I think it’s time for a reboot check-in



I had decided that I wasn’t going to do these after a year, but since I’m still committed to the changes I made a little over a year ago, and I need to post something today, to keep the chain unbroken, I’m going to check in and see how I’m doing. I haven’t actually thought about these things until now, so when I give myself a grade today, it’ll be an honest grade, based on where I am right now.

If this is your first time hearing about the reboot, here’s what you need to know:

Just about one year ago, I took an honest look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw. I needed to reset a lot of habits, make some significant changes to the way I approached just about everything in my life, and keep working at it, even when it was hard.

I can’t even believe that it’s already been a year, and that it’s only been a year, because time feels like that when you’re 44, I guess.

Here are the things I decided to address:

  • Drink less beer.
  • Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).
  • Write more.
  • Watch more movies.
  • Get better sleep.
  • Eat better food.
  • Exercise more.

Every month, I wrote a post that looked into each of those things I decided to change, and examined how I was doing with them. That was a helpful part of the exercise, because it made me look at myself and my choices honestly and fearlessly. At times, it motivated me to work harder, and at other times it encouraged me by making me realize that I was doing better than I thought.

This time around, since I haven’t done a public check-in since October, I’m going to give myself two grades on each point. One will be the overall since last time, and one will be for January. Here we go.

Drink Less Beer – Well, I’ve gone a full calendar year without having any booze at all, so I think I get an A+ on this one, and I can take it off the list going forward, though I don’t plan to start drinking again. In the year since I quit drinking, I got a lot of clarity in my life. I got a lot done, and I accomplished a lot of stuff, personally and creatively. It was a big change that wasn’t always easy, because I really like good craft beer and fancy whisky. But I definitely liked it too much at times, and it was making me gain weight, slowing down, and it gave me a soft escape from the frustrations and difficulties of reality a little too often. Cutting alcohol out of my life hasn’t magically given me all the things I have wanted for years. I haven’t had a sudden explosion in acting work, and I actually worked less as an actor in 2016 than I did in 2015. (It’s interesting to me that the first place my mind goes when I think about this is how much I’ve struggled to get on-camera work, or even the opportunity to audition for on-camera work.) But! I’m healthy. I have better mental health than I did a year ago. I have better relationships with my friends, who I see more often. I am a better husband and partner to Anne. I’m not pouring away evenings, feeling sorry for myself. I’m in good shape and some random lady even thought I was attractive the other day, so there.

I haven’t finished the all the books I want to finish, but I’m getting there. I haven’t gotten the on-camera jobs I wanted. I haven’t solved the Hollywood puzzle, and maybe I never will. But I have sort of regained control of my life in a way I didn’t even know I needed to. I have to remember that it’s okay, and it’s normal, to feel the bad things and the sad things, and that it’s also okay to feel proud of myself for making this change and sticking with it. Grade: A+/A+

Read More – I made it a goal to read 30 books in 2016, and I barely got there, by finishing a Kindle Single on New Year’s Eve. I could have counted magazines, and made it to 30 by the end of March, but that would have been cheating. The whole point of reading more was to expand my intellectual world, to find artistic inspiration as a writer and an actor (and it feels really stupid to say “as an actor” because I don’t think I’ve worked on-camera as an actor in close to a year, so I don’t feel like one). That was a total success. I mostly read fiction, but I also read some non-fiction, including a lot of books that have helped me grow as a writer. I have learned a lot about structure and how to break a story. I’ve read novels and short stories that inspired me to create my own works of narrative fiction. I’m making a decision almost every day to invest time in feeding my brain (that Tyrion Lannister quote about books and swords and whetstones comes to mind) and at this point, if I were to read more books, I wouldn’t have a lot of time for much else. So this is becoming a maintenance thing, going forward. I can probably take it off the list, or at least change the wording. At the moment, I’m reading two books, and listening to a third. Grade: A/A

Write More – I finished the puke draft of a short story that may technically qualify as a novella, and I’m in the last 10-15K words of a short story that turned into a novella that decided to become a novel. As I say whenever I mention that one (which I’ve given the working title “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything”), I don’t know if it all holds together, but even if it doesn’t, I can break it up into a few different short stories, and the very best part of the entire experience in writing it has been gaining the confidence to just write what’s in my head without judgement. I’m getting better at telling stories, and I’m getting better as listening to the characters who are in them. I’m starting to think about how I’m going to publish these things. Am I going to self-publish? Will I try to pitch a publisher? I don’t know, though I’m leaning toward self-publishing. But that’s a bridge that I can’t even see right now, much less think about crossing. Since October, I get an A. Currently, even though I’ve been writing in my blog daily for almost two straight months, I’m only giving myself a C+, because every day I look at the rewrite that I need to finish, and come up with some excuse to not do it.

