Caliborn’s self-destructive wordplay

While I was rereading the new Caliborn pages today, I noticed something that I’d completely missed the first time. Namely, a joke involving one of the Japanese phrases Caliborn uses: “doujinshi man gaka.” Now, maybe this joke/pun was supposed to be totally obvious, I’m just particularly slow on the uptake, and this post will elicit “well, duh”s. But I figure there must be some other baka gaijin like me out there who missed out on it completely, so I’m going to (perhaps unnecessarily) explain it until all the humor is leeched out. Here we go. Caliborn describes himself as a “(doujinshi) man gaka” twice:


Now, my first time reading these pages, I activated my twin powers of Using Context Clues and Wanting To Read Fast; I assumed that “doujinshi man gaka” meant something along the lines of “anime guy” and kept going. But when I read through the pages for the second time, I decided that I’d try to find out what the phrase actually means. So I fired up Google Translate:


"Doujinshi" is a general term for a self-published work (translated as "fanzine" by Google). And "man gaka" means… "ten thousand painter?" …O-okay. Is it trying to invoke, like, an ego thing? Caliborn thinks he’s as talented as ten thousand painters in one? Or maybe "man gaka" is an idiom or slang that Google isn’t hip enough to recognize. Oh well, at least I tried. But just before I gave up on my translation endeavor, I remembered something relevant.


Caliborn tends to split compound words in two. So, going on a hunch, I tried deleting the space between “man” and “gaka.”


"Man gaka" is a nonsense phrase, but "mangaka" means manga artist. Caliborn tried to apply his "splitting compound words" quirk here in order to emphasize the "manliness" of being a manga artist. But since "mangaka" is a transliteration of a Japanese word and not a compound English word, this tweak made the entire phrase lose its meaning.

Ultimately, this silly little wordplay works as a great (and I imagine deliberate) metaphor for a subset of the many, many things wrong with Caliborn. He makes a very conscious effort to play up and single out the “man” part of his personality, but he doesn’t realize (or maybe just doesn’t acknowledge) how destructive and toxic this is. Because in the process of emphasizing this one aspect of his identity, he makes this identity as a whole become unintelligible and broken.

What a baka.


Oh my fucking god,
A fucking update.

-submitted by weredirk

Note the intricate subtleties of meter in this poem. Each line is the exact inverse of the other metrically, every stressed syllable in the first line paired with an unstressed in the second. The trochees of the first line suggesting a forward-pushing momentum, an excitement, an insistence; the iambs of the second evoking disbelief, praise, relief. And each line ends with an orphaned beat after its two disyllables: the stressed “god” in the first line, and the unstressed “date” in the second. Perhaps intended to suggest that this day is a god-date, a divine moment in time? Or is irony at play: the strongly-emphasized “god” is followed by a comma, indicating incompleteness despite the weight of the word preceding it; while the relatively less emphatic “date” in “update” is followed by a period, which antagonizes the weak ending of the word with a forceful punctuational stop, and forces an implication of finality up against the open promise of continuation contained in the literal and implied meaning of “update.”

Note also the repetition of the word “fucking,” and how it again places the lines in symmetrical opposition to each other. In the first line, it is an intruder, unexpectedly disrupting the conventional phrase “oh my god.” But its effect on the meaning of the line is an emphasis of the sentiment, not a disturbance of it. In the second line, the “fucking” is more complex. Instead of intruding, it is necessary. The article “a” (instead of “an”) at the beginning of the line presupposes an adjective; “oh my god” is a syntactically valid phrase, but “a update” is not. We need “fucking” to make the line complete. But this “fucking” is more ambiguous in meaning than the one in the first line. Is it a statement on the quality of the update? An expression of frustration? Or pure enthusiasm? Even though this poem presents itself as objective news, it leaves us with more questions than answers.

And yet, isn’t that fitting? This is where the carefully-constructed pairing of the lines is so important: after we finish the poem, we are compelled to return to its first line, drawn back to the inverted double. And that’s when the true meaning of the poem dawns on us, revealed by the pulling-back gesture necessitated by the simultaneously complex and simple structure. After we read “a fucking update,” we are left worried, confused, uncertain. But then we’re tugged back to the first line: “oh my fucking god.” We realize that our uncertainty is irrelevant, that either way, this excitement that we feel in this moment is meaningful, regardless of the content that provokes it. It isn’t “an update” that is the driving force of this poem. No, the true heart of the poem, and of our emotions, is the sentiment of “oh my fucking god” that the knowledge of said update brings us.

