Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts ...

... from Nige: Happy New Year!

Whatever may be said against blogging, in the right hands and minds it is hugely enriching (in a non-material sense, needless to say) and, in the best sense, educative. It is now for me an essential element in a vital life-enhancing, life-enlarging process of endless discovery and rediscovery.

A newspaper ...

... with a future - apparently: Newspaper Shuns Web, and Thrives. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, this should ...

... piss some people off: Black and white and read not much longer.

Though it really shouldn't, because much of what Roger says is quite accurate. Blogs have not been the cause newspapers' decline, and they won't replace them, either. I think that Roger has underestimated the extent to which newspapers in recent years have chosen punditry and "analysis" over hard reporting - and the latter, as blogger Glenn Reynolds has repeatedly proclaimed, is newspapers' trump card. The intellectual mediocrity and lack of imagination of those running newspapers also should not be overlooked as a major contributing factor to their decline.
But I don't think newspapers are going to completely disappear. Two that I think are going to thrive are the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. I also think Roger underestimates blogs a bit. Specialist blogs - law blogs, for instance - provide information and expertise newspapers would be hard-pressed to match. That said, the world will be a poorer place because of the decline of newspapers.

I am skeptical ...

... Top 10 Most Literate U.S. Cities. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke via Dave Lull.)

I don't think newspaper and magazine circulation figures tell us all that much. I have also found that educational level is an indifferent predictor of reading habits. After all, it was a dinner of Ph.D.'s that inspired the then-features editor of The Inquirer to have me look into the historical accuracy of The Da Vinci Code - hardly a book you would expect Ph.D.'s either to read or be impressed by. Finally, it's hard to imagine there isn't a good deal of reading going in Manhattan.

In Memoriam ...

... Marshall McLuhan died on this date in 1980. Today in Literature (to which I subscribe and think you should also) quotes this letter of McLuhan's to Ezra Pound:

…The American mind is not even close to being amenable to the ideogram principle as yet. The reason is simply this. America is 100% 18th Century. The 18th century had chucked out the principle of metaphor and analogy - the basic fact that as A is to B so is C to D. AB:CD. It can see AB relations. But relations in four terms are still verboten. This amounts to deep occultation of nearly all human thought for the U.S.A.
I am trying to devise a way of stating this difficulty as it exists. Until stated and publicly recognized for what it is, poetry and the arts can't exist in America. Mere exposure to the arts does nothing for a mentality which is incorrigibly dialectical. The vital tensions and nutritive action of ideogram remain inaccessible to this state of mind.

"Incorrigibly dialectical." I like that. It's a criticism of America that is apt.

Grim reaper roundup ...

... Deaths in 2008.

Kevin Nance, who did the Heston obit, might want to check out Chuck as the player king in Branagh's Hamlet. In the 1970 film of Julius Caesar, Heston is a better Marc Antony than Brando was in the 1953 film. Unfortunately, Jason Robards is an execrable Brutus and the later film is no match overall for the earlier one. I think Heston's best role was in Will Penny.

Be very afraid ...

... if people start dancing in the streets. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Everywhere in the country you encounter feral British morons driving their cars, low on the ground and with engines tuned to make an intimidating growling noise, their primitive rhythmic music vibrating the ground in a radius of 100 yards, as they peer sightlessly ahead of them with dim, world-hating ferocity.
Good grief.

The cost of submission ...

... Narrative Magazine: Paying to Be Read.

Interesting way for a publication to make money.

One tough dude...

... The Plot to Kill God: Findings from the Soviet Experiment in Secularization. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A discovery ...

... Sylvia Townsend Warner, ghost writer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, Warner's poems look very interesting. Ackland's? I don't think so. And yes, Warner's withdrawal from poetry in deference to Ackland was indeed "a huge act of generosity," at least to Ackland, if not to the world's readers.

Thanks to all ...

... for the get-well wishes. I am, I believe, on the mend.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blogging hiatus ...

... I am seriously under the weather and have been for the past couple of days. Blogging will pick up as soon as I do.

The book scene ...

... Some targeted library branches may be saved.

"Though the services would vary from branch to branch ... the centers would likely retain book collections, computers, and perhaps even trained librarians [emphasis mine]." That's nice. Reminds me of the Rev. Mackerel's People's Liberal Church in Peter De Vries's The Mackerel Plaza. The Rev. Mackerel's church prefigures the drive-in church and boasts such amenities as a dance floor, bowling alley, and coffee bar. There is also "a small worship area" toward the rear.
In fairness, though, it's hard to imagine that just about anyone could not manage just about anything better than the City of Philadelphia.

And, speaking of Peter De Vries, it was he who explained that "it is the final proof of God’s omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us."

Update: A reader sends along a link to a true library disaster: CRPL and the Flood of 2008.

And Dave Lull sends along these two links to Anecdotal Evidence:`Hilarious Frustration' and Happy Birthday.
De Vries also has a character in one of his novels who specializes in inventing useless end products, such as reversible mayonnaise and after-shaving mints.

Post bumped.

Hmm ...

... From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance.

Barnes & Noble's ...

... Best of 2008. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

English ...

... A Shambling Magnificence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But, as Emerson observed, "Language is fossil poetry."

Will reason for food ...

... Philosophers at work, and hoping for it.

Me again ...

... Being true to the good and bad of thine own self.

Literary discovery ...

... What ho, Jeeves, they’ve found our ancestors. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Slow-burning fuse ...

... an involving novel about the country that would become Iraq.

I imagine this is a good novel. I reviewed Barry Unsworth's The Ruby in Her Navel, and it was superb.

Good for him ...

... Salman Rushdie declares: Provoking people is in my DNA.

A good list ...

... My 2008 in books.

Big bucks books ...

... AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales in 2008.

Quite an interesting mix. Scroll down to see the whole set of lists.

A guide for the perplexed ...

... Preditors and Editors ™. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

See also:

Preditors & Editors Interview Part 1 of 2


Preditors & Editors Interview Part 2 of 2

Blog post hit parade ...

... “…oblique suggestions, and he waited.” (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Definitely read Terry Teachout on Willa Cather and Thorton Wilder. It's exquisite.

Con amore ...

... Why this blog? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

This bears watching. It will be very interesting to see how things develop.

A dear friend of mine gave me for Christmas a short biography of Elgar, which I am halfway through. In it, there is a photo of Elgar working in his home chemistry lab. I had not known of his interest in science. Of course, there is also Borodin, who was a professor of chemistry.

On the other hand ...

... The Eloquent Silence of Harold Pinter.

I think Pinter was a one-trick pony. He came up with a dialogue trick that actors love - and that, to be honest, can be quite effective. But silence was his metier principally because he had little of substance to say.

Pinter and Rattigan ...

Dave Lull sent me a copy of an article by Theodore Dalrymple that appeared in the New Criterion in 2000 called "Reticence or insincerity, Rattigan or Pinter." The article can no longer be linked to in its entirelty (though it is available for purchase). Here, though, are some excerpts:

Rattigan is pleading for tolerance within a certain code of behavior. He is not suggesting that the standards by which the major [in Separate Tables] was judged were in themselves wrong—that it is right for a man to manufacture a completely fake persona for himself, tell lies about his past, and touch up women in cinemas. But he is asking for the constant exercise of judgment rather than the mechanical application of rules, and his tolerance emerges not from abstract ideas, being neither ideological nor strident, but from genuine understanding of and sympathy for human weakness.

In Rattigan, the ability of his characters to respond to others with genuine and intense emotion is intimately connected with their reticence.

... in all of Rattigan’s best plays—The Deep Blue Sea, The Browning Version, The Winslow Boy—there are conflicts between passion and good sense, between what is good for the individual and what is good for the collectivity, between duty and inclination. These conflicts are presented both entertainingly and truthfully, so that one ends with an understanding that civilization depends upon an endless interplay of incompatible desiderata, and that even the good life cannot be lived without unhappiness.

In Rattigan, people do not say all that they think for reasons of social inhibition, in Pinter, both because they lack the words and because communication is in any case impossible. There is no doubt, of course, that many people—more than there used to be, thanks to modern educational methods —are inarticulate or that many people cannot stick to the point. If you listen to bar-room conversations, it becomes clear that they do not always progress like Socratic dialogues. Verbosity and incoherence are by no means opposites: and intelligent conversation is at least as much a matter of omission as of inclusion. But the characters in Pinter’s plays are inarticulate for a deeper reason; life for them lacks meaning because one moment is unconnected with another and because lack of meaning is inherent in all existence. In other words, there is simply no possibility of meaning. His characters are creatures of desire but no intellect; and therefore if disputes arise among them, they are mere struggles for power. When there are events—for example, the arrival on the stage of two thugs in The Birthday Party, Pinter’s first full-length play—they are completely arbitrary and without explanation. This arbitrariness is ontological; for Pinter admits that he has no explanation for the events he himself has put into his plays.

For Pinter, the choice is between Mr. Pecksniff and Elmer Gantry on the one hand and the kind of moral nihilism exhibited in his work on the other. But even if these were the only two possibilities in the world—which is quite clearly not the case —I would prefer Pecksniff to the nihilist; for if hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, at least it recognizes that there is a difference between the two.

There is something even more profoundly terrible in Pinter’s work: a sustained attack on the power of the human intellect to impose order on experience or to make sense of existence.

There is only one way to describe Pinter’s philosophical outlook: that of a poseur. I refer not to the internal contradiction in his speech [at the National Student Drama Festival in Bristol]. (If we can’t know the truth about any moment, how can we possibly say that any recollection of it is false?) Since we all commit errors of logic from time to time, Pinter may be forgiven on this count. What he cannot be forgiven for, in my opinion, is the brazenness of his insincerity. It is quite clear that he doesn’t believe a word of what he says, and his reason for saying it must therefore be more concerned with self-advertisement and self-promotion than with a search for the truth. Pinter does not in the least believe it is impossible to know truths about the past. While many of his plays concern uncertainties about the events gone by—about the impossibility of knowing, for example, whether X really did commit adultery with Y—he exhibits no uncertainty about other aspects of the past. I doubt that he has ever been quite so sceptical about his royalty checks.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Check this out ...

... World Wide Kitsch.

A look at ...

... Action Poetry 2008.

Politics and art ...

... Pinter and the odd literary law of geniuses with crazy politics.

Harold Pinter was the greatest English playwright of the 20th century. ... It is quite likely that, in the future, he will be seen as one of the greatest English playwrights in history.

I don't think so myself. I think Tom Stoppard is a far better playwright and in the long term I suspect Terrence Rattigan will be seen as the best English playwright of the 20th century. I'd pick Noël Coward over Pinter any day.

Books and snow ...

... On the bookstore hunt: White Christmases and Rare Hybrids.

Because when they happened ...

... they weren't born yet: WHY THEY HATE THE '50S. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

To assume people you don't know and don't try to understand are empty and hopeless, though, is a characteristic of a shallow, smug, incurious mind.
I once talked to a guy who lived in a very nice house in a very nice development outside Elko, Nevada, about the way suburbia tended to be depicted in American fiction. He remarked that "I guess I'm too busy enjoying myself to notice how empty my life is."

Sad news ...

... Hillary Waugh, last seen.

The Clauses ...

... Merry Christmas.

Everybody wants to be ...

...a poet: No verse? What could be worse?

I think Len did a pretty good job with this.

Humane letters ...

Last night, I finished reading (on my Kindle) Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture. It was shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize, but lost out to Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger.
I haven't read Adiga's book - though I have seen a good deal of grousing about it - but it is hard to imagine that it is better than Barry's, which is extraordinary.
The first thing that needs to be remarked upon is the sheer beauty of the prose. This does not come of Barry's choosing fancy words or going out of his way for striking imagery. It comes of his uncanny sense of words as sounds. His sentences are melodies:
The light of the candles pierced everywhere, into the lines of my father's face as he sat beside me, into the stones of the church, into the voice of the minister as he spoke his words in that mysterious and stirring English of the bible, in through my own breastbone, right into my young heart, so that I wanted to cry out, but cry out what I could not say.
Each of Barry's characters has a distinctive voice and a separate melodic line, though The Secret Scripture is largely antiphonal, a back and forth between the voices of Roseanne McNulty, a 100-year-old inmate of Roscommon mental hospital, and the psychiatrist who runs the hospital, Dr. William Grene. Chapters alternate between the memoir Roseanne is secretly writing and Dr. Grene's commonplace book. Roscommon is going to be closed and Dr. Grene has to determine who among the patients can be returned to society. In particular he wants to know if any have been wrongly confined there.
So Dr. Grene - who is Irish but was raised in England by adoptive parents - visits Roseanne regularly now, to see what she can tell him of her life before she came to Roscommon. He also does some independent investigating as well.
Dr. Grene is a melancoly man. A single impetuous fling destroyed his marriage, but he terribly misses his late wife. There is a heartbreaking scene where he lies on her bed and imagines being her and afterward gathers her books about roses and takes them with him to read in his bedroom:
... that Bet needed and wanted to know all these things about roses suddenly filled me with happiness, and pride. And curiously enough, this feeling didn't give way to regret and guilt. No, it opened room upon room, rose upon rose, to further happiness. That was not only the best day I have had since she died, but one of the best days of my life. It was as if she had dipped something of her essence down from heaven and helped me. I was so bloody grateful to her.