Watch More Movies – Again, the wording needs to change on this one, or maybe it needs to come off the list, because I think it’s done its work for me. I’m watching, on average, three movies a week, and at least that many episodes of long-form narrative television that isn’t escapist fun. So if I was going to watch more, I’m in the same problem as I would be with writing. Just like reading, the goal here was to get inspired, and find my way back to the Art. Did I ever write about the day I realized I was unhappy all the time because I needed to find my way back to the Art? I feel like I did, but now I’m not sure. Oh, yes, I didI took this whole year off from a lot of work so I could be a writer. I was depressed and unfulfilled and unhappy and sad, all the time, because I felt like I’d spent years doing other people’s work. I’d lost my way, creatively, and I know this sounds wanky but it’s true: I needed to find my way back to The Art. I needed to write stories and tell stories and finish stories. I needed to grow as a writer so I had the confidence to start a thing, and keep going when it got tough. I needed to develop the discipline to put down words without judgement and go back to fix things later. I needed to be the Writer that I was telling people I was, before I got distracted three years ago and didn’t write every day. I needed to do something to express myself creatively because I want to be a writer when I grow up. I need to honor the very good writers who I know and love and respect who tell me that I am a good writer, and that I need to write more.  So that’s in the context of writing, and I wrote basically the same thing about watching movies, so that’s obviously something that’s been weighing on my mind for a long time. It was working in October, but I’m not sure it’s working now. Maybe it’s my stupid Depression Brain, but when I watch a movie I love right now, more often than not, I don’t think “Wow, I sure would love to do something like this!” What I actually think and feel is, “Well, I’ll never get a chance to do something like this, and I better figure out a way to get okay with that before it kills me.” So I’m watching more movies, and a wide diversity of movies, and I’m also watching some truly wonderful television, but I don’t feel like this is a thing that I need to do any more. I think the new goal will be something like, “Get offline and work on something you’re proud of. Don’t waste time paying attention to garbage that doesn’t matter.” Grade: B/A

Get Better Sleep – Last time I looked at this, my brain was giving me nightmares and not letting me sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. Since last time, it’s been basically the same. I’m not remembering most of my dreams, but I am waking up with vague memories of them being bad. It’s nearly impossible for me to fall asleep before midnight, and when I do, I wake up at 2am for at least an hour. I have no idea what this is about. I have tried everything from only having caffeine in the morning, exercising myself nearly to exhaustion, meditation, every kind of calming, relaxing tea you can imagine, pure CBD sublingual oil, and over the counter sleep things. The OTC stuff sucks and makes me feel awful. I’m not even going to consider things like Ambien, because this is more of an inconvenience, than something that’s affecting my quality of life in a way that I think justifies something like that. The CBD actually helps about half of the time, without any icky side effects, and I may look into something a little stronger in that area. Teas don’t seem to help, but I still like them a lot. The Kava Calm and Bedtime teas from Yogi Tea are great, and probably work for someone who doesn’t have a totally broken brain like I do. Maybe it’s just my lot in life to sleep for a little over 8 hours, starting at 1am, and feel like a groggy bucket of shit for an hour every morning. I realize this is a stupid artist problem that people who work for a living will have no sympathy for, and I respect that. Like I said in October, I’m doing what I can do so that I can get better sleep, and my asshole brain just isn’t getting on board with the program. So I think I’m going to give myself a C since October, and grade myself on a curve to C+ for this month. I’m trying my best, and that’s all I can do, right?

