Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Story Cubes 21: Errant Arrow (fiction)

I was out in backyard, practicing archery again and ready to scream "bullseye!" for the thousandth time. But then my hand began to shake. The arrow went wild and missed the target -- and hit the beehive. "Shit!" I said. (You can quote me on that!) The bees started swarming. I ran around the corner of the house and fumbled for my key. I fished it out of my pocket just in time -- the bees were circling -- and bolted through the front door, slamming it just in time.

What the hell is wrong with me, I thought. My hands don't shake! I looked down at my fingers. Nothing unusual. Then I looked at my new watch, the one Miranda gave me. It had a tiny second dial that was impossible to read. The house was dark, so I got my flashlight and magnifying glass, placed the watch on the kitchen counter, and took a closer look at the dial. It was set to the time when I had told Miranda I'd be doing target practice. The watch had a secondary knob that controlled the smaller dial. I moved it to the current minute, and the watch began to vibrate -- hard. Seven on the wristband Richter scale, I'd say. After a few seconds, it stopped. So that was the watch's alarm feature, which Miranda hadn't mentioned.

Miranda! She was trying to sabotage me, wanting me to shoot arrows in all directions, in any direction except toward the bullseye. To break my record of hitting it almost every time. To destroy my confidence. And all because that errant arrow on my first day of archery practice had killed her cat.


(This is prompted writing. I interpreted the bold-faced words from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Word of the Day: emolument

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

emolument (noun)

profit or fees from holding an office or employment; compensation for services rendered

"We have no account, from any comtemporary writer, that the printers were sworn servants to the crown, or that his Majesty received the price and emolument for printing books."
--J. Johnson, Typographia, Or, The Printers' Instructor (1824)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quote of the Day: Christmas Gift Idea

"A dictionary makes a great Christmas gift."
--Unknown (possibly Noah Webster)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Word of the Day: kakistocracy

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

kakistocracy [kak-ih-STOK-ris-see] (noun) TWITO, page 79

Government by the worst, least qualified or most unprincipled

"Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?"
--James Russell Lowell, “Letter to Joel Benton” (1876)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Word of the Day: bastinado

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

bastinado (noun)

Punishment that involves caning the soles of someone's feet.

"I will deal in poison with thee, or in bastinado, or in steel; I will bandy with thee in faction; I will o'errun thee with policy; I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways: therefore tremble and depart."
--William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act V, Scene I

After that election, there are several people who could use a bastinado.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Word of the Day: trundle-tail

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

trundle-tail (noun)

A dog with a curly tail

"Be thy mouth or black or white,
Tooth that poisons if it bite;
Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim, 50
Hound or spaniel, brach or lym;
Or bobtail tike or trundle-tail;
Tom will make them weep and wail:
For, with throwing thus my head,
Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
--William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act III, scene VI

Who let the trundle-tails out?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Story Cubes 20 / Random Sequence / Halloween

You wave your flashlight like a magic wand, and the kid's shadow becomes a monster on the wall. You make some popcorn and cook up a story for him about aliens building the pyramids. Are they around today, he asks? You say you think so. Aliens are always here, flitting around the skies in all directions. The key to seeing them is to get under the covers and count some sheep.

You can quote me on that.


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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Link Mania: Coffee Words

A list of Coffee words

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find your "bilita mpash"
16 weird and wonderful words we really need emojis for :)

What's your favorite antediluvian word? I like "mooncalf" (TWITO, page 90). Archaic words

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Two FREE Kindle E-books

Fire up your e-readers! My two Kindle editions on Amazon are FREE from October 12th through October 16th. A funny dictionary and a scary story -- what a combination! Both have 4.5-star ratings (out of 5) on Amazon.

The Word I'm Thinking Of
The Iron Box

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Word of the Day: expostulate

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

expostulate (verb)

To express strong disagreement or disapproval

"My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad...."
--William Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 2, scene 2

Presidential debates: full of expostulation you could say. And you will.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Story Cubes 19: End Game (fiction)

"Rules! You can't move your rook diagonally!" he said.

"Oh right," I said, and instead moved the chess piece one measly square forward. "I'm more of a bridge player, actually." It was a fib. I hate playing games.

The old man looked up at me. "Bridge? Bleh!" he spat (not literally). "Checkmate!"

I wasn't sure if it really was checkmate, but his queen was threatening my king, so I let him have his victory. "Well played!" I said. As a volunteer at the nursing home, I didn't think it was my place to be disagreeable.

He waved his hand at me, as if to say it was nothing. "You need to shine your apple," he said.

I couldn't help noticing his pointy Adam's apple bobbing as he said it, and I suppressed a giggle. I had only a vague idea of what he meant, but I said, "Yep!"

