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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XCI

November 26, 2010

Oh, dearest Ceres...sign me up for the third circle of Hell. *pats sides of voluminous potbelly* I certainly put the celebration in the harvest celebration this year.

If my non-American friends will excuse me for just a moment...yesterday was Thanksgiving, of course, and I'm feeling a bit lethargic. Is there a holiday that's any more American than Thanksgiving? I mean, where else would you celebrate the largess of the fields to the extreme like here in America? Oh sure, Fourth of July with it's mayonnaise-based fare and explosions is theoretically more American than Thanksgiving, but we're a people who love to eat. By God, yesterday was the pinnacle of the celebrating-by-eating holiday.

You know who else enjoyed celebrating holidays by eating too much? Yep, the Romans. And the Greeks. And the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Ethiopians and...well...pretty much every civilization that's ever thought twice about setting aside days on the calendar for purpose of a party. In fact, civilization itself might have begun because people liked getting together and eating. Either that or folks were just fucking tired of wandering around all over the place and said "Here! I'm building a city here!"

I hope you all had good holidays. All four of us got involved in the cooking this year for the Thanksgiving holiday. We had ham and turkey, mashed potatoes, cheese peas, deviled eggs, cranberry salad/relish, dressing, crescent rolls, a dish from Emeril involving bacon, apples and squash and Guy Fieri's sweet potatoes. Oh, fuck, it was good. And then there was butterscotch pie, lemon chess pie, and my wife made me one fucking awesome pumpkin pie. Smooth and creamy and my my my, was it delicious. Every year, I promise myself I'm not going to make an ass of myself when it comes time to eat. Last year, that was not a problem. This year, the fare was much better and, well, holy wow, did I spend the afternoon in a bloated state of lethargy that brought a broad smile and a touch of indigestion to my lips. It was a Bacchanalian orgy of carbohydrates, fats and deliciousness.

And, of course, when it was done, I uttered this mouthful of happiness:

Non possum credere me totum edisse...

Pronounced: "Nohn poh-soom cray-day-ray may toh-toom aye-dee-say..."

Bloated translation in the hovertext

The other nice thing about this Thanksgiving is that I'm not going out to fight the crowds for "deals" on Friday morning, nor am I driving back from any extended family members' houses after the holiday. I'm home, where I can lay on my couch, rethink all the bad decisions I made yesterday (Oh, yes, I'll have some more!) and be the worthless lump of humanity that I am.

That's what long weekends are for, right?

Happy Thanksgivin, Y'all!!!

November 25, 2010

As my wife and I are preparing a genuine (pronounced "Jen-yew-WINE!") southern Thanksgiving (read: Everything fried), I'm taking time out from surfing Thanksgiving porn...and wow, did Squanto ever show those Puritans the proper way to "bury a fish for fertility" getting last minute candied yam ideas just to wish you, my friends, family and complete strangers from the internet, a Happy Thanksgiving.

Let us celebrate the fertility of the land...and the loins of a gobbler and hen turkey...with a festive feast, good cheer, family togetherness, and pie. Lots of goddamned pie.

Now, please, for the love of God, would somebody lock Al Roker away in a vault somewhere and throw away the key?

Fie! A Pox Upon Me!

November 17, 2010

Last Friday, despite the best efforts of Duke's only attractive undergrad female and her...otherworldly...attributes, I began to fall ill. It was one of those illnesses that had an onset of about thirty seconds. One moment I'm bipping along, happy as can be, the next it feels like one of my eyes in drooping into my sock and my head is suddenly filled with a highly viscous, putrid yellow jelly.

It was the normal type of illness: stuffy head, lots of mucus, sore throat, lots of mucus, rattling cough, lots of mucus, sneezing. I'd touch on the mucus factor again, but I don't want to beat a dead horse, mostly because dead horses get turned into glue which just reminds me of more mucus.

The big thing, however, was that I was just drained of energy. I spent a lot of time in bed and on the couch. Okay, so I spent more time than usual on the couch and in bed. Smartass.

