Monday, March 01, 2021

Another good question …

… Who are we, really, as Americans?

2020 demonstrated that certainties are few and far between, even while the rigid nature of ideological arrogance has become a most certain part of everyone’s life. 2021 will likely see much more of the same, if only because 2020 was not a change from pre-2020 years, but a year-long ripping off of the scab underneath of which was a festering and feverish illness that could no longer be covered by pop culture clichés, political promises, and streaming bread-and-circuses.

Q&A …

… New book highlights inspiring, challenging stories of six Black Catholics.
… we know that racism also exists in the Church, particularly in this country. I hope that anyone who saw or experienced the racial unrest of the past year asked themselves what they can do to contribute to the advancement of racial justice. We all have to do something. One thing I knew I could do was to highlight these important and life-giving stories. All six of these men and women emerged from the black Catholic community, and they are the only six black Catholics currently under consideration for canonization. A few other pieces of writing and projects related to these six figures led me to the idea for this book.

Not that Florida …

… Florida has a population of zero — yes, everyone is gone.

Something to think on …

America is woven of many strands. I would recognise them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many. This is not prophecy, but description.
— Ralph Ellison, born on this date in 1914

In case you wondered …

What is opinion journalism? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There are, as far as I can tell, two things that must change. Opinion columnists must write with some end in mind that is not outrage, including that of the shared variety, which will mean ignoring a great deal of that which seems genuinely to demand it. Readers, meanwhile, must respond to what the former have written, if at all, with carefully considered, good-faith criticism or a simple shake of the head. (For either of these to take place, social media will very likely have to play a role in journalism very different from its present one, in which it exists primarily as both the source of and the destination for so much of our pointless anger.)

I’ve written some opinion pieces in my time. I always made sure to ground the opinions I ventured in sound reporting, which is more interesting than just bloviating. 

Centenary …

… Anecdotal Evidence: 'Flowers, I Said, Will Come of It'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just so you know …

… Hilarious lies Aussies tell foreigners | escape.com.au.

March Reviews and an Interview at North of Oxford …

 … An Interview with Poet John Macker.

… Requisite by Tanya Holtland.

… Erotic by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

… The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River by Rustin Larson.

… Adjusting to the Lights- Poems by Tom C. Hunley.

… This Is Not Your Moon by Matthew Woodman.



Love story …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): Sam, you really is a sentimental old fool!

Word of the day …

… Nonage | Word Genius.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

He’s back!

… Hasbro Reverses Decision: Mr. Potato Head Will Remain | WTRF.

Thus spake Maigret …

 “I cannot stand cretins!”

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Richard Ovenden on the fragility and importance of Libraries.

The new racism …

… Boston Public Schools just canceled advanced classes for high-performing students because too many of the kids who qualified were white | Not the Bee.

Sounds worrisome …

… Choking on Moderna | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics. ( hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The reality of war …

… Anecdotal Evidence: 'Thirsty, Betrayed, and Terrified':. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good question …

… Why didn’t more professors oppose the Gramscian march or at least stick up for free speech?

Something to think on …

The pleasantest things in the world are pleasant thoughts, and the great art of life is to have as many of them as possible.
— Michel de Montaigne, born on this date in 1533

The wait is over …

… I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Adventures with fortune cookies…

… The Writer's Almanac for Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | Garrison Keillor — Imperial Graden. (Hat tip, Rus bowden

In case you wondered …

… Joan Didion: Why I Write. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Strait seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the Bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?


Much ado about very little …

… Pronominal Strife - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Loggia | Word Genius.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Have a look …

 

More than just a season …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Winter (Peter Breughel the Younger), Sonnet #552.

Poetry in brief …

… Review: ‘Short and Sweet – 101 very short poems’(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

… Ronald Pickup obituary | Acting | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, born on this date in 1807

Comparison and contrast …

… February Bookmarks | Commonweal Magazine — Self & Style. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Study: Only 10% chance of catching COVID from infected person within household.

The new racism …

… Amazon Prime Yanks Clarence Thomas Documentary During Black History Month | Human Events.

Complicated puzzle …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): Something else is involved in the so-called crime.

Word of the Day …

… Peripeteia | Word Genius.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Maigret at work …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): A little love story that turned out badly.

