Thursday, December 24, 2015

Freaky Thursday: geoduck

Geoduck sounds like the animated, waterfowl hero of a National Geographic children's show about environmentalism, or geology, or geography, or something.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Caroling + Warm Alcohol = Wassailing

I've been racking my brain for the last few days trying to think up some words that only pop up around Christmastime so that I can build a blog post around them. Caroling and wassailing came to mind, and I wrote a bit about them over at Copyediting.com.

Turns out that, in many cases, the only real difference between caroling and wassailing is how much alcohol the revelers imbibe.

But I still seem to be stuck. What other seasonal words am I forgetting? What Christmas words make you stop and think?


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ten Homophones You Didn't Know Existed

If you rely too much on those little squiggly red lines in Microsoft Word to correct your spelling for you, you've probably found yourself wondering how spellcheck missed a seemingly obvious error (and subsequently lowered your grade on a paper, caused you to get passed over for a promotion, or gave millions of Twitterers something to tease you about).

The problem may have been that your misspelling was actually a perfectly normal homophone, just one you didn't know existed. The following ten uncommon homophones might have caused a crack in your otherwise rock-solid plan for letting spellcheck be your proofreader.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

And the Word of the Year Is(m)...

The lexicographers at Merriam-Webster dictionaries have named their 2015 Word of the Year, and it's not an entire word. It's the suffix -ism.

M-W's WOTY choices are driven by data about what people look up on the Merriam-Webster website and in their dictionary app. This year, seven of the top lookups end in -ism, leading them to bestow WOTY status on this little suffix.

Read more about it at Copyediting.com.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Word Thursday: conurbation

It really hit me the other day just how cynical and filthy-minded I am when I saw the word conurbation and immediately thought it was a portmanteau for congressional masturbation.

I am so disappointed in myself.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday Flash: The Hannibal Lecter of Cone-Heads

The new owners called it an international interchange program, where employees were chosen to work for a week at one of the company's foreign outlets.

"But I'm only a saleswoman," Denise whined. "How am I supposed to sell anything to someone who speaks a different language than me?"

"But it will be a great honor to journey to our new flagship France store," said the new manager in his high-pitched, foreign monotone.

"France, huh?" Denise said. "Is it in Paris, or somewhere else?"

The manager remained silent, staring at the ceiling in thought, his noticeably high and completely bald head shining under the fluorescent lights. Just when the moment began to feel awkward, he blurted out, "Paris. Yes. That is in France. You will go to Paris for ... a week."

"I've always wanted to see Paris," Denise said. "What else can you tell me about the program?"

"You will travel to Paris, France, where you will be cooked ... I mean booked into a luxury hotel. You will spend your days in our warehouse being fattened up, I mean fattening up our, er, profit margin. At the end of your week, you will be caramelized ... I mean recognized. On a plate."

"A plate?"

"A...commemorative plate, which we will have...in the kitchen." He pointed toward the break room.

"Oh, well that sounds really nice." Denise was already picturing herself in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, noshing on pastries and coffee at some sidewalk patisserie. "How did I get chosen for such an honor?"

"Because you are the fattest saleswoman at this location."

"Fattest?!" Denise had been overweight her entire life, but suddenly she felt very small.

"Please to pardon," the manager said. "My English is not perfect. I mean to say ... that ... your sales numbers are the fattest in the sales department. You look delicious to management."

"Delicious?"

"Is that not a compliment in your language? Many pardons."

"Oh, that's okay." Denise blushed and looked away. "This all sounds so amazing. What do I need to do?"

"Just go through that door, there." He gestured toward a door she somehow had never noticed before. "Our colleague will prepare you for your trip."

She walked to the door and placed her hand on the doorknob. "What's this mean?" she asked, pointing to the single word printed on the door. "Abattoir? Is that French?"

The new manager grinned widely and nodded his large, egg-shaped head vigorously.

Denise shrugged and pushed through door.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Word Thursday: poikilotherm

A quick multiple-choice quiz:

A poikilotherm is
  1. A unit of measure of the temperature of ocean water based on the water's effects on a fermented Hawaiian snack paste.
  2. A cold-blooded animal.
  3. A unit of measure for the heat-retention properties of wool.
  4. A word I totally made up from some plausible word parts.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Writing Prompt: A Gift

Now that Thanksgiving is over, so many people are now turning their eyes to the stores, trying to find the perfect gift for every person they know. It's a task few if any ever accomplish.

But the whole Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/CyberMonday/Fall into Bankruptcy Tuesday in part leads straight to this week's writing prompt:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gifts for Logophiles, Now Less Expensive

Don't know what to get your book-reading, crossword-loving, grammar-correcting, or book-editing friends and family this year? How about a warm hoodie that broadcasts their wonderful geekery for all to see!

Make sure your word-lovers are warm and well-labeled this winter. Through Monday night, everything in the Logophilius shop at Spreadshirt has been discounted 10%!

Plus, if you order two or more items from Spreadshirt, you can get free standard shipping by using the code 2GIFTS at checkout!

Another exclamation mark!

http://www.logophilius.com/#!shop/cwif
Prices go back up on Tuesday, so order them now. Click on the shirt to the right to check out the store, and thank you for supporting Logophilius. →

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fighting Over the Turkey Snood

I hope you all find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. If you're a copy editor, this list of things copy editors are thankful for might hit home for you. If you ever hire copy editors, you should read it as well to try to get yourself on the list of people editors are thankful for.

In lieu of a legitimate, new blog post — because I'm a lazy bum — I direct you to this previous Thanksgiving post about the snood, an apparently useless appendage that grows on the face of one of the ugliest but tastiest animals on the planet.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for reading Logophilius!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing Prompt: For the first time...

The first snow of the season came to the Logophilius household on Friday. Entirely too early, if you ask me, though I admit I'm having a difficult time accepting that it's already the end of November.

Wasn't summer just two weeks ago? And autumn last week?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Word Thursday: nidificate

I admit that when I first saw this string of alternating consonants and vowels, I could make no etymological connections. What other words contain the root nid?

I couldn't think of any.

