Posts Tagged Words

Rogue Love

Nerd time: I’m sure a fair number of you remember the scene in SW: The Empire Strikes Back where Leia tells Han she loves him, and he responds with “I know.”

From what I can tell, that’s supposed to be taken as a classic and in-character scoundrel’s response. (Google “Leia I love you” and look at the comments under the primary video if you want.) She tells him she loves him; his response carries a general attitude of “Of course, how could you not love me?”

But what if that wasn’t how it was meant? (It was) So instead, what if life worked that way more often? Put yourself in Han’s place: What if you heard those words, and genuinely knew that was the case, because you had seen it demonstrated by the other person’s character and actions over and over again?

That’d be–to put it mildly–pretty cool.

I know I’m a few weeks late for May 4th, and a few -months- late for Valentine’s Day, but whatevs. Food for thought.

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Please do not ever use these. If you must, please do not cite your sources.

You stole my heart, valentine!  Please give it back.  Just because I donated a kidney doesn’t mean you can freely take more of my organs.


I didn’t fall for you, valentine, I was pushed.  I will likely carry the scars for some time.


Valentine, I have determined that your positive impacts currently outweigh the negative effect of your presence.  I have therefore also determined this relationship should continue.


Valentine, I wanted to write you some poetry, but I am functionally illiterate and honestly, I’m not sure you even speak English.


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Worth It.

Emerson gestured toward the second-floor walkway across the plaza, directly in front of the overstuffed bookstore she frequented on the weekends. “What about that one? She’s carrying an umbrella.”

“Why would that make a difference?” Rafael asked, leaning into the painted brown rail. The barricade was attached solidly to the structural steel in the floor below and yielded nothing to his weight.

Em pointed up at the glass roof overhead. “The precipitation forecast hasn’t bumped above twenty percent in almost three weeks, and it’s nine-thirty in the evening.”

“I can think of at least three stores on that side of this mall that would sell an umbrella. Sales wait for no man,” Rafael said. “Or woman. I would argue that it seems too silly for someone to carry an umbrella.”

“If I didn’t know better, Rafael Gerous,” Emerson said, hissing out the final syllable of his name. “I would say you’re being deliberately obstinate. Fortunately for me, I do know better, and whatever misguided train of thought is running through that head of yours, I’m not wasting my money on tickets. Fine, you could argue that she just bought the umbrella. But if that’s the case, then where’s the tag? And why,” she lowered her voice, “Isn’t she carrying it in the giant bag in her right hand?”

In one swift motion, Emerson pulled her phone out from her vest and began dialing.

Rafael let most of the air in his lungs hiss slowly out of his mouth. “Why do you keep that thing there?” he asked, tensing imperceptibly and checking his watch. “Between that and your obsession with Turandot you look like you’re about to plug someone with a couple rounds every time that song goes off. And who are you calling?”

“Your brother.” She pointed to a pair in the crowd about thirty meters ahead of the two women, who had stopped briefly as the second placed something in the plastic shopping bag. “You notice those two by the rail staring into the fountain?”

“The mayor–he was supposed to be downtown this evening!” Rafael began moving toward the pair, but the nearest transverse walkway was beyond the fountain; they would have to double back. “Forget my brother. We can handle this. It’s not a crime to carry an umbrella.”

Emerson was already three steps ahead of him, her feet clipping briskly across the aged grey tiles in front of The Abdominal Showroom. She slipped the phone back into her vest, ignoring the two men by the window somehow managing to make doing crunches an aggressive act. “Don’t even start with me, Raph. I didn’t get this job by making assumptions based on looks. We need your brother. Something feels deeply wrong about those two.”

“We’ve got this!” Rafael said. “This is a mall! Why call Daniel? We have no reason to believe this is a serious matter.”

“It is serious,” she bit back. “I know of two threats against the mayor’s life.”

Rafael sucked in a quick breath. “The bald guy over there? The one whose greatest accomplishment in office is not drooling on the podium at council meetings?”

“You really have been kept in the dark,” Emerson said, shaking her head as the two passed a small stand selling overpriced cheese. “I guess it’s not your fault. That’s why I called in. We aren’t going to be able to stop them, but your brother is on his way. This situation is about to get Dan Gerous.”