Contemporary journalism …

… Here's a HuffPo article encouraging parents to support "sex-change" surgeries for their children next to another discouraging people from neutering their dog. Let's walk through them. | Not the Bee.

River man and painter …

… Nigeness: Walter Greaves.

Hmm …

… Is It Time to Kill the Book Blurb? - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This seems to me to be much ado about very little. I've written a few. I try to be matter-of-fact and not over-the-top. I would need more than a blurb on a book cover to prompt me to buy a book.

Take a look at this …

… an online-only exhibitiion: Luc Tuymans: Monkey Business | David Zwirner.

Anniversary …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): Roosevelt, Wilson, and the Grand Canyon.

Something to think on …

Here's the point to be made - there are no synonyms. There are no two words that mean exactly the same thing.
— Theodore Sturgeon, born on this date in 1918

An authentic philosopher …

… A Happy Contrarian | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In When These Things Begin: Conversations with Michel Treguer, Girard tells Treguer, “I’m not concealing my biography, but I don’t want to fall victim to the narcissism to which we’re all inclined.” For Girard, interviews served the same purpose as his “books of conversation”: to challenge and test his ideas while discovering new things in the company of others. Cynthia L. Haven, the author of a remarkably insightful biography of Girard, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard, has now put together a selection of these interviews. They give us a good picture not only of the complexity and multifacetedness of Girard’s ideas, but also of the process through which a young professor of French literature originally operating in a rather narrow field turned into a visionary thinker of global renown, as revered as he was contested. As Haven puts it in her introduction, in “these interviews, over years and decades, Girard gradually becomes Girard, like an image slowly appearing in the developer of an old darkroom.”

Word of the Day …

… Charivari | Word Genius.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

In case you wondered …

… How to read Proust. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Proust should be read slowly, 20 or so pages at a time. (When you are a thousand or so pages in and cannot help yourself from pressing on to learn what Brichot has to say about the death of Swann, you will have reached the stage at which it is probably acceptable to lie down with Proust.) Sooner or later readers will discover that the novel unfolds not slowly per se but at something that approximates the pace of life itself — or, better yet, that "real life" is blissfully Proustian.

Take that …


 

Our town …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Carjacking On The Rise In Philadelphia: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column Interview With Major Crimes Captain John J. Ryan.

For your reading pleasure …

… Two Poems by Amy Barone | North of Oxford.

Yes, indeed …

Yes, yes, language is a living, breathing thing that’s eternally transforming… But these examples are arguably inorganic. They involve strategic lingual reinventions that are relatively new and politically motivated. Language may evolve naturally, but it also responds to manhandling. Er, if we can use that word any more.

Blogging note …

 I have head into town to drop some things off for Debbie and a few errands. So blogging will resume sometime later.

Something to think on …

To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world.
— Anthony Burgess, born on this date in 1917


Sweet …

… Siris: For Olden Verse that Smacks of Love and Wine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Take a look at these …

… The Stunning Images of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Homage …

… 'Our city belongs to the poets': San Francisco makes pilgrimage to City Lights to remember Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Datebook. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Fascinating …

… When Mucha Went To Moscow. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Word of the Day …

… Accouchement | Word Genius.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fact and fiction embrace …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): Pungent, disturbing, and staggering imagery in revisited and reimagined medieval pilgrimage.

Just what you'd expect …

… Dr. Fauci Reminds Everyone That We Will Only Have To Wear Masks Until Humans Evolve Organic Face Coverings At Birth | The Babylon Bee.

RIP …

 In Memoriam Kristofer Marinus Schipper | The Chicago Blog | The Chicago Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very interesting …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): How a Jesuit martyr inspired William Shakespeare.

Remembering …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At The Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk's 1987 SLEP Overhaul In Philadelphia.

Debut …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): Scarlet appears on British screen for first time.

Something to think on …

I think the deeper you go into questions, the deeper or more interesting the questions get. And I think that's the job of art.
— Andre Dubus, who died on this date in 1999

Poise and humor …

… Poem of the week: A Grey Day by William Vaughn Moody | Poetry | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The whole story …

… Sobran, Fusion, and Realignment | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Joe Sobran … cannot be absolved for the pall that has fallen over his legacy. But anybody who studies the full saga carefully and with a fair mind will conclude that the pall should not have fallen so heavily.

In case you wondered …

Why You Hate Contemporary Architecture.


… polling suggests that devotees of contemporary architecture are overwhelmingly in the minority: aside from monuments, few of thepublic’s favorite structures are from the postwar period. (When the results of the poll were released, architects harrumphed that it didn’t “reflect expert judgment” but merely people’s “emotions,” a distinction that rather proves the entire point.) 

Marh thy calendar …

 … A PBS episode about Flannery O’Connor will feature interviews with Hilton Als and Mary Karr(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Gullah | Word Genius.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

RIP …

… Lawrence Ferlinghetti dead: San Francisco poet, bookseller was 101 - Los Angeles Times.

Something of a mystery …

… Opinion: The Delusions of a Marxist Professor.

How could anyone of his intelligence fail to realise that, though as ever there was much wrong with the world, attempts to put everything right at once by the implementation of petty intellectual schemes are fraught with danger, and have a history of mass slaughter behind them?

I think the answer must lie in the psychology of religion: when religious faith is replaced by a philosophy that prides itself on its rationality, it soon turns religious in the worst possible sense. It becomes an atheist theocracy.

Anniversary …

… Flashback to 1954 — I remember getting my vaccine.

Belated happy birthday …

… Edna St Vincent Millay calls the Poetry Crisis Line. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Thank You, Michael Che! - Tablet Magazine.

Che’s joke wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t something someone accidentally let air on a decades-long television show with a cast and crew in the hundreds. It wasn’t even new for him. Was the line anti-Semitic? Yep. Was it also absolutely intended? You betcha.

Another word …

Epicaricacy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

We must learn to talk with each other, and we mutually must understand and accept one another in our extraordinary differences.
— Karl Jaspers, born on this date in 1883

Word of the Day …

… Hew | Word Genius.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Surprise, surprise …

… Miscellaneous Musings (Again): Fierce power (of course) motivated the Tudors.

Something worth knowing …

… The Healthy Gut Microbiome You Have Right Now May Not Be The One You Need in Old Age.

Centenary …

Remembering John Rawls.

Hmm …

… Opinion: Lies the Supreme Court Told Me.

We want lady justice to be blind but in actuality she’s a cyborg with all-seeing, rotating night vision similar to the kind you might find on many urban street corners today from Beijing to Chicago, using the latest algorithms to isolate presumed enemies of the state.

Q&A …

… Life Is Odd: A Conversation With Dinty W. Moore - The Rumpus.net. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The downside of receiving upwards of nine hundred submissions per issue is that you have to reject so many writers, and no, despite what some may think, we don’t enjoy that at all. With the quality of the submissions being so high, we find ourselves rejecting fairly good work, pieces that are maybe ninety-five percent of the way there but still aren’t perfect. The upside, of course, is that the work we eventually do publish is stunningly good. That’s the evolution that matters, of course.

About that catch …

… The Other Side of History - BallNine.

“But in retrospect,” said Terry Wertz, “he said had it been a home run or even a hit, nobody would ever remember it. It would have been one minuscule statistic, and it turned out to be “The Catch”.

Today's everyman …


 

The painting is by Felix Giordano, who I think is one of our more original artists.

Happy birthday, George …

 Miscellaneous Musings : Being the father of thirteen has many challenges.

How about that …

… Miscellaneous Musings : Most frequently portrayed literary (human) character.

Ah, yes …

… Nigeness: Then and Now.

Something to think on …

He who studies without passion will never become anything more than a pedant.
— Stefan Zweig, who died on this dare in 1942

Well, this is interesting …

… Just because: Graham Greene talks about The Third Man | About Last Night.

Hmm …

… CU Professor says much of climate research ‘untethered from the real world’; cites misuse of scenarios.

“Ultimately, the issues associated with the misuse of scenarios in climate research and assessment are a matter of scientific integrity,” he concludes.

Word of the Day …

… Forsooth | Word Genius.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Becoming his character …

… Miscellaneous Musings : A tale as enthralling as any Conan Doyle adventure.

An important anniversary …

 A joy forever: poetry world prepares to mark bicentenary of John Keats | John Keats | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

My favorite poet. Long before the French Symbolists, me made music out of words.