I wasn't even sure whether the last three letters marked it as a verb (like pontificate) or an adjective (like delicate).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Word Thursday: poppycock

Poppycock is such a satisfying word to say. It's staccato syllables sound simultaneously childish and dirty, a prime combination for humor.

It sounds like popcorn popping, but with that cock at the end, it's popcorn you wouldn't want to eat.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Homing In on Honing In

One of my readers suggested I tackle the unconscionable phrase honing in.

Unconscionable might be a little strong, but it's certainly one of those usages that drive editors bonkers.

I was all prepared to lambaste this obvious misuse, which is at best an eggcorn and at worst a sign of the collapse of English literacy, but then I started researching. And something strange happened: I got a more historical perspective on the two alternatives.

Don't get me wrong; I will stand by homing in to my dying day, but my vehemence will not be so, well, vehement as it once was.

You can draw your own conclusions after you read what I wrote about the subject at Copyediting.com in the post "Honing and Homing In: a History, a Choice, and a Future."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Writing prompt: How's Your Vacation Going?

Think of an odd place to go on a vacation — somewhere you've never been — and write a letter home telling your family and friends about your travels. Tell us about the amazing locations you've seen, interesting cultures you've experienced, and exotic foods you've tasted.

The weirder the better, but the location must be somewhere you've never been, like a moon of Jupiter, a goat's digestive tract, or Detroit.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Who Put the Dash in Dashboard?

Who knows how or why these questions bubble up into one's brain, but the other day, I found myself wondering why a car's dashboard is so called.

I asked my friends for their opinions, because that's the kind of word-geek thing I do. One such friend suggested that it's called a dashboard because if your car comes to a sudden stop, it's what you will dash your brain against. As much as I liked this explanation, I was pretty sure it wasn't correct.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Writing prompt: That's not awkward at all

Two things happened to me this week.

One, David Sedaris came through town on a lecture tour, and I (along with a full house) got to hear him read some stuff about, oh, having his family over for Thanksgiving, playing Sorry! with his niece, and feeding his lipoma to a turtle. Naturally, that got me thinking about personal essays.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Word Thursday: absquatulate

With that -ate at the end, it's a good guess that absquatulate is a verb. And with squat right there in the middle, you might think it has something to do with sitting down and staying there.

But there's that negating ab- at the beginning — the same one that's at the beginning of abnormal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Bullshit Review

If you've ever wondered about the difference between hogwash and bellywash...

If you've ever wondered whether balderdash was something you ate, drank, or shoveled...

If you've ever wondered what the future of bloviation and obfuscation might sound like...

Or if you've just grown tired of calling bullshit and want to call something else for a change (like bavardage, crapspackle, or horsefeathers), Mark Peters has written the book for you.

It's called Bullshit: A Lexicon. Check out my review of it at Copyediting.com.
http://www.copyediting.com/new-book-full-bull

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New Word Thursday: borstal

By the end of the nineteenth century, many people were beginning to take a closer look at the ethics and repercussions of child labor. They started to think that maybe children shouldn't be expected work like grown-ups.

The recognition that children and adults should be treated differently extended to other areas, too, including the prison system. At the end of the 1800s in the United Kingdom, authorities in Her Majesty's Prison Service thought that perhaps juvenile delinquents ought to be separated from the adult prison population and given a better chance to rehabilitate.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Writing Prompt: Your Basic Flash

 This week, write some flash fiction: Write the shortest story you think you can write, BUT it must include the following things:
  • At least two characters.
  • A setting.
  • A conflict.
  • A resolution of the conflict.
This is your basic flash fiction — a super-short but otherwise complete story. Can you do it with less than 100 words? Less than 50?

To get some ideas and see what others have done with this style of story, check out Flash Fiction Magazine, UW Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Friday, and other sites. You might even want to submit your story for publication!

Bonus points for writing flash fiction about The Flash.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How McDonald's Marketing Made Us Grimace

McDonald's has contributed a lot to the world. Although we can't lay all the blame for rampant obesity, high cholesterol, and love handles on the Golden Arches, we certainly can blame them for giving us Grimace and the change he wrought on English pronunciation.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Writing Prompt: Inside the Game

Write a scene from the point of view of someone inside your favorite video game.

Ulterior motive


No ulterior motive here. Just a little something to get you writing and thinking about something from a different perspective.

Writing from inside a game like Grand Theft Auto or Tomb Raider should be pretty simple because there's already a story laid out there. For a greater challenge, try writing from inside a game like Candy Crush, Asteroids, or Tetris.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Word Thursday: rodomontade

I have transformed New Word Wednesday into New Word Thursday (a more alliterative name might be on the way) in part so I could use Wednesday's slot to direct you, dear reader, to my new weekly column at Copyediting.com, and in part to give myself some breathing room so I don't have to have two posts ready every Wednesday.

If you didn't catch the column yesterday, you really ought to go read it. I'm generally a humble guy, but yesterday's "Death, Destruction, and Word Choice" really is the best blog post about decimate, annihilate, obliterate, and devastate that ever was or ever shall be. Amen. My mother really loved it. Yours did, too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Word When Again? A Change in Programming

New Word Wednesday will now move to (New Word) Thursday so that, on Wednesdays, I can direct you all to my new weekly vocabulary and usage column at Copyediting.com.

My first post is about the word decimate and its siblings annihilate, obliterate, and devastate.
http://www.copyediting.com/death-destruction-and-word-choice

Friday, October 2, 2015

Who Bans Books? Concerned Parents

Over the past three days, I've written about some large, powerful groups that have flexed and sometimes continue to flex their muscles to keep people from reading certain books. In the United States, though, the most common group seeking to ban books is described by the name "Concerned Parents." That's the subject of my final Banned Books Week post.



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Who Bans Books? Governments

In Tuesday's post, I mentioned how the development of the printing press and the growth of the printing industry helped spread both literacy and, to the chagrin of the papacy, the ideas of the Protest Reformation. Part of the Church's response to the wider dissemination of ideas antithetical to Church doctrine was to create the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of dangerous authors and works that good, pious people should stay away from and that local authorities should bar and destroy.

