ramblings and writings of a southern hobbit

For No Particular Reason


For those of you who have been longing to buy an authentic star trek communicator or one of Shatner’s impeccably ripped shirts from the Star Trek OS episode “Amok Time,” you’re in luck! The Shatner Store is having a sale! And I would never have known if it weren’t for Twitter, the rich microblogging source of instantly updated information that makes it easier than ever to find out what your favorite celebrity had for lunch.

It’s still not quite as popular as the ubiquitous Facebook (or perhaps my data is simply skewed because Facebook is allowed on campus and Twitter still is not), but I finally had to come to grips with presence of Twitter after seeing multiple online news articles making use of politician’s tweets as sources. That got me thinking. We know what politicians and celebrities are thinking, but what would it be like to get inside the head of some famous authors?

If they had Twitter. . .

William Shakespeare

To tweet or not to tweet–that is the question.

Jane Austen

I just spent a dreadfully dull evening at a card party. I considered amusing myself by pouring tea on the gentlemen next to me.

Charlotte Bronte

There is no possibility of taking a walk today.

Lewis Carroll

‘Tis brillig and the slithy toves doth tweet and google in the wabe.

C.S. Lewis

Rather loudly exclaimed “I do not like peas!” while at a restaurant today and heard a child reply “me too!”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Received another letter from an “S. Gamgee” today. At least it wasn’t signed “S. Gollum.” That would be a good deal worse.


Acabo de acabar de escribir un libro acerca de un hombre loco que decidía hacer un caballero. Un día, seré famoso.

James Joyce

…this evening. I hate it. Took a walk around Dublin…


I Feel Witty

Actually, I don’t feel witty.

And in this day and age, being witty is an extremely important life skill. Why? One word–Facebook.* It has been rumored that the purpose of Facebook is to help you connect with friends and family. This rumor has been circulated to mask the real purpose of Facebook: to show off one’s razor sharp wit with pithy status updates.

There’s just one problem. I can’t think of anything to witty to say. Generally speaking, when I’m Facebook I’m either at a coffee shop or I’m eating lunch in my room. I guess that explains why when I used a Facebook app to determine the words I use most often in status updates, my top words were “drinking” and “coffee.” Drinking coffee certainly is fun, but there’s a limit to how many times one can wittily and entertainingly  say “I’m drinking coffee.”

And look at what I have to compete with!*

  • Perhaps I’ll die of Oreo inhalation while I’m laughing raucously at one of my friends. Go out with a bang… that’s what I always say.
  • Well I’m bored..hmm…might as well check myspace…no friend requests, no wall posts…well I will always have you tom.
  • To all you haters out there… there is nothing wrong with sugar. Makes you taller, in fact. I recommend three heaping tablespoons of brown sugar with every meal. And chocolate syrup. LOTS of chocolate syrup.
  • My highlight of the day: Saw a coyote cross the road. He looked so happy and content. It was hard to imagine him plotting against Roadrunner.

I guess it’s part of the curse of having witty friends.

*There’s also Twitter and Myspace and Google Buzz. But nobody cares about them.

*Yes, these are real status messages really posted by my real Facebook friends.

Hrothgar's Golden Hall

All college students have at some point been asked the dreaded question: “What do you want to do after you graduate?” For those of us who can confidently say  “I’ve wanted to be pediatric endocrinologist ever since I was three and a half and I’m planning on starting medical school after I finish my double major in organic chemistry and pediatric neurosurgery,” the question might not be so daunting. Unfortunantly, not all of us have our futures planned out with such precision.

After much deliberation, however, I have finally found the answer this very question: I’m going to start a restaurant. A really, really cool restaurant. I’ve decided I’m going to call it “Hrothgar’s Golden Hall.”

We already have rock n’ roll themed restaurants that blare rock music over the speakers so loudly that you can’t even think and that distract you with so many tvs playing music videos that you don’t notice if your food tastes bad. We already have outer space themed restauarants that require you to take a ride on a “flying saucer” before being seated and dress their servers up in funny costumes. But we don’t have any Anglo-Saxon themed restaurants. That’s why my idea is so brilliant, see.

