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. . . 2001-07-25

On a blue gray day, what could be nicer than curling up with a liter of Irish Coffee and a full set of Sock Monkey, the preferred comic of dreamily aggressive drunks who've swigged just enough caffeine to get the detail work finished before collapsing?

Well, forget it, chump. You aren't going to get out of a blue gray day that easily. Instead, as an acceptably only-second-best-and-only-when-you're-lucky alternative, why not curl up in front of your blue gray monitor with a full set of scans (via and kvetch for the soft shredded beds of pulpier times?

. . . 2001-07-27

Daylight Squandering Time, or, Did July When You Said Juluvd Me

"As for God's graces, what can we see except in the dark? Daylight is opaque, like water we've washed our hands in."
-- Basil Bunting to Victoria Forde, 1973

(Possibly related: "I never drink before sunset. After that, the deluge." As quoted by Tony Millionaire.)

The Elater Noctiluccus

. . . 2001-07-29

"Let Maaseiah bless with the Drone, who with the appearance of a Bee is neither a soldier nor an artist, neither a swordsman nor smith."

The Jeoffry bit is here, but our fellow crazy cat ladies may also want to look here, here, here, and here.

. . . 2001-08-01

Someday my prince will go

You know, I think I could understand the British royal family if it was truly in place of other meaningless media-soaked way-over-rewarded celebrities. That would save a lot of wear and tear, since new royalty happens less frequently than seasons of "Big Brother" or newly pubescent supermodels. But instead it's on top of.

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Imagine what Larry Clark could've done with A.I....

"His love is real. But he is legal."

Speaking of which, don't miss this must-read TV! (via Daze Reader)

Confidence workers often claim that greed is the best lever for parting human beings from all pretense to rational thought. But it's pretty clear that the intelligence-lowering choice of professionals has always been self-righteousness: people will believe anything if it gives them the opportunity to feel outraged.

The most recent news I've encountered along those lines is the Bush underling who insisted that the promotional glass at right be removed from all Warners Brothers stores because the "Henery" character is "a self-described 'chicken hawk'... [made into an] unthreatening cartoon"! Your tax dollars at work, folks.

Predators are not 'cute'

. . . 2001-08-03

I'm a house divided against itself and I can't stand up!

With very mixed feelings we learn that use of the editorial we (aka the royal we, the political we, the manifestive we, the prophetic we, the mock-gossip-column we -- let's just call it the bullshitting we, shall we?) is associated with a long and happy life, for ourselves if not for our relatives, lovers, and readers. The next question to research is: Is a long life really that attractive if we have to live it as Lawrence Ferlinghetti? Or would we and the world be better off restricting ourselves to a briefer but less obnoxious existence as a mere Ferlinghetto?

Fortunately, hiding ourselves within a pundit's bulk isn't the only way to avoid the death-dealing first person singular, as demonstrated by such unpolled poets as Hannah Weiner....

. . . 2001-08-06

And so ends the story of: HATE, ZIP-POW!, and REVENGE

The Comics Journal message board supplies a surprising addition to the short list of "Krazy Kat" / film noir crossovers (and Fritz Lang / Jonathan Lethem connections):

Fritz's parting present to me was a collection of his favourite comic strips by George Herriman.... he wrote on the flyleaf:
Dear Jan

May you acquire Krazy's philosophy which makes a brick on his - (her?) - noggin the purveyor of true love. For the Krazy's of this world there are no austerities.

Sept 29th - 47 Fritz Lang

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Confession as avoidance technique

I found this much more interesting than that same Comics Journal's recent group interview with the worshipful wives (and girlfriend) of some young indie hetero male cartoonists:

"I have very little respect for him but I can't say that I hate his work as much as I used to."

. . . 2001-08-09

Recent Additions to Our Contemporary Collection

Primavera (Allegory of Spring)

What it corresponds to

Some writers are recognizable in their correspondence and some aren't. (Recognizable to readers, that is; their recognizability as the animals previously encountered by fleshy intimates is an unrelated matter.)

