Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mini-Anthology ...

... Twenty Poems by Poets for Other Poets.

Something's missing ...

... all right: Everything You Need To Know About Hitler's "Missing" Testicle.

I'm even older ...

... The Serenity of an Old Hack.

I have argued for years for upmarket newspapers. The problem is finding upmarket minds among contemporary journalists.

No prize ...

... Prizeless. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Crunch, crunch ...

... After the credit crunch – the arts crunch?

Then and Now ...

... D.L. Murray's review of Peter Pan, published in the TLS of November 22 1928.

I second this ...

... Happy Birthday ..... to C.S. Lewis.

Who knew ...

... Oscar Wilde's Woolies.

Religious or idolatrous ...

... Roger Scruton on Raising the Tone. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

" ... human societies cannot exist for long without the sentiment of the sacred ... The secularisation of society, therefore, brought about the sacralisation of music."

This need for the sacred, unfortunately, is often satisfied by the merely vulgar and sometimes even by the downright evil (see "Hitler, A.").

True paths ...

... Keith Ward on Value, Faith, and Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is complex, subtle and deserves very much to be read fully and carefully.

History suggests, then, that there are facts that are not publicly accessible or verifiable, measurable or testable, or susceptible to universal agreement. The evidence for such facts is often objectively less than certain, but it is often reasonable to believe more strongly than the available evidence strictly allows, if there is a great amount at stake, if we genuinely believe that the facts are as we judge them to be, and if there is no way of avoiding the issue.

Skip over ...

... to Nota Bene and just scroll.

Asymmetrical assessment ...

... When Good is Bad. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Trinity ...

... Language, Truth and Logos. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Ron Silliman's The Alphabet: 'Language poetry'? It's all words.

... Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies: A portrait of 19th-century India.

... Per Petterson's To Siberia: Coming of age and craving Siberia.

... Jim Harrison's The English Major: Book review: All is lost, so he's off on a trip.

Remember the driver ...

... Clive James on Terror chic. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where we were this afternoon ...

... the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, just a few minutes drive from where we live and within the city limits.

Something ...

... to sink your teeth into: Gary Barwin, a few words and a poem. (Hat tip, Hedgie.)

How it grows ...

... Robert Pogue Harrison on his new book, Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Posthumous debut ...

... Getting A Head In Show Business.

What about that raven ...

... on his shoulder? Santa arrives.

Perfect disguise ...

... An agent of disclosure. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

The domestic Bard ...

... Shakespeare Woos, Weds, Repents (1582).

Safety in words ...

... Dr. Roget's 990 Lists. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Still needs some work ...

... “I’m up to my deaf ears in cold breakfast trays…”

My butcher, Sonny D'Angelo, makes real mincemeat, which I have put into stuffing for turkey and capons. Gives them a sort of faux medieval touch.

Time to cull ...

... The Well-Tended Bookshelf.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What a lineup ...

... Murderous holidays, history, headlines, triffids.

About those climate models ...

... Numerical Models, Integrated Circuits and Global Warming Theory. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The fact that these artificial "climates" are closed systems far simpler than the global climate, have the advantage of the experimental method, and are subject to precise controls, and yet are frequently wrong, should lend some humility to those who make grand predictions about the future of the earth's atmosphere.

I hope they're right ...

... Shakespeare's labours must not be lost in school.

Let's start ...

... with The Unknown.

... also, check out the comments on this post, which I linked to earlier. Wow, those Nature folks are like the English sparrows in my backyard.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Crisis looms ...

... Nick Hornby on the search for a poet laureate: The newspapers... (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

What this seems to demonstrate is that there's no one around like Auden, who could have tossed off the demands for occasional verse with great aplomb. On the other, there is myself. I did, in The Inquirer, note in verse the marriage of Charles and Camilla:

Royal Couplets

Of marriage, matron, prince, and bard I sing
And of delays the fates seem bent to sling
Into the way of true love’s unsmooth course.
Who wouldn’t swap his kingdom for a horse
When called upon to first acknowledge sin
To gain the church’s pardon, just to win
A Town Hall wedding scheduled on the day
That Papal obsequies get in the way?
And now, the charge to praise love’s true devotion
Has England’s Laureate in a commotion.
The scribe dear late Diana’s charms inspired
Has found his rhyming Muse is sick, and tired.
What’s to be done, but take our pen in hand,
Declaring even messy love is grand?
All vain and pompous circumstance aside,
It’s just another hopeful groom and bride.
Therefore we wish poor Charles and his Camilla
Full wedded bliss, down to the last scintilla.

I just noticed this ...

... Blake's Unhappy Birth Day.

Untitled ...

... a watercolor by Debbie's 4-year-old granddaughter, Reilly. I think it's quite extraordinary.

Winning pair ...

... A smooth snow job.

Random observations ...

... Notes from Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin. (Hat tip, Dave lull.)

"... living alone and sometimes lonely..." and "... rages at human destructiveness ..." Any connection, I wonder.

Sex, Sizzle, and Related Sensations to Sweeten Your Stay-at-Home Amour


p.s. Are people really desperate enough to have sex with envelopes? What a crazy world, eh?

The latest issue ...

... of E·ratio.

Chance and Circumstance

For those not yet suffering Acute Gladwellian Overload (AGO), David Leonhardt offers readers a somewhat unique peek into the makings of the mind of the man who made millions bucking the trends.

Love, love, love ...

... The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Goudge. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

It's a PC Guy

"The boss said that hobo is a politically incorrect term to describe a contemporary, urban homeless person. The preferred term is transient. That's fair."

(Will tapping this caus my PC to d v lop sticky k ys? W ' s . . ..)

