Lightsabers and Surfboards

Stefan A. Slater's blog about whatever's on Stefan A. Slater's mind (e.g., Ewoks, Pipeline and speaking in the third person).

Category: Books

Happy New Year Post: A 2013 Recap

vCAxQ2x

I know. I know. I’m a little late. Like… a couple of weeks late. But forgive me, please? I was sick–struck down by a vicious, merciless cold two days before New Year’s Eve. No worries though, as I spent the night watching Orange is The New Black with my GF, which is never a bad thing (I did wear a bandana to make sure I didn’t spread a plague with all my coughing–it’s all about being considerate). I was also on deadline, and I have two new articles that just went to print that I’ll be sharing here shortly. But, since it’s a new year and all, I thought I’d go ahead and do two very important things:

List my writing goals, which are as follows–

1) Sell a short story.
2) Write for one of my big goal publications (Men’s Journal, Tor.com, etc.)
3) Go on an epic trip and write about it for one of my big goal publications.
4) Write every single day. Even when I’m sick. 🙂
5) Continue to develop my freelance career.
6) Keep up my surfing. (Work’s been cutting into that, and boy, do I need my surfing to keep me sane.)

OK, that was fun and uplifting. Now, let’s switch over to the fun stuff (i.e., the second important thing I had to discuss with you all).

My favorite books of 2013–

Fiction: This one was tough. And when I say tough, I mean chewing-through-mummified-200-year-old-leather tough. I started reading more in 2013, and it was the first year of my full-time freelance career, which meant that I went through A TON of books. And I’m not saying that to brag–there were still plenty of books that I didn’t get to. So, not counting graphic novels or audiobooks, I went through roughly thirty books. Most I liked. Some, like The Yellow Birds or A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories (Ray Bradbury), were truly moving. Others, like Mockingbird and NOS4A2, were a rolling-bucket-of-monkeys-on-LSD fun (and yeah, that’s a good thing). But if there was one book that affected me the most, it had to be Horns, by Joe Hill. It was both simultaneously torturous and pleasurable, and it hit home in a way that was uncomfortable–the way it dealt with adolescent relationships and perceived wrongs was so very raw and relatable. I lost sleep stressing over Ig’s dilemma–and that rarely happens to me. Have you picked it up yet? Do so. Come on, go on, get up and grab a copy.

You back?

Cool.

And now on to my favorite graphic novel/comic book of 2013: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. It’s brilliant. I could go on and on, so just do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. In second place, East of West by Jonathan Hickman. I’m a sucker for revisionist westerns, and this one was particularly inventive and original. Who knew that Death could ever pull off a Stetson so well?

Nonfiction: I didn’t read much nonfiction last year, and that’s something that needs to change this year. But the top two have to be The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson and Sweetness and Blood by Michael Scott Moore. Both understand their subject matters well (World’s Columbian Exposition/H. H. Holmes and surfing history, respectively). Check ’em out.

Ok, thanks for reading, everybody. I’ll be checking in a little more regularly in 2014 with updates on my writing and stuff. Take care, and happy belated new year. Stay stoked and keep writing.

Advertisements

Book Recommendation: The Stars My Recommendation… er, Destination

Stars_my_destination_masterworks

I like the idea of being marooned in space. Well, maybe I should rephrase that: I like the idea of being marooned in space as an idea for a story… I don’t personally want to be marooned out in space. That sounds kind of cold, and if George Clooney isn’t there to save me… well, then I don’t know what I would do.

