Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A debt acknowledged

Recently I’ve discussed American English and some American respondents adopted an apologetic tone regarding their native tongue. The stuff below proves that any apology is misplaced. Exceeds 300 words.

Mark Twain's Rules for Funeral Etiquette. At the moving passages, be moved -- but only according to the degree of your intimacy with the parties giving the entertainment, or with the party in whose honor the entertainment is given. Where a blood relation sobs, an intimate friend should choke up, a distant acquaintance should sigh, a stranger should merely fumble sympathetically with his handkerchief.

Do not bring your dog.

William Goldman, screen writer. As to his size: he's like the Pentagon; no matter how big you think it's going to be it's always bigger. André's publicity has him at seven feet five inches and 550 pounds (This is not a fat man remember.)... It's in his presence. André is very still... (perhaps) because he's never sure what reaction people will have to him. I've seen children meet him and go mad with glee and start to climb on him. Other children scream in fear and run away... His hands may well be the most remarkable thing about him... Shaking hands with André is like dipping your hand into a well.

Richard P Feynman, physicist, on letter censorship at Los Alamos.
I said: I have a game. I challenge (my friends, relations) to send me a code that I can’t decipher, see. So, they’re making up codes at the other end, and they’re sending them in, and they’re not going to tell me what the key is.
Los Alamos letter censor: Well you’re going to have to tell them please to send the key in with the code.
I said: But I don’t want to see the key!
Censor: Well, all right, we’ll take the code out.

The Great Gatsby. There was nothing to look at from under the tree except Gatsby’s enormous house, so I looked at it, like Kant at his church steeple, for half an hour. A brewer had built it early in the “period” craze, a decade before, and there was a story that he’d agreed to pay five years’ taxes on all the neighbouring cottages if the owners would have their roofs thatched with straw. Perhaps their refusal took the heart out of his plan to Found a Family – he went into an immediate decline.

Ross Thomas, underrated thriller writer. It could have been called a trial, I suppose… Our Star Chamber judge carefully arranged six sharpened pencils on the desk beside a fresh yellow legal pad. Next he produced his pipe, tobacco pouch and match box, and placed them within easy reach. He then adopted an expression which he may have thought was his best horse-sense look. He made his face as long as possible, showed both of us his teeth in an impartial manner, and nodded several times as if he were adjusting to some invisible halter. I almost expected him to neigh us to order.