Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

Re: Un-UnBirthdays

Perhaps this is as good a time as any to clear up a bit of Lewis Carrol inspired nonsense. During a slightly difficult conversation with the infamous Humpty Dumpty, young Alice of Wonderland notoriety learned of the custom of UnBirthday presents given on that side of the Looking Glass, in this case, a cravat Mr. Dumpty received from the White King and Queen. The bulk of that conversation is quoted below.

Other than leap years, we all have 364 UnBirthdays, to be celebrated, (or not), as we wish, at least this side of the Looking Glass. Annually, one day actually IS the anniversary of our birth, and as such is NOT an UnBirthday, thus it is an Un-UnBirthday.

My wishing them a merry Un-UnBirthday has probably confounded people for years.

Mea Culpa.

Now all should be as clear as Oyster Soup.

Oh, and a Merry UnBirthday to most of you.


Humpty Dumpty

from – “Through the Looking-Glass”; Chapter VI – “Humpty Dumpty”

‘What a beautiful belt you’ve got on!’ Alice suddenly remarked.

(They had had quite enough of the subject of age, she thought: and if they really were to take turns in choosing subjects, it was her turn now.) ‘At least,’ she corrected herself on second thoughts, ‘a beautiful cravat, I should have said–no, a belt, I mean–I beg your pardon!’ she added in dismay, for Humpty Dumpty looked thoroughly offended, and she began to wish she hadn’t chosen that subject. ‘If I only knew,’ she thought to herself, ‘which was neck and which was waist!’

Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry, though he said nothing for a minute or two. When he DID speak again, it was in a deep growl.

‘It is a–MOST–PROVOKING–thing,’ he said at last, ‘when a person doesn’t know a cravat from a belt!’

‘I know it’s very ignorant of me,’ Alice said, in so humble a tone that Humpty Dumpty relented.

‘It’s a cravat, child, and a beautiful one, as you say. It’s a present from the White King and Queen. There now!’

‘Is it really?’ said Alice, quite pleased to find that she HAD chosen a good subject, after all.

‘They gave it me,’ Humpty Dumpty continued thoughtfully, as he crossed one knee over the other and clasped his hands round it, ‘they gave it me–for an un-birthday present.’

‘I beg your pardon?’ Alice said with a