Showing posts with label the Lexicon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the Lexicon. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, No. 208


One who is indefatigable is (or seems) incapable of being fatigued or burned out, has limitless energy to accomplish a whole slew of projects.  This is decidedly not me. 

tired by stupidmommy

You may have noticed that the posts - particularly the logophilia - are becoming a not-so-daily occurrence.  I hope this doesn't disappoint you, readers.  The fact is that over the last six months I've learned something important about myself - this very fact that I am vulnerable to burn out if I'm not careful.  And blogging on a fun and exciting word every day was getting into the realm of quantity, not necessarily quality.  I want the blog to be more thoughtful and creative, and I don't want it to turn into an awful chore.  That might be a reason why Daedalus got so quiet in 2011 and 2012: burn out.

Don't worry.  I'm not going anywhere.  Daedalus Notes has been a great place to test out ideas and warm up my artist-brain... I'm simply no longer pressuring myself to take daily logophiliac adventures.  A few weekly, perhaps.  The thing is - and this is taking us back to the notion of the fermata - while I'd love to blog everyday, I need rest - play time with a budding, baby novel.  If I don't play I find myself collapsing like the woman in the above photo, and this place becomes a lot less fun.  So in the interests of fun and burn out prevention (FBOP), I'm not going to lament my awful blogger status and just write. 

Now, back to our (ir-) regularly scheduled programming...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Taking the Fermata

Adventures in Logophilia, No. 207:


In music, a fermata is a pause on a note or a rest - its length determined by the conductor or the musician, usually to close a piece.  This bird's eye symbol is known as an extended rest.  It is from the Italian verb fermare, meaning "to stop."

Extended Rest
Extended Rest by Mike Corpus

I began the morning with another insightful post from Writer Unboxed, written by Barbara O'Neal on "Boundaries and Burnout." She reminds us about the importance of resting in the midst of our work, allowing ourselves to play, our minds to wander and relax.  There is a lot of pressure out there for writers to write-write-write, amping up word counts and producing book after book after book.  Which is one reason I shy away from (well-intenioned) Twitter advice these days - they tell me that once I've begun sending query letters to agents on my novel, I need to dive RIGHT AWAY into a new project.  There is a sense of immediacy in this world - to WASTE NO TIME, to be the early bird catching that worm, or a tireless writer, with stories pouring out right and left.  As if story-dehydration, or burn-out, is no real problem.  But it's been a good four months since I began the querying journey, and the second novel has informed me that on no certain terms will he (yes, he) be rushed.  Am I a failure for listening to the needs of this novel?  Am I using it an excuse to "goof off"?

No.  I'm not goofing off.  I'm resting.  Believe me, I am forming the internal structure of novel no. 2 and asking deep (and sometimes difficult) questions about the direction this story will go.  I don't call that idleness.  Also, I've taken the time to absorb novels - particularly those in my own genre - to identify passages that move me, taking notes, articulating to myself why this or that works or doesn't work.  I allow myself to get swept away in soundtrack music to chase the daydream of what my novel could be.  (By the way, if you've never heard Two Steps from Hell, you're missing out: awesome movie trailer soundtrack music, not heavy metal.)  In this case, work is play.

But rest is more than simply allowing a story to incubate and letting it cook on its own.  Resting in everyday life is helpful with the writing aspect of it.  For example, I hate going to the Y.  I hate exercising.  The idea of making an appointment with a piece of equipment in a noisy building full of sweaty (sometimes loud) people doesn't always appeal, even if the elliptical is a cardio wonder machine.  Walking quietly and at my own pace is restful and healthy - a sort of exercise that is not a shock to the system, but a sustained movement that helps the thinking process.  I've started learning yoga, as well, because it's an interesting balance of endurance and rest - clearing the mind as well as folding and flexing the body.

