Happy Bloomsday.

If I were a clever blogger, I’d write this entry in the style of “Ulysses,” but sorry — I haven’t read it. (Lance Mannion, take it away!) Always wanted to. Hope to, someday. But on numerous tries, I’ve failed to get much past stately, plump Buck Mulligan, and you know where he shows up.

Once, in a newsroom far, far away, I admitted to never reading “Ulysses.”

“Really?” asked one of my colleagues archly. “You haven’t?” Like this was unusual.

“Really. Have you?”

“Oh, sure,” she said. I asked when.

“Oh, you know…” She fluttered her hand a bit. “High school.”

The smoke alarms trembled as the fumes of her burning pants wafted through the room. She knew enough about “Ulysses” to know she’d made a grave mistake. No one reads “Ulysses” in high school, even a great one. An ambitious teacher might do a side unit on the book for honors students with a few excerpts, but face it — the book is the Mt. Everest of literature for a reason.

The Columbus Dispatch book critic once announced he was going to read it, and just to make sure he finished, he was going to read it in public, a chapter a week, discussing it in a weekly column he called Nighttown Journal. He got through, I believe, chapter three, maybe four. Then Nighttown Journal quietly disappeared. I e-mailed him once, asking if he ever finished it. His reply was sheepish. You know what he said.

On Bloomsday — June 16, the day upon which the events of the novel occur, for you non-English majors — celebrations are held throughout Dublin, including public readings at places mentioned in the text. Our own John C, who lived in Detroit until recently, suggested we do something similar in October, on Elmore Leonard’s birthday. Call it Dutch Day, and lead a group on an odyssey through the city, stopping at places mentioned in his books to read aloud. I think this is a tremendous idea. For one thing, I’ve actually read all the books involved.

Yesterday I had a bit of business to do at a shopping center right around lunchtime, and found myself passing under the exhaust vents at a well-known Chinese chain restaurant distinguished by twin horses at the front door. It didn’t smell greasy, it smelled grill-y and delicious. Friends, I may be the last American extant to have never eaten there, so it was time to rectify the situation. We have terrible Chinese food choices in the Pointes, and I’ve been jonesin’ for some chicken fried rice forever. So I went in and ordered the very same.

Twelve minutes later, the waitress deposited a five-gallon bucket of it under my nose.

It’s been a long time since I had my first portion-size shock, at a Mexican chain place. To be sure, it was mostly lettuce. Then came Bucca di Beppo, but they at least say up front that the dishes are meant to be shared. But it doesn’t take a genius to make a few connections, and one is: Restaurant meals in general have many more calories than their homemade equivalents. People eat more restaurant meals every year, for a variety of reasons. Put them together and you get a reasonable answer to the question posed by Richard Simmons’ vanity license plate: YRUFAT?

I try to be a libertarian about some things, but I have my limits. If they’re going to serve this much in one portion, then I want to see a calorie count on the menu. (Best online estimate: 960.) Sorry, folks, but you’re part of the problem. And don’t give me that “our customers want it” crap. Portion size is determined by economies of scale. Rice is cheap, and it’s easy to cover it with flavorful fat, serve it by the truckload and charge $7.50 a plate for a food cost of probably less than a buck.

I ate less than half. The rest is in my refrigerator. And I’m not going back. I resent being slopped like a hawg.

Bloggage: Everybody knows the Michigan tax incentive is leading to lots of film production here, but it wasn’t until yesterday I learned that scripts are now being vetted for content, and — sorry — but cannibalism is now out:

“This film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light,” wrote Janet Lockwood, Michigan’s film commissioner. Ms. Lockwood particularly objected to “this extreme horror film’s subject matter, namely realistic cannibalism; the gruesome and graphically violent depictions described in the screenplay; and the explicit nature of the script.”

Yes, no one will come to Michigan if they think we’re lousy with cannibals, but have you seen the calorie counts at that Chinese joint lately? Whew, through the roof. Rustic man-pig is far more slimming. Anyway, the NYT Cityroom blog asks where cinema would be if New York had such picky standards:

King Kong (1933)

After arriving in New York via luxury steamer, the giant simian genially poses for photographs while held in mock chains at his Broadway unveiling. At a subsequent cocktail party in his honor, Kong briefly dons a waiter’s white jacket (it didn’t quite fit, to say the least!) and hands out canapes to startled and then amused guests. Later he takes a stroll through the city and discovers that the elevated trains are experiencing a bottleneck near 30th Street. Using hand signals, he helps clear it up, receiving a jaunty wave from a thankful conductor in response. Finally, he scales the Empire State Building to take in the view, cleaning a few windows and reaching into one woman’s apartment to help her arrange her furniture, before arriving at the top, where he is joined by Ann Darrow. The two take in the dawn while discussing their hopes and dreams for the future.

Ha. Off to the salt mines. God knows who wants to take a bite out of me today.

Posted at 10:12 am in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

82 responses to “Bloomsday.”

  1. John said on June 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

    real­is­tic can­ni­bal­ism

    Thank God, that knock off crap really pisses me off.

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  2. adrianne said on June 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

    You’re right – no one reads Ulysses in high school. Too scandalous.

    I tackled it as part of a college course on British novels (yes, yes, James Joyce is Irish, but it was all part of the Empire then) and actually enjoyed it.

    Here’s the only quote you need to impress your literary pals: “yes I said yes I will yes.”

