Eric D. Snider

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Archive for October 25th, 2007

Cimberli: I really get a cick out of you

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

A 33-year-old middle school principal in Houston is being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with one of her 14-year-old students. There are about 10 news stories like this every day, so I’m not very interested in the details of this one, except when it comes to the principal’s name:

Cimberli Johnson.

She probably thinks her name is pronounced “Kimberly.” No doubt that’s what her parents had in mind when they named her. But there’s a problem here. “Cimberli,” spelled that way, would be pronounced “Simberly.”

English has rules, people! Many of those rules have exceptions, yes, but there are rules!

The letter “C,” when followed by an “I,” “E,” or “Y,” will always make an “S” sound: circus, cinema, cinnamon, Cynthia, century, censor, prophecy, concentrate, calcium, principal, officer, etc. (Words like artificial and special have a “sh” sound rather than “sss,” but the “C” is still functioning as an “S.”)

If you name your daughter Cimberli, you are not being original or clever or unique. All you’re doing is failing.

Eric Recommends: ‘Heart-Shaped Box’

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I haven’t read a lot of scary novels. Not intentionally; it just hasn’t turned out that way. So maybe it doesn’t mean much when I tell you that Joe Hill’s “Heart-Shaped Box” is the scariest book I’ve ever read.

It is the story of an aging heavy metal superstar named Judas Coyne who, owing to his carefully crafted public image, has developed a habit for acquiring morbid things. This includes a procession of pale Goth girlfriends, groupies who become lovers and think they’re the one who will tame the beastly Judas.

Then Judas buys a ghost online. A woman says she’s selling the suit that belonged to her stepfather, and that the man’s ghost is now “attached” to it so that whoever buys the suit will get the ghost, too. Stupid, of course, but hey, it’s only a thousand bucks, and Judas is rich, and the public eats it up when he does morbid things like buy ghosts. So why not?


I’m not embarrassed to tell you that this book made me poop my pants a lot. The first half, in particular, is fiendishly creepy and spooky, the kind of chilly ghost story you read only during the daytime and in public. The second half gets bloody and is more horrifying than terrifying (if you catch the difference), but no less thrilling.

It is the first novel from Joe Hill, who had previously written a collection of short stories. I just discovered that Joe Hill’s real name is Joe King, as in son of Stephen King. It’s good that he keeps that fact hidden. It would create unfair expectations of him. Also, it might make some people think that the glowing reviews heaped on “Heart-Shaped Box” are occurring automatically because of his pedigree. No sir! Joe Hill stands on his own. I’m terrified of him.

(Time magazine has a review of the book here, and Entertainment Weekly has one here.)

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