This Day in History Entry #7

March 31st, 2009 by Wordsman

There are some who think it’s just sublime
It helps traffic and might reduce crime
But others don’t agree
Does it save energy?
Quite perplexing, daylight saving time

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Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #8

March 30th, 2009 by Wordsman



Theodore looked up at his sister.  He did not appear relieved in any way, as if he had failed to realize that they had been separated for hours, possibly never to see each other again.  It figured.  Abigail had been wandering through the woods, hearing voices and narrowly avoiding fights with miscreants, and all that time her brother had just been standing there serenely, staring at . . . a bunch of paper cranes?  She was going to berate him for his lack of concern, but as she approached she couldn’t help but get drawn in as well.

“Wow,” she said softly, her eyes drifting up and down the long rainbow line of tiny folded birds.  “I’ve never seen so many of these before.  There must be thousands of them!”

“There are exactly fifty-two thousand three hundred thirty-seven,” her brother responded promptly.  “I counted.”

Abigail rolled her eyes.  If he had been standing there long enough to individually count over fifty thousand cranes, then the mountain shrine was not only a Bermuda Triangle but a time warp as well.  The number didn’t even make sense.  As far as she had ever heard, you only got something for making a thousand cranes, so what would be the point of hanging up three hundred thirty-seven of them?

“Do you suppose these were all made by the same person?” she asked suddenly.

Theodore’s brow furrowed.  “It seems unlikely,” he said, either thinking hard or pretending to think hard.  “Given that the world record speed for folding one hundred cranes is just over seventy-eight minutes, these cranes represent a sum total of thirty-two days of crane folding at the very least.  That’s without any breaks for eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom, of course.”  He turned toward his sister.  “Why do you ask?”

“Well . . .,” she began hesitantly.  The idea was utter nonsense, but there comes a time in any dire situation when a person is desperate enough to try anything, no matter how ridiculous.  “You know how they say that if you have a thousand cranes you get to make a wish?  That’s fifty-two wishes up there, and . . . I mean, what person could possibly need to make fifty-two wishes?  So, I was just thinking we could maybe, you know, borrow one.  So that we can get out of here.”  Her voice slowly trailed off throughout the entire speech, meaning that it was extremely unlikely that anyone was able to hear the last fragment.  Anyone human, anyway.

Theodore frowned.  “I don’t think it works that way,” he said.  “I believe that the power is imparted into the cranes through the act of folding, not simply by possessing them.  I doubt that the Gods would want to reward someone who simply came along and stole someone else’s hours of hard work just so she could reap all the benefits.”

Abigail wanted to shout that it didn’t really work the other way either, and that the whole concept of granting wishes was preposterous, but instead she just fumed, angry at herself for even having suggested such foolishness.  She had only said it because she wanted to get out and go home so very badly.  Abigail was starving, her legs were starting to twitch uncontrollably from having walked so much, and the sun would be going down soon, unless time really had stopped while they were inside the shrine.  This idea seemed significantly less impossible after having walked through the endless tunnel of gates, surrounded by the forest that had been, with a few notable exceptions, completely silent.  Her watch was still going, but she supposed that that could just be a trick to get her to think that everything was normal when in fact it was most definitely not.

“Okay,” she said, once fuming time was over.  “Do you have a better idea of how we can find our way out of this place?”

Her brother shrugged.  “It could be difficult,” he said, still without even a hint of worry.  “I lost my map a long time ago.  It was snatched from my very hand by the breath of—”

“Of the Fox God,” Abigail interrupted.  “Yes, I remember.”  She wished she could forget.  “Have you seen anyone around here that we might be able to ask?”  Abigail knew that asking for directions in a foreign country, especially directions as complicated as the ones leading out of the shrine would surely have to be, was generally a long, awkward, fruitless process, but she was still willing to try anything at that point.

He shook his head.  “I have seen no one and heard no one.”

“Yeah,” she agreed.  The only people she had run across since they split up had not seemed like the type to know their way around the place, and she doubted very much that she would run into them again anyway.  “So, since no better options have presented themselves, we’re going to use . . . use the power of the cranes,” she finished lamely, unable to believe that she was actually saying this.

“I still don’t think it will work,” her brother said.

“Really?” she asked, annoyed.  “You of all people are going to be skeptical?”

“Using the wishing cranes for purposes other than their original intended one could result in serious consequences.”

