A little boy comes home from his first bass lesson and his father asks, “So, how was your first lesson?” The little boy replies, “Oh, it was good. I learned that the top string is the E string and the next down is the A string.” His father is pleased.
The next day, when the boy comes home again, his father asks, “How was your lesson today?” The boy says, “Skipped it. I had a gig.”
I admit, there is something endearing about Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. It’s written in that Waspy New England egghead style that people who read the New Yorker enjoy. Unfortunately, much of the advice is just plain wrong. There is a new fiftieth anniversary edition, but Geoffrey Pullum won’t be celebrating:
After Strunk’s death, White published a New Yorker article reminiscing about him and was asked by Macmillan to revise and expand Elements for commercial publication. It took off like a rocket (in 1959) and has sold millions.
This was most unfortunate for the field of English grammar, because both authors were grammatical incompetents. Strunk had very little analytical understanding of syntax, White even less.
Some of the recommendations are vapid, like “Be clear” (how could one disagree?). Some are tautologous, like “Do not explain too much.” (Explaining too much means explaining more than you should, so of course you shouldn’t.) Many are useless, like “Omit needless words.” (The students who know which words are needless don’t need the instruction.) Even so, it doesn’t hurt to lay such well-meant maxims before novice writers.
Dick Cheney, in his speech today on terrorism and security:
And when [our enemies] see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.
Can’t you see, if we allow ourselves to indulge in thoughtful discussion and debate about the moral and Constitutional ramifications of our actions, the terrorists have already won?! Wake up, people!
Continuing the recent Great Britain theme, Dr. Zeus has a great archive of artwork related to “War of the Worlds.” You wouldn’t know it from the Hollywood adaptations, but the story was originally set in Victorian England and London was the first city to get torched.
I’m pretty sure there’s a perfectly preserved Martian Tripod in the basement of the Imperial War Museum.
At PepysDiary.com, you can check what diarist Samuel Pepys was doing on any given day from 1660 to 1666. His accounts of the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London, and the Second Dutch War are fascinating. Or, you can just search out the bits where he’s chasing skirt.
Was lurking about Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of Great Britain, and saw the movie “Let the Right One In,” which was jaw-droppingly great. Then David Yow and I had a couple Stellas at Henry’s and farted ideas about starting a new band. I’m up for it. I’ve started bands with that guy before, and they tend to work out.
Speaking of London, The London Times has an interactive map detailing the murders in 1888, the height of Jack the Ripper’s rampage. The map has links to scans of the original Times stories reporting the murders.
The Jesus Lizard spent the weekend rehearsing in Nashville. We’ll fly to London today, rehearse Thursday and Friday, and head out to ATP for shows Saturday and Sunday. Monday, we play the Forum in London with the Grails and Harvey Milk. Man, I hope this works.
After the Forum show, Hasi and I are going to stay in London a few days for touristy stuff like, oh, I don’t know, the Viz Comics exhibit at the Tate Modern.
As a public service, I am attaching a list of actual nicknames of members of the Jesus Lizard: