Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hey, diddle-dee, a pirate's life for me....NOT

The site you reach by clicking the image below puts the whole pirate-killing thing in historical perspective.


Quote of the day - a Shaw quote

Haven't been doing these much...but yesterday's play inspired me.

You don't know what it is to be alone with a woman who has little beauty and less conversation. What is a man to do? she cant talk interestingly; and if he talks that way himself she doesnt understand him. He cant look at her: if he does, he only finds out that she isnt beautiful. Before the end of five minutes they are both hideously bored. Theres only one thing that can save the situation; and thats what you call being horrid. With a beautiful, witty, kind woman, theres no time for such follies. It's so delightful to look at her, to listen to her voice, to hear all she has to say, that nothing else happens. That is why the woman who is supposed to have a thousand lovers seldom has one; whilst the stupid,graceless animals of women have dozens.


Actually, the conversation is quite necessary...even beauty will only get you to the end of TEN minutes!

Good times with the merry monarch....

Last night we went to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada to see one of the less well-known Shaw plays, "In Good King Charles's Golden Days". To my knowledge there has never been a bad production at Niagara-on-the-Lake's Shaw Festival, and this one didn't change things....although it is the earliest in the season we have ever gone, and there were a few rough spots (several stumbles in the overall elegantly delivered lines, plus a prop falling distractingly at the edge of the stage - the first time I've ever even noticed a flaw).

I had to explain a few things to my wife, as this play in particular is deeply steeped in history - it was meant to be quite obvious that "Rowley" was King Charles II incognito (to the extent that George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), actually addressed him as "Charles Stuart" once), but Jocelyn did not pick up on that at first - even though the first act ended in an angry wrestling match between Isaac Newton and prince James (later to briefly be James II before being replaced, as Charles II had warned him in the play if he insisted on his Catholicism, by the Protestant William and Mary).

Before the play we had dinner at the pleasant (but pricy) Shaw Cafe - can't beat the convenience of eating right across the street, and food and wine were good. Just before the play we went to a wine ship and shared a flight ($10 canadian) of icewine...Jocelyn particularly liked the Cabernet Franc (a red).

Speaking of royalty, but not of stalking them, this little item here deals with the latter part, or the people who do it (HT MR).
Interestingly, one of the first cases of what we now call erotomania or de Clérambault's syndrome, the delusional belief that another person - usually of higher status - is in love with you, featured the British Royal Family.

de Clérambault described the case of a 53 year old French woman who believed King George V was in love with her and would interpret twitches in the curtains of Buckingham Palace as secret love signals from the monarch.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bashing Strunk&White

What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their pernicious little volume than to give it the smackdown it deserves?

As the co-author of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language summarizes,
So I won't be spending the month of April toasting 50 years of the overopinionated and underinformed little book that put so many people in this unhappy state of grammatical angst. I've spent too much of my scholarly life studying English grammar in a serious way. English syntax is a deep and interesting subject. It is much too important to be reduced to a bunch of trivial don't-do-this prescriptions by a pair of idiosyncratic bumblers who can't even tell when they've broken their own misbegotten rules.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hume versus Brooks

Yes, it is an uneven contest, brought to you by the good professors of Language Log. This is a refutation of Brooks' piece, The End of Philosophy, taking a handicap of over 200 years.

Still....if philosophers had just written in a more readable style, would we still have to be rehashing their ignored ideas today?