Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Horn Book Review of Cold Cereal

Another nice review of my forthcoming novel Cold Cereal came to my inbox today. From the Horn Book:
 "Rex takes his time mounting his preposterous edifice of a plot, but reader interest and suspension of disbelief never flag in this humorous, consistently entertaining, well-spun yarn." 
 Preposterous edifice of a plot. That sounds about right.

 Here's another illustration from CC. Regular visitors to my blog will be able to discern all the important plot points from these images, and will have no need to read the book.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Star for Cold Cereal

I craved little gold stars when I was a kid, and apparently not much has changed. Kirkus reviews recently gave a starred review to my next novel, Cold Cereal (coming Feb. 7th), and if they saw fit to send me an actual star in the mail I'd stick it right on my Trapper Keeper.
Kirkus said that
The author tucks in portrait illustrations and hilariously odd TV-commercial storyboards, along with a hooded Secret Society, figures from Arthurian legend, magical spells and potions, a certain amount of violence, many wonderful throwaway lines (“Yeh may have a tarnished glamour about yeh, sure. Like a celebrity’s daughter.”) and tests of character with often surprising outcomes.
I think their classification of the pictures in Cold Cereal as "portrait illustrations" may have something to do with the character of those few images that were actually on display in the Advance Reader Edition. I'm afraid most of the illustrations were missing then. But I got the picture above done in time to include it. From the book:
He steered toward the local park, down the storm drain shortcut he’d discovered yesterday, dodging broken glass and a man with a rabbit head, up the embankment, toward the gap in the fence and was that a man with a rabbit head? Scott braked hard, grinding a black snaking skid behind him. The rabbit-man stopped, too, and looked back. Its tweed pants and white dress shirt were creased and dirty. Its necktie was askew. Its rabbit head was a rabbit head.
And, by way of signing off, here's a picture of two men dressed as a unicorn.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Last weekend I started on a mural overlooking our pool, based on an illustration from BILLY TWITTERS AND HIS BLUE WHALE PROBLEM. An illustration that is available as a t-shirt design in the Zazzle sidebar on this blog. (cough)
Here's the wall "before." The pool didn't actually have to be green to get this process started, but I found the brackish smell and the heady vapors of a hundred dollars worth of algaecide put me in the seafaring mood.
My wife, seen here, had an idea that may seem like old hat to regular mural-painters, but which I found ingenious: tape the design up in sixty or so pieces, then take one piece down at a time and reproduce it in paint underneath. That way I can look at the enlarged design on paper in my hand, and the surrounding paper pieces will guide my lines and ensure everything connects. Like those grid-drawings everyone did when they were younger.
This is as far as I got in one afternoon. Should take another to finish up–I'll post the whole wall when it's done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Brixton Brother Art

This one was tricky. The original sketch for it looked terrible, 'cause I hadn't any photo reference for it. If I can find it I'll post it later. The photo reference is fun in and of itself–me in a fluffy bathrobe lying prone of a chaise in the backyard.

Anyway, the question of why Steve Brixton is in a bathrobe atop a moving train is best answered by reading the book, WHICH IS AVAILABLE NOW.

UPDATE: Due to popular demand (2 comments), here's my first attempt at a sketch, with no reference at all. I think this got approved, but I'd always promised to fix the dodgy drawing after shooting some photo reference.

Lacking a train and a 12-year-old boy, I put on my wife's robe (it actually has "Dr. Rex" stitched on the front–very hot) and lounged on a chaise.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Brixton Bros. Releases Tomorrow

October 4th is the official release date for Mac Barnett's Brixton Brothers #3: It Happened on a Train. So here's another look at one of my interior illustrations–a masked goon and potential car thief.

The sketch:

And the finished illustration:

Thursday, September 29, 2011


My agent apparently couldn't resist yesterday's little cut-paper activity, and can be seen here attempting to open negotiations with the leader of the Cat Planet.

If anyone else sends me fingerhat pictures they're going right up here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Previously I posted an illustration of Abraham Lincoln fighting an octopus on the moon that ran in an installment of the syndicated newspaper feature, THE GOODS. (Follow that link and scroll down to read one commenter's critique of President Lincoln and tacit approval of slavery as "peaceful." It's a stitch!)

Anyhoo, here's a more recent issue of THE GOODS showcasing, among other things, fine finger haberdashery. And also Lincoln again. Because I only have five or six separate ideas in my head.

