Sunday, March 18, 2018

Postmodern Postindustrial Posted Insight

"An elevator is more peaceful than an escalator."


The former lifts you up, whereas the latter makes the bad worse.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Non-Legal Non-Advice

Image Only

A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client with a charlatan for a lawyer.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Problematic Proverb: "A fool and his money are soon parted."

"A fool and his money are soon parted."

Now, I don't like to pry into some private priorities, but I can see how even though parting money is a simple and arguably good thing to do, parting a fool entails not only being not even a dubiously good thing but, in point of fact of a certainty, being a horrendous, difficult, unhappy task fraught with severe consequences for the state of one's soul.

Proverb Rewritten: "Concerning a fool and his money, parting the money is acceptable, but parting the fool is not, as it constitutes murder."


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Aphorism Explained

I learned something today from a site titled "Smart Words," the "something" being the word "aphorism":
Aphorism: A tersely, memorably phrased statement of a truth or opinion; an adage. [from Greek aphorismos, from aphorizein, to delimit, define. Apo- (1. Away from; off; Separate. 2. Without 3. Related to) + Horizein (limit, boundary)] Example: He's a fool who cannot conceal his wisdom.
What I learned was that the "ph" is not the letter "phi," but rather "pi" and the rough breathing mark.

Some of us like this sort of stuff -- etymology, I mean.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Boys will be photogenic boys . . .

We have photos from the WAH Center! Here's Terrance:

And here are Carter and Bien:

Two of the three boys are holding up an image from my story, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer.

You might also be interested in my volume of poetry, Radiant Snow.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

According to James Mackintosh (1765-1832) . . .

. . . who seems to have thought quite a lot about a whole bunch of stuff in law, politics, and history:
"The powers of a man's mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks."
Ah, so, that's who says that! Well, I do need a drink. Espresso. Five shots.


Monday, March 12, 2018

As somebody once said . . .

Somebody There?

"The pears of . . ."

No, wait. Try again.

"The powers of a manx mind . . ."

Ugh. Try again.

"The powers of a man's mind are dreckly . . . tireckly . . ."


"The powers of a man's mind are directly propositioned . . ."

No! Dammit!

"The powers of a man's mind are directly proportioned to the quandary . . ."

No! No! No!

"The powers of a man's mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffin . . ."

Once again.

"The powers of a man's mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drains . . ."

One last try.

"The powers of a man's mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks."

Perfect. But next time you intend to quote somebody, have your morning coffee first!

Says who?


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Will Jong-un get Trumped?

Who's the Weightier,
Trump or Jong-un?

Kevin Kim recently posted his skepticism about the up-coming NK-USA no-nuke talks:
[C]all me a yuge skeptic when it comes to the idea that Trump can succeed where others have failed. I'm reminded of Ellis, the doomed character in 1988's "Die Hard," who thinks he can negotiate with a killer and somehow come out on top because, hey - it's all deal-making. You might say that's disanalogous because Trump's the one [who has the desk] with the "bigger button."
I then staked out my position, basically conforming to Kevin's position, but querying whether Trump's the one whose desk has the bigger butt on it:
How can President Trump know that "he's the one with the 'bigger butt on'" his desk, compared to President Kim Jong-un? The North Korean president is grossly overweight, so his butt could easily cover more desktop area than Trump's. President Trump is likely assuming that his own far larger girth will translate into a "bigger butt on" area covered on his own desk. If such a test is to be undertaken, each of the two leaders had better come prepared with an ass-covering explanation for his loss, for one of the two men will of necessity lose in this bare-assed, butt-faced, bum-caked competition.
Well, we'll soon enough see the results of this up-coming arselogical contest . . .


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Quixote as a Ghostly Charles V

I referred obliquely yesterday to the ghost of Charles V, so here's some more obliquity:
Don Quixote's names and actions hide a . . . secret. Following [the literary theorist, Tzvaten] Todorov, there is a double movement toward and away from the revelation [of that secret]. In the end, all that can be said is that the play of genre and narrative may point to a specific hidden mystery, one that deals with a clash of civilizations and the anxieties it causes the protagonist. This secret both complements and contrasts with the vision of a knight as a ghostly Charles V. Don Quixote as a new Charles is deprived of all power except that of the imagination as he rides through the genres. He personifies an emperor who upon abdication has become 'the ghost of all power.' While the emperor repeatedly walks the halls of the monastery thinking of his past achievements and hollow present, the knight rides through an impoverished Spain, seeking the power that Charles discarded, only to find visions less substantial than his emaciated body. It may be that his haunting is there to warn those who sympathize with the knight that the imperial pursuits of the narrative are flawed, that the secret must be revealed. (Frederick A. de Armas, Don Quixote Among the Saracens: A Clash of Civilizations and Literary Genres, 2011)
There. That ought to raise more questions and eyebrows!


