- G. K. Chesterton
Lars shared this article on Facebook, and I was moved--moved I tell you--to share it here, because you can't get good writing like this often: "The voice at the other end of the line gave a sigh, like a mighty oak toppling into a great river, or something else that didn’t sound like a sigh if you gave it a moment’s thought. 'Who cares what the stupid critics say?' advised the literary agent. 'They’re just snobs. You have millions of fans.'"
Michael Deacon writes in response to the Dan Brown's upcoming novel, Inferno, which if you are going to buy it, you must use this link. Must! Support starving artists!
The novel is another unique take on art history and world conspiracy. From the book: "Against [the backdrop of Dante's Inferno], Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered."
Dude! That is one unique thriller! I'll go on record now by predicting this will tell of a Manx plot to manipulate world currency. Dante has been rumored to be Manx sympathizer among all the scholars who have studied him. Sorry, I should have given you a spoiler alert.
On a note related to Lars' last post, here are ten American habits which at least one Brit cannot understand. Take flossing, for instance, or talking to strangers.
By contrast, here are ten British habits which apparently don't jive with Americans. Take avoiding eye contact and direct intentions. I wonder how many times I'd be tempted to tell a Brit to shut up.
And now for something completely different:
In the spirit of Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine, I offer the following excerpt from the nonexistent book, Lars Walker's Fulsome Compendium of Rightfully Forgotten Church History:
The Vigilant Baptist Movement (June 1852): On June 3, 1852, independent Baptist preacher Titus A. Drumhead founded the Vigilant Baptist Fellowship. The Vigilant Baptists took their marching orders from Luke 21:36: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Operating on the hermeneutical principle that nothing whatever in Scripture is ever to be taken symbolically, Rev. Drumhead declared that he had given up sleeping forever, trusting that God was able to sustain him in wakefulness so long as he lived. He exhorted his congregation (which consisted of six people) to follow his godly example. On June 5 of that same year, the Vigilant Baptists nearly entered into a merger with the Independent Church of Spiritual Water, a group which took its inspiration from John 4:14: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst....” and so abstained from all liquids entirely. The merger was never consummated due to Rev. Drumhead's unexpected unconsciousness. Awakening twelve hours later and concluding that he was not among the Elect, Rev. Drumhead became a Methodist. The fate of his movement, however, was happier than that of the I.C.S.W.
Our friend Loren Eaton gave me a plug over at his blog, I Saw Lightning Fall, yesterday. Thanks, Loren.
Finally, another great article about an American cartoonist from Stefan Kanfer at City Journal. This time he writes of Winsor McCay, the first great (and insufficiently remembered) newspaper cartoonist and pioneer animator. When I was a kid, my grandparents had a book of Little Nemo in Slumberland in their house. I glanced at it, but didn't care for the look of it. Little Nemo, in particular, looked like a sissy to me.
And indeed, McCay's work isn't really for children. As an adult I've had the chance to look at a little of the man's work, and it's... gobsmacking. Great vistas of incredible, hallucinatory images splashed all across the newspaper page in full color. The man's draftsmanship, modeling, and use of perspective have never been surpassed. In fact, I don't think anyone else ever tried to do what he did.
This is for our friend, Hunter Baker of Union U.
- There's nothing worse than having a billboard block your view of a gorgeous sunrise. That's why I use The Awayinator, an environmentally safe dashboard ray gun that will zap those billboards into the nothingnessville. Ahh! A clear view with the touch of a button. (A Doofenshmirtz Evil Inc. Invention)
- There's nothing worse than unrequited love. That's why I use Money, a technique scientifically proven to keep women from falling out of love with you. Try it yourself today. Where all quality products are sold. Seriously, everywhere.
- There's nothing worse than getting your key stuck in the ignition when the zombies are storming your parking lot, except perhaps eating a stale Rice Krispy treat when you sit there thinking what a dummy you are for paying $3 for what looks like a big, marshmallowy treat that can't be stale because it's $3 for Pete's sake and yet in the back of your mind a little voice says it's going to be stale and you argue with that little voice, spend the money, and take a bite--man, I hate that.
This is common, perhaps, and fun. Readers have retitled works to better describe them, such as George Eliot's "Why Be Nice To Your Siblings When You're Just Going to Die in a Flood" (The Mill on the Floss) and George Orwell's "If You Give a Pig a Windmill, He'll Pursue Absolute Power." This one from David Foster Wallace looks like a great title to me.