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  3. coozledad said on June 16, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Joyce wanted to ignite a branch of scholarship devoted to the study of his work, and he succeeded. I liked Ulysses when I read it, but I can’t read it anymore. I even read Ada by Nabokov. Liked that. Can’t read it anymore.
    The Irish made a couple of films, one in 1967 of Ulysses and in 1977 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Strick’s film of Ulysses was the first motion picture to feature the word “fuck”. It’s actually a pretty good movie.
    A Portrait of the Artist is worth watching for the Father Dolan sequence alone.

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  4. Mark P. said on June 16, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Who was it that said everyone wants to have written a novel but not too many actually want to write one? I think maybe reading Ulysses is like that – everyone wants to have read it.

    I can’t make myself get mad at our local Chinese restaurant for serving us enough food to have two meals each. I take half of mine home to have for lunch when I’m at work.

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  5. Peter said on June 16, 2010 at 11:14 am

    No lie; my high school Eng. Lit teacher wanted us to try to read Ulysses. After we all failed to get anywhere near page 10, we decided we would read one page each, how many times it took, discuss it in the class, then move on to the next block. That didn’t work either.

    Today, my best friend will start reading it, again, as he has done every year since that high school class. Folks, he’s past the half way mark. I am so proud of him.

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  6. Deborah said on June 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I was in Ireland on a business trip a few years back to check out the making of a carpet I designed the pattern for, that was being made in Portadown (near Belfast). I took an extra week in Dublin to see the sights. From Dublin I took a day trip out to Sandycove where the Martello Tower is, the location in which the book starts. At the tower I walked up some claustrophobia inducing stairs to the room where Buck Mulligan cooked the breakfast the morning of that June 16th day. I had started reading the book about a thousand times before but never got much beyond that part. I bought a copy of Ulysses at the tower thinking that it would give me inspiration to finish it, alas no.

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  7. moe99 said on June 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I actually read Ulysses in high school but absorbed it better when it was part of the Firesign Theater schtick in Marx/Lennon.

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  8. Sue said on June 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

    1. I thought that was what chinese places did. I’d be insulted if I got a single portion of fried rice. Of course, around here it’s not a joke when someone says “what a crappy restaurant. The food was awful and the portions were too small.”
    2. Never read James Joyce, but then I’ve missed a lot of the bigs, either by choice or lack of interest. I’d love to do a Pratchett day, though, if I could just find a way to get to Discworld.
    3. 30 years ago today The Blues Brothers premiered. I didn’t know John Belushi had to make nice to Jane Byrne to make it happen, and a film industry was born in Chicago. So Chicago, too, the way they came to an agreement – according to Jane she ok’d it because Belushi and company promised to vandalize Daley Plaza.,0,5283145.story

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  9. prospero said on June 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I’ve read it. More than once. I’d say to people that find it daunting, and I can’t believe I just said something so pretentious, just dip in. Open it in the middle, because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter. Nancy, you love the English language, and you’re very good at slinging it. I’m pretty sure James Joyce was playing with language because he loved it. If you look at Ulysses as fun, with words and the weirdness of people’s psyche’s and dreams, it’s a great summer read. Or you can slouch and read Yeats, the truest poet.

    These Irish guys like Ken Bruen, Patrick McCabe and the quintessentially superb Roddy Doyle seem to be pretty entertaining. Those are all James Joyces’s children, although that wouldn’t scan in Bob Seger lyrics. Maybe it’s some secret ingredient in the only stout God approves of. Why do Brits co-opt their names and reputations, as they’ve attempted with James Joyce and Rory Gallegher ? Why do Brits insist Catherine Zeta-Jones is British when she’s Welch?

    It’s language. Not opposable thumbs. It’s the Brit’s last denial of loss of empire. They passed down exceptionalism at Yorktown, but the pernicious bastard exists in big and little pockets everywhere. It’s the raison d’etre of movement neocons (and I employ the Freunch because, man they hate the Freunch). Do we actually speak and write English in this country? Nope. HL Mencken had this right. We speak American. If there’s some sort of argument for American exceptionalism, which there isn’t, since Americans stole a continent for God and produced Sex in the City II, it might be expansive vocabulary.

    Japanese people have besi-boru. France is so threatened by English incursions, they made it a cabinet post. It’s the most wondrous language devised. I don’t think it’s been deployed more effectively than by WB Yeats in austere miniature, or by James Joyce on the HD big screen.

    We have bangers and mash, Mr. Guinness’s brew and later in the day, if we make it that far, some Power Irish, that beats Jameson’s all to hell. Happy Bloomsday, keedo.

    But shit, I think Gravity’s Rainbow is a great book, not quite as good as V.

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  10. alice said on June 16, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Some complain when they get too much, others when they get too little.

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  11. ROgirl said on June 16, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I took a class on Ulysses in college and still remember the shock (and delight) of reading it. Maybe that’s why I can still think about the language and episodes and the stories behind the episodes, while I’ve forgotten so many other books I read in college. It wasn’t just dirty, it was literary and dirty.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on June 16, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I can’t claim to have even started it and will also confess that I don’t like dense philosophical books. And I’m a reader, plowing through 2-3 books a week, thanks to audio books and multitasking. So will any future generations even try this type of literature? In our ADD nation, it will be miniscule.

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  13. Dorothy said on June 16, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I actually get three meals from the Pad Thai I order at Tai’s Asian Bistro near Ohio State’s campus. And it’s so cheap – $7.50 for this HUGE order. I eat a little there, take the rest home, have lunch at the office the next day with some, and then have enough for dinner the day after that. Each time I feel very full and I’m happy about what each meal cost me.

