Jane Eyre Vocab & Quotes (3rd Post)

This is the third installment of my longstanding series Jane Eyre Vocabulary & Quotes. So without further ado, let us begin!

merino: any of a breed of fine-wooled white sheep originating in Spain and producing a heavy fleece of exceptional quality. A soft wool or wool and cotton clothing fabric resembling cashmere. [I suppose the wool from a Merino sheep might be assumed.]

Betty’s merino coat was ruined when a hapless construction worker accidentally spilled upon it a quart of crimson dye.

hoary: very old. Having gray or white hair.

The malodor of the hoary homeless gentleman accosted Wilbur’s nose as he ambled passed the park bench.

sere: being dried and withered.

Matthew crawled upon his hands and knees, exhausted and close to death, surrounded on all sides by the sere and unforgiving landscape.

rookery: the nests or breeding place of a colony of rooks [a type of crow]; also, a colony of rooks. A crowded dilapidated tenement or group of dwellings.

The birds fluttered about Mrs. Fairfax’ head amidst her futile flailing and her repeated oaths never to enter the rookery again.

cuirass: a piece of armor covering the body from neck to waist; also, the breastplate of such a piece .

Bob donned the medieval cuirass and thought himself a valiant knight in front of his full-length closet mirror.

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to comment on this post with your own sentences from the words above. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jane Eyre:

It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it … Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

Me: It’s amazing that Bronte’s sentiment has yet still to be embraced by the whole of humanity. How long have we yet to travel along the winding road of evolution.

Jane Eyre Vocab & Quotes (2nd Post)

This is the second installment of my longstanding series Jane Eyre Vocabulary & Quotes. So without further ado, let us begin!

moiety: one of two equal parts. HALF. One of the portions into which something is divided. COMPONENT. PART.

Jim Bob demanded a liberal moiety of the remaining contents of the whiskey bottle, lest the situation devolve to fisticuffs.

officious: used to describe an annoying person who tries to tell other people what to do in a way that is not wanted or needed.

The officious secretary announced through a critically designated e-mail that the length of all lunches for the remainder of the week should be kept to under an hour.

ireful: the quality or state of intense and usually openly displayed anger.

Gary’s ireful remonstrance of the absence of a wireless connection to the Internet in his hotel room was met with bored ambivalence.

sough: to make a moaning or sighing sound.

The low, plaintive soughing of a doleful lover could be heard from the drawing-room.

cachinnate: to laugh loudly or immoderately.

Upon observing Todd slipping on the icy pavement and falling flat on his face, Sally cachinnated remorselessly.

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to comment on this post with your own sentences from the words above. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jane Eyre:

I did not like re-entering Thornfield … to slip again over my faculties the viewless fetters of an uniform and too still existence; of an existence whose very privileges of security and ease I was becoming incapable of appreciating. What good it would have done me at this time to have been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now repined!

Jane Eyre Vocabulary (First Installment)

I’m reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell. The novel recounts the life of Jane Eyre, an orphan that grows up in a boarding school, suffering many injustices along the way, and eventually becomes a governess later in life.

This book is chock-full of abstruse (for me, at any rate) words. I thought I’d document my journey through the book and its formidable vocabulary in my blog.

So, without further ado …

phylactery: either of two small square leather boxes containing slips inscribed with scriptural passages and traditionally worn on the left arm and on the head by observant Jewish men and especially adherents of Orthodox Judaism during morning weekday prayers. AMULET.

I stole David’s phylactery and put it on my kitty’s head.

slatternly: untidy and dirty through habitual neglect. CARELESS. DISORDERLY.

My slatternly habits were disapprovingly scrutinized by my girlfriend.

assiduity: the quality or state of being assiduous (duh). DILIGENCE.

The student applied himself with heroic assiduity to his studies.

mien: a person’s appearance or facial expression.

The wanderer’s somber mien belied his kindness and generosity.

imputation: attribution. Accusation. Insinuation.

The judge’s imputation cut deep the criminal’s guilty heart.

hebdomadal: weekly.

I fervently looked forward to our clandestine hebdomadal meetings in the Garden of Much Zen.

