Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When it's really hard to write....

.....try writing any of these great works!! Mental floss posted an article today about 10 pieces that were really hard to write. They really are quite a fascinating study in the difficulties and/or challenges that some writers face. Here they are with comments.

1. Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright. This author created a challenge for himself - To write a novel without the use of the letter "e." To make sure that he did this, he tied the key of his typewriter down. I wonder how he signed it. His name has 3 "e's."

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. After a tragic stroke, the author, Jean-Dominique Bauby, was left completely paralyzed except for his left eyelid. He was determined to write and so he memorized, at night, the passage that was to be written the next day. The transcriber would recite the alphabet Bauby would wink when the correct letter was said. The book went on to become a bestseller in Europe and had a movie made of it in 2007. It's about life being paralyzed.

3. Before his death in 2007, Indian spiritual master Sri Chinmoy wrote at least 1,000 books, 20,000 songs, and 115,000 poems. Some he penned in his mother tongue, Bengali, and some in his second language, English. His poems won numerous awards and inspired countless writers and musicians. And while Sri Chinmoy was clearly a fast writer, he was never as quick as on November 1, 1975, when he wrote Transcendence-Perfection, a collection of 843 poems—all written in 24 hours.

Pant, pant. I just can't keep up. Can you?

4. OK this isn't a novel, it's a sonnet and thereby qualifies as a work of literature. The title of the sonnet is - Washington Crossing the Delaware and every line of the poem is an anagram of this title. Maybe not great poetry but pretty good if you have done a lot of anagrams. David Shulman - you are one great scrambler of letters. Now what can you do with Cherry Tree?

5. Ernest Hemingway's captivating tale in 6 words. This was a challenge or rather a bet. That an author could write a captivating story in 6 words. His was "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn." Think of the story line, the emotion, the comment on the human condition and the characters.  This is why Hemmingway rocks. I never tire of "Old Man and The Sea."

Booties always tell a story

6. Did you read by flashlight, under the covers at night? Well some wrote, maybe also under the covers at night. One Daisy Ashford, at the age of 9 years wrote a novella.

Daisy Ashford’s novella about Victorian society is considered something of a classic. First published in 1919, the work is still in print and has been turned into a movie. But if that doesn’t sound remarkable, consider that Ashford was only 9 years old when she wrote it.
To preserve the authenticity of the story, publishers decided to leave in Ashford’s plentiful grammar mistakes and spelling errors (the title, for example). They also added a foreword by Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie to assure readers that this was no hoax. Barrie reminded people that the novel was indeed written by a little girl, who was “hauled off to bed every evening at six.”
7. Futility - not the poem by Wilfred Owen, but an equally eerie novel about the sinking of a ship named Titan, 14 years before the Titanic set sail. Please read the article. There is more!!

8. Anguish Languish - more about scrambled words etc.

Sinker sucker socks pants, apocryphal awry. If those words don’t make sense together, try saying them out loud: “Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye.” Now imagine a whole book written like this, and you’ve got Howard L. Chace’s 1940 collection of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, Anguish Languish. The work contains classics such as Marry Hatter Ladle Limb and Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, which begins with the immortal line, “Wants pawn term, dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage.” Although Anguish Languish is playful, there was also a serious side to it. As a French professor, Chace used the stories to illustrate that, in spoken English, intonation is almost as important to the meaning as the words themselves.

9. James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake - is considered one of the most impenetrable works of English Literature ever written. However there is a movie, I know I have seen it - also a little bizarre!!

10. The President's Mystery Story by Franklin Roosevelt et al. The mystery was finally solved in 1967 by Perry Mason - a must read!!

My favourite is #5 and I challenge any reader to create a story in 6 words. Here's my attempt -

Gone for milk. Don't wait up. For all those people who have left for milk and never returned - they have amazing stories to tell.

Have an awesome day!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shank's Mare

Well I have managed my 30min plus walks everyday so far, since I started the challenge last Saturday. From time to time I am reminded of a phrase I heard years ago - "Shank's mare." It actually originated in Scotland and means to walk. As in "Since I don't have a horse of my own, I'll use Shank's mare" i.e. I'll walk. It is sometimes referred to as Shank's pony and started out as Shank's nag.