Roseanne's story is inextricably mixed up with Ireland's often terrible history. Barry's achievement has, happily, nothing to do with placing his characters in their historical context, and everything to do with restoring to history its human context. And his portrayal of that context is unfailingly humane. Take Father Gaunt, the priest who, as Roseanne tells us, "loomed so large in my own story, if a small man can be said to loom large." Dr. Grene concludes that Father Gaunt "was obviously sane to such a degree it makes sanity almost undesirable." Those characterizations frame a man who, like the Irish branch of the Church he served, usually managed fidelity to the Bark of Peter by tossing love overboard. Nevertheless, while Father Gaunt may be the least attractive figure in Barry's novel, he is never merely a villain.
Most readers, I suspect, will figure things out just before Dr. Grene does, which is exactly when they should. The Secret Scripture is a wonderful book - a magical one, really - a long, sad song about how very much that fragile thing called love can endure.

From the archive ...

... ‘Little Bill’ is a far bigger hero than my 007. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... A quiet scholar who broke barriers.

... Nicest White House occupant ever.

... For 2 Beats, a beginning.

... Biography of lawyer Jim Beasley falls short.

... On trail of Einstein's fourth idea.

... A writer grapples with loneliness, being alone (the compleat review!).

... Obama chooses 'the perfect inaugural poet'. (I'm not sure that being "the perfect inaugural poet" is something one would aim at. But that's just me.)

I think I might take issue with one detail of the Beasley review: "By the time his case settled, Cipriano writes, 'I was so fond of my lawyer I didn't want to say goodbye' - not exactly the critical detachment of a biographer." I see no reason why you could not write a perfectly serviceable biography of somebody you were fond of. Moreover, in this case, the fight with The Inquirer would seem altogether pertinent. "I grew fond of my lawyer as he helped me kick my former employer's ass." Sounds reasonable to me.

Musicians needed ...

... YouTube Symphony Orchestra seeks musicians.

Dave Lull reminds me of this earlier post: Speaking of YouTube ... He also sends along the following:

Nice bit of crossover, I think.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A second opinion ...

... Paul Mulshine Blows It.

Less better blogging ...

... I hope.

This will possibly be the last post for today. I have decided I want to focus more of my blogging on what I am reading, especially since a lot of that would not be heard of otherwise. I would also rather link to something I have read carefully and thought about a bit, and maybe have something pertinent to say about it.

The best on the boards ...

... Peripatetic Critic's Picks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Secret agent men ...

... in Series. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

From accinge ...

... to zodiographer.
I have been intending for a while to write about Katie's chapbook of poems Obsolete. It is interesting in a number of different ways. First, as she tells us in the very brief introduction, she took over the idea of "a series of poems inspired by ... favorite obsolete words" from a character in a story she had written. Each of the 26 poems has as its title an obsolete word (accinge, for instance, means "to gird up one's loins," and a zodiographer is someone "who writes about or describes animals."
Amanda Bennett, the former editor of The Inquirer, once remarked to me about how distinctive a voice Katie brought to the two columns she used to write for the paper. That voice is definitely on display here. Also on display is an equally distinctive view of things: "... I kill light bulbs from overuse and they leave a / gray smudge at the top where their souls escaped."
Consider "Obtortion." The word means "a twisting, distortion, wresting, perversion." Appropriate for a migraine: "... the living that you think you're // doing is actually done to you, all pumps and pulleys plus this fine / teaching tool, this blossom blooming black behind one eye."
I've known Katie now, I suppose, for five or six years. But I think I know her a lot better now that I've read these poems.

Finding the right key ...

... A Century of 'Thursday's. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am something of a distributist myself, though I feel no need to boycott Target just yet. I do think that wealth should be spread around as widely as possible, that corporations, like governments, tend to turn procedure into an end in itself, and that the trouble with capitalism is not capitalism itself, but capitalists.

The latest ...

...journalistic pity party: Bloggers are no replacement for real journalists. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't think someone who uses the word prophesized in place of prophesied (perhaps he was thinking of proselytized) should be so quick to complain about pundint (which I, by the way, had never seen or heard of before now).

... it takes both talent and willpower to analyze [a] report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.

That it does, but such analyses that I have seen in newspapers have tended to be both selective and tendentious. Actually, the people in a given school district are likely to be very interested in and willing to sit through such meetings and read such reports very carefully, since they are interested parties, more interested, apparently, than a cub reporter trying to keep himself awake during the proceedings "by employing trance-inducing techniques."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Remember ...

... The Bull. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Posthumous fame ...

... Icons in Reflection.

As usual with David, this is excellent.

Grand theft ...

... The Grinch Who Stole Santa Claus (1822).

Beautiful ...

... Snowflake and Snow Crystal Photographs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A symposium ...

... Remembering Solzhenitsyn. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I forget ...

... why I wanted to link to this: The Dementia Tsar.

Heating up ...

... Cities battle to claim Poe. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

The future of reading ...

... perhaps: E-books catch on with children. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A backward glance ...

... 2008: A Year of Books in Review.

In this corner ...

... the historian. And in this corner the editorialist. Happily, the best man - the historian - wins: Chronicle of a Council. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very interesting ...

... In the Basement of the Ivory Tower.

Many years ago I taught the very same subjects Professor X teaches, though I can't say I was in the ivory tower basement. But I found that trying to teach people to write by following a curriculum grounded in abstract notions was a bad idea. So I told my students one day that there must be plenty of things they thought about all the time, things they wanted to tell the world, maybe things they wanted to tell me. And then I gave them an assignment: Write me a letter. Say anything you want. If you don't like me or the class or both, say so - but remember to say why.
The result was not that they suddenly fell in love with grammar and usage, but rather that they discovered something about why grammar and usage were worth knowing. More importantly, they discovered that they wanted to learn how to say what was on their minds. Since their attempts to do that were there in front of us in the letters they wrote, we now how something we could work together on. I became more their editor than their teacher. By the end of the semester they had all learned pretty much how to organize their thoughts well enough to present them respectably on paper. Most of all, they had come to enjoy the challenge of doing so.
By the way, if I had cops in my class I wouldn't be assigning them "Araby." I'd have them read some Joseph Wambaugh. People are much more likely to read with interest and enjoyment something they can connect to. James Joyce can come later.

Of course ...

... no one will believe this: Bush Is a Book Lover. (Hat tips, Dave Lull and Paul Davis.)

Sad news ...

... Eartha Kitt: A sex symbol born to confront the world.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Never forget ...

... The Soldier's Christmas poem. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Harold Pinter ...

... the Times obituary.

John Osborne also died on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas Rescue

A pair of horses and a lot of heart in the BC Rockies.

UK Playwright Harold Pinter, 78


A pictorial memorial.


Happy Holidaze & New-Year's Raise . . .

T'All &
May All
Be Divine
in 2009
(or else!)

May this coming year be all it can for you
Whether scaling new heights or high peaks anew
May you find the strength to work to continue
To excel for joy and expel the hell — Adieu!
May your sorrows be minimally sad; and, oh, so few
Since you deserve all good things and then some, too
Welp, see if you can bring peace to all you do
And, never forget to your own self be utterly true
Plus, accept this rhyme in love from you know who
(That would be Frank, Eliza, John, Katie, and Ju . . .)

Andrew & Ellen Klavan's Message . . .

. . . to all appears following the fifth and final chapter of what texacalirose calls "this wicked good story" . . . (and, it *is*).

Dear Dirty Harry and Andrew: Thank you for the highs and lows, the blues and blows, the signs and snows . . . :). All best seasonal treats and greets to you, too.

Merry Christmas ...

... and God bless us, everyone.

Life is not a mechanical operation. It is a cosmic drama, unfolding one soul at a time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve ...

The Oxen
by Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

The eternal note ...

... of sadness.
Last night, I read the second story in Susan McCallum-Smith's new collection, Slipping the Moorings. It's called "High Rise" and, like the first story, "Ploughman's Lunch" - which I called an Exquisite miniature ... - it is characterized by a notable compassion toward its characters, who are unsophisticated, perhaps not even that bright, but palpably human.
The story is set is Glasgow. Allison lives in a high-rise flat in a public-housing complex. The flat had been her grandmother's, but had been "passed on to her by the council when her granny died." But Allison is so scared of heights she can't go near the windows.
The story recounts her visit to Malky, her boyfriend, who is doing time for assault. Allison has just turned 38. She desperately wants a child, so desperately that she has even taken steps that Malky would not approve of if he knew of them - and he may well know.
There' some fine writing here, as in this description of a visit from Malky's friend Hugh, who has brought her flowers for her birthday:
Allison headed for the kitchen, trailing lilac and yellow ribbons, leaving Hugh to shut the door behind him. Words ran out of him like a leaky dictionary, all down the hall, and onto the kitchen table, and through the boiling of the kettle, words about his mother, and his ex-wife, and those kids of his that were out of hand, and how lonely he was, and here she was, and Malky said he was to look after her, make sure all her needs were met, and it's her birthday, and did she never get lonely, sweetheart, and who would ever know?
I've hung with people like this, but one rarely sees them portrayed fictionally either as accurately or as sympathetically as they are here. So far, McCallum-Smith is two for two.

Full disclosure: I met Susan McCallum-Smith once at the Baltimore Writers Conference, and she once wrote a review for me when I was a book-review editor. It was a good review, too, of Clare Clark's The Great Stink.

Guess what ...

... the internet isn't making us dumb or ignorant or illiterate (hat tip, Dave Lull):

... Interview with Clay Shirky, Part I.

You know, “Life was better when I was younger” is always an acceptable narrative. Right? And so for anybody who was brought up genuflecting to the literary culture and the virtues of reading Tolstoy—and essentially Tolstoy is a trope in these things, War and Peace is the longest novel in the sort of Euro-centric canon—you could always make the argument that the present is worse than the past by simply pointing to the virtues of the past. And so, what the Web does is that it does what all amateur increases do, which is it decreases the average quality of what’s available. It is exactly, precisely, the complaint made about the printing press. So, the only thing surprising about the Web, in a way, is that it’s been a long time since we’ve had a medium that increased the amount of production of written material this dramatically.
... Interview with Clay Shirky, Part II.

The future of publishing (cont'd.) ...

... Turning Page, E-Books Start to Take Hold. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

La vida es sueño ...

... I dream of Jenny. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I actually had a dream last night that I somewhat remembered and that wasn't - as is usually the case when I dream - utterly pedestrian.

From Rus Bowden ...

... a comment on inaugural poetry.

Rus also reminds us: . . . and don’t forget these Christmas poems (beautifully done).

From Shameless ...

... A Christmas Poem.

Sounds interesting ...

... Good Gifts.

Perhaps this will help ...

... Writing Exercises: The progymnasmata Way.

Two more ...

... from Maxine: Wallander and Montalbano: films or books? and Buzzwords and films of 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gotta get up early ...

... to put one over on these guys: Blogs are influential.

Very interesting ...

... No Chance.

Yet, given these shared assumptions, Behe and Dawkins come to radically different conclusions. Dawkins' argument in The Blind Watchmaker goes like this: "There are probably more than a billion billion available planets in the universe. If each of them lasts as long as Earth, that gives us about a billion billion billion planet-years to play with." He then adds with obvious satisfaction, "That will do nicely!" However, he also warns that "we haven't the faintest hope of duplicating such a fantastically lucky, miraculous event as the origin of life in our laboratory experiments." Thus, he argues that purely theoretical arguments become scientifically justifiable.
Perhaps, but what for Dawkins is a scientifically justifiable piece of theoretical reasoning is a "just-so story" for Behe. Why? Because Behe doesn't share Dawkins' pessimism about what can be demonstrated in the laboratory. While scientists cannot be expected to carry out a billion billion billion years' worth of experiments, nature can and has.

It is interesting that their disagreement centers on what can and cannot be learned in the laboratory. Behe is often depicted in the media as being an off-the-wall sort. I interviewed him a number of years and found that not to be the case at all.

Music of a mystic ...

... A Messiaenic Vision.

Feathered friends ...

... Consider the Birds: Who They Are and What They Do by Colin Tudge.

The Twelve Days of Hoserdom Christmas

Okay, Hosers, Gidday, eh? We didn't forget Da Box o' Beers (but, in <*ahem*> case you thought we did forgot, we did not, eh)?

This clip's fresh and animated (RT: 4:59). (I jes' love the fifth day.)

OT: Tech Question, Please and Thank You

When I post a message here on the blog, the Byline reads correctly: "Posted by JF." When Frank posts, the Byline also reads correctly, "Posted by FW." However, when the posts show up on Google in both Blog Search and Alerts, they are all attributed thusly, "By Frank Wilson." (Je n'existe pas.)

Any ideas or suggestions would be welcomed since, as you know, Frank and I differ on many subjects; plus, I feel fairly confident speaking for him when I say I'm not sure he would like to be caught looking at the talent of his own gender. I do drool, IOW (although, sometimes, it's just a dribbly nibbly trickle. Example? Andrew Klavan. Wondering about his eye-shadow, ogling his baldiness, suggesting he consider a beard or moustache, the full-metal packet, IOW).

However, if I discuss the merits of Wonder Bra versus Victoria's Secret's lingerie at length, say, peeps might look at Frank weirdly, frankly, and move away from him on the Group W Bench. (Name that tune!) Also, he's a self-described Old-Tory Flâneur, not a Lib-Centrist Frisky Flambo in the know on the go ;).

Well, today *is* offically "Self-Esteem Dream Day," eh? If you know the solution to this problem, both Frank and I would be grateful if you'd email him (at the addie on his profile) and provide a walk-through for him. (I do have admin rights; but, I will not push my luck using them because, aside from the fact it would be the only exercise I get, one thing I do know: Frank began this enterprise and I believe what he does with, for, and to it his business; but, I tell you this in case you might think this to be a solution when we've already tried this one.)

If you can be of assistance, TIA.

Undeniably, NoT Frank Wilson, KIA
p.s. I have tried Google Help Gropes and BloggerTalk, etc.

Not afraid ...

... to tip his hand: Dickens's enduring gift to Christmases future.

How a Desperate Dickens Blessed Us

Did you know that Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in six weeks, more or less, and published it himself in an act of depressed desperation? S'True. Complementarily to Frank's link above, you'll learn a little more on the creation of what would become, arguably, the most important book in terms of modern Christmas as we know it. Hans Werner fills in the remaining blanks; and, for this lovely review, let us raise our vices in a treasure-trove of thanks or two. In Canada, as the entire world most likely knows, we "celebrate" Boxing Day 26 December. Know why? Nope, neither do I; but, I do know the only day truly worthy of celebration in this household falls on 2 January (when the world returns to its regularly skedded insanities).

BTW, if Christ put in his earthly appearance in the middle of June, I (idly) wonder if that explains why Joyce chose the sixteenth of that month for what we now call Bloomsday. Hrm . . .


Anne Roiphe
on Becoming
a Widow

Not only does the above contain an excerpt from Chapter One @ NPR, there's also an audio clip to complement your reading experience.

Hardly surprising ...

... '10,000 Hours' book a hit with Hollywood. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... reading books that can't be made into movies isn't Hollywood's usual pastime. Yet the book seems to have become the topic of conversation around town, during holiday parties and Oscar soirees.
I rest my case.

A Neat Sweet Canuck Round-Up Treat

You'll enjoy this 'site's take on Gift-Worthy Works (not to mention's generally well-written and always provocative newz viewz).

The Miracle Came . . .

. . . According to The Toronto Star, "Hallelujah" provided Leonard Cohen with a Christmas miracle. Nice; but, no guitar. Leo would prolly appreciate a Hanukkah miracle more, ISTM.

(Running Time: 7:39)

The Writing Was on the Wall . . .

. . . in Publishing, a fact I noted and Frank quoted in 2004.

Watch your language ...

... 'My Vocabulary Did This to Me' by Jack Spicer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I first read Spicer when I was in college. The title of this book are said to have been his last words.

BITE: Our Quotidian Notable Quotable

"A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for bullshit."
— Phil Ochs

"I Ain't A-Marchin' Anymore" (RT: 2:37)

Straight talk ...

... HIGH END SELF-PUBLISHING. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Latest on Elizabeth Alexander:

Poet Chosen for Inauguration Is Aiming for a Work That Transcends the Moment

Meanwhile, back at the press: Graywolf Plans Instant Book on Inauguration Day Poem

Hrm . . . I've been thinking . . . I bet we could write a poem, in the new year, collectively, that would do its duty admirably. Yes we can. What think you? Among us, there are many fine poets. "How did we dream ourselves into being?" First line. Lots of time.

Right now, the entire world (except yours truly) is shopping (to which I am allergic; and, besides, I don't accommodify this most holy of days; it's personal and passionate; but, it's not about Santa who has, I see, just been proven to be Canadian; and, it further seems, has his own Blackbarry now; so, natch, Mrs. Santa can call him and tell him to pick up the dry cleaning and kids and milk, not necessarily in that order).

[Judith Fitzgerald, Shameless Beggar]

What's the Copyright Thing to Do?

Over @ Dirty Harry's Place, there's also an interesting post concerning a question that's often crossed my mind: "HuffPo Stealing Content?" (Why would The Huffington Post stoop so low? If anyone's making moolah in this enterprise, I would think it would be HuffPo & Co.)

Four Up, One To Come . . .

. . .Dirty Harry's Place presents Chapter 4 of Andrew Klavan's Amazing Christmas Gift to Readers and Viewers (RT: 5:18): "Nightmare." (Is that a five-o'clock shadow?)

Life in reverse ...

... Running Backwards.

For years, when I would mention this Scott Fitzgerald story to people, they would tell me they never heard of it. Now it's a movie.

I was just enjoying these ...

