Wednesday, April 28, 2010

8/14/09: The Ayatollah

The simile is invaluable, to me, at least. I use it liberally in my fiction; sure, there are plenty other effective means of conveyance, but I've found the simile to achieve that Holy Grail of Perfect Recognition in a way rarely matched by other mechanisms, and using the fewest words possible. It's a beautiful thing, a tight, well-executed simile, and I think most authors would agree. I think I'll name my first child "Like".

Last August, I finished up a novel set in the early '80s, and like most of my narratives, it was heavily conducive to simile. One such simile in the text involved Ayatollah Khomeini, neither the first nor the last in the history of literature, I'm sure. However, when I had the little brain-orgasm that gave birth to the prose, all I could think of was "the Ayatollah," his surname escaping me (the guy's not much of a news item these days). So I jumped on the good old interweb, a writer's vade mecum if there ever was one, and in ten seconds I had his name and anything else I'd want to know about the demonized icon.

Now, skip forward twenty-four hours. Within that time, a concatenation of chance events I won't bore you with saw me receive, for free, a non-working Maxtor hard drive. Having been a tech geek in another life, I decided to look up the drive's warranty, on the off chance that I may be able to get a new, eBayable drive for the cost of shipping. I went to Maxtor's website, and when I entered the drive's serial number, to perform the warranty check, I was met with one of those lovely security-word prompts that have become fashionable in the last few years. I had trouble reading the hallucinogenic globs, but I eventually discerned two words: "keeping khomeini".

Now, I don't know, exactly, how many words such a security script has to work with, but something tells me the odds were against encountering that one in particular, and within a day of the inception of my simile. It was like butter, as Mike Myers once said.

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