Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Bottomless Bottle of Beer: Shameless Self-Promotion

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What will a man not stoop to in pursuit of success? I recently stooped so low as to advertise my book on the Open Thread of a blog where I had ever before been a decent guest, the Marmot's Hole:
Allow me at least one instance of shameless self-promotion on this Open Thread.

My novella, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, is now available (since July 20th) on Amazon Kindle (or iPad, smartphone, desktop computer, etc.).

It's a postmodern Faustian dark comedy about a naif who trades his 'soul' to the devil for a bottle of endless beer. Your cost is far less, merely the low price of $4.99 for about 150 pages with illustrations by the renowned artist Terrance Lindall.

Preview is enabled, so you need not purchase blind . . .
Surprisingly, there came several positive responses. First, from "Hoju-Saram":
Well, if it's as full of witty ripostes as your contributions here at the 'Hole, it will be well-worth reading. Congrats on writing and publishing your book!
I replied:
You'd probably enjoy the Koroviev character -- he's the 'devil' I most identify with. Of course, he's also the most annoying character in the story . . .
"Bum From Korea," responding to the remark by "Hoju-Saram" about my "witty ripostes," quotes a description on the Amazon site as a transition to his own view:
"The tale recalls such writers as Neil Gaiman, H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen Vincent Benét, Charles Pierre Baudelaire, Honoré de Balzac, Herman Melville, John Milton, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Mikhail Bulgakov, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and more."

I think it's safe to say that the book meets that ["witty riposte"] standard and more. X-D I haven't even started reading it, and I love it already.
"Adams-Awry" -- who must have been reading my novella, for he quotes a line -- found that my literary writing does meet at least the "pun" standard entailed in the comment by "Hoju-Saram" on "witty ripostes":
"I thought some woman might, some eve or other, find him seductive." I see the puns are there if you look for 'em, dad. Wonderful!
The "dad" reference is a standing joke between "Adams-Awry" and me -- he says that I pun just like his father. I replied:
AA, in the shorter, anthologized version of the story (with few illustrations), an editor failed to recognize the pun, assumed I had erred, and capitalized the word as "Eve," leaving the impression that the Naif was not so naive!

If only you had been editing, my son . . .
In fairness to that editor, I ought to have given fair warning since I intended the pun to be 'misread' (miss-read?) as "Eve." This led to some Monday-Morning-Quarterbacking by "Anonymous Joe":
"I thought some woman might, some eve or other, find him seductive."

As a post-published editor or, as I more aptly see myself, MMQB, I would have played it "I thought some woman, some eve or other, might find him seductive."
A fair point, and one I myself had considered when I was composing that line, as I explained:
I considered your version, AJ, for the sentence does flow better that way, but I went with the less graceful, published one because I wanted to hide the pun a bit more.
On more material matters, "Bum From Korea" exulted that he had paid less than the price I stated:
I bought it, but only for $2.99. Because I'm a cheap bastard like that.
I explained things to the extent of my knowledge:
That $2.99 is actually the price I requested be set for customers, but the price I see listed is $4.99. If you can get it for $2.99, more power to you!
Two other commenters, "R. Elgin" and "Brendon Carr," explained that Amazon charges more for customers in Korea, though the two differed over the fairness of this extra charge. I jokingly addressed them with a suggestion:
Elgin, Brendon, I suggest we cool down those emotions with enough good, cold bottomless beer that ordering my novella -- whether for $2.99 or $4.99 -- seems like an exceedingly wise choice to both of you . . .
They didn't take me up on the offer. Maybe they know what soulless consequence to expect from bottomless beer? Anyway, one final "Guest" commented:
Lindall's illustrations are amazing. How did you get him!
I explained:
He volunteered. We got to know each other through my blog. I had been blogging a lot on Milton's Paradise Lost and in the process of looking into illustrations, I came across Lindall's images for that epic poem. The name "Lindall" rang a bell -- I recalled his illustrations of Creepy, Heavy Metal, and other quasi-underground comics I'd seen in the late seventies. I blogged on the connections, and at some point about six or seven years ago, he noticed my blog entries on his art and left a comment of appreciation. Gradually, we became friends.
And that's about the extent of my shameless self-promotion. I shamelessly hope that it bears fruit, both at the Marmot's Hole and here at Gypsy Scholar . . .

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

An Unexpected Look at Syngman Rhee

A few days ago, I received an email from Professor Lew Seok Choon (류석춘) of Yonsei University, a sociologist, but also the director of the Syngman Rhee Institute. The message was all in Korean, so my initial thought was that the email was spam, but I happened to see the Yonsei address, so I clicked on "Translate" and received a Google-garbled version that I just managed to make out as a serious message. I therefore asked my wife to decipher it for me. She explained that Professor Lew wanted to show me the Syngman Rhee Institute. Why? That wasn't clear. Nevertheless, the honor of being asked was sufficient for me to reply that I would be honored to visit.

My wife and I set up a meeting for Monday the 29th, around 11:00 a.m., and when we arrived, we were shown two documents -- Syngman Rhee's log book, which includes up through World War Two, but stopping before Liberation from Japan, and his wife Franziska's Korean War diary -- both in English. The institute wants to publish both documents in transcription and facsimile. They have a Korean-American assistant transcribing and a Korean scholar checking the transcription, particularly the names.

What did the institute want from me? A careful editing to ensure that the transcription was accurate. I think that I can do that, despite my inexpertise on Korean history.

After settling the duties, we went out for lunch in a nearby restaurant for excellent Korean food and a great view of Inwang Mountain -- the very one that Park Wan-suh had to go over as a child to reach her school. We followed up the tasty lunch with an even more inspiring view of that same mountain from a coffee shop at a higher elevation, where we enjoyed excellent coffee and talked politics and economics -- concerning not only South Korea, but the North as well!

Professor Lew promised another meeting some time after the work is done so that we have more time to discuss such things as the National Security Law, North Korean markets, and China's changing view on the North and the South . . .

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Slow Learner with Sudden Insights . . .

I finally figured out how to upload images onto my sidebar. I first tried to find out how by asking around several months back, but I asked the wrong people because none of them knew the procedure. I puzzled over the problem, but knew too little to know even where to begin thinking on it. I therefore gave up.

But the need to have the above image on my sidebar had become pressing since publishing on Kindle a week ago because I noticed my Site Meter was registering searches for "The Bottomless Bottle of Beer" that were landing on earlier posts about the story, many of those posts without a link for purchasing any version of the tale. The folks doing those searches needed an always up-to-date link, I realized.

The thought abruptly occurred to me that I might be able to copy the code of an image already displayed in a blog post and simply paste that into the sequence of codes on my sidebar. I did so, and that worked perfectly! Everyone can now see the above image reproduced at the top right of my sidebar, with a link -- as here -- to the Amazon Kindle edition.

If some satisfied reader would now just post a glowing review at the Amazon site . . .

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Uncle Cran's Family Outdoes Mine Again!