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  14. Sue said on June 16, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Julie – I usually have an upstairs book and a main floor book going; that way I never have to go through all that awful physical exertion to get to my reading. And I never take less than six books when I go away, even for a weekend, because what if my reading mood changes? AND, I didn’t know until I was middle-aged that it was weird that I never need a bookmark and never have.
    Bless my sweet family, they’ve never even considered that there might be something wrong with me. That they’ve mentioned, anyway.

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  15. Deborah said on June 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Prospero, your advice to open the book and start anywhere makes me want to give it a try again. Thanks, I’ll give it a go tonight in honor of Bloom’s day. And when I was looking out at the surrounding landscape from the roof of the Martello Tower the museum docent pointed out Roddy Doyle’s house below, a favorite author of mine that you mentioned in your comment above.

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  16. Jeff Borden said on June 16, 2010 at 11:54 am


    Bravo for this sentence:

    “If there’s some sort of argument for American exceptionalism, which there isn’t, since Americans stole a continent for God and produced Sex in the City II, it might be expansive vocabulary.”

    I’m working on a writing project today, but I doubt I’ll hit that kind of eloquent high note no matter how hard I try. Kudos.

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  17. Bill Eichenberger said on June 16, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hi, All — I am the book critic (alas, former) for The Columbus Dispatch who attempted to force myself to finish Ulysses by “reading” it in public. That is, writing about my progress (or lack thereof) in a weekly column. A good friend of mine used to call his attempts at Ulysses as “assaults” on the book. He described his ultimate victory as “defeating that bastard.” I stopped reading on page 274 when I realized the annotations were twice as long as the text of the book and that at the rate I was going it would be 2033 before I finished! My mistake (looking back on it) was reading too many of the annotations (I’m OCD that way) and also reading too many of the books ABOUT Ulysses. I would recommend, however, one fantastic book, My Brother’s Keeper, written by Stanislaus Joyce about his precocious brother’s early years.

    Oh, and in parting, I feel the need to point out that I attempted to read all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays and to write about them in a weekly column. I finished EVERY LAST ONE OF ‘EM!

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  18. Julie Robinson said on June 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Sue, you need lots of books not only because your reading mood might change, but God forbid you are stuck without something to read*. I was the kid who sat in the car reading on vacations while the rest of the family was rock hunting, and they never gave me any grief. Of course, my mom was a librarian. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised she wasn’t sitting in the car reading too.

    *My dear hubby is fond of telling me not to over pack because they have stores everywhere. I am fond of reminding him of the vacation when he forgot to pack underwear, and the business trip when he left his electric razor at home and hacked up his face with a standard razor.

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  19. brian stouder said on June 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Let me just say that, without exception, when a discussion about great books that I’ve never read comes up, my mom will say “What did they teach you in school?”

    I honestly do believe she’s read everything; and the impression I have is that she read all the great ones back in elementary school

    edit: Julie – possibly the underwear ommission was the work of the panther, eh?

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  20. basset said on June 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I’m up for Dutch Day. Bob Seger’s birthday is May 6.

    House update… got our building permit this morning, and the bank loan that’s supposed to keep the repairs moving forward until the insurance pays off will come in this afternoon. awaaaay we go.

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  21. jcburns said on June 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I read Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ in high school or thereabouts (not as part of the curriculum; just to, y’know, read it. )
    Problem is now, decades later, every so often I think I’ve read ‘Ulysses’, and after a few moments realize, nah, just ‘Dubliners.’

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  22. Rana said on June 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I tend to do what Dorothy does – I eat until I feel full, then take the rest home for another meal or two (or three). Works great if you’re eating out close to home, but if you’re traveling then it starts to feel like an incredible waste.

    I wonder if it’s not so much that meals and “portions” are huge here, but that they’re huge for everything. I’ll do that annoying thing common to recent travelers in parts abroad and draw shallow comparisons between Here and There, but in Spain it was noticeable that while lunches were generally large (restaurants are required to serve a fixed-price “menú del dia” which generally includes two courses and a drink or dessert, and it’s almost always a great deal) breakfasts are tiny (toast or croissant, plus drink) and dinners are stretched out over a long period of time and frequently shared – though here you do get the occasional portion problem when a half “racion” turns out to be not an oversized tapa but a huge plate of food. Anyway, the point I’m making, in my circuitous way, is that while you do get the Big Plate O’ Food on occasion, it’s not every meal, and it’s not ubiquitous, the way it usually seems to be here.

    (One exception – our local chocolatier does a couple of dinners a week, and they manage to have low prices and fancy food by keeping the portions small.)

    Of course, all the walking around helps too.

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  23. Deborah said on June 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Basset, May your repaired house end up even better than the original.

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  24. judybusy said on June 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Has anyone here read Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Fun Home, which had lots of Ulysses references? I have never read Ulysses, so many of the references were lost on me, but it’s still an amazing work.

    In my subculture of Lesbian America, she’s best known for the Dykes to Watch Out for comic strip, which she wrote for about 25 years. It’s a great way to take a peek at urban lesbian life. She also has a blog where, like here, much of the entertainment is in the comments. It’s one of the few I check regularly.

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  25. LAMary said on June 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Prospero, Catherine Zeta Jones is British. Wales is part of Great Britain. So is Scotland. Having an in-house Brit I understood this, but yesterday NPR discussed it in the context of the English, not British, soccer team being in the world cup. The Welsh, Scottish and Irish teams hadn’t made the cut.
    UK is Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. Great Britain is England, Wales and Scotland.
    And England is England.