Newspeak ...

... It's a PC World.

At the end of the book, almost 250 pages after his traumatic encounter with the matriarch of the nation, Stourton concludes that, “PC may not be a properly formulated political programme, but it is in the best sense of the term a liberal dream, an expression of the conviction that the world can be made a better place.” That would be in contrast to the worst sense of the term, which presumably involves plans to make the world a less good place.

Henry Gee takes note ...

... (in the comments to this post) of the routinely unmentioned: Sadly there is no scientific, rational, dare I say atheist version. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pretty unimpressive ...

... A Quest for Classical Excellence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

About the only thing that grabs me in this list is Schiff's Beethoven.

Could it be?

... Global Warming Predictions Are Overestimated, Suggests Study On Black Carbon.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters.

Tonight we improvise ...

... Making Up the Classics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is probably a good thing. Certainly the humorless solemnity attached to most classical music concerts has its drawbacks. At least at rock concerts you can move to the music, tap your toe, and go with the flow, rather than sit there as if you were listening to a funeral oration.

Bust after boom ...

... Scratch the surface and there is always tragedy, mixed, of course, with wickedness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, that is often true, but surely the world is as filled with joy as with sorrow.

Perhaps the beginning ...

... of something better: The end of journalism.

I remain convinced that if you can accurately and precisely describe to me what you experience, I won't need you to preach to me about it.

The Gentleman Thief . . .

. . . "who took a leaf out of the British Library's rarest travel books."

That's a rap!

New Kids' Books for Hanukkah:

Candles at Centre of Celebration.

A Quartet on Bush's Legacy

"The legacy of George W. Bush’s two terms as U.S. president is widely known, but not deeply," writes Brian Lynch in his examination of recent volumes from Philippe Sands, Jane Mayer, and Barton Gellman.

As a counterbalance, here is John Lewis Gaddis's assessment: Ending Tyranny: The Past and Future of an Idea.
Gaddis is Robert A. Lovett Professor of History at Yale and widely regarded as the dean of Cold War historians.

Books-a-Million Asks Authors:

"What Are Your Favorite Books to Give as Gifts?"

Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black –

and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer:

"When the comprehensive history of tapeworms in literature is finally written, Gordimer's sad parasite, from the story 'Tape Measure,' will be the most sympathetic."


"Spelling Out the Magic of the Mundane."

More Digital Books Coming . . .

. . . from Random House:

"With e-book sales exploding in an otherwise sleepy market, Random House Inc. announced this week that it will make thousands of additional books available in digital form, including novels by John Updike and Harlan Coben, as well as several volumes of The Magic Treehouse children's series."

Chagall: A Biography

Dwight Garner
on his art, impulses,
and relationship
with Russia

Their Towering Top-Tenners

Michiko Kakutani and Janet Maslin, in-house literary critics for The New York Times, select the top of the 2008 crop as part of the esteemed publication's "Critics' Picks Gift Guide" Series.

Trusting Doctors:

The Decline
of Moral Authority
in America

Tony-Winning Playwright William Gibson

Playwright William Gibson, whose The Miracle Worker has thrilled audiences for nearly a half-century with the true story of the deaf-blind Helen Keller's rescue from a world of ignorance, has died. He was 94.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

For the Fallen in Mumbai (R.I.P.)

An Upcoming Trio of Free Canadian Concerts . . .

. . .in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal will mark the twentieth anniversary of World's AIDS Day (1 December).

Stephen Hawking's Coming to Canada!

You heard it here first:

"I am honoured to accept the first Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute," Prof. Hawking said in a statement released Thursday. "The Institute's twin focus, on quantum theory and gravity, is very close to my heart and central to explaining the origin of the Universe."


Guess what? Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" will top the British charts this Festive season thanks to the fact the winner of The X Factor will be gifted with the pleasure of covering The Happy Camper's inexpressibly gorgeous treasure. (Fingers crossed the winner does a better job of it than Jeff Buckley.)

Leonard Cohen:

Just a Kid
With a Crazy
Dream . . .

Bravely Taking on Mugabe

Cont Mhlanga tackles Mugabe and, in so doing, earns the deserved distinction of becoming the inaugural recipient of The ArtVenture Freedom to Create Prize.

Russian Icons for the Museumist

Gordon Lankton's Museum of Russian Icons.

Stalin's Children:

Three Generations
of Love, War,
and Survival

by Owen Matthews.

The Chicagoan:

A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age.

The Triumph of Music:

Composers, Musicians, and Their Audiences, 1700 to the Present.

Dangerous Illusions

Providence. Does the word still reverberate religiously for us? What is providence, anyway, in the modern world? And what is humankind's place in relation to it? Such are the questions that Genevieve Lloyd takes up in Providence Lost, a provocative and closely argued work of intellectual history and philosophical polemic.

Art Durkee's Synthesising Awareness . . .

. . . @ DRAGONCAVE: "Notes towards an egoless poetry 14: Nondual Awareness" (and, not only will this meditation open your heart, there are some lovely clips which, in one such, if you listen closely, you'll hear THE Media Maestro in the fresh with John Cage to open your ears and ayes).

IOW, a lovely Thanksgiving treasure, yours for the cyberclicking.

On this date ...

... 58 years ago, a battle began: The Brave Men of the Frozen Chosin.

Ed and . . .

. . . Martha Stewart?

Santa Claus goes straight to the ghetto. (Dont ask; simply enjoy Mr. Champion's T-Givin' Treat.)

On Planet Peschel . . .

. . . there's nothing wrong with gratitude. (No wonder I appreciate that gracious dude.)