Anyway, Hunter Patterson recommended a book for me to read back in the summer, and I’ve only recently gotten around to reading it (sorry, Hunter!). It’s called The Stars My Destination, and it’s by Alfred Bester. Published in the mid 1950s (originally as Tiger! Tiger! in the UK) the book tells the tale of Gully Foyle, a Mechanic’s Mate 3rd Class with minimal intelligence, zero skills, merits and recommendations (except from me, of course). A sneak attack on his vessel, the Nomad, leaves him alone and adrift in space in the torn-apart wreckage for 170 days, and just when he’s ready to give up, a rescue ship appears in the distance. But, despite Gully’s desperate signaling attempts, the rescue ship ends up leaving him behind. Gully then undergoes a stark transformation: He devotes his entire life and existence to tracking down that ship–the Vorga–to exact his brutal revenge for being abandoned.

url

A real grabber, right? I completely agree. The book isn’t perfect (the writing and language can feel a bit clunky at times, and the settings rarely get much in terms of overall descriptions), but the storyline and characters are extremely well done–think of it as a sci-fi version of Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo… but in space.

It’s also one of the first examples of true cyberpunk, and its an energizing and very original read, despite being over half a century old. His views on technology, telepathy and teleporting (named “jaunting” in the book) and its effects on mankind are astounding: many authors rarely take the time to discuss how teleporting would influence our economies, livelihoods and way of thinking, but Alfred completely knocks it out of the park. The ability to jaunt, for instance, makes phones obsolete, creates havoc on interstellar commerce, and encourages a return to a collective Victorian mindset (because women can be ravaged at any moment by strange men who can teleport anywhere at anytime, and thus need to be protected at all costs).

bester10

Also, Bester is sort of an unsung hero in the world of sci-fi and comic books: He’s in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and worked on Superman and the Green Lantern comics (it’s rumored that he created Green Lantern’s oath, but apparently he denied it).

So yes, if you like the idea of being marooned, and you’re in the mood for a good sci-fi story, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Thanks, Hunter!

The Last Policeman (a review)

The_Last_Policeman_book_cover
It’s book review time!

However, just a quick aside, but I also finished a few other books lately that are worth a quick please-go-ahead-and-pick-this-up mention: “Desperation” by Stephen King, “Y: The Last Man” Volume III and “Private Eye”, both of which are by Brian K. Vaughan. Actually, the latter one is available in a pretty cool way. If you visit panelsyndicate.com you can download a PDF version of the comic for whatever you think is reasonable. $15? $10? .01? Yep, whatever you think is reasonable totally flies, and you can download it as many times as you want. (Although, because the quality of the comic is pretty high, and the storyline is an original noir-ish yarn, I’d recommend that you throw a little something Vaughan’s way).

Ok, but on to “The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winter.

The book focuses on the question that, if it’s the end of the world, what’s the point in having a policeman solve murders? In “The Last” an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and unfortunately both Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton don’t exist in this universe (or at least aren’t mentioned), so humanity is only less than a year away from clocking out for good. As far as the reader knows, the asteroid is going to hit Earth for sure, and there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

And that’s where Detective Hank Palace comes in. He’s a no-nonsense detective with minimal personal flair or a sense of humor, and he’s considerably more straight edge than a Mormon holding a dozen rulers. However, what he lacks in funny bone development, he makes up for in commitment. He’s dedicated to carrying out his duty as a detective, and he’s absolutely convinced that his first case, a suicide, is actually a murder. At the end of the world, when most people are offing themselves left, right and center, his fellow detectives right off the case as just another suicide, but Captain Commitment has a gut-feeling (which all good cops have, of course) that something just isn’t right.

And there you go–It’s a police procedural story set just before the end of the world. Now there are a couple of weaknesses with this story: For one thing, Hank is all kinds of white bread, vanilla, cookie-cutter cop with minimal feelings or emotions. It’s very hard to appreciate his character, or to really find him relatable. Two, the writing, while clean and well-thought out, lacks any real punch. Everything, from setting description to the character dialogue, feels rather standard and drab. And lastly, this is part of a trilogy, so while Hank solves the case at the end, there isn’t all that much closure concerning the fate of civilization, which felt like a letdown.

