January 2017’s Scraps File


Some things I couldn’t find any use for writing in January; if you can find a good use for them, please do. I ask only to hear if any of them went on to be happy.

I’m rotten at choosing clothes. You can judge that from the slightly pained but amused look on my love’s face when it becomes obvious that once again I’ve dressed myself. If you can’t see my love’s face, I’m sorry that you’re missing such a fine experience. But instead look at any picture of people from the 70s or 80s and identify the person wearing the most regrettable outfit. I’ve worn that as recently as Tuesday. I don’t care. They’re clothes and I’m happy to wear them. — Cut from some piece or other, I think the one about crafts. Not really relevant to the main point of the article and besides it ended up long enough as is.

The thing is that gives me the idea to start wondering about something. — Cut from like fourteen pieces because it could go into any of my bits and that’s one of those warning signs I shouldn’t be putting it in any of them. Warning: I might use this to see how long a sentence I could make that doesn’t say anything at all. You’re still free to use it, just, there’s no being sure you’ll have it all to yourself.

If you have that job you either grew up wanting to be someone who makes those little paper flags hung on toothpicks or else your life took turns bringing you to making them. — The thing about my clothes (to get back to them) is that I don’t need to talk about it that much because you’ve seen ugly clothes before. Not necessarily on me, but yeah, on me.

I’m not going to stop making boxed macaroni and cheese wrong because I know it’s easier to keep doing it wrong than to remember to look at the directions and do it right for once. — Also cut from that crafts essay which had more cuts than usual. Also I don’t want to make my clothing problems seem too bad. Like, that look my love gets when noticing I dressed myself? It’s not, like, horrified or anything. It’s like, imagine if you were fixing a car engine. And you called to your dog saying, “Monty! Fetch me the 15 mm socket wrench” and figured you were making a good joke. And the dog was confused but understood there was something about fetching going on there. And the dog came back holding an ice scraper in his mouth. Also the dog’s named Monty. You know the look you’d give the dog, delighted that he was doing his best to do the perfectly hopeless? That’s the look I get when I dress myself. It doesn’t hurt any and I can usually find the socket wrench after that.

“The Tasmanian rainforest is considered a Gondwanan relic.” — I brought that back from an earlier scraps file because I was sure there was something I could do with that, and there wasn’t. It’s pretty nice as it is, on Wikipedia, but I got nothing.

I remember coloring when I was a kid, and we’d get boxes of crayons from school. There’d be as many as 62 Extremely Dark Colors Equally Likely To be Purple, Black, Navy Blue, Blue, Or Any Other Color You Do Not Want, all with the wrappers peeled off in every box of sixteen crayons. — Cut because my problems with coloring in elementary school weren’t so much about what shade of some extremely dark blue-like-or-black color I had available but more that I was never satisfied with how uniformly a crayon could color things. Also I liked the part where you colored in letters. By you I mean me, or in this context, I. I couldn’t get enough letters to color in like that. So in hindsight, again, I understand why I was treated that way.

And then the person working the Wendy’s counter warned me they were out of potatoes, which means they know me as the guy who comes in like once a month and orders two baked potatoes, so now it’s too emotionally involved going there and I don’t dare visit ever again. — Anyway these days I just wear a solid shirt of one color and pants. Pants of a different color. I learned my lesson the day in grad school when I went out wearing an orange shirt and orange sweatpants and caught a glimpse of myself in the glass door and realized what I was doing. So I have learned to do slightly better, that’s the important thing.

Good luck with February, everyone!

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index dropped nine points after Michigan’s official state groundhog refused to emerge from her lair and make a weather prediction, which is surely all normal and just fine, right? Tell us that’s normal and just fine. We don’t know anymore.

106

From The November 2016 Scraps File


November 2016’s scrap file, free to anyone who didn’t feel like just scrapping the whole month and doing it over:

that unsettling feeling when you see an out-of-town news van driving into your neighborhood — cut because while I was waiting at the light a news van for Channel 8 drove on down Saginaw Avenue. There isn’t a Channel 8 here. I’ve never lived anywhere that even had a Channel 8, and I always knew deep down if I were someplace that had a Channel 8 it was some weird moon-man possibly alternate universe like, I don’t know, mid-Connecticut. I don’t know what’s happening and I’m afraid to go and check because, sheesh, Channel 8? That’s gotta be from some fictional town like Kalamazoo or something. I can’t handle that, not this year.

because what I really was looking for in a box was one that was smaller than the thing I hoped to fit in it — cut from a letter to whoever it is makes Meijer’s plastic storage bins for making a storage bin whose linear dimensions apparently refer to the maximum width of the overhanging lip rather than what can actually be fit inside. Really, it’s my fault, what with thinking I could fit a punch bowl that’s 14 inches across inside a plastic bin with dimensions given as 14 7/8 inches by 18 1/2 inches. The more fool me, right? Anyway it’s probably easier to just return the stupid thing and go looking at cardboard boxes since what are the chances the next cardboard box for it is going to get ruined by rainwater? I’m sorry to even bring it up. I bet I sound like I’m whining.

