Not Trending on Yahoo

Monty Hall

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Bet you thought the host of Let’s Make a Deal was already dead, didn’t you? Well, not only is Hall alive, but he’s still married to the woman he wed in 1947.

Fun facts to know and share: Hall’s wife Marilyn is a distant cousin and was introduced to Hall by another distant cousin.

Legacy: Since watching reruns of quiz shows in which contestants win obsolescent products manufactured in the 1960’s is about as much fun as scrubbing grout with a toothbrush, Hall’s legacy probably lies in the so-called “Monty Hall problem,” a brain teaser made famous from a question from a reader’s letter quoted in Marilyn vos Savant’s “Ask Marilyn” column in Parade magazine.

Marilyn vos Savant is also not trending on Yahoo.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

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Although Sloan Wilson’s most famous novel was a sensation when published in 1955, it’s as dated today as congealed salad, no matter what Jonathan Franzen says to the contrary.

Fun facts to know and share: Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, sent Percy Wood, the president of United Airlines, a bomb concealed in another of Sloan Wilson’s books, Ice Brothers, severely injuring the recipient.

Legacy: The phrase “the man in the gray flannel suit” became synonymous with boring white-color conformists, though nowadays, no self-respecting Republican, not even Mitt Romney, would be caught dead wearing a gray flannel suit.

Tiddlywinks

PBR-17This description of the game from Wikipedia tells you all you need to know why tiddlywinks isn’t trending:

Tiddlywinks is an indoor game played on a flat felt mat with sets of small discs called “winks”, a pot, which is the target, and a collection of squidgers, which are also discs. Players use a “squidger”: a disk (nowadays made of plastic) used to propel a wink into flight by pressing down on the edge of a wink, thereby flicking it into the air. The objective of the game is to score points by sending your own winks into the pot and preventing the opponent from “squopping” your winks by placing your own winks on top of them. As part of strategic gameplay, players often attempt to squop their opponents’ winks and develop, maintain and break large piles of winks.

Fun facts to know and share: none

Legacy: search me.

Aneta Corsaut

Aneta Corsaut

Aneta Corsaut

Best known for playing Andy’s sweetheart Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show, Ms Corsaut also appeared in episodes of Bonanza, the Real McCoys, and Gunsmoke. In addition, she had a continuing role in the TV drama Blue Knight playing what Wikipedia calls “policeman Bumper Morgan’s pawnshop owner friend.”

Fun facts to know and share: She’s the co-author of The Mystery Reader’s Quiz Book, which Amazon ranks as #9,985, 760 on its best seller list.

Legacy: Though few will know who in the hell she is, a few senior citizens will for the next decade or so recognize the name Helen Crump.

 asta-2Skippy

Not unlike Aneta Corsaut (see above), Skippy, a wire-haired terrier, is better known as Asta, the pet he played in the 1930 Thin Man films, than he is by his birth name. In fact, his owners Henry and Gale East changed his name to Asta after the release of the first Thin Man. Skippy/Asta also appeared in The Awful Truth starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, Bringing Up Baby starring Katherine Hepburn, and Topper Takes a Trip.

Fun facts to know and share: During the height of the Great Depression, Skippy’s weekly salary was $250 a day.

Legacy: Asta lives on as a frequent answer in New York Times crossword puzzles.

Interview with Ann Coulter

Hoo Doo

Hoo Doo

 

Good morning, Ms Coulter.

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

I prefer Miss to Ms., girly-boy. Do I look like a feminist? [holds her armpit to the Skype camera]. See, it’s shaven. Obviously you haven’t done your homework. The only women who want to be called Ms are hideous fem-Nazis like Andrea Dworkin, a woman ugly enough to turn the Medusa into stone. Thank God she’s dead. Goes to show you God hates hideousness. Do you even know who Andrea Dworkin is, shit-for-brains? Here’s a picture of her. I always carry a picture of her to remind me that God despises assholes.

Andrea Dworkin

Andrea Dworkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoo Doo

Hoo Doo

 

So You believe in God?

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

For Christsakes, you idiot. Ever heard of Google? Type in ‘Coulter Christianity’ and you get 704,000 hits in 0.25 seconds. Here’s hit number one: “In fact, Jesus’ distinctive message was People are sinful and need to be redeemed, and this is your lucky day because I’m here to redeem you even though you don’t deserve it, and I have to get the crap kicked out of me to do it. That is the reason He is called ‘Christ the Redeemer’ rather than ‘Christ the Moron Driving Around in a Volvo”‘.