Those writers whose letters cozily nestle alongside their oeuvre -- Henry Adams, Raymond Chandler, Samuel R. Delany, among many others -- rely on a "micro" verbal impulse as well as a "macro"-building one: an impulse to respond to the world and its inhabitants by producing paragraphs, whether those paragraphs are meant to fit into a larger structure or not. Their books may seem colder or crueler or wiser than their letters, but the material comes from the same source. (And, not all that paradoxically, their letters may sometimes seem a bit impersonal: the sausage meat grinds on in a steady stream, regardless who gets the individual link....)

Whereas Dashiell Hammett's letters, like James Joyce's, are purely practical objects (even when their practical purpose is to give their recipients a sense of personal connection), springing from completely different impulses than the writer's book-objects, constructed along completely different lines, and not of much interest except to the addressed or the biographer. For the enthusiastic reader? Well, from one letter where Hammett uses full-out "Hammett style" to describe a day of Army life, I learned that lapidary prose can be a very dull thing outside a structural context; e.g., you can't polish dust. That's about it.

Having now trudged through a Alaskan-sized mud stretch of these letters, I feel the need to revisit some flashier gewgaws, such as those of John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester. And, look, since they're out of print anyway, how about I pass a few past you as well?
The Earl of Rochester gives some friendly advice, c. 1671

Whither Love, Wine, or Wisdom (which rule you by turns) have the present ascendent, I cannot pretend to determine at this distance, but good nature, which waits about you with more diligence than Godfrey himself, is my security that you are not unmindful of your absent friends. To be from you & forgotten by you at once is a misfortune I never was criminal enough to merit since to the black & fair Countesses I villainously betrayed the daily addresses of your divided heart; you forgave that upon the first bottle, & upon the second on my conscience would have renounced them and the whole sex.

Oh, that second bottle, Harry, is the sincerest, wisest, & most impartial downright friend we have, tells us truth of ourselves & forces us to speak truths of others, banishes flattery from our tongues and distrust from our hearts, sets us above the mean policy of court prudence which makes us lie to one another all day for fear of being betrayed by each other at night. And before god I believe the errantest villain breathing is honest as long as that bottle lives, and few of that tribe dare venture upon him, at least among the courtiers & statesmen.

I have seriously considered one thing, that of the three businesses of this age -- women, politics & drinking -- the last is the only exercise at which you & I have not proved our selves errant tumblers. If you have the vanity to think otherwise, when we meet next let us appeal to friends of both sexes &, as they shall determine, live & die sheer drunkards or entire Lovers. For as we mingle the matter, it is hard to say which is the most tiresome creature, the loving drunkard or the drunken lover.

The Earl of Rochester starts a seduction, c. 1675

If you distrust me and all my professions upon the score of truth and honor, at least let 'em have credit on another, upon which my greatest enemies will not deny it me, and that is its being notorious that I mind nothing but my own satisfaction. You may be sure I cannot choose but love you above the world, whatever becomes of the King, Court, or mankind and all their impertinent business. I will come to you this afternoon.

. . . 2001-08-10

Recent Acquisitions

View from My Office

Eris go bragh

Ian Collins writes us from the Isle of Saints & Sages:

I've been looking at your site.

Your criticisms of LA Confidential & Pulp Fiction, although ever so slightly valid are, IMHO, harsh and petty. You ignore the fact that both films have some of the best dialogue of any in the nineties. I like both Chinatown and LA C. But someone like you twenty years ago could just as easily criticised Chinatown for ripping off the film-noirs of the forties.

We regret any damage we've done to the careers of the makers of Pulp Fiction and LA Confidential, and herewith publicly give them permission to call us a punk Java programmer any old time they want.

