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Showing posts from April, 2007

Elevating the Pun to an Art Form

According to Samuel Johnson, the pun is "the lowest form of humour". I've always been inclined to agree.

To me, the pun has always seemed like a character type.

A Lyle Lovett lyric goes like this:

You are a lonely, weak, pathetic man.*
My favorite lyric from any Smiths song goes like this:

So you go and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home and you cry and you want to die.**
If puns were people, these are the kind of passages that would seem entirely appropriate for describing them.

I have no real pity for the pun, no matter how much disrespect is thrown at it. The pun seems desperate, but not especially pitiable. I'm not saying that there aren't clever puns out there. Surely, there must be. But on the whole, as a class, puns are insipid. Is there a better word to describe them? I doubt it.

However, there is one area of human endeavor where I truly believe the pun has been raised to an art form: The mystery novel title.

There seems to be an entire …

Crocuses — a new photograph

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Here's one of those shots from a couple of days ago. Beth has identified the flower variety as crocus. We have white ones and purple ones in bloom at the moment. I really like that they're on such short stems. Staying so close to the ground, I think they seem a perfect flower to "peek" out from all of the winter deadness, early in the spring season (relatively speaking). It's a nice contrast, I think.

Self-Healing Technology

I love self-healing technology! It's kind of like skin. Cut it and it bleeds. But if you wait a while, it repairs itself. The mechanism is a mystery to most of us. But the results are the same: effortless repair, often just about as good as new.

Three examples:

1) My Sirius satellite radio receiver: A few months ago, I left it plugged into my car's lighter outlet overnight, and I forgot to turn it off. Three unfortunate things happened:
It drew down all of the power from my car's battery, thus requiring me to get a jump from Beth's MINI.It blew one of my car's fuses, thus requiring me to replace an automotive fuse for the first time ever.The display died. So I spent a few months driving around with no visual indicator telling me which station I was tuned to, who was singing or talking, what song was playing, what the current score of the hockey game was, etc.,...
Since then, I have made a real effort to remember to turn off and unplug the receiver after each trip (less…

Spring Thaw — a new photograph

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The daffodils in the back yard started opening a couple of days ago, and today I noticed some other flowers (species unknown to me, of course) on the front lawn. I've taken some shots of them, but before I start posting the flowery bits, I figured I might as well post a shot from a few weeks ago: melting ice on a calm stretch of a local waterway. I've actually done more color experimentation on this one than I normally like to do. I happen to like this version best:


I killed the color and then enriched the black with a little hint of blue. If you'd like to see an alternate version, with the color actually punched up pretty significantly from how it was shot, click here.

Critiques, as always, are welcome. Let me know which version you prefer...and whether you think either is any good or whether they're both just awful.

Capsule Review: The Ice Storm

Here's another of those little "Staff Recommendation" reviews that I write for the book store:

The Ice Storm, directed by Ang Lee.
Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire, Joan Allen, Katie Holmes. If you're a movie fan, these names should mean something to you. This low-key gem may actually be the best piece of work any of them has ever been associated with. We named our first dog after the Katie Holmes character. "Libbets? What kind of a name is Libbets?!?" The movie is centered around a couple of families during a strange and tragic Thanksgiving weekend in the 1970s. It probably won't make you cry, it may not make you laugh, but it might just leave you in awe.

Another Photo I'm Proud Of

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I'm also pretty proud of this photo:


This is the New Hampshire state amphibian, the spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens).

Maybe My Favorite Photo

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Of all the photographs I've ever taken, this one very well might be my favorite:


For some reason, it just strikes me as being particulary gorgeous, albeit pretty limited in its color range. I hope you like it. As always, comments are welcome--pro or con.

Another Keiko Photo available

In case anyone wants to see a fifth photo of Keiko, one has been featured on today's installment of the Bird A Day Blog. Thanks, Bird A Day!

New Blogging Strategy, Newton Baby Picture, Two Reviews

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I know that I haven't been the most regular blogger. I would like to do something about that. I doubt that I'll get to the point where I'm posting something new on a daily basis. But I would like to post something new at least a few times a week. So, I've devised a new strategy.

While I certainly don't want to turn this into a photo blog, I have come to realise that my photography is what's getting me more hits than anything else. (Why doesn't my dictionary project seem to capture anyone's attention? I don't know. I've found it absolutely fascinating!)

So what I'm going to start doing is posting photographs more regularly, particularly when I don't have anything else to contribute for a few days. Some of these will be old photos that I haven't previously posted, but that I happen to like a lot. Some will be new photos. For today, an old picture of Newton, from when he was still a little baby, 4 1/3 years ago.


Strategy shift number 2:

For…

Pictures of Keiko

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My sister requested that I post some pictures of our bird, Keiko. So here he is:





He's a blue headed pionus. Actually quite pretty. He's camera shy, though. I took over 70 shots and ended up with only about 20 that I thought were any good. From those, I chose to post these four.

The Dictionary Project, Status Update

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It occurred to me recently that some of the dictionaries in my testing are out of print. For example, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition is no longer available. So I checked the Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, which I believe is just a slightly updated version of the same dictionary, with a name change stemming from a merger. The results of that test: the same. So #15 is basically just #2, renamed. I've gone back and color coded the titles in previous blog entries to indicate which are currently in print and which are not. Blue indicates in print. Dark red indicates out of print.

I've also checked a few more dictionaries in the last couple of weeks. A couple are "on the record", meaning that I had my list with me and was therefore able to take an official count. Others are "off the record", meaning I worked from memory and don't have official tallies. In all cases, I have been satisfied that the dicti…