Monthly Archives: June 2006

It’s not even my birthday

Today, in the mail, I received a copy of The Writer.

It was addressed to me. I didn’t order it. It’s not my birthday. I’ve received no indication from anyone that I should be expecting this.

We’ll see if I get another issue next month so I can figure out if this is a one-issue sample, or a full subscription.  If the former, it’s possible it’s promotional.  I used to subscribe to Writer’s Digest and I am probably on a list somewhere.
If this is a random gift, the only way to respond is to give a gift randomly myself.
I have desired in the past that Amazon would allow anonymous gifting through their wish lists, but I don’t think that’s possible.

It’s not even my birthday

Today, in the mail, I received a copy of The Writer.

It was addressed to me. I didn’t order it. It’s not my birthday. I’ve received no indication from anyone that I should be expecting this.

We’ll see if I get another issue next month so I can figure out if this is a one-issue sample, or a full subscription.  If the former, it’s possible it’s promotional.  I used to subscribe to Writer’s Digest and I am probably on a list somewhere.
If this is a random gift, the only way to respond is to give a gift randomly myself.
I have desired in the past that Amazon would allow anonymous gifting through their wish lists, but I don’t think that’s possible.

Links

Zork: Left Behind (The religious text-adventure game.) (hilarious)

A powerful Non Sequitur (it’s a rerun from 2002 but still as good.)

Friend, AWholeCanofPlot is getting involved with Adult Literacy. It’s through a local YMCA program. I might consider it too.

The Senate is apparently only one vote shy of passing a Flag Desecration Amendment. The House has already passed it, and all 50 states have passed non-binding resolutions in support.

des·e·crate dĕsĭ-krāt
To violate the sacredness of; profane.

Why do so many people in this nation feel the need to declare the flag a sacred object? It makes no sense for those who aren’t religious. And for the majority of those who are, it violates one of their commandments.
If there happens to be any reader of my blog who feels this is a Judeo-Christian nation, and also feels the flag should be a sacred object — I’d enjoy hearing a comment on how these two positions aren’t in conflict with each other.

Some professor has decided there are 16 reasons people are drawn to religion. I wish he had come up with 2 more.

One of the more common questions I get asked about Judaism by friends, acquaintances is: what makes a pickle Kosher?  Here’s the explanation. Now you know.

The government’s idea of saving the environment

Tuesday I sent a fifty page proposal to the State Government to request some money. That’s part of my job. Whenever I write a proposal for the state or federal government, they have these long documents explaining in excruciating detail everything that must be in the proposal, and how it should be formatted. (Spacing, font, margins, number of pages, color of ink, thickness of paper, number of syllables per sentence, whether or not alliteration is allowed….ok, I may be confusing some of the restrictions in certain poetic forms with government proposal restrictions. There are similarities.)

Anyway, this proposal was more focused on environmental concerns than many I’ve seen. They wanted us to minimize the use of non-recyclable materials. Which is great. They also wanted the submission double-sided. Now, I do understand the theory behind this…it uses half the paper, right? Wrong. It uses 1.5 times the paper. Because the printer doesn’t print out double-sided. You’ve got to print out the proposal once single-sided, then copy it to double-sided. So instead of saving paper, this requirement wastes it. Then, of course, they wanted five copies.

Of course, we gave them what they wanted. Always give the government what they want, or you might end up in Guantanamo. Or, worse, your proposal might be rejected and you won’t get the money.

The government’s idea of saving the environment

Tuesday I sent a fifty page proposal to the State Government to request some money. That’s part of my job. Whenever I write a proposal for the state or federal government, they have these long documents explaining in excruciating detail everything that must be in the proposal, and how it should be formatted. (Spacing, font, margins, number of pages, color of ink, thickness of paper, number of syllables per sentence, whether or not alliteration is allowed….ok, I may be confusing some of the restrictions in certain poetic forms with government proposal restrictions. There are similarities.)

Anyway, this proposal was more focused on environmental concerns than many I’ve seen. They wanted us to minimize the use of non-recyclable materials. Which is great. They also wanted the submission double-sided. Now, I do understand the theory behind this…it uses half the paper, right? Wrong. It uses 1.5 times the paper. Because the printer doesn’t print out double-sided. You’ve got to print out the proposal once single-sided, then copy it to double-sided. So instead of saving paper, this requirement wastes it. Then, of course, they wanted five copies.

Of course, we gave them what they wanted. Always give the government what they want, or you might end up in Guantanamo. Or, worse, your proposal might be rejected and you won’t get the money.

laughter is sunshine

Laughter is sunshine; it chases winter from the human face.

– Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)

Lady who Sells the Toys you Won’t Find at FAO Schwartz (or Toy Lady for short) obtained a large number of passes to the Westport Funny Bone. Piano Teacher, Mr. Star Wars, S-disturber, Mad Photographer, and 007 all showed up, as did Pagan Boy with a Mini, Vegetarian Librarian, The Wrestler, and The Wrestler’s Wife. Those good with math will see there were 11 people, as I was naturally there too. We ate dinner at Casa Gallardo prior to the show (next door to the Funny Bone) and sojourned for a few minutes at a blues bar that is also next door to the Funny Bone afterwards.

The only problem with huge groups sitting around tables is you don’t always get to talk to everyone as much as you’d like. But it was a fun evening. I even got a chance to sit in Pagan Boy’s new red mini at the end of the evening. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car. As I don’t know how to drive a stick shift, he won’t let me get behind the wheel. Probably a good idea.

Some of you may be wondering where I met all these freaks. (As we are all freaks: One of us! One of us!). It dates back to 1991 when I attended a science fiction convention and brought home a flyer for a local Star Trek fan club. I filled out the form and sent it in. It may have been one of the biggest errors of judgment in my life… The USS Discovery is still in existence today, and the chapter of Starfleet Intl recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. I’m its current Commanding Officer.

The only other major group of friends I hang out with are those members of my writer’s group, Writers Under the Arch, and those who attend the Hartford Coffee Company open mic. But it provides for an interesting group of friends.

The Wrestler really is a wrestler who has wrestled professionally – but on the regional circuits and not with WWE. The Mad Photographer took 500 pictures over 2 days at Renfaire, and I know he went back to Shakespeare in the Park Thurssday night because Wednesday night he showed up too late for the Green Show prior to the play, and he wanted pictures of that.

I’m hopeful no one dislikes the name I have chosen for them, if they happen to learn of it.

More on the Cento – and a new example

Wikipedia’s entry on the Cento has some more information:

The rules for the Cento were written down by a Roman poet named Decimus Magnus Ausonius (circa 310-395).

The poem may be derived from work by the same poet, or from several. It appears one popular challenge was to rewrite Bible verses (Old and New Testament) using Virgil’s Aeneid. Verses (lines of poetry) may be used either in their entirety, or divided in two; one half to be connected with another half from elsewhere. Two consecutive verses should never be used, nor should less than half a verse.

Cento also works with prose. The recent controversy with the Havard student’s book comes to mind, but whether her actions were intentional or not, they differed from a cento in three major ways. 1) She made changes to the words. The changes weren’t significant enough to counteract plagiarism charges, but they were still changes. 2) She added original material between the sections of copied material. At least, I assume she did. Cento uses only the words from the original sources. You can not add your own. 3) She didn’t credit the sources. That’s what makes cento and found poetry legitimate — the author admits to what they are doing, and gives credit where credit is due. The Fair Use provision of the US Copyright Law (and likely similar provisions in International Copyright Law) allows for usage of copyrighted material within some guidelines. But you can still end up in court arguing with an author over whether you crossed the fair use boundaries, so it’s safer to use public domain sources.

Interpreting Ausonius’s rules for prose, it seems to me appropriate to replace a verse with a sentence. In instances where a full sentence isn’t used, it seems appropriate to insist upon a full clause, whether it be dependent or independent. But this is my interpretation.

Here’s a brief section of dialogue I stitched together over the past hour (it uses material that is definitely still under copyright, and if JKR or any of her publishers ask me to remove this from my website, I will do so, but I do feel it falls within fair usage.)

“Now! (SS p. 9)” Ron’s flask exploded. (HBP p. 515) Harry gave a hollow laugh. (PoA p. 78) “Excellent!” (GoF p. 270)

The clanging doorbell rang again. (OoP p. 106) Harry stared at it. (HBP p. 339)

The office door opened. (CoS P. 207) It was Quirrell. (SS p. 288)

Harry’s mind had gone blank with shock. (PoA p. 332) He strode across the room towards the stairs; he half expected Ron to stop him, he would even have liked Ron to throw a punch at him, but Ron just stood there in his too-small pajamas. (GoF p. 336)

I don’t claim the above is perfect.  I spent an hour on it, and it’s not an easy task. This illustrates how beneficial it might be with prose to relax one of the rules of Cento and allow for changing names. While I feel the progression of the sentences above work, they could be slightly confusing if you are familiar with the characters from the original.

SS = Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
CoS = HP and the Chamber of Secrets
PoA = HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban
GoF = HP and the Goblet of Fire
OoP = HP and the Order of the Phoenix
HBP = HP and the Half Blood Prince

Cry Havoc

The Piano Teacher and the Mad Photographer joined me this evening in Forest Park to watch Julius Caesar. Others were expected to show, but last minute items must have pulled them away. Between the three of us, we split 2 bottles of port. (Same port as that which I brought to Hermann. It was from Inheritance Valley.)