Monday, September 12, 2011


A piece of original SMEKDAY art is being auctioned off for Banned Books Week:

Only $10.50 right now!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Vacation means you get to draw the Hulk in your sketchbook while the plane is landing into the Anchorage airport and no one can tell you, “Get back to painting panda bears.”

I know that doesn’t sound like much of a distinction but it meant a lot to me at the time.

(Disposable Bic pen and green Sharpie)

I’m in Alaska. My wife and I are taking a cruise with my parents, and right now we’re in the midst of a land tour. Today we passed through Wasilla and saw Sarah Palin’s old house. It’s a Lincoln-Loggy sort of place and not really the castle of frozen tears I was expecting.

Here’s an impromptu drawing of my mom, for which she will probably not be terribly grateful.

My mom is encouraged to remember that this was drawn in pen on a rattling motor-coach and that I was very tired.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This just in: My Artwork is Still Fine.

From the Kirkus review of IT HAPPENED ON A TRAIN:

Kid gumshoe Steve Brixton (who actually doesn’t have a brother, he just picked the name because it mirrors his beloved Bailey Brothers detective stories) has, at the ripe old age of 12, retired from the detecting game. He became disenchanted upon discovering, during his last adventure (Ghostwriter Secret, 2010), that the author of those inspiring books was actually a criminal mastermind. So Steve’s given up his agency, and now his best chum Dana is spending entirely too much time with Other Dana, his girlfriend. Little does Steve know that signing up for the Model U.N. with Dana and Other Dana will place him on a train rocketing toward detecting destiny! When meeting a mysterious young lady onboard gets Steve invited into the mysterious last car on the Sunset Coastliner, Steve and Dana (but not Other Dana) find themselves invited to protect Mr. Vanderdraak’s new, vintage motor car from serial car thieves! Can Steve solve the case? More importantly, can he go more than five minutes without getting trapped somewhere? Barnett’s sly and often silly Hardy Boy parody chugs along with plenty of laughs and enough honest-to-gosh mystery to please any lover of boy detective fiction. Rex’s black-and-white pencils (which also parody the Hardy tales) are still a fine match for the goofiness.

Here's one of those "pencils" which continues to be perfectly adequate:

This is actually, of course, a pretty nice review from a notoriously demanding publication. Happiness just isn't as much fun to blog about.

Monday, July 25, 2011

All Will Be Revealed.

I was recently emailed two questions by a reader of my picture book, TREE RING CIRCUS. I present these below, with their answers, as a service to other readers who may have similar concerns.

1. When the tree first appears it is MISSING! A branch. How did the branch get cut off before the tree appeared?
2. After we first see the chicken he is not in the tree. He is in the next view of the tree. Where was he?

The missing branch was removed between the pages by pirates who all needed new legs. Some people tell me that if you look very closely you can see the pirates but I think these people are lying.

The chicken is obviously also hanging out with the pirates.

Also, chickens are girls.

Further questions can be directed to adamrex(at)earthlink(dot)net.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And People Wonder Why I Don't Read My Reviews...

Behold the first masterpiece of Amazon customer criticism. Then go ahead and order the book she feels so strongly about, WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis. Maybe from your favorite indie bookshop?

There Was a Lot of Pepper Dust in the Air...

Slightly dodgy photo of first finished spread from forthcoming picture book with Neil Gaiman. Click to enlarge.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Suppose if the Chinese Don't Publish It, It'll Be Because of My Disrespectful Painting Style.

From an interview with Neil Gaiman:
The last time I was in China, I was very puzzled because none of my children’s picture books are in print in Mainland China. They’re in print in Hong Kong and in Taiwan, in complex Chinese characters, but they are not in print in Mainland China. I asked my producer, “Why aren’t any of my children’s picture books in print in Mainland China?,” and they said, “It’s because of their disrespect for authority.” I said, “Really?!” And they said, “Yeah, look at them. The Wolves in the Walls is about this little girl who tells her parents that there are wolves in the walls, but they do not believe her. There really are wolves in the walls, and thus her parents are proved wrong. And, in The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, these kids swap their dad. If that happened, society would crumble.”
So, suddenly, it became a goal of mine that was almost a little obsession to write a children’s picture book that would be published in Mainland China, that they could not help but publish, but still could have all of the things that are in my children’s picture books, and I did it. I wrote this book and it’s being painted right now by this wonderful artist, and it’s called Chu’s Day, and it is about a baby panda who sneezes. There is no way that anyone can resist a baby panda who sneezes. This is the single cutest book I’ve ever written. It is written for two-year-olds and is designed in such a way that I’ve tried it on kids and it actually works that when you get to the end, they just look at you and they say, “Read it again!” The only words on page one are, “When Chu sneezed, bad things happened.”
Thanks to Jorge Lacera for the link.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cold Cereal Characters

