“FOR GOD’S SAKE LET US sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”
– Wm. Shakspere, Richard II
“Are you a dream, Merlin?”
“A dream, to some. A NIGHTMARE TO OTHERS.”
“Well, it’s easy if you know all the notes!”
– Moosie Weinberger, a”h, on playing the piano with her nose
“Never give up. Never surrender.”
— Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart
“Are we having fun, yet?”
– Zippy the Pinhead
“Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh! hard times come again no more.”
– Folk song
“In former dreams he had seen quaint lumbering buopoths come shyly out of that wood to drink, but now he could not glimpse any.”
– H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
“We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.”
– Wm. Shakespear, King Henry IV pt. II
EVIDENTLY, SHE WROTE A POEM in 1928 called “Dirge With Music.” I have not yet read any of her other works, but I hope they’re like this one. The last stanza says it all:
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
(Thanks to Rabbi David Wolpe for the quotation.)
THE FIRST BOOK I EVER read about the Internet, in 1994, still gives me a wave of nostalgic novelty when I turn its pages now. The ‘Net was new in the public mind and not well understood back then, which is why books like 1992′s ZATAOTI were popular: it’s a beginner’s guide to all things then-Internet, from email to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
These days, you just Google to find anything. But before Google (and before the World Wide Web) were Usenet and FTP, telnet and Gopher. You sort of had to know your way around in order to find anything. ZATAOTI’s 95 pages helped make the learning curve less steep for millions of people by helping them to think clearly and concisely about this strange new technology.
The composition of this booklet was originally started because the Computer Science department at Widener University was in desperate need of documentation describing the capabilities of this “great new Internet link” we obtained.
It’s since grown into an effort to acquaint the reader with much of what’s currently available over the Internet. Aimed at the novice user, it attempts to remain operating system “neutral”—-little information herein is specific to Unix, VMS, or any other environment. This booklet will, hopefully, be usable by nearly anyone.
THE MARITIME SECTION OF MY home library is, like a captain’s yacht, small but well-appointed. I’ve been a ship geek since 1987-88, when I served as a deckhand/docent on a replica of the Golden Hinde, and my taste tends toward the practical: knots, rules of the road, sea survival, Bluejackets’ Manual, even a 1955 Watch Officer’s Guide published at Annapolis. One book whose slim size belies its comprehensivity is more theoretical and historical: I refer to the excellent 1982 volume The Lore Of Sail.
LoS’ 256 pages are divided into four sections plus index: The Hull, Spars and Rigging, The Sail, and Navigation and Ship-handling. Each is a well-illustrated guide to the historical evolution of ships from ancient Egypt to modern Europe. Its size makes it perfect for backpack or peacoat pocket while browsing the world’s great maritime museums or rigged ships, but it’s also museum-like in scope and scale. From the Introduction by Captain Sam Svensson:
From ancient times, sailing the seas has been a unique profession, with techniques and methods which have always puzzled the landlubber. One thousand years before Christ, Solomon said that the way of a ship in the midst of the sea was too wonderful for him to understand.
QUIZ SHOW OVERHEARD ON THE TV as I entered the living room:
That’s right, ‘Illuminati’ is the answer! You’ve won $100!”
DO ANT THEOLOGIANS EXHORT THEIR multitudes against the fate awaiting them under Dante’s Magnifying Glass?
THERE ARE BOOKS, AND THERE are books. This one contains “The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America,” and is standard issue to all geeks and geekettes who want to know the first thing about things SFnal. (It’s subtitled “Volume One, 1929-1964;” Volume Two (which I haven’t read) is itself two 1973 volumes devoted to novellas written and published between 1895 and 1961.)
I first read this (these? it’s an anthology, after all) when I was eight years old, as part of the first package I ever got from the Science Fiction Book Club. Without it for years, I now have a spiffy new trade paperback which seems almost a facsimile of the original contents in terms of fonts, layout, etc. And the memories! Stuck in Fredric Brown’s alien showdown (which became a Star Trek episode)! Trapped with Lewis Padgett’s mad teaching machines! Exploring Tibetan mythology with Arthur C. Clarke!
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THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF any story is the point at which it’s attached to the reader.
WITH THE ADVENT OF BLOGGING, men of letters have become men of keystrokes.
IF YOU HAVE NEVER READ the original James Bond stories by Ian Fleming, you don’t know James Bond.
You also don’t know sweeping prose that zips along like a rocket; lush description with a reporter’s eye for detail; fourth-wall breaking double-entendres; high-concept doomsday plans only one man can stop; and some of the best philosophical bon mots in the business. I like Fleming’s Bond for all these reasons, but mostly I like Fleming because he is a writer who inspires me to write — he makes it look easy, unlike some of my other literary heroes.
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“WHEN DID ART BEGIN TO be about purging one’s personal demons instead of making people smile, wonder or otherwise get over themselves?”