senselessness I recently read a strange and disturbing little book. I tend to be attracted to strange and disturbing books, little or othersized. This one, however, I’m not entirely sure about. It’s called Senselessness, and it’s written by Horacio Castellanos Moya. How could I resist a 142-page novella with glowing blurbs from Roberto Bolaño (author of the widely acclaimed 2666) and Russell Banks, the former evoking Buster Keaton and the latter referencing Franz Kafka? Here’s the synopsis from the flyleaf (yes, this paperback edition has an actual flyleaf! It’s akin to finding a triangular vent window on a new car!):

An alcoholic, atheist, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to edit the testimonies of the survivors of slaughtered Indian villages. The writer’s job is to tidy up the 1,100 page report: “that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger.” Mesmerized by the eerie poetry of the Indians’ phrases, the increasingly agitated and frightened writer is endangered twice over: by the spell exerted over his somewhat tenuous sanity by the strangely beautiful heart-rending voices, and by real danger. The Church is hunting the military, but the military is still in charge of the country, and our booze-soaked writer is soon among the hunted – or is he paranoid? Or is he paranoid and one of the hunted?


I am sooo tired of seeing that damn flapstick package every time I check the blog, so I’m finally posting something to displace it. Have had a patch of blogger’s block lately, unable to get any entries up here for various reasons.

My solution? Display the aborted posts succinctly and explain why they weren’t used.


Natawurly, proprietress of the CurlyWurlyGurly blog, has issued a challenge to her regular readers. Come to think of it, I guess it’s open to her irregular readers too, which means that I’m obligated to participate. This from the woman who precociously in grade school informed the teacher that “I [didn’t] have my homework because the dog ate my conscience.”  (Fifth grade, I kid you not.)  In a nutshell (preferably a filbert loaded with nutella), the challenge is thus:

“The WORST candy in the history of mankind has to be  ______ .”

courtesy Posteritati

courtesy Posteritati

I won’t lie. I thought about alternate, “clever” ways to subvert the challenge. I thought of the 1968 movie Candy adapted from Terry Southern’s novel; it was a flop even though its pedigree was enviable (inspired by Volatire’s Candide, screenplay by Buck Henry, starring Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau, John Astin (Gomez Addams, swoon), John Huston, James Coburn, Ringo Starr, Charles Aznavour, Richard Burton, and, uhm, former Miss Teen Sweden Ewa Aulin). Despite its flopdom, it was nowhere close to being the worst anything in the history of anything. I thought of Dutch smooth-jazz saxophone goddess Candy Dulfer. I thought of Andy-Warhol’s-Factory-Regular Candy Darling. I thought of CNN correspondent Candy Crowley. And many others. Whatever their flaws, none are so horribly afflicted so as to be even remotely considered to be the worst anything in the history of mankind. So I was doomed to play it straight.

Another blogger immediately responded with circus peanuts, which might have been my choice were it not for the fact that circus peanuts are completely inedible and not fit for consumption, human or otherwise. Ha! They are obviously not candy but some bizarre souveneirs that someone decided are supposed to be eaten. The great P.T. Barnum, circusman extraordinaire, did say that “there’s a sucker born every minute.”  My theory is that circus peanuts are designer packing peanuts.


I first want to point out that there’s a reason the title of this post isn’t “Punny Business.” That reason is that it would be a dreadful title. Some people, however, have neither the restraint nor the better judgement to leave puns in their accustomed milieu: the passing comment or the punchline of a soon-forgotten joke.

As I, and no doubt countless others, have mentioned previously, puns are roundly and routinely criticized as the lowest form of humor; some even speculate that uncontrollable pun-making is a legitimate psychological condition, a disease. I hold no such vendetta with them, but caution that there is a time and a place for puns, as well as a time and a place not for puns. (more…)

While doing a smattering of free freelance editing for a friend the other day, I discovered something hitherto unrecognized to me, hypervigilant and hyperobservant reader though I am. My discovery? Why, that in English there isn’t a collective word for nieces and nephews.

Brothers and sisters are siblings, sons and daughters are children, mothers and fathers are parents, husbands and wives are spouses, cousins are– well– cousins, but there’s no neat term for nieces and nephews. Not for uncles and aunts either, I soon also realized. Heck, even dogs and cats are pets.

Yggdrasil, from (more…)

…but nobody ever does anything about it.”

The New Yorker (August 13, 1973)That’s how the saying goes, anyway. (Quote attributed to Mark Twain, incidentally.)

Within the past decade I’ve noticed that weather reports have been becoming alarmingly specific. Where once it was enough to say that the temperatures would be in the high, middle, or low degrees of  the denary grouping du jour, nowadays every newscast and  radio update informs us that today’s temperature will be 87° or 62° or whatever. Why such precision? It makes no sense whatsoever.

I realize that in the era of Doppler radar and “AccuWeather” it might be unseemly to toss out a vague estimation of, say, ‘the upper 40’s’ or ‘middle 70’s,’ but these providers must realize that they serve relatively large regions consisting of diverse terrains and microclimates and there is no way to report, let alone predict, a precise temperature.  Granted, when reporting current conditions and temperatures, our esteemed meteorologists generally give such data for various locales and that’s okay with me. But why-oh-why are those morningtime predictions not qualified similarly? Can’t they say something like, ‘it’ll be hottest in Metrotown and cooler north and west, in Hinterville and Boonieburg’?


Just a quickie this morning. Here’s list of ten all-time top search terms that landed people at pannaceaeae:

Search Term

No. of Views

hal 9000 161
jumper cables 142
teddy ruxpin 83
medium brown bag 82
marilyn warhol 53
steel drums 52
pannonica 47
hal9000 46
nica de koenigswarter 31
popeye movie 31

My first thought was,
“What have I wrought?”
My second thought was,
“Well, it’s kind of reflective of what’s here.”
My third thought was,
HAL 9000 + jumper cables + Teddy Ruxpin = >SHUDDER!<

If other websites proffered update questions like twitter and facebook…


“What are you doing?”


What’s on your mind?” (was “What are you doing right now?”)


The story of Little Red Riding Hood is an especially rich source for retelling and reinterpretation, both in popular culture and academia. Freudian assessments, feminist criticisms, all sorts of things (the vast majority of them sexual; go figure). I was recently reminded of this by seeing an informatics type version by Swedish student Tomas Nilsson (see below). Thus inspired, I collected a few old favorites and new finds for your entertainment, Dear Reader(s).

Simple yes-or-no, up-or-down, mustard-or-ketchup poll:

(Just so you know, I was tempted offer an “all of the above” third choice but I just know most people would have selected that one and the results would thus be so tainted that I’d have to wash my hands three times in a row.)

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