Friday, June 30, 2017

Oh, that Dullard Kid


All work and no pay makes Jack a duller boy.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

20 fracture(s) for a fracture?


An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an eyetooth for an eyetooth, and 20 fracture(s) for a fracture!


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ancient Postmodern Proverb

An ouch of prevention is worth a pounce of cure.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wiseguy Wisdom

Scary Face

All things must pass a kidney stone or two.

Woe betide a thing that won't!


Monday, June 26, 2017

Nose to the Grindstone?

Nose Already Ground!

All is grist that comes to the mill, so stay away!

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Unremarkable Truths?

Friends Forever?

A man is known by his friends, 'cause who would really know him if they don't?

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Organ of Love?


"All's fair in love and war." Actually, not in war. There are rules about warfare. Only in love is everything fair. Unless love is politics by another name, in which case the rules of warfare apply. In any case, "You gotta have heart!"


Friday, June 23, 2017

Carter Kaplan to Give a Talk on July 2 at the WAH

WAH Private Library

My friend Carter Kaplan has been invited by another friend of mine, Terrence Lindall, to present the following talk at the WAH Center:
"Illustrating the Visions: Alloys of Art, Poetry, Politics, and Philosophy"
The talk will take place on Sunday, July 2, 2017 from 2:00 till 3:00 for no admission fee (directions), but the luncheon from 12:30 to 1:30 will cost $25. Kaplan is a professor of literature and philosophy, an author of fiction and nonfiction, and a publisher of international writing through International Authors (IA), and one might therefore expect him to be an overly serious man, but consider the fact that he has suggested that a number of mannikans be invited to attend his talk.

But let's get serious!

On display before, during, and after the talk will be IA books and original illustrations by renowned artists. Kaplan has informed me that he will be discussing my books Radiant Snow and the Bottomless Bottle of Beer (BBB), among other things, and Lindall will have his copy of the initial BBB text (a hard copy that I didn't edit carefully enough) and his BBB illustrations as part of the items on display. Other publications and illustrations are in Emanations and in Tasso's Creation of the World. Bienvenido "Bones" Banez, Jr. will show illustrations for E6 and other illustrations he's done for Emanations, along with a Michael Moorcock drawing. Troy Frantz will provide an illustration that he made for E5.

As for International Authors, it is a consortium of writers, artists, architects, filmmakers, and critics, and it publishes works of outstanding literary merit. Dedicated to the advancement of an international culture in literature, primarily in English, the group seeks new members with an enthusiasm for creating unique artistic expressions. For instance, there is Emanations. This is an anthology series - and I'm borrowing most of Kaplan's terminology - featuring fiction, poetry, essays, manifestos, and reviews. The emphasis is on alternative narrative structures, new epistemologies, peculiar settings, esoteric themes, sharp breaks from reality, ecstatic revelations, and vivid and abundant hallucinations - preferably, those achieved through authentic, intensive meditation rather than the less authentic, drug-induced sort, but to echo Publius Terentius Afer, "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto."

The IA editors are interested in recognizable genres - science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, local color, romance, realism, surrealism, postmodernism - but the idea is to make something new, and along these lines the illusion of something new can be just as intriguing. If a story or poem makes someone say, "Yes, but what is it?" then it's right for Emanations. Essays should be exuberant, daring, and free of pedantry. Length is a consideration in making publication decisions, but in keeping with the spirit of the project, length is "open." Emanations is a continually shifting and evolving project, and contributors should see themselves as actively shaping our editorial vision and compass

The Williamsburg Circle of International Arts and Letters is the program that has invited Kaplan to give this talk. This Circle - and I think I'm borrowing Lindall's words here, though perhaps as filtered through Kaplan - is a program of the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (WAH Center). The Circle serves as a hub for discussion of new ideas about diverse subject matters. It is especially keen to point up intersections in areas of study that on first glance appear to be contradictory, especially in the areas of art and literature. Observations on the human experience in a receptive individual can sometimes evoke intuitive leaps of creativity, bringing forth new ideas in science, philosophy, literature, and the arts. We hope to encourage this.

