Lady Crumpet's Armoire

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February 14, 2007

today's links

Tivo Shortcut Tips [GeekSugar]

Top Web 2.0 Search Engines [OEDb]

Great Poems About Sex [Slate]

The Genius of Dick Cavett [Slate]

February 07, 2007

Crash Course

Next weekend I will be immersed in nine hours of theater when I attend performances of The Coast of Utopia. The trilogy explores a group of friends who come of age under the Tsarist autocracy of Nicholas I. Playwright Tom Stoppard says it's not necessary to do any pre-theater study, but I'd like to have a fighting chance of taking in as much as I can when I actually attend the plays. Of course, I've had the tickets for some time but only now am I doing any reading.

Stoppard appears in tonight's Charlie Rose. Check your local PBS station for listings - the episode airs here at 12:30 a.m.

The official website for the plays also features some brief notes, and the current issue of the Lincoln Center Theater Review features a conversation with Stoppard as well as a few essays.

At some point I'd picked up a book on Russian history, but I've misplaced it during the move. It will suffice as post-theater reading.

March 23, 2006

Poetry Reading: Sharon Olds

Very late notice. Sharon Olds reads tonight at 7 p.m. at Woodward Academy's Richardson Fine Arts Center (main campus - College Park). The event is free, and the public is welcome.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:49 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

March 02, 2006


moi gras (mwä grä): n. Any occasion when one feels particularly fat, such as when one cannot fit into a favorite pair of pants, or when a previously cute top currently gives one the appearance of a stuffed sausage. Moi gras often leads to declarations of a return to the gym and/or the swearing off of desserts or other calorie-laden foods. In the alternative, moi gras can lead to binge-eating during particular circumstances such as vacations, breakups, or hanging out with girlfriends, or on condition of dieting immediately after such eating. In such cases as these, moi gras may be accompanied by vin gras, the heavy intake of wine or other alcohol.

[French : moi, me + gras, fat]

Yours, &c., LC at 03:18 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

December 28, 2005

SF&F Notes

The Magician - "Thirty years before Harry Potter, Ursula Le Guin was writing novels about a school for wizards. As well as good and evil, her fantasy worlds also address issues of race and gender" [The Guardian]

The Shared Jargon of SF [Languagehat via sstrader]

Yours, &c., LC at 04:38 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2005

15,125 words

What I did instead of writing this weekend:

Folding laundry.
Hanging out and staying up late with friends.
Finding used cds & music dvds: Michel Gondry's short works, INXS videos, Sigur Ros, Liz Phair, French 60s pop, Gillian Welch, The Cars Are Made of Stars.
Episodes of Battlestar Galactica.
Maintaining peace between three cats, occasionally using the spray-bottle method as reinforcement.
Brunch: El Gato Bizco makes awesome pancakes. The Flying Biscuit is excellent as usual.
Cleaning the kitchen.
Washing dishes.
Buying drawer trays and organizing the junk drawer. It's really a beautiful thing. I kept opening and closing the drawer, marveling in delight.
Getting some new socks.
Talking to my sisters.
Reading the paper.
Getting sick - a tickle in the back of my throat so far.

However, there's still time, provided I write at least 4k a day. (Right, deano?)

Yours, &c., LC at 11:14 AM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

November 18, 2005


In an office
on a screen
in a browser
through a webcam
I watch
the baby panda
sleeping in his cage.

Panda Baby

Yours, &c., LC at 03:28 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2005

10,847 words

I should probably consult Nanowrimo's message board that's called "I hate myself and I want to die."

Yours, &c., LC at 01:44 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

November 07, 2005

2108 words

That's my Nanowrimo total since midnight last Monday. Since then, I've been sleeping, driven up to Athens to have dinner with rawbrick who was passing through on assignment, attended an art show by local artist Deb Davis and a performance by Hope for a Golden Summer (including Deb, one of the band members). Saturday involved housework - it says something that I will do laundry and wash dishes and sweep and take out the trash to avoid sitting down and writing. Oh yes, lots of silly internet quizzes and blogging when I should be working on my novel. Late Saturday involved stopping by a housewarming party in Cabbagetown, where I ran into Scott and Lisa. Scott says very funny things when he's had a few drinks. Met lots of wonderful people and I was able to contribute my knowledge of obscure pop song lyrics ("You ain't seen the best of me yet / Give me time I'll make you forget the rest").

I've set up my older PC in the bedroom so I can write there as well. I've got an AlphaSmart so I can write in coffee shops if I feel like it. I'm keeping a steno pad nearby, which came in handy when I woke up late Sunday morning and had an idea for a complete plot and storyline, which has nothing to do with what I seem to be writing so far. Perhaps I can merge it all together?

Instead of writing much last night, I watched the premiere of Boondocks on Adult Swim, called Earthlink and went through a number of steps on my new-ish PC, only for Victor, the help rep, to tell me that my modem driver needs to be rebuilt. So I will probably do that tonight, after making up my session with my therapist tonight. I got so caught up reading for my book group that I forgot I had an appointment immediately before. Gah.

Today and last week were research requests from Hades. I rather dislike it when people sit on their research for months, then suddenly ask you to work on their stuff overnight at last minute's notice. And being a procrastinator-type myself, I understand why it happens but yet I remain most seriously displeased. I am a librarian, not a research wench, damnit.

I think it's time for another cup of coffee.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:42 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

Austen in the eyes of Literary Darwinists

A new view on Pride and Prejudice, as an example of this form of criticism:

...[F]or an emerging school of literary criticism known as Literary Darwinism, the novel is significant for different reasons. Just as Charles Darwin studied animals to discover the patterns behind their development, Literary Darwinists read books in search of innate patterns of human behavior: child bearing and rearing, efforts to acquire resources (money, property, influence) and competition and cooperation within families and communities. They say that it's impossible to fully appreciate and understand a literary text unless you keep in mind that humans behave in certain universal ways and do so because those behaviors are hard-wired into us. For them, the most effective and truest works of literature are those that reference or exemplify these basic facts.

The Literary Darwinists [NYT Magazine]

Yours, &c., LC at 12:57 PM | Jane , Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

October 07, 2005

Next Month: My Stint as a Hack Writer

And how would that be different from my usual blog posts, you ask?

NaNoWriMo 2005

This time around, I have a writing partner. We haven't exactly worked out the details of the partnership, but it will involve encouragement, competitive comparisons of word count, perhaps even forced readings of each other's material. Yikes.

August 15, 2005

Language Mapping

Color Code is a full-color portrait of the English language.

The artwork is an interactive map of more than 33,000 words. Each word has been assigned a color based on the average color of images found by a search engine. The words are then grouped by meaning. The resulting patterns form an atlas of our lexicon.

--Martin Wattenberg

Yours, &c., LC at 10:07 AM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

August 09, 2005

love is the every only god

love is the every only god

who spoke this earth so glad and big
even a thing all small and sad
man may his mighty briefness dig

for love beginning means return
seas who could sing so deep and strong

on queerying wave will whitely yearn
from each last shore and come home young

so truly perfectly the skys
by merciful love whispered were,
completes its brightness with your eyes

any illimitable star

-E.E. Cummings

Yours, &c., LC at 03:09 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2005

Bridget Jones, at a premium

Well crappity crap. I checked The Independent to see today's newly-returned Bridget Jones column from Helen Fielding. However, it's for paid subscribers. I'm not really surprised, but I am disappointed. I wonder how many subscribers they'll get who want to read Bridget every week?

August 02, 2005

Bridget Jones returns

Helen Fielding: She's back - (hurrah!) - Bridget will be back with her observations on the pages of The Independent starting Thursday, August 4.

July 28, 2005


I find it interesting and frustrating that only now do more people (U.S. citizens, that is) realize that the "war on terror" hasn't resulted in "mission accomplished." Where was this skepticism back when links between Saddam and 9/11 were scattered around like confetti?

The following links cover the administration's choosing of new choice phrases such as the "global struggle against violent extremism" instead of the "global war on terror." When the language you're using isn't working - to market your product, to advocate your policy - just change it. Reframe the debate, redefine the reality. Black is the new black, extremists are the new terrorists.

Shifting Language: Trading Terrorism for Extremism [NPR]

U.S. Officials Retool Slogan for Terror War [NYT]

June 29, 2005

The Pot and the Kettle

I haven't lost my clout, Bush says [Seattle Times] Trailing the play on this news. Oh the layers of absurdity:

In what has become a monthly session with reporters, Bush said an Amnesty International report condemning the U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was "absurd."

"It seemed to me they based some of their decisions on the word of - and the allegations - by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble - that means not tell the truth," Bush said. He appeared to have intended to use the word "dissemble." [Emphasis added]

Bush disassembles English language, again [BoingBoing]

This isn't amusing - it's depressing.

June 02, 2005


List of fictional curse words [Wikipedia]

Devoid of Content [NYT] Suitably apropos is a recent guest op-ed by Stanley Fish, in which he describes assigning his students to invent their own language.

I once did a project in which I discussed how several fantasy/sci-fi authors introduced their readers to "foreign" words - language that was foreign to the reader, and usually to one of the characters. I was interested in studying how the authors went about revealing the nature and function of such words in the course of the narrative.

March 31, 2005

Sesquicentennial: Charlotte Brontë

I had to look up the spelling for that one, and found, to my surprise, that I'd gotten it right. I'm not sure one can say "Happy Sesquicentennial, Charlotte!" because today marks the 150th anniversary of her death. (That's been a big subject here of late on the Armoire. We've gotten a bit Victorian in our fascination, perhaps, but our mindset ought to improve with the onset of Spring. So fear not, lads and lassies, Lady C. shall conquer this bleak mood.)

