Monthly Archives: November 2009


I’m never sure whether to use emoticons in emails and blog posts and Facebook posts and the like.  Have they moved into standard usage or are they just the refuge of dorkified wordlessness?  (I’ll grant that they do come in mighty handy in gmail chats.)  Who knows.  The following, though, struck me as eminently smiley-worthy:


Spotted at Idiotprogrammer.

Get a good one in first

Working my way through A Good Day To Die, by Jim Harrison.  I say work because so far it’s not very good.  Did come across this little bauble, though:

Then with startling speed he clouted the sailor in the ear with the heel of his hand.  The arc of the swing was wide but fast and the sailor collapsed on his butt with a yelp …

“What if that guy had known karate?” I asked.

“Nobody knows karate if you get a good one in first.”

Three chords and the truth

Been reading the excellent Hank Williams biography Lovesick Blues, by Paul Hemphill (who just passed away last July).  Some choice anecdotes:

Hank’s manager and backup band both thought “Lovesick Blues” was about the worst country they’d ever heard.  They tried to keep him from recording it, telling him it would kill his career.  He was given 10 minutes to record it in the studio and he got it down in only 2 takes.  It went on to be #1 on the charts for 4 months and is possibly the greatest country song ever.


He used to tell his guitar players to keep it very very simple.  “A lot of pickers has educated themselves clean out of a job,” he would say.


Harlan Howard on Hank’s music: three chords and truth.



Hank at his best:  “You got to have smelled a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly.”

Hank at his worst:  One night when he stumbled onstage in Lafayette, Louisiana, too drunk to perform, he waited until the catcalls subsided before speaking into the microphone: “I bet y’all drove a long way to see ol’ Hank, didn’t you?”  It was true and the crowd cheered.  “Well, now you’ve seen him,” he said, laying his guitar on the floor, turning on his heels and stalking off.


Hank had back surgery in 1951.  The surgeons reluctantly let him go home for Christmas.  He was ordered to strict bed rest, but when his witchy wife Audrey came home from one of her many trysts, he rose from bed to throw a chair at her, re-injuring his back and having to go back to the hospital for more surgery.


Paul Hemphill’s father was a huge Hank fan and the inspiration for the book.  He was kicked out of an old folks’ home for playing Hank endlessly on the grand piano, frightening the bluehair widows.

Once he came and saw a new car his son had bought.  A Chrysler man, he wasn’t impressed by the Chevy Blazer.

“Probably got a bad transmission,” he said.

“Yeah, but it’s got a real good radio,” I told him.

“Will it pick up country music?”

“Of course it will.”

“Must be a hell of a radio, then,” he said.  “Ain’t been no country music since Hank died.”



On political involvement

Was driving back from the high north country late last night with my dad and we got to talking like two guys up way past their bedtime do.  Various viewpoints were expressed, politely, tiredly. In general outlook we are largely on the same team; we just differ (sometimes vastly) on how to put it into practice.

The details are not of much importance.  Fundamentally, my father is eminently willing to engage in the mucky day-to-day praxis of putting political ideas into actual practice.  I am far more fastidious, very reluctant to get my hands dirty, at least not without a full supply of Lava soap on hand.  And is there any Lava soap yet invented that can get the greasy stain of politics off your hands?  I doubt it.

But  rather than re-invent the wheel, I will let Plato speak for me (though in place of philosophy I might insert writing, or literature, or combine the three):

Then there remains, Adeimantus, only a very small group who consort with philosophy in a way that’s worthy of her . . . Now, the members of this small group have tasted how sweet and how blessed a possession philosophy is, and at the same time they’ve also seen the madness of the majority and realized, in a word, that hardly anyone acts sanely in public affairs and that there is no ally with whom they might go to the aid of justice and survive, that instead they’d perish before they could profit either their city or their friends and be useless to themselves and others, just like a man who has fallen among wild animals and is neither willing to join them in doing injustice nor sufficiently strong to oppose the general savagery alone. Taking all this into account, they lead a quiet life and do their own work. Thus, like someone who takes refuge under a little wall from a storm of dust or hail driven by the wind, the philosopher–seeing others filled with lawlessness–is satisfied if he can somehow lead his present life free from injustice and impious acts and depart from it with good hope, blameless and content.

–Republic (496a-497a)

Quote from Plato spotted, serendipitously, this morning at Maverick Philosopher.

EE goes on hiatus

EE is going on indefinite hiatus.  Read through these comments over at Donigan Merritt’s blog if you’d like to know why.

Long story short: I’ve got work to do.  The manuscript requires finishing, and all my efforts, spare and otherwise.  I enjoy the hell out of writing this blog but it is rather a samsaric activity.  It requires a prodigious amount of time to be done well and that’s the only way to do it.

So, for now, onwards and upwards with the manuscript.  To wit:

The horse-drawn tram has vanished, and so will the trolley, and some eccentric Berlin writer in the twenties of the twenty-first century, wishing to portray our time, will go to a museum of technological history and locate a hundred-year-old streetcar, yellow, uncouth, with old-fashioned curved seats, and in a museum of old costumes dig up a black, shiny-buttoned conductor’s uniform.  Then he will go home and compile a description of Berlin streets in bygone days.  Everything, every trifle, will be valuable and meaningful: the conductor’s purse, the advertisement over the window, that peculiar jolting motion which our great-grandchildren will perhaps imagine – everything will be ennobled and justified by its age.

I think that here lies the sense of literary creation: to portray ordinary objects as they will be reflected in the kindle mirrors of future times; to find in the objects around us the fragrant tenderness that only posterity will discern and appreciate in the far-off times when every trifle of our plain everyday life will become exquisite and festive in its own right: the times when a man who might put on the most ordinary jacket of today will be dressed up for and elegant masquerade.

– Vladimir Nabokov (from “A Guide to Berlin”)