In the midst of this fermata, I read and walk, brainstorm, make plans to plant a little indoor garden using eggshells (and figuring out how to hollow out an egg and poke drain holes in the bottom without the thing breaking apart).  I sleep in on Saturdays and enjoy it.  I'm clearing out my older no-longer-me clothes from my wardrobe and investing in red heels, changing my hair style, trying new recipes, playing with the cat, watching the occasional Dickensian mini-series, reading what I've never read before, getting swept up in spring fever.  In this time, I feel that my wings are growing and extending, not shrinking.  So instead of freaking out because I didn't meet a word-count quota or have gone "no where" with this novel, I am breathing deeply and feeling my way forward.  There is no need to feel any guilt or panic because there is no deadline.  There is no one breathing down my neck.  There is just the story and getting to know him better everyday, forming a friendship with this living thing that will be with me for the next 2-3 years. 

So here I am, still coming down from osana.  I'll stay here until it's time to get up again. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, No. 206


These days, a gamine is a girl or a young woman with playfully attractive, boyish charm.  In the nineteenth century, a gamine was actually a female street urchin, which explains why Anne Hathaway's hair is often described this way - having played the shorn-haired Fantine in Les Miserables.  For one about to embark on a similar style, it's nice to be able to put a chic French term to it: gah-MEEN

Anne Hathaway with her Oscar

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Episode 205:


Efflorescence is the state of being flowery, blooming or having such an appearance, a perfect word for the budding, opening and awakening of blossoms.  Like those above, I amazed to see these dobs of color give life to an otherwise struggling lawn. Many people remarked yesterday in Boston that flowering trees were in fantastic bloom on a day that saw so much anxiety and pain.  Spring is hope.  And here is proof.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Disembogued

Adventures in Logophilia, No. 204:


This verb means "to flow out or empty, as water does from a channel."  That is one of many words I can think of to describe the many images that have emerged of empty, quiet Boston today - a truly eerie sight.  A lively, bustling city has been emptied of people. 

Morning above a still-closed Boylston Street, three days after. Looking down Gloucester St. towards MIT. Boston, MA
Gloucester Street by Brad Kelly

An empty street is seen near the historic Faneuil Hall (on L, with white cupola) and City Hall (back, in C) in Boston, Massachusetts on April 19, 2013, as the manhunt continues for Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Police killed one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarneav, in a shootout and mounted house-to-house searches for the second man, his brother Dzhokar Tsarnaev, on Friday, with much of the city under virtual lockdown after a bloody night of shooting and explosions in the streets.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Quicksilver Month

Adventures in Logophilia, Day 203:


Anything mercurial is characterized by the rapid or unpredictable changeableness of one's mood.  It also might mean something is more directly related to the element, the planet, or the mythological messenger god.  Sometimes all of these at once.  The general adjective and the element are no doubt named for the god Mercury's ability to change places so quickly.  The element was once called quicksilver, because it looks like moving, living, moody silver. 

Quicksilver by Keith Moseley at flickr

Mercurial seems to best describe April 2013, half-spent as it is.  Living in the middle of the continent, we've seen March and April change their moods frequently from calm, halcyon days to blustry wintry ones.  Snow and rain have been competing for territory this week, leaving us in a state of jaded confusion: I thought we were done with winter!  Look, there are flowers!  It shouldn't be snowing when there are flowers!  What is wrong with this world?  Global warming!  Well, I say.  At least it's wet.  Perhaps we've finally begun to turn this neverending drought around.

I'm not a climatologist, and this is not a science blog, although I can say our fears about weather, climate and our inability to properly harness them make for great science fiction.  Spring has a temper in general: it has good days and bad days: the lion and the lamb; blizzards, tornadoes and thunderstorms; sunshine, daffodils and birdsong.  This month is absolutely and indeniably alive.  I'm sure February is mighty jealous.  And May will be especially glorious when all calms down!

Mercury Bronze 1570 van der Schardt 4
Mercury by Mary Harrsch

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 202:


cannot be overcome, subdued or vanquished; unconquerable, unyielding; not giving into defeat.