I am now, if not fully convalesced, at least doing much better. I feel pretty good, truth be told. I've still got the gummy, semi-dry boogs stuck in my nose, which are actually kind of fun to pick out and flick at my kids. The thing that's annoying is the ever-present smell of stale piss that seems to permeate snot as it dries into drywall putty inside your nose. I blow it out, and suddenly everything smells of stale urine. I know it's not me, because I haven't pissed myself in the past couple of days (at least), and I'm bathed. It's the stupid, lousy mucus clinging to the insides of my nasal and sinus passages. It has to be.

*changes underwear just to be safe*

However, it's not the thick, gummy paste stuck in my head that is the most annoying thing about being sick. Sure, it's annoying being sick, but at least my kids are old enough they can entertain themselves when I'm down like I was over the weekend. Also, they bring me medicine and drinks. I suspect it has something to do with the proximity of Christmas and not so much any great love they have for their father.

No, this most annoying thing of which I speak is a distinctly male issue. When I start to run a fever, everything is cold. I shiver. I feel an annoying cold that I just can't seem to shake. My entire body starts going into cold mode. I shiver. I shake. I huddle close.

However, my scrotum doesn't. It recognizes that the brain has cranked the old internal temperature up a few degrees and, in an attempt to protect the optimal sperm-production temperature, my scrote dives. Oh, sure, Captain Longsword turtles up into his hidey-hole, but not my Balzac. The old coinpurse dives for my knee. I have to hitch it up over my shoulder in order to walk to the kitchen.

As you can imagine, this leads to some rather embarrassing moments for me personally. While trying to sleep off the affects of cold medication and to recover from the heavy fatigue that was weighing down on me, my wife slipped under the covers with me and patted my thigh. Brushing the massive bulge on the inside of my thigh, a look of wonder twinkles in her eye and she draws near.

"Oh," she purrs into my ear, "are you happy to see me?"

I look over through a haze of cold medications and muster a beguiling smile.

"No, sorry, dear, I'm just feverish."

Fortunately, I'm feeling better now, so my wife can return to her regularly-scheduled disappointment.

A Crudely-Rendered Latin Post

November 12, 2010

Hiatus is Latin for "an opening, a gap in something".

It's what you've been seeing here for the past few days. A hiatus, an opening in the somewhat daily parade of posts that, for the most part, decorate this little piece of the internet.

Normal posting will resume next week. I hope. Until then, enjoy this picture of the one attractive girl on Duke's campus.

Suum hiatum volo videre...

Pronounced: "Soo-oom hee-ah-toom woe-loe wee-dair-aye..."

You know where to get the translation...

It's relevant because it's basketball season.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XC

November 5, 2010

Salvete, Omnes!

Here we are again, a Friday morning upon us. And a cold, damp and dark one at that, for those of us in the northern hemisphere. At least around my little part of the hemisphere, that is.

A lot of Latin phrases have survived from antiquity into the modern era, mostly because their meaning is not lost on us in modern times. In vino veritas is one of those phrases. It's also one of those phrases that we need to infer part of the phrase for it to make sense in English. It means "In wine, (there is) truth." The "there is" is implied for we speakers of the barbaric English tongue.

It means that, when one is deep into his or her cups, the speaker is more likely to tell you what they actually feel rather than what they think you want them to say. It's a pretty good summary of the affects of alcohol loosening the tongue, and seemed to be just as common in Roman times as it is today.

However, truth isn't the only thing that can be found in a bottle of wine...or beer.

In cervesia, pulchritudo.

Pronounced: "In care-ways-ee-ah, pool-kree-too-doh."

Boozy translation in the hovertext.

Really, this was just an excuse to use my favorite advertisement for Olde English malt liquor. You can substitute vino in for cervesia and get the wine version of this phrase.

Got time for a fun little story that's only somewhat related to the text?

Sure you do.

