Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Jacob the Baker, by Noah benShea

The Jacob in the title is a Jewish man (we know little else about him) and his title, "the baker," is apparently a sign of his low station in life. You are sad already, I can see, but don't be. Jacob is the kind with a body down low but a head up high, way in the clouds with his hopes for what's to come. He is the kind of man who revels in his low station, the sort of baker who doesn't wipe the flour off his clothes after a long day of work.

In other words, Jacob is wise. Accordingly he often has wise thoughts and writes them down on little sheets of paper, snippets of wisdom, proverbs mostly -- things like "It is the silence between the notes that makes the music" and "Each of us is the source of the other's river." The subtitle was right... "Gentle Wisdom For a Complicated World." . Yes, he labors along well in peaceful anonymity until one day... One of his slips of paper finds its way into a loaf of bread, and the woman who buys the loaf finds the note and comes back to the shop, asking for more. So Jacob, accidentally and reluctantly of course, becomes a kind of tzadik for his town, a wise and holy man who is sought after by those who have questions.

And, by God, does he have answers! He speaks almost exclusively in proverbs and has an answer for everything, even as he professes that he does not. He has an answer, I say, but of course it's not the one anyone wants to hear. It is something much more tangled and obscure. I wonder if any of his "wisdom" ever did any of the characters any good... I can't tell, of course, since every one of the dozens of little stories in this slim volume goes the same way: a person comes to Jacob with a problem or a question, and then Jacob answers it in his way, always putting in the last words, often ending with the apparent moral of the story. I hope they got their answer, but I have my doubts and my doubts say they may well have been better off with a fortune cookie.

benShea's website
proclaims, "Noah benShea is one of North America’s most respected and popular poet-philosophers, and International Best-Selling author." A Wikipedia search returned only, "Did you mean Noah Bennet?" On his website you can buy "Noah Bears," teddy bears with a twist -- bears that wear t-shirts which say things like “Handmade by God.”(©) and "Prayer is a path where there is none." (©) And they have another little surprise: squeeze the button on their hand and then sit back to listen to about twenty seconds of wisdom, rendered in benShea's own low, gravelly voice. There are ten designs, $30.95 each. And please, "Remember, you make a difference and sometimes a bear does too!"

On benShea's Facebook "wall" a person calling himself Young Lee wrote...
I read Jacob the baker after i woke up from nightmare that I got sentenced from gods angel that I will be goin to hell And randomly pickd up the Jacob the baker in den which Was belong to my mother. Your book made me look my life again thanks.
Ps. I have question to Jacob the baker "will god listen to our every prayer we give?"
I wonder if there's special place for wisdom peddlers in Heaven -- a large room, I imagine, where thousands of smooth-talkers in snappy outfits speak only in proverbs, where they could talk about the "meaning of life" till eternity... maybe there is such a place, and maybe its name is Hell.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Love's Young Dream" by Roddy Lumsden

In the past few months I've been tumbling through a lot of poetry, both on my own and with the guidance of online readers, but this poem is the first and only to knock me down -- to bring me back three times to listen to it again. It was love. It still is. Young love is the best, I hear, and though I still hold out for 65-year-old love too, I have no choice at this point but to agree with the common sentiment.

The poem is called "Love's Young Dream" and it is here read by a man who calls himself simply SpokenVerse, a prolific and fairly popular Youtuber. The poet is Roddy Lumsden, a modernday Scotsman who... well, one gets the feeling he may have knocked on fame's door at one point -- been featured in a few "Up and Coming" lists in the eighties and nineties -- but has since then taken a misturn into that vilest of purgatories, relative obscurity. I don't know the reason, of course -- fame is fickle, etc., etc. -- but from where I stand I can say this: That's a damn shame. From what little I know, he is a man capable of crafting clever and well-constructed poetry. Many of his best poems seem to have a solid, even high-born concept behind them, which Lumsden manages to pull off with what I humbly call decent poetic mechanics.