Light by Jidhu Jose on flickr

The events of yesterday have taken a toll on our spirits.  Thinking of and praying for Boston and the friends I have there, quaking in the aftermath of the Marathon bombing and the terror that has our nation quaking once again, I now there is resilience in dark times, that the human spirit can overcome this with sparks of our own light.  Brought together, those sparks can make a glorious, indomitable, unquenchable fire to chase the dark away.  Light is hope.  Hope is light. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Downton Abbey and Mayhem

Word 201 is...


Mayhem, as you may have surmised from the Allstate commercials featuring the ironic personification of mayhem ("I'm a branch about to fall on your car", etc), is a willful and permanent crippling, mutilation or disfigurement of any part of the body - especially involving the loss of a limb or a digit. In other words, needless, willful damage or violence.  Which brings us to Downton Abbey...

Several months have passed and I believe most of us Downton fans (or addicts, as the case may be) are aware of how the third series ended.  Matthew Crawley, happily married and new, proud father, dies in a car crash.  The final image is of lifeless Matthew, lying in a growing pool of blood, his eyes opened.  Not moments before, he'd been holding his baby son.  Naturally, this has sparked a wide range of outbursts from fans of the show.  My father exclaimed, "he was the only one in that family who made sense!" 

Dramatic death is the plot-mover and shaker in Downton.  The show opened with the death of the then-heir Patrick on the Titanic.  A few episodes later a young Turkish nobleman died suddenly in bed (whose bed being the compelling secret of the series).  Series Two saw the first world war, bringing on the death of a beloved footman and Matthew's apparent paralysis (which he later miraculously overcame) and the Spanish flu which killed off Matthew's fiancee, Lavinia.  Series Three saw Lady Sibyl die in childbirth, leaving behind her husband (the former chauffeur) and her baby daughter.  Mayhem is unavoidable here, the life blood of the show.

Matthew Crawley's final moments with Mary and son

It does seem remarkably unfair to have killed off Sibyl and Matthew in the same series, and neither instance was very pleasant.  Yet, on a more pragmatic note, Jessica Brown-Findlay and Dan Stevens both wanted to move onto other projects once their contracts had expired.  The story lines had to shift to accommodate them, even if devastating those of us who finally FINALLY saw joy come to their respective characters.  If an actor feels the call of Broadway, as Mr. Stevens certainly has, he should be free to follow that call wherever it leads him.  We've seen this before: in The X-Files, Agent Mulder is abducted by aliens so that David Duchovny can focus on a film career; in Doctor Who, the Doctor has regenerated many times now*, a death loophole that frees the actor but lets us keep the character in a brand new incarnation; Tasha Yar in Star Trek: The Next Generation; Charlie in Lost; Daniel Jackson in Stargate SG-1... the list goes on...

The Tenth Doctor regenerates.
The ordinary mayhem of non-renewed contracts brings opportunities for the creative minds behind these shows.  Interesting opportunities.  Story, in whatever form, has the unique ability to shift direction, flexible and resilient against such challenges.  It shows me that any obstacle I may encounter with a plot line in my own fiction is not The End of All Things, but a chance to bend the story onto a new vector I had not considered.  It's a matter of realizing - hey, there's a dead-end here, but I can 1.) build a door right here, or 2.) find that secret passageway I know is hidden around here somewhere... what a thrill to find the solution right there, waiting.

For Downton, rumor has it that the fourth series will focus on the grief and recovery of Lady Mary, Matthew's widow.  As an aside, I have a soft spot for haughty, stern, self-righteous Mary; as a character she has grown through her mistakes and her sorrows.  And the question now can be about her ability as a character to grow stronger from this tragedy... remaking her, revitalizing her and revivifying her as her story continues on.

Matthew's exit is unavoidable but may contain blessings in disguise. The creator of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, remarked that the happy Matthew had to go, because happiness is next to impossible to write. And to this end, killing Matthew when he was at the peak of happiness seems to have been the best option.  He died happy and a success, instead of fading away out of monotony or boredom into a shadow of himself.  Explaining Matthew away in a divorce would be cruel judging from the richness of the story he and Mary have shared for the last three years.   