The Williamsburg Circle believes that a strong education in the classical humanities is a fundamental prerequisite for good citizenship, not only in Western countries, but in every country in the world today. What is "Classical Humanities"? It is nothing less than the spiritual, ethical, and intellectual foundation for Western culture. The classics form the vibrant, interdisciplinary field lying at the heart of the liberal arts. It is the lack of a common heritage and common values that gives rise to basic conflicts among peoples. A broad education in the classical humanities can bring about a common understanding and a common set of values. Engagement with non-Western classics is also necessary, of course, and is therefore to be encouraged.

Our outstanding members serve as inspiration to young scholars whose concepts are forming and who are or will be developing projects important to our 21st century civilization.

Or so is such said . . .

UPDATE: The talk is on July 2 (not July 4).

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fool with a Tool?

Long-Handled Tool
A Rake's Progress

"A poor workman always blames his tool."

Yeah, I know the original proverb says "tools," but isn't a man who claims to have more than one tool exaggerating just a wee-wee bit?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Advanced Placement

Angel in the House

A woman's place is in the home is where the heart is a lonely hunter.

As for the illustration, I'm as surprised as you are . . .

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Shroud for Laertes?

Odysseus and Penelope
Francesco Primaticcio (1563)

A woman's work is never done - as with Penelope's, it's undone!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Knew App?


"Finder skeepers, loser sweepers" - or so I hear.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Declining Popularity


"All the world loves a lover" - till he starts hittin' on your gal.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Climate Ramblings

After a storm, comes a calm before the storm, after a storm comes . . . ad infinitum.

With British-style commas thrown in for free!

Offer invalid where parallel lines cross.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Merely a Mirror on the Wall?

Mere Mirror?

Some time back, I read Martin Seay's novel The Mirror Thief, which I delighted in, so I left a message of appreciation on Seay's website for his having written such a wonderful book, and I shared one of my own poems with him that I thought he might appreciate:
You look upon the world with antique eyes,
through intense lens, with more than innocence,
but only in this moment circumscribed
by shelves and shelves of other people's lives.
Let's peer into this mirror, you and I,
clear through the old and darkened glass. What past
perhaps reflects obscurely back on one
behind the silver-surfaced other side,
who gazes here with solemn, antique eyes?
He didn't respond to for a while, but he then finally did respond, quite graciously:
Hi Jeffrey --

My name is Martin Seay, and I wrote a book called THE MIRROR THIEF that you read . . . oh, probably a year ago.

I'm writing because my website -- which has been on the blink -- JUST NOW coughed up the message that you sent upon finishing the book.

Thanks very much for sharing "Souvenirs"! I enjoyed it, and look forward to following the link you sent shortly. It's got some of that incense-shrouded eeriness that one finds in Yeats and Coleridge and Mallarmé, and for which I'm a sucker.

Please accept my apologies for the much-delayed response, and my thanks for reading and for taking the time to write. I'm very gratified that you enjoyed the book!

Hope this finds you well,

Touched by his (entirely unnecessary) apology, I wrote back to thank him:
Dear Martin,

Thank you for writing back. I suspect your life is rather filled with all sorts of things, so I appreciate your email. I hope you're well and that your book is selling as it deserves.

Since "Souvenirs" was to your taste, you might also appreciate this little lyric:
Fine frost that laces window panes,
the icy-blooded vampire’s veins;
seductive, sensual spoor of death,
its frozen, freezing undead breath;
one cold, controlled, alluring art,
its solitary lover’s heart.
There's no mirror in this one, but vampires avoid mirrors anyway, so one of them had to go.



PS Note that my name is with "-ery." Everyone has trouble with it . . .
Good to see that some writers write back . . .


Thursday, June 15, 2017


Boys will be boys-terous!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Proverb Belaboring the Obvious

Today's proverb:
"Crime doesn't pay."
Of course not! Of course, it doesn't pay! It steals! Paying? Stealing? Two different things.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hard Bedtime Words

Dylan Makes His Bed
Google Images

Words harder than they first sound:
"As you make your bed, so you must lie upon it."
I usually stand up as I make my bed.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Lost Days of Christmas?

Twelve Days

We're about as far from Christmas as can be, for:
"Christmas comes but once a year."
What's up with those eleven other days, then? Where are they now?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Radiant Snow: The Ewha Voice Interview

The Ewha Voice Interview

An article about my poetry book, Radiant Snow, is not yet online at the Ewha Voice website, so my wife photographed the entire article to enable me to reproduce it here for anyone interested.