In the interest of just posting something new, here is a character collage I refer to from time to time as I work on the interior illustrations for my next novel, COLD CEREAL. Mostly just a bunch of details from various sketchbooks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Illustration Master Class

I spent the last week in Amherst, Mass, for the Illustration Master Class. It's an intensive weeklong illustration boot camp focusing on fantasy, sci-fi, and children's illustration. I was one of fifteen faculty members and guest speakers. Follow the link above to see more about it, and look at pictures from previous years. It's really kind of an amazing program. Faculty assistant Julia Griffin called it "Hogwarts for Illustrators," which couldn't be more right.

I don't have any of my own photos from the week, but here are shots of me working on an assignment at the IMC courtesy of Kim Kincaid. Note that in the background there is original art by Dan Dos Santos, Rebecca Guay, Gregory Manchess, and Jeff Mack.

Anyway, during my lecture I tried something a little risky. I put up the cover to my next novel, COLD CEREAL, and asked the hundred-odd students to critique it. Here's what they saw:

They had a lot to say. It was unfocused. It was like "visual hopscotch," as one woman put it. The row of windows cut the composition in half in kind of an unappealing way. The door should be bigger. The hero should be bigger. They were right about everything.

That's what I ended up with after I'd processed their suggestions. It's a much stronger cover now, in my opinion.

I wouldn't normally show this cover so early, since the book doesn't come out until February, but I want the IMC alumni to see what I've done. Thanks again to the students, and to Rebecca Guay for putting the whole program together.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A small selection of recent reference photos, taken in service of illustrations I'm working on for my next middle grade novel, COLD CEREAL.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I don't expect it's a common misconception, but someone on Twitter recently asked me why, in my recent post, I was telling others not to write kid's books. I wasn't doing any such thing, but to be clear: if you want to write kid's books, write kids books. If you're thinking you might try it only because you assume they're easy to write and easy to publish...don't.

That's all.

Monday, May 16, 2011

For My Birthday, Please Get My Dad Out of Jail.

As has been noted 115 times already on facebook, it is my birthday. In lieu of flowers, you might consider helping my dad make bail.

He's going to be locked up by the Muscular Dystrophy Association for a Muscular Dystrophy crime he didn't Muscular Dystrophy commit. There was a ridiculous show trial that lasted twenty-one hours, and Jerry Lewis stayed awake for the whole thing, and...anyway, I try not to ask for money very often, but if you have even a few bucks lying around we'd appreciate it.

Thank you. Here's the donation link.

Friday, May 13, 2011

There Are Pigeons Nesting in My Pigeon Spikes.

I feel obliged to tell you that I don't like pigeon spikes. I don't like the way they make every ledge and sign look like some Lilliputian Thunderdome.

And I actually like pigeons. Longtime readers of my blog will remember how delighted I was to discover that first nest of them on my porch. I even asked you to name the babies.

But nest after nest of chicks convinced me that this was not some rare and fragile miracle. This was not Pale Male nesting on Fifth Avenue. My porch was more like an especially unsanitary inner city maternity ward.

Unsanitary because I've learned, and I don't think there's a delicate way to phrase this, that pigeons produce an astonishing amount of waste. They'd turned the columns flanking my house into two abstract expressionist monoliths, like exactly the sort of crapcentric art installations that make Republicans want to defund the NEA.

So, pigeon spikes. And now pigeons nesting in what was apparently not the appropriate amount of pigeon spikes. Those chicks above were fledged a couple weeks ago, so I went up the ladder to install stronger defenses. But they'd already rebuilt the nest. And the mother in it would not leave. I didn't take this with any kind of zoom. I was this close.

Eventually I was too close, and the pigeon lunged at the brush I'd brought to clear away the twigs and droppings. So for a moment I could see that she'd been hiding two new and dandelion-yellow chicks.