Sometimes reading the news leads to the suspicion the world is becoming alarming. A headline could read “Leapfrogging mayor injures woman dressed as tomato”, which may fairly describe the event, but it’s still bizarre. Or you might come across a three-column headline “World Denies Sneaking Up On You”, subhead, “UN Rep: `That’s No Blindfold And Gag Either’.” It’s certainly not a gag, as you’ll find out if you don’t retreat to your bedroom and lock the door, but you have to admit it’s sporting of them to warn you. — cut from a bit of odd-news reporting because while I like the flow of it, (a) there’s nothing going on in the world that isn’t alarming and (b) the paragraph isn’t really about anything. You could put that paragraph in front of absolutely any little essay inspired by odd news and it won’t fit any better or any worse than before. I need something more definite. Also I don’t know if I made up that leapfrogging mayor story anymore. It doesn’t sound like the kind of thing I might make up. I’d make up a woman dressed as a hippopotamus, maybe. Unless I realized “duck” was punchier. And I’d write it so it was clear whether the mayor, the woman, or both were dressed as tomato ducks. Really the whole paragraph is badly flawed and I should take it out back to have a serious talk about whether to even include it in this scrap file.

Saturn enters the house of Aries, only to find Aries is not present. It playfully rearranges the dishes so they and the coffee mugs are on the wrong sides of the cabinet. It leaves undetected. — Cut because it comes all to close to being a spoof horoscope/zodiac column and have you ever read one of those that was funny? Have you read a second one, after your high school paper ran the “Horrorscopes” for its edition your junior year? Yeah. Seriously flawed premise to the whole joke. I was off my game all November.

zippered banana sleeves for reclosing an opened one — cut from the notepad on my bedstand where I figure I’m bound to have a billion-dollar idea. This clearly isn’t it. I’m sure there’s a market for banana-resealing technology, but I can’t see that netting me more than about $2.25 million once all the startup work is done and I get through with all the court costs against companies stealing the idea from me. And at that point is it really worth doing? I’m just going to keep the banana underneath a tea towel until someday I clean the kitchen and lift the towel and find a dense gravity-warping nebula of fruit flies. This will be followed by my screaming, which is certainly a better use of my time.

If you find anything useful in all this please, do. I just want to be remembered fondly.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Everybody is still extremely optimistic about getting the mainstream and the alternate Another Blog, Meanwhile index traders back together again. Incredibly optimistic. You might be momentarily blinded by how smilingly cheerful their faces all are. Both indices dropped nine points. They blame the stairs feeling “wobbly” as they were carrying points down to the first floor.

97

The October 2016 Scraps File: Some Stuff I Didn’t Use Last Month


As ever, free to a good home.

“Changing your mind’s a good thing to do occasionally. The newest model minds are compatible with 1080 i, which is apparently good for some reason. I understand some of them are able to let you get as many as five songs stuck in your head simultaneously. Not forever, of course, just until they all end at the same moment, which will never happen.” — cut because I did some further investigation to the 1080 i-compatible brains and it turns out it’s really only four songs plus a jingle. Hardly seems worth it, does it? But maybe you see something there that I don’t.

“If it’s warm enough then your ceiling will be a semi-molten surface which holds back oceans of liquefied lead and clouds of sulphuric acid vapor. This is a sign that your room is on Venus.” — cut because I can’t find evidence that anyone from Venus reads my blog. Maybe someone with a broader audience can use this, which I think was supposed to be part of a string of house-cleaning tips. That sounds like me anyway.

“Ours is the leading open academy for teaching people to be a bit more uncomfortably warm. Any school can give you the experience of being unpleasantly hot, simply by pouring any academy-certified lava down your throat. But we specialize in a simple warmth that makes you feel like you should have stopped dressing sooner than you did. It’s a rare talent.” — cut when I realized I had no idea where I was going with this even though it’s been sitting around in my scraps bin for like half a year now. It seems like it ought to be something more than that and maybe it could, who can say. If nobody uses this in the next, say, two months I might bring it back in the shop and try it out again.

“No matter what time it is there’s someone in the world who’s dizzier than anyone else in the world feels dizzy. And there’s someone in the world who’s been dizzier longer than anyone else in the world has been dizzy. And if those traits are ever manifested by the same person, just watch out! And clear some space so the poor person doesn’t trip. Someone could get hurt.” — It’s all true enough, but is this going anywhere funny? I don’t want readers to think I lack empathy for folks who trip over stuff even if they are holders of current dizziness records.

“The door is a domesticated version of the `wild’ or `undomesticated’ door. The wild door evolved in southern India, where the naturally solitary but not unfriendly creatures would often stand upright and swing just enough to let people and animals walking at night crash into the side. Almost uniquely among home furnishings (only lighting fixtures and half-walls share this trait) the door is warm-blooded, and so never truly falls into torpor even in the hottest or coldest weather, which explains its usefulness in all climates.” — cut because I did some fresh research and learned many more home furnishings are warm-blooded than was believed as few as two years ago, when I last took a course in this stuff. Doors still don’t truly hibernate, but they’re happy to perpetuate the rumor they do in order that people leave them alone. It’s fascinating stuff, certainly, but requires more research than I’m able to do this week.

“It’s never easy to say just how long the biography you write should be. To make the respectable kind eligible for prizes it should be at least ten pages for each year of the subject’s life, or 532 pages, the winner to be decided in a best-of-seven contest.” — cut when I learned there’s not even close to agreement in writing circles about what contest should be used to establish the biography’s length. I like baseball, myself, although not so much that I think to go see games or watch them on TV. I guess I like the principle more. But I know there’s people who would root for basketball or hockey or one of those weird sports that the sign at the town border says the high school team won two years ago. I suggest someone with strong ideas about what to use as a contest might use this.

“all sorts of squirrel Instagrams” — cut from a conversation I overheard while entering the library because while it’s not my conversation, I like the notion of there being a wide variety of squirrel Instagrams. I only follow two squirrels on Twitter so I don’t know how representative those can be.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped a point in trading and blame that on the World Series ending in such thrilling form. Analysts are pretty sure it just rolled under the counter and as soon as they get there with a broom they’ll find it again. You don’t think they’re fooling themselves, do you? We remember when the index dropped to numbers like 94 or 90 or 91 or other dreadful things and why isn’t anyone worrying about that?

96

From The September 2016 Scraps File


The month may have got started later than usual, but that’s no reason not to empty out the scraps bin. Here’s stuff I couldn’t use in September and if you’re able to, please, go wild. All I ask is a simple acknowledgement that you couldn’t have done your work without me. I need it to pad my CV.

Connoisseur. Cut from several pieces when I realize that even with spell check and entering it into DuckDuckGo I can’t come close to spelling it right. I don’t know. It shouldn’t be this hard and it’s not like I wasn’t able to get the hang of ‘kigurumi’ eventually. So this goes into the special bin for “words that have appeared in Peanuts that I somehow can’t get straight”.

Really I never understood what problem the Federation was solving in dividing the galaxy into just four quadrants, especially when two of them were off on the far side where they’d only interact following freak events like the Bajor wormhole or whatever crazy pipeline sends everything from Earth, including dinosaurs and Amelia Earhart, into the Delta Quadrant. Cut from a post on TrekBBS about why the aliens on Star Trek: Voyager say they’re in the Delta Quadrant when that’s a human designation and surely can’t match any local description of space. Because you know, the part of TrekBBS I like best is how many people are sincerely worried that Benjamin Sisko might never come to reconcile with Jean-Luc Picard, even though they could go through the rest of their lives never seeing or thinking about the other. The part I like least is people starting threads straightplaining why Star Trek is at its best on issues of gender and sexual orientation when it mostly shows men worrying over their womenfolk. In any case the other people there aren’t living long enough for me to argue about how Delta Quadrant species make large-scale divisions of the Milky Way.

Cybernarc. Title of a novel by William H Keith, Jr, and cut from a piece where I was going to try to list the Most 90s Science Fiction Novel Titles ever. And it’s a good idea but it’s just so hard to try finding a bunch of 90s Science Fiction Novels, since they don’t sell novels from after 1991 back to used book stores anymore. And while that’s great if you’re looking for a 70s novel about the extremely sex-partner-ready inhabitants of a great domed city that get pushed outside it doesn’t help you scan the shelves and see what titles really jump out of the 90s and make you giggle. Oh, I guess there’s also Robert Thurston’s Bloodname: Legend of the Jade Phoenix II but you could probably make that a Most Science Fiction Novel Title Of Today too.

I like to think of this as a place where I occasionally buy queen-size bedsheets. Cut from the start of a new tumblr that I cancelled when I realized I couldn’t think what a third post on it would be. Also that I don’t understand tumblr because you respond to stuff by posting it from somewhere else and people looking at the original don’t see it and I don’t know. There are people who can explain this to me but they give up in disgust when they see my cell phone.

In his 40 years as Jacksonian Professor at Cambridge University James Dewar, pioneer of the study of heat flow, never fulfilled the requirement of the post that he find a cure for gout. Cut because while it is a wonder it doesn’t seem to be on-point to anything I’d be writing. I mean, I guess I admire James Dewar. Anyone who could get his name attached to Thermos bottles has to be doing something right. But why would it come up in September when I’m not even in school anymore and don’t need something to hit my siblings with? We’re adults now, we can just punch and gossip on social media.

You’re Steve Allen, aren’t you? Cut from an episode of Stan Freberg’s 1957 radio series where, even if it doesn’t look like much, it’s a pretty solid laugh. It’s in Daws Butler’s delivery unless it was someone else delivering it. I put the line back where I got it and I bet you’d like it there after all. It’s the show with the Grey Flannel Hat Full Of Teenaged Werewolves sketch and the advertising campaign for Food, so, you know, good stuff there.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Index was up a solid eight points and must admit it would be feeling invulnerable if it weren’t sure feeling invulnerable was the prelude to suddenly feeling very, very vulnerable. I mean, we’ve been through this before, we know what hubris is. And we’re not looking to see a demonstration of hubris brought against someone who claims to know perfectlyw ell what hubris is. That’s just not fair.

148

From the August 2016 Scraps File And Yard Sale Bureau


I have my usual bunch of text I couldn’t use for something or other in August. Mostly writing. But it isn’t going to be free to a good home this time. We’re holding a yard sale this Saturday, for the usual reasons: there’s no space for it in our garage. The mice are holding their Squeak Olympics in it this weekend, at least until the International Olympics Committee hears about it. But the floor space is full of purpose-built stadiums and tracks and a mousethropology exhibit space and all. There’s no sense our interrupting that for our meager needs. Plus it’s so hard winning a bid for the Squeak Olympics.

But there’s other good reasons to hold a yard sale this weekend. For instance, my love and I both hate going through our belongings figuring out what we want to sell. And we hate trying to figure out prices to put on them. And we hate getting up at awful hours on a Saturday to haul stuff out onto a dew-lined lawn. And we hate hour after hour of free-form interactions with strangers. And we hate strangers who’re yard sale divas come over to lie to us about the making of a water pitcher we marked for $2.50 because they want to get it for 25 cents less for crying out loud. Looking it over, maybe we’re just misdirecting our anger. I guess it’s better we do yard sales rather than, like, drive or vote angry. We’re getting less fond of our lawn too. Anyway, here goes.