The Church wasn't the only institution threatened by the burgeoning printing industry. Thanks to printing presses, writers who were critical of government could easily and cheaply distribute their gripes to waiting minds around the world.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Who Bans Books? Islamic Groups

Yesterday, I wrote about the history of book censorship in the Catholic Church, but it certainly isn't the only religious group to try to keep certain texts out of its adherents' hands. Different Islamic groups and authorities have also condemned books — and even called for the murder of their authors — that were seen as antithetical to or blasphemous toward Muslim doctrine.

New Word Wednesday: imprimatur

When we're talking about a group censoring books (and thus ideas) — as I did yesterday in my post about censorship in the Catholic Church — it's fitting that we also talk about the opposite. True, over the last 450 years, the Catholic Church has tried to weed out and protect its pious members from the dangers of unethical, erroneous, and heretical ideas, but most books go through the process unscathed and make it to publication.

Which brings us to today's word: imprimatur.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Who Bans Books? The Catholic Church


Banned Books Week always brings out some wild stories about books being banned for outrageous reasons. My favorite has always been the one about Fahrenheit 451 being banned because it's about the horrible and detrimental act of book burning. I have no idea whether it's true that a book was censored because it was about censorship, but it's a clear sign of the kind of idiocy and irony we have come to accept. And my joyful reaction to that story is, I admit, a type of intellectual Schadenfreude.

But whenever I hear these stories, and especially during Banned Books Week, I am always left wondering who it is that is doing the banning. What people or groups claim to have the authority to keep other people from looking at words on a page?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Copyediting.com: By Editors, For Editors

For twenty-five years, Copyediting.com has been a great rallying point and resource for copy editors in all media and at all skill levels. It offers daily posts about grammar, language, style, technology, and job opportunities; monthly educational audioconferences; a job board; and even information about editing Canadian versus American English.

Not to mention nearly three dozen posts by yours truly. (Last Friday's "(Nearly) Identical Twins" is a pretty fun word game, if I do say so myself.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rewriting prompt: One-syllable edits

Start with a copy of a bit of fiction that you've already written — 200–300 words ought to do it. Rewrite the section using only one-syllable words. Proper nouns are exempt from this shortening, of course; if your story is about Julie from Schenectady, it can still be about her.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

National Punctuation Day 2015

Today is National Punctuation Day, that day when we thank our grade-school English teachers, mock misused apostrophes wherever we find them (which is everywhere), and reaffirm our belief that those who don't use the serial comma (or do, depending on your beliefs) are evil clarity-haters spreading heretical grammar far and wide.

Or something like that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Word Wednesday: heresiarch

It isn't often anymore that I come across a word I've never seen before, so when I found heresiarch while editing a project about early Christian theology, I got all giddy and excited.

Yeah, I'm a nerd.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Word Wednesday: taphophile

Do you like gravestones? Do you think a cemetery is the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon picnic? Did you use up a whole day of your European vacation to drag your family through the catacombs of Rome?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Go Read This Stuff - 9/14/15

In lieu of a depressing/inspiring quotation about the writing life, I offer you three recent posts from other language bloggers that I certainly found interesting, and I hope you do, too. (Headings are links.)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writing Prompt: The Evil Hero

Think of one of your favorite fictional heroes or heroines, not necessarily a superhero — lord knows we've seen plenty of those these days — but a favorite heroic character. You could choose Beowulf, Albus Dumbledore, Miss Marple, Katniss Everdeen, or, of course, your favorite spandex-wearing comic book character. Whatever. (This might be a good moment to consider what the word heroic means to you.)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Words Used Carelessly

I like this quotation from Douglas Adams's the Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul — "Words used carelessly, as if they do not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through." —because it can be insightful in two ways.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Politics, Second Homes, Hemp, and Vowels

First, check out my new post at Copyediting.com in which I talk about canvasing and canvassing. It's called "Canvas(s)ing: A Story of Politics, Second Homes, and Hemp."

Here's a hint that isn't covered in that article. If you're faced with using canvas or canvass, remember this: "Politics puts the ass in canvass."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Word Wednesday: pediculous

You'll recognize the pedi- root of pediculous from words like pedicure and pedestrian. Seeing that feet is involved, you might surmise that pediculous means "having a large number of feet," like a centipede, a millipede, or the Rockettes.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Writing prompt: Disillusion

Write a scene or story in which your main character discovers she is not who or what she thought she was. This could be an identity crisis, a realization of true authority, or even a disillusionment of supernatural nature.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Perfect Gift

This is a big day for me.  

The Saturday Evening Post published my short story "The Perfect Gift" on its website today! Please take a few moments to check it out and leave a comment (over there, not here).

This is the first short story I've ever sold, and I hope it's just the beginning. I also hope that you writers get the opportunity to feel as good as I do right now.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Logophilius Shop Is Open for Business

Gamers get their own T-shirts. Football aficionados get fake jerseys. Even Star Wars and Doctor Who fans can choose from a plethora of geeky threads to shine the light on their once secret obsessions.

Why shouldn't logophiles have the same options?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Word Wednesday: obsequious

Most words enter our personal vocabularies without much fanfare or attention. Five or ten years later, it's like the word has always been there, that we've always known what it was and how to use it.

But occasionally, a word enters our vocabulary in such a way that we never forget the event. That's how it was, for me, with obsequious.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What's Stopping You?

Charles Bukowski quotation

 Go write something today.

There's nothing to stop a man from writing unless that man stops himself. If a man truly desires to write, then he will. —Charles Bukowski

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Prompt Jar

Instead of giving you a writing prompt this week, I want to help you build a collection of your own writing prompts. Saving up writing prompts is just like saving up your pennies for a big vacation, only without a ceramic pig you have to break open to get into.

Friday, August 28, 2015

On Fiction and Truth

Author and fellow Hoosier Jessamyn West once said, "Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures." I believe this is true both in the reading and the writing of fiction, and I have long held the belief that the best literature, by revealing these truths, helps us to be better human beings.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Word Wednesday: hermetically sealed

It will surprise no one that hermetically is derived from the name Hermes, but it doesn't come from the name of the messenger of the gods of Greek mythology,* at least not directly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Word Wednesday: zoogeography and faunology

Whether you've roamed far and wide through the vast expanse of the English lexicon or stuck to a relatively small plot of vocabulary land, you've probably seen and used the individual parts of today's words numerous times but never thought of putting them together. Nonetheless, biologists have been doing so for a long time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Logophilius around the Internet

In the last couple months, I've been a substitute blogger at Copyediting.com for a few editor friends who needed vacations. Here are some of my posts that you might find interesting and educational. I encourage you to check these out as well as posts from other copy editors there.

