The Mornings After

Today is the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington. This is a recreational blog, and as a rule, I like to keep it light, meaning that I avoid religion and politics at all costs. But once in a while, I feel the need to say something, and given the state of the nation right now, today, this is one of those times. I first published this article on Jack’s Hideout on the tenth anniversary in 2011, and for the most part it still applies. So here, with a few tweaks to bring it up to date, is my offering for the 9/11 remembrance.

It has been seventeen years since that dark day in history. As one who loves my country, despite all its faults and blemishes, it is time to tell my own insignificant story. Here on the west coast, separated from these momentous events by two mountain ranges and three time zones, it took on a surrealism that couldn’t be experienced by those in the immediate vicinity.

On September 11th, 2001 I was a shift worker. It was the first of three days off. I had come off a night shift, and crawled into bed for a good night’s sleep around 3:00 AM [all times Pacific, making it three hours later in New York and Washington]. Later that morning, about 10:00 AM, I woke up, staggered to the coffee pot, still mostly asleep, poured a cup, and sat down on the couch. When I flipped on the TV, KUSI Channel 51, an unaffiliated local station came on, showing a long view of the New York skyline with black smoke roiling up from the Twin Towers, a somber reporter making infrequent comments about the dark day this was for America. This was puzzling, as this outlet was normally showing a sort of localized version of the Today show at that time, and my first thought was, “Why are they showing a movie at this hour?” Remember, I haven’t begun to come fully awake at this point.

My first attempt to rationalize what I was seeing was that they must be showing scenes from an upcoming blockbuster. The effects were magnificent, of course, but when the view stayed the same, and the reporter didn’t offer much more in the way of dialogue, I got bored and cycled the channel to our local NBC affiliate.

Oh my God! There was the same picture, with a reporter offering much more information. I have never come awake that fast in my life; I hope I never do again. As I sat open-mouthed, my shaking hand spilling hot coffee on my jeans, the first tower began its descent into rubble. At first I thought I was watching live events. Only later did I learn that all this had happened while I was sleeping. That didn’t matter, it was live to me. My first thought was, It’s the end of the world; somebody’s going to get nuked into radioactive slag for this. Other impressions were of a missing President, as Mr. Bush was out of Washington at the time, and took to the air in Air Force One, escorted all over the southeastern United States by F-16s, presenting a moving target to an attack that no one could say was over yet. I remember the map with 5,000 little green glowing airplanes beginning to clear as the FAA struggled to clear the skies over America. But mostly, I remember Ashley Banfield.

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Ashley Banfield became the face of the 9/11 coverage for me. A reporter of personalities, she had a job on Wall Street interviewing the movers and shakers of the day. I myself had never heard of her. She looked like a ditsy woman I had once worked with, which was an initial strike against her, but she overcame that within minutes. Without hesitation, she descended on the World Trade Center, armed with a microphone, and accompanied by her cameraman, whose name, to my everlasting discredit, I have been unable to find. Arriving shortly before the first collapse, they broke into a closed business to shelter from the fallout. She emerged covered from head to toe in fine gray dust, finger-wiped her Clark Kent glasses, and proceeded to perform two nonstop days of the finest unplanned news coverage I have ever witnessed. She was given water by firefighters, caught a nap in the back of an ambulance, and interviewed everybody who would stop and talk to her. And this was none of that, “What do you think about this?” drivel you see so much at disaster scenes. Her questions drew out the essence of what it was to have lived through the horror, and kept us up to the minute on what was going on among emergency responders and survivors alike. I don’t know why she didn’t get Tom Brokaw’s job when he retired, or at least, Katie Couric’s. The only reason I can think of is what I call The Zulu Effect: In that no-longer-PC movie, after hours of non-stop attacks by thousands of Zulus on a small British garrison, the two officers, played by Michael Caine and Stanley Baker, stand amid piles of corpses in a small yard of the mission hospital they have successfully defended. Second-in-command Michael Caine asks, “Was it like this for you? The first time, I mean?” to which his superior, Stanley Baker, replies, “The first time? You think I could stand in this butchers’ yard more than once?”