If you missed last week’s, then let me summarize. You should wash your hands when: (a) You have to. (b) Your towels are too dry. (c) You want to. (d) You need to. (e) Some other reason. (f) No, you really, really need to. It’s okay. We’re not judging here. — cut from the second piece I somehow spun out of hand-washing because I used this same joke in a piece I wrote for my undergrad newspaper in Like 1990 and there’s easily one person out there who might, conceivably, remember it. And sure, I expanded on the joke, but did I make it new enough? No. You can try it on an unsuspecting audience for just $1.75.

you have to check your door at the door. it’s part of our open-door policy. if you can bring your door down here then it’s pretty sure to have got opened. of course there was that time last year when rick brought the whole thing door frame and all, unopened. that’s why we don’t talk about or to him anymore. — cut from my major expose on doors that I’ve figured would be good now that I found something I wrote around the same theme like twelve years ago. $3.50 obo.

lumber yard // 84 lumber //lumber miller // architectural salvage — cut from either notes I made while talking to my father about how to get a new screen window for the living room or from my failed attempt at Beat Poetry Night down at the hipster bar. It was actually karaoke night. $1.50 or your Zippy the Pinhead fanfic.

bake or boil or simmer or broil or maybe just let it sit and think about what it’s done until it’s ready to make amends — cut from a hilarious expose of recipes that I had to drop because I don’t really care about recipes or much about how to make food. Don’t mind me. I’m recovering from the discovery I’ve been making at least some kinds of Noodle-Roni all wrong for years and never suspected. $1.25 or $1.50 if it’s still on sale by suppertime.

statistics saturday: ten moments from the yard sale that didn’t make me want to curl up inside our pet rabbit’s hutch and die — cut because how can I write this when we haven’t even had the sale yet and my memories of last time are faint enough we’re going through it all over again? $0.75 no haggling.

the jute mill is exploded! — cut from Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic, the 20th of October, 1954, because it was just a dream Churchy La Femme was having. $4.00 because it’s in a hardcover book (the most recent attempt at Complete Pogo reprints) but you’ll have to hack my limbs off to get it away from me. “Jute” is too a thing.

We’ll be set up on the lawn from 9 am to 3 pm or whenever we’re sick with how much rain we’re getting on our heads. Tickets for the Squeak Olympics are going fast, because the mice are still shy.

From The July 2016 Scraps File And Free To Good Home


Come one, come two, come at least a few of you and enjoy last month’s scraps file. I couldn’t do anything with these blocks of words. Maybe you’ll have some better luck. If not, you can get them at half-price in the August 2016 Scraps File in a couple weeks. Words are sold as-is and may not be turned into gerunds just because you didn’t have a better idea what to do with them.

and while you’d think that was good news you have to remember that noses, like all body parts, are terribly gross things — cut from riffing on this discovery of a new antibiotic produced by a bacteria that lives in the nasal cavity because while bodies are terribly gross things it’s not like antibiotics researchers have too easy a time of it and need some hassle from me. They know what body parts they have to touch all the time. I have to be responsible as a very slightly read blogger. I can be irresponsible later on if I metamorphose and I’ll try to keep you updated on that.

something something stray unattributed quote from Monty Python sketch something — cut from what was honestly a bit of comment-bait because I keep telling myself I’m better than that even though I’m not. I’d probably quote something from one of the lesser Monty Python sketches anyway, the ones the Internet hasn’t destroyed by endless quoting. Maybe the one where a bank robber goes into the lingerie shop. That one happened, right?

mandible — cut because it’s not really that funny a word, not when you’ve heard it already in the past three months, which I’m all but sure I have.

furthermore I do not know where your paranoid delusion that I am talking about you behind your back comes from; people think you incapable of telling the difference between “a good person” and “a person who flatters me endlessly” because of your own merry little band of sycophants and not my pointing this out to them — cut from that letter that really looks like it’s never going to be sent because while it’s not like I’m saying anything behind that friend’s back, I know the friend isn’t paying any attention here and that is PART of the WHOLE PROBLEM as I have said in many paragraphs cut already. Anyway, since I’m the one being honest in the whole fight I don’t want to descend to including stuff that’s merely technically true, even though, as has been the case this whole while, I’m right.

thatched — as above, it’s one of those words that sounds like it’s funny to start with, but really isn’t, not when you hold it up to close examination. I apologize for people who have fond memories of slightly famous mid-90s comic Thatch but there’s like four people who do and one of them is the guy who wrote it.

also where do we get off saying a dipper is a thing anybody recognizes anymore? Maybe there’s somewhere they deal with them, off where there’s all sorts of people keeping horses and stuff like that, but here in the city dippers faded away back when the “drinking fountain” came in. Drinking fountains were great. They were free, publicly available places to get tepid water dribbling a quarter-inch out of a metal receptacle. But we had them, and they made dippers obsolete. — cut from my thing about what constellation you’re looking at essay because I know with a rare metaphysical certitude that saying anything against dippers will bring down a force-two Internet Hailstorm of angry comments. And I’m willing to get into arguments online, don’t question that. It’s just I’m more inclined to put up with fights in which people insisting on one space after sentences try to get the rest of us to do it wrong. The dipper enthusiasts I don’t want to cross. For that matter, as much as I’ve riled up the constellation enthusiasts they’ve been willing to admit that I’m right about how we can’t see more than about six constellations anymore and I named all the big popular ones. I don’t want to get in trouble with their advocacy groups, Big Big Dipper and Big Little Dipper. Who would?

secret — removed from the phrase “my secret hope truckers appreciate how far ahead of them I get before moving back into their lane” as I can’t possibly call that secret now you’ve seen my explanation, can I?

From The June 2016 Scraps File: Unused Text For You


Text and other stuff, like spaces in-between text, that I didn’t make use of in June 2016. Please feel free to take what you can use if you know a better home for it. If you know a worse home, don’t tell me about that, it’s depressing and wasn’t June enough of a problem?

we all want to go viral while staying the unique special discovery of our readers — cut from my open letter to every social media ever. It’s a pretty snappy line and fits with so much of the flow of that. But I thought of it in the shower the morning I had that essay scheduled to post. I made sure to remember to add it in. I swore to myself I was going to add it in the moment I got on my computer. I next thought of it the Sunday afterward while driving to a competitive pinball event in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I do not blame Grand Rapids for this. Also I was right by where the alleged rather large piece of coal was yesterday and I didn’t think to go exploring.

