mildly interesting 

September 23rd, 2010

Oh, the splendors of the exit ramp, with its Orphic rise toward the light!

Tad Friend


For sale: one dozen doughnuts. Original spelling. $4 OBO. Box 13.
For rent: Emile Zola costume. Ideal for literary Halloween parties or frightening 19th Century French anti-semites. Daily and weekly rates available. Box 1898.
Do you love goat cheese? How about salads? What are your feelings on pesto? Finding these questions intrusive? Then you won't want to participate in the Great Canadian Survey of Food Opinions being conducted in October by the Federal Government. Don't answer the phone that month.

The Mystery of the Lost Lenore

Listen to Part Seventy-Four

Click on the picture. (2:50)

Or start from the beginning.



Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

The Armchair Grammarian

Looks at Death Threats

A lot of people when they are making threats against the life of some individual or individuals make the mistake of taking grammatical shortcuts. This is always a bad idea. In life and death matters it is best to be very clear. For instance, it is not acceptable to let the popular sentence fragment "or else." stand alone as a sentence. It is not a complete sentence and leaves a lot of room for confusion or doubt.

When you are threatening someone, especially with a degree of physical violence that may include the taking of their life, you do not want them to be unsure of your meaning. Clarity is, or should be, the close personal friend of the person who desires to be threatening.

Lucid prose can create a vivid mental picture in the mind of your audience. This is what you should be striving for in a threatening note or phone message. Make your images clear and picturesque. Be sure to use active similes. "You will be crying like a little girl." is a good example (unless you happen to be threatening a little girl, then it is hackneyed and redundant).

Sometimes though a threat can be effective despite breaking this rule. I once heard a woman threaten a man by saying "You will be so dead you will wish you were dead" This, of course, makes no sense whatever but still manages to retain its effectiveness as a threat through its sheer craziness.

However, it is best to leave this kind of threat to those who are most qualified to use it, which is to say, the clinically insane. If you are just someone who, from time to time, wishes to threaten the life of some person or persons it is best to stick with rules. You should leave the wild improvising to the virtuosi.

A solidly constructed threat without a plethora of subordinate or conditional clauses works best. I personally recommend: "I will eat your eyes out of your head". It is clear, concise and vivid.

If you feel it is too simple or restrained it can be spiced up by adding adjectival or adverbial expletives. The single word "f***ing" can be added before eat or eyes or head for greater effect. I would suggest that adding it before all three would be overkill.

Good luck and happy threatening!

Leonard Derwerthy


Part Two

Simone liked working for the squirrels. Once you got used to their constant jitteriness and occasional chattering outbursts they were pretty cool. They left her alone to carry out her tasks. These consisted mainly of taking care of their daily correspondence (they hated to type) and maintaining their website.

Her office was really quite nice, once you got used to the climb and the coffee was always excellent (Few people know it but squirrels are extremely good coffee makers. Amongst North American fauna they are the acknowledged premium brew masters).

But Simone had always been a girl who was used to facing unpleasant facts and so the minute she was let go for gross incompetence she resolved herself to the fact that she needed a job that paid better. So, now on her daily trips throughout the city on the top of her bus she peered into the windows of all the passing shops (actually she was passing them) for Help Wanted signs.

Thursday she saw one. It was in the window of a small, strange looking store. They went by too fast for her to make out the name on the sign but the building itself was distinctive enough. She quickly leaned over the side of the bus and rapped on Raymond's (he was her driver that day - Larry was sick) window to get his attention. He pulled over at the next stop and let her off, wishing her good luck.

She walked the six blocks to the odd little building and saw that the business was a print shop. That was good.

The production of printed matter was something that Simone was really quite interested in. She had often nursed a fondness, for instance, for the ephemera of nineteenth century elections and as well she had a great love of Thank You cards and wedding invitations. She thought working in a print shop might be just the ticket. She swung open the big iron door and walked in.

To be continued...