I was scheduled to be off for three days, which was the length of time that all of America was a no-fly zone. It was eerie. I remember sitting out under the orange tree with Bonnie, hearing no jet noise, seeing no airplanes, except once on the second day when a flight of F-16s from an Air Force base up north made a sweep over the city. Getting to work would have been a nightmare, as security on all the bases was cranked up to a level unprecedented in American history. There were eight hour waits the first couple of days, as every car was checked with a fine tooth comb from hubcaps to sunroof. It was not the most enjoyable three days off I’ve ever had, hanging on news coverage that mostly showed the Towers falling, over and over and over again, waiting for hard information that didn’t seem to come. It did eventually trickle in, of course, a picture emerged of who they were and where they came from, and the War on Terror began on my birthday; I was proud of that . . .

Now it is seventeen years later. What has changed? Well, nobody flies for fun anymore. If you simply must, then before you get on the plane, government officials subject you to a level of sexual molestation that, performed outside the airport, would get them life in prison without parole. It’s harder to get into buildings than it used to be. My “rank” was sufficient that I could take Bonnie to the Officers’ Club for dinner; after 9/11 I couldn’t even bring her on the base. Have these measures helped? Possibly. It’s impossible to describe the attacks that didn’t take place because you couldn’t bring a bottle of shampoo onto an airplane, but it is more difficult to make your way through your daily life, and I can’t help but think of the words of Benjamin Franklin, words to the effect of, “Anyone who gives up some liberty to obtain some security will soon have neither.” I guess the jury’s still out on that one.

The survivors have become a subclass of our culture, and they say some things that seem odd. From the fireman who pulled his buddy out moments before the collapse to the securities manager who carried a wheelchair-bound woman down sixty-eight flights of stairs, they all say, “Don’t call me a hero. Talk to that guy.” Survivor’s guilt? Modesty? Just fed up with their unwanted star status? That’s not for me to say.

I sort of get it, though. As one who came of age in the sixties, I am a Vietnam Veteran, and while I will freely talk about what it’s like to ride out a hurricane on a small wooden ship, stand a pier watch in freezing rain, or hold a 25,000 ton fleet oiler steady in a seaway while a helicopter medevacs a stricken shipmate, I don’t talk about ‘Nam. I can’t. I tried to write a work of fiction incorporating some of the events that happened to me; it doesn’t come. What happened there stays there, somehow part of a sacred core that no one is allowed to touch. The 9/11 survivors had their “Tour in ‘nam” visited on them in a single morning, and with none of the training or preparation we had as soldiers and sailors. I briefly mention my own experience here as a reference point, but had I made a dozen tours, it would pale by comparison to what these people went through.

My grandparents recognized one date on which they remembered where they were, what they were wearing, who they were with, what song was playing, everything, like it had just happened moments ago. Their Date was December 7th, 1941. In the aftermath of that memory, their generation rolled up their sleeves and went to work. My grandma took a job building fighter planes for Lockheed, Rosie the riveter, freeing up a man to carry a gun. And carry guns they did. They made sacrifices on the home front, endured rationing, saved cans, turned in their aluminum pots and pans so that their soldiers, the Greatest Generation, could stamp out the greatest evil of their day, a pair of Empires so vile that we allied with Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union to defeat them.

How is our generation measuring up? Not well. Who do you know that has made one meaningful sacrifice? Oh, an individual here and there, and certainly those who have joined the services to stand in the face of a form of evil that will commit mass murder in the name of their god, but what is happening on the home front? Practically nothing. We whine about the price of bread while our soldiers die in faraway lands so that we can sleep peacefully in our comfortable beds. As Kipling noted over a century ago:

“Makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep

Is cheaper than them uniforms, and they’re starvation cheap.

