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A’s for Apocalypse, brainwashing troops.
B’s for Bizarro, reversal of Supes.
C is for Catwoman, expert at stealing.
D is for Deathstroke, who’s good at self-healing.
E’s for Electro, whose origin’s tragic.
F: Felix Faust, who knows plenty of magic.
G is for Grodd, who’s a psychic gorilla.
H is for Heat Wave, a flame-throwing killah.
I: Iron Monger, all covered in steel.
J is for Joker, who laughs like a heel.
K is for Kraven, who loves a good hunt.
L: Living Monolith, hard to confront.
M’s for Mystique, who can take any form.
N is for Nimrod, who’s far from the norm.
O is for Owl, who can glide through the air.
P: Poison Ivy, with plants in her hair.
Q’s for Queen Bee, who shoots poisonous darts.
R is for Rhino, who breaks walls apart.
S is for Scarecrow, who causes a fright.
T is for Two-Face, who’s only half right.
U is for Ultron, a man-hating droid.
V is for Venom, whom all should avoid.
W: Wendigo, great savage brute.
X is for Xorn, whom you’d better not shoot.
Y’s for Ymir, who’s a giant of frost.
Z is for Zod, who gets deadly when crossed.
Comic book heroes, more often than not,
Call for strong villains to make a good plot.
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I last said I was reading Hyperion, but after about 180 pages, I found it too dreary to continue without a break. Maybe I'll never finish it. Regardless, I picked up what promised to be the funniest book on my shelf that I hadn't read yet.

Given how much I enjoyed two Discworld novels (I'd read three, but the first was merely OK), you'd think I wouldn't wait nearly four years to pick up another. Granted, Terry Pratchett's collaboration on Good Omens may have tided me over.

Cut for length )

Feeling up for another tome, I'm trying The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. So far, it hasn't shown any fantasy premises, only fictitious geography.
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A is for Aquaman, lord of the sea.
B: Black Canary, as loud as can be.
C: Captain Marvel, who calls out, “Shazam!”
D is for Deadpool, who’s really a ham.
E’s for Elektra, who wields some mean knives.
F’s for the Flash, always first to arrive.
G’s for Green Arrow, who hits every mark.
H is for Hellboy, whose future is dark.
I is for Iceman, who “chills” when he fights.
J: Jubilee, who makes powerful lights.
K is for Krypto, a powerful dog.
L’s for Lagoon Boy, who’s great in a bog.
M’s for Miss Martian, who passes through walls.
N is for Nightcrawler, fearing no falls.
O’s for Orion, the son of a bane.
P is for Psylocke, who harms with her brain.
Q is for Quicksilver, faster than sound.
R is for Rogue, whose mere touch leaves one downed.
S is for Superman, tougher than trains.
T is for Thor, who brings lightning and rains.
U is for Ultragirl, one heavy hitter.
V is for Vixen, who channels all critters.
W: Wolverine, rapidly healing.
X for Xavier, who knows what you’re feeling.
Y: Yellow Peri, with magic galore.
Z’s for Zatanna, who might just have more.
Heroes in comics account for each letter.
Obviously, they’re as common as ever.
Sunday, 2 July 2017 10:45 pm

Independent Thinking

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I’ve sometimes asked myself, “If I
Were born in the 18th century,
Would I have supported the Revolution,
Not knowing what the future would be?”
The Declaration of Independence
Lists lots of complaints about George III,
But recent presidents get just as many;
I won’t take every accuser’s word.
And even if true, how much would I care
When the focus was mainly on three pence tax?
I know it went further in those days, but still,
Would it get me behind secessionist acts?
The Founding Fathers took a big risk
With a government like we’d never seen.
I tend to be slow to adopt what’s new,
So it’s highly likely I wouldn’t be keen.
That said, I have to remind myself
That it’s silly to guess what my thoughts would be:
Without this era’s knowledge and nurture,
The past so-called “I” would not be me.
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in college I started to use instant messaging
soon I got used to the habit of friends
forgoing formalities such as the capital
sentence beginnings and dots at the ends
of course they’d abbreviate popular phrasing
like talk to you later to ttyl
for my part I started to go a bit further
by shortening words I did not like to spell
so through became thru and then though became tho
as I told an IMer more formal than others
he called me an anarchist I begged to differ
I simply asserted my personal druthers
the rules of our language aren’t set by committee
they shift with the millions who speak it worldwide
instead of an anarchist call me a democrat
hoping linguistics will come to my side
Sunday, 18 June 2017 11:31 pm

Fatherly

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For years, I acted hostile,
And you couldn’t fathom why,
Till one good doctor met us.
He determined what to try.
Eventu’ly, my enmity
Reduced itself to naught.
Love grew to take its place; I found
You’re quite the dad I’ve got.
Sunday, 11 June 2017 10:30 pm

Ain't It the Truth?

