Category archive: Commonplace Book

Underground's metadiscussion of slavery narratives

I'm watching Underground season 2, episode 1, “Contraband,” and I just got to a scene in which one of the... (More...)

Nichelle Nichols on naming and being cast as Uhura

Nichelle Nichols on naming Uhura and on getting the part (transcribed by me from a making-of segment on the ST:TOS... (More...)

On the difficulty of recognizing one's own biases

Another lesson for me on the difficulty of seeing outside your own cultural context: In Delany's City of a Thousand... (More...)

Ziggurat imagery in different tech levels

I've just started reading both Norman Spinrad's 1980 Songs from the Stars (first chapters set in a post-apocalypse quasi-ecotopia in... (More...)

David and Goliath rhymes

I just realized this is one of the things that some of the rhyme-chains in Hamilton reminded me of: ”Now... (More...)

On first looking into Gary Snyder

Among the books I rescued from my father's house were six books of poems by Gary Snyder. I don't know... (More...)

Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

I just picked up the printed book of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, and so far it's regularly... (More...)

On spring, change, and self-reinvention

LaShawn posted this, and I liked it so much I wanted to keep a copy of it, so I'm quoting... (More...)

Books vs pajamas

Pat (Spencer Tracy) and Jamie (Katharine Hepburn) are on a sleeper train, and the following dialogue ensues: Jamie: Would you... (More...)

Sturgeon on monogamy

Theodore Sturgeon's 1951 story “Rule of Three” (spoilers!) features two tripartite energy beings who embed themselves in six humans, and... (More...)

More from _Happy All the Time_

Still enjoying Laurie Colwin's 1978 novel Happy All the Time. Here are a couple more bits worth snipping for my... (More...)

Conversational about kissing?

I've been doing some sorting and organizing and winnowing of books lately, and came across a book that I think... (More...)

Too-ticky on adventures and heroes

“Quite, quite,” she thought with a little sigh. “It's always like this in their adventures. To save and be saved.... (More...)

The wombat and the box that must not be opened

I'm reading Digger, and just reached the part (about halfway through; p. 451 of the Omnibus edition, p. 491 of the webcomic)... (More...)

What spotlights are for

Many years ago, Arthur E and I were driving somewhere, and we saw a spotlight sweeping back and forth across... (More...)

"What a Good Boy" and gender expectations

I've had several interesting conversations about gender roles in the past few days. Not gonna write a real entry about... (More...)

Not exactly language for a lady

Last night, I watched the 2008 movie Changeling (set in 1928). It didn't do anything for me, and I ended... (More...)

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Yesterday someone linked to Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail, and I realized that I had never read it... (More...)

"You don't owe prettiness to anyone"

I think I linked to Erin McKean's excellent 2006 post “You Don't Have to Be Pretty” at some point, but... (More...)

Cute disclaimer

I recently watched the animated movie A Cat in Paris, which turned out to be super-charming (thanks to whoever it... (More...)

Law and Downey on the Sherlock/Watson bromance

Every time I try to link to this quote, I discover that none of my links to it are easily... (More...)

Hidden speech of the powerless and the powerful

A while back, someone pointed me to a book called Domination and the Arts of Resistance, by James C. Scott.... (More...)

Small adventures

I'm finally reading Comet in Moominland. (I never read the Moomin books as a kid, but friends have been recommending... (More...)

Lewis Thomas on computers

In 1974 or so, Lewis Thomas wrote an interesting essay titled “Computers,” which he reprinted in his book The Lives... (More...)

Not the scorpion and the frog

I liked this bit from The Good Wife (season 1, ep 14, “Hi”): Cary: I can't help it, you know,... (More...)

Cute Gilmore Girls bit

I've been collecting Gilmore Girls quotes as I rewatch the series, and some day I hope to put together (I... (More...)

Sir, I exist!

I was thinking about this poem the other day, in the context of certain kinds of human interactions. No time... (More...)

Niels Bohr on coincidence in movies

Mary Anne and I were discussing coincidence in story plots, and this quote came to mind but I couldn't quite... (More...)


Maynard Moose's story “Pegamoose and the Gorgonzola Medusa” just came up in iTunes. I was especially tickled by this bit,... (More...)

Darkness into light

Sometimes around this time of year, we need a little hope to carry us through to brighter days. Here are... (More...)

Self-reliant kids

An exchange between Karen and Jeremiah reminded me of this line: You bring up your children to be self-reliant and... (More...)