Sitting behind us was a group containing someone who recognized me from the Hartford Coffee Company open mic. He said he had played guitar a few times, but I admitted I didn’t recognize him. I’ll recognize him next time. He and his companions were kind enough to move some of their baskets and food items to make more room for us.

Coincidentally the play reminded me of some research I had been doing over the past few days on poetic forms. I’ve been looking into the legalities behind ‘found poetry’ which takes words from one source, and without adding, subtracting, or changing the order of the words, reformats the words onto the page as a poem. Basically, the legalities are highly questionable, unless one gets permission from the source.

However, I discovered a similar form which I have written in the past without realizing it. That is, I came up with the form on my own without realizing it was already an established form. I thought it would be neat if I took a whole bunch of lines from different Shakespearean plays and combine them together into a poem. The method I used, if I remember correctly, was to open a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, and jot down every quote from Shakespeare that looked useful. And then I looked at my choices and started mixing and matching.

This is a cento.

A “cento” is a Roman poetic form meaning “stitched together”: each line of the poem is drawn from a different source.

Usually the different sources are different authors, and my example (shown below) doesn’t always change sources with the line breaks. I also slightly modified the text in a couple places. But I wasn’t tryiing to write a cento. I didn’t know what a cento was at the time. I was just experimenting. What I did comes close enough though. I wrote it in 1995.

Shakespeare Said it, Not Me!

1. She is beautiful, and therefore to be woo’d
2. That man that hath a tongue, I say is no man,
3. If with his tongue he cannot win a woman
4. Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear

5. See! How she leans her cheek upon her hand
6. O! That I were a glove upon that hand,
7. That I might touch that cheek. The very pink of courtesy.
8. Bless thee, Bottom! Bless Thee!
9. You are sir Orifice
10. And when you Ope your lips let no dog bark
11. Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour
12. I never heard so musical a discord, such sweet thunder

13. O Tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide!
14. Your words are razors to my wounded heart
15. My ventures are not in one bottom trusted!
16. Give me another horse! Bind up my wounds!

Postscript to my critics:
17. Was ever woman in this humor woo’d?
18. Tis not my speeches that you do mislike
19. But tis my presence that doth trouble ye.

Line 1: Henry VI, Part 1, Act V, sc. V.
Line 2-3: The Two Gentlemen of Verona Act III Sc I
Line 4: Venus and Adonis. Line 145
Line 5-7: Romeo and Juliet. Act II Sc II
Line 7: Romeo and Juliet. Act II Sc IV
Line 8: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act III Sc I.
Line 9-10: A Merchant of Venice. Act I Sc I. (Slight alteration of text. ‘I’ to ‘you’ and ‘oracle’ to ‘orifice’.)
Line 11: Richard II. Act I Sc III.
Line 12: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act IV Sc I.
Line 13: Henry VI, Part 3, Act I, sc. IV
Line 14: Titus Andronicus. Act I Sc. I (‘these words’ changed to ‘your words’)
Line 15. Merchant of Venice. Act I Sc. I.
Line 16: King Richard III. Act V. Sc. III.
Line 17: King Richard III. Act I. Sc II.
Line 18-19: Henry VI Part II. Act 1 Sc. I.

Some centos play off the Latin word for 100 as well, and are 100 lines. It gives me a challenge for a new poem.

Weekend Wrapup

I spent Saturday afternoon/evening in Hermman, stopped in Wentzville on my way back Sunday.
Awholecanofplot wrote about her experience in Hermann, in which I am mentioned. I like how she comes up with creative names for everyone instead of just using their initials. Let’s see if I can do that.

Mr. Exploding Eyeball disappointed several people by failing to bring anything of his to read by the bonfire, but he promised to bring something next time. Next time is likely to be a month from now.

The Professor shared an epistulary piece that’s been recently published — it’s a series of letters between two mad scientists with an unexpected and hilarious conclusion.

There was a lot of music. In addition to The Harpist, there were several drums, and Mr. Smiling Cow was convinced to sing a couple songs acapella. The Creative Problem Solver had to leave early, but she started off the bonfire.
I’m not a big fan of tents, suffering from a mild form of claustrophobia, and I had expected to be sleeping under the stars, but others in the group insisted that would be stupid as the dew would make the evening uncomfortable. I thought that my sleeping bag was what would keep me dry, but room was found for me on the floor of one of the rooms in the guest house., and I couldn’t deny that that would be better accomodations.

I drank more than I needed to, but I was able to sleep it off, and was fine in the morning. There was an amazing breakfast spread equal to that of dinner, and it was definitely not a good weekend for my diet. I left for Wentzville about 10, and pulled into the park at 11.

