Another awful poet

Scotland’s worst poet, William Topaz McGonagall: From “The Tay Bridge Disaster”:

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time. …

Or here’s a few lines from “Glasgow”:

And as for the statue of Sir Walter Scott that stands in George Square,
It is a handsome statue — few with it can compare,
And most elegant to be seen,
And close beside it stands the statue of Her Majesty the Queen. …

Read more at a site dedicated to William McGonagall, or just search Google. [William McGonagall]

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The spirit of the real Texas Rangers

I rather like this, even if it’s probably not true:

The story goes that Captain Jack Hayes and his men, the fabled Texas Rangers, were surrounded and vastly outnumbered during one of the many skirmishes of the Mexican War. He made the following prayer, certainly one of the most colorful ever made before battle: “Oh Lord, we are about to join battle with vastly superior numbers of the enemy, and, Heavenly Father, we would like for you to be on our side and help us; but if you can’t do it, for Christ’s sake don’t go over to the enemy, but just lie low and keep dark, and you’ll see one of the damndest fights you ever saw in all your born days. Amen.”

As I said, probably apocryphal, but a great story nonetheless.

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The strictest of teachers

From Nat Friedman:

For twelve months in 1998 and 1999, I went through this phase of trying to “diversify my interests,” and signed up to take piano lessons. My teacher’s name was Peter, this rigid Eastern European math major who instructed piano to idiots like me on the side. In our first lesson, I was showing off that I knew a few notes of Fur Elise, when he abruptly interrupted, shouting: “What? Beethoven? Do not try to express what you cannot understand!”

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Great story about Shaw

George Bernard Shaw supposedly asked a woman if she would sleep with him for a million pounds. Her demure response was “Certainly.” But when he asked her if she would sleep with him for 10 pounds, her response was “Sir, what do you think I am?”, to which Shaw retorted “Madam, we’ve already determined what you are. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

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She’s a poet and don’t know it

So I’m listening to Car Talk on NPR, hosted by Tom and Ray, AKA Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and this woman calls in, and she says this:

Well hello, Click and Clack,
My name’s Mary Mack,
And I’m from Portland, Oregon.

And I thought, my God, but that scans really well. Try it — her meter really flows well. Very impressive.

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Jans clarifies it for us

Back in November 2002, a bunch of us went camping in a cabin in the woods. Around midnight, we were sitting around the fire, talking. The subject of crime came up, specifically the statute of limitations.

Scott: I think the statute of limitations doesn’t apply only in cases of murder and rape.

Denise: That’s right.

Scott: What about terrorism? Is there no statute of limitations on that?

Paul: Well, usually terrorism includes murder.

Jans: If there’s no murder, then it’s just scaryism.

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Ben Jones sands his floors

From Ben Jones’ Benblog, February 2003:

Prepare. Sand down the roughest parts. Vacuum. Gaze. Gaze again. Sand a level finer, starting to expose more of the grain, slowly in parts, lightly. Stopping frequently, when the machine is strained. Changing the pad. Vacuum. Clean. Assess. Gaze. Gaze again.

This time is the first touch.

There are some rough spots. Some you know you can’t get out. But it’s beautiful still, all the same. More so even, with character I didn’t know was there before.

And then another round. This time is not so rough, not so much dust. On some spots, the sander seems to polish more than cut. Wait for what dust there is to settle again. The pads don’t need to be changed so much now. I know where the sander will catch.

I’ve made some gouges here and there, impatient with rough spots, stains. I’m more careful, more accepting now of the others I find. They will come out with a finer hand, or they will stay, part of the wood’s character, that I’m growing to love even more.

Vacuum. Clean. Assess. Gaze. Gaze again.

This time I stroke, grasping the wood as fully as I can. Knowing the rough spots especially.

And then once again, now the 100 grit. Smooth now, with enough teeth to hold a polishing coat. To last a while. Shining through. With a touch up here and there.

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Great Freudian slip story

From Plastic:

When my son was about 4, I took him to the swimming pool at the local YMCA. In the locker room was a one-legged man getting dressed. He was sitting right next to where my locker was so we had to share the bench.

My son was naturally curious about his missing leg and kept staring at the man. My son’s curiosity made me nervous. The man might not like being scrutinized so closely (though, in hindsight, it was probably no big deal and he might have even enjoyed the wonder in the eyes of a 4-year old).

To distract my son I started chattering away with him as I was dialing the combination to open my lock. The lock was old and cranky and it wouldn’t open on the first try. With absolutely no planning or intention, I blurted out, ‘This lock is on its last leg.’

I could have sank though the floor.

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Love those pamphlet titles

From “American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante“, a review of a biography of Anne Hutchinson, in Salon:

If [Anne] Hutchinson had been born a man, some historians argue, she might have found a place in her society as a minister. She might have carved out a life like that of John Cotton, the unorthodox founder of Congregationalism, Hutchinson’s teacher and the man her family had followed to Boston when he was forced to leave England. On the other hand, she might have turned out like the renegade Rev. Roger Williams, another early settler of Rhode Island, who was driven out of Boston for voicing a variety of objectionable views, most notably the belief that the English had no right to claim Indian lands or subject Native Americans to forced conversions. Williams conducted a pamphlet feud with Cotton, set off when he published ‘The Bloody Tenet of Persecution,’ a tract in support of religious freedom. Cotton then put out ‘The Bloody Tenet Washed and Made White in the Blood of the Lamb.’ Williams responded with ‘The Bloody Tenet Made Yet More Bloody by Mr. Cotton’s Endeavor to Wash It White in the Blood of the Lamb.

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The Queen buys an iPod

Gad, but this is so British in elocution that it’s almost satirical. Yahoo reports that “Queen plugging into iPod“:

“The Queen loves music and was impressed by how small and handy the iPod is,” a royal insider told the tabloid on Friday.

“Obviously it is quite complicated to download songs, but I’m sure one of the courtiers will do it for her.

“Prince Andrew will probably also help out because he’s a real dab hand with gadgets.”

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