What, if anything, would you like to inherit from a distant relative whom you'd never met, but who had heard stories about what you were like as a child and had decided that you would be the only person to truly appreciate this thing?

I would like to inherit a house with a library in which one of the bookshelves concealed a secret passageway, but then, houses are on my mind right now...
The Story of Goody Two Shoes.

goody two-shoes (GOOD-ee TOO-shooz) noun

A smugly virtuous person.

[After the title character in The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, a children's book believed to have been written by Oliver Goldsmith.]

In this moralistic nursery tale, Margery is an orphan who has only one shoe. One day, when she gets the full pair, she runs about shouting, "Two shoes!" Eventually she becomes rich and educated through her virtue and hard work.

The word goody was a polite term of address for a woman of humble social status. It's a contraction of the word goodwife and was formerly used as a title in a manner similar to the current Mrs.

-Anu Garg (gargATwordsmith.org)


Jim Baen Dies.

Jim Baen, sci-fi editor extraordinaire, died yesterday after a stroke.
Harry Potter Dies?

The Guardian passes along a hint that Harry Potter may not make it past the end of book seven, based on something J.K. Rowling said in an interview.

"Jesus, Grandpa. What did you read this to me for?"
--The Princess Bride


Cell Phone Hell.

I heard at work today that effective July 1, businesses may start soliciting people's cell phones. Not sure whether this is true or not, but I'll post the link to the National Do Not Call registry anyway:


You can also go here to register complaints -- but remember, it may take up to 31 days for your registration to go into effect, and that could mean a whole month of that crap.


MDA News.

News from the Missile Defense Agency:

"Missile Defense Test Results in Successful "Hit to Kill" Intercept"

And here's a link to an overview of the MDA. The sphere-thingy is radar.


Johnny Bench.

Somebody asked me who Johnny Bench was today. Major League catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, 1968-1983, according to some the best catcher of all time.

"I want to win, but there's the grind. There's so much responsibility for a catcher...My arm feels good. My legs will be all right. How long will I go on? How long can I go on? How long for I want to go on playing baseball? Is this what it's like to be thirty?"

Basically, I missed out on anything baseball before the Minnesota Twins went to the World Series when I was a kid, and pretty much everything after that, too. But if there's one baseball player whose name I recognize, it's his. Because of a line on a Bill Cosby comedy album called Himself:

"And the doctor's sitting there like Johnny Bench."

--By the way, that wasn't the only reference that Mom had to explain to me. I also had no idea why it was so funny that Camilla stood up in the stirrups and told everybody in the delivery room that his parents were never married.

Daddy's great!
He gives us chocolate cake!


The Hitler vs. Coulter Quiz.

Now, while I do not back liberals wholesale (liberal doesn't have a dang thing to do with compassionate), I am always quick to despise current conservative leadership. Maybe it's a knee-jerk reaction, but there you go. That having been said, I had fun amusing myself with the Hitler vs. Coulter Quiz.

I got 9 out of 14 correct. Go me!

(via Sweetney.com)


Night Watch.

I got Lee the Russian horror film Night Watch yesterday. He's watching it as I type.

He just said, "If you were going to write a Russian horror movie, this would be it."

Which, from other comments he's made, is a compliment. I'll have to watch it later...
Write what you know; know thyself.

I've been thinking about the old adage "write what you know," which, for the purposes of today's mental tangent, shall mean "write what you love." Because really, why would you expect anyone to love something you wrote if you don't? If you're writing something according to someone else's opinion of what sells, all you're doing is teaching yourself to be good at something that someone else is going to be better at, because that person will be adding passion on top of talent.

But that's not the mental tangent, just the setup.

The actual tangent is that there's a gap between some of the things I try to write and the things I love to read. I try to sample highbrow literature-type things on a regular basis on the theory that they're good for me, and they are. What would my life have been like without Sartre? Or Camus? Or the Romantics? Or Thomas Hardy? And so on?

But I don't love them; I don't reread them. The closest I get to loving a stereotypically "literate" author is Jane Austin, because alongside all that gorgeous style and wit, THE GIRL GETS THE BOY AND THEY LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER!

I am also a sucker for coming-of-age stories and overcoming-the-odds stories, especially overcoming-the-odds-with-sass stories. Style is a plus, but a book won't delight me for long if it doesn't include one of the old plot chestnuts. I mean, I used to watch soap operas during the day. (The Young and the Restless was my favorite.)

But...it's been such a matter of pride that I avoid exactly the type of story that I'm a sucker for. There always has to be some kind of complication. I end up liking the things I write, but I don't love them.

Like most deepish things, it doesn't do me any good to resolve to go right out and change what I'm doing, but I will keep it in mind and watch what happens...


Baxter Black, Cowboy Poet.