Renfaire was fun. The Piano Teacher, Mr. Star Wars, S-Disturber, The Mad Photographer, 007, Scrapbook Lady, and Thing One and Thing Two were all in attendance. Thing One and Thing Two tired quickly, so 007 and Scrapbook Lady took them home before the day was over. Mr. Star Wars also didn’t last, and left in his X-Wing. The rest of us made it through closing ceremonies and a rousing rendition of Nothing Quite Like a Moose.
I ended up purchasing two performer CDs. Vince Conaway and Elvendrums.

By the way….I got lost on the way to Hermann.  Briefly.  I was looking for Route H and found this sign:

I was expecting to see a sign with an H on it, so I assumed when I did find one, that was the sign I needed.  I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the color was blue.  So once I found the hospital I had to backtrack.

But I thought of those who were looking for a hospital, and ended up driving down Route H…and I decided that was one road sign they really ought to spell out the entire word.

.plans

.Plans were an early form of blogging for some college students, including myself. That was a long time ago. But .plans lasted longer than I thought.

In the days of old, Grinnell College had a Vax computer system. One of the standard commands available on this system was called ‘finger’. This command gave various information about a user, including showing the person’s .plan file. Each user had their own .plan file, which was originally meant for people at companies and elsewhere to post what their work plans were. The .plan file at Grinnell College (and many other places) gained a social aspect however. People started posting notes to their friends, writing stories, or writing whatever else they felt like writing. At Grinnell College, a small group of students called the ‘VAXGods’ wrote and maintained scripts to allow users to automatically keep track of which of their friends had updated their .plan files.

During the summer of 2000, the Vax at Grinnell College was phased out of operation.

Naturally, a few students were upset about being .planless, and created a web-based version. (see link above) Apparently alumni are welcome, but I browsed through the user listing and didn’t recognize anyone. Sigh.

Well, here is what my .plan for the weekend might have looked like yesterday:

Friday night I’m heading to the open mic at Hartford, and will then join everyone for the after-gathering at R’s. Saturday morning I am headed to Hermann where I will spend all day with some writer’s group friends, and will spend the night at a farm in the area. Sunday morning I will drive back, but will stop in Wentzville for RenFaire.

Sounds fun? I thought so.

Last night (Friday) upon exiting Hartford, I got in my car, and it wouldn’t start. I have AAA, but I also had a lot of friends there who are capable with cars, so they jumped it for me. I drove it around for about 20 minutes, and ended up at R’s to join everyone a bit late for the after-gathering. Upon turning off the ignition, I could hear it die. This time I called AAA. I had them jump-start the car rather than tow it. I knew it would just die again, most likely, but I drove it to a Dobbs service station within walking distance of my home. A few months ago they provided a friend who had a flat tire with great customer service prior to a day-trip and I had decided the next time i was in need of some car service I’d use them. I didn’t recall ever using Dobbs prior, but they were convenient for me, and now I knew they were good too.

I walked in my door at about 12:45 am. I walked back to Dobbs this morning. It’s a 30 minute walk. They opened at 7 I managed to get there by 7:45. They asked me for my license plate number. I told them. They plugged it into the computer, and came up with my name. I nodded. I had no recollection ever using Dobbs before. “Yes.” I said, hesitantly. “xxx-xxxx?” they asked, reciting my phone number. “Yes.” I said. “Olds Cutlass?” they asked. “No.” I laughed.

Does anybody reading this remember my Olds Cutlass? I think there might be one or two. As near as I can tell, my family doesn’t read this, so that limits the possibilities. It was a wonderful car. The first car I ever owned. Before that I drove a hand-me-down car from my father which I destroyed in an incident with a fire truck. I had a green light, and I swear I didn’t hear a siren. Anyway…The Olds Cutlass was a beaut. Several years old when I got it, it’s dashboard was completely electronic, and completely dead during the last year or so. “How fast was I going? I don’t know, officer.” How much gas did I have left? I filled up every couple days so it didn’t matter. It even passed inspection!

Anyway, that was 2 cars ago, and I gave the guy at Dobbs my current information. He said he’d call me after they’re done looking at it.
I stopped at St. Louis Bread Co for breakfast on my way home. Had a great spinach and artichoke souffle. 480 cal, 30g fat. 12 points on the WW scale, which is half a day’s worth. But with all the extra stressing and walking I’ve been doing this weekend, I earned it.
So…am I going to make it to Hermann sometime today? Wentzville tomorrow? Will I be bumming a ride with one of my friends to both/either? Stay tuned.

update it’s been an hour since I made the above post.  Dobbs just called.  My car should be ready within about 45 minutes.  I estimate if everything flows smoothly from here, I should be in Hermann by 2 pm.   Slightly shorter day than I planned, but could have been worse.  And my 3 year old car will have a new battery.