Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Expectations and Resolutions

Three months later means that I’m now three months behind on my twelve New Year’s resolutions. I’m a miserable failure.

But this month is going to be different. Yes, I wrote that last month, too, but April is going to be different different. April’s resolution is to post here on this blog at least five times a week for the entire month. How am I going to do it? Three things are different this month:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Love Language Video

Many thanks to the blog A Walk in the WoRds for finding this video of Simon Taylor's "I Love Language." It's a two-minutes-and-forty-five-second-long monologue of logophilia. It's a moving video of the love of a vibrant, evolving vocabulary, from the vapid and vogue to the venially vulgar. It shows, once again, that words are the best toys.

And thanks, of course, to Simon Taylor himself for creating this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Three-Word Meta-Wednesday

Three-word Wednesday rolls around once again. This week's words are fragrant, jostle, and remnant.I started tinkering with these words a little, and then I found a thread. That thread led to larger short story idea that I plan to further explore.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Today's word: battology

Anyone who has slogged through Genesis chapter 11 (especially in the King James version) understands battology. A large chunk of that chapter looks something like this:

10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: 11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: 13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: 15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Unicron: 17 And Eber lived after he begat Unicron four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters and robots in disguise. 18 And Unicron lived eight hundred years, and begat Optimus Prime and Megatron. 19 And Unicron lived after he begat Optimus Prime two hundred and nine years, and begat other transformers, including the Gobots. 20 And the Gobots begat nothing worthwhile. 21 And the sixties begat Michael Bay, who lived twenty years before discovering the offspring of Hasbro. 22 And Michael Bay lived after discovering the offspring of Hasbro three and twenty years, and begata horrible monster of a film. 23 And that horrible monster of a film begat a seemingly endless string of explosive, gratuitous sequels with enormous plot holes.
Optimus Prime
Evangelists often quickly gloss over Bible verses that mention Optimus Prime. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
All those begats, and living so-and-so years and begetting other sons and daughters, over and over again. It's difficult to read because it's so repetitive. And that's battology.

Battology is the repeated (and often annoying) repetition of particular words or phrases in speech or writing. It comes from the Greek battos ("stammerer") + logia ("oral or written expression").

Not all instances of battology are ugly or unwanted. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech is certainly battological. As is Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet "How do I love thee?"

But on the whole, we usually notice battologies only when they become intolerably bland.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Birth of an "Author"

Just in time for World Poetry Day, here's today's three-word Wednesday poem.
Today's words are amateur, diligent, and nurture.

So diligently, though an amateur, she
Worked all through the night on her story.
She had this small notion that set her in motion
Toward what she had hoped would be glory.

Thought she had quite the hook, she nurtured that book,
Didn't eat, didn't sleep, didn't pee.
And when she reached the end, saved the file and clicked Send,
She dreamt what her future might be.

She imagined indeed all the people would read,
And writing would be her new living.
In her mail the next day, they had plenty to say —
And those agents weren't very forgiving.

"What this story has not: Interest, pathos, and plot."
"It's an odious mass of stupidity."
"A complete waste of ink." "Almost drove me to drink."
"Piece of crap!" and some other acidity.

But one guy who read it thought, "Just needs an edit!
And rantings like this are in vogue."
Though the facts were suspect, the text was spellchecked,
And that's how we got Going Rogue.
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Alaska Governor Sarah Palin at Dover, New Hamp...
I'm Sarah Palin, and I endorse this poem.*
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

* No, she doesn't. She really, really doesn't.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Today I happened upon the portmanteau word airigami, air + origami. It's a word artist Larry Moss uses to describe "the fine art of folding air." In this case, the air is encased in latex balloons, large and small.

Larry Moss creates some interesting and astounding things with just a little latex and a lot of air — from large animals and full-length gowns to fairy tale scenes and renditions of famous paintings.
Here's the Mona Lisa, though there's a special place in my heart for the Jackson Pollock reproduction
To a nerd like me, this is just so cool! But it got me wondering what other types of "gami"s might still be available for a struggling artist.

If I were, for example, to fold pictures of Ben Stein into mediocre paper animals, would it be bore-igami?

Or if I carve images into spent apples, would the resultant works be called core-igami?

Or if I twist and squeeze and tie fresh intestines, bladders, and other viscera into the shapes of the animals they came from, would it be gore-igami?

Aah, that's enough. We don't need any more-igami.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Today's Word: bunghole

I’ll cop to my ignorance. I thought bunghole was only a euphemism (or dysphemism, depending on your point of view) for anus. It seemed such a close cousin to both butthole and bumhole.

It might even have been coined, I though, by Mike Judge. But it seems I was a victim of the recency illusion. Bunghole is quite bit older than Beavis and Butthead. Older than MTV. Older even than television.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Three-Word Wednesday: The Tiniest Spelling Rule

It's three-word Wednesday, and this week's words are deviant, minuscule, and trivial.

So here's a little limerick that would've fit in quite nicely with my Grammar Day poems from Sunday:

It might seem a trivial rule,
But you should have learned it in school:
Only a deviant
Or careless miscreant
Spells minuscule "miniscule."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Grammar Day: The Semicolon

English: semicolon in red & blue
Image via Wikipedia
He started the tale of Old Elmer, the bird,
Monique and Bologna, two horses from Spain,
A doctor, Vlad Halfshod the Great and Absurd,
Newt Gingrich, a nun with three eyes, and Mark Twain.