Colonel James C. Hodges
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Commander
Photo from PhillyBurbs

Just as I was basking in the glory of my daughter's achievement in winning the EBS Janghak Quiz for a grand prize of three roundtrip tickets to the Ozarks from Seoul, Uncle Cran's son, Cousin James, has enjoyed the honor of assuming command at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and thereby achieved a glory that outshines my daughter's own. According to the base website (July 25, 2013):
• Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst personnel and community members gathered to witness Col. James C. Hodges assume command of the 87th Air Base Wing and JB MDL from Col. John Wood during a change of command ceremony at the VR-64 Hangar here today.
• Hodges will provide installation support to more than 80 mission partners at the joint base and generate mission-ready expeditionary warfighters to combatant commanders in his new role.
• Hodges is entering a role in which he will be supporting all service branches of the military. He will be working alongside members from different service branches every day.
More details and more photos are available at the aforementioned site. Or one can also read more -- and see more photos -- in the PhillyBurbs news site: "Joint base gets new commander" (July 26, 2013).

Inquiring readers will want to know how Cousin James managed to achieve such high military standing. Was he specially trained in his youth? The answer is: "Yes. Yes he was." Uncle Cran began early in training Cousin James for the rigors of military life, as we see in photo below showing Cousin James busy learning to swim the hard way, namely, splashing down into deep water without any prior instructions on how to swim:

Cousin James was a mere thirteen years old at the time, but Uncle Cran -- undeterred by his son's tender years -- had already begun training Cousin James in wilderness survival skills as preparation for the military and its hardships!

That turned out well, so I reckon ol' Uncle Cran is pretty smart after all . . .

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Afterword" in List - Books from Korea

"Horace Jeffery Hodges"
List - Books from Korea

I blogged on this short article of mine back in early June when the hard copy of the KLTI's List (Volume 20, Summer 2013) was published, and a few readers may recall my dismay at being identified as "Horace J. Hodges." In everyday life, I prefer "Jeffery" (or "Jeff"), but for official purposes, I accept "Horace Jeffery Hodges."

Anyway, I informed the editors and received a promise that my full name would be presented in the electronic version, which it is.

Interested individuals can click over to "Afterword" and read -- if they haven't read before -- my brief, amateur analysis of Korean literature: "Encountering Korean Literature: A Personal Journey."

By the way, here's what my bio there states:
Horace Jeffery Hodges is a professor of the English Program Office and Division of International Studies at Ewha Womans University, where he teaches composition and research methods, and occasionally also history and theology. He has a doctorate in history from UC Berkeley and has published articles on history, political science, religious studies, and literary criticism. He is also a published writer and poet.
My name was presented in full in that, too, as you can see. I suppose some readers might think that I make a lot of noise over a minor issue, but having one's name correctly written is important for anyone who publishes, whether fiction or nonfiction.

I've been identified as "Jeffrey Horace Hodges," "Horace Geoffrey Hodges," "Horrace Jeffrey Hodges," and a few other misnomers, so I struggle with this all the time.

It's a pain in the ask me no more questions . . .

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Friday, July 26, 2013

A Long-Delayed Re-Visit to the Craftworks Taphouse

I've been so busy teaching and editing for the past year that I've not managed to visit the Craftworks Taphouse pub in all that time, but I keep sending folks over that way. I finally found some time yesterday, however, and personally introduced three colleagues from my university to the place. You see our hands -- hands that grade and edit! -- at other work below:

As I told Publican Dan Vroon via email -- he wasn't in, having flown to Canada on Tuesday -- my colleagues loved the place:
Dear Dan,

Just to let you know . . . my three colleagues and I had a great time. The beer and food are as good as ever, and the three loved the place. We stayed from 12 to 5, and I drank six beers . . .

Just got home. I hope you enjoyed your trip [home] to Canada.


From the link under the iconic Craftworks image above, but more particularly here, I see that the Craftworks has expanded to Pangyo, Seoul! Expansion? Yeah! I'll drink to that!

I tried to persuade the other three there with me to join in a photo op, but they prefer anonymity. Too bad. On the upside, though, I got them interested in the Kindle version of my novella, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, which I view on my iPad.

An apt iPad app to top off the bottom of an affable day!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shayman, Lindall, Bulgakov, Griboyedov, and I . . .

The Naif Encounters Koroviev
The Bottomless Bottle of Beer
Illustration by Terrance Lindall

Meanwhile, a serendipitous encounter in the New York Times:
I speak three foreign languages and have friends and acquaintances from close to 100 countries, many of which I have visited. My education is exclusively American. And ethnically I am only half Russian. Why, then, is this sense of identity, engrained in civic nationalism, so deep and defining?

Is it because I can enjoy Bulgakov or Griboyedov at any one of a dozen theaters, each of them globally competitive?
A question that Vladislav Shayman asks himself in "Moscow My Home" (New York Times, July 23, 2013). I cannot ask myself such a question, for my city is not Moscow, but Seoul. Nonetheless, I love Bulgakov, and have encountered Griboyedov, as you can see below in the scene where Fagotto-Koroviev bum-rushes the Naif in my story, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer:
"The name's Fagotto," he suddenly announced, again grasping my hand and pumping it vigorously. "I'm meeting a friend at Café Griboyedov!"

That rattled me. "Griboyedov's?" I stared.

"Of course not!" he exclaimed, as though offended. "I wouldn’t be caught dead at Café Griboyedov's. Not at all. I've an appointment at Café Griboyedov." He gave me a peculiar look. "You're not headed to Café Griboyedov's, are you?"

Flustered, and unsure precisely where I was going, I stammered, "No, yes . . . no . . . I mean yes!"

Koroviev, or Fagotto, looked at me suspiciously, then smiled and broke into unexpected laughter. "I get it!" he exclaimed. "You're playing that childhood game, 'Yes-Means-No, No-Means-Yes.' Very amusing! I take it you're headed for Griboyedov's Café."

I thought for a tentative moment. "Is that where you're going?" I finally asked.

"Approximately!" he cried, still amused.

"I'm going to the same place . . . as you," I said carefully.

"Wonderful!" he exclaimed. "You can join me."

"I don't want to disturb your meeting," I objected.

"Nonsense! Hella will be damned happy to see you!"

"Mr. Fagotto . . ."

"Koroviev," he corrected. "Let's say it's Koroviev."

"Uh, Mr. Koroviev . . ."

"Just 'Koroviev,'" he insisted.

"Okay . . . Koroviev, are you sure this woman 'Hella' will really be glad to see me?"

"Why?" he replied, perplexed. "Have the two of you had an argument?"

"No, of course not!" I exclaimed.

"Why the worry, then?" he asked.

"I've never met Hella," I protested.

"All the better!" he exclaimed. "You've never met a woman like Hella. You'll just love her to death!" He then lapsed into an unexpected, brooding silence, as though reminded of a gloomy thought, and sat hunched over, staring at his feet for ten or fifteen minutes until we had reached some downtown stop or other, whereupon he abruptly unfolded himself, grabbed my arm, and practically dragged me from the bus. "Our stop!" he cried, joyful once more, and dashed up the sidewalk in a devil-may-care manner. I hurried to keep up with my arm, fearing I might otherwise lose it, his grip was so powerful. "Do you often go to Café Griboyedov?" he cried out as we rushed alongside the street, keeping pace with the bus, from which passengers stared out open-mouthed, like fish in an aquarium.

