Random Thursday: Spell it out for me

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā):  the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s acquired during the week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as actually sitting down and creating real content.


Spelling Rant

David Mitchell is one of the many British comedian/professional panelists I’ve added to my list of braincrushes this past year.

His rants, while sometimes digressive* and usually nitpicky, are always full of delightfully irritated snark.

And I’m sure you agree that his voice is perfect for them.**


A Random Small Thing

An editor of a state historical society press called the library the other day to ask about a few local images her authors might want to use for a cover.

We talked policies and procedures—and fees—and then she mentioned that one of the articles on our departmental website was very well-written, and had just the information she needed to get a brief historical overview of the events that are explored in the manuscript.

It was one of mine. And the article is going to be cited in the book.

How cool is that?


Ceilings . . . Nothing more than ceilings . . .

Stephen Fry is many, many wondrous things, but unflappable isn’t really one of them, especially when someone repeatedly doesn’t get it on Q.I.***

Here he is debating spelling rules with a panel of comedians, experts and some young actor who looks vaguely familiar and seems like he might know something about spelling (Hey-O!):

And now I’m confused . . . thank heavens for spellcheck, or the title of this section would have been all wrong.

Literary Body Art

Found a book in the library on Monday when I was looking for something else, which is usually when the magic happens:

Click to see the book trailer, which is a hoot, if slightly NSFW

I’ve been thinking about a tattoo for several years now and while I finally have a solid idea in mind, it’s a bit . . . elaborate for a first timer.^ But a phrase or line from a favorite poem or book might be just the thing to start with—but which one?

I’m just a smidge spoiled for choice . . .

I checked out the website that started it all, where I lost a considerable about of time and gained far too many ideas to count, including the one to the left, which I’ve bookmarked for later.

So I asked around.

Cha Cha and I ended up having a favorite quotation contest over a game of Words with Friends, during which we agreed that “Not all those who wonder are lost“, which is technically a misspelling, still works.

I asked Grace what she would do.  She thought about it and said she liked the idea of using the MARC^^ Coding for cataloguer (082 04 $a 025.32092 $2 23 ^^^)  but wasn’t sure where to put it.  I suggested her spine, since she doesn’t have a title page, but she said on a spine she would have to use a book label instead, which was just a tad whimsical for her.

My husband suggested, “She who controls the spice controls the universe!”  accompanied by an image of a small bottle of diet Pepsi.


I turned to books.  Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld series provides a lot of great quotes about books and the way large collections of them bend time and space.   L-Space (short for Library-Space)  very simply put, links every library in the Universe, which means a trained Librarian can,  with a little effort and a certain amount of risk, put hands on literally any book he or she needs, even if it’s in a small bookshop in Orion’s Belt.   The Three Rules for Traveling Through L-Space might be handy to keep close for emergencies:

  1. Silence
  2. Books must be returned by the last date stamped
  3. Do not interfere with the nature of causality

Then again, The Hobbit has some great one-liners that can be easily explained without a degree in  inter-dimensional physics:

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something”

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

“Never Laugh at Live Dragons.”

Or even:

“He took to writing poetry and visiting the elves; and though many shook their heads and touched their foreheads . . . and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy to the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long.”

Though if I go that far, I might as well go ahead and add Librarian Smaug.  And there are too many books that I love as much as Pratchett’s stuff and The Hobbit—while I do have ample canvas, where would it end? °

Maybe poetry?

A simple “Like this.” on my wrist in honor of my beloved Rumi?  Or, “I wandered freely as a cloud” or something by Dorothy Parker . . . or Chaucer . . . or Dante . . . or anybody but Thomas Hardy.

Not helping.  At all

Louisa May Alcott provided one solution that fit better than anything I’d previously found:

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.”

But then it hit me, the word that describes me and encompasses every one of my literary loves and the repetitive explanation of which probably won’t irritate the bejesus out of me.


Now all I need to do is choose a script . . .

*He has a way of latching onto very small things that aren’t entirely the point and running with them until dragged forcibly back to the subject at hand. Which, come to think, is what footnotes are for . . .

**He also has lovely eyes and should always wear dark red or other dark jewel tones to set off his coloring, though I have no idea why I’m giving fashion advice to a man I’ve never met and probably never will meet, though those are the kinds of people I should give fashion advice to—if I did, which I don’t, normally—as they can’t give my ensemble the once over and smirk in a pot-kettle way. Speaking of digressions.

***Or the panelists band together to thwart him.

^A Smaug-like dragon reclining on a hoard of books, peering at (or over) a volume through pince nez glasses on a chain.

^^MAchine Readable Cataloging

^^^Which, I’m told by someone who didn’t pass basic cataloging by the skin of her 611.314:

082 = MARC field for DDC 0 = Full Edition of DDC 4 = Assigned by agency other than LC

$a = Classification number subfield $2 = Edition number subfield

025 = Operations of libraries, archives, information centers
025.32 = Descriptive cataloging
025.32092 = biography

023 = Personnel management
023.2 = Professional positions

° Which is when a journalist friend suggested “—30—“ and the perfect place to put it.  The conversation veered slightly off-topic at that point and will not be recorded here.


