Monthly Archives: July 2013

rhymes with BYE-oh

rhymes with BYE-oh

Lovers of Agatha Christie: Ngaio Marsh is another avenue to explore. This one might seem a bit muddled at first, but hang on for the wonderful Inspector Alleyn.

First posted in FB 01mar12

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July 31, 2013 · 9:10 pm

Mr. William Shakespeare & the Internet

Recently came across this lively, yet scholarly website of things Shakespeare. A nice companion to the Bard activities going on in NYC this (& every) summer.

The “Shakespeare Timeline” includes a discussion of Robert Greene’s famous “upstart crow” rant against the 28-year-old Shakespeare.  (See my “Unprocessed Bard” post below.)

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July 31, 2013 · 3:57 pm

Both the tale, and the telling

Both the tale, and the telling

John Chadwick’s famous 1958 book The Decipherment of Linear B is a real-life detective story. It’s about how we got to understand a written language that was extant centuries before even Homer.

But it’s more than just the tale … it’s the telling as well. Just start with that unfamiliar but so-fine word in the title: Decipherment. (Ha, even my spelling checker underlines it in red.) And now look at how simple, yet elegant is the first paragraph of Chapter 1:

“The urge to discover secrets is deeply ingrained in human nature; even the least curious mind is roused by the promise of sharing knowledge withheld from others. Some are fortunate to find a job which consists in the solution of mysteries, whether it be the physicist who tracks down a hitherto unknown nuclear particle or the policeman who detects a criminal. But most of us are driven to sublimate this urge by the solving of artificial puzzles devised for our entertainment. Detective stories or crossword puzzles cater for the majority; the solution of secret codes may be the hobby of a few. This is the story of the solving of a genuine mystery which had baffled experts for half a century.”

Oh by the way, the American scholar Alice E. Kober, the subject of a recent book, The Riddle of the Labyrinth, by Margalit Fox, is definitely called out for special mention in Chadwick’s book. I say this because Fox claims that Kober was “lost to history”. Kober, who tragically died young, and in the midst of her efforts, made significant contributions to solving the Linear B mystery.

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July 30, 2013 · 6:13 pm

A Lecture on Johnson & Boswell, by Jose Luis Borges

A Lecture on Johnson & Boswell, by Jose Luis Borges

For the first time in English: Borges’ 1966 lecture on Dr J & his sidekick

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July 29, 2013 · 2:13 pm

My Literary Britain

799px-abbotsford07Just added: a bookish report on my visit to the British Isles, a few years back.

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Filed under Ol' reliable MISC category

Unprocessed Bard

Unprocessed Bard

My program from today’s show, by the Instant Shakespeare Company. Performance was refreshing for me in 2 senses:

(1) They read from the original Folio text, which I also had available. Interesting spellings, etc. (“Sixt” here must show the pronunciation, no?)

(2) I had never read or seen this play before. Made the language all the more intoxicating.

Among my scribbled notes here: “O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide!” This is the passage that Robert Greene, in 1592, adapted for his own nasty purposes in this diatribe against our Bard:

“… for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.”

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July 28, 2013 · 2:00 am

The Woody Allen of the novel … with a vengeance

Sam Lipsyte - The Ask

A guy who once had dreams of being an artist, has found an apparently secure, if not exactly fulfilling job for himself, as a drone in Development (fund raising) at a NYC institution he refers to as “Mediocre University”. One day, he can’t take it any more, and tells off a spoiled coed (with a rich dad) who insists he can get her into a filled course. For this “hate speech”, he gets the boot. After some scrounging out in the cruel world in an effort to support himself, he gets a promise from his old job of re-hire … IF he can land a big gift from a now-rich old college chum, who has specifically requested him as liaison. And thereby hangs the tale of this marvelous (imo) 2010 novel by Sam Lipsyte, actually the son of sports writer Robert Lipsyte. Darkly funny (though it does get serious too). Kind of Woody Allen for the novel, with a vengeance. Set in NYC, and I give it extra points for recognizing the existence of the outer borough in which I reside … the “hero” living in Astoria, Queens.

Orig. post on FB, May 2, 2012

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July 28, 2013 · 1:40 am

Best Bed Mate. (For reading.)

Best Bed Mate.  (For reading.)

A unique product (far as I know) which furthers the cause of reading, and may save some marriages in the bargain …

This little handful of an LED flashlight has the slightly sacrilegious name of “eternaLight”. It has the illustrated Red option, dimmable *way* down … which lets you read in bed without disturbing your partner. (The red is actually “redder” than shown here.) It also functions as a white flashlight. Uses plain ol’ AA batteries. Specifically, this is the “Model 3 Ergo with RW option”. About $40. Made by (pardon the expression) .

This is (sadly) an UN-paid endorsement.

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July 27, 2013 · 5:17 am