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Hi, I call myself Ignatz after Dan Herriman's character in the old "Krazy Kat" comic strip. I'm 44, father of 3, husband to one, crazy about music and books and food and movies and history and martial arts. I've had some wild and crazy times in my life, and I figure I might as well put in some of my perspective.

I promise not to talk down to anyone or make fun,and I promise not to BS anyone. If you're old enough to ask a frank question, you're old enough to get a frank answer. Oh, and if you ask me a question directly, please be patient. I'll get back to you as soon as I can. My life's a bit hectic. :-)
Gender: Male
Location: St. Louis, MO
Occupation: Professional dad
Age: 44
Member Since: October 29, 2007
Answers: 328
Last Update: January 23, 2015
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Can anyone recommend any good books? Preferably mystery, romance, teen, or psychological books that are fairly easy to read? If so, can you give a brief description of what it's about. Thank you. (link)
Paul Zindel's books are very good, though a bit dated. I'd especially recommend "The Undertaker's Gone Bananas!" It's about a 14-year-old boy and his best girl friend who figure out that his neighbor is a murderer. Funny and exciting, with a good romantic subplot.

A more contemporary choice would be Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother". It's about a high school senior who runs afoul of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack in San Francisco, and becomes a fugitive. You can download a free copy at

A question to those who are religious.
Jesus believers.

Why does your religion believe that Witchcraft is wrong? Why do you seem to think that Witches gain their power and energies from hell?
Most Witchcraft doesn't even have anything to do with heaven or hell...?

OK, here we go.

Here's a link to an article that explains the history a little better:

Other commenters have provided the Biblical injunction against witches and some of the reasoning behind it. This train of thought comes from an extremely conservative brand of Christianity. Essentially, if you're not praying to the Christian God and calling on Him for help, then you're automatically praying to Satan. It doesn't matter what name you're using in your prayer (Cernunnos, Zeus, Demeter, Astarte, whatever); there are no other gods. You're praying to Satan. Also, by using magic you're trying to impose your will on the natural order of things, rather than following God's will.

The term "witchcraft" has several different meanings. Most of the self-described witches you'll find these days are trying to revive the worship of pre-Christian European gods. They're a religious movement, essentially. Most Christians don't concern themselves with modern witches or witchcraft, any more than they would with Buddhists or Muslims.

To the kind of Christian that does concern themselves with witches, witches are working with Satan to take over the world and turn people away from the true faith. Their use of fortune-telling and spells open paths for Satan to come forth in the world. These sorts of accusations took root in the 14th century (see the link I provided) and aren't going away anytime soon.

There's a certain tie-in to Gnosticism (the idea that Jesus passed on secret knowledge to a few followers, and that through learning this secret knowledge one can achieve divinity), which is contrary to doctrine. All Jesus' teachings are in the Gospels, and there is no hidden knowledge. There are meditative and contemplative traditions in Christianity, and a long history of mystical experiences, but nothing that would give you supernatural powers.

Hope this helps.

our school talent show is coming up... can anyone recommend a good song to sing? (link)
It's hard to lose with a classic: "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" by Tom Lehrer will bring the house down, and probably get you a session with the school counselor.

Of course, if you want something more serious, go with "Hallelujah" or "Song of Bernadette" by Leonard Cohen. They're both excellent songs.

Could you get some 2010 class quotes?
Please and thanks.
=] (link)
It's 2010. Where's my jetpack and robot butler?

Hello everyone.

I have a question about writing dialogue in fiction. What I can't seem to find on the net are the rules for how to show that two people are communicating with each other in writing.

Say your two characters are chatting via an instant messenger. Is it treated like normal dialogue? Also, what sort of tag would one use... would it be "he said" or "he wrote" or something totally different?

Any help would be much appreciated :) (link)
Check out Cory Doctorow's "Eastern Standard Tribe". He does a rather lengthy dialogue via chat. You can download a free copy at his website,

I need a lot of good fantasy books to read for school so any one please help me out (link)
What kind of fantasy are you looking for? For the traditional sword-and-sorcery, two fisted thud and blunder tales, go with Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. For a weird inversion of the style, try Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone stories. For a laugh, go with Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series, and most definitely Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" novels and C.S. Lewis' Narnia series are obligatory, as is T.H. White's "The Sword in the Stone". Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea books are excellent, though there's less 'action'. Orson Scott Card's "Tales of Alvin Maker" are set in an alternate frontier America, and they're pretty good. There's a whole lot more, but this should give you a start.