As Al-Qaeda and the other poisonous leagues of evil it has spawned, diligently plot the downfall of Western Civilization, what are we, that very Western Civilization, concerned with? Why, ninety-two flavors of butt-stupid “reality” shows, and hanging on every word of some rich-ass celebrity who’s blubbering into a hanky because the elevator in her mansion is out of service, while children starve on the sidewalk within view of her rooftop patio. Look what’s happened in our nation’s capitol year after year since, with our petty piss-ant politicians willing to let America slide down the toilet rather than take one step to compromise with the opposition party. We are openly encouraged by those very politicians to silence those who disagree with them with threats of violence and persecution. Just who is the enemy here, really? We elected these jackasses, so I guess we deserve them. Seriously, I posted the solution to that particular problem on the old Tyler Gang blog. It was up for three years. There was not one comment.

I look around seventeen years later, and I see the camaraderie that followed in the days after the attacks gone. It’s business as usual, like nothing ever happened. If you study the history of our great nation, you realize that the path of that history is littered with the wreckage of swaggering dictators and petty warlords who all believed that Americans were too soft, too addicted to their little creature comforts to actually set them aside and fight to preserve them. As I look around seventeen years later, I fear that this time, they may be right.

You will notice that I did not post any pictures of the actual attacks. You know where to find them, if that is your interest. I cannot look at them without being transported back to that day. It is like salt in an open wound, and when I see the images, all of my emotional makeup wants the bastards who orchestrated it killed. I want the people who nurtured them, and gave them the beliefs that led them to this killed. I want the countries who harbored them laid waste. See, when I look at those pictures, all of my religion, what I claim to be my spiritual beliefs, are made lies, because I don’t want to forgive any of them for anything. I want them killed, horribly, terrifyingly, lingeringly killed. Is this what my grandparents felt when they watched the black-and-white newsreel footage of the USS Arizona exploding? Most likely. Their generation acted on it, going so far as to immolate two cities in nuclear fireballs. In the aftermath, Germany and Japan are two of our staunchest allies. Where will we stand with the Middle East in fifty years? More importantly, where do we stand with ourselves today?

I sat down here to remember those who fell in a savage act of pure evil, and to honor the heroes of that day. I don’t think that can be done without looking at what has happened to the rest of us, to our culture, because of those events. I have spent many years learning the history of this nation, and from that perspective, I have to say that what I see frightens me for our future. Oh, not our brave and skilled warriors, but those of us left behind in the civilian world whose lives and actions form the foundation on which they stand. What do they stand for? What must they think when they look back to their homeland and see the biggest news items of the day are who got booted off American Idol, or what zillion dollar resort the Kardashians are frolicking at? I think that, while it remains a date on the calendar, most of us have, by and large, forgotten 9/11. As a person a continent away whose personal life was untouched by these events, that seems a sacrilege. And yet, during all the remembrance shows of this past weekend, one thing stands out. A survivor, being interviewed about her experiences of that day, losing her husband among them, had this to say:

“Everyone tells me, ‘never forget, never forget.’ Every time I want to speak with my husband, I remember, but if we are ever to achieve true peace and closure, don’t we have to, at some point, forget?”

In 1973, thirty years after the Second World War, my grandmother refused to allow me to bring my good friend, my good Japanese friend, into her home. Will my grandchildren be more enlightened thirty years from now? Let us hope . . .

Envisioning the Unimaginable

As anyone who has read any of my last few entries here knows, I am a bit conflicted about my writing right now.  A bit conflicted, now there’s an understatement worthy of the ages!  At this moment, I don’t know whether I’ll ever write again, and last week I was sure I wouldn’t, but I’ll say a few more words about that at the end.  Right now, I just want to have some fun.

We’ve heard a lot over the past weeks about budget battles, government shutdowns, and the trillions and trillions of dollars being thrown around like we’re talking about some kid’s allowance.  Most people in the modern world have some idea of what a billion is (It’s 10% of an aircraft carrier), but a trillion . . .  We might be talking about the distance to the center of the galaxy for all that means to the average citizen, so I decided to do a bit of research, and see what a trillion might be compared to.  Buckle up, you’re going to love this!

