19.3.18

"Rats!" by Robert Browning (excerpted from the Pied Piper of Hamelin, 1842)

Do you love rats? Read a delightfully bombastic excerpt from Robert Browning's 1842 poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin".
Frontispiece, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Chicago, McNally, 1910
Rats!
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats
And even spoiled the women's chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats . . .
Robert Browning, excerpted from The Pied Piper of Hamelin, 1842
Rat in the subway
Works Cited
Browning, Robert. Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Child's Story. Chicago, McNally, 1910. Print.                                                                                                                                                                    PDF Copy for Printing

18.3.18

Lost in Thought - Who Said What? ("What, me worry?")

Alfred E. Neuman, the poster boy for the humor magazine Mad (1952 - )
"The reason many people are lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory." - Alfred E. Neuman, circa 1994

"The only reason many people are lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory." - Attributed to Paul Fix, u.d.
I am cleaning up my room - because I am moving to a new neighborhood - and I came across a tattered notebook of mine dated circa 1994. I had scribbled a quote I had apparently read from one of MAD magazine's "Words of Wisdom" pieces the editors had frequently included in its magazines - usually on the table of contents page. And I read the above quote - attributed to good ole "humor in a jugular vein" mascot Alfred E. Neuman. However, upon doing some light research I discovered that another source - the reputable Oxford English Dictionary folks - had attributed this same quote to the American comedian and actor Paul Fix.

I wonder who is right - did Alfred E. Neuman hire a ghostwriter? I guess we'll never know. If you have any hints, clues, or evidence to resolve this issue of attribution please leave your nota bene in the comments below or email me at g r e i g r o s e l l i at s t o n e s o f e r a s m u s dot com. 


Works Cited

Brandreth, Gyles D. Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotes. , 2013. Print.

15.3.18

TBT: Sixth Grade Field Trip to the Folsom Global Wildlife Center in Saint Tammany Parish, Louisiana

Joshua Newell, third from left; Greig - fourth from left - Holla!; James Porsche, last man to the right
Greig's Sixth Grade Field Trip to the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana 
(Circa 1990s)

The Global Wildlife Center is a nature park in Folsom, approximately fifty-three miles north of New Orleans. The park is nestled in the piney woods of Saint Tammany Parish - and, it boasts a menagerie of zebra, oxen, goats, and other "wild beasts".

I don't remember much about this field trip - except that I was sporting my nifty, all plasticine Nintendo brand spectacles and a jean jacket. I have no idea how we got this picture taken - but hey - and check out Josh Newell - my best buddy from the day; he is the one holding the pair of binoculars. 

Can anyone remind me of who's who in this pic? The names are on the tip of my tongue.

14.3.18

Subway Diary: That Time I was Struck by a Man on the F Train

Riding the F*#) train one morning . . .
So, I was just sitting next to a mother and her son on a chock-full F train this morning. The mom and son were talking about the "fake poetry" posters that have been splayed about subway cars as of late - a marketing ploy by the Internet start-up PolicyGenius (they compare life insurance policies - *boring*). Noticing the rapport between the two of them, I laughed and acknowledged that I also found the ads a bit twee and said, "I know how you feel. Fake poetry. It hurts my heart." The kid wanted to get out of his seat and explore the other posters, but the mom pulled him back.

Suddenly, Out of Nowhere
At that moment, a man appeared in front of me, a white, middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair, a bit harried, and in sweats, said to me, "I have something for you. It's your turn next." And he struck me in the face. Unprovoked. I did not know the man nor did I expressly notice him in the car until that moment. The woman and the child immediately got up and huddled in the corner and, I said, "That man just hit me." The train pulled into the 63rd street station and, I got off - and so did the woman and the child - I heard someone say they were calling the police. We three went up to the upper level to escape. The woman asked if I was OK and I told her I was an English teacher on my way to work - and that I was worried I'd be late. I then texted Ms. S and wrote, "A man just hit me on the train unprovoked." After a few beats, the nice woman who had become my reluctant protector told me she was an English teacher, too. I started to cry. I think she was worried about her son about to witness a grown man have a nervous breakdown so, she gingerly asked, "Do you want a moment alone?" I said "Yes," and the woman smiled at me warmly. I felt comforted. As I watched her go, I wondered if she would look me up later and we would figure out why this random act of violence occurred.