If the spirit of the story is preserved, if other characters are allowed to grow in new ways to become better versions of themselves, then I look forward to the fourth series of Downton Abbey.  Even if more mayhem awaits us in the form of stock market crashes and love affairs.

* On terms of Doctor Who - a totally different animal - there were similar reactions when David Tennant left the show.  The Doctor, having been fatally dosed with radiation to save a companion, regenerated dramatically into Matt Smith's Doctor.  While at the very core he is the same man, alive, well and frenetic as ever, something very real died in his explosive regeneration. His is a death: a chapter closed and forever cut off from new adventures. (... unless they involve the fiftieth anniversary special, that is.  Doctor Who is infamous for its loopholes.)  But, as we are reminded by the watchful Ood Sigma, the story itself does not end.  Doctor Who simply experienced a changing of the guards: new Doctor, new head writer and producer (Stephen Moffat).  It was the same and not the same, and that is okay. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

To Earwig or Eavesdrop

Adventures in Logophilia, Day 200:


To earwig is to annoy or attempt to influence by way of private discussion.  In Britain, this is another word for "eavesdrop."  This comes from an insect of the same name, a long-bodied little creature with pinchers.  In the Anglo-Saxon days (which shows just how old the word is), earwigs were thought to crawl into the human ear.  I know what you're thinking: eww and oww!  I'd imagine that this would be a medieval explanation for madness or demon possession... or perhaps medieval term for, well, bugged or wired. As if the creature is a piece of demonic espionage equipment.  Purely a conjecture straight out of my wacky imagination.  I prefer not to think of the ear-bugs (who would?) but the little insistent whispers that give away an earwigging discussion.

Eavesdropping fascinates me, too.  Not only does this verb mean "listening in on someone else's conversation", but it had its origins in the 1600s... a person who supposedly stood under the eaves of someone's house to listen to the conversations within.  The eavesdrop, according to Oxford Dictionaries, was actually the ground directly below the eaves, where the water runs off. 

Which word is your favorite: earwig or eavesdrop?

Eavesdrop by Marsha Aninditha

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 199:


bad handwriting

Surely you know that cacophony is "harsh sound." In that same vein, cacography is both "bad spelling" or "bad handwriting."  I take this to mean that when you attempt to sit down and read something border on chicken-scratch illegibility, your head begins to hurt... like your reaction to hearing the classic horror-sound of fingernails a-clawing on a chalk board.  In other words, harshness of writing.  When I come across passages in a novel that could have been better edited, I cringe in the same way. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 198:


This adjective describes something or someone that is unyielding, inflexible or unbreakable... or very adamant.  This is from the Latin word adamanitus, which means "hard as steel." Peter Oborne of the Daily Telegraph describes the late Baroness Thatcher thus: "The magnificence of Thatcher was her adamantine refusal to accept the conventional wisdom of her age."  (Emphasis mine.)  And this woman, hard as steel, will not be forgotten for quite sometime.  If the United States elects a woman into the office of President, she will have to be as strong as Britain's only female prime minister.  It is not a job for wilting flowers.

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher on the cover of Time Magazine
Bernard Bujold - LeStudio1

Monday, April 8, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 197:


Virga is a mass of streaks, wisps or stripes of rain appearing to hang underneath a cloud, but evaporating before reaching the ground.  This is the Latin word for "rod" or "stripe."  While out and about yesterday, I saw many a virga looming overhead, an eerie, ghostly premonition of the thunderstorms that would arrive later in the night.  Weather, in case you couldn't tell, fascinates me in its changeability - the mood swings of the region, the continent and the world.  There is still so little we know about the workings of the atmosphere; imagination will always fill in the gaps of our knowledge.

Virgas by Francois Roche

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 196:


This adjective describes something that is of a golden color or brilliance or something that is marked by a grandiloquent and rhetorical style.  Nothing is more aureate in nature than an awesome sunrise, methinks... unless it's a work of prose rendered in sharp, simple, beautiful words.

