A Bit of Amusement

Dr. Doyle's Blog

(God knows, we need it.)

If you were raised in (or have ever lived for an extended time in) the South, this is hilarious:

“Tennessee Williams with Air Conditioning”

(I read an article somewhere once† that attributed the rise of the modern South to the invention of air conditioning, which made it possible for people in that region to actually work from 9 to 5 in the summertime without turning into puddles of economically unproductive sweat. The writer of the article, as I recall, seemed to vaguely resent this.)

generic all purpose citation, bookworms, for the use of

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Vermont RenFaire

So … I spent the weekend doing magic at the Vermont RenFaire in Stowe.

There’s video.

I had a good time, despite rain, sun, wind, and … rain.  I met some wonderful people, some great performers, and had some good munchies.

I’m definitely planning to find out if the Vermont Steampunk Expo needs a magician.

For me, the absolute high point was meeting a young man named Ben who had recently (recently, as of June 2nd of this year) created a tea company.  Not just any tea, pHtea, iced tea in a variety of flavors that is pH balanced between 7.35 and 7.45 to match the pH of a human body so it doesn’t knock your acid/base balance out of whack.  It’s sweetened with Vermont honey (rather than refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup), and is totally great.  Ben was pouring samples for everyone who walked by, and everyone was loving it.

In my opinion, his Yerba Mate was the best — it compared favorably with the mate I had in Peru all those years ago.

Right now the stuff is only available at farmers’ markets in Vermont.  I bought five bottles to take home with me. Seriously, it’s worth a trip to Vermont.


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Peeve of a Summer’s Day

Dr. Doyle's Blog

The air is thick with humidity and allergens, and I am peevish.

Listen to me, O People, when I say unto you, the phrase is not “mother load”, it is “mother lode.”

The term comes from mining, specifically gold and silver mining, where it refers to a principle vein or group of veins of ore. The Mother Lode, in the United States, is an area of hard-rock gold deposits in California’s Sierra Nevada, running through a zone 120 miles long and in some places almost 4 miles wide. (It was, unsurprisingly, discovered during the California Gold Rush.)

A mother lode of something, then, is an abundant source or principle supply of that thing. The “mother” part comes from the use of “mother” to refer to a source or origin: “Mother of pearl” refers to the substance known as nacre, with which a mollusk encases the bit of irritant which…

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Amaze Me!

Why I’ve spent the last couple of weeks sewing…

Vermont RenFaire Map

Vermont Renaissance Faire

This coming weekend, June 24/25, I’ll be doing two days of walk-around magic at the Vermont RenFaire in Stowe.

Come find me.  Say, “Amaze me!” and I will.

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The Play’s the Thing…

Dr. Doyle's Blog

…wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.

Shakespeare in the Park is doing Julius Caesar this summer, not Hamlet, but the reference is an apt one nonetheless.

Somebody’s conscience (or self-love, or something) has definitely been caught by this year’s modern-dress, Trump-inflected production of Julius Caesar, and they’ve unleashed the flying monkeysroused far-right protesters to disrupt the performance.

Shakespeare himself would have no doubt at all about what’s going on here. The twin questions of what makes a good ruler, and what can or should be done when the realm is suffering under a bad or unjust ruler, run like a streak of red through all his plays, from early ones like Richard III to later ones like Hamlet and The Tempest. He never comes up with any definitive answers – he was a playwright, not a political philosopher – but he certainly gives…

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It’s Dr. Doyle’s Question and Answer Time!

Dr. Doyle's Blog

Q. Are you really a Doctor?

A. Yes.

I got my Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania, back in the Dark Ages 1981. My primary field was Old English, and my cognate field was Old Icelandic, which makes me the sort of person who once stayed up until 2 in the morning reading a book on historical linguistics for fun. Old Icelandic is a great language – we get “to egg (somebody) on” from there, as well as “ransack”, plus a wonderful verb that we don’t have in English but sometimes I wish we did, ydda (“to show the point [of something] on the other side [of something]”; as, for instance, a sword and someone else’s back.)†

Q. What on earth are you doing here, then? Shouldn’t you be off in an ivory tower someplace, instead of writing fiction and editing other people’s novels for pay?