However, with that said, there are two things that the book does well, which is why I’m going to recommend it: One, the investigation is actually pretty intriguing. While I felt disconnected from Hank, I felt very involved with the murder-mystery–the idea of killing someone and making it look like a suicide, especially during an end-of-the-world scenario, is a diabolical scheme at its finest. I also didn’t see the end coming either, which made the ride a bit more enjoyable (I’m not much of a mystery guy, so if you are, you might catch on to the ending much sooner, but it caught me by surprise).

And two, the whole premise of trying to live in a world that’s going to end soon is decidedly fresh. It seems like almost every story these days focuses on either the end of the world, or living after the fall. Rarely are we every prompted to ask ourselves, “I have 6 months before the world ends, what am I going to do with my life?” Authors and readers alike are often so engrossed in the idea of survival against all odds, stockpiling supplies and all out “Mad Max”-style apocalyptic battles, that we often forget to look at what life would be like before everything went to hell. What would people do before the fall? How would they act? Would there be riots? Death in the streets? Or would people come together? With that said, what would I do? Would I keep working? Or would I go “find myself”? The novel addresses most of these questions in clever ways, and because of that, it makes it worthwhile to pick up.

“Countdown City,” the sequel, comes out this month, and I should have a review for you sometime soon. Until then, start stockpiling, and I’ll see ya soon.

Neil Gaiman, Comics and book review in the works

Hello, Denizens of the Blogosphere.

Hope you’re all doing well. As you can see, it’s been a while since I’ve last updated my blog, so let’s roll out the list of my compulsory blogger-y excuses: 1) I’ve had real paying work to focus on. Yay! 2) I just finished a book that I’d like to review on here and I… well, I haven’t gotten there yet… because of distractions of the Imgur variety. So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been distracted. A lot. And 3) I’m a really bad person and I’m sorry and won’t you ever forgive me? Please?

So, yes, I’m still alive, and no, I haven’t been kidnapped by laser-wielding monkeys (although that would be all kinds of awesomeness if that did happen). Here’s the breakdown of what I’ve been up to:

1) Comic books! I wrote two pieces on comic book culture for Southbay magazine and Ventura Blvd magazine. While both were fun to write, I tend to like the Southbay magazine one a bit better because I got to interview Mike Mignola. He was incredibly polite and professional, and he was extremely patient with all of my generic questions, so I hope you like it.

2) Quirk books sent me “The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winter to review, and so far I have to say that it’s pretty good. Review coming soon.

3) Neil Gaiman! Last night, my girlfriend and I went to Neil Gaiman’s book signing at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. We had a wonderful time, and Neil is incredibly charismatic and funny too: My favorite little Neil story of the night was about why he’s a dog person. His dog, he says, usually sits with him in his room while he writes, and tends to give him looks that seem to say, “I don’t know what you’re writing, but it’s probably very clever. You’re the cleverest writer ever.” Cats however, Neil explained, tend to be a little more judgemental–they tend give off these cold, distant looks that seem say, “Hmm… Are you really going to put a comma there?”*

JB and I waited for close to five hours to finally get our respective signed copies of “The Ocean at the End of Lane” signed, and to Neil’s credit, he stayed at his little desk on stage for all five hours just signing away like his life depended on it. For the record, we asked an usher how many people were at the event, and she said 1,400. Each person was allowed to have two books signed, one of which could be personalized. So, you do the math on how many books that man signed last night–and I tell you what, JB and I were one of the last ones in line, and he was actually smiling and laughing at 2:30 a.m. when it was our turn to get our books signed. The man’s trooper to say the least.

JB and Neil Gaiman

JB and Neil Gaiman. The camera’s a bit shaky because the cameraman was a little sleepy.

Anyway, I promise I’ll be good and I’ll update the blog a bit more in the next few weeks. Expect a book review shortly. Talk soon!

*The event started at 7:30 p.m. and didn’t actually wrap up until 3:00 a.m. the following morning. So, Neil, if I butchered your quotes here, I sincerely apologize. You’re amazing and I’m very sleepy.

