Monday, December 31, 2007

Anthony Stewart Culley

Dec 31st 1925-Dec 19th 1992

Telegraph obituary of Hugh Massingberd, who made the Daily Telegraph obit page the best anywhere...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Charles Lamb - New Year's Eve

"-- In those days the sound of those midnight chimes, though it seemed to raise hilarity in all around me, never failed to bring a train of pensive imagery into my fancy. Yet I then scarce conceived what it meant, or thought of it as a reckoning that concerned me. Not childhood alone, but the young man till thirty, never feels practically that he is mortal. He knows it indeed, and, if need were, he could preach a homily on the fragility of life; but he brings it not home to himself, any more than in a hot June we can appropriate to our imagination the freezing days of December. But now, shall I confess a truth ? -- I feel these audits but too powerfully. I begin to count the probabilities of my duration, and to grudge at the expenditure of moments and shortest periods, like miser's farthings. In proportion as the years both lessen and shorten, I set more count upon their periods, and would fain lay my ineffectual finger upon the spoke of the great wheel. I am not content to pass away "like a weaver's shuttle." Those metaphors solace me not, nor sweeten the unpalatable draught of mortality. I care not to be carried with the tide, that smoothly bears human life to eternity: and reluct at the inevitable course of destiny. I am in love with this green earth; the face of town and country; the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the sweet security of streets. I would set up my tabernacle here. I am content to stand still at the age to which I am arrived; I, and my friends: to be no younger, no richer, no handsomer. I do not want to be weaned by age; or drop, like mellow fruit, as they say, into the grave. -- Any alteration, on this earth of mine, in diet or in lodging, puzzles and discomposes me. My household gods plant a terrible fixed foot, and are not rooted up without blood. They do not willingly seek Lavinian shores. A new state of being staggers me.

Sun, and sky, and breeze, and solitary walks, and summer holidays, and the greenness of fields, and the delicious juices of meats and fishes and society, and the cheerful glass, and candle-light, and fireside conversations, and innocent vanities, and jests, and irony itself -- these things go out with life?

Can a ghost laugh, or shake his gaunt sides, when you are pleasant with him?

And you, my midnight darlings, my Folios! must I part with the intense delight of having you (huge armfuls) in my embraces? Must knowledge come to me, if it come at all, by some awkward experiment of intuition, and no longer by this familiar process of reading?

Shall I enjoy friendships there, wanting the smiling indications which point me to them here, -- the recognisable face -- the "sweet assurance of a look" -- ?"

via James Wolcott--Huckabee tickles my inner Lenin

"For it is self evident that any popular movement that would ever hope to change the status of the poor in United States would have to begin by uniting the resentment of both poor whites and poor blacks and that could probably only be possible around the figure of Jesus Christ, as he is painted by southern Christianity both black and white... and, as any South American will tell you, once the poor begin to march, Jesus is more easily a figure of the left than of the right..."

Friday, December 28, 2007

lively Terry Castle on Claude & Marcel & Janet & Alice & Gertrude & the Babe...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

new book of Leveller texts--

‘We are now engaged for our freedom. That’s the end of parliaments: not to constitute what is already established, but to act according to the just rules of government. Every person in England has as clear a right to elect his representative as the greatest person in England. I conceive that’s the undeniable maxim of government: that all government is in the free consent of the people.’

The Agreement Of The People. The Levellers' Manifesto from May 1649

:That it shall not be in their power to continue or make any Law, to deprive any person, in case of Tryals for Life, Limb, Liberty, or Estate, from the benefit of witnesses, on his, or their behalf; nor deprive any person of those priviledges, and liberties, contained in the Petition of Right, made in the third yeer of the late King Charls..."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

my favorite seasonal song--Good King Wenceslas, that "deep and crisp and even" line was the first line of poetry I ever remember really responding too, the way the syllables fall like feet in the snow--

Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about
deep and crisp and even;

Brightly shone the moon that night,
tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
gath'ring winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me,
if thou knows it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"

"Sire, he lives a good league hence,
underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence
by Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh
and bring me wine,
bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine,
when we bear them thither."

