Friday, January 31, 2020


Extra Dog Pound?
When all the Pounds were rounded up,
and every Pound had received a pup,
there always was one pup too few,
and this was ever and always true,
unless one less had less to say than one Pound more than pup, rounded up!


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Great Expectations

Acting Out
There once was a young man named Extra,
who grew to an old man called Nextra,
for his theater days
proved merely a phase,
and he ever was only an extra.

Dreams don't always come true . . .


Monday, January 27, 2020

Low Decibel Acoustics

Extra Pound on Minister Magoo
If you miss the train I'm on,
you will know I think you're one
of the most myopic persons,
like those spooneristic parsons,
who might see and say the wrong, but claim, "We won!"


Saturday, January 25, 2020


Aerodynamic Drag
Alas, the lowly rhinostrich, wings stretched as if for flight,
for its nosecone's lost its function in some oriental plight.
Extra Pound
looks around,
but finds no monkey wrench to reach in extricable sight.

It's a travesty!


Friday, January 24, 2020

Kipling's Advice Evaluated

I've had little time for lengthy blogposts lately, but a commenter with the pseudonym Sugarloaf has come to my rescue by posting a thoughtful response to my question about Kipling's advice in the poem "If-":
All memorable advice should be pithy. As it gains in succinctness, there will inevitably be losses in subtlety. The balance - maximum sense with maximum memorability - is the criterion. By this criterion, I think “If “ passes the test comfortably. I, too, first came across it around the age that you did. It is likely that Kipling wrote it for his son of about that age too. For someone about to begin his or her teenage years with all its challenges, temptations and excitements, it is imho a valuable aide-memoire on many aspects of daily conduct. It is not a guide as to what to do – parents and schools are replete with exhortations about this, making further elaboration tedious to the young. It is about how to deal with “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” which certainly will come the way of all young people, and for which it is useful to be as prepared as possible. Some of its advice has a slow burn: it was many years before I knew to what “the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools” might be referring. But when the moment came, I was able to recognise the thing for what it was, and to act appropriately, I hope. Not Kipling’s fault if I made a mess, of course. The heap of winnings lines worried me too all those years ago. I did not agree with it. Like a lot of things. Nuff said.
Thank you, Sugarloaf, for a thoughtful response to my query. I was interested to see that you apply the poem to both boys and girls. Would Kipling have approved?


Wednesday, January 22, 2020


The course schedules came recently, and I see that I'll soon be teaching this:
College English - Non English Speaking Foreigner
At least, I think that I will be teaching it, unless the administration really does want non-English-speaking foreigners as instructors.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Famous Last Words

This entry was originally a lowly comment, but I want to make sure that those interested see it, so I've upgraded it to blog entry status:
The argument continues here, and I've finally had the time to read the arguments more closely. As I've noted earlier, I think slowly and type even more slowly. I therefore also have to read slowly. I guess I'm just getting old . . .

Anyway, Kevin has the numbers to show that "but for me" not only occurs, it predominates over "but as for me," and since I'm not quite the prescriptivist Kevin takes me for, I concede the point: "but for me" is acceptable usage.

(I am prescriptive on "ain't," however. As the contraction of "am not," "ain't" is perfectly acceptable. It should not be used, though, as the contraction for any of the other five common conjugational 'spaces'.)

Incidentally, Kevin pointed to a meaning that "but for me" can express: "if not for me." I was going to note this point, but upon reading every word of the various entries (linking gets complicated), I see that Kevin covered it. This meaning of "but for me" depends upon the information that follows. This ambiguity, which is rather strongly imprinted on my mind, led to my initial question, I now think, though I only cottoned onto this point when I finally had time to think and write.

As I grow older, I'd probably best keep me grammar to meself . . .
That was my final comment on the use of "but for me," versus "but as for me," except to say that my motives in asking about grammar have always been benign.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

You were lucky!