Hoo Doo

Hoo Doo

 

I take that to be a yes. You’re a Christian.

 

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

And let me guess, Mr. Obvious. Your next question is going to be that given my pit-bull pugnaciousness, doesn’t my calling myself a Christian  smack of hypocrisy given the turn-the-the-cheek ethos espoused by the Redeemer? Here’s what I have to say to that: “Some slaveholders claimed to be Christians, too. Howard Dean, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry all belong to a church that believes it’s okay to stick a fork in a baby’s head. To the extent one is practicing liberalism, one is not practicing the religion of our Father.”

 

Hoo Doo

Hoo Doo

All righty. Moving on to another subject. You’ve recently created a virtual firestorm by suggesting that America’s increasing interest in soccer signals . . .

 

 

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

. . . a sign of the nation’s moral decay. So you can google after all. Yes, I realize this probably offends your decadent Marxist leftist ideology, but I resent the force-fed aspect of soccer. Like I’ve said, “The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO’s ‘Girls,’ light-rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton. The number of New York Times articles claiming soccer is “catching on” is exceeded only by the ones pretending women’s basketball is fascinating.”

Hoo Doo

Hoo Doo

Excuse, Miss Coulter, but it just occurs to me that despite your differing views on body hair on females, you and Andrea Dworkin are a lot alike — I mean, as far as tolerance goes, you both make the Inquisition look like Mr. Rogers-

 

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

 

Okay, that’s it. This interview’s over. [turns off Skype]

 

 

Ann Coulter enjoying some good old-fashioned fun

Ann Coulter enjoying some good old-fashioned fun

Why Discovering Noah’s Ark Might Not Be Such a Good Thing

L Dumond: Noah's Ark by a Waterfall

L Dumond: “Noah’s Ark by a Waterfall”

Today I ran across yet another article describing an intrepid literalist’s quixotic quest to discover proof that Noah’s voyage was historic rather than mythic. Of course, from my point of view (post-post Enlightenment Modernistic Existential Groucho-Marxian) scouring Mount Ararat for splinters from Noah’s Ark makes about as much sense as sending deep sea divers into the South Pacific in an attempt to recover Captain Ahab’s ivory leg.

The article features protagonist Porcher Taylor, “a professor of paralegal studies in the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond.”

Space.com provides details:

“The cognitive genesis of my journey began in 1973, some 41 years ago, in my junior year as a cadet at West Point.” [Taylor] told Space.com. Back then, Taylor came across “credible rumors” ricocheting off the walls of the academy that a CIA spy satellite had accidentally imaged “what appeared to be the bow of a ship sticking up out of the ice cap on Mt. Ararat,” Taylor said.

(As it turns out, I, too, was an undergraduate in 1973, some 41 years ago, but, of course, no CIA rumors ever ricocheted in my circles because, as many of you know, “Rasta don’t work for no CIA.”)

rasta don't work for no cia

At any rate, in addition to immersing himself in the esotericism of paralegal studies, Taylor has devoted much time and energy in a crusade to declassify “five 1949 US Air Force aerial photos of Mt. Ararat.” In addition, “thanks to Taylor’s invitations,” a number of experts over the years have “performed analyses of the satellite imagery” of the site. This analysis, Taylor says, has “thankfully tempered my zeal as an amateur.” The image of what Taylor contends are the remains of Noah’s Ark is now known as “Ararat Anomaly.”

As it turns out, Taylor is only one of a long line of literalists seeking scientific proof of the Ark’s existence. According to The Daily Mail in April of 2010 (some four years ago), Yeung Wing-cheung, one of a “15-strong team of fundamental Christians exploring the Turkish mountain” declared of the wood he had supposedly discovered on Ararat, “It’s not 100 percent it’s Noah’s Ark, but we think that 99.9 per cent that it is.”

Now, I’m not going to waste your or my valuable time debunking the ridiculous concept that a post-agrarian Middle Easterner gathered a male and female of all the animals on the globe; however, I am going to suggest something that these literalists seem incapable of grasping: If the Noah narrative is literally true, then the deity they worship makes Hitler and Stalin seem benign in comparison, and proof that the Noah story is literally true would do grave damage to the concept that “God is Love.”

