Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hills Like White Elephants: Rhett Iseman Trull

"On my sixteenth birthday, I will use the candles/to set the basement aflame and run out laughing,/wearing smoke like a new dress."

From "The Real Warnings are Always Too Late" by Rhett Iseman Trull

Monday, October 27, 2008


I was looking at a text, Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases; With Examples Of Their Colloquial Use, And Illus. From Various Authors: To Which Are Added, The Customs of the County, and found several words I'd never heard of or definitions that I'd never encountered.

Hurk: To take out the entrails of a hare or rabbit.
Mopuses: Money (I looked around further, I love slang for money, and found this word used in Thackeray's Vanity Fair: "You, Mark, to the old gaff's mopus box!")
Mozy: Stupified with liquor.
Prickings: The footsteps of a rabbit.
Prog-box: A school-boy's receptacle for his cake.

And, though I know this word already, it's about the most perfect definition I've ever seen:
Moo: The plaintive cry of a cow.

All of this came about because I was searching for uses of the word "Pooty" after reading the story "A Better Angel" by Chris Adrian and seeing this incredible, amazing passage:

"The angel berated me for days afterward - how mild it seems in retrospect, compared with what she dished out in later years.  "How is a seducing pooty like a grand destiny?" she kept asking me, and then she'd answer her own question, and eventually she trained me to give the right answer.  "Exactly not at all," I said."  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hills Like White Elephants: Gary Lutz

"Later, when I began making myself available to others, every body that trespassed on my bed left behind a new, unfillable furrow in my mattress. Some were more like clefts, gougings."
from "Contractions" by Gary Lutz

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Robot Melon

The new issue of Robot Melon is up.  It's very, very good.  I particularly liked "Childrey Merry" by Maria Anderson.  There are so many amazing lines in the story that it's impossible not to read it multiple times.  Jen Gann has a story, "Horsewoman" that's perfect, which I will now show every student of mine who writes a story about horses, to show them how to do it right.  And there is a poem by Juliet Cook which has the line, "Those fake moustaches don't help the robots look any more human-like."
I also have two short pieces up from my ongoing attempt to turn the rock opera, Tommy, into a novella-sized story.  I listened to that album constantly when I was in junior high and, this was before the internet, I didn't really have access to the overarching plot of the album (or the intelligence to figure it out on my own).  I couldn't tell who was supposed to be speaking and what the hell they were talking about and so I had created my own story of what was going on.  It was, not surprisingly, way, way off.  Like, not even close to being Tommy.  At all.
My favorite Who?  John Entwistle.  His nicknames were "The Ox" and "Thunderfingers".  And he wrote "Cousin Kevin" and "Fiddle About" from Tommy, which are the two most disturbing songs on the album.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hills Like White Elephants: Molly Gaudry

"...and all over the house open books facedown like week-old dead gulls."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Word: Mjolniring

At the online journal Waccamaw, I read a fantastic poem by Rhett Iseman Trull which I originally heard her read a few years ago in Greensboro.  It's called "Naming the Baby for Mark and Terra" and there is a line that reads: "What about Thor?  Can't you just picture him mjolniring down the football field, the other team parting like the sea for the divine?"  
Yes, Iseman just turned Thor's hammer into a verb.  I imagine this to work in the way that Marvel Comics' Thor would hurl the hammer and then hold onto the strap and basically be carried by the force of the throw.  Mjolniring is, in my mind, throwing yourself, without care for your body, towards your inevitable destination.
Chris Berman, instead of constantly saying, "Rumbling, Bumbling, Stumbling" when someone is tearing off a fifty-yard touchdown run, needs to start saying, "LaDanian Tomlinson is mjolniring down the field, the Eagles parting like the sea for the divine."

Hills Like White Elephants: Kelly Link

"Marly? Solange? Karla? Kitty? Siobhan? Marnie? Lynley? Theresa?  You said the names staccato, one after the other, like stabs."
from "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" by Kelly Link

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not a Kiss in a Carload

Last night, I was rereading the first volume of Marvel Comic's The Essential Iron Man.  I grew up reading and loving the Michelinie/Layton run from the late 80's but the early Stan Lee stories are a lot of fun and the Don Heck art is, even in black and white, awesome.  In issue #64 of Tales of Suspense, Iron Man battles, once again (Jesus, they just fought a few issues ago), Hawkeye and Black Widow.  It's pretty good.  It has suction-tipped nylon line, acid-spray arrowheads, commie tintypes, and a runaway flatcar.  But the most memorable thing occurs in the last panel.  Pepper Potts throws her arms around Tony Stark while Happy Hogan's heart breaks.  The final lines of the comic read: "And now before you start thinking that you've been reading a Romance Mag by mistake, turn to the Captain America thriller which follows!  We guarantee, there's not a kiss in a carload!"
I cannot think of a better advertisement for a comic book.  What would you rather have, acid-spray arrowheads or kisses?  I thought so.
I searched for other uses of this phrase, but couldn't find anything.  It seems like a great line for a pulp novel.  However, there was a big ad campaign in the late 20's for Old Gold cigarettes where the slogan was "Not a cough in a carload," highlighting the smooth flavor of the smoking experience.  
And, oh this is good, I found a comic strip by Clare Briggs for Old Gold that shows a tobacco CEO quickly going bankrupt once Old Gold comes on the scene.  The guy then goes a little crazy and the text says, "and you're so 'het up' you just can't help wiltin' your collar."  The final panel shows the day utterly ruined, the guy clutching his throat, face red, and his young wife or girlfriend is crying in the background, saying "Boo-hoo, he never swore at me before and he usta be the nicest man."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Word: Mazuma

I have spent a lot of time, for reasons I cannot explain, looking at ads for pinball machines from the 1930's.  It takes up hours of my day but the machines are so wonderful and the ad copy is so compelling that I want to spend all the money that we don't have to buy them.
One of the better machines, made in 1937 by the Pacific Manufacturing Corporation, was called Mazuma, a word I'd never heard before.  The ad, meant to entice arcade owners to buy the machine, reads as such:
"Mazuma!  BIG Mazuma!  Stacks and stacks of glittering coins for you.  Coins that pack up big cash boxes...overflow into cabinets...pour out like jackpots when you make your collections!  Mazuma means Money to you!"
I went to the OED and, yes, Mazuma is slang for money.
I also found a great line from B. Burgundy's Toothsome Tales 33: "It came to pass that he annexed himself to a mammoth mass of mazuma."
So, if you're looking for a magician's name or a comic book villain, I offer The Great Mazuma.

Hills Like White Elephants: Michael Czyzniejewski

"This girl used to play volleyball and run for student council.  Now she looked like MTV after midnight."