Not yet! — cut from my response to the little girl from a couple houses down that just moved in the neighborhood. She’s nice and friendly and asked if I lived in the house I was always hanging around which is a fair enough question. And I mentioned I’d moved in just four years ago that Tuesday and she was awestruck and asked me if I was old. And I cut that from my answer because I didn’t think of it until like two days later. I suppose I could just tell people that’s what I answered and that would do for most anecdote purposes but then what if someone asked me how she answered? The lie would be exposed for what it was and I’d look terrible. But this is probably usable by someone who’s writing a wholly fictional anecdote could use this after all.

Ghostbusters became a thoroughly enjoyed icon of pop culture despite the warning that it was a years-in-development labor of love by Dan Aykroyd. — yeah, I pulled it back out of April’s scraps file because thought I could do something with it. And no, it’s not working. But I did get to digging around some old Starlog magazines from archive.org. I found some fascinating trivia about the making of Nothing But Trouble‘s production. Also I have to visit 1990 and punch some entitled nerds, mercifully none of them me.

and you betray what you spent ten years telling me were your most cherished ideals with your faithful re-creation of every bullying dynamic that made middle school a festering boil of agony and cruelty — yeah, so that reconciliation letter isn’t really getting any better. I don’t even know anymore. I’m sure there must be some value in writing it since otherwise I waste the four hours each night I spend staring at the dark ceiling composing fresh drafts, right?

but any reasonable person would agree the experience of the Majel Barrett “Number One” casting myth and the mutations in the famous Nichelle-Nicols/Martin-Luther-King-Junior story justify my asking how exactly we are supposed to know what the common lore tells us — cut from a TrekBBS forum thread arguing about whether the space shuttle Enterprise really had been slated to be named Constitution before the Trekkies put in a letter-writing campaign. I am confident the official story that the orbiter was to be named in honor of the US Constitution’s bicentennial is so obviously wrong that Bugs Meany wouldn’t try to pass it off. And furthermore I’m sure the preponderance of evidence is that NASA had no plans to name any orbiters before the Trimble/Hoagland campaign. But dear lord I am arguing when exactly NASA had the idea to name a space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ and complaining about the shortage of primary documentation on the subject in a Star Trek forum what is wrong with me?. Also I haven’t been back since. But I’ve been busy.

whatever happened to that book about competitive fox-hurtling — cut because I lost the name of it so now I just sound like I’m making up stuff by asking.

From The May 2016 Scraps File


Please, take what you can use. There’s so much more to give.

  • Overpants. — Cut because which of the two logical ways do you go from there? A new article of clothing solving some body-hiding problem we didn’t before suspect? Maybe. A method of disguising the United States’s ever-crumbling infrastructure particularly for highway travel? Maybe. Plus there’s probably some obscure article of possible Victorian-era clothing actually called “overpants”. I bet it has a Wikipedia entry that manages somehow to be six hundred words longer than Wikipedia’s entry for the Taiping Rebellion.
  • So you could do a story recasting the struggle about bimetallism and the gold standard and all that as a secret history. It’s really the struggle for power and survival between different types of dragons. Like, the silver dragons would be pushing heavily for gold to be the only recognized human specie. That way there’s less demand for their scales as units of trade. They can get used instead as scales. Whereas gold dragons might be well aware there’s no keeping humans off of them. So backing the Populists would at least lessen the demand on their scales. Or make trouble for the silver dragons. Meanwhile I the copper dragons are off to the side grumbling about how everybody is happy to use them and yet nobody respects them. The precious-metal dragons answer hey, who tarnishes beautiful around here? Fractional-reserve fairy folk pushing for a wholly notional medium of exchange could solve the whole problem. But they’re too longwinded and boring to listen to. — Cut because oh good heavens this could be the most anti-commercial story ever. Publishers would line up to gawk at this and ask who, exactly, is the supposed market for a dragon-fantasy story about the 19th century United States specie debate? “Look,” I can see them saying, “you were on to something spectacularly unmarketable with that idea for a 4X video game about standardized time. I mean, or we mean, in unison, you had a perfect capture of a nonexistent market with that. But this, this is just … this could destroy the very concept of money.” Anyway, if you can do anything with the premise go wild. I’m thinking the true secret power behind it all: aluminum dragons trying to destroy the concept of money. I know, there’s no doing anything with this.
  • And in your refusal to recognize that fifteen years of demands for ever-more stringent shows of loyalty just might result in one of the people who thought themselves friends expecting the slightest show of consideration from you — Cut from that still-unsent letter because you know, it is getting harder to figure out why I want to save this friendship after all.
  • Overwear. — Cut as being just the overpants joke again and no more promising this way.
  • Exclamation points are way too much. You can’t go on demanding that sort of attention if you’re an even slightly introverted person like me. And I admit I don’t set records for introversion, but still, an exclamation point is too much. Even a period feels too much like a demand on people’s attention. I’d love to end my sentences with ellipses, since that makes writing look more like it’s from an old comic strip. And it makes sentences look less like I’m committed to them. Except you make ellipses out of three periods. That’s three times as much period as one period would be. It’s even more attention-demanding. We need something for people more reserved. — Cut because while “punctuation for introverts” might be a good idea it’s going to draw out people trying to push interrobangs. Interrobangs aren’t happening, people, and trying to push them is just sad at this point. It’s not as annoying as people trying to push how chickens are dinosaurs. That’s not doing anything to make chickens look better and it’s not doing dinosaurs any favors either.
  • Overshirt. — It’s too far away from the overpants concept and is just a hoodie anyway.
  • It’s a fine trafficky day. The kind of day that makes you want to surround your car with a fifteen-foot-thick block of not-too-compressible foam. — Cut because it wasn’t all that much of a day. But I bet people would love to ride one of these. Or watch a YouTube video of it. But if the foam block does extend fifteen feet in every direction then you’ll need cars modified to have extremely tall wheels. And if you manage that then the cars will have trouble on the highway by the overpants.