Eat Better Food – If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been cooking almost every night. Anne and I got Blue Apron, and we like it. I’d give it 3 out of 5, but that’s a whole post of its own. So we are making good food, healthy food. But since December, I have developed a massive sweet tooth for real Cadbury Milk Chocolate, and I’m drinking sodas like twice a week. I’ve replaced homebrewing with breadmaking, which is really cool and satisfying, but is mmmmmmaybe leading to me eating more bread than I probably should. My weight hasn’t suffered that much, though I have gone back to 156-158 from the 154-155 I’d worked so hard to maintain. My scale says my body fat percentage has increased from 17.9 to 18.2. I’m sure that the added sugar in my diet is a big part of that. But here’s the thing: even though I apparently have this new vice in my life (the highest quality chocolate I can find and afford) and I eat ice cream almost every night, I’m staying within my in/out calorie goals, and for fuck’s sake, world, I’m not going to deny myself everything that I like just for the sake of achieving this number on a scale. I feel good in my skin (most of the time), I’m able to run almost as much as I want to, I have to go get all my suits tailored because I’ve lost two inches off my waist since I got them eighteen months ago … it’s like, it’s fine. If I’m going to have one thing in my life that isn’t totally good for me, I’m okay with it being this. Still, grades: B overall since October, even counting for the holidays, and a C for this month. I know that I can do better here, but I honestly just don’t care that much right now. I have other things to hate myself about. Maybe I’m a little defensive about this, now that I read it again.

Exercise More – Oh, Wil. You were doing so well. Maybe it’s the cold and dark of winter. Maybe it’s related to all the stress from the holidays. Maybe it’s something entirely different. All I know is that I went from looking forward to running daily to making myself run at least three days a week to maybe running once a week to trying to run and oh fuck me my goddamn knee and hip hurt again. Still, when I do run, I’m almost able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. I’m getting my 5K time close to 30 minutes, and I know that I could get under 30 if I were in an actual race. I have a lot of dumb aches that are probably the result of the extra sugar in my diet and the reduction of exercise at the same time. So this is going to stay on the list, and I’m going to be honest with myself: I can do better. I need to do better. I will do better. Even if it’s just walking, even if it’s just fifteen minutes to go around a few blocks, it’s something that I can find the time to do. And it’s a good excuse to listen to a podcast, or some more of my current audiobook. Grade since October: D. Grade this month: C.

I’m not looking forward to scoring the whole grade here, but working out the average, I see that I get:

Quarterly Grade: 22 points out of a possible 28 for, like … I guess it’s a C

January(ish) Grade: 22 points out of a possible 28. That’s going to be a C, also. Weird how that averaged out. Maybe I actually feel like 22 out of 28 at this moment in time, and I subconsciously gave myself grades that get there? I don’t know. This version of the timeline is really fucked up and about to get a whole lot worse.

Maybe I’m being tougher on myself than I should, because today my self esteem is garbage and my Depression brain is having a field day with that. But this is down from 36 points last time. I think I need to meet with my advisor and consider some tutoring, or maybe adjusting my class load for this semester.





We have come so far, America, yet we have so far to go



Last night, while looking for a movie to watch, I said to Anne, “How about Selma? It’s timely.”

It’s one of those movies that we’d both been intending to see since it came out, but never got around to. I tracked it down and we settled in. It is a powerful, moving, beautiful film that at least one Fascist who is about to become an illegitimate president should watch.

When the film was over, I sat on the couch, and wept for several minutes. This isn’t ancient history. This isn’t fiction. This is something that happened less than a decade before I was born, and the kind of systemic racism it reveals is still happening today from Ferguson to Baltimore to towns all across America that never make the news. And now we are about to have an illegitimate president who would look at George Wallace and think he was the hero of this story.

It’s appalling to me that our SCOTUS threw out the voting rights act that Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and so many other civil rights leaders fought so hard to bring into law. It’s even more appalling that, half a century later, our country still needs it. It’s disgusting and sickening that the idiot who is about to become the least popular president in history doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, about the people who fought so hard (some giving up their lives) to ensure that their fellow Americans were allowed to exercise the rights given to them in our country’s Constitution.

I went to a hockey game today. At one point in the second period, a picture of Dr. King was put on the jumbotron with an excerpt from his famous “I have a dream” speech printed next to him. There was no announcement, there was no attention drawn to it, to him, to his sacrifices and to the entire reason today is a federal holiday. I think I was one of maybe half a dozen people in the Staples Center who applauded. I’m pretty sure I was the only one (at least in my section) who stood up. That made me feel ashamed for my country, and so disappointed in my fellow citizens. More attention was paid to the kiss cam, than to the memory of the man who we are meant to honor and remember today.

We have come so far, America, yet we have so far to go.