Some links:

Charlotte Brontë: An Overview [Victorian Web]

Apparently there's a cult of Charlotte; I shouldn't be surprised, nor should I be one to cast stones, given my affection for Austen. This commentary was too emphatic and dishy to pass up:

Reader, I shagged him In the Books section of The Guardian, reviewer Tanya Gold declares her mission:

As the 150th anniversary of her death on March 31 1855 approaches, it is time to rescue Charlotte Brontë. She has been chained, weeping, to a radiator in the Haworth Parsonage, Yorkshire, for too long. Enough of [Elizabeth] Gaskell's fake miserabilia. Enough of the Brontë industry's veneration of coffins, bonnets and tuberculosis. It is time to exhume the real Charlotte - filthy bitch, grandmother of chick-lit, and friend.
Brontë never much cared for Jane Austen. Here are some comments she made in regard to Austen's work. More on this in a moment.

Brontë's Jane Eyre was one of the first literary works that I owned as a kid; I still have my copy, in fact. The librarian I volunteered for at school gave me a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble and I was fully prepared to blow it on a few copies of paperbacks from the Windswept series. (Remember those, girls? The series of supernatural mystery/teen romance novels? Like Harlequin for girls. And yep, I also read the Sweet Dreams series, the Sweet Valley High books, Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I had to hide all this from my mother, though. I was supposed to be dutiful daughter/super-student with no thoughts of a social life with friends, let alone romantic notions. Really, how silly of me to think that. Although had she intervened, maybe I'd not have filled my head with unrealistic expectations about relationships...or I could have turned out the same anyway.) Anyway...

I did not get the Windswept books. At my mother's "suggestion" I was to choose between two works: Jane Eyre or Anne of Green Gables. Eventually, I did read the Anne books, and I loved them, but at the time I preferred the Gothic cover illustration of Jane Eyre, Romantic Heroine, to the freckled, red-headed cute-but-still-homely Anne Shirley. So grudgingly I went with Jane Eyre, and my parents paid the difference between what the certificate covered and the book's cover price.

I read the book. I loved it. (Yes, Mother, you were right. This was the better book to choose.) I identified with the young girl to whom everybody was most unkind and not the least bit understanding. (Gee, can't imagine why.) But although I enjoyed Jane Eyre - it was thrilling and satisfying, so wonderfully Gothic and romantic, so remote from my everyday life - Brontë's work doesn't hold for me the same deep regard that I feel for Jane Austen's novels. For the most part, her works are "domestic" adventures, not Gothic ones, but there is so much depth in these seemingly shallow stories about society. There is romance, drama, comedy, tragedy, delicious irony and sly wit - it is all there if you are willing to see beyond the surface. Austen is such a keen observer of people; even minor characters come to life. Ignore that these are period settings; the lives of her characters have such modern sensibilities that they can be recognized in our own lives today.

Hmmm. A post about Charlotte Brontë has veered off into a discussion of her arch-rival. Enough of my selling you on these authors. I haven't tried to disguise my favorite, but both are worth reading, if you are so inclined.

March 21, 2005

Hoist By One's Own Petard

I knew the figurative meaning of this - to be done in through your own design or caught in a trap of your own making - but not the literal meaning. For some reason I thought a petard was a sword, but then I couldn't work out how "hoist" figured in. To lift oneself by one's sword? Huh? I think in my mind I must have mixed up the expression with to fall on the sword, which has more to do with sacrificing oneself for the sake of others. I guess the modern equivalent would be to take a bullet for someone.

Turns out a petard is a medieval-era incendiary device - a bomb. So to be hoisted by one's own petard is to be thrown, or lifted, by one's own bomb - to be blown up. Note that the name for this device comes from the French and also refers to a different sort of explosion: "a loud discharge of intestinal gas."

Falling on one's sword is a messy business, but there's a sense of nobility. In a way, it relates to that samurai business of hara-kiri.

To be hoist by one's own petard, however, aptly captures the lack of dignity and pain that is inherent in being stuck in a mess of one's own making.

What's a petard, as in "hoist by his own ..."? [The Straight Dope, Chicago Reader]
hoist by one's own petard [The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy]

Yours, &c., LC at 05:16 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

March 17, 2005

Andre Norton

Science fiction author Andre Norton dies
[AP via Kansas City Star][Bugmenot for login/pwd]

I've only read a few of her novels, but I liked them very much. (I have an irrational hangup of committing to a whole universe of novels, never mind that I already do this with certain authors.) I didn't know she'd been a librarian, too.

February 16, 2005

Time is
Too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice;
But for those who love,
Time is eternity.

-Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)

February 04, 2005

The Reluctant Consumer

My book group's next selection is Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. It's checked out or on hold at the library. (Through my connections, I've checked several library systems and still no luck.) Used copies aren't available yet at the usual bookshops I haunt. So I'm stuck and had to buy it last night.

I'm trying to keep an open mind about the novel, but I can't help thinking it's going to be an old man's hysterical rant about hypersexed youth. I might take Wolfe more seriously if he weren't so consumed with maintaining his image, wearing a white suit everywhere he goes.

Right now Border's has it for 50% off, meaning that the book is around $15. I made a deal with myself to buy something I really wanted, to make up for having to buy the Wolfe book. (Never mind that there is much media at home, awaiting further exploration.) After a bit of aisle-roaming, I picked up an album by The Long Winters that a friend highly recommended: The Worst You Can Do Is Harm. If I have to give Tom Wolfe his royalties, I can at least give royalties to someone I want to support. Border's isn't the most affordable place for CDs, but the album was more reasonably priced than some of the better-known stuff. (Nope, still not gonna pay $20 for The Life Aquatic soundtrack.)

Happy Friday.

The Reluctant Consumer

My book group's next selection is Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. It's checked out or on hold at the library. (Through my connections, I've checked several library systems and still no luck.) Used copies aren't available yet at the usual bookshops I haunt. So I'm stuck and had to buy it last night.

I'm trying to keep an open mind about the novel, but I can't help thinking it's going to be an old man's hysterical rant about hypersexed youth. I might take Wolfe more seriously if he weren't so consumed with maintaining his image, wearing a white suit everywhere he goes.

Right now Border's has it for 50% off, meaning that the book is around $15. I made a deal with myself to buy something I really wanted, to make up for having to buy the Wolfe book. (Never mind that there is much media at home, awaiting further exploration.) After a bit of aisle-roaming, I picked up an album by The Long Winters that a friend highly recommended: The Worst You Can Do Is Harm. If I have to give Tom Wolfe his royalties, I can at least give royalties to someone I want to support. Border's isn't the most affordable place for CDs, but the album was more reasonably priced than some of the better-known stuff. (Nope, still not gonna pay $20 for The Life Aquatic soundtrack.)

Happy Friday.

January 25, 2005

somewhere i have never travelled

I love e. e. cummings. This poem came to mind today. Something tender and achingly delicate in the heart of winter.

'somewhere i have never travelled'

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

-- e. e. cummings

January 09, 2005


I've been out of town for a few days. More on that later. On one of my jaunts I found a used copy of Some Words of Jane Austen by Stuart M. Tave (University of Chicago Press, 1973). I'm only a few pages in, but I like it so far. Tave opens his book with two epigraphs:

The most beautiful lives, in my opinion, are those which conform to the common and human model, with order, but without miracle and without extravagant behavior.
-Montaigne, "Of Experience"

If one wants uncommon experiences, a little renunciation, a little performance of duty, will give one far more unusual sensations than all the fine free passion in the universe.
-The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

While these quotations appear before a collection of essays about the works of Jane Austen, maybe it's also because of the new year that I find these words so compelling. I've actually scrawled an over-ambitious list of resolutions. (No. 1: No more cropped pants. EVER!)

Synonyms for resolution include:

definition: answer
syn.: analysis, assertion, band-aid, breakdown, call, conclusion, decision, declaration, determination, dissection, elucidation, end, exposition, finding, interpretation, judgment, motion, nod, outcome, pay dirt, presentation, proposal, proposition, quick fix, recitation, recommendation, resolve, settlement, solution, solving, sorting out, ticket, unraveling, upshot, verdict, working out

definition: determination
syn.: aim, boldness, constancy, courage, dauntlessness, decidedness, decision, declaration, dedication, determination, doggedness, earnestness, energy, firmness, fixed purpose, fortitude, guts, heart, immovability, intent, intention, judgment, mettle, moxie, obstinacy, perseverance, pluck, purpose, purposefulness, purposiveness, relentlessness, resoluteness, resolve, settlement, sincerity, spirit, spunk, staunchness, staying power, steadfastness, stubbornness, tenacity, verdict, will, willpower

Some of these are preferable to others, such as determination, fixed purpose, or courage. Others seem to have less lasting effects: band-aid or quick fix. Some seem to convey compromise or an element of chance: settlement, sorting out, working out, upshot. Other words speak more to me about the difficulty of maintaining one's resolve, of hanging on to one's decision, if need be, by the skin of one's teeth: doggedness, steadfastness, perseverance, tenacity, fortitude.

It's early yet in the year. No need to drive myself so that I abandon my goals as lost causes, as reason for disappointment or heartbreak. If I can merely hold fast, if I can remain fixed of purpose, then sometimes that will be enough. If. If. If.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:12 PM | Jane , Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2004

Moving Notice & Other Pronouncements

I'm going to deactivate comments temporarily, for several reasons:

1. Fucking Comment Spam. I wish MT had a better interface for deleting comments. I wish MT had a button that let you zap and electrocute the asses that do this for a living.

2. Moving This Weekend (12/3-12/4). I will most likely move the site THIS weekend, meaning that the URL may not seem to work for a heart-clutching 24-48 hours to possibly longer (lord, I hope not). So DO NOT PANIC, dear handful of regulars. I shall return. You can find me at www.ladycrumpet.ORG while we all wait for the .COM address to finish propagating. Of course this notice might have been more helpful a few days ago.

2a. Still MT for Now. No, I don't want to hear about why I should move to a different platform. I've installed and re-installed Movable Type too many times in the past ten days to contemplate something else at this point, even though it would probably mean the restoration of my sanity. But I have gone from knowing squat about MySQL to setting up databases, dumping and importing them, and also using SSH to work basic Unix commands, including removing whole directories with stuff still in them. *gasp* Those of you with real computer skills can just quit laughing now. Pretty please. I find that it helps to work in small chunks of time on discrete tasks. That sometimes one needs to step away in order for the simpler solution or idea to present itself.

