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During the pandemic lockdowns, I heard a lot of people bemoan their inability to travel; on vacation, to visit relatives, to shop, or just to get out of their homes and see new places. People felt isolated, some went stir-crazy. We are a not merely a culture easily bored with staying in one place: our entire species has wanderlust. Two millennia ago, the poet Quintus Horatius … (more–>)

The Science Fiction of Robert Frost

Robert Frost was a great American poet, and I’ve enjoyed many of his poems over the decades I’ve been reading poetry. Some are a tad bucolic for my taste, but many also plumb the depths of human emotions so succinctly as to make Frost more universal than simply American. But while he never wrote any science fiction, his words have been used in that genre. Recently … (more–>)

Yesterday’s Laughs

It may be a small conceit to say I was brought up watching the Marx Brothers movies on TV, but there’s some truth in that claim. I remember seeing them on our small, B&W TV set on weekends when my brother and I were allowed to watch the programs of our choice. I also recall seeing the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and … (more–>)

The Book of Knowledge: 3

Back in the Mesozoic of my life, I came across a quotation from Giacomo Casanova that, as far as I can remember these days, went “No man can know everything, but every man should attempt to.” For many decades, I didn’t know the source, or whether it was misquoted, misattributed, or simply a fake as we experience so often on most internet quote sites (aka clickbait … (more–>)

The Book of Knowledge: 1

When I was growing up in the Fifties and Sixties, having an encyclopedia in your home was the bee’s knees, to use my grandmother’s phrase. It was a sign of sophistication and learning, of culture and wisdom. And being reasonably well-off, because encyclopedias were not inexpensive. I can still hear Jimminy Cricket singing the song (it’s how I learned to spell encyclopedia). Many school libraries had … (more–>)

Ars Poetica

Horace’s Ars Poetica, or the Art of Poetry, was written as a 476-line poem in a letter to his friend, the Roman senator  Lucius Calpurnius Piso (Lucius) and his two sons, around 19 BCE. It was known for a time as the “Epistle to the Pisos” until 95CE when the critic  Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (Quintilian) called it the Ars Poetica in his a twelve-volume textbook on … (more–>)

Smith, Rock, and the Trivialization of Western Culture

If Neil Postman were alive today, sitting in a bar or café with Chris Hedges, I wonder which one would say “I told you so!” first after seeing social media this past week? The story that clogged the social media pipes this week was the slap one actor gave another on stage during the performance of the annual onanism festival called the Oscars. And as soon … (more–>)

Kerouac’s Haikus

Haiku is like a razor blade: small, light, but yet strong and incredibly sharp. Haiku says “Look over there!” and then smacks you from the other side. Haiku is the neutron star of poetry: stunning density combined with astounding brightness. Haiku swims in a sea of metaphor, darting like quick, bright fish among the forest of words. Haiku has a formal definition: “an unrhymed verse form of … (more–>)

The Cancer Diaries, Part 30

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together… (Shakespeare: All’s Well That Ends Well, Act IV, Sc II.) Elumbated.* It’s an archaic word meaning “weakened in the loins” according to the OED. It apparently derives from the Latin elumbis “having a dislocated hip (from e out + lumbus loin).” I thought that the word itself might be well resurrected to describe … (more–>)

Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, and Kong

I’m not sure if I should be elated or disappointed after watching Godzilla vs. Kong (GvK), the latest film (2021) in the Legendary/Universal, Godzilla/MonsterVerse saga. That’s Kong, not King Kong, by the way, because of a squabble over licensing rights, but, yes, it’s that Kong in person if not name. The kaiju formerly known as… Almost two hours of Godzilla and the gang onscreen, with tremendous … (more–>)

Musings on Art and Taste

Many years ago, I had a lengthy correspondence with a friend in another part of Canada about what constitutes art. His basic argument was that art was not neutral or generic, but was the final product of high achievement: real art was “good” art. That is, art was defined by recognized masters and their works. Mona Lisa was art, Picasso was art, Monet was art — … (more–>)

More Musings on Shakespeare

The Complete Pelican Shakespeare (edited by Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller, Penguin Books, 2002) has a short but insightful essay on the texts of Shakespeare that illustrates the choices editors have made when dealing with the texts they want to present their version to the public. It uses a single, well-known verse from Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Sc.2, lines 40-44 in the Pelican and … (more–>)

Killing Commendatore

I’ve been a fan of Haruki Murakami’s novels for several, recent years, and have read nine or ten of them already. Those I’ve read have all fit into the category of “magical realism”; a style of fiction that was made famous by Latin American authors like Gabriel García Márquez (you would have encountered this in his bestselling book, 100 years of Solitude).* It’s a technique of … (more–>)

The Serpent Gets a Bad Rap

Why doesn’t anyone ever think of the serpent as humankind’s liberator instead of some villain who got us kicked out of Eden? Why does Eve take the blame for listening to the serpent instead of being considered another hero for taking a bold step to ensure our collective freedom? Okay, I know the whole Genesis-Eden-Adam-and-Eve story is an allegory, and not meant to be taken as … (more–>)

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