From The April 2016 Scraps File


Bits from my scrap file that I couldn’t use in April 2016. Free to good home. No pedigree available on metaphors. Papers available upon request but don’t ask me to whom.

When I say it makes my hair look “good”, I mean it looks good enough for me. By “enough” I mean there’s room for obvious improvement. By “improvement” I mean a general bettering-ness of things. By “me” I mean the same old person I meant last time, only a little older. — Cut because I could swear it’s a Robert Benchley thing and while I would get away with it, I would know. And by “know” I mean “know”. By “I” I mean “me”, but in a different case.

seeming like it might be — Man, again I have this cropping up everywhere. I’m not even trying to write it, it just appears.

And then the label on the pumpkin can says “Good to connect! Visit us at LibbysPumpkin.com”. — Cut from the pumpkin can label because E M Forster rose from his grave to warn me that this was not even in the slightest what he meant. “It’s a can of pumpkin innards,” he said, “What could you possibly have to talk to anyone about that? There is no elaboration possible! Pumpkin innards are a complete explanation of themselves!” On hearing this, the ghosts of René Magritte and Alfred Korzybski got a heated quarrel going about whether a pumpkin was a sufficient representation of a pumpkin. They’ve been going at this since last Saturday and I would say I’m sorry to have got the whole thing started. Except that as a side effect Forster and the ghost of Marshall McLuhan have been watching my Arrested Development DVDs. You wouldn’t think that’s the kind of show someone could riff on, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. They don’t, not exactly. But their commenting’s got pretty sharp stuff anyway. Also the ghost of Korzybski has been in the dining room giving those “I’ve got my eyes on you” fingers to our picture of Immanuel Kant.

Nutmeg was supposedly so powerful it could bring things back to life, which makes it weird they’d use it to cover the taste of rotted meat. Would you want a slab of rotten mutton or whatever they ate in the 16th century coming back to life? But I understand scholars don’t believe Europeans were covering the taste of rotted meat anymore anyway. That makes more sense to me. Spices needed years to get from the East Indies to, say, Sheffield. Animals were right there. It’s much more plausible if Europeans used fresh meat to cover up the taste of rotted spices. — Cut from that time-in-New-Jersey essay because I’m not sure where I got that bit about nutmeg curing death. I’m pretty sure I read it in Giles Milton’s Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: Something Something Or Other Something Spice That I Just Bet You Changed The World but I don’t know where my copy is. And maybe Giles was having a little giggle with us all. If anyone knows him please ask and let’s find out. Also I really thought that time-in-New-Jersey post would get more interest from the standards-enthusiast community here. Go figure.

But then a fantastic arrogance has always been your truest métier. — Cut from that letter I’m still working on to that estranged friend because I am getting to wonder what exactly I ever got out of that friendship.

Ghostbusters became a thoroughly enjoyed icon of pop culture despite the warning that it was a years-in-development labor of love by Dan Aykroyd. — Snipped when I remembered there are already plenty of opinions about Ghostbusters on the Internet and that doesn’t mean I have to have one too.

Cartoon Characters That Have Been Caught In Giant Snowballs Rolling Down Mountains. — Cut from a potential Statistics Saturday post when I realized I couldn’t name all that many. There’s ThunderCat Lion-O, of course. Also Betty Boop. But after that? I would guess it’s happened to Bugs Bunny. And probably on Hanna-Barbera’s 1960s series Character Who’s Got One Catchphrase And A Bow Tie And That Will Have To Do For 17 Episodes. I guess Breezly and Sneezly. But that’s not a list. That’s a partially baked idea and there’s no sign that the Magritte-Korzybski quarrel will heat it well enough to finish.

What I Forgot To Write In What I Couldn’t Write In March 2016


Oh, phoo. I had a fine little “scrap” for yesterday’s March Scraps File post. I was so delighted by it when I thought of it, while putting the dishes away, that I went on and completely forgot to actually include it. And I liked it, too. Well, let me shove it out here and pretend it was part of yesterday’s thing.

He’s a were-moon. Every full moon, he turns into a moon. Yes, it’s something of a self-sustaining problem. No, he can’t actually bite you, but you’d be surprised how many grown adults don’t realize you can see him during the day. — Cut because I never actually got around to thinking of a reason this might have been cut. Anyway I’m too busy giggling by the third sentence there to carry on. Maybe that’s why I forgot it yesterday. Ah, too bad.

Separately, over in my mathematics blog, I’ve got another comic strips roundup. Please give that a try, if you don’t mind.

You know, I kind of like the last sentence of that too. It grows on me, anyway.

What I Couldn’t Write In March 2016


Pieces from March’s scraps file. All text free to a needy author that can use it. Better luck with it than I had.

seeming like it might be — cut from like ten essays this past month because it doesn’t mean anything. It just slows down moving from the start to the end of the sentence. I don’t ever have any reason to put that in somewhere. I just type a while and look up and there it is and I have to eradicate it. This is some kind of grammatical zebra mussel. I would just leave it in a trash bin, on fire, but if you really want it go wild. Sorry. The rest of the scraps are more promising. Don’t take this one.