If Jesus had sued the Romans for the way he was treated, and the courts of the day had awarded him a billion shekels (or whatever they used back then) to be paid at the rate of one million per day, it would have taken them two-and-a-half years to finish paying him.  If he had been awarded a trillion shekels, to be paid at the rate of one million per day, they would paying him until the year 2739.  Stunned yet?

Let’s say you won the SuperLotto or a settlement for $1,000,000, and it’s going to be handed to you in crisp new $1,000 bills, crisp and new so they lay close together with no air space making the stack fatter.  How tall will that stack be?  If you guessed 6½ inches, we have a winner!  If you win a billion dollars, you’d better bring a full-size pickup, because that stack will come in at 550 feet, about the same as the Washington Monument.  A trillion dollars?  Ninety-five miles high.  The Space Station will hit it when it comes over.

One more?  All right.  I particularly enjoy this one.  Approximately one billion seconds ago, John F. Kennedy was having his famous presidential debates with Richard Nixon; one trillion seconds ago, man was discovering fire.

And now, the promised few words:  Virtually all that I have completed of Stingaree is up and ready to read, twelve chapters of a prospective 24.  Half of Chapter Thirteen is complete, and will be added probably tomorrow.  That leaves me with half a book to write, and that will be done before I work on anything else.  Stingaree has proven to be one of my more popular endeavors, and if I can’t finish that for the wonderful people who have expressed their appreciation of it, then I won’t leave them hanging while I move on to other things.  Likewise, Chameleon is moving along.  That is complete, as is Broken English, which is coming along behind it, and both will be added a scene at a time.  I have other ideas tickling the back of my mind, but Stingaree first.  Then I’ll see whether I have any gas left in the tank for future projects.

Meanwhile, one thing I’m not conflicted about is what constitutes an interesting read, so let’s get this week’s expedition on the road to those particular discoveries, shall we?

Interesting Books . . .

ThingsI'veLearned

Things I’ve Learned from the Homeless by Glen Dunzweiler.  Glen Dunzweiler is a filmmaker, producer, writer and public speaker.  He started his work with homelessness in 2010 when making his documentary “yHomeless?”  After years of seeing the public bang their heads up against the same homeless issues, he was driven to write this primer.  Things I’ve Learned from the Homeless looks to explain the world that housed individuals are often frustrated by.  The goal is to flip viewpoints on homelessness, to create new dialogues, and to inspire action.  Glen Dunzweiler invites you to get into it with him, so we can all start to figure this out.  Do the homeless anger you?  Frustrate you?  Scare you?  Sadden you?  Confuse you?  Make you want to DO something?  Read this book.  99c on Kindle.

ShadowFiles

The Shadow Files: A Limited Edition Collection of Supernatural Suspense Stories.  Twenty-three novels by various authors.  Follow the lives of your favorite paranormal entities as they battle what lurks within the shadows of their supernatural worlds.  Dance with Lucifer, experience love from beyond the grave, solve a case . . .  Grimm-style.  Join the dark side with vampires, cursed bootleggers, a wicked succubus, a demon prince, and the Devil’s daughter herself.  Partner with private eyes with psychic third eyes, mages who resurrect rebel angels, and witches as they hunt down denizens of the dark.  Take a walk down a mysterious dark alley with a magician as you battle murderers, relic hunters, and Nazis.  And follow voodoo priestesses as they spy on nefarious secret societies and discover the literal heart of a serial killer in hopes of defeating the deadly creatures lurking in the shadows.  Tangle with vampires, discover relics and get ready for adventures more exciting than Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones!  Follow mages and rebel angels as they battle the evil threatening to end magic . . . forever.  All this and more can be found inside these exciting and mystical stories!  99¢ on Kindle.