... so I thought I'd share: The Books of Silence.

OK, it's a pitch ...

... but I'm a subscriber and I second it: A TLS is for life.

Nige gets ...

... Solsticial. Featuring Geoffrey Hill.

Title bout ...

... One more one more time.

I like it.

I almost forgot ...

... my latest column is up: Progress and remembering the past.

One reason I forgot is that I'm in the process of finishing the next one.

Congratulations ...

... to The Paper of Record.

Laugh ...

... through your tears: A Cartoon For Authors.

Uh-oh ...

... Large Potato Strikes Earth.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tips anyone?

... In search of the philosophical thriller.

In returen, Mark has some holiday tips: Dealing with a yuletide felicity deficit.

The artist ...

... and her work. Thought I would post a picture of Debbie's granddaughter Reilly, along with the painting she did on Thanksgiving, which I posted earlier.

Long live books ...

... `The Habits of a Lifetime'.

I think the time of books draws to a close’ with some confidence, but I can’t make up my mind about that idea. A serious interest in books has always been a minority taste. By nature I’m an anti-utopian and pretty grim-minded, but I think a lively underground of readers and writers has a chance of flourishing with the aid of the Internet. We’re only just beginning to learn what it will look like – perhaps we’re forging some of the `rules’ right now. I’m not a technologically adept person and I’m a natural-born skeptic, but I also know I’ve made some excellent friends thanks to the blog. It’s not the same as sitting around the dining room table shooting the shit but it’s gratifying and I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I wouldn’t have predicted this a decade ago.

I am optimistic about the future of books. I don't think that the internet is going to eliminate books any more than Velveeta has eliminated Delice de Bourgogne. I think there is going to be an artisanal book business as there is now an artisanal cheese business. I think POD technololgy is going to enable persons of modest means to publish books - including many out of print and past copyright - because they believe in them and want to and can. The book remains the most convenient vehicle for reading. The Kindle is fine for travel and commuting and for books you want to read, but don't feel you need to have and don't want to pay the full price for.

For the season ...

... Mark Strand: "Lines for Winter".

God, I love that Sisley.

The value of reading ...

... or, The unforeseeable effects of obscure novels.

Unfashionable ...

... and underrated: Mary Midgley. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Grinding axes ...

... vs. telling what happened: When Worlds Collide.

Counterfactual speculations of the kind that Lewis is trading in are in any case airy and insubstantial because we lack the knowledge required to evaluate them.
I suspect Jeff Sypeck would also take issue with Lewis.

How about a bit ...

... of staggering beauty:

... The Grand Tetons 1.

... The Grand Tetons 2: Black & White.

For Christmas ...

... These Three Kings (Mmm... Marginalia).

Not so dumb after all ...

... The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated History of Ornithology by Tim Birkhead.

Something I missed ...

... ans shouldn't have: Bad students and good. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Right ho ...

... Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by PG Wodehouse.

Because it's winter ...

... here is Conrad Aiken's "Winter for a Moment Takes the Mind." This is a great poem. (It is part of Preludes to Memnon - where you can hear Aiken read..)

Winter for a moment takes the mind; the snow
Falls past the arclight; icicles guard a wall;
The wind moans through a crack in the window;
A keen sparkle of frost is on the sill.
Only for a moment; as spring too might engage it,
With a single crocus in the loam, or a pair of birds;
Or summer with hot grass; or autumn with a yellow leaf.
Winter is there, outside, is here in me:
Drapes the planets with snow, deepens the ice on the moon,
Darkens the darkness that was already darkness.
The mind too has its snows, its slippery paths,
Wall bayonetted with ice, leave ice-encased.
Here is the in-drawn room, to which you return
When the wind blows from Arcturus: here is the fire
At which your warm your hands and glaze your eyes:
The piano, on which you touch the cold treble;
Five notes like breathing icicles; and then silence.

The alarm- clock ticks, the pulse keeps time with it,
Night and the mind are full of sounds. I walk
from the fire-place, with his imaginary fire,
To the window, with its imaginary view.
Darkness, and snow ticking the window: silence,
And the knocking of chains on a motor-car, the tolling
Of a bronze bell, dedicated to Christ.
And then the uprush of angelic wings, the beating
Of wings demonic, from the abyss of the mind:
The darkness filled with a feathery whistling, wings
Numberless as the flakes of angelic snow,
The deep void swarming with wings and sound of wings,
The winnowing of chaos, the aliveness
Of depth and depth and depth dedicated to death.

Here are the bickerings of the inconsequential,
The chatterings of the ridiculous, the iterations
Of the meaningless. Memory, like a juggler,
Tosses its colored ball into the light, and again
Receives them into darkness. Here is the absurd,
Grinning like an idiot, and the omnivorous quotidian,
Which will have its day. A handful of coins,
Tickets, items for the news, a soiled handkerchief,
A letter to be answered, notice of a telephone call,
the petal of a flower in a volume of Shakspere,
The program of a concert. The photograph, too,
Propped on the mantel, and beneath it a dry rosebud;
The laundry bil, matches, an ash-tray, Utamaro's
Pearl-fishers. And the rug, on which are still the crumbs
Of yesterday's feast. These are the void, the night,
And the angelic wings that make it sound.

What is the flower? It is not a sigh of color,
Suspiration of purple, sibilation of saffron,
Nor aureate exhalation from the tomb.
Yet it is these because you think of these,
An emanation of emanation, fragile
As light, or glisten, or gleam, or coruscation,
Creature of brightness, and as brightness brief.
What is the frost? It is not the sparkle of death,
The flash ot time's wing, seeds of eternity;
Yet it is these because you think of these.
And you, because you think of these, are both
Frost and flower, the bright ambiguous syllable
Of which the meaning is both no and yes.

Here is the tragic, the distorting mirror
In which you gesture becomes grandiose;
Tears form and fall from your magnificent eyes,
The brow is noble, and the mouth of God's.
Here is God who seeks his mother, Chaos,-
Confusion seeking solution, and life seeking death.
Here is the rose that woos the icicle; the icicle
That woos the rose. Here is the silence of silences
Which dreams of becoming a sound, and the sound
Which will perfect itself in silence. And all
These things are only the uprush from the void,
the wings angelic and demonic, the sound of the abyss
Dedicated to death. And this is you.

OK, it's Monday morning ...

