18 June 2011

Parrot Confidence Course

Cowering kings
The parrots hereabouts are flighty, these winter days, as a lobster at the sight of a restaurant. With that wedge-tailed eagle cruising silently, the parrots have due cause. Not a single king parrot here might say, "Alas, poor Yorick" at the sight of a clump of feathers or a flightless feathered wing, but they sure know the meaning of mortality.

So it is with heavy heart that I heard of a certain parrot by the name of L______ who lives unencumbered by the threat of raptors, only to be terrorised by one of his own kind. Or maybe that is a feint for a shyness without excuse: either a morbidity of the soul or an existentialism much too heavy for anyone who weighs less than a supermarket magazine.

I was delighted therefore, to receive in the mail, an offer from a fantastic new multimedia club called "Featherpress Editions".

This wise concern must have been reading my mind because the offer was addressed to L______, saying

"If you are not L______, and are reading this offer by accident, then avert your eyes. It is not for you. It is only for L______ (and all other parrots L______ invites in, to participate in this special offer):

Walk Proud, Talk Loud: 7 Days to Confidence

This book can be yours soon if you ACT NOW. Several parrots have been transformed by the tips in this indispensable guide, written by the author of such classics as



5 Excerpts from 7 DAYS TO CONFIDENCE:

from Chapter 3: "Stopping bad habits"
Shifty eye
Teach your human to look you in the eye, explaining patiently how eagles never do. The sooner your human realises that you are not a cat, the easier it will be for all. Tell them that you size up a personality by engaging eye-to-eye contact.

Silence is suspicious
Eagles sneak up. Humans shouldn't. They need to be taught to verbally and musically, communicate. If you can't teach them music, then at least, teach them to converse. They probably won't make any sense, but as long as they're chatting, they're not eating you.

Demand your privacy
Just because your humans don't value it, doesn't mean you shouldn't demand it. If you are housed near some obnoxious object, be it a human child or adult who doesn't worship you, or some insufferably pushy parrot, train your human to use its body as a curtain in your interactions with it. In doing so, you can eat your proffered banana or date or nuts in peace, or if there is music you wish to dance to, you can dance to your heart's content without worrying over some other parrot's cracks about your rhythm.
Demand your intellectual freedom
Are you put upon by your human to be chummy at its remembrance and whim? Perhaps you are an introvert, and resent this forced social interaction. Assert yourself by making clear that you aren't shy. You are just thinking. You need the next guide in this series: Choose either SELF-ACTUALISATION FOR THE FEATHER-TONGUED or CRACKING NUTS MENTAL
from Chapter 6: "Body Image"
Make yourself small
You know they're the nastiest, so hunch while you open your beak. You might be the largest parrot in the world but if you act like a tiny handful, you'll soon gain respect. Think you can't hunch? Just think about that little snack who flew at you and plucked a beakful from your crown. That's motivation! Now concentrate: hunch, open wide, and you won't even have to screech. But if it helps your confidence, screech away--minding yourself to remember to screech when your humans are out of the environment. They are inclined to be flighty at certain sounds, which can damage your health.
So L______, what's it going to be? Be all you can be. ACT TODAY, and we'll throw in a free trial MP3: Ripping Wood Rhythms

Caution: Not to be used to cure adolescence,
which nothing can cure but age.


Anyway, if are not L______, but are another parrot who could benefit from this fantastic offer, ACT TODAY. It won't help against eagles, but it will help.

15 June 2011

Archaeologists, Palaeographers, and Punctuationists fight over cryptic dohicky

From the dawn of communication, semicolons have been misplaced.

Sans-serif font (sans gill), tertiary layer, otherwise uncontexted

Drs Martin Schone, Donalda Summers-Tjinkji, and Tim Winsome each state authoritatively that this dohicky is a:
  • comma
  • quote mark
  • inverted comma
  • decorative dingbat
  • proto-Helvetic exclamation mark
  • that top bottombottom! thingy that is part of a semicolon
In modern texts, experts are no less argumentative. However, a semicolon isn't a comma, which is what many graduates of tertiary institutions think it is. If a sentence goes on and on, and still goes on further, it may be a tedious slog that no one should have to get to the end of, but the sentence is no less tedious if a semicolon is thrown into it instead of another comma. If the sentence, however, could be cut into two sentences, that place that is the junction could be where the semicolon parks. However, a new sentence refreshes.

Semicolons are best used in places where gaslights stain the walls and the carpets are regularly beaten. * There, they give tone and can be used to great purpose, as they can emit a great aura of place and time. They are as necessary as double cream is. Deliciously rewarding at the right time and place, but rather indigestible.

Newspapers eschew them, which should of course, make the injunction against their ingestion by children under 12, an obviosity.

* The Age of Semicolons was earlier yet, tho' most of today's readers must be roped to the text or a stake if you hope them to complete a sentence from that time.
His arm was around her waist; her hand was clasped in his; her head leaned upon his shoulder; all sterner thoughts were laid aside; it was the hour of tenderness and love. They thought not of strife and battle; they thought not of difficulty and danger; they only thought that in spite of all they were each other's, and that nought but death could dissolve the bond between them.
– G.P.R. James (1801–1860), The Fortunes of the Colville Family

Editor's suggestion: Insert comma between 'all' and 'they'.

11 June 2011


Known by many other names, including the Green Moray Eel, Brown Reef Eel, and the Pettifogger.

Eels, even brightly lit, have such an air of mystery. This young one was washed up on a beach.

01 June 2011

coming in Postscripts from PS Publishing . . .

Stories are like birthday party goers. I just love for a story of mine to sit beside those of some of my favourite authors, particularly when they don't behave themselves. So I'm thrilled to announce that my youngest squalling brat, "Marks and Coconuts", will be sitting with I-don't-know-who but I'm sure they have interesting fauna behind their ears and will be sure to say all the wrong things—in an upcoming PS Publishing's Postscripts edited by Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers.

Here's the latest bumper-size hardcover Postscripts anthology:
Postscripts #24/25 -The New and Perfect Man edited by Peter Crowther & Nick Gevers

(And I just noticed that Jack Dann and Barry N. Malzberg announced in May that they sold a story called "The Rapture" to Postscripts, and that this story includes an "angel that wears ill-fitting corduroy suits". Lucky for them that Postscripts doesn't have a dress code, though I'm suspicious about that 'ill-fitting' which usually means there's stuff in pockets that shouldn't be. I'm not accusing, mind you, but I've told my little innocent to make sure that their story doesn't take the cake.)

Read Angela Slatter's fascinating interview:
The Postscripts Drive-by: Nick Gevers

I have wanted a story of mine to be in Postscripts for many years, not just because of the company my little brat would keep, but because of PS Publishing—a heavenly publisher for several reasons.
  1. This is a brave and active publisher of exciting, unruly fiction, not me-too's—and is genuine quality, not up-itself pretension. They say 'genre' but I say 'piffle' to that label, as their definition is so broad.
  2. This is a wonderfully decent publisher to authors in a trade that is too often, indecent in the unfun extreme.
Check out their novels, art books, new releases, and 'Unmissable Deals' here.

Finally, I don't know which issue of Postscripts "Marks and Coconuts" will appear in, but I will say, quite immodestly (with many thanks to two brilliant critics, Ben Peek and Richard Glatz), that it is a cracker of a story.