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In His Defense, the Success Rate is Still 100%

Arnold set his hat by the door and nearly tripped over a pair of black leather size 10s.  “Why are there–Whose shoes are these?

“They ain’t mine,” Cannibal Sherman said, his voice resounding from the kitchen.  “Ask Brett.”  Brett Krinkins had been the one to send out the invitations–it was his house, but he was nowhere to be found.

Arnold untied his laces.  Judging by the state of the shoes in front of him, he imagined he was the only one around who still did so.  The backs were broken down and the only set whose knotted bows weren’t still intact was the glossy black pair by his foot.

“Sorry, hon, nobody’s really that helpful around here.  Let me grab your jacket.”  Britt was the older sibling of the Krinkins pair.  “You might as well be talking to the walls.

Whose shoes are these!” she bellowed from the well-lit foyer.  She wasn’t asking a question anymore; she had turned it into a demand for an answer.

Arnold stepped back slightly.

“Quit yelling,” Brett called down the hallway.  “If we don’t know whose they are, we can just cut them both in half.”

Britt’s face wrinkled in a mixture of confusion and exasperation as her brother clomped down the wooden corridor.  “You do know that’s not how that works, right?  It only works if people are fighting over the item.  You don’t just hack stuff in half and expect to solve the problem.”

“I do,” Brett said, stepping into the entryway, his arms full of cheese wedges and a colorful mix of soda cans.  “And it does.”  He handed the cans to his sister.  “It got people to stop leaving their crap at my house.  Take these into the kitchen please,” he said to her, picking up the shoes.

She took the soda reluctantly, somehow managing to hang onto all of the cans and Arnold’s coat.  “Why on earth do we let you host?  You can’t just misapply one solution to everything you see and expect it to fix the issue!”

“I haven’t been finding tacky bakeware in my kitchen anymore,” Brett said.  “As far as I’m concerned, the problem was solved.”

“That’s the problem with you; you get one tool and you use it on the world!  When all you have is Solomon’s logic, suddenly everything looks like a baby.”

“The better to avoid kid-sitting duties, my dear.”  As he turned the shoes over in his hands, he felt a palm on his shoulder; he spun around to see Abrams’ somewhat irate visage inches from his face.

“They’re mine, thanks.”

Britt shook her head and strode off toward the kitchen.

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Make a Million Bucks

If someone can come up with a functional reverse dictionary, I think they could make a great deal of money on the ads they would no doubt coat their webpage with, since that’s how it’s done these days.

For example, take a word like homunculus.  Say you want a similar word, but with a non-person meaning.  (If it were a math equation imagine Homunculus – person + thing)  As in a perfectly formed tiny version of a thing.  Maybe it’d give you simulacrum or something similar as a result, even though it doesn’t quite match the parameters.

My point being that English has a metric stuffload of words and it’d be nice if it came with a manual to navigate from word to word so you could fall back upon it when your mental reference materials inevitably came up short.

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I Think It’s Done.

I think it’s done.

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A Slight Departure in Tone

No matter how much effort they put into keeping up appearances, the kids back then were always looking for love; those who were truly brave would steal away on starless summer nights to MacNeely’s mansion at the top of the hill, slink in through the side door, stand at the foot of the mighty Victorian staircase, and loudly call out Old Man MacNeely’s name exactly eleven times in the hopes that he would use his powers to grant your wish for romance, if he didn’t use them to beat the everliving snot out of you as he threatened to do to all the other misbehavin’ punks that repeatedly broke into his house.

To this day, there are about five different people claiming to have started the tradition. Nobody has been able to provide evidence of having started the tradition, but everyone knows who pushed it out into the street for everyone to gawk at, the day he nearly had his head busted by MacNeely’s three-foot cane.

It was Steve Billings–the boy who nearly broke both his arms trying to shove his way through a solid oak panel, but still managed to outrun MacNeely down the hall to the garden door.  MacNeely wasn’t quite as spry as he always told us he had been “back in his cross-country days,” but he came close to catching Steve that night when Steve completely forgot MacNeely kept the front door locked.