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for 2021 January : IBPC


(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you wondered …

… What Does a Real Hymn Look Like? - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… there is an art to the hymn, and I wish to show a little of what it is, and not from the heights of such Latin works as the Pange lingua. I will take a typical effort of the most popular hymnodist in English for more than three centuries, Isaac Watts, set to the sweet English melody Capel, one of those that Vaughan Williams found and saved. (Listen to it here.)

Watch, listen, learn, and enjoy …

 

 
 (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

Remembering …

… Regina Derieva: a posthumous birthday, a new book of poems for the woman Brodsky called “a great poet”.

Hmm …

… Identity Crisis – on culture wars and the spiritual self.

The cultural is the issue at hand, with all its urgency and heat. The spiritual is the developing awareness that all identifications with this or that sense of self, whilst necessary in one way are, in another, constraints. They risk cutting us off from a remarkable characteristic of human awareness: it can transcend itself. It can observe what’s happening whilst it’s happening, and realise that position as itself a state of mind. It reveals what the wisdom traditions call the dance, the emptiness, the divine.

Living language …

… Nigeness: Psychopaths Then and Now.

Something to think on …

We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.
— John Henry Newman, born on this date in 1801

Word of the Day …

… Labile | Word Genius.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Ah, yes …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 'Out Of The Night, When The Full Moon Is Bright, Comes The Horseman Known As Zorro': A Look Back At Walt Disney's Classic TV Series 'Zorro'.

At least for a time …

… Going Backwards to Bethlehem : Samuel Clemens promises not to drink and smoke.
I have something in common with Sam Clemens. We both worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer.  He as a typesetter., me as an editor.

Dreams and colors …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Stacks of Wheat, End of Day, Autumn (Claude Monet), Sonnet #551.

Something to think on …

The wish to pray is a prayer in itself.
— Georges Bernanos, born on this date in 1888

Hear, hear …

… In Defense of the Classics | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The prevailing accusation in cancel-culture America is that the classics are inherently authoritarian, and never even a potential tool of liberation. But a look back at the beginning of the modern Western tradition, where classics merged with Christianity, suggests the opposite: Classics is tantamount to the prize itself, so that you might as well righteously resolve to keep money away from the poor. This is plainest in the most influential combiner of the pagan and Christian strains of learning, Augustine of Hippo.

More lad than cad …

… Tea With Martin Amis - Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As a teacher, the best advice Amis gave us was this: Always assume the reader is as busy, as put upon, as you are. He has written in Inside Story and elsewhere about the fact that, as he sees it, the world is speeding up: and the reader has no time for complicated opening pages or literary puzzles. Much of what Amis has to say consists of sound advice for any writer competing in the attention economy: Hook the reader, no overly complex syntax, use line breaks liberally, no secondhand phrases, be original, see things with a poet’s eye.

Word of the Day …

… Aposematic | Word Genius.

Friday, February 19, 2021

God for them …

… Poland Proposes $13.5 Million Fines for Tech Giants Engaging in Ideological Censorship.
These are people who make so much money from others exercising their First Amendment right of free speech  that they think they can pick and choose among them. Sctew them.

Hmm …

 … letter from Jacques Barzun about proofreading. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hardly surprising …

… Trust in media hits new crisis low - Axios.

Something to think on …

Springtime is a season we tend to forget as we grow older, and yet far back in our memories, like the landscape of a country visited long ago, it's always there.
— Kay Boyle born on this date in 1902

And the winner is …

… Robert Irwin Wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s People’s Choice Award. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

You’ve plenty of time …

 … Dodge 2022 Poetry Festival Submission Guidelines. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Who knew?

… The Passionate Life of Emily Dickinson | Book Riot. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

As opposed to the recluse narrative, Emily was a pretty lively and social person, going by her many correspondence partners. The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City put together an ambitious exhibition of Emily’s poems that showed this side of her.  This gives a little more grounding to the many party scenes on the Dickinson television show — it definitely captured the spirit of Emily that has long been ignored.

Word of the Day …

… Chinwag | Word Genius.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Beautiful, but sad …

… No More Monkeyshines. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Simply wonderful …

Snowfall by James Matthew Wilson. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mark thy calendar …

… Black Château Presents Two Panel Conversations at The Creative Writers Conference - Black Château Enterprises.

Caveat emptor …

 Bill Gates, Climate Warrior. And Super Emitter. | The Nation.

Anniversary …

… C’mon back to the raft, Huck!

