by Tommy James and the Last Shondell
Epigraph: “These are the top twenty unisex baby names: Casey, Riley, Jessie, Jackie, Avery, Jaime, Peyton, Kerry, Jody, Kendall, Payton, Skyler, Frankie, Pat, Quinn, Harley, Reese, Robbie, Tommie, Justice.” --The Internet
1/ It always bugged The Writer Manque that he couldn’t write fiction. (He couldn't write non-fiction, either, but that didn't bug him.) His attempts at fiction came either (a) to naught or (b) out very strange. Ironically, he could write flat-out lies with dismaying fluency. And his plagiarism was so vast he felt his profession was more typewriter than writer. Sometimes he adapted his sources, which he called popping popcorn.
2/ It was night. (Gloomy.) It happened one night. (Better, but not new.) It was a dark and stormy night. (Cliche, but isn’t cliche another word for “tried and true”?) The clock on the wall struck midnight. (Oh, please.) I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight. (Now we’re cookin’.)
3/ His insomnia was a concrete block not working its way through the python. It was writer’s block on speed, giving it all the energy it needed not to move an inch. Try something, try anything.
4/ "Two travellers return to a long-neglected garden and find it vibrantly alive again. There is a trout in the milk, however.
5/ "They fall to arguing whether the state of affairs implies a gardener. Weeks pass; no gardener appears. The believing traveler says the gardener must be invisible. The skeptic asks, 'What’s the practical difference between a gardener who cannot be detected and one who does not exist?' From that moment their argument was over, practically speaking."
6/ How do you spell “capeesh”? Is the word itself part of your New Jersey schtick, like “Don’t eat the gabagool”?
7/ With this ring I thee wed. Ding-dong! Was that a knock at the door?
8/ Three sturdy facts about the late English philosopher John Wisdom:
(a) His full name was Arthur John Terence Dibben Wisdom;
(b) He was influenced by G.E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Sigmund Freud. These are good people by whom to be influenced; and
(c) He is not to be confused with his cousin, John Oulton Wisdom, or the U.S. court of appeals judge John Minor Wisdom.
9/ Ignorant Hand was the home of the Four Fickle Fingers of Fate and the Fickle Opposable Thumb of Fate.
10/ “We were not interested in the way we thought we would be interested.” --Joy Williams. That’s the entire text of her short story, “Museum.”
11/ If two people are in a coma at the same time, is it the same coma?
12/ If all the people on hold could talk to each other, would things get rowdy? What would they talk about? “Do you really think our calls are important to them, or are they just saying that?”
13/ When did the expression “Is that even a thing?” become a thing?
14/ When will the annoying practice of starting answers with “so” go away? “How old are you?” “So, I’m eleven.”
15/ Somebody online describes herself as “the Friendly Grammar Nazi.”
16/ When the talk-show guest from Ireland was asked why he believed in leprechauns, he said, “Because it stands to reason.”
17/ If we inhabit a multiverse in which all possible universes exist, do some universes have a God who wills the multiverse to continue to exist, and others no God or one who wills the opposite?
18/ The difference between “well intended” and “well intentioned” is like that between “well meant” and “well meaning.”
19/ Certain fanatics have a look that shows that they imagine themselves to be leaders but have never won the trust of any human being ever.
20/ I met a traveller from an antique land who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs.” Beyond that, silence.
21/ The first drink of the day did not always bring to mind two vast and trunkless legs, but frequently it did.
20/ She wanted to name her son “Buddha,” but she was afraid someone would meet him on the road and kill him, so she named him “Balthasar” instead. Better than “Myrrh.”
21/ One couple was so eager to give each child a name that they picked gender-neutral names to avoid having to wait till they learned the baby’s sex.
22/ “Katrinka” is not a popular name in the U.S., according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Lose the second “k” and that’s another story.
23/ If a name has fewer than five occurrences in a year, the SSA omits it from the popularity data made public, to protect privacy.
24/ After Sam had had quite a bit to drink, she thought she saw a red rabbit in the floral centerpiece.
25/ It was an old family joke that Samantha was twins: Sam an’ Tha. Ha, ha, thought Sam. One person’s joke beaten to death is another’s evergreen.