The problem with TV conspiracies

Nice quote: The problem with all-powerful conspiracies on serialized TV shows is that, inevitably, they have to be defeated by... (More...)

On scientific dissent

Happened across this while looking up something else: But being a dissenter from orthodoxy is not difficult; the hard part... (More...)

Pink Panther quotes

Back in March, I watched the original Pink Panther movie, and didn't like it much. But it did include a... (More...)

Cute flash fiction

Encountered this a while back on; no idea whether it's by them or by someone else: And the princess... (More...)

Berlioz on writing

Cute quote: When I talk of my laziness, it only applies to the writing of prose. I have often sat... (More...)

When to reconsider

Still reading Jane Eyre, but getting near the end. I think that the following, as a response to a marriage... (More...)

Quotes for the day

Any minute now, I'm going to get up and finish the last of my packing for WisCon. Leaving for the... (More...)

Two bits of Kipling

Years ago, back in the Usenet days, someone used to have as their .signature a verse that I quite liked;... (More...)


Dropped Jim off at the airport yesterday morning. Picked up groceries, came home, worked at home. Today, intended to go... (More...)


Just heard Bernice Johnson Reagon on NPR, talking about, among other things, her experience (as part of the Civil Rights... (More...)

Westerns and science fiction

The opportunity of a Western is that it takes issues of our culture—conflict, racial conflict, economic injustice, what is... (More...)

The effect of reading

"[W]hat with little sleep and much reading his brains got so dry that he lost his wits." —Don Quixote, chapter... (More...)

Paleface anthropology

I'm reading William Tenn's 1958 story "Eastward Ho!" (as reprinted in the 60th-anniversary volume The Very Best of Fantasy &... (More...)

Heist movies are meta-movies?

Nice line from an article about Steven Soderbergh's films: [...] nearly every heist movie—predicated on an elaborate and improbable plan... (More...)

Gilmore Girls on privilege

I was watching Gilmore Girls while entering subs into the database tonight, and encountered this exchange: Doyle: Man, I hate... (More...)

The trick to the travelin'

The Short Sisters' version of "It's a Pleasure to Know You" just came up on iTunes as I was packing,... (More...)

David Foster Wallace on tourism

Recently came across an interesting footnote about tourism (specifically about Americans being tourists in small-town or rural America) in David... (More...)

Wicked fairies and christenings

Way back in late 2000 or early 2001, Palo Alto mainstay Stacey's Bookstore was having a going-out-of-business sale, and Nao... (More...)

Benchley on Great Literature

As Robert Benchley once said: Great literature must spring from an upheaval in the author's soul. If that upheaval is... (More...)

Underestimating power

Cute bit from Overheard in New York: The United Nations, Encapsulated Dude #1: They have been underestimating my power. Dude... (More...)

Dancing above the abyss

I'm most of the way through re-reading the original Earthsea trilogy. This morning, came across a line I particularly liked:... (More...)


Found while trying to decide whether to keep various paperbacks from among my father's books: It is not always a... (More...)

Latin verb placement

Peter Dickinson is probably best known in sf circles for the fictional-science book The Flight of Dragons and the kids'... (More...)

Dirge Without Music

Another thing I just found in old email. Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay; from The Buck in... (More...)

Poly Pogo

Just came across this tidbit in old email. In the Pogo comic strip dated 13 December 1951, Churchy and Albert... (More...)

Greek suffix meets Lingua Terra

Sometimes people complain that the word polyamory is a mix of Latin and Greek roots. I've been known to make... (More...)

Austen on journaling

I've finished Mansfield Park, which I'll write more about later, and have started Northanger Abbey, which contains more lively and... (More...)

Orwell on writing

Vardibidian's comments on The Elements of Style indirectly brought to mind George Orwell's 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language."... (More...)


Just came across something I posted to a mailing list back in mid-1999; thought it was worth recycling as a... (More...)

Spam notes

Noted in passing: got spam this morning from one Ereshkigal Browne. Who knew that the goddess of the underworld had... (More...)

Thoreau on journaling

A conversation with Karen M. the other night somehow came 'round to the Transcendentalists, which reminded me of one of... (More...)


Someone's mention of Gormenghast reminded me that I didn't especially like Titus Groan (the first book) but that it did... (More...)

Dancing quote

I can't find my book darts, so here's another commonplace-book entry: Dear me, dancing is peculiar when you really think... (More...)

Two Le Guin quotations

I see no reason not to use a journal as, among other things, a commonplace book. So I'll quote two... (More...)