June 29th, 2006


On Adultery -- George Gordon (Noel) Byron, 6th Baron Byron

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    What men call gallantry,
    and gods adultery,
    is much more common
    where the climate's sultry.
      -- Lord Byron

George Gordon (Noel) Byron, 6th Baron Byron (January 22, 1788 - April 19, 1824) was an Anglo-Scottish poet and leading figure in Romanticism. Among his best-known works are the narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. The latter remained incomplete upon his death.

(Edit) I spent so much time working out the layout flukes so it would display the way I really envisioned it that I FORGOT to rebut his remarks. I do NOT think a man gallant when he commits adultery! I also think that is a universal tendency, rather than more commonly practiced in certain climates. I wonder if the research were done (probably has been done someplace...) on indigenous societies, more "permissive" (sexually speaking) would be found in any certain type of climate... Certainly completeness of dress would be affected by climate, but I can't see that as necessarily indicating sexual behavior.


Life's Strange

The phone rang a few minutes ago. I looked at the clock and decided that it just HAD to be mother. I was going to answer it with something guaranteed to get a laugh (like "Hello, Muddah, hello Faddeh, Here I am at Camp Pintada" (Pinto being the color of the horses half the herd is made up of... )

Thank heavens I restrained myself!

1) I can't sing worth a hoot, and the STRANGE MAN on the other end of the phone MIGHT NOT have grown up with Al Sherman's record, My Son, the Nut and never have heard of his renditions of the classics with hysterical lyrics... much less recognized bilingual parodies of them out of context.

2) The phone call wasn't for ME, but for my neighbor. It was a "wrong number" with a twist. I WAS who he called, but he really wanted my neighbor.

Now, I ask you, HOW do you get a "one house down further south" from the one you want BY PHONE???

Furthermore, I dialed M.'s number immediately afterward and got his son B. at once, at home, and answering...

Weird, weird, weird.

So, he asked me to get a message to Mike... one that had his name, phone number, the fact that it was business-related, and the extension and DOCUMENT NUMBER...

Weirder and weirder...

He DID NOT ask for Mike's number.

So, as I did with the strange truck in the neighbor across the road's driveway, we played, "Who do you know and where are they/you from?" I did not know that game before I came here, but I am getting my real-life practice at it this summer.

The man was FROM OHIO. But, he's in Phoenix at present. (Yes, Sedona IS still burning, but it hasn't reached the houses, yet...)

Having 80 acres, but considering it not enough land to survive on blew his mind. I backtracked. "By farming. I could build a factory on it and it would be plenty big enough, but then the trouble would be getting enough people to work in the factory."

That took a viewpoint shift beyond him at first...

The whole conversation was beyond weird... It was passing STRANGE.

An Author Recommendation

The other day, I had to make a 34 mile round trip to the small town that houses my local vet's office to pick up a bag of the indoor cat's cat food... (Yeah, the outdoor cats get the cheap, inferior brands, but they INSIST on sharing with passing skunks, possums (which give horses a crippling disease) and raccoons.)

I hated to go in for just ONE item, but I did not want to spend money unnecessarily. (If I go into a store, I will not "window" shop -- I will impulse buy, and I really don't NEED anything right now. I'd LIKE several things, but... slap my hand...) So, I went LATE in the day, and hit the library just before it closed.

I started into the fiction stacks by reverse alphabetical order, and rediscovered Kurt Vonnegut. I have his Player Piano; Welcome to the Monkey House; Slaughterhouse-Five; The Sirens of Titan; Cat's Cradle; and Deadeye Dick, but I noticed he's been a busy little boy since I last caught up with him...

Somewhere I got copies and read Mother Night; Slapstick; God Bless You, Mr. Roswater; and Breakfast of Champions, but I missed Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons; Jailbird; and Palm Sunday completely.

The library boasted five of his, Deadeye Dick, the last one I can remember reading, and four I'd never heard of.

The librarian, who is always inquiring about what attracts people to what they check out, probably remembered me taking out all the Nora Roberts books she had last summer. Kurt is a FAR CRY from those! When I explained that he was one of my favorite science fiction authors, she asked if he was mis-filed in the regular stacks. That made me stop and think. Yes, he DOES write science fiction. But not always.

Glancing through the titles I'd selected, I decided that two of them probably WERE NOT science fiction, tipping Galápagos: A Novel toward her to illustrate. Hard to judge a book by its cover, and even adding the title is not necessarily a help, but she was satisfied that her job had been properly done.

This decision of where to file what output of an author is a puzzlement to me. Last summer, I found all of Nora Robert's romances in the general fiction section in Corydon, but part in the romance and part in general fiction in Centerville's bigger library.

The Centerville librarian (50 mile round trip to the "bigger" town) tried to explain to me why a romance writer was only partially filed in the romance collection. "If they become best sellers, they are filed in the general fiction section."

Well, THAT explains everything, right? A mere ROMANCE novel can't possibly become a best seller??? Right???

If you're not familiar with Kurt Vonnegut, but like to read, take anything of his for a spin... He is VERY READABLE, but gets the old gray cells firing on all cylinders, as well, to mix a metaphor...

He loves to begin with some outrageous premise. In Deadeye Dick, it is a kid fires a gun in town. The bullet heads toward the center of town, circles around the inside of a church bell, caroms off on a new tangent, then enters a window in another house, killing a lady by hitting her right between the eyes. How could anyone disengage after such an engaging beginning?

Galápagos: A Novel is just as inventive. "One million years ago, back in 1986..." (The volume I was reading has a 1985 copyright...) and goes on to state the premise that somewhere along the line, evolution took a BAD TURN and created individuals with unconscionably BIG brains, who almost succeeded in destroying the earth with them... but evolution has now rectified that error, our futuristic narrator informs us. (He's done the "mad scientist destroys the earth" thing before, but they are never crazy mad scientists. They are human, necessary, dedicated to doing good... but, ah, that tragic flaw... He does it SO WELL. I vividly remember the creation of "ice nine" and how it escapes the (utterly safely sealed) lab. Unfortunately, I can't remember WHICH BOOK it happens in... I'm pretty sure the firebombing of Dresden is in Slaughterhouse-Five, and Welcome to the Monkey House is a volume of short stories...) Sounds as if it might be time for some re-reading...

Second sentence in, I realized, oops, Galápagos: A Novel, in spite of Darwin's ship and the odd animal forms on the cover, IS science fiction... but he did DEDICATE it to a naturalist. I'm in chapter three. His characters are so vivid, you don't CARE that he's slipping you BIG DOSES of scientific theory... They become part of the plot.

When he gets autobiographical with Charles Darwin, you are happy to recognize the foreshadowing that is revealing how the sleazoid heading out to the Galápagos expecting a South Pacific island paradise is going to get his comeuppance.

I wish he were still at Iowa U.'s fiction writer's workshop instead of in New York. (and that musicologist Peter Schickle was still at Iowa State!)