The most important facet of a restaurant isn’t actually the food–it’s the atmosphere. And Hrothgar’s Golden Hall will have the most unique atmosphere of any restaurant known to man. The dining area will be charmingly decorated with giant-forged swords and monster limbs. Blind poets will perform stirring war songs on Thursday afternoons. Servers will be required to grow bushy red or blond beards* and will not scowl at you if you make a mess or throw bones on the floor.

It’s genius! But before I can officially open, I have to perfect my recipe for non-alchoholic mead. And convince people that it’s sanitary to have a cook with a bushy red beard….

*Female servers will be allowed to wear fake beards.

Photo courtesy of: Ruth Harris / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Great Pirate and Ninja Debate

Although the Great Pirate and Ninja Debate has been ongoing for centuries, many know very little about it. This spurred me to do some more research on the subject myself, in order to help better inform others.

The History of the Pirates

In 1986, the discovery of a jaw bone and a large stick side  by side in a paleontological dig in Ghana led to a new theory of the beginnings of piracy. Scientists discovered that the jaw bone belonged to a member of the species Australopithecus hominus, extinct primates believed by evolutionary biologists to be one of the forerunners of modern humans. Many anthropologists now believe piracy can be traced back to a clan of Austrolopithicus hominus living in modern day Ghana during the Paleocene era. A famine is believed to have hit this corner of Africa late in the era, driving the hungry clan to raid other hominid villages. With the invention of the boat, believed by many to be the accidental invention of Olaf the Cave Man in 56,000 B.C., the descendants of the  clan moved to raiding by sea.

a page from the Book of Elishamma

a page from the Book of Elishamma

More conservative historians remain skeptical of this theory, however. The earliest written evidence of piracy can be found in Jewish religious writings dating back to 1,400 B.C. The Apocryphal book of Elishamma contains the supposed writings  of a little known Jewish prophet prophesying the destruction of Adad–Baal, a Phoenician who terrorized the coasts of Israel from 1,380 B.C. until his sudden death in 1,412 B.C. Adad–Baal was the first to call himself a pirate, coining the term from the Phoenician words py, “glorious,” and raeat, “raider.”

The book of the words of Elishamma, the son of Elihiel, the son of Elhanan, the son of Ezechiel, of the seed of Phineas, of the tribe of Napthali, which he prophecied concerning Adad–Baal: Woe to thee, Adad–Baal of the Phoenecians, who hast said, I shall call myself Glorious, and hath declared, A raider shalt I be. A day shall come in which thy name shalt be a curse to all nations and at the sound of name all peoples shall gnash their teeth. Selah.

Piracy continued to be popular after the death of Adad–Baal wherever there were boats, rum, and stuff to steal. Piracy was a very ecumenical profession, attracting men and women from all nationalities and creeds. As the movement grew, however, the diversity of the pirates led to the need for greater organization and discipline. In 1721, the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew filled this need by formulating the Pirate Code, a definitive code of pirate conduct, which, though rarely followed, has remained the standard for piracy to this day.

The History of the Ninjas

The Most Esteemed Order of Ninjas was founded by Japanese martial arts master Katsutoshi Fuyu circa 1,111 B.C. Fuyu wrote extensively,  stressing the need for simplicity and rigorous discipline, and his followers adopted a monastic, ascetic lifestyle. Traditionally, ninjas begin their training at the age of three, the age at which an individual first displays “The Gift,” as Fuyu described the mystical ability to teleport and disappear that characterizes all ninjas. Very little else is known about ninjas. They are so rarely seen that some skeptics believe that the order is a conspiracy created by the Japanese government.

In his most famous book, conspiracy  theorist John Johnson argues that the Japanese government created the order to instill fear in neighboring countries. Although the book has won great popularity and has even been optioned as a major Hollywood film, little real credit is afforded to Johnson’s claim.

A rare undercover shot of the fabled Ninja Conference reputed to be held each year in Kyoto.