SavingGrace

Saving Grace by Hannah Howe.  The Western Mail, 2 August 1876:  Sensation in the Charles Petrie Case!  “Readers may recall that a young banker, by name Mr Charles Petrie, with every opportunity of succeeding in his profession, and commanding a not illiberal income, returned home after riding his horse to dine with his wife, Grace, and her companion, Mrs Quinn.  During and after dinner he had nothing to excite him save the receipt of a letter which somewhat annoyed him, and that his wife consumed rather more wine than he considered to be good for her health.  Immediately after retiring to his room he was seized with symptoms of irritant poisoning, and despite every effort made on his behalf, he succumbed to its effects.  An inquest was held, which vexed the minds of the Coroner’s jury to a degree without precedent in Coroners’ Inquest Law, and an open verdict was returned.  However, the matter will not rest there, for after questions in Parliament, a second inquest has been called under suspicion that Mr Charles Petrie was murdered.”  Who poisoned Charles Petrie?  Dr James Collymore, a man familiar with poisons, a man harboring a dark secret that, if exposed, would ruin his career; Florrie, the maid who supplied Charles with his bedtime drink; Bert Kemp, a disgruntled groom, who used poisons in his work, who four months previously had predicted Charles’ dying day; Mrs Jennet Quinn, a lady’s companion with a deep knowledge of poisons, and a deep fear of dismissal; or Grace Petrie, Charles’ wife of four months, a woman with a scandalous past, a woman shunned by polite society.  With crowds flocking to the courtroom and the shadow of suspicion falling upon Grace in the shape of the hangman’s noose, could dashing young advocate, Daniel Morgan, save her?  99c on Kindle.

RogueStar

Rogue Star by Jasper T. Scott.  A dead star is headed for Earth . . .  The shift in Earth’s orbit will unleash a new ice age . . .  And this summer will be our last.  Logan Willis’s life is falling apart: he lost his job and found out that his wife is cheating on him all in the same day.  Thinking that his world has ended, Logan checks into a hotel and turns on the TV to see that he’s not far wrong—radio telescopes have detected mysterious signals coming from inside our solar system, and the source is moving toward us at over 500 miles per second.  The media concludes that these signals must be of an alien origin.  Still reeling from the news, Logan gets a phone call from his brother-in-law.  Richard is talking crazy about the end of the world again, but this time he doesn’t sound so crazy.  Meanwhile, Richard, who is an astronomer working with the James Webb Space Telescope, is at the White House briefing the president to announce what he and the government have known for almost a decade: aliens are not invading, a frozen ball of gas is.  The so-called rogue star is predicted to make a near pass with Earth, disrupting our orbit and unleashing an ice age, the likes of which we haven’t seen for millions of years.  Government insider, Billionaire Akron Massey, has received a steady flow of funding over the past decade for his company, Starcast, to put a colony on Mars.  Over the same period he’s been using his personal fortune to create a colony closer to home where he plans to ride out the coming storm along with a thousand of the smartest people on the planet.  Humanity will need seeds to plant in the ashes after the chaos clears.  When the true nature of the threat becomes known, the nations of Earth prepare to fight over all the warmest parts of the planet.  But as war fleets set sail and armies begin marching south, a stunning discovery is made that will change a lot more than just the weather.  $2.99 on Kindle.

Mysteria

Mysteria by David Hayes and friends.  Be prepared to be spooked, but also be prepared to expect the unexpected.  These are written to come at you from an entirely unexpected direction.  There is more than a touch of the Gothic and macabre about these stories.  In fact they are steeped in it.  They are flesh-crawlingly delicious, and a treat for devotees of the paranormal.  This is a collection of short stories.  They are long enough to grip the reader, but brief enough to be read in a tea break or on a train – but why not treat yourself to a good spook-fest, and read them in the comfort of your armchair as the rain patters against the windowpane, and the wind howls its mournful tune – well, you get the idea.  Read it wherever you feel most comfortable (or uncomfortable!).  Just for good measure, I have also included a handful of stories (and a poem) from other authors who are friends of mine.  You will find these scattered throughout the book at random intervals.  So if you see the story title, and then a name, this will be a story from one of my friends, so watch out for Bernie Morris, David Clarke, Ann Perry and Lesley Hanson. See you on the other side!  $2.99 on Kindle.

