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ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR NOVEMBER 2012

November 30,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

I said I liked the uniforms and the UPS interviewer turned my application facedown on his desk and said, "Give me a break."

I came home this afternoon and checked the machine for a message from UPS but the only message I got was from the company that holds my student loan, Sallie Mae.  Sallie Mae sounds like a naive and barefoot hillbilly girl but in fact they are a ruthless and aggressive conglomeration of bullies located in a tall brick building somewhere in Kansas.  I picture it to be the tallest building in the state and I have decided they hire their employees straight out of prison.  It scares me.

--SantaLand Diaries collected in Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

[N.B.:  That Sallie Mae crack doesn't sound so funny now, does it, given that almost all college students are now in her clutches.  How prescient of Sedaris, though, to write about this when the gigantic college debt bubble (now larger than all credit card debt) was a mere pip in the pipe of Uncle Sam.]

November 29,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Jill proceeded towards the staircase.  As she went, a husky voice spoke in her ear.

'Go to it, kid!  You're all right!'

The head-carpenter had broken his Trappist vows twice in a single evening, a thing which had not happened to him since the night three years ago, when, sinking wearily into a seat in a dark corner for a bit of a rest, he found that one of his assistants had placed a pot of red paint there.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 28,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'But it;s a shame!  It isn't fair!'

'If one is expecting to be treated fairly,' said the Duchess with a prolonged yawn, 'one should not go into the show business.'

And, having uttered this profoundly true maxim, she fell asleep again.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 27,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'It's like this,' she said.  He had seen her look at him in exactly the same way a hundred times.  'I don't suppose I can make you understand, but this is how it is.  Suppose you had a room, and it was full - of things.  Furniture.  and there wasn't any space left.  You - you couldn't put anything else in till you had taken all that out, could you?  It might not be worth anything, but it would still be there, taking up all the room.'

Wally nodded.

'Yes,' he said.  'I see.'

'My heart's full, Wally dear.  I know it's just lumber that's choking it up, but it's difficult to get it out.  It takes time getting it out.  I put it in, thinking it was wonderful furniture, the most wonderful in the world, and - I was cheated.  It was just lumber.  But it's there.  It's still there.  It's there all the time.  And what am I to do?'

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 26,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'You think I'm altruistic?  I'm not.  I'm just as selfish and self-centred as any other man who wants a thing very badly.  I'm as altruistic as a child crying for the moon.  I want you to marry me because I love you, because there never was anybody like you, because you're the whole world, because I always have loved you.  I've been dreaming about you for a dozen years, thinking about you, wondering about you - wondering where you were, what you were doing, how you looked.  I used to think that it was just sentimentality, that you merely stood for a time of my life when I was happier than I have ever been since.  I used to think that you were just a sort of peg on which I was hanging a pleasant sentimental regret for days which could never come back.  You were a memory that seemed to personify all the other memories of the best time of my life.  You were the goddess of old associations.  Then I met you in London, and it was different.  I wanted you - you!  I didn't want you because you recalled old times and were associated with dead happiness, I wanted you!  I knew I loved you directly you spoke to me at he theatre that night of the fire.  I loved your voice and your eyes and your smile and your courage.'

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

[N.B.:  And people make the grave error of thinking of Wodehouse as merely a comic writer--much as Shakespeare was merely a playwright of dinner theatre.]

November 25,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

He had not yet recovered from the agony of having that water-melon line cut out of his part.  It was the only good line, he considered, that he had.  Any line that is cut out of an actor's part is always the only good line he has.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 24,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Why aren't those girls working?'

