© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Blog

I'm leaving Blogger and Google and moving to a new site. I'll keep this blog up for as an archive. But this is the last post I'm making here. You can find my new blog at The New Word Mechanic. I sure hope you come visit me there.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Another sign of the time

I got this on a list serve I'm on:

We have enough "youth."
How about a Fountain of "Smart"?

On another note -- Watch this space for an announcemnt of a New Word Mecahanic blog. It's coming soon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Signs of the Time

I saw this posted on an email list I'm on.

"I think Congressmen should wear uniforms, you know, like NASCAR drivers, so we could identify their corporate sponsors."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

If you don't know Braja. . .

If you don't know Braja, you've missed a lot. If you do know her, you know you've found a treasure -- a ruby in a land of jewels.

Check out Braja's latest essay on Elephant Journal. Whether you already know her or not, you'll be glad you did.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Getting back to topic of language

I hope you're still enjoying the new year. Here's something to put a smile on your face.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why I removed 12 posts

This morning I removed 12 posts, each of which contained a poem that hasn't been published somewhere else. I've appreciated the reponses I've gotten to poems that are still drafts. But more and more journals consider poems posted on the poet's blog as already published. Consequently, they're ineligible for inclusion in the journal, which aquires first rights. I'll still blog about poetry. I just can't afford to limit the market for my work.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday Starts NaNoWriMo

Novemeber is Nanowrimo -- 50,000 words of your novel in one month. I'm joining in this year, and hope to make it further than I have in the past. It's a program being directed by the Office of Letters and Light. Check out the video, and happy writing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If Bud and Lou Were Alive Today

I got this from a listserv for medical writers I'm on and think it's worth sharing.

If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their infamous sketch, 'Who's on First?' might have turned out something like this:


ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Thanks I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?
ABBOTT: Wallpaper.
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue 'W'.
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue 'W' if you don't start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? Do you have anything I can track my money with?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. At no extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

(A few days later)
ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on 'START'...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Letter Writer

The tip of the pen had worn away
and scratched at the page,
making him shudder the way hard chalk
scraping on a blackboard once did.
Still, just one more letter to write.

One more letter. No one writes letters anymore,
not with a pen with a broken tip.

It would be easier on a computer --
e-mail. Just hit send, and it's done before
there's time to think, do I want to send this?
Computers are safer. They protect
him the way his own handwriting cannot.
But his computer's in a dark
room inside an empty house.

A room void of other breath but
his own. He thinks he'd rather hear
the scratching. At least here, men
with great rings of keys pass back and forth
with great practiced ceremony,
pushing brooms, wearing rags
on their belts, coughing phlegm. Not pretty.
Not like a friend
would be.
Not what a dog or cat
could be. But still he prefers

the company of their loneliness
to such silent dependency,

the smell of ammonia and polish to
sour milk and rotting grapes
behind the beer in the fridge at home.

He wants to like this place. This time.
But he can't. The letter's unfinished and
the pen won't let him. He thinks
a new pen, one that didn't scrape
but rolled as easy as the surf

would make this place perfect.
The words would spill out the way milk
Leaks from a mother's breast. We've
become too private, he writes and then
throws the paper away because

that's all there is that's left to be.

First published at Carcenogenic Poetry July 24, 2011

Copyright 2011, Joseph Saling, the Grandpa,  at The Word Mechanic Blogspot
All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No Exit

Just got this in an email and thought I'd share:

Let's face it. After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says "WTF."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I apologize in advance to all people who grt annoyed by filling out the word verification for making comments. I took it off because Braja said she would refuse to send me any more comments if I left it on. Since I took it off I have received multiple daily "comments"such as the following.
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I was receiving them constantly after removing the word verification the first time. That's why I readded it. That's why I'm adding it again. If you don't want to comment, just know I'll miss hearing from you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Newest Poem

For those of you who missed it, here is my latest poem published at Carcinogenic Poetry.

The Last Day of His Life

The last day of his life began
like all the rest except
he found some pills above the sink
and took them down to stare
into their white infinity
then said out loud, Why white?

The last day of his life he packed lunch for his children
and stood waiting at the door while each one filed by
taking the brown bag from his hand and smiling
as he admonished them to study hard.

The last day of his life he kissed
his wife and told her not to worry.