"Never," I confessed.

Koroviev stopped instantly. Every face on the bus twisted its neck to watch as the bus moved on. "You don't like Café Griboyedov?" His expression was of shock, his tone of offense. "But I thought I’d seen you there yesterday! Or was it tomorrow . . ." His voice trailed off as he grew pensive.

Again thoroughly confused by the odd fellow's rapid non-sequiturs, I barely managed to protest, "No! I have nothing against the place. I meant I'd never been there before." Hoping to placate him, I added, "I am going tomorrow."

"Ah, tomorrow," he concluded, as if that clarified everything. "And also today. Two consecutive days! You must really like the place! Let's hurry!" He again started off at a brisk walk on those long legs. We soon overtook the bus, which had paused at a stop. Its passengers now stared at us as if we were madmen. I thought them at least half right.

"Do you go often?" I inquired.

"Go where?"

"To Café Griboyedov," I said, wondering why I had to specify the very place we were currently discussing.

"Of course!" he exclaimed. "Every day!"

"Can you tell me about Griboyedov?" I asked, taking care to drop the "apostrophe s" to forestall misunderstanding.

"Certainly," he agreed, never breaking stride. "Griboyedov was an early nineteenth-century Russian writer and diplomat who wrote one great literary work, Woe from Wit, before his murder at the hands of an angry mob in Tehran during the winter of 1829 shortly after arriving in Persia, and though he suffered the misfortune of being clever, for it is folly to be wise, no record survives of his having made any witticism at the Persians' expense."

Momentarily taken aback, I collected my own wits. "I meant," I explained, "could you tell me about Café Griboyedov?"

"No need!" he cried, pointing with his left hand. "We're here!" I caught a brief glimpse of a large red sign with golden Cyrillic script that must have read "Café Griboyedov," as Koroviev dragged me inside.
To get the context to this passage, you'll need to read the book, available at Amazon, on Kindle. Perhaps I should contact Mr. Shayman and gauge his interest . . .

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Terrance Lindall Honored by Cambridge University Press: Illustration for Cover of Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost!

Terrance Lindall -- the renowned artist who illustrated my Bottomless Bottle of Beer tale -- has received the outstanding honor of having one of his Paradise Lost illustrations selected for the cover of the Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost:
The Yuko Nii Foundation is delighted to announce that Cambridge University Press will use one of Terrance Lindall's renowned Paradise Lost illustrations for the cover of the Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost. Terrance said "It is a special honor indeed to be selected for a British publication, since the British over the years have produced a great quantity of outstanding Paradise Lost illustrators, among them the great William Blake."

The Cambridge story began in 1534 when Henry VIII granted them letters patent, allowing the Press to print 'all manner of books'.

Cambridge published its first book in 1584 making it the oldest publishing house in the world. Over the next four centuries the Press's reputation spread throughout Europe, based on excellence in scholarly publishing of academic texts, poetry, school books, prayer books and Bibles. Along the way Cambridge published ground-breaking works such as Newton's Principia Mathematica, Milton's Lycidas, Ernest Rutherford's Radio-activity, and Noam Chomsky's Language and Mind.

In the 20th century Cambridge extended that influence to become a global publisher. Today Cambridge has over 50 offices across the globe, employs almost 2,000 people, publishes over 45,000 titles by authors from over 100 countries, and is still growing, bringing thousands of subjects and millions of ideas to the world. (Cambridge University Press: History of the Press)
Lindall's art for Paradise Lost also appears on the cover of Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton, released by Random House in 2008. Holt Rinehart and Winston used another Lindall Paradise Lost image in a 2009 high school textbook with a distribution of 350,000 in both English and Spanish. Oxford University's major exhibit "Citizen Milton" at the Bodleian Library used one of Lindall's artworks for Paradise Lost from the Nii Foundation collection.

"Without a doubt, Terrance Lindall is the foremost illustrator of Paradise Lost in our age, comparable to other great illustrators through the ages, and someone who has achieved a place of high stature for all time." Robert J. Wickenheiser, Ph.D.

Robert Wickenheiser is a renowned Milton Scholar whose collection is one of the major collections of materials related to John Milton, editions and studies and artworks, in the world. The collection resides at the University of South Carolina. In 2015 there will be a major conclave to celebrate the collection with new additions of contemporary fine art illustrations. There is currently an open call for art for this exhibition, with information obtainable via email: wahcenter at

In 2012 Lindall completed work on what many believe to be the greatest printed and hand embellished book of Paradise Lost illustrations ever produced (with 23.75 carat gold leaf borders). It will be on display Septembers 22nd at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center.

The hand embellished gold illuminated 13 x 19 inch elephant folio

I am thus honored in turn that an artist of Lindall's stature was willing to take time off from his very busy schedule to create the illustrations for my Bottomless Bottle of Beer story.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More on: The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, Amazon Kindle Version

The Naif Peers Through Mr. Em's Shop Window
Image by Terrance Lindall

The Kindle version of The Bottomless Bottle of Beer -- introduced a couple of days ago -- is effectively a second, corrected edition. The first edition, a hard copy, was released under time pressure, and consequently had errors, the most significant being in the following, opening passage:
THE WORLD SOMETIMES just declines to cooperate with my good intentions. I had been drinking a bit more than my wife thought reasonable for my health and our pocketbook, and after a close encounter with a breathalyzer that I managed to confound by sheer dint of will, I bowed to her legalistic position on laws against drunk driving and even agreed to stop drinking altogether. I didn't intend to pursue the twelve-step route to complete spiritual indoctrination, so I resolved to quit entirely on my own. But I reasoned that such a significant occasion called for a drink, and I wanted that drink to be extraordinary, even unforgettable. My wife grudgingly acceded to my desire for just one more bottle to celebrate my decision, and I began to wander the town looking for that perfect beer.

My quest took me down to an old part of the city that I'd never seen before, and I was surprised at its narrow and twisting, cobblestone streets. The area looked vaguely European, too archaic for the New World. At length, on a back street that twisted like a wandering maze, only to decline into a dead end, I came upon a shop above whose door was a metal arrow extending, sharp point outward, perpendicular to the shop's façade and from whose shaft, suspended by two hooks, was a small sign bearing some rather puzzling words in Gothic script that I managed to make out after a fair bit of close inspection:
Our Back's Ratskeller
Mr. Faland Em, Proprietor
I could at first only imagine an exterminator of rats, but the word was not "Ratskiller." Definitely "Ratskeller." Was it a misspelling? Curious, I attempted to peer through the window, but the shop was dark, and I could make out nothing of the vague room's shape, nor of anyone within, nothing distinguishable in member, joint, or limb, just seemingly insubstantial shadow.
This passage ends with the lines depicted in the above image by noted artist, illustrator, and curator Terrance Lindall, but the words of the second paragraph are severely cut due to my rushed, cursory copy-editing. Here's the full version, in which paragraph two above is expanded to form paragraphs two and three, as I had originally written:
THE WORLD SOMETIMES just declines to cooperate with my good intentions. I had been drinking a bit more than my wife thought reasonable for my health and our pocketbook, and after a close encounter with a breathalyzer that I managed to confound by sheer dint of will, I bowed to her legalistic position on laws against drunk driving and even agreed to stop drinking altogether. I didn't intend to pursue the twelve-step route to complete spiritual indoctrination, so I resolved to quit entirely on my own. But I reasoned that such a significant occasion called for a drink, and I wanted that drink to be extraordinary, even unforgettable. My wife grudgingly acceded to my desire for just one more bottle to celebrate my decision, and I began to wander the town looking for that perfect beer.

