Random Thursday: Literate Tattoos, Library News, and Thug Clues for Questionable Reviews

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

Janie is off to Concordia Language Camp, so I have half an empty nest, a missing MP3 player, and a seven-year old who claims she needs to move into her sister’s room because she’ll miss her SOOOO much—though from Jane’s reaction to this during the morning commute, I’m thinking Sunny was just getting in one more dig.  Guess we’ll see tonight.

I accidentally used Janie’s body wash this morning—through blindness, rather than sentiment—and now I smell like a rainforest as interpreted by Suave’s scent chemists, who appear to think rainforests are made of grapefruit trees and Douglas firs.

It’s not bad.


Reading Ink

Found me a new Time Suck, y’all.

Matilda Tattoo

I’ve been thinking about getting more ink for a few months now—which means I’ll have a final design decision by this Thanksgiving, maybe*—and while I was idly clicking through some images of literary tattoos, this homage to Matilda led me to Contrariwise, which bills itself as the original literary tattoo site.

 Even when I started skipping over all the variations of “So it Goes”—not because I don’t appreciate those words, but there are only three of them—I lost about an hour looking at the other quotes and images and symbols from literature that made such an indelible impression on people’s imaginations that they made them a permanent physical part of themselves as well.

Regardless of how one personally feels about body art, it’s a fascinating study.


R.I.P. Reading Comprehension

A librarian friend shared a link to a list of one-star reviews of classic or prizewinning works of literature that say far more about the reader—and for most of them, I use the term ironically—than the book.

This one is my favorite:

“Mr. Beowulf should be required to repeat his nighttime writer’s class at the learning annex.”

Beowulf Cover

I’m sure Mr. Beowulf would be devastated by this harsh criticism, if he weren’t the main character in a story written by some other guy about a thousand years ago** and if he hadn’t died at the end of it, making any claims of autobiographical elements in the subtext  just a tad problematic—by which I mean, of course, that the reviewer is box o’ rocks stupid.

Having said that, I have to agree with the person who said that s/he would “never read another Shakespeare novel again.”

Neither will I, though mostly through lack of opportunity.


Check This Out

Springwater Library in Elmvale, Ontario,
I salute you.


Geek Ink

Turns out, there’s a site for geek tattoos, which is called—wait for it—Geeky Tattoos.

Who knew?

Geek Tattoo

The Geek Virus, designed and inked by Fien-X at Houston Body Art and proudly worn by IT Manager Eric.

Thanks for the suggestion, Kev.  I’ll keep it in mind.
Yes, that probably means no—it’s awesome, but my kind of geekery has more Kudzhul, Sindarin, and Sherlock Holmes in it.


 Thug Help for the Hapless Reviewer

Need help understanding epic Scandinavian poems written down between the 8th and 11th centuries,
without losing your gangster cred?

Sparky Sweets, Ph.D  is all over that $#!%.


*Hey, Mom—you still game for that apple on your shoulder?

**Seriously.  Somewhere between 700 and 1100 A.D.


Random Thursday: Who’s on First? Not the Romans!

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

You have been warned.


An Accurate Description of Spring

At least from my sinuses’ POV.

From my temper’s POV, judging from yesterday’s desperate quest to reach Sunny’s school before they called Child Services to report an abandoned child, this works, too:


Except, you know, more in the middle of the road.

Why Didn’t You Say So?

No he didn’t, ’cause left field is too far away for him to hear.

No, Who’s over there on . . . Never mind . . .

In honor of another Sign of Spring, here’s a hilarious twist on the old classic:

(Via Watson, who rocks the Jimmy Fallon vids)


[Insert Tatting Pun Here]

Knit Fast!

I was honestly contemplating this one, until my friend Cha Cha commented that those are actually crochet needles.


Then again, “Crochet Fast” doesn’t have the same je knit sais quoi.

(also via Watson—who totally deserves a badass knitting tat)


. . .I Meant Lately

Call me clueless (rhetorical statement, Mike and Downith), but I didn’t figure out what was going on until I saw the conductor.

Turns out, if you didn’t already know, that this  is  the performance of Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy), a show based on The Life of Brian and performed at the Albert Hall for the Ruby Jubilee of Monty Python a few years ago.

You can see the entire show on YouTube here, if you have a spare hour.   Or even if you don’t, because Monty Python is like catnip for some of us, aren’t they?

(swiped from Cornelia Read’s FaceBook page)


Gills like Fluttering Pages

I mentioned about halfway down Thursday’s post that I was planning to get my second tattoo the next day.   My mother appears to be the only person who’s interested in whether or not I did or what it looks like—which is just slightly disconcerting, let me tell you—but the rest of you are stuck because I need a post, so here we go.

My first tattoo was a response to a lot of things going on at the time.  While the text had long been planned and the font finally chosen, the decision to get it done right then and there was completely spontaneous.  And I have no regrets.

But this one . . . this one was meticulously, ridiculously planned to the point that any mention of it was starting to seriously irritate both my husband and Watson.*  Mostly I think because this tattoo I’ve been obsessing over is only one single word.

It is, however, a single word that I’ll be confusing people with at the asylum retirement home for years to come, which I think should’ve earned me a little slack—even if it turned out to be a very good thing that the artist** had to move the original appointment back a couple of weeks because I was changing my mind about the look and placement of the thing up until last Monday.

