Saturday, January 29, 2011

This Should Be A National Holiday...

... and "Fields Day" just seems so appropriate a sobriquet for the observance of the birthday of acclaimed vaudeville juggler W.C. Fields.
The one thing that my dear Pére and I shared was an appreciation for the work of William Claude Dukenfield.

We each also could emit, when prevailed upon, a passable "Go away kid, ye bother me."

I suspect, though, that my father's reading of the line was a tad more determined.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Robert Burns, In His Own Words, On The Poet's 252nd Birthday

"What signifies the life o' man an' 'twere na for the lasses, O?"

''O, had she been a country maid and I the happy country swain''Leezie Lindsay (fragment, 1795)
Will ye go to the Hielands, Leezie Lindsay,
Will ye go to the Hielands wi' me?
Will ye go to the Hielands, Leezie Lindsay,
My pride and my darling to be.

''O, gie me the lass that has acres o' charms''To The Beautiful Miss Eliza J-N, On her Principles of Liberty and Equality (1794)
How, Liberty! girl, can it be by thee nam'd?
Equality too! hussey, art not asham'd?
Free and Equal indeed,
While mankind thou enchainest,
And over their hearts a proud Despot so reignest.

''Gi'e me a spark o' Nature's fire that's a' the learning I desire.'' Beware O' Bonie Ann (1789)
Ye gallants bright, I rede you right,
Beware o' bonie Ann;
Her comely face sae fu' o' grace,
Your heart she will trepan:
Her een sae bright, like stars by night,
Her skin sae like the swan;
Sae jimply lac'd her genty waist,
That sweetly ye might span.
Youth, Grace, and Love attendant move,
And pleasure leads the van:
In a' their charms, and conquering arms
They wait on bonie Ann.
The captive bands may chain the hands,
But love enslaves the man:
Ye gallants braw, I rede you a',
Beware o' bonie Ann(e)! ''And fare thee weel, my only Luve! And fare thee weel a while!''

(This presentation includes photographs of Lindsay Wagner, Eliza Dushku, Anne Francis†, and Anne Hathaway.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A year later...

Haiti is still a mess.

At sea, you only hear echoes...
At the helm
I can feel each remark of the rudder:
Tremors and shudders of currents just
as I feel the familiar details of the wheel.
Varnished brightwork trim for cruising
past those very first landfalls of Europeans lost
with their wide-eyed supplications,
the corporate beaches and actors' retreats.

You cannot see my hand upon the wheel.
Yet I am the one that you indict
Of cruising idly by,
engaged in some other pursuit,
morally unaccountable,
merely inattentive,

just not ever there at all.

I do not know, nor can I,
how your home and land has just this minute
been shaken and torn away like the rent mainsail
I had often furled and thanked --
I cannot hear you call out like a child
As a child's teeth crush child's flesh crushed
In hours of horrible darkness.

I am barefoot.
And you have no shoes.

and I feel that all is well
as my relief appears
Driver ex machina.
I breathe in a cigarette, and I exhale
the last four hours.

The weather deck and the one below
Are Solid
and must not ever sink or tear.
Because then I would be lost too:
The helm gone with the helm
Pintle and gudgeon

(Please continue to provide generous encouragement to those who provide relief in Haiti.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Y'see they're crosshairs, because they're tagets. Not because anyone should shoot anything.

“We’ll aim for these races and many others. This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington. Please go to and join me in the fight."
(attributed to Sarah Palin, March 24, 2010)

Wrong again.

Friday, January 7, 2011


  • I would have invited folk to stately Goon Manor for a convivial festival commemorating another one of my birthdays, but the valiant hovel remuddlers have given me an early present: SCAFFOLDING! And it's RIGHT IN THE WAY!
  • Try to celebrate appropriately, however is customary in your burg.
  • In some markets, this means, of course, wishing Katie Couric a "Happy Birthday."
  • The ''Chicago Manual of Style'' number from the musical ''Chicago.'' I avoid this eventuality with every ounce of my being.
  • Here's a picture of Lea Thompson, though. Because it's my birthday.
  • That's a Shure Super-something-or-other.
  • As I have learned, one cannot constantly grind away at relentless resistance and recuse. Nor should one feel confident about one's legitimacy in broadcasting when leaving uncomfortable dead air, not using the intro to do time/temp/innuendo, and speaking over the vocals.
  • I do not intend to read Moby-Dick this weekend. For fourteen years, the Old Dartmouth Historical Society has hosted a reading ("Twenty-Five Hours of 'Dick") by a confederacy of Herman Melville fans and scholars and appreciative readers, including your ThirdMate -- for at least five of those years.
  • All right, once, I got bumped by a heavy hitter museum donator or something and once had to read an entire page in costume, but I was there. Even directed staged readings of Chapter 40 ("Midnight, Forecastle") which they are also doing tomorrow for what some guy said is the first time. Coffee? Yes. Yes, it is.
  • Besides the coffee that tasted like hot dogs that first time I attended, refreshments included "grog" that was some manner of bug juice and pastries that were meant to be evocative of hard tack. It was all very proper since the docents who ran the affair were all very conscientious but were neglectful of the need for huge doses of caffeine by people who breathe anywhere near them.''Whatever shall one do with that inebriated seafarer?'' This year's lubberly marketing (despite surely authorizing the spoiler-filled "when to read" article in the S-T that doesn't even mention my favorite chapter while sharing quotes from staffers who seem a little tipsy) features various posters that present conflicting imagery (as if the publicity staff just couldn't decide). But they get the times right for all of the appurtenant fol-de-rol, and it appears to be a swell time for the kids around whom all things must be devised.
  • The most fun -- for folks watching at home via live streaming technology and Tweeting on Twitter, the most useless of all social media -- will be the erstwhile readers who mispronounce industry jargon like "bowline" and "boatswain" and "forecastle" and "top-gallant sail." T'sheasy to shound like a shailor when you read 'sheet home the staysail' at 3:15 in the morning the word ''
  • I also already read Moby-Dick this year. On Tuesday January 3, the 170th anniversary of Herman Mellville's leaving of New Bedford on the whaler Acushnet. When you were supposed to.

(This presentation includes pictures of Katherine Anne Couric, Lea Thompson, Jan Sterling, Leslie Brooks, and Lindsay Lohan. Enjoy my birthday!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Whaler Acushnet, Leaving New Bedford

William Walcott and NB Waterfront in ''Down to the Sea in Ships.''(1922)

That it is a winter morning
means nothing to the outgoing swell.

It is assumed that Envy disembarks
When the last line
Is sopped aboard and
That covetous Regret
Stands on the oil-stained wharf
Inhaling the acrid sourness
Of a barrel gone to waste.

We light the world.

Machinations of the fishery mock
Such chimera --
South Sea
Audacious pyrates --
Vain fictions unsuited to the counting
Will not be entered into the ledgers.

We light the world.

170 years ago today, Herman Melville left New Bedford on the Acushnet, to harvest whales.