Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ten miscellanies make a blog post

  1. Huge book sale going on in Berkeley this month. You might want to know.
  2. Nine things I already knew about The Hobbit, and one thing I didn't care about because it's actually about the movies (via JDR)
  3. In the 1920s, C.S. Lewis was a silent partner in a secret gang with a diabolical plot to -- buy up properties for the National Trust. (via MJW) This revelation sent me into research mode. It's known that Lewis knew Margaret Pollard (née Gladstone: she wasn't W.E. Gladstone's niece, btw, but something like his great-great-grand-niece); Lewis's Collected Letters has casual friendly missives he sent her in the 1940s and 50s. But their earlier history was new to me. She isn't mentioned in the diary he kept then, but he didn't mention lots of things in his diary. What most intrigues me is her secret gang pseudonym, "Bill Stickers." For at just about that time, Lewis's friend J.R.R. Tolkien began telling his children tales about a crafty villain named Bill Stickers. (You knew he was bad because of the signs around that said, "Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted." And who would prosecute him? That righteous military man, Major Road Ahead.) Coincidence ... or something else?
  4. PNH is mildly irked when people don't get his name right, but he figures it's because he's not that well-known outside of SFnal circles. Yeah, but it happens inside those circles too, like at a WFC. Alas, fame will not save you. What about all the people who can't spell Tolkien?
  5. Gay Talese annotates his famous anecdote about Frank Sinatra and Harlan Ellison.
  6. Photos and more photos of the Crissy Broadcast.
  7. The lousiest opera singer that people think is good. Includes video link so you can hear it for yourself. (via Lisa Irontongue, who would rather you didn't) She's terrible, but she's nine years old. As Dr. Johnson put it (never mind what he was comparing this to), it "is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
  8. So which eleven counties in northern Colorado are voting today on whether to secede? Most news stories are surprisingly reticent. Here's a map. (And the news story it comes from.) That's Weld north of Denver; Logan, Sedgwick, and Phillips, in the northeast; Washington, Yuma, Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson, and Cheyenne in the east; and Moffat all by itself in the northwest. I've been in eight of them, though not recently.
  9. A while ago I wondered why the once-ubiquitous Douglas R. Hofstadter had vanished from public discourse. I wasn't imagining it; he really has and this is why.
  10. The Worst Person in the World. What should you do if your friend has a tacky character trait that really bugs the heck out of you? A: Steam in silence for years, then wait for him to be off-guard - like when he invites you to accompany him to the opera, so he obviously has no clue he's annoying you - and lash out and storm off. Then write a self-righteous blog post about how it was his responsibility to read your mind and know your preferences. All right, the friend may be crass and tasteless. But that's no excuse for responding by being evil.

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