Dec 262008

Been poking around in my conlangs today, which I haven’t done for some time and I’m considering adding yet another noun case to Proto-Túfóžan. It has 46 already, so I’m leery about the prospect of adding another, but I think I may really need it, especially if I want to avoid creating adpositions (at least at this stage).

For those of you who may not know, 46 is more than three times the number of noun cases in Finnish, which is considered case-heavy among natlangs.

On the other hand, at least I haven’t caught up to Ithkuil yet. It has 81.

Oct 282007

The grrls are here — most of them, anyway; one was too busy with real life (stupid real life) to come and play — and though it was raining yesterday, the sewing has been sewed and silly card games have been played. Today the Hogwarts faculty takes to the streets of Salem.

So if you happen to be in the neighborhood and spot Snape, Sinestra, McGonnigle, Sprout, and Umbridge strolling along the Essex Street Mall or wandering around Pickering Wharf, come and say hello, hmmm? (I’m the Scottish one.)

Nov 012006

While I was on door-duty for the trick-or-treaters last night, I came to the sad conclusion that the commercially manufactured kiddie costumes marketed these days are just too good. Used to be, in order to have a decent costume for Halloween, you had to actually put it together yourself (or get your parents to). Otherwise, you were stuck with a thin plastic thing that you wore over your clothes and a cheesy mask that came with it in a bag. That made for some powerful motivation for me to come up with ideas, I can tell you. In the worst case, I fell back on hobos and clowns, which could be cobbled together pretty easily with old clothes and a bit of theatrical makeup. But, honestly, from the age of about 8 on, I’d have rather died than leave the house in a store-bought Halloween costume.

The whole night, I saw one handmade costume. Just one. And it was amazing. The kid was maybe 12, and he’d painted some cardboard tubing gunmetal grey, put on grey and black clothes, and chopped up an old scuba mask or somesuch to paint silver and red (it covered half his face). And he was one helluva good-looking Borg, dammit.

The rest of the kids who came to my door? Small furry animals (washable acrylic, of course). Scooby Doo. A handful of pirates. A couple of witches. One pretty cool rubber monster mask. And dozens of store-bought fairy princesses. Dozens. of. fairy. princesses. They came in pink and blue and purple and white. Some had tiaras and some had wands with sparkly stars. Every single one had diaphanous wings.

Yeah, the kids were having a ball. But I still think that putting a costume together is infinitely more fun than picking one out in a store. And more memorable. I hope that little Borg’s parents took pictures of that outfit, because it was a masterpiece of creativity. The fairy princesses? Eh. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.

Feb 112006

I’ve been playing with my calligraphy pens lately. I had put them away last spring when the winning bidders for the two pieces of custom Tengwar work that I put up for the Museum of Science’s winter party silent auction failed to ever actually decide what they wanted me to do for them (charity aside, who pays for something and then never claims it?). But I was sorting through some stuff on my desk a few weeks ago and unearthed the box from a stack of notes about linguistics and genealogy, so I started doodling with them a bit.

Which led to a bit of internet surfing, looking for lettering styles to play with. Which, in turn, led to the following conclusion:

What most people these days think of when they think of calligraphy is the swirly stuff that you see on formal wedding invites. This is Ornamental Penmanship, or sometimes Copperplate. And it’s beautiful. Precise. Graceful. Elegant. Difficult to do well.

And boring as all hell.

I’m sure that some people find making all those delicately-traced letters relaxing, not to mention lucrative. But the whole idea of spending hours planning and then drawing out all those spidery curls… well, it makes think about how badly my kitchen floor needs mopping.

On the other hand, I seem to find endless entertainment in playing with the letterforms of Carolingian, or Uncial, or just trying to imitate the handwriting of historical figures like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. I’m in love with the old long-s character, and the half-r, and the alternate letterforms in other historical hands.

Maybe it’s the history? I’m not sure, but for some reason I feel as though older lettering styles have more life in them. More personality. More presence.

And I’ve acquired a craving for a really good fountain pen. And a nice dip-pen and inkwell. And a penknife and lessons in how to cut a quill.