Star Wars may not be the greatest sci-fi story ever told, but it is a very loud voice in the room. And Legos may not be the best toy ever made--that's just silly. They are the best toy ever made. And now we have,
"The Fastest and Funniest LEGO Star Wars Story Ever Told"
Today is Star Wars day. May the Fourth be with you.
I cannot endorse this brand, but this video of the president proposing to save our economy by helping everyone write a YA novel is pretty funny.
And now, a moment of inspiration.
Despite being always full of great good wishes for all the Irish on the feast day of their patron saint, I have too much integrity to stoop to the low trick of pretending to be Irish, when I'm obviously not.
So to keep the discussion at the high level of authenticity it deserves, I have instead asked for a guest column from a true Irishman beyond suspicion, Father Ailill, Erling Skjalgsson's priest:
To all the elect within the range of this message, whether Irish or Norse, or even Scot or English, yea even unto the barbarians of distant lands, wherever you may be, scattered about the islands of the earth,
I, Father Ailill, have not been unaware of doings among men since my Elevation nearly a thousand years ago. I have paid some attention to the course of the world, and to the state of the Church, and I have but one word for all of you, small and great, learned and uncouth:
I mean it. This has gone beyond a joke.
Where does one start? The excesses of your generation would make scrap enough to fuel a thousand bonfires, but in view of the day I'll just draw your attention to the way you mark—I'll not say observe—the saint day of Patrick of Ireland.
Now I happen to know Patrick myself. He lived far before my corporeal time, of course, but since my Elevation we've become fairly chummy, and I'll tell you, just between you and me and the hearthstone, it's best not to raise the subject of St. Patrick's Day in his presence. If it's all a joke, you may as well know the guest of honor doesn't get it. He said to me once, “If I'd known they'd honor my memory by getting drunk on green beer and puking all over policemen, I'd have gone to Frankia and become a hermit. I'm not kidding. St. Augustine never lets me forget about it. And I've taken to avoiding Boniface altogether, because he never sees me but he starts singing that 'Frosted Lucky Charms' jingle, and then gets to giggling.” Read the rest of this entry . . .
I have thought of myself as a citizen of the Internet, but yesterday I took a step deeper into the swamp of Netdom. I made a video response to a You Tube video. I've been watching the online morning show, Good Mythical Morning, by the singing comedians Rhett and Link. Last Friday, they asked what the best board game ever is according to their fans, and I recorded for them my story of playing a few minutes of Backwords with a some friends in college. Backwords is not the best board game ever by far, but I thought my story would add to the conversation.
See my response here, and if you want to watch the original video, go here.
Author Sarah A. Hoyt was kind enough to let me guest post on her blog, According to Hoyt. You can read the piece here. Thanks, Sarah.
A friend forwarded this YouTube video to me. The idea is, “How would Shakespeare have told the story of the Three Little Pigs."
I don't love it, frankly, because I don't think the comedian uses the words as well as he might, and this is the kind of thing you've got to absolutely nail (at least for my taste).
But I got to wondering, how do they tell the story of the Three Little Pigs nowadays? Surely its traditional lesson—that you ought to take trouble to construct strong defenses, to protect yourself from enemies—is unacceptable in today's educational environment. I imagine the contemporary version would go something like this.
There were three little pigs whose mother sent them out to make their fortunes in the world. When they'd come to a new part of the forest, they decided to build themselves houses. The first little pig built his house out of straw. The second pig built his house out of sticks. But the third pig built his house out of bricks. Read the rest of this entry . . .
Bookriot has a list of five signs you are reading too much of the current swath of YA Lit. For examples: "You keep a spreadsheet to try to determine whether you exist in a utopia or a dystopia. (Corporate ownership of media? Dystopia. New Muppet movie on the horizon? Utopia.) You secretly hope it turns out to be a dystopia so you can demonstrate your awesomeness in some world-liberating way."
This morning, while driving to work, Malvina Reynold's song "Little Boxes" popped into my mind.
And I pondered it it. All that snide condescension toward people who live unexciting lives, and are able to own houses, however small.
Malvina Reynolds, of course, was a socialist, so she dreamed of something better for the masses. And it occurred to me to wonder, "What kind of life would she wish for ordinary people?"
I have to assume the glorious Soviet Union must have been her model. Delightful accommodations like those pictured above, where the happy workers shared a fulfilling communal existence.
And so I wrote my own version of the song, which you may read below the fold: Read the rest of this entry . . .
And now for something completely different: The Keep Calm Gallery, where one may buy all manner of things to calm oneself among other things.