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The Earl of Rochester critiques, c. 1674

Dear Wife, I received your three pictures & am in a great fright lest they should be like you. By the bigness of your head, I should apprehend you far gone in the rickets; by the severity of the countenance, somewhat inclined to prayer & prophesy. Yet there is an alacrity in the plump cheek that seems to signify sack & sugar, & the sharp sighted nose has borrowed quickness from the sweet-smelling eye. I never saw a chin smile before, a mouth frown, & a forehead mump. Truly the artist has done his part (god keep him humble), & a fine man he is if his excellencies do not puff him up like his pictures; the next impertinence I have to tell you is that I am coming down to you. I have got horses but want a coach; when that defect is supplied, you shall quickly have the trouble of your humble servant....

The Earl of Rochester dies, February 1676

Dear Savile,

This day I received the unhappy news of my own death and burial. But hearing what heirs and successors were decreed me in my place, and chiefly in my lodgings, it was no small joy to me that those tidings prove untrue. My passion for living is so increased that I omit no care of myself, which, before, I never thought life worth the trouble of taking. The King, who knows me to be a very ill-natured man, will not think it an easy matter for me to die now I live chiefly out of spite.

Dear Mr Savile, afford me some news from your land of the living; and though I have little curiosity to hear who's well, yet I would be glad my few friends are so, of whom you are no more the least than the leanest. I have better compliments for you, but that may not look so sincere as I would have you believe I am when I profess myself,

Your faithful, affectionate, humble servant,

. . . 2001-08-11

Q: How do you separate church and state in the Bush administration?

A couple of reminders that when you combine the inevitable corruptions of faith-based charities with the inevitable corruptions of government support, things get very ugly very quickly:

Orphanages were a Quebec growth industry in the 1940s and '50s. Families were large, money was tight and birth control was banned. There were fewer adoptive families willing to care for children born out of wedlock, or into poverty....

A: With a crowbar.

. . . 2001-08-12

Movie Comment: Ghost World

"The reason why so many critics like Elvis Costello so much is because they all look like Elvis Costello." -- David Lee Roth interviewed by Dave DiMartino, Creem, 1980

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The Earl of Rochester is ill, c. 1677

Dear Wife,

My condition of health alters I hope for the better, though various accidents succeed: my pains are pretty well over, & my rheumatism begins to turn to an honest gout, my pissing of blood Doctor Wetherly says is nothing, my eyes are almost out but that he says will not do me much harm. In short, he makes me eat flesh & drink diet-drink.

Recent Acquisitions

Birds Mean You No Good

The Earl of Rochester gossips, November 1679

The lousiness of affairs in this place is such (forgive the unmannerly phrase! Expressions must descend to the nature of things expressed) 'tis not fit to entertain a private gentleman, much less one a public character, with the retail of them. The general heads under which this whole island may be considered are spies, beggars and rebels. The transpositions and mixtures of these make an agreeable variety: busy fools and cautious knaves are bred out of them and set off wonderfully, though of this latter sort we have fewer now than ever, hypocrisy being the only vice in decay amongst us. Few men here dissemble their being rascals and no woman disowns being a whore.

Mr. Oates was tried two days ago for buggery and cleared. The next day he brought his action to the King's Bench against his accuser, being attended by the Earl of Shaftesbury and other peers to the number of seven, for the honour of the Protestant cause.

I have sent you herewith a libel in which my own share is not the least. The King having perused it is no ways dissatisfied with his. The author is apparently Mr. Dryden, his patron my Lord Mulgrave, having a panegyric in the midst; upon which happened a handsome quarrel between his Lordship and Mrs. Buckley at the Duchess of Portsmouth's. She called him the hero of the libel and complimented him upon having made more cuckolds than any man alive, to which he answered she very well knew one he never made nor never cared to be employed in making. 'Rogue!' and 'Bitch!' ensued, till the King, taking his grandfather's character upon him, became the peace-maker.

. . . 2001-08-14

The Earl of Rochester reminisces, October, 1677

Though I am almost blind, utterly lame, and scarce within the reasonable hopes of ever seeing London again, I am not yet so wholly mortified and dead to the taste of all happiness not to be extremely revived at the receipt of a kind letter from an old friend who in all probability might have laid me aside in his thoughts, if not quite forgot me by this time. I ever thought you an extraordinary man and must now think you such a friend who, being a courtier as you are, can love a man whom it is the great mode to hate. Catch Sir G. H. or Sir Carr at such an ill-bred proceeding and I am mistaken.