I found this out on the site World Wide Words. It's a fun site with random links to random words - right up my random alley. Here are a few of the more interesting.

1. Screenagers - techno savvy teenagers raised on television and computers. I have 3 of them.

2. Chrestomathy - a selection of writings, an anthology. Would this ever be used to describe the blogosphere? I don't think that it is crisp or saucy enough, but then we do use the term blogosphere - not exactly sparkling!!

3. Digamy - a second marriage after a death or divorce of a previous spouse. Rhymes with bigamy. It's not in common usage. I can understand why :)

4. Dwile Flonking - It's right up there with marrow dangling, passing the splod, Portuguese sardine racing, conger cuddling, rhubarb thrashing. These are apparently charity games played in pubs in England. Click on the link to see how it is played. A dwile is a dishcloth. Can we just stick to darts and dominos? Now if you have ever thrown a dishcloth at anyone, you may want to compete.

5. Ebonics - a blend of ebony and phonics. It's a term used to describe the unique grammar and vocabulary of African-American speech.

6. Ensorcelled - to be bewitched or enchanted. Doesn't really cast a spell. Maybe it needs to be used more or it needs a movie.

Sausages - Links to the Haruspices

 7. Facinorous - immoral, grossly criminal, extremely wicked, vile, atrocious, heinous or infamous, in other words "an obscure insult for unpleasant people."

8. Fanfaronade - a braggart, maybe with a bit of flare.

9. Gafiate - to get away from it all. Coined from the acronym GAFIA - get away from it all. It originated from the fandom of Science Fiction. Click on the link to read more :)

10. Haruspex - A haruspex in ancient Rome was a religious official who interpreted omens by inspecting the entrails of sacrificial animals. The link takes you to an interesting passage from Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Fortunately, I don't eat liver, kidneys or other organs, so I am not tempted to use them to foresee the future, though with their high cholesterol content, I've got a pretty good idea what that future would be :) Now I do eat sausage which is a little like pretending, that what tastes good, is good for you and doesn't contain anything offal, oh sorry, awful. Have we really moved that much beyond the haruspices?

I am down to G having skipped over a number of words that I have never heard before, but didn't include here. This is the link to the list I was using. It takes time and good eyesight, but if you like words, it is entertaining.

Have a "gafiate" day!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Underneath it all

I took a break yesterday and worked on a cryptic crossword puzzle. It was actually quite manageable, except for the clue,

"Missing some exercise for boxers"

I did my best to work it out, given that it was the last unsolved clue. Finally, I resorted to the internet. I tried to "flush" out some more ideas with a few inventive searches. Well one of them unearthed this website.


Who would have thought that there would be a website dedicated to men's underwear!!!!

As I have said before, I love names and lists and here is a list of names...OK it's men's underwear. I am hoping that whatever is transiting my sun sign does it quickly, or I'm in trouble!!!

Best to turn this into a lesson on branding. Now I have said before that a brand name should convey certain qualities of the product that would make people want to buy it, literally have it jump off the shelf.  This extensive list of brand names, for a specific product, provides some very good examples of what to do, or not to do, when choosing a brand name. Here is how the list shapes up.

1. There are the well known brands, that have made their name by creating great outer clothing, as opposed to under clothing, so it's understandable that they would add their popular name to underwear and still keep it all respectable: Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, H&M, Versace, Perry Ellis, etc.

2. The next category would be for the edgier brand names. They are well known but have a subtext. They may do other clothing lines, but they are mainly known for underwear and their name reflects that -  American Jock, Joe Boxer, Jockey, Spanx for Men etc.

3. Then there are the maybe not so well known brands, but they would like to be, so they are kind of "in your face names,"  such as: 4skins, Jam, Stud, Artillery, Naked, Cocksox. Enough said.

4. I wouldn't have thought that there had to be class distinctions in underwear, but I can see how some names would appeal to a snouty, more intellectual crowd, such as: Private Structure, Alpha & Omega, Clever, Eyelit, Matman, M8Mate.

5. Or a snouty world traveller: Homme Mystere, Kiki de Montparnasse, Barcode Berlin, Sartoria.

Gear (s)

6. There will always be the "what ever were you thinking" brand names  such as: Pants to poverty, Piss and Vinegar, Shreddies, Sweat Under Gear, Bon Bon Bodywear, Cell Block 13, Rounderbum. Somehow I can't see these flying off the shelf.

