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The Power of Names






I have a connection with Binghamton, New York, so it was with interest that I read about the city’s double-A baseball team name change, despite my generally solid indifference to baseball.  But of course, you may have already heard about it, thanks to the fact that they’ve opened the name change to an internet vote, and limited the choice to some frankly bizarre names (Bullheads, Gobblers, Rocking Horses, Rumble Ponies, Stud Muffins, or Timber Jockeys).  I assume that Boaty McBoatface hangs heavy over their decision not to let folks on the Internet actually suggest names, but given that they should have asked someone who had, like, good ideas.

This is something of a sore point for me, since my alma mater, in the same area, used a committee to decide on a new mascot for SUNY-Binghamton (shortly after another committee decided to stop calling it SUNY-Binghamton).  Granted the old mascot “The Colonial” was kind of dumb, but the new mascot, the Bearcat, is worse.  Not that I have anything against bearcats, per se.  I mean, look at the little fellow:


No, the problem is that the committee that decided on the mascot had somehow heard of bearcats but never bothered to research what they were, and in fact, based on their press release, labored under the misapprehension that bearcats are mythical, like griffins, or hippogriffs.  So the logo looks something like a pissed-off bear rather than a cuddly, musk-emitting rodent.

It seems Binghamton just has trouble with sporting names, because this latest committee seems to have developed a strange fixation on Binghamton’s connection to carousels.  Which, okay, be proud of the carousel thing, I guess, but Binghamton has so many other historical connections that seem a bit more vigorous and manly than carnival rides.  For example, the famous shoe people Endicott-Johnson started there (technically in the suburbs of Endicott and Johnson City, I guess).  Why not call them the Binghamton Booters, or Ass-kickers?  And of course, IBM was big in Binghamton once.  How about the Binghamton Business Machines?  There’d have to be some awesome logos for that.  The flight simulator was invented there – how about the Binghamton Fake Flyers?  Or the team could be named after the local delicacy – the Binghamton Spiedies sounds athletic, right?

All that said, “Timber Jockeys” works, I guess.

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I am the proud owner of several (mainly) loyal pets.  For the most part, they perform their roles as expected (lying around or enthusiastically sniffing things, respectively).  But every now and again, one or both will give me this look, as if I’ve just done something very peculiar and possibly transgressive.  The last time this happened, I asked the hound “Do I look like a weirdo?”  Nothing odd about that, but the disconcerting thing is that having uttered that, the whole of the “Captain Vegetable” song from the golden age of Sesame Street sprang into my head (except for a small gap after Eddie says that spaghetti is a “lovely thing that looks like string”).

I’m trying to come up with something else I recall so clearly from my childhood (or more likely, college years), and coming up empty.


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baseballWe don’t normally discuss sports around this blog, but the Baseball Hall of Fame is just down the road from me in Cooperstown.  And with Halloween approaching, I thought I should link to this wonderful article about that famous institution.

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As a writer, I catalog all my experiences, naturally, and try to make sense of them for later use.  But recently, I discovered something bizarre and inexplicable. Everything happens for a reason, of course, and the universe has an order to it.

So why does Hanes underwear come in a resealable bag?


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Athletic Endeavors

I used to be quite the cyclist back in the day, racing almost every weekend in the summer.  Not so much these days, but I did ride a race not long ago for old time’s sake.  It happens to be a race well known for treating riders well, by feeding them muffins and such after the race, as well as the traditional water and bananas.  They also hand out a goody bag to all the riders, with little gifts that vary from year to year.  This year, the bag contained this:


That’s right – a pint glass, a beer cozy, and a “Michelob Ultra” water bottle.  Message received, race organizers.  I will commence unwinding from the race.


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Longtime readers of my blogs will know that I have a soft spot for the language of MacGyver.  This supercut of people in movies enhancing images is generally awesome, but as always, the awesomest parts are those with good old MacGyver.

Of course, no video of enhancement would be complete without Adventure Time:


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Flash Fiction

Papa, writing some sci-fi

Papa, writing some sci-fi

Raymond Chandler may not have thought much of science fiction, but who knew that Hemingway wrote it, with his most famous bit of flash fiction?

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I’ve spent a bit of time pontificating on realism in fictional works, particularly as it pertains to geospatial matters.  It is good to see that Randall Munroe is in accord with me on this (head over to see the float over text):


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An Important ITLAPD Message

pirate_tweetAs we all know, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is upon us.  It’s an important day, well worth celebrating, but please people, don’t say “argh” and think you are properly entering the spirit of things.  The proper pirate exclamation is “arrrrr” (with as many “r”s as you like – go nuts!), or, if you prefer, “yarr”.  But not, “argh”.

“But you don’t understand!” I hear you shouting, “When I say ‘argh’ the ‘g’ is silent!  Also sort of the ‘h’, though really, who can tell?  I mean, sometimes I sort of let fly with a breathy ‘hu’ sound at the end when I’m going for a sexy pirate sound, but really, the ‘gh’ is basically a unit.  And like I said, I don’t pronounce it.”

Well, look.  For one thing I see poor misguided souls lurching around in eye patches with stuffed parrots on their shoulder saying “argh” with the trailing ‘g’ all the time.  Think of those folks making fools of themselves and try to set an example, would you?  For another thing, “argh” already clearly fills the role of a general exclamation of distress, while the piratical “arr” is more of a generalized interjection.  I am by nature a descriptivist, but clearly we need both words, and it is in the best interests of the language to properly differentiate them.  English is confusing enough as it is.

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It May Seem Cruel To Us

untamedWorld(That title is meant to be read in your best Ren voice, by the way, for all of you who grew up watching Ren and Stimpy), but sometimes it is necessary to be cruel.  And sometimes it is funny, too.

Both of those criteria are fulfilled by this review of the erotic novel Real, by Litchick on Goodreads.

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