In "Love's Young Dream" the theme is cliches, those "trite or overused expressions," those ever-scorned foundation stones of the English and perhaps every language. The narrator is in love with -- or, in our callously modern tongue, has a thing for -- a girl. A girl about whom we know very little, except that she is a "snow ball's chance in hell," a long shot, way out of his league. For all we know she could be Debbie Harry, but the important thing is he asks her out and she shows up... "And there with her giving me the wink,/The Jewish pope, the constipated bear." Throughout the narrator speaks almost exclusively in cliches -- and he is acutely conscious of it. So he ends the poem with that cute little number just above... Always people are asking "Is the pope Catholic?" and "Does a bear shit in the woods?" and in this case anyways, the answer is "No! Absolutely not."

In the comments section of the video (click on the video up there to visit its Youtube page and then scroll down to see the comments) a person calling himself Roddy Lumsden had this to say: "Nice to know some like this poem - I barely (bearly?) recall writing it - it came fast and was written in Edinburgh, probably in 1996. Not a poem I still have any attachment too, though witty in its way." He also corrects a mistake by the reader: "Also, it's six-one-fives, not six-fifteens - which is needed for the rhyme scheme." So that clears that up, though what "six-one-fives" -- and "gio" for that matter -- are I can't even imagine. Suffice to say, I guess, that one usually creases the first and splashes on the second.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dulce et Decorum Est... part 2

Today I have for you, friends, only a video, a clip from a BBC documentary on Wilfred Owen. Mr. Gray-haired Announcer Guy says a few words and then gets to reciting the poem "Dulce et Decorum Est," which I wrote about on Monday... I was very surprised indeed to learn that Owen is "the most studied poet in England -- after Shakespeare (after all)." He's one of those writers, I guess, who gets shoved down the throats of high school kids, generation after generation. We have those too, here in America. To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World... I take a kind of foolish pride from the fact that I was assigned all of these books and never read any of them to completion. (Holden Caulfield don't got nothing on me.)

But now Wilfred Owen is a writer I feel I can get behind. A little dark and gloomy "War is Hell" poetry can do wonders for army recruitment -- in the correct direction, of course. Poetry, in this case, may very well have made a difference -- pounded some good sense into the heads of at least a handful of kids. It's great, but most of the people in the comments section of this Youtube video seem hung up on nothing more than Owen's homosexuality...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dulce et Decorum Est...

I have recently been taken in by this poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" by the WWI English poet Wilfred Owen:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

It is apparently one of Owen's most famous, one of the most famous poems of the war. It is the story of a group of soldiers who are headed back to camp after a day of fighting when, suddenly... "Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!" There is "an ecstasy of fumbling" as Owen and the other soldiers hurry to put their gas masks on, but at least one man is too slow and Owen has to watch the entire horrific death unfold. In the last stanza the poet addresses the reader directly, stating in a sense, "O, if only you knew..." In an effort to describe what the death must of have been like, the poet gives the sense of both drowning and burning, and it is a simple leap to put those two together. Imagine drowning in a lake of fire and you are well on your way to a typical conception of Hell, leading in this poem to the "cliche": Hell on Earth.

The last bit of the poem, "Dulce et decorum est/Pro patria mori" is Latin and comes from ode 3.2 (that is, Book 3, Poem 2) of the Imperial Roman poet Horace. Translated into fairly smooth and natural English, the line is rendered as, "It is sweet and proper to die for one's country." The line is so well-flowing and so deeply patriotic that it had prospered and found its way into fairly common use by the early twentieth century. (The rest of the poem, although it puts forth a fairly stirring depiction of the Roman-Parthian battlefield, is more dense and not quite so well remembered.)

The line, although used satirically in this poem, was primarily spoken with grim and earnest disposition. Owen Seaman, for example, (whose disposition, incidentally, may well have inspired A.A. Milne to create Eeyore, the gloomy donkey from Winnie the Pooh) stood whole-heartedly behind the phrase when he wrote his poem "Pro Patria." I am not sure of the exact date of this poem, or whether it came before or after "Dulce et Decorum Est," but clearly it was written during the war, by a man who was then too old to serve. This then brings an element of generational tension and brings to mind the old maxim -- something to the effect of "Old men make make the wars and young men have to fight in them."