MEMRI TV, Clip No. 7733, January 14, 2020,

Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda (Iranian) has some interesting views on recent events in Iran. For example:
Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, Supreme Leader Khamenei's representative in the Khorasan Razavi province, said in a January 14, 2020 memorial ceremony for the victims of the Ukrainian airliner, which aired on Khorasan Razavi TV (Iran), that Islam is about to take over the world and "cast a shadow over Planet Earth in its entirety."
Good way to appeal to the infidels. Let them know that Islam will cast a shadow over the entire planet!
He claimed that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were "turned to dust and ashes" by the missiles that Iran launched at the Americans' Ayn Al-Asad base in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani.
I think these weapons must be stronger than American weapons! Why does Iran even need nuclear power? And Trump will meet his own dust and ashes soon:
[Trump] has become the target of our fighters' fast missiles, and in his military base, hundreds of thousands of his soldiers were turned into dust and ashes. According to the reports, he still denies it. He says that not a single American soldier was killed. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, the Leader of [our] regime says: 'Tell the public that we were the ones who downed the plane by mistake.'
In other words, they lied for three or four days, then confessed the truth (reluctantly), but the English ambassador should be punished severely for his inquiry into the accident:
Some people say that the ambassador of England should be deported. Deporting the ambassador of England would be the most polite thing to do. It would be a huge concession by our public. No way! The ambassador of England should be chopped into pieces.
Ah, he was lucky. We used to dream of being chopped into pieces . . .

Friday, January 17, 2020

Is Kipling's Advice Good Advice?

I know I'm not supposed to like Kipling. He's a Western imperialist and all that. Plus he's not a real poet, you know. I believe T. S. Eliot is the one who called him a mere "versifier." I know all this, but I can't deny that Kipling strikes a chord with me.

I even like his poem "If-" . . . though it lost some of its luster for me when I received it from my own father as a card for my thirteenth birthday. The poem made me wonder if my father thought himself to have succeeded in meeting the standards set forth by Kipling. Well, my father did send it as advice. I therefore cannot read the poem without a sense of irony. My father? My father offering advice on how to be a man?

But my father aside, is Kipling's advice good advice? Read the poem and consider the question.
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
Well, that all sounds pretty good. Wait a moment. What's this? Make one heap of all your winnings and bet that heap on a single flip of a coin? That doesn't sound like good advice.

Is each piece of Kipling's advice similarly flawed by this all-or-nothing attitude?


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Use of "as"

A few days ago, my friend Kevin Kim wrote a review of the film Dolittle, and I openly wondered if there were a grammatical problem in Kevin's use of "but for me" in one of his sentences. I wondered if "but for me" should be "but as for me," and I quoted the sentence in question:
It might be that little kids will enjoy the film, but for me, as a crotchety 50-something, I had trouble understanding how the filmmakers could assemble this much amazing acting and voice talent, then shoehorn the cast into a plodding, predictable narrative utterly lacking in imagination and deep sentiment.
Let's get to the root of the matter, as I see it. Allow me to shorten the sentence and also add the 'missing ' word "as":
It might be that little kids will enjoy the film, but as for me, as a crotchety 50-something, I had trouble understanding how the filmmakers could [fail so badly]. . .
Let me also excise the phrase "as a crotchety 50-something":
It might be that little kids will enjoy the film, but as for me, I had trouble understanding how the filmmakers could [fail so badly] . . .
This seems correct, grammatically speaking, but let's take the "as" back out:
It might be that little kids will enjoy the film, but for me, I had trouble understanding how the filmmakers could [fail so badly] . . .
The expression "but for me" seems very awkward, likely wrong, and probably in need of the word "as," namely, but as for me.

I am not certain of this, for arguments based on what 'seems' awkward are notoriously weak. What do other readers think?

Here and here are some of the arguments so far.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Worst Lyrics Ever in a Pop Song

I don't remember the title, nor all the lyrics, but the song went something like this:
Mary goes 'round like a merry-go-round
with each and every guy in town.
She don't know what she's doing
when she does what she's doing,
'cause Mary's not that kind of gal.
Eh? She don't know what she's doing? Just how stupid is this Mary? Now,  I don't usually go for a feminist analysis, but I think that one can correctly call these lyrics profoundly misogynistic. This gal is simultaneously virgin and whore.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Life . . .

Life Goes On
One time, Extra Pound did a diet,
that some article of clothing daily dye it,
so that day by day by day,
in a consequential way,
might each person live life full before to die it.

Another incomprehensible poem from my fingers . . .

Saturday, January 11, 2020


Back and Forth?
Extra Pound disbelieved in the blood's circulation.
"I see no damned circle!" he said with elation.
"What worked for Aristotle,
and every apostle,
is truth we ought back up with supreme legislation!"


Friday, January 10, 2020

Ever Since August . . .