Getting the Heck Out of Dodge
I figured it was safe so I went back down to the lower level and, the same F train was still lingering in the station. The conductor, the guy who sits in the middle car and announces the train stops, noticed me and said, "They apprehended that guy who hit you and, the police are looking for you." I did not want to deal with the fallout - and I was also relieved that the police had caught the guy, so I just got on the train. And I went to work. I felt shook all day - like a mild shock had invaded my system. Mr. V made tea. Doc consoled me and, Ms. S hung out with my first-period class. Mr. H told me his own story of subway assault and Mr. G. said I should try to get the violent men thrown behind bars. I am just relieved that the man did not have a knife or a sharp object. So. What's the moral of the story: stay alert but don't let one man's crazy act of violence ruin your life.

12.3.18

A Riff on Jesus - My Two Favorite Quotes

So - my two most favorite quotes from Jesus of Nazareth are as follows:
Momma gonna knock you out. source: zazzle
1. "Do not throw your pearls to the pigs." (Matthew 7:6)
Jesus gonna chew you up and spit you out. source: ignite4christ
2. "If you are a lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I will spit you out." (Revelation 3:16)

I feel like when Jesus says, do not throw your pearls to the pigs, he is saying something slightly out of whack with his usual altruistic spiel. Like. Jesus usually says stuff like "Do to others what you would do to yourself" and "The meek shall inherit the earth." When he starts talking about where you throw your pearls, my ears perk up. I am thinking, "Hey. Jesus is talking about me." Heck. I do not own any pearls - but, hell, I sure as hell do not want to throw my pearls to some sorry motherfuckers who'll never appreciate them. Now Jesus is talking my language, honey.

Rather than dismiss Jesus's injunction to spit you out if you're lukewarm as a caveat against drinking warm soda, I suggest you think of his warning more as an indicator of whether you're spicy or mild. Who wants to hang around with limp toast? Have you ever left your cereal in a bowl of milk for too long? Disgusting! So - Jesus is saying, spice it up, or get out.

Do you have any special quotes from the Messiah? I'd love to hear it. In the meantime, check out Thomas Jefferson's adaptation of the New Testament: The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.

4.3.18

Book Review: Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne

Absolute Brightness is a young adult novel.  
Absolute Brightness
by James Lecesne


Paperback, 352 pages

Published May 31st, 2016 by Feiwel & Friend
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I am reviewing the gay YA novel, Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne.

The Amazing Life of Leonard Pelkey
In the late 90s, James Lecesne raised awareness about gay teen suicide. He wrote a novella that was adapted into a short film about a precocious boy who feels rejected by his family and attempts suicide - only to be rattled back to his senses by a cute candy striper at the hospital. This was back in 1998. Trevor lives. Almost as a counterpoint, in Absolute Brightness (2016),* James Lecesne tells the story of a teenager, Leonard Pelkey, who is murdered in Neptune, New Jersey. 

Leonard is characterized as a nice, talkative fourteen-year-old boy. When he first arrives at his aunt's house - to move in - he is met with derision by his cousin, Phoebe, who is also the narrator of the story. Leonard seems oblivious to the fact that Phoebe does not take to lightly to his fashion decisions - pink and lime-green capri pants and a "too small T-shirt." However, for Phoebe, Leonard was "way too different." And it is this aversion to difference that Lecesne grapples with in this book.


Leonard has all the Packaging of a Gay Stereotype
While he is never outright labeled as gay, Leonard carries all the packaging of the gay male effeminate stereotype. He is characterized, in the novel, like Dorothy - "more the type to be heading toward a place like Oz, as in The Wizard of." He never gets there. And the novel turns directions.