Category: Littrachure

“If” by Kipling, as Performed by


If Only I’d Known This Was Out There

I could have gotten a lot more sleep last night

(shamelessly stolen from leeann)

Now, I have to say, I’ve watched schmaybe one episode of Lost prior to last night, so I am of course perfectly versed in the show’s nuances to render decisive judgment on it, so here goes: the writers’ problem (and this shows in this final “church” scene whose stain-glassed windows are decorated with symbols of all the major religions, because, y’know, your actual beliefs don’t really matter but gosh do we respect them) is that they don’t believe in evil people. Oh sure, they believe that people can do bad things, but that in the “end” everyone is all happy and chummy; that, at their core, people are “good.”

And I just don’t buy it.

People are, at their core, nasty self-centered evil little shits.

Update: Hehe, here’s da Vinci’s lesser-known painting “The Lost Supper”

It’s Just One of Those Words

I read this:

While doing some research on the earth’s albedo

…and instantly felt kinda…naughty.

Quote Of The Day

Sheila posts on a glorious poem by Lorine Niedecker concerning my Dear Mr. Jefferson that opens with this absolutely fantastic verse:

My wife is ill!
And I sit
for a quorum

That, folks, is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

Read the whole post; there are so many wonderful snippets of The Sage in that meal.

Snappy Dialogue in Local Fishwrap Saves Printing Costs!

Eliminate those pesky English class, Conjunction Junction-type nuisance rules and voilà! LESS ink, even in a story as compelling as this:

Escambia County drug ring shut down

A nearly two-year investigation into 11 men suspected of smuggling cocaine into Escambia County has resulted in the seizure of more than $500,000 in cocaine and cash. Five Pensacola men and six others from Texas and Mississippi are suspected of taking part in the drug ring, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Monday.

…The investigation started after a confidential source began helping investigators after being arrested June 26, 2008.

Cocaine fell out the source’s pocket while at Escambia County Jail…

More egregious than a typo…set my teeth on edge, it did.

It also explains why this rag is down to about 6 total pages per edition.

Raise a Wee Dram Wi’ Us, Will Ye?

And celebrate Burns Night.

Long life, my Lord, an’ health be yours,
Unskaithed by hunger’d Highland boors;
Lord grant me nae duddie, desperate beggar,
Wi’ dirk, claymore, and rusty trigger,
May twin auld Scotland o’ a life
She likes-as butchers like a knife.

Happy Birth Bardday, old man.

Stanley Fish Reviews Sarah Palin…


And is promptly rabidly attacked in the comments for his unforgivable sin.

A fun read!

The UN “Climate Change” Meeting Starts This Very Morning

…and the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is?





I think not.

Fill In the Blank Pop Quiz

A work published in 1896 has some pretty contemporary sentiments even today. Ending with the following paragraph…

“I have heard from half a dozen head-masters of schools that they find the art of ___-________ is so distasteful to their scholars, and so much above their intellect, and so fatiguing an exercise to the youthful mind, that they feel obliged to abandon the study of it and replace it once more by those easier and pleasanter subjects, Latin and Greek”.

…WHAT does “Studies in the Art of ___-________” pertain to?

(No trickstering, either!)

Pr0n Giovanni

So we went to see Don Giovanni yesterday. As the review had said there were some “interesting” directorial choices in the staging. Oh, the singing was fine for the most part (aside from yet another somewhat reedy tenor) and Daughter and Bride agreed that both Don Giovanni and Leporello were stud muffins.

I guess the one thing I sort of liked about the staging was the cyclical nature, how the tableaux that opens the opera also closed it, showing that even though this particular Don Giovanni is gone there will be another to replace him because the fickle and corrupt fallen nature of Man will always allow it, will always fall prey to one with his charms and devices; indeed, we always want to be enchanted/enticed/ensnared in some way. But the staging itself was very barren, and the characters who were not singing moved in a very slow, stylized way which was…odd to my provincial sensibilities. I must give props to the lighting designer, because one neat aspect with the staging was how the shadows of the characters interacted on the walls in a manner that was somewhat different from how they were interacting on stage yet perhaps more evocative of their true meanings…that was well done.