Mr Saltzburg, who had risen nervously from his stool, backed away apprehensively from his gaze, and, stumbling over the stool, sat down abruptly on the piano, producing a curious noise like Futurist music.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 23,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

The keynote of the mass meeting on the landing was one of determined, almost aggressive smartness.  The men wore bright overcoats with bands round the waist, the women those imitation furs which to the uninitiated eye appear so much more expensive than the real thing.  Everybody looked very dashing and very young, except about the eyes.  Most of the eyes that glanced at Jill were weary.  The women were nearly all blondes, as blondness having been decided upon in the theatre as the colour that brings the best results.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 22,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

She walked on aimlessly.  Presently she came to Columbus Circle, and, crossing Broadway at the point where that street breaks out into an eruption of automobile shops, found herself, suddenly hungry, opposite a restaurant whose entire front was a sheet of plate glass.  On the other side of this glass, at marble-topped tables, apparently careless of their total lack of privacy, sat the impecunious, lunching, their every mouthful a spectacle for the passer-by.  It reminded Jill of looking at fishes in an aquarium.  In the centre of the window, gazing out in a distrait manner over piles of apples and grapefruit, a white-robed ministrant at a stove juggled ceaselessly with buckwheat cakes.  He struck the final note in the candidness of the establishment, a priest whose ritual contained no mysteries.  Spectators with sufficient time on their hands to permit them to stand and watch were enabled to witness a New York midday meal in every stage of its career, from its protoplasmic beginnings as a stream of yellowish-white liquid poured on tope of the stove to its ultimate Nirvana in the interior of the luncher in the form of a n appetizing cake.  It was a spectacle which no hungry girl could resist.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 21,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'What's the use, Freddie, between old pals?' said Algy protestingly.  'You know perfectly well that Underhill's a worm of the most pronounced order, and that, when he found out that Jill hadn't any money, he chucked her.'

'But why should Derek care whether Jill was well off or not?  He's got enough money of his own.'

'Nobody,' said Algy judicially, 'has got enough money of his own.  Underhill thought he was marrying a girl with a sizeable chunk of the ready, and, when the fuse blew out, he decided it wasn't good enough.  For Heaven's sake don't let' stalk any more about the blighter.  It gives me a pain to think of him.'

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 20,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

There he sat, surrounded by happy, laughing young men, each grasping a glass of the good old mixture-as-before, absolutely unable to connect.  Some of them, casual acquaintances, had nodded to him, waved, and gone on lowering the juice, - a spectacle which made Freddie feel much as the wounded soldier would have felt is Sir Philip Sidney, instead of offering him the cup of water, had placed it to his own lips and drained it with a careless 'Cheerio!'  No wonder Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoi's Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city reservoir, he turns to the cupboard, only to find the vodka-bottle empty.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 19,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Nelly had subsided shyly into the depths of her big armchair.  Somehow she felt a better and a more important girl since Uncle Chris had addressed her.  Most people felt like that after encountering Jill's Uncle Christopher.  Uncle Chris had a manner.  It was not precisely condescending, and yet it was not the manner of an equal.  He treated you as an equal, true, but all the time you were conscious of the fact that it was extraordinarily good of him to do so.  Uncle Chris affected the rank and file of his fellow-men much as a genial knight of the Middle Ages would have affected a scurvy knave of varlet if he had cast aside social distinction for a while and hobnobbed with the latter in a tavern.  He never patronized, but the mere fact that he abstained from patronizing seemed somehow impressive.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 18,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'What shall we talk about?'

'Tell me about yourself.'

'There is no nobler topic.  But what aspect of myself do you wish me to touch on?  My thoughts, my tastes, my amusements, my career, or what?  I can talk about myself for hours.  My friends in New York often complain about it bitterly.'

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

[N.B.:  His list has 'career' in just about the right place in terms of order of importance--right before 'or what' quickly followed by 'so what.']

November 17,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

She liked him particularly for being such a good loser.  She had always been a good loser herself, and the quality was one which she admired.  It was nice of him to dismiss from his conversation--and apparently from his thoughts--that night's fiasco and all that it must have cost him.  She wondered how much he had lost.  Certainly something very substantial.  Yet it seemed to trouble him not at all.  Jill considered his behaviour gallant, and her heart warmed to him.  This was how a man ought to take the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 16,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Cold?' said Wally Mason.