Harris Sketch Sets Sotheby Canada Record

James Adams reports
on an othewise
not-so-stellar auction

Notable and noted ...

... 100 Notable Books of 2008.

Glad they called them just "notable." Apparently it helps if the author happens to be a Times reporter.

The Times of London's TLS Books of the Year 2008.

I would call Ferdinand Mount's choice the most pedestrian and Martha Nussbaum's the most interesting by far.

Thanks to Dave Lull for both links.

Page Turner:

Glitter, Eyeliner, and Dolly Ekes to Varder.

(Great head; who could resist it? Not moi.)

Broccoli Books Folds:

Publishers Struggle in Tough Economy.

This 1's 4 Lee . . .

. . . Speech! Speech! OMGasp!

A-Z of English Words with Surprising Endings

"When I set out to write a study of the history of words, I thought I had a decent grasp of where even the most curious English ones originate."
— Etymologist Henry Hitchings

A. Goose Meets Phil Stuffing . . .

. . . in that place where silly names deserve encouragement.

Wanted: Karsh Stories and Stuff

Canada's Portrait Gallery seeks stories, pictures, and related memorabilia as part of its gala dedicated to honouring the memory of Yousef Karsh by celebrating what would have been his hundredth birthday 23 December 2008. Donor details available @ The Globe and Mail's Website.

The Calm Before . . .

. . . John E. McIntyre gets crammed, comfy, and comatose.

Except for some details ...

... a fine bit of reportage: No bullshit here.

At the end of a few hours at a Lindy’s - not a place where I hang out but a convenient place he picked - he came to the point, as reporters do at the end (I know the tricks; I teach them). He wanted to set me against traditionalists and them against me.

Here's a suggestion: Try interviewing somebody to find out what's on his mind and try hard to report what he says accurately and precisely. Oh, and try not to have the story framed until after the reporting is done. Journalism as a process of discovery is fun - and of great use to readers.

Susan Sontag:

"It was so beautiful when H began making love to me."

Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport

If you remember the tune, you'll understand the following:

"Rolf Harris regrets the racist verse on Aborigines in 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,' the song that made him famous in Britain and launched the wobbleboard on an unsuspecting music world."

David Malouf: Inaugural Recipient . . .

. . . of OzLand's newest and richest prize (valued @ $110,000 AUD), the Australia-Asia Literary Award, for his short-fiction collection, The Complete Stories.

Wow (or How Did I Miss This?)!

"I think more and more men are becoming interested in bras. Since we launched the men's bra, we've been getting feedback from customers saying 'Wow, we'd been waiting for this for such a long time.'"

Who knew?

Spanish Novelist Scoops Cervantes Prize

"Novelist Juan Marse, known for his descriptions of hardship in his native Catalonia region after Spain's civil war, has won the Spanish-speaking world's highest literary honour — the Cervantes Prize."

Comics-Loving PM Embarrasses Japan

Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso is famous for his love of cartoon books and movies and has tried to harness Japan's traditional strength in these areas to boost the country's image — as well as its earnings from exports.

Very sad news ...

... Richard Hickox has died: Conductor who championed works by British composers.

First Lady Laura Bush in Book-Deal Talks

"It’s been a source of speculation for some weeks now, but yesterday the White House made it official, confirming to the Associated Press that Laura Bush is planning to write a memoir and has been meeting with publishers to discuss the project. Despite the economic downturn, experts are predicting that this will be a significant deal, likely to bring in at least as much as the $8 million Hillary Clinton drew for her memoir, Living History."

The TLS Books of the Year 2008

"A selection from this year's choices, ranging from Barack Obama's memoir to photosynthesis, from Doris Lessing, Junot Diaz, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to name a few."

The NYT's Hunnert Notable Books of 2008

"The Book Review has selected this list from books reviewed since 2 December 2007, when we published our previous Notables list."

Publishing Displays Its Split Personality

So, what else is news:

Talk about a business of extremes. In less than a week the book publishing industry has been set abuzz by the news that one publisher is so uncertain about the economic climate that it has temporarily shut its doors to most manuscripts while another is celebrating a banner year by handing out extra bonuses to all its employees.

As opposed to frivolously ...

... On seriously doubting the existence of God. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I remember, when I was studying scholastic metaphysics in college, that the professor told us we could shake up everybody at the dinner table on Thanksgiving by announcing that we had learned that God does not exist - the point being that the word exist strictly means "to come out of something" (i.e., to derive being from something else) whereas God just is. "All things," Aquinas said, "run to mystery."
There is, by the way, more intellectual heft in this single blog post than in all that the Dawkins-Harris- Hitchens troika have written on the subject.

For Thanksgiving ...

... A Sunday Holiday of Fifty Negro Boys.

Something to give thanks for ...

... The Monty Python Channel on YouTube. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

No relation to Hester ...

... I presume: Poet Laureate Prynne?

A sample of Prynne, complete with commentary: Rich in Vitamin C.

Golden humor ...

... Spike Milligan has last laugh as buyers pay thousands for his old jokes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Let's start ...

... with a digital rendition of apollinaire's il pleut.

See also Edward Hirsch's Winged Type.

Let's Conclude . . .

. . . with THE Goddess Dr. Mary Beard on the Wild Wonders of California at Muir Woods: "Nature, I concluded, is a bit like a classical monument."

Canada Reads (2009)

All I wanna say is one of my favourite musicians (Sarah Slean) is championing one of my favourite authors (David Adams Richards). With a combo this great, the rest might stand a chance . . . might . . .

