Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Current Read

I started Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland but have only read about a page and a half as editing has taken over. I have great hopes for both although one will always war with the other re time, energy, reading and focus. If I'm good, editing will make reading difficult and very slow. If I'm bad, you'll see another current read post soon and I will feel a little ashamed (but happy).

If you like urban fantasy and haven't read Diana Rowland's Kara Gillian series, give it a whirl. Great mix of murder investigations, magic, demons and alternate worlds. And if you think the murder investigations are going to be a little off, what with this being fiction and fantasy, think again. Diana Rowland was a cop.

Hilarious book covers

Marmalade Cat

Today has been governed by two things. The first is Bonzo or Neighbour Cat as we call him. This is my spot and he's been here since this morning. I am currently sitting at the very edge of my spot, my back getting sore, wondering why I haven't thrown him off yet. Answer: I'm a sucker and well, the weathers cold and so was he and I felt sorry for him and he took advantage and he opened the door by himself which shows he really, really wanted in and yeah, I'm a sucker.

The second is this: I made marmalade from a full bag of oranges and one lemon. More than most recipes call for. I cut the amount of sugar in half too. Made an effort to slice the rinds super thin and I kept the pulp out so it is really clear. Very pretty when you look at it up close. It is still cooling and will probably take a few hours more.

Conclusion: Today is an orange day.

Now, back to business. Get rid of the headache and get back to editing.

The English language and nonsense (dumb or dum)

The English language is overly complicated, often nonsensical, frustrating to learn properly, contains too many exceptions to rules and its spelling and grammar are not even agreed upon by all English speaking and writing countries. It gets a little mind boggling when you study it and the study of English is far from the simple field most like to portray it as. Here is an amusing video to highlight some points before I rattle on.

Here are some of other differences: 

British English

American English

British English

American English

British English
Organize and Organise
Realize and Realise
Recognize and Recognise

American and Canadian English

British English

American English

Exceptions apply. Also, the list of differences between the two versions of English is far, far longer. Then you find scientific writing standards are different again, as can be the case with Canadian, Australian and other sub-versions of English.

Now factor in multi-media and the world dialogue. Books are shipped everywhere and read by everyone, we email and chat to people all over the world, we travel more than ever, we study abroad and we work on computers set to versions of English we may or may not be familiar with. This leads to people being familiar with and using a mish-mash of words generally pulled from the two main versions of English: British and American.

Each person who’s paying attention to their writing and correcting themselves will often say their way is right but when you look at their writing closely you will often find it a mixture of American and British English, neither truly one or the other. This may be because of spellcheck settings or because of the writer has been so inundated with both versions of English that it becomes impossible to stick to just one version when writing or thinking.

Don’t get me started on conversations I’ve been sucked into over who is using the right spelling of a word… I am getting to the point where frustration is even flagging, leaving me feeling only weariness.

I vote for this. If what you are writing is informal then just write one of the versions that can be said to be correctly spelt and not a version that can only be said to be a complete misspelling. If what you are writing is formal then make sure you pick a version of English and stick to it. Set that spellcheck, re-read your words and think very hard as you do because some of the differences are not at all obvious. And if even then you trip up and use a mix of the two versions, try to forgive yourself and maybe get the help of an editor. Editors are so steeped in the language they will likely be able to point out the vast majority of mistakes you’ve made, if not all. With their help you will end up with a nice, clean copy you can feel proud of.

The English language is continually changing and updating just by our using it. It is as live a creation as anything not alive can be. It needs care and tending, trimming of unwanted offshoots, guidance and yet acceptance of change. It is much like taking care of a Bonsai, a fast growing one at that. You have to pay attention, clip it back, shape it, but you also have to let it grow, nurture it, feed it, use it and above all allow it to be seen. It won’t do well if clipped harshly, it won’t grow if it is not given enough light of day, it won’t will fade and wilt if given only modest foods. It also shouldn’t be allowed to grow unchecked and unfettered limbs.

Ah, enough. You get what I mean (hopefully). Don’t smother the language and the writers with rules but do give them something solid and functional to work with, hopefully with a little room for play. Don't misuse it too much either. If we break all the rules there will be nothing left for us to communicate with. The English language would eventually erode away into nonsense if we used it incorrectly all the time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Magic words: origins and uses

First off, before I even looked at magic words in themselves I looked at the origins of the words “magic” and “words” purely because you’d need the two, whatever the form they took, to be able to say a word is a magic word at all. So, here is a little on “magic” and “words”.