In a mysterious twist, crazy Steve nearly broke Madalyn Barrett’s arms as he ran into her in headlong flight out the side door in the dark. Scared her half to death, and made her forget all about her own plan to summon Old Man MacNeely. She was too busy busting Steve’s head with a stick.

I guess MacNeely got him, in a way.

Madalyn and Steve started going out a week later. Neither went near the house again. I felt sorry for the older man for a few months after that; when the rest of the kids from down by the railroad line saw it had worked for those two, they redoubled their visits. I think he was seeing at least one incident a night for most of the summer, twice as many on the weekends.  I suspect the shouting and the collisions with his front door drove him to hire a butler.

I tried summoning him a few times myself–once before the butler showed up, twice after. It worked–well, the summoning part did. He came flying out of his second-floor study before I got my fifth “CAN YOU HEAR ME MACNEELY? I’M TIRED OF BEING ALONE!” out, his eyes wild with fire and his hands heavy with old shoes. I stuck it out through a couple of loafers, but I never did get to finish all eleven lines; by the sixth he had switched to steel-toed boots.

I had hoped to run into Jenna Hudson on the way out, no such luck. She never had been the type to get pulled into the crowd’s antics. Instead Ted Levitt was forced to dive for cover as I tore through the hallway, the enraged clomping of shoes both worn and thrown behind me.  Ted never considered approaching the stairs. As far as I know, he never went back either. He still stares at the mansion when he passes sometimes.

Actually, since the windows melted, he stares at it more often than not.

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Status:

As of this moment book two has eclipsed book one in word count by ~350 words or so.  210,000 total.

For comparison, this is about 550 pages longer than anything I was ever told to write.

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St. Ives from an Outsider’s Perspective

I’m sure most, if not all of you have heard the St. Ives riddle.  To those who are the exception:

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Each wife had seven sacks.
Each sack had seven cats.
Each cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
how many were going to St. Ives?

I don’t have time to argue the math or the reasoning behind it, but it’s safe to say the answer is a number.  I’d imagine it somehow relates the questioner, a man, seven women, and 49 bags filled with 343 adult cats and 2401 kittens total.  (Evenly distributed into the sacks, of course.)

It bothers me that whoever is asking the question is so bloomin’ vague.  The fact that you can argue seventeen different answers (YOU were going to St. Ives!  2800 wives, sacks, cats, and kittens were going to St. Ives!  The St. Ives Bureau of Random Economic Statistics gives a figure of 48,439,000 incoming cat units for fiscal year 2007!) means the question itself needs work.

It seems to me the lack of specificity is a symptom of a much deeper problem, however.  And it’s not as if the questioner can’t be specific.  He or she is quite certain about the number of cats per bag.  In fact, the certainty about the contents of these undoubtedly massive sacks seems to imply that there was a conversation with these mysterious cat transporters:

“Hello, travelers, what’s up?”

“My seven wives and I are making our biweekly cat delivery.”

“Oh!  I can’t imagine any logistical or social problems arising in a career like that!   I myself am a dentist; the one out of five who never agrees with the others for plot-driven reasons that are never completely explained.  How many cats are in each bag?”

“These are sacks, my contentious dentist acquaintance.  There are 7 cats and 49 kittens in each sack.  How did you know the cats were in the sacks?”

“I must confess the hissing and shrieking as the sacks scraped along the ground gave your secret away.  Also, it says ‘CATS’ on the side.”

It begs the question why this person was talking to the cat people in the first place.  Do you have any idea how much feline biomass was packed into those containers?  A reasonable weight for an adult cat is approximately 10 pounds.  Given seven sacks per wife and 7 cats per bag, we have a total of 490 pounds of Adult Cat Weight alone.

Clearly, these women are not to be trifled with.

But we aren’t finished.  Now for the kittens.  While we aren’t given the exact location of St. Ives, (I suspect it’s Utah) in America they seem to suggest splitting cat families no earlier than ten weeks, an age that would give the kittens a weight of somewhere around two pounds each.  Of course, the people we’re talking about don’t seem to be the type to follow reasonable suggestions, but I imagine any cat rancher would rather not spend more money on cat food than is necessary, and would likely sell the cats at this time.  (If these people were ranching said cats and kittens to be used as food, it’s possible age isn’t a factor to them at all.  I find this somewhat absurd, even by polygamist cat-rancher standards.)