Okay, now, let's get down to brass facts: I think, with those gorgeous peepers, Nicholas Campbell's the handsomest of Canadian actors on the planet (after Victor Garber, of course); and, both are really great at their craft, too!

Never mind. I'm putting my looney on DAR and SS won't let me down . . . will she?
Nah . . . You'll see :).

Prince of Wales on the Modern Curse . . .

. . . that divides us from nature:

"My views on architecture, the environment, and society are underpinned by one unifying idea — the vital need for harmony."

The Edge of Madness

Elizabeth Grice divines Michael Dobbs, politician turned novelist, possesses the knack of foretelling the future:

You don't need the wiles of a computer hacker to see that Michael Dobbs may be on to something with his fictional prediction of a cyber-war in which one nation — in his scenario, China — reduces every other to economic rubble by tampering with the global electronic life-support systems.

Clive James: First and Foremostly a Poet

Benjamin Lytal
on Opal Sunset
by Clive James
in The LA Times

Rushdie and Saviano Trade Old News

"Authors Salman Rushdie and Roberto Saviano traded stories about death threats and hurtful criticism during a panel discussion in Stockholm on Tuesday evening."

Hrmm . . . Wonder how many books they sold (before their limousines whisked them away)?

David Foster's "D" Tattoo (Is for Divorce)

"David Foster's autobiography, Hitman: Forty Years Making Music, Topping Charts & Winning Grammys, had barely hit bookstores before it was garnering the similarly disparate responses that have greeted his music."


Elvis Costello, utility infielder, takes to the small screen with big ideas about hitting them out of the park:

Although conceived in Canada and airing at some point on CTV, "Spectacle" debuted last night on the American Sundance channel. (Costello is married to Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall and they have a home on Vancouver Island.)

Besides [Elton] John, who is an executive producer of the 13-episode series, future guests include Lou Reed, James Taylor, The Police, Rufus Wainwright, Norah Jones, Herbie Hancock, Renee Fleming, and Krall (interviewed by John).

Montréal's Blue Metropolis . . .

. . . to Honour A.S. Byatt!

Language Is Play . . .

. . . So Let Us Have Fun.

Russell Smith: "The most retarded thing about the totally gay sensitive-language squads ('Intergroup Facilitators') created for residences at Queen's University in Kingston is how much they make me want to say retarded and gay. Retarded gay retarded gay gay gay."

Ok-a-a-a-y . . . :).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

That explains it ...

... Joyce Carol Oates on productivity: ‘I love to write’. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nominees, please ...

... Funny or what? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Decline and Fall certaibly one of the funniest books I've ever read. But so 1066 and All That (though you have to really know your English history to get it). The Enderby books had me laughing out loud much of the time, too.

We're all exiles now ...

... Relocation, Relocation, Relocation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One thing after another ...

... Signing Ceremony. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Governing history is that it goes on:
There is no rhythm of events, they just
Succeed each other.

I still think history rhymes.

Digital literacy ...

... People of the Screen.

There seems to be a widespread assumption that in the not-so-distant past everyone was an avid reader of books. 'Twas never thus. Avid readers have always constituted a minority and always will.

Maxine rocks ...

... Vote for The Honeytones, today.

FYI ...

... Book News Linkage.

Spoken arts ...

... From their mouths.

Bleak tableaus ...

... A French Connection.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bottoms up ...

... You've read Lucky Jim, now try drinking it. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I socked away a prodigious amount of spirits over a 30-year period that ended a few months before my 49th birthday. Unlike Amis I wasn't one for cocktails. I preferred shots and beers, a plebeian combination, but unfailingly effective. I rarely had hangovers, though among the few I did have were some that were preternaturally awful. I had never thought, as Amis apparently did, that Kafka's Metamorphosis might be a metaphor for a hangover, but it seems plausible.

We're all exilese now ...

Argumentum ad verecundiam ...

... John Hodgman Gives “More Information Than You Require.” (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Given how trusting so many people are of what they regard as authoritative - the New York Times, say, or the facile musings of Thomas Friedman - this guy's shtick accurately reflects the spirit of the age.

Check out ...

... Elberry's novel: Lulu and The Better Maker.

Well, well ...

... here's a piece by the guy who used to edit my "Editor's Choice" column. He is absolutely one of the best editors I have ever had. Working with him was an enriching experience. He's a dear friend, too: Spilt Milk.

Large can be beautiful, too ...

... Why Big Books Still Matter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

God bless Nige ...

... Peacocks and Chuggers.

"Happily I have perfected a Look that freezes the words on their lips and leaves them in no doubt that to proceed further would be to risk something far worse..."


Also, in the too-much-time-on-their-hands department: No Comment.

Yes, but ...

... Literature is for everybody, writing isn't. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But it is good for people to try to write. When they discover how difficult it can be, they come to appreciate more what has been written, and trying to put an experience into words enables one to draw closer to that experience - which, of course, deepens the experience.

The Right Honourable Paul Martin

If you find yourself fortunate enough to reside anywhere near Windsor or London, ON, you're in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat: The Right Honourable Paul Martin (a.k.a. Canada's Twenty-First Prime Minister) will be putting in an appearance at each city's Chapters location tonight and tomorrow night:

26 November @ 7 PM:
Chapters South London

27 November @ 7 PM:
Chapters Windsor

Come Hell or High Water, don'tcha dare miss this one (and, say "Hello" from all those who wish he hadn't resigned in 2006, moi inclus).
p.s. You may also enjoy reading an excerpt from the work penned by the Scrabble™ Champ who, incidentally, graduated with a degree in Philosophy

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reel-to-Realism: John Cage and Merce Cunningham Back-to-Backing the Future

A close look ... The Philosophic Enterprise. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very glad that Dave directed me to Flood seems in many ways a man after my own heart. (Though further investigation indicates we differ profoundly regarding what Flood likes to refer to as Zionism.)