For the hideous deportment which you have heard of concerning running naked, so much is true: that we went into the river somewhat late in the year and had a frisk for forty yards in the meadow to dry ourselves. I will appeal to the King and the Duke if they had not done as much; nay, my Lord Chancellor and the Archbishops both, when they were schoolboys -- and at these years I have heard the one declaimed like Cicero, the others preached like St. Austin. Prudenter persons I conclude they were, even in hanging sleeves, than any of the flashy fry (of which I must own myself the most unsolid) can hope to appear even in their ripest manhood.

And now Mr Savile, since you are pleased to quote yourself for a grave man of the number of the scandalized, be pleased to call to mind the year 1676, when two large fat nudities led the coranto round Rosamund's fair fountain while the poor violated nymph wept to behold the strange decay of manly parts since the days of her dear Harry the Second. Prick, 'tis confessed, you showed but little of, but for arse and buttocks (a filthier ostentation, God wot!), you exposed more of that nastiness in your two folio volumes than we all together in our six quartos. 'Pluck therefore the beam out of thine own eye,' etc.

And now 'tis time to thank you for your kind inviting me to London to make Dutchmen merry, a thing I would avoid like killing punaises, the filthy savour of Dutch mirth being more terrible. If God in mercy has made 'em hush and melancholy, do not you rouse their sleeping mirth to make the town mourn. The Prince of Orange is exalted above 'em and I could wish myself in town to serve him in some refined pleasures which I fear you are too much a Dutchman to think of.

The best present I can make at this time is the bearer, whom I beg you to take care of that the King may hear his tunes when he is easy and private, because I am sure they will divert him extremely. And may he ever have harmony in his mind, as this fellow will pour it into his ears. May he dream pleasantly, wake joyfully, love safely and tenderly, live long and happily, ever prays, dear Savile, un bougre lasse qui era toute sa foutue reste de vie votre fidele ami et tres humble serviteur,

Recent Acquisitions

Bella Vista

The Earl of Rochester ends a seduction, c. 1679


I am far from delighting in the grief I have given you by taking away the child; and you, who made it so absolutely necessary for me to do so, must take that excuse from me for all the ill nature of it. On the other side, pray be assured I love Betty so well that you need not apprehend any neglect from those I employ, and I hope very shortly to restore her to you a finer girl than ever. In the meantime you would do well to think of the advice I gave you, for how little show soever my prudence makes in my own affairs, in yours it will prove very successful if you please to follow it. And since discretion is the thing alone you are like to want, pray study to get it.

This completes our selection of letters written by John Wilmot, the Second Earl of Rochester. Next up -- Thomas Jefferson: Cool Dude or Totally Creepy?

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Truly dedicated scholars are hereby notified that our tribute to The Lady from Shanghai has just been revised.

. . . 2001-08-16

The Neo-Reacto-Personism Amendments

  1. A good manifesto is like a good pratfall: no hospital; no parade; noise, just noise. (link via wood s lot)

  2. A manifesto, to be useful, must be unconvincing.

. . . 2001-08-17

Innovation alert

IE 5.0 was the best web browser since Mosaic days (in other words since before Netscape, divinely ordained, decided at birth that they wouldn't have to worry about competition, that enemy of innovation), but avoid "upgrading" to IE 5.5. Besides removing plug-in support, Microsoft has given sites the ability to change your browser's home page and bookmarks without permission or notification. Eyewitness report: "You thought popup windows were bad? They're nothing compared to clearing out 20 unwanted links in your favorites and resetting your home page every third time you start IE."

Luckily, you don't need to "upgrade" as long as you remove auto-"upgrading" utilities and you don't install new versions of Microsoft Windows. So don't do it.

Man, remember when Microsoft Word was an OK program? How long ago was that, anyway?

... Well, I reckon that's the PRICE OF INNOVATION!

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2001 Ray Davis.