The Beginnings of the Pirate-Ninja Debate

Although the exact origins of the controversy are unclear, most historians point to the middle of the 18th century.  Beginning in 1795, Ninja Warlord Masayoshi Ken’ichi began writing pamphlets against pirate captain Tobias “Terrible Toby” Smith after an alleged offense. A pamphlet war was soon launched after Smith responded with pamphlet of his own, and a flurry of pamphlets were soon written and published by both sides. In the heat of the controversy, the original offense was forgotten. However, the rift between the pirates and ninjas has never healed to this day, despite a recent conciliatory movement led by a group called the “Pirinjas.”

Overheard at Work

Next to the white board at the office where I’m working this summer, there is a list of quotes. All you have to do to get on the list is say something funny enough that everyone in the office laughs and somebody types it up in the Master List of Funny Office Quotes. Here are a few of the things that have made in on the list.

  • I wasn’t sure whether I felt lame or awesomely rebellious.  (Me relating the time I brought a Dell laptop into an Apple store. **Note: This is my first funny office quote ever.)
  • Just wear your swimsuit and a wife-beater. (In answer to an inquiry about the dress code for a work party.)
  • It feels like being inside an onion, only the onion is cutting you. (In an attempt to describe what it feels like to get pepper juice in your eye while taking out your contacts.)
  • If I see one more company “going green,” I’m going to burn tires in my backyard! (During a conversation on environmentalism.)
  • Just beat the hooey out of ’em! (On childrearing.)
  • If only we had brown paper bags and markers. . . . (On clothing.)

Global Weirding

AfSnow signter all the snow that has been dumped on the mid-Atlantic and the South in the past few weeks, it was no surprise when a climate scientist recently declared that there has been no global warming since 1995.I propose a new climate change theory: I call it “global weirding.”

That’s right. Massive outbreaks of weird weather across the globe! And what can be weirder than snow in Florida?

Frosty the Snowman makes his first trip to Florida.

How about snow in my hometown in the South Carolina Lowcountry?

A few of the trees in my backyard.

A few of the trees in my backyard.

Anthony playing in the snow

My dog Anthony playing in the snow

Or feet of snow in Washington, D.C.?

Yes, this is the White House.

Yes, this is the White House.

Ok, so maybe snow in South Carolina or D.C. isn’t as weird as snow in Florida. But the last time it actually snowed at my house, I was ten. And apparently there’s supposed to be no more snow in D.C.

If we don’t act now, children in third world countries will starve as our world quickly becomes no more than a giant spherical ice cube. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help prevent the rapid spread of global weirding.

  1. Don’t change your light bulbs! Use  your old energy inefficient ones. The power plants lighting your homes will produce more energy, thereby emitting more carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide contributes to the “greenhouse effect,” which leads to a warmer climate that would melt away the snow.
  2. Don’t recycle! This causes more greenhouse gases to be produced by manufacturers.
  3. Carry environmentally friendly tote bags made out of burlap! Not only will you look fashionable while alerting those around you to the problem of global weirding, but the exorbitant amount of money you spent on the bag will be in part donated to research units dedicated to finding a solution to our weird weather.

Act now! Remember, only you can prevent global weirding!

Perfect BBC Drama


Everyone loves a good BBC drama. With this recipe, you can make your own! For a toothsome variation, add in a visit to London or Bath.



1 independent and spirited heroine
1 handsome hero
1 scoundrel
Several gossipy old ladies
Dramatic music
Freshly grated country ball




Preheat oven to 350F. In small to medium English village, combine heroine and gossipy ladies.


Mix in hero and dramatic soundtrack, stirring thoroughly. Batter may separate at this stage, and hero may appear disagreeable.


Beat in scoundrel and country ball with electric mixer.  Pour batter in greased and lightly floured 9″ X 1 1/2 ” cake pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until scoundrel floats to top. Remove scoundrel and discard.


Allow drama to cool ten minutes, or until hero no longer appears disagreeable. Garnish with fresh proposal and serve warm.