A Single Shot: A Review

A-SINGLE-SHOT-cover

It’s been a slow week for my freelance writing, and that’s both a good and bad thing—good because I get to work on my fiction and catch up on my reading (and, admittedly, catch up on some Bioshock Infinite too), and bad because, well, none of the aforementioned good things pay very well yet. But anyway, with that said, I just finished Matthew F. Jones’ A Single Shot, and I’m feeling rather mixed about it, so I thought I’d share my review here.

Now, I have to confess, I was drawn to this book because of the trailer for the movie version, starring Sam Rockwell (paw? paw? no paw!) and William H. Macy. As you can see here, the trailer is simple, raw and utterly gorgeous—the accompanying violin-driven “Frates” by Arvo Pärt really drives home those themes too. So, to keep it simple, I was hooked, and I was hell-bent on reading the book before seeing the movie.

The plot revolves around the deeply troubled former-farmer John Moon: He lost his family farm, lives in a depressingly shoddy trailer, and to make matters worse, his wife divorced him and took full custody of their adolescent son. John’s a man of few modern skills, and without his farm, he’s lost. So he relies on his ability to poach deer (both in and out of season) to keep himself fed and functioning. One day, he trespasses onto the wrong land while chasing a deer he’s wounded. He finally tracks it down to a rock quarry, and fires blindly into a grove of trees. When he goes to check his kill, he finds that he’s shot and killed a teenage girl.

Not to flatter Jones, but the moment when John finds the body is perfectly heart-wrenching—the reader is subtly reminded that a person’s life can turn on a dime with only one, simple mistake. John, of course, is devastated. His life, for all intents and purposes, is over. But things get a bit complicated once he finds a box full of cash in the girl’s sleeping bag. What follows over the course of several hundred pages is an answer to the question that’s bothered many a writer: What happens when a good person does a terrible thing, and then tries to get away with it?

The answer’s delivered plainly once Jones takes the reader into John’s life, which he does masterfully. John is a simple, uneducated, backwoods farmer and hunter, and everything he does in the book (both good and bad) fit flawlessly with his character. Jones also seems to be a Cormac McCarthy fan, as his stark, and rugged descriptions of John’s nature and the surrounding countryside evoke all the best parts of The Border Trilogy and McCarthy’s other fine and famous works.

All in all, Matthew F. Jones is a fine writer. And by fine, I mean he’s a gifted S.O.B who knows his craft through and through.

Now, I did have one issue with this book, and it’s something that really detracted away from the whole experience: the length. The story tops out at 240 pages, and I honestly don’t feel like he needed that much room to write. John is an interesting and well-rounded character, and the premise is thoroughly engaging, but there just wasn’t enough going on to keep me fully engaged for the entire read. There were descriptions and interactions with minor characters that felt distracting, and at times, came across as blatant page fillers. I know (trust me, I do!) that novellas aren’t all that profitable in the publishing world, but I whole-heartedly believe that I would’ve enjoyed this book more if he’d cut out 40 or 50 pages and kept things a little more bare-boned.

However, let me reiterate that Jones is a talented writer, so most people will enjoy this book, or any of his other books for that matter. But I’d love to hear your thoughts if you give this one read. So, yes, please give this one a read, and do make sure to go see A Single Shot in theaters, which Jones also wrote the screenplay for too. Enjoy.

Horns: A Review

horns

When it comes to scares, I’m not one of those slasherman-jumps-out-of-the-dark-and-makes-me-jump types. If you’re going to scare me, you have to use something with a bit more oomph.

Startling is not scaring. Quick startles get your adrenaline pumping, sure, but that’s not true terror or lingering, haunting fear. It’s like getting a quick jolt from one of those hand buzzer toys versus jumping into the bathtub while carrying your favorite toaster—one of those is obviously going to have a little more impact on your life, right?

One of the characters in Bill Willingham’s Fables comic has the power to know everyone’s sins. If I remember correctly, Kay had a piece of a magic mirror in his eye (painful, right?), and when he looked at someone, he instantly knew every God-awful thing they’d ever done. He was so tormented by his unwanted powers that he cut out his own eyes on a regular basis, only to have them slowly grow back over time.

