Tag: Beyond Thunderdome

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Have you ever run across something and thought, “Man, I could use that in a lot of situations?” As I was perusing the PIT, I ran across this gem from Matt Balzer: And people would probably respond “that’s not the point.” To which I would respond, “make better points.” Preview Open

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It’s Friday. Go crazy. Write a limerick. Share a meme. Share a song. Write something stupid. Give your best bit of advice you’ve ever been given. Tell a shaggy dog story. Tell a joke. Sing for your supper. (Catering provided by @kirkianwanderer ) Point and laugh. Do something crazy. Let it all hang out. (Not […]

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If I Were King of the Internet, I Would Mandate the Percontation Point⸮


Satire. Irony. Sarcasm. The written word seldom conveys these things well enough to tell them from someone’s making a serious statement or proposal. (This has even been codified and is now known as Poe’s Law.) Distinguishing serious from ironic is a very old problem, and one that was solved in about 1580. It was in that decade that Henry Denham, an English printer, came up with a solution. His idea was to have a new mark of punctuation that would distinguish when someone was not serious. That mark was the percontation point, and it looked like this: ⸮.

Thus, were I the King of the Internet, you would be mandated to use the percontation point⸮ It would probably be the only punctuation available to such publications as The Onion or The Babylon Bee. And maybe some mistakes would no longer be made:

A Day Late and a Doggerel Short: Rap and Henry VIII’s Tutor


I have spoken before of the fact that some “modern” developments in poetry are nothing new. For instance, rap battles are just an example of a much older practice known as “flyting” or “the dozens” or by any number of other names. Well, brothers and sisters, I am here to tell you that nothing about rap is new. As is said in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

There is a relatively recent movie called Quartet about an elderly group of opera singers. One of the elderly gentlemen teaches a class about opera to kids. To get the kids interested and excited in opera, he first does research on what kids these days are listening to. In his lesson, he compares opera to rap and tells the youngsters that in rap, you bust a cap in a dude and shake out some rhymes, but in opera, you stick a knife in his back and sing an aria about it.

Reuben Bratwurst (or Why my Mouf is ’Appy)


A few years back, a little fast food place opened here north of Detroit, Michigan. It was called Loaded Links. Basically, it was a high-end hot-dog and circus food place. They had all sorts of options on the menu. For instance, there was the Millionaire’s Dog, which had a Wagyu steak dog with fois gras and truffle sauce. They also had menu items with names like Windy City Dog or New York-Style, etc. I went through trying all of the variations. My wife had been getting the Reuben Dog with a few small alterations. I believe it normally came with an all-beef hot dog, and she would substitute a Polish sausage, instead. She would also get it without pastrami. Now, I thought pastrami was kind of an odd innovation. Corned beef, yes. Pastrami? Eh. So, I didn’t try the Reuben Dog until we had been there at least ten times. And I was very pleasantly surprised. It was without a doubt the best thing on their menu. A week later, I was jonesing for that Reuben Dog. We headed over there, and…they were closed. They had a note saying that they were moving and would be at a new location in the spring. And then CoViD-19 appeared. Loaded Links has not yet reappeared if it will. And I’ve been jonesing for another Reuben Dog.

Oh, I have had Reubens since then. Given my conditions, they have to be naked, no bread. Likewise, Loaded Links had an option to serve the hot dogs in a gluten-free corn tortilla, which is how I had been eating them there. But those naked Reubens weren’t quite the same.

The Dead Will Be Remembered


He woke up wondering whose dream he had dreamed of. Whose memory was the dream based on? And as he wondered every morning, who was he who dreamed the dreams of others?

In the last dream of the night, he had lived in India in a small town, larger than a village, but not one of the great cities. The details came back to him: his name in the dream, where he had lived, what he had done. He had been an educated man and knew geography, being able to point to his town on a map.

Jury Duty Report


In late October I received a summons to appear for jury duty on December 6. This is old hat for me. Apparently, I am one of the lucky ones. This was my fifth summons for jury duty. One of the ladies there stated her age and said it was her first time. Her stated age was three years’ higher than my own. One of the judges came in to speak with us while we were waiting. The highest number she had ever heard of was a lady in her eighties who had been summoned six times.