SinfulCinderella

Sinful Cinderella by Anita Valle. I’m not who they think I am, a docile girl who meekly obeys her stepmother and stepsisters.  Some kind of sick angel who cheerfully bears their mistreatment.  That’s what I WANT them to think.  Because then they won’t suspect what I’m really up to.  The ball, the prince – it’s all part of my plan to come out on top.  Stepmother and her demented daughters will pay for every floor I have scoured, every sneer I have borne.  They don’t know about the white magic, how I use it to enhance myself.  They can’t see that my heart is black as midnight, rotten as a poisoned apple.  They’re about to find out.  99¢ on Kindle.

StoneSeekersFront

The Stone Seekers by Jack Tyler.  The Settlements clung precariously to a hostile shore where the very ground opposed them.  The people, fleeing a vicious tyrant, had crossed an ocean to get here, and had nowhere else to go.  They bore with them a parting gift from a powerful mage, the Wellstone, an artifact that could locate clean water among the vile poisons their new land offered.  When it is stolen in a raid by creatures of the surrounding forest, there is no choice but to go in pursuit.  But with who?  The entire combined militia of all the towns haven’t the power to overcome the forest denizens, so a skilled tracker and a savage warrior are sent to achieve through stealth what cannot be accomplished by force.  What possible chance could two people have?  No dwarves, no elves, no sign of Tolkien’s vast shadow.  99¢ on Kindle.

Interesting Reads . . .

Richard Paolinelli, writing on his blog The Eclectic Scribe, begins this week’s offerings on a chilling note, as he discusses the aftermath and possible future course of events following the assault on Jeremy Hambly at last fortnight’s GenCon 2018.  The background situation he describes is news to me, but it bears looking into.

I was followed over the weekend by an entity known as Inmate Blogger.  I still have a great deal to learn about how they work, but they seem to be a clearing house for blogs written by inmates of our penal institutions.  Their intro states,

This site is a collection of blogs written by inmates. It serves as a platform which allows them to share their individual stories, opinions, talents, and their inner thoughts. You can lock up a man, but you can’t lock up their mind. We support, understand, and believe that writing can be a great source of rehabilitation, growth, and healing.”

I’m fairly certain that convicted criminals aren’t given free access to computers, so this may be an earned privilege, I don’t know.  I also don’t know whether you can expect replies when you offer comments, but these boys and girls don’t blog about their favorite little themed coffee shop or the latest hair trends for tweens.  There is some heavy stuff here.  Heavy and often amazing.  If you’re up for some of the more advanced reading to be found on the web, a few samples from those I received this morning are Introducing Michael Sammons, Forever Young, and Father Figure.  The grammar and spelling may not be up to the standard we published authors are accustomed to, but the power and feeling present in every sentence are often overwhelming; we could take lessons . . .

Richie Billing, another name that gets a lot of play on these pages, takes his readers deep with a study of the many sub-genres of fantasy.  From High to Low, Epic to Grimdark, come see what all the buzz is about in what is arguably the widest-ranging field in all of fiction.

Charles Phipps, prolific independent author, blogging on his United Federation of Charles site, lays out his 15 Tips for Indie Authors, very much worth a read if you’re still a babe in the woods trying to make sense of the complete, unfettered freedom available to you as an indie.  It’s a world with no rulebook, quite literally none, but there are some unwritten guidelines that it’s worthwhile to follow, and Charles touches on a lot of them here.

I’ve been contemplating writing some horror over the past couple of months, and in a timely coincidence, Ruthanna Emrys, blogging for NPR, writes about the modern function of the horror genre.  This is a wonderful read, and is highly recommended whether you’re thinking about looking into it, or are already steeped in the lore.

And that’s 30 for today.  Be here next Sunday, when I’ll have more brilliant reading for you, my own and that of others.  See you then!

Mind Your Language!

“The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug.”

~ MARK TWAIN

Before I get started on today’s post, I have a bit of news to offer:  I have invested some time, effort, and coin in the pursuit of being professional… or at least looking professional.   I have bought my domain name, and can now be found at simply blimprider.com.  No Blogspot, Weebly, WordPress, or anything else, just purely me.  Don’t worry, though, your old bookmarks will still work.  This is a substantial outlay for a guy on a fixed income, but I do have a small recreational allowance, and this is how I chose to spend it.  And what brought this about, you ask?