I didn't like to think of him locked up in there, no family visitors, spending his days staring out of the window -- through the keyhole, so to speak. Not being able to sleep at night -- so the nurses said -- and watching for shooting stars.

"I'll see you next week," I said.

"If I'm here," he said.

"Come on, why wouldn't you be?"

"Checkmate", he said. Then he put his hand on top of his rook and moved it across the board -- diagonally.


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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Word of the Day: Festinate

festinate [FESS-tih-nate] (adjective, verb) [TWITO, page 53]

To move or act at high speed; hasty

"Advise the duke, where you are going, to a most festinate preparation; we are bound to the like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us."
--William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act III, scene 7

My mom has a dusty old upright player piano in her basement. I took a few piano lessons as a kid and used to practice on it. But I never liked playing the piano. I always preferred to insert a piano roll and let the thing play itself. It wasn't electric, though; I had to do some festinate pumping of the foot pedals to make it make it play "Melancholy Baby" or some other tin pan alley hit at the proper speed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Quote of the Day: David Foster Wallace

"A usage dictionary is one of the great bathroom books of all time."
--David Foster Wallace

I agree.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Word of the Day: ninnyhammer

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

ninnyhammer [NIN-ee-ham-er](noun) [TWITO, page 96]

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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Random Sequence: pajock

"For thou dost know, O Damon dear, This realm dismantled was Of Jove himself, and now reigns here A very very — pajock "
--William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act 3, scene 2

pajock (noun) = a peacock, or a vain person -- considered an ass.

Now you can call your least favorite athlete a "pajock". Or your least favorite politician....

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Random Sequence: Finical

"A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats, a base proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, fifthly-worsted-stocking knave; a lilly-livered, action-taking, whoreson glass-gazing super serviceable finical rogue, one-trunk-inheriting slave."
--William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 2, Scene 2

finical (adjective) = finicky, fussy

When Shakespeare insults, he really insults, wielding his pen like a scimitar.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Random Sequence: Quiddities and Quillets

"There's another; why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?"
--William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V, Scene 1

quiddities (noun,plural of quiddity) = quibbles, objections
quillets (noun, plural of quillet) = subtle distinctions

Lawyers -- always mincing words. Unlike me, of course....

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Story Cubes 18: Vertigo (fiction)

"I don't have a magic wand," I said when we reached the top of the tower.

She gave me a sour look. "You don't need one," she said. If you weren't slow as a turtle and such a straight arrow, you could leave footprints around the world."

"You are just full of clichés, aren't you?" I retorted.

Angry, she turned and stared out at the landscape, her mouth slowly opening and closing, like a fish. Apparently, she was trying to think of something pithy to say, but nothing would come out.

I started to whistle a meandering tune and leaned out of the window. I could just make out our footprints below. It was getting dark, and I saw a star fall to earth. Then I felt her hand on my back. For an insane second, I thought she was going to push me.

I turned around, and we both started to laugh. Vertigo? I said. "Don't worry. This isn't the end," she said.


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

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Quote of the Day: Unusual Usage

"A usage dictionary is one of the great bathroom books of all time. Because it has the appeal of trivia, the entries are for the most part brief, and you end up within 48 hours — due to that weird psychological effect — actually drawing on exactly what you learned in some weird, coincidental way."
—David Foster Wallace

Monday, June 06, 2016

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Random Sequence: Fustian

"Drunk? And speak parrot? And squabble? Swagger? Swear? And discourse fustian with one’s own shadow? O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!"
--William Shakespeare, Othello, Act 2. Scene 3

fustian (adjective) = bombastic, absurdly pompous

Do you know any political figures today who could be described as fustian? Think hard, now....

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Story Cubes 17: Keys (fiction)

I walked to the middle of the bridge, slow as a turtle. Then I dropped my keys into the water, perhaps startling the fish down there. They were my the keys to the old house, the one we lost in the fire. I guess I was saying goodbye, in a way, to that life. I looked up at the sky. No rainbow there. Then my phone rang. "It's six o'clock", she said. "Where are you?" "It's only early morning on the other side of the globe", I said. And I wished I was there.


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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fire up your e-readers! My two Kindle editions on Amazon are FREE from May 17th through May 21st. A funny dictionary and a scary story -- what a combination! (Both have 4.5 stars on Amazon.)

