Saturday, October 29, 2011

Random Thoughts

---I’m doing more of these because people seem to like them. Considering how much I babble on, I’m surprised.
---Mystery of the day: how the heck did I come into possession of a nineteenth century German coin?
---Before you go planning any heists, it’s only fair to warn you that it isn’t worth anything. Unless I destroy every other one left in the world.
---I have the vague formation of an idea, so I suppose I’ll do NaNoWriMo this year. Going in without a plan is usually how I do things anyway. Go check me out here.
---Seriously. Having no idea what’s going to happen is awesome. When I’m writing, anyway.
---You know what If I want the definition of aphetic, telling me “pertaining to or due to aphesis” doesn’t really help. I mean really. No freaking duh it’s related to aphesis.
---By the way, it means how a word evolves to lose an unstressed syllable.
---Figuratively, if the sun were an orange, the earth would be a grain of salt. People don’t realize how huge that sucker is.
---Further figuratively, if the sun were a grain of salt, VY Canis Majoris would be a freaking basketball. 
---The more I learn about space, the scarier it becomes.
---A few weeks ago, I spotted a deer in my backyard. There’s one of those DEER X-ING signs about a mile away, but this is the first time I’ve ever actually seen one.
---I also saw a wild turkey once. Not around here. In fact, it was near the exit to the airport.
---Well, they can’t fly on their own.
---One time, I misspelled sequitur as “sequiter” and Word suggested squitter and sequined, but not sequitur. Really Word? REALLY?
---The “Here Comes the Bride” wedding march is from a German opera. Yes, it is played during a wedding. Of course, most weddings don’t end with murder and the death of the bride. At least, most non-German weddings don't.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lost in Translation: Wednesday

It’s been a while since I’ve done this, so here we go. The prefix of Wednesday is a changed pronunciation of Woden, also known as Odin. Why Odin? In a nutshell, it's because of Germanic influence, which was itself influenced by the Romans.

Wednesday Around the World:
Dutch: Woensdag
Norwegian: Onsdag
French: Mercredi
Spanish: Miércoles
Italian: Mercoledì
Albanian: e mërkurë
Romanian: Miercuri
Portuguese: Quarta-feira (fourth fair)
Estonian: Kolmapäev (kolmas third päev day)
Latvian: Trešdiena (trešo dienu third day)
Icelandic: Miðvikudagur (middle week day)
German: Mittwoch (midweek)
Polish: Środa (środek middle)
Czech: Středa (střední middle)

As you can see, the Dutch and Danish have words similar to ours (Sweden, too; it’s Onsdag as well). But most of the other European languages have a variation of Mercury. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this is due to Latin influence. Classical Latin referred to the third day as diesMercurii—day of Mercury—and the habit of naming the day after a god stuck even where the name of the god didn’t.

The bottom third of the above list, however, eschews the religious aspect of naming the days. Portuguese is literally “fourth fair”, which is how they name mostevery day. Estonian and Latviansimply have variations of “third day”. Icelandicand German use middle-week day and middle week. Polish and Czech have variations on the word middle. 

There's a lot of cultural influence on how the day of the week is named. And some things just stick no matter how many years have gone by. Just think: in a thousand years, Wednesday could be Humpday all over the world.
You can't prove it won't happen.

Lawrence A Crowl’s site on the days of the week
And Google Translate, which was pretty much the entirety of this post.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I have a confession to make: while I enjoy scary movies and books, for the most part, I’m not scared by them. Okay, it’s kind of a strange confession, but it’s true. I might jump if I’m in a theater (because anything is scary in a movie theater), but that’s it. There isn’t much terror in it. If it’s not the first time I’ve watched it, forget about it. The same goes for books, too. Maybe this is because I’ve read Stephen King ever since I was eight, but I don’t ever remember being sleep-with-the-light’s-on-or-the-monster-will-get-me scared.

Am I weird? Eh, whatever. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. Unless it’s a bad movie. Because those just ruin everything. But if you’re looking for something scary, you might want to try the books and movies that actually scared me:

Fright Rating: 2 (Out of 5)
This was a Spanish movie that received a limited release in the US. I had to travel across the state to see it (not as far as it sounds, trust me) but it was worth it. While it wasn’t super scary, it gave me chills. It was an emotionally driven movie about a family who bought a house that twenty years ago, was the orphanage the mother lived in. Ghostly things start happening and the end was quite a punch to the gut. If you don’t mind reading subtitles, try to pick up a copy.