The Tale of the Wicked



I’m currently rereading Dune, and it’s even more amazing than I remember, probably because I am not 12 years-old anymore, and I can appreciate things now that I didn’t even know existed, then. My copy is a glorious hardback, so I can’t read it in bed after Anne has gone to sleep, on account of the “fucking light that’s so goddamn bright and why is it on after midnight”. This means that when I can’t read Dune before bed, I read something on my Kindle, so there is isn’t enough light to earn me The Wrath Of Anne Wheaton.

A few nights ago, I had finished an old Asimov Robot story that I got in a Humble Bundle, and when I went back to my homescreen, my Kindle recommended a short story from Scalzi, called The Tale of the Wicked. It is described thusly:

Captain Michael Obwije of the Confederation Armed Forces has been hunting a Tarin battle cruiser in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. But when he orders his own ship in for the killing blow, the hot pursuit turns into a potentially more dangerous situation. One with implications for the entire Confederation.

That’s more than I knew when I bought it. In fact, all I knew when I bought it was that it was a short Scalzi story that cost 99 cents. For the record, that’s typically all I need to know to go ahead and make that kind of purchase.

It’s short and I think even that official description tells you more than you need to know, so I won’t spoil anything for you by adding my own details. I will say that I rated it 5 out of 5, and I would like very much to adapt it into a screenplay, if John hasn’t already made a deal to do that.

You can read it in under an hour, and if you’re like me, and thought that Zachary Quinto did the audio version of it, you can hear it in his voice while you read it, which is pretty nice. Or you could imagine that it’s me, which is not as nice, but is still kinda nice.

The 2017 College League Blades of Steel Tournament – Round Two



It was another 20ish minutes of furious action, here in Konami Arena, as the Los Angeleses Hockey Guys from Los Angeles took on The Team from Chicago in the second round of the College League Tournament.

Fresh off a commanding victory in the first round, Los Angeles controlled much of the first period, getting several scoring opportunities from All The Guys, including two breakaways that even a monkey could have scored so what the hell, man. But it was The Chicagos who scored first, halfway into the first period when That Player Guy intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and scored from the blue line.

The Los Angeleses tied the score seconds later, when The Faceoff Guy won the draw, skated back around The Defence Guy, and then fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle that beat the Chicago goalie on the far side.

The ensuing celebration dance was exceptionally funky, even by tournament standards.

The Chicago scored near the end of the period, after That Chicago Guy knocked down The Los Angeles Guy, and fired a rocket that the goalie totally saved, but whatever I guess it went in. Then, with just seconds left in the first, Los Angeles scored again off the faceoff, as time expired in the period.

The second period got off to an exciting start, with an early penalty shot for The Los Angeleses. Possibly remembering his failure to score in the game against the New Yorks, Los Angeles Left Winger The Same Guy, scored over the Chicago goalie’s glove side, to give his team the lead.


Less than one minute later, Chicago tied the game again, when the Los Angeles Guy couldn’t get the goddamn puck behind his own net for some reason, even though the goalie should have been able to pick it up and pass it to him, leading to the Chicago guy passing to the other guy who passed to the other guy who passed to one more guy for a quick shot that the goalie never saw because his entire team was trying to figure out where the hell the puck was. Los Angeles fought back — literally — but didn’t score on any of their power plays, allowing Chicago to take the lead back with a goal that the Los Angeles goalie was pretty sure he had, because the arrow was next to the post and he had position so he should have made the save, but collision detection wasn’t as precise in the 80s as it is now I guess.

Los Angeles was able to tie with a pair of unanswered goals, including a buzzer-beating slapshot from the red line that was pretty awesome.  

Both teams continued their fast and aggressive play to start the third period. That Guy from Los Angeles had several great opportunities to score, but couldn’t get the goddamn aiming arrow to move for some reason. This Dumb Guy from Chicago picked up one of That Guy’s rebounds, and skated around the entire Los Angeles team, sneaking the puck past the goalie, who was out of position.

Los Angeles answered quickly, again scoring off the faceoff from just inside the blue line with a gorgeous backhander that snuck between the Chicago goalie and the near post. 

The score remained tied until 6:11 remained in the period. Chicago’s Exhibition Season MVP, That Guy There, knocked My Guy from Los Angeles off the puck at center ice, and skated in deep. He shot from the slot, and the Los Angeles goalie made a huge save, but couldn’t control the rebound. That Guy There picked it up, skated all the way back out of the zone, and fired a long shot from just outside the blue line. The Los Angeles goalie apparently never had a chance to stop the shot, which went right past him in the center of the net, where he thought he was positioned to make the save. Chicago took the lead with time running out, and Los Angeles called a time out.


