Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Jackstein...Edmund Jackstein?

"The rumors that will be told of me," wrote Edmund Jackstein in his book, "On Jackstein Farm.

Yes, odd Eddie, 'tis true. In the text, on page 173, he was writing about another writer from a century earlier, Ned Mud. Come to find out, that's an anagram of Edmund. So, it seems, odd Eddie was writing about himself.

More information has just surfaced recently about Mr. Jackstein, thanks to a few other researchers out there who have shared their knowledge with me. Apparently, the exact years unknown, he left his post at Dunwark College for a time, and travelled to the small Alaska town of Thorton, Alaska. As best we can tell, he tried organizing a group of like-minded gamesters and word punners. He lived at the local library, working as their librarian.

This is where Eddie became even weirder than he was. He became obsessed with the alphabet, but not just the normal letters. He claimed that there were "letters between the normal letters," and worked on this wild theory until he returned to Dunwark College.

This information was recorded in a series of letters he wrote while working as Thorton's librarian, to one Eleanora Pride, another linguist back at Dunwark.

Somehow he and the group he tried to organize had themselves convinced that, for example, there would be a letter between 'A' and 'B', then between 'B' and 'C'.

How he could have maintained these obsessions yet still served, according to many accounts, as a wonderful librarian, is yet another mystery within the mystery of Mr. Edmund Jackstein.

One question: was he attempting to break some sort of code? That requires further investigation?

Keep writing, friends.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Yes, Virginia, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, is in the Dictionary

Well, it's in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary, at least. That's Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, by Mrs. Josefa Heifetz Byrne. And right now you're thinking, "Tom, you're doing it again. You're making stuff up."

And, that's exactly the type of thing I would make up. But not this time. As I write this, I have Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary on my lap. Normally, there would be a cat on my lap, but I've placed a blue cat towel on part of my desk, so for the moment, no kitty helping me type.

According to the Editor's Introduction (Robert Byrne--her husband, I assume), he didn't want her to write the thing. But she did, over a ten year period (makes me feel a little better about taking ten-plus years to write novel number 1), and I love his quote at the end of his intro: "The author and editor apologize for the ammunition this book provides to bad writers." Just makes me want to run my fingers and eyes through the thing, picking odd words at random and tossing them in to whatever I'm writing. Like I'm about to do...

Here are just a few carelessly plucked gems:

Abra--It's a noun, and no, it's not the first part of abracadabra, or the incorrectly spelled name of a Swedish pop group. Spanish in origin, it's "...a narrow mountain pass."

Erf--Another noun, it's "...a half-acre in South Africa." What's a full acre? A double-erf?

Ever run across a sunken, invisible wall? Me either, but a haha is another noun, and it's "...a sunken wall, invisible from a distance." I kid you not.  Ha ha.

Then there's niddle-noddle, meaning "...a wobbly or nodding head." An adjective, one could say someone had a niddle-noddle head. I wouldn't say that, but someone could, if they were so inclined. And guess what? Leave out the hyphen and it's a hand reel for yarn.

No further annoyances for now.

Keep writing, friends.