Getting in the car he drove
until he couldn't be seen from the house
then followed the long narrow path through the field to the beach
with its white sand that seemed to stretch into infinity
and sat there watching white clouds disturb
the sky with shapes that had no permanence,
with weight that wasn't there,
and wondered once more Why white?

First published at Carcenogenic Poetry July 24, 2011
Copyright 2011, Joseph Saling, the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blogspot
All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Man of God, angel of vengence and death, maker of changes

Daniel Silva has a new novel -- Portrait of a Spy. It's the thirteenth book in an ongoing series of books about Gabriel Allon, an art restorer who is also an Israeli spy and counter terrorist assassin. Some of you may remember I've written about Silva and his skill before.

It isn't easy to write about the same character doing the same thing in novel after novel with the same supporting cast of characters. Len Deighton, another of my favorite writers of espionage thrillers, wrote a trilogy of trilogies that began with Berlin Game and ended with Charity that I would highly recommend to anyone. The problem is, though, those nine novels demonstrate the difficulty. Because while each book must stand on its own, it also must put itself into context with the preceding novels. And my feeling by the time I got half way through the nine books was that for much of the time I was rereading the stories I'd read before.

Silva, on the other hand, is a true master of three important creative traits. The first is letting his characters age naturally from novel to novel. So in a sense, they actually become different characters. The second is giving just enough information about the recurring characters and their past exploits that you don't have to know what happened earlier to understand who they are and what they are like while at the same timethe reader who does remember them can recall the earlier story. The third and most important trait is describing the character in such a way that you don't need to have known the character at all to get an image of who and what the character is.

One of the most important characters in the books is Ari Shamron, who is legendary within the Israeli intelligence community, the man who recruited Allon as well as Allon's father figure and linchpin for what happens in each novel. He often isn't introduced, other than in brief allusions, until midway through the book. Here is how Silva introduced him in Moscow Rules:
There is a VIP reception room at Ben-Gurion Airport that few people know and where even fewer have set foot. Reached by an unmarked door near passport control, it has walls of Jerusalem limestone, furnishings of black leather, and a permanent odor of burnt coffee and male tension. When Gabriel entered the room the following evening, he found it occupied by a single man. He had settled himself at the edge of his chair, with his legs slightly splayed and his large hands resting atop an olive-wood cane, like a traveler on a rail platform resigned to a long wait. He was dressed, as always, in a pair of pressed khaki trousers and a white oxford cloth shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. His head was bullet-shaped and bald, except for a monkish fringe of white hair. His ugly wire-framed spectacles magnified a pair of blue eyes that were no longer clear.

Note "like a traveller on a rail platform resigned to a long wait." In Portrait of a Spy Sharon is older, supposedly retired, but still at the center of Israeli operations. Half way through the book, Silva introduces him this way:
A few minutes after the speech ended, a message arrived from the Operations Desk at King Saul Boulevard. It was just four characters in length -- two letters followed by two numbers -- but its message was unambiguous. God was cooling his heels in a Montmartre safe flat. And God wanted a word with Gabriel in private.
Then on the next page at the start of the next chapter we get this description of God:
The door to 3A hung slightly ajar; in the sitting room was an elderly man dressed in pressed khaki trousers, a white oxford classic shirt, and a leather bomber jacket with an unrepaired tear in the left shoulder. He had settled himself at the edge of a brocade-covered wing chair with his legs slightly splayed and his large hands bunched atop the crook of his olive wood cane, like a traveller on a rail platform resigned to a long wait. Between two yellowed fingers burned the stub of a filterless cigarette. Acrid smoke swirled above his head like a private storm cloud.
An angry storm cloud above the head of an angry God waiting to have a private word with his archangel Gabriel. (One meaning of Gabriel is man of God.) As much as I want Silva to write about other things, I hope he never stops writing about Allon and Shamron.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2012 election

Got this today from a liberal mail list I'm on. Too good not to share. I enjoy good biting satire (and sarcasm):

 I really don't think that we have to worry about Obama getting re-elected. I'm pretty sure he's a shoe-in. The reason being that he'll get most of the votes of the Democrats & Liberals and I can't see why Republicans wouldn't vote for him since he gives them pretty much everything they ask for.