Friday, March 09, 2018

The Ghost of All Power?

Consider: "A countenance more in sorrow than in anger."

The word "countenance" means the expression on one's face, and we might wonder if the phrase is a reference to Don Quixote, the "Knight of the Woeful Countenance," but this in fact is a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet (1602), a scene in which Horatio (Hey, that's me!) describes the emotional state of the ghost of Hamlet's father.

But for now: "Knighty-Night."


Thursday, March 08, 2018

This makes no sense!

A Male Dog is Not a . . .

Nor is this a . . .
I bitched because I had no shoes,
then met a man who had no feet,
which made me bitch still more because
he didn't worry over shoes.

Vocab Words:



Student: "This is a very hard test, Teacher. Can we have more time?"

Teacher: "No, but I'll give part credit for being wrong."


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Beyond our Ken

But what, then, does "Ken" mean?

Meaning: Understanding

As in: Beyond our Understanding

Humpf, I knew that already.

As for the name "Ken," from "Kenneth," see here.


Tuesday, March 06, 2018

All Greek to Me . . .

Thirty years ago, I shared a poem with a Greek friend of mine, and she pointed out that the title, "Anamnestic Dementia," mixed Greek and Latin. I didn't much care at the time, so I didn't change it, but now that I will be publishing the poem, I want to get it right, so I contacted her again, to ask about using "Anoiosis" in place of "Dementia" and she replied:
"Anoiosis​" does not sound right to me . . . When I check the dictionary, "anoia" is the word used there for dementia in Greek. So either "Anamnestic Anoia" or even leave it with the mixed "Anamnestic Dementia."
I prefer the pure Greek, so "Anamnestic Anoia" it shall be! But if any of my readers who are experts in Greek want to weigh in on this, please feel free to add your voice . . .


Monday, March 05, 2018

Spilt Spelt "Spilled"?

Is it: "No use crying over spilled milk." Or is it: "No use crying over spilt milk." But in either case, why no use crying? Should one rather cry over unspilled/unspilt milk? And what about spoiled or spoilt milk?

So much conventional wisdom to unpack . . .


Sunday, March 04, 2018

It's cliché to say so, but . . .

. . . "cliché" is so often described as an "overly commonplace, banal, or trite saying, expression, or idea."

Can't anyone offer something different, something good to say about clichés?


Saturday, March 03, 2018

Don't Angrify the Blood

Today's idiolectual idiom: "Mad as a hater."

Note: The rare word "hater" rhymes with the common word "tater."

What? Not "hater?" "Hatter?" Okay, "Hatter" it is!

Mad as a "hatter,"
That's whatsamatter.

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Friday, March 02, 2018

Review of Vitasta Raina's Novella: Writer’s Block

Vitasta Raina, urban planner and architect, lives and works in Mumbai, India, where she composed her novella, Writer's Block. The pun on block as "impediment" and block as "city unit" is intentional, and writers living in the block might or might not experience writer's block. Some do, some don't, but for the most part, the writers living there seem sufficiently ruly and productive.

But the city Chalet and its residents, the so-called charlatans, are about to undergo a crisis.

However, I don't want to reveal many plot spoilers. I will therefore offer a few thoughts. The story covers about 64 pages and focuses on the lives of eight writers, who are called "CAST," and distributes them across eight chapters (8x8=64), the last of which is titled, "While the Credits Roll," as if the novella were a motion picture. The first seven chapters are identified as "epiphanies," which would make them divinely inspired insights, and the subtitles read like a continuous poem of free verse style with occasional rhyme, as here on the first page:
I am if I choose to be
But I have no choice
In these million years of evolution
I have finally lost my voice (page 1)
The chapters are prose of native speaker quality, the sentences often of complex length, but nevertheless concise and clear. For example, here is a sentence describing a model of the city:
"Representing a city that in the last decadal cycle of the City Census estimated almost sixty percent of the inhabitants as parasite slum dwellers, the model displayed high rise residential estates, office complexes, shopping arcades, golf courses and a meandering network of transit corridors, flyovers and flyunders connecting the ends, the edges, the fringes and the cores of Chalet." (page 9)
The model is of an idealized Chalet, and mickle are the ways this city could be represented, extremes of poverty and riches, of asceticism and gluttony, of good and bad, of weak and strong, a list that could go on and on.

