Swimming with Vivaldi

Today, for an hour, I swam with Vivaldi. Not the actual composer, of course. He died in 1741 at the age of 63. Would have made a mess of the pool to dig him up and toss him in. The “red priest,” as he was called (for his red hair), probably couldn’t even swim. Not a lot of people back then could. but he could write … (more–>)

Of Type and Typography

Humans have remarkable ability that is shared by – as far as we know – no other animal. We can turn abstract images and symbols into meaning. Words are, of course, the prime example, as old as our history. We can turn a  word like dog, tree, table or vacation into a broad and deep understanding of what that word means to us. Of course when … (more–>)

Empire of Illusion and the End of Literacy

I don’t know whether to feel vindicated, delighted, frightened or depressed as I read through Chris Hedges’s book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. Much of what he says reflects many of my own observations and opinions. I started reading this book in part as research for my upcoming conference speech on social media, but it has kept me mesmerized, … (more–>)

Three Archy poems by Don Marquis

pete the parrot and shakespeare i got acquainted with a parrot named pete recently who is an interesting bird pete says he used to belong to the fellow that ran the mermaid tavern in london then i said you must have known shakespeare know him said pete poor mutt i knew him well he called me pete and i called him bill but why do you … (more–>)

The Thousand and One Nights

I had no idea it was this sexy. The Thousand Nights and One Nights, aka The Arabian Nights, aka The Thousand and One Nights – it’s really wonderful, steamy stuff. Every tale is a cliffhanger and you keep wanting to read just one more to see how it turns out. Of course, that was the point of the collection.* The backstory is rather complicated, but to … (more–>)

Kill the Apostrophe? Rubbish! Keep it!

A site has popped up with one of the stupidest ideas about English I’ve read in the past decade or two. It’s called Kill the Apostrophe. Subtle. At first, I thought it was a joke, a spoof. After all, how can one realistically get rid of perhaps the most significant element of punctuation based on the rantings of a website lunatic? And some of the counterpoint … (more–>)

Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde

After reading the play by Shakespeare last week, I decided to tackle Chaucer’s epic 8,000-line poem about the Trojan lovers, Troilus and Cressida (or Criseyde as Chaucer writes it). It’s a long, somewhat meandering piece that begins, in the Online Medieval Classical Library version: The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen, That was the king Priamus sone of Troye, In lovinge, how his aventures fellen Fro wo … (more–>)

A Little Uke on the Side

About 20 kilometres from home, while mentally playing the piece I had practiced all week, I asked myself if I had remembered to pack my tuner. I remembered taking it off the ukulele and placing it in my luggage. I had raced upstairs to put it away and grab a gig bag for the Boat Paddle uke, resting on its stand downstairs. Whew. Of course the … (more–>)

Review: The Life of Pi

We watched Life of Pi last night, a film that has garnered much critical acclaim and won four coveted Oscar awards (although it has not been without controversies). I had struggled somewhat with the book (for reasons given below), but the lavish praise for the film made me decide to try again. I had read about the movie’s stunning camera work and CGI graphics, and these … (more–>)

More’s Speech to the Mob

The scene is a riot, on the first day of May, 1517. It would later be known as Evil May Day,or Ill May Day. An angry mob, mostly comprised of apprentices, marched through the streets of London, their passion inflamed by a xenophobic speech made the past Easter by Dr. Bell (or Beal) at St. Paul’s Cross. Bell railed against the foreigners living in London, especially … (more–>)

When did I become my parents?

I was driving down to Toronto, Saturday, listening to a CD with Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and several other singers of my parents’ generation, singing along, and I wondered aloud, “When did I become my parents?” When did I start buying and playing their music? When did I start choosing an Ella Fitzgerald or Louis Armstrong CD for a road trip instead of Bruce … (more–>)

Midway in our Life’s Journey…

So begins The Inferno, the first of the three books that comprise Dante’s magnificent and complex work, The Divine Comedy.* It’s a rich, complex and challenging read. I have to admit I have not read it all – all three books that is – but I have made a mighty effort to complete Inferno in several editions. My problem is not comprehension, but rather distraction. Were this … (more–>)

Musing on Melville’s Poetry

I came across a poem last night that I had not read in the past (always a pleasant thing to discover something new in one of your books)*. It is by Herman Melville, an author I associate with novels and short stories rather than poetry. Yet he was surprisingly prolific as a poet, mostly in his later life. Poem Hunter lists 93 of his poems on … (more–>)

Appreciating B-Movies

It drives Susan to distraction that I love B-flicks. She squirms and fidgets if I put one into the DVD player and can seldom sit through an entire movie. They get cut off mid-film, and saved for me some time in the vague future when I might have an evening alone to finish watching it and the others in the category. Overacted, melodramatic, clumsily scripted, wooden … (more–>)

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