2b. All By Myself, If I Do Say So...Myself. I did this practically on my own, without much input from certain people who promised to help and then jilted me once I joined their recommended host and ran off with their referral bounty, leaving me, after ugly bouts of self-pity, to SUCK IT and DO IT MYSELF. That's ok - I found the anonymous love through the support forums at DreamHost and Movable Type. This time I have a binder, with tabs, containing manuals and copious notes. This time I haven't rushed anything. Well, when I did, I made mistakes and had to figure them out and fix them. It didn't kill me, so I am stronger, I guess.

2b. Favorite New Phrase: "Suck it" - thanks to LTR for sharing this most useful sordid expression - and for not directing it at me. Sort of a variation on "suck it up" but slightly more crude and potent, which so appeals to my inner cretin.

2c. Bad Form. If I'm overdosing on the ALL CAPS and swearing a bit too freely, it's because I'm a little loopy being up so early, being unable to sleep. Also I've been reading John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, whose title character speaks in ALL CAPS, ALL THE DAMN TIME. I'm trying to decide if I want to bother finishing the book. I am just not that excited about it, and it's not like I don't have things I want to read, like returning to Jonathan Strange.

3. Oh Well. There was going to be another point, but I forgot what. Maybe it was one of the above.

November 07, 2004

Antickes and Frets

Or, "A Work of Halloween Fiction" by Susanna Clarke, who's currently promoting her book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It was published last week in the op-ed section of the NYT, but I'm only now getting around to posting the link. Enjoy.

Antickes and Frets [NYT] [Bugmenot]

October 20, 2004

The Paperback Revolution

From the site description:

Welcome to The Paperback Revolution, an online exploration of the history of paperback books.

From the 1935 launch of Britain's Penguin until 1960 – the year in which dollar sales from paperback books first surpassed those of hardcovers – the paperback revolutionized the readership, marketing, distribution, circulation, and reception of books and reading in the United States, Canada, and many other nations. This website begins an investigation into this history with the dual aim of inspiring further interest and research into both paperback history in general and in our local repository, The Edmonton Collection.

Fascinating. Definitely something to explore further.

October 16, 2004

We Don't ♥

I remember the old New York tourism tv and radio ads that featured the still-great "I ♥ NY" logo. There was even a cheesy jingle [RealAudio req.]: "I love New York (What a great vacation!)/ I love New York (What a great vacation!)." The ♥ symbol was translated as "love" - makes sense.

Apparently it's the thing nowadays to say "I heart" this or "I *heart*" that instead of "I love." We even have a movie, I ♥ Huckabees, whose trailer will tell you it should be spoken as "I Heart Huckabees."

What are we, thirteen-year-old girls? Shall we draw circles over our i's instead of dotting them?

I loved the word "snark." Now every Joe and Josie has used it to death (including me). Now it's "I heart." Don't even get me started on the abuse of "vanquish" which apparently is the only thing the stupid half-naked girls on Charmed ever do to their enemies. (I don't watch the show. It just seems that whenever I'm channel-surfing and land on that show, it's "if you mess with me and my sisters I will vanquish you.")

I know language evolves, especially slang. Words like this are identifiers to indicate that you belong or that others don't belong to a particular group. So in this particular example, to say "I heart" is most likely nowadays to show identity with the "hipster" set. The usage says "I am young, I am cool, I am sophisticated yet in touch with the whimsical, I am ironic, I know what's going on" and so on and so forth. That's the point of slang. I should probably embrace it, given that I have a pretty inflated opinion of myself and like to think that I too am "with it" or "in the know." But sometimes I'm just square like that, a cantankerous cow, a knee-jerk contrarian penning yet another useless rant. Or does that make me just another blogger? ;)

The usage is no great crime against humanity. I simply find it irksome, and so I choose not to use the expression. We'll agree to disagree; it's simply a matter of taste, yadda yadda. (Incidentally, a phrase I also cannot stand. But then again, I cared not for Seinfeld.) I suppose it's a reaction to overuse of the word "love" wherein "I love that dress!" expresses something quite different from "I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach...."

And yet, how often do we use the word, in its truest, deepest sense, to tell those whom we love how much they truly mean to us?

Yours, &c., LC at 06:56 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

October 05, 2004

Yes, it really is Amazing.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon Sometimes I'm just an asinine contrarian, the latest example of which is illustrated by The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Friends of mine recommended it. It made the rounds in all the right literary circles. It won a Pulitzer. Was this enough for me to finish it in time for my book group? (No.)

Apparently, the churlish pouty cow side of me wanted to resist this book just because of the seeming heaps of hype. Fortunately my better sense prevailed. In the last couple of weeks I decided to commit. I set aside all other bits of reading. I stayed up to read instead of channel surfing and falling asleep to infomercials for videos of wayward college girls. And in a final burst whereupon I simply had to finish the book or die trying, my glorious read came to an end over the weekend at 2:37 Sunday morning.

This isn't a book to read five minutes at a time. It sucks you in, it grabs you by the collar and shakes you, demanding that you pay attention and consult the dictionary if need be, damn it! (When you're thrown a delicious word you've never heard before - say, nystagmus - it's hard not to get all goosey with excitement. That is, if you're the kind of person who longs for their own personal copy of the OED. But even if you're not, the language of this book is full of shivery thrills.)

The book is brimming with the sizzling heady energy of New York. It's like an epic roller coaster as it follows the title characters on their quest for art, love, and life by way of the comic book. One of my favorite chapters was the origin story for Luna Moth, but given that it features a librarian who becomes the embodiment of an ancient goddess and has to save mankind from itself, I guess I'm kind of partial. ;) Breathtaking.

Love love love this book. And if they ever make a movie, Adrien Brody has to be Joe Kavalier. Has to! (Thanks to Mags for the link that gave me the sudden epiphany.)

September 02, 2004

Lady Crumpet, Treasure Huntress

I've been a first-day consumer of late - I just had to buy the new Finn Brothers and Bjork albums as soon as they were released. Fortunately they were priced to move (oftentimes an album is on sale during its first week). Of greater import: I am not at all displeased with my purchases - my feelings in this regard are quite the opposite. Usually I will track down a used copy, but some things simply cannot wait. Or at least that's how I justify it.

So how could I resist the siren's call, the tantalizing invitation to hold, in my own hands, an advance, still shrinkwrapped copy of a novel whose official release is still a week away? A book about which I am now even more than a teensy bit excited, because I have the opportunity to immerse myself in it before meeting the author?

Granted, it's only a week. And I shall be quite preoccupied throughout the long weekend. But the treasure hunter in me is excessively pleased for the opportunity of the chase as well as its successful conclusion. My deepest gratitude to the siren little toy robot who clued me in - and could not himself resist when presented with the fortuitous discovery of a small cache of copies placed innocuously beside other neat stacks of new fiction. A mistake on the part of some clerk, or is some greater magic at work?

September 01, 2004

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I first learned of this novel from an article in NYT Magazine ("Susanna Clarke's Magic Book" John Hodgman, 8/1/04). It made me curious enough to want to read it. Perhaps even a little excited about it. I wonder if there will be any promotion for it at DragonCon, even though the book is being marketed towards a broader audience (the Harry Potter adult demographic).

A little toy robot told me that the author's U.S. tour begins here in Atlanta.

I've just RSVP'd. And now I'm a teensy bit more excited.

August 27, 2004

Dissecting "War on Terror"

An excellent intervew with linguist George Lakoff. Definitely worth the read. For instance:

You've said that progressives should never use the phrase "war on terror" — why?

There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid. [Emphasis added]

Next, "war." How many terrorists are there — hundreds? Sure. Thousands? Maybe. Tens of thousands? Probably not. The point is, terrorists are actual people, and relatively small numbers of individuals, considering the size of our country and other countries. It's not a nation-state problem. War is a nation-state problem.

Lakoff also has a forthcoming new book called Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, currently available for preorder from the publisher, Chelsea Green (and soon to be available on Amazon and elsewhere).

August 17, 2004

Books About Librarians

I'm currently reading The Time Traveler's Wife for my book group. Until I picked it up (there were too many holds on the title at the library, so I had to buy it), I had no idea that one of the main characters is a librarian - at the Newberry in Chicago.

Librarian Career Romances A grad student working on her MLIS presents this site as her online portfolio. The profiled novels date from the 1940s to 1960s, with examples of cover illustrations and brief excerpts. Titles include Kitsy Babcock, Library Assistant and The Loveliest Librarian. From the latter: "The light changed, and Katie walked briskly across the main street. Decidedly beautiful, Katie carried with her that continued air that lovely girls often do. Katherine Anne Dugan had long ago realized that being pretty helped her to be a better librarian, actually stimulating interest in learning and reading."

Finally, books that speak to me and my place in the profession! Can Lady Crumpet, Law Librarian be far behind? On the other extreme...

Librarians in Pornography A survey of "hard core pornographic paperback novels [which] covers 49 books published between 1978 and 1988." Some summaries are available, with brief notes as to the stereotypes. Unsurprisingly, the language is quite explicit. Memepool notes: "When a librarian encounters pornographic novels about librarians, one can only expect a catalog of pornographic novels about librarians will soon follow." [via randomness]

Wired takes a stand on capitalization

According to Tony Long, Wired News' copy chief:

Effective with this sentence, Wired News will no longer capitalize the "I" in internet.

At the same time, Web becomes web and Net becomes net.

True believers are fond of capitalizing words, whether they be marketers or political junkies or, in this case, techies. If It's Capitalized, It Must Be Important....