I recommend Baxter Black's recent commentary on NPR, "Why Not a Court of Average People?"

"The only big word [in the Constitution] is 'enumeration.'"
--Baxter Black.



US loses to Ghana in the World Quidditch Soccer Finals.

I am easily amused.


Suspicious Activity.

I brought a book to work with me the other day, called Ancient Tales in Modern Japan, selected and translated by Fanny Hagin Mayer. Sure enough, as I sat down to read it in the cafeteria during lunch, one of the security guys stopped by to ask me what I was reading and whether I knew any Japanese.

Such is life. Maybe he just likes to hit on women who sit alone and read books, I don't know.

It's funny how uncensored the stories are. There's one story where a man rubs these certain ashes all over his body to make himself invisible, steals some wine, drinks it, and ends up being chased all over town because the wine has washed the ashes off his mouth. "The mouth ghost! The mouth ghost!" Then (having drunk all that wine), he has to take a piss. "The mouth and penis ghost! The mouth and penis ghost!"




Our house is full of sniffly people. Good thing the selfish urge to whine is counterbalanced by the urge to take care of people, or this might be a pretty grim household right now.

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful." -- Buddha

To which I must add: And if we did die, at least we didn't get sucked back onto the wheel of karma; and if we did get sucked back onto the wheel of karma, at least we weren't reborn as cold viruses...


Untitled Haiku.

After that last post
I should try writing something
Deep. Yeah, whatever.

O Happy Stuff!

The life of a fledgling freelance writer is often, surprisingly, dull and tedious. I try to stay away from that aspect of things, but sometimes it can't be helped. Oh, you're doing something you love, but it can lack that spark that purely creative writing possesses.

Then come the days when you run into place like this, and you really hope the owners are willing to cut a deal for gift certificates or something if you write descriptions for them. Give me dull! Give me tedious! Give me stuff!

I want the Gypsy Table Clock, in case anybody needs to know.


Happy Father's Day!

In a nice bit of synchronicity, Paul McCartney turns sixty-four today, on Father's Day. One story is that he wrote "When I'm Sixty-Four" for his own father.

Lee will be sixty-four in...2030.


Two little girls, on their way home from Sunday school, were solemnly discussing the lesson. "Do you believe there is a devil?" asked one. "No," said the other promptly. "It's like Santa Claus: it's your father." ~Ladies' Home Journal, quoted in 2,715 One-Line Quotations for Speakers, Writers & Raconteurs by Edward F. Murphy

There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

There are three stages of a man's life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus. ~Author Unknown


Meter Runs Backward.

Short Popular Science article on a guy who puts power into the grid.

I so want to do this...


And this is cool, too. A related article about using cellulosic ethanol, a type of ethanol produced when the cellulose in plants (wood chips, corn cobs) is processed by termites into sugars and cooked up into go-juice, nicely saving the actual corn for cows, etc.

I watched The Wizard of Oz with Ray last night.

Here are the two points where she expressed the most dismay:

--The professor took off in the balloon without Dorothy.
--Dorothy wakes up in her own bed, and the shoes are gone.

In fact, I think the movie may have to be rechristened "The Sparkly Shoe Movie."
Well, Now I Know.

Many a day at my old job I thought to myself, "What would it be like if people actually did what they were supposed to do?" Now I know. It's called "Government Beaurocracy." My first week of work closely resembled a week spent at the DMV, filling out paperwork, waiting in line, being told that I should have done something at a particular time that nobody bothered to tell me about...

The good news is that on Friday afternoon, I was actually able to do something related to my job, and I almost didn't want to go home when it was time.


Baby update.

I told Ray that Erica's going to have a baby.

"I know," she said. "A girl baby."

"They don't know yet," I told her. "We just have to wait to find out."

"It's a girl baby. But I will wait and find out," she said.

As if she wouldn't be tickled pink either way!

theomania (thee-o-MAY-nee-uh, -MAIN-yuh) noun

The belief that one is God or specially chosen by God on a mission.

[From Greek theos (god) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze).]

(via A.Word.A.Day.)

Jake: First you traded the Cadillac in for a microphone. Then you lied to me about the band. And now you're gonna put me right back in the joint!

Elwood: They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God.



My brother Matt and his wife, Erica, are expecting a baby! Woot!

And for the lovely momma...Hot Mommas Maternity Botique!
An Unfortunate Review.

Eldest (Inheritance series, book 2), by Christopher Paolini. (Audiobook version.)

Although eagerly anticipating listening to the unabridged version, I was unable to make it through the first tape (of fourteen). Good lord. How many plot contrievances can you pack into the first half hour? Why, at least three blatantly obvious ones (I say "at least" because there may be more...). It's an effort to listen to: not only does the reader, Gerard Doyle, use an annoying, artificial-sounding voice for the dragon, a major character, but the plot is contrieved and the language dull. What happened? I loved the first book, but this one seems to be textbook illustration of the phrase "sophomoric effort."