Now that’s unsettling.

I had the option to review V for Vendetta (here’s the gist: love Alan Moore? Pick it up) or the first volume of Unwritten (also good, but second and third volume really slow down), but instead I’m choosing to review Horns by Joe Hill, mainly because I haven’t been so deeply troubled by a story like this in a long, long time.

The plot revolves around 26-year-old Ignatius “Ig” Perrish, who wakes up one morning after an extended evening of torturous imbibing to find that he’s grown a set of horns.

These horns grant him the kind of powers that only the Devil himself would have (hint): everyone he meets confesses their deepest, most sinister desires and thoughts to him.

Every. Single. Person.

That’s including his parents. His brother. A waitress. His roommate. A doctor. Everyone.

And all those people hate him.

Ig, a mild-mannered kid with a strong case of asthma, was suspected of murdering and raping his girlfriend, Merrin—the perfect girl-next-door type that he’d been dating since high school. No was caught, and case is still open. But the catch is that everyone in town firmly believes he actually did it… and that someone should punish him.

I wont go into the particulars, but Ig begins to tumble down those precarious stairs that lead to Hell’s flaming front lawn. He’s often tempted to condemn his fellow-man and God (Ig blames Him for Merrin’s death and his current horned status), and he’s consistently caught between ending it all and saving what’s left of his soul. Ultimately, the horns help him track down the real killer—which is settled early on—but the real issue is whether or not Ig can hang on to his own humanity.

The writing is superb (he’s Stephen King’s son, so come on), and the characters are all so relatable that it’s hard not to draw immediate comparisons to your own life.

And I know I did.

Which is why even thinking about waking up and only hearing evil, malicious thoughts everywhere you go is so utterly terrifying. The monster in this narrative is humanity, because without that thin, all-important veil of self-sacrifice and pure goodness that most people have, all we’re left with is spite and loathing. We become hollow creatures, empty voids that thrive on ill will and corruption. We become hopeless. We become monsters. We become Devils.

So, with that said, I had to stop reading this before I went to bed at night.

This is not a fun book and this is not an easy one to read. You will doubt, struggle and question. You will look at the people in your life, your parents, girlfriend or boyfriend, and you will wonder. And that might keep you up at night.

But this is an excellent book, and while it is something you should prepare yourself for, I’d be doing you a disfavor if I told you not to go out and give this one a read.

Just don’t read it before you go to bed. Trust me.

Snow White Likes to Shoot Bad People

Six_Gun_Snow_White_by_Catherynne_M_Valente_200_311I dig reboots.

Sure, some purists might scoff at the idea of starting anew, but I tend to think that it adds refreshing originality to narratives that have long since gone stale. Throw out the trite and banal plotlines, I say! Let’s give the main character a new origin story. Give ‘em a new haircut! Switch up the gender! If it’s new, different and overly fresh, I tend to think it’s a step in the right direction.

Of course, I have to throw in a quick warning: Reboots often start out with the best intentions, but unfortunately, most just can’t deliver in the end. They start out strong right out of the gate, but probably break a leg and crash into a fence somewhere around the second turn.

(Case in point: Batman & Robin. Superhero costumes don’t need nipples. Ever. They offer zero tactical advantage. Or maybe they do? I guess they’re pretty distracting.)

But every now and then, a reboot clicks perfectly. The Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies are a great example, same with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, Casino Royale and The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Of course though, those reboots all focus on narratives that are relatively recent—it gets a little tricky for storylines that are long-standing, like fairy tales. Any modern revisions need to be handled with care. If they’re reworked a little too much, like 90 percent of the Brothers Grimm stories that have been rebooted in the last decade, the result will be jarring, and won’t be taken seriously.

So, here’s where Six-Gun Snow White comes in.

The extremely talented Catherynne M. Valente took the classic Snow White story, and transformed it into a Western novella.