A. Hah…

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Summertime, and the Living Is Sneezy….

Dr. Doyle's Blog

We’re now well into the time of hot, oppressive days and high pollen counts.  The cats, instead of sitting like little furry meatloafs with tails and paws neatly tucked in, are stretched out into longcats, and can be reliably used to find the spots with the best cooling cross-drafts.

Which are no good to the rest of us, because the cats own them.

Summer is not the most enjoyable time for doing work, but work nevertheless must be done (this is where I point, in a discreet parenthesis, to the “Editorial and Critique Services” link up at the top of the page), so I’ll leave you with a handful of links to amuse or interest you during the days when you’re not on vacation at the beach, or in a mountaintop cabin, or in a hermetically sealed and thoroughly air-conditioned hotel room, if such is your pleasure:

First, a clip…

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Magic Contest

Magic Contest


Granite State Magicians is hosting a New England Magic Contest!

Nefarious deeds at a magic show

The Conjuror by Bosch.


The date/time/place: Sunday the 16th of July from 1:00-4:00 pm at Diamond’s Magic, 515 Lowell St, Peabody, MA 01960.


Categories of magic are: Parlor/Platform, Close-up, and Mentalism & Mystery Performing.


  • 1st prize; $200 gift certificate to Diamond’s Magic.
  • 2nd prize; $100 gift certificate to Diamond’s Magic.
  • 3rd prize; $50 gift certificate to Diamond’s Magic.

Contest is limited to ten magicians. Contestants must live in, go to school in, or be a member of a magic group located in, one of the six New England states. Acts are limited to ten minutes.

Contest entry fee is $10. To enter, or for more information, write to: Kathy Caulfield <kecaulfield@innovairre.com>, Vice-President, Granite State Magicians, 126 Perham Corner Road, Lyndeborough, NH 03082.

The judges:

Sandy Rhoades has been doing magic since he was 13 and he’s now 77. Most recently Sandy was the president of Society of American Magicians Assembly #29 in Waterbury, CT. He helped found and is active in the Magic Camporee of the Boy Scouts of America Connecticut Rivers Council.

“Conjuring Carroll” Chapman is the past president and current vice president of the Society of  American Magicians Ralph Greenwood Assembly #174 in Augusta, Maine. He is the past vice-president of IBM Ring #362 in Penobscot.

Lord BlackSword a/k/a Joseph Caulfield is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Order of Merlin Excelsior, a Life Member and Chair of the Insurance Committee of the Society of American Magicians, a member of the Inner Circle of Bizarre Magic, 6th Degree Magus, and President of the Granite State Magicians.

Tell all your friends!

If you don’t have any friends, make some just so you can tell them.

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More Sound Advice From a Bygone Day

Dr. Doyle's Blog

Way back in 1890, the Scottish poet, novelist, and literary critic Andrew Lang (best known in later years for his fairy-tale collections) gave a lecture at the South Kensington Museum, in aid of the College for Working Men and Women.  The title of the lecture was “How to Fail in Literature”, and it purported to be advice for those members of the audience who desired to fail at becoming successful writers.

It was, in fact, an extended list of things not to do for any audience members who desired to succeed at the same endeavor, and its advice and observations still hold true today.

For example:

Advice on how to secure the reverse of success should not be given to young authors alone.  Their kinsfolk and friends, also, can do much for their aid.  A lady who feels a taste for writing is very seldom allowed to have a…

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Sometimes the Transmission Gets a Bit Fuzzy

Given that “cleave” has two meanings: to cut apart and to stick together….

Dr. Doyle's Blog

As a tool for getting ideas out of one person’s head and into another’s, language (whether spoken or written) is a poor substitute for telepathy . . . but it’s the only tool we’ve got.

It’s not surprising, then, that writers often have an ambiguous relationship with language. It’s both the tool we use and the medium we work in, and we admire its beauties and cherish its quirks at the same time as we curse at it for its limitations – not least because we can never really be certain that the worlds and characters which we use language to create are being re-created as we intended in the minds of our readers. (Who, after all, speak their own personal subsets of our common language, which of necessity are not the same as ours.)

For an interesting example of this phenomenon, consider this post on the Oxford English Dictionary’s…

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