Page and monarch,
forth they went,
forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament
and the winter weather....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

via me-fi Dylan Thomas reads A Child's Christmas in Wales

(photo from the great Denholm Elliott version, which I haven't found on the schedule this year...)

Monday, December 24, 2007

via me-fi some old time radio --The Jack Benny Show: a Santa Sack Full of Christmas Episodes & from me some non-thematic Bob and Ray...

Check The Cool Wax has lots more swank holiday stuff, including Pee-Wee clips!

Have lots of fun over the holidays dear readers!

Friday, December 21, 2007

via Bookslut--Dickens Christmas Drinks--

"Mr Pickwick expressed a strong desire to recollect a song which he had heard in his infancy, and the attempt proving abortive, sought to stimulate his memory with more glasses of punch, which appeared to have quite a contrary effect; for, from forgetting the words of the song, he began to forget how to articulate any words at all; and finally, after rising to his legs to address the company in an eloquent speech, he fell into the barrow, and fast asleep, simultaneously."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the wonders of Piedmont Pate, Liver Mush aka Scrapple--

"Take eight pounds of scraps of pork, that will not do for sausage..."

& more respectably 101 E-Z Snacks for entertaining, from the NYT"s "minimalist"....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Theodor Adorno's essay on "The Old Curiosity Shop" at Google Books--

"Mr Quilp could scarcely be said to be of any particular trade or calling, though his pursuits were diversified and his occupations numerous. He collected the rents of whole colonies of filthy streets and alleys by the waterside, advanced money to the seamen and petty officers of merchant vessels, had a share in the ventures of divers mates of East Indiamen, smoked his smuggled cigars under the very nose of the Custom House, and made appointments on “Change with men in glazed hats and round jackets pretty well every day. On the Surrey side of the river was a small rat-infested dreary yard called ‘Quilp’s Wharf,’ in which were a little wooden counting-house burrowing all awry in the dust as if it had fallen from the clouds and ploughed into the ground; a few fragments of rusty anchors; several large iron rings; some piles of rotten wood; and two or three heaps of old sheet copper, crumpled, cracked, and battered. On Quilp’s Wharf, Daniel Quilp was a ship-breaker, yet to judge from these appearances he must either have been a ship-breaker on a very small scale, or have broken his ships up very small indeed. Neither did the place present any extraordinary aspect of life or activity, as its only human occupant was an amphibious boy in a canvas suit, whose sole change of occupation was from sitting on the head of a pile and throwing stones into the mud when the tide was out, to standing with his hands in his pockets gazing listlessly on the motion and on the bustle of the river at high-water..."

Monday, December 17, 2007

the peerless Frank McHugh in "Lily Turner"--

Spencer Tracy: "Frank, dear Frank. Of all our gang, Frank was the funniest one, and the only people who saw him at his funniest were the boys down at The Players and The Lambs. He'd take those skinny little parts they gave him at Warners and make them little bits of comic genious. I saw him just a few days ago on television in the musical version of State Fair, a nothing part, and Frank made it bloom with his charm. An actor."

another reason to move to Weehawken--New Jersey officially abolishes death penalty

"Corzine said the new law 'best captures our state's highest values and reflects our best efforts to search for true justice rather than state-endorsed killing.'"

Local trees

getting ready to read "The Old Curiosity Shop" (which Walter Benjamin translated into German) found this fine essay Dickens and the Dream of Cinema by Grahame Smith

"Quilp said not a word in reply, but walking so close to Kit as to bring his eyes within two or three inches of his face, looked fixedly at him, retreated a little distance without averting his gaze, approached again, again withdrew, and so on for half-a-dozen times, like a head in a phantasmagoria..."