My quest took me down to an old part of the city that I'd never seen before, and I was surprised at its narrow and twisting, cobblestone streets. The area looked vaguely European, too archaic for the New World, but I shrugged the impression off, figuring the streets and buildings had been designed to draw tourists. Such traps are never what they seem to the unwary, but I had to marvel that the effect was so authentic. I noticed a few wine shops, and their selections were truly excellent -- again an authentic touch -- though the shops seemed to stock only older vintages, but I wasn't looking for wine anyway.

At length, on a back street that twisted like a wandering maze, only to decline into a dead end, I came upon a shop above whose door was a metal arrow extending, sharp point outward, perpendicular to the shop's façade and from whose shaft, suspended by two hooks, was a small sign bearing some rather puzzling words in Gothic script that I managed to make out after a fair bit of close inspection:
Our Back's Ratskeller
Mr. Faland Em, Proprietor
I could at first only imagine an exterminator of rats, but the word was not "Ratskiller." Definitely "Ratskeller." Was it a misspelling? Curious, I attempted to peer through the window, but the shop was dark, and I could make out nothing of the vague room's shape, nor of anyone within, nothing distinguishable in member, joint, or limb, just seemingly insubstantial shadow.
I had missed that unkind cut that spliced two paragraphs together in the loss of several lines, but my former student, Eideticboth, caught the error and alerted me shortly before publishing the second 'edition' on Kindle and saved me from later correcting work after the e-book publication.

Aside from the corrections, the Kindle edition offers a different reading experience since the words appear before and after the images rather than words superimposed upon images, as was done originally according to Lindall's aesthetic vision, which can be seen in the (also corrected) sample below:

Personally, I rather liked Lindall's design, for it recalls the underground-comics mentality of the Sixties that I retain a nostalgic sense for, but I have to acknowledge that this current, clean separation of text from image -- which has Lindall's approval -- allows for an easier reading experience.

This distinction of text and image also makes for a more 'novelistic' feel to my story, which now stretches to 156 pages on Kindle, counting from cover to cover, as I discovered when I purchased the Kindle edition on Sunday and read it on my iPad, an enjoyable reading experience of over two hours.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Daughter Sa-Rah Wins EBS Trip to the Ozarks!

Educational Broadcasting System

This past Saturday (July 20, 2013), my daughter Sa-Rah (황사라) competed in a quiz show on Korea's Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) -- the EBS Janghak Quiz (장학퀴즈) -- and she won a trip to my hometown of Salem, Arkansas! She can even take two family members along! I'm staying behind in Seoul because I have too much work to do, but my wife and son will tag along.

Moreover, the quiz show was recorded -- as will be the Salem-in-the-Ozarks trip -- for an EBS broadcast later this year!

I had no idea of the potential award and hadn't paid much attention to the upcoming competition, but I did notice her last-minute preparations on Friday evening as she watched video clips of the quiz show, and she was thinking strategically as she observed previous contestants. There was no way to study to know more and answer better, she told me, but there were ways of recognizing patterns in the manner of the questioning, e.g., the easy answer that sounded right was almost always wrong.

She appears to have been correct in her strategy, for she says of her victory, "I was good at guessing the answer."

Such modesty . . .

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Available on Amazon Kindle: The Bottomless Bottle of Beer

On Friday the 19th of July (2013), I finally managed to get my story, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, uploaded onto Kindle (which also works for iPads and other tablets, as well as smartphones, I'm told), and it appeared on the Amazon Kindle site yesterday (Saturday the 20th). I was assisted in this by a former student of mine, 'Eideticboth,' who figured out that text and image needed to be separated for the individual pages to upload.

That decoupling increased the book length to an estimated 131 pages of story, the interspersed illustrations by noted illustrator, artist, and curator Terrance Lindall accounting for the greater number, and though I liked Lindall's original design of story printed upon image, I find advantages to the separation of the two, as this makes for easier reading and clearer viewing. It works.

Previewing is possible, and any old computer can handle Amazon's previewing function merely by clicking on the book's image at the Amazon site. I estimate about 12 pages' worth of story in the previewable part. If you like Milton, Goethe, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Gaiman, and a number of other such writers, this moral fable about a naive young man who makes the bad decision to trade his soul for a bottomless bottle of beer will appeal to your literary tastes. The story is undoubtedly for you.

Even if you don't especially care for those writers, you might well enjoy this novella anyway, so give it a whirl!

You can at least check out the free preview to see if it's your sort of tale . . .

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Coping With My Failed IQ Test!

Sorrowing Over IQ Test

My schedule was so whacked over the past few weeks that my only time to meet colleagues for coffee was mornings at 7:00! Oddly, people were reluctant . . . even my coffee-klatch friend Prof. Cho, aka Annie. But maybe it's because I failed the IQ test she gave me a while back, questions like, "Which letter of the alphabet is a bird?" None of them, obviously, and I said so. That was not the official answer . . . But I was at a disadvantage, for Annie used the test sheet like a veil to obscure her face as she gave the test! Possibly, that was half of a double-blind experiment, but it felt like a less-than-serious distraction from the very serious business of IQ testing! I therefore wrote an e-letter of complaint -- over the test and the coffee-klatch refusal -- and demanded a retest over coffee:
Dear Annie,

I am shocked! Shocked! To learn that you are unwilling to rise at 5 a.m. to meet me for a 7 a.m. coffee!

Your ineluctable reluctance stems from my failure of that IQ test last Thursday, doesn't it? I literally proved my illiteracy -- I don't even know the alphabet!

But the test was unfair! How could I concentrate with you holding the test paper before your face like a veil? Is that even allowed in testing?

I insist on a re-test. How about 7 a.m.? Any day from Monday through Thursday . . .



PS Don't worry. I know you can't make it that early.
Annie replied:
Here's a retest!

What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?

What can you catch but not throw?

What's black and white and red all over?

What's black and white and red all over?

Give me food, and I will live; give me water, and I will die. What am I?

What begins with P, ends with E, and has 1,000 letters?

A father and son were in a car accident. The father died, and the son was taken to the hospital. The doctor said, "I cannot operate on this boy. He is my son." How is this possible?

What kind of nut has a hole?

A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, and left on Friday. How is this possible?

No cheating!!!!!

I undertook to take the test:
Answers attempted below:

Here's a retest!


What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?

I have to throw in the towel already!

What can you catch but not throw?

Such a question's nothing to sneeze at!

What's black and white and red all over?

An integrated, communist school system!