“Well we’re doing it anyway,” Abigail declared with surprising firmness.  “Make a wish.”  She faced the cranes, closed her eyes, and wished that they would be able to find their way back to their hotel.  Then, just to be safe, she clicked her heels three times and whispered, “There’s no place like home.”

“So do you really believe that this is going to work?” Theodore asked a few moments later.

Abigail opened her eyes.  She hesitated over his used of the word “believe.”  “All I know is the Fox God owes me one,” she said.  She turned around, picked a path, and walked toward it with her best attempt at confidence.

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The Jenoviad Entry #7

March 27th, 2009 by Wordsman

At this point, Cloud, our hero
He was feeling pretty good
But then he ran into the guards
He should have knocked on wood

He tried to run, but he was trapped
In every last direction
Cloud really wished he knew the streets
Of Midgar’s upper section

“Did you know I was in SOLDIER?”
Asked our hero, sword a-glisten
He knew it would not be his fault
If they chose not to listen

“Sure,” scoffed one guard, “You’re so great
You look just like a bum
Let’s have an old-school street fight
At you, sir, I bite my thumb!”

Afterward, the guards were strewn
Throughout the alleyways
But Shinra had a jillion more
Could keep this up for days

Now ‘twas time for Cloud to say
“Let’s blow this pops’cle stand!”
Before he jumped, no one could know
That on a train he’d land

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #7

March 25th, 2009 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A teacher gets distracted from his classes trying to find an old box that’s been missing for a while.  He finds it, loses it, tracks it down again, tries to destroy it, and then when it’s finally opened he doesn’t get to see what’s inside.

Last week’s puzzle:

A college dropout goes on a journey to understand what killed his father.  On the way he is imprisoned for stealing from himself, but he is let loose, and he goes home to kill the man who set him free.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #6

March 24th, 2009 by Wordsman

All the wildlife of Alaska’s seas
Were dramatically brought to their knees
Had the master been drinking?
Did that cause the sinking
Of the tanker, the Exxon Valdez?

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Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #7

March 23rd, 2009 by Wordsman


It was a beautiful spring day.  The sun was bright, and not a single cloud marred the brilliant blue sky.  The temperature was in that perfect range where you can comfortably wear a t-shirt and sit in the sun without having to worry about getting too hot.  Abigail thought that sitting outside next to a river or in a park would be the best way to spend the day.  Unfortunately, that was not why they were there.  They had not traveled thousands of miles to just sit around and enjoy the weather.  They could do that anywhere.  They were there to experience culture.  That’s what Theo insisted, anyway.  Thus they ended up at yet another shrine.

“So what’s this place about?” asked Abigail.  She was not quite as bitter as she had expected to be.  Sure, she had sulked through most of the train ride, but once they actually arrived it didn’t seem so bad.  She would have preferred to be out in the sun, but a walk through the woods of the shrine was pretty good, as second choices go.

Theodore pulled out a guide pamphlet.  He always had one, though Abigail never noticed him picking them up.  “This,” he announced, after flipping through the pages, “is a shrine to the Fox God.”

“Hmm,” she said.  Abigail’s attraction to shrines and temples was in their architecture and their natural surroundings.  She was not especially interested in the gods or spirits or other mythological figures that were being honored there.

Her brother, of course, was very interested in these things, so he continued to read.  “The Fox God has been worshipped as a deity of fertility, rice, agriculture, industry, and worldly success,” he said.  He looked up from the pamphlet and glanced around.  “Ah, I think that’s a statue of him over there,” he said, pointing.  Then he frowned.  “Or maybe it’s a ‘her.’”  He turned back to the pamphlet and flipped through all the pages again.  “It’s not clear.”

“I guess we’ll have to check the statue,” Abigail joked as they walked toward it.  She certainly hoped that it would not portray the vulpine anatomy in enough detail for them to be able to determine gender, though she realized that this was not out of the question.

Theodore ignored her comment and continued reading.  “However, the Fox God is best known for being a trickster.”

“Huh,” Abigail said.  “I guess it’s not that different from Western mythology.”

“Yes!” her brother declared excitedly.  “Just look at his . . . or her face!  Can’t you see the effortless cunning and guile evident there?”

Abigail looked up at the statue.  “Actually, it mostly just looks angry,” she said.  “Like it’s going to spit that scroll at me in disgust or something.  What’s that scroll for, anyway?  And that bib?  Does it say in your guide?”