If you've been faithfully following my blog, you probably will have noticed that I've been writing a few poems known as limericks and posting them as blog entries these past several months. I have worried a bit that these poems might not stand up to scrutiny as good poetry, partly because limericks aren't generally recognized as high poetic art and partly because I don't even know if my limericks are any good.

My hesitation about sending any of them to the Emanations anthology number eight must have been discernable, for Carter reassured me:
They really are very very good; some I insist are brilliant!
He even showed the limericks to Michael Butterworth, who remarked:
Nice and strange GS limericks, and I like the idea of the Extra Pound character.
Well, if Carter and Butterworth both consider the limericks I've written to be good poems, then I should also believe them to be good.

But what are "GS" limericks? Maybe "Gypsy Scholar" limericks?


Thursday, January 09, 2020

Another Limerick?

Feeling Puny
He thought himself nought but a limerick
what sought like a citrus got sick,
but accidental verse
made occidental worse,
and the fruit rot begot with an ick.

You'll never understand this poem. The word "puny" -- in Ozark dialect -- means "sick" in a general, vague sense, a weakness of the spirit. The rest of the poem, which requires knowledge of "puny," is an even harder nut to crack. And whatever in the world might "ick" really mean? An unpleasant, congealed substance?


Wednesday, January 08, 2020


Troubled Man
Extra Pound was a rubble man even in the war,
reconstructing and constricting with the Hakenkreuz he wore,
praising Hitler
as his leader
at a swearing-in he previously swore.


Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Fear of Metrics?

Extra Pound did not relish being called,
by the wordy metric system he appalled:
"Extra Zero,
Point Four Five Kilo"
were enough to wish the system overhauled.


Monday, January 06, 2020

Extra Limerick

Only once upon a time, Extra Pound was out of line,
but make that twice, or even thrice, way out of line,
for this is not a fairy 'Tell,'
nor a story "Saved from Hell,"
but a dismal little threat of damned decline.


Sunday, January 05, 2020

Eyesight Damn Near Perfect!

2020 Vision
There lived a young man with a vision
that he woke into so much division
that in great subdivisions
through many transitions
they broke into woke indecision!

If you're not unwoke, you won't understand this limerick.


Saturday, January 04, 2020

The Future, It is Murder

Everything's e-wired, too quick, and totally interconnected. Entire nations can fly off the handle in a heartbeat.

Every people wants to return to some glorious past when its ancestors ruled more than could be physically held, and so lost territory to the ancestors of some neighboring folk who in turn lost territory to some other neighboring folk, who in its turn lost territory to some other neighboring folk, ad infinitum, each of whom still carries a grievance and a wedge to break a state apart for reassembly as a micro-state or a macro-empire.

Look at us. We all want back something lost in the past. Some of us want big things.

Russia wants its great empire back. China wants its own, also, which will dominate Russia's, hope the Chinese. The Turks long for a revived Ottoman empire. And does anyone have claim to the Holy Roman Empire? Or the British Empire?

Every which way we look, we see catastrophe rushing to meet us. We see the future. It is murder.


Friday, January 03, 2020

Mirror Neurons?

Mere Reflection
Extra Pound didn't come from Nantucket,
else he'd give not a flip of a bucket
if the barrel's bright sheen
on his killing machine
were mistook for a far stellar nugget!

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Thursday, January 02, 2020

En-Uk Grows Up

En-Uk went to ROK bootcamp six weeks ago. He 'graduated' yesterday, and we saw him again after those six fleeting weeks. A band played military music. Kant would have liked that touch. At the end, the soldiers threw their berets high into the air and caught somebody else's beret coming down. One size fits all, I guess. My little boy is now a soldier and will be for about a year. I was intending my first words to him to be a joke warning not to start a war, but I choked up and nearly burst into tears, and only with great force of will did I overcome my emotions.

When I was finally able to speak again, I said, "That was odd. Anybody want to go out for some corn chips and sour cream dip?"

We then went downtown to do just that, or so I intended . . .


Wednesday, January 01, 2020

School's Out for Summer

Engine Shunner
Get those souped-up stew-pead engines hard a-running
and those huge ginormous great big tires a-burning
their rubber fricative against the road.
Ease off that other hard fricative load
of common skies and hearken to the musive spheres a-turning . . .

Happy New Year! Even a bad poem can be good . . .