Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Just arrived from Amazon. Woo hoo! So far, it's a delight.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Friends and relatives and cancer

A week ago, a friend, a local writer named John Kennedy whom I've known for over 30 years, died of stomach cancer. It was discovered in the fall, by which time it was already well advanced. Today we learned that a brother-in-law has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to his brain. Awful.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

David's Definitions for May 2009


Something is meretricious if it seems attractive and flashy but really isn't. The attraction may be false or it may be vulgar and showy. It can apply to people, to clothing, or to television commercials, for example. It can even refer to showy, misleading arguments, such as the ones we hear during political campaigns (but only from the other party, of course). It's an insult that sounds like a compliment, so you might be able to use it against someone with a small vocabulary. It sounds like a compliment because it sounds like the positive word merit, to which it is actually closely related. The root is the Latin word meretrix, meaning a prostitute, and that word comes from mereri, "to earn," which is also the root of the word merit. Here's a surprising related word. There was an earth-colored spice the Romans valued for its medicinal properties. They called it terra merita, meaning "earth of merit." After passing through Medieval French and Old English and then finally into modern English, that name had become distorted into "turmeric" - a spice whose attractions are quite genuine and thus the opposite of meretricious.

I'm collecting all of these at: http://www.dvorkin.com/davidsdefs.html

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The internationalism of music

Via streaming over the Internet, I listen to a South African classical station, which just played a very good performance of "There's a Place for Us" from West Side Story, sung by a Greek tenor, recorded in a live performance in Moscow.

Somehow that seems more surprising than when the same station plays a piece by Tchaikovsky performed by, say, an orchestra in Brazil.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Sitting here proofreading Business Secrets from the Stars in preparation for its reissue by Norilana Books, and I'm struck by the thought, "Dayum, this is good!"

Obviously, billlllllions of people didn't agree, the first time around. I wish I could think of some way to change their minds for the second try.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Where does Superman work out?

Alternate title: Why does Superman have big muscles?

I've long wondered about this. You get big muscles by lifting big weights many, many times. In his normal life, nothing represents a heavy weight for Supes, so he'd have to put in the hours in a gym, like other musceley fellows. But where is this gym? On Jupiter? It couldn't be on Earth, or we'd be aware of the gravitational attraction of the plates.

What are the weights made of? What kind of bench could support him and the bar he'd be using for presses or the dumbbells he'd be using for flyes?

And look at those lats! Man, you could fly with those things! Oh, wait, he does. Anyway, I'd like to see the pulldown machine he uses to get those lats.

I suppose that the heavy-duty musculature of superheroes is the outward manifestation of their superheroness, rather than something they all coincidentally happen to work to get. The rest of us have to sweat and strain for muscular development, but those darned superheroes just have it because they're superheroes.

Superheroines don't tend to be extremely muscular, in comics or on the screen, but they do tend to be beautiful and sexy. (Lynda Carter says that Eliza Dushku should be Wonder Woman, and who in his right mind would argue with that, or with any reason to see Dushku on the big screen? In a bikini?) So I assume that their beauty and sexiness is the outward manifestation of their superheroineness.

All of this might well make the rest of us feel inferior. Positively mortal!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mmm! Fudge!

It's Daniel's birthday* today, and in what has become an annual tradition, I've made him a batch of my Fabulous Fudge. Damn, it's good!

Good? Did I say good? Heck, it's fantastic! If I do say so myself, and obviously I do.

The recipe is here.

* 40. I don't know how I can possibly have a 40-year-old son. Time travel must be involved.