But Theodore had more important things to discuss than scrolls and bibs.  “Oh, of course the Fox God is angry!” he said dramatically.  If Abigail had been looking at him and not studying the statue, she would have noticed that he was no longer reading from the pamphlet.  “Why shouldn’t he . . . or she be, with these foreign devils trespassing on his or her land?”

“Foreign devils?” she asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow as she turned away from the statue to face her brother.

“Yes!” he said again, quickly raising the guide back to his face.  “It says here that over the years the Fox God has caused dozens of unsuspecting foreign tourists to disappear at this very shrine.  It calls it the ‘Japanese Bermuda Triangle.’”

“Uh-huh.  How do you even get lost at a shrine, anyway?”

“The paths lead up the mountain for miles and miles,” Theodore explained ominously.  “The dense forest cuts off all sense you had of the outside world.  When you’re alone out there, it’s very easy for the wily Fox God to lure you off the beaten path.  Can’t you imagine him or her out there, whispering gently into the ears of those who do not know better, causing them to go astray, secretly laughing all the while?”

Abigail pictured not a spectral fox spirit but an old man with a bed sheet, an ancient projector, and a kazoo, mumbling something about how he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.  “That doesn’t make any sense,” she argued back.  She normally wouldn’t have bothered, but this Fox God business was just so ridiculous.  “You said it’s a ‘god’ of industry and worldly success, right?  Why would it want to scare off tourists?  I’m sure that’s how this place makes most of its money.  Does the ‘Fox God’ want to go broke?” she asked with a smirk.

Theodore looked down at her seriously.  “It is beyond the capability of mere humans to understand how the mind of the Fox God works.”

“No,” she countered, starting to feel a little irritated, “humans know exactly how the mind of the ‘Fox God’ works, because humans invented it!  All this stuff is made up.  I mean, I could make up another ‘god’ right now: the . . . ‘Weasel God.’  It’s worshipped as a deity of mockery and criticism.”

“Such blasphemy is not wise, especially while we are within the bounds of the Fox God’s shrine!  Do you want to get lost forever?”  He did not seem nearly as concerned as he should have been, though, seeing as it was Theo, Abigail figured that he would probably enjoy being lost in the woods forever.  He’d think it was an adventure.

“Whatever,” she grumbled.  “I’m not afraid of any Fox God.”

“You will be.”  At first Abigail assumed that it was her brother who had said this, but when she looked up she saw that he was already heading off in the direction of one of the paths where he had just said tourists had a tendency to disappear mysteriously.  No one else was around.  “You will be.”

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The Jenoviad Entry #6

March 20th, 2009 by Wordsman

People running, screaming, flailing
Midgar’s streets were all a-whirl
Cloud cut through the crowds quite deftly
‘Fore he ran into a girl

“What are you doing out?” she asked
“At this most dang’rous hour?
Reactor blown, the guards in force
And would you like a flower?”

Cloud had a pollen allergy
And guards ran to and fro
But this girl was quite the looker
So he couldn’t just say no

He took the flow’r, and Cloud checked out
His beauty, toe to head
He wanted to stare longer
But the guards wanted him dead

“I’ve gotta run!” Cloud told the girl
“And you should really hide
There’s, um, leaks from that explosion
You should prob’ly stay inside”

Before the girl could say a thing
Cloud bolted at great rate
He never stopped to wonder
If the meeting had been fate

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #6

March 18th, 2009 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A college dropout goes on a journey to understand what killed his father.  On the way he is imprisoned for stealing from himself, but he is let loose, and he goes home to kill the man who set him free.

Last week’s puzzle:

A hero proves that he can outfight or outthink any opponent and then is captured by a man with a physical deformity.  Meanwhile, a beautiful young woman tries to convince a man plotting to kill her that she cannot love him.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #5

March 17th, 2009 by Wordsman

Whether you use it as it was planned
Or to shoot like a gun from your hand
You must thank Stephen Perry
Who made the world merry
Inventing that fine rubber band

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Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #6

March 16th, 2009 by Wordsman


“Choose wisely.”

Abigail turned around.  “Did you say something, Theo?” she asked, her voice betraying a bit more than a hint of nervousness.  Her brother, however, was standing off in a corner, closely examining yet another statue of the Fox God.  He would have had to shout in order for her to hear him, and the voice had sounded much closer, much more intimate than that.  It must have just been in her head.  Or it could have been . . . no, Abigail decided firmly, it was just her brain playing tricks on her.