Energy in the arena was at a fever pitch. Something that sounded like a whistle joined some static that could be the cheering of the crowd, as the arena organist played a royalty-free, public domain chiptune. The Los Angeleses got ready for the face off, moving a couple of their guys around just before the referee announced “FACE OFF!” The Center Guy for Los Angeles won the puck, and skated back toward his own zone, before passing it at his own blue line to his goalie for some reason, even though he had a guy wide open at center ice. The Chicago Guy rushed toward the next, and fell down in the goal crease, allowing the goalie to pass it up ice. Two quick passes from One Guy to Another Guy Who Looks Just LIke Him got the puck into the Chicago zone, where This Guy fired a shot from the near boards that sailed past the goalie, to tie the score with just two minutes left.

With the score tied at 8, the game went to a shootout.

Los Angeles sent This Guy in the Purple Pants to the line, and he scored on the glove side. Then Chicago scored down low to tie, past a goalie who knew that’s where the shot was headed, but slid to the side anyway for some reason.

With the game on the line, Chicago’s own This Fucking Guy shot the puck to the stick side. The Los Angeles goalie saw it all the way, and moved to the side to stop it, but then the puck literally went right through him for some reason, and the Chicago Chicagos defeated The Los Angeles Los Angeleses by a final score of 3-2 in the bullshit shootout.

In his post-game press conference, the Los Angeles coach expressed frustration with his team. “We tell them to ‘make the pass, make the pass,’ but some of them are still doing ‘with the pass, with the pass’. That can get the team out of sync, and in a competitive league like this one, every mistake is going to hurt you.” Asked if he’ll be back for another tournament, the coach said, “Oh yeah. After a loss like this, you want to just throw up your hands and go play Zelda or maybe RC Pro-Am or something, but you always end up coming back for another game. I mean, let’s be honest, an entire tournament here takes less time than one game in Baseball, and we have much better graphics.”

The Chicago players from Chicago were jubilant after the game, posing for pictures and shaking their sticks in the air. They will go on to face the winner of the Edmonton / Vancouver game for the championship that nobody cares about, because the Los Angeleses are out of the tournament.

The 2017 College League Blades of Steel Tournament – Round One



It was an exciting afternoon, here at Konami Arena, as the Los Angeles … um … Los Angeleses looked to win their first championship of the year, opening the tournament against the New York … New Yorks.

The first period was scoreless until that one guy took a pass from the other guy and got the puck past the New York goalie, putting Los Angeles on the board. The period would end with Los Angeles leading 2-0.

The Los Angeleses scored twice in the second, taking a commanding lead, though The One Guy for Los Angeles didn’t score on his penalty shot, even though he “totally fucking should have that was bullshit what the fuck.” At the end of two periods, the score was New York 1, Los Angeles 4. The New Yorks cut the lead to 2, when they scored on the powerplay early in the third period. The goal was credited to That Other Guy who had the puck at center ice and somehow scored from the red line, even though the Los Angeleses goalie was totally over the arrow, and who even scores from center ice, anyway?

The Los Angeleses were held to a single goal in the third, which came from breakout rookie That Guy There, and the New Yorks got close with a goal scored on the power play, but the Los Angeles Los Angeleses held on to win the game, by a score of 5-3. This Guy Here had two goals and two assists, to earn the first star of the game.

After the game, The Guy from Los Angeles told reporters, “I was just trying to get the puck into the net, and when I didn’t have the puck, crash into the New York guy enough to knock him down, or maybe start a fight. Usually it’s the Other Guy, or That One Other Guy who does the fights, but when your team tells you to fight, you drop the gloves and try to knock the other guy down before he puts you into the penalty box.”

New York goalie, The Goalie, said that he knew the Los Angeles guy would shoot the penalty shot right into him, so “I just stood up like an idiot and made the save because whatever.” New York’s enforcer, that guy there, said that he wouldn’t do anything differently. “I just try to make the pass, make the pass, and fight,” he told reporters.

Up next for the Los Angeleses is The Chicago, who defeated the Torontos in their first round matchup.




Because it’s a FAQ: 2-Player Tabletop Games



A few times a week, I am asked by couples to recommend some two player Tabletop games for them to play. This is a very short, totally non-exhaustive list of (mostly lighter) games that I love to play with Anne, as well as some other games that aren’t her jam, but are still pretty great.