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  26. jcburns said on June 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Tweeted by my sister: Read. Memorize. Post over your desk. Whatever it takes, so that you never write “alot” again.

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  27. 4dbirds said on June 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Never read Ulysses either. I love to read but there are a lot of books I’ll never get to. The Ayn Rand books for one. People I respect say they’re bullshit so I won’t waste my time. My guilty pleasure right now is Justin Cronin’s “The Passage”. I’m half way through and can’t wait to find out what happens and also sad that the book will end. It’s supposed to be a trilogy but the second and third books of trilogies are never as good.

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  28. ROgirl said on June 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I did attempt Finnegan’s Wake and didn’t get very far.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on June 16, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I suppose my guilty pleasure is that I really, really like so-called juvenile fiction (maybe today it’s called Young Adult), authors like Katherine Paterson and Lois Lowry. I just finished The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and boy howdy, can she write a tale. Imagine if Survivor was played to its logical end, that only one person could be alive at the end. It’s chilling and compelling and I can’t wait for the next one to be at the top of my library queue. I was seriously depressed when I learned the concluding book of the trilogy won’t be published until August, and that I am #79 in the queue.

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  30. prospero said on June 16, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Deborah, hey.

    You design carpets? I imagine this is a pretty expensive way to buy a rug, but I’m interested. I need something about 8×12 and light colors to go with pale yellow walls, and a celtic motif would be superb. No joke. We just had our condo renovated and need to refurnish. I hope I’m not being rude about this. The idea of a unique rug designed (is that the right word?) by an artist has struck my fancy. I’m serious about this.

    On another note: how many of you read One Hundred Years of Solitude? Ulysees is no more difficult or challenging. Try Autumn Comes for the Patriarch with no punctuation for about the first 28 pages. What the hell is difficult about Ulyss Unless some nitwit told you so?.

    You are all fans of English language deployed well, and you do your best, and it's mighty good. But, Ulyses, it’s just not that difficult. Start in the middle and pretend it’s ee cummings.

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  31. 4dbirds said on June 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks Julie, I have a new book to read after I’m done with The Passage.

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  32. moe99 said on June 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Julie, have you read Megan Whalen Turner? She is a first rate YA author.

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  33. alex said on June 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Ulysses, The Sound and the Fury, Naked Lunch…

    I love the language as much as anyone, prospero, but these bitches just about ruined my love of reading. I find reading about them more interesting than reading the books themselves. The stream of consciousness genre was all about having one over on the censors, not about telling a cogent story. Without a lit prof to explain them, they’re not worth picking up. They are to literature what John Cage was to music. Or the monkeys that throw paint like Joseph Pollack, who reportedly took his inspiration from watching his father pissing on a flat rock.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on June 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Moe, I read The Thief but haven’t gotten to the others yet. Thanks for reminding me. I like books where the protagonist’s weaknesses or character flaws actually turn out to be strengths–this story is a good example of that.

    Off topic: I’m sitting in my kitchen guiding our son through making soup and it’s a battle of wills. Can he play dumb long enough that my patience will wear out and I’ll take over the operation? Or will I keep taking cleansing breaths and know I am giving him lifeskills? We’ll see.

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  35. prospero said on June 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    The Ayn rand books are just too poorly written to waste time on. I read Atlas Shruugged, and it’s drivel. The author was a psychobabble nutcase, and her political ideas were looney-tune. If that psycho idiot ever went Galt, she would have starved to death in a day or two.

    Isn’t it relatively obvious that every individual depends upon every other? To my way of thinking it’s the message of love, like Chrissie said. “looking at the stars.” God becoming God.

    Yeah, nuts. But that’s what I’ve really come to believe. And I believe in language and how it might be salvation, and maybe not. Maybe the best guitar solo ever played.

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  36. Dexter said on June 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I had never heard of Ulysses being offered as a topic in high school before today, in moe99’s post. I did have The Odyssey as a class study in frosh lit at IUFW. I never even looked at a copy of Ulysses . Well, there’s time left, I guess.
    I do have a first edition hardback in deplorable condition of this book, however.
    My old friend Bert Wolfe of Bellevue, Ohio, dead 29 years now, gave it to me. He bought it new in 1928.

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  37. Dexter said on June 16, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I am jumping the thread and posting this Randy Newman song that adrastosno posted on the Back of Town Treme blog.

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  38. prospero said on June 16, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    LA, no, Wales is no more part of England than Ireland is. Scotland sure as hell isn’t. I suppose you think Belfast is Britain.

    Julie, read the Wrinkle in Time. What’s juvenile fiction, and does one of us at all want to abandon being juvenile? Want to be an authentic adult? I’ve been an adult a long time. Was an adult when I was a kid. But the books are good.

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  39. Peter said on June 16, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Prospero: Ulysses is no more difficult or challenging than 100 Years of Solitude? Whoa, I beg to differ, as I read 100 Years and I thought it was an easy read. Heck, I read Heinrich Boell (sorry, don’t know how to do umlauts), and he was easy compared to Joyce.

    On the other hand, I fully agree with you about Ayn Rand. I said it here before, and I’ll say it again: that woman had the hots for Frank Lloyd Wright like you wouldn’t believe. It says a lot about Ayn that Frank, who’d screw anything, went out of his way to avoid her because he thought she was crazy.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on June 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    prospero, I love L’Engle, too, although if you read all her stuff you realize she creates the same kind of communities over and over–the egalitarian artist colony. Here’s to our nnc artist colony, and now, soup being made, I’m going on a bike ride to fight the results of sitting around reading too long.

