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The word that comes next on the "least favorite" leaderboard is moist. Many people feel quite strongly about moist— there's even a Facebook group called called "I HATE the word MOIST!" with more than 300 members. One Facebooker calls moist "possibly the worst word in the English dictionary," while another says, "I despise the sick, repugnant word!" It's hard to top the aversion felt for moist, but some other Visual Thesaurus "least favorites" can provoke similar reactions: panty/pantiesvomitointment, and slacks.

I share the revulsion over "slacks..." terrible word!


In New England

I'm in Boston @ the Westin Copley -- rather colder here than at home!

See you all on Saturday -- looking forward to it!!


Awesome Battle of the Planets art

Had to share!



Comics 2009: Laika (graphic novel)

Nick Abadzis. Laika.

Last year I read a very short and monumentally affecting novel called Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson. Its reworking of the Atlas/Heracles myth was thoroughly modern and true to the source materials, but what I found most moving was the final passage where Atlas, long forgotten by humankind and, ceaselessly burdened, discovers that he is not alone...he has been joined by someone...the dog Laika, the first mammal in space, sent up by the Soviets in 1957 aboard Sputnik 2. Winterson's writing was so masterful, really capturing the relationships we can form with animals. So, when I discovered this graphic novel at a comic shop in Dallas, I couldn't resist. Abadzis is, like Winterson, a moving and purposeful storyteller. He weaves fictional elements (about Laika's life before "joining" the Soviet space program, for instance) with meticulously researched details about the Soviet animals in space program to capture all of the events of Laika's life up to and including her launch into space. Abadzis does such a good job of capturing the inherent loyalty of dogs to anyone who'll love them back in this (and I'm not a dog person). He makes Laika heroic and her treatment by her "friends" tragic. There's a great quote in the back of the book from 2008 by the doctor who was running the animal lab where he decries what he and his colleagues did in 1957. This graphic novel touched something in me...perhaps it is that sentimental place where I can go sometimes.


Books 2009: Kalpa Imperial

Angelica Gorodischer. Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was. Translated by Ursula K. LeGuin.

I picked this up a few years ago, in the Small Beer Press printing. SBP is based in Northampton, MA and publishes the exquisitely odd, weird and lovely short story magazine "Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet," which anyone interested in sophisticated writing that crosses into the genre of fantasy should be reading. I took to it for three reasons: 1) it's translator is one of my favorite fantasy authors, who has only grown more wise with age; 2) at the time I was trying to expand my knowledge of writers in the genre and had never heard of Gorodischer and 3) it seemed like it would be my sort of thing. Anyone who has played RPGs with me knows that I favor the "big story" approach. Characters in games I have run have gone on to found empires, start families, kill dark lords and, unwittingly, bring them back. Regular characters doing extraordinary things. Add this to my love of history (and my hope that this would feel like some wonderful tome of stories about a place that might be, but wasn't) and the chronicle form of writing and I thought there would be no way this could go wrong. And it didn't.

Each of these stories is about something fundamentally human (dancing, etc.) and the ways in which the workaday ways of living in the world affect all of us, even the powerful. And this book is so much about the act of storytelling. "The Two Hands" is an especially good example of this, because of the way it tells a story from the points of view of a dozen participants.

I have often felt remiss, slackerish, lazy and wasteful that I have not made more of an effort to write and tell stories. A calling, perhaps, that I hope I haven't completely missed the boat on. Gorodischer's book was inspiring, magical, even.


I always favored a simple - "Khaaan!"

What should we make of this, friends?



In Boston Feb 6-8

Hi Boston-friends,

I'm going to be in Boston the weekend of the 7th for a hiring convention at the Copley Westin Hotel and will be free to game and have fun as of about 2 pm on Saturday. I want to go to the Peabody Essex Museum to see their arctic landscape exhibition and am free to game afterwards. Anyone going to be around? Anyone interested in joining me at the PEM?



I don't know if anyone has seen this video, but I have been going crazy trying to remember where I have seen the source video. I know it isn't original to this video, but I'll be damned if I can remember. Can anyone help? I think the video is creepy interesting...I'm ambivalent to the song...



Pure podcast glory

Stephen Fry, the Jeeves of Jeeves&Wooster to Hugh Laurie's Wooster, bon vivant, raconteur, author and all-around brilliant observer of all sorts of things I find interesting has a podcast now. Oh, yes. I am in my glory!! Can't wait to hear what he's got to say. He's got one of those voices I could just listen to endlessly. I would place Simon Winchester, Lisette Lecat and Douglas Adams in the same category.



The smell of Bazooka bubble gum

So I was having a conversation today with some colleagues and Bazooka Joe came up. Instantly my memory was flooded with the smell of that gum and it had a transporting effect -- not to a particular moment, but to a real sense of feeling good when I was a kid. For me, smell is the most powerful trigger to these memories. Does anyone else have the same feeling about smell? Anything particular come to mind?