to leave the building. What he could do, he decided, was to borrow a key from the maintenance man and climb the stairs to the roof. 

The key seemed to stick in the rusty padlock's keyhole at first -- a metaphor for the dead end he'd reached, Owen thought. But then the lock unclicked and Owen was breathing fresh air at last. He looked down over the roof's edge at the treetops below. He looked up at the stars and the sleepy-faced moon. The lighted windows of the buildings across the street formed random zigzag patterns, like a crazy, electrified abacus. 

Jump? he thought. Not tonight. Not while the breeze felt so tender against his skin.

story cubes 2

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Word of the Day: truttaceus

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

truttaceus [troo-TAY-shuss] (adjective) [TWITO, page 149]

Pertaining to or like a trout

"....crowded with the boats of paradise, we would fancy parades and serenades mid its roral gales, lepid glens and truttaceus charms...."
--Anonymous, in The New Rugbeian (1859)

A "chub" and a catfish -- those are the only types of fish I ever caught. And I threw them back. That's the kind of guy I am.

(photo by me)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Link Mania: Are you a bibliophagist?

10 Words Every Book Lover Should Know
Like to chew on a good book now and then? You're a "bibliophagist". Use with caution.


10 Fantastic Fog Words
Send this article to anyone named "Larry" you know.


TV's 10 Best Fake Swear Words

"...a cloff-prunker is an 'illicit practice' in which 'one person frangilates another's slimp' and 'gratifies the other person by smuctating them avially.'" Such filth!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Random Sequence: effulgent countenance

"Who shall paint that effulgent countenance as it bent above the brief but exquisite assurance of his happiness?"
--"Adventures of a Bachelor" in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, March 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

effulgent (adjective) = shining, radiant
countenance (noun) = face or facial expression

Maybe he was happy, or maybe he needed to wash his shiny face.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Photo of the Week (by me): High Above

high above the clouds
It's clouds' illusions I recall. You? Click it for a closer view, then listen to the song in your head all day.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Story Cubes 1: Airsick

"What book are you reading?" Evan asked.

"The one about the people playing chess on an airplane," said Ivan.

"What kind of book is that anyway?" marveled Evan. "Sounds boring."

"Nope," said Ivan. "There's more. They play dice, too."


"They guy who loses has to buy dinner. They make you pay for your food on airplanes now," Ivan explained. "And they have fish. Red Snapper. Something is wrong with it though. When the plane hits turbulence, the one guy gets sick. Later he falls asleep and dreams they've been swallowed by a flying dragon. It goes on and on."

"Sounds surreal," said Evan. "Like fantasy."

"Light bulb!" said Ivan.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

2006: Consciousness Streaming

Ever driven Route I-78 in New Jersey during rush hour? I'm doing it twice a day this week, dodging tractor-trailers at 70 mph. Yesterday, someone in a silver Corvette drove across the raised median between the local and express lanes, right in front of me, and then sped off, weaving through the heavy traffic at about 100 miles an hour. Sometimes I wonder if these drivers think they're playing a video game... I thought I had left my favorite belt at the security checkpoint at the airport (I usually take it off before attempting to walk through the metal detector), but I just found it curled up in my suitcase. I guess I didn't wear it that day. Sometimes I'm amazed at my absent-mindedness about these little things... Image on a Tarot card: A man with a severed head floating in space with a couple of tree branches across his back (two of wands). The meaning is supposedly "be a good listener." Or else?... Why don't I... make eye contact with everyone I pass during the day? Is it illegal or something?

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Word of the Day: distichous

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

distichous [dis-ti-kuss] (adjective) [TWITO, page 42]

Divided into two parts or two rows

"His eyes? Nor pen nor camera can present them. Imagine a black pearl imprisoning a diamond; imagine a dewdrop trembling on polished jet; add to these beauties life, and you will have the dormouse eye. His tail? Distichous, say the books. Feathers are mostly distichous, hair-partings are distichous, the moustache is distichous. So is the dormouse tail; but the hairs along it do more than merely part. They curl, upwards from the root, downwards to the point, and form a plume."
--Douglas English, Wee Tim'rous Beasties (1903)

pot legs
(photo by me)

Monday, June 01, 2015

Link Mania: How to Spice Up Your Cussin'

A Father Designs Minimalist Vocabulary Posters to Teach His Daughter Complex Words
Pretty cool. Includes one I didn't know: "deasil".


10 Old-Fashioned Swears to Spice up Your Cussin'
Oh, land sakes! as Grandma used to say. This gosh darn list would impress Yosemite Sam.


16 Weird Forgotten English Words We Should Bring Back
Including "mumpsimus" (TWITO, page 92), "pettyfogger" (page 112), and "pilgarlic" (page 112). And if you think an epidural is bad, try "groaning-cheese" -- and crackers?


23 words that don’t exist in English but perfectly capture the experience of travel Including "kaapshljmurslis" (Latvian). This is what you are when you fly coach these days. We Americans are so "Scheißfreundlich" (German). Well, some of us are.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Photo of the Week (by me)

Mom's garden 2

Snapped in my mom's garden of mysterious plants. Anyone know what kind of flowers these are? Click for a closer view, horticultists.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Random Sequence: repinings

"But since you have neither, would it not be the wisest course -- and insure you the most happiness -- to cease fruitless repinings, and be thankful for the many blessings you do enjoy? The 'contented mind' brings it's own feast along with it, you know...."
--Mary W. Janvrin, "The Contented Mind", in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

repinings (noun) = complaints, fretful expressions of discontent

Tell the customer service rep that you have some "repinings" and see what sort of reaction you get.

The weird thing about this bound copy of Godey's (an American magazine) is that the issues are all from the 1860s, and there is not a single mention anywhere of the American Civil War. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Word of the Day: oscitancy

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

oscitancy [OSS-it-an-see] (noun) [TWITO, page 104]

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."

waddesdon manor 10
(photo by me...yawn)