Hope this helps.

when i burn cds on to my laptop i wont to be able to make them into mp3 files how do i do that ? (link)
There are freeware programs that will convert audio files from one format to another. Google "free mp3 file converter" and see what you get. One of the best ones is Express Switch; you can download a trial version good for about 3 months. (once it expires, you delete it and download a new copy.)

Hope this helps.

hey 14 f XD

You see I'm a writer..i love writing but I'm worried there not good enough..;/ Like my brother makes me mad because he just started writing and his storys are pretty good..well he's 17 so of course he would be good..but any way u can help me out? Tips? I really love writing a book now..nd anything will be help full..thanks..
XD (link)
1. Keep a diary. Write every day, even if nothing happens. The more you practice, the better your writing will be.

2. Write fanfic. Harry Potter, Avatar, Twilight, whatever. Put your stories up for people to read and review. People (some of them professional copy editors and teachers) will volunteer to proofread, critique and help you improve your writing. Fanfic helps you improve your characterization and plotting, and it's just plain fun. Here's an article by Cory Doctorow about fanfic:

3. Read. Read everything you can get your hands on, whether trash or high-end literature. The more reading you do, the more you will see how various writers handle various issues and conflicts.

i am insanely scared of the world ending. i am soo scared that 12/21/12 is true. is it true? if it's not true, what is proof that it's not true and what are some sources to lead to the idea that it's not true. (link)
It's not true.

The date 12/21/12 corresponds to the date on the ancient Maya calendar known as the Long Count. Supposedly, the end of the 13th baktun of the Mayan calendar signals a new cycle of creation. Depending on your prophet of choice, this can mean everything from worldwide catastrophe to a fundamental change in the way people think. Of course, according to people who actually study ancient Maya culture and cosmology, the date is something like December 31st - the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Here's an article in Archaeology magazine about it.

The Long Count calendar has nothing to do with current events. The ancient Maya were not prophets or more cosmically connected than we are. It can be very dangerous to draw connections across unrelated cultures in an attempt to predict the future or prove some theory. The world isn't going to end on 12/21/2012; Roland Emmerich was just trying to make some money.

Hope this helps.

Some months ago I was beaten and raped by a stranger. I feel lucky I wasn't killed. He has not been caught yet though I don't think it'll be very long till he is. I would like to get some protection for myself, just to feel safer, but I don't want to buy a real gun. I was thinking about stun guns but I don't know anything about them.

Would a stun gun be good enough to protect me against an attacker but not really hurt him? Would it be legal to carry one everywhere I go? (I live in the U.S.) If I used a stun gun on a person, could they file a lawsuit against me because of it? (link)
On more general principles, you might look into self-defense classes. Carrying a taser or stun-gun is part of the solution; another part is learning to be aware of your surroundings and how to act when you're panicking. If you're not careful, your stun-gun can be taken away and used against you. Look for women-specific self-defense classes; traditional martial arts schools will teach you useful skills, but don't always cover dangerous situations.

Hope this helps.

I am trying to locate a bread machine recipe for whole wheat bread. No matter which recipe I use, the bread comes out very dense and dry. I even take it out 20 mins or so before timer goes off. there such a thing? I always make bread for my husband, now he wants wheat bread for his lunch, any thoughts on this?
Thanks.. (link)
Bread machine recipes have to be very precise in their measurements. How much water are you adding? Generally speaking, a bread machine recipe will call for four cups of flour total ( 3 cups white, 1 cup whole-wheat) and 2 cups less one tablespoon total liquid (that includes eggs, milk, water, whatever). If it's coming out too dense, use a bit more water or liquid. Also, sift the flour and use fresh yeast. If your yeast is dead, then the bread won't rise.

Hope this helps.

Recently, I bought this dress:
It's for a semi-formal, however... I plan on using the dress again but at the same time I've been losing weight.
I was wondering if it would be possible to alter the dress one size down (from a 6 to a 4)? I can fit into a 4, but it's really tight, so I don't want to exchange it. The main area that would have to be tightened would be the bust/waist area. If it's possible, would it be costly? (link)
I would take it to a place that does alterations and get an estimate. Given the shape of the bustline, it shoudn't be too hard to take the dress in a little bit. Depending on the shop, it might cost you about $30 or so.

Hope this helps.