'A little.'

'Let's walk.'

They moved westwards.  Cleopatra's Needle shot up beside them, a pointing finger.  Down on the silent river below, coffin-like row-boats moored to the wall.  Through a break in the trees the clock over the Houses of Parliament shone for an instant as if suspended in the sky, then vanished as the trees closed in.  A distant barge in the direction of Battersea wailed and was still.  It had a mournful and foreboding sound.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

[N.B.: Wodehouse was also a master of scene painting.]

November 15,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Sir Chester Portwood was an actor-manager who had made his reputation in light comedy of the tea-cup school.  His numerous admirers attended a first night at his theatre in a mood of comfortable anticipation, assured of something pleasant and frothy with a good deal of bright dialogue and not too much plot.  To-night he seemed to have fallen a victim to that spirit of ambition which intermittently attacks actor-managers of his class, expressing itself in an attempt to prove that, having established themselves securely as light comedians, they can, like the lady reciter, turn right around and be serious.  The one thing which the London public felt that it was safe from in a Portwood play was heaviness, and 'Tried by Fire' was grievously heavy.  It was a poetic drama, and the audience, though loath to do anybody an injustice, was beginning to suspect that it was written in blank verse.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 14,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'I - er - we - er - why -er--'  This woman always made Freddie feel as if he were being disembowelled by some clumsy amateur.  He wished that he had defied the dictates of his better nature and remained in his snug rooms at the Albany, allowing Derek to go through this business by himself.  'I - er -we - er - came to meet you, don't you know!'

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

[N.B.:  Wodehouse, the master of the comic simile.]

November 13,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Inside Charing Cross Station business was proceeding as usual.  Porters wheeling baggage-trucks moved to and fro like Juggernauts.  Belated trains clanked in, glad to get home, while others, less fortunate, crept reluctantly out through the blackness and disappeared into an inferno of detonating fog-signals.  for outside the fog still held.  The air was cold and raw and tasted coppery.  In the street traffic moved at a funeral pace, to the accompaniment of hoarse cries and occasional crashes.  Once the sun had worked its way through the murk and had hung in the sky like a great red orange, but now all was darkness and discomfort again, blended with that odd suggestion of mystery and romance which is a London fog's only redeeming quality.

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 12,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

 Freddie Rooke gazed coldly at the breakfast-table.  Through a gleaming eye-glass he inspected the revolting object which Barker, his faithful man, had placed on a plate before him.

'Barker!'  His voice had a ring of pain.

'Sir?'

'What's this?'

'Poached egg, sir.'

Freddie averted his eyes with a silent shudder.

'It looks just like an old aunt of mine,' he said.  'Remove it!'

--Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

November 11,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Sometimes with the coffin handle in my grip, staggering heavily toward that angular gash in the curving earth, I forget which one it is this time who is preceding me and wonder absently who will be left to do me a like service.  A little while and the living town, this tiny world of mine, will all be here, tucked under the same dark blanket, cosily together.  Another little while and the last of us, those I loved and those I disapproved, will be sharing oblivion, for no one will remember any of us.  The famous do not share our cedars and our mockingbirds.  This is private ground for the lovable obscure.  Even Father, who warmed and led and lighted our people--no one will remember him, his name and deeds will be forgotten soon, in another spring, or ten, or a hundred, what matter?  Strangers will come and, striving briefly, will join us in our dark, and our mockingbirds, unrecollecting, will sing for them with equal rapture.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 10,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Having gone on for half a century, you find to your surprise you have passed the crest and are going down the shady side of the mountain.  It is pleasant country and not sad, though tinged with autumn and life in the air deceptively.  Down the long easy slope there are no trees, but wideness everywhere and tall seeded grassed that glisten and tremble.  To the right great shafts of low sunlight lie benign and quiet, reaching down and down to the tender blue smudge that must be the sea.  But in front, near, though down a way, is the cypress grove to which you know you are going.  Purple-shadowed, tall, and very still, you see it, but not by looking squarely.  You are not afraid to look, but you are not hankering to be there yet, not quite yet.  It will not fade out like the sea and the sunlight, no need to hurry. 