343 kittens per woman at 2 pounds each gives us 686 pounds of Kitten Weight.
490 lbs. ACW
+ 686 lbs. KW= 1176 pounds of cats per wife.

To put that in perspective, these women are lugging around a third of a Buick over their shoulders, except instead of hauling harmless, relatively inert hunks of automobile, they’ve packed 56 cats into a cramped space, and they’ve done it seven times over.  Each.

I have a hard time imagining two cats shoved into a bag together for any length of time.  Shoot, even one cat.

Of course, it is nowhere stated that the cats are alive…
Take out one of the logistical problems and suddenly the riddle becomes ever so much more disturbing.  Assuming the police are not eaten for sustenance by the Seven Strongest Women on Earth, I can see the headlines:

POLYGAMIST CAT-RANCHERS CAUGHT WITH 2744 DEAD CATS ON WAY TO ST. IVES FROM ST. IVES CRAP I DON’T EVEN KNOW

If you meet this walking catastrophe on the way to town and your only concern is mathematics, your garden is most likely short a few vegetables.

…Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
Don’t bother with math, just flee for your lives.

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Awards Night

   The auditorium was packed–rows upon rows of nameless faces: conspirators and colluders, perpetrators and abettors.  Lionel von Drath had apparently just left the stage; he was conversing in the corner with a pair of blue-suited henchmen and stroking his carefully groomed facial hair, mutton chops and a neat blond mustache.
Given a guess, Morris Brandeis suspected the man had given the same speech he had given to the crowd in Achany the week before: how he had graduated from the Academy of Villainy as class Maledictorian.  He probably thrilled the crowd with stories of exploding sandwiches and the thousand cheap and replaceable things he had lifted from the classrooms and the charity across the street and the teachers’ lounge on the days he wasn’t setting everything on fire.
He continued to walk down the incline between the left and right seating banks.  Cyrigan Ames was finishing up in front of him, but heads were already beginning to turn in his direction, even as she spoke of growing up in the town of Nicle, once the self-proclaimed “Friendliest hamlet on earth.”
It was a good story, he had heard it before as well–how she had grown with the town, corrupting it and changing it and building a reputation of her own.  It was no longer referred to as Nicle, however.  Ames was renowned for being the woman to single-handedly put the Evil into Niceville.
And yet the crowd was already drawn to Brandeis, who hadn’t yet set foot upon the stage.  Ames was slowing now; she had been winding down as he stepped in the door.  He watched the audience respond warmly as she concluded and stepped down to join von Drath.
Or rather, those who hadn’t noticed Brandeis enter responded well.  Those who had gave perfunctory applause in deference to tradition, even among rogues.
Brandeis approached the podium without a word; the crowd waited as anxiously as could be expected from such a crowd of hardened miscreants.
“My fellow malefactors,” he began.  “I’m certain you have heard your fill this evening of antics and escapades, high class and classless destruction.  I don’t intend to discuss my achievements with you tonight;”  –At this the crowd’s enthusiasm perceptibly sagged–  “I’m sure after two hours of stories the anecdotes begin to coalesce into a formless rush of noise, moreso when as listeners you weren’t the ones to perpetrate any of it.”
He took a short drink from a glass of water that had been sitting on the podium since before the first speaker had presented his case hours prior.
“So I will try to describe myself.”
He began to stroll across the stage, holding the glass in his left hand and drinking occasionally.  Von Drath crossed his arms and listened.
“Imagine a man who fights with nothing to lose, because he understands that anyone and anything can be replaced.  A man who trades in destruction not because of its effectiveness as a currency, but simply because he enjoys the smell.  One who each morning spreads butter made from the tears of children onto toast made from kittens.  A man who in his foulest and most desperate hour would find himself incapable of hurling the earth into the sun only because he would have done so long before that point.”
Brandeis returned to the podium and set the glass back in its place.
“I am that man’s evil twin.”

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