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  41. Rana said on June 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Julie, my experience has been that most “juvenile” fiction – especially in the fantasy/sci fi corner – is both more creative and more tightly written than a lot of the “adult” fiction. My only minor complaint about liking it is that it is all-too-frequently short and a fast read – I am a devourer of books and one that lasts only a day makes me sad. (Harry Potter was a notable exception.)

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  42. Sue said on June 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Julie, may I recommend Terry Pratchett’s YA books? ‘Nation’, any of the Tiffany Aching series, or the second and third in the Johnny Maxwell series. Maybe a little young to be YAs, but I think they’re classified that way. I reread Johnny Maxwell every couple of years.

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  43. moe99 said on June 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I read a lot of Madeline L’Engle, including her non fiction writing too. I understand her children said her fiction was closer to reality than her non fiction, after her death, which sort of put a pin in my balloon.

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  44. Dorothy said on June 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Julie I’m going to write down that author and book title (Mockingjay)on an index card and carry it with me – and start to look for it at Half Price books in September. We get to HPB a lot (but not “alot”).

    And Prospero? Mary said Wales is part of Great Britain, not part of England.

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  45. LAMary said on June 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    “LA, no, Wales is no more part of Eng­land than Ire­land is. Scot­land sure as hell isn’t. I sup­pose you think Belfast is Britain.”

    I didn’t say Wales was part of England. It’s part of Britain. And I didn’t say Belfast is part of Britain.It’s part of UK. Trust me on this one, Prospero. I can call in some serious back up. I have the in-house Brit, native of Brighton, former resident of Manchester, on speed dial and I can get my Belfast and Port Talbot connections to pile on, possibly. Certainly Belfast.

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  46. Sue said on June 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Well NO WONDER England/Britain/UK is so mad about that little soccer game last weekend! We ignorant Americans (or North Americans or Southern Canadians or Non-Latin Americans, whatever) think they ALL lost, when only ENGLAND lost! Or tied, but really lost.

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  47. Deborah said on June 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Prospero, I only designed one carpet, it was for a convention center so it had to be very graphic to hide a lot (see JC!) of spills those kind of places take, it also covered the entire center which was huge so it had many permutations for the various spaces like meeting rooms, corridors etc. The company that manufactured it, as I said was in Ireland so it was a fun trip that I got to make while the carpet was being worked out. It was all fascinating but I’ve never had the opportunity to do another one. I have a friend who is a tapestry artist and does things like rugs for individuals, she lives and works in New Harmony, IN. She also makes beautiful ribbon and some of her textile designs have been used by Crate & Barrel. I guess I can say this here, her name is Laura Foster Nicholson, you can Google her.

    Alex, “The Sound and the Fury” is one of my all time favorite books of all time. I went on a Faulkner jag after reading that. I think I’ve read everything he wrote including the really tawdry stuff.

    edit: Someone please call the Dept. of Redundancy Department for this – “…is one of my all time favorite books of all time”. Geesh

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  48. LAMary said on June 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Exactly, Sue. Scots and Welshmen and Northern Irish were probably pretty happy the English didn’t win.

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  49. Deborah said on June 16, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    And this brings up another thing that happened to me while I was in Dublin after checking up on that carpet – there was a huge football rally one night and it was crazy, those folks are SERIOUS about soccer. I think it was the equivalent to the World Series or the Superbowl and their team was in it. The hotel I was staying in was broken into while the security guard was snockered and passed out after he’d locked himself in the lobby seating area where there was a TV. I was returning to the hotel when the police were breaking down the lobby door after one of the hotel guests had called them about the wailing alarm that could have awakened the dead but not the security guard apparently.

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  50. judybusy said on June 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Julie, a couple YA authors I’ve enjoyed are Penelope Lively and Rumer Godden. Both English, writing mid-century. Both have written adult fiction as well, but the little of their YA material I’ve read is intelligent and subtle. For YA sci-fi, can there be better than Robert Heinlein?

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  51. Jeff Borden said on June 16, 2010 at 5:09 pm


    I’ve always been hard on Faux News and its lineup of talking heads including Bill O’Reilly, but I just saw a clip of him interviewing SheWho last night after Obama’s speech and it is devastating. SheWho was, of course, pretending to be a big expert on energy and oil companies. BOR kept after her rambling, incoherent responses and she got that “deer in the headlights” look. All the confidence went out of her. I imagine its the first tough questions she’s been asked in many months and she never expected them to come from a Faux News cohort. If anyone doubts how truly dumb this woman is, how incapable she is of thinking on her feet, how poorly she speaks. . .it’s all there in a 7-minute segment.


    I love William Faulkner. I love him so much that whenever I see some egregiously redneck behavior, I involuntarily conjure up Flem Snopes himself.

    I hate Ayn Rand. She’s entitled to her own loony fantasies about life, but Lord, her writing is just awful. “Atlas Shrugged” is the kind of book they should force kids to read during detention. It’s that shitty.

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  52. Julie Robinson said on June 16, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Y’all have pretty much ensured my continuing level of inefficiency by tempting me with book recommendations to add to my little notebook. Thanks, I guess.

    Dorothy, make sure you read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire before Mockingjay, it’s the third in the series.

    BTW, as much as I loved Katharine Weber’s True Confections, I found her first book, Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear so depressing I had to skim the second half. But she’s got three others to try and I’m not giving up on her.

