Mr Pond in Print

or, Whence Friday?

I’m not sure how the week’s over already, but I’m not complaining. Two big deadlines to whack through, as well as designing the next issue of Unsettling Wonder, and spending most of today working on a Secret Project which will be announced soon, and involves grapefruit.

I guess that all adds up to mean it’s link week at Paradoxes, since we’ll end as we began: with two links that will enrich your life, or mind, or soul, or at least be something like vaguely interesting.

As the title promised, I just had an academic article published this week, co-authored with Joshua Richards. It’s in the new volume of VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review, which should be of interest to any and all who like one of the seven author the journal focuses on, e.g. Owen Barfield, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. The article we’ve written is called “The Dantean Tradition in George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind,” and it does what it says on the tin, really. We offer a close textual reading of how MacDonald uses the Commedia in his children’s book.
It’s a doozy, that’s all I can say. Not available online, but you can buy the issue here.

Also, yet a bit more about DARE: Language Log reported this week that the Dictionary of American Regional English has got a new lease on life and has raised money they need to start work on their hugely important digital edition. Victory for crowd-funding? No, not really—they got several hundred thousand from UW-Madison, the American Dialect Society, and an anonymous donor. Confirming my general suspicion that the next great wave of the future is patronage. The funds they have really aren’t that much for a project of this enormity, though, so if you can donate anything, do.

There you go—four links when I promised you two. The service here, I’m telling ya.

friday diary

The other day I found myself working on the introduction of a new and, I hope, terrifying villain into a story. But the problem was figuring what he was going to say. Villains of this sort come on stage eying the scenery hungrily. I had to get the opening line right for the rest of the scene to follow with props unchewed.

So, as is my wont, I grabbed my notebook and started scribbling possible opening lines—some were threats, some passive aggressive, some hopelessly erudite, some tooth-in-curtains. I’d nearly filled the page before I glanced over what I had written—and then very promptly and firmly wrote ‘OPENING LINES FOR A VILLAIN’ at the top of the page. The whole thing had turned into a weirdly psychotic monologue—not the sort of thing you want to have hanging around in notebooks without clarification.

This might be old news for the whole world, but it’s new to me so I’ll record it here. A certain
D. P. Lyle, MD, hosts The Writer’s Forensics Blog, which doubles as an online resource about the sort of medical, forensic, and (to some extent) procedural data a writer might need. It’s naturally targeted at writers of crime fiction, but there’s probably salient detail for any genre that might involve physical injury. As well as the usual collection of top-tips on writing and editing and time management. And it gives helpful links to Dr Lyle’s book and forensic-focused writer’s advice service. On the whole, well worth a browse if you’ve the stomach for it—it can get a bit macabre.

John Linnell doesn’t know what to eat when his wife leaves town.


If you’re interested in vampires, alchemy, or alchemical vampires—or at least in Sookie Stackhouse—then you want to investigate this new post at Hogwarts Professor. A curious little case study in the clash between what the story structure requires and what the readers want—the writer refers to ‘a huge alchemical backfire’. And now you’ll never forget that image.

Lastly, a turn away from writing and frivolity: this may, again, be old new but it’s tremendously important. Dean Obeidallah, attorney and comedian, writes poignantly and articulately about why Muslims hate terrorism, and why terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. It’s not an article he should have needed to write—it’s stuff everyone should already know—but he did because they don’t, and, like I said, it’s too important not to read.

(H/T Mark Evanier, again.)

a versatile blog post

The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond is an award-winning blog. Of a sort.

My erstwhile compatriot in the blogalectic, the ever-charming Jenna St. Hilaire, has just presented ParadoxesThe Versatile Blogger Award.’ No, really, she did. Here’s the award to prove it:

It’s green. And seems to contain a subliminal reference to sushi. I’ll take it!

It’s a conditional award, I should add. In fact, it’s a circular award, in that you’re supposed to forward it to fifteen friends. And say seven interesting things about yourself on your blog. Though Jenna has graciously allowed recipients of the award to bow out of its circularity.

This is rather different than anything I’ve done at Paradoxes, but I don’t feel it untoward or an undue challenge. Like Mrs. Bates before me, as soon as I open my mouth I shall say three very dull things indeed, so I only need to do that twice and then think of one more thing. So here, after a fashion, goes.

Continue reading

grammarring: holidays acknowledged

Happy National Grammar Day! It’s a holiday today, depending on what part of the world you’re in. Depending on your frame of mind, you can use punctilious grammar all day today. Or you can find a grammar rule and break it.

Regardless, we urge all those who delight in the celebration of grammar to keep in mind John McIntyre’s admonition not to ‘correct people’s grammar or pronunciation publicly,’ and to ‘learn [Ed. note: or invent] a new word every chance you get’ (see the heading above). And we join McIntyre in imploring you to ‘Honor and esteem people like Ben Zimmer and Jan Freeman and Mignon Fogarty and the merry band at Language Log and all the others who write about English with intelligence, affection, and force.’

Now, the sad news.

February 26 was Tell A Fairy Tale Day, and I missed it. I think I was asleep. Blog Fail. The only remedy is for you all to tell someone a fairy tale today.

Tell someone a fairy tale on National Grammar Day. It’s a beautiful thing.

A wonderful Sabbath to you all.

curiouser and curiouser

Catriona McAra (Photo by Alicia Bruce)Welcome to a world you didn’t know was there. Or maybe you did know. Welcome, regardless.

If you’re looking for a subversive, counter-cultural art scene in Scotland, there’s this amazing blog you should read. If you’re half-academic, half-geek, who likes getting your mind bended around tantalising suggestions of unusual concepts, there’s this amazing blog you should read. If you have an unrequited—or a thoroughly requited—love for surrealism of any description, there’s this amazing blog you should reads.

[Pauses to admire the cleverness of his writing style, realizes that everyone already figured out the punch line, like, four sentences ago, and is glaring at him impatiently.]

Yes—ah—it is all the same blog.

Catriona McAra, one of the two remarkable minds behind Anti-tales: The Uses of Disenchantment, blogs as catrionamcara. That’s her, above right—the larger of the two Alices. I think she’s playing chess the way you’d normally play the piano. But Catriona is doing her doctorate in surrealism, so don’t be too alarmed when you visit her site and find picture you just—don’t—understand.

catrionamcara offers a wealth of information and criticism about the Scottish arts scene, which is a lot weirder than it sounds, and is a useful source for conference reports and calls for papers related to the more intriguing side of academic speculation. Her writing is adroit and nimble, with the posts brief but informative.

Today’s post, for instance, gives the schedule for Spaces of the Unconscious: Psychoanalysis and Surrealism in the Digital Age (October 9, Anna Freud Centre), which is a concept that certainly must have seemed like a good idea at the time and, atypically, still does. Other posts have included critical discussion of Robert Powell’s art, and an interview with the Mad Hatter (yes, you read that correctly).

Go and welcome yourself to catrionamcara. And welcome, Catriona, to this mad, weird world of the life formerly known as blog.