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There’s a word that I’ve known since my one-digit years,
Yet it still bears a red-squiggle taint.
Grammarians simply don’t want to acknowledge
Legitimate usage of “ain’t.”
I know it’s informal; so what, as the same
Can be said of a bunch of contractions?
Its earliest instance in writing appeared
Before “haven’t,” so why the reactions?
Perhaps they resent it for versatile usage,
As standing for multiple verbs.
If anything, that ought to work as a plus
For the people it somehow disturbs.
Might I also point out that no other good word
Contracts “am not” (no, “aren’t” shouldn’t do).
Lexicographers, programmers, teachers, etc.,
Please allow “ain’t” to go through.
Sunday, 4 June 2017 08:12 pm

(no subject)

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As I said I would, I entered the Style Invitational's "grandfoal" contest. Today I see that I didn't get any honors, tho the fourth-place result is the same as for one entry I submitted to the previous contest. Guess they didn't have as many good entries this time around. Anyway, I thought I'd share my submissions once more:

Emir Trifle x Help a Thief! = Aden and Abettin'
In a Minute Dear x The Who? = Anon-ymous
Jethro Dull x Hive Got Rhythm = Aquastung
Man Asses x Congrats, Loser = Booty Prize
Fish Shtick x Don's Surly Slight = The Codfather
'Ell, a Beer! x Koch-Conspirator = Ed of Foam
REMbrandt x Love Hertz = Everybody Hertz
Chinese Checkers x Eric Clap = Go-norrhea
Haribo Diddley x Bare It Browning = Gummi Bares
The Half-Dime Show x Shenand"O"ah = Nickel"O"deon
Titan the Screw x Bonus Pints = Screwtape Liters
Ruble Yell x Walk Off Homer = Shekel Leg
Love Hertz x Shenand"O"ah = Shock and O
Baba O'Really x 'Ell, a Beer! = Skeptic Tanked
Muck Rakin' x Bomb Bard = Whistle Blown (Up)

It wasn't my own best either -- certainly not my most prolific -- but I still like some of them.
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George Lucas discovered a recipe grand:
Begin with Flash Gordon, but go off the brand,
And watch Kurosawa to know how to frame it,
Along with The Dam Busters. What did he name it?
deckardcanine: (Default)
A’s for agouti, a rodent that’s big.
B: babirusa, a curvy-tusked pig.
C’s for coati, a type of raccoon.
D is for dik-dik, so cute I could swoon.
E’s for echidna, with spines and a snout.
F is for frogmouth, a bird that looks stout.
G is for gharial, kin to the croc.
H is for hyrax, and one type is rock.
I’s for ichneumon—the mongoose, no wasp.
J’s for jerboa; it’s known for its hops.
K is for kea, a mostly green parrot.
L is for lapwing, so shrill I can’t bear it.
M is for mara, related to cavies.
N is for narwhal, familiar to navies.
O’s for okapi, with upper leg rings.
P is for pangolin, oddest of things.
Q is for quokka, which looks like it’s grinning.
R is for rhea, whose looks are not winning.
S is for serval, with rather large ears.
T’s for tamandua, which termite-kind fears.
U is for urial, long-legged sheep.
V’s for vaquita; I hope it will keep.
W stands for wapiti, a deer.
X: X-ray tetra (what else could go here?).
Y is for yapok, the water opossum.
Z’s for zorilla, whose odor is awesome.
So goes the alphabet. Now, kids, I ask:
Will all these animals help with your task?
Saturday, 20 May 2017 10:51 pm

Oh. My.

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I opted to celebrate my 35th birthday three days early due to family convenience. Tonight happened to be Nerds Trivia Night at Politics & Prose, so we went to that after I opened my presents. My brother-in-law was tired and never does have much confidence in his trivia abilities, but we talked him into coming with us. Good thing, too, because he knew some answers the rest of us didn't. He and my sister did not stick around for the final results. Too bad for them.

The theme of the night, as we gleaned from the poster, was Cher, who had her birthday today. We bombed severely on the visual round, which entailed matching Cher album images to titles. Dad thought we were going to get one of the lower overall scores -- until they started announcing scores from least to greatest. First place had only 23 points out of a possible 36; usually it's more like 33.

We remain convinced that the graders messed up in giving us 19 points instead of 21. Another team lodged a comparable complaint, tho admitting they wouldn't have won or placed. Still, if not for this error, the ensuing events probably would have been less interesting.