HMH "Temporarily" Halts Acquisitions

According to Publishers Weekly's Rachel Deahl, "Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books."

Always good to have ...

... whether you're rich or poor: A.C. Grayling on Niall Ferguson' s The Ascent of Money.

" ... the Darwinian evolution (as Ferguson convincingly characterizes it) of money ..." I wasn't convinced myself: Not necessarily ...
But I suspect it's more in tune with Grayling's own belief system, such as that is.

This 1's 4 Levi . . .

According to the Aquarium Drunkard, both Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan are "poets/musicians."

Mffmmffmmmm . . . Mmm . . . For the rest of us, this truly provides listeners with a veritable wealth of free MP3s recorded forty years ago. (Hat Tip, Dan Colman [via BoingBoing].)
p.s. This public-service announcement comes to you in order to provide you with further proof for the unprovable :)

Robert Fulford on a Lost Art Oasis in Northern Ontario

Joe Hirshhorn's Vision for a Town that Never Was:

"Joe Hirshhorn, a brash young millionaire from New York, came to Canada in 1933 to invest in gold mines. Typically, he announced his arrival with a full-page ad in The Northern Miner headed 'My Name is Opportunity and I Am Paging Canada.'"

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose . . .

The purgatory of contradiction ...

... The Doubter and the Saint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

N.B. on N.B.'s N.B.

Re: Harry Elkins Widener . . .


Nigel Beale's rockin' and rollin' with David Hume, Northrop Frye, Rivka Galchen, Frank Wilson, Harry Elkins Widener, Miriam Toews, and rob mclennan (to ID but a few who will, I guarantee, speak volumes to / for you).

Most Expensive New Book . . .

. . . Arrives safely in New York from Italy.

The book, titled Una Dotta Mano or The Learned Hand, has a front cover made of white marble from Michelangelo's favourite quarry (in Carrara). The binding is covered with a red silk velvet handmade by the same Italian shop that created the main stage curtains at The Metropolitan Opera and Milan's Teatro Alla Scala. And, the 62-pounder will only set you back $100,000+ USD. (Not bad for a stocking stuffer.)

World Book Day's Spread the Word 2009

. . . "The search for "The Book to Talk About 2009" is on. And this year we’re looking for both fiction and non-fiction books that make great subjects for discussion and great food for thought. Like last year, the winner will be chosen from our long list by public vote."

Hey, Jim Dodge's Fup made the grade!

These are great ...

... Department of Aspergic Metaphor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I had a friend in grade school and high school who would definitely have loved this: "Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze."

Services available ...

... Fact Checking and Proofreading. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dr. Dalrymple ...

... on Planet Obama. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have never myself given a tinker's dam what the rest of the world thinks of my country. I live here. They don't.

Quote of the day ...

Is [patriotism] loyalty to a set of political jobholders, a king and his court, a president and his bureaucracy, a parliament, a congress, a Duce or Führer, a camorra of commissars? I should say it depends entirely on what the jobholders are like and what they do. Certainly I had never seen any who commanded my loyalty; I should feel utterly degraded if ever once I thought they could.
- Albert Jay Nock, The Memoirs of a Superfluous Man

My sentiments exactly.

Another award for Updike

And this one's a life achievement

Big sellers ...

... Ten Most Expensive Books Sold in October 2008.

Coherence or the lack thereof ...

... Bebop language.

... I Think There's A Problem With The Methodology Here.

... Speaking (in)coherently.

My first job when I left college was a transcript editor for the Philadelphia Collegiate Disarmament Conference. Herman Kahn was one of the participants as was Richard Allen, later one of Reagan's national security advisors. These were bright people. Turning their extemporaneous remarks into readable prose was not easy.

Flavorful leftovers ...

... Peter Stothard on Lunch with Mrs Thatcher.

More at What Hugo Young left behind.

Quite a mix ...

... On Ambition, Cocktail Party Invitations, and the "Bizarre Compulsion" to Write.

On the move ...

... Scandinavia getting everywhere.

Bryan's thoughts ...

... on Philosophy.

"... inconclusiveness is very deeply embedded in our language and, therefore, our natures. Only people who understand this are worth knowing and so, perhaps, only philosophers are worth knowing, though such people are seldom philosophers by profession."

That concluding clause says it all.


Stop-Motion Animation through the Ages:

For his third collaboration with ex-film publicist Tony Dalton, animation legend Ray Harryhausen (Clash of the Titans) originally intended to write a book about his mentor Willis O’Brien, the man who brought the original King Kong to life. However, upon realising that no history of live action and model animation — an art Mr. Harryhausen refers to as Dynamation — existed, he and Mr. Dalton instead embarked on a two-year project to put together a chronology of their favourite art form.

New World, New Ideas

Marc Arkin on what the Puritans and Pilgrims believed about God, man, and giving thanks.

Speaking of falling behind ...

... I'm only now catching up to what Patrick Kurp's been posting. Head over to Anecdotal Evidence and start scrolling.

Nabokov's Final "Unfinished" Novel . . .

. . . will be published by his son (over his father's dead body):

As Chris Green reports, "Earlier this year, the son of Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, said he intended to publish the incomplete work, disobeying his father's dying wish for it to be burned. Now Dmitri Nabokov has finally broken his silence about the contents."

That's What He Said . . .

. . . "Given all the talk of change these days — from change we can believe in to climate change — this seems an utterance well worth pondering." . . .