Sounds ridiculous, but trust me, it pays off.

Without getting into any spoilers (You hear me? NO SPOILERS!), here’s one of my favorite passages from the book, when Snow White and her seven “outlaw compatriots” (wink, wink) decide to start robbing banks:

It is around this time that Little Mab Volsky propositions Snow White. Let’s us rob ourselves a bank. Easiest money this side of lying on your back, she says.

A bit different from the original story, am I right? Hang on; it only gets better. The outlaws go on and start practicing their “bank robbing” skills in the woods:

Snow White puts a kerchief over her face and it is a red mask. Little Mab’ll run the show—Snow White can just shoot up the place…. Snow White bags a jackrabbit with a white blaze on his chest like a sheriff’s star. He looked at her crooked. You can’t brook that kind of upfuck.

Yes, it’s safe to say that the storyline is very, very different. I don’t remember there being any F-bombs in the 1937 Disney version.

My whole point here is that Valente used the right type of reboot method: She reworked the story quite a bit, but she did it for a reason. She used the Snow White story to serve as commentary on Native American history, the cruelty and sudden violence of the West and spiteful, unjust gender politics.

Classic narratives can be made gritty, or more realistic, or more over-the-top, but it has to be done for a reason. Things can’t just be gritty for the sake of being gritty, and Six-Gun Snow White is a perfect example of how to reboot a classic story correctly.

In short, go out right now and buy this book. You won’t regret it. Oh, just make sure your kids don’t read it—Snow White likes to cuss, drink rotgut and shoot lots of bad folk dead.

The Stand: Book Review

200px-The_Stand_coverFor the record, I’m kind of nursing a particularly dreadful hangover today, but since I recently finished Stephen King’s The Stand, I thought I’d power through and write my review of this epic work of post-apocalyptic fiction—though I personally feel like I’m wallowing in my own apocalyptic hell right now (you can’t attend a wedding and not imbibe a bit, but I me thinks this lad imbibed way too much for his own good).

Despite the novel spanning 1,439 pages—I picked up the extended edition—the plot’s relatively simple: A manmade flu virus, nicknamed Captain Trips, is accidentally released from a government facility in the California desert. The virus has a 99.4% fatality rate, and most of the nation is wiped over the course of several hundred pages. The U.S. Government (always a thinking bunch) then decides to release the virus elsewhere throughout the world to cover up the disaster’s American origins.

Guided by haunting nightmares, the few U.S. survivors who were immune to the Superflu start congregating around two individuals: The bad folk with an affinity for technology and firepower flock around the malicious and possibly demonic Randall Flagg, setting up shop in the one true home of American debauchery, Las Vegas, Nevada; The good folk make the trek out to Boulder, Colorado to form the Boulder Free Zone community around their 108-year-old spiritual leader, Mother Abigail. As you can probably guess, the ending culminates with the final showdown between good and evil, faith and technology, and there is, of course, a sizeable A-bomb involved.

Though I’m an avid Constant Reader, and I happen to think that King’s Dark Tower books are some of the finest works of fantasy/post-apocalyptic lit currently out there, there are a couple of faults to be found in this end of the world tale.

Stephen King is not one for simplicity; his stories are known to spiral into thoroughly complicated narratives with endings that challenge readers’ perceptions of right and wrong, but The Stand is unfortunately a little too clear-cut. The story basically boils down to Technology=Bad, Faith=Good, and that’s about it. The Hand of God also makes a casual appearance at the ending—really only popping in for a brief sentence—and the role He plays in determining the outcome feels a little off and weighs heavily on the idea of faith being all-important, beyond any other aspect of human society.

However, plot issues are to be expected in a novel that can literally be used as a weapon to brain someone to death—this is a massive tome, and it feels pretty good to finally finish it. And, once again, those plot issues can be set aside when compared with the entrée that King ultimately (as always) excels in: Characterization.