7. Or the I must be in the wrong department names: Milk, Wood, Got Wood, Toast, Saxx, Magic Silk.

8. Now, some names are just plain cute: Funky Trunks, Justus Boyz, Meundies, Polar Bares. However, I'm not sure how well they would sell underwear.

9. While others defy classification: Nasty Pig, Freegun, Ginch Gonch. Maybe for people who don't wear underwear. Then again what's the point!

10. Lastly, there are those companies who should have changed their brand name long ago: Fruit of the Loom, House of Holland, The White Briefs.

11. And very lastly, since this blog is part of a knitting site, there is the brand - pullWool. Enough said.

Since my husband buys his own briefs - always from The Gap, I don't have a lot of experience in the area - so I might have missed an obvious trend or put a brand in the wrong category. Please let me know.

And if this name game seems a little boring there is a page on the site that has pictures of celebrities caught in their underwear, always a good way of building brand recognition :)

The picture? Another brand was Bike - exercises in gear!!

Have a great day!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Pull of George Pullman

The other piece of trivia that surfaced while researching the name George was The Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George". It was started in 1914 as a joke by lumber baron George W. Dulany. The practice was apparently a carry over from before the abolition of slavery, when slaves were often named after their masters. Since most of the porters at that time were black, they were given the generic name "George" after George Pullman who manufactured and operated a large portion of sleeping cars.

Well, the society may have started as a joke, but it ended up with over 31,000 members including King George V and George Herman "Babe" Ruth. An initiative of the society was to put a card in each sleeping car with the actual name of the porter on it. This brought a degree of dignity to the job and the person.

Suitcase with wheels

Unfortunately, the position of porter and/or bellhop is fast disappearing, mainly since Bernard Sadow put wheels on suitcases. As an aside, our national railway has just eliminated the position of Porter. Over a thousand people are now out of work. Ironically we have an airline called Porter, hopefully they still have Skycaps!

I can't think of other occupations that have this "nominal" stigma. I know that we often refer to menial occupations as "Joe" jobs. Actually, now, I think that they are call "McJobs." Please post if you know of any.

Have an inspiring day!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where's George????

This post has nothing to do with the new Royal or Waldo, but it has everything to do with money!! In yesterday's post I mentioned a site that tracks US money. I mistakenly thought that it should have been named "Where's Sam?" from the dollar sign $ which is considered a variant of the initials US. However, the George in Where's George, actually refers to George Washington, the president featured on the American one dollar bill - makes sense.

Anyway, today I thought that I would explore the site a little more.  Here is the description from Wikipedia. Basically you can go to the site, www.wheresgeorge.com and key in the serial numbers of various US bills that you may have and track where they have come from. Later, after you have parted with them, you can go on the site and see where they have gone. Another cool way to waste time!!

Looking for a match

Well you can only see where they have gone, if another "Georger" has bothered to go to the site and entered the serial numbers of their bills and Bingo you have a hit on one of your entries. Actually I shouldn't have used the term Bingo. That is actually reserved for one of the feats on the site - getting one of your bills entered in all 50 states. The site obviously has a cult following with forums and discussion groups all vying for various goals on the site. Many encourage people to go to Where's George and enter bills, by actually posting notes on the bills. This is really defacement. The government has investigated, but not much has been done.

It may seem like idle time wasting, but the site has actually been used in research to measure statistical data and to track how quickly a disease, such as, Swine Flu, could spread.

Gives the concept of money laundering a whole new meaning :)

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By George you've got it.....

....the name that is. The Royals have named their new born son and possibly future king - George!! Well, there was really only one King George (III) who was mad and King George VI was well liked - better I think than his brother George V who abdicated to marry a twice divorced American woman. Oh, then, of course, there was St George, who slew the dragon. His cross is part of the Union Jack - go figure!

It isn't my favourite name, but there is hope. Wikipedia tells us that George is /was also the name of :

1. An early computer (1957), an operating system, a programming language, a website that tracks American currencies - shouldn't that be Sam? and a simple robot 1949.

Phew that's a tough act to follow!!