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 9,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

I am always trying to coddle into remaining with me flowers which want to be farther north, such as lilacs, or farther south, such as Indica azaleas.  They will exist if I take enough pains with them, but they are not happy and the meagerness of their bloom betrays their incurable nostalgia.  The heart too has its climate, without which it is a mere pumping-station.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 8,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Consequently the narratives of the four Evangelists as we read them are full of misunderstandings and contradictions and inaccuracies--as every lawyer knows any human testimony aiming at trust is sure to be--yet they throw more light than darkness on the heart-shaking story they tell.  They are pitifully human and misleading, but drenched in a supernal light and their contagion changed the dreaming world.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 7,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Much later, as he lay dying, he roused after a night of coma and startled me by observing thoughtfully: "I nearly crossed over.  You know what I've been thinking?  All the while I've been pitying the thousands who have been sent across, terrified by the lies of priests in all the ages.  There's nothing to fear."

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

[N.B.:  Of course, if there was something to fear, that's exactly the sentiment it would wish to implant at the moment of death.]

November 6,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Honor and honesty, compassion and truth are good even if they kill you, for they alone give life its dignity and worth.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 5,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

In my day education had been a disagreeable discipline by which one acquired, is susceptible, strength of soul and delight of mind.  Now education is regarded as an easy but expensive aid to crashing society or procuring a better job.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

[N.B.:  This was written in 1953 and was meant to be an insult.  The irony is that education in most instances doesn't even lead to the two goals mentioned by the author--rather, it is a way to extract the maximum amount of money from students through federally guaranteed debt and pour it into the coffers of the universities.  Hence, "education" should be as easy (and its extracurricular aspects as pleasant) as possible so as not to discourage the students from shouldering the maximum amount of debt that they will then stagger under until they die.  Also, although easy, education must drag on as long as possible--for at least six years--as the student tries out different majors as they seek to "find" themselves (which they will, at the bottom of a beer keg).  How naive of Mr. Percy to think that education could merely devolve into a glorified job-training facility.  His is a typical prejudice of the patriarchy that the modern university has endeavored to correct--for a price.]

November 4,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

They must have been always in the front line fighting for us, those builders of the Delta; they could never have stopped long enough to learn of leisure and safety the graces of peace.  But there are those who live in fear as in a native element, and they are beautiful with a fresh miraculous beauty.  It is watching for unseen death that gives a bird's eyes their glancing brilliance.  It is dodging eternal danger that makes his motions deft and exquisite.  His half-wit testament to the delight of living, terror has taught him that, shaking the melody from his dubious innocent throat.  Perhaps security is a good thing to seek and a bad thing to find.  Perhaps it is never found, and all our best is in the search.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 3,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

All we need anywhere in any age is character: from that everything follows.  Leveling down's the fashion now, but I remember the bright spires--they caught the light first and held it longest.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 2,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

After two months of it I not only tolerated but applauded the French lack of interest in other peoples and their exclusive and passionate love of the French.  although realists and rationalists, they treasure sentiment as décor, and irony as wit and not as bitterness.  I could never understand how a people could be so disillusioned and yet retain so bright a zest for living.  They seem to consider life a raw deal and within limits very agreeable.

--Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

November 1,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

But what he illustrates, by his commitment to language as the partner of truth, is that 'views' do not really count; that it matters not what you think, but how you think; and that politics are relatively unimportant, while principles have a way of enduring, as do the few irreducible individuals who maintain allegiance to them.

--Why Orwell Matters by Christopher Hitchens