Thursday, July 28, 2011

English Usage That Annoys Me

Today's EUTAM: Incorrect use of the word "impact," and outright fabrication of non-words like "impactful" and "impactfulness" and "impactive." See, my spell check is angry about all of those.

An "impact" is a physical collision of one thing into another - like a meteor impacting the earth.

Correct use: The meteor's impact was felt over a wide area.

Incorrect use: "This was an impactful movie." If it was, the film reel itself would have had to slam into the earth hard enough to create a new word out of thin air.

Correct use: "This movie affected me on a deep emotional level."

This gets into a whole other area of affect vs. effect, but I'll leave that for another day.

In sum: unless there's a meteor involved, or some other thing physically hitting another thing, you don't have an impact.

Here endeth the lesson.


Stuff is afoot. Behold the new look of Sinister. Now with more sinister...ness.

Anyway. This will likely be tweaked further, but it is now time for bed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blog I need to devour

This is a blog I just discovered that is chock full of good info for writers and writers-to-be. Great articles about how to build an audience via blogging and social networking etc, how to hook people & keep 'em coming back, etc.

If I'm going to ramp up my efforts to "become a writer," then I really should take some of this advice to heart.

Stay tuned. Stuff is afoot.

Shooter Vanished - a tiny excerpt.

And now, as a treat, a tiny excerpt of what will likely be the first novel I eventually finish and send off to publishers, The Shooter Vanished. Stay tuned for further excerpts as the mood strikes me.

Thomas found himself back at the bookstore again, just looking in the windows at the endless rows of shelves, the warmth of the place, imagining the smell of old paper, the murmur of hushed voices discussing their favorite titles. The place haunted him, and so he stood there, trying, perhaps, to stare through the wall into the past.

His eyes were streaked black with lack of sleep; the scar on his face burned with memory; he shivered in the prickling drizzle and pulled his ratty trench coat close. It would be a good night. Then he'd find her again, be with her again, hold her, curl up next to her and rest. Finally rest.

Fear spiked through him as he was overcome with dizziness. He put his arms out to catch his fall. He put it down to stress, to depression, to the slow inexorable destruction of his rational mind.

He fell.

And landed hard on cold concrete. He blinked the world back to focus and pulled himself off the ground. He stood for a second, reorienting himself.

It was like the last time. He glanced around him. Something nagged at him. The bookstore’s marquee...

No. Impossible. That bastard had been in hiding for years. He wouldn't dare...

And yet, there he was, in big letters.

Thomas stared at the marquee, daring it to explain itself, daring it to tell him that the man he'd chased all these years...

A decision formed in the depths of his mind. He fingered the gun in his pocket. He took a few steps forward, and then with determination, pushed his way into the bookstore.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Author page on Facebook

I've created an "Author Page" for myself on Facebook (link in post title). Not sure exactly what it's for yet, but you're welcome to "like" me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Interesting concept for a website - give books away, get free books from other people. Haven't used it yet, but I will probably sign up for it. God knows I have tons of books I could give away.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

8 words you're confusing with other words is a surprisingly intelligent website with some really good articles. This is a funny one about commonly-confused words. It had me giggling a fair bit.

Ten Wizards who found themselves in sci fi

Interesting article that shows how a "wizard" can show up in an ostensibly science fiction universe. Of note - The Doctor is included, which I agree with. Terry Pratchett, an author I really like, has said explicitly that Doctor Who isn't sci fi. I agree. The Doctor is a wizard, and his sonic screwdriver is nothing more than a magic wand. Even the softest sci-fi should have some semi-consistent rule set that establishes the boundaries of the universe in which it is set (think Star Trek and the rules for warp drives; think Dune and the mechanics of spice mining and the culture that develops around it). Doctor Who really doesn't have that.

Having said that, I love the hell out of Doctor Who - I think it's always a fantastic romp and lots of fun to watch. I've been watching all of the new series over again recently. I think of the three new doctors - and I'm going to catch hell for this - I like Matt Smith the best of all. Tennant had his own kind of charm and wonderfulness, of course, but Matt Smith is capable of taking the Doctor to some really dark places, giving the character some needed depth and intensity that I don't think Tennant ever really achieved.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Feature: English Usage that Annoys Me

Every so often I'll post one of these, starting below.

English Usage that Annoys Me for Monday, July 11, 2011

There's a tendency among professionals to use the word "same" in a particular way that annoys me. Example:

"I will draft the document and expect you to sign same."

I would replace the word "same" with the word "it."

"I will draft the document and expect you to sign it."

"Same" just seems like an unnecessary and awkward phrasing of something that can easily be expressed by the use of a pronoun.

It's not wrong, per se, but it is annoying.

I don't get a lot of comments on Sinister, but I know at least a few of you are reading same (see what I did there?), so please comment below. What's a grammar or language usage thing that annoys you?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th.

Post title link: Allen Ginsberg reading an early, unfinished version of "America."

Below: Full text.


Allen Ginsberg

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.

I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven't got a chinaman's chance.
I'd better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they're all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don're really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader's Digest. her wants our
auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Short Story Openings

Interesting article about 7 different types of short story openings, focused on sci-fi. Read the featured comments - they're funny.