“Hey Theo!” she repeated more loudly.  “Come over here!”  While her brother approached she examined the two paths before her.  She had, of course, seen the ceremonial gates before at every single shrine they visited (which meant that she had seen dozens, if not hundreds of them), but she had never encountered so many in one place.  What did it mean?  Why were they split into two tunnel-like paths?  And, most importantly, how could they tell which one to take?

“So which of these two paths do you think we should follow?” she asked when he arrived next to her.

Theodore began his usual thorough inspection.  Abigail often wondered if he was really studying anything when he did this, or if he was merely buying time in which to develop the latest most ridiculous thing she had ever heard.

This time, though, after the investigation he returned not with a dramatic statement but with a question: “Where do you want to go?”

“Just to see more of the shrine, I guess.  Let me see that guide pamphlet.  Maybe there’s a map in there.”

“Ah, I lost the pamphlet a while ago,” he said, without any of the irritation that Abigail would have expected from a normal person.  He sounded intrigued, if anything.

“What?” she asked, fully displaying the annoyance that was appropriate to the situation.

“A sudden gust of wind snatched it from my hand,” he explained wistfully.  “The breath of the Fox God, you might say.”

Abigail refused to dignify this with a response.  At least, she refused to dignify it with a response that in any way acknowledged the possibility that there was a Fox God, that he had breath, and that he used it to harass tourists by blowing their maps away.  “Well, let’s just pick whichever one is shorter,” she said.  She tried to peer around the tunnels to see which one looked more like an inside track, but the forest surrounding them was too dense.

Theodore shook his head.  “I can see only one solution to this problem.”

Here we go, Abigail thought.  “Yes?” she asked, bracing for impact.

“There are two paths, and there are two of us,” he stated simply.

“No,” Abigail replied almost immediately.  This was her default mental reflex to any of Theo’s suggestions, but she rarely put it into words so quickly or bluntly.  “These two tunnels could lead anywhere.  What if we come out the other end and we’re nowhere near each other?  It could take hours to meet up again!”  “Or days, or weeks, or years,” the mysterious voice whispered into her brain.

“But wouldn’t it haunt you, taking the one path and never knowing where the other led?”

“Not particularly.”

“Then I can still see only one solution.”  Theodore placed himself directly in front of the two entrances and raised his arms.  Then he lowered one and pointed at the right-hand gate with the other.  “Eeny, meeny, miney, moe,” he said quite seriously.  After performing the entire rhyme he held his finger in the air significantly for a few seconds and then announced, “Take the left gate.”

“Works for me,” said Abigail.  Glad to put that decision behind her, she quickly proceeded down the left-hand path.

Once inside the tunnel, however, she began to wish that she was still outside.  It was much darker and quieter than she had expected, giving her the impression that she was the only person on Earth, or at the very least the only visitor to the shrine that day, which meant that she was receiving the full attention of the Fox . . . Abigail put such preposterous ideas out of her head.  She knew that the tunnel of gates did not actually have her trapped; there were gaps between them through which she could easily extend her arm and, if it became necessary, squeeze her entire body.  The abnormal darkness and quiet was caused by the thick forest, not by anything supernatural.

As she continued to walk down the path and the minutes ticked by, she had no choice but to wonder if they had made the wrong decision.  She really wished that she could read the writing on the walls (she knew that they weren’t actually walls, at least not physically), because there was so much of it that she was sure there had to be something that would indicate where she was going.  “Hey Theo,” she asked eventually.  “Are you sure we shouldn’t have gone the other way?”

When she got no answer, she turned around.  Her brother was nowhere to be seen.  That explained why she hadn’t even been able to hear his footsteps in the eerie silence of the orange tunnel.  She knew what had happened the moment she realized he was gone.  Theo had tricked her into taking the left tunnel so that he could explore the right one.

“Theo!” she shouted.  “Theo!”  No answer.  Peering between the gates, she could see that the other path was still right alongside, at least for the moment.  She began to run, hoping that she could catch up with him before his path split off, but the terrain became very hilly, and she had to slow to a walk.

“You have chosen . . . poorly.”

She did not even bother to ask if it was her brother that time.  “Shut up, you,” she said as she proceeded along the seemingly endless tunnel.

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