Vino isn't only the ablative and dative form of the word for wine in Latin, it's the name of this Indian dude I hung out with in grad school. Vino was from Dekalb, IL, born and raised here in 'Merica. Despite this, he still lived up to every Asian stereotype there is about bad drivers. We knew this, and yet got in the car with him because he was willing to drive us around, especially when the rest of us--me, Dr. Assy, Captain B., the Vulgar Bulgarian--were drunk.

One night, we were drunk and we absolutely needed some Taco Bell. This was after we had all been in South Bend for about two months, so we didn't really know where things were, aside from the campus and the closest City Wide Liquors. However, Vino had a rough idea where the nearest Taco Bell was (turns out, it was the second nearest, but, hey, he was willing to drive).

We loaded up in Vino's car and drove toward Taco Bell. Unfortunately, we drove past the intersection, so Vino decided he was going to turn around in someone's driveway. Problem was, Vino kind of turned in front of an oncoming car. The bigger problem was that Vino didn't pull into the driveway right away, and instead held his car perpendicular to the rush of on-coming traffic.

Dr. Assy and I began screaming as certain death bore down upon us, flashing headlights and honking horn included. Finally, Vino pulls into the driveway of some dentist or doctor's office, narrowly missing being T-boned by some angry South Bend driver. As Dr. Assy and I laughed off our near-death experience in the way that the sudden rush of adrenaline co-mingled with the sweet sense of relief of not dying brings, Vino voiced his displeasure with our screaming.

"Chill," he said, "I didn't want to drive on the grass."

Vino did not make it to his second semester in grad school. He left ND and returned to Dekalb to do God only knows what. I hope he found something that involved minimal driving to and from work; he was a great guy, just a shitty driver.

The Big 8-0-0

November 3, 2010

This is my 800th post. I figured, in honor of the eight hundredth piece of crap that I've churned out to suck up slices of internet pie, I should do a rant.

If you are friends with me on the Book of Faces, then you will know that I recently got the disheartening news that I was once again turned down by a publisher. Ho hum. It's old hat at this point.

However, there was something particularly grating about this one.

I had decided to try my hand at one of these small, independent e-publishers. Since the market place is beginning to see a pretty wide array of e-readers as well as a moderate uptick in sales of electronically-published books, I figured this could be a good way to stay apace with technology and get myself into the hot little hands of teenagers everywhere!

*ahem* Sorry about that.

My wife had found this particular publisher for me. She knew someone who had published with them, so I thought I'd give them a go. Plus, you know, make the missus happy. *wiggles eyebrows*

*ahem* Sorry about that.

I prepared everything I needed as per the guidelines on their website. As they instructed, I submitted, waited patiently for word from them, and then got kicked in the teeth grundle. The reasoning for them to turn me down? Here, I'll let them explain it, cutting and pasting directly from the rejection letter they sent me:

To be completely frank with you, I believe The Boar War is too commercial a manuscript for a small independent publisher
I'm sorry? It's too commercial? What do you mean by that? Do you think that it's "too good" or "too mainstream" for your small publishing company? You're afraid that it would have "too much success?" Um. Okay.

At this point, I wasn't feeling so bad. And then I continued reading:

The story seems to be perfectly positioned as a middle-grade YA fantasy, in the same niche as the recent Guardians of Ga'Hoole.
Recent? Just because Hollywood made a shitty movie based loosely on the story does not make it "recent". The last book in the series was published two fucking years ago and the series itself was started in 2003. Yeah, that's fucking recent. That's real fucking recent. I guess if it falls within the current epoch, that shit's recent.

Also, just because a story features animals as characters does not mean it is exactly like another story with animals as characters. That's like saying Hamlet and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are the same fucking book because they both have Scandinavians in them. Or, better yet, claiming How to Train Your Dragon is the same story as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I mean, they have "dragon" right there in the titles, and they feature Swedes, more or less, and--the real kicker--they're both written on paper!

I do hyperbole so well...

