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An experimental film version of Finnegans Wake.

“At Oxford, I was taught that every particle of a poem can amplify its meaning, and when poets get it right individual words can add volumes of sense. Trying to fill in some of their blanks is a useful lesson in this fine art.”

Diagraming famous first sentences from classic literature.

New way to learn Chinese characters.

“Want to Become a Better Writer? Copy the Work of Others!”

“56 Delightful Victorian Slang Terms You Should Be Using”

Poetry quiz.

Chart shows who dies and how in Shakespeare’s tragedies.

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“TV Party Tonight!”

Great satire from early 80′s-era Black Flag.  Even better than the social commentary is the reminder of what was popular 30 years ago (“That’s Incredible! Hill Street Blues! Dallas!”).

Guillermo del Toro has great taste in movies.

(So did Akira Kurosawa.)

More fun lists of famous faves here.

The prophet Jacob gives a great definition of what exactly Jesus Christ did for us and, therefore, why we celebrate Easter.  The diagram below outlines the two-fold victory on our behalf:


Our Journey Back Home

I’ve been wanting to write a Pilgrim’s Progress-style allegory for young children.  Here it is.  Happy Easter, everybody.



Once upon a time there was a wonderful king.  He had very many children and they all lived in a beautiful castle high on a mountain.

One day the king told his children that he was sending them on an important journey.  They had to go on a long walk through the whole world.  The king said that they had to do this in order to grow up.

“Will it be hard?” the princes and princesses asked.

“Yes,” said the king.  “But it will also be an exciting adventure.  And it will help you become ready to be kings and queens yourselves someday.”

Continue Reading »

I’ve been thinking for a while of revisiting the watershed essays I posted in 2008 and 2009, but I was pleasantly shocked earlier this year when I read an excellent piece by Victor Davis Hansen that already did it for me.  Hansen’s essay “The Last Generation of the West and the Thin Strand of Civilization” covers almost exactly the same ground that I identified six years ago.

The fact that two men of different generations independently see the same writing on the wall cannot be insignificant.

Hansen cites examples for four of the five areas that worry me–the only missing item is, oddly, my number one.  But more on that shortly.

Here are quotes from Hansen that correlate with my first four categories of American decline.  His original has links to evidence–please read his essay and read his links.


#5: Government Size and Spending

“The fourth-century Greeks at the end pasted silver over their worthless bronze coins — “reds” being the protruding noses and hair of the portraiture that first appeared bronze-like, as the silver patina rubbed off. The bastardization of the currency fostered many books on Roman decline. More worthless money for more people was a sign of “crisis” — analogous to our own quantitative easing and $17 trillion in debt.

Continue Reading »

A Grandfather

My grandfather lived from 1910-2000.  Last month, for no special reason, I wrote out some short notes about him.  I really didn’t know him that well, and can now only wish I’d spent more time with him.  I suppose these memories reflect myself more than they depict him, but it feels good to do this:

  • My grandfather kept a garden in his backyard, in which he grew rhubarb.  He loved rhubarb.
  • He often took long, quiet walks by himself.
  • He kept a collection of big books downstairs.  I remember him having a copy of (the then-new novel) James Clavell’s Noble House, which he freely agreed to let me read.  As a child, I predictably couldn’t make it past the first page.  I just read it a few years ago and loved it.
  • He went to church on Sundays and, when he was in town, made sure to take my brother and me.  When we got home, he told our parents that we had been “good as gold.” Continue Reading »

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