The Process

If you have not been summoned to jury duty, or not been summoned lately, the process works something like this. You may receive a jury qualification questionaire. These days, such is filled out online. This may be a new thing or limited to some courts. I do not remember having filled one out before this current go-round. I received the summons to participate in the questionaire last summer.

Memories: Stump the Wizard


There is a couple who are our friends who own and run an independent bookstore. The bookstore specializes in about ten categories, including among other things: art, Judaica, local authors and information, and children’s literature. It is a fairly eclectic mix. Besides the books, the store is decorated with old tin wind-up toys, Day of the Dead figures, African masks, and other eclectic bric-a-brac. The store is about as normal as its owners. Not to be unkind, but the male owner is just a bit flighty. He knows his stock well. They have been in business as an independent bookstore for decades, despite the rise and fall of such behemoths as Borders and the rise of Amazon. So, the man must be doing something right. But Mr. Bookstore Owner is also an artist. He has had a band. He’s a very interesting character and creative, but not always the most focused.

Back in the early 2000’s when the Harry Potter books were coming out, the book release parties became a very big deal. Bookstores were contractually obligated not to release the books until a specific date and time. In the summer of 2003, the fifth book in the series was to come out, and starting a few months before the event Mr. Bookstore Owner was looking for ways to juice up their book release party. They had treats and refreshments planned, but they were looking for something more. We somehow came to an agreement to do a joint production of a limited run miniature sixteen-page booklet about the size of an eighth sheet of paper. I would create the text, imagery, and file, and his people would print, cut, staple, and number them (limited edition, remember?), as well as putting on a bit of extra decoration to make the booklets more interesting. All that we had at that point was the first four books in the Harry Potter series. In that fourth book, two other schools of wizardry were introduced: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. It is mentioned that at Durmstrang, they not only teach Defense against the Dark Arts, but they actually teach their students the dark arts. I used that as inspiration for the little booklet, “Durmstrang Institute’s Manual of the Dark Arts.”

Hot Stuff: It’s a Little Spicy


People get reputations. Sometimes they work to create a certain reputation. Sometimes it just happens. When I was growing up, I was exposed to spicy food often. One of my daddy’s favorite phrases was, “It’s not hot until it makes your hair sweat.” And he meant hair, not just your scalp. Hair doesn’t have sweat pores? Then up the heat until they grow some. Looking back, this was certainly an example of his trying to create a reputation for himself of being tough and manly. He had been in the U. S. Army. Later, he was a railroad detective and then a municipal policeman. He was surrounded through most of his adult life in an atmosphere of what some now call “toxic masculinity.” Were I to try to analyze him, I would guess that having had polio as a boy might have been a driving factor for him to be tough and do manly things, to overcome physical limitations. But whatever his motivations, it meant that I grew up learning that real men do not use the mild salsa, but go for the hot sauce. I became inured to the heat. I expected the heat. Mild Mexican food? Who would bother to eat that?

As I got out on my own and was cooking for myself, I was always interested in new peppers. Back in the early 1990s, the hottest pepper known in the US was the Habanero. It had some Cod-awful level of heat that was up to 350,000 Scovilles. The Scoville scale is a measure of how hot something is as measured through dilution. They start out by diluting a bit of pureed pepper with water, such as at a million to one ratio, to see if someone can still detect the spiciness. If not, they cut back on the dilution until the spiciness is detected. In the case of the Habanero, it can be detected at a dilution of between 350,000:1 and at the mild end at about 100,000:1. To give some scale for a normal human, a Jalapeño runs between a mild 3,500:1 to a hot Jalapeño at 8,000:1. Thus a Habanero is between about twelve and a hundred times as spicy as your average Jalapeño. Cayenne pepper runs between 30,000 and 50,000 Scovilles for another comparison. Since the 1990s, more peppers have become known or developed that are over a million Scovilles, such as the Carolina Reaper at 1,569,300 Scovilles, but even up to 1999, Guinness was recording Habaneros as the hottest pepper cultivar in the world.

Member Post


As part of the share your expertise group writing series, I am writing a four-part series on critiquing: Perspectives, Preparing, Critiquing, and Receiving. This is the fourth and final part of that series. Accepting Criticism Gladly The first step in a critique is to find your reviewers/critics who are willing to help you. The second […]

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