Friday, December 03, 2021

A freebee

Free First Chapter in Everything You Believe Is Wrong, The Book All Woke Fear. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Should you happen to care

… Knowing one’s opinion is worth hearing. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My opinion is my opinion. Should others happen to take it seriously, well and good. If not, well and good. I am not other-determined.

Hmm …

… Have You Considered Accountancy? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The aspiring writers imagine that being an author will bring them happiness, fame and fortune. Szymborska tells them to get a grip. Writing is a ridiculous profession, she argues, persuasively. Failure is inevitable. Success is highly conditional and mostly feels like failure as well. 

I like  Szymborska's poetry, but I would suggest a different attitude. I've had a sort of career as a writer. It was for me a way of making a living — as it turned out a rather good one. My advice would be that it's a job like any other.

When I was growing up …

Change of plans sends me back to Korea in the 1950s.

Something to think on …

It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck.
— Joseph Conrad, born on this date in 1857

Word of the Day…

… Unbosom | Word Genius.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

For the season …

… Nativity - Image Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taking off …

Blogging Note — we escape to Mississippi and beyond.

Interesting…

… Watch: 10,000 scientists and physicians sign Rome Declaration calling to end mass COVID 'vaccination' - Daily Telegraph.

Anniversary …

 … December 2, 1954 — Joseph McCarthy condemned.

Listen in …

… The Editors | The Arrival of the Poet in the Library  LRB 2 December 2021. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the stretch …

… The Ironic Twist of Age: What It’s Like to Keep Writing at 91. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Elderly now, I find that language can be elusive, and not just when I’m trying to write. Like many people my age, I seem to lose a noun or two every day lately. They’re like buttons that have fallen off my shirt and rolled under the bed, and I can’t bend down to retrieve them. I can no longer count on my famous short-term memory either. Recent events can seem as ephemeral as dreams. And those jokes that I used to find so amusing about old people and forgetfulness—“Rose, what do you call that flower with thorns?”—aren’t quite as hilarious these days. Anyone who claims that age is “just a number” is either very young or works for Hallmark.


So true. 


Bottoms up …

John Adams has a gill of hard cider with each breakfast.


Sounds reasonable to me …

… How to Achieve Transparency in Schools | City Journal.

Parents have a right to know what’s being taught to their children.

Beautiful …

… Best of 2021: Top 50 Photographs From Around the World. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The new censorship …

… US libraries report spike in organised attempts to ban books in schools | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“It’s a volume of challenges I’ve never seen in my time at the ALA – the last 20 years. We’ve never had a time when we’ve gotten four or five reports a day for days on end, sometimes as many as eight in a day,” says ALA director Deborah Caldwell-Stone.

Something to think on …

Reality is not an inspiration for literature. At its best, literature is an inspiration for reality.
— Romain Gary, who died on this date in 1980

Am odd piece …

 … It’s no longer just clean eaters who are the health bores. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… if there’s one thing worse than a health bore it’s an unhealthy bore. Yes, the joys of the gym and talk of fungi-kale smoothies are deadly dull, but try having a conversation with someone who has drunk too much. Consider the relentless repetition! The incomprehensible babble! The killer rays of boozy breath! And it goes on for hours

This is hardly news. 

Listen in …

Virtual Memories: 

Episode 462 – Edward Sorel

Our town …

… Murder City - Philadelphia Weekly.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

The question of form …

… Hard Line Politics: On the Myth of Free Verse - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Though the stigmatizing of meter represents a wrong turn in the history of criticism, it produced some revolutionary styles and techniques that might not have emerged otherwise. It opened up a market once dominated by meter — a market whose barriers were easy to conflate with the rules of meter itself. As often happens, however, the successful revolution bred a new establishment, which has grown nearly as rigid as its predecessor.

 


Appreciation…

… The Paris Review - On the Alert for Omens: Rereading Charles Portis - The Paris Review. (Hat tiop Dave Lull.)

Portis’s imagination is truly wild—both unhampered and unpredictable—and reading him for the first time required a significant adjustment to all my previously gathered knowledge of what a person can or should put in a novel if they want it to be good. He is unbeatable at the non sequitur, so that every paragraph contains the possibility of crazed escalation. 

Well, that's for sure …

…  Americans’ ignorance of history should keep us up at night.


I'm so old I remember when they actually taught history in school.