The Reverse Reconstruction Program

Her Imperial Shortness, Nel Brandybuck, Empress of the Carolinas and Supreme High Ruler of Everywhere, has become increasingly alarmed at the declining state of those of her citizens residing north of the Mason-Dixon line. Moved with compassion and spurred to action by the pleading of her advisors, Her Imperial Shortness has initiated a three stage Reverse Reconstruction Program (RRP) ©. The Program shall proceed as outlined below:

Stage One

  • Rigorous “Eat Grits!” campaign
  • Complimentary sweet tea served with all meals in Northern Restaurants
  • Bluegrass bands to play the national anthem at all sporting events

Stage Two

  • School programs to educate children in the superior ways of Southerness instituted in all Northern public and private schools
  • Reverse Reconstruction Communes established in Southern states to acclimate Northerners to Southern climate and culture

Stage Three

  • Giant greenhouse built over all states north of the Mason-Dixon line to ensure that all the states of the Union experience reasonable weather year-round. ¹

¹The state of Alaska has been deemed exempt from this part of the program for logistical reasons and also because we do want to have snow sometimes.

Reverse Reconstruction Program (RRP) © 2009, Her Imperial Shortness. All Rights Reserved.

Nel's New American Dictionary

action-packed [ak-shuhn pakt]

Filled to capacity with utter amazingness, such as explosions and awesome chase scenes: Wow, that movie was action-packed!

communist [kom-yuh-nist]

  1. Of or pertaining to the Communist party
  2. An epithet designating something ugly or distasteful in some way: You’re leaving the house wearing that communist hat?

dantified [deyn-tee-fied]
Possessing an inordinate fear of wetting one’s paws: Anthony, why do you have to be so daintified?

realistic [ree-uh-lis-tik]

  1. Resembling or simulating real life: a realistic decoy
  2. Really awesome and probably not resembling real life in the least. Usually used in conjunction with “action-packed”: I thought the light saber duel was pretty realistic and action-packed.

saucmx [saw-see-m-ex]
A word to describe the otherwise indescribable

smexy [smek-see]
A word to describe something that is really, um, yeah…wow: Well, I thought the dress was pretty smexy.

snazzy [snaz-ee]
Reminding one of something covered in large amounts of sequins or rhinestones

unnecessary [uhn-nes-uh-ser-ee]

  1. Not necessary or essential
  2. Causing my brother displeasure or irritation

The Galactic Council

The Galactic Council has grown a lot in the past twenty years. When it first got started there was only my brother and a teddy bear.

High Councilman Belton and Councilman Siggy

The Galactic Council is commited to preserving the peace, prosperity and harmony of–well, the galaxy. How does it do this? Quite simple: by talking about random stuff.

The Galactic Council

COUNCILMAN BELTON: By order of the Galactic Council, peanut butter is hereby declared superior to all lunchmeat.

COUNCILMAN ASHLEY: Actually, I prefer chicken. You know the good kind with the little bits of seasoning?


ME: I kind of don’t care.

COUNCILMAN BELTON: Peanut butter has just been declared superior!! You *have* to like peanut butter best!!!

COUNCILMAN REBECCA: I like peanut butter and jelly.

COUNCILMAN BELTON: No!! No jelly!! Just peanut butter!!!


ME: Anyone want to watch Star Wars?

High Councilman Belton discusses important issues

Generally, sessions of the Galactic Council degenerate into name-calling, like this:

COUNCILMAN ROSE: So, I saw a bird today.

ME: A bird? Cool.

COUNCILMAN BELTON: Order, Councilmen! The fate of the Universe is at stake!!

COUNCILMAN ASHLEY: The fate of the universe? Lame.

COUNCILMAN BELTON: Ashley, you don’t even know.

COUNCILMAN ASHLEY: Your MOM doesn’t even know.

COUNCILMAN ROSE: Belton’s mom is your mom.

COUNCILMAN ASHLEY: Well, your face is ugly!!

COUNCILMAN ROSE: At least *I* have a neck!!!

COUNCILMAN ASHLEY: Go die in a fire and burn!! *tries to hold back tears, but can’t* I’m not crying!! I just have allegies!! I’m allergic to…. your face!!!

The Galactic Council…saving a Universe near you!