What's black and white and red all over?

Hmmm . . . question sounds familiar. A newspaper . . . unless you're reading the Korea Herald.

Give me food, and I will live; give me water, and I will die. What am I?

Seriously waterlogged.

What begins with P, ends with E, and has 1,000 letters?

A very long misspelling of "pie"! Or a snailmail "post-office"!

A father and son were in a car accident. The father died, and the son was taken to the hospital. The doctor said, "I cannot operate on this boy. He is my son." How is this possible?

Well, it's a long tale of a sordid affair that all began when . . . blah blah blah . . . and so the mother got her M.D. and married the guy even though he was a bad driver, and . . . what was the question again?

What kind of nut has a hole?

I dunno, but if I see a nut coming down the sidewalk, I always bolt the opposite direction!

A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, and left on Friday. How is this possible?

He's a cowboy on a planet with only one day of the week, i.e., Friday! Their horses are all called that, too. In fact, "Friday" is the only word in their vocabulary.

No cheating!!!!!

Odd request . . . too many distractors . . .
Before Annie could reply, a few better answers occurred to me:
After the test, "desert" occurred to me as something that dies if watered . . . but how would one feed a desert?
Right after that email, the real answer came to me:
Ah! Feed a fire. Don't water it!
But I was sure I was stumped on the P and E question:
Dear Annie,

"What begins with P, ends with E, and has 1,000 letters?"

I guess I'll have to concede on this.

Do I get a grade?


My mind turned to thoughts of drowning my sorrows over yet another failed IQ test:

Drowning Sorrows

But I turned out to be right! The answer was "post-office"! What a surprise! My reply to this other question, however, was counted wrong: "What kind of nut has a hole?" I had replied: "I dunno, but if I see a nut coming down the sidewalk, I always bolt the opposite direction!" The 'true' answer was:
A DONUT!!!!!!
But I felt that my answer was also right, so I politely inquired of the wholly nutty professor who had given me these IQ tests:
Not the sort that goes with a bolt?
Annie relented:
That's not the official answer but I'll give you credit and change your grade. Please send me all of your tests and papers from this semester and I'll ask the TA to start preparing the paperwork!
That sounded familiar, for I've had to do that, myself, so I wrote back:
I see you are experienced in making mistakes . . .
Annie replied:
Just once!!!! But I'll never forget!
True, one doesn't forget a grading error that requires such paperwork -- but all the more reason to drown sorrows since I myself made that same sort of error recently:

Sorrows Drowned

These three photos are courtesy of Prof. Annie Cho, taken on her smartphone at the EWIS celebratory lunch held at the summer session's end.

Thank you, Annie, and have a great time in Hawaii . . .

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Uncle Cran Recommends . . .

Uncle Cran recently sent me a brief note on things literary, specifically on the author Joe Smith, a local writer who sets his stories in the Ozarks:
Joe Smith was James' high school teacher, now retired. I tried to send him your blogspot address, but my antivirus program blocks it every time. He has written two Civil War novels, plus four humorous short stories about life in the Ozarks.
From looking at Joe W. Smith's website, I think my uncle meant not "four humorous short stories," but "four collections of humorous short stories" (or maybe three collections).

I haven't read any of Mr. Smith's writing, and there don't appear to be any excerpts -- the "Excerpts" link leads instead to a book description -- so I can't comment on that, but I can easily imagine that anyone interested in Ozark stories would find the writing agreeable.

Amazon Books lists one of Mr. Smith's novels, and offers a bio that puts him in my part of the Ozarks:
In the 1860's Joe W. Smith's family settled on land now covered by Lake Norfork in the Arkansas Ozarks. He grew up hearing the Civil War stories of his uncle, Woodrow Smith. Smith has spent over 30 years teaching high school science in the rural schools of Yellville, AR, Bakersfield, MO, and Viola, AR. Along with teaching he has worked as a lumber stacker, woodcutter, stockman, livestock buyer, ferry deckhand, truck driver, mobile home mover, equipment operator, bus driver, nurseryman, environmental technician, biologist, and park ranger. He draws from this varied background while writing.

Since the history of the Civil War in the Ozarks has been largely ignored by writers, Smith has started work on a series of historical novels depicting the period which spawned such characters as the James and Younger boys, whose relatives still live in the Ozarks, and Wild Bill Hickok, who was a Union scout in the Ozarks during the Civil War.

Smith and his wife, Linda, live in the rugged hills of Baxter County on the Arkansas-Missouri border. They have two grown children.
Mr. Smith must have taught science to Cousin James at Viola High School, and was probably good at teaching the subject because Cousin James went on to study mechanical engineering (if I recall) during his college years and has done quite well in the US Air Force with that education. I believe he's now a colonel, but Uncle Cran can correct me if I'm mistaken.

Anyway, I might just fork over some money to read Mr. Smith's works, but I'd also suggest that his website provide some actual excerpts, maybe the introductory pages of the first chapter of each novel, that sort of thing . . .

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dr. Mohammed Malkawi: "Don't we want to make the infidels angry? Isn't this Islam?"

Dr. Mohammed Malkawi

In its Special Dispatch, No. 5364 (July 16, 2013), Memri offers us a stirring message from Dr. Mohammed Malkawi, doctoral expert in computer engineering, adjunct professor at Argosy University-Chicago, and founder of Chicago's Hizb Al-Tahrir (Party of Liberation): "Let Britain, America, And The Entire West Go To Hell, Because The Caliphate Is Coming, Allah Willing." Here's his view of the world, as presented in that stirring message presented in Jordan recently on the 92nd anniversary of the fall of the Islamic Caliphate:
"After Islam had reached the peak of glory and the Muslims were masters of the world, there came a time when the infidels conspired against the Muslims, who were in a deep slumber. Britain conspired against them, along with Arab and Turkish collaborators and traitors, and ended the Islamic Caliphate and its glory. Ever since the Caliphate was destroyed, the world has lost an exemplar of justice, a model for humanity in its entirety. Since then, the world has been held hostage by wolves, who do not respect the honor of a man or a believer."
That sounds like a fairy tale: "Once upon a time . . ." Masters of the world? I don't recall that Islam ever conquered China. Nor a few other places, e.g., Europe, North America, South America, or Australia. And if the Caliphate was so great, why did it ever grow so weak as to collapse? If it was such a fine exemplar of justice, why was it opposed? If it was a model for all of humanity, why did humanity reject it? Why? Because "there came a time when the infidels conspired against the Muslims, who were in a deep slumber," as he just told us. But surely that was Allah's will, else things would have turned out differently. Nevertheless, he and an unnamed speaker call for Islamic law:
Professor Mohammed Malkawi: "We demand a state ruled by the Koran."
Crowd: "We demand a state ruled by the Koran."
Unnamed Speaker: "We demand a state ruled by the Koran."
Crowd: "We demand a state ruled by the Koran."
Unnamed Speaker: "We reject secularist rule."
Crowd: "We reject secularist rule."
Unnamed Speaker: "We reject the rule of Satan."
Crowd: "We reject the rule of Satan."
The lowest rule of Satan would be democracy -- people's rule rather than Allah's law -- so bring back the Caliphate, says Malkawi, no matter what the infidels say:
"Oh Muslims, the infidels and their collaborators warn you and scare you about using the term 'caliphate.' They say: Use the word 'religion,' use the word 'Islam,' use any word you like, but the word 'caliphate' is too much . . . . They say to you: 'You can say anything except that you want Islamic law.' For them, Islamic law is something unimaginably harsh . . . . They say that the caliphate makes the infidels angry. Don't we want to make the infidels angry? Isn't this Islam?"
There you have it. According to this Islamist, the religion of Islam is supposed to make infidels angry. His message is thus stirring only in the sense of stirring up trouble.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hyewon Ryu: "Postscript" on Interiority and Discipline