Sunrise by Sean MacEntee

Friday, April 5, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 195:


Oxford Dictionaries indicates that rhapsody is a Latinate word taken from the Greek word rhapsoidia - a combination of the words for "stitch" and "ode" or "song."  A rhapsody - whether Bohemian, Blue or otherwise - is simply that: an expression of extravagant praise.  This is usually manifest in musical compositions that are irregular, unusual or otherwise, ahem, Bohemian.  

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue on youtube

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 194:


A smokescreen is a cloud of smoke created to conceal military operations from others, or a ruse designed to hide someone's real intentions or activities.  In one of the earlier episodes of The X-Files, Mulder's insider contact "Deep Throat" describes the alien crash landing at Roswell to be a smokescreen to conceal what the government really has been doing with alien technology.  There is something spooky about this.


World War Two destroyers putting up a smokescreen against the enemy (Jim Phillips)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 193:


Sometimes spelled lissome, this adjective means thin and easily flexed with graceful movements; lithe, limber or supple.  Lissom is an alteration of lithesome.  I remember this word describing Tinkerbell in Peter Pan - the perfect word for a weightless, airy creature with the wings of a butterfly.

I also, of course, think of ballerinas and their long, strong limbs and feet.  They may look fragile, but in fact, they're incredibly strong.


by sebastian ayala

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 192:


dwelling or situated on an island.  This has come to mean narrow-minded, as well as isolated and detached.

a Croatian island by Sphinx

Lately, I've come to realize the value of writing in an island mind set.  This is similar to my ideas in the post on hermetic, writing in an air-tight environment, keeping the door shut and visualizing Schrodinger's cat.  "Island writing" would point not only to keeping things contained, but also separating oneself so nothing can come in.  This is a challenge in the internet age where were swamped with commentary and blurbs and tweets and informational flashes everywhere we turn.  There is also a greater pressure for writers, especially for beginning, unpublished writers such as myself, to "build our platforms" online or create a following on Twitter, as well as visiting blogs, keeping blogs, reading, reading, reading the insights of others out there in the world.  It is confusing and exhausting.  When most of the time, all I want to do is write.

I've noticed that several months on Twitter leave me feeling this way at times.  Don't worry, I'm not about to leave the community, I'm simply taking this network with a grain of salt.  When those I follow tweet about insightful blog posts or articles, I am grateful.  Those things are innocuous, helpful and encouraging.  Some people really have a knack for crafting lovely, funny or intriguing tweets.  Yet... sometimes it amounts to a lot of distracting visual noise.  Too much of a good thing: read me! read this! you should be doing this!  you never should do that!  Ahh!

Much of this might be due to my struggles with anxiety.  When tweets suddenly feel like commentary on my personal writing life, I know it's time to retreat over the moat, pull up the drawbridge and write alone and unbothered in the tower... putting some distance between myself and others until the energy is back.  Just retreat and write.  It's all good!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Hello again!  I took an inadvertent break from delving into the depths of my logophilia collection to devote some serious time to editing and novel-building. 

Adventures in Logophilia, Day 191:


unfeeling, unconscious; incapable of understanding human things or showing sympathy; in other words, inanimate.

Does this man look insentient to you?

I have been watching Star Trek: the Next Generation for the first time in fifteen years or so.  Having spent a good deal of my childhood immersed in this world, there a few questions I find myself revisiting.  For one, I believe the one-of-a-kind android Commander Data feels a great deal more than he lets on.  I find it hard to believe that C-3PO and R2D2 are more capable of producing emotion - oftentimes irrational, biting emotion - than Data claims to.  Why?