To this day there are proud "military families" -- in England, in my own United States, everywhere -- who have history stretching to World War One and beyond, a long line of men (and now women) who imagine themselves marching cheerfully off to battle. "Pro patria mori" -- to die for one's country. The phrase does have a ring to it, but if we translate the Latin more literally... "Sweet and fitting it is to die for the fatherland." Suddenly, with more "foreign-sounding" syntax and the original meaning of the word patria, "fatherland," the phrase seems at least slightly more sinister; and, although I hate to say it, more like Nazi propaganda. Sure, this poem, on the surface, does not advance much beyond the single impression "War is Hell" but with my modern eye I see another aspect. I know that no major war has been fought using the principals of democracy, that "in order to preserve their freedom" young men and women must surrender their personal will at the boot camp doors. In short I see that War, in some sense at least, is fascism.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: On the Road, by Jack Kerouac

On the RoadMy rating: 2 of 5 stars
They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"
I know, it's so overused but for me, the above quote epitomizes On the Road; in a sense, it's the entire book. And it comes in Part 1 Section 1, so it's a great barometer. If you like it, boy are you in for a ride. (Why not get a tattoo?) Otherwise... "Oh boy... here we go..." That's what I said when I started this book; now, on the other side, my opinion still hasn't changed.

To read this book, one has to suffer through countless run-on sentences like the one above -- sentences that I'm sure many grade school English teachers would just love to mark up with red pen... And then there's the, uh, majesty of it all, a word I simply cannot apply to this book without a wink and a smile. Please, see William Shatner's dramatic reading of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" for similar laugh-inducing "wonder"... And then the reader will have to slog through the self importance, the dead seriousness that sits underneath the light-hearted frolicking of this book, a strong glimpse at the literary pretensions of its author... Most of all, get ready for absolutely no plot -- just driving, drinking and fucking.

Please, meet Jack Kerouac. Jack is a part of a little group, a nice gang of fellas who have a major hard-on for life. They like to "get their kicks," they're "mad," "wild" -- "beat," even. This group likes to gallivant about the US, subsisting primarily on alcohol and male-on-male romance -- despite repeated insisting to the contrary. "Sal" (Jack's in-book pseudonym, to my estimation an inexplicable, entirely useless addition)is always trying to get in with women, women who are principally described by the color of their hair. And he's always eating pie... real pie, the kind that apparently represents "the idealized comforts of a certain middle-class American domesticity." But to me, it's all a conspiracy: the women and the pie are there, sure, but they're squished in beside endless drinking, and endless all-night, all-male talking sessions.

Jack and his friends bounce around, off the walls and off the coasts of the country. They're all antsy motherfuckers; they can't sit still, as if some part of them, *ahem*, "burns, burns, burns." So they move -- by hitchhiking, bus, or private car -- from city to city, often spending just a few days in a city they traveled thousands of miles to get to. On the Road is apparently famed for its descriptions of certain towns and cities -- Lord knows why, since they are usually so brief and incomplete. Jack is the kind of guy who could form a bad opinion of a place just because it happened to be cold and rainy during the two days he visited. And the people... well, just about everyone who is not within Jack's little circle gets ignored.

Most everyone in the group is a delinquent of some kind or another. They steal, con girls into bed, abandon wives and children, and often descend on a family situation like a swarm of locusts. They can clean out a cupboard and a hot water tank in nothing flat, with hardly a thank you. And what gets me the most: they get away with every bit of it.

Yes, everyone in Jack's group is a pain in the ass, but my real wrath is pointed directly at "Dean Moriarty." I can't believe I've gone this long without mentioning him. In some ways, Dean is the book -- Jack spends all his time following Dean around, Dean begins the book and Dean ends the book. Perhaps he's God, in Jack's imagination (an obvious idol in mine); perhaps he's just an "Angel of Death." Or! perhaps he's just a man, a "mad" man with a ton of other issues besides.

I did not like this book; therefore, I did not like Dean. Everything I've said to describe the group as a whole works just fine on Dean. I can add a few, as well... he's so very wise, yet he never makes much sense; he alienates all those around him, who generally only want to be close to him; he messes recklessly with other people's lives, his "Taoist philosophy" not withstanding; and, most of all he can't sit still. Dean is the kind of guy who talks incessantly throughout a TV show -- he's so antsy and self-important, and it's almost like he can't help it. Maybe that's it: he simply can't sit down and shut up. He can't help being an asshole... in the end, he may be fun to follow around for awhile, but he's not a lifelong friend. He's not anything. Listening to his odd ravings will not make you smarter, he has nothing to offer.

Now for a bit of apologizing... I feel almost bashful about hating this book, a little scared. In a way I feel like the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier when he was so disgusted by a book of Whitman's poetry that he tossed it into the fire, a low point in his career and my estimation of him. Perhaps Whittier was too set in his ways, I think, to feel the magic and rhythm of a new kind of poetry. Perhaps I am too square to find a comfortable place among the Beats. I don't, can't, and won't get IT... Sometimes I ask myself, "Am I missing something?"

Only sometimes, mind you. The rest of the time... well, you already know. You know where I'm coming from at least. This book seemingly urges the reader to "burn, burn, burn" -- but, please, don't forget to spend five to ten hours reading it. Don't live vicariously through others, unless that "other" happens to be Jack Kerouac and his friends. Thankfully, this kind of self-indulgent literature will never have much of an audience because everybody wants to tell their story, nobody wants to listen. Regretfully, this book will always be known as the book that "turned on a generation...."

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Blacksad, a graphic novel

BlacksadMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Note: A review of a graphic novel always benefits from a few examples of artwork, and since I was unable to scan any from my copy of the book I have added a link here to a nice selection, courtesy of Google Images.)

This is the kind of graphic novel that tends to find its way onto Top 10 lists, and in this case the chorus of adulation seems predominantly justified. It's a collection, really, of three graphic stories, about sixty pages each, that were originally published on a "when-it's-done" schedule throughout this past decade. The stories are the stuff of classic noir, heavily inspired by the world set down by old pulp fiction and 40s-and-50s-era black-and-white American B-movies; except here the roles are played by animals that look like people, or as the authors prefer to see it, "people who look like animals."

So, Reader, meet John Blacksad, a big black cat, with a bit of white on his chin and an unfortunate name. He's a detective, and a fairly typical one at that, who has to deal with, in succession 1) unraveling and revenging the murder of an old flame, 2) immersing himself in a neighborhood race-war in order to find a missing child, and 3) investigating the murders of a circle of leftward-leaning scientists. The stories, although perhaps a bit typical, a bit too form-fitting to their genre, are still valiant, commendable efforts in their own little time and place... but the art... the art is for all time.

This collection was illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido, a former Disney animator. Now, these days the term "Disney animator" still packs a wallop, and if the quality of Disney's traditionally animated productions have degraded in recent years it is certainly not for a lack of talent. Nevertheless today the term "former Disney animator" may carry with it even more punch, since it indicates the person to whom it's attached has talent enough to be picked up by Disney, and freedom enough to create their own vision, free from under the still somewhat tyrannical eyes of the Disney crew.

Well, now... I suppose it's more than just a matter of DISNEY IS EVIL. The comics medium has been through a lot, spending most of its formative years in a production-oriented, highly profit-based world. And then, when comics went "underground," this new breed of artist had neither the money nor the inclination to make finely intricate comics. But now... now, I'm convinced we are in a golden age of comics art, when comics have moved off the assembly line, into galleries and museums, and many of the genre's top illustrators have the inclination, time, and financial freedom to create absolutely jaw-dropping stuff. And not just a panel or two, but throughout the whole book.

With Blacksad the artist has done just that. Just about every panel can stand on its own, as an individual piece of artwork, a testament to the artist's mastery -- and bane of millions of students who can only wish they had those skills. For proof just look at the faces: those bulky, awkward animal faces come to life and express a full range of human emotion (The Dreamworks people should take a few notes.) And mind you, the faces are just an example. The backgrounds, clothing, props -- even the atmosphere, a word as difficult and somehow intangible as the thing it describes -- all come to life in each panel.

When combined, the panels only enhance their effects; the narratives are always fast paced and the art sticks with them every step of the way. It never wallows upon itself, a common foible amongst the upper crust of comics art. Sometimes, I suspect, an artist of that caliber gets a little too full of himself. But not here... Here, almost child-like passion and enthusiasm positively drip from every page. And even if the stories don't appeal to you or the premise seems too cliche, I hope you will at least crack this book to enjoy the art. If nothing else, why not take Emerson's advice on Shakespeare? Read it backwards, from finish to start, and avoid all that messy plot nonsense that just confuses and obfuscates, and drags your attention away from the poetry in motion on the page.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Shakespeare After All

The title refers both to a 2005 book by popular Shakespeare scholar Marjorie Garber and an accompanying class given by Garber at Harvard University in 2007 whose sessions were recorded and are now freely available online. The book is a hefty one-thousand pages, devoting a chapter each to the thirty-eight plays now considered to have been written by Shakespeare. The course, obviously more stretched for time, looks at only eleven works of his later career, addressing them in the order in which they were (probably) written, starting at Troilus and Cressida, working through his classic tragedies and romances, and ending with The Tempest.

Small guess, then, as to what I've been up to lately... I had a mission, as far back as August 2009, to read all of the Bard's plays, and by September of this year I had read eleven. Now... not to make the greatest author of all time sound like a chore, but I was having some trouble keeping a schedule, knocking the plays down like so many carnival-midway targets. I was reading haphazardly, if not quite randomly. I started with Hamlet, almost a year ago, simply because Hamlet is all the rage these days. And why did I read The Taming of the Shrew about a month ago? I wanted to watch Kiss Me, Kate and felt no self-respecting self-proclaimed "Shakespearean" could watch that jaunty 50s-era musical without first suffering through its source material.

But now I'm all business: in about half a month I've gone through Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure... Othello is next. I have settled into a routine: I read the play (in my big crappy one-volume complete works collection), then read the accompanying chapter in Shakespeare After All (which I borrowed from the library, but you can read most of it on Google Books or, ya know, buy it), and then finally download the appropriate lecture.

The scheme has worked out just fine. In fact, I recommend it. It's perfect for those who, like me, are working through the Shakespearean canon for the first time, hopefully laying a foundation for years of rereadings, related reading, and viewing of stage productions: a lifetime of Shakespeare... Or a week... or a month...or a year... In any case, it's very likely you'll walk away with something -- it is Shakespeare, after all, and any time you devote to it is time well spent. But if you're floundering a bit, or you're having trouble just jumping in, I can't think of anyone better to assist you than Marjorie Garber.

Garber has already devoted much of her life to these works so she's fitting, not to mention willing, to help others on their way. She has packed her book with sharp, close-to-the-text analyses of each work, ideas so solid that some might be tempted to commandeer them for their own, a crime called plagiarism that's ironically frowned upon in most academic (yes, even Shakespearean) circles. A bit of reading Shakespeare After All and then you can knick a few lines like these, to impress your friends into boredom: "The outer world of Hamlet, the play, mirrors the state of mind of Hamlet, the character," or "In Twelfth Night the complacent, passive natives of Illyria are stirred into action by the arrival of the very active foreigners" (principally Viola, who disguises herself as "Cesario," and Sebastian, her twin brother)...

As if being a thief were not crime enough, I've gone and committed the crime of enthusiasm. "I can't help it, your Honor!" (That's how I'll plead my case in court.) Garber's enthusiasm is as infectious as her ideas. And, besides, it hardly feels like theft at all since most of her assertions are so sound, so close to the text itself that they feel like common sense. Yes, common sense: perhaps the highest compliment a piece of literary criticism or analysis can receive. Such nonsense doesn't hold punch with other critics -- no, they need something wacky and dense to pull apart with tweezers -- but surely the common crowd has sense enough to pay some attention to this book.

And while you're at it don't forget the accompanying course, either! the course that compliments the book so well. Part lecture, part discussion, the course allows Garber to fill in and flesh out some of the gaps she left in her book, and creates a forum where various forms of tongue-tied stuttering students can ask questions of Garber, and unconsciously fawn before her greatness. The teacher/writer herself, however, takes it all in stride and generally answers their questions well, with charming alacrity...