Too Foucauldian?
Or Not Foucauldian Enough?
The Pendulum Ever Swings
Google Images

I sometimes lack the discipline to stop taking things too lightly, even when a degree of gravity is wanting. Perhaps I belong in a pre-Modern city . . . or the Postmodern world? Dr. Hyewon Ryu has possibly diagnosed my condition. In posting the other day on her doctoral thesis, "The Metropolitan Body in the Rise of the Early English Novel," I quoted from her "Astract," so I had better quote a passage from her "Postscript" today as medicine for my levity by teaching me self-discipline:
This thesis has investigated the metropolitan body depicted in the early English novel as a nexus of discursive, spatial, and somatic operations. The transformation in the meaning of the body has been charted in relation to the rise of the modern metropolis and the emergence of bodily and spatial regulation. New apparatuses of discipline relocated the self from the collective social body to a private inner sanctum, from physical, sensory encounters to discursive, virtual construction, and from the world of the metropolis to the domesticity of private space. As the language of sensibility gained force as a social tool to establish the boundaries of personal propriety, the collective, physical experience of the city was increasingly represented as promiscuous, disorderly, and lowly. As a result of the increasing emphasis given to deep interiority and private authority, the domestic sphere became a haven separated from the role-playing masquerade of London society. The intensified inner life of the metropolitan character came into being through the initial encounter with and the ultimate negation of urban attractions and dangers in the early English novel. (page 183)
Hence Jane Austen. Deep interiority. And distrust of the city's attractions. Of course, this "Postscript" might put some readers off -- too Foucauldian! -- but the thesis is in fact very interesting and well written, and from the evidence offered, even plausible.

And personally persuasive, almost, in nearly convincing me to seek interiority, discipline myself, and avoid both "the collective, physical experience of the city" and its "role-playing masquerade" . . . which I suppose is all acceptable, so long as I don't have to leave Seoul.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cousin Bill Disagrees With Wife Cheryl And Gets Proven . . . Right?

The Colors Purple?
Or Pink?

Cousin Bill occasionally misspeaks, but his wife Cheryl helpfully corrects him -- as do all wives all husbands all the time -- and in a previous "Weekly Rambling," he referred to his and Cheryl's "purple crape myrtle" tree, the color of which became a minor point of mild disagreement between man and wife . . . or maybe between husband and woman? Anyway:
I thought I'd posted another error as Cheryl questioned "our purple crape myrtle" with "I think it's pink" . . . [and] that left me wondering if too many AB's had left me color blind . . . [but] neighbor Les came to the rescue on that . . . [when ]he snipped a pink flower from one of his bushes, a flower from ours, and we cautiously approached the doubter with evidence in hand . . . receiving [a concession:] "I'll be, it is purple . . . for a change you guys are right." Aha.
Aha indeed! Savor it, Bill. Seldom does a man emerge victorious in a disagreement with a woman, and even then, the glory of that moment fades as fast as those felled flowers Les bore as evidence in this garden variety dispute.

Let my blog post serve as reminder . . .

Monday, July 15, 2013

Uncle Cran on Grass, Needles, and Acid . . .

Johnson's Grass?
Or Uncle Cran's?

Time again for Uncle Cran's Sporadic "Farm Report"! The above image reveals Uncle Cran's true crop: Grass! In his own words:
We had a bumper crop of hay this year with the above normal spring rains. The pastures are doing well also. We are needing rain again, but there is still plenty of grass in the pastures.
Grass? What sort of grass?
One kind of grass has really flourished this year. Johnson grass is a plant that makes good hay, and can make two, and sometimes three cuttings, in a season.
Sounds lucrative, Uncle Cran! But don't misdirect attention toward Farmer Johnson down the road! Anyway, what about this fine grass?
It can be dangerous to livestock. It contains prussic acid, that can cause a cow to bloat with gas to the point that you have to punch a hole, or insert a large hypodermic needle in their flank to relieve the pressure, or they will die. We lost a bull a few years ago from eating it.
Well, Uncle Cran, leave off eating it for a day or two, and you might find that lost bull! And look who's an expert with needles! Not to mention acid, as Sixties folk like Uncle Cran might prefer to call LSD (Live-Stock Death). Never trust acid from Prussia! Anyway, how special is that grass?
I was walking with my three dogs this morning, and saw a stand of these plants growing beside the road. I pulled one and brought it to the house to measure. It was 9 feet, 6 inches, and there were a lot more at least that length.
A stand! And he bought some! (I thought Uncle Cran was growing the stuff!) What about that "grass in the pastures," of which there is "plenty"?

A truly enlightening "Farm Report" indeed. Little wonder these reports are sporadic . . .

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hyewon Ryu: "The Metropolitan Body in the Rise of the Early English Novel"

Google Images

A few years back, though not many, Professor Julie Choi here at Ewha Womans University asked if I could assist with one of her doctoral students in English literature, an especially gifted student, Ms. Hyewon Ryu (류혜원), who was working on the emergence of the English novel, and since I'm interested in literature, I agreed to serve as proofreader and occasional adviser.

That was a good decision, for I enjoyed working with Ms. Ryu, mostly offering editorial suggestions, but occasionally referring her to a book, e.g., Martin Jay's Downcast Eyes for the line Jay draws between Christianity's stress on God's clear, corrective vision of the individual and modern regulation of the body through observation that has been internalized. Whatever I might have contributed through such suggestions -- and there was little improvement for me to suggest -- Ms. Ryu recently submitted her thesis, "The Metropolitan Body in the Rise of the Early English Novel," and found it approved, making her now "Dr. Ryu." Here's the first paragraph of her "Abstract":
This thesis examines the eighteenth-century English novel in terms of the metropolitan body, molded in and by the discursive space of London. Viewing the body as both specific and collective, somatic and discursive, this thesis traces the interrelation between the construction of the novel and the body, particularly with regard to the city of London. The analysis is based upon the assumption that many strata coordinate the construction of the body as a nexus of discursive, spatial, and somatic operations. The eighteenth-century novel not only reflects the physicality of the body but shapes it through the production and consumption of discourses about the body. How the disruptive corporeality of the metropolitan body and its discipline configure the topography of London in the new form of the novel is the main concern of this thesis. Extending the Foucauldian framework of changing technologies of discipline, and incorporating the critique of everyday lived experience to the literary domain of the novel, this thesis views the structure of the eighteenth-century novel as corporeally and topographically figured.
Abstracts are always abstract. Her main point is an extension of Foucault's analysis of the way in which Modernity disciplined the body by subjecting it to continual observation, but she also draws upon the insights of Norbert Elias on the civilizing process. Now that I think of it, I ought to have directed her to Marcel Mauss's 1934 essay, "Techniques of the Body," in which he observes, "We no longer know how to squat." Well, I cannot think of everything, and perhaps not of this point in particular because, like modern folk everywhere, I'm too preoccupied with standing tall. Actually, I tend to slouch, but my teenage son, who stands straight, is working on disciplining my body by subjecting me to continual observation -- a domestic variant of Foucault's panopticon -- and correcting my slouching lack of discipline through his endless observations! Speaking of discipline and its lack, I've gotten off-topic. I wanted to add that despite the abstractness of Dr. Ryu's "Abstract," the thesis is in fact very easy to read -- well written, well supported, well done! And in spite of my inadequacies as informal adviser, Dr. Ryu mentions me in the "Acknowledgements":
I also appreciate the time and effort Horace Jeffery Hodges has spent carefully reviewing my thesis.
Dr. Ryu didn't really need much of my help, but anyway, if others out there are interested in the rise of the English novel, this thesis is a good place to start. I suppose it'll be in Ewha's library.

