August is the cruelest month. (My apologies to that other Eliot, the one deficient in double letters.) August is my most-hated month. It is the time when summer drags on, like an unwanted house guest. Not much to do about it, just suffer and dream of cooler months.
Goodness, they say, is its own reward. That’s not enough for those uber-wealthy folks who like to slap their names on the wings of hospitals or endow charities. But, certainly, most of us consider ourselves “good,” and take some comfort in the idea that we are decent people.
Some people become legends in their own time. One of the neat things about going to a water exercise class for non-athletes like me is being among people who are athletes, some of them legendary. Jake Propst is one of those from Columbus.
The Cold War is over; we won it and we have forgotten about it, because we have hotter things to worry about. Young people now, and those in the future, will watch, say, “Doctor Strangelove,” and be astonished that the world could have organized itself in such a way. If you really want to get in touch with how weird the Cold War years were, a wonderful introduction is “K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist” (PublicAffairs) by Peter Carlson.
In Mississippi talent flourishes like kudzu. Maybe this is because of the lush fertility of the land. Or perhaps it is a result of generations of oral tradition. Whether the artist’s flair is visual, or musical, or poetic, the results are almost always narrative. On some level, every one of us is a writer, spinning tales with pen, or brush, or song.
I just got a Blackberry. Some of you — that’s folks living the good life — may be wondering whether or not I picked it myself or bought it at the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market. No.
This past Sunday as I was coming home from church, Lynne Rosetto Kasper on “The Splendid Table” was chatting with a caller to the radio program about bacon fat in cookie recipes. Like many of us, I grew up with the can of bacon fat on the counter (I really don’t remember it being refrigerated), waiting to be dipped into for frying or flavoring. And, for a time in my life I, too, saved bacon fat, refrigerated, and would spoon a tad in the water for my butter beans or mix it with olive oil for frying corn or green tomatoes, or in my cast iron muffin pan for corn muffins. I used it judiciously, telling myself that a little bit couldn’t hurt me.
Insects, even the greatest of couch potatoes knows, are everywhere. If you weighed all the insects and weighed all the people on the planet, insects would win.
Anyone who lived in Columbus between 1922 and 1992 probably has some story or memory of Bob’s Place, quintessential drive-in of Columbus and thought to be Mississippi’s first drive-in.
Denizens of large cities love to boast about the cultural events, performances and limitless entertainment available to them. In some ways they are right. However, it seems to me that very few take advantage of this wealth of artistic opportunity. Most people just stay home, in front of the “boob tube,” in a sort of semi-catatonic state.
Bessie Johnson has come to appreciate the humor in it. But when check-out clerks first suspected her of being up to no good after repeat store visits to buy armloads of wooden matches and bottles of glue, the moment wasn’t quite as amusing.
“It’s no good trying to keep up old friendships. It’s painful for both sides.” W. Somerset Maugham July and August are tedious months. The weeks between holidays seem endless. It will be even longer before the air cools and thins. These days, breathing can feel like drowning.
How I got hooked on “The Bachelorette,” I’ll never know. I’m so ashamed. For those of you who make better use of your time, it’s a reality series/contest produced by ABC.
If you thought you were outside the realm of magic, think again. There has been “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on television, for instance, with magic books central to some of the plots. When the program was popular, Owen Davies used to get e-mails from teenage girls asking about specifics of casting spells. “They had seen my personal website,” writes Davies, “presenting my historical studies on witchcraft and magic and assumed I was a practitioner.”
Several times lately we have mentioned small town living versus city style. Maybe that means we should think about it a little more.
Our backyard garden is thriving, in spite of the triple-digit heat index. The bounty of plump cucumbers is just beginning to dwindle. The last few appeared curled into fanciful flourishes, fat feather-ish shapes, looking like something that would adorn the hat of a woodland gnome.
If you are old enough, you remember the sensation that the Rubik’s Cube caused all the world over in 1980. No one is still alive that remembers the 1880 fad for the analogous two-dimensional “Fifteen Puzzle,” which had 15 numbered blocks within a four by four container and you were supposed to arrange them numerically. Mechanical puzzles can make storms like these, maybe because you can solve them over and over again, but it isn’t often that word puzzles produce such fads.
Nowadays you can get just about any sort of pornography you want with a few clicks of the mouse, and much of it is free. Before that, New York City, especially Times Square, was known as the headquarters for porn movies, and when porn was available only in print media, New York’s Nassau Street in lower Manhattan (close to City Hall) was its hub.
On the cover of the new book by historian Merry Wiesner-Hanks is the portrait of a young girl dressed in Renaissance finery, an elaborate and lacy dress. She smiles slightly and looks directly at the viewer with big brown eyes. She has flowers in her hair. But she has hair not only at the top of her head, but all over her forehead, cheeks and chin.
It is said that by age 50 we have the face we deserve. For most of us that is a reflection of life and experience. At middle age, we can polish that face with a smile or, for women, a bit of lipstick and blush. However, except for extreme plastic surgery (and excluding the picture of Dorian Gray), we are pretty much forced to wear the results of the life we lived. Events and emotions of our past are etched around our eyes and impossible to hide with anything offered at a cosmetic counter.
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