But the electricity abruptly stops working, and so does everything else, most significantly, the elevators. At that severe inconvenience, Chalet is turned upside down, literally, as the rich pour into the streets and the poor move up to the penthouses. Still, life goes on, for most of the writers, who are stuck in the middle, neither rich nor poor, and Chalet goes on as well. This is all along expected as one reads this slender volume, but the details make for the difference, and for the unexpected.

Five Stars out of Five!

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Thursday, March 01, 2018

Misunderstood Sayings

At a workshop to prepare for the upcoming semester, another instructor there used the expression "to know from the get-go," but I heard "to know from the gecko."

But maybe that other instructor is - with my help - on to something, as the image above would seem to show, so go to the gecko for to be in the know-know . . .


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

More Photos from Gangneung

A Myth of Falling

Ambrosia, for the gods alone,
but I take some for myself!

My punished powers weakened,
I find I can no longer
even tip to sip a cup!

The crown of creation,
now a bloodied mass of thorns
upon my brow . . .
plus a fire extinguisher.

Eve and Adam dwell
upon their fallen future because . . .

. . . heads will roll!


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Paradise Lost

Sun-Ae and I took a long walk yesterday in Gangneung, the city where some of the Winter Olympics took place, and here's a photo that she shot at my request:

Yes, those two are - reading from left to right -  Eve and Adam, and they serve as remainders of our fallen state, for the Korean title says "Paradise Lost" (1999). The artist is Oh Sang-il (오상일).

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Famous Mishearings

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen,
lend me your rears."


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Christina's Better Hairstyle?

Christina's New 'Do' Under that Cap?

Some days ago, I left a humorous message at Glasstire imploring Christina Rees to change her hairstyle from a recent one that reminded me of a bushel. My comment didn't pass moderation, but I think Christina got it because you see her much improved in the photo above as she self-consciously touches her cap and looks directly at me in a silent challenge that I find fault with this!

In fact, I like this cap, but I hope it's not just hiding that bushel of hair she was sporting in the previous photo . . .


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lying to Women?


Let me see if I understand this. You can lie to women, but not to men. Strange rule! And it's stated outright, as if the rule-maker doesn't care that women can read it, too. But maybe the rule-maker figured men wouldn't let women learn to read.

Or maybe it's all just a joke. The term "Lev." is obviously an abbreviation for "Levity," that funniest of all humorous Old Testament books.

You'll laugh your ass-embly right off of you . . .


Friday, February 23, 2018

Comparisons are Odious?

Comparisons are odious? Isn't that like saying analogies are abominable?


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Proof of Error!

Here are the Photos Substantiating Yesterday's Blog Post
Korea Herald of February 19, 2018
Click on Images to Enlarge

(Okay, so it's only wrong one time out of thrice.)

(But this one's wrong one time out of once!)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Winter Olympics: Korean Traditional Medicine and Fine American Cooking?

South Korea's female curing team
competes in the match with China . . .
on Feb. 18, 2018. (Yonhap)

Whether Yonhap or The Korea Herald is responsible, somebody needs to double check English spelling and not refer to the sport depicted above as Korea's "curing team."

In the same issue (February 19, 2018), The Korea Herald referred to Secretary of State Tillerson as the "chef diplomat"! Perhaps the writer was thinking of Yevgeniy Prigozhin, often called "Putin's chef."