Books, Inq.uer Frank Wilson's latest's now up 'n' attem @ When Falls the Coliseum . . . Wait a minute . . . Where y'all goin'?


The Not Dead

Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski on Simon Armitage's short collection of war poems. For the "self-effacing poet," when it comes to the wars' walking wounded, time is "no great healer." (Amen to that.)

John Michael Hayes, 89

The screenwriter who created Rear Window, Torch Song, Butterfield Eight, and The Carpetbaggers died of natural causes last Wednesday at his retirement home in Hanover, NH.

Let's start ...

... by being late with something: BSRB No. 8: Do we, indeed, suck?

Lines that Lingered . . .

Crabwise to the Hounds
by Jeramy Dodds.

Grand-Theft Auto, Twitter, Beowulf?

You read that correctly: Each, according to Sam Leith, provides irrefutable proof for the truth that the art of story-telling will never die. To his credit, he admirably relishes explaining why:

One of the clichés about education is that it should teach you not what to think, but how to think: and a vital part of that is understanding the shape of knowledge — being able to evaluate categories of information and degrees of authority in sources. If the educators themselves can't or won't think about these distinctions, God help their pupils.

The Ascent of Money

Philip Marchand's take
on Niall Ferguson's latest
in the filthy-lucre
sweepstakes that defines us.

The Crowded City Is a Lonely Place . . .

From crime fiction’s reigning queen
comes a diabolically intricate tapestry
that weaves together the lives
of very different people
in that vibrant part of London
known as Portobello.

Lucy Atkins investigates
Ruth Rendell's Portobello
in The Sunday Times

Alex & Me

Ms. Kakutani wings her way through How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence — and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg.

When Alex was sick of working, Dr. Pepperberg reports, he would ignore his handlers, preen his feathers or say, "Wanna go back," meaning he wanted to return to his cage. When he knocked over a coffee cup or gave a wrong answer, he would say, "I'm sorry," suggesting, Dr. Pepperberg says, that he'd "learned that 'I'm sorry' is associated with defusing a tense, angry, and potentially dangerous moment."

Donald Finkel, Free-Ranging Sylist, 79

Donald Finkel, a noted American poet whose work teemed with curious juxtapositions, which in their unorthodoxy helped illuminate the function of poetry itself, died on Nov. 15 at his home in St. Louis.

Genre Giants

Geoff Pevere, in The Toronto Star:

Ask Dennis Lehane why Richard Price is worth reading, and he'll tell you, "He's the best dialogue writer alive in my opinion. He's the best urban novelist out there."

Ask Richard Price why Dennis Lehane is someone you should read, and he'll tell you, "Because he likes my stuff so much."

It Happened in Hitsville

Vanity Fair's Lisa Robinson explores the myths and misconceptions surrounding Motown's magical moments; plus, to top it all off, our favourite Lady of the Lens, Annie Leibovitz, offers her bird's eye view on what's old and new (or, F-Stop In The Name Of Love?).

Monday, November 24, 2008

You can stop writing now ...

... HMH Places "Temporary" Halt on Acquisitions. (Hat tip, Roger Miller.)

Hmm ...

... Poetry as therapy.

I like it when I finish a poem. I feel I've accomplished something, got it down as best I could. But beyond that I don't feel any better defined than beforehand. Maybe that's why I've always related to what Eliot said: "... poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But of course only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from those things."

Domestic dispute ...

... Alice Walker Dumps Daughter (2004).

On his own ...

... No, but I heard the movie.

More birthdays ...

... noted by Nige: Getting To Grips With Spinoza? and Joplin and Busoni.

Needing to be heard ...

... Happy Birthday, Milton.

Sounds interesting ...

... and puts growing old in a different light: "All Passion Spent."

Among notable films in which Wendy Hiller appeared are Separate Tables, Sons and Lovers, and A Man for All Seasons.

The limits of disembodiment ...

... How can we talk about God online? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

An odd distinction ...

... for moi: Winners ... and other authors.

Appalled maybe ...

... but not surprised: US officials flunk test of American history, economics, civics.

Here is the Civics Test in question. There's also a link to a table comparing the results for the general public and elected officials - the latter proving less knowledgeable.

So how did I do? I got 31 out of 33 correct. Which shows I'm slipping. In my high school civics class, I had a perfect score on every test.

The latest issue ...

... of The New Haven Review.

Be skeptical ...

... of Nine out of ten dogmas.

Poetry and experience ...

... What Poet Brian Turner Knows. (Hat tip, Gwen.)

Clive times two ...

... Classic Clive James.

... Fun Interesting Facts about Clive James: Weekly Geeks #24.

Passing through ...

... and lately visiting my garden: a song sparrow (top) and a white-throated sparrow.

Short, elegant and funny ...

... The dog that acted poisoned, etc.

Poet in the dock ...

... Poetry program heads to court. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I like this, too ...

... W. David Shaw.

But then, I came of age in the '50s and have only the fondest memories of them. I somehow managed not to notice the McCarthyite repression and lack of artistic achievement (Tennessee Williams, William Inge, Robert Anderson in the theater, great films, Steinbeck and Marquand still writing, the New York painters and poets, the Beats - pretty bleak I guess).

Can't Remember What I Forgot:

The Good News
from the Front
Lines of Memory

The Doubter and the Saint

Cynthia Haven:

"At a fateful moment, Czeslaw Miłosz crossed paths with a controversial Polish priest, later martyred in World War II. The little-known encounter and its aftermath illuminate the Nobel laureate’s life and work."

Placido Domingo's Label to Release . . .

. . . The (Penultimate) Pope's Poetry.

