Monday, September 8, 2014

Diaries Neither Black Nor White

John has asked me to post a link to the webpage he cited during our discussion regarding the authenticity of Roger Casement's "Black" Diaries. The author Sean Murphy argues quite reasonably that whether they are forged or not is still an open question. Read for yourselves and decide!

Alexander Lives!

The Guardian Reading Group dedicated last month to a discussion of Renault's "Alexander Trilogy". There's an interesting post there by Sam Jordison, who also has a blog of his own entirely devoted to Alexander called The Second Achilles.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Diaries and Trains

Some of us wondered why Roger Casement kept his Black Diary. Oscar Wilde had this to say about diaries: "I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read in the train." The quote appears in Brian Lacey's informative chapter on Roger Casement in his book Terrible Queer Creatures (Dublin, Wordwell, 2008).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mad Dogs & Stately Homes

At our discussion of Firefly last night, it seemed a lot of people hadn't heard Noel Coward. Youtube has a lot of his songs, though none of them live performances. One selection is a medley of five recordings of his most favorite, including "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and the very witty "The Stately Homes of England."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nuuu— … not Nooo

From Carson McCullers "A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud":

'That was my wife.'
'Dead?' the boy asked.
Slowly the man shook his head. He pursed his lips as though about to whistle and answered in a long-drawn way: 'Nuuu—' he said. 'I will explain.'

Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish lists nineteen different uses or shadings of "nu" (from the Russian, "well"). The eighteenth and nineteenth may be closest to McCullers' use above: "And so, in the course of time" & "One thing led to another, and …". Or even most simply, just "welll…."

He claims "nu" is the most used word in spoken Yiddish (after the articles and "oy"). It's so very Yiddish that a conversation might consist of "Nu?" followed by "Nu-nu." (meaning "Are you Jewish?" and "Yes.") Which raises—or as some people say, begs—the question, is the old guy Jewish? And beyond that is he "The Wandering Jew"?

I've reread the story with this question in mind, and although there are a few references to his big shnoz (a word which, by the way, does not occur in the story), I think "The Wandering Jew" is just one of many archetypes in the background of this character. Another is "The Ancient Mariner," mentioned during our discussion. But unlike either of these the man in the corner has not laughed at Jesus or killed an albatross. His "mistake" (hamartia) has been precipitateness. Like Koko (another character) he should have started small, hence the title.

A question I've got going begging, however, is whether Carson McCullers had ever heard this word before she arrived in NYC. Nuu—…?

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Hunt for Anal Vectors

A cliche from the 70s was that whenever straight men discovered their anuses the sexual revolution would have been won.

A largescale study conducted in two parts of the world has revealed that roughly one in four heterosexual men [emphasis added] have anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. … “There are a number of questions this study raises. For instance, how was HPV transmitted to the perianal region and anal canal of these men.” How indeed?

—from the Gay and Lesbian Review's blog.      

For the nitty gritty (of the statistical as opposed to the anecdotal variety) see the full report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Friday, July 18, 2014

OutWrite 2014!

The fourth annual OutWrite LGBT Book Festival occurs in two weeks (August 1-3)! It's all happening at the DC Center (where we meet on third Wednesdays). That's in the Reeves Municipal Center at 2000 14th St NW, one block from the U St Metro Station on the Green and Yellow Lines.

The weekend is full of book readings, writing workshops, book discussions, and poetry readings. In addition, several LGBT publishers will be exhibiting books you won't see anywhere else. And both new and used books will be on sale all day on Saturday August 2nd. Check it out! And here now (7/27) is the schedule.