Friday, October 1, 2010

One-year anniversary

Abe's Book Blog is now one year old. In fact, its "birthday" was September 29, but I missed it. I was busy taking a trip with my mom to southern Ohio to check on "Papa," my misnomer-toting former-Nazi grandfather who's gone a bit loopy since his first stroke a few years ago. He took a nasty tumble on Tuesday, though whether it was the result of a "mini-stroke" or the half empty bottle of Black Velvet next to his bed we can't be sure. The plan is to put him in a home within thirty minutes of here. Barrels of monkeys will surely ensue...

But now to something much more near and dear. When I started this blog over a year ago I had no high expectations. "If I write a hundred posts in a year I'll be happy" is what I said. "And if I learn a few things about writing, and improve my styling a bit, well that's all the better," I added. Well, I have just barely reached my desired posting count and I don't know that I've learned too much, but I have enjoyed myself and I do plan to keep at it long into an indeterminate future.

Of course I have plenty of plans for the future, year #2 -- not least of which is the maintaining of a stricter posting schedule, probably weekly, Monday-Wednesday-Friday -- but for now I wish to reminisce. Here, then, are five of my posts that I think stand out. They are not necessarily my best or the most representative, but they all for one reason or another seem remarkable to me. Why? Well, while I ponder this, you have your own opinions and if you feel so inclined please do shout them out. Much as I love the sound of my own voice, it's always nice to receive comment here.

My choices are:
  1. Review: Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - "Sure, Meditations is often, as George Long put it, 'obscure,' and [Aurelius'] language is often unnecessarily lofty and learned. Sure, his work suffers from the same inconsistencies of all the ancient works of ethics that our modern eyes have recently 'discovered.' Yet I respect this man and feel everyone can learn something from his writings. If nothing else, he tried." I tried, too. I took a swing at condensing and critiquing this classic but difficult ancient philosophy text in under a thousand words -- and I didn't fall on my face.
  2. Harvey Pekar: a great man is dead - Back in July of this year Harvey Pekar, the man who wrote the long-running autobiographical comic American Splendor, fell over and died. The next day I gave him the best sendoff I could think of. The last line: "...hopefully someone can be conjured up to say: 'This is our guy! I'm immensely proud of him.' Oh, hell -- it's already done."
  3. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead - My likening of the title characters of this classic absurdest play to a potted plant was, to me, spot on. And when I had nailed down that little bit the rest of the post seemed to naturally fall into place.
  4. "Atlas is [Hugging]" - The title came as an afterthought, I swear. But the rest of the post is solid, giving the queen of mean, Ayn Rand, and her fans a good lashing, straying into humor occasionally without ever straying too far from the point. This is a very recent post, so I was and still am reading a collected edition of Heywood Broun, a 30s-and-40s era Socialist newspaperman and a big part of the Algonquin Round Table. The man's style inspired my post, and hopefully the solid technique employed by this classically trained newspaper columnist will continue to rub off.
  5. What's going on here? (Part 2) - In this case, for once, the action in this post transcends the post itself. In essence, I spent one whole day in early April talking (almost) only in questions, then laid it out on paper (as the say) the next day. And why did I do this? Well... "If you want to get really philosophical about it, I don't know. Do I really have to answer this question? There was no grand scheme and there still isn't. It is not terribly useful, like curing Cancer, nor is it particularly breathtaking, like rock climbing or sky diving. But, but, but -- why does my life suddenly feel more complete?"
I do so hate these "digest posts" that simply recycle old content and create little to nothing new, and I'm sure you, the reader, do too. In television they call it "The Dreaded Clip Show." Since I don't like it when Everybody Loves Raymond does it of course I don't like to perpetuate the problem too much, anniversary reminisces excluded of course. But new content is coming soon, I promise -- next Monday if all goes well -- so hold tight, everybody, and get ready for an even more exciting year of Abe's Book Blog.

And please, remember to help control the pet population and have your pet spayed or neutered. (I watched too much TV down at "Papa's" house.)