Monday, August 17, 2015

This Is My Letter to the World

Emily Dickinson poem

The first two lines of this always stick out to me. I think all writers at some point get that feeling of writing to the world and never getting a reply. Of shouting into the wind. It's depressing, and it can lead to questioning why we even do what we do in the first place.

What's the point if everything we do never does anything but stay on a hard drive or in a closed notebook? Never touches anyone? Never makes someone's life even a little bit better?

I have to remind myself sometimes that this feeling — this lonely, disheartening feeling — is something that all writers understand and share. And remembering that and understanding that I'm not totally alone gets me going again.

At least, I hope that every writer has felt this. I would hate to think it's just me and poor Emily. Of course, Emily kept all her poems in a drawer in her room. I wonder sometimes what her life would have been like if she could have blogged.

Have you ever thought of giving up on writing? Have you ever actually given up? What kept you going or brought you back?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Five-Second Writing Prompt

The title of this writing prompt is accurate, but you're going to need more than five seconds to write. Here's what I want you to do: Write at length about a five-second interval.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Constant Joy of Sudden Discovery

I often wonder if people who don't write think writing is simply taking a thought and putting it down on paper (or the screen). How boring would that be?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Word Wednesday: discord

Discord is certainly not a new word, but it's one of those that, if you look at it for too long or think about it too hard, starts to take on new forms.

We're used to seeing dis- as a prefix that makes a word the opposite of what follows it — like dishonesty, disloyalty, and disease. But if dis- is used that way in discord, where does that -cord come from?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Book Lover's Vocabulary (from Oxford)

I somehow missed that August 9 was National Book Lover's Day. Perhaps I was too busy reading.

At any rate, over at the OxfordWords blog, Lili Feinberg published "10 unusual words for book lovers" to mark the occasion. These aren't ten words that mean "book lover," but ten words that book lovers ought to know.

And there are more than ten of them.

The first and last entries hold the most meaning for me:
  • tsundoku: A Japanese word meaning the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling up with other unread books.
  • scripturient: Someone who has a passion for writing.
Check out all ten — or however many there are. What other bibliomaniacal vocabulary could have made that list? (Graphomania comes to mind.)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Saving Civilization by Destroying It

I'm a big fan of dystopian fiction, novels in which civilization as we know it has been supplanted by something more oppressive and sinister. Often, the new order of things follows an apocalyptic event, but often enough, we don't know how a particular fictional world came to be.

That's one of the joys of fiction: building a world entirely from scratch.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Writing Prompt: Astonish yourself

Think about the type of stuff you usually write. Choose a genre that's very different from your usual and write something in that genre.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Word, uh, Thursday: shrieval

I apologize for publishing a New Word Wednesday post on Thursday, but the last couple days were spent shipping my elder son off to boarding school.*

Mea culpa.

If you have a history of confessing your sins, you might think you've taken some shrieval actions — but you'd be wrong. Shrieval is as related to shrive as shrivel is, which is to say, not at all.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Stay Drunk on Writing

They say the hardest part of writing is getting started, and that has certainly been my experience. I want to believe that there's a zen moment when you start writing and you forget about the world and the words keep coming and the whole thing starts to snowball and you just never stop writing until it's done done done.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

I imagine that's what it's like to be drunk on writing. To lose yourself in your pen the way an alcoholic loses himself in a bottle.

I say I can only imagine it because, unfortunately, I've never experienced it.

Or at least I don't remember experiencing it.

Getting started is hard. For many writers, it's hard to get past the first four words in this quotation from Ray Bradbury. And entirely too many writers end up being destroyed by reality.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Writing prompt: Look What I Found!

Your story begins with your main character unexpectedly finding something valuable.

What item was found? What type of value does it have? Would it be valuable to anyone or only to certain people?

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Freelance Writer Is . . .

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.

"The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps."
— Robert Benchley

I've been feeling this a lot lately. Not that I have a lot of large invoices out there waiting to be paid, but every check represents bills paid, meals eaten, and a mind at peace.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Uncommon Spelling Traps 1

Some words get misspelled all the time. An online search for "commonly misspelled words" yields over 150,000 results. If you run into some of those common spelling problems, you have a wealth of resources at your command. I'm not going to repeat those here.

I'm more interested in uncommon misspelled words — words that are rarely used but easily misspelled. The following six cases are not-so-commonly used pairs of words that are related etymologically and are spelled nearly identically.

These are the words that even the best editors and proofreaders have to look up while they work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Word Wednesday: tumulus

A tumulus is more tumorous (or even tumescent) than tumultuous, so there's no reason to raise a ruckus about it. These days, we don't have much call for tumuli, as the plural is spelled, but a good Christian might cause a tumult if a loved one is caught under a tumulus (or in one, depending on your perspective).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Writing prompt: A Bad Order

Egad! I forgot to post a writing prompt yesterday!

Well, here it is. Use the whole week to build a good story if you like.

Write a story or a scene that begins with a waiter or waitress bringing you or the main character the wrong order.

All Good Writing . . .

All good writing is like swimming underwater and holding your breath.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thinking About Your Legacy

Scottish poet and essayist Alexander Smith once wrote, "I would rather be remembered by a song than by a victory. I would rather build a fine sonnet than have built St. Paul's." I've spent time — and I hope you have, too — thinking about what I want my legacy to look like. How do I want to be remembered?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Word Wednesday: louche

Imagine, for a moment, that you're a 40-year-old editor, and you enter an adult spelling bee. Why not, it's for charity. You are the twelfth of fifteen spellers. The first speller steps up to the mic and is given the word potato.

'Oh, this first round is gonna be easy,' you think. You listen to eleven more words given and spelled correctly — nothing difficult. You could have spelled each of them without a moment's hesitation.

Then you step up to the mic, and the esteemed pronouncer looks at you and says, "Your word is 'LOOSH.'"

Monday, July 20, 2015

When Crap Is the Best You Can Do

Sometimes, when you feel like your writing is crap, you just have to tell yourself that writing crap is okay and then move on to the next thing. Everybody writes crap, but if you want to be a writer, you have to keep writing anyway.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Writing Prompt: Fictionalizing Your Earliest Memory

Everyone at some point in his or her life is asked the question, what's your earliest memory? It's one of those annoying questions that someone (usually your mother) asks when no one else can think of anything to talk about.

As annoying as that question is, I want you to think about it now.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thanking Stephen King

Last month, I thanked Kurt Vonnegut for the large part he played in leading me into this life of writing. But before I was a writer, I was a reader.

This was a given in my family. My mother was a high school English teacher, and she and her two sisters — my aunts — were constant readers. When we all got together for holidays and birthdays, the three of them were always gabbing about what books they had read, and the would swap hardcovers so that each could share in the others' discoveries.

So becoming a reader wasn't really a choice for me. It was practically genetic. But what kind of reader I would be was up in the air.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Word Wednesday: naumachia/naumachy

Naumachia (or naumachy) is an old pastime I would love to see leave the nightly confines of my bathtub and find popular, public, and less sudsy interest.

Fans of debate might recognize the -machia/-machy half of the word from logomachy, another name for a war of words. That -machia/-machy comes from the Greek machē, a war or battle.

Monday, July 13, 2015

On Fear and Hope

Stephen King once wrote, "The scariest moment is always just before you start." Too often, though, that fear can keep us from actually starting.

We don't start that novel because we fear we'll never finish it. We don't talk to that pretty girl because we fear humiliation. We don't ask for that raise because we fear rejection.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Witing pwompt?

Write a scene or story in first-person from the point of view of a young child. Some of the things you need to keep in mind are
  • The child's vocabulary.
  • The child's lack of experience, and his or her personal explanations for things he or she doesn't totally understand.
  • The child's motivations and desires.
All these will be different from what you would expect from an adult character.

Friday, July 10, 2015

One Story, Infinite Meaning


Writers write for different reasons. Readers read for different reasons.

The words on the page are only part of any story. Everyone brings their own experiences, needs, shortcomings, worldviews, and biases to complete the story. The story that the writer creates is only her version, the story she needed to write for herself.

With every new reader, the story is completed anew and in a different way.

Try to remember this the next time someone doesn't like a story you've written. They're experience of the story is different from yours and will be different from the next reader's.

Don't let one person's opinion keep you from your work. Remember why you write (it's not for them) and keep at it.


"Stories are the vessels I use to interpret the world to myself."
—Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Word Wednesday: mucilaginous

Even if you've never seen the word mucilaginous before, you can probably come pretty close to understanding what it means. Think of something slimy and sticky — like egg yolks, rubber cement, or the fluids that cling to body-snatchers' bodies when they emerge from their pods — and you're thinking of something mucilaginous.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Are Adverbs Really Evil?

Many a writer, editor, and wordsmithing guru has warned of the damage adverbs can cause to one's writing. Theodore Roethke once said1, "In order to write good stuff, you have to hate adverbs." Graham Greene noted2 how well Evelyn Waugh avoided "beastly adverbs — far more damaging to a writer than an adjective." And, of course, Stephen King famously stated3, "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs."

With such widespread anti-adverb sentiment, one might wonder why we have adverbs at all if we are not supposed to use them. Are adverbs really so evil that using one will, like a bad apple, spoil an entire sentence?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Abandon the Idea That You Are Ever Going to Finish

For most of his life, John Steinbeck avoided interviewing with The Paris Review. In his later years, though, he had a change of heart. Unfortunately, by that time he was too sick to work on it.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Writing prompt: Indecision

Write a scene or short story in which the main character can't make up his or her mind. What are the consequences (especially the otherwise avoidable negative ones) of indecision?

And more importantly, what's the real meaning behind the lyrics of Rush's song "Freewill"?

Friday, July 3, 2015

George Orwell Takes On Human Resources (Sort Of)

I direct you this morning to an excellent and fun essay, by James Gingell at the Guardian, about how George Orwell might have viewed human resources and the proclamations that come from it.


"The HR industry misuses language as a sort of low-tech mind control to avert our eyes from office atrocities and keep us fixed on our inboxes."

English: Picture of George Orwell which appear...
George Orwell, HR Representative
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I particularly enjoy the idea that George Orwell himself might have established the whole HR enterprise as "a never-ending, ever-expanding live action art installation sequel to Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four."

I bet there's a novel in there somewhere.

Anyway, enjoy "George Orwell, human resources and the English language."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Word Wednesday: ort

Ort is one of my favorite short words. It's almost a rebus. A visual onomatopoeia. It looks like someone took a bite out of short and this little crumb of a word dropped down onto the page.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Announcing Logophilius Editorial



This is a big week for the Logophilius blog. Now, it’s more than a blog, it’s a business.
Today, I officially announce my new enterprise, Logophilius Editorial LLC, my venture into full-time freelance word work. It’s a step in my career that I take with hope, optimism, and no small amount of fear. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Writing prompt: Visualize Your Successful Future

Think for a moment about what you really want to do with your life — your dream job, your ultimate career, what you want to be remembered for when you're gone.

Now imagine that you have been living that life for a few years and, unexpectedly, you've been given a great award in recognition of your work. What reward is it — a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize? A Presidential Medal of Freedom? A Humanitarian Award from the Elie Wiesel Foundation? A dinner in your honor by the American Federation of Teachers?

With that picture in your mind, write your acceptance speech for the award.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Support Systems

Take some time this weekend to make some art. Not for money or recognition or (heavens!) work, but just for you. To add a little more life to your life. Everyone can make art, and everyone needs to.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Word Wednesday: toxology

Toxology is an old word that figures largely in some well-known, well-traveled stories. If you're thinking about Socrates, iocaine powder, or the Gom Jabbar, you're a bit off the mark — you're thinking of toxicology.