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to comment to this post with your own sentences from the words above. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jane Eyre:

It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.

Today’s Word: gavage

When I stumbled across this word today, it was in the phrase “orally gavaged,” which sounded so horribly close to both “orally savaged” and “orally ravaged” that I cringed. Then I found out what the word meant, and discovered I wasn’t too far off. Perhaps I was right to cringe.

gavage: To force feed nutirents or other material directly into the stomach through a tube.

The word itself sounds like an onomatapoeia naming the sound a conscious person might make while having a tube shoved down his throat and into his stomach.

The concept sounds horrible (I involuntarily swallow whenever I think of it), but it does have some medical utility, both in practice and in research. The obvious use is feeding comatose patients.

I found the word in the world of poultry, though, while reading the most enjoyable literature* about antibiotic testing. so engrossed in involved a number of turkeys who were first “orally gavaged” with mixture of nasty little buggers with names like Eimeria acervulina. After a few days, they were then given the antibiotic.
One cannot test the efficacy of an antibiotic on an animal that hasn’t been violated by the microbes the antibiotic is meant to obliterate. So the experimental results I was

In short, they were force-fed the disease in order to be given the cure. Which seems a rather nice metaphor for American consumerism, I think.

* This is the my sarcastic font for the day.


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FundAnything Campaign Wrap-up

A month ago, I imagined writing this post about how people really came out of the woodwork to help me, an unemployed and struggling writer, buy a new laptop after mine had been stolen. About how I was inspired by people’s generosity and found a new faith in humanity.

And I would tell you all about the short stories I was writing to fulfill my promises to those who helped. And about where my guest posts would soon appear. And how I would soon publish an all-new ebook because the inspiration of your generosity paired with my brand new laptop gave me everything I needed to write write write!

But instead, you get this.

My FundAnything campaign to raise money to replace the laptop that was stolen from me was not a success. It wasn’t exactly a failure, either, because five of you did contribute a total of $140 toward my $500 goal*. Not enough for a laptop, but it’ll cover the cost of MS Office and a cable lock for whatever laptop I do end up getting.

And I will get a new laptop. Eventually. And then, eventually, the things I’ve been writing longhand during my lunch hour will find their way onto its hard drive. And some of them will find their way here.


And eventually I’ll start writing in earnest again. Start trying to re-create the tens of thousands of words that were lost. And start to move past them.

I never expected the campaign to actually bring in $500. I had hoped it would, but I never expected it. Still, I put a lot of hope in that hope.



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A Done Dream

I don’t usually write about my dreams, but I think this one reveals something interesting about me. Maybe just that I’m a supreme nerd.

In my dream, I was late to school (part high school, part college) after some early-morning shenanigans involving a circuitous drive and the world’s largest iced mocha latte. My first class was English, and because I was late, I was at the back of the class. Not even in a chair, really, but stretched out on the floor at the top of a lecture hall.

I wasn’t paying attention. At the front of the class, the teacher/professor was introducing some new vocabulary (I think my unconscious mind made up a new word so that my dream prof could make a horrible pun out of it) while I paged through an old notebook of mine. Short stories, notes, poems — even one that wasn’t mine but that I found compelling enough to copy onto the page.

The teacher noticed my lack of attention and asked what I was doing.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was just flipping through this old notebook.”

The professor, intending to embarrass me, said, “If it’s that interesting, why don’t you read us all something?”

I wasn’t horribly embarrassed. I turned page after page, looking for something good (and recognizing the text of some real-life short stories that have appeared on this blog), but realized that most of the works were only starters, incomplete.

So I said as much. “Most of these aren’t even done.”

“Not done,” the professor said. “Finished.” Then he gave me some lame line that badly illustrated his belief that done and finished meant two different things. Something along the lines of the old “Cakes are done; people are finished.”

I couldn’t really hear him, though, because my ears were filling up with the hum of anger. I prepared to tell him off, to cite usage by Dickens and Shakespeare and Hemingway, to yell him down for being such a pedantic, short-sighted, and thoughtless idiot.