Travel Blokus

The idea is to take pieces that are basically Tetris shaped, and lay them down on a board, following some simple placement rules. The objective is to use up all of your pieces, or have fewer pieces left than anyone else when you run out of places to put them. It’s super simple to teach and learn, and way more difficult to master than you would expect. There’s a regular Blokus that’s for up to four players, and a version that uses triangles. This travel version is perfect for, well, traveling, and also is specifically designed for two players.


Jaipur is a very simple set collecting card game for two players. It’s portable, and has great replay value because it allows a lot of different strategies to be explored and utilized.

Small World

You may have seen us play Small World on Tabletop in the first season. It’s sort of like Risk, but more fun. It’s an area control game, and each player has a fantasy race + special ability combo that changes every game, or multiple times during the game, if they choose. One of the great things about Small World is that it comes with multiple maps in the box, and each map is designed for a different number of players, including a two-player map.


Pretty much any cooperative game will work for two players, or even as a solo game, but I think Pandemic is the best one for couples because it’s so freaking intense. You feel like you’re losing from the first turn, and that’s half the fun of the game. I’m not saying that it lends itself to strip variants, but I’m not not saying that. I should also mention that Pandemic Legacy is fantastic for two players, especially if you want to have the experience of watching a season of a TV show together, only you’re playing it and everyone on Earth is going to die if you fail.


Yes, Sorry! from Milton Bradley. This is the go-to game for Anne and me, because I hate Scrabble. This game is almost entirely random, but there is some strategy if you really want to go that route. It’s great for two players, especially if you want to have a drink or eleven while you play.

Ticket To Ride: Switzerland

Ticket To Ride is a great infection vector for making new gamers, and this expansion is specifically designed for 2 or 3 players. You can technically play any of the TTR games with 2 players, but you run into the problems a large map presents, which (in my opinion) just make the game longer and less fun. So this particular map works well for 2 players, and works with either the original Ticket To Ride or Europe base sets.

Set and Iota

Both are little card games that feature pattern matching and team work. Iota is more competitive, and plays like Set in reverse.


One of my favorite Tabletop games of all time, Takenoko is high variance when you play it with 4 players, but intensely strategic when you play it heads up.

Finally, there is also Magic: The Gathering (duh) and my friend Chris Kluwe’s upcoming Twilight of the Gods LCG. If you want something that’s intense and takes hours and hours to play, Twilight Struggle gets high marks from my friends who play it.

I’m sure there are a lot of other games (tell me in a comment, if you want) that work well for two players, but this is what I can come up with quickly off the top of my head, and I have 23 pages of dialog to prepare for a voice session tomorrow so I kinda have to get back to work.

Play more (two-player) games!!

Edit to add: HIVE! This was mentioned in comments (with a lot of other games that look really fun, but haven’t been played by me) and I need to add it. Hive is amazing. It’s everything you love about Chess and Othello and Go, with none of the things that make those games so difficult for new players. Rich Sommer introduced me to this game one night at a little coffee and pie place in North Hollywood, and what we thought would be a quick cup of coffee turned into like four hours of us playing Hive over and over and over. It’s really awesome. Get the pocket edition, because it’s portable and you lose nothing in the translation.


all we have to do is keep talking



Back in the Before Times, we’d go to a blog, read the post, read the comments, add a comment, and (usually) encounter interesting people who engaged us in interesting conversation. That probably feels like a fairytale to a lot of you, but it still happens here, because I think I’ve used a combination of no-fuck-giving and the banhammer to push away most of the idiots who would waste our time being dicks and just trying to disrupt our ability to communicate with each other.


Still, I imagine that a substantial percentage of you don’t have the time or interest to read what other people have to say, so it is for all of you that I am sharing this conversation I had over the weekend. I think you’ll dig it as much as I did.

In the comments to my post nebulat ergo cogito, Stephanie said

This is really beautifully written and I sincerely enjoyed reading it.
Nitpick/ question : If your title is “Fog therefore I think” then there’s a typo in your latin. There shouldn’t be a “t” on the end of “nebulat” because nouns in the in the nominative singular don’t change their endings. If you wanted it to be “I fog therefore I think” as a play on cogito (I think) ergo (therefore) sum (I am) I’d recommend adding an “ego” which is latin for “I” because nebula won’t function as a verb. Or for “fog is therefore I think” I might try “nebula est ergo cogito” Unless your title is meant to be something else and I missed it?