For if we actually look at Genesis 6.6-7, we learn that a disconcertedly un-omniscient, unstable Lord “was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His Heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, [not to mention innocent infants and adorable puppies], for I am sorry I made them.'”

Of course, he has a change of heart and tasks Noah with the [forgive me] Herculean labor of building the vessel. Nevertheless, he dooms the rest of his creation to a horrific death, a decimation that goes beyond your typical “ethnic cleansing.”

How do you reconcile that with “God is Love?”

So I say let’s call a myth a myth and let sleeping arks lie.

Detail from Gustave Dore's "Noah's Flood"

Detail from Gustave Dore’s “Noah’s Flood”

 

 

Tess of the Baskervilles: A Literary Mash-Up

The novel opens with a mini mystery– Philip Marlowe and Colonel Kurtz speculate on the owner of an alligator wallet left in their office by an unknown visitor. Wowing Kurtz with his extraordinary common sense, Marlowe opens the wallet and looks at the drivers license to discover that the wallet belongs to DH Lawrence, which provides a convenient entree into the history of British pornography.

Entering the office and opening a laptop, Lawrence plays for Marlowe and Kurtz an 18 1/2 minute porno film that features an unknown actor portraying Richard Nixon. Playing the role of Rosemary Woods in the film is the tragically beautiful porn star Tess Baskervilles, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace four years ago.

Lawrence maintains the film was shot within the last year because the director has carelessly left on the bedside table an anachronistic copy of Hillary Clinton’s recently published memoir Hard Choices. Slowing down and stopping the action, Lawrence zooms in to Tess’s right ear, which because of a childhood dog attack, has a jagged lobe. “See, it is she,” he stiltedly says. Oddly enough, throughout the film the only stitch of clothing the actress wears in one red Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star hightop.

Agreeing to take the case, Marlowe and Kurtz quickly discover that Charles G Koch and David H Koch, the billionaire Republican political operatives, were the producers of the film and the screenplay was written by Peggy Noonan, the first Bush’s head speechwriter, the author of the famous “ten-thousand points of light” slogan and the less famous line “Oh, Dickie, lick me,” from the Nixon/Woods porno vehicle starring Baskervilles and the mystery actor portraying Nixon.

Once in Washington, DC, where the film was shot, Kurtz discovers a state of emergency as someone has released scores of filthy pigeons in Battery Kemble Park. Kurtz meets potential suspects of the release in the park, two aides of Senator Ted Cruz, and decapitates them, placing their heads on stakes to demonstrate that he is “beyond their petty, lying morality.”

A series of mysteries transpire in rapid fire succession. Condoleezza Rice is seen skulking around the grounds of 3067 Whitehaven St NW, the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton; Kurtz spies a lonely figure keeping watch on the Clinton mansion; and after being threatened with blackmail by Marlowe, Robert Koch reveals that the porn film was directed by David Mamet.

Doing his best to unravel these threads of the mystery, Kurtz dispatches a camera drone to discover the lonely figure is none other than Marlowe himself.

Marlowe has discovered through his observations a mysterious woman being secreted in and out of the Clinton’s house, whom he suspects is none other than Lady Gaga, nee Tess Baskervilles. The Kochs, Cruzes, Mamets, and Noonans have only been pawns in the Clintons’ machinations — both Bill and Hillary have been Tess’s lovers, and unknown to the right-wingers, it was Slick Willie himself disguised by his eerily accurate Nixon make-up who played Rosemary Woods’s lover in the 18 1/2 minute porno film.

In a dramatic final scene, Kurtz and Watson use the Obama’s dog Sunny to track down Tess/Gaga using the scent of the sister shoe of the red Converse sneaker worn in the film.

Despite state-of-the-art burglar alarms and secret service agents, Marlowe and Kurtz gain entrance into the Clintons’ house where they discover Tess Baskerville/Gaga in bed with Condoleezza Rice.

They snap photos and threaten to sell them to the tabloids unless Condoleezza apologizes for her role in the Iraq debacle, which she hesitantly does by admitting “mistakes were made.” They then confront the Clintons who are upstairs scrutinizing poll data. Bill and Hillary brush off the two detectives maintaining the whole fiasco was a vast rightwing conspiracy and rattle off the names Koch, Mamet, Cruz, Noonan to prove their point.

Back in LA, Marlowe ties up a few loose ends with DH Lawrence while Kurtz writes a high-strung novelization of the porno film, an account that throbs with eloquence.

fin

If you enjoyed this write-up, be on the lookout for the next exciting product from Mash-up Lit, The Hound of the D’Urbervilles.

Sound, Sense, Shakespeare, and Arts Education

Last Monday night I attended a rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet at the Threshold Repertory Theater. My friend Paul O’Brien, chairman of the Threshold’s board, invited me to the rehearsal to hear Chris Marino, a director and Shakespeare expert from Chicago, give a workshop on playing Shakespeare. Paul had worked with Chris before on a production of Hamlet, so I jumped at the chance.

Christopher Marino

Christopher Marino

When I arrived, the rehearsal was already underway. Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio were sitting in folding chairs with highlighted scripts in their hands as Chris Marino stood before them looking the part of director.   A tall man in his forties, he wears his almost shoulder-long dark-hair parted in the middle, Oscar Wilde style, and also sports an Elizabethan-worthy goatee.

The three actors were working on 1.4, the scene after the masquerade ball when drunken Mercutio gives his famous Queen Mab speech. Chris stopped the scene and provided a quick ten-or-so-minute lecture on blank verse. It occurred to not-so-perceptive me that some — if not most — of the cast may not have performed Shakespeare before or even know what blank verse is. They’re actors, after all, not academics.

Chris explained that blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter – in other words, each line contains five iambs, a succession of alternating unaccented and accented syllables as in “the CAT will MEW and DOG will HAVE his DAY.” He explained that English is essentially iambic and meter provides help in memorizing lines, especially for those Elizabethan actors who put on “eleven performances of ten different plays in two weeks.”

Then Chris said something I’d never considered: when Shakespeare violates the iambic scheme, the offbeat signals something amiss, and the actors should take heed and ponder what’s the matter. For example, in the opening prologue, the line “From AN | cient GRUDGE | BREAK to | NEW MUT | ti NY” violates the unstressed stressed pattern as it describes and echoes the breakdown of law and order that Verona suffers because of the Montagues’ and Capulets’ on-going feud. This echoing of sound and sense is what makes poetry poetry — it creates the magic that renders airy words into palatable images.

Chris was brilliant in his explication of how the sounds of words contribute to their meaning. Throughout the session, he constantly prodded the actors and actresses to reach deep into their psyches to mine emotions that corresponded to their characters’ situations, using the words of the text as guideposts.

For example, in this particular production, the director has decided to use the often cut prologue that begins 2.1

Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,

And young affection gapes to be his heir.

That fair for which love groaned for and would die

With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.

Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,

Alike bewitchèd by the charm of looks,

But to his foe supposed he must complain,

And she steal love’s sweet bait from fearful hooks.

Being held a foe, he may not have access

To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear.

And she as much in love, her means much less

To meet her new beloved anywhere.

But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,

Tempering extremities with extreme sweet.

After musing why Shakespeare might have added this seemingly unnecessary plot summary, Chris prompted the actress who was to speak the lines in the play to consider who might say something like this, in other words, prompted her to think of the sonnet not as a mere public service announcement but as the words of a flesh-and-blood human being with ideas and prejudices. Through Socratic questioning, he prompted her to analyze the speech’s diction, which prompted the actress to detect some bias in favor of Juliet’s family, the Capulets. Juliet is called “tender,” and the speaker subtly points out Romeo’s fickleness with the phrase “and loves again” — after all just a few hours ago he had considered himself hopelessly in love with Rosaline. Thus, the actress was transformed from a spokesperson into a character, a cousin of Juliet’s perhaps.

This delving into what it means to be human is a hallmark of the art of acting and one of the reasons art education is crucial for our schools.   Yes, we need to know how to read and write and to add and subtract, and, of course, science, especially when even at this late date, our state legislators demand that South Carolina’s citizenry be reminded that our state fossil, the wooly mammoth, was created on the 6th day.

Nevertheless, in this age of materialism, the arts are absolutely crucial as well. Music, painting, sculpture, and acting provide us with insights into what it means to be human and vehicles for expression that bring to light and air the communal essence of our very own beings.

I envy those actors in Romeo and Juliet who must channel their individual souls to breathe life into words printed on a page, who help us see the old and young playing out the age old drama of life as we live it.

So I raise my bloody mary to the arts.

45

 

 

The Grill

Hit arrow for sound.

In memory of Paul Yost 1955-2014

 

I’m tearing apart paper,

newsprint, the obituary page,

shredding descriptions of lives:

of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers,

bachelors, partners, husbands, wives,

shredding their black-and-white

faces, their smiles, their stares,

ripping also the memorial verses

loved ones have left,

wadding it all up

to fuel my charcoal chimney.

 

Yet not enough.

 

So here comes the sports page,

the World Cup, accounts of pop flies

dropped, ripe for ripping,

ripped, balled, stuffed, ready

for the match’s fiery effacement.

 

And that poor chicken! hatched, harried,

pecking its food among hordes,

pulled from transport crates,

shocked for the throat cutter’s convenience,

plucked, eviscerated.

 

This one’s also been

deboned, yet not sold soon enough,

skewered by butchers along with

aging onions and overly ripe peppers.

 

After its scraping, red and black,

slightly rusted, the grill stands ready,

top open, at attention.

 

I place the chimney

upon the barred metal, pour in

the briquettes, and torch the

shredded lives of others,

their wins and losses,

and watch the smoke

rising into the dissipation

of the silent, cloud-shifting sky.

 

The Screaming Js Address Same Sex Marriage at Our Lady of the Chico Feo

Proponents of traditional marriage have suffered legal setback after setback in the last couple of years as the populace has undergone a sea change in its opinion of whether or not people of the same sex should enjoy the emotional and legal benefits of marriage.

As a high school English teacher, I’ve witnessed this shift towards tolerance toward homosexuality firsthand. As recently as the early 90’s, gay students (and even non-athletic males) suffered taunts — some muttered, others clearly voiced — about their presumed orientation.   The word “gay” was often used as a pejorative term, as in that song or that shirt is “so gay.” However, nowadays, I never hear “gay” used pejoratively, and even more positively, gay students are treated with respect (at least in the halls and classrooms). This spring, I assigned an essay that prompted students to find an op-ed piece with which they disagreed, to analyze its reasoning, and to rebut its arguments. Out of 37 students, three students (two boys and a girl) chose to defend same sex marriage.

Not surprisingly, opponents are up in arms. The National Organization for Marriage is planning a march on Washington next week to show the nation they have not given up what they consider a holy war. Of course, many of these folks base their arguments on Judeo-Christian scripture, which they claim corresponds with natural law.

Take it away Bishop Morlino of Madison, WI:

Marriage is, and can only ever be, a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or any vote. This is not based on any private sectarian viewpoint, but on the natural moral law that is universally binding on all peoples, at all times, and inscribed into our human nature, as man and woman from the beginning of creation. It behooves us to safeguard the sacred ecology of all nature, especially of our human.

Huh? Not based on “any private sectarian viewpoint” but “on natural moral law?” Obviously, the Most Reverend slept through his anthropology classes and skipped those OT passages written in the heyday of polygamy. Furthermore, his argument ignores evolution with the idea of “natural law inscribed into our human nature.” All in all, it’s preposterous.

Then, there are the whiners. Here is Doug Mainwaring playing the persecution card. (I would like to point out to him that if he thinks what he describes is persecution, he ought to read a history of the Inquisition). He writes

No tactic of the powers opposing Judeo-Christian mores has proven more effective than political correctness. Why? Non-adherents are threatened with social isolation and anaclitic depression. Thus, the peer pressure that dominates middle schools, high schools, and college campuses retains all its horrifying power [ my emphasis] to intimidate American adults, causing multitudes to suppress free inquiry.

 

A sufferer of the4 "horrifying power" of political correctness

The horror of politically correct torture

 

Good old fashioned torture from the Inquisition

Good old fashioned torture from the Inquisition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At any rate, in Late Empire America hedonism trumps unscientific dogma any day of the week. I’ll give the Screaming Js on the final word on the subject. They preached this sermon last Sunday night at Our Lady of the Chico Feo.