But I woke up. It was 3:50 a.m. and my body was tense with the anger and frustration. I could only smile.

This is what wakes me up in the middle of the night. The emotional response at having my language choices questioned was strong enough that I was yanked into consciousness.

I am such a nerd.

And thank goodness for that.

In other news, you have only 4 days left to help me replace my stolen laptop and get back to some hardcore writing. Check out the premiums I’m offering in my FundAnything campaign at bit.ly/AndysLaptop.


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Social Media Optimization (Catch-up) Tip

Last week, I was recruited to be a backup blogger for Copyediting.com. In all the hubbub that was the last seven days (long, aggravating story), I forgot to promote that post here. So that’s what I’m doing.

In “Tech Tip: Use an Image as a Social Media Headline,” I introduce the concept of what I’m calling the Optimized Headline Dilemma. In short, its the dilemma of having two article post headlines — one optimized for search and one for social — and having to choose which one to use. (Hint: The solution is to use them both.) In that post, I show you one easy way to solve the Optimized Headline Dilemma.

Watch for a follow-up post this Tuesday, in which I write about using Facebook’s Open Graph to do even more with your headlines.


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Ice Bucket, Needle, Garage

The world was black and closed. The curtains were drawn. Rod did not know if it was day or night, whether the sun or moon shone, or if clouds filled the sky. He didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to care. A gnawing rot of hate burned a hole in his belly. It was the only thing he could feel or cared about.

He sat upright on the edge of the bed. He dabbed a needle in an ink-filled Mason’s jar lid on the bedside table and poked his forearm. He winced. The tiny wound swelled slightly. He had filled a bucket with ice. When he was done, he would use the ice to reduce the swelling. He poked himself again. He looked at the ragged visage in the mirror across his hotel room and breathed deep the frozen air-conditioned air. This is going to take a while. He put the needle down and picked up the smoldering cigarette cradled in a glass ashtray and sucked on it until there was no tobacco left to burn. Back to work. Poke. Poke. Poke …

He wouldn’t forget her name. He was etching it on his skin. Maria. Maria. Maria, why didn’t I see it coming? Her suffocating death at the hands of his partner. His big calloused hands like a vise around her swollen purple neck. It seemed predestined now. How could it have unfolded otherwise? God drew it up just so on his fucking black board. Why didn’t he read it? Why did he choose not to read it? It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. He would’ve been powerless in the face of the ugly mudslide of events.

He thought back. When was it? Two, maybe three days ago. It was hard to know. A drop under High Bridge. Four bricks of coke. It should’ve just been Rod and Jelly, but Maria always wanted to tag along. She didn’t have to, but she always did. It had been that way for a month or more. Jelly didn’t like it, but Rod made the rules. Rod was the smart one. Jelly was his partner because he was the biggest, meanest motherfucker the boss could find.

He remembered that night in Jelly’s garage. Maria was high on ice and shaking. Worse than usual, but she never interfered. Just sat in the back of Jelly’s car and scratched her skin until it bled. They drove an hour or so to the bridge. Nobody said anything. Just the city, a radio sax, and white static.

But the drop went bad. The mark didn’t have the money. He brought big guns and some friends instead. Shots were fired that cracked the hum of the of the highway overhead. Boom, boom, boom. Jelly caught a bullet in his arm but had the sense to gun the car. The tires spewed dirt and gravel into the air. The mark lost them as the black muscle car fishtailed and rocketed away.

Then the stupidest thing happened.

Maria grabbed one of the bricks and threw it out the window. What in the hell was she thinking, Rod thought. Maybe she was scared. Maybe in her doped-up brain she thought she was helping out. But there was no way in hell they could go back and get it. Free coke for a crooked mark. Jelly went berserk, twisted in the driver’s seat while the car sped on a wide city street, caught Maria by the neck with both hands and squeezed the life out of her. Rod punched him in the head, but the blows bounced off him as if he were made of granite.

The rest of the night tumbled out of the car like a fractured nightmare. Rod hadn’t seen Jelly since. But he would find him. And he would kill him.

Balloon, Orange Juice, Tape Recorder

Dominique Manfredi sat outside at a corner table at The White Peacock Café. He had just ordered two eggs (sunny side up), toast with raspberry marmalade, espresso, and a half-glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. It was just after ten in the morning on yet another perfect day in sunny Hollywood, California.

He was anxious. A looming deadline haunted him. In two days, the screenplay he had spent the past two months pouring himself into was due. Galaxy Studios wouldn’t tolerate another delay, and Dominique desperately needed the cash the finished screenplay would bring. His brainchild and labor of love, An Heiress’ Son, was nearly complete. In fact, he was up late the evening before crafting the final scene. However, he felt it lacked something‒a certain nuance he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

He pressed the red button on his portable voice recorder. The tape was nearly full. He intoned thoughtfully, “Idea. The boy walks away, down a long dark alleyway, having seen his mother for the last time. He sobs. The sun falls behind the skyscrapers that loom over him like frozen granite monsters. It starts to rain.”

It didn’t feel right. Something was missing.

Dominique set the recorder down and sipped his espresso. He observed the wake of bobbing heads of passing pedestrians‒tourists, stars-to-be, locals‒drift by in an orderly chaos with a rhythm all its own.

He saw a boy with a blue, helium-filled balloon. It buffeted on the air a couple feet above his head as he happily skipped by without a care in the world. As he passed Dominique, he tripped and fell, and the balloon sailed up and away, free from its master, to God knows where. The boy cried plaintively, beseeching Dominique with tear-filled eyes to do something. Anything.

Dominique was at a loss.

“Sorry, kid. It’s gone.”

The boy sobbed and walked away. Dominique watched him recede into the crowded street. He gulped the last of his orange juice and pressed the red button on his voice recorder yet again. “Idea. The heiress gives her son a blue balloon, an unsatisfactory parting gift. It does nothing to soothe the boy’s broken heart, but the heiress appears unconcerned. He cries. She dispassionately strokes his hair and walks quickly away. He walks into the alleyway, head bowed, and lets the balloon go. The camera follows the balloon up into the sunset. It drifts out of view.

Dominique paid his check, walked home, and fell quickly asleep.

Today’s word: epigone

epigone: Generally a follower or disciple, but usually used to indicate an inferior successor.

At first blush you might want it to follow the pronunciation pattern established by epitome or Antigone, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t even rhyme with gone. It rhymes instead with loan, so that the phrase “Ed disowns epigones” has a nice little rhyme to it.
The Republican party, from my liberal point of view, is beset (perhaps overrun) with the epigones of Ronald Reagan and Ayn Rand, both of whom I can find reason to praise, but neither of whom I would vote for.

I ran across this little gem today in a book, originally published in 1973, by Richard Kostelanetz called The End of Intelligent Writing. I found the book on the “Pay What You Can” cart at IndyReads Books and just couldn’t pass up a title like that.

On page 11, in a discussion about so-called Southern (American) writers in the first half of the 20th century, you’ll find this pronouncement:

In the early fifties emerged even younger Southern epigones, all born between 1914 and 1930, who were eager to do various kinds of academic-historical sweeping . . . most of whom, unlike their cultural daddies, remained in Southern universities, some of whom devoted whole books to themes and subjects their precursors treated only in essays. They were the grandchildren, so to speak, in a literary family whose father figure, [ss] Ransom, was privately called “Pappy.”

Kostelanetz isn’t very laudatory toward the Southern writers or their literary offspring. Or really any “school” of writing that attaches itself to a minority. Or to New York.

And I’m only to page 70.

I might write more about this book later, if I ever stop gnashing my teeth long enough to finish it. Kostelanetz is pissing me off a little. He writes with the smugness that only comes with overconfidence, decorated with a large vocabulary (words like epigone, which appears again a couple dozen pages later) to veil his personal griefs and unsupported accusations behind professorial haughtiness.

Then again, I’m wound pretty tight these days, so I piss off easily.

If Richard Kostelanetz is still alive (I haven’t looked yet), I want to ask him if he still believes everything he wrote here.

And, on another note, while I was reading I found myself wondering whether David Foster Wallace had read this book. I think he would’ve liked it.


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