It's Just the 'internet' Now [Wired]

August 13, 2004

Azar Nafisi at the Atlanta History Center

Attended a lecture Tuesday night given by Ms. Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. It was fairly broad in scope, for a more general audience. (She had given a lecture to the NY chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America. I'm sorry to have missed that, as it was said to have been quite good.)

Some of her points (paraphrased): Reading allows us to participate in the "republic of the imagination." The importance of being curious, of seeking knowledge through reading - Alice in Wonderland being an excellent example of literary criticism, of how to be a curious reader. Literature, words as a vehicle for memory. How we crave the things or experiences we are denied - moreover, we desire those things which represent the highest achievements of humanity, particularly when we are most deprived of our humanity. So reading and meeting in secret to discuss Nabokov, Henry James, and Jane Austen, among other authors, was a way of remaining in touch with the world outside, of keeping one's spirits alive. Culture isn't what the state dictates - it is what people think, the books they read, the movies they see, the films they watch, the music they listen to, the discussions they have - even if these things must be done in secret and at great peril.

Nafisi meant high culture when she refers to "culture" - at one point she made a small dig at the Da Vinci Code, which was a somewhat risky move given that the book is such a bestseller here in the U.S. Her point was that reading is not, should not be, mere escapism or entertainment. Reading is a way to step outside of oneself, to explore other ways of seeing the world, even (perhaps especially) when doing so puts you, as a reader, at the risk of being uncomfortable. Reading is a way to fulfill and yet encourage the exploration for knowledge. On the drive home we talked about this - reading is escapism if you get exactly what you expected or wanted out of the book. I read Da Vinci Code and it was diverting, but no more - in other words, about what I expected to get out of it. I read it for my book group, and we had selected it because we just wanted something fun and not too difficult to get into over the holidays.

The lecture was around an hour, with a brief Q&A afterwards. I would have liked to hear more specific discussion about works of literature, but this wasn't the right opportunity for that. I was especially pleased, and surprised, to see the images Nafisi talks about in her book. Towards the end of the lecture, on the screen behind her appeared the two pictures of "her girls" - first wearing the black veils and robes that were necessary to wear out in public, and then the image of the young women in the clothes hidden beneath all that black fabric. Some of the women still wore their headscarves, because that was a reflection of their religious devotion, but they were different scarves, of their own choosing - not regulation, apparently. Such a contrast between two realities - in one image, a sober, anonymous group; in the next, smiling, relaxed, distinctive individuals.

Afterwards there was a line for getting our books signed. A camera crew went around getting soundbites from the crowd; fortunately we were able to demur. When I got up to the table, I could have said how much I enjoyed her book and the lecture, how I wish I could have attended her talk on Jane Austen, how I had gotten my book club to read her book and we enjoyed it very much - but no, my mind went blank and I just said "Thank you."

June 25, 2004

Here & There

Tatertot Blue Cheese Casserole [via da*xiang] OMG. I need to attend a party so I can share this, instead of eating the whole dish by myself.

FCKeditor [via rawbrick] An online text editor. Am I the only one with a dirty mind when I see the name?

The Scribbler [via Dru Blood] Another cool online illustration toy. Upload a document or input a URL to generate an analysis of the text according to different scales of measurement. No surprise - this site is fairly easy to read.

June 23, 2004

Happiness, Overrated?

Against Happiness [Jim Holt, The Way We Live Now, NYT Magazine, 6/20/04] Is happiness all it's cracked up to be? The essay comments on findings reported in the May issue of Psychological Science: in laymen's terms, that "Sad people are nice. Angry people are nasty. And, oddly enough, happy people tend to be nasty, too." A hypothesis proposes that happy people's happy attitudes "[reduce] the motivation for analytical thought." Which may explain why I sometimes trod on people's feelings and not realize it until they tell me. IF they tell me.

Another passage that I found interesting:

There is one bit of the world that happy people do see in an irrationally rosy light: themselves. As the British psychologist Richard P. Bentall has observed, ''There is consistent evidence that happy people overestimate their control over environmental events (often to the point of perceiving completely random events as subject to their will), give unrealistically positive evaluations of their own achievements, believe that others share their unrealistic opinions about themselves and show a general lack of evenhandedness when comparing themselves to others.'' Indeed, Bentall has proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder.

I'm still reading The Liar's Club by Mary Karr, my book club selection from last month. In her memoir Karr explains how people in her hometown acknowledged other people's problems:

This kind of bold-faced ugliness was common to us. The theory behind it held that not mentioning a painful episode in the meanest terms was a way of pretending that the misery of it didn't exist. Ignoring such misery, then, was equal to lying about it. Such a lie was viewed as more cruel, even, than the sad truth, because it somehow shunned or excluded the person in pain...from everybody else.

The "cruel to be kind" approach, however, doesn't work for everybody. Especially if they are inclined to think that you are just being cruel.

June 08, 2004

Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi

Author Finds That With Fame Comes Image Management [Julie Salamon, NYT, Books, 6/8/04] NYT article about Azar Nafisi, who is having to cope with the success of her book Reading Lolita in Tehran. Great picture of her surrounded by books, floating in the air.

Yours, &c., LC at 11:25 AM | Writing & Language

May 27, 2004


The few who've ever been to my apartment are well acquainted with my banker's boxes full of books. Too many books and not enough shelves for them all. (And hellacious to move, as my dear friends can attest.)

This year I've been giving myself the assignment of setting out a few books from these boxes, Books I Should Read. Books that I've bought merely because the descriptions sounded good, or because there were favorable blurbs from other writers I had heard of (but not necessarily read). Aspirational reading, I guess, for the literary writer I thought I maybe could be someday. Having picked up all these books and moved them up and down the country, I ought to at least read them before taking them in to trade somewhere.

A few weeks ago I finished Susan Minot's Monkeys, a slim volume from 1986 whose chapters are yearly vignettes in the life of large New England family. An honest work, spare and essential.

By coincidence, there's an article in today's NYT about the literary and artistically-minded Minots, brothers and sisters in a large New England family. Fragments of their real life are commingled with the fiction in Monkeys, as well as in the works of the other siblings.

"The Minots, A Literary Clan Whose Story Divides Them" - Dinitia Smith, NYT, 5/27/04

Yours, &c., LC at 11:11 AM | Writing & Language | Comments (3)

May 01, 2004

Word of the Day

Asshat \'as-'hat\ n : a person who exhibits ridiculous, immensely aggravating behavior -- to have one's head up one's ass : to be foolishly stubborn, willfully dense syn ASSCLOWN, DUMBASS, ASSHOLE mean a stupid, incompetent, or detestable person. ASSCLOWN implies a ridiculously stupid or incredibly incompetent person. DUMBASS suggests an average, bone-headed stupid or incompetent person; a doofus. ASSHOLE stresses a exasperatingly stupid, incompetent, or detestable person, a real jerk with few redeeming qualities.

It's a choice word that I've learned from Zeebah, who has to contend with a garden-variety Asshat of her own. I will try to use this word more often. It makes me laugh, instead of wanting to cry or punch a hole in the wall when faced with asshat-like behavior.

Sadly, we are not the first to use this expression. Asshat has an entry at UrbanDictionary, which offers audio pronunciations and suggested definitions provided by regular people. My favorite: "A foolish person, as one who would wear an asshat."

Joel at The Evolving Word does some further tracking of this delightful term. Unsurprisingly, several URL variations have been claimed - including this one.

Sample usages:

I tried to be supportive, to give useful advice and positive encouragement to a friend of mine. But instead she bit my head off, because she's an asshat.

I am an asshat for thinking this person was my friend.

However, I am an assclown for spending way too much time writing this. Thanks, Z, for making me laugh instead of cry.

April 27, 2004

Free Cone Day

Ben & Jerry's is offering thanks to its customers and promoting new voter registration by offering free ice cream at select locations. Here in Georgia, the only participating shop in Atlanta is the location on N. Highland. It's only until 8 tonight, so have at it.

Don't know as I'll get to stuff my face with ice cream, 'cause I'll be stuffing my face elsewhere with my book group to discuss Steinbeck's East of Eden. Am I finished with the book? Hahahahaha.

Out of curiosity, I checked out Oprah's Book Club to see what they had to offer about the novel. I was surprised to find (though I shouldn't be) that it's nicely done. There are chapter summaries, discussion questions, background on Steinbeck, family trees for the characters. There's even a Q&A section with featured questions that people have about aspects of the novel.

April 19, 2004

Epistolary E-novels

Call Me E-Mail: The Novel Unfolds Digitally - [Adam Baer, Technology, Circuits, NYT, 4/15/04] "A former English professor who teaches executives how to write, [Eric] Brown, 59, calls "Intimacies" a digital epistolary novel, or DEN, terms that he has trademarked. The plot of "Intimacies" is based on "Pamela," the 18th-century work by Samuel Richardson that is one of Western literature's first epistolary novels." Additionally, Brown plans to market the writing software that he used so other people can write their own DENs.

The story can be read at greatamericannovel. Click on the link marked DEN, then select "Intimacies."

Yours, &c., LC at 04:37 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

April 11, 2004

Judy Blume, OMG!

Karen Glass, a senior executive with Disney's Buena Vista Motion Pictures, was working on the 2002 film adaptation of "Tuck Everlasting" when the movie's producer, Jane Startz, mentioned that she shared office space with the author Judy Blume.

"I said, `Shut up!' " Ms. Glass recalled in an exclamatory cadence more familiar among adolescent girls than women in their 40's like Ms. Glass. " `You do not! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!' So I went to Nina, my boss, and said, `Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!' " ["Judy Blume, Girls' Friend, Makes a Move to the Movies" - Julie Salamon, NYT, 4/8/04]

If, as a teenager, you'd ever read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie, Blubber, Forever, Tiger Eyes or any of her other books, you'd go OMG OMG OMG too.

March 25, 2004

Words Made Real

The Oxford English Dictionary people have set up a pilot project in which "the words associated with a special field of interest are collected so that knowledgeable aficionados can help the OED find useful examples of these words." Their first field of interest is science fiction literature. Submissions for citations are welcome, but be sure to check their standards for acceptable sources.

One of the many things that I like about SFF is that the creation of imaginary worlds also requires the invention of cultures and languages. Tolkien often said that his interest in writing The Lord of the Rings had much to do with his linguistic pursuits. In college, I even wrote a linguistics paper that discussed how "native" words were revealed and explained to the reader in several sci-fi and fantasy novels, including Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness and Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:14 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

March 24, 2004

"I Dated Jane Austin"

The writer T. Corraghessan Boyle has written "I Dated Jane Austin", a story with accompanying art by Sophie Dutertre.

[Discovered via Pemberley]

Yours, &c., LC at 03:36 PM | Jane , Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

March 18, 2004

Strange Bedfellows

Maureen Dowd's latest column, entitled "Pride and Prejudice," draws apt, yet cringe-inducing comparisons between the presidential candidates and Jane Austen's characters. John Kerry is Pride, akin to Mr. Collins, whose wife is all "condescension" like Lady Catherine. President B___ is Prejudice: "Like Miss Bennet, who irrationally arranged the facts to fit her initial negative assessment of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bush irrationally arranges the facts to fit his initial assessment that 9/11 justified blowing off the U.N. and some close allies to invade Iraq."

But Lizzy realizes how blind she has been. B___ will never admit he was wrong.

Having just finished Reading Lolita in Tehran, a memoir that intertwines the literary and the political, I appreciate Dowd's references to Austen. And yet I wish she had left our sparkling dear Jane out of this muck.

March 02, 2004

Criminal Editing?!?

"Treasury Department Is Warning Publishers of the Perils of Criminal Editing of the Enemy" (Adam Liptak, NYT, National, 2/28/04) - The department has issued advisory letters to publishers warning them against the editing of material from countries under a trade embargo - the reasoning being that such activity amounts to trading with the enemy.

Specifically these advisory letters currently refer to Iran, but could be applied to countries such as "Cuba, Libya, North Korea and other nations with which most trade is banned without a government license." So the publishing of "camera-ready copies of manuscripts" is allowed, but not the editing of the texts or addition of illustrations.

February 24, 2004

Yankee or Dixie?

I wouldn't call this definitive, but this quiz measures your relative Yankee or Dixie-ness based on what words you typically use to describe things. Surprisingly, I came out 68% Dixie.

Still, I won't be using the window to get in and out of the car.

December 03, 2003

Mincing Words

At first I thought I misheard the radio ad for the new Alien box set. But no, it's actually called a quadrilogy.

The word that should have been used is "tetralogy." As the definition link explains, the etymology stems from the Greek tetralogia: tetra-, the prefix for "four" and -logia, which derives from logos meaning "word" or "speech." Tetralogia referred to the Greek presentation of four dramatic pieces on the Attic stage at the Dionysiac festival.

"Trilogy" refers to a three-part set of connected works, as indicated by the prefix "tri." "Quadrilogy" would seem to indicate a four-part set. Unfortunately, grafting "quad" onto "trilogy" isn't the way to do it. It's one of the most asinine word constructions ever coined by marketing people.

December 02, 2003

Eco on the Future of Books

Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books - Last month, Umberto Eco was invited by the city of Alexandria to give a lecture at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. He has some interesting thoughts on libraries:

Libraries, over the centuries, have been the most important way of keeping our collective wisdom. They were and still are a sort of universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what we still do not know. If you will allow me to use such a metaphor, a library is the best possible imitation, by human beings, of a divine mind, where the whole universe is viewed and understood at the same time. A person able to store in his or her mind the information provided by a great library would emulate in some way the mind of God. In other words, we have invented libraries because we know that we do not have divine powers, but we try to do our best to imitate them.

[via LibraryPlanet]

November 30, 2003


NaNoWriMo 2003 Winner

Not worth the reading. Rewriting is in order, if I want to think that far ahead.

November 12, 2003


Dictionary to Keep "McJob" - The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added the word "McJob." This upsets McDonald's both philosophically and also because they have some sort of program which is actually called McJOBS(tm). (An article at The Register goes into the interesting history of the trademarking of the term. ["Merriam-Webster explains disappearing McJob" - 11/11, Andrew Orlowski]):

McDonald's first registered the term on May 16 1984, as a name and image for "training handicapped persons as restaurant employees". But the trademarked lapsed in February 1992, and was declared 'Dead' by the United States Patent Office. Following the publication of Douglas Coupland's smash Generation X in paperback edition in October 1992 (the book first appeared in 1991), which popularized the term, McDonald's restored the trademark.

The term also appears in the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster's Dictionary, and dictionary of dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary. It's safe to say that the term has entered everyday language, enough that dictionary editors have taken note. And while McDonald's will pursue its trademark rights, it can't stop how people talk.

Cory Doctorow has also posted on this at BoingBoing, and he asserts that the necessity for trademark owners to "to sue everyone who utters your trademark or risk losing it" is a legal "fairy tale." He also links to his August article about trademarks at OpenP2P. Thoughts?

November 05, 2003

SFF Database

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Database: "An online index to over 60,000 historical and critical items about science fiction, fantasy and horror, compiled by Hal W. Hall."

Running a quick search for materials by Anne McCaffrey generated several interesting citations, including one for her 1999 acceptance speech when she received the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award. Definitely a good resource for keeping current with critical SFF literature.

[via Simanoff]

Addendum: One of the citations generated in the database was for a humor piece by Jesse Walker, "Lost Dick-McCaffrey Collaboration Found." The original website is apparently gone, so I've dug up a version of the page through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The article is actually there on the page, but it seems to be viewable only if you highlight the text. If you can't be bothered to do all that, keep reading.

Lost Dick-McCaffrey Collaboration Found
© Jesse Walker
[Revolution Science Fiction [3 p.]]

Paul Williams' eyes sparkle as he remembers the day he made the discovery. "It was in the last box of Phil's papers," he recalls. "On the outside, he'd written 'Receipts' in magic marker, and sure enough, it was filled with receipts. I don't even remember why we were bothering to look through it."

He smiles a great big grin. "I was halfway through them when we spotted something else."

The "Phil" in question is Philip K. Dick, the late cult writer, and Williams is the executor of his estate. The "something else" Williams discovered was a manuscript: Dragonvalis, Dick's long-rumored, long-denied collaboration with the popular science-fiction writer Anne McCaffrey.

"As soon as I started reading it," continues Williams, "I realized I'd found something amazing. This wasn't just a lost manuscript. It was the weirdest chapter in science-fiction history."

A Strange Partnership

The story had been circulating among Dick's friends and fans for years, but no one had taken it seriously. Now at last, Williams held proof of the collaboration in his hands. He made some calls, and the tale soon fell into place.

"It was summer of 1980," remembers Ron Atwood, at that time an employee of the Scott-Meredith Literary Agency. "McCaffrey had written two wildly popular trilogies about the dragonriders of planet Pern, and her fans were demanding more. But she was sick of the subject, and wanted to try new things. One of her friends made a suggestion: Why not hire someone else to write the book? She would fly him out to her ranch in Ireland, put him up for six months or a year or whatever, and let him churn out the novel. She'd approve the final product, make whatever tweakings she thought were necessary, and put both writers' names on the cover. No mess, no fuss.

"I knew Phil was a little short at the time, cash-wise. I also knew he could turn out a book in just a month or two. And I knew his career needed a kick in the pants—something to take his mind off all that mystical crap he was getting into. So I gave him a call, and he jumped at the opportunity.

"We just didn't expect Anne to hate the book so much."

In retrospect, it was a marriage doomed to failure. Dick was a postmodernist popular with intellectuals and the counterculture. McCaffrey's novels were more traditional, and appealed mostly to kids in their early teens. Yet Dick's attempts to work within the constraints of McCaffrey's universe make for fascinating reading.

Deconstructing Pern

Dick's book opens five centuries after the end of McCaffrey's series. The people of Pern had long before launched an expedition to the Red Star, the neighboring planet that periodically showered the Pernese with deadly spores called threads. The threat had been halted at the source, and Pernese society had, as a result, evolved far beyond the medieval system that had prevailed in the earlier stories. Suburban sprawl covers the planet, producing a society that strongly resembles that of Dick's beloved Southern California.

But with some differences. Dragonriders criss-cross the sky, mostly working as aerial cabbies. And on the streets and in the weyrs, a new recreational drug is taking hold: Substance T, made from threads farmed on the Red Star.

Under the influence of Substance T, the book's protagonists—D'card, a henpecked dragon-riding traveling salesman; Menolly, his compassionless wife; and Pris, the dark-haired girl he secretly loves—begin to notice odd changes in their world. Dragoncabbies seem to battle falling threads. The Masterdealer who sells them their drugs begins to resemble Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. And Pris, en route to a suburb called Damascus, is struck by a beam of pink light.

D'card begins to suspect that the world he lives in is an illusion, a false reality overlaying the true Pern, in which threads still fall and dragonriders still hold a position of prominence and respect. Eventually, we learn that D'card is actually an alienated 14-year-old girl in a mental hospital in modern America. A devoted fan of fantasy fiction, D'card (real name: Melissa) is addicted to an antidepressant called Substance P, which leads her to believe she has entered the world she so passionately wishes she lived in.

In the final chapter, as Melissa undergoes a painful electroshock treatment, her father looks out the hospital window—and sees a dragon flying by.

"And that," reads the book's final line, "was only the beginning."

McCaffrey's Reaction

McCaffrey refused repeated requests that she comment on the manuscript, but Atwood remembers vividly her reaction back in 1980. "She despised the book," he says. "She was livid. I still remember her calling me right after she read what Dick had written. 'What the hell is this?' she yelled. 'There's no way I can make this shit publishable. It's supposed to be a goddamn horsey book!'"

Dick returned to California, dejected at his failure but with a generous kill fee in his hands. The manuscript wound up in the box of receipts. And McCaffrey wrote the next Pern book herself, a tome without any reference to alien psychedelics or beams of pink light. She never spoke with Dick again, and her lawyers are reportedly prepared to sue the Dick estate if it publishes his book.

"I hope this sees the light of day," comments Williams. "It may take decades to sort out the legal hassles, but trust me: The result will be well worth the wait."

Folklore & Mythology E-Texts

D.L. Ashliman provides edited and/or translated e-texts of folk and mythology stories, as well as folk and fairy tale links and links pertaining to Germanic myths, legends and sagas.

November 03, 2003

Word Count: Zero

Being unemployed, you'd think I'd have NaNoWriMo easy this year. However, job-seeking is currently my occupation.

Went to a meeting of local participants, and there were the usual jokes about what's allowable for word count, ridiculous plots, that sort of thing. Maybe my heart's not in it this year, or maybe I just don't want to approach this year's novel as a joke. But I've made the donation and bought the t-shirt, so I'm at least honor-bound to give the writing a go, hopefully with less use of cliches.

I saw a copy of Eragon in a shop and looked it over. Huge tome, beautiful cover illustration. The only blurb is on the back cover - and it's from Anne McCaffrey! For any SF/Fantasy writer, let alone a nineteen-year-old who started his novel at fifteen, to get a promotional blurb from the Dragonlady is like finding the Holy Grail. It's the ultimate endorsement. So I guess I'll be checking this out eventually.

Damn - I'm really pleased for this kid, but I'm also envious and depressed all at once. Great mindset for starting my novel!

Yours, &c., LC at 09:49 AM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

October 29, 2003

A Linguist's View of Politics

George Lakoff, UC Berkeley professor and member of the Rockridge Institute, a progressive think tank, takes a linguistic approach to political debate, explaining why conservatives are more successful at framing the debate:

"...[C]onservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there. Progressives have done virtually nothing."

[via BoingBoing]

October 22, 2003

Fictional Soundtracks

Sine Fiction offers musical soundtracks composed for works of science fiction, such as Orwell's 1984, Burroughs' Nova Express, The Soft Machine, and The Ticket That Exploded, and Arthur C. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God. The soundtracks are available as mp3s, free for the downloading.

October 21, 2003

Voracious Like the Wolf

Yes, Planet Earth, there is a Duran Duran Book Club, courtesy of singer Simon Le Bon. Check out Simon's Library of past reads. And Simon not only reads, he writes - recommendations and reviews of the books he's read are available, and fans can contribute reader opinions and vote for their favorites among the selected titles.

I heard about Simons Reader via Simanoff, who's much better about keeping his blog focused than I am. Anyway, this news sort of makes up for my deciding to skip Duran Duran's show next month, because I'm not up to springing $50-60 to see the guys, even though it's probably my last best chance before even Nick Rhodes loses his looks.

October 06, 2003

Anyone Read This?

Christopher Paolini wrote his fantasy novel Eragon when he was 15. Several drafts and four years later, his novel is third on the NY Times hardcover children's chapter books best-seller list, ahead of four of the Harry Potter books. Of course those books have been out for some time, so I doubt J.K. Rowling is bawling about making fewer royalties.

So buzz aside, has anyone read this book? Is it any good as a work of high fantasy? Guess I'll find out at some point.

Yours, &c., LC at 09:55 PM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

October 04, 2003

Why Not Re-Read the Book?

Wuthering Heights, the RPG It seems to be parody, but this role-playing game can really be played. [via MeFi]

I should make fun of this, but I'm guilty of playing Pride & Prejudice, the board game. And I enjoyed it, too! :p

And speaking of RPGs, of which I admittedly know little, here's someone's take on applying the D&D alignment system to world politics: Neutral Good in a Lawful Evil World. [also via MeFi]

August 28, 2003

Neal Stephenson Interview

Wired interviews Stephenson about his new trilogy, The Baroque Cycle.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:44 PM | Writing & Language

July 16, 2003

Passion's Discipline

Must see this exhibit on the history of the sonnet in the British Isles and America at NYPL before it closes. The NY Times has a writeup in today's Arts section.

Yours, &c., LC at 04:41 PM | Librariana , Writing & Language

July 07, 2003

Pottermania - Adult Regression?

A.S. Byatt, author of the lovely Possession, comments on a certain child wizard's appeal to adults: "Harry Potter and the Childish Adult".

I think it's a good critique. While I've enjoyed the Rowling series, I've read richer, more complex children's fantasy literature that can be savored by adults. The work of Robin McKinley springs to mind, especially The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. Just because one writes with children in mind doesn't mean that the writing has to be juvenile. Even in a fantastic setting, one writes with a sense of the genuine, the true, where even minor characters are not cartoonish figures, but seem to have a life of their own in the course of a few well-wrought sentences. Just look at the difference between Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I wonder if Harry Potter is so popular with adults because they haven't read much other fantasy literature, so they have little to compare against it. Maybe because I've read a lot of that genre, both children's and adults, that reading Harry Potter has been pleasant, but not earth-shattering for me.

Yours, &c., LC at 04:38 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (2)

July 02, 2003

"Catalog of Woe"

This short story, written by Mindy Klasky Maddrey, appears in the just-published anthology Space, Inc. (ed. Julie Czerneda, Daw Books, ISBN 075640147X). The science fiction anthology brings together stories that imagine what a certain job or profession would be like in the future; Maddrey's story is about librarians. Will definitely have to check it out.

Ooh Ooh

Neal Stephenson has a new work, Quicksilver, coming out this fall. Hurrah!

I enjoyed Snow Crash and The Diamond Age (which thus far is my favorite). I've yet to get to Cryptonomicon, because it's a huge tome, and probably not the breezy read like the new Harry Potter. Not that I'm reading that one either just yet.

[Link via AngryThoat]

Yours, &c., LC at 01:19 PM | Writing & Language

June 25, 2003

The Road to Oceania

William Gibson has an op-ed in today's NY Times: "Writing in the shadow of Orwell, it seemed very strange to be alive in 1984. In retrospect, it has seemed stranger even than living in the 21st century."

Yours, &c., LC at 12:33 PM | Politics , Writing & Language

June 20, 2003

Harry Potter and the Gift to New York

At 11 a.m. today, a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be presented to the New York Public Library. According to the press release, the book's inscription reads “To the People of New York With Love and Admiration from J.K. Rowling.”

So who gets to read this before the rest of the world does? (Notwithstanding the recently stolen copies) While I'd love to be part of the mania when bookstores start selling the book at midnight, I have to deal with writing essays for a final exam. After next Thursday I will be DONE.

June 16, 2003


For those fans of Joyce's Ulysses, Happy Bloomsday! Diehards can attend a marathon reading tonight: Bloomsday on Broadway XXII.

However, yours truly shall spend this evening in the company of Our Dear Jane, courtesy of A.A. Milne. There's a benefit reading tonight of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Milne's dramatization of Pride & Prejudice.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:41 PM | Jane , Writing & Language | Comments (1)

June 02, 2003

Dream Date

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy

According to British women in their 20s and 50s, "Mr. Darcy, the dashing hero of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, has topped a survey of fictional characters women would most like to go on a date with." ["Mr. Darcy voted dream date" - BBCNews, world ed., 6/2/03]

Presumably this date would be with the Fitzwilliam Darcy we encounter later in the novel, not the one whose pride and prejudice prevent him from dancing or conversing with anyone who is beneath his station.

The list in its entirety:

Top 10 dinner party dates
1. Mr Darcy
2. James Bond
3. Superman
4. Hercule Poirot
5. Inspector Morse
6. Heathcliffe
7. Sherlock Holmes
8. Rhett Butler
9. Prince Charming
10. [Richard] Sharpe

Source: Books Marketing Limited

Yours, &c., LC at 02:17 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (4)

May 29, 2003


Lord of the Rings, the Musical. One could argue, I suppose,
that the epic tales Tolkien drew upon for his own saga, were orated by bards in the halls of warrior lords and their vassals. Does this mean, though, that we really need "a cast of 50, lavish sets and a full orchestra" to present this story to the world again? Between the books and Peter Jackson's films (oh, ok, and the cheesy animated ones too), I think that's more than plenty, thanks.

[Via Paul Frankenstein]

Yours, &c., LC at 12:17 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (3)

May 16, 2003

Investing With Mrs. Bennett

Guy Monson, a fund manager at Sarasin, a fund-management group, has written "The Wisdom of Mrs Bennet," (Sarasin Investment Comment, April 2003). In this paper he uses Pride & Prejudice to "illustrate the similarities in the investment climate between the early 19th century and the beginning of the 21st." ("Cents and sensibility," The Economist, 5/15)

Mrs. Bennett's nerves would be quite excitable in this economy, I daresay. Thanks, Zeebah, for the link!

Yours, &c., LC at 04:31 PM | Writing & Language

May 13, 2003

"It is a truth universally acknowledged..."

that if you poll the Brits for the "50 best loved novels written by a woman, past or present, in English and published in the UK" they must surely believe that Pride and Prejudice leaves everything else in the dust. Poor Charlotte Bronte, whose Jane Eyre came in at number two. She must be really peeved.

I reproduce the list below, for when the link inevitably goes dead.