The Word I'm Thinking Of
The Iron Box

That's right, Free. What, you don't have a Kindle? You can download the app on your phone or computer. That's free too: free Kindle apps

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Strange Days Indeed

So I'm at the "Celebrate Mother Earth Festival" at the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery today. I'm sitting among the headstones, listening to a live rock band play a song called "Zombie Jesus". The lead singer is dressed in a goat costume. I turn around and a chicken is about to peck me. I shoo away the chicken, and then a strange woman sits down next to me and says "Haven't we met before?" Strange days indeed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Story Cubes 16: No Place Like (fiction)

"Help me understand," I said. "What's the story?"

"Let me give you some pointers, mister journalist. Think about snoozing in a wigwam every night. It ain't rainbows and rose buds. Once you cross a bridge into my kind of life it's masks and demons. And a cold moon at night. I just want to get on a jet and fly to Costa Rica. Where it's toasty this time of year. Put your pity under a magnifying glass. It's not compassion. If it was, you'd be on the street too. You call me 'homeless'? The world is my home."


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

Monday, April 11, 2016

Random Sequence: rampallian

"Away, you scullion! you rampallion! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe."
--William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, Act 2. Scene I

rampallian (noun) = a scoundrel, a wretch

These days, you could call someone a rampallian and they would think you're complimenting them.

Fustilarian? That's a fat lady.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Word of the Day: pasticcio

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

pasticcio [pa-STEE-cho] (noun) [TWITO, page 107]

A work or style consisting of borrowed fragments, ingredients, or motifs assembled from various sources; a potpourri

"What did it matter if the work were a spurious thing, a pasticcio, a poor victim which had been pulled this way and that, changed, cut, added to?"
--Robert Smythe Hichens, The Way of Ambition (1913)

"On one occasion an old man sang quite glibly a tune which was in reality a pasticcio of three separate shanties all known to me."
--Sir Richard Runciman Terry, The Shanty Book, Part I, Sailor Shanties (1921)

Hey, all you wordcatchers, I know this sounds like something you might order in an Italian restaurant, but it appears in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, so I think it's worth featuring.

(Photo by me. My wife assembled this hat and actually wore it to an event.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Link Mania: What's Your Favorite Shade of Amaranth?

"It's a Japanese emperor, a comic opera, and a bold yellow."http://mentalfloss.com/article/53121/11-colors-youve-probably-never-heard

Posted by The Word I'm Thinking Of on Sunday, March 27, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Story Cubes 15: The Crystal (fiction)

It was the day I hoped to propose to her, but I was waiting for the right moment. Monique and I crossed the bridge over the brook and walked towards the woods. But it wasn't the right moment, because something odd caught our attention. Some kids -- or so I thought -- had erected a teepee at the edge of the tree line.

We looked inside, but there was nobody home.

Someone had been there recently, though. There was a half-eaten apple resting on the floor of pine needles, along with some dice and some recently picked flowers. There was also a small wooden box with a padlock on it. The lock was open, so we removed it and looked inside. We found an alarm clock, a tiny set of scales, and a pyramid-shaped crystal.

"What do you suppose these are for?" I whispered.

"Why are we whispering?" Monique whispered.

"I don't know. Something odd was happening here, though. And whoever was here will probably be back soon. Why else wouldn't they have locked the box?"

"Maybe because there's nothing actually valuable in it," Monique said, rolling her eyes.

"I don't know. This might be valuable," I said, holding up the crystal.

The alarm clock started to ring.

"Ought oh," I said. "I bet whoever put up this teepee is coming back."

There was a crash outside, like someone dropping an armload of sticks onto the ground.

An ugly old man with long gray hair, filthy jeans, and a denim jacket opened the teepee's flap and stuck his head in. "What are you doing here?" he rasped.

"Just being, being curious" I stuttered.

He held out his hand. "Hand it over!" he demanded.

"Hand what over?" I said.

"The crystal."

"What's it for?" I asked.

"Just give it to him," Monique said.

I handed the crystal to him. He smiled and motioned for us to sit down.

"We'd rather not," Monique said.

"Please," he said.

Since he looked frail and unthreatening, I decided we might as well sit. "What the hell," I said sitting cross-legged. Monique gave me a dirty look but then sat down too.

"Scales," the man said as he sat down facing us.

I handed him the scales. He emptied all of his pockets and placed a few coins and pebbles on the scales, until each side was perfectly balanced.

"Nice, but what's the point?" I asked.

He grinned and said "ten bucks." Then he held up the crystal over the scales and began to turn it slightly. It caught some sunlight that was filtering through the hole in the top of the teepee. It seemed to glow. I couldn't stop staring at it and began to feel dizzy, like the teepee was spinning. I closed my eyes. Then the alarm clock went off again.

I hoped it was all a dream, that I would open my eyes and find myself in bed with Monique. But no. Monique and I broke up later that day. And all I ended up with is a stupid pyramid-shaped crystal paperweight.