... so what: The Saturday Idler, No. 9.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mama Mia: The Obamarama Baby Boom

According to University of Washington sociologist Pepper Schwartz, Obamaphrodisiacal desire will engender a boom in special deliveries right around back-to-school time next year. "Hope and euphoria . . . are a serious aphrodisiac. And voters under 30 went for Obama by a margin of two to one. When you combine those two elements — randy people of child-bearing age — the likely result is what the online Urban Dictionary has already dubbed 'Obama Babies': children conceived after Obama was proclaimed President, by way of celebratory sex."

The theory, notes Newsweek's Jessica Bennett, is almost too perfect to be true. Barack Obama, the son of politically progressive parents, was born 4 August 1961 (almost nine months to the day after John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House). Is it possible Obama was conceived on that historic night?

Man-oh-Mamma, one guy actually voted for Obama solely because he wanted to tell his bundle of joy s/he was conceived on this historic occasion. Talk sargasmic sardiculousness! (No doubt the child's name will be Barack or Baracka; but, I'd vote yay to Obama, if only because it works well for both genders; plus, the potential for neologisms increases exponentially: When Baracka's misbehaving, she's gone Obamaniacal; but, when he's good, he's an Obamaestro.)

Time for ...

... BSRB No. 11: Double Shots.

Dickens: The Light- and Dark-Side Glides

Cheer and churchgoing, feasting and dancing, drinking and kissing, bonhomie and benevolence. If these are the things we think of when we think of Christmas, then we've got the Victorian era's greatest novelist to thank, John Walsh prettily pontificates:

Dickens was nuts about Christmas . . . But when we look at his Christmas writings, darker currents glide beneath all the beaming and laughter. "A Christmas Dinner," his earliest exercise in Yuletide-worship, is a yelpingly naive and callow invitation to the feast. It tells readers to buck up their ideas, pull up to the fire, fill their glasses, and just jolly well join in being merry. The author has no truck with party-poopers, misery-guts, pessimists, misanthropes, or the recently bereaved. He can be simultaneously sentimental and heartless when writing about children: "Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father's heart, and roused the mother's eye to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that, one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings . . ." (Thanks for that, Charles.)

Thanks for this, Mr. Walsh. From one word-lover to another, do enjoy a wonderfully festive Follification for the duration in your incomparably eruditious nation.

BITE: Our Quotidian Notable Quotable

"The future of the book is the blurb."
— McLuhan

An interesting invitation ...

... A Memory of Fictions (or) Just Titty-Boom - A Novel.

This sounds good ...

... One Laptop per Child.

Here are a couple videos:

OMGuffaws: Worst Version of "O, Holy Night," EVER . . .

. . .But, it's still my favourite Christmas carol; I've been trying to find more info on its roots and history; but, so far, not having much luck . . . Wonder what other peeps's favourite carol is; and, which version of "O, Holy Night" one might recommend . . . Does anyone recognise the "singer"; and, if so, are you brave enough to ID 'im?

As for this clip (RT 3:39), its uploader provides the following 411 (so you don't need to dial 9-1-1 or 9-9-9):

The tape has been passed around for years, the singer is unknown. From the web, here is a description: "If you need a good laugh, and I mean 'can't breathe, stomach hurts' belly laugh, listen to the worst rendition of "O, Holy Night" ever. Warning: Put all drinks down and take a few deep breaths first so you don't suffocate from laughter. It starts out as sounding like a merely poor rendition of the song, but just wait."

A chance to listen ...

... to Flannery! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm torn ...

... over this. I like the apes - like Ray Davies, I'm an apeman - but I think they're in over their heads in this case.

Once again ...

... I'm on time with this: Sunday Salon: another Swedish novel.

The CBC's "Words @ Large" Shelagh Rogers and Eleanor Wachtel . . .

. . . join formidable forces to bring their upsifying heap of fare with class, panache, and encharming flair to spare (with podcasts galore plus so much more). The latest? A lovely clip of ear-to-ear cheer featuring an interview with Gil Adamson, the gifted novelist responsible for The Outlander.

However, past 'viewees include Salman Rushdie, Larry Hill, and Michele Tremblay, a utility-infielder world-class novelist, poet, and playwright who resides in Montréal half the year, Key West the other half. (Although I worship the pages upon which Tremblay writes, in this competition, Canada Reads, I gotta go with David Adams Richards, perhaps one of the finest novelists in the world; however, not to put too fine a pointer upon it, I do believe the work of either Tremblay or Richards [not to mention Daphne Marlatt] worthy of the Nobel Prize for literature. Maybe, with the dearly departured what's his name, the work of Canadians and Americans will begin to receive their recognition so long overdue? Here's hopin' with you.)

The state of publishing ...

... End of the book? (Hat tip, Dave Lull and Paul Davis.)

... Making Books. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Authentic publishing is a lot like art collecting: You have to have a talent for it, and that talent shows in the outcome. Compare what you see in a great private collection - the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, N.Y.; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Phillips Collection in Washington - to what is usually put together by curators. The latter are object lessons in conventional wisdom. The curators think what other curators think and know the curators other curators know. The former reflect an intensely personal encounter with the art, which is something quite different from academic expertise. (As Duncan Phillips put it: "I do not venture to anticipate posterity and the ultimate evaluations of history. The collector can only be true to himself. My choices have been, frankly, personal. ") Alfred Knopf, Robert Giroux, James Laughlin (a relative of Duncan Phillips, by the way), published the way those collectors collected. I suspect that POD technology is going to make it cost-effective for this more personal - and more reliable - form of publishing to flourish once more.

ChampionEd (Sometimes): Lurie Blurry

I am not quite sure if I’ve written a bad review. But I have spent far more words than I expected to on Lurie’s latest opus. And there are pages of notes I haven’t even touched on. I know that Rod Lurie is a bit obsessive about leaving comments at nearly every website that reviews his films. Perhaps he cares very deeply what some of us think. So, Rod, if you are looking for advice, do yourself and the film world a favor. Remake Ilsa. Stop injecting your screenplays with silly moral predicaments. Be honest for once and realize that there’s a great big cornball exploitation filmmaker inside you. If you’re true to that voice, then maybe you could be a Demme decades down the line.

For the big picture (visit Edward Champion's Reluctant Habits
(a.k.a. One Grace Place in CyberSpace).