My dearly beloved has macular degeneration, and last week I drove her to her treatment, which involves having her pupils dilated, then a hypodermic injection into her eyeball!  It doesn’t seem to bother her much, but it freaks the hell out of me every time.  Anyway, this leaves her eyes hypersensitive to light for a few hours after, and ordinary shades don’t seem to help it much, so last visit, I told her that I’d wear my steampunk goggles on my patrol cap, and after her treatment, she could put them on.

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She did, and they worked great, but that isn’t the story.  All the time I was walking around the hospital in these, I was getting favorable comments and questions about them.  It felt like I could have moved a stack of books had I had some with me, and that gave me the idea to print up some business cards promoting this website.  If I wear this hat everywhere, and hand out cards to anyone who expresses an interest, I should generate at least some local sales, right?  Yeah, that’s not going to work, but I’ll sure have some fun while I’m doing it!

[For those who might want to try their own luck with this, the company is VistaPrint.  They offer cards, coffee mugs, hats, shirts, and a dozen or so other ways to promote your own activity.  Their prices are reasonable, and they offer a substantial first-order discount.  Very much worth a look if you’re looking for something to hand out at cons, etc.]

. . . . . . . . . .

In my last post I touted the wonders of a European website called Irevuo.  I stand by that glowing appraisal, as it really is a site based on high-quality content.  The thing is, Cristian’s computer has gone belly-up, and until he can replace it, he is limited to working with his phone, which is okay for some things, but not so hot for the wonderful graphics he’s known for.  You can read the disheartening story here.  Included in the story is a PayPal request he has initiated to try to get back in business.  I have a simple request to make of my readers, that you visit his site, read his work, and if you find it worth supporting and you can afford it, send him a few bucks.  Nothing you can’t spare, but if a lot of us each send him a modest donation, it could return him to operation much more quickly than he can get there himself.

During our conversation, he mentioned that he is in Romania, and that English is not his first language.  You’d never know it to read his posts; he handles what may be the most convoluted language on earth with the grace of a native speaker.  Inspired by his facility, I’m reposting an old article that I put together for writing.com a year or so ago.  I found it to be great fun.  I hope you will, too!

. . . . . . . . . .