2. It is also the affectionate name of an autopilot, a bus service and a ship. Not to mention a society for the prevention of calling Sleeping Car porters George. There was also the handy phrase "Let George Do it."

He may have to one day :)

3. Finally it is the name of a clothing line for Wal-Mart/Asda, a magazine, a hurricane, a tropical storm, a vacuum cleaner and a lobster.

a vacuum called Miele :)

Obviously no one consulted Wikipedia before adopting the name. Then again the Royals are apparently on a campaign to seem like the rest of us. Well, if that's the case, then they picked a name with very common connections!! Incidentally, the name George comes from the Greek and means farmer.

I think that you're just going to have to "suck it up" little one. Maybe you can be affectionately known as Geordie :) and may all your dragons be sleeping!!

Have a g(e)orgeous day!!

A King By Any Other Name.......

..........would still be Rex or maybe Roy after the French Roi. Somehow I feel that I should be betting on George, since that seems to be the bookies' favourite and they should know, their livelihood rests on picking a winner!!

So now a soppier part of the world will discuss what they will call "Baby Windsor." I won't be discussing it, not at dinner anyway. My husband has declared the dining room a "Royalty Free Zone." Just wait 'till my daughter gets home on Friday!!

I am fascinated with names - they're right up there with lists and challenges and naming a person is usually a challenge, unless you name them after a father, as in William Junior or William the second. And choosing a name usually involves a list.  Here is a proposed list of names from those in the know:

George - from the Greek' meaning "earth worker or farmer." Probably not a good choice since the tool that he is identified with is a spoon (silver) not a spade! Now an interesting diminutive is Geordie.

Albert - from the German, meaning "noble and bright." Now this has possibilities. His great, great grandfather was originally Albert (Bertie) if you remember The King's Speech and he was a very well respected royal. However, it does draw the family closer to the house of Orange than they would like to be, I suspect.

James - from the English, meaning "he who supplants." Given the looming Scottish referendum, this would be a good political choice, as James is a favourite name in Scotland.

Alexander - from the Greek, meaning "defender or helper." This name also has strong Scottish ties, however, the diminutive is Sandy, rather than Alex or Alec and people tend to polarize around the nickname.

Arthur - from the English and it seems as though its meaning is somewhat obscure, although the legend of King Arthur isn't. Most sources agree though that the name Arthur is linked to nobility. It would certainly create a few more movies of the fabled King!!

John - from the hebrew, meaning "graced by God" or sometimes "beloved of God." Unfortunately a previous Prince John wasn't so graced. He is a villain, along with the Sheriff of Nottingham, in the Robin Hood legends. More movies, maybe!!

Personally I prefer Jack. It is a variant of John and it does nod to the flag of Britain - the Union Jack. Britain could use some help with unity these days.

What ever his name, there is always hope that this little one won't end up as a ridiculous example of what privilege can do to a person - we already have enough of those around :)

The picture? The closest thing to Royalty I have. It's a watch fob of the Royal Fusiliers, turned into a charm.

Have a charming day!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Yesterday, I keyed in the word "today" in my MAC's title bar. It was quite amazing what turned up. At the top of the list was the site "todayIfoundout.com." Here I found links to some fascinating articles, including:

Jane Elliot and the blue-eyed children experiment. This is a serious article and very enlightening, however, there were some headings to articles that may have started out serious, but their titles make them seem really ridiculous, such as,

1. The Man Who Ate an Airplane and Three Other People Who Eat Weird Things
2. The Language Made Up Entirely of Whistles
3. Wearing Hats Does Not Cause You to Go Bald

This is just a selection. I think that this site may compete with Mental Floss for randomness.

I really just wanted to know what number the day was in the year, so I could see how many blogs I was behind in my blog-a-day challenge for 2013. I couldn't find it in the list, so I keyed in "today is." This search listed several interesting sites, as well, including:

Cat Sulking

1. www.checkiday.com - a listing of celebrations for the day - yesterday was National Hammock Day - enough said.
2. www.todayisboring.com - it was a video of a woman kissing a bicycle seat and yes it was very boring!
3. caturday.tumblr.com - billed as the world's best cat blog.

All this to find out that I am just behind one blog post!!  I've written 202 and yesterday was day 203!!

Have a good one!!