Introducing ‘You don’t say’

You don’t say #1, Saturday 10 September 2016With my blog series theme, “You don’t say,” I’m using neither an exclamation mark nor a period.  The “!” usage denotes amazement or disbelief. The ” .” usage denotes an ordinary,  “that’s right,” response. Let the reader decide. I’m aiming to err on the side of toned-down, conversational speech. We’ve got more than enough hyperbolic, hysterical and jacked-up, high decibel wopperjabber swirling around.

For this new weekly series I’m going to be quoting liberally from a variety of sources–books, newspapers, articles online, conversations and related observations. I’ll add a quip or two to the quotes. And as before, I’ll post some photos, though maybe fewer.

Butterflies are awesome creatures

Quotes and quips

While this book wasn’t my top cup of tea, it left me with thoughts to ponder. Here’s the opening sentence from The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (1978): “In 1959 Florence Green occasionally passed a night when she was not absolutely sure whether she had slept or not. This was because of her worries as to whether to purchase a small property, the Old House, with its own warehouse on the foreshore, and to open the only bookshop in Hardborough.”

In a small East Anglian (UK) town Miss Green, the flyleaf says, “tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result she has to take on not only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. This is a story for anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.”

I’m glad that I read it. Countering ruthless local opposition for ten years was a major if not ultimate success for Florence. I applaud the Florence Greens of the world who pursue their dreams and make it possible for even a few people around them to face into the tragedy and triumph of their lives.

I got the book and the next one in a two-for-one-dollar sale at our public library.

Taverns of the Dead, edited by Kealan Patrick Burke (Cemetery Dance Publications, Baltimore, 2005), was really not my cup of tea. Tales of monsters, madness, ghosts and gore, even if told to you the unsuspecting patron in the pub by some of the finest writers in the modern horror and dark fantasy genre, well, I got more than enough from just skimming the 420 pages.

I do prize, nonetheless, this thought in the Introduction: “There’s an old Scottish proverb: ‘They  talk of my drinking but never of my thirst.'” Taverns exist for something other than drink, F. Paul Wilson writes. That’s right, a pub is where you take your grandmother for Sunday roast, where you find camaraderie with kindred souls in quiz night, where some even enjoy a darts tourney.

Web sites

Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Canada by Bruce McCall (Random House, 1997) is a huffing and puffing book. Six siblings, an emotionally and often physically absent father, a mother distanced by  alcohol, family moves from Simcoe to Toronto to Windsor, where will such an upbringing lead? Well, McCall eventually went the distance through dashed hopes and ennui and ended up a prolific writer and illustrator in New York City.

The pathos of finding his way shows in his summing up chapter: “I unhesitatingly recommend serendipity as a career starter. The last hot dog was about to be devoured the day a letter arrived, the first in weeks. It was from the editor of a trade magazine in Toronto. He couldn’t offer me a job, but he was willing to talk to me if that would help.”  McCall broke the ice in finding a purposeful and enjoyable adulthood.

It’s time for a headline from The Cornishman (UK), posted August 30, a Bank Holiday: “Thousands packed in like sardines for Newlyn Fish Festival on a ‘great west Cornwall day.'” Newlyn lies next door to Penzance and has two very fine fish markets across from the pier. When we visit in off-season there’s no festival, just the fresh makings for a seafood feast.

Jerusalem Syndrome, from Dictionary of the Future, by Faith Popcorn and Adam Hanft (Hyperion, New York, 2001) this definition of Jerusalem Syndrome: “when an individual believes he or she is actually a Biblical prophet of one kind or another. The condition was identified as long ago as 1982 by Dr. Yair Bar-El, who runs Jerusalem’s municipal psychiatric hospital, where they’ve treated King David, Samson, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, among others. The twist, as we see it, is that this richly evocative term will start to be used to describe anyone who believes he or she is a savior–of a company for example, but also of a sports team, a university, any organization or institution. We’ve all seen the new hire with the Jerusalem Syndrome–and we’ve all seen what usually happens when the worship stops.” I haven’t come across that term before, though I see evidence of it beyond sports.

If I were searching for a  job I’d be told by an article in The Independent (29 April 2015), that I should choose a typeface for my CV other than Times Roman. Adam Lusher wrote, “The fraught business of finding a new job just got even more complex. Times New Roman, the font previously recommended by recruiters as the safe, sensible choice to use in a job application, was yesterday branded the CV equivalent of attending an interview in jogging bottoms.” The digital age wants “cleaner, crisper and clearer fonts.”  Helvetica rated among the best fonts, though it had its detractors, too. In any case, a CV should not be submitted in Comic Sans, “a font criticized as being so bad that it spawned a campaign to have it banned.” Whatever the typeface, keep it toned down a bit, the writer concluded. That’s that, even if I usually use New Times Roman.

Scenes from our Friday walk

USA Today Weekend (September 9-11) had a feature on Goshen College in Sports: “Anthem not played at Goshen games.” The military themes in the national anthem conflict with the pacifist stance of the Mennonite Church, writer Nancy Armour said. “The country is wrestling with Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem and the thorny issue of whether the song has a rightful place as an institution of our sporting events, but Goshen College settled the debate several years ago.” Kaepernick plays football for the San Francisco 49ers. In a related story in USA Today he said his refusal to stand for The Star Spangled Banner is “not a protest against America.  It’s a protest against oppression and injustices and the equality that’s not being given to all people.”

Instead of the national anthem “with rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air” the Goshen plays America the Beautiful. The college’s website says, “It fits with our national sports traditions and honors this country while better resonating with our Christ-centered core values (passionate learning, compassionate peacemaking, servant leadership and global citizenship) and respecting the views of our diverse constituencies.”

Armour concluded, “The opposing viewpoints are a microcosm of the debate that’s roiled the country these last two weeks, reminder that, simple as it might seem, the anthem is anything but.”

In memoriam

This afternoon we plan to attend the memorial service for Lowry Mallory. We were part of a small group with Ruth and Lowry for many years. Lowry was a history professor, a mentor to many students, a prison visitor, a spiritual encourager. Lowry and Ruth were married for 70 years. His life verse was Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Our thoughts and prayers are with Ruth and the extended family for the moments and days of remembering Lowry.

Loving the slow pace

I say, I’m happy for what September has in store. Best! -John

5 thoughts on “Introducing ‘You don’t say’

  1. Thanks John for sharing the interesting things you read . You aquaint me with books, authors & quotes I would have missed if you had not called them to my attention. And I feel blessed each week with the variety of things you offer me. The pictures you send add to my joy.

    I am reminded of the books we read to our sons before before they learned what those wiggly lines in books had meaning. A trip to the library each week was as necessary as food on the table. That was in days before TV.


  2. I enjoy your photos {as well as your commentary}, especially the spider webs and always, the turtles–so reminiscent of our many times across the Johnson St Bridge in earlier days.
    Alice R.


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