    Where’s Jeff tmmo when we’re talking books?

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  53. Sue said on June 16, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Jeff Borden: Bill O’Reilly has gone after $P from the start, so it’s not that big of a surprise. I think he wants to make sure she knows who’s boss. ThinkProgress had the text of part of the discussion, it’s hilarious:

    O’REILLY: Do you know how to stop it?

    PALIN: Well, then what the federal government should have done was accept the assistance of foreign countries, of entrepreneurial Americans who have had solutions –

    O’REILLY: Who?

    PALIN: — that they wanted presented.

    O’REILLY: Who?

    PALIN: They can’t even get a phone call returned, Bill. The Dutch. They are known, and the Norwegians. They are known for dikes and for cleaning up water and for dealing with spills. They offered to help and, yet, no, they too, with a proverbial can’t even get a phone call back. That is what the Norwegians are telling us, and the Dutch are telling us, and then the entrepreneurial Americans.

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  54. Jeff Borden said on June 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Are the entrepreneurial Americans real Americans? They sound kind of Frenchy to me.

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  55. LAMary said on June 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    It might be apocryphal, but I think Reagan said that the French don’t have a word for entrepreneur. Remember he said there was no Russian word for freedom?
    I bet there are plenty of entrepreneurial Dutch folks who would love to sell us something to clean up or pump out or plug up something. There always are. Not that that’s a bad thing. They’ve been pumping stuff out of stuff for years.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 16, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    (Sorry, Cub Day Camp week, and I have trouble working Bloomsday references in with the program — but we do sing “Up In the Air, Junior Birdmen” which has a sort of “Finnegans Wake” sort of vibe to it.)

    There’s a Stephen Rea movie from about eight years ago called “Bloom” which is a movie of part of “Ulysses,” akin to “Simon Birch” encompassing a portion of “A Prayer for Owen Meany” but with a slightly different spin to make it a separate movie. It’s a lovely look at Dublin, at any rate. And I’ve probably emoted too often here about John Huston’s “The Dead,” which is just a fascinating, moving adaptation of the climactic tale in “Dubliners.”

    As for Bloomsday, nearly done, the best I can offer from memory is “I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame. What’s left us then?” It recurs twice more, foreshadowing the thunderclaps in “Wake,” and I got a senior seminary paper out of Joyce & Blake based on that trope.

    Oh, and why oh why did I have to have last Sunday be the first episode of “Treme” I experienced? It was so clear what was happening right on through that I was just nauseated. “Ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry.”

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  57. Deborah said on June 16, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Julie I enjoyed “True Confections” a lot (that’s 2 in one day for me JC!). Truly a confection to read.

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 16, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Oh, and Judybusy, “Have Space Suit, Will Travel” may be more vividly present in my mental furniture than the bones of any other book I’ve ever read — rah, rah, RAH. (With the possible exception of “Johnny Tremain” which so deserves to be considered as more than “YA lit” IMHO.)

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  59. LAMary said on June 16, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    A book my kids loved when they younger was “A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers.” It’s not YA, but I thought since we had brought up William Blake, why not.

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  60. Dexter said on June 16, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Here’s a synopsis on the book that Creighton Bernette was teaching his students in Treme last Sunday. Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”.

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  61. Deborah said on June 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I’m going to have to watch season 1 of Treme on DVD. I managed to see the first episode at someone else’s place, I don’t have HBO, if I can convince my husband that it’s worth it and convince myself too, I’ll pop for it. I just love Mad Men and he does too, so that’s going to be my rationale. Good programs are possible, hard to believe after all the crap that’s been put out there, but indeed it is possible.

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  62. Linda said on June 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks! I feel so much better now. I tried to read Ulysses, and got about half way through it. Now I’m reading the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. Maybe when I felt that urge, I just got mixed up and tried the wrong Ulysses.

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  63. basset said on June 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Juvenile fiction? Heinlein. “Citizen of the Galaxy.” That’s it.

    >>May your repaired house end up even bet­ter than the orig­i­nal

    appreciate that, Deborah. I keep hearing “you’ll have a better house than you had,” so far it’s not worth the trouble though.

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  64. joodyb said on June 16, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    hear hear, mr. borden. i see snopeses. every day. wish i didn’t. and thanks, i’ll be doubling back to catch that Bill’O clip. and if you haven’t, you should see “The Fountainhead” (1949) – a laff riot. a crime of nature that Rand managed to outlive Dorothy Parker.

    For my difficult-but-worth-it buck, you can’t beat ol’ Lou Auchincloss. beatific, breathtaking prose.

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  65. del said on June 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    An English professor of mine who’d studied at Oxford under C.S. Lewis read Joyce’s story “Araby” to our class. Insisted it was best read aloud. I think he was right. Of course his rendition, in the Queen’s English, and given with great dramatic flair, enthralled us all. It starts with a quote from Ecclesiastes/Quoheleth, “Oh vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (which I’m reminded of whenever I hear Townsend belting out that Empty Glass song, “Why was I born today, life is useless like Ecclesiastes say).” The ending epiphany is memorable too, something on the order of, “As I gazed into the darkness, tears streamed down my face, and I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity.”

    The professor was a character. He once read a poem aloud in class to a girl I dated. She turned beet red. Maybe it was karma for her. She gave me one of the all time great beat down lines on our date when she, a highly observant Southern Baptist, perhaps trying to proselytize, told me, “I like you Del, but it is my firmly held belief that you shall Perish.” Which reminds me a of a Georgia Satellites tune too.