The story was long, and he wanted to share,
But he stopped and was silent, his face muscles tense.
I asked what was wrong. He replied with a glare,
"This rambling story just doesn't make sense!"

I spotted the problem; I knew what to do:
I pulled out a bag from my coat and I said,
"I have just the tool that can see this thing through!"
 He peered in the bag, started shaking his head.

He poured the bag's contents out onto the table.
"What is this?!" he exclaimed, "It can help me? But how?"
"These old semicolons," I said, "Will be able
To fix your poor story." And then I showed how.

He listened intently; he did not demur
As I taught how to use them, taught how and taught when.
And when he felt confident, strong, and secure,
He took up my old punctuation, and then

He told the whole tale of Old Elmer, the bird;
Monique and Bologna, two horses from Spain;
A doctor; Vlad Halfshod the Great and Absurd;
Newt Gingrich; a nun with three eyes; and Mark Twain.
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Grammar Day: Anger in the Express Line

10 Items or Less (TV series)
Image via Wikipedia
"10 items or less" when it should be "or fewer"
Gets some people angry at the grocery store.
As for myself, I only get angry
At the douche in my way with 12 items or more.

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Grammar Day: Making Use of the Best Words

I expressed within a poem here before
That I hate utilize down to the core.
But there's a darker phrase I hate abuse of:
That ugly, evil, three-word phrase, "make use of."

Grammar Day: Utilizing the Best Words

The use of utilize
Is something I despise.
Big-ego'd business writers oft abuse it.
They just don't seem to know,
It doesn't make them seem a pro.
Why utilize a thing when you can use it?

Grammar Day: To Boldly Split

If an editor says to refrain
From splitting your infinitives in twain
It's fine to just forget it
And to casually stet it,
But try to never work with him again.

Grammar Day: Verb Tenses

If you want to write it best,
Not bogged down by wordiness,
Then simple past or present makes great sense.
But it would be obscene
If you used a time machine
Not to write it up in future present tense.

Grammar Day: Clichés and Idioms

To celebrate National Grammar Day, I'll be posting silly little writing-related poems all day. They won't be limited to grammar, but will cover all the editorial arts — grammar, usage, style, punctuation, and maybe even spelling.

So Happy Grammar Day!

Idioms and old clichés
In the most conventient ways
Will let you get across a thought much quicker.
But cliché overuse
And idiom abuse
Will only leave your readers feeling sicker.

Grammar Day: The Overworked Apostrophe

I hope that I shall never see
That small mark, the apostrophe,
Used to make a some out of a one.
But, alas, the grocer errs,
Selling grape's and lime's and pear's;
The work of editors is never done.

[Note: I had intended to schedule this post to go live at 12:15 pm, but I neglected to change "AM" to "PM" in the scheduler. This was intended to be the second poem in the series, which is why the introduction to the series appears in the next poem and not this one.]

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Circles Excerpt, Chapter 1

Certain sections of the novel I'm currently working on (Circles) are coming together nicely. I've decided to give Six-Sentence Sunday a try and put some excerpts out there for anyone who's interested.

Here's the first. Nothing happens in this bit, but I really like how this description of Leon came out.
To look at him, Leon seemed the epitome of the "scary black man." The white teeth of his wide smile gleamed Cheshire-like from his ebony face, his nose so broad that his nostrils seemed permanently flared in anger. His huge eyes, like coals dropped in fresh snow, could not be intimidated into looking away. His short, curly black hair had receded to the crown of his head so that light reflected from his scalp like the halo of Saint Peter, standing ready to cast judgment.

All this sat atop a body that might once have held up the sky — broad, bulging, and solid as granite. He was built like a linebacker — a linebacker you wouldn’t want to piss off.
Comments and critiques are hoped for and welcomed!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Good Intentions 2, Me 0

I was so relieved when February was finally over that it didn't occur to me that, holy crap!, February is over already! And guess what I didn't do in the last twenty-nine days.

If you said "get laid," well . . . you're right, but that's not what I'm going for.

What I didn't do was write a clarinet solo, which was the second of my twelve resolutions for 2012.If you remember, I didn't make it through my January plans, either — and I'm still plugging away at Infinite Jest.

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. There's an expressway to the devil's door with my name on it.

I did manage to get about eight measures sketched out — maybe 15 seconds of music — but not something I could call a song. Somehow I always expect composing to be easier than it is (especially considering this was an unaccompanied solo).

But, like reading Infinite Jest, I'm not going to give up on this one.

Time doesn't stop, so I must press onward to my March resolution, and that's to finally finish the first draft of my novel, currently called Circles. I'm currently about 40,000 words into it (though some of that is in longhand), and probably need at least another 40,000. Back in December, I thought I would work with NaNoWriMo-like focus and urgency to get this thing finished by the 31st. That is still my intention, though now I'm already a day behind.

It can be done, assuming I can figure out exactly how I want the thing to end. And assuming I can figure out how to kill one of the main characters.

Speaking of Circles, keep your eyes open here for some excerpts soon. I plan to start participating in Six Sentence Sunday to get some feedback and hopefully drum up some support and (dare I say it?) an audience.

The other important thing about March is what happens on the Ides. On the 15th, after given Caesar a few good puncture wounds over breakfast, I'll be giving an audioconference about copyediting for the Internet as part of an ongoing series of editing-related audioconferences from If you've got the desire (and the coin) to learn more about how copyediting content intended for the web is different from copyediting for print, go sign up.


As weird as it seems to me that someone would pay money to hear me talk, I promise you'll learn something.
Take that, audioconference!
Image via Wikipedia

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