Worth knowing …

… THINK ABOUT THIS: 12 Facts About a 15-Week-Old Unborn Baby You May Not Know - HillFaith Story.

I fear so …

Monty Python Is the Nostradamus of Our Ridiculous Woke Times.

Anniversary …

Pip’s soliloquy begins in serialized installments in 1860.

Something I may have missed …

 … John Polkinghorne - Why is the Quantum so Mysterious? (Hat tip, Zoe Colvin.)


I was sent this a couple of months ago and it doesn't look as if I linked to it. For some reason I can't embed it.

Something to think on …

The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone.
— James Baldwin, who died on this date in 1987

December Reviews + Ten Most Read Poets 2021 North of Oxford …

 … Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners by Sarah Mangold.

… The Blue Divide by Linda Nemec Foster.

… Left Over Distances by Mike James.

… Red Truck Bear by Richard Nester.

… Venice by Jan Morris.

… Most Read Poets 2021.


Pandemic of Violence online anthology to be released December 27th

Deadline for submissions 12-1-21 11:59pm 

Word of the Day …

… Canalize | Word Genius.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Truly a master …

… The Paris Review - The Fourth Rhyme: On Stephen Sondheim - The Paris Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Wordplay is never just a pyrotechnic aftereffect in Sondheim’s shows—it’s foundational, crucial to the plot and the characters’ emotional development. And his work continually reminds you that playfulness (in poetry, in music, in lyrics, in visual art) can be most essential when the subject is deadly serious. Sondheim includes a multiple-choice quiz in a love song—“Now/Later/Soon” from A Little Night Music: “(A) I could ravish her / (B) I could nap”—and likewise in a paean to the uses of a gun, sung from the rotating points of view of the actual and would-be assassins of U.S. presidents: “Remove a scoundrel / Unite a party / Preserve the Union / Promote the sales of my book.”

Of course, as Sondheim often pointed out,  he studied under the wondrously kind Oscar Hammerstein II, whose son was his best friend at the George School. Hammerstein was to all intents and purposes Sondheim’s surrogate father.

A mystifying disaster …

Red Lightning by John Varley — 2006 Review Revisited.

For Twain’s birthday …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Mark Twain's Satirical Crime Story, 'The Stolen White Elephant'.

Good news …

Alumni Withhold Donations, Demand Colleges Enforce Free Speech - WSJ.

“This is a battle for our culture and, in many ways, for Western civilization,” said John Craig, who heads a similar organization at Davidson College in North Carolina called Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse. “Open and free expression is what makes our country great, and if we lose this, our country is in deep trouble.”

I want to be able say what I think, whether anybody else likes it or not. And I didn't study history in order to censor it. 

Indeed …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To The Late, Great American Humorist And Novelist Mark Twain.

Man of letters …

‘The Collected Prose of T.S. Eliot’ Review: Keeper of the Flame. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As he views politics as being too serious to be left to the politicians, the man of letters feels education is hopeless without a clear ideal of the educated individual. “I hope,” Eliot wrote in “Notes Towards the Definition of Culture,” “that we shall not consciously or unconsciously drift towards the view that it is better for everyone to have a second-rate education than for only a small minority to have the best.” Which is, of course, where we are today.

Books of 2021...

 ...From the NYT

How odd …

… Nearly 20,000 homes spend FOURTH night without power after Storm Arwen damage | Daily Mail Online.

According to the London Independent, on March 20, 2000, "Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past."

For the season …

 Sunday was the first day of Advent. As usual, here is my Advent villanelle.



Advent



The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear

(Though winter’s scheduling an arctic flight).

The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.


Some say a telling sign will soon appear,

Though evidence this may be so is slight:

The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.


Pale skeptics may be perfectly sincere

To postulate no ground for hope, despite

The rumor that a rendezvous draws near.


More enterprising souls may shed a tear

And, looking up, behold a striking light:

The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.


The king, his courtiers, and priests, all fear

Arrival of a challenge to their might:

The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.


The wise in search of something all can cheer

May not rely on ordinary sight:

The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.


Within a common place may rest one dear

To all who yearn to see the world made right.

The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.

The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.

Harry ponders the bomb …

POTUS prepared to use atomic weapons in Korea.


Vintage appreciation …

 From the NS archive: Fit to Kill - New Statesman. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Kingsley Amis: Why Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall is not satire.