The stories of Robin Hood and William Tell are much more toxological.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Writing as a Constant Search

Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.Writing about things happening to people isn't difficult. But a story — at least a good one — is so much more than just things happening to people. Behind every good story is some truth, some thing that the author wants to tell the world, or get off his chest, or convince herself of.

Unfortunately, that need to have something to say is also what can paralyze a writer, make writing word one a trial fit for Hercules.

Sometimes we stare at the blank page. Sometimes we just start writing and hope to find the meaning as we go.  And often, we fail.

But those few times when it all meshes just right — when the perfect story and its deeper meaning come together like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup — it's all worth it.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Writing prompt: A Short Story Definition

Samuel: "You know, I tried reading the dictionary straight through once, but I just couldn't get a handle on the plot."
Daniel: "Of course you couldn't. A dictionary isn't a novel; it's a collection of short stories."

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Romanticizing the Writing Life

We are all guilty of romanticizing the writing life from time to time. It's so easy to do when you only look at finished products — works of beauty and truth and poetry that enrich the lives of everyone who reads them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Word Wednesday: sequacious

The word sequacious might call to mind the mighty sequoia, or glittering sequins, or maybe even that sometime political buzzword sequestration. Though it does share an etymological base with the last one, that's where the relationships end.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Writing About Writing About Gender Identity

Last week over at Copyediting.com, I gave a little guidance about writing about gender identity issues. If you aren't real confident about how to use  transgender and cisgender, you should go check out "Writing About Gender Issues."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Writing Prompt: The Surprise Visitor

Write a story that begins with someone unexpected coming into a character's life — or back into it: A past paramour takes residence in the next cubicle. A long lost sibling moves into the house next door. A green-skinned man who speaks no known human language appears in the backyard. Take it from there.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Wandering Off with a Notebook

"The idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me is just bliss." —J.K. Rowling

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thanking Kurt Vonnegut

If you've read my posts after the deaths of Ray Bradbury and Terry Pratchett, you might understand a little bit of my frustration with posthumous shows of gratitude and admiration for great authors. The frustration comes from the fact that, the authors being dead, they never get to hear all the great things people say about them. Never get to see the larger picture of the effects they have had on the world.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

7 Misspelled Words that Aren't Misspelled

In this computer age, our word processing programs try to give us a hand by automatically correcting obvious typos. Occasionally, though, the program's autocorrection feature (or a careless or too-trusting writer using spell-check) will get it wrong, and a misspelling will be changed to the wrong (but correctly spelled) word, resulting in what's known as a cupertino.

Sometimes, though, an uncommon but correctly spelled word can be miscorrected to a more common but undeniably incorrect word. These seven words fall into that category. Because the words are uncommon, electronic and organic spell-checkers alike might not recognize them as being spelled correctly. So tread carefully.

calender

I put this one first because it (and my miscorrection of it) inspired this post.

Don't squeeze the second e out of this word. Calendering is a technique to create different finishes on cloth, paper, and film. With cloth, layers are folded together and then run under rollers of different textures under high pressures and temperatures to give the cloth a particular finish or sheen.

In paper and film, calendering involves running the paper or film between high-pressure calender rolls. (Imagine an old-timey clothes wringer; then add 200 years and a computerized paper-making machine and you've got the idea.) Each pass through the calender rolls makes the paper or film smoother, making it more or less receptive to pencil, ink, paint or toner.
One squeezes water from your clothes; the other squeezes water from your clothes and makes sure the clothes don't fit right anymore.
One squeezes water from your clothes. The other squeezes water from your clothes and makes sure those clothes never fit right again.

bettor

A bettor, simply put, is someone who bets, and the word is easier to say than wagerer. The better bettors can actually make a living at gambling, which can make bad bettors bitter.

politicly

Because everything seems political these days, this might look like a misspelling of politically. It isn't, of course; it's the adverbial form of the adjective politic, meaning "shrewd or tactful." Being a politician is not a requirement for being politic. In fact, the two might be mutually exclusive.

The distinction becomes clear when you consider the opposites of politically and politicly, namely apolitically (or nonpolitically) and impoliticly.

precisian

According to Merriam-Webster's, precisian first appeared in print 170 years before its more popular cousin precision (in 1571, to be precise). Though they are both nouns and they share the same idea of "being precise," precisian is something you could call a person, namely one who stresses and practices strict adherence to a particular standard, especially a religious one.

Depending on your point of view, a precisian might be a saint or a dictator. A role model or a prude. An authority or a martinet. A bless-the-beasts-and-the-children type, or a how-can-you-have-any-pudding-if-you-don't-eat-your-meat type.

quittor

They say a quitter never wins, and if you're a horse with quittor, that is doubly true. Quittor, also called graveling, is a leg infection in equines that causes lower leg cartilage to become inflamed. Historically, it's more common in draft horses than race horses, and since draft horses aren't used that much anymore, quittor isn't seen as often as it used to be.

Still, the word can help you land a nice Q-based bingo in your next game of Scrabble.

radicle

There's nothing radical about radicle, which has been around since the late 17th century. The radicle, a botanical term, is the embryonic root of a seed. When a seed is planted, the radicle is the first visible growth, the first tendril to reach beyond the confines of the seed. It protrudes into the soil and eventually becomes the plant's root system.

terrane

This is a toughy because its meaning so closely relates to the terrain that we all know. Terrane is a term used in geology and paleontology that means "the area or surface over which a particular rock or group of rocks is prevalent."

Similar to examining the history of a tree by examining its rings, Earth's geological history is discovered by examining its layers of rock. A terrane of a certain type of rock can reveal localized prehistoric events such as volcanic eruptions, glacial movements, meteor strikes, and zombie apocalypses.

Or so I gather from a bit of research. Geology isn't really my terrain.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Throw up every morning

"Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon."

"Throw up into Your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon." —Raymond Chandler

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Writing prompt: Every End a New Beginning

Grab one of your favorite novels off the shelf and flip to the end of it. Make the last sentence or last paragraph of that novel the beginning of your new story. Don't continue the story you pulled the text from. Instead, use that text as a jumping-off point for something new.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Greatest Pleasure of Writing



"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make." --Truman Capote
 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Breaking the Funk: What I Love about Writing Fiction

I have lost my mojo. My groove has filled in. The thrill is gone.

