by A. Shortfinger-Vulgarian
Epigraph: “See, see de insolance of de Foot-boy English.” (1677) --OED
✌ James Joyce hated quotation marks, calling them “short slices of death.” No, wait, that was the bad guy in the movie “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and he was talking about sleep.
✌ Brits call quotation marks “inverted commas” (oddly sexual) and Joyce called them “perverted commas” (oddly sexual and also third-grade).
✌ Are quotation marks truly distractions, or just something a reader should get over, like capital letters at the start of sentences and periods at the end?
✌ While we’re in the neighborhood, let’s take account of the need to edit books intelligently when making them into audiobooks. I have long admired editors who abridge books for oral recording -- “unabridged” is no guarantee of a good experience -- as I have long admired the editors of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books (now Reader’s Digest Select Editions). The condensers can excise a subplot without leaving a trace. Perfect criminals.
✌ One great trick of abridgment for audio recording is to get rid of all the “he saids” and “she saids.” Do at least that, and many other sins will be forgiven.
✌ Speaking of sins being forgiven, Happy Easter to those to whom it applies. I wish Easter and Passover always coincided (as they do not this year) so Christians and Jews could celebrate divine rescue simultaneously every year.
✌ The little emoticon at the start of each paragraph today is supposed to be a bunny. Don’t look too closely or it will look like a Churchillian “victory” or hippie “peace” symbol. If it does, that’s okay, too.
✌ Jonah Goldberg to fellow Republicans: “Nominating Donald Trump will wreck the Republican party as we know it. Not nominating Trump will wreck the Republican party as we know it. The sooner everyone recognizes this fact, the better. This ends in tears no matter what. Get over it and pick a side.”
✌ The ancient Athenian playwright Aeschylus was right when he warned, “It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.” Believe me. I guarantee.
✌ “Don’t tap the vigor till the vim’s all gone” --Jarna Shrile
✌ When a president is forced to say, “I am not a crook,” we know he’s a crook. When a president is forced to say, “I did not have sex with that woman,” we know he had sex with that woman. When a president is forced to say, “I don’t bluff,” we know he bluffs.
✌ "Power is a flame that draws reporters and politicians who are neither fond of nor loyal to whoever wields it." --after Victor Davis Hanson
✌ "A patriot’s first duty is to think for herself." --after Jose Marti
✌ In an effort to raise the tone a bit, astronomers have renamed the planet Uranus “Urelbow.” When ancient Greeks discovered something, they yelled “Urethra!” which lowered the tone. Also lowering the tone, I included this item.
✌ Headline: “French expedition to Mars finds evidence of Evian.”
✌ If evolution continues, humans will someday be able to simultaneously chew Doritos and hear the television.
✌ “While we are happy to consider unsolicited manuscripts, we regret we cannot return any that lack a SASE. In addition, to save your time and ours, please note that any manuscript with ‘suddenly, all hell broke loose’ anywhere in it does not meet our current needs.”
✌ The priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was called “the Pythian,” but not because she was pithy. Indeed, her oracles -- perhaps stimulated by gases down in the cave -- were often themselves gassy.
✌ Able: “I’ll be frank with you.” Baker: “No, no, I’ll be Frank and you be Ernest!”
✌ Literary critics delude themselves that theirs is not a secondary activity. They imagine themselves to be “co-discoursing equals” with authors. Hahahahaha.
✌ Why did Greta Garbo want so badly to be a loan if she didn’t want interest?
✌ If you want to feel special, get your book banned in Boston, Bucharest, and Beijing.
✌ “To sing out ‘Morbleu’” means "to cry out, to make a great noise." “I can remember at Launceston, the expression being used [in the early 1830s], if a boy were whipped, that he ‘sang out “Morbleu.”’ “Morbleu” is an altered form of “Mort Dieu.”
✌ The British slang term “reremouse” (var. “rearmouse”) has nothing to do with re-re-respecting Areretha Franklin and nothing to do with rearmament. The non-mouse part is pronounced like the “rear” in “rear end” and the whole word means an eccentric or irritating woman, an “old bat.” It’s sexist, as the clever have already guessed.
✌ Rim shot line: “A thief broke into my house last night. He started searching for money, so I got up and helped him search.”
✌ More of same: “I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented, but … ah, I forget where I was going with this.”
✌ Last dose: “Women who carry a few extra pounds live years longer than men who mention it.”
✌ Stephen Colbert spoke of statements that have “truthiness.” I like statements with “factiness,” like the following: “An hourglass may be reused indefinitely by inverting the bulbs once the upper bulb is empty.” I call such statements “factettes” because “factoids” sounds unpleasantly insectoid. Another: “The principal export of Saudi Arabia is oil.”
✌ “The vast right-wing conspiracy didn’t put the server in her damn closet.” --Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein
✌ “Catherine's grandson and successor Alexander I conquered Finland in 1809. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 he added most of Poland to the Russian Empire as well (and his official title was changed to be 'Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, and so forth').” And then So Forth broke away and became the Independent Democratic Republic of So Forth, and lived happily ever after, etc.
✌ A perfect pangram is one that uses every letter of the alphabet in a sentence, each letter only once. Here’s the background to one perfect pangram: On the main thoroughfare in the holy Iranian city of Qum, an annoying nerd ogles the women in their brightly flowered calico burkas. Now here’s the corresponding perfect pangram: "Jerk gawps foxy Qum Blvd chintz."