The Top 40 Books by Women

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
2. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
3. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
4. Middlemarch George Eliot
5. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
6. Persuasion Jane Austen
7. Emma Jane Austen
8. Frankenstein Mary Shelley
9. Unless Carol Shields
10. To Kill a Mocking Bird Harper Lee
11. The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood
12. White Teeth Zadie Smith
13. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone J K Rowling
14. Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell
15. To The Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J K Rowling
17. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
{18. Silas Marner George Eliot
{ Possession A S Byatt
{20. The Mill on the Floss George Eliot
{ The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy
22. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
{23. Bridget Jones' Diary Helen Fielding
{ Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
25. The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood
26. Chocolat Joanne Harris
27. The Shipping News E Annie Proulx
28. Little Women Louisa M Alcott
29. The Sea, The Sea Iris Murdoch
30. Family Bites Lisa Williams (fan site
{31. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J K Rowling
{ The Shell Seekers Rosamund Pilcher
{33. Orlando Virginia Woolf
{ The Thornbirds Colleeen McCullough
{ I Capture the Castle Dodie Smith
{36. The Girl with the Pearl Earring Tracy Chevalier
{ Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys
{ Oranges are not the Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson
{ Fingersmith Sarah Waters
{40. Clan of the Cave Bear Jean Auel
{ The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
42. The Secret History Donna Tartt
{43. Five Quarters of the Orange Joanne Harris
{ Beloved Toni Morrison
{ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban J K Rowling
46. Bel Canto Ann Patchett
47. The Bell Iris Murdoch
48. Regeneration Pat Barker
{49. The Bone People Kery Hulme
{ The Color Purple Alice Walker

Yours, &c., LC at 08:10 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (7)

May 08, 2003

Code Poetica

I need to blog right now like I need a hole in the head. But what's another hole?

Stole this meme from Mike, and ran the Armoire through Rob's Amazing Poem Generator. It's addictive and appeals to my base literary pretensions.

Another lit toy : a William S. Burroughs Cut-Up Machine.

Also, the Postmodernism Generator, which gave me the pseudo-essay "Subcapitalist dialectic theory in the works of Madonna" Opening sentences: "In the works of Madonna, a predominant concept is the concept of presemiotic narrativity. Geoffrey[1] implies that we have to choose between neocultural capitalism and cultural substructuralist theory."

Oh yeah - here's my generated poem.

Lady Armoire Musings and searchable online, and
the park, Later that I can manage.
Gah! Posted by
LadyCrumpet at 10:19 AM Boring techie
update Ok, so cool as I had
pick up in being beneath
a job. in part
to pick up
the librarian Rocker Chick Regular readers of
the public hearings.
Auditioning for an
attempt at a couple of the falconer
was once more, easily overwhelmed,
were called away so there
with Starbuck was once again going to conduct
some serious research for
the larger female, who also happened to
federal depository libraries in the Good,
You Take the
Committee on his questioning.
Those witnesses such as I need
to see the
Good, So
excited to do that I am.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:47 PM | Writing & Language

April 22, 2003


While the National Museum of Iraq's copy of Hammurabi's Code may still have been looted or destroyed (or perhaps it didn't have a copy? Seems doubtful, though.), the Louvre still has its copy intact.

You know that April is National Poetry Month, right? So how sad is it that among the artifacts that were looted or destroyed include the Sippar Library, a collection of Babylonian tablets discovered in the 1980s. Among these cuneiform tablets, not yet fully examined or translated, were previously missing portions of the epic poem Gilgamesh, the world's earliest known literary work ("Missing: A Vase, a Book, a Bird and 10,000 Years of History," Adam Goodheart, 4/20/03, NYTimes).

Yours, &c., LC at 03:26 PM | Librariana , Writing & Language

April 20, 2003

But Did She Consult a Librarian?

Madonna is going to write a series of children's books, based on the Kabbalah. She explains why she's becoming a children's author:

She said she realised there was an opportunity when reading stories to her first child, daughter Lourdes, adding: "Now I'm starting to read to my son, but I couldn't believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were.
"There were like no lessons, just all about princesses and like the beautiful prince arrives and he takes her for his wife and nothing happens, no efforts are made. Nobody asks her what her opinion is, or I didn't see anybody struggling for things. There's like no books about anything."

So Madge, did you just determine this on your own whilst reading to little Lourdes? Did you even bother getting recommendations from an information professional, such as any number of the librarians at NYPL? [via Out of Ambit]

Yours, &c., LC at 08:22 PM | Librariana , Writing & Language

March 21, 2003

Run, don't walk

I don't care if you've never read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. You should still read the hysterical piece "I was Jane Eyre (with no nice hats)" by Caitlin Moran. A good cleansing laugh. [Giggly hoots of thanks to Myretta at Pemberley]

Yours, &c., LC at 03:17 PM | Writing & Language

March 18, 2003

"New" Brontë Novella

The London Times has just published Stancliffe's Hotel, the "racy," "witty," and "sardonic" work by Charlotte Brontë. The manuscript, only previously known to scholars, has been in the keeping of the Parsonage Museum in Yorkshire, the rectory where the Brontës lived. Search for the story at the Times site; although there's no easy download, you can print the novella in sections.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:04 PM | Writing & Language

March 12, 2003


There's an exhibit at the Yale Center for British Art going on through March 30 - Romantics & Revolutionaries : Regency Portraits From The National Portrait Gallery. This means that Our Dear Jane will be there, as well as Byron, Keats, and Blake, among others. I've been aware of this exhibit for some time, but time is running short. Jen and I are contemplating a road trip posthaste. As it will be some time before I journey across the water again, I should take advantage whilst Jane has seen fit to allow me a visit.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:41 PM | Writing & Language

March 07, 2003

The Science Fiction Book Club

The Science Fiction Book Club has issued a list of 50 of the "most significant" sci-fi and fantasy novels of the past 50 years. Not sure what criteria they used. I'm pleased to say I've read quite a few of them.

Yours, &c., LC at 11:59 AM | Writing & Language

February 28, 2003

Friday Five

Back to innocuous content.

1. What is your favorite type of literature to read (magazine, newspaper, novels, nonfiction, poetry, etc.)? Novel.

2. What is your favorite novel?
Pride and Prejudice. "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Please do, Mr. Darcy.

3. Do you have a favorite poem?
"Suzy's Enzyme Poem." (I ran to the library at lunch to look it up and found it under a slightly different title in Zimmer's most recent anthology.)

An Enzyme Poem for Suzanne
What a drag it must be for you!
I slog along, ignoring you like my heart beat.
I gurgle and mold like an old fruit cellar,
Then suddenly you'll walk through a door
And foam me up like an ancient cider in heat.
Then I'll fall all about you, blathering
With lost time, making you numb with words,
Wanting to mix our molecules, trying
To tell you of weeks in fifteen minutes.
Sometimes you must wonder what the hell
It is with Zimmer.
                               This is to tell you
That you are my enzymes, my yeast,
All the things that make my cork go pop.

        --Paul Zimmer

4. What is one thing you've always wanted to read, or wish you had more time to read?
The Golden Bough, not the single abridged volume, but the massive encyclopedic set.

5. What are you currently reading?
*sigh* Should I really admit this? The Book of Shadows by James Reese. My coworker lent it to me, because I saw a blurb on the cover from another writer I like, Diana Gabaldon. There are witches, demons, incubi and succubi, as well as sundry supernatural perversions.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:40 PM | Memes , Writing & Language

February 27, 2003


Oprah is reviving her book club, apparently finding literature suitable enough for her standards - the literary greats, like Shakespeare, Faulkner and Hemingway. This is ultimately a good thing, although it's annoying that people need her direction to find a good book, rather than hunting one out themselves.

Yours, &c., LC at 04:54 PM | Writing & Language

December 31, 2002

So after being swamped and

So after being swamped and exhausted and not in the mood for months, we watched Iris. What is it with movies about writers and writing that don't bother to give you any of the writing? We're simply told that Iris Murdoch was this brilliant novelist who succumbed to Alzheimer's, but the film is really about Iris with Alzheimer's, with bits of young, uninhibited, naked Iris, and the older philosopher Iris who talks about writing. But all that's conveyed of her actual writing are scenes of old Iris scribbling on paper with a fountain pen, or carrying her last book and tossing it aside. Or in flashback, as a sheaf of papers for the young John Bayley to read. Although the film was aggravating, the performances from Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville were tops. Kate should've gotten the Oscar over the luminous but limited Jennifer Connelly. Arrrgh!

Ok, so here's one resolution: This year I'm going to read the novels of Iris Murdoch. I've been reading too much fluff this year, to the point that I gave up keeping a list of what I read, it was getting quite embarrassing.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:37 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (2)

December 16, 2002

Happy Birthday, Jane!

Today is Jane Austen's 227th birthday. I raise my cup of coffee to you.

Yours, &c., LC at 09:31 AM | Writing & Language | Comments (2)

November 30, 2002

50,451 words!

I did it! In the eyes of some, I too am a winner. Through sheer stubbornness and disregard for spelling, grammar, narrative flow, let alone character and plot development, I made it. Scott's been telling everybody about my NaNoWriMo participation. But everyone will have to be satisfied with knowing I accomplished the feat, because if I get around to rewrites, it will be a loooong time before anyone gets to see it. In the meantime, I have a new, cool icon - check it out!

Now it's back to being responsible. Paying bills, doing classwork. Dishes, laundry, filing. I have a paper and a take home final to work on. But I think I'll think about all that tomorrow. In the meantime, many heartfelt thanks to all of my cheerleaders for encouraging me and thinking this project was actually kinda cool, in an insane kinda way.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:18 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (3)

November 28, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sheer ignorance led me to propose a gathering of friends. Jen, bless her, was gracious enough to take on the big dishes - the turkey, the mashed potatoes, and stuffing. And she stayed up the night before to bake a to-die-for pumpkin cheesecake. I helped with some of the cooking, but Jen took the lead, and we hail her mightily. Zeebah, Lauren and Sarah brought the wine, a vegetable dish, crudite, and assorted yummy Italian pastries. I brought some extra chairs, and contributed a wedge of Vermont cheddar, a port wine cheese ball, and crackers. (A gathering just isn't complete without a cheese ball.) Scott was sent off into the city to go see a movie; he ended up seeing Secretary, which he enjoyed. Jen's new beau arrived bearing wine and using his manly expertise to add another leaf to Jen's dining table. Hours passed by, and we managed to enjoy each other's company. I even brought what was supposed to be a cool cd mix, but clearly I have to learn how to use my burner more properly.

Afterwards, a visit to some friends of Jen's, who hold their own orphans' Thanksgiving. Some good live tunes, raucous laughter, and standing around with Jen and Liz in the smoking room. I don't smoke, but I envied the natural cool they had holding their cigs up in the air - both vow to quit, so we'll see what happens. Lauren and Sarah had gone home already, so we dropped off Jen, then dropped off Zeebah, and made it home by two, two-thirty.

I am thankful - for my husband, for my family, for my good friends - all of whom hold me in relatively high regard in spite of the trials and tribulations I put them through. I have affectionate, healthy cats, I have my own place to make my own mess in, I have a job that is getting my foot into the door of librarianship.

40,009 words. On the train, after class last night. I feel like a shipwrecked swimmer, flailing wildly - but land has been sighted! I hope Friday and Saturday will go breezily, but I could get stung by a jellyfish before 11:59:59 pm on Saturday. So I think I can afford to give up one day, even though it's right before NaNoWriMo's deadline. But that's me, living dangerously. Yeah, baby, that's me, going wild and crazy with a cup of Starbuck's Peppermint Mocha Latte in one hand and the other typing away furiously.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:45 AM | Writing & Language

November 26, 2002

37,551 words

I wrote on the train coming and going. I wrote during lunch. I've tried spinning a couple of albums while writing, and so far The Strokes still rule. It's not that the music is thematically related - I think maybe I've conditioned myself, or something; once the music's going I'm free to let go and write. I just hope I don't go deaf by the end of this.

Did you know that Monopoly became a hit during the Depression? Mr. Monopoly, the iconic figure for the board game, is going to appear as a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. Strikes me as a bit ominous that he's making such a grand appearance while the city economy sucks royally and there's talk of fare hikes for the subways and railroads. Meanwhile city libraries and firehouses have only just avoided the axe, for now.

Yours, &c., LC at 10:33 PM | Writing & Language

November 23, 2002

23,897 words

Getting there. I'll have 7 days to come up with the other half of my novel. As the logo on the shirt says, "No plot? No problem!" And why am I only at -24k words? Because I went into the city with Scott for a nice brunch and a viewing of the Michael Moore documentary, Bowling for Columbine. We stopped at a Starbucks (ugh, I know, but we don't have anything cool near where I live) and hung out for a bit and that's when I managed to write. I'd better try to hit 25,000 tonight, at least. Sleep is so overrated.

Actually there will be only six days to finish the novel, because I've gotten it in my head to do a Thanksgiving/birthday sort of gathering, and somehow I've managed to get Zeebah and Jen to agree to this crazy idea - and I only have to help with the cooking. (Hopefully Jen won't crack a rolling pin over my head by the end of it, being the ridiculous clueless novice that I am - she's got turkey duty and is hosting the hootenanny at her place, bless her.) Lauren (Zeebah's partner) and I are having our birthdays as well on either side of the turkey day itself, so this should be fun - normally I am so not a person who decides to forcibly rustle up people for the sake of my birthday, but since next fall could see us in some remote part of the country, I'd better celebrate with people while I can. It's the Anti-Embarrassment Thanksgiving - if we wanted to suffer insufferable people, then we would be heading home for the holiday. It's going to be a small, casual, cozy gathering, with no pressure and everyone will enjoy themselves, damn it.

Yours, &c., LC at 11:35 PM | Writing & Language

November 21, 2002

Ten days

Damnation! I have maybe 17,000 words at this point. And I forgot to bring the Alphasmart with me for my commute. I just can't bring myself to handwrite bilge. Typing it in somewhere makes it seem less substantive and therefore easily deletable. Last night the Alphasmart crashed on me, but I was able to completely recover the files. In the future, I don't ever want to recover this crap, so I'm going to have to do some permanent clearing. Scott was amusing himself finding parts of his master's thesis. I wouldn't even let him near the computer last night until I finished the text transfer, even though I know he wasn't reading anything.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:03 PM | Writing & Language

November 16, 2002

11,770 words

Okay, so I just need to roughly double that by the end of the weekend. Ha!

I think it would be a wonderful job to be a lexicographer - one who writes, edits, or compiles a dictionary. A new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is just out, and it includes terms like "Klingons," "Jedi knights," and "go commando." Happily, Helen Fielding's added her own contributions: "singleton" and "smug married" from Bridget Jones's Diary. In a recent NY Times article, Angus Stevenson, one of the coauthors, brings up details from the world of lexicography:

He said the detective work made the job particularly interesting, though it might not be for everyone. "Obviously the majority of language references is not made up of fun phrases like 'go commando,' and we spend a lot of time arguing with equal vehemence about things that would seem extremely obscure to average people," he said.
He brightened at the recollection of one of them. "The verb 'to text' " he said. "That's the kind of thing that lexicographers get very excited about. 'Oh, they're using "text" as a verb'? We love that sort of thing."
I love that sort of thing, too.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:20 PM | Writing & Language

November 12, 2002

8,026 words

Yeah, yeah, pathetic. Go write your own bit of drivel then, why don't you.

Hello Erin, Olga, Navah, Lauren, Selli, Willow, fellow NaNofolk. We had a lovely time last night with dinner and coffee, hanging out in Union Square and comparing ways to up one's word count. I'm not as square as I seem, really. It was good to meet actual people - I feel more committed, and buoyed by the enthusiasm for this completely ridiculous artificial exercise that may just take most of the fear out of writing for me. If I'm stuck for ideas, I'll be sure to work in cabbage, a pirate, and/or a ninja. We're in this scheme together, thank goodness!

Yours, &c., LC at 12:40 AM | Writing & Language

November 10, 2002

6,186 words

I know, piddly for you folks for whom writing comes as easily as breathing. But if I'm gonna plaster NaNoWriMo's sticker on my site, I had to get cracking. My first late night for the cause: got going around midnight last night to get to around 3,000 - I stumbled into bed by 3 am. Wrote up a storm earlier this afternoon when I should've been working on stuff for school. It's complete drivel, I've already resorted to finding and replacing all my contractions (for example "Isn't this fun?" becomes "Is not this fun?" but that's not a sentence in my novel because nothing fun is going on right now for me or the characters). Also in desperation I've quoted a song lyric and started on my Acknowledgments. Lastly, I just bought one of the T-shirts, so if I'm going to take any pride in wearing it, I must slog on.

I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but NPR just aired a segment about NaNoWriMo. I'm going to my first meeting of fellow writers tomorrow night, which I think will be good for inspiration, or at least commiseration, because I know I'm not the only one here on the isle of madness. Won't be able to stay too long because I'll still have the train ride home, but that will be a good opportunity to continue with the writing. And now I'd better get cracking, because even blogging is time not spent on the Way-Beyond-Not-So-Great-Never-to-Be-Published-Let-Alone-Viewed-By-People-I-Know-American Novel.

And for your information, this post is exactly 267 words.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:11 PM | Writing & Language

September 26, 2002

Gah! To Brooklyn once more

Gah! To Brooklyn once more for jury duty. Let's hope I'm similarly fortunate, as I've been for the remainder of this week. Yes, I would actually prefer going to work.

Grr. Arrgh. Apparently I am the dread pirate Black Anne Bonney. My description: Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr! Find out your pirate name! (Thanks, Zeebah!)

Christopher Hitchens reviews the new biography on Byron. His introduction discusses the conversation between Anne and Benwick in Persuasion. I'm pleasantly surprised - when he's not spewing political polemics and constantly attacking anyone who questions his positions, Hitchens is a tolerable read.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:45 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (2)

September 12, 2002

A Secret Marriage

Those letter-writing lovesick poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, were wed today in 1846. Barrett's father forbid his eleven children to ever marry - so when Elizabeth eloped with Robert, he disowned her and never acknowledged her existence again. Her brothers took the same stance, though her sisters soon came around.

Dunderheads. What a terrible, hypocritical demand, to forbid one's own children a chance at the happiness of marriage and family. Barrett rebelled against her father at the age of 39 - an age where she was considered a spinster at least a decade before. Here's to true love, to literary passion, fueled by nearly 600 letters and the poems they wrote for each other.

Yours, &c., LC at 06:35 PM | Writing & Language

August 22, 2002

Edwin Morgan, Poet Laureate of

Edwin Morgan, Poet Laureate of Glasgow, has written The Welcome, a paean to libraries. The occasion - the opening of this year's IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) conference in Glasgow earlier this week. According to the press release, "The verse is a tribute to the knowledge contained in libraries and to their continuing relevance in the age of digital information and cyberspace." Be sure to scroll down towards the bottom to find the poem and several annotations.

Yours, &c., LC at 11:26 AM | Librariana , Writing & Language

August 13, 2002

What does Kelly think? Who gives a f*ck?

There's an ad in the arts section for a novel, For Better, for Worse. It happens to be a Reading with Ripa selection. (Kelly Ripa, soap opera actress and morning talk show co-host). It looks like a book I'd take to the beach, yet another in the line of chick lit (20/30something heroine has great friends and seeks Mr. Right but in the meantime drinks/smokes/shags Mr. Wrong like mad). I really don't care what Kelly likes, but I'm not gonna pull my hair over it either. What irks me are the ratings: "Fun: 5. Humor: 5. Easy to Read: 5."

I know not everyone is in the mood for Anna Karenina. But do grown people really need to be told that a book is easy to read? Just look at the cover!

Yours, &c., LC at 05:29 PM | Writing & Language

August 05, 2002

Thoroughly Thoreau

On NPR there was a segment about Thoreau, since the anniversary of the publication of Walden is upon us this week. The commentator doing the story kept pronouncing his name as if she were saying "thorough." But then she'd pronounce it the way most of us have heard it when she'd say "Henry David Thoreau." I realize this is a small matter to be so rankled by, but it was truly obnoxious. So I check around for confirmation of the correct pronunciation, and damn it, she's actually probably saying Thoreau as "thorough" properly.

I had so wanted to be right. Still, I just don't know if I can bring myself to say his name that way. I just...can't!

Yours, &c., LC at 04:32 PM | Writing & Language