As a Latinist inordinately fond of puns, I’m hoping whoever is elected will take the name Sixtus. Since the last Sixtus was Sixtus V, he would be Sixtus VI.
Wednesday: March 6, 2013
Thursday: February 28, 2013
In the last two years, Patrick Earl of the American Shakespeare Center’s touring troupe has played Giovanni in John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Ferdinand in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Each one is the brother of the title character, each is entirely too fond of his sister - Giovanni to the point of getting her pregnant - and each one (spoiler alert) ends up killing his sister, directly or indirectly. To avoid typecasting, perhaps next year Earl should expand his range a bit, and play the title role in Oedipus Rex.
Wednesday: February 3, 2010
When a visiting friend’s cat stuck its head through my bedroom door at 4:00 am, it occurred to me that we could rename her ‘Snoop Catty Cat’. According to Bing, the phrase has already been used 28 times on the web. Better 28 than “about 28,000″, I guess.
Monday: December 21, 2009
Perhaps I’m just addicted to bad jokes and cultural allusions, but if I were Terry Teachout, I would have titled his latest post “Top of the world, ma!”.
Saturday: February 16, 2008
I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this in manuals of rhetoric or lists of figures of speech, but these three sentences all use the same rhetorical trick:
- Nice we’re having weather, isn’t it?
- What’s a girl like you doing in a nice place like this?
- I’ve got high friends in places all over time.
The last is the title of one of the three good songs on what is apparently the only album by Scott McQuaig. Can anyone quote more examples? I have a feeling I’ve forgotten one or two.
Tuesday: June 19, 2007
Tuesday: March 21, 2006
In the funeral games in Aeneid V, which we read in English — none of it is in the AP selections — all five of the participants in the foot-race are given prizes (340-61). Vergilians will recall that Euryalus, Helymus, and Diores take first, second, and third place, but Salius is given a consolation-prize because he was in first place before Nisus tripped him, and Nisus is then given a consolation-prize because he was in first place until he slipped on some blood and cow-dung and fell down, after which he tripped Salius to help his lover Euryalus. As one of my students (call him ‘M.C.’) put it, Aeneas “is like some YMCA guy, giving prizes to everybody, even the losers”.
Saturday: September 3, 2005
Update: (9/5, 4:15pm)
Since no one has ‘gotten’ it yet, here’s another version of the joke with the same answer:
And here are two more, non-Classical this time, with a different, but parallel, answer:
Monday: August 15, 2005
I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been moving all my stuff from Baltimore to North Carolina for a new job. I’ll be teaching Latin II (second half of Wheelock), Latin IV (AP Vergil), Greek IV (Antigone and Apology) and Geometry at Raleigh Latin High School. It’s embarrassing to admit, but in my twelve years of previous full-time teaching, nine of them in universities, I’ve never had the opportunity to teach a Greek tragedy or a Platonic dialogue in Greek. (By the way, RLHS is still accepting students for the upcoming year if you live in Raleigh.)
I’m proud to say that at 52, I can still move everything I own with nothing more than a rented truck, a two-wheel dolly, and a gallon or two of Gatorade. That may not sound all that impressive, but:
- I own roughly five tons of stuff, including 200 boxes of books, 18 real-wood book- and CD-shelves of various sizes, 16 ornamental cinderblocks to make (with 1×14s) eight shelves worth of very solid two-sided bookshelves, three 4-drawer file cabinets, 2 armchairs, and a futon. It took three round trips (over five days) in a Penske cargo van, stuffed to the gills, including the front compartment, plus three more trips in my car for the odds and ends. (Look for additions to my Books for Sale list in the next few weeks: I really need to cut down.)
- All three truckloads, and roughly half the stuff taken by car, were loaded in 90o+ heat with no shade, and it was 96o in Raleigh when I unloaded the first and third truckloads a couple of weeks ago. (The second was mostly unloaded after dark, which helped.) And cargo vans don’t come with ramps. I did make sure to rent an apartment with only one small step to get the dolly over: in fact that was my main criterion in choosing a place to live. The gentle slope down the front walk to the front door didn’t hurt.
Can I call myself a Self-Moved Mover now, or would that be too Aristotelian — not to mention hybristic? I do have a slight urge (call it a demi-urge) to hire a moving company to do the work next time around, though it would likely double the cost.
There’s plenty of unpacking still to do. At the worst of it, when I had hastily unloaded all three truckloads and unpacked very little, the place felt rather like the burrow of a gopher or groundhog: completely full of furniture and overhanging stacks of boxes, with meandering paths, just wide enough for me to squeeze through, connecting the front door to the kitchen, the armchair, the table with the laptop, the bathroom, and the corner of the bedroom with the futon in it. As I get the books and CDs out of the boxes and into the shelves and then flatten the boxes, it’s starting to clear out a bit and look fit for human habitation.
Monday: July 4, 2005
What would be the most appropriate dish to serve at a party celebrating the publication of a book on Martial, or the Priapea, or some other scurrilous and scoptic classic? Crudités, of course.
Tuesday: June 14, 2005
Found on Amazon:
Martial, Buch VI: Ein Kommentar (Hypomnemata)
by Farouk Grewing
Availability: Currently unavailable.
It is in fact still in print in Germany, for only 89 Euros — around $107 — in paperback, and worth every penny. For more information, go here and search on the author’s (I mean the editor’s, not Martial’s) name. German Amazon also lists it, though with very little information except that they can ship it within 1-2 days. I would have thought that the various Amazon sites could share information and avoid misstatements, but apparently not.
