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Robert

Roman

Empire

RED BRICK ALLEY STORIES

The Killards Are Coming

Every damn day in Religion Class, Sister Anna Banana yapped about the Soviets revving up to start a nuclear war with the new president, Ronald Reagan. She said after the cities burned to Holy Hell, there’d be something called “nuclear winter” that would kill all... 

Double-Strength Demon Dogs

Fantastic Freddie was the only altar boy from the Red Brick Alley. He was always consecrating Ritz Crackers and trying to make us eat them like communion wafers. He light-fingered incense from the sacristy, and he blessed water from Old Lady Tully’s spigot...

Laser Loop

I couldn’t see over the tall green school bus seat except when we hit a pothole and I bounced up in the air like a Pop-Tart jumping out of a toaster. Nobody at Saint Augie’s could believe I was allowed to go. My first school picnic ever. I was good from the day I handed in my pink...

The Boy Wonder

How the Hell did Jaggerbush get himself up there? He was clawing his way up into the open window above the Science class door like a real-life gargoyle. The blockhead of a wooden mallet stuck out of the back of his Toughskins where his butt crack was. He wore three...

About The Author

Rob.jpg

Robert Roman grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where he sold newspapers to cars from a concrete island. Read more→

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  • Robert Roman

10 Tips to Sound Smart Discussing Ulysses


1. Diction Enlargement

Beef up your vocabulary. Use large words. The more problematic the pronunciation the better. Turn aside from plain, simple Mark Twain monosyllables and embrace your Longhorniness.

Execution Operandi: Sumo Style and Ninja Mode.

On the sand of the Dohyō, be bigger, stronger, vaster. Be like Buck Mulligan, stately, plump. Fill your mouth with dialogue “thickly buttered on both sides.”

After a performance-enhancing injection, the scrawny title above transforms into, “Decapodal Tactics to Evulgate Advanced Perspicacity when Explicating Ulyssian Texts.”

Grotesque? Absolutely. Shocking and awful is the aim. Joyce detonates a MOAB with his Eumaeus episode. Flip to any page of the initial Nostos section for a glimpse of the Mummer Of All Bombast.

If you’re not into the whole verbosity thing, man, if you don’t have the metabolism to go full-body hypertrophy, you don’t have to take your kettlebell and go home, you can go Ninja Mode. Never underestimate the effectiveness of one stiff jab. Sniper-like pinpoint accuracy is as lethal as overwhelming force. (Mixing metaphors is a whole other podcast.)

Like Professor Kenner’s Uncle Charles Principle, one well-placed word of ambiguous narrative origin is enough to off-balance any opponent. In the titular example above, simply replacing “tip” with “heuristic” does the trick. Many a columnist at many a great daily organ have made careers off this single-shot sophistication-signaling. A quick scrounge in the synonym spice rack, the lightest sprinkle of artisanal pink Himalayan sea salt on otherwise plain prose, and presto chango, instant cache.

Joyce’s newspapery Aeolus episode is wind-whipped with these Ninja darts.

“A perfect cretic! the professor (MacHugh) said. Long, short and long.”

“Cretic” will send them scurrying for their Urban Dictionaries. Utilize this one-hit wonder technique, and you will be feared as the Jack Tatum of Joyceans. They will call you assassin.

Caveat: Be wary of wading willy-nilly into any old shop-talk. Avoid Legalese, Bureaucratese, and especially, the emptiest of empty vessels, Corporatese. Is there a more bankrupt bunkum than bizspeak? (The power and perils of alliteration is a whole other power point presentation. In the meantime, Professor MacHugh provides a perfect paradigm, “We think of Rome, imperial, imperious, imperative.”)

Exception to Caveat: If you are enamored with a particular varietal of slanguage, employ this parlance sparingly. (Portmanteaus are a whole other vlog.) As with exclamation points and one-word sentences, you may indulge in one foray of business blowhardery. One!

Suggestion: Go old school. The classic weapons, rusty, unburnished, are still deadly. Opt for the ancient, the antiquated, the antediluvian. While excavating the ages for argot, embrace your inherent xenophilia. Open your borders to so-called foreign patois. And don’t default to the all-too-common Latin, instead “Hellenize it.” Again, Professor MacHugh mentors us, “Kyrios! Shining word!...The radiance of the intellect. I ought to profess Greek, the language of the mind. Kyrie eleison!”

Exception wrapped in a Warning inside a Generalization: Whereas a word like “lingo” is fine, fun even, it happens to be the title of an American television game show. Is there anything more plebian? While “verbiage” may meet the standard of mesomorphy, it’s mildewy with Marketese. “Cant” is an archaic, efficient, single-syllable killshot of sagacity.

Penultimate Postlude: For those lonely few still doddering in the AM radio of communication, AKA the written word, a brief note on punctuation. Semicolons are by nature semi-assed. Colons convey confidence.

So, let the Orwellians warn against obfuscation and the Strunk Drunks omit needless words. We are discussing Ulysses here. In the immortal words of famed producer, rock legend, the cock of the walk baby, Bruce Dickinson, the Bruce Dickinson, “Explore the studio space.” Be jingoistic with your jargon. This is war, after all. The war of art.

Stay tuned for the audio application of these tips.

Same erudite time, same esoteric channel.

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