I'm in a funk.

Some of you writers understand (at least I hope you do). Somehow, for some reason I will never completely understand, I haven't been able to feel the joy that writing used to grant me. I think longingly about writing during the day, but when I finally sit down in front of the computer or open up my little black notebook, the only thing my mind seems to conjure is a silent scream.

I fear I have fallen out of love of with writing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New Word Wednesday: Is That a Lardon in Your Meal . . .

. . . or are you just happy to see me?

If you're at all like me, the first time you saw the word lardon your mind immediately conjured a politically incorrect definition involving obesity and sexual arousal.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

The first time (the only time so far) I saw lardon, it was on a menu as an ingredient in a fancy mac and cheese dish. (Make your off-color creams/cheeses jokes now.) Even though I didn't know what lardon was, I was pretty sure I didn't want to put it in my mouth.

I ordered the blackened salmon sandwich.

Lardon — or lardoon — is a piece of bacon or salt pork used for larding.

Larding (I didn't know lard was also a verb, did you?) is the act of coating or smothering a food with lard or other fat or stuffing meat with strips of fat or bacon before cooking. I think my heart appreciates that I didn't order the meal that included lardon.

English: Danish bacon being cooked.
Lardy, lardy, lardy get your clogged veins here!
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But wait — the dish in question was mac and cheese! Not exactly something you can stuff with bacon. Does that mean it was covered with lard?

Or, really, was this just a hoity-toity way of saying they put a little bacon in it?

All things considered, I don't regret ordering the blackened salmon sandwich at all.*

*Except that I accidentally ordered blacked chicken. Still better than putting lardon in my mouth.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Writing prompt: A Memorial Day Misremembrance

Write a short story in which a key element of either the conflict or the resolution is a character misremembering an important fact.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Writing prompt: The Writer's Manifesto

Today, I want you to write (or at least think about) your Writer's Manifesto. What does writing meant to and what do you hope to do with it?

Your manifesto should answer these questions (among others):
  • What is the purpose of literature?
  • What is my individual purpose within that larger purpose?
  • Why do I write?
  • Whom do I write for and why?
  • What is my ultimate goal as a writer?


Monday, May 11, 2015

Writing prompt: Flipping the sign

Choose what is generally considered a positive character trait — honesty, beauty, courage, and the like. Describe a person who exhibits that trait, but do so in such a way that the positive trait becomes negative.

You could do it the other way around, too: putting a positive spin on a negative trait.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rewriting prompt: Killing Four

Start with something you've written, 300-500 words. It doesn't even have to be anything you consider final. Go through it closely and rewrite it as and where needed so it contains no four-letter words. I don't mean that metaphorically; I'm not simply asking you to eliminate profanity. Get rid of all words containing exactly four letters.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Editors and That SEO Jazz

It's an understatement to say that a lot goes into creating and maintaining a website that appeals to both search engines and living, breathing humans. But when the separate areas of search engine optimization (SEO) and good content come together just right, it's like a good jazz combo. Many different parts combine to create something that really grooves.

  • The first area of SEO is the underlying site design. This deals with elements like crawlability, mobile-friendliness, and page loading speed. This part of SEO is like the pianist laying down the chord structures that underlie the music created by the other instruments — the other elements of SEO.
  • Then you have the content strategy — how often you publish, what topics you'll cover, what voice you'll use. All this is guided by research into your audience and their behaviors, desires, and needs. This part is like the drummer, establishing the tempo of your website and your content production.
  • Marketing — both online and off — plays a big role in SEO. It gives many of the other website elements (especially content production) their direction. The marketing aspect of SEO is like a walking bass line: It gives the site content a foundation and drives the whole process forward.
  • On top of this rhythm section are the melodic instruments — your actual content. Each jazz combo — and each website — has its own particular combination. For a website, it can include text, video, audio, infographics, apps, and more.

When all the parts of this SEO band work well together, it's more likely to attract some attention from Google, yes, but from your audience as well, which is your ultimate goal.

I'm not here to help you build a band, though. Although it's helpful to understand at least at a basic level how all the parts of your SEO jazz combo fit together, you need to focus on your part: the editorial content.

That's where I come in.

On May 13, I will present an audioconference through Copyediting.com called "SEO for Editors." In what I hope will be a delightful and informative 90 minutes, I will cut past the parts of SEO that word mongers like you and me have no control over and focus on the editorial aspects in our bailiwick. You'll get:

  • A brief history of Google algorithm changes that have affected how we create content
  • Guidelines for creating links that both people and Google like
  • A look at how keyword strategies have changed over the years
  • An overview of what titles and headings mean for SEO
  • A discussion of what high-quality content means to a search engine
  • The golden rule of SEO

One more apt comparison of SEO to a jazz combo: There's a lot of improvisation going on in both. Just as there is no formula for creating "the perfect song," there is no formula for creating "the perfect content" that will land in front of everyone who you think ought to see it.

Yes, Google and its ilk use algorithms (just a fancy word for formulas) to power their search results, but
  1. Those algorithms customize results for the listener (the searcher), not the band. Every new search is like a different ear listening for a great tune. (And not everyone will be interested in your jazz.)
  2. They aren't singing. Search engines are tight-lipped about exactly how their algorithms work, releasing only the information they think website owners need to know to help search engines connect searchers with the information they're looking for. Why so reticent? Because people are selfish jerks. With every big search algorithm change, short-sighted SEOs rework their strategies to try to game their way up the search engine results pages (SERPs). Then, when the next change comes along, those short-sighted strategies — much like the once beloved keytar — all but disappear.

My hope is that, in this audioconference, I can show you today's basic best practices of on-page editorial SEO — the right scales and chord changes, if I may extend the metaphor further — so that your content has a better chance of reaching the ears that want to hear it.

So if your job relies on writing and/or editing online — whether you're a blogger, a journalist, an ad copywriter, a corporate word-slinger, or the editor in charge of any these folks — nag your boss into paying for the professional development opportunity that is "SEO for Editors."