Walking Into the Dark Forest

Publisher's Weekly's Melissa Mia Hall interviews Jan Burke, author of the Irene Kelly suspense series (Kidnapped, etc.), concerning her genre-hopping decision to enter paranormal territory with The Messenger (presently skedded for January release).

The cover (in its current incarnation) via Jan Burke's blog:

Live from New York . . .

. . . It's "The Leonard Lopate Show" (which looks sorta kinda possibly interesting . . .):

Host Leonard Lopate lets you in on the best conversations with writers, actors, ex-presidents, dancers, scientists, comedians, historians, grammarians, curators, filmmakers, and do-it-yourself experts. Live interaction is critical to Lopate's conversational and personal style. "I think it's crucial to maintain eye contact when you're discussing complex matters with the likes of John Updike, Doris Lessing, Bill Bradley, Mark Morris, and Francis Ford Coppola, all of whom are return guests to Leonard Lopate on WNYC, " says Lopate.

Latest Show's Lineup: "Find out what it was like to be a reporter embedded with the presidential campaigns this year — from the constant traveling and fast food, to the relentless 24-hour news cycle. Also, hear an update on an auto-industry bailout. Martin Duberman talks about his political plays. Chef David Waltuck on nearly three decades of running Chanterelle. Plus: What's the future of TV, now that more and more popular shows are being watched on the Internet?"

Traffic Author Cruises Through Autophobia

Although McLuhan's pronouncements concerning the automobile bear scrutiny in this context — particularly those involving the ways in which we "wear" our vehicles or the fact that cars have become "carapaces, the protective and aggressive shell of urban and suburban man," — IMO, J.G. Ballard (who readily acknowledges his debt to The Media Man) better functions as our go-to guy here:

"The car as we know it is on the way out. To a large extent, I deplore its passing, for as a basically old-fashioned machine, it enshrines a basically old-fashioned idea: freedom. In terms of pollution, noise, and human life, the price of that freedom may be high but, perhaps the car, by the very muddle and confusion it causes, may be holding back the remorseless spread of the regimented electronic society."

Tom Vanderbilt, in his review of Brian Ladd's Autophobia: Love and Hate in the Automotive Age," prefers to cite Woodrow Wilson or Hitler's call for vehicular de-luxurisation, an argument Detroit or Windsor might wish to revisit in light of its terminally dark days as well as the fact the industry's been driven to begging its respective governments for a boost to rescue it from the jaws of death.

That said, Vanderbilt does quote Ladd's understanding that autophobia's a two-way street: Not only does it stand for a fear of cars, it is also refers to "an obscure psychiatric diagnosis" describing "fear of oneself."

(When I get behind the wheel, it's not yours truly I fear, it's all those road-rageous motor-maniacs who scare the bejeebus outta me.)

Vatican Forgives Inspirational John Lennon . . .

. . . For His 1966 Flip Jesus Quip-Slip.

N.B. While you're visiting The Globe 'site, this week's Book Reviews are only freely accessible till Friday Night / early Saturday morning.

My Sweet Lord

"Controversial" George Harrison interview sees light of day: "[Director David Lambert] said movie director Martin Scorsese has expressed interest in the reel-to-reels. Scorsese announced in 2007 he was making a film about Harrison."

Philip Marchand on M. G. Vassanji's A Place Within: Rediscovering India

So what do we have here? Another entry in a flourishing sub-genre — the going back to the old country and meeting the great-aunt who has the key piece of family information that explains why Dad was an alcoholic? Or the genre in which the writer discovers that his heart truly beats to the rhythms of an ancient past in a land once populated by his ancestors?
p.s. An excerpt from Vassanji's memoir's available @ its publisher's 'site

Acedia & me

"The Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church defines acedia as 'a state of restlessness and inability either to work or to pray'."

Kathleen Norris discusses contemporary soul-weariness with Mary Hynes.

p.s. The English language proffers as many words for depression as there are Esquimaux words for snow, ISTM

Credit-Crunch Meltdown: Führer Flips Lid

Yeah, I can imagine why the guy would lament the loss of stainless-steel appliances; nonetheless, a good spoof. (Hat tip, Dan Colman.)

Robert Fulford on Malcolm Gladwell:

Riches Exhumed from the Footnotes.

What a mind!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Born Toulouse ...

... Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jon Stallworthy.

Straw men, tautologies, clichés, and more ...

... The Irrational Atheist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Day found 123 wars that could validly be claimed to have religion at their heart—a grand total of 6.98 percent of all wars fought. “It’s also interesting to note that more than half of these religious wars, sixty-six in all, were waged by Islamic nations,” Day offers as an aside.

Cat lady ...

... on wolf man: Jenny Diski on The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness by Mark Rowlands. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't quite get this fashionable disgust with my fellow humans, most of whom are no worse than I am and some of whom are far better. Most people are doing the best they can, however sad that may seem. Anyway, Rowlands really has no way of being sure that what he takes wolves to be is what they would take themselves to be were they capable of reflecting on the matter. Underlying his thesis is the sentimentality of the pseudo-tough guy.

As good as they get ...

... Forgotten poetry: Edward Thomas. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Looks like another blog I ought to become acquainted with.

Of what use are monks ...

... Benedict on Monasticism.

One hell of a cut ...

... Arts Funding (1): City of Ottawa cuts will cost Life.

Apparently, the city has "proposed 100% cuts to arts funding." I think arts funding can often be done better than it is, but none? Sounds ill-advised to me.

Sad news ...

... John Michael Hayes: screenwriter who penned Hitchock's Rear Window.

Branching out ...

... A change to the Euro Crime website. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

On time ...