Christmas Books for Discerning Cooks:

Deana Lancaster
dishes on the best
in the west
when it comes
to laying on a feast
for the hunger beast

For Christmas ...

... a short story by Jane Gardam: The Virgins of Bruges.

At One-Hundred Years Young . . .

. . .Film Maestro Manoel de Oliveira Turns to Poetry.

This Just In . . .

. . . British Poet Adrian Mitchell, 76.


Much to Admire . . .

. . . on the bookshelf @ The American Scientist.

Bryan wonders ...

... why director Stephen Daldry is worried: Stephen Daldry on The Reader.

Jean Vanier: Essential Writings

One of the great events in American religious publishing of the last several years has been the introduction of Orbis Books' Modern Spiritual Masters Series. This phenomenal series of slim volumes makes available the lives, witness, and writings of a plethora of religious writers of, roughly, the last century. Included are those you would expect — Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, and Mother Teresa, for example — and many who may be considered as either more obscure, or as having little interest outside of a narrow community of believers and students of the spiritual life . . . The latest installment in the series is no exception to the rule. Jean Vanier: Essential Writings is an exceptional and beautiful book, bringing together a rigorous and learned introduction with some of the finest writing on the committed religious life that I have had the pleasure of coming across for a long time.
Chris Faatz

Canada's Finest . . .

No weekend would be complete without reminding Books, Inq.uers there's a freshly inked hornucopia of reviews and book news at The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and The National Post. Especially noteworthy and always compellingly readable are the pieces penned by Geoff Pevere, Margaret Cannon, and Philip Marchand @ each of the above-cited 'sites respectively (to ID but a stellar few among the top-notch writerly crew).

Does Anyone Speak / Read Vietnamese?

I ask because I'm wondering if this a good or bad review of my interp of "Famous Blue Raincoat" . . . (If it's negative, how do I say, Thank you kindly for promo-ing my 'site; and, if it's positive, how do I say, Thank you kindly for appreciating my analysis of "FBR?")

Also, speaking of great 'sites on LC, I've been meaning to provide this link to DrHGuy for some time; he invariably has up-to-the-second info on all things coming and Cohen (almost before LC knows what he's going to say or do). Very good mind at work, though, an enjoyable read, no matter what brand of lover you are. Highly recommended for True-B'Losers, IOW.

BTW, when Leo sings about "twenty-seven angels," he's reffing the answer to how many ^i^s (or angels) can dance on the head of a pin, er, a pinhead (among other swing-ding things). JSYK.

As Jesus said ...

... the law was made for man, not man for the law: A Progressive Manifesto. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Of course, those in power tend not to agree.

Yet Another Literary Blog . . .

. . . but, clearly, not a cut-abover (in the way, say, Art's, Lee's, Georgy's, or Levi's is) since, it doesn't link to the great ones we love (e.g., Roger, Peter, Nige, Sarah, Patrick, Scott, Mary, Frank, Jeff, Russ, Glenn, George, Bill, Ed, Maxine, Hedgie, et.ilk :) . . .). Perhaps this post may aid the Spinner in getting with the showgramme :). Ah, no, not sour gripes, not at all. It's sweet cherries or forget it (since WCW already ate the plums which were, according to him, delicious). Also, I may be missing something and there do exist links that I just don't see . . .
p.s. How can I have a hangover when I haven't had a drink since 9 June 1982? Is there such a thing as flash-black, drink-sink division? Egawds, my queendom for something to kill this migraine, ach, ack, achy, ouchy . . .

GreenCine Daily: Shorts, Fest, Etc.

Very interesting approach to all we've been discussing, dissecting, praising, and grazing these past few. That's my favourite cover of The Great Gatsby, BTW, too.

Too much ...

... to choose from at Nota Bene. Just scroll and read.

When His Holy Boobitude Dude Was Nuthin' But a Rebel Without Applause . . .

It's almost insulting, perhaps, to point out to the ancients among us who worshipped at the altar of the music, motivation, and sonic manifestations of one of His Boobitude's primary influences; but, there she blows (with apologies). When he was just a glint in the protest-song's mind's eye, Pete Seeger's oeuvre, alongside that of, say, Woodie Guthrie, figured (and continues to figure) prominently in his co-workers' musical mindscrapes of equal stature — Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Guy Clark, Dusty Springfield (born Mary O'Brien), George Jones, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, Kurt Cobain, Loretta Lynn, Ry Cooder, Laurie Anderson, James McMurtry, Janis Joplin, Toms Paxton and Lehrer, Joni Mitchell, Gordy Lightfoot, Jacques Brel, David Blue, James Taylor, k.d., The Rankin Family, Willy Nelson, Neil Young, The Highwaymen, Trent Reznor, LC, The Beagles :) . . . Thus, although I consider "There's A Bottom Below" her greatest side, here's The Original, Malvina Reynolds, performing the original "Little Boxes":

p.s. Hold that thought on your journey down Revolutionary Road . . .
p.p.s. This post is dedicated to Levi Asher (avec xoxoxoxo)

A pair from Maxine ...

... The dolphin man: a publishing experiment.

... CrimeFest and Harrogate news.

Andrew Klavan's Third Chapter's Now Posted . . .

"A Voice in the Storm," Chapter Three of Mr. K's Christmas Ghost Story's now available for your viewing spook-a-boo pleasure @ Dirty Harry's Place . . . The final two instal(l)ments shall, apparently, be broadcast before Christmas (so, three down and four to go).

As Christmas nears ...


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.

© 2006 F. Wilson

Shrewd forecasters ...

... those stoats: Global Warming Update.

Another one ...

... bites the dust: Extry! Extry! Get ‘em while you can.

Horatio departs ...

... Engdahl quits as Nobel literature academy head. (Hat tip, Ed Champion.)

Horace had found working difficult with his foot in his mouth.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Sweet Jane Smiley reviews Jose Saramago: An author pondering, not fearing, death.

... Carlin Romano ponders hypocrisy: An 'inevitable' part of democratic life.

... Desmond Ryan savors The ruthless, rapacious Borgias.

... I savor a classic: From Lourdes, a still-inspiring story.

... Christine Ma looks ar Scarface Nation: Say hello to a cinematic phenomenon.

... Paula Marantz Cohen praises - as one must - Fred Astaire: A hoofer deserving a place on a pedestal.