Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Take Back the Words!

I was just checking the final copyedits of my book which is appearing in the spring, which includes a scene where zookeepers are chasing a raccoon around a Dumpster. That's right, Dumpster, capitalized, because it turns out, this word is a trademark.

Well, three pages of a novel that include the word Dumpster, capitalized, multiple times, reads like advertising copy for the Dumpster Corporation, so I wanted to replace it. But there is no synonym. I got suggestions from many people. They were either circumlocutions that couldn't replace one word repeatedly, or technical descriptions that no one would recognize, or words for a thing that was similar to a Dumpster but not identical.

I also discovered that many words that we all feel are normal English words are also still trademarked, like Laundromat and Bubble Wrap. Bubble Wrap!!!

Well, I've had enough. I want to start a Movement. Why are corporations allowed to interfere with the natural evolution of language? The way it works now, you can get in trouble if you use a trademark generically - but why does a corporation get to decide how we can use the language? If everyone else, as English speakers, needs the word, why does a corporation get to keep it?

Poppers of bubble wrap in dumpsters out behind laundromats, unite! You have nothing to lose but your superfluous capital letters!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


On Discovery Channel headquarters, for Shark Week. See the other end here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Helping out a fellow creator of fiction

I was walking home from the store with the pugs the other day, when a nicely dressed guy stopped me with a sob story about how his car had broken down and he was short seven dollars for a fan belt. He told me that his brother had a pug, but it was much fatter than mine, and that it was really jealous when you pay attention to anyone else, and that he was a manager at the Jerry's sub shop over on 16th street and if I ever came up that way he could repay me.

I told him I worked at the store around the corner and he said oh sure, he came in sometimes to buy cat food for his mother, he could pay me back then.

The mother's cat was the last straw. I decided to give him the money because if the story wasn't true, he had done enough work coming up with the details, he had earned it.

I liked that it wasn't a big tale of trauma and drama, just a well executed version of a classic tale, with details carefully chosen to create believable characters, and I want to live in a world where that is worth at least seven dollars.