Saturday, August 31, 2013

Word of the Day

phantasmagorical: dreamlike or whimsical in appearance

As a fan of all things fantasy, I have come across this word a number of times. It's an all-around awesome term, or at least I think so.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Word of the Day

flummox: to bewilder or confuse

I've simply always liked the look and sound of this word. And what's more, bewilder is also one of my favorite words, so this one's sort of a twofer.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Word of the Day

canard: a false and often derogatory story or rumor

I remember learning this word during a vocabulary lesson way back in grade school. I scarcely (more like next to never) come across it in conversation. That is, until my dad used it the other day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When it rains, it pours.

Today was just one of those days. As in, I've had better days. Of course work played a large part in this. Bosses, clients, mountains of paperwork, all that good stuff. But I won't even bother to elaborate on that. I'll just move right on to the next page in the story of my day.

Let me preface the following statements with the admission that I suffer from a bit of arachnophobia. There you have it. After all, admitting is the first step. So, with that clear, two of the worst parts of my workday involved eight-legged freaks. The first incident starred a spider with some wicked parkouring skills. This particular spider first played a game of Pong on the walls before finally jumping a distance of roughly three feet to land on my leg. After sufficient amounts of thrashing on my part, the spider finally fell from my leg. I then did the only logical thing I could think of: I panicked and fled the scene. Upstanding display of bravery, I know, but that's how it goes. What happened next? A spider crawled out of a sink drain and ran at me as I attempted to wash my hands. I pride myself on maintaining a proper level of hygiene, but if that's what I get for it then forget it.

But it wasn't just spiders I was at war with today. When I ventured out of work I realized that a new family of wasps has moved in above the door. One particular wasp felt the need to harass me all the way to my car, and it even made an attempt to fly into my ear. I don't have nearly as much of a problem with wasps as I do with spiders, but that certainly doesn't mean I want one cramming itself into my ear canal, thank you very much.

After all of that trauma, I decided to unwind with a good book. I'm currently reading Midnight by Dean Koontz, and I'm just now getting to the more gritty, intense details of the plot. So, I was excited to delve into the story. But today that just wasn't destined to happen. Outside forces kept pulling me away. You know, things like the phone, a puppy with boundless stores of energy, an equally so kitten. So, despite my intent and desire, I didn't do much reading. Or any at all, really.

But everything is fine now. I made some cookies. And if cookies are involved, all is well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monarchs and Maggots

For whatever reason, I have been in a very musing mood today (this can be a very dangerous thing, for all those involved). During my musings I came to the solid conclusion that the world is a strange place. Sometimes it’s just downright backwards. Things are not always what they seem.

Take the monarch butterfly versus a maggot, for example. If someone were to simply walk up to me out of the blue and ask, “Monarch or maggot? Which would you choose?” I would likely be inclined to reply, “Monarch.” After all, monarchs are beautiful butterflies, fluttering about from plant to plant on delicate wings. Whereas maggots are, well, maggots, nasty little buggers that they are. But upon deeper thought, maybe that shouldn’t be my automatic answer. Why? Well, that charming little monarch is actually a poisonous butterfly, able to sequester a particular substance from milkweed and use it as a toxin against certain predators that attempt to ingest it. On the other hand, although an ugly sort, maggots can be quite valuable and potentially lifesaving in the medical field, able to clean wounds and rid them of necrotic flesh. That being said, if someone were to now walk up to me and ask, “Monarch or maggot? Which would you choose?” my answer might not be so quick and simple. In the case of a medical emergency, for example, such as in any unfortunate hypothetical scenario where I find myself afflicted with some necrotic flesh, I certainly should not so easily discount the maggot. And perhaps I shouldn’t so easily accept the company of the monarch butterfly.

So it’s monarch versus maggot. Beautiful toxin chamber versus repulsive lifesaver. Things just aren’t always what they seem.

(As a side note, I must admit that the aforementioned concept of monarch versus maggot has, in truth, been bouncing around in the dark corners of my brainpan for some time now. I don’t know exactly why or how that concept of monarchs and maggots welcomed itself into my mind, and there’s a good chance that it doesn’t even make that much sense, but it forced itself in regardless. And it’s been stuck there in the mud of my mind ever since, just collecting cobwebs. That is, until my musings of today broke it loose and finally found a use for it.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Word of the Day

lycanthrope: a werewolf; a person suffering from the delusion that he or she is a wolf or other wild animal

As an admittedly major fantasy geek, I come across this word very frequently. Most recently, I came upon it multiple times while reading Larry Correia's Monster Hunter series. It's one of my all-time favorite words (obviously, since I've mentioned it here).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Word of the Day

batrachian: pertaining to amphibians, especially frogs and toads

I remember coming across this word in various school biology courses over the years. But, more recently, I stumbled upon it in Karl Edward Wagner's novel Bloodstone, which involves a certain group of amphibious swamp creatures.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Peanut Butter and Books

Two of my favorite things are peanut butter and books. There are no words to sufficiently express my sentiments of the former, though, so I'll move on to the latter. I find great joy and solace in a good book. In other words, reading is a large part of who I am. So I guess that would mean it's worth a mention.

Fantasy will always be my all-time favorite, go-to genre. This love of fantasy began when I was a small child. And I'll thank my dad for that. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of my dad reading The Hobbit to me as a bedtime story. And then there's the fact that I grew up with a map of Middle-earth hanging on the wall in my playroom. Doesn't get much cooler than that. When I grew older I read The Hobbit on my own, and then I of course moved on to the epic tale that is The Lord of the Rings. Sure, sometimes Tolkien's works can seem rather bogged down with lengthy descriptions that are sometimes best described as tedious, but I've come to realize that Tolkien's inclination for heavy detail is one reason why he was such a literary genius. Tolkien built a world on an epically grand scale, fleshing it out with nitty-gritty detail so that the reader could enjoy this world to its fullest. Yes, that means that the reader sometimes has to trudge through paragraphs or even pages describing various landscapes (right down to the pattern of that there leaf's veins) in order to find his or her way back to the story at hand. But, in the end, it really is worth it.

Although he is more or less the ultimate fantasy mastermind in my book (pun not intended, I guess), Tolkien is not the only author of fantasy that I enjoy. I have become a great fan of Jack Vance's works, especially his Lyonesse trilogy. L. Sprague de Camp is another author near the top of my list, my personal favorite work of his being The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea. There's also Karl Edward Wagner, who gave life to the anti-hero known as Kane. See a pattern? I do. All of the aforementioned authors are, sadly, deceased (Vance only recently so). I in earnest have no intention of sounding heartless by saying this, but it is tough being a fan of of the non-living, because there is no longer anything new to look forward to from them. But, I still hold some hope, since a handful of my favorite authors are actually still with us. Neil Gaiman, to name one. Neverwhere was a profoundly fun read, and I am currently waiting to get my hands on a copy of Gaiman's new novella The Ocean at the End of the Lane so that I can properly devour it. And I can't forget to mention Patricia A. McKillip, with her multitudinous fairytale-esque works of fantasy.

More recently, though, I have discovered a new, fun, exciting fantasy series to read. And that is the Monster Hunter series by Larry Correia. In short, these books are action-packed horror movies moonlighting as urban fantasy novels. There's never a dull moment in this series, what with the entertaining characters and well-played humor, all topped off with massive expenditures of ammunition and explosive (literally) action. And they're chock-full of fantasy creatures and monsters galore. I mean, there are even orcs. And trailer trash elves. Fun, fun. There is one problem, though. There are currently four books released in this series, with more planned for the future. And therein lies the problem. It has been a long time since I've had to eagerly await the next installation in a series, and I'd forgotten what that felt like. It's unnerving. So please, Larry Correia, hurry. Pretty please. Although, to tide me over I will soon be starting another urban fantasy series by Correia, his Grimnoir Chronicles.

Besides fantasy I am also a fan of the horror and thriller genres. Needless to say, in the world of horror and thrill it simply does not get much better than the great master H.P. Lovecraft. He wrote countless unsurpassable tales of profound fright, and while I have thus far found all of them satisfactorily terrifying, I am quite partial to his quaint little story called "The Hound". In addition to Lovecraft there is Edgar Allan Poe. I have never been a keen fan of poetry, yet I have a deep fondness for that of Poe. How can you go wrong with "The Raven"? In terms of modern tales of horror and thrill, Dean Koontz is one of my main go-to authors. I won't lie, Koontz has written some books of which I am not so fond, but he has also written a number of books that are high on my list of favorites. The first work I ever read by him was Watchers, and it is also my favorite of his. It's a well-told story with plenty of chilling excitement and intriguing concepts. Furthermore, a certain canine character named Einstein caters perfectly to my animal lover's heart.

I even enjoy a handful of the so-called classics. As much as I love to read, I honestly never much appreciated being force-fed such books in school, especially since, in truth, I found a good portion of them downright torturous to read (The Scarlet Letter really isn't that long of a book, so why did it feel like I was trudging my way through an endless tome of bloodcurdling misery?). But, I can't deny that there were at least a handful of these so-called classics that I actually liked reading. To Kill a Mockingbird is a real gem of story, one of the truest classics, at least the way I see it. I also rather enjoyed Frankenstein. And I don't know how many fellows I have with this one, but I actually had a lot of fun with Gulliver's Travels.

Me oh my. On this topic of books, I could go on and on and on. But I won't. After all, if I'm not careful, this post will get out of hand and acquire a mind of its own. Anyway, it's feeding time. Peanut butter it is.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Word of the Day

menagerie: a collection or exhibition of wild animals

I've had a keen interest in animals my whole life, and as a result I remember learning this word at a young age. It's been a favorite of mine ever since.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Word of the Day

crepuscule: twilight; dusk

This is not a particularly pretty word, neither visually nor auditorily. But I've managed to become quite fond of it nonetheless. Where did I first learn this word? In a course on reproductive biology. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Word of the Day

gossamer: a light, delicate, and typically sheer fabric; cobweb

There really isn't much to say about this one. I simply like the word.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Word of the Day

I like words. They're important, of course. Each and every one of them is important in its own way, for its own reason. But the plain and simple truth is that some words are far more exciting than others.

For example, take a look at this word: and. And this one: the. Boring. Important, yes. But also boring. Now take a look at this word: tintinnabulation. Boring? I certainly think not. So while I like words, I especially like exciting, new, and, admittedly, aesthetically pleasing words. I promise I'm not being vocabularically prejudiced; I simply have my preferences. (I'm fairly certain vocabularically is technically not a word, at least not officially. But, like I said, I'm not prejudiced.)

That all being said, I figure I might as well utilize this blog to share some of my favorite words. So here goes nothing.

tintinnabulation: a ringing or jingling sound, as of bells

Where did I first come across this word? Edgar Allan Poe's "The Bells". Good stuff.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ramblings of a Random Mind

Sometimes I just need to ramble (who doesn't?). I figure this is as good a place as any to do so.

There are days I find myself chock-full of musings, some deep and of course plenty shallow, but either way I need to get them out. Other days my mind is sprinkled with random tidbits, and even these need to be shaken loose. And then there are days when I simply need to vent, rant, and rave (I might as well apologize ahead of time for these).

Whatever the case, sometimes I just need to ramble. And I figure this is as good a place as any to do it.