A cold winter night is a welcome night for a book by Barbara Pym, the British author whose novels capture slices of life in mid-20th century England--the "chronicler of quiet lives," as one summary calls her. I have been reading her books for 20 years, but was excited to discover that she has her own scholarly society. You can find a bibliography and literary analysis, including conference proceedings, here. Pym specialized in "excellent women" in the old-fashioned sense, as this essay notes, but she sprinkled her characterizations with well-placed satire.
Women get one egg and men get two, as a matter of course. "Oh, a man needs eggs!" said Mrs. Crampton, looking pleased, when Jane noticed the larger portion on Nicholas's plate in Jane and Prudence.
For more Pym, see also this page of favorite quotes submitted by readers. Here's one (also from Jane and Prudence, which I have been rereading of late):
Miss Doggett again looked puzzled; it was as if she had heard that men only wanted one thing, but had forgotten for the moment what it was.
I raise a cup (of tea) to Pym.
The last post was a bit Scroogelike, wasn't it? Well, never mind, the B&W elves have a sense of humor, too, even when the laughs are obvious ones. For instance, the hilarious faux chatrooms I discovered in the Guardian seem to have ceased (read old ones here) but the HuffPo presidential IMs are almost as good:
LadeezMan42: whoa jus back from cellblock chappaqua
LadeezMan42: u still recoverin from operation turkey?
Kickass43: amen bro
Kickass43: shudda gone to bagdad 2 hang wid the troops
Kickass43: wd rather face insurjnts than my ma
Aren't holidays fun?
There's nothing wrong with December except Christmas. As an adult I find it requires relentless planning, multiple to-do lists, and a plan of attack that resembles the invasion of Normandy. The most stressful part is shopping for things that we don't really need. What I'd really like to do is enjoy a few days off, walk in the snow, and cook some good food, without a shopping extravaganza attached.
Apparently I'm not alone; there are a number of people who would like to resist the holiday. But change takes time. While a "Buy Nothing Christmas" is theoretical for now, I can still use The Center for a New American Dream's useful tips for simplifying the holiday. And there's always a fun twist on gift giving. For example, I like the Heifer International mechanism of donations that buy farm animals for families across the world. Hey, a sheep is only $120! (Or a llama, water buffalo,goat, pig or the lyrically titled "trio of rabbits.")
Can't get enough Judith Miller? Or are we all over it already? A blogger at Fishbowl DC has a gossipy take from an elevator ride to the National Press Club, as well as the requisite blurry and/or unflattering shots of participants and audience at a panel discussion last week. Best line is not about Miller's shoes but "Oh, and Isikoff still rocks a backpack. Awesome." (Via MediaBistro)
Oh my land is like a wild goose
Wanders all around everywhere
--"A Song for You"
I woke up early this morning and lay thinking of things like "paradigm shifts" and "disruptive technologies" and just as my very soul was about to drain out of my ears, I thought gratefully of this picture and this moment. We saw these at the Arboretum with Chris when we were out in Seattle this summer, a vacation that, sadly, has gone unchronicled in these parts. So here are some ducks for a winter's day:
Meanwhile, I have been madly surfing the back pages of MP3 blog Little Hits where the songs of my college years are unearthed weekly, if not daily. If you are old enough to remember Big Dipper, Dreams So Real, the Windbreakers, Naked Raygun, and more forgotten garage rock and pop, or if you ever did college radio in the '80s and early '90s, or if you are of the age to have swooned over a mix cassette from that special someone, then run, don't walk, to listen.