Musings on Collecting and Reading ERB

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As some readers here know, I’ve been a lifelong aficionado of Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB, born 1875), particularly of his Barsoom (Mars) series, but also his Pellucidar and Caspak series. Well, I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of them, including, of course, the iconic Tarzan novels for which he is best known. Okay, maybe not so much his westerns (but then, I was never a fan of that genre). Burroughs wrote about 100 titles (and more information on them is here) between 1912 and his death … click below for more ↓

Books for the Kaiju Aficionado

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With possibly two new Godzilla films coming to theatres in 2023*, it may be time to refresh your memory and appreciation of the previous films in the franchise. And what better way to do it than with a brand-new book about them? And perhaps re-reading some of the content in your older book and movie collection (especially that Criterion Collection of the first 15 Godzilla films on Blu-Ray — see below — which you can start watching now to build your anticipation for the new … click below for more ↓

Bread Machine Cookbooks

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Among my shelves of books on baking bread by hand, is a smaller selection of books about using a bread machine to craft loaves and other items. I admit I’ve been somewhat lax in my creative uses of the bread machine, using it only to bake somewhat plain, whole loaves when I wasn’t up to or able to bake one entirely by hand. The results, I also admit, have been somewhat mixed, in large part because I tend to experiment with ingredients and settings rather … click below for more ↓

Real Bread, Slow Dough, Bread Books

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Making bread is a small passion of mine, has been for many years as readers here will know*, although the results of my efforts do not always match my optimism. It’s always a bit of a guessing game what will result when I put the dough in the oven. That doesn’t stop me from trying, though, and I thoroughly enjoy the tactile process of making the bread, even if the end result is occasionally more brick-like than loaf-like. There’s something to be said about making … click below for more ↓

Back to Horace No. 2

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I was browsing online recently because I wanted to order another book of Horace’s Odes or maybe his Epistles in my efforts to understand and appreciate the poet more fully. I was scrolling through the always-poorly organized list of items on Amazon’s search page results (selected, it seems, mostly to promote a wide range of unrelated rubbish they want to offload…). Some titles caught my eye (wanting more books is a longtime obsession… and owning many translations of the same work is commonplace with me) … click below for more ↓

How to Win an Election

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Anyone running for office should consider reading How to Win an Election, by Quintus Tullius Cicero, translated by Philip Freeman. It’s a short, small book subtitled An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians (Princeton University Press, 2012). It contains both the Latin and the English translation of Quintus’ letter to his more famous brother, the orator Marcus Cicero. Quintus penned it in 64 BCE when Marcus decided to run for the position of Consul, the highest office in the Roman Republic. No, it won’t give you … click below for more ↓

Back to Horace

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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 Flaccus — aka Horace — wrote a letter (Epistle I.XI) to his peripatetic friend, Bullatius, a man who travelled … click below for more ↓

The Science Fiction of Robert Frost

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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 I came across a verse in one of Ben Bova’s more recent scifi novels that made me re-appraise and … click below for more ↓

Hobbesian vs Benthamite Politics

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Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) was not an optimist about human behaviour. Writing more than a century after Niccolo Machiavelli, the English political philosopher argued in his masterwork, Leviathan (1651), that the quest for power was the main motivation for humans. And that our quest to acquire more would never cease until we were dead. He wrote: …in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of Power after power, that ceaseth only in Death. And the cause … click below for more ↓

Ancient Election Wisdom

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I recently came across this piece by Marcus Tullius Cicero (one of my favourite classical authors) on the Sententiae Antiquae website (a good source of classical Latin and Greek translations), taken from Cicero’s oration Pro Murena (35-36). Lucius Licinius Murena was elected as his election as consul in 62 BCE but was subsequently accused of bribery. He was defended by  Cicero, who recorded his speech for posterity. Here’s what Cicero said about elections in general: What strait or what channel do you imagine has as … click below for more ↓

The Book of Knowledge: 3

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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 sites). But it stuck with me. I recently found a more fulsome translation of his words from Chapter V … click below for more ↓

The Book of Knowledge: 2

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Last post I mentioned I had rescued a set of encyclopedias from the dumpster at the end of this year’s Mother Of All Yard Sales (MOAYS; an Optimist Club event). I didn’t explain what I saved and why, but I’m here to explain, and to show. Bear with me. First, let me give you some personal background. Aside from being a writer, in my career I have been a book editor for a Canadian publisher, a magazine editor for two Canadian magazines, and editor-designer-layout person … click below for more ↓

The Book of Knowledge: 1

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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 them, although usually only one set and not always the most current or the best. You could find more … click below for more ↓

Ars Poetica

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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 rhetoric, the Institutio Oratoria. The name stuck. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) was popular during the Renaissance when Latin was … click below for more ↓

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