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November 9th, 2007


"Look," said Alex, "I know that symbolic character names are a long-standing literary tradition. I just think 'Augustus Burns' is overdoing it. You're writing a novel, not a James Bond script."

"Feh," said Greg. "'Augustus Burns' is a great name. But nobody calls him that, see, they call him 'Gus'. So the name is in disguise. Like Nero Wolfe."

"Nero Wolfe?" said Alex. "How is that a disguise?"

"Well, if you take it apart, it means 'black dog'," said Greg.

"Black Dog? He's one of Flint's men!"

"Heh," said Greg. "You want over-the-top names, you can always count on Robert Louis Stevenson."

"Yeah, but he was writing for boys. Just like the James Bond scripts. I mean really, a pirate named John Silver? And what kind of a name is Israel Hands?"

"Israel Hands was a real pirate, actually," said Greg. "Blackbeard's quartermaster, if I remember correctly. The story goes that Blackbeard up and shot him at random one day to remind the crew who was captain."

"Seriously?" said Alex.


"Huh. Learn something new every day. The fact that Blackbeard had already killed Israel Hands must have come as quite a surprise to Jim Hawkins."

"Or possibly, the fact that Jim Hawkins had already killed Israel Hands came as quite a surprise to Blackbeard," suggested Greg.

"We're getting into Tim Powers territory, here," Alex said.

"Now there's an over-the-top name if ever I heard one," said Greg.

-The Gneech

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I'm told that Glenn Reynolds (of InstaPundit.com) has supposedly said in the past something to the effect of, "subscriptions to online magazines and newspapers are not passports to an exclusive club, they're the keys to an isolated ghetto".

This, I think, is a brilliant observation, and I'm hoping to find an exact quote. Anybody have a reference for it?

-The Gneech

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