3rd September 2002

ticks tediously the time of one more year

Congratulations to geegaw and to David Chess, more-or-less celebrating their various anniversaries. Best wishes to these sites and to everybody else for the future.

with the entrails of the last priest

Yoga "too spiritual", explains Church of England representative.

4th September 2002

this month's subway map: Tokyo

First of an occasional series.

9th September 2002

When he had overtaken the damosel, anon she said, What dost thou here? Thou stinkest all of the kitchen, thy clothes be bawdy of the grease and tallow that thou gainest in King Arthur's kitchen; weenest thou, said she, that I allow thee, for yonder knight that thou killest. Nay truly, for thou slewest him unhappily and cowardly; therefore turn again, bawdy kitchen page, I know thee well, for Sir Kay named thee Beaumains. What art thou but a lusk and a turner of broaches and a ladle-washer?
Damosel, said Beaumains, say to me what ye will, I will not go from you whatsomever ye say, for I have undertaken to King Arthur for to achieve your adventure, and so shall I finish it to the end, either I shall die therefore.
Fie on thee, kitchen knave, wilt thou finish mine adventure? thou shalt anon be met withal, that thou wouldest not for all the broth that ever thou suppest once look him in the face.
I shall assay, said Beaumains.

from Malory's Morte D'Arthur, transl. Caxton

Flitting to the OED, we find the following:

Lusk n. Obs.
An idle or lazy fellow; a sluggard.

Broach n.
A tapering pointed instrument or thing; a pointed rod of wood or iron; a lance, spear, bodkin, pricker, skewer, awl, stout pin. Obs. in general sense exc. dial.
A pointed instrument used for roasting meat upon; a spit.
A spit for spitting herring; a similar instrument used in candle-making for suspending the wicks for dipping.
A taper: often mentioned along with torches; but in some cases explained as a spike on which to stick a candle.
A spindle. Obs. or Sc.
A shuttle used in weaving tapestry.
A piece of tough pliant wood, pointed at each end, used by thatchers for fixing their work.
A church spire; also, formerly, an obelisk.
(Venery.) 'A start of the head of a young stag, growing sharp like the end of a spit' (Bailey).
A tusk or canine tooth (obs.).
A surveyor's arrow used with the chain. Obs.
A general name for tapered boring-bits, or tools for enlarging or smoothing holes, generally of polygonal form with several cutting edges, sometimes round and smooth for burnishing, as in watchmaking; a similar tool used in dentistry; an instrument for broaching or tapping casks. In lock-making, the pin in a lock which enters the barrel of the key.
A narrow pointed chisel used by masons.
'A musical instrument, the sounds of which are made by turning round a handle' (Bailey 1730-6). Obs.

OK, so we go with the second of these . . .

Ween Obs. exc. arch.
In regard to what is present or past: To think, surmise, suppose, conceive, believe, consider. In M.E. often with well. a. Const. object-clause, with or without that.
To expect, hope, wish; to purpose, intend, be minded.
1805 Scott Last Minstr. ii. xxix, Ye ween to hear a melting tale, Of two true lovers in a dale.

After that intro, Sir Walter, not really.

10th September 2002

que hora son, mi corazon

Sometimes the lust for an object overtakes me, and today it's for one of these clocks. Clocks often figure in my imagination in this way - there was the period when I seriously wanted a large wooden clock of the sort found in railway station waiting rooms: preferably about three feet across, with a booming portentous tick once a minute as the hand shivers into its new position. Alas, this sort of thing almost never comes up on ebay, at least not in my price bracket.

12th September 2002

dude, where's my pod?

This is the picture that started it all off, back in 1970: that nagging feeling that if we aren't living on the moon, why aren't we? I've been feeling this for the past thirty or so years, and the whole thing still makes me quiver with the sense of lost opportunity: OK, so maybe it would be like living on a dirty beach, but think of the fun and frolics you could have.
The site from which I pinched this image has a splendid scan of the cover of the tea-card collector's book (the above was card no. 49 out of 50), which still elicits a frisson after all these years.

Staying in the arena of interplanetary imaginings, Mitsu posted a great Giordano Bruno quote, spoken with impressive certainty and no doubt the kind of thing that led to his execution on 17th February 1600 (also the birthday of Doc in Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday, as pointed out by his eccentric PhD assessor Old Jingleballicks).

14th September 2002


Strange sight while cycling in Richmond Park this morning: in a half mile or so of sandy path, about two dozen slugs, all large, chocolate brown, about 4 or 5 inches long, all heading due north. Were they migrating for the winter? Heading from one lush patch of grass to the equally lush patches on the other side of the path? Following a humidity gradient? Certainly they were all very definite about where they were going, and what time they needed to get there.

16th September 2002

das ist kein wald;  das ist kein pfeil

from Werner Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God

18th September 2002

ruthless rhymes

In Seville was he born, a pleasant city,
Famous for oranges and women - he
Who has not seen it will be much to pity,
So says the proverb - and I quite agree;
Of all the Spanish towns is none more pretty,
Cadiz perhaps - but that you soon may see;
Don Juan's parents lived beside the river,
A noble stream, and call'd the Guadalquivir.

from Byron's Don Juan, Canto I

The wind swept down the Euxine*, and the wave
Broke foaming o'er the blue Symplegades;
'T is a grand sight from off 'the Giant's Grave
To watch the progress of those rolling seas
Between the Bosphorus, as they lash and lave
Europe and Asia, you being quite at ease;
There's not a sea the passenger e'er pukes in,
Turns up more dangerous breakers than the Euxine.

ibid., Canto V

* The Black Sea.

19th September 2002

Here's Thoreau:

September 19th, 1858.
Hear a chewink's* chewink. But how ineffectual is the note of a bird now! We hear it as if we heard it not, and forget it immediately. In spring it makes its due impression, and for a long time will not have done echoing, as it were, through our minds. It is even as if the atmosphere were in an unfavorable condition for this kind of music. Every musician knows how much depends on this.

Certainly this spring I was strongly affected by birdsong, whereas now I hardly notice it . . .

Also on this day in 1783, the Montgolfier brothers demonstrated their hot air balloon to the royal court at Versailles: in the presence of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette they placed a sheep, a chicken and a duck in the basket and sent it aloft (the first manned flight was a month later - this one was to test oxygen levels in the upper atmosphere). The balloon descended after a few minutes, and at first it appeared that the travellers had escaped unscathed, until it was found that the sheep had trodden on one of the birds in its excitement and broken its wing.
Somehow when I picture this event, the animals are as drawn by Gary Larson.

* The Towhee.

20th September 2002

don't waist your time

Ah, Mrs Demaio (you know her already, for her international reputation precedes her) - she'll solve all your problems, but just don't ask her to help with your proofreading.

23rd September 2002

you want hair, marry a monkey

A spammer writes:

I have been from Russian and for a man like you have I been lookink.

Following the link, I'm disappointed to find that instead of the riproaring 'Fiddler on the Roof' fan page I'm all agog for, it's a mail-order brides site, which I am not requirink.

24th September 2002

made one think of rosy chocolate and gilt umbrellas

The view from Europe's largest sand dune, the Dune de Pylat, nr Arcachon, Bordeaux.


. . . within monotony, happiness is sometimes lurking.

- Amin Maalouf

The Adventurers

We love adventures,
Where we live is
Anybody's guess.

We love the open land
and the open land
is our address.

- Simon James

One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone else sees that it doesn't fall.

- Paul Valéry

"You wait here: I'll bring the etchings down."
- cartoon

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