What I found humorous is the single review on the U.S. Amazon site:
Just great!, April 25, 2002
Reviewer: Dr. Farouk F. Grewing (Cambridge, MA United States)
I really did an excellent job on this one!
He did, actually, and I use the book often, still grateful that a book dealer in the U.S. was foolish enough to price a used copy in excellent condition at $20 when I would have gladly paid quite a bit more. (Some of my Martial texts, with marginal apparatus criticus, are nearly ready to unveil, though not Book VI.)
Dr. Grewing’s curriculum vitae (on line here) confirms that his middle initial is F. and that he was a visiting lecturer in the Boston area in 2002, so I suspect the review is genuine. One small detail of the c.v. is also slyly humorous. The bullets for list items are all dark green, except for the one marking a review of Hans Peter Obermayer, Martial und der Diskurs über männliche ‘Homosexualität’ in der Literatur der frühen Kaiserzeit, which is pink. I like the portrait, too.
Wednesday: May 11, 2005
A few days ago, the same friend whose book I so gravely defaced (see previous post) told me about Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words site,* which looks likely to fill many hours of my time in the next few weeks, though I didn’t actually get around to visiting it until I Googled the word ‘mondegreen’ to write this post. As Quinion puts it, a mondegreen involves “creative mishearing of lyrics”. The classic example is Jimi Hendrix’s “ ’scuse me while I kiss the sky”, which many have misheard as “ ’scuse me while I kiss this guy”. Quinion also tracks down the etymology, and it turns out that ‘mondegreen’ is itself a mondegreen:
I discovered that the name was coined by Sylvia Wright, in an article called “The Death of Lady Mondegreen”, in Harper’s Magazine in 1954. It appears she had as a child misheard the last line of a famous old Scottish ballad called The Bonny Earl o’ Murray (sometimes spelled Moray) and thought it went:
Ye Hielands and ye Lowlands,
O where hae ye been?
Thay hae slain the Earl o’ Murray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
“How romantic to have them both die together,” she thought, and was bitterly disappointed when the last line turned out to be the much more prosaic: “And hae laid him on the green”. However, she turned her disappointment to our benefit by changing her elegant-sounding mistake into a truly aristocratic name for the whole class of aural misinterpretations.
I have one small quibble: surely the version Sylvia Wright misheard was “And laid him on the green”, without the “hae” — unless she misheard that, too.
To come at last to my pedantic mondegreen, there is a bluegrass or traditional country song whose title I cannot recall, though I have heard it in several different versions. Whenever I hear someone sing that love “fades like the mornin’ do”, my immediate reaction is “hey, shouldn’t that be ‘fades as the mornin’ does’?” It always takes a second or two to realize, or remember, that love actually fades “like the mornin’ dew”.
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*If only Quinion were working at
Walt Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, instead of somewhere in the U.K., he could set a world record for alliteration.
It appears that I was wrong in thinking the college in Walla Walla is ‘Walt Whitman’, not just ‘Whitman’. (See first comment.) Perhaps my memory was led astray by the alliteration, adding a bit more to make it more extreme. Perhaps I just assumed that a Whitman College would be named after the most famous Whitman. Or perhaps whoever first mentioned the college to me was under the same misapprehension.
I thought I’d posted on this before, but Google disagrees. Apologies to anyone who has heard it before.
The internet Classics list has been discussing how to say ‘Ex Libris’ in Greek, which reminded me (as so many things do) of something else only tangentially related. A friend once gave me a book that already had his bookplate in it, since he’d gotten a new, unthumbed copy for Christmas and no one really needs two copies of Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origins of Algebra. As a joke, I added a single Latin word before ‘Ex Libris’. As far as I was able — which was pretty far — I used exactly the same font and color as the printed bookplate. What was that word? Surreptus, of course.
Sunday: April 3, 2005
I always have a mild urge to call them ‘feetnotes’ . . . .
Two things that surprised me about Der Rosenkavalier at the Met yesterday:
1. I don’t think I’d ever heard a non-ironic non-metaphorical use of the word ‘lackey’ before, but the Met’s surtitles used the word dozens of times. Perhaps they use an archaic translation? If so, how to explain the first verb in this passage:
“Lerchenau’s men are stoned on brandy. They’re molesting our maids worse than Turks or Croatians. Fetch the lackeys!”
Any translation that uses both ‘stoned’ (except in reference to collective punishment) and ‘lackeys’ is having trouble maintaining a consistent stylistic register.
By the way, I wonder how long before the unapologetic ethnic slurs in some operas cause trouble. As I recall, the other Strauss’s Die Fledermaus mocks gypsies and Hungarians as well as lawyers, stutterers, and a couple of other groups I’ve forgotten. Not Jews, though, unless my memory deceives me, which is a pleasant surprise, now that I think about it — perhaps Johann thought that had been overdone.
2. No one else laughed when the three orphan girls begging for charity from the Marschallin sang
Father fell on the field of honor. Following him is our goal.”
Am I wrong in seeing a mildly obscene pun? Surely a woman in 1911 could only ‘fall’ on the field of ‘honor’ by engaging in premarital sex. I suppose I should check the German text, but I’m guessing that the metaphor of ‘fallen woman’ and the restriction of ‘honor’ in women to chastity transcended linguistic boundaries.