... this time: Sunday Salon: following Wallander's footsteps.

Primary sources ...

... Rare Books on Early America. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Another blog discovery ...

... Sounds and something else…

Keeping her head ...

... The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights translated by Malcom C. Lyons with Ursula Lyons.

Good for him ...

... Dear Whole Foods: We're through. It's not me. It's you.

Right up the street from me, at D'Angelo Bros., I get fabulous meat and game at nowhere near the prices Whole Foods gouging out of its customers. That's where the Bourbon Red turkey will be coming from for Thanksgiving.
I do a little shopping at Whole Foods, mostly for the grass-fed milk and sometimes the bread. Forget the cheese. DiBruno Bros is also up the street. I don't know anything about Neal's Yard cheddar, but I got some great Lincolnshire Poacher the other day. It's only $26 a pound.

Undeliverance ...

... The J. Crew Catalog Destroyed My Spirit. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sissified nitwits ...


And no, I am not bothered in the least by the turkeys' demise. I have ordered one who will doubtless meet his maker sometime tomorrow. As Lin Yutang said (nearly): "If a [turkey] is killed and not cooked to perfection, that [turkey] has died in vain." The real turkeys in this case are the whiners.

On the sabbath ...

... The Peculiar Life of Sundays. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, I go to Mass every morning, so Sunday's not so special to me on that count. And Catholics don't go to church for the sermon or the scripture, but for the miracle of the consecration.

Not to worry ...

... there's a big crowd chowing down in my backyard right now: Sparrows. I notice that Nige's gardening habits mirror my own. And our deck is on the roof.

Nige also has some insights into an odd development in the way of pets: Reptiles - The New Dogs.
A nation of reptile owners, on the other hand, is a craven, immobile, atomised and emotionally incontinent society.

I'd say that's about right.

More NBA commentary ...

... The Fix is In! 2008 National Book Award to Old Coot Peter Matthiessen.

... see as well Force-Feed Your Kids Great Books, Poems and Plays, Even Though They Would Rather Watch the Stuffing Being Kicked Out of a Character in a Video Game!

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Analyzing how the military influenced Churchill.

... Roberto Bolaño's 2006: Astonishing triumph of a novel.

... Malcolm Gladwell's latest: An entertaining but flawed formula.

... Numbers guys: A brave new world of snoopy software.

... see also: History comes calling for boy in the woods.

Not all heroes ...

... The Shameful Peace: How French Artists and Intellectuals Survived the Nazi Occupation by Frederic Spotts.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lady Einstein: She Squawks the Squawk

(Hat tip, Dan Colman.)

BTW, Nineteenth-Century Euphemisms . . .

. . . intended only to bring a smile your way :):

Emptying the Saloon
Pocket Punch 'n' Judy
Signing the John Hancock
Dragging Thyself to Hell, One Hand's Breadth at a Time
Waving to Queen Victoria
Trying for a Scarlet "M"
Oiling the Pennywhistle
Assaulting the Tower of London
Cleaning the Musket
Quashing the Southern Uprising
Monitoring your Merrimac
Driving the Golden Spike
Delivering the Ejaculation Proclamation
Churning the Codpiece Butter
Square Dancing with Satan < ---- Personal Fave
Addressing Lord Palmer

Pastor Initiates Seven-Day Sex Challenge

WTFs? Does this constitute a variation on The Ejaculation Proclamation?

"The pastor of a mega-church says he will challenge married congregants during his sermon Sunday to have sex for seven straight days – and he plans to practice [sic] what he preaches."

(Erm, uninterruptedly? What about eating, sleeping, and visiting the WC, for example? I don't know anyone who can hold it for seven days; well, maybe I do know someone; but, s/he failed to brag about it. Subliminally or, at least subtly, the use of the word "straight" speaks to Pastor Young's old-fogeyism, unfortunately.)

The Decameron

In The Globe and Mail's ongoing Greatest Fifty Books series, Konrad Eisenbichler explores the values and vices of Boccaccio's masterpiece with gusto (although, personally, I prefer Dante over Boccaccio; the former makes a necessity of virtue while the latter makes a virtue of necessity, IMO) . . .

Energetic, fast moving, bubbling over with life, this is a world where stupidity, not sin, is punished; where wit, not faith, is rewarded; where sexual pleasure, not chastity, is the object of the game.

We can't watch it ...

... but it sounds well worthwhile: Einstein & Eddington.

A TW Treat for Susan and Gooper + HTG :)

Unwavering loyalty ...

... The Undying Animal.

Take 2: Schrödinger's Goose (4 Jeff & Ted)

Another angle on Steven Shapin's The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation by Theodore M. Porter:

. . . For an outsider, it is difficult to know how seriously to take the scientists' avowals of intention to do good in the world. Even the most idealistic of biotech researchers are destined to become dependent on medical corporations to test their products and bring them to market. "Big Pharma" and its ilk have acquired, I think justly, a bad reputation, and any residual altruism on the part of the scientists will be the first victim of their involvement. They profess to be humanitarians, but if we measure that claim against the actual consequences of high-tech science-based medicine, our admiration must surely fade. . . .

An Interview with Karl Iagnemma

On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction: Stories.

. . . Whether people noticed his minor is another matter. He says that after he had defended his thesis on rough-terrain mobile robots and had published several short stories, an engineering professor told him that he was surprised to read in a local magazine that Iagnemma wrote fiction. "I said, 'Well, you know that, because that was my minor, and you were on my thesis committee.' And he said, 'Oh, I thought you were studying friction.'"

Refreshingly reticent ...

... Masterpiece Man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)