So, I am 15, female. I make clothing. I want to get my clothes out there. Do you think if I create enough clothing items that I can go to Target or Walmart, I can show them my ideas and I can get a clothing line? Or is that completely fabricated? I don't know how this stuff works. How do I go about getting my own clothing line? I want one really bad, I am quite dedicated to making clothes, I love the beauty of how you can make something yours with something as simple as a bow or a little tie somewhere. I knew I wanted to be a designer since I was little. I said to my mom when I was 7 "mommy, I want to be big one day" and she said "hunny, you can be bigger than big. you are so much more than you know" and since there I just exploded with ideas. I want this so bad. Have my own clothing line and maybe open my own boutique when I'm older and out of school, I just love designing. So, how do I go about getting my ideas out there? How do I also, go about getting my own line? Thanks! (link)
Forget the chain stores. Right now, if you have an itch to make clothes, why not go the bespoke route? Make some custom clothes for yourself, your mom, your friends, whomever and wear them around. Make them distinictive. When someone comments on it, tell them you made it yourself and that you can make one for them too. You'll learn a lot about how clothes go together and how to turn your ideas into real garments. Generate enough buzz among your friends and classmates, and you could have your own little line going.

Consider also majoring in fashion and design in college. There are a number of excellent programs all over the country, although some of the best are in New York City. These programs will teach you all sorts of things, from the history of fashion to how to run a business to exactly how to custom-tailor clothes. Studying in the field will also give you the chance to intern with major design companies, and may lead to a career. Read as much as you can, observe, watch hours of "Project Runway" and listen to the critiques. Finally, check out for the musings of a haute couture-obsessed teenager. She's a hoot.

Also, check out a blogspot page called Off the Cuff. It's by a woman that makes custom shirts and fashion apparel, and she's got tons of instructional stuff on there.

You don't need the chain stores. If this is what you love, then do it, and do it as hard as you can. Best of luck to you.

Ok, this is terrible but I need HELP!

I've been shoplifting for a little over two years now. I've taken A LOT of stuff. I take little things or big things--it doesn't really matter as long as I leave with something I should have purchased! It's pathetic sometimes because I'll steal something I really don't need or end up not even using. I don't know why I just keep doing it. It feels like I'm compelled to when I'm inside a store. I'll check the entire store out like I'm really shopping (I'll even try clothes on that I'm not even interested in) but the truth is that I'm scouting out my next steal and finding the "easy target" and/or "easy location" in the store.

I don't want to steal from stores though. I know it's against the law and I can get in a lot of trouble. I've tried to stop doing it or cut-back even from it almost feels like I NEED to when I'm in that moment?

I use to feel like I had butterflies in my stomach when I stole something and when I used it the first time. I even stole a jacket once and felt almost PROUD to be wearing it since I wasn't caught.'s gone too far and I'm scared of myself now. The butterfly feeling has long gone and I feel pathetic when I take things without paying but I just can't stop doing it.

What do I do so I can stop this? I don't want to be a criminal. I don't want to get arrested or go to jail. I don't want that embarrassment either! Sad to say, I don't want this useless JUNK setting around my room! Please give me some advice here because I'm completely lost! (link)
It sounds to me like you have a pretty well known disorder called kleptomania. Basically, you steal compulsively, and you can't stop or control it. It's treatable, but you need help.

The first thing you need to do is tell an adult that you trust, whether your parents or a school counselor. Be honest, tell them everything. They should be able to get you hooked up with a therapist who can help you deal with the compulsive behavior and the reasons for it.

You've done a brave thing in asking for advice, even from anonymous people. Good luck.

I don't mean to sound stupid but I'm curious if zombies are actually real to some extent. I'm not talking about the "zombies" you see in movies and on the television though that are after brains (or should I say "brraaainnsss!"). I also don't mean an actual invasion of zombies that tends to be the basis on many movies. I'm just talking about the walking dead, I suppose. Is there a such thing as the walking dead? Are there real incidences of zombies or A zombie? Any proof to back up a zombie theory? Just curious, really... (link)
Check out a book called "The Serpent and the Rainbow", which deals with the pharmacological aspects of the zombie myth in Haitian culture. Basically, a drug derived from blowfish toxin can induce a near-death state. The victim ingests the drug, apparently dies and is buried, then is dug up and given a different drug that suppresses the will. The victim usually gets worked to death on a farm. So no "BRAAAIIINNSSSS!" zombies; that was George Romero's idea. (Though a vegan zombie will look for "GRAAAAIIINNNNSSS!")

Seriously, check out the book.

does anyone know how this book relates to the history or culture during the time it was made?

Ah, a tricky question about an excellent book by one of my favorite authors.