But these are easy errors to make . . . and to electronically correct. However, I have the hard copy as proof of these two mistakes.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Professor James W. Vardaman: His Summary of His Oral History Interviews

His Sister Ann

In "Texans, Texas, and Me," Vardaman related a number of humorous anecdotes. The passage below offers a picture of the discussion of religious 'truth' as pursued in the Marine Corps:
After more than another year, I was stationed as a guard at the Naval Base in Bremerton, Washington. A lot of Texans were there. Lynch from Amarillo I especially remember -- big, raw, almost primitive. Another from Port Arthur -- DuPlantis, small and inoffensive. They had high words. Discussion was about religion. Lynch had some strong views about that subject -- especially regarding Jesus. Deep into the conversation, he proclaimed with unmitigated, if unproved, certainty that no one really knew what Jesus looked like. Duplantis really knew what Jesus looked like. Duplantis, thus, firmly dissented, saying "Oh, yes we do because holy St. Veronica had placed a handkerchief on the blood-stained face of the Savior and thus had preserved a perfect likeness." The holy relic was housed somewhere in Italy and many had seen it. Lynch shouted not to give him any of that Catholic shit. He meant business so Duplantis became, upon short reflection, persuaded to refrain from further discussion of the matter.
I think I'd likely follow the 'Christian' action undertaken by DuPlantis, discretion being the better part of valor, as someone said . . .

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Murphy's Law?

I've been sitting here trying to recall Murphy's Law:
"If anything can go wrong, it'll."
But what I've reconstructed doesn't sound quite right . . .

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Baylor University Oral History: Rebecca Sharpless Interviews History Professor James W. Vardaman

In poking around on the Internet for more information on my old Baylor history professor James W. Vardaman, I came across Baylor's oral history series, and I found three long interviews there with Professor Vardaman:
"Oral Memoirs of James W. Vardaman: A Series of Interviews Conducted by Rebecca Sharpless, July 15 - October 20, 2003"
In the second interview, Vardaman talks about Marine boot camp, six weeks of hell in which profanity was a good part of every sentence and just one thing was sacred: your mother. The drill sergeants were sadistic and stupid, Vardaman recalled, but they respected that one rule, "Your mother is sacred." Vardaman himself couldn't even let slip that his own mother was a bad cook:
Vardaman: The food [in boot camp] was better than any I'd ever had, but I couldn't say so. My mother was a horrible cook. My grandmother was worse. But, you know, your mother is sacred. You don't play with that. Your mother -- that's a [pure figure] -- [as for] the food -- I always had to say,

"Yeah, my mother was a good cook."

Nobody [back home] would admit that she wasn't [a good cook], but I knew perfectly well that the food I was eating [in the military] was the best I’d ever been given. Wasn't prepared very well most of the time. They didn't know how. They'd stick a person into the cook's slops [to serve the food], and you got it sloshed on your tray, mixed with everything else [and it was still better than my mother's cooking, but I couldn't say so because] . . . . food and your mother, they're one together [or were supposed to be]. These guys would dream about the[ir mom's cooking] -- kid from somewhere in Tennessee, Cauley was his name. Cauley would talk about his mother's fried chicken until I could see it. I just wanted it -- that so bad. I mean, he was a master at describing his mother’s cooking.

But I'll say one thing about [a] mother again, one more thing about [a] mother. Your mother was God. I can see how a Catholic could think of the Virgin Mary as somebody just absolutely fabulous who could protect you; save you, if you please. You never said anything [bad] about the mother.

One day at mail call, one of the drill instructors, the stupid, most stupid of the three, Jadzuk -- what an oaf, a clod. Lord knows where he crawled out of. Somebody must have kicked over a rock. Anyway, he was sailing the mail out to the platoon. Standing in his presence, [you'd see that] he’d find some way to insult you.

"Here, cotton ball. A coal cracker, I see. This is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Are you a coal cracker?"

"Well, no."

"Yes, you are. I said you were. That's enough."

And then they'd go around this --

"So you're from Chicago. A gangster, huh."

Guy named Orpin, a Greek kid.

"A gangster. What outfit were you with? Pretty Boy Floyd or Al Capone?"

And that's it. You know, they could say anything they wanted to humiliate you. But one day at this mail call -- forgive me for diverging -- this stupid Jadzuk says,

"Oh, who here knows somebody named Daisy? Daisy."

I said, "That's my mother."

It's the only time I was able to get at these people and not be punished. Because, boy, that was your mother, and you had touched on the magic word."

Sharpless: So they didn't give you a hard time because you had a mother named Daisy?

Vardaman: He was going to [get me with the name "Daisy," or so he thought].

