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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

19 February 2009


Guys, it’s safe to play the cello again

“Cello scrotum,” irritation of the scrotum caused by playing the cello, has been revealed to be a spoof 34 years after the announcement of its “discovery.” In a letter in the 27 January issue of BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), the perpetrators confess they made the condition up and submitted a letter about it after the then–British Medical Journal published a letter on “guitar nipple.”

Ironically, BMJ had just published in its 12 December 2008 issue an article about the many medical disorders of musicians that included not only the above-mentioned cello scrotum and guitar nipple but also Sachmo’s syndrome, pianist’s hand, fiddler’s neck, and flautist’s chin.

Free romance ebooks

To celebrate its 60th birthday, Harlequin has put up a site where people can download any or all of the proffered 16 ebooks. (Note: None of the download formats are compatible with the first Kindle model.) For the rest of 2009, you can go to and try out a book from each of Harlequin’s series. The featured authors include Merline Lovelace (Sphinx Ink, I hope you’re paying attention!), Brenda Jackson, and my fellow OCC-RWA member Maureen Child.

A raffle with books as prizes

Australian erotica writer Astrid Cooper is holding a raffle to benefit Wildlife Victoria and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These organizations, along with others, are try to save animals injured in the recent Australian fires and reunite pets and owners separated by the fire. Among the prizes donated are books in various genres, tarot readings, greeting cards, and manuscript readings. Deadline for entering is 30 April 2009. Further info can be found at

If you prefer to help the wild and woolly closer to home, donations are still being accepted for fellow blogger Travis Erwin, whose New Year got off to a bad start when his house and all his possessions burned to a crisp. Go to to donate or find out other ways to help.

Upbeat literary fiction

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know that I read primarily genre fiction, in part because much literary fiction is unrealistically gloomy and has self-defeating characters who never evolve. Marianne Goss came across my blog and wrote to tell me about her Website, Positively Good Reads. She started the Website because she wanted to read books that were worth her time, but serious literature often left her depressed. She began searching for books that, in her words, “leave [her] feeling there’s reason to go on living.” Positively Good Reads lists a hundred books that won’t leave you in despair.

Blogging when you have no ideas

This post is what I came up with when my idea well was dry. Charles Gramlich recently did much better with his Razored Zen post “For Want of a Better Post” filled with great haiku about Conan the Cimmerian.


Lisa said...


OK, I'm sorry. Ahem.

The list of more upbeat literary fiction is a great idea. I've heard a lot of people say that they find literary fiction depressing, and apparently I'm immune to the phenomenon. As a matter of fact, it makes me wonder about how the process of reading must impact people in different ways. My mood has never been affected by a book and a book has never made me cry, but friends have cried over books. I wouldn't even trust myself to judge whether or not someone else might find a book depressing. What's up with that? Any ideas?

Cello Scrotum...okay, I just wanted to type that again. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Charles Gramlich said...

Well, I guess Cello Scrotum isn't quite up there with Piltdown Man, but it ranks as a pretty good one.

I definitely find my mood affected by books, although less so these days than when I was younger. I got that notice about the upbeat list and I should spend some more time over there.

Thanks for the mention!

Scott said...


Nice grab-bag of items here. 'Cello Scrotum' sounds like an insult orchestra players would toss about, LOL!

Rae Ann Parker said...

I sent the Positively Good Reads link to a friend who enjoys literary fiction. I am definitely a genre fiction reader myself.

Steve Malley said...

Am I the only one who also thought Fiddler's Neck was funny?

Of course, not like it can compete with Cello Scrotum.

Shauna Roberts said...

LISA, glad I could amuse you.

That's interesting that books don't move you emotionally. Movies usually have no effect on my mood, but books do. When I'm depressed, I read a romance novel to cheer me up. With literary fiction, I get angry at characters who have a problem and do nothing about it and the book ends with without any growth on their part.

You're welcome, CHARLES. BMJ routinely (and knowingly) publishes spoof articles on 1 April, and apparently the British papers sometimes think the articles are serious and report on them. That's what comes from having the science beat not be covered by people with scientific training.

SCOTT, orchestras are rather like classes of sixth graders. Each section has batches of jokes about the other sections. I've never heard any jokes about cello scrotum, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were some.

Some cellist jokes:

How is lightning like a cellist's fingers?
Neither one strikes in the same place twice.

Why do so many people take an instant dislike to the cello?
It saves time.

How can you tell when a cellist is playing out of tune?
The bow is moving.

RAE ANN, I know you read romance. What other genres do you like?

STEVE, I also thought Fiddler's Neck was funny, but Guitar Nipple makes me flinch each time I read it.

Lana Gramlich said...

*ROFL @ your cello jokes!*

Rae Ann Parker said...

Shauna, I got hooked on Nancy Drew as a kid and never stopped reading mysteries. I also enjoy legal thrillers.

steve on the slow train said...

I sent my daughter Anne, who plays the cello (not professionally)to pass on to any male cellists she knows.

Anne, by the way, soured on mainstream fiction due to the depressing stuff she had to read in middle school and high school. More power to Marianne Goss, though I fear English teachers won't be listening.

cs harris said...

How small is the world: Astrid Cooper is one of my writing friends from Adelaide!

Shauna Roberts said...

LANA, glad you enjoyed them.

RAE ANN, I share your love of mysteries but don't care for legal thrillers at all. One of my RWA chaptermates just published a mystery you might like—Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle. I'll be interviewing her here next month.

STEVE, good to see you. I hope your daughter finds some books on the list that appeal to her.

CANDICE, that is surprising!