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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Photo of the Week (by me): eeffoc?

Inspired by my favorite TV show, which is coming back in 2017. Click the pic for a closer view. You have nothing better to do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Random Sequence: skimble-skamble

"...sometimes he angers me With telling me of the moldwarp and the ant, Of the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies, And of a dragon, and a finless fish, A clip-wing’d griffin, and a moulten raven, A couching lion, and a ramping cat, And such a deal of skimble-skamble stuff, As puts me from my faith."
--William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act 3, Scene 1

skimble-skamble (noun) = nonsense or rambling

I bet you're wondering what a "moldwarp" is and what a "ramping" cat is doing. Maybe later.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Reel Deal: The Origins of Filmic Language

The reel deal.http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/11/the-origins-of-filmic-language/

Posted by The Word I'm Thinking Of on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Random Sequence: scroyle

"By heaven, these scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings,
And stand securely on their battlements,
As in a theatre, whence they gape and point
At your industrious scenes and acts of death.
--William Shakespeare, King John, Act 2, Scene 1

scroyle (noun) = a good-for-nothing scoundrel

The quote above is from the character named "Bastard". Next time you're tempted to call someone a bastard, try calling them a scoyle instead.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Word of the Day: xylology

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

xylology (noun) [TWITO, page 165]

The study of wood

Dale was impressed by the lumber mill. "I see you're a real expert in xylology," he said after the tour. "Nah, I just know a lot about wood," Pete said.
(Photo by me. Somebody likes wood.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Link Mania: Can you say "quockerwodger"?

Including "enantiodromia" (TWITO, page 46), "fanfaronade" (page 52), "scripturient" (page 133), "ultracrepidarian" (page...

Posted by The Word I'm Thinking Of on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Random Sequence: exsufflicate

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

exsufflicate (adjective) = inflated, empty or full of nothing but air

I think most surmises are exsufflicate, don't you? Still, being exchanged for a goat seems excessive.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Link Mania: Are You an "Internaut"?

You too may be an "internaut".https://ohmyword.xyz/inspiration/best-new-words-oxford-english-dictionary-2015/

Posted by The Word I'm Thinking Of on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

Photo of the Week (by me): Buddha Stone

Buddha stone
Inspired by a meditation class I'm taking. Stare at it while you concentrate on your breathing. You know you want to.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Story Cubes 14: Shooting (fiction)

I was his guardian now, after the shooting. We would talk about anything, little Thaddeus and I, while we sat on the living room rug, in the dark, with a flashlight. Thaddeus thought of it as a sort of magic wand. We would sometimes make shadows on the wall, but most often he would draw with the beam, and I would try to guess what he depicted.

That night, one of them was a swooping U shape -- a horseshoe? A rainbow? No, a magnet he said. That led to a discussion of electromagnetism. He wondered if it would be possible to build an electromagnetic weapon, a gun that would shoot a beam, like a tiny lightning bolt, through a keyhole.

"Maybe," I said. "But why would you want to do that?"

"To stun people. Not kill them."

"And why would you want to do that?"

"So nobody would ever need bullets again."


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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Link Mania: Can I have an 'umbeclap'? And some 'dilithium'?

11 Words for Fictional Substances
Including "dilithium", which may not be quite as fictional as everyone thinks.


The inventive words and worlds of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft
Is your poetry "poeish", "poe-like", "poe-esque", or "poeist"?


14 ways to hug
...or at least to say hug. Ask someone you love if you can have an "umbeclap" today. And after getting the umbeclap, take penicillin.


56 synonyms for "talkative person"
Parakeet? They forgot "blabbermouth" and "motormouth".

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Random Sequence: swoopstake

"Good Laertes,
If you desire to know the certainty
Of your dear father's death, is't writ in your revenge,
That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe,
Winner and loser?"
--William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5

swoopstake (adverb) = indiscriminately, without distinctions

I want to work this word into conversation and then savor all the puzzled faces.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Photo of the Week: Winter Is Here (by me)

Winter is here
This is the rock pile in my backyard. Don't ask me why I have a rock pile in my backyard, but click on the pic for a closer view. You know you want to.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Word of the Day: mooncalf

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

mooncalf [MOON-kaf] (noun) [TWITO, page 90]

A freak or monster; a fool, a daydreamer

"Instead of a purse or a bubble, which incloses the foetus, there was a globulous body like a moon-calf, or false-conception, which contained nothing organized, and which being opened presented nothing different from a moon-calf, nothing that was any way formed or regularly disposed...."
--Anonymous, "On the Formation of a Chicken in the Egg" in London Magazine (1752)