Fright Rating: 2
Stephen King’s tale of the monster that wakens every twenty-seven years or so to stalk children of a town in Maine. Parts of this book still give me tingles and I’ve probably read it a dozen times. I think the scariest part is Mike Hanlon’s reflections about the nature of the word haunt (is anyone surprised that word play drew my attention?) and what it means to the town of Derry.

Fright Rating: 3
I’m so glad I was able to see the rerelease in the theater. It really creeped me out, even though it wasn’t the first time I saw the movie. The basic plot is about a girl, daughter to a movie star, who is seemingly possessed. The book delves deeper into the “is she faking it?” question and is at least as scary as the movie, perhaps more so because there’s more time for the tension to build and more tension always encourages horror.

Fright Rating: 3
Found footage movies are kind of this generation’s slasher movies. Some people hate them, but most of them scare me (unlike slasher movies, which I find to be yawn-fests). I thought Paranormal Activity was well done because a lot of the fear hinges on how real it seems. And it’s not gory or full of monsters. It’s just two people trying to make sense of evidence that neither is prepared to deal with.

Fright Rating: 3.5
Actually, this goes for pretty much everything of Lovecraft’s that I’ve read, including Herbert West—Reanimator, The Call of Cthulhu, and the Whisperer in Darkness. All scared me a pretty decent amount. I think that is due to Lovecraft’s skill at building tension and describing people who are so frightened, that they would rather jump out of a window rather than face the demon (in all fairness, it’s a pretty bad demon).

Fright Factor: 3.5
This is a great example of realistic horror. No monsters (okay, that’s arguable), just a situation that is so inexplicable that it’s frightening. It’s also very character driven, which I love. Most of the fear comes from this family who returns from a short vacation to find their house has gained new hallways, one of which should lead out into the back yard but instead goes into a cold black corridor.

So these are my recommendations for the Halloween season. Enjoy the scarefest! And all hail great Cthulhu!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge

Welp, here’s my entry for Rach Harrie's Third Campaigner Challenge! I know, I didn’t enter the second one. I planned to but got major writer’s block whenever I sat down to do it : (. Yes, I’m terrible. Personally, I blame editing for sapping my creativity. Because it’s obviously not my fault.  

And here are the rules:

Now for the Challenge (and please note the word count change!):

    Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:

        that it’s morning,

        that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach

        that the MC is bored

        that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting

        that something surprising happens.

    Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise."   (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

Got it? So here’s my story. I hope I managed the show-not-tell okay…

Fresh Air
Salt air overruns my nose and I know I’m there before I leave the forest. Even with the nuclear waste bubbling on top, the water is beautiful. It ripples, curls into waves. It’s alive.

I take off my shoes and run, almost not caring that the synbatec is much softer than sand and doesn’t have that gritty feel I miss. But there are no harsh UV lights here. Just the sun’s golden veils. No boring, sterile air either. I inhale deep, gag, kneel down before I puke.

Breathing through my mouth, I can sit down and enjoy the hum of the wastopaneers as they filter the nuclear waste. At first, I like watching the tide flow in and out. It’s so much better than the holographs. But after a few minutes, I can’t tell the difference and the sun is now blinding me like the UV lights in the Tacise.

I flick sybatec beads, roll them between my fingers. They’re not quite blocky enough to balance on top of each other, but I try anyway.

I risked contamination for this?

“Hey! You!”

My head whips around. Shadows move forward in the dark. The Unclean! They live!

I run back into the forest. Sticks jab my feet, blackened branches dig into my face. But I have to return to the safety of the Tacise. I never thought there was a reason for the underground research station other than all their experiments. They were right. I can’t believe they were right.

Oh god. When I check, they’re following me. And then a downed tree appears in front of me. I crash right into it.
Branches crunch behind me. I gag again. My tongue feels like it’s ready to rip out of my mouth. Did the sea come to get me?


Thursday, October 20, 2011


Today’s etymology lesson is a quick rundown on the history of some prefixes. I did a few of them before and since they always seem to show up, it’s worth knowing about them.

Okay, I think it’s worth knowing about them. Here are some more for your learning pleasure:

Ex- Usually outside of or from, like in excite, where the -cite means to call forth and the ex- indicates that it calls out, like one would rouse an emotion. Ex- can also mean former (as in ex-wife), away (export), upwards (extol), and completely (exaggerate). From the Latin ex, out of or from within. Can be traced even further back to the Proto Indo European eghs, which of course means out.