Noun: the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.
Adjective: having or apparently having supernatural powers.
Verb: Move, change or create by or as if by magic.
Origin: Late Middle English; from Old French magique, from Latin magicus (adjective), late Latin magica (noun), from Greek magikē (tekhnē) (art of) a magus. Magi were regarded as magicians.

Noun:  A single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.
Verb: (with object) express (something spoken or written) in particular words.
Adjective: with submodifier worded.
Origin: Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch word and German Wort, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin verbum ‘word’.

Common Magic (adjective) Words (noun):

OED recognised. Late 17th century  (as a mystical word engraved and used as a charm to ward off illness): from Latin, first recorded in a 2nd century poem by Q. Serenus Sammonicus, from a Greek base.
Better known to us as a magic word used by stage magicians that also appears in everything Disney and was spoken by the clown who appeared at your 5th birthday party. Power resides in the user of this word, not in the word itself, otherwise those clowns wouldn't be there for your 5th birthday in the first place.

Not recognised as a word.
But it is recognised as a family or proper name.
Because of this, it is possible that to say that when using Alakazam as a magic word you are trying to draw on the powers and attention of a person named Alakazam rather than magic, much like praying but I know of no god named Alakazam.

Sim Sala Bim
Not OED recognised.
Sim Sala Bum was a phrase used by Harry August Jansen. Also, these magic words were used by Hadji on two shows: The Adventures of Jonny Quest and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (these could be said to be just one show continued).
Not used very often, this phrase still has some power to it but mostly when written rather than spoken. Spoken, it just sounds silly (I am not saying so by making any comparison to other magic words. There are plenty sillier.).

Open Sesame
Not OED recognised.
Ali Baba spoke these words in the English version of a tale from 1001 Arabian Nights.
The reason most of us know of this magic phrase has less to do with the book and more to do with Disney. When we were kids a whole lot of us ended up seated in the theatre watching the Disney Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves movie. Then those that did see it proceeded to run about like headless chooks screaming “Open Sesame” over everything that could possibly be linked to magic, locks and treasure (imagined or otherwise). It was even often used as a not-so-secret password.

OED recognised. An invented word used in the 1940’s by conjurers.
Preferred magic word of Captain Marvel.
2nd choice of magic word for that 5th birthday clown. Not as easily recognised by kiddies so some confused faces are likely to result from its usage.

Hocus Pocus
OED recognised. Early 17th century: from hax pax max Deus adimax, a pseudo-Latin phrase used as a magic formula by conjurors.
I think I like hax pax max Deus adimax better.
You may know hocus pocus from kiddie TV and Disney movies, also cult horror movies and books where the words hocus pocus have little magic to them and are used more to describe what magic is.

Rarely used or known.
Clowns of Jaye’s magic circus spoke this word so it has some power if spoken in front of the right people.

Alla Peanut Butter Sandwiches
This magical phrase is spoken by The Amazing Mumford on Sesame Street and is a hit with anyone a child when it was first used and any kid currently familiar with it. It will cause uncontrollable giggles in the young.

Johnny Thunder, superhero, used the word Cei-u to summon his magical thunderbolt. Nobody else uses this word and few know how to pronounce it.

Klaatu barada nikto
These magic words need to be spoken correctly and in order.
First spoken in the 1951 movie The Day The Earth Stood Still but they weren’t used as magic words until the awesome movie Army of Darkness.
Any Uni student or horror buff worth their salt will know these lines and use them freely along with lines such as “Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick!” and “Shop smart, shop S-Mart!”.

Meeska, Mooska, Mickey Mouse
This word is often used in the TV show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and has the power to make the clubhouse appear. I’m sure this means a lot to some of you but it means absolutely zip to me so this phrase holds little power as far as I’m concerned.

Presto chango
Magicians used these magic words to suggest a quick change has happened, usually when the smashed watch is ‘reformed’ into a brand spanking new one. If someone says presto chango to you, check your pockets and/or give the beady eye to anything handed to you that’s said to be new or fixed. Don’t trust the use of these magic words to mean something good has happened.

Hey Presto
OED recognised. British in origin.
Hey presto is a phrase often used to announce the successful completion of a magic trick or to suggest that something has been done so easily that it seems like magic.
This phrase needs less of the beady eye but still beware.
Overused but still a favourite.