But what turned me off about the overall experience was the over-the-top gropey lewdness. Hands were constantly on breasts (not mine), under skirts, in pants and crotches, and various sexual acts were pretty graphically simulated on a dining room table next to a casket. I mean, was this really necessary? I don’t think so. It was cringe-inducing and added nothing to the production; in fact it took a lot away.

As did the idiot sitting next to me who kept humming along to several of the melodies. Like I paid good money to come and sit next to him to listen to him. Ass.

It’s That Time Of Year When My Thoughts Naturally Turn To Rakes

So of course we’re going to see Don Giovanni this weekend.

To set the mood we made Daughter watch Amadeus last night.


I’m not so sure about the setting for this particular production, however; anytime a review mentions “odd directorial choices” I get a little nervous…

Today’s M-W “Word of the Day”

pescatarian \pess-kuh-TAIR-ee-un\ noun

Meaning: one whose diet includes fish but no meat

Hmmm. Oddly enough, I thought it was the technical term for being a pain in the ass. Musta been the entry’s picture of ebola that threw me.

Soma Or Big Brother?

Our good friend Ricki poses an interesting question:

When I was a teenager, I read both “1984” and “Brave New World.” My friends always thought “1984” was going to be the scenario that happened in the future. I thought it would be “Brave New World.”

Me? I think we’re allowing a mix of both along with a healthy dose of “Animal Farm.”

And by “healthy” I mean “incredibly dangerous.”

What do y’all think?

” And Crispin Crispian Shall Ne’er Go By”

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

At Agincourt this date in 1415.

So Jonah Goldberg Posts This

this morning

I am not sure what to make of the story that Ayers has now admitted to writing Obama’s autobiography. If it pans out, that is to my mind a very big story. Stay tuned. But I do think I should revise my earlier poo-pooing of Jack Cashill’s effort to prove the Ayers-Obama connection….

I’m thinking he did WHAT, WHEN? Found THIS curious story

…Anne Leary of Back Yard Conservative was passing through Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport yesterday, and was surprised to come across Bill Ayers at Starbucks: “scruffy, thinning beard, dippy earring, and the wire rims, heading to order.”

…But he didn’t scowl, and didn’t run off as he has been known to do. Instead, unprompted, he blurted out: “I wrote ‘Dreams From My Father… Michelle asked me to.” Then he added “And if you can prove it we can split the royalties.”

Anne responded, “Stop pulling my leg!”

But he repeated insistently, “I wrote it, the wording was similar [to Ayers’ other writing.]”

Anne responded, “I believe you probably heavily edited it.”

Ayers stated firmly, “I wrote it.”

Anne ended the conversation by saying “why would I believe you? You’re a liar.”

(And a murdering scumbag, mind you, but that’s beside the point.)

Watercooler fodder, I would venture. And probably among folks who never bought the wretched tome to begin with. (Of course, the story link has a sidebar with other stories, one of which is “Stand up, stand up for Jesus”. My spidey hackles come up immediately.)

Kate P, Book Goddess

Seriously. if it wasn’t for her I probably would not have heard of or bought Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, and I would have missed out on the funniest book I’ve read in a long long time.
Now I freely admit that P&P is a book and story that I know very well, and I laughed out loud this weekend reading lines like this

“His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion, but little in the way of combat training.”

The way the zombie story is woven into Austen’s words is brilliant, and with one notable exception it works exceedingly well (and no I’m not going to spoil anything by mentioning the one plot element that rings false, at least to me).
For a quick, fun read I highly recommend it.

Along With the Hornblower Series

…one of my favorite summer treats has always been a re-reading of this:

Louis L’Amour’s Haunted Mesa. It’s just the right mix of mysticism, fantasy, detective story and old time Western.

The Navajo called them the Anasazi, the “ancient enemy,” and their abandoned cities haunt the canyons and plateaus of the Southwest. For centuries the sudden disappearance of these people baffled historians. Summoned to a dark desert plateau by a desperate letter from an old friend, renowned investigator Mike Raglan is drawn into a world of mystery, violence, and explosive revelations. Crossing a border beyond the laws of man and nature, he will learn of the astonishing world of the Anasazi and discover the most extraordinary frontier ever encountered.