I love Decline and Fall, but I continue that Brideshead Revisited is his greatest. I get the impression from this that Amis thought that Waugh’s conversion to Catholicism adversely affected his art. I cannot agree. 

Happy birthday, Sam …

Mark Twain begins his life in Florida

Great art …

… zmkc: Velasquez in Dublin.

I was on assignment in Dublin some years ago, but never got around to go to the National Gallery. Too bad.

The value of staying active …

… The ‘active grandparent hypothesis’: New research explores how we’ve evolved to move more and live longer



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Much in what he says …

… Woke Culture: Archbishop José Gomez Shows the Way Out | National Review.

It’s worth noting that Archbishop Gomez, who is currently president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was born in Mexico. He leads the biggest and most diverse archdiocese in the United States, ministering in 40 languages. He’s not speaking from an ivory tower, oblivious to the human suffering of which he speaks. A constant voice for the unborn and immigrants, he did not deliver a screed against left-wing causes, as some have suggested on the Interwebs. He’s a pastor thinking through what is going on in the world today and how to engage it.

Something to think on …

Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.
— Jacques Barzun, born on this date in 1907

Twain on the road update …

Mark Twain begins his life in Florida.

Word of the Day …

… Ciceronian | Word Genius.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Fascinating …

Rhyme with Sondheim | Dramatists Guild. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ: I’m older than you so I had other experiences before that, but if you’re talking about Steve rhyming “tranquil” with “drank will…” [that’s when] I suddenly became aware of those sort of trick rhymes that were very exciting to me. I remember now that my parents had a record of Ella Fitzgerald singing Rodgers and Hart and how thrilled I was when I first heard “To Keep My Love Alive” and Hart rhyming “possibilities” with “kill at ease” or “horse’s neck to me” with “appendectomy.”

Good Lord …

… Eye Roll: Merriam-Webster Announces Word of the Year.

Appreciation …

… Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull..)

Mr. Sondheim’s shows were deeply rooted in the traditional craftsmanship of his trade, but their songs and subject matter were radically different from anything that had hitherto been heard on a Broadway stage. The pastel harmonies and complex wordplay of his score for “Company” (“It’s sharing little winks together, / Drinks together, / Kinks together, / That makes marriage a joy”) were as unusual as its ironic, ambivalent tone. Throughout his career, his best songs would more often than not be written from the point of view of an inhibited man unable to open himself up to the prospect of romantic love. Ambivalence, he said, was his “favorite thing to write about, because it’s the way I feel, and I think the way most people feel.”

Eulogy …

 R.I.P. Mr. Frishberg | Ben Yagoda's blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Frishberg was very kind and generous to me when I contacted him for an interview for my book The B Side. He met me in a bar downtown Portland, Oregon (we both had coffee), and gave me great stuff, including a word-for-word memory of the advice Frank Loesser had given him about lyric writing, sixty years previously:

Those were the days …

Coffee joins list of items rationed in U.S.

Quite a tale …

… Story of the Week: How I Escaped Being Killed in a Duel. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Appreciation …

 Brideshead recelebrated: 40 years on, write salutes one of television’s landmark dramas. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“[. . .] a script commissioned at no small cost from John Mortimer was bravely binned. Granger and team returned to the novel, mining it wholesale – 95% of all the dialogue in the drama is by Evelyn Waugh. Yet Mortimer kept the fee, the screen-credit, and was even nominated for an Emmy.”

Something to think on …

When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.
—C.S. Lewis, born on this date 1898

He sounds very interesting

 The forgotten poetry of John Martin Finlay - The Spectator World. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His interests were ancient cultures and modern life in the South, which makes him sound like a late Walker Alexander Percy, full of Stoicism and high-minded pronouncement. He wasn’t. His language is direct and restrained, which gives his poems both simplicity and power. He was a traditionalist who had a keen interest in Flaubert and Arthur Rimbaud, who loved the South but despised its moral failings.

Hmm …

 Dave Chappelle, Reinhold Niebuhr, And The Gospel.

The Christian gospel itself is not humorous. Indeed, it deals with the most serious of matters. Its ultimate aim is not laughter, but nor is it applause. The power of the gospel took the first-century Roman Empire by storm—not because it met the expectations of Rome’s cultures and subcultures but because it was perceived as thoroughly strange.