Wella Walla Washington
Bugs Bunny from the Loony Tunes prefers this magic phrase no matter the instance. You will hear 30-40 year old men using this phrase but not many others.

Origin: Middle English. From Old French plaisir ‘to please’, from Latin placer.
Known to all as the most powerful magic word there is. Things happen simply by saying this word; attitudes change, what is wanted is often attained, sacrifices are made for you and arguments are curbed.
Such power cannot be found in the use of any of the previous magic words.
The favourite magic word of any child wishing a forbidden cookie.

Allergy free pumpkin pie recipe

  • 1 cup Orgran all purpose flour
  • ½ cup Orgran self-raising flour
  • ½ cup cornflour
  • ⅓ cup Orgran gluten free gluten
  • 125g Nuttlex
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 40mls water until thick
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • Pumpkin, cooked (approx. 1/2 a large pumpkin, 1 medium, 1 ½ small)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup goat’s milk
  • 6 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 120mls water until frothy and firm


  • Peel, seed, and dice pumpkin to fairly uniform sized pieces.
  • Bring the pumpkin to boil in a large pot and simmer until cooked through (soft).
  • Drain the pumpkin and then replace into large pot.
  • Allow pumpkin to cool while you make the pastry.
  • Grease your pie dish.
  • Combine the pastry flours, gluten free gluten, Nuttlex and ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl and rub the Nuttlex through until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the No egg mixture and ¼ cup cold water.
  • Combine until the pastry just comes together.
  • Roll and press the pastry together until smooth.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
  • Place remaining pastry between 2 sheets of cling wrap or baking paper.
  • Roll out until large enough to fit the pie dish.
  • Peel away one piece of cling wrap, flip the pastry into the pie dish, shape and cut away any excess.
  • Set aside to rest.
  • Mash or puree the pumpkin until smooth.
  • Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice, mixing until smooth.
  • Slowly and carefully fold the Orgran No Egg mixture into the pumpkin mix until evenly combined. Do not over stir, you want lots of tiny bubbles to remain in the mixture.
  • Pour the pumpkin mix into the pastry, level with a spoon if necessary.
  • Cook until the top begins to crack: approximately ¾ hour-1 hour at 180°C.

Writing on human skin part I

"I should have been a pair of ragged claws, Scuttling across the floors of silent seas." - The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, T S Eliot.

"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream" - A Dream Within a Dream, Edgar Allan Poe.

"For every dark night, there's a brighter day" - Tupac Shakur.

"Nothing is worth more than this day" - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." - Macbeth, William Shakespeare.

"And In Time This Too Shall Pass" - "This Too Shall Pass" has a long history, of Jewish and Turkish significance, and is spoken by Solomon in the bible.

"Darpe diem quam minimum credula postero" - translates roughly as "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future" but there are several different translations, Odes 1.11, Ode to Cassandra, Horace.

"Reality is wrong, Dreams are for real,"- Tupac Shakur.

"For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing." - Romans 7:19.

"Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves." - Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll.

Warning: Be very careful choosing your quotes and examine just what they mean before inking them onto yourself. Not everything is as it seems in writing and a misplaced clever sounding quote might make you look like an idiot. Also, be aware that your appreciation of a quote might dim so ponder the quote for a little while before making it permanent.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book repurposing (once you've read them)

Make a bath. 

Construct a broom. 

 Use several to make a reading lamp.

 Use several thousand to make a building.

 Put together a chair to sit on while reading your new books.

Make a counter or bench.

 'Sew' a dress.

 Create rings and pendants.

 Put together a light shade.

Form a rug. 

Mock up a coffee table.

 Create a new tower of Babel.

Or make a lovely vase.

Comprehension test (a challenge if ever there was one)

Explain what these sentences mean… Please.
“The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relationships in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.”
- Written by Judith Butler, professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley.

"If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo -scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classification can be seen as the desperate effort to 'normalize' formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality."
- Written by Homi K. Bhabha, professor of English at the University of Chicago in his book The Location of Culture.

Note: I usually score very high on comprehension test but both these pieces caused me immense confusion before I could even finish reading them. I just can't read it because my mind starts tying itself in knots just trying to figure out what any given sequence of ten words means, let alone an entire phrase.

Allergy free fruit and polenta hot breakfast recipe

  • 4 apples
  • 3 nectarines
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar (preservative)
  • 2 tsp Orgran No Egg or cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (preservative)
  • Additional fruit such as cranberries, lemon juice, currants, peach, sultanas etc
  • Water
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 1 1/2 cup water

  • Peel, core and dice the apples.
  • Peel, pit and dice the nectarines.
  • Add to pot along with any additional fruit.
  • Fill pot with water until water is level with the fruit.
  • Bring to the boil.
  • Add sugar, Orgran No egg or cornflour and salt. Don't worry when white lumps appear, these will boil away. You can squish as many as you like.
  • Boil/simmer until the water has thickened to sauce, the fruit is cooked and the white lumps have disappeared.
  • Serves at least 6. If all of the fruit sauce is to be eaten immediately you can leave out the preservatives salt and sugar for a healthier version.
  • For polenta, cook 1:3. 1/2 a cup of polenta is plenty for one serving.
  • Cook in 1 1/2 cup of water.
  • Stir continuously, or as near to as possible.
  • Serve as soon as the polenta expands and the water is soaked up.
  • Serve polenta in a bowl and top with 3-4 tbsp of fruit sauce.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Famous last words

This may seem like I've just randomly looked into famous last words for a blog post. But no, this post stemmed from my need to figure out what a character would say when facing a situation he believes will be the death of him. Of course, my solution was far more simple as I decided my character would simply swear. He does swear in Croatian, however, so I had to do a little interrogating of a friend from my school days in order to find the right swear word.

Actual famous last words:
(I am always morbidly interested in who wrote them down and why.)

"My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” - Oscar Wilde.

"Hey, Jimmie! The Chimney Sweeps.  Talk to the Sword.  Shut up, you got a big mouth! Please come help me up, Henny.  Max come over here.  French Canadian bean soup.  I want to pay.  Let them leave me alone.” - Arthur "Dutch Schultz" Flegenheimer, 1920's-30's gangster. Said while suffering a fever after being shot in the stomach.

"One last drink, please!" - Jack Daniel.

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...!" - John Sedgwick. Said just before being shot by a Confederate sharp shooter during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.

"Dying is easy, comedy is hard." - George Bernard Shaw.

"Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow's paper? "French Fries"!" - James French, murderer, who was sentenced to die by the electric chair.

"Hurry up, you Hoosier bastard, I could kill ten men while you're fooling around!" - Carl Pansram, serial killer, who was sentenced to hang.

"Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies." - Voltaire. Said in response to being asked by a priest to renounce Satan.

Spot the Engrish

The aim of this game is to identify which lines are engrish (inaccurate Japanese to English translations whether spoken or written) and which lines are just poorly written English.
  1. Hummels largest selection everif it's in stock, we have it!
  2. Are you killing me?
  3. Get a little john: the traveling urinal holds 2 1/2 bottles of beer.
  4. Nice parachute never opened used once slightly stained
  5. Producer sleeping in the house. Producer sleeping forever.
  6. Free: farm kittens. ready to eat.
  7. Repeat after me: carshrimp.
  8. Eye drops off shelf
  9. Squad helps dog bite victim
  10. Dealers will hear car talk at noon
  11. Very very danger!
  12. Enraged cow injures farmer with ax
  13. Lawmen from Mexico barbecue guests
  14. Miners refuse to work after death
  15. Do you know Japanese famous star?
  16. Two Soviet ships collide - one dies
  17. Two sisters reunite after eighteen years at checkout counter
  18. Bye-bye cycle!
  19. Police Begins Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  20. Hi my name is 2PM!
  21. Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
  22. All go to helicopter sky?
  23. Go club. Get drink. You stupid shit.
  24. Panda Mating Falls; Veternarian Takes Over
  25. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
  26. I am GAY! G-Y-A! GAY!
  27. Share me. Music with me?
  28. Never Withold Herpes Infection from Loved One
  29. Cows, calves never bred... also 1 gay bull for sale.
  30. '83 Toyota hunchback -- $2000
  31. Eat-o pancake.
  32. Free Yorkshire terrier. 8 years old. unpleasant little dog.
  33. Please dont touch yourself, let us help you to try out Thanks!
  34. Soft & genital bath tissues or facial tissue89 cents
  35. Do you like theme park?
  36. Shakespeare's pizza free chopsticks
  37. Happy ageless welcome to world leave your behind & wlecome to here I’ll be waitign here for you
  38. I’m go to bad.
  39. On sunday I used to ride my lovely automobile, I called him Tom and go around everywhere
  40. …the person other has become tangible thing that keeps them together family home them…
  41. I collect cars. I do it everyday.