Mark thy calendar …

… The First Annual Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

The landscape affects the human psyche — the soul, the body and the innermost contemplations — like music. Every time you feel nature deeper you resonate better with her, finding new elements of balance and freedom.
— Nikos Kazantzakis, born on this date in 1883

More about EBB ….

… New Elizabeth Barrett Browning biography by Fiona Sampson reviewed. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

It takes a biographer of Fiona Sampson’s lateral brilliance to re-argue EBB’s importance and to put her verse novel Aurora Leigh (a kind of poetic autobiography) back where it belongs among the great works of the period. She does by very carefully framing not just the life, which is far more vivid and complex than usually supposed, or than the awful The Barretts of Wimpole Street (you probably watched it, half asleep, after Sunday lunch once, when the world was black and white) made out.

Just so you know …

… What we can learn from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's years in lockdown | Poetry | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Elizabeth was one of the first cultural influencers to understand how a virtual existence offers escape from daily life, “The escape from pangs of heart & bodily weakness ... when you throw off yourself … what you feel to be yourself … into another atmosphere & into other relations, where your life may spread its wings out new,” as she explained it to Browning. She escaped via paper rather than a screen, of course; but her grasp of self-invention through a kind of “second life” reminded me of all the friendships we were suddenly reconfiguring on Zoom. I also realised how closely her practice prefigured today’s digital communicators: not just the teenagers and geeks, bloggers and TikTok stars, but citizen journalists, activists and those policed by authoritarian regimes too.

Word of the Day …

… Pukka | Word Genius.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

In case you wondered …

… PG Wodehouse: the course of love. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hypocrisy alert …

… Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Expresses Concern About COVID-19 Vaccines in Leaked Footage.

The start of Lent …

… Going Backwards to Bethlehem : Ash Wednesday leads me to begin a few weeks of silence.

The start of Lent …

ON CHRASHERS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


It is difficult to say whether the same will be true this year, but a part of me hopes that churches on Wednesday will be teeming with what I have come to think of as “Chrashers.” There is something lovely about the idea of unaccustomed knees stiffening over antiseptic leather and half-familiar words being mumbled with that admixture of sheepishness and comfort familiar to any backslider.

Anniversary …

… Per Contra | Poetry — The Mage.

On this date in 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake.

A writer's struggles …

… on Sybille Bedford: A Life by Selina Hastings. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Bedford could easily have become a byword for wasted potential. Her life, as Hastings tells it, was a conflict between the taste for pleasure and the ambition to write. Ultimately she synthesized them, living high, partying hard, loving often, and also writing several of the 20th century’s great novels — such as A Legacy and Jigsaw — as well as some remarkable travel writing and legal reportage. But it wasn’t easy.

In case you wondered …

… What Are Magazines Good For? | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

“Magazine,” which comes from the word for “storehouse,” shares an etymology with the French magasin, or “shop”: the concept was to bring different offerings together, and accordingly they became venues where key dramas of the early nation played out. Debate between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans (federal control versus states’ rights) was carried out largely in the volley of The Port Folio and The National Magazine. The dissolution of the Whigs into the Know-Nothings (the Proud Boys of the eighteen-fifties, as Lomazow likes to describe them) happened largely in the nativist turn of The American Review. These dramas are borne out in the Grolier’s one-room display, the paper trail of a nation running, stumbling, and trying to carry its unifying ideas forward.

Something to think on …

It's no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti, who died on this date in 1986

The weather in Houston …

… Anecdotal Evidence: 'The Armoury of Winter'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Hinterland | Word Genius.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Back when movies really were better than ever …

Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At Humphrey Bogart In The Classic Crime Film 'The Desperate Hours'.

Dialogue …

WAR OF THE RINGS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pater Edmund has the best of this in my view. I read the entire trilogy to my kids. Their response demonstrated to me how compelling it is.

Laurie Lee


I don't often read "travel" writing -- writing focused on nature, place, and people -- but I was attracted, for whatever reason, to Laurie Lee's reflections on Gloucestershire, that beautiful English county encompassing the Cotswolds. 

Village Christmas -- as the collection is called -- assumes an element of nostalgia and romance: Lee's depiction of his youth, his growing up, and his education are tinged with sweetness, but also with sorrow: there's a rueful quality to what's come before. 