Why not try Artemis Fowl instead? Or Septimus Heap, which wasn't bad at all...


A Prairie Home Companion.

My mother says this is very funny. Apparently the midwesterners who she went to the movie with did not feel that this movie struck particularly close to home. Hmph.

Garrison Keillor: We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle, and if you should feel really happy, be patient: this will pass.

Lefty: [singing] Liquor she said, and lick her I did, and I don't work there any more.

Yolanda Johnson: Isn't that a Carter Family song?
Lola Johnson: Who?
Yolanda Johnson: The Carter Family. Like us only famous.

Okay, I have to admit--I watched far more Hee Haw than I ever listened to the Prairie Home Companion, but it sounds like home to me.


Book Recommendations.

The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, book 3), by Eoin Colfer. Listened to the audiobook read by Nathaniel Parker. I've read the first two book on paper; I may have to go back and listen to the audio versions. Fun YA fantasy fiction about a preadolescent criminal mastermind who comes into contact with the fairy folk...an Irish preadolescent criminal mastermind...Nathaniel Parker does a great job with the characters. The American accents are amusing, to say the least.

The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime, by Jasper Fforde. The author of the "Thursday Next" series sniggers off in a new direction. The back cover is a forensic sketch of a shattered Humpty Dumpty, if that gives you any idea. Not nearly as many literary references as the "Thursday Next" series (which means only about ten times as many as any other book) but lots of Mother Goose references. One of the main characters is Detective Sargeant Mary Mary; another is Detective Inspector Jack Spratt, who has remarried after the unfortunate death of his wife, who expired of a heart attack...and so on. Very silly.

...And a bunch of Agatha Christie novels, more shojo-manga than need be mentioned, two too many "My Little Pony" books, and some business/restaurant books for book reviews, skimmed through a bunch of books and took a pass on them, that kind of thing.



...that I want to remember to check out:

Still Crazy.

[Playing a game to name bands with parts of the body as part of their name]

Beano: Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show!
Clare: Objection, your honor!
Hughie: Objection sustained.
Beano: Well, some people 'ave hooks instead of hands.
Les: Yeah, but it's not part of the body; it's not... anotomical.
Beano: It is if you haven't got a @#$*%&' hand!

(Thanks for the recommendation, Mo.)
Groan of the Day.

"There's only one thing money won't buy, and that is poverty."
--Joe E. Lewis



The Physiognamy and Memoranda by Jeffrey Ford.

Very odd little books. I ordered the third in the series, The Beyond, because, well, some things you just want to find out.

Plot (Complete spoilers): A complete and utter bastard, the physiognamist Cley, is sent out of the Well-Built City by the City's Master, Drachton Below, to find out what happened to the stolen fruit of immortality. Cley loses his powers of physiognomical observation over a girl, gets them back, and accuses her of stealing the fruit. Below shows up and kills everyone in the village, who are mostly all turning into stones anyway. The girl eventually escapes with the alien Traveler who brought the fruit. The fruit, when found, is partially eaten by Drachton Below. The fruit causes mental seizures, which destroy corresponding sections of the Well-Built City, which was designed as a memory palace in Drachton's mind before he forced slaves to build it for him. Most of the people who escape the city flee into the wilderness beyond and build a community. Drachton Below sends a half-mechanical crow, infected with a virus that puts everyone to sleep; however, Drachton has already infected himself with the same virus. Cley travels back into the ruins of the Well-Built City, fighting werewolves and demons the whole way, and, by the graces of a humanized demon, enters the mind of Drachton Below to find the cure for the disease, which has been embodied in the form of a woman, who he falls in love with and promises to rescue from Drachton's mind. The cure also happens to be an extremely addictive, hallucinogenic drug called "sheer beauty," and when the cure is administered to the villagers, they begin murdering each other for continued supplies.

Head spinning yet? On top of all that, Cley is addicted to sheer beauty throughout most of the two books, so you're never really sure whether something has actually happened or not.

And yet, for all their dreamlike qualities, both books hang together well as stories. I recommend them to anyone who liked Little, Big or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

P.S. Out of curiosity, I checked out an actual book on physiognamy, the study of character through facial features. (In Jeffrey Ford's book, this extends to the whole body.) I think Ford's books have caught the true spirit of the pseudo-science: cruel, self-serving, and manipulative.

It's official. My last day at Wells Fargo is either June 6 or June 7 (I need to finish up a survey project, and I'm not sure how much time I'll need). I start June 12th doing technical writing/editing. Sweeeeet.