Sharpless: He was going to and then --

Vardaman: If it'd been a girlfriend, Lord only knows. But I had the right answer. [Mother.]
The entire three interviews are in this same vein - detailed, funny, simply great! Go and read!

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Three-Hour Walk in Changing Climate

Lunar New Year: An Exhausting Three-Hour Lunatic Walk Along the Jungnang Stream as Climate Change Does Its Thing!

Snow Melting: Climate Change!

Brownland Ice Caps Melting: Climate Change!

Starving Emperor Penguins: Climate Change!

Human Excrescences to Blame for Everything: Climate Change!

Black Swan Turns White: Climate Change!

Ducks Fearful of Rising Tide: Climate Change!

As you see, climate change is so real!

(Yes, I'm joking, so don't conclude that I either affirm or deny Climate Change!)

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Dr. Michael Livingston: Tribute to Professor James W. Vardaman

I found a wonderful tribute to Professor Vardaman by a man whose life Vardaman changed, and I'm posting some of the tribute below (though the entire tribute can be found at the link):
A Great Teacher is an Earthquake – For Dr Vardaman

Michael Livingston, 2 February 2018

A great teacher is an earthquake . . . . I learned today that Dr James W. Vardaman has passed away.

He was a great teacher.

He was one of my earthquakes.

I . . .  had a number of scholarship offers for college . . . , including one from Baylor University . . . . [W]hen my father and I traveled to Texas for some campus visitations, Baylor happened to be a point between other destinations . . . . [W]e stopped into the visitor center.

It was a Friday, early afternoon. Campus was relatively quiet. The folks who greeted us learned that I wanted to study history, to become a teacher. Phone calls were made, and they suggested I go meet with a history professor who happened to be in his office.

A fault line, though I didn't know it, was forming.

Not long afterward, I found myself alone in the basement of the Tidwell Bible Building, home of the Department of History . . . . Professor Vardaman was grading.

I knocked. He looked up . . . The next hour comes in flashes. We talked of many things. Throughout, he treated me as a peer, as a man. He was, he later admitted, appraising me. In those minutes he found my strengths, my weaknesses, and most importantly, my potential. He knew what I needed, because this is exactly what a great teacher does.

He introduced me around. The world was a blur. He told me I belonged at Baylor. He told me he wanted me to be in his classes. He shook my hand.

I remember walking out to meet my dad, who was sitting on a bench beneath a wide and glorious tree. It was our first campus visit, but I confess to you now that I already knew exactly where I was going to go . . . .  Dr Vardaman, in a few minutes that afternoon, changed my life.

And then he did it again.

A few weeks into my sophomore year, I walked out of Dr Rust's survey course on the modern world and found a familiar face in the hall, waiting for me. I had not yet been able to have Professor Vardaman in class, but he'd apparently been keeping tabs on me. "I want you to come to Europe," he said.

I was, you must understand, a young man from a modest background who could count on one hand the number of times he had crossed the Mississippi. "Europe?"

His great bushy eyebrows nodded. "I run a study abroad program every spring in The Netherlands. I want you to come". . . .

Dollar signs were flashing in my head. Lots of them. If it wasn't for the scholarships I couldn't afford to be at Baylor at all. To add expenses to Europe on top of that? Well . . .

"I don't think I can afford it," I said.

The eyes beneath those eyebrows twinkled. "But if you could afford it then you would go?"

"Sure," I said, thinking he was risking nothing . . . .

A week later he was waiting there again. Same time. Same spot.

"Can we talk?" he asked.

"Sure," I said.

His gaze appraised, seemed satisfied. "You're going to come to Europe with me."

"Dr Vardaman," I said, trying to be gentle on the good soul, "I told you, I just don't think we can afford it. I've got scholarships, but --"

He waved me off. "Oh, I took care of that. I told some people you needed to go and now you have an extra scholarship to help cover it."

"You . . . what?"

"Let's go to my office," he said. "We'll need to talk about the details."

Not waiting for my reply, not waiting for me to retrieve my jaw from the floor, he turned on his heels and headed for the stairway to the basement. I followed him . . . to his office and then across the Atlantic to a semester spent in Maastricht that fundamentally altered my perception of the world and my place within it.

[And now,] James Vardaman has died. For all of us, the earth quakes again.
A good tribute. I need add no more . . . but Livingston does, so go to the link.

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