Thursday, September 27, 2007

Princess Bride

I would just like to announce to y'all that The Princess Bride celebrates its twentieth anniversary! --Well, two days ago, according to IMDB. I missed it.


"You mean you wish to surrender to me? All right. I accept."

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."


"As you wish!"

And, just for fun, here's the Lego reenactment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

If you live near a live dragon...

Behold, the article.

Hat tip to WorldMagBlog. Please, read and argue. :-)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Honestly, some days

Some days, you've just got to hope that you get points for turning up and trying, because you sure won't get any for accomplishments.

Yesterday was an if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie kind of day where you spill everything, up to and including the cleaning solution you'd meant to clean up everything else with. HOWEVER. I managed to pour the milk without spilling, which is remarkable.

And then Jonathan called and made it all better. Nevertheless, I'm glad it's finally Monday....

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Wittingshire always has good posts, but I particularly liked this one. It seemed especially apropos in connection with that dismal article on the state of literary education.

I agree with the post. Memorizing is freeing to the soul, if you're memorizing words worth being memorized. :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quote of the day

“And now I have two in my group! It is no longer singular! But it is still feminine.” Amelia
“But is it nominative?” Me
“It depends. If I said, 'I will go scold my group,' it would not be nominative.” Amelia
“Right. It would be a direct object, because it gets the benefit of your scolding.” Me
“Which would be accusative.” Amelia
“I think so.” Me
“In fact, it would be accusative in two senses.” Amelia

For the linguistically interested among you

Here's an English-to-Pirate translator.

Because it's Talk Like a Pirate Day

"We Are the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything"
by Mike Nawrocki, that genius of humor

Arr, arr, arr, arr

We are the pirates who don’t do anything
We just stay at home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything
We'll just tell you we don’t do anything.

Well I’ve never been to Greenland
And I've never been to Denver
And I’ve never buried treasure in St. Louie or St. Paul.
And I’ve never been to Moscow
And I’ve never been to Tampa
And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall.

We're the pirates who don’t do anything
We just stay at home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything
We'll just tell you we don’t do anything.

And I’ve never hoist the main sail
And I’ve never swabbed the poop deck
And I’ve never veered to starboard
'Cause I never sail at all.
And I’ve never walked the gangplank
And I’ve never owned a parrot
And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall.

We are the pirates who don’t do anything
We just stay at home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything
We'll just tell you we don’t do anything.

Well I've never plucked a rooster
And I'm not too good at ping-pong
And I’ve never thrown my mashed potatoes
Up against the wall.
And I’ve never kissed a chipmunk
And I’ve never gotten head lice
And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall.

And I’ve never licked a spark plug
And I’ve never sniffed a stinkbug
And I’ve never painted daises
On a big red rubber ball.
And I’ve never bathed in yogurt
And I don’t look good in leggings
And we’ve never been to Boston in the fall!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi is "tala," meaning "gold." I tripped over the word during a lull in the day, when I was playing with my dictionary.
Then this evening I was reading an article off the BBC Persian site, and observed that it seemed to be using "tala" an awful lot. What's "tala" now?

The canon wars

Fascinating stuff. I think I own the Harold Bloom book the article discusses, but I haven't read it; maybe I should. My take:

-You should be able to read. What on earth is 12 years of education for, if it doesn't accomplish that? Socialization? Ptth!

-You should be able to read the literature in your field. (The good doctor, incidentally, agrees with me wholeheartedly. His mission in life--well, at the university where he teaches--is to train dental students to make sense of the dental literature and be able to evaluate it.)

-You should read the stuff worth reading. The canon, in my understanding, mostly means "the stuff worth reading."

Thanks, Amy, for the link. :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Dana Gioia: poet, director of the National Endowment for the Arts, and sensible man. I just read his 1991 essay on the state of the art (thank you, ThePoint), and thought you all would find it interesting, too.

So: anybody read any poetry lately? What did you think of it, really? We may as well start doing some decent criticism as anyone else: the whole web is at our doorstep. :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Quote of the day

"The next thing to remember about electrons is, they're like tenth-grade girls. They don't like to hang out by themselves."

I dearly love my town. Today we had a dad explaining electron orbits to his daughter in the waiting room. That's just what happens here. And, as he showed me when I mentioned how cool it was, his reading matter was--a booklet on health physics and a trail book.


Just weights and measures

According to the BBC, the EU has temporarily given up on making the British abandon their English measurements, their miles and pints and pounds.

I couldn't be more delighted. :-D Other people are free to use the metric system if they like; I've had plenty of physicists and chemists explain to me how wonderful it is, and they're perfectly correct that it's more efficient.

But there's more to life than efficiency. There's also locality, and history, and tradition, and poetry, and creativity, and plain old "because-we've-always-done-it-this-way." You can carry it too far and be enslaved to the past, to be sure, or you can carry the alternative too far, and lose what you've got that makes you distinct. Personally, I think the current era is overly inclined to give up good old things. And then people wonder why they have no roots.

Can you really imagine going into a pub and ordering a liter of bitter? I probably wouldn't because I rarely order bitter at all, but if I did, I wouldn't because it's cacophonous English. And what about Three Mile Island? That would be Four Point Eight Kilometer Island. I suppose you could talk about a really slow person "centimetering" along, but it doesn't have the same connotations as "inching," and is a lot harder to say.

English, of course, has molded around the system it's used forever. If the system changed, the language would adapt. It's good at that. It's just nice if it doesn't have to. Shakespeare has enough footnotes without having to explain what Shylock's pound of flesh would be in kilos.

None of these reasons might convince someone who doesn't already agree. That's fine. I like the occasional lost cause, much in the way I like homemade bread. Practicality alone gets boring. Sometimes the majority exchanges their birthright for lentil stew, and sometimes the dead speak with tongues of fire beyond the language of the living.

Anyway, whether from sense or stubbornness, I'm glad England considers their system worth making a fuss about. It's theirs, and after all, why should they use a system the French invented? ;-)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi is also from the first page of John. This is the little section caption above the first bit of chapter 1, and it reads, "Mesiyah beh danya-ey ma ahmad," or, "The Messiah came to our world."
It's beautiful, simple grammar, and beautiful, simple words, and even a beautiful, simple, complicated meaning. :-)

A murder solved

Hmm... another good reason not to make an enemy of a writer. Or something.

Didn't Harriet Vane talk about doing that?


Many of the happiest people I know have a habit of being interested in Things In General. They'll talk to anyone, and find something to be interested in; like Lord Peter, they actually care where their own drains go and about the emotional lives of income-tax collectors; as a result they have a boundless store of random knowledge to discuss; and they're just, well, happy.

In contrast, grumpy people seem to be tightly wound up in their own dismal little worlds, and it's difficult for anything to penetrate the cocoon.

I was reading a be-your-own-private-investigator book, and the author made the point that the two professions in which an interest in Things In General would come in handy were spying and writing. I'll agree with that, but I suspect it's useful in other professions, like anything where you have to interact with other humans. In fact, I could see caring about Things In General as a function of humility. It requires you to ignore yourself for the moment. Hmm...

Does this observation fit with y'all's experience, or do I just know remarkable people? :-)