Dis- Can also be di- (note: different from di- as in twice) and dif- before f. Can mean not—a computer program that is disabled is not functioning. Can mean opposite of—for instance, discharge. Can mean apart or away—when you dislocate your arm, it is away from its proper location. In classical Latin (the Latin of scholars), dis- was the same as de-. This passed on to French as des-. Most English words turned it back to dis- but there are still a few des- words, like descant. Yes, it’s a word!

De- This one is a bit confusing because of the above note. De- is like some of the uses for dis-, but it’s more “separation of space”. In Latin, it was an “undo” prefix, like we use in defrost. It can also be like off, as in decapitate. Or an intensive, as in declare (–clare means clear, so it’s definitely clear) . De- can also mean from, like decline (the –cline means lean) is like from an angle. It can be used as “completely”, as in define, where –fine means limit (finite) so by defining it, you are completely limiting what it is. But that’s a philosophical discussion for another day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Twitter for Beginners

Why? Because Twitter is a pretty important source for writer’s, that’s why. In fact, last February I did a whole post about the many valuable resources, most of whom are still on Twitter. Agents, editors, fellow writers…it’s great! But there are some tricks to navigating Twitter, something that’s valuable whether or not you’re a writer.

First of all, we’ll look at the six types of tweeters:
1. Regular people. These are most tweeters. You follow them if you share a common interest, like writing, or you know them from somewhere. If they’re none of the following types, they usually follow back.
2. The Celebrity. For the most part, these people/companies won’t follow you back. You only follow them if you’re actually interested in them, like if they are an agent or a movie actor.
3. The Self-Made Celebrity. These are people who have tens of thousands of Twitter followers. How? By following tens of thousands of others. However, all those followers mean that unless you know them outside of Twitter, you’ll rarely, if ever, talk to them. If you just want a higher follower count, go ahead and add them.
4. The Fake Celebrity. This is a variation on the above, but instead of keeping you as a follower, they’ll drop you as soon as you follow them back. You can tell them apart because they usually have a high following, but follow very few people themselves. Ignore them.
5. The Spammer. These people have one goal: to follow you so you will follow them back and they can Direct Message (a private message) you a link to a service or a less than reputable site. It’s hard to tell them apart from regular people, but they tend to have very few tweets, yet a very high number of followers/following. They might also tweet nothing but names or generic sentences. Don’t follow them.
6. The Viral Spammer. Even worse than the above because they will tweet something at you NON STOP. If you have the misfortune of coming across one, you will have to block them to stop them. Don’t forget to report them for spam.

Well, this post is getting long (hey, I appreciate brevity). I suppose I’ll make this a two parter and finish up next week. Cue the dramatic music!

Any other types of tweeters to beware? How do you decide who to follow?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random Thoughts

---I’m thinking a publisher that promises to harass JK Rowling until she reads your book isn’t a good publisher.
---Although actually, they were taking $49 from writers to ask her to read their books. They could take the money, ask her, and she could go “Get away from me before I mace you,” and they’d still be doing what they were being paid for.
---I was watching Speedthe other day and marveling how little that movie makes sense. You’re pursuing a mad bomber and you storm his house? You shoot a hostage because it “takes them out of the equation” (uh, hello, it also means there is no reason to keep him/her alive!)? That Sandra Bullock somehow managed to stay attached to her arms even though she was handcuffed to a speeding subway car crashing through a road?
---But nothing is as mind boggling as the freaking bus jump. From views of the highway, we can see both sides of the break are at the same height. And the laws of physics state that the bus should not have made itbecause no matter how fast you are going or how big/small the gap is, gravity will pull you down. Seeing as how it was a fifty foot gap, they should have smashed into one of the highway supports.
---My mom always tells me I have to let stuff like that go and just enjoy the movie. I try, but then something like Terminator II comes along and makes a fool out of causality.
---A person can live buried in a coffin for about one to two hours. It depends on how big it is and how much they panic.
---Don’t tell me you’ve never thought about it.
---Another addition to the morbidity file: at it's weakest point, it takes sixteen pounds of pressure to crack the skull of an adult human.
---Cows face magnetic north when they graze, or they turn around and face south. All cows. Everywhere.
---Deer too.
---We’re through the looking glass here, people.
---It’s technically illegal to sing “Happy Birthday to You” in public.
---And finally, I leave you with the best conversation ever:

My mom: I went up to the bank to get money and wouldn’t you know it, the drive up ATM is broken. The only other one is clear across town and I’m heading in the other direction. So I had no money.

Me: Did you try the one inside?

My mom: …I did not.