Word of the Day …

… Recondite | Word Genius.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Wondrous …

… Jackie & Roy: Musical Joie de vivre - by Robert Gilbert - Listening Sessions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I turned 20 that year. I was then — and may still be — a wannabe Beat — not a beatnik.

Not this year …

Gasoline rationing will begin in the U.S. on December.

Cause for concern …

… Heart attack warning.

Hmm …

… Salvation Army's Donors Withdraw Support in Response to Racial 'Wokeness' Initiative.

Something to think on …

If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing.
— Katharine Drexel, born on this in 1858

Appreciation …

… Cool Ghost. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Together at last …

Charles Dickens, Lionel Barrymore, and savings bonds.

Word of the Day …

… Twee | Word Genius.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

RIP …

… Dave Hickey, influential critic who saw art as inseparable from everyday life, has died aged 82. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Armed with humour, a deep intellect and an alchemical ability to mix high and low, Hickey was unafraid of integrating talk of sports and food into his discussion of fine art, concocting a sort of intentional bathos that was all his own. He saw art not as a highbrow disruption of our lives but as an everyday occurrence, a view that gave shape to prophetic assertions such as “the title of artist has to be earned” and “all we do by ignoring the live effects of art is suppress the fact that these experiences, in one way or another, inform our every waking hour”.

Something to think on …

The rare moment is not the moment when there is something worth looking at, but the moment when we are capable of seeing.
— Joseph Wood Krutch, born on this date in 1893

A lot like today …

… Thanksgiving ... 1950 | The Saturday Evening Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The poem is by Edna St. Vincent Millay, who died in October 1950.


Hmm …

… Study finds possible editorial bias, 'nepotistic behavior' in subset of science journals - UPI.com.

In 2016, for example, a study showed the sugar industry meddled in medical research by Harvard researchers to downplay sugar's role in increased risk of heart disease.

Strange change …

… Do you have the 50p coin with Sherlock Holmes on it?

Word of the Day …

… Soupçon | Word Genius.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

War up-close and personal …

Driving through Minnesota During the Hanoi Bombings. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Robert Bly died on Sunday. I spent a very pleasant day with him many years ago.

Mark thy calendar …

… Author Events - Free Library.

Holiday treat …

This John Adams favorite can be yours on Thanksgiving.

Well worth considering …

… The Vaccine Moment, part one - by Paul Kingsnorth - The Abbey of Misrule. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Amongst the vast flock of contested facts that wheel around this virus like a murmuration of starlings, darkening the skies and addling the mind, one stands out. It is the single fact that blows a cathedral-shaped hole in the strategy being pursued by governments at present, and which offers a glimpse into the crypt. It is the fact that these vaccines, whatever their efficacy in other areas, do not prevent transmission of the virus.

And the winners are …

IBPC: Winning Poems for October 2021.


(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Anniversary …

“Hollywood 10” charged with contempt on this day in 1947.

Something to think on …

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.
— Wiliam F. Buckley, Jr., born on this date in 1925

Word of the Day …

… Pensile | Word Genius.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Monday, November 22, 2021

Maverick …

… Tucker Carlson, Class Traitor | Wilfred M. McClay | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… these no-doubt-formidable analysts are on to something. Tucker Carlson is indeed a figure of real significance in the culture of today’s journalism. But not for the reasons they think. They might get further in their ruminations if they were willing to entertain the thought that it is not Carlson, but their own industry, that has changed almost beyond recognition; and that he is a brave outlier standing against a smug profession that routinely confers plaudits and prizes on itself for demonstrably false reporting and naked political advocacy.

This veteran journalist finds most contemporary journalism and journalists appalling.  

Remembering …

… CS Lewis: A Sonnet | Malcolm Guite. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

Tom Sawyer caused unsafe classroom environment.

Apparently, Ms.Stroud has problems with reading comprehension. Jim is the real father to Huck, not Huck”s biological father.

Just so you know …

… If you like heart problems, you'll love the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines - by Alex Berenson - Unreported Truths. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But of course some people just by the party line. I, however, happen to be in the top 1 percent of those likely to die of a heart attack (my father died of one). At 80, I don’t much care, but why take an unnecessary risk? And we’re two years into this, and Test negative for Covid.

Something to think on …

It's never too late to be who you were meant to be.
— George Eliot, born on this date in 1819