That said, there's an equal element of joy, of pure, unencumbered joy: Lee writes of Gloucestershire between the wars as if it were a place apart, as if it were enmeshed in a dream. The result is a collection which does more than depict the landscape: this is a book, instead, which humanizes it. 

Lee can sometimes, I think, come across as a curmudgeon, especially when addressing development or technology. But he acknowledges as much -- which helps maintain a healthy tone, one which shies from self-importance. 

Village Christmas is one of those refreshing books: a pleasure to read, a delight to digest. There are observations here -- little anecdotes about England -- which invite reflection, regardless of one's home. When it comes to travel writing, Lee has carved a niche. The last word is reserved for him: "We are going...on a series of seasonal journeys, the climax of which is simply returning home." 



How about that …

… Southeast Greenland Sea Surface Temperature 1° – 2°C Warmer In 1940 Than Today, New Study Shows.

Mysterious indeed …

… Going Backwards to Bethlehem : The mysterious death of a Sherlock Holmes expert.

Beautiful particulars …

… First Known When Lost: Noted In Passing.

Strangely lovely …

… Fragmented Metal Sculptures Capture the Ephemerality of Human Life. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sweet …

… Poem of the week: Sandpipers at Rosslare. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

I never knew a man go for an honest day's walk for whatever distance, great or small, and not have his reward in the repossession of his soul.
— G. M. Trevelyan, born on this date in 1876

Neat …

… Odd poem: Mathematical limerick by Leigh Mercer | Form in Formless Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Influences …

… The Notion Club Papers - an Inklings blog: Review of Tolkien's Modern Reading, by Holly Ordway (2021). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ordway solidly proves her core argument; which is that Tolkien read a great deal of 'modern' fiction (defined as post 1850 - but including works right up to the end of his life); that he enjoyed much of it; and took some works seriously enough to affect his own writing: often fundamentally. 


Word of the Day …

… Transmogrify | Word Genius.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Nut cases …

… Woke teachers want Shakespeare cut from curriculum: 'This is about White supremacy' - Washington Times.

Here’s something Will wrote that these assholes might want to ponder (though one wonders if they actually know how to think): “There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Time to fight back …

… Alex Berenson: Cancel culture beyond Orwellian -- this is why I won't give in to it | Fox News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The left seems frantic to stop any debate – about how to handle COVID, global warming, whether "trans" women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports. Worse, it is no longer content to try to shout down views it does not like. It wants to punish the people who hold them

More than a murder …

… Going Backwards to Bethlehem : Letter could shake the Christian world to its foundations.

Me, either …

… I really don’t blame the little stuffed Teddy bear.

Ominous prophecy …

… Lincoln Saw A Storm Coming. Every American Should Read His Warning.

Without their life experience, he realized, his was the first generation of Americans tasked with upholding their fathers’ noble experiment simply by the strength of their own virtues. This, he warned, would be very difficult.

Something to think on …

The worship of God is not a rule of safety - it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable.
— Alfred North Whitehead, born on this date in 1861

Opera in the digital age …

… Seeking Humanity Amid Operas That Wax Humanitarian | Classical Voice North America.

Recent case histories are alternately breakthroughs and models of artistic self-defeat. Which was which? Opera Philadelphia’s Soldier Songs, which is available on-demand through May 31 or Boston Lyric Opera’s The Fall of the House of Usher, which premiered Jan. 29 on operabox.tv? The reverse of what I expected. 


Word of the Day …

… Stochastic | Word Genius.

Love and time …

 ‘Love And Other Poems’ Promises That Love Will Find Us. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
The book is guided by the structure of time. We go full circle from June through to May; summer through to spring. There is a poem for each month, just as there is a poem for each feeling. Pleasure, annoyance, boredom, spiritual awakening — we feel it all. And as the poems travel through time, the poet’s vulnerability and loneliness are palpable enough to, perhaps deliberately, make the reader feel less alone.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Crime-writing trio …

… Criminal Elements : Spellbinding encounter with Dickens, Collins, and Drood.

And the winner is …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 'Goldfinger' Voted Best James Bond Film Ever By British RadioTimes.Com Readers.

And let’s not forget this…

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History St. Valentine Was Beheaded.

For Valentine’s Day …

… The most romantic words of all are not “I love you.” Here’s something better.