Oh, that image above! Ned Ward's London Spy is one of the early texts Dr. Ryu analyzes . . .

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Father's Passing . . .

Justice C. Anderson

Thirty-seven and a half years ago, I was playing with a basketball in the hall of my dorm at Baylor University when a fellow freshman rounded the corner and, finding the ball rolling in his direction, performed some maneuver with his feet to send it flying straight up behind his back and crashing into the ceiling.

After a moment's surprise, I asked the fellow, "You play soccer?"

"," he said, continuing on his way and up the stairs.

Gradually, Tim Anderson -- as I learned was his name -- became my friend. I discovered that he had grown up in Argentina in a missionary family, thus explaining his proficiency in soccer (he played for Baylor) and his fluency in Spanish (he read Don Quixote in the original). We eventually joined the satirical-minded NoZe Brotherhood around the same time and rented a flat together off campus for a couple of semesters, and even later shared a flat in Fribourg, Switzerland, where he was based as he pursued archaeology and I was visiting as I took a year off from doctoral studies.

In my months there in Fribourg, I met Tim's father, Justice C. Anderson, who stopped by on a trip through Europe. I had actually met him before, briefly, at Baylor, but we had more time to chat in Fribourg. I found him a kindly, genial man, good in conversation, and worth knowing.

I didn't get to know him much better, of course, since our paths never again crossed, but Tim kept me up on his father's career.

I was therefore saddened to learn last January that he had passed on. Now that Baylor Magazine has noted his decease, I can offer more details of his accomplished life than I could have several months ago:
Dr. Justice C. Anderson, BA '50, MA '51, of Fort Worth, died Dec. 29 at age 83. A retired professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he was known as "Uncle Justo" to friends and students worldwide. At Baylor he met and married his wife of 63 years, Mary Ann Elmore Anderson, BA '49. He served for 17 years in Argentina with the International Mission Board before returning to Southwestern in 1974, directing the World Missions Center for 20 years. He authored numerous academic publications and a series of books in Spanish and English. His major contribution was a history of the worldwide Baptist movement. In retirement, Anderson taught at Baylor's Truett Seminary from 2003-10. All four children and a grandson also graduated from Baylor. ("In Memoriam," Baylor Magazine, Spring 2013, Vol. 11, Issue 3)
My condolences again, Tim, on your losing your father, and condolences as well to all who were touched by the man . . .

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Time Passages . . .

In today's blog entry, you find yet another timely passage from the story I'm writing. Here, the mysterious Agashka offers to lead our protagonist to her Boss's Smoking Room:
"Lead the way," I said.

She did, and I followed, passing an arrow indicating a hallway that led to the smoking room, though not so directly as one might expect or hope, and as we passed from luxury to drabness and dim lighting, I felt a twinge of unease . . . and also surprise. At least the hallway was clean, so far as I could judge, though maintaining its cleanliness must have posed a chore for someone, the way was so long. I vaguely wondered if the energetic Aziz were the one on whom that duty fell. The tunnel, or so it seemed to be, even had several twists and turns in its length, but there were no other hallways branching off, so I surely wouldn't become lost, I believed, not even if abandoned by Agashka, and I wondered why I thought that about her. As I was wondering about these things, I found my thoughts also wandering about the dark corridors of my mind, and I remembered something from my childhood. My older brother had sworn that our basement had a secret doorway in one of its concrete walls, and he promised that if I would let him blindfold me, he'd lead me to it and let me enter. I agreed because I didn't believe him. He had closed the door that led outside, switched off the one naked bulb that illuminated our austere basement, wrapped a dark bandanna around my head, tightly covering my eyes and blocking the feeble light from the small, south-oriented windows, and bade me crawl in utter darkness, following him as we padded on hands and knees upon blankets he'd stretched out along the floor in such a complex zig-zag pattern that I eventually lost all sense of direction other than up and down, whereupon we reached a wall, against which he had me stretch my hand, guided by his own, and made me press hard against the rough concrete with his assistance, harder still, and even harder, till I felt a slight shift, or hint of one, then an undeniable movement and sound of concrete scraping against concrete as a block in the seamless wall gave way, opening to a dank earthy odor toward which I reached further out to grasp whatever might be within, but that exceeded my reach, for my brother stopped me, seemed to close the way we’d opened, and returned me the way we'd come, apparently taking up the blankets, for they were gone from the floor when he removed my blindfold. I was too shaken to ask any questions then, but I did ask a few years later, and he said the whole thing had been a trick, but he wouldn't say how. After we had grown up, I happened to mention the incident, admitting that I'd never managed to figure out how he'd done it, but he'd forgotten the entire experience altogether, which I found strange.

My thoughts were redirected by Agashka, who had stopped and was indicating a door upon which were written the plain-letter words: "Smoking Room."
Shall they enter? Wait and see. And while you're waiting, go look at the talented Mr. Martin Gauthier's gallery of images, which are not all quite so dark as the one above . . .

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Grammar Lessen: A Trouser or Two?

Google Images

In today's post, we again visit the celebrated Dr. Boli, who 'reproduces' an archaic advertisement showing a distinguished-looking fellow -- distinguished, I mean, by his fine pipe (no, not an iron pipe, the tobacco sort!). Okay, he also wears his hat at an angle one might call "jaunty" (to borrow a nice old French term), and that's kind of distinguished-looking, but the pipe is the important detail. The pipe says this is a guy with gravitas. A guy you can trust! Anyway, this fellow announces:
I make $5,000 a day gathering lint from trousers pockets.
That's not just pocket change, so the fellow must gather a lot of lint! But I'm not especially interested in such economic matters as the going market price for widgets produced from wedged-in lint. Such matters are out-of-pocket for me. No, it's grammar manners that appeal to my mind. Anyway, thinking (or maybe just its near relative, musing) out loud on Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine, I commented:
Should that read "trousers pockets," "trousers' pockets," or "trouser pockets"?

