Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What is a Shaggy Dog Story?

You ask, "What is a shaggy dog story?" and this brings to mind the years I spent as a janitor in a pickle factory. These were extraordinary pickles, the world's largest, cultivated in vats the size of zeppellin sheds and salted by cascades of water the size of Niagara, drawn from the nearby sea. As you can imagine, the combination of salt and pickle matter led to some challenging clean-ups, and in this I was aided by a series of books written by Marceau de Savon, famed cleanser to royalty and hygiene-advisor to the stars. The books were first-rate, as all the reviews testified (even Gore Vidal was impressed), but their great limitation became evident when I failed to discover the word "pickle" in the index. To make a long story short, I was forced to improvise, and eventually learned that the best way to clean up the residue of a pickle factory was to use the leftover dough from the hamburger bun factory next door. But to answer your question --  I've no idea.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

With Razor Eyes

Sometimes I stare at what I've typed, and wonder how James Blish, Damon Knight, or Joanna Russ would have torn it apart. Then I understand that I can only go forward if I read with razor eyes.

Monday, March 9, 2015

To The Darkling Sky By Die-Lon Drive!

Yesterday, the pharmacist called me "Monsieur DIE-Lon."

Her mispronunciation embarrassed her, but I thought it was a great, forceful name. I'm going to scream it out the next time I leap from a skyscraper and soar into the starry welkin.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


I love to revise.

Writing a first draft can be like hurtling down a mountainside, on a bike without brakes; but revision is the quiet contemplation of sound, rhythm, and meaning, the calm quest for the right words.

All the same, I can't enjoy a meal before I cook it.