The woman from the Ewha Voice who interviewed me was the reporter Cho In-hyo, and the photographer was Lee Young-in, and each did an outstanding job.

For those interested in reading the article, just click on the photographed page above.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dylan in Reflection on Literature and Song

Bob Dylan
Photo: William Claxton
Nobel Prize Organization

Dylan finally gave his Nobel Prize speech to the Nobel Committee, a speech that began with these words:
When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I'm going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I say will be worthwhile and purposeful.
You can read the speech or listen to the audio - I did both - and you'll be surprised to hear (if you chose audio) that Dylan's voice is not the raspy instrument of song we've been listening to for the past 40-odd years. The voice Dylan chose to speak with was soft and deliberative. I was surprised. But I was even more astonished when he revealed three works of literature that had influenced his songwriting:
Specific books that have stuck with me ever since I read them way back in grammar school - I want to tell you about three of them: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.
And he summarizes the three brilliantly - those books are now in my memory far more clearly than even after I had just read them myself. I still don't think Dylan deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature, but he has done well with this interesting talk on the relation of his songs to literature.

But grammar school? Is he putting us on?

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Friday, June 09, 2017

Spammer Visitation

Burkina Faso

My fame has again spread among the spammers of the world, for a certain Dr. Cumala Ail Mamadou Neymar has sent me a missive that landed in my spam file, and his first words - sounding like an unintended warning - were as follows: "May God be with you and your family, so you can: call me." If God has to be on my side before I can safely call this Neymar fellow, then I have no intention of calling him.

But who is this guy anyway?
I don't know what a Bib Bank is - it sounds rather infantile - but I see from the all-caps that I'm expected to infer that this is all VERY IMPORTANT. At this point, he greets me again - once more bringing God into the ungodly deal he's about to offer - and immediately offers to split nearly 50 million dollars with me:
Greetings to you in the name of God. I am DR CUMALA AIL MAMADOU NEYMAR, auditing and accounting manager, Bib Bank of Africa Ouagadougou Burkina Faso. I need your assistance in transferring the sum of ($49,850,000) million US dollars into your account within 7 to 10 banking days.
Not $50,000,000? Only $49,850,000? I'd like to know where that 150 thousand dollars went to! And how did Neymar change his job in the middle of an email: from bill and exchange manager to auditing and accounting manager? Anyway, here is the (ungodly) deal:
This account belongs to one of our foreign customers, by name, Mr. Alan Williams, who died along with his entire family in a plane crash some years ago, so I agree that 50% of this money will be for you in respect of the provision of a foreign account, and 50% would be for me.
The calculations would be easier if we were splitting 50 million. Next comes some garbled writing:
Thereafter, I will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentage indicated. Reply me (sic) if interested by (sic) contact me through my private email (redacted) or you can: call me (redacted) and I will furnish you with more details (sic) information as soon as I get your response. My God be with you and your family.
Neymar would seem to be the one more in need of God! Or of a grammarian. If I had time, I would write back and claim to be the cousin of Mr. Alan Williams and demand an explanation as to just what Dr. Cumala Ail Mamadou Neymar is planning to do with the money that should be coming to me!

Now, that would be fun . . .


Thursday, June 08, 2017

Stupid Proverb!

"Knowledge of good, bought dear by knowing ill."

And that's why they say this?
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
Hmph! I may not know much, but I know better than that!


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Yigal Carmon on taking Islamists at their word . . .