My decision held steady, though, so Watson—whom, as I’ve said, I highly recommend as a tattooing buddy—and I went with me Friday morning, armed with my laptop and a flash drive with the image of what I wanted.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t access the building’s WiFi, my flash wouldn’t work, and my laptop refused to acknowledge their printer.

But I did know which font I’d used in which proportions—yes, obsession has an upside—so the artist downloaded it from FontSpace, recreated what I wanted, and then we all checked the spelling several (dozen) times, because the tattoo might be one word, but that word is . . . different.

After all that, the tattooing itself was a bit anti-climactic.  But, when finished,  perfect:

For those of you blinking in confusion and thinking, O-kaaaay, this is where it started (click to read, unless your eyes are much better than mine):

See, I originally thought I was Beth in this scenario—Lord knows  my husband does—but then I realized that it went a little deeper than that:

Reading is as unconscious a reflex to me as breathing.  I once lost a $50 bet when I couldn’t go an hour without reading—I’d automatically snagged a book on the way to the bathroom and I was honestly confused when I was called on it.

Writing is as much a part of me as reading.  About fifteen years ago, I decided to quit cold turkey—fiction, non-fiction, all of it—because I wasn’t a writer, I was never going to be a writer, I was nothing but a sad wannabe, and I should stick to other people’s words.  I managed one month, maybe, before my husband brought me a legal pad and a pen and told me to “Write something.  Anything.  Please.”***  So I did.  And whatever happens, or doesn’t, I won’t ever quit again.

I’ve been comfortable in all kinds of libraries all my life, and now I spend most of my awake time in one, like a frog in a swamp, so I can take a quick dip when things get too dry.

And to be honest, I’m probably more functional while swimming underneath a wave of written words—mine or someone else’s—and I sincerely doubt that’s ever going to change.

Words—chained, woven, knitted, glued, hammered, scattered, sung—have always provided nourishment, excitement, direction, and purpose.  And escape, too, until it’s safe to come out again.

But I never had a word for what I was, before.

And now I do.


*Though Watson is better at hiding it.  You would think my husband would have built up more tolerance for my unlimited ability to overthink everything, but it’s possible my immediate reaction to his marriage proposal fooled him.

**Whom I chose because I liked what I’d seen of her lettering, plus the place where she works has won several awards and has an excellent reputation.  They also have a couple wiseasses on staff, so I felt right at home.

***Yeah, he might be an enabler, but if I smoked, I’m absolutely certain he wouldn’t have bought me a pack of Camels and told me to light up—and if we asked him, he’d probably say it was more like bringing a Happy Meal to a stubborn toddler on a hunger strike.


Wondermark is the brainchild of the brilliant, handsome, and essentially non-litigious David Malki ! who deserves that exclamation point after his name.

Eliminating the Impossible . . .

After several years of thinking about tattoos, I finally made two decisions:  Since words reflect who I am far more than images ever have, I wanted a literary tattoo—and I would get it done before my next birthday.

I narrowed the choices—so, so many choices—down to three, and spent more time than is strictly sane on FontSpace, downloading and experimenting, apparently willing to spend the next fifteen years tinkering.

And then life dropped me a wake-up call or three.

The day I learned the results of my biopsy, I started looking for an artist.

If you’re going to be tattooed for the first time, I highly recommended taking my SIL with you—she let me drag her all over the place, looking at portfolios and policies and general cleanliness and she leaps in when the artist asks you what you want done and your brains freezes up because oh, my God you’re actually going to do this.*

I made an appointment at one place with an artist whose portfolio showed beautiful lettering and I wanted her to do the Big One—but she isn’t free until June, so we kept looking around, just to see.

Yesterday, we had lunch out and decided to stop by a nearby studio.  The girl at the desk told us that there weren’t any artists available, but that one was subbing for the piercer and could at least talk to me about what I wanted done.

While we were waiting for him to finish in the sterilization room—which I thought was a comforting sign—we wandered around to look at the  photographed work on the walls.  It all looked good, especially a selection of portraits in a single frame.

A few minutes later, a guy with a friendly smile and extensive sleeve art came out of the back and asked me what I thinking about.

I told him was thinking of having a phrase from one of my favorite quotes done and showed him on my laptop.**

“What is that from?” he asked.  “It looks really familiar.”

I told him the rest.  “It’s from a Sherlock Holmes story.”

He broke out into this huge grin.  “Yeah! I remember —man, I love Sherlock Holmes.  My dad’s a huge fan, too—we watched all those old movies together!  Which font?”

I told him, and he started laughing.  “That’s excellent.

And I knew I’d found my artist—even before I learned those portraits were his.

He checked with the owner to see if he could tattoo me that day and got the go ahead.  Then he walked me through it and we worked out the placement, alignment, and size together—his enthusiasm is completely contagious.  He also answered all my questions, some of which had nothing to do with the matter at hand, since I tend to go all scattershot when I’m nervous.  But he was terrifically patient, kind, and gentle to this newbie.

And he does fantastic work.

So, here it is:***

When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
—Sherlock Holmes, “Sign of the Four” (Arthur Conan Doyle)

Done in a slightly tweaked Old Baskerville font.

I love it.


*She also keeps you distracted in all kinds of inventive ways while the actual tattooing is going on, including a soft shoe routine that I can’t possibly describe.

**Something I also recommend bringing for a text-based tattoo, along with a flash drive for easy transfer to the artist’s software, if s/he’ll be using any.  I had no fears about misspellings and he was able to see what I wanted and modify from there.  Saved us a lot of time.

***Looking grayer than it really is, because I took the photo.  The ink is black.

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.