Truly, fearful symmetry.

With wounds for eyes and steel for sharp defense,
She lacerates the velvet of the stage
And smiles with the swiftness of met ends
While bleeding out the evidence of rage. 

She’s drawn her sword from pictures of the sun, 
And technically colored a whole world,
Ignoring the deceit a spider spun.
Her crimson calculations all unfurl

To mark him with the guilt he spilled and guzzled
As though he was addicted to cold killing.
Revenge is far more sweet than courtblock’s puzzle,
And, when compared to murder, far more thrilling.

She would be ice if not for shivering liars. 
It’s not by chance that pyrope secretes fire. 

submitted by etherlighter

Here’s a weird, dumb thing I wrote. It barely even belongs on this blog, but… maybe someone will like it??

It’s about Nicolas Cage and John Travolta playing SBURB.


Detective Pony is now on AO3.

105 pages of lighthearted pony fun, with a Dirk Strider twist.

This revision is a tough, emotionally draining read. But it’s cathartic, in all the worst ways possible.

After two months, my adventure with writing Detective Pony is finished. And now the book is compiled in one convenient place for maximum readability. This AO3 version includes the option to read it either with the original images (recommended), or as text only, if that’s your thing. I’m really proud of this project, and I’m both sad and relieved that it’s finally done, and finally all out there. Phew.

(Oh, and thanks for being patient with the infrequency of my updates here while I was focusing on the Detective Pony blog. Now that that ride is over, hopefully I’ll be posting content here a little more often.)

You felt that you’d been given time enough
For everything you were to bud and bloom
For all your INTERESTS and your AWESOME STUFF
The love that clogged the corners of your room
And then – you know how days can feel like years?
How everything crowds in?  So much to see!
And somewhere your accounts fell in arrears
And we forgot the things you thought you’d be
I heard you hunted – or raised cuttlefish.
I heard God got distracted, put his toys
Aside, forgot to play with them.  I wish
Your stories had been less about the boys
As Strider finds his selfies, risks a grin,
And thinks of all the things he might have been 

-submitted by blurds

Makara Makara

Makara Makara
sleeping all alone
within your broken home
miracles and loneliness
are all you’ve ever known
Makara Makara
playing your new game
insanely sanely sane
in company of friends
dangerous but tame
Makara Makara
voices in your head
saying “kill them dead
bathe yourself in blood
and not a tear be shed”
Makara Makara
calm again at last
yet to your lord hold fast
forsake even dearest friend
to HIM your lot be cast
Makara Makara
lurking in the dark
shall not a soul cry “hark
what demon spurs this twisted mind
and beats this shattered heart”
Makara Makara
what omen do you bear
why comest now you here
clad in purple, bloody merchant
how do you thus appear
Makara Makara
what fate will you now lead
what great or awful deed
your loyalty to friend or foe
this truth you won’t concede 

-submitted by themuffinman1227

Three deaths and a corpse party

The Witch of Life, observed the gods
When Jack sped past with a knife, cutting short her survival odds
He then stabbed Nepeta, and burned down Derse
But was in for a surprise, when the flames would disperse
Without realizing, he had the Maid revived
Which was a plot twist, not at all contrived
But Jack was angered, with this turn of events
And came at her, with murderous intents
Yet the Maid had other plans, obviating her demise
So she froze the wolf in a time bubble, something he didn’t surmise
And though he would kill her, the moment he was released
She refused to return, to the long deceased
So she escaped, and had outfoxed
The crazy murderer, who was flummoxed
Though in the future, there was a fight
Between Vriska and Tavros, who would soon take flight
They would taunt each other, and then Tavros would strike
Only for his attack to be redirected, and his chest then spike
And so Vriska, who was of a higher caste
Would throw his body, in the dark void vast

-submitted by thefairywzard

are all the sonnets written by the same person? how often are submissions?

There’s just one person running this blog, but not all the poems are by me; I receive and publish lots of submissions from many other talented poets. (All the submissions are tagged and attributed as such, so if you don’t see #submission, then the poem was written by me.) I don’t have a set submission-publishing schedule, but I try to put out roughly one a week. Hope that answers your question!