His characters, from Larry the aspiring rocker to Stu the simple East Texan, may feel rather generic at the beginning, but over the course of 1,400 pages, you begin to understand their complexities, struggles and deepest desires. King is absolutely gifted with giving his characters true life, but beyond that, he’s truly a master at creating American characters: the people in The Stand are relatable in every way, and despite the novel being several decades old, all of these folks can still be found in any city throughout the U.S.

So, by taking those everyday individuals that people can all relate to, and then delving into their hopes, dreams and fears within an epic apocalyptic vision of a post-plague America, King is able to create a harrowing, exciting and truly engaging novel that works on nearly every level. In the hands of a lesser writer, a story of this magnitude would’ve never worked.

But that’s why he’s the King. (Bad one, I know, but it’s the truth). Make sure to pick this one up.

The Stephen King Universe Flow Chart

Confession: I am a Constant Reader (aka, avid Stephen King fan). So when I saw this Stephen King universe flow chart on Tor.com, courtesy of Gillian–also known as the artist Tessie Girl–I had to repost it here.

Gillian’s charted most of the connected characters and locales in King’s books, and it’s all pretty dizzying and awe-inspiring. But as you other Constant Readers will probably notice, Gillian didn’t include any references to the Dark Tower series (Read: Utter Disappointment).

But in all fairness, that isn’t that big of deal–If Gillian had included all of the references to King’s other works in the Dark Tower, she probably would’ve need a completely separate list. Or, as one of the commenters posted on her site, she would’ve had to draw a massive Dark Tower at the center of the list, and if you think about it, it would’ve turned into one of those complicated portraits within a portrait within a portrait within a… Ow, my head.

Anyway, here’s a preview below. If you want to check out the big, headache-inducing version, head on over to her site!

Stephenh-King-Universe-FLowchart-900px

 

I’m a bit coxy-loxy, but how are you?

lost_lang_cover1I’m not sure why my girlfriend threatened to “go postal.”

I think it had something to do with me not listening to her, but I can’t really remember.

Anyway, after she used the phrase, she commented that, in a few years time, people probably wouldn’t say it anymore.

By then, she figured, most people will have forgotten its origin—and probably won’t be using snail mail either. I blame FedEx.

(On a side note, I was kind of glad she went off on that tangent. Ending up debating that point for a good fifteen minutes, distracting her from whatever had sent her down the warpath to begin with. I wished that happened a bit more often. Oh, and if you forgot the phrase’s origin, visit Wikipedia and be enlightened.)

After our conversation, my girlfriend went out and bought me “Let’s Bring Back: The Lost Language Edition.” She’s a great girl.

The useful little tome is a collection of “forgotten-yet-delightful words, phrases, praises, insults, idioms, and literary flourishes from eras past.”

Flourishes. I like that word.

It’s a fun book. Great for sifting through casually, and I’ve already built up a short list of some words and phrases that I’d love to bring back into daily conversation.

Here are a few of my favorites, including their definitions:

Kicksy-Wicksy: Restless. Not to be confused with plain old “kicksy,” which meant disagreeable” and “troublesome.”

White Satin: A prettified term for “gin,” largely used by ladies in bygone eras. “Clap-of-thunder” was another term for gin, too. Sounds manly.

Double-Juggs: Buttocks. Makes sense to me.

Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick: Self-explanatory. Funny enough, my girlfriend is the only person I’ve ever heard using this phrase. Sometimes I think she escaped from an ol’ timey “talkie” — old black and white film, also in the book.

Biddy: Fussy old woman, often of the gossipy and interfering variety. Beyond awesome synonym: fussbudget.

Bitchfoxly: A woman of the night (i.e., a street-walker).

Hotsy-Totsy: Fine; swell; great.

And here’s the winner:

Coxy-Loxy: Drunk, but in a good-natured way. I’m putting a lot of effort into bringing this one back.

Pick your favorite and start using it in daily conversation. Love to hear how you do and what kind of reaction you get. (Extra kudos if you use coxy-loxy.)