So, back down the ladder. I'll try again in a few weeks.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Accidentally Joined Twitter


An Open Letter to Everyone Who Thinks it Must be Easy, Writing Kid's Books

You should totally write one. Maybe the fact that it seems so easy is your brain's way of telling you that you'd be good at it. I really couldn't say if you'd be any good at it or not so soon after meeting you, and telling you what I do, and listening to you disparage my life's work and all.

Then again, if you notice you're often saying "I could do that" when confronted with all kinds of things that are easy to do but difficult to do well (non-representational art, haiku...kid's books), then it might be time to put up and get your hands dirty. Yes, anyone can smear paint around, anyone can count syllables, anyone can write a very short story about bears learning to share or whatever.

You may even think, having crafted a bear story with a beginning, middle, and end, that it's fit for publication. Maybe you'll ask me who to talk to about that. I could give you the names of a number of editors, each of whom literally rejects thousands of stories per year. Because she doesn't think they're good enough. Or she doesn't think they're sellable. Or she doesn't think they have anything going for them besides a beginning, middle, and an end.

I wonder if you like the NPR comedy news quiz show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I usually catch at least a little of it each week, but I missed the episode a couple Saturdays ago when children's book agent Brenda Bowen got to be one of the call-in contestants. Here's a link to the transcript if you're interested–it's what got me thinking about all this.

Anyway, one of the panelists kicked things off by essentially mentioning that she suspects it would be easy, writing kid's books; and Paula Poundstone, whom I must say I like, nevertheless trotted out a variation on an old chestnut that I assume every kid's book writer has heard at least as often as I have. It always goes something like this: these books are a snap to write, which I will now exemplify by mentioning a board book I saw once that contained only pictures of shapes or farm animals or the alphabet. Because surely the fairest way to evaluate any vocation is by its most rudimentary example. SpaghettiOs. An elementary school dance recital. US Weekly.

Or maybe it's a question of length? Certainly I've heard that often enough–"It's only thirty pages and there's, like, ten words on each page. How hard can it be?"
It's a high school composition approach to writing–if a 500-word essay is hard, then a 1,000-word essay is harder. A novel must be harder to write than a short story. A really long novel must be harder to write than a novel.

May I suggest you try something?–write a brand new, memorable quote. Something we'll still be repeating a hundred years from now, like people are always doing with Twain. It should be easy, shouldn't it? It only needs to be, like, ten words.
Or is it hard to think of something worth saying? And hard to think of the perfect way to say it because, with so few words, each one has to really count? My stars but that's interesting.

And then you have the audacity to say I'm "lucky" to be doing what I do.

No, you're right about that, actually.

On deck for tomorrow: another post about how hard it is to be me. Maybe something about the headaches of having a beautiful, intelligent wife.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mick Again

But painted a bit this time. Yeah, I know–it's unsettling. Stupid uncanny valley.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


New character model for my next novel. For my next three novels, come to think of it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tucson Art Show at Lulubell

Lulubell Toy Bodega here in Tucson has a new art show opening this Saturday called "Creature Feature," so I've contributed a couple paintings–one was a Magic: the Gathering card, the other (below) a book cover for an M:tG tie-in anthology.

I'll be there at Lulubell (on Toole and 7th Ave.) from 6-9 this Saturday for the opening. So will a lot of other artists. Come say hi, maybe.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It Continued to Happen on a Train

Yesterday I shared some of the sketches and steps–the station-stops, if you will–needed to arrive at Successful Book Cover Terminal. Previously I mentioned that we'd gotten to a pretty good place with the sketches, but certain people were uncomfortable with A) showing a knife on the cover and B) showing a boy in a towel on the cover.

So the knife became a lead pipe (which, if also rejected, would have been replaced with a candlestick or some business), and then I made the towel a robe:

Which everyone liked, but now they were disturbed by the placement of Steve's hand.

There, now. We have arrived at Successful Book Cover Terminal. All passengers must exit.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It Happened on a Train

I don't make a habit of illustrating books I haven't read. But it's happened a few times, typically in cases where the cover was needed before the book itself was actually written. The forthcoming Brixton Brothers #3: It Happened on a Train was such a book. Mac Barnett was getting a late start writing it–he had the mystery mapped out but not a lot in the way of action set-pieces, so he and I talked on the phone about what could conceivably go on the cover.

