Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've Been One Poor Correspondent


First thing every morning I check to see how many visitors my blog's received, and on days I don't plan to post it makes me sad. So many nice people who don't know I've already decided to let them down.

But inspiration doesn't always strike and bills must be paid. My October has been consumed by three or four big day-job projects all coming due at the same time, one of which the client dithered on for a year before deciding it needed to be done now. So, to quote Dr. Gillian Taylor in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: "That, as they say, is that."

Sometime soon, I hope to compose a post on what my sisters "Kid Sis" and "Nurse Sis," about whom I never write, have been up to lately. Short version: It's good. In keeping with my blog's original mission of focusing on the process of writing, drawing and publishing a graphic novel, I'd like to blog about the status of "Mystery Project X," which I hope will be my next book, and the never-before-hinted-at "Mystery Project Y," which I hope might be the book after that. Short version: Don't hold your breath. I've also got half a mind to pull out some old sketches and talk about character design in terms of how I approach it and what I might have done differently if I'd been a bit smarter. Short version: Cap Crater is a pain in the neck.

We'll see if any of that happens. You'll have to come back to find out.

See what I did there?

Before I proceed to post some videos I've enjoyed lately, remember that drawing I did at the Charles Schulz Museum's "Cartoonists Sketch-a-Thon" commemorating the 60th anniversary of Peanuts? All the participants were asked to do one for the museum's collection, which I assumed meant that it would be archived in a spooky warehouse next to the Lost Ark. Well, it turns out that mine and a couple of others will actually be put on display next month.

My stuff sharing wall space with Mr. Schulz's stuff. Yeah, that'll take a while to sink in.

Video #1: A radio essay on language, grammar and pedantry by Stephen Fry, courtesy of my friend Jim O'Kane. I heartily, happily agree with 92% of Fry's delightfully expressed opinion. I part with him when he argues that careful, proper use of language doesn't "illustrate clarity of thought and intelligence of mind." I think it does. In my own writing, I find that choosing just the right words, and organizing them precisely to convey exactly the meaning I intend, often does clarify (even for me) what I'm trying to say. Sometimes I change my own mind--if a sentence's grammar won't hang together, sometimes it's because the thought it's trying to express is flawed. Conversely, I often find that people who don't speak or write clearly aren't thinking very clearly, either. On the scale of grammatical philosophy, Fry's a half-inch nearer "descriptivist" and further from "prescriptivist" than I am. Still: if what I just wrote sounds halfway interesting, this is worth your time.

Video #2: This is almost surely not worth your time, but I enjoyed it anyway: How the first Superman movie (with Chris Reeve and Gene Hackman) should have ended. Hard to argue. Found on Mark Evanier's blog.

Video #3: What happens when you mix hot postassium chlorate and a Gummi Bear? I worked in chemistry labs for more than a decade and never did anything this cool. Makes me feel kind of bad for the bear, though; it's almost as though you can hear his screams. From Bad Astronomer Phil Plait.

Later, I promise.


Sherwood Harrington said...

Oh, swell. You've probably made me late for a committee meeting now.

Any of the three would be worth missing the meeting entirely for, though, and I'm especially partial to Fry's (and Matt Rogers did a fine job with the animation, too!) I think I take your 92% agreement level down to about 90%, though. I'm with you on how the act of writing our thoughts often changes our thoughts (an idea that was hammered into my dense head during Freshman English at Amherst.) But I disagree with this blanket statement at the outset, too: "People seem to be able to find sensual and sensuous pleasure in almost anything but words these days." Whether we're comfortable with it or not (and I'm not particularly), hip-hop/rap seems to revel in those verbal pleasures. Maybe he's just hanging out in the wrong crowd.

Poor gummi bear. At least he goes out with a good soundtrack.

Jim O'Kane said...

Right with on the 8% variance, Brian. "Use the right word," said Twain, in Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, "not its second cousin."

My unavoidable pedantry is mistaken grammar on grounds of supposed "more-righter-ness." The best example of this is when someone says, "Jeff was coming to visit Laura and I." I can feel the cilia in my ears tying sheet bends against each other to oppose the affront.

The second mortal Sin against Jim is when anyone opts for "utilize" over "use" in a sentence. URRRRRRK says my neck as the muscles contract my head into my torso.

Jim O'Kane said...

In a post about grammar, there will always be one typo, yes?

"Right with YOU on the 8% variance, Brian."

L said...

Gummy bear! D: Poor little guy. And any chance is potassium chlorate availiable to the common consumer?

Brian Fies said...

Good point on rap, Sherwood. I sometimes reflect on the similarities to those poetry-spouting pretty boys that the ancient Greeks used to complain about.

I've got my peeves too, Jim, but try to keep them in their time and place. For example, nothing irks me on the Internet. That's the Wild West, pal! I just try to keep my own house in order and let others worry about theirs. In my writing and editing day job I do a lot of work with engineers, who are the worst "utilizers" imaginable. But if they knew how to write they wouldn't need me, bless their hearts.

L, you'd like me to tell you where to get potassium chlorate, wouldn't you! But you'll just have to kill Gummis the old-fashioned way: biting off their heads one at a time.

Mark Jackson said...

If you do get your hands on potassium chlorate, protect them better than the guy in the video. Poking at the Gummi bear the way he did when it got stuck halfway down the tube is terrible laboratory practice.

Mike Lynch said...

Best blog entry all week.

Brian Fies said...

Mark: Indeed, although it's really just a hot jet of water-steam shooting out the end, so he would have only needed skin grafts on two or three fingers at most. Still, I winced.

Mike: It's certainly MY best blog entry of the week, if that's what you meant.