Many of the plot devices were drawn from Mayan mythology ~ the portals between worlds, the underworld itself. I’m not sure you can imagine my absolute delight (and the source of a shreiking “holy CRAP!!!” email to ebola) when I came across this MSNBC article, but I was stoked.

Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found
Archaeologists discovered maze of stone temples in underground caves
Mexican archeologists have discovered a maze of stone temples in underground caves, some submerged in water and containing human bones, which ancient Mayans believed was a portal where dead souls entered the underworld.
Clad in scuba gear and edging through narrow tunnels, researchers discovered the stone ruins of eleven sacred temples and what could be the remains of human sacrifices at the site in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Archeologists say Mayans believed the underground complex of water-filled caves leading into dry chambers — including an underground road stretching some 330 feet — was the path to a mythical underworld, known as Xibalba.

Part of the reason the book spoke to me was personal. I’ve spent weeks climbing over stones and up pyramids in places like Tikal, Chichen Itza and Uxmal, as well as using a candle for light in the excavation tunnels under Kaminal Juyú, visiting just unearthed sacrificial remains (nothing like confronting a Spielberg-ish silent, screaming skull with skeleton illuminated suddenly out of the dark, 20 feet underground). You hear voices in the jungle in those places, if you’re any kind of spook at all, and I am a reluctant but consummate one. (In fact, Tikal translates to “place of voices” and I swear they’re still there.)
Oh, man, I so enjoyed my time in the past.
And now Xibalba is real. DAMN.
That’s cooler than shit.

Battleship Potemkin

After dinner we decided to watch it last night; what a neat flick.

There are so many scenes and elements of this movie that are familiar, because so many directors have borrowed them from this 1925 classic. We recently watched The Untouchables, for example, and there’s the baby in the carriage rolling down the steps amongst the bodies…

I must sadly admit though that in my advancing age I confuse the Potemkin with the Aurora.
With regard to the crew of the Potemkin, I think this is pretty neat (from 1987):

Ivan Beshoff, the last survivor of the 1905 mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin, a harbinger of the Russian Revolution, died Sunday, his family said today. His birth certificate said he was 102 years old, but he contended he was 104.
Born near the Black Sea port of Odessa, Mr. Beshoff abandoned chemistry studies and joined the navy, serving in the engine room of the Potemkin.
The mutiny over poor food was the first mass expression of discontent in Czar Nicholas II’s military and later came to be seen as a prelude to the 1917 Russian Revolution.
The mutineers killed the captain and several officers. The entire Black Sea fleet was ordered to suppress the rebellion, but crews refused to fire on the battleship, and it sailed for 11 days before surrendering.
Mr. Beshoff had said he fled through Turkey to London, where he met Lenin. He settled in Ireland in 1913, saying he had tired of the sea.
Mr. Beshoff worked for a Soviet oil distribution company and was twice arrested as a Soviet spy, but became a beloved figure in the Irish community.
After World War II, he opened a fish and chips shop in Dublin.

What a funny world we live in.

“To Kill a Mockingbird”

UPDATE: I am gobschmacked. It is local BLACK leaders who want the word replaced!!
Can you believe it? If ever there was a paean to human decency, it’s this play.

There is ignorance. And there is IGNORANCE.

There Are Words in This Life That Have a Visceral Thrust

Words that, in the proper context and the proper place, can open eyes and touch lives. Are meant to. Vile epithets meant to teach a moral lesson that transcends the time frame of the work it appears in. So what happens when political correctness tries to smother an American classic? When political correctness tries to tidy up the ugly sentiments expressed so eloquently in order to move hearts and right wrongs ~ to stare hatred and ignorance in the face?
Well, it becomes “To Kill a Mockingbird“…without ‘nigger’.

Controversy Over Actual Words In ” To Kill A Mockingbird”
…It’s a story about racial injustice during the great depression.
In the story, the “N” word is often used describing African Americans.
School leaders feel the message of the story is the same without using the “N” word.

A pivotal moment from the play…

Scout: Atticus, do you defend niggers?
Atticus Finch: [startled] Don’t say ‘nigger,’ Scout.
Scout: I didn’t say it… Cecil Jacobs did; that’s why I had to fight him.
Atticus Finch: [sternly] Scout, I don’t want you fightin’!
Scout: I had to, Atticus, he…
Atticus Finch: I don’t care what the reasons are: I forbid you to fight…
Atticus Finch: There are some things that you’re not old enough to understand just yet. There’s been some high talk around town to the effect that I shouldn’t do much about defending this man.
Scout: If you shouldn’t be defending him, then why are you doing it?
Atticus Finch: For a number of reasons. The main one is that if I didn’t, I couldn’t hold my head up in town. I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do somethin’ again.
[he puts his arm around her] Atticus Finch: You’re gonna hear some ugly talk about this in school. But I want you to promise me one thing: That you won’t get into fights over it, no matter what they say to you.

…loses it’s punch at the very beginning. There’s no need for Atticus to display revulsion when the substitute vile word pops out of Scout’s mouth, nor any need to sternly correct her. So why waste his breath on the rest?
Or Bob Ewell’s twisted visage ~ his malicious maw saying that word over and over, flung like the filthy spittle that eventually finds its way to Atticus’ cheek. Use the substitute word and…the audience wonders what all the fuss about. Ewell’s innate, monstrous inhumanity ~ the tangible baseness of his character ~ is stunted. As written, no one wants to be Bob Ewell! No one leaving the theater wants to be seen as a Bob Ewell. That’s the power of Harper Lee’s writing. But Bob Ewell with her words tidied up for modern, delicate ears?
He’s just another cranky guy in overalls.
Who spits.

Great Opening Lines

This NPR story on great opening lines to hook the younger set got me thinking. I laughed at the very last book:

The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis are so popular already that I only want to mention that the first line of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is one of those classic sentences that, once heard, stick in your head forever:

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

Now, THAT’S a classic. Anyone care to contribute their favorites from the bookshelves?
Or, better yet ~ as we once did in a fiction exercise ~ write your own.

Coincidentally, the M-W Word of the Day


drub \DRUB\ verb
1 : to beat severely
2 : to berate critically
*3 : to defeat decisively

Not much of that being handed out lately from our side, sad to say.

Ya Don’t Say

Not having me a edjacation commeshurate with HAHvahd’s stratosphere, I think I just spotted me a whopper anyways.

Let me see if I can spell ‘M…S….uh…NB…(don’t rush me, dammit!!!)…C’ right.

In Pig Latin in the Comments Below, Bingley Notes

…It’s much like classical/mythological greece: you name determines your destiny.

We all know what Vader told Luke about his ‘destiny‘, so I decided I’d see what Bingley had in store. From the Greek:

bingle [bIngl]
???. ????? ???????? “???-???????” # ?????. (??? ?????????:) ??????? ?????

Being a bit rusty Rosetta Stone-wise (and weary from collating scribbles memorized whilst watching a Dead Sea Scroll special last night ~ who says I’m dull?), I went for the English translation of ‘bingle‘, since the word doesn’t appear naturally in our native tongue. Not an accident or oversight, I’m assuming.

A noun
1 base hit, safety, bingle
(baseball) the successful act of striking a baseball in such a way that the batter reaches base safely

From this I guess we infer Bingley will always reach base safely, but the question of ‘advancement‘ is up in the air and entirely reliant upon the good will/hard work of others. Amazingly enough, his modus operandi to a ‘T’.
Considering that the closest English equivalent to ‘bingley’ is ‘BUNGLE’, I suggest we not dwell on depressing destiny and just give my sweet brother the signal to “swing away!

And be prepared to duck.

Quote of the Day

Sir John Mortimer, author of the “Rumpole of the Bailey” series (and the “Tea With Mussolini” screenplay, among others), answers a meme question in Sunday’s NYT magazine.

Three little pigs: We acquired the pigs last year. My wife was born on a pig farm and has always been very fond of pigs. Of course, they are for eating, which is why they are named Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. You wouldn’t want to eat Rufus, Marcus and Esmeralda.

Most assuredly not.

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