Anniversary …

JM Synge’s powerful vision of Ireland still provokes and inspires. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As his career had progressed among the fraught cultural conditions of the Irish Revival, Synge increasingly gravitated towards the second option. His literary output began with a bucolic Romanticism, taking a turn of experiments through Decadence and symbolism. But it was the pressures of a modernising Ireland that urged him into what the scholar Mary Burke has recently called a form of “modernist provocation”.

Cool — really …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Sea of Ice (Caspar David Friedrich), Sonnet #550.

How interesting …

A Brief Look at Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It will be rightly pointed out that her style of poetry is influenced by rap and hip-hop rather than John Lyly, but it’s also fair to say that she’s re-invented/rediscovered a style of writing that is nevertheless indistinguishable from the euphuistic Elizabethan style (just as Elizabethan writers re-invented Iambic Pentameter after Chaucer). Lyly’s style was popular for its time, but after a point it became an easy target for satire. 

Something to think on …

One of the drawbacks to life is that it contains moments when one is compelled to tell the truth.
— P. G. Wodehouse, who died on this date in 1975

But not too heavily …

Going Backwards to Bethlehem : Roosevelt weighs in on race relations in America.

He cautioned against imposing radical changes in government policy and instead suggested a gradual adjustment in attitudes
.

Word of the Day …

… Billet-doux | Word Genius.

Hmm …

… New translation shares the voice of a poet who wrote as intensely as she lived | MPR News. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Ditlevsen's brilliance is evident when you read her confessional memoir, The Copenhagen Trilogy, which is newly available in a crisp translation by Tiina Nunnally and Michael Favala Goldman. Told in a sneakily plain, highly addictive voice, it's the portrait of the artist as a young woman who wrote as hard as she lived.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

How it's done …

… Seduce a Writer in 6 Simple Steps | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog,

Something to think on…

If your vision of the world is of a certain kind you will put poetry in everything, necessarily.
— Georges Simenon, born on this date in 1903

A lighter side …

… Nigeness: Jolly Hardy.

Classical diagnoses …

… Like Sheep: On Translating a Literary Plague in a Time of Pandemic | The Hudson Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull,)
Mythological plagues are often indications that something is very wrong, an invitation to look more closely at assumptions and injustice, a judgment. It is worth remembering that Sophocles’ famous play debuted in 429 BC. The plague of Athens had broken out the previous year, and 429 saw a second wave. The references to a plague, in combination with a criticism of state leadership, would have been eerily topical and resonant for the audience in a time of war and pandemic, for all that the play is set in a legendary past and another city.

Word of the Day …

… Gallinaceous | Word Genius.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Killer on the loose …

… Criminal Elements : The Nordic master may have met his match.

An excellent choice …

… Sarah Weinman Becomes New Columnist for Crime Fiction as Marilyn Stasio Retires | The New York Times Company. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I know Sarah. She reviewed for me. She really is outstanding.

Something to think on …

Heretics were most often bitterly persecuted for the their least deviation from accepted belief. It was precisely their obstinacy about trifles that irritated the righteous to madness.
— Lev Shestov, born on this date in 1866

Epergne | Word Genius

… Epergne | Word Genius.

Gothic terror …

… Criminal Elements : Macabre mystery and intellectual feast.

Indeed …

… The French are absolutely right to say 'no thanks' to US woke-ism.

 if you’re Macron or any sensible European observer, seeing a United States in which playing the national anthem or displaying the flag is deemed “offensive” and “problematic,” in which professors are suspended or threatened for quoting Supreme Court opinions verbatim when they contain unapproved language and which has seen months of urban riots tearing apart some of America’s biggest cities, how could you not say “no thanks”? 

Have a look …

… The Rooftop Creatures Of Budapest. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Mark thy calendar …

 THE GREEN LINE CAFÉ POETRY SERIES on ZOOM

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 6-7:30 PM 


The Branch Will Not Break –
Readings and Discussion
of the Long Poem with:


Jack Israel, Author of Sorry For Fire


David Kertis, Author of Word of the Day


Helen Mirkil, Author of Sower on the Cliffs



Presented by POETRY IN COMMON, Peace/Works


and The Green Line Café


Hosted by Leonard Gontarek



Leonard Gontarek is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Green Line Cafe Zoom Poetry Reading
Time: Feb 16, 2021 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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