Distant Snippet

Posted: May 3rd, 2012 under Contents, the writing life.
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You won’t see this for a long time, but I can’t resist:

As he lay wondering about this, a sound moved in the darkness, a sound for which–like everything else–he had no name.

And no, I’m not saying who “he” is or what’s going on.  There’s a book and a large chunk between now and then.

Nor is this a good topic for open speculation.    You might accidentally hit on details that would spoiler it for many.


  • Comment by Ed B — May 3, 2012 @ 9:31 pm


    Dang, that is one heck of a good tease.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — May 3, 2012 @ 10:15 pm


    Oh my! some entertainment for the oh-dark-hundred hours when my brain wakes up before my body does. Thank you, Elizabeth, I think. 🙂

  • Comment by Jenn — May 4, 2012 @ 8:53 am


    Does this mean I can’t guess Colonel Mustard in the library with the scotty dog. Oops, mixed up my game pieces.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 4, 2012 @ 9:10 am


    Nadine: There will be more snippets from Limits of Power from time to time, but I just could not resist throwing that one at you.

    Jenn: Dadgummit, Jenn, you are too good with the game pieces. The Scotty dog was supposed to be the big screaming surprise reveal at the very end…I figured people would get that it was about Col. Mustard being somewhere, but the Scotty–oh dear. Now I have to make up something else…(walks off muttering to self: “Afghan hound? Basenji? Purple caterpillar?”)

  • Comment by Ginny W. — May 4, 2012 @ 9:48 am


    Sound is such a tantalizing hint… and this one has no name…
    Jenn: I am guessing Colonel Mustard overturned the shelves in the library… or perhaps the altos discovered an entirely note in last night’s choir rehearsal. (A frequent disharmony of my own… it is located somewhere between an F sharp and G flat, where there should be no difference at all!)

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 4, 2012 @ 10:23 am


    Ginny W. That’s what my choir director calls “Approximatura” to the choir, or–to me in a voice lesson I missed this week, “You’re not centered in the tone” or “That was flat [or “sharp” depending on which note I was trying for.]”

  • Comment by Genko — May 4, 2012 @ 11:05 am


    I tend to sing sharp (being of a soprano frame of mind), but there are times when the tone sounds both flat and sharp, which I know should be a physical impossibility, but with vibrato …

  • Comment by Genko — May 4, 2012 @ 11:06 am


    And sound “moving” … Sound, by its nature, moves, but I wonder what kind of movement might be implied here. Something besides vibrato, I suspect.

  • Comment by SnowGator — May 4, 2012 @ 11:06 am


    With a start he realized it was simply Paks snoring in the next room. Bemused, he rolled over and went back to sleep.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 4, 2012 @ 11:20 am


    Genko: A few weeks ago–and not in our choir–I was standing beside someone in another church who had a wide vibrato but the right note was nowhere in the warble. It was the weirdest thing–she was usually flat, with the whole vibrato below the target note, but on low notes she sang sharp, with the whole vibrato above the note. She was so far off that it wasn’t hard at all to sing the right pitch (unlike someone who’s a quarter tone off, and tempts me to merge with them so the dissonance isn’t slicing my ear.)

    The “moving” isn’t the tone, but what’s making the sound.

    SnowGator: Ahem. Well, yes, Paks does snore sometimes (but she’s healthy and young and doesn’t usually have any airway obstruction, so it’s rare.)

  • Comment by Moira — May 4, 2012 @ 2:08 pm


    I never did trust that Colonel Mustard fella. And I always thought Miss Scarlet got a bad rap!

    (Paks snores?! :))

    There is actually a difference between F sharp and G flat. (Not much of one, but it’s there.) You just don’t get it from a piano or a well-tempered clavier… but the human voice, or a stringed instrument, is more than capable of producing absolute intonation based on the key and harmonic progression. It was Bach (among others – he’s just the one who’s remembered for it) who campaigned for a rational, usable but approximated keyboard layout that allowed modulation through all the keys. Prior to that, you had instruments that (keyboard) had to be retuned depending on the key(s) of the pieces to be played, or (wind) physically couldn’t produce acceptable notes in keys more than one or two sharps/flats away from their “home” key. That’s why you see baroque / rococo / classical scores with “2 Horns in F” or “Trumpets in B flat.”

    More fascinating trivia… sorry, I digress yet again.

    I personally think it was Professor Plum in the hall with the candlestick. (And thanks to Jenn for a brilliant response – I’ll blame it all on you. 😉 Heh!)

  • Comment by tuppence — May 4, 2012 @ 4:20 pm


    The slithery sound of blood being wiped off of a pair of knitting needles…

  • Comment by tuppence — May 4, 2012 @ 4:21 pm


    And a muffled curse as Mrs Mustard realised that her half knited socks were irretrievably stained.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 4, 2012 @ 4:29 pm


    Moira: remember Sesame Street…”everybody sleeps…” Well, everybody sometimes snores, too.

    tuppence: If there were a prize for a pair of superb comments (even though many others were good), you just won it. “The sound of blood being wiped off a pair of knitting needles…” Brrrrrr.

  • Comment by Richard — May 4, 2012 @ 4:31 pm


    Elizabeth, until you mentioned Limits in #3, I thought, from “book and large chunk between”, that the snippet must be from V. (I do hope it stays in.)

  • Comment by Moira — May 4, 2012 @ 5:41 pm


    @tuppence – beautiful! You nailed it. Or, er, skewered it. 😉

    @Elizabeth – I’ve actually never seen Sesame Street! (Not from this country. Now, if you wanted to talk The Magic Roundabout, that’d be different…) Nevertheless, your point (with or without socks still attached) is well taken. 🙂 I was actually amused both at the idea of our hero lustily snoring away after a hard day of smiting evil, and at our own inescapable feet of clay. There’s not much about being human that’s dignified, when you get right down to it. (Dogs have it all sorted, really – they don’t give a hoot, just let it all hang out: eat, drink, play, sleep, cuddle. I think it’s only because they’ve hung around humans too long that they get that faintly embarrassed look when they do their business. Dogs rock.)

  • Comment by Jenn — May 5, 2012 @ 7:41 am


    That was hysterical.

    Were the socks made from hand spun purple caterpillar fuzz?

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — May 6, 2012 @ 11:48 am



    Were you thinking of just rubbing the needles together or wiping them off with a soft cloth? If the latter, white linen or someones tunic?

  • Comment by Ginny W. — May 6, 2012 @ 2:11 pm


    Tuppence: Great story line.

  • Comment by tuppence — May 6, 2012 @ 2:28 pm


    Wiping them off with the proto socks that are on them! Hence Mrs Mustards displeasure when she discovers the foul deed!

  • Comment by Rolv — May 7, 2012 @ 5:04 am


    -and in the background, we hear The Beatles singing the immortal “Mean Mr. Mustard” …

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