Have you ever wondered at what a wonderful language English is?  Within its quarter-million words can be found reasonable ways to describe black as white, and up as down.  This comes largely from its proclivity to “borrow” useful words and terms from foreign tongues, and sometimes the rules that go with them.  We’ve all heard that old saw, “Why do we drive on a parkway, but park in a driveway?”  I always thought that was pretty funny, but then one day I heard, “Why isn’t Great Britain known as the United Queendom?” and I realized that, far from being the exception, these things must be as common as air!  I went on a quest to collect them during the early 90s, and cleaning out a box of old papers recently, I found a couple of sheets where I had gathered a good number of them in one place.  So, for those who enjoy this kind of thing, here are the oddisms that I’d gathered by the time I lost interest around twenty years ago.
~ Why do privates eat in the general mess, and generals eat in the private mess?
~ How is it that darkrooms can be lit?
~ Nightmares can take place in broad daylight while morning sickness and daydreaming can happen at night.
~ Hours, especially happy hours and rush hours, often last longer than sixty minutes, and others, especially lunch hours, can be far less.
~ Why is it that a woman can man a station, but a man can’t woman one? For that matter, how can a man father a movement, but a woman can’t mother one?
~ Why isn’t phonetic spelled phonetically?
~ Why is there no synonym for synonym or thesaurus?
~ If adults commit adultery, do infants commit infantry?
~ If the plural of tooth is teeth, is the plural of booth beeth?
~ If a person wrote a letter, is it not possible that he bote his tongue during the process?
~ We conceive at a conception, and receive at a reception.  Does it not follow that we should grieve at a greption and believe a beleption?
~ How are a caregiver and a caretaker the same thing?  How about sharp speech and blunt speech?
~ If bad and good, hard and soft, and up and down are opposites, how is it that badly and goodly, hardly and softly, and upright and downright aren’t?
~ Why are pertinent and impertinent, canny and uncanny, and famous and infamous neither opposites nor the same?
~ Why does night fall but never break, and day break but never fall?
~ Why do we pack suits in a garment bag and garments in a suitcase?
~ Is it still homework if you do it in school?
~ Does anyone remember why push-button telephones are dialed?
~ Why are they called apartments when they’re all together?
~ Why is the word abbreviation so long?
~ If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian consume?
~ If people ring a bell today, and rang a bell yesterday, why don’t we say they flang a ball?
~ If a horsehair mat is made from the hair of horses, what is a mohair coat made out of?
~ A slim chance and a fat chance are the same thing, but a wise man and a wise guy are opposites.
~ Appropriate and inappropriate are opposites, yet flammable and inflammable are the same.
~ Why do we play at a recital, and recite at a play?
~ How is that your nose runs, and your feet smell?
~ Hot dogs can be cold.
~ Boxing rings are square.
~ Why do they sell you a TV set, then only give you one?
~ Why is it so hard to remember how to spell mnemonic?
~ Why doesn’t onomatopoeia sound like what it is?
~ If olive oil is made from olives, then what, pray tell, is baby oil made from?
~ A writer is someone who writes, and a stinger is something that stings, yet fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham.  Nor, for that matter, do humdingers humding.
~ How is it that I flew out to see a World Series game in which my favorite player flied out?
~ How can the weather be hot as hell one day, and cold as hell the next?
~ If harmless and harmful are opposites, why aren’t shameless and shameful?
~ If passable and impassable roads are opposites, why are passive and impassive people the same?
~ Why is it that when the sun, moon, or stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they aren’t?
~ When I clip a coupon from a newspaper, I separate it, but when I clip a coupon to a newspaper, I fasten it.
~ Why is it that when we transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when we transport something by ship, it’s cargo?
~ Tablecloths can be made of paper, and what, exactly, is plastic silverware?
~ Why is diminutive so undiminutive?
~ One goose, two geese, so one moose, two meese?
~ If the teacher taught, why then hasn’t the preacher praught?
~ Last time I went swimming, I treaded water, then trod on the beach.
~ How is it that pricey objects are less expensive than priceless ones?
~ Tomboys are always girls, but midwives can be men.
~ Quicksand works very slowly.
~ Fact:  The majority of bathrooms contain no bath.  And isn’t it just a bit odd that we go to the bathroom in order to go to the bathroom?
~ Why does the word monosyllabic contain five syllables?
~ If button and unbutton, and tie and untie are opposites, why then are loosen and unloosen, and ravel and unravel the same?
~ Why does a man get a hernia, but a woman gets a hysterectomy?
~ If pro is the opposite of con, is congress the opposite of progress?
~ Why do we call people who ride motorcycles “bikers” while those who ride bikes are called “cyclists?”
~ By what logic does “lisp” have an S in it?
~ Quite a lot and quite a few are the same, but overlook and oversee are opposites.
~ How can raise and raze, and reckless and wreckless be opposites when each pair contains the same sound?
~ In what other language is the third hand on a clock called the second hand?
~ If a firefighter fights fire, what does a freedom fighter fight?
~ Why do we call it newsprint when it contains no printing, but after we print on it, it becomes a newspaper?
~ Why is it the sun shone yesterday while I shined my shoes?
~ Why is it that when I wind up my watch, I’m starting it, but when I wind up this blog, I’m stopping it?

I hope you had fun with these.  I must hasten to point out that the majority of them came from the years I spent working alone on many weekends.  I would turn on the radio to keep me company, and a regular stop was a PBS show called A Way With Words, hosted by Richard Lederer.  He had a series of co-hosts, and they often trotted these things out.  There were other sources, magazine articles, TV shows, and things I heard in conversations, and I diligently took note of them, thinking they might help some day in my writing career.  I guess I was right; twenty years on, I got a blog post out of it!