Yigal Carmon

In the MEMRI Daily Brief of June 5, 2017, Yigal Carmon criticizes various Western leaders for willful misunderstanding of 'Islamists':
Just like Barack Obama, Francois Hollande and David Cameron, who denied that the jihadi bombings in the West were in any way connected to religion, Donald Trump and Theresa May now also insist on mischaracterizing the jihadi phenomenon, calling the jihadis by different names such as "evil losers" (Trump) and "sick cowards" (May).
Carmon notes that Trump spoke rather differently when he was electioneering:
During his campaign Trump spoke in different terms ("radical Islamic terrorism") - but since then he has evidently adopted the approach favored by the other Western leaders, who consider any reference to the religious roots of terror as "unhelpful." Like them, he is apparently motivated by the understandable need to avoid offending 1.4 billion Muslims.
But we need to face the hard truth:
So first, let's put forward the true, if "unhelpful," definition. The jihadis who perpetrate these horrific crimes are neither losers, nor nihilists, nor worshippers of death, nor sick cowards. On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of them are devout and fanatic believers. They are idealists who sacrifice their lives for the sake of a utopian future: a world ruled by their faith. The attacks they commit are extreme acts of piety. They seek to emulate the dedication of the early believers in order to revive the glory and grandeur of the past. In fact, as part of their training, many suicide bombers adopt a pious lifestyle: they immerse themselves in prayer, help the needy in their society, pay all their debts, and become moral and religious role models for others.
Not only are they pious, they are following Islamic teachings in their piety:
Contrary to the approach of the Western leaders, who blame the evil character of the perpetrators while absolving the faith they follow, the truth is that these perpetrators, by the standards of their own belief, are virtuous people who follow the directives of the Koran [48:29]: "Be fierce towards the infidels, merciful towards each other." The problem lies not in the perpetrators' innate character but in some of the core values of their religious belief system. Indeed, their faith - any faith - includes elements that are beautiful alongside elements that are malevolent. Denying that these malevolent elements are part of the faith, as the Western leaders do, is wrong. It is such denial that is unhelpful; in fact, it is self-deception.
Muslims worldwide will not think better of Westerners who deny any link between 'Islamist' violence and Muslim doctrine, says Carmon:
Can the mischaracterization of the terrorists' acts actually achieve the goal of avoiding offense to the world's Muslims? The answer is no. Faced with the Western leaders' statements that totally disassociate the jihadis' acts from their religious roots, the world's Muslims can only conclude that Western leaders do not understand their faith and have the intellectual conceit to mischaracterize it.
Time to speak the obvious?


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Thieving the Past

Severamn Basilica 2

A thing of beauty is a joy forever threatened by thieves.


Monday, June 05, 2017

Losing only works if you try hard to win . . .


Better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all.


Sunday, June 04, 2017

Misunderstood Proverbs Nr. 42

Is That All There Is?

Not Every Thing
A place for everything and everything in its place - the dictionary!


Saturday, June 03, 2017

Impatient Proverbs

Laughing Jester
Laughing Gesture?
Artist Unknown

A word to the wise will suffice - so hush up, already, thou fool!


Friday, June 02, 2017

Death of an Old Friend

Jack McCollum
Salem, Arkansas

My brother Shan emailed me the sad news that my old friend Jack McCollum had died:
Sad news: Jack McCollum died a few days ago. He had been in bad health for a long time. I knew you would want to know. He was a good guy with a bad problem with alcohol.
Sad indeed, but even back in high school, I had expected Jack to develop an alcohol problem. I recall him driving around town with me in the passenger seat and him so drunk that he imagined the cops were tailing him when there wasn't a policeman anywhere to be seen.

Shan had it right, though. Jack was a good guy with a bad problem. Excessive drinking was his only flaw, and even then, he was a friendly drunk. Nobody ever had anything bad to say about Jack.

I knew him well. We not only went to school together, we even worked together in the hay fields, and that was the kind of work that bonds young men to one another in friendship.

Jack was the kind of guy you could call on at three in the morning on a cold snowy night to come help you get your car out of a ditch, and he'd get up out of bed and drive over to help you.

He was that kind of good guy. You can read his obituary here.

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Thursday, June 01, 2017


Kim Seong-Kon

In my book of poems, Radiant Snow, I've titled one section "Plagiarisms," in which I strongly mimic poems by well-known poets, sometimes as parody, other times as serious indebtedness, as is this one:
Though bright old moon yet may,
My best of five friends fine,
Implore me still to stay,
Drink in the night's moon shine,
I see another way,
'long sunken columns' line
I was inspired to write this by one of Kim Seong-Kon's Wednesday columns in the Korea Herald, a column in which he presents a similar poem from the Joseon period, if my memory serves me well.

I called my poem to Kim's attention, and he wrote back:
[Thank you for calling my attention to] your poem . . . inspired by my column. I am as flattered as I can be. It is a moving poem and I like it a lot.
I leave to my readers the homework of finding the poem and poet cited by Kim in his column . . .

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