Of course there had to be a foot chase on top of the moving train at some point. But this alone wouldn't convey the slightly off-center atmosphere that all the BB books have, and which I like the covers to reflect. I asked Mac if it would be possible for main character Steve Brixton to be wearing a bath towel. If memory serves, I was sort of kidding.

"Actually," said Mac, "I think I could make that work."

I think you should read the book, so I'm only going to say that it makes perfect sense in context. But the above cover sketch isn't very good. I struggled early on with how to show both the train and the action in an engaging way. I could pull back and show more of the train, but then the action would suffer for lack of tension. I could close in on the action, but then everyone might look like they're fighting atop a Tuff Shed.

Ooh, better. But at this point Mac let me know that there could only be just the one masked goon.

And that he needed to be left-handed.

And this image-flopping killed two birds, actually, since the train needed to be shown traveling south down the California coast. So now everything was perfect, except that the publisher decided that they couldn't show a knife on the cover, and also that Steve in a bath towel was stirring up some...confusing feelings.

TOMORROW: The finished cover.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Sorry the blog's been so fallow lately. Too busy. But I had to come up for air a moment and share this, the Korean edition of Billy Twitter and His Blue Whale Problem.

I haven't had a lot of translations of my books, and there's always something cool about Asian editions, isn't there? Maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I hear from Mac Barnett that the title actually translates as IF YOU DON'T LISTEN TO MOM'S WORDS, I'LL BRING A LONG WHITE MUSTACHE WHALE TO YOU. Isn't that nice? Tells you everything you need to know. I look forward to collecting other Korean editions such as THE CAT IN THE HAT IS THE CAUSE OF AND THE SOLUTION TO ALL OUR DIFFICULTIES and maybe WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS THERE IS POETRY AND ALSO A FUTURE SITE FOR FURTHER SIDEWALK DEVELOPMENT.

Does anyone out there read Korean? I'm curious which part of that cover is my name.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Toy Story 4

Finally got around to seeing Toy Story 3 yesterday. Whatta movie.

I have a pitch for Toy Story 4 now: the toys go on a quest to confront God and demand to know why they were given sentience and free will when it can only cause them pain.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


A couple minor characters from my next novel, which is written but not illustrated yet. It'll be the first volume of a new middle-grade trilogy (by which I mean it's for middle-grade readers, not that it's a mediocre, utility-grade trilogy), and will be in stores some time in the winter.

These guys are goblins, and are described in the manuscript thusly:

They were each perhaps just a half-foot taller than Mick, with milky-white bodies but startling red faces. Red as if they’d been dipped to their chins in blood and the stuff had dripped some foreign alphabet all over their necks and collars. From top to bottom they had: bald pates, all the worst features of both toad and bat, little wool grey suit jackets with ties, short pants, and chicken feet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So I just wanted to point out that I was right.

A little while back I worried publicly about my review of The Ring of Solomon, which I decided to advance over Sugar Changed the World in this year's School Library Journal Battle of the Books. I just learned that TRoS went all the way to win the title!

So, that's comforting. Here's my review, in case you're interested.


Say! The cover design for my book Fat Vampire won third place in the Children's Trade category at the 25th Annual New York Book Show!

Though I didn't photograph it myself (it was photographed by Dan Saelinger) and I'm only partially responsible for the finished design (Carla Weise collaborated), the whole thing was based on my sketch. So.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Poem I Don't Think I've Shared Here Before:


We assumed it was the case

that in a place as big as space

we’d find some trace of other races

with our scientific bases.

When a signal was detected

it was not what we expected.

In the subject line it pleaded,










We gasped–a message from the stars!

And then another came from Mars:





We were noticing a pattern,

when a bunch arrived from Saturn–




we disabled our detector.

Then we emptied out the cache

and dragged the letters to the trash.

So that’s the fact we had to face:

there’s no intelligence in space.

But that’s okay–for what it’s worth,

there isn’t much of it on Earth.

