Mighty Red Pen

October 14, 2014

a sweet old etcetera birthday

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:11 pm
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Here’s a trio of literary treats to celebrate today, the birthday of E. E. Cummings.

1. Seems like today is as good a day as any to tackle that old “e. e. cummings” thing. Read this pair of articles by Norman Friedman (here and here) to for the case against lowercasing “E. E. Cummings.”

2. Over at McSweeney’s, check out the brief and amusing “YouTube Comment or e. e. cummings?” You will excuse the impertinent lowercasing of Mr. Cummings’ name (see #1).

3. And finally, please enjoy a musical performance by Michael Hedges of one of my favorite poems (by one of my favorite poets), “I carry your heart with me.

August 13, 2012

The highwayman came riding

Filed under: Lit review — mighty red pen @ 5:37 pm
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I admit it, when I was but a mighty red crayon, I desperately wanted to be Anne of Green Gables (well, after I gave up my dream of being Harriet the Spy or Encyclopedia Brown). I devoured every Anne book (and pretty much any book by L.M. Montgomery I could get my hands on), and they left an indelible imprint. To this day, any reference to Prince Edward Island or the Lady of Shalott or the name Gilbert can transport me right back to that world.

As any good reader of the series will remember, one key moment of the books was Anne’s recitation of “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. Here’s a clip of Megan Follows recreating that moment:

And, as a bonus, here’s Loreena McKennitt’s version of “The Highwayman”


Added bonus! I just read that they are bringing Anne back to tv!


July 17, 2011

Possible revocation of my word nerd license

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:59 pm

If you never hear from me again, it’s because I was summoned to a meeting of the English Major Review Board for failing for many years to realize that “Water, water, everywhere/and not a drop to drink” is a misquote. The actual line from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is “Water, water, everywhere,/nor any drop to drink.”

Oh, the shame. I even studied “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”! And I really liked it. I think there’s a good chance I even wrote a paper about it.

Please don’t tell my professors, okay? There’s no defense in “But everyone gets it wrong!

Like the line “Summertime and the livin’ is easy,” this line from Coleridge is subject to endless riffing. In fact, I myself once wrote an article about the Southeast Asia tsunami of 2004 that had the headline “Water, water, everywhere” slapped on it by a zealous editor who was prone to facile rifffing. I’m not saying riffing is bad, I do it myself, there’s just a few lines I’d like to vote off the island because they are so obvious. If they could get off the island, what with the water, water, everywhere.

September 8, 2010

Got plums?

Filed under: Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:10 pm
Tags: ,

I got home today to find a bowl full of no fewer than 12 plums. Apparently, we are expecting William Carlos Williams to show up. At. Any. Moment.

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

July 30, 2010

This is just to say

Filed under: Uncategorized — mighty red pen @ 5:35 pm
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Have you seen this pair of funnies over at McSweeney’s?

this is just to say
I drank
all the beer
and then
you were probably
while I banged Suzanne
but don’t worry
Phil Collins’ greatest
hits were
on all night.

  • And then, because it’s always amusing to make fun of Comic Sans, there’s “I’m Comic Sans, Asshole” by Mike Lacher. Comic Sans lashes out against naysayers, saying  “I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.”

I’m inspired. I think next time a graphic designer brings something by for me to review, I’m going to write a note like this:

this is just to say
while your design
was creative
I think it would
from the use of
Comic Sans.

January 4, 2010

Sting spends Christmas at sea

Filed under: Lit review — mighty red pen @ 3:13 pm
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MRP’s new musical obsession is Sting’s “If on a Winter’s Night,” which includes this adaptation into song of a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson called “Christmas at Sea.”

Sting—Christmas at Sea [Taratata]

Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with the hat either.

October 29, 2009

He’s a poet and he didn’t know it

Filed under: Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:54 pm
Tags: ,

Now I’ve heard it all.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is being accused of sending secret messages via acrostic. At issue is a veto message he sent to a state assemblyman named Tom Ammiano who heckled him during a recent speech. Check out the first letters of each line, which appear to reflect the real meaning behind the governor’s note:


According to his spokesman, the acrostic in the governor’s message is just some sort of unfortunate coincidence:

“My goodness. What a coincidence,” said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. “I suppose when you do so many vetoes, something like this is bound to happen.”
Forget the Terminator or the Governator. Maybe we should call him the Versinator from now on?

Image from the Huffington Post.

September 1, 2009

The English Lesson

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 12:33 pm
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The English Lesson*

We’ll begin with box, and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese.
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
When couldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
But I give a boot—would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular is this and plural is these,
Why shouldn’t the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?

Then one may be that, and three may be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose.
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.

The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!
So our English, I think you will all agree,
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?

Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead; it’s said like bed, not bead;
For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother.
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there.
And dear and fear for bear and pear.

And then there’s dose and rose and lose—
Just look them up—and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword.

And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
I’d learned to talk it when I was five.

And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five!

*Generally attributed to “Unknown” although I did find a spot where an attempt at attribution was made.
Hat tip to SPOGG for this little tidbit.

August 12, 2009

Lady Gaga just tattoos

Filed under: Lit review,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:05 pm
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While MPR is not a big fan of Lady Gaga’s oeuvre, the word nerd in me is intrigued by reports of her new tattoo. According to an article:

The 23-year-old star, her real name Stefani Germanotta, showed off her newest body art Sunday night before performing the hit songs “Poker Face,” “Just Dance” and “Paparazzi” at Seoul’s Olympic Hall during the Asian leg of her “Fame Ball” tour.

The curling script on her left arm is a souvenir from a midnight session at a tattoo parlor in Osaka, Japan.

“It says ‘In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?'” she said.

The quote, in German, comes from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, whom she described as her “favorite philosopher.”

Have not been able to locate a photo of said tattoo. Perhaps she is saving it for her submission to Literary Tattoos.


Bonus MRP moment: Who says something like this about themselves? “I believe in the power of iconography, which was something that Andy Warhol did, and it’s repeating an image over and over again. So I rarely change the shape of my hair.” Apparently, Gaga does.

July 28, 2009

And the beat goes on

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Earlier this week on the Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien and William Shatner reimagined Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s farewell speech as a spoken word poem.


Update: Hat tip to @Fritinancy for directing our attention to “The Gettysburg Address, by Sarah Palin” at Coyote Crossing.

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