So I admit to being torn about National Haiku Pedantry Month coming up this April. We need to get some discipline back into the art form. Right now it’s just what people use for comic verse when they aren’t up to writing a limerick. But then we have thirty whole days of having to pretend we approve of haiku pedants. Some of these people are fine, pointing out that there are actual syllable counts and it’s not just a short-long-short line thing. But then there’s the guy you know who’s going to leap up on a desk, shaking a yardstick around, and hollering, “It’s not just syllable count! You need nature imagery and a cutting word! Where is the cutting word in this? Well?” And you just know he goes home to sulk that all he can find are yardsticks around when it would just make his day to get a meter stick. A haiku pedant like that isn’t going to pass up a good fight with the Pun Control Squad. You know them. They admit there might be such a thing as a pretty good, amusing pun, but they haven’t seen one. And they’re going to take action. — Cut because, of course, National Haiku Pedantry Month is November.

very — cut from about forty posts this past month because I don’t even like having it there. It’s just too easy to make my minimum word count. Also I guess I have a minimum word count even though all my popular posts are two paragraphs long and comment on a picture from the store.

So we trust that we have commutivity and that there’s a multiplicative identity within the collection of elements. And that if the product of two things is zero then at least one is zero. I know that sounds crazy, like specifying that a triangle has to also not be a square. But this can happen, and let me show you how. — Cut from my essay about Dedekind Domains because I realized I wasn’t even halfway toward saying all the rules one of these things had to meet and oh good grief this is why people hate mathematics.

You in your spectacle of arrogance, incapable of imagining that someone other than you might ever need something that isn’t “the chance to gaze in adoration at your alleged magnificence” — Cut from a draft letter to an estranged friend I’ve been trying to reconcile with even though it’s seeming like it might be hard to figure out why, exactly.

I perused the closed-captioning transcript of this episode so that I can say with confidence — cut from a TrekBBS post about Star Trek: Voyager because we were debating a Kes episode and who’s got enough time in their lives for that? Not Kes, obviously. Ha ha! I’ll explain why that’s funny in a footnote [1].

This hoodie makes me feel pretty, oh soooo pretty. — Cut from the back of an index card we were using to keep track of scores at a pinball tournament yesterday. Not sure who wrote it. It’s seeming like it might be one of our friends who had some hard luck on the game Jack-Bot. But he has got a hoodie that’s become a merry in-joke ever since the state championships back in February.

Go off and be happy, insofar as you think that’s wise. — Cut from waving bye to a friend because it does sound kind of Ashleigh Brilliant-ish.

[1] It’s funny because I was trolling for the chance to show off that I know what “peruse” means. The chance never came, and never does.

My December 2015 Scraps File


I have a longer-than-usual file of scraps for December 2015. I blame the season. Most times of year there’s nothing to do but write stuff, find that it doesn’t work, and then get rid of it. But the Christmas season puts all kinds of extra demands on one’s time. You have to go shopping for loved ones, for example, and the lines to get a loved one at even a discount department store turn something fierce.

Oh, you can order a loved one online, but that almost never turns out well. Many’s the family that thought they were getting a beloved great-aunt shipped by way of Amazon or Etsy. And then they find, when unwrapped, that it turned out to be a great-ant. It would be hundreds of feet tall and would rampage through picnics dozens of times the size of humans. Except, of course, that due to the square-cube law the colossal land animal can’t support its own weight. It flops over helpless, unless it’s right next to a large body of water.

But wait, you cry, immersion in water would not help an ant hundreds of feet tall. The respiratory system of the ant couldn’t draw in enough air through the surface tension of the water. Ah, I say, you’re forgetting this is a giant ant, while the water is normal-sized. Surface tension at this scale is irrelevant to the ant’s needs. But wouldn’t that just as well disrupt the capillary action that’s relevant to ant respiration?

Also, what are we doing talking about ant respiration? When we said the words “ant respiration” and maybe “capillary action” we exhausted our knowledge of the subject. We would be better off talking about something either of us knows. I could offer stuff I’ve learned from reading two popular histories of containerized cargo vessels. You could offer whatever it is you’re doing with yourself these days. And this is exactly the sort of thing that would go in the scrap file, waiting to be put to a productive use, by someone else because I sound completely daft.

I hate to think who it’d be useful for. I suppose someone setting up an online service matching people to their perfect rampaging giant monsters. It’s a great potential service. Most of us go about our lives never knowing what would be the giant rampaging monster best-fitted to our lifestyles. Not everybody needs giant ants. Some folks go for your classic Japanese rubber-suited monsters, sure. But there must be people whose lives would be complete if they were stomped on by an enormous blue-tongued skink. I don’t mean “complete” as in “over”, because you could say that about anyone. I mean how do you know what you would do if rampaged upon by a gigantic skink?

I would waste all my time trying to take a photograph of its tongue. I know because I was at the zoo recently and they had a non-giant blue-tongued skink which was not rampaging. And what do you know but its tongue is blue? So I tried to take a picture of it because, hey, blue tongue. Except that my camera’s slow, and I’m slow. And between the time when the skink started sticking out its tongue, and my noticing, and my hitting the button, and the camera focusing, and taking a picture, the skink would finish sticking out its tongue and go off to get a hot cocoa (it was chilly out) or to check its Twitter account or to see if there’s a village of regular ants it could rampage for.

