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Bits and pieces that have been lying around. Sept 14

Catching Up Redux

So there I was, cruising through LinkedIn, trying to catch up with whoever was doing what and bumped into an announcement from the ol' alma mater. It talked about the goings on of alum J.S., class of '14.

Wow, I think, that dude graduated before World War I started! Then the twenty-first century kicked in. Nope, graduated five years ago. My bad.   Top

For All the English Majors

An Esquire headline, via Flipboard: Daniel Craig and his 'No Tie to Die' Stuntman Both Know a Khaki Suit Is Always a Good Idea.

Here's the question: did they drop the 'm' from Time or was there a homonym substitution (die/dye)? Discuss.

And apropos of nothing, I wonder if the estate of Ian Fleming is still getting royalties even though they covered all his James Bond books a long time ago?   Top

Just a week ago..

Well, Hurricane Dorian touched down here a week or so ago. Already in the rear-view mirror. We were fortunate (blessed, even)–some wind and rain, bits of branches, but nothing major. Others, even in the area, fared a lot worse.

While I was sweeping leaves off the patio, I reveled in the perfectly spectacular morning around me–perfect temperature, perfect humidity, deep blue sky. Everything the way it's supposed to be–clean and beautiful. Except of course for the patio, which I was bringing up to par.

So why, I asked myself, do we have to go through a dark, stormy, dangerous period, and all the mess and anxiety, to get to a beautiful, shiny moment like this?

I wondered if there's a message there for life–much angst and trouble to get to the joy and delight on the other side. I didn't think about it too hard, though. I didn't want to ruin the day with too much thought.   Top

Whatever happened to...?

  • Megyn Kelly
  • boat refugees in the Mediterranean
  • Farmville (the game, not the town in Virginia)
  • Branson, Missouri
  • Haiti
  • the opioid crisis


There are many ways to have a relaxing vacation.


Fred the Flower

It's the problems we never think of.

Fred the Flower

Fortnightly T-Shirts

Sometimes it's a mug, sometimes a meme, sometimes it's funny. But the price is always right.

T-shirts you just can't buy.

Poetry Corner


Hey–it could have been that way.

They sure kept those gods

In ancient Greece busy.

Multi-taskers, all of ‘em.

The god of this, the god of that,

The god of this and that

And that too.

All reporting to the god Zeus,

Who seemed to be the god of

Impulsive fits of anger,

Picking fights with gods, titans and humans,

Unprotected sex

And delegating.

Hermes was a particularly busy god,

if you go by the titles.

Messenger, protector of travelers,

Inventor of roads and speech,

Conveyor of souls to the underworld.

An inventive guy

As befits a messenger

The inventor of language,

The only god allowed

Both under and above ground,

Interpreter, liar, trickster and thief.

He probably invented them all too.

You would think that,

As interpreter and liar and trickster and thief

As maker of words,

He would also be

The god of love.

But two gods (full-time!)

Already claimed that beat.

You would also think that Hermes

Would be the god of rumor too.

But no, that was Ossa.

I bet they had races to see

Who got there first with the story.

I bet Ossa usually won.

Hermes had shoes

Sprouting wings from the sides

To indicate,


That he was really fast.

He was, and could even keep up

With Sunrise,

Although I doubt they raced.

Hermes had a hat.

It had wings, too.

Hermes’ brain didn’t go

Any faster than the rest of him,

Unless he needed to concoct a lie

On the spot.

Then his brain could fly,

Faster than the sun,

Faster even than Ossa.

The Romans rebranded Hermes,

Even named quicksilver,

An unstable metallic liquid

Deadly if swallowed, impossible to contain,

After him, no doubt

Because the areas of his purview–

Interpreter, liar, trickster and thief–

Display the same properties.

We should probably thank Hermes

For making life interesting.

...the spirits are about to speak

they said it

Two today.

The great thing about absurd logic is that it fits any situation.


That don't make no sense!  Pete, it's a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.

Pete and Ulysses Everett McGill Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?


Shawn Girvan is getting some content on his website. Click on Vestiges when you go to Girvanaca

My brother-in-law Harvey's academic-politics cartoon: SNAF-U

My sister Mary Pat's occasional musings: New post 8-15! LaBrea Rambles

Suzanne's blog: The Tabard Inn

Austin Kleon's blog; Negative Manifesto

More quirky cartoons at The Oatmeal

Earlier We Said

FromSeptember 1.

Considering how important language is to our survival, you'd think we'd do more to make it clear and systematic. But if we did, then we would be French. Personally, I prefer the chaos. Sept 9


Would you read a book called Because Internet?

Well, I may be. If I do, I'll let you know how it goes. The reason I'm interested is, at least according to the review, grammar and language are on the cutting edge of changes in society and culture.

Yeah, I know, I can't remember the last time I went to a party and got engaged in a deep discussion of de Saussere versus Chomsky (spolier alert–probably never). Of course, I don't go out much anymore. But we are undergoing major changes in the language. Mainly, it's being fragmented, particularly in the written word. There are now many forms of English–argots and dialects, in the words of the linguists. What's interesting is that the changes are taking place not in the spoken language, where you'd expect such things to happen first, but in the written language. As usual, social media, instant messaging and texts are to blame. Where e-mail tried to maintain conventions (salutations, conclusions, for example), in the land of emojis, emoticons, memes and lolz, exciting new things are happening. In fact, they're happening too quickly, if communication is still the goal. Apple and other companies are constantly introducing new symbols, and presumably dropping others. The language resembles Chinese more than English, with 26 standard symbols that are combined and recombined to create and transmit meaning. Now, we get to ask questions like what does 'eggplant' mean again? The Urban Dictionary tries to keep up with meanings, but struggles sometimes, as with this definition of lolz: (v.) - A leet corruption of lols. Treating lol as a verb (to lol), the he/she/it conjugation of lol in the present indicative tense is 'lols', (i.e. I lol, we lol, he lols). Great. Now I have to look up leet. Some people are going to have trouble with conjugation and indicative too. So we have three languages at work here: standard English, something called leet, and being able to understand grammarian. Actually, a pretty good day, and a mighty fine example of what I was saying.

What's interesting is that, except for the acronyms, there's very little attempt to move the written to the spoken. I have heard people who attempt to say hashtag sausage openly mocked.

If taken to its logical extension, where written language is continually fragmented, and groups develop their own pidgins and dialects, we may be looking at the return of the scribal class, where, if you need something written, you go to see a guy who can translate what you say or write into standard English. It was a pretty good system back in the day. The day might not have been pretty good, what with the Black Death going on and all, and some semi-serious climate change, but communication worked.

Alas, standard English, we hardly knew ye. Actually, if you believe my tenth-grade English teacher, we never knew it. Or at least well enough.   Top

What Isn't Said

In a press release, the NRA criticized Walmart (and presumably other retailers) for limiting sale of ammunition and certain firearms: It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites.

I'm sure the NRA would prefer that retailers, companies, and just everybody succumb to the pressure of the NRA and other gun lobbies, like the politicians do.   Top

TomatoPlanet!! is a random collection of writing, cartoons, and things that strike my fancy. © 2003-2019, John McCarthy

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