Making the Linguistic Personal

•January 21, 2014 • Comments Off on Making the Linguistic Personal

airguitarJust in case you were wondering if you were born the same year as, say, the phrase “air guitar”, the OED has a handy tool for you.




•January 16, 2014 • 1 Comment

winchesterI’m a big fan of the Chekov’s Gun concept, even if I occasionally violate it now and again.  So I was delighted to see that Jack Elrod (of Mark Trail), recently demonstrated the consent to great effect.



•January 14, 2014 • Comments Off on Chess

chessIf you are at all like me, you were probably quite excited to hear that a man in Dublin recently ate the heart of his opponent following a chess match.  “These people take their chess seriously,” you no doubt thought.  I mean, sure, we’ve all played the odd chess match to the death – it adds a bit of spice to what can otherwise be a slow-paced game.  But eating the heart of your vanquished opponent, why that takes things to a new level.  It’s like Man From the South, but moreso.

Well, prepare yourself for disappointment, because as so often happens, truth is more boring than fiction (and more boring than things Roald Dahl came up with).  As it turns out, the heart eating wasn’t the natural result of the game; one guy just killed the other guy over a dispute, one that sort of involved the chess game (I know, *yawn*, right?).  Worse yet, it turns out he only claimed to have eaten the guy’s heart.  Careful inspection showed that the heart was still there, though a lung had gone missing.

So the fellow may have eaten the other guy’s lung, and admittedly, “I’ll eat your lung!” would make a pretty good threat and all, but eating a lung when you meant to eat a heart, that’s strictly amateur hour.


Hot Singles

•January 9, 2014 • Comments Off on Hot Singles

I am, I fear, late in linking to this, but here you are.



There’s Some Folks, That, If They Don’t Know, You Can’t Tell ’em

•January 7, 2014 • Comments Off on There’s Some Folks, That, If They Don’t Know, You Can’t Tell ’em

louisArmstrongI assume Louis Armstrong wasn’t talking about writing female characters when he said the quote above, but it seems apt, given an interview Neil Gaiman recently gave to BBC Radio.  The main point of what Gaiman is trying to say is that there it is easy to get all snarled up in the “strong female character” thing and focus on creating characters who are simply good at kicking ass.  But to me the shocking thing is Alderman’s quote in the excerpt there.  He seems to want some sort of magic rule to fix all these authors who can’t write good female characters, but he doesn’t seem to realize that Gaiman just gave it to him – women, as it turns out, are people.

A Seasonal Tale

•December 31, 2013 • Comments Off on A Seasonal Tale

santaCthuluTrue, we’re all the way to New Year’s Eve, and this is really more of a Yuletide thing, but it is in the public domain, so it is still a good read on a cold winter’s night.

Huh. Why Do We Do That?

•December 19, 2013 • Comments Off on Huh. Why Do We Do That?

questionMarkI always enjoy the Explainer’s year-end list of questions that didn’t get answered during the year.  This year’s list is a melancholy thing, since the Explainer is retiring, but it also happens to have several literary questions.  In particular, number 17 – “Why does a writer use characters’ last name only and not the first name after they’re introduced?”  So I encourage everyone to read the full, rather aggrieved, question, and vote for it to be the one that gets answered this year, so we can all find out why it is that writers do that.  Or perhaps one of the other literary questions, such as whether those with ideographic alphabets are S.O.L when it comes to palindromes.

And while you’re there, you can look up the year-end questions answered in previous years, such as “Why do boys like sticks?”

For Lovers of Language

•December 17, 2013 • Comments Off on For Lovers of Language

upgoerfive-1_a38d4df7-5b05-4d7a-a9da-440f85f177bc_1024x1024Commonly-used language, specifically – this here makes a fine last-minute Christmas present.

Fiction is the Lie Through Which We Tell the Truth

•December 10, 2013 • 1 Comment

starWe may all believe that truism from Albert Camus, but don’t bother telling it to MacKenzie Bezos.


In His House at R’lyeh, Dead Cursive Waits Dreaming

•December 5, 2013 • Comments Off on In His House at R’lyeh, Dead Cursive Waits Dreaming

It’s been a while since a posted about Eldritch Lovecraftian horrors, so I thought it was high time to point out this:




(pause so readers with more delicate constitution can turn away and look upon more pleasant things)













This horrible pink blob has somehow been brought into the battle to publicize cursive as a viable method of communication, presumably by shattering and leaving clean the minds of all who behold him, so that it will be easy to convince them to eschew typing and printing.  As someone who has raised “engineer’s touch typing” to an art form, I have little use for systematic written communication, myself.  But I find it interesting that, as anyone bold enough to visit the “cursive is cool” page will have scene, that the cursive folks are keeping careful track of how many people visit them at any time, and they want you to know they know.  Granted, I do the same thing on this site, but only so that I can send each and every one of my loyal readers a homemade fruitcake at the end of the year.