it’s Iris Murdoch’s birthday today

Posted July 15, 2017 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic

but you probably already knew that!

lessons I’ve learned

Posted July 13, 2017 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic


Not many, but a few have managed to stick.

I run in Hoka Bondi 5 shoes. (“Run” is a generous word to describe what I do, by the way.) I began running with this brand when they were selling the Bondi 3 shoes, progressed through the 4s, and am now on my second pair of the 5s. They seem a good fit for me, and I no longer have the ankle ache I had when I wore a different maker’s shoe. But I did have a problem with the Hokas. The insole would slide back when I ran and bunch against my heel. (This is no longer a problem, not because they fixed it, but because I remove the insole and replace it with rigid arch supports that I’ve been running in regularly for more than a year.) Anyway, when I went to the expo for the Portland Marathon, there was a Hoka representative there, and I asked him about the insole problem. He was immediately familiar with it. This bothered me a little since there was obviously a design flaw, but no one had bothered to mention it when I bought the shoes. Otherwise they have been fine shoes and I’ve remained brand loyal. (And at the price of running shoes, I can’t afford to experiment with other brands.)

Similarly, I recently got new glasses. Once again, I stuck with the same frame (a lightweight, flexible titanium arm on each side of frameless lenses). The optician who was helping me suggested that they could simply put new lenses in the frames I already had, thus saving me some money. I said that I wanted to keep my current pair as back ups (since I will soon have five grandchildren, and grandchildren have a free pass to crawl on my head). I added, as I was talking with the optician, that both of the titanium arms had broken at different times and needed replacement. He smiled and said something like “So you know about that little problem, eh?” Again, a design flaw that would not have been revealed to me had I not mentioned it first.


By the way, this is the 1,000th post on Lucky Rabbit’s Foot.

it’s Thoreau’s birthday today

Posted July 12, 2017 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic

but you probably already knew that!


Posted June 28, 2017 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Humble efforts

I had a wistful moment yesterday morning.

I discussed at some length in my last post about the journal that required printed submissions sent via snail mail and how I was going to do that with one of my stories, even though it seems so 20th Century.

Putting the document in order and printing it, and then writing an actual letter, wasn’t nearly as cumbersome as I had imagined it to be. I had the document in hand easily enuf and just had to search through the junk in the basement for an old fashioned manila envelope to complete the process.

So yesterday morning, I detoured on my way to work in the pre-dawn hours to the local Post Office to drop the manila envelope with my story in it in a mailbox, where it would be picked up and eventually delivered to a great southern city where it would be considered for the publication.

And as I drove away from the Post Office I recalled the very first time I submitted a story to a journal, more than thirty years ago. I can still feel the I-don’t-know-what that I felt then. The feeling that I was doing something wholly unique to me, wholly outside of my life experience and expectation. Something for myself, by myself. Something hopeful and ambitious and striving. Embarking on my writing career.

When I posted my submission yesterday, those same feeling returned. It was odd and satisfying. I enjoyed the feeling.

That story I submitted thirty years ago was not accepted. It never found a home, though I think it was a pretty good first effort. (I haven’t read it in years.) Perhaps my submission yesterday will have a better fate, but it’s already provided me with a lot of satisfaction, recalling those early sentiments as it has.

bits and pieces

Posted June 26, 2017 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic, Rants and ruminations

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: there is no such thing as unsweetened tea! There is sweetened tea, and there is tea. Simple as that.


The words “tattoo” and “tattoo” are completely different. The first is an evening drum or bugle signal recalling soldiers to their quarters. Its first English use was in the mid-17th Century and is derived from the Dutch “taptoe” that meant, literally, “close the tap (to the casks).”

The second has a Polynesian origin and refers to the inking of skin with designs. It first appeared in English with this meaning in the mid-18th Century.

You can now make even more interesting conversation at parties.


My son said he saw a sticker in the back window of a car that said 26.2, but he thought it looked wrong. Closer inspection revealed the words in small type below it: “Number of Oreos I can eat in an hour.”

That seems a little low.


I regularly look at the Calendar at Duotrope’s Digest to see if any of the themes of upcoming journals match what is going on — even remotely — in any of my unpublished stories. I saw a journal calling for stories about “the face in the photo” and one of my One-Match Fire stories, “Moving Day”, includes the son finding a picture of his father as an infant, with a cryptic notation on the back that sets his imagination and worry on fire. The photo makes another appearance in a later story, so it is an important discovery in the cycle. (See this post for more background.) And so I imagined that my story might be a fit for the theme the journal was soliciting.

Thus I began researching the submission requirements for the journal and found something odd. Submitters within the U.S. must send in a paper document by snail mail. That’s old school (though I am old enuf to have begun my writing life submitting this way and looking askance at this newfangled email submission business). My guess is either the editor is still looking askance at email or they’re using this more labor-intensive method to winnow out impulsive submissions.

So I’m going to prepare a printed version of the story and submit it. All it will cost me is a little time and a little postage (plus a return-addressed* envelope with postage).

*I read an impassioned response to the phrasing “self-addressed envelope” which is the standard wording in the business and which everyone understands: your own address is on the face of the envelope so they can send you the inevitable rejection letter. The writer who objected to this said that a self-addressed envelope would be one that did the writing of the address itself. Better phrasing, he insisted, was “return-addressed envelop” since it is both more precise and, well, possible. You know I’m not so very obsessive about our evolving language, but I was impressed with the passion of the man’s point, and I’ve followed it ever since.



summer solstice

Posted June 21, 2017 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic

Today is the summer solstice, the official beginning of summer and the longest day of the year.

Depending on your outlook, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

rise up, or the sins of a writer

Posted June 19, 2017 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Rants and ruminations

Tags: , ,

So I’m reading Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout right now. It is her first novel, from nearly twenty years ago, and I’m finding wording in it that bugs me.

One of you fine readers originally suggested I read Strout’s novel Olive Kitteridge, and I’ve been delving into her works regularly ever since. Strout takes her time telling her story, giving a great deal of attention to minor characters and creating a world that is credible and tangible. Best of all, she writes sentences that often demand pausing and re-reading to get the full effect. I’ve copied some of her sentences and passages into my journal. (She’s also not shy about using sentence fragments for effect, my particular writing “sin.”)

But I’m finding a writing sin recurring in Amy and Isabelle that surprises me. Several times I’ve come across the words “rise up” and “gather together” and the like. The apparently unneeded redundancy has always bugged me; perhaps it is a result of the years when I was committing journalism (as the writer Sue Hubbell called it). I wrote lean in those days, and nearly any time I could shave out a word, I did. And what other direction can one rise than up? You can’t gather apart, so why do you need the modifier “together”? And so on.

Yet these occur repeatedly in this novel. Perhaps it does not bug her the way it bugs me. Or perhaps her editor suggesting cleaning these, but Strout insisted her words remain unchanged. (Iris Murdoch was famous for not allowing edits to her works.) I don’t know, but I do know that Strout has a new novel out, twenty years into her career, and if I read it soon, maybe I’ll find that she no longer sins in this way.