25 thoughts on “Random Thursday: Spell it out for me

  1. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!! I hope you negotiated a price.
    Also, I love that you are considering a tattoo. I am way too cowardly but find them incredibly sexy, especially ones that are hidden. Great choice, by the way. Will you leave it simple or scramble the word up? That’d be a hoot.

    • I can’t sell something I wrote for the library, but I tried to be as professional as possible and answer all her questions and be charming and cheerful. So if I ever pitch her anything—or if she needs articles for something—she’ll remember me.

      I’ve decided it’s time I got one and I’m doing it before my next birthday. I think I’ll keep it simple—just a line of letters on my forearm. But there’s plenty of time to obesess over the style of those letters! 🙂

  2. OK, for as liberal and free-spirited as I believe I am, I must admit I am not so keen on tattoos. I can’t seem to verbalize why (guess I need to hone my writing skills for that). That said, I’m far more comfortable with a thirty-something woman choosing to get one than I am my 18-year-old son, who went on to get a few more. (Will he still be a fan of that particular album cover in 40 years? Hmm.)

    But oh, I have a mad new crush on David Mitchell, too! Yes, yes, much watch more! He’s so MARVELLOUS…

  3. Yay you! How wonderful for them to see the article, not knowing it was yours, and that moment when you got to say, “Actually…” Go, Sarah, Go!

    Mitchell is hilarious, but that show had me laughing the whole time. Whenever I see Graham Norton laugh, I can’t help myself.

    I’d be lost if I ever wanted a tattoo. There are just way too many choices. Here’s a sweet sad story. A dear friend of mine had a very (think big Very) rough childhood. Her mother was a disaster. Mommie Dearest. She and her two brothers were raised by her father, a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. A retired cop. He died recently. She brought a letter of his to the tattoo parlor (he wrote her frequently) and she had “Loving you always, Daddy” tattooed down the vein running from mid-forearm to wrist. They traced his writing, his signature.
    She went to see David Sedaris, one of the first outings after her father passed. She stood in line for an hour to have a book signed and he stopped signing when he saw her tattoo. He touched it, and when he asked her the story behind it, she in tears, he held her wrist and told her how sorry he was. They talked for another five minutes, and he gave her a gift that few people could have during that time.

    What is a Smaug?

    • That was a high point of the day, yeah. 🙂

      Graham Norton’s laugh is infectious, but Jimmy Carr’s laugh is just weird. . .

      If I hadn’t respected David Sedaris before, your story would have done it. What a beautiful gift.

      Smaug is the dragon from The Hobbit. You . . . You have read The Hobbit, right? Lyra?

  4. Remember when we all went to have our ears pierced? Let’s go together for a tatoo. I’m considering a small basket of apples on my left shoulder blade, buy maybe it’d have to include something “Curvey”.

  5. congrats on the article…and thanks for the literary tattoo book. that’s TOTALLY one of those books i’d pick up and leave on our coffee table. love it. i have a letter from my dad and he signed it: Smile. Laugh. Enjoy life. I am yours and you are mine. I like the idea of that on my wrist. maybe just the smile. laugh. enjoy life. in his handwriting. maybe next summer. i should really keep my tattoos to no more than one every few years or i’m going to end up looking like a member of motley crue by the time i’m 50.

    • That tat would be a lovely thing to do, amy. It’s something that people will understand while at the same time being deeply personal to you.

      I love the tattoo on your palm, —if I could think of one symbol (besides a question mark) that would fit me as well as that does you, I would have one already.

      You can always come up and get your next one with Mom and me! 🙂

  6. Just how does one interfere with the nature of causality?

    So many quotes, so little time. That book looks amazing. I may just have to find a copy.

    • I think it must have something to do with release dates, RFID tags, and the theoretic math behind the NYT bestsellers list . . . But I’m sure you know all about L-space already, right? 😉

  7. Aaaaaah!!! This is too much like naming your top 10 favorite books. The minute you make the list, you’re sorry for the ones that didn’t make it: “How could I have left out X!” There is just no way to pick one of these sayings. If I went through with it, I’d live in constant regret for what “could have been” inked onto my body.

    Aren’t I just a beacon of hope and light today?

    • It really is!

      But at least I know you’ll recognize the Hobbit quotes. Right? Teri?

      (and you’ll always be a beacon of . . .something . . . to me 😀 )

  8. I love Thursdays because of these posts. But wait – it’s Friday, isn’t it? Oy, this week got away from me. And now I can’t even narrow down what to comment on. The videos are hilarious.

    Oh and hey! congratulations on getting cited. What a great compliment to your writing.

    • It had better be Friday right now, because I’m sleeping in tomorrow come fire, flood, locusts . . . or swimming lessons!

      I’m glad you like the vids—I love Q.I. and Mr. Mitchell, too.

      And thanks, Lisa—it really made my day!

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