When two teams tie for a prize-winning place -- be it first, second, or even last -- one person from each team enters a dance-off, to be judged by the audience. A team could forfeit instead, but that has yet to happen. Since I was the only halfway-young member of our team, I was tapped and offered no resistance. I didn't actually get nervous until I was one of two guys standing in a cleared space, waiting for the song.

Please understand: I used to fear public dancing more than death. It was one thing to do a choreographed dance in a play, but improvising for fun? I felt altogether too gawky. At 15, I even once snatched my hand away from an attractive girl who wanted to dance with me at a gathering with only about a dozen people, most of whom were not in the room. This fear abated gradually, but tonight I was literally being judged by maybe a hundred people.

If this were a livelier Cher number, I might have been in real trouble. Instead, it was "Welcome to Burlesque," from the little-appreciated movie Burlesque (2010) with Christina Aguilera. (It was included in the music round of the trivia, but absolutely no one got it.) This tango is open to interpretive dance, as the host said.

My mind raced back to the last time anyone was impressed at my dancing. I was 13, in an avant-garde camp production. The song was Rusted Root's "Back to the Earth." In our practice, I thought the beginning of the song evoked the kindling of a flame (less evident in the linked recording), so I imitated a growing flame myself. The director told me to keep at it, only with more dramatic movements.

So tonight, I started out similarly: eyes closed or nearly closed, moving my arms more than my legs. Occasionally I'd do a yoga-like sweep. The important part in my mind was to keep changing it up. Not all motions very abstract. Maybe a little sultry, in a facetious way.

Because of my mostly closed eyes, I couldn't rightly tell which of us got the most cheering. I later learned that the other guy gave up after watching me for a bit.

Somehow, this feels like more of an accomplishment than the time we came in first. Or either of the times that I supplied the night's best team name.

Sadly, neither of my parents figured out in time how to work the video function on their phones. Well, sadly for them. I'd just as soon not show the Internet. But I don't mind telling you all about it.

BTW, one of my presents was Just Dance 2017. That ought to prepare me for next time, if there is one.

Alas, the organizer will be quitting soon. I almost want to take over for him. Perhaps I will do something like it someday. If so, I'll have to decide whether to subject others to the dance-off.
Sunday, 14 May 2017 11:42 pm

Motherly

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My life has been most blessed
On account of you in part.
The way you chose to raise me
Helped me get a decent start.
Emending my misdeeds, you
Really thought before you’d shove,
Lent ears, and showed me virtue.
You have earned my lasting love.
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I knew this was not going to be much like the previous seven volumes of the series, starting from its status as a play and only partly written by J.K. Rowling, with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany doing the rest. The fan cartoonists of Harry Potter Comics, which similarly begins with the epilogue of book 7, act like this play is the next Go Set a Watchman. But since they differed significantly from my opinions on the Fantastic Beasts movie, I took their razzing with a grain of salt. Anyway, I got some enjoyment out of The Phantom Menace by knowing from the start that it wouldn't be in the same category as its predecessors, so hard could this be?

Plot gist, with spoilers of previous books )

About the characters )

Further reactions )

It's difficult for me to weigh, but overall, I think I put this volume in seventh place. It didn't feel like a chore -- not for long, anyway -- but neither would it have made me a fan of the franchise if I weren't already. I hadn't been utterly itching for more HP, and this provides only a slight scratch. Nevertheless, I won't dismiss it as quasi-canonical in my heart. It still reads more authentically than any fanfic I've known. If nothing else, it may refresh your memory of past events in the series and give you a new perspective on some.


I have now picked up Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Apparently, this too involves some measure of temporal manipulation. Am I ready for it?
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Mario Bros.? A ludicrous game
For calling them both by one plumber’s first name.
And what’s with the ape who got named for King Kong?
That’s “Donkey,” not “Monkey”; it sounds rather wrong.
But “right” gets too obvious: Take Metal Gear
Or Metal Gear Solid. What’s going on here?
And how many fantasies claim to be last?
Well, “final.” Regardless, that series ain’t past.
Is Mega Man mega or even a man?
The Smash Bros. titles—who thought of that plan?
Whatever the reason, it sure seems to me
That silly names reign in the game industry.
Friday, 5 May 2017 12:36 am

Horsing Around

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The Style Invitational has repeated its ever-popular contest of "breeding" Triple Crown nominees. The winners and honorable mentions this year are good, but alas, none are mine. And I had submitted the maximum number allowed. See if you think any of mine were worthy:

Hieroglyphics x The Walk = Like an Egyptian
Archimedes x Filet of Sole = You Reek-a!
Warrior's Club x Confederate = Mace & Dixon Line
Excavation x The Hardest Way = Cheap Spork
Mo Town x My Blue Heaven = Mo Better Blues
Gorgeous Kitten x Midnight Pleasure = Cathouse
American Anthem x Foggy Night = Oh Say Can You See
Dangerfield x Term of Art = Minecraft
Sonneteer x Rowdy the Warrior = Shake Spear
Gorgeous Kitten x Solo Saxophone = Careless Whisker
Vanish x Term of Art = Without a Trace
Industrialist x Practical Joke = JK Morgan
Hey Mike x Classic Rock = Hey Jude
Bobby Abu Dhabi x Downhill Racer = Bobsledder
Classic Rock x High Frequency = Good Vibrations
Gorgeous Kitten x One Liner = Catsphrase
Midnight Pleasure x Iliad = Midnight & Paris
Iliad x Pat on the Back = Pat-roclus
Rowdy the Warrior x No More Talk = Silent Knight
Bee Jersey x Classic Empire = Buzzantine
Fast and Accurate x Term of Art = Quick Draw
Glacier x No Dozing = Ice Wide Open
Baseline x Iliad = Homer
Irap x It's Your Nickel = 5 Cent
True Timber x Pollock = Lumberjackson

Oh well. I still have until Monday the 15th to enter the follow-up contest: breeding the winners of this one. I did get an HM for that once.
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My mom was raving about A Man Called Ove, but the title never grabbed me and Ove sounds too bitter. Instead, she talked me into borrowing another Fredrik Backman novel with a reportedly similar format, one whose protagonist sounded more my type.

That protagonist is Elsa, an "almost-eight-year-old" as the present-tense, third-person limited narration puts it. (Think I used enough hyphens?) Early in the story, she loses her grandmother, whom she considers her only friend, to cancer. But Granny has one last treasure hunt in store; it involves finding and delivering letters of apology to everyone who lives in their building. In the process, Elsa learns a lot more about her and them, with valuable information unfolding like a mystery. She'd actually heard much of it before, in the guise of fairy tales....

More details )

After the story come two things I've never seen before outside of a textbook: a set of questions for discussion and a few suggestions to "enhance your book club." I doubt I'll take advantage of either, but it might be good to put these features in more books.


For obvious reasons, I have now picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This also is borrowed from my mom. So far, it's...different.
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I’ve finally noticed that cats on the screen
Will often do something that I’ve never seen
In reality, namely produce a meow
With their mouths closed completely. I’d have to ask how.
It’s obvious filmmakers wanted to add
A “natural” sound that just couldn’t be had
On cue, but why bother? We see it’s a cat.
They don’t make noise always; just leave it at that.
Well, maybe not everyone’s quite so attentive
And cinematographers aren’t that inventive.
What’s more, a meow can be simply adorable,
Making the practice much less than deplorable.
Nevertheless, in this age, it seems cheap
Not to animate mouths (in a way that won’t creep
Out the viewers) to match any noise that’s been made.
But the error is subtle, and that’s why it’s stayed.
Sunday, 23 April 2017 11:02 pm

Last but Not Least

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In a world of four nations divided by power
(Of water, earth, fire, and air),
There used to be peace, but now things have gone sour;
One kingdom is being unfair.
The Fire Lord wishes to conquer the rest,
And his power is hard to combat.
It’s said he’ll be toppled by none but the best—
Who’s a seemingly twelve-year-old brat.
In truth, the boy spent the last century frozen
To hide from the ones who would kill him.
He’s still a remarkably immature “chosen”
Who always craves playtime to thrill him.
But nobody else can assume the command
Of all classical elements here.
With the help of a preteen and teenager band,
The Avatar’s getting in gear.
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Of holidays, Easter is likely unique
In a way I’d not noticed before.
While others get kiddie with simplification
Of history, purpose, and more,
And while secular Christmas relies on a mage
Who brings millions of gifts in a hurry,
Only Easter has lore of an anthropomorphic
Delivery critter. How furry!
Sunday, 9 April 2017 11:25 pm

Humaning

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So many different animals have names that act as verbs,
Like “badger,” “ferret,” “dog,” and “cow.” Would this get on their nerves?
If they spoke English also, what would “human” come to mean?
To greatly change the landscape and/or dominate the scene?
To make and/or depend upon a plethora of tools?
To run upon one’s hind legs or to babble on like fools?
To hunt for sport? To go to war for very little reason?
To cover up one’s private parts? To mate in every season?
With luck, it might allude to humans’ rare consideration
In giving other animals our love and adoration.
Of course, we tend to figure they’ve at best a mixed opinion
Of humans as a species, with our overdone dominion.
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