Feste's Lute

Scribbles & Sketches of the Unspeakable

programming is terrible: Natural born programmers


This petulant belief that programming ability is a gift, rather than a skill, often surfaces as a flimsy rationale for the gender imbalance in technology, but actually serves to reinforce the problem.

Truly interesting and inspiring set of observations on how belief systems affect learning ability…

programming is terrible: Natural born programmers

kung fu grippe: down the rabbit hole


Writing good fiction requires good research.

Sometimes that research leads you to places you’d least expect.

And sometimes those places lead to still other places. Darker places. Hidden places. Places where you get lost and wander and begin to wonder what is real and what isn’t…

kung fu grippe: down the rabbit hole

Eliminating Words from the English Language

The nominations piled up, in the hundreds and then the thousands. People who like words, as it turns out, also hate words. Superfluous adverbs took a beating: people unloaded on “literally” and “actually.” One woman challenged anyone to think of a case in which a deleted “actually” changed the meaning of the sentence. But there’s reason and then there’s rhythm, and “actually” is actually useful as a useless dactyl. Other entries were conceptual: a number of readers wondered if eliminating “hate” would eliminate hate. We checked. It would not. (Nor would “war.”)

I can see why someone might think they could eliminate hate with an all-powerful backspace key. >_>

As a writer, I’m actually appalled by most of the suggestions (though even I might turn my head while they drag “Tebowing” and “swag” away). Even meaningless things are useful for their sounds, and words that repulse anyone should never be silenced because we need to be repulsed.

Eliminating Words from the English Language

Numbers (or something)


Borrowing the “numbers” concept thevagabondking [who borrowed it moderateclimates].

While I’m in class. Feel free to send me a number from 1-2000—in multiples of 9. [Ex: 9, 18, 27 and so on]. I will write you prose or poetry, in relation to how I feel about you, your blog, or our…

It’s madness, but madness is familiar and fascinating. Mine might not be as elegant as AF’s but I’d give it a try. Send me a word and a number between 1 and 10. Example: Gloaming 8

Warning: The pieces themselves might be a bit mad. But I figure, if you follow me, you either are used to that or just need me for your follower count. :p


Numbers (or something)

Burning Muse: Project: Deconstrcuted


Greetings fellow writers:

Project: Deconstructed had been given the thumbs up. Thank you to those who have stated interest in the project. Here are the details:

  1. Ask your readers to suggest one of your pieces—that they would like you to deconstruct for them.
  2. Provide this information—in…

So I’ll do this (video) if you all will suggest a piece. Actually, I’ll do it regardless, but if you don’t suggest something I’ll pick something really ridiculous. Cause I like those anyway and usually put the most thought into those. :p

Still, I’d love the feedback.

Burning Muse: Project: Deconstrcuted

Stop the Law That Will Censor the Internet

I know, for some of you, Tumblr’s dramatic promotion may have been annoying. But seriously, if you’re in the U.S., do this. There are a lot of issues right now that everyone’s passionate about and we need to be engaged in those battles, but if speech is impeded everything else gets much harder. These are completely ridiculous bills that open the door to much more terrible things, abridging freedom of speech for the “common good”. Fair use will be a joke if this is passed. A video with a picture in the background or music drifting from a bar across the street will be infringing and your blog may be legally shut down with no judicial review as a result.

Call. Seriously, call. Not email. Email just blips on their screens. Fielding calls takes people or clogs up their answering services. It only takes a second. I was very disappointed that I got right thru to my representative. Clog the lines.

If you’re not in the U.S., bug your friends in the U.S. to do so. This sort of idiocy tends to spread.

Stop the Law That Will Censor the Internet

How to be a person/novelist



Murakami on how being obsessed with music helped him be a novelist (emphasis mine):

Whether in music or in fiction, the most basic thing is rhythm. Your style needs to have good, natural, steady rhythm, or people won’t keep reading your work. I learned the importance of rhythm from music — and mainly from jazz.

Next comes melody — which, in literature, means the appropriate arrangement of the words to match the rhythm. If the way the words fit the rhythm is smooth and beautiful, you can’t ask for anything more.

Next is harmony — the internal mental sounds that support the words.

Then comes the part I like best: free improvisation. Through some special channel, the story comes welling out freely from inside. All I have to do is get into the flow.

Finally comes what may be the most important thing: that high you experience upon completing a work.

These are just as important a set of guidelines for music and writing as they are for how to be a person.

  1. Have predictability or rhythm
  2. Find a melody or a narrative
  3. Create harmony to support the narrative
  4. Improvise
  5. Make it public/ship it

[via rgreco]

Finally reached the last stretch of 1Q84, so here’s more Murakami. I’ve never known a writer (or wannabe writer, as the case may be) who wasn’t some kind of music obsessive.

How to be a person/novelist

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance 

1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.

5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.

7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.

8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.

9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.

10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.

11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.

12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.

13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

Delightful. Regardless of what you think of Occupy, this is a masterpiece.

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance

Oh, you’re human…: Like The Whore (Criticism)


Success turns into the resentment
that we made when we were two-
thirds of a whole; twice forgotten
in Mars’ grassy knoll, our fraction
was lost to the unknown
factions that reside underneath the soil
there and here.

Unbeknownst to even the system
engineers, the citizens and…

Like the critique, love the poem.

I will say that I see a closer link with Mars, Babylon, candles and fire.

If, in the poem, we are lost and seek our home, Babylon, we must seek it by candlelight:
How Many Miles to Babylon

So the theme of war and the theme of wandering are used throughout. Candles, which could be meant to represent the studious nature in the old rhyme, must be used to find the true path. Fire/War’s tools are too clumsy/powerful. Gentle light will reveal what the flash of fire will wipe out. As the largest theme in the poem seems to be inter-personal conflict, I think that’s a great usage.

Of course, I could be ascribing meaning that wasn’t intended. :p

Oh, you’re human…: Like The Whore (Criticism)

Feste’s Lute: Carnival Times

Per a request, this is an account of how I met my wife. It’s six years old, and so awkward in places (especially at the beginning) that I hesitate to post it. I’ve never felt that I was the best prose writer… However, I like the idea and, once past the first few paragraphs, the piece as a whole. It’s beautifully sincere.

Here’s a hint, the threads are books. We met because of the books we loved, with some matchmaking from the music we loved…

click thru to the original for more…


I feel so content. It seems like all my life I’ve spent searching, trying to find something beyond the bland modern fascinations. It seems like I’ve run from distraction to distraction hoping that, amidst all the glitter, I would find gold.

One day walking amidst funhouse tunes and clusters of…

Feste’s Lute: Carnival Times