Ursula K. LeGuin doesn't deal in critiques of contemporary history or culture (at least not in her novels. Her short story "Intracom" is one of the funniest Star Trek parodies I've ever read.). Her Earthsea stories don't reflect contemporary society or history. They do reflect her lifelong interest in mythology, anthropology and psychology (her parents were anthropologists), as well as her opinions about wizards.

LeGuin is part of what's called the "New Wave" of science fiction writers who appeared in the late 1950s and '60s. Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, R.A Lafferty, and David Gerrold were all contemporaries. New Wave writers deal less with new technology and more with the impact technology has on peoples' lives. They also deal more with "soft sciences" like psychology and sociology.

Le Guin is telling a coming-of-age story in this book. She's also engaging in the same world-building exercises that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis did, and offering her opinions about wizards. Compare Ged to Gandalf: Gandalf is very much a man of action, as likely to wield a sword in battle as to work magic. Ged is much calmer, more willing to let things work out by themselves and is much more reluctant to use magic for fear of throwing the world out of balance. Read the discussion with Estarriol's sister and you'll get a good sense of Le Guin's approach to magic.

So Earthsea is not a critique of contemporary culture per se. It is a very good book, however, as are the other books in the series. I would also recommend her Annals of the Western Shore series for young adults, and her short story collections and novels for readers of any age. (The Lathe of Heaven will blow your mind.)

Hope this helps.

Lately I've become slightly addicted to uh.. classical-ish music, I guess? I don't really know how to classify it; I just like various piano / string songs, such as Yiruma's "River Flows in You", Apocalyptica's "Farewell", etc.

Anyways, I don't know of any similar artists and was wondering if you guys had any suggestions. (link)
Check out Rasputina. Three cellos, one drummer, no waiting. Weird slowcore freakout music. Also check out the Kronos Quartet. more standard classical stuff, but lots of in-jokes. And of course, there is the inimitable PDQ Bach.

I am going to have to get my tooth pulled and i'm so scaered I need to know does it hurt? my new tooth is comeing in over it so I need to this. (link)
no, it doesn't. The area around the extraction will be shot full of novocaine. The worst you'll feel while the tooth is being pulled is a tugging sensation. Once the novocaine wears off the empty space will ache, but you can handle that with ordinary painkillers.

GOod luck.

Okay, I need help finding a book.

I have a friend, he's a guy, 18, and he's super smart but he doesn't like to read. I want to change that, because I think he would love reading if he found the right book. He'll read non-fiction, but that's about it. I love fiction novels, and I think he would too if he gave them a chance.

So i'm looking for a novel thats:
1. Not too long... preferably not longer than 400 pages.
3. In the history or mystery genre... preferably both.
4. Award winner or finalist. (Not necessary, but those are usually the really good books.)

I want something that will make him love fiction, so any ideas would be wonderful and much appreciated. (link)
There's a lot out there in historical fiction and mystery. You might want to try him out on Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels or John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books, especially "The Green Ripper". The writing is very spare and stripped down, and very very good.

I'd also recommend Caleb Carr's "The Alienist": a serial-killer novel set in 1890s New York City. Lots of historical detail, good characters, and solid writing.

There's an excellent Spanish writer named Arturo Perez Reverte: his works are available in English, and they deal a lot with history and literature. He's written a series of pulp adventure novels set in 1650s Spain and Holland. The first one is "Captain Alatriste", and it totally rocks.

Finally, check out Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother". It's about a teenage kid in San Francisco who gets picked up by Homeland Security after terrorists blow up the Bay Bridge. It's funny in some parts, sad in others, and it makes you think hard. Lots of tech stuff that you can do yourself. You can download a free copy at

All these authors have won major awards in their fields, and they're just plain good.

In the movie Julie said that Julia hated her, but I find this hard to believe. If the movie is a good characterization of Julia then I would have to think that she would be delighted that someone would take the time to make all of her recipes. (link)
Without having seen the movie, I'd venture to guess that Julie says this in reference to the some of the more compex recipes. I don't think Julia Child had anything against Julie as a person, it's just that Julie thinks that Julia is making her recipes difficult out of spite for the reader.

Take aspic: making aspic from scratch involves slowly cooking a calf's foot to extract the gelatin, then chilling it, skimming off the fat, reheating it, and then adding other ingredients depending on the type of aspic you're making. (Think beef-flavored Jello). You can get the same effect with Knox gelatin and a bouillon cube. Telling somebody to go through a lengthy process when there's an easier way to do it can be seen as sadistic.

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