Latin grammar nazi 😀

I replied

So I love that, of all the kinds of grammar Nazis you can be, you’re a Latin one, because that’s really freaking cool! I had a friend who could read and write Latin, and it was always fun to make him do it at parties.

The title is taken from a quote by Umberto Eco, and because I don’t speak Latin, or read it, or even understand it, I just copied it from him. 🙂

She said

I love Umberto Eco! My favourite is the Island of the Day Before, although I’ve never read something he wrote that I disliked. I deeply wish my Italian was strong enough to read him in his original language, because I think it must be beautiful, but I can barely order coffee. Anyway, excellent choice in source material 🙂
Umberto Eco was also a poet and medievalist, whereas my Latin language training was classical (think medieval English versus modern), so there could be some difference there. He was also far more skilled a Latinist than I will ever be.

Basically, latin grammar uses different endings on the end of words in place of things like pronouns and prepositions, or to indicate if the verb is subject or object, plural or singular, etc. And Latin nouns never take a “t” ending so far as I know.

Given that I know the source is a poet, I’d say he added the ending to make nebula function as a verb in the 3rd person singular (he/she/it).

If that’s the case then the translation is roughly:

It fogs, therefore I think.

However, “ergo” may be static in meaning as “therefore” but “cogito” can mean: think; consider, reflect on, ponder; imagine, picture; intend, or look forward to; and “nebula” can mean: mist, fog; cloud (dust/smoke/confusion/error); thin film, veneer; or obscurity.

So there’s a lot of play with the translation, and we’ll never be able to say with 100% certainty what that translation should have been. As a writer and lifelong teacher, I’m sure Umberto Eco wouldn’t mind if you played with his words.

If you ever come across any more latin phrases and want a rough idea of their meaning this stuff might help you a little bit:



Oh! that reminds me. Did you know that there’s a rule in English grammar that says it’s incorrect to split the infinitive? This is because in Latin the infinitive is a single word, so it’s physically impossible to split it and a long time ago, the original grammar Nazis decided that English grammar should adhere to the same rules as Latin. Of course that makes no sense at all, you can split the infinitive in English quite easily and its meaning is perfectly clear. The most famous example of the split infinitive? “To boldly go.”

Thus ends Latin to English translation 101.

I said

This is fascinating, Stephanie! Thank you for taking the time to share all of this stuff with me!

And she said

You’re more than welcome.

Latin is basically a math puzzle for the literary minded, so you’d probably really enjoy studying it since you enjoying programming and such. Have you ever thought about going back to school? A lot of people study things like languages and history and come away feeling like it’s just a bunch of names and dates and words to memorize, but if you have the right kind of mind for it, you’ll see that what it really is, is the study of the framework of our world. Once you learn to see the scaffolding that holds everything up, you get good at working with the shell that’s built up around it, and you realize that the anthropological idea that all history is fiction is literally true. If you spend enough time with languages then you start to see that writing is only a series of symbols which function as a kind of telepathy allowing you to read the thoughts of other people, whether it’s been hours or millennia since those thoughts were given form. Although It’s kind of weird when time loses its scope and the tragedies of 200 CE become just as immediate as something that happened yesterday.
I know you think of yourself as a creative type, but academia is creative, that’s why it produces so many people like Tolkien and CS Lewis and Umberto Eco. It also gives you a lot of free time to spend on other pursuits. Plus your performance ability would have made you an amazing professor, like really fantastic.
Things to think about in case you get bored.

Anne and I watched ARRIVAL this weekend, and that film deserves an entire post of its own, but something Stephanie said harmonically resonated with some dialog from the film. Amy Adams plays a linguistics professor, who is teaching her class about the origin of Portuguese:

So I was already thinking about how language and art are ways to express thoughts and emotions and all of those things that make us individuals. When I read Stephanie’s most recent comment this morning, it landed on me in a profound and meaningful way. Part of me wants to tell you precisely what that is, right now, but a different part of me, who I guess is in charge right now, would rather leave that thread out there for you to pull on in the hopes that you’ll share what, if anything, is makes you feel and think about … because I think that one of the biggest reasons we are staring into the Abyss right now is that we’ve started talking at each other, instead of talking to each other.