Copyright 2008 Adam Rex

From Frankenstein Takes the Cake

So I wrote this a few years ago, and always thought its natural habitat was the internet. Of course I control the rights to this poem–there's a copyright notice and everything following the verse. But I am curious to see if people like it enough to share it, and if so how long it takes before it's forwarded to me or someone I know. I also understand that all creative writing on the internet eventually gets attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, so we'll see how long that takes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rotten Tomatoes may be Addressed to Me Care of my Agent

I'm anxiously awaiting the blogosphere's reaction to my entry in the School Library Journal's Battle of the Books, which will be posted tomorrow morning. It's a bracketed March Madness-style competition between various YA and Middle Grade titles, and I was asked to advance either The Ring of Solomon or Sugar Changed the World. And no, I'm not going to reveal my decision–I'm not allowed yet.

Anyway, some of the judges so far are drawing criticism for being too nice, and for doing essentially the same thing I did–explaining why both books are great, and then kind of arbitrarily choosing one over the other. Rather than actually explaining why the winning book is BETTER than the other, you understand. So I admit that in this sense I wimped out (as Roger Sutton has put it), choosing instead to write a review designed to divert attention away from these two great books and back to ME.

I've been feeling a little neglected lately–my wife's in Switzerland.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Koo Koo Ka Choo

My new novel has 41 instances of the word "egg." My new novel which is not, I should be clear, about eggs.

This seems like a lot to me. Fully .06% of my novel is the word "egg." For reference I should tell you that my novel is in many ways actually about magic, but the words "magic" and "magical" only appear a combined total of 106 times.

For continued reference, I could add that my novel contains 75 mentions of cereal, and this is not accidental. But it also contains a whopping 2,502 instances of the word "and," YET IS NOT ABOUT CONJUNCTIONS.

No doubt some of you have a favorite word and are now wondering how many times it appears in my novel, and whether I could be persuaded to slip it in there if it doesn't. I invite your comments.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tucson Festival of Books

The third annual Tucson Festival of Books is coming to the UofA mall this weekend (the 12th and 13th). As in past years I'll be appearing on panels and at signings and just generally walking around and knuckle bumping Dora the Explorer and so forth.

Here's my schedule:

Saturday, March 12th

12:00-12:30 Teen Author Lounge (reading of Fat Vampire)

1:00-2:00 COE 351 – Adam Rex -- Digital Painting Workshop: Illustrating Books with Photoshop. I'm going to actually give a live demo of this I guess, God help me.

2:00-2:30 Post-workshop autographing

3:00-3:30 Signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth, #429-251

4:00-5:00 COE Kiva – E. B. Lewis, Wendy Watson and I will be on a panel called "I Didn’t Write It, But….Illustrating for Other Authors."

5:00-5:30 Post-panel autographing

Sunday, March 13th

12:00 Signing at the Heroes and Villains booth. It's #240, I think.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

If There Isn't, I Want to Nominate "Dissynonym."

I've been curious lately if there's an official term for a word which, colloquially, is used to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means. And I'm not referring to intentionally ironic slang, like the way people used to say "bad" to mean "good." I'm more interested in cases where the speaker is likely not even aware of what they're doing, as with the word "literally," say. In fact, I could include just about any word or phrase which is intended to assert the veracity of something but which, in informal usage, doesn't. As in the example below:

I swear*, this burrito last night was literally** like a hundred pounds. Seriously***, it would have taken fifty people to finish it, I shit you not****.

*I don't swear.
***Not seriously
****I totally shit you. Figuratively.

I don't normally like to swear on my blog, but if any young kid made it past the phrase "intended to assert the veracity," he's earned it.

So does anyone know if there's a term for this? Can anyone think of other examples?

**UPDATE** CONTRONYM! A word which is its own antonym. Apparently "literally" may just be on its way to becoming a solid contronym. Like "cleave," which can mean both "cling to" or "split."
I love that I know this word now. Thanks, internet! Specifically, thanks Aaron Zenz, who pointed me toward a great Slate article. An article which points out that while I'm bugged by this use of "literally," I've been ignoring the same misuse of "really."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Manners Mash-Up On Sale Today!

I know I mentioned all this before, but I just learned that a collection to which I contributed called Manners Mash-Up is officially on sale today. This book also features Bob Shea, Sophie Blackall, Dan Santat, Henry Cole, and many others. Kirkus says it's "Good advice waggishly packaged and not completely tasteful—a winner."

I did the spread about table manners. Click to enlarge.

You know, I don't think I follow any of these commandments except the ones about feet and napkins. It's like my mother didn't raise me right. But I know that could not possibly be the case, because my mother is classy and beautiful and reads my blog.