On the model of "pants," the first two would be correct, but the third not -- based on what sounds right and wrong to me about "pants" and its putative singular.

Yet . . . "trouser pockets" doesn't sound wrong to my ear.

On a related question -- assuming these do have singulars -- has anyone ever really seen a trouser, a pant, a breech, a britch, or an overall?

If so, would these be correct for what a one-legged man might wear?
I await answers, both here and at Dr. Boli's, and if I don't get some answers soon, I'll be about as sore as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!

Well . . . maybe not that sore. Sitting here at my desk in Seoul, and sporting two lengthy legs stretched out under the aforesaid desk, I'm unlikely to lose any butt-kicking contests but the intellectual sort, and those ain't really very painful since my brain is well-calloused from getting its kicks through musing on the things it muses on.

Not that my head is up somewhere the sun don't shine . . .

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Amanda McKittrick Ros: Greatness Beyond Parody?

Once again, the Gypsy Scholar turns to his greater peer, Dr. H. Albertus Boli, for guidance in noetic matters, this time for advice on great literature well worthy of the lengthy time invested in reading it. Guidance was found in Dr. Boli's reply to another reader's query as to whether anything lies beyond the abusive power of parody:
Of serious works, . . . there are few that are beyond parody. But such works do exist, and they are invariably the works that are their own best parodies. The works of Amanda McKittrick Ros are beyond parody, for example, because no parody could ever hope to equal the sheer unlikeliness of the original.
To my great shame, I'd never heard of Ms. Amanda McKittrick Ros, but a lady with such an extraordinarily resonant name must surely be the foresworn great writer, a peerless writer great enough to parody her own great writing even when no other great writer could ever prove great enough to equal it! Such a great writer must be capable not only of great self-parody but also of all great literary styles, as Dr. Boli's words assuredly imply. I subsequently (and gratefully) followed a hyperlink graciously provided by Dr. Boli -- and I was not disappointed! I therefore posted for Dr. Boli a note:
I must thank Dr. Boli for introducing me to the novelist Amanda McKittrick Ros, a true literary genius, as evidenced by the opening line to IRENE IDDESLEIGH:
SYMPATHISE with me, indeed! Ah, no! Cast your sympathy on the chill waves of troubled waters; fling it on the oases of futurity; dash it against the rock of gossip; or, better still, allow it to remain within the false and faithless bosom of buried scorn.
In the few words to this series of parallelisms, Ms. Ros impressively establishes herself as a novelist of ideas, for she quickly, if subtly, takes issue with the widespread belief in progress, treating that secular hope as nothing but gossip, and scorning the troubled waters of the future's so-called 'oases'!

I can scarcely restrain myself from immediately reading this novel's second sentence, but that must await another day since the first sentence surely deserves still more intellectual rumination, for I do not think that I have yet reached bottom there.

Moreover, such restraint from further reading serves as a moral lesson, and the longer one restrains, the greater the lesson, so I shall endeavor to make this restraint lifelong . . .
Dr. Boli graciously (if merely implicitly) accepted my grateful thanks and generously allowed it to be posted in his great, online Celebrated Magazine!

Where all, both great and small, may read . . .

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Meeting Professor Kim Youngmin . . .

Professor Kim Youngmin
Photo from LinkedIn

In my current work for the Daesan Foundation as literary judge of translated literature, I recently met twice with Professor Kim Youngmin to get acquainted and find out what the foundation needs from me. Through talking with him over coffee, I discovered that he is a man of many hats, as we also see from his LinkedIn site:
English Language and Literature Association of Korea (ELLAK); Lacan and Contemporary Psychoanalysis Society of Korea; International Association of Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL); International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS); Modern Language Association (MLA); American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA); William Butler Yeats Society of Korea; G.M.Hopkins Society; Modern and Contemporary Poetry Society of Korea; The Society of Theory and Criticism.
I expect this is only a partial list for a man who attends 10 conferences each year! Or so he maintained in our first meeting last Saturday. One of those conferences is on the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and since Professor Kim mentioned that he had done his master's degree on Hopkins, I asked for -- and received -- an explanation of "sprung rhythm," one of the poetic innovations by Hopkins. Thanks to Professor Kim, I finally have some understanding of that poetic technique.

From Professor Kim's business card, I see that he not only belongs to such societies and associations as those above, he has at times governed them, or at least one of them, for his card reads, "Former President, ELLAK (2012-2013)." Additionally, he is "Editor-in-Chief" of "JELL," the "Journal of English Language and Literature," which his card informs us is, "The Outstanding Journal supported the National Research Foundation Grant funded by the Korean Government (MEST)." I wonder what MEST means -- ah, I see, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. (That journal 'MEST' be important!). Of course, he has a "Major Field" -- though that should read "Fields" -- "Modern and Postmodern British and American Poetry, Irish and Canadian Literature, Critical Theory, Lacanian Psychoanalysis."

Professor Kim is thus an expert in stuff I learned about at Berkeley but never understood very well. Nevertheless, he and I communicated well enough, on both Saturday and Monday, and he seemed sufficiently satisfied with me to ask if I have any interest in helping to edit JELL. I explained how busy I am already with editing work, but that seemed merely to fire up his enthusiasm. Not the sort of man who easily takes "No" for an answer.

But I really can't see myself finding time . . .


Monday, July 08, 2013

How William Lane Craig Wins Debates

Craig-Hitchens Debate
Chronicle of Higher Education
Biola University

I've read several of William Lane Craig's books of philosophy and theology, even used some of his explanation of Middle Knowledge in a paper on John Milton's conception of human free will, but I've never watched a video of Craig debating an opponent, though I've heard that he wins every time. Now, courtesy of an article by Nathan Schneider, "The New Theist," in The Chronicle of Higher Education (July 1, 2013), I know why he wins:
Craig generally insists on the same format: opening statements, then two rounds of rebuttals, then closing statements, then audience. He prepares extensively beforehand, sometimes for months at a time, with research assistants poring over the writings of the opponent in search of objections that Craig should anticipate. He amasses a well-organized file of notes that he can draw on during the debate for a choice quotation or a statistic.

In the opening statement he pummels the opponent with five or so concise arguments -- for instance, the origins of the universe, the basis of morality, the testimony of religious experience, and perhaps an addendum of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Over the course of the rebuttals he makes sure to respond to every point that the opponent has brought up, which usually sends the opponent off on a series of tangents. Then, at the end, he reminds the audience how many of his arguments stated at the outset the opponent couldn't manage to address, much less refute. He declares himself and his message the winner. Onlookers can't help agreeing.
He wins through rigorous preparation, sound strategy, and better tactics. This approach works particularly well against the New Atheists -- who are generally not particularly sophisticated philosophically -- but it would likely work well against any opponent.

More interesting, nevertheless, would be to see how he would fare against a philosophically sophisticated debater who uses the same preparation, strategy, and tactics, though that's unlikely to happen since Craig's particular combination of talents, skills, knowledge, and discipline is seldom found.

Anyway, the entire article is very interesting, well worth reading.

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