Data is driven to understanding and becoming an acceptable participant in humanity.  We first see him whistling "Pop Goes the Weasel."  He proves himself an artist, classical musician and Shakespearean actor.  He is fascinated with Sherlock Holmes (aren't we all?).  He experiences grief many times.  Confusion and bewilderment, also.  He's been in love.  He expresses the desire to be a parent.  He owns a ginger-stripe cat named Spot - only a human would be able to embrace the irony of that.  Above all, he is a loyal member of the crew of the Enterprise, a friend to many, an enemy to few. 

And yet through all of this Data will declare that he has no emotions and is incapable of understanding love, grief, fear, humor because they (supposedly) reside outside of his original programming.  His brother Lore was the android outfitted with emotions, but he soon turned out to be the defective model prone to misanthropy and evil.  

Here's my theory.  Data was created by a human being - a human being he will refer to as "Father." He works with humans (and others) on a regular basis.  Without emotion, he'd have no drive, no curiosity, no will power to adapt, to learn or to better himself.  Without emotion, he'd reside in a closet until it's time for him to go to the bridge, would not be embraced by his crew, nor would he be a respected, trusted senior officer.  I'm not an expert on Starfleet, but would they really give such privileges to an insentient automaton?  My argument is that Data does have emotions.  The evidence is overwhelming.  He simply does not know what to do with them.  That said, he is like a child constantly learning about his world. 

Again, if 3PO can express pain, mourn, worry, spew insults, panic and whine, then Data can, too.  (Someone would argue - "hey! They're in two separate universes!" That's true. But it makes no difference to me.  I could very easily throw in a blurb about Daleks or Cybermen.)  When Data is outfitted with an "emotion chip" in the later years, it doesn't necessarily produce his emotions but allows him to experience and express them more fully... though this gets him into a great deal of trouble.

In the film Star Trek: Generations, Data goofs around with a tricorder puppet, is paralyzed with fear when Geordi is kidnapped by Klingons, expresses triumph when the crew wins a victory, and cries with joy when Spot is found alive in the wreckage of the Enterprise.  It wasn't the chip that produced these emotions.  These emotions were there all along, just buried in his android programming, waiting to come out.

So try to tell me that Data has no emotions, and you'll  be hearing from me.  He's more human than he realizes.  He just happens to be a well-made machine.  But aren't we all?

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 190:


having the ability or power of laughing; ludicrously funny.  Something that incites or triggers laughter.  Something worthy of laughter.  That strange moment when you feel like your life has suddenly transformed into a sitcom worthy of Seinfeld or The Office.  Happens to me all the time - if you cannot find a way to laugh in the middle of a stressful day, you'll be crying. It also makes for great comedic material.  And if you're as walking-into-walls clumsy as I am, well, there are plenty of opportunities!

laugh by matteo procopio

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 190:


This word is in my lexicon because I like unusual, archaic things.  If you're an American, like myself, you've probably not heard or seen this word outside of classic British literature.  Thole is Scottish verb meaning to endure (a thing) without complaint, to tolerate something unpleasant or difficult.  

I am in this unknown period that is seeking an agent.  I probably will be for some time.  The process has been overwhelming and far from easy.  When you send what you assume to be your best impression of your novel (in the query) and no one shows any interest in it whatsoever, it cuts you deep to your soul.  No matter how many times you can defend the agents for their difficult job sorting through a slush pile of queries, you cannot help but feel yourself lose energy, lose faith in yourself, and begin to doubt the merit of your writing.  It simply is the way of things.  I felt this in the days when I was hoping for graduate school; rejections felt like a door slamming in my face.  

But... as much as it hurts now,  there will be a door somewhere in this long corridor of agents that will be open, and will someday stay opened.  Until then, my job is to rewrite my query letter (many times if necessary), to listen to feed back about weak spots in the novel's plot, to do what I can to stay moving.  It's non-specific stuff.  It feels half the time like I am not doing anything useful at all.  But I'm going to thole it anyway.  There is always hope - with each draft, with each nugget of wisdom from colleagues out there in the world.  If I didn't believe my novel was something beautiful I wanted desperately to share with the world, I wouldn't be here.  I'd have given up long ago.

climbing by sara kallado


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