See you there.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Writing prompt: Use the Force

Take a fairly mundane task or experience from our current world and set it in the world of Star Wars. Think light-hearted and funny. Some possibilities:

Friday, May 1, 2015

After National Poetry Month

WARNING: The following post is quite introspective (read self-centered). It was written completely for my own edification and not for my audience. As such, it — and its author — will likely come off sounding, well, querimonious. Plaintive. Grousing.

Whiny.

Still, other writers who have shared the feelings I express here might find some measure of commiseration in them. So maybe it's not so self-indulgent after all.


When I saw National Poetry Month rolling toward me, I thought it might be a fun challenge to try to write and post a new poem every day of the month. And it was both those things: fun and challenging.

And I did it: Thirty poems in thirty days.

But completing this challenge didn't give me that warm fuzzy feeling that usually comes with setting a goal and completing it.

Honestly, though, I don't know what I expected to really get out of it. Did I expect that somewhere in there I would land on a perfect string of words? Would I draw in new readers from around the globe? Would I discover that I truly am a poet?

I think the past 30 posts prove pretty well that I am not a poet. Sure, I can make things rhyme. And I can establish and maintain a meter. But all that is closer to math than to creative expression. Poetry remains for me the psychiatry of the literary sphere: I can talk intelligently enough about it, but if you actually need it done, you should go to a professional.


It wasn't all crap, of course. I did have a few prideful moments this month. I am particularly fond of the poem from last Tuesday, "A Walk in the Woods," the first draft of which I really did write while perched on a bench in the woods. There was also one of my earlier posts, "The Possum," which came out of March's Indy WordLab. We were directed to write an animal poem, and although the form of the poem itself is no great feat, I like the concept and the metaphor behind it.

Did you have a favorite Logophilius poem this month?

All told, though, after a month of daily posts, I created nothing of great import. And according to everything I know about SEO (which is more than your average blogger), not to mention what the analytics tell me, these thirty posts did very little to make this blog easier for people to discover while searching.

In short, I don't feel like I accomplished much of anything. My view of the last month is like the cynic's view of climbing Mount Everest: I started at the bottom. A month's worth of stuff happened. And now I'm back at the bottom, where I started.

And sometimes, as my last poem of the month reveals, I feel even worse — that all the writing time and creative effort I put into the last month of posts was wasted. That I could have — should have — spent it on something more important, like a novel. Or even just one kick-ass short story. Anything that would have more staying power than a handful of haiku, limericks, and random quatrains.

But, I try to be positive. I try. This little poetic tangent is over now, and in May I will return to things more useful and interesting. For everyone (I hope.)

Watch this space.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Last Sonnet

Primavera ( )
Primavera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A month of poems posted daily could
Seem like success — a cause for celebration.
But no — I wasn't writing what I should,
These posts a paean to procrastination.
This sonnet marks a month of wasted time
I could have better spent composing prose.
I could have writ the one about the crime
Of hiding contraband inside one's nose;
The one about the man who lost his mind
When he discovered how to stop the din;
The one about the possum going blind;
The one about the girl with purple skin.

Alas, that time is lost. It's all gone by.
But I can write in May. (At least I'll try.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Walk in the Woods

I took a walk into the woods;
My walk became a sit.
The ancient bench was cracked and worn,
And green moss covered it.


My sit became a stay, my feet
Had sunk into the ground,
Rooted by the scented breeze
And nature's calming sound.

My stay became a stand, my back
Grew tall, my arms spread free.
I stood stock still beside that bench,
Became a stoic tree.

The sun rolled 'round, the decades passed,
And I stood stark and still
Through autumns, summers, winters, springs,
All alone until...

A woman walked into the woods
With sad and quiet grace.
The scented breeze curled through her hair
And brushed her gentle face.

She wandered to my glen and found
An old bench overgrown.
But still she sat. She stayed. She stood.
Now we are not alone.

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Super Power

I leap no buildings, race no trains.
I use machines to fly.
I have no metal claws and shoot
No laser from my eye.

My brain has not been boosted by
Some alien device.
I burn if I touch fire and
I freeze if I touch ice.

A superhero I am not;
I'm made from mortal stuff.
I'm only father, man, and son,
But that should be enough.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

World Book Day

279/365 - properly, we should read for power. man reading should be man intensely alive. the book should be a ball of light in one's hand.
Photo by Bryan Rosengrant via Flickr
I've been to Iowa, New York,
And California, too.
I've seen Kilimanjaro and
Spent time in Xanadu.
I've wandered 'round Magrathea
Sipped wines in gay Par-ee,
And I have seen some brave new worlds
In Waldens one through three.
I've seen some horrors, too: the dark
Of Arkham, Panem's scars.
I've even seen the Earth explode
While standing safe on Mars.
Bursa, Turkey, wasn't nice --
I watched the city burn.
And what I found in Interzone
I never will unlearn.
I've been to Transylvania, where
The spawns of Satan dwell.
Been lost and scared in Wonderland...
I've even been the Hell.
I've roamed through places few have seen,
Like Oz, Tralfamadore,
Minas Tirith, Hogwarts, Xanth,
Asgaard and Yavin IV.
I've been down deep beneath the ground
And deep in outer space,
And if we'd only find the time
We could go anyplace.
It doesn't take a passport or
To win the lottery.
You only need a novel and
The local library.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Springtime Weather in Indiana

Image from the Herald Times
When springtime comes to my hometown
The weather never settles down.
The temperatures here fluctuate
From 26 to 98,
So one day we'll get snow and sleet;
The next we'll have a hellish heat.

This constant change is hard to bear
Because we don't know what to wear.
Forecasts clash, and so it goes,
We flip a coin to choose our clothes.
That's why you'll find at outdoor sports
Boys in winter coats and shorts.

Not to say that I'm complaining
(Except on days of nonstop raining),
But springtime weather's quite a bummer.
Still, it ain't as bad as summer.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

4/20





Today is 4/20, a pot celebration,
And if you might wonder if I feel the need,
Examine my gut. There's but one explanation:
I get the munchies without smoking weed.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekends Are...

English: Carousel slide projector.
English: Carousel slide projector. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Weekends are so short
Compared with a slide show by
Your mother-in-law.