"These are songs about growing up on a tough planet," said Springsteen, telling reporters that when the idea of humans and aliens working side by side in an extraterrestrial labor colony first occurred to him, he immediately knew he "had to tell their story." "The Martians aren't trying to run away from their lives or make excuses. They're proud of what they do and where they're from, even if the high-impact ion-compression carbonate mining industry isn't what it used to be," the Onion New Network reports.
Hits you deep. Hmm.
I've noticed an odd phenomenon over the years. The very people who, you would think, would be able to give the best advice on raising children seem to be oddly reticent to offer a list of rules. And the more children they have, the more reticent they are.
Fortunately, there is an ever-growing demographic of people who have no such shyness about sharing their views on child-rearing. These, of course, are the people who (like me) have no children of their own.
I saw this article today (hat tip Strange Herring) on a recent study that concluded that children who watched “Sponge Bob Square Pants” showed decreased attention spans, as compared to children who watched “Caillou,” and a control group who (I assume) used a magnifying glass to fry ants. Read the rest of this entry . . .
I enjoyed Phil's link to this year's Bulwer-Lytton Award finalists so much that I thought that instead of trying to say anything coherent tonight, I'd just craft my own opening for a detective novel I would rather undergo minor surgery than read.
Det. Dierdre Hamerstein was just finishing up the paperwork from tonight's arrest, adjusting the sling in which the emergency medics had put her arm after the .45 shell had ripped through her shoulder, when Lieutenant Greese swung his pendulous belly through the office door with that familiar, “I've got a high-profile murder and I need to put my best detective on it, even if she is a girl and has lost three pints of blood tonight” look on his insensitive face.
The following news item is "fake but accurate," in the finest tradition of American contemporary journalism.
WASHINGTON DC: As part of an ongoing effort to streamline government and make it more efficient, officials of the Justice Department announced today that, instead of publishing their annual multi-volume edition of the Statutes of the United States, they will instead publish a single, softcover book containing a list of things that aren't regulated.
"There isn't much in here, really," said E. Cleveland Weckmeyer of the Attorney General's office. "Basically you can have consensual sex with anybody you want, any way you want. Other than that, everything's either illegal or you need a permit for it."
A representative of the America Civil Liberties Union, Eleanore Rigby-Trotsky, when asked for her organization's response said, "We'll have to look into it more closely, but from what I hear I'd say we're OK with it. Call me back in a half an hour."
I learned a meme today from Prof. Brendan Riley called troll quotes. He explains it requires "1. a well-known quote with 2. a false attribution from an equally well known person and 3. the wrong picture." Here's his favorite example, which I love too, but I had to contribute to the lore myself.
A great line from the movie Network.
Library of Congress
Washington had to shut down for a few minutes today, and the stock market soared. Coincidence?
Actually, that wasn't an earthquake. That was the economy settling.
In case you're a visitor to Brandywine Books, I need to make it clear that two political posts in one day is a great rarity here. One political post in a day is a rarity. Phil and I generally eschew political comments (we don't even have a Politics category), in favor of the far less controversial subject of religion.
But I've been worried the last few days. First President Obama (peace be upon him) visits Cannon Falls, Minnesota, just up the road from Kenyon, my home town. The next day he's in Decorah, where I spent a year at Luther College sometime around the Coolidge administration. It began to look as if he were stalking me. Perhaps he finally figured out that my tin foil hat prevents him from controlling my mind with his delta rays, and he's trying to follow my trail instead. About thirty years in my rear view mirror, but that's civil service work for you.
However, I remember that one of my high school classmates actually graduated from Luther College. So it's probably him the president is stalking.
Whew. That was close.
If I understand the news reports correctly, a lot of people are saying Michele Bachmann isn't qualified to be president, because she opens her mouth to eat a corn dog.
I have to assume that sophisticated, civilized people who attended Ivy League schools have some superior method of eating their corn dogs. If anybody knows what it is, I'd appreciate hearing about it, because I always end up dripping ketchup on my shirt.
But Rep. Bachmann's campaign is over anyway, it seems to me. She confused the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death with his birthday.
You can get away with a lot in American politics, but I'm pretty sure messing up your Elvis essentials takes you beyond the pale.
The nice thing about being beyond the pale, though, is that you can eat your corn dog any bloody way you like.
And now for something completely different: an potentially epic t-shirt.
Here are some funny testimonies from bookstore employees who have suffered at the hands of the public.
1. "I'd like to return a book"
2. "Our friend is really weird."
3. "I can't take back this sticky book"
4. "Do you have any mohair wool?" (scroll down five items for this great call from a philistine)
Off topic: The Big But