July 20, 2010

Roget and Me

In my search for the just the right word, I often turn to Roget’s Thesaurus, which is a great resource but has the potential to distract me. For example:

Look up “sat”. See “Satan” at top of page. Find synonyms and antonyms for “the devil”. Notice "Beelzebub".

Am reminded of the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational reworking of the word and search old emails until I find it: Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

Re-read the rest (**see below) and have a good laugh. Return to thesaurus. See Loki under subheading “fallen angels”. Hey, wasn’t that the spirit that possessed Jim Carrey in “The Mask”?

By now, I’ve forgotten why I opened Roget’s in the first place. And I wonder why my word count for the day is so low!

**The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational asks readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing of one letter, and supply a new definition. The 2005 winners were:
*Cashtration: The act of buying a house, which renders  the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
 *Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and a butthead.
 *Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
 *Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
 *Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating.
 *Caterpallor: The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
 *Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
 *Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
 *Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
 *Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
 *Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease (This one got extra credit.)
 *Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
 *Decafalon: The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
 *Glibido: All talk and no action.
 *Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
 *Arachnoleptic fit: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

July 13, 2010

The Pile Diminishes

Hot summer days, perfect for lolling about with cool drinks and catching up on books in my pile. Here's what I've read recently:

Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book. One of the creepiest beginnings of any story I've read (that's meant as a compliment, by the way). Rather dark for a kid's book, and I believe Gaiman once said he didn't intend it as one. The tale of a boy raised by ghouls in a graveyard, loosely based on Kipling's "The Jungle Book". Not as terrifying overall as the jacket blurb claims, but certainly worth your time.

Noel Langley – The Land of Green Ginger. I came to this book via a recommendation from Gaiman (one of his interviews, I think). The original story has been around since 1937. This version comes from the man who wrote the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz. You could go crazy counting all the adverbs and dialogue tags, but the writing is witty and engaging. If you like flying carpets, floating gardens, genies, and Asian intrigue, this book is a treasure.

Diana Wynne Jones – Castle in the Air.  A follow-up of sorts to "Howl's Moving Castle", this tale follows a merchant who buys a rug with an attitude, falls in love with a princess, and rescues her from a wicked djinn. A good book to curl up with on a lazy afternoon.

Christopher Vogler – The Writer’s Journey. A book about mythic structure discussed in a previous post (6/15). This fabulous resource belongs in every writer's bookcase.

Robin McKinley – The Hero and the Crown. Often mentioned by Kristin Cashore ("Graceling") as a major influence. The story of a scorned princess thought to be powerless who discovers otherwise and finds herself torn between love and duty. I knew McKinley from a fairy-tale retelling ("Beauty"), and this book definitely lived up to my high expectations.

Kate DiCamillo – The Mysterious Journey of Edward Tulane. I know, I know, I idolize DiCamillo. I held off on this one, though, thinking the story of a haughty china rabbit wouldn't hold my interest. Should have known better. I devoured it in one setting and closed the book with tears in my eyes.

Familiar with any of these?