Redrafting the Real World

When I was ten or eleven years old, I had already tried to write--and failed at it. My aborted novel, Outside the Local Universe, never got beyond a chapter or two. It had other problems, such as a complete lack of a plot or any relatable characters. After several weeks of fumbling with the text, … Continue reading Redrafting the Real World


Overcoming the Fear of Writing

When I was about fourteen years old, I used to write almost every day after school. In one sitting I’d scribble twenty to thirty notebook pages of creative prose; the handwriting was awful, but the work itself was rich with personality, punch, and youthful exuberance. At that time, I never expected that anyone other than … Continue reading Overcoming the Fear of Writing

“—sorry, what?”

It may be considered rude to interrupt someone, but doing it reciprocally is somehow okay. In a strange, almost beautifully coordinated way. Sometimes you just have to do it—for example, when you’re talking to somebody that just won’t stop talking. To borrow a term from Peter Schickele, I’m talking about a talky-talk kind of person. … Continue reading “—sorry, what?”

Ask Ceil – Crumbs of Fate

Dear Ceil Is our fate etched in stone, or do we really have control over it? Nonplussed in New Hampshire Ah, the ages-old question. Do we really have free will? Or are we just Destiny's playthings? And by Destiny, I am not referring to the blind precognitive mutant adversary of the X-Men. (Actually, I meant … Continue reading Ask Ceil – Crumbs of Fate

There’s Irish stuff in my house!

George Carlin once said that your house is a place to put your stuff. He went on to give an example of someone going on a vacation: You go through your possessions and put aside a subset, or a smaller version of your stuff. At the hotel, a friend invites you over to their place … Continue reading There’s Irish stuff in my house!

Why I didn’t like “Cat’s Cradle”

Some months ago, I mentioned I hadn’t read Cat’s Cradle. Steve, the owner and sole employee at Nighthawk Books, immediately suggested I read it, and some weeks later, he got in a copy of the Penguin edition. When I was reading the opening chapters, a waiter said to me: “That’s an amazing book.” I've been … Continue reading Why I didn’t like “Cat’s Cradle”

Ask Ceil – @MindControl

Dear Ceil, Why does my brain never seem to be playing for my team, and if it isn’t playing for my team, then whose team is it playing for? And can I charge them rent? Nervous in New York Dear Nervous, The brain controls all kinds of things. Breathing, moving your limbs around, telling your … Continue reading Ask Ceil – @MindControl

Making the Demo (part two)

(If you didn’t read it last week, you might want to take a look at part one of this story. All caught up now? Great.) Matt and I performed almost fifty songs that night. If I had recorded the live guitar, mandolin, and vocals, all on separate tracks, this would have been a lot easier … Continue reading Making the Demo (part two)

Nine months

It's been nine months since I moved the old to WordPress, and renamed this site Magnificent Nose, and moved away from bloggish all-about-me posts towards more general-interest articles. The nose doesn't have a huge audience, but we do have people who keep coming here, and other writers regularly contributing--one of them doing so weekly. … Continue reading Nine months

Ask Ceil – Apple, Tea

Dear Ceil, I recently heard the following phrase in a song: “You are the apple of my eye.” I have always been confused about this declaration. Can you please help me to understand its meaning? Wondering in Wilsonville Dear Wondering, The phrase has its origins in the late 1980’s, when so many people were excited … Continue reading Ask Ceil – Apple, Tea