    Prospero, Yeats was great. I mentioned this before but after my uncle died following a long battle with a terminal illness, his family found a post-it note with his hand written quote from a Yeats poem that had helped him deal with his illness: “one that ruffled in a manly pose, for all his timid heart.” Yeats was all about the masks we wear.

    JTMMO’s so right about John Huston’s last movie, Joyce’s, “The Dead.” Here’s the final scene.

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  66. prospero said on June 16, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    I might be wrong about 100 Years. I suppose it’s accessible. I always thought Autumn of the Patriarch was the better book. It’s just that I think if you go along with Joyce, don’t try too hard to get everything, and enjoy his delight in sound and language, well, it’s a snap, and a riot, and true fun.

    And that kid novel bit, Bridge to Terabithia is pretty good.


    Yeats was pretty much afraid of everything human unless he was writing poems about all of it. He was afraid of Maud Gonne, for instance (who had the map of Ireland all over her face). But “Cast a cold eye…”, that is something to write that actually earns the term awesome. I love the poems because they’re austere, but yearning. I like Auden, too, and Eliot, but those guys really meant that separation and approached misanthropy expressing themselves. When I was young, AE Housman, who tended to be lugubrious, was a favorite. Lots of very fine poets all at the same time (or so).

    How do y’all feel about them Rosettis? Sister was the better painter and better poet, I think.


    by: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

    SHE sat and sang alway
    By the green margin of a stream,
    Watching the fishes leap and play
    Beneath the glad sunbeam.

    I sat and wept alway
    Beneath the moon’s most shadowy beam,
    Watching the blossoms of the May
    Weep leaves into the stream.

    I wept for memory;
    She sang for hope that is so fair:
    My tears were swallowed by the sea;
    Her songs died in the air.

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  67. prospero said on June 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    LA MARY,

    Ron Raygun made shit up all the time. Reagan had to pick out a desk at the White House warehouse for the Oval Office, and he saw one he really liked. The man in charge told him the desk had belonged originally to Grover Cleveland. Gipper said “I played him in a movie once.”

    Shortly before or after he marched in to liberate Auschwitch. What in the world does it say about America that it survived eight years with an Alzheimers (Oldtimers) president? I mean, it’s a loaded question. In Republican, the word for tax cut is “Suckah!!!”.

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  68. MichaelG said on June 17, 2010 at 12:00 am

    I’ve been in Riverside and Burbank and Glendale for the last couple of days. Just got caught up.

    My post about a certain new French wine was meant as a joke. I buy a bottle every year and drink it within a week or so. I don’t really know why. It’s never rung my chimes, but it’s fun to talk about.

    I have a copy of Ulysses and have gotten beyond page ten but by not much. I’ve tried several times but I must concede failure. Dubliners (short stories) and Portrait of an Artist I have read and they are great books.

    In California, Lancaster, pronounced as it looks, LAN cas ter and La Canada, pronounced as explained earlier are not far from each other. For what that’s worth.

    Then there’re the guys who refer to it as their “unit”.

    There is a fantastic used book store on San Fernando in Burbank called Movie something. It has amazing and not cheap movie memorabilia (this is Burbank, after all) and a fantastic collection of paperbacks piled everywhere. I know I can find whatever mystery I want there. I searched Sacto in vain for months for the Parker wherein Susan stepped out on Spenser. Found it on the first shot in Burbank.

    Heinlein’s another author beloved by the libs. Speaking of YA, I read him as a kid and loved the stories. No philosophy sunk in.

    Breaking news: Daughter Steph just called. She’s been accepted into Univ of Texas for the fall. A miracle itself at this late date. She wants to go back to school to get her PhD in math. I’m over the moon. She says she has all the child care, etc. issues worked out while hubby is in A’stan. He leaves after the July Fourth weekend. I’m a happy dad.

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  69. prospero said on June 17, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Oh, and more ‘juvenile’ fiction, The Halloween Tree. I believe writing comes more naturally to Ray Bradbury than to Stephen King. And that’s saying a lot. Hard work for most people.

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  70. MichaelG said on June 17, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Prospero, I listened to that guitar solo and it was nice. How many guitar players are out there? How many genres are there? Joe Montana was a great quarterback. So was Y. A. Tittle. Who was better? Best ever is a mug’s game. Too many qualifiers. Take excellence for what it’s worth and let it go at that.

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  71. prospero said on June 17, 2010 at 12:30 am

    What I kinda mean about reading Ulysses. You don’t actually have to get it. You keep plowing through and it all makes some kind of sense in the end. I’m pretty sure that’s what James Joyce was doing in the first place.

    Did John Gardner know all of that shit about The Book of the Dead? Did he expect everybody that read The Sunlight Dialogues to understand all of it? These guys were writing jazz, and I’m pretty sure they were surprising themselves. Part of the enjoyment, part of the understanding, well, that’s osmosis, and everybody’s happier and better for it. Writing for Octopus Grigori.