After this, the real fucking slap in the face arrived. Please note that the following was written after the text of the email had changed fonts. That's real fucking professional, too, by the way. Let me be the first to point out that recently movable text was developed so that your documents did not look fucking shitty and like a third grader put them together. Maybe you should look into it, or even try the recent development of word processing programs that allow you to highlight a block of text and make it uniform with the click of a button.

Anyway, this is the line that really filled my veins with rage-ahol:

consider submitting your work to YA agents and perhaps to publishers like Peachtree and Scholastic.
This tells me that the asshole who wrote my rejection letter did not read a fucking word of my submission. They read the cover letter and the synopsis (maybe), and that was it. I can tell this because here is what happens in the first fifty pages I sent them:

  • The bloody and meticulous slaughter of an important character
  • An attempted rape on the main character of my story
  • Implied sexuality between two of the first characters we meet
  • Violent murders of those same two characters
  • The main character's pet killed in cold blood and for sport
  • Liberal use of the word "bitch" to describe one of the dead characters and the main character as she escaped the threat
  • A bloody fight between a herd of deer and a pack of wolves
  • A somewhat graphic description of the wounds sustained by one of the deer characters

Now, you tell me that this is something that is going to be targeted straight for middle school readers. In a recent development, rape is somewhat of a taboo in children's literature.

Oh, and by the way, fuckers, the main characters of the story--as clearly outlined in the submission summary and the synopsis--are humans, not a bunch of fucking owls. Yes, the animals are characters, but they are not the characters. This story is more like the fucking recent political story Animal Farm than motherfucking Guardians of Gahoole. Dammit, I want to skull fuck you stupid cockwaffles.

The final nail in the fuck-you coffin, also in the "hey, we're a fucking joke of a company" vein, was how I was told that I've used "highly-repetitive language" and where my "prose could flow more smoothly." On their website, they implore potential authors to avoid "thesaurus abuse" and not to worry if things seem "choppy" or "rough". These things "can be fixed later."

So, while I was originally kind of sad, I think I'm just mad. Mad, and relieved that I won't be working with these hacks. Sure, this might seem like sour grapes, and perhaps a little of it is. However, when you tell someone that their story is too commercial and then suggest the wrong places for the story to go and slap it all in a form email that is poorly formatted and, by the way, repetitive, then you open yourself to some criticism of your own.

In that light, fuck you, electronic publisher. My too commercial manuscript and I will go find someone who actually gives a damn about potential new authors. And, more importantly, someone who has their shit together.

Totally Blowing Stuff Up Tuesdays: Because Pumpkins Are Too Good NOT to Blow Up

November 2, 2010

Ah, Tuesday, when we appeal (somewhat irregularly) to the pyromaniac in all of us. Remember, when it comes to pyromaniacy--or sexual harassment--if you do it once, it's not a problem. Or a pattern. It's an isolated incident.

Just, bear that in mind.

And what have you provided for us today, oh wonders of the internets? What have you given us to while away thirty seconds with this morning? Could it be gourds flying apart quickly and violently, accompanied by flashes of light and near-sonic booms?

Why, yes. Yes, it could be.

But, what would make a concussive end to a pumpkin's life more satisfying? Could it be, possibly, lighting the fuse with the lit end of a cigarette? How about someone worrying aloud and off-camera about their cat-litter-bucket-cum-pumpkin stand and the state of said litter bucket at the end of this exercise? How about throwing in a ramshackle barn, crudely made dog pens, and ten miles of green garden hose wound upon a hose reel and stretched out into the yard? What about someone opining off camera, loudly and barely intelligibly that it doesn't need to be so loud and enthusiastic next time?

Dear me, could we get all of those things in one?

Yes. Yes, we could get all of those things in one.

I'm sure he hasn't practiced by blowing up meth labs or anything before.


November 1, 2010

The family that cosplays together...

...stays together!

Too bad the hat is hiding my beautiful, strawberry blond locks.