So I feel confident saying what I’d do if confronted by a rampaging giant blue-tongued skink. I would waste the experience remembering that there’s a “burst” mode on my camera. And something that takes several pictures a second would you’d think but be wrong get its tongue in view, if I could figure out how to get it into that mode. There’s even a high-speed burst mode that takes even more pictures per second. But I took my camera out of burst mode when a guy at the Cedar Point amusement park offered to take a picture of my love and I in front of the Midway Carousel. He held his finger down on the button.

The result is an estimated 642 pictures of us standing with increasingly nervous grins on our face in front of the carousel. The sequence ends with my reaching towards the camera lens with my most common facial expression. That’s the look of “my interacting with people has caused things to go wrong but I have no way to fix that without interacting even more with people”. So I took the camera out of burst mode and have it seems forgotten how to use it since. I’d be spending the whole giant rampaging blue-tongued skink attack (remember that?) trying to find where that mode even is. I needed about ten minutes at the zoo and by that time the skink was all tongue-flickered out.

Looking back on this, I guess I was too busy to actually list any of my scraps from December 2015. And what was I busy doing? Tuning in to the satellite TV’s various Christmas music stations at midnight and 3 am (Eastern) to see which ones were going off the air which days. I’m sorry for all the bother. Well, if you can use anything here, do. Enjoy.

The November 2015 Scraps File


Once more, here’s a pile of words that I couldn’t use in my humor blog. If you want to do anything with them, please, have fun and let me know if it makes you any money. It would be nice to think my words are providing for somebody. I didn’t hear if last month’s did anybody any good.

  • fresh hickory pickle — cut because it sounds too sing-songy, like I’m trying too hard to write a fake nursery rhyme.
  • that thrilling moment in a history of scientific thought when they mention Pythagoras of Samos and you’re going to get to hear what he thought of the matter — cut because it turned out Pythagoras was just quoting Thales and it wasn’t anywhere near the grade of whacked-out loopiness you expect from the man who gave us Olympic gold-thigh-presentation.
  • well, really — cut from the start of several dozen sentences because I didn’t need the warm-up after all.
  • xam — from the 1966 M F Enterprises run of Captain Marvel; it’s the code word that Captain Marvel, a robot from another planet, used to reverse the body-splitting process that he used for those cases where a supervillain might be foiled by having a detached forearm sprung at him.
  • and if you’re smart you’ll see your dentist right away — line from that episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye and Trapper John fool Frank into mining gold, which totally happened for some reason.
  • some days you just need a DVR full of Joe E Brown baseball comedies — while true, it’s too far outside baseball season, even if I was just watching the movie where he’s hoping to join the Cardinals so he can earn the five thousand dollars he’ll need to bring his improved fire extinguisher to market.
  • I remember how you liked to peel your own bananas — weird line to have in a piece that’s otherwise about the spell checker being mean to me.
  • come to think of it — cut from the end of several dozen sentences because I didn’t need the cool-down after all.

The October 2015 Scraps File – with NaNoWriMo donations


Here’s some writing I couldn’t make good use of in October. If you think you can, you’re welcome to it. NaNoWriMo participants especially welcome to these chunks!

  • I’d say the worst Star Trek continuity error of all time has to be in naming the captain. One episode it’s ‘Kirk’, next one it’s ‘Picard’, next one it’s ‘Janeway’, next episode it’s ‘Christopher’ in some scenes and ‘Kirk’ in others for crying out loud. Then some episode it’s ‘Jack McCoy’ or ‘Dean Pelton’ or something ridiculous like ‘Jack Aubrey’. And nobody even points this out, maybe out of embarrassment we let the producers get away with this. — Scrapped because I’ve really been making mischief on TrekBBS too much lately.
  • wonder what this movie would be like if John Harker were a character in it. — Left over from me snarking about the 1931 Dracula, which I actually liked although yeah, the Spanish-language version was mostly better.
  • I ask you to refer all questions to — Cut when I realized I didn’t have anyone it sounded plausibly like could get the question. I should’ve made up a name.
  • yeah, I was just wrong all down the line there and I’m sorry — Cut because I was right and you know it.
  • chicks dig metaphors, chicks dig, d-i-g, metaphors. — Taken with barely any attribution from the song “Metaphor” by the band Sparks. Should probably talk to Ron and Russell Mael before using this yourselves, because Ron wrote it and he seems like an interesting person to talk to. Paul McCartney impersonated him briefly in one video back in the 80s, but I forget which one.
  • Hieronymous Thump. — Created to sound like a Funny Name that isn’t actually funny and maybe I could’ve paired it with that refer-all-questions-to thing.
  • yes, i can do that, that’s no problem (14 instances) — Should have cut about twelve more instances and then I would probably be better off.

The August Scraps


Here’s some stuff I cut out of, or otherwise couldn’t use, in posts in August. Please feel free to use any you like. Some of them are pretty sketchy, having never got out of a first draft, so you’ll probably want to clean them up first.

  • you maybe think my reading is eclectic to which I say “I didn’t notice that book about competitive fox-hurtling and other obscure sports before”
  • lemniscate orchestra
  • synonymicon for crying out loud now stop asking
  • three things that won’t
  • Well, (16 instances)
  • if there’s anything I have to hurry up and say
  • had no idea Bronies could happen in real life and not just the Internet
  • if we can’t use apostrophes correctly we just shouldn’t have them at all
  • very (38 times)
  • not to be an unnecessary haiku pedant
  • of course (28 pairs)
  • but it’s ridiculous to think the Enterprise could survive being licked by feral koi
  • woken by bunny sneezes
  • partially motorized CSV files (3 times, including two from work e-mails)
  • learning to forgive people who answer “what’s up” with “the ceiling” or “the sky” depending on whether they’re outside or inside
  • are all questions I cannot answer (4 instances)

Bon appétit! (2 instances)