    “all Pointsman will score, presently, is an octopus–yes a gigantic, horror-movie devilfish name of Grigori” 51; “an octopus is much too elaborate” 52; “they’re brewing up something that involves a giant octopus” 112; “the inner room where octopus Grigori oozes sullenly in his tank” 113; “an octopus? Yes it is the biggest fucking octopus Slothrop has ever seen outside of the movies, Jackson,” 186; “Shaking Slothrop waves the crab at the octopus” 187; “this octopus is not in good mental health” 187; “that was no “found” crab, Ace–no random octopus or girl, uh-uh” 188; “‘I saved a dame from an octopus not so long ago, how about that?’ ‘With one difference,’ sez Blodgett Waxwing. ‘This really happened tonight. But that octopus didn’t.'” 248; “From out of her body streams a flood now of different creatures, octopuses” 447; “Octopus Grigori in his tank, watching the Katje footage” 533; “Gerhardt von Göll, with his corporate octopus wrapping every last negotiable item in the Zone” 611

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  72. prospero said on June 17, 2010 at 12:47 am


    Absolutely correct. Clapton’s not God, just good. On the other hand, Danny Gatton may have been better than anybody.

    Technical wizardry, speed, lyricism? I’d probably answer differently every time the question was posed. Jimmy Page through the Leslies in Fool in the Rain (or George on Let It Be). Brian May in the interlude before We Are the Champions. Jeff Beck for about two bars on Ole Man River. Jimi Hendrix and Steve Stills never played what could be called a break or a solo, I don’t think. I suppose, neither did Keith Richard. It’s just fun to talk about, and didn’t you enjoy listening to that?

    And Yelberton Abraham Tittle was better than Joe Montana, but both pale in comparison to Francis Tarkenton.

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  73. prospero said on June 17, 2010 at 12:59 am


    I suppose there’s only one person that’s legitimately the best ever at what he did. Babe, Jackie Robinson, Keith Moon, WB Yeats, Frank Loyd Wright, Will Shakes, worthy candidates. The indisputably consummate performer is Bill Russell, and I won’t dignify any claim otherwise by arguing.

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  74. Dexter said on June 17, 2010 at 1:19 am

    A couple years ago NYT had a “best guitarist” thread. It blew up , so many entries. My personal list would have been topped by Les Paul, but I went with Les Paul’s personal pick, Tommy Emmanuel.

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  75. prospero said on June 17, 2010 at 1:38 am


    Contrarian, but I’d say Dex Romweber. Or Danny Gatton. Or Jimi. Or Steve Howe. Or Stills. Or Richard Thompson. Or Tal Farlow (who’s better than Les Paul, by the way). Wes Montgomery. Mark Knopfler. Dave Davies and Peter Greene. Thank God for so many astounding guitar players. Life would be drab without them. Shoot, Pat Metheny, Rory Gallagher, Lightnin’ Hopkins.

    How ’bout John Lee. No skills really, whatsoever. Pure balls and God’s grace. That’s why it’s art. Bill Carter. Bill Nelson. Michael Been. Robbie.

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  76. prospero said on June 17, 2010 at 1:48 am

    If the last thing you listened to was White Cliffs of Dover, you’d swear nobody was as good as Eric Johnson.

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  77. prospero said on June 17, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Just listen to this massive guitar playing, and the prescient political message.

    And nobody ever heard of this guy unless they came acrossthis.

    There used to be political liberals. Then these people started to listen to George Lakoff and became more liberal than thou progressives. They convinced themselves they elected a President, and they assumed they owned him. And that he should magically produce what they think is perfect society. When there’s no magic wand, these idiots decide to turn on the President because, if he didn’t produce everything they wanted on Day One, he must be some sort of corporate shill. Morons.

    Sorry about the screed, but it’s late and I don’t suppose anybody’s paying attention. The Barrack isn’t what we expected meme is just so fucking annoying. These people thought you could fix eight years of Dickless by waving a magic wand. I suppose if Obama had proposed all new folks for MMS on January 21, 2009 Senator Kyl wouldn’t have a personal hold on the appointments to this day.

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  78. Linda said on June 17, 2010 at 8:21 am


    Agreed. I think the people who thought that Obama would bring a left nirvana never read his books. I did, and wondered why leftists thought they could agree with entirely. He is and always has been a sort of left of center centrist. I voted for him because he was not a clueless, witless disaster like the entire Republican party, which has nothing going for it anymore except resentment and tribalism. The Republican’s opposition to him has made me ferverently hope they don’t get back in power soon, no matter what qualms I have with Obama’s specific programs.

    And yes, Ulysses is a book where you just go with the flow, love the language, and don’t think too hard about a plot or meaning. There are parts I loved. But I’m conditioned to see a whole, and trying to stitch the parts together made my head hurt.

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  79. brian stouder said on June 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Found art:

    I’m con­di­tioned to see a whole

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  80. Rana said on June 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Actually, a fair number of us on the left were raising flags about Obama pretty early on – it was clear that he’s long been a centrist, and definitely not one to shake up the system no matter what he said – but we got shouted down by the “Obama-bots” who threatened us with the specter of a McCain-Palin wing while insulting our pragmatism and patriotism. Few people in my circle are surprised by how he’s turned out as a president, honestly.

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  81. maryinIN said on June 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    We did read Portrait of the Artist in high school, and I still have my copy. The nuns must have thought themselves rebels (they were, actually, to the extent they could be in those days).

    My exposure to Ulysses: in college I took linguistics which studies the structure of sounds and language. Our diabolical professor used Ulysses for the final exam, which was to translate a passage of Ulysses (he didn’t identify the passage other than it was famous), written out phonetically, to its literary form. Looking for context was absolutely no help, actually was counterproductive. I actually did pretty well once I figured that out and stopped trying to make sense of what I was writing. Students who didn’t realize that had less success.

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  82. Bill said on June 18, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Finnegan’s Wake is the K-2 of Mountains.

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