Thursday, December 30, 2004
( 5:23 AM ) The Rat
THE RAT'S FRIENDS can attest that she is exactly like this when caffeinated.
And like this, when contemplating academia.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:23 AM
( 5:12 AM ) The Rat
A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;
But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.
And later still the times were good,
We were so easy to please,
We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
On the bosoms of the trees.
All ignorant we dared to own
The joys we now dissemble;
The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.
But girl's bellies and apricots,
Roach in a shaded stream,
Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
All these are a dream.
It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them:
Horses are made of chromium steel
And little fat men shall ride them.
I am the worm who never turned,
The eunuch without a harem;
Between the priest and the commissar
I walk like Eugene Aram;
And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays.
I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn't born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:12 AM
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
( 8:02 AM ) The Rat
Mrs. Freeman had a special fondness for the details of secret infections, hidden deformities, assaults upon children.
—Flannery O'Connor, "Good Country People"
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:02 AM
Sunday, December 26, 2004
( 8:53 AM ) The Rat
Beatrice. The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him there is measure in every thing and so dance out the answer. For, hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into the cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
Leonato. Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
Beatrice. I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.
—Much Ado About Nothing II.i
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:53 AM
Saturday, December 25, 2004
( 1:59 PM ) The Rat
YAHOO'S GUIDE to Christmas displays and lights. Yikes.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:59 PM
( 1:54 PM ) The Rat
GERMAN PAPER PRINTS ONLY GOOD NEWS ON XMAS. The Rat isn't sure why the capture of the polite mugger counts as good news, but hey.
Dropping its daily diet of stories on crime, corruption and evil wrongdoing, Germany's top-selling Bild newspaper printed only good news in its Christmas issue.
"No parking tickets today—traffic wardens have day off!" the newspaper with 12 million readers wrote.
The paper turned a scandal involving the opposition Christian Democrats on its head, cheering a generous severance payment of 52,000 euros that the disgraced general secretary, Laurenz Meyer, received after quitting under pressure on Wednesday.
"Merry Christmas! Fantastic severance pay package for Laurenz Meyer," Bild wrote, days after it led the attack on Meyer for taking payments from another former employer, which sparked the public outrage that led to his resignation.
The daily even found positive news from overseas.
An Israeli scientist had developed a laser treatment against bad breath and a mugger in Zagreb who was always polite to his victims was finally captured by police.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:54 PM
( 1:53 PM ) The Rat
The other day, as I was thumbing through women's magazines from Christmases past—searching for good advice on making and mailing edible gifts and finding nothing better than a recipe for chocolate-chip pretzel bread—I came across several warnings not to use popcorn or breakfast cereals as the filler in your Christmas packages. They are thought to entice insects and absorb noxious fumes. But let me assure you that the candied popcorn protecting Aunt Vivian's fruitcake never attracted the tiniest insect or the merest wisp of a noxious fume. The magazines suggest using crumpled newspaper instead. That works fine if you mail your gift from Salt Lake City and crumple up a copy of the Deseret News, but if you live in New York or Los Angeles, your hapless recipient is likely to read "Store Santa Slashes Tots, Self, on Sleigh" before he or she reaches the delicacies within.
—Jeffrey Steingarten, The Man Who Ate Everything
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:53 PM
Thursday, December 23, 2004
( 8:19 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:19 PM
( 7:45 PM ) The Rat
BEER-BOTTLE CHRISTMAS TREE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:45 PM
( 7:05 PM ) The Rat
THE LATEST FROM THE U.N.... This "scandal" has been going on for awhile; here's hoping it finally gets noticed.
Home-made pornographic videos shot by a United Nations logistics expert in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sparked a sex scandal that threatens to become the UN’s Abu Ghraib.
The expert was a Frenchman who worked at Goma airport as part of the UN’s $700 million-a-year effort to rebuild the war-shattered country. When police raided his home they discovered that he had turned his bedroom into a studio for videotaping and photographing sex sessions with young girls. The bed was surrounded by large mirrors on three sides, according to a senior Congolese police officer. On the fourth side was a camera that he could operate from the bed with a remote control.
When the police arrived the man was allegedly about to rape a 12-year-old girl sent to him in a sting operation. Three home-made porn videos and more than 50 photographs were found.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:05 PM
( 11:32 AM ) The Rat
Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:32 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
( 5:52 PM ) The Rat
"CHESS IS A BATTLE, BUT GO IS WAR." Nifty article on the history of the game, from the Dec. 16 Economist. (Full text not available online.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:52 PM
( 4:26 AM ) The Rat
All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:26 AM
Friday, December 17, 2004
( 4:12 AM ) The Rat
TERRIBLE, BUT SOOOO FUNNY. Via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:12 AM
( 4:09 AM ) The Rat
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:09 AM
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
( 11:26 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:26 PM
( 11:16 PM ) The Rat
"AREAS OF THEIR BODIES STICKING TOGETHER WITH SWEAT THAT WAS LIKE THE WEAK GLUE THAT HOLDS SEGMENTS OF AN ORANGE TOGETHER..." The Guardian's Bad Sex Awards, via Eve. The Rat is going to go out on a limb here and say it's probably not a good idea to use the word "otorhinolaryngological" when writing about sex. Or "satin skin cascade." Or "abalone."
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:16 PM
( 11:09 PM ) The Rat
Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two;
And this, alas! is more than we would do.
O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:09 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
( 4:59 PM ) The Rat
FAMILY SECRET TURNS OUT TO BE BORING.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:59 PM
( 4:57 PM ) The Rat
He that will learne to pray, let him goe to sea.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:57 PM
Sunday, December 12, 2004
( 4:09 PM ) The Rat
STRAY CAT'S GRAVESTONE SELLS FOR FORTUNE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:09 PM
( 4:10 AM ) The Rat
‘Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, ’tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.’
Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.
Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
’Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul’s stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.
There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all the springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
—I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.
—A. E. Housman
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:10 AM
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
( 8:43 PM ) The Rat
GENITAL MUTILATION 'ON THE INCREASE' IN EUROPE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:43 PM
( 8:40 PM ) The Rat
LOCAL WOMAN'S LIFE LOOKS BEARABLE IN SCRAPBOOK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:40 PM
( 8:38 PM ) The Rat
A woman without perfume has no future.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:38 PM
Friday, December 03, 2004
( 5:15 PM ) The Rat
AN OLD FAVORITE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:15 PM
( 5:07 PM ) The Rat
ANOTHER DOUGHNUT-TRAIL STORY! However, the Rat considers that this precedent makes for a cooler story, having involved crack.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:07 PM
( 5:06 PM ) The Rat
So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:06 PM
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
( 6:27 AM ) The Rat
THE DEATH OF HAMNET AND THE MAKING OF HAMLET. Seriously nifty article by Stephen Greenblatt, from the October 21, 2004, ROB (adapted from his new book, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare). Read the article online—it's worth it.
Shakespeare undoubtedly returned to Stratford in 1596 for his son's funeral. The minister, as the regulations required, would have met the corpse at the entry to the churchyard and accompanied it to the grave. Shakespeare must have stood there and listened to the words of the prescribed Protestant burial service. While the earth was thrown onto the body—perhaps by the father himself, perhaps by friends—the minister intoned the words, "Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take upon himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life."
Did Shakespeare find this simple, eloquent service adequate or was he tormented with a sense that something was missing? "What ceremony else?" cries Laertes, by the grave of his sister Ophelia; "What ceremony else?" Ophelia's funeral rites have been curtailed because she is suspected of the sin of suicide, and Laertes is both shallow and rash. But the question he repeatedly asks echoes throughout Hamlet, and it articulates a concern that extends beyond the boundaries of the play. Within living memory, the whole relationship between the living and the dead had been changed. Perhaps in conservative Lancashire, where Shakespeare may have sojourned briefly as a young man, if not closer to home, he could have seen the remnants of the old Catholic practice: candles burning night and day, crosses everywhere, bells tolling constantly, close relatives wailing and crossing themselves, neighbors visiting the corpse and saying over it a Pater noster or a De profundis, alms and food distributed in memory of the dead, priests secretly paid to say Masses to ease the soul's perilous passage through Purgatory.
All of this had come under attack for decades; everything had been scaled back, forced underground, or eliminated outright. Above all, it was now illegal to pray for the dead...
Recusant Catholics, prevented from regular confession and communion, were often intensely fearful of a death that would prevent the ritual opportunity to settle the sinner's accounts with God and to show appropriate, cleansing contrition. (This is precisely the death Hamlet's father, murdered in his sleep, has suffered: "No reck'ning made, but sent to my account/With all my imperfections on my head./O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!") Any stains that remained after death would have to be burned away in purgatorial agony, unless the living took steps to alleviate the suffering and reduce the afterlife prison term. In 1596, at the funeral of Hamnet, the issue would almost certainly have surfaced. The boy's soul needed the help of those who loved and cared for him. John Shakespeare may well have urged his prosperous son William to pay for masses for the dead child, just as he no doubt wanted masses to be said for his own soul. For his father was getting old and would soon be in need of the "satisfactory works" that could shorten the duration of his agony in the afterlife.
If this delicate subject was broached, did the playwright angrily shake his head no or instead quietly pay for clandestine masses for Hamnet's soul? Did he tell his father that he could not give his son—or, looking ahead, that he would not give his father—what he craved? Did he say that he no longer believed in the whole story of the terrible prison house, poised between heaven and hell, where the sins done in life were burned and purged away?
Whatever he determined at the time, Shakespeare must have still been brooding in late 1600 and early 1601, when he sat down to write a tragedy whose doomed hero bore the name of his dead son. His thoughts may have been intensified by news that his elderly father was seriously ill back in Stratford, for the thought of his father's death is deeply woven into the play. And the death of his son and the impending death of his father—a crisis of mourning and memory—could have caused a psychic disturbance that helps to explain the explosive power and inwardness of Hamlet...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:27 AM
( 6:25 AM ) The Rat
We can never embrace (sexually or otherwise) a single person, but embrace the whole of her or his family romance.
—Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:25 AM
( 1:00 AM ) The Rat
EUTHANASIA FOR BABIES.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:00 AM
( 12:49 AM ) The Rat
ELIS OUTSMART HARVARD. And in other news, dog bites man.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:49 AM