Black and Blue

I don’t know why this is such a difficult thing for people to understand, but Blackbeard was the famous pirate.  Bluebeard was just a serial murderer of wives.  I’m not sure why either murderous criminal would be considered a good corporate symbol.  But if, for instance, a company that sells hair care products wanted to use Bluebeard as a mascot, going for some kind of jolly roger motif is way off base.  Bluebeard’s whole thing was keys, so might I suggest his use by a lock manufacturer?

This guy wouldn’t last a day at sea

At least Edward Teach had a certain amount of flair (come to think of it, a beard products company that had Blackbeard as their mascot could try to bring back his striking fashion statement of wearing a bunch of lighted slow-burning matches in his beard – it’s hard to find beard matches these days).

Pirate Edward Teach Corsair - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

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Filed under Words Mean Things, Dammit

This Pillow is Annoying Me

Actually, to be precise, this pillow case is annoying me. Also irritating me is the lack of standardization between pillow and pillow case sizing, for throw pillows designed for couches. I won’t go into that now (look for my upcoming 6-part series on pillow irritations for that). But suffice to say that I had a heck of a time finding covers that would actually fit these new pillows I bought to stop my head from bonking into the arms of my couch when I lie down on it, because none of the covers I could find seemed to quite fit.

But finally, after an exhaustive search, I found this design:

The birds are a nice touch

It’s probably not the first design I would have chosen, but as I said, the choices that would actually fit my pillows were limited, and at first I was perfectly happy with it. But then I noticed those details on the trees, and not I can’t unsee the problem, which alert readers have no doubt already seen. Clearly, someone tried to suggest the look of birch trees with the little notches that allow the off-white of the pillow cover itself to show a little contrast with the gray. But check out where the tree is in front of that (massively-beracked) deer. Now we see black in the notches rather than white, and since black in this case represents the deer that can only mean those notches are actually void space in the trees, not bark patterns.

Actually, as I think about it, maybe the black makes more sense for a bark pattern than the white.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

But that just makes it worse, and anyway, the trees on the pillow cover still seem to have notches cut out of them for some reason. This is very upsetting, and I think I need to go lie down on my couch.

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Choose Your Raconteurs Carefully

Fusilli Jerry” is a classic episode of the TV show Seinfeld, possessed of various cultural markers. One of these is Kramer’s quote “You meet a proctologist at a party, don’t walk away. Plant yourself there, because you will hear the funniest stories you’ve ever heard.”

Yarn | You meet a proctologist at a party, don't walk away. ~ Seinfeld  (1989) - S06E21 The Fusilli Jerry | Video clips by quotes, clip |  ca9e90b5-8405-4a3d-8693-08c1eff3f7fc | 紗
Kramer explaining proctologists

Unfortunately, as I recently discovered, the same doesn’t hold true of septic tank technicians, despite the tangential relationship of the two occupations. The guy who pumps out septic tanks may be gregarious and have a lot to talk about, but that doesn’t mean his anecdotes will be all that entertaining.

This got me thinking, what occupations would tend to have good stories to tell? Now is a good time to make a list, as we all prepare for a time when we have parties again.

So far, I’ve got:

  • Test pilot
  • Wildlands firefighter
  • Bartender
  • Astronaut
  • Flight attendant
  • Carny

I’m sure there are a few others. I’ll update as I think of them, for use in making lists of invitations.

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That’s a Strange Way to Spell “Charles Babbage”

I was driven from my comfortable home recently in search of a burrito, which search took me to the village of Hamilton. As I drove in, I noticed for the first time a sign proclaiming Hamilton to be the birthplace of “John Attanasoff, Inventor of the Computer”. Now, as all computer geeks and steampunk enthusiasts know, that title properly belongs to Charles Babbage.

Babbage is the one on the right

Granted, “Inventor of the First Digital Electronic Computer” is a bit wordy for a sign in a 45 MPH zone, but maybe they could do some kind of multi-sign Burma Shave thing. And true, Babbage never actually built his difference engine so maybe a sign mentioning him would need a few caveats as well, but I think we can all agree that precision in language is important when discussing computers, digital or otherwise.

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Halloween Walk

Halloween, folks!

I took a very interesting walk this Halloween morning, shortly before dawn. Barely had a begun when I noticed a hot air balloon drifting overhead. I see quite a few hot air balloons over my house, on windless mornings and evenings, but this was the first time I’d seen one during actual twilight. It made for a striking sight, because every time whoever was aboard triggered the burners the whole balloon envelope would light up against the gray sky. It was something to see.

Balloon is dead-center in each shot – this is what happens when you don’t have the right lens

A bit later I startled a pack of coyotes, and watched their shadowy forms darting with liquid grace across a nearby field until they’d crested a hillock and left my view. Again, this was unusual, because while there are plenty of coyotes around here, they are usually heard but not seen.

(No photo because elusive)

Finally, as I approached the house, I came across the grisly scene of a scattering of bloody scraps of fur and broken bits of bone.

Clearly, two of these scenes are related to one another. The only question is, why are passing aeronauts dropping cracked and bloody bones near my house? Is it some sort of message, or just chance that they wrapped up some dark airborne ritual while they were overhead? Updates as I gather them…

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Filed under Bonechilling Ideas

Another Story Prompt

I was out skiing the other day, and ran across this:

There’s a dizzying array of possible stories here, all sorts of inspiring prompts.

Did one of the people involved with the romance memorialized on the tree come back after things went badly, hacking away at it with a Bowie knife (a birthday gift form their former lover), over and over until all evidence was gone? Did the third end of a romantic triangle find the original carving while on a walk through the forest and obliterate the initials of both their unrequited love and their hated rival? So many different stories.

Anyway, happy Valentine’s Day, folks!

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Filed under General Writing Things, Uncategorized

I Should Give Seminars

As those of you with a calendar know, we’re closing in on the end of National Novel Writing Month (also known as November).  I usually waiting until Nano is done to share my progress, but I thought it would be interesting to see what it looks like in comparison to part of the NaNoWriMo community:

That’s me on top, and one of the regions I’ve chosen as sort of close to me (the other being, um, “other”) below.  Note how my progress is steady as a rock, gradually pulling ahead of the pace needed to make 50,000 words by the end of the month, while those in Syracuse at large start fast and shamefully fall off – you can be assured that other regions are similar on average.  Obviously, other nano people could learn from me, as far as wordcount progress (someone else will have t0 give the seminar on how to produce a quality draft that doesn’t need to be completely rewritten – I can’t teach you everything, people).

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Fistful of Fire

I’ve always had a soft spot for pulp and penny dreadfuls and other disreputable forms of literature, so I’m delighted to have my story Fistful of Fire published in Crimson Streets, a big ol’ pulpy magazine (I mean, it’s online, so it is not literal in its pulp feel, but you know what they mean).  And of course, it is awesome to have a story of mine actually illustrated, which is why the illustration in question is so big, up there.

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Filed under General Writing Things, The Writing Biz

Romancy Heart

It’s tough, coming up with ideas for stories and books and things.  Hence, the popularity, in writing workshops and such, of writing prompts – little ideas to both spur and limit creativity.  But who comes up with the prompts?  Some random guy who would have written his own story based on the idea if it was any good?  Pff.

Far better to harness the awesome powers of computers and artificial intelligence.  Not only were all those great titles produced by leading-edge technology instead of a boring biological brain, but you don’t have to worry about why a neural network didn’t use the idea itself – frankly, it’s got better things to do.


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You Know What They Say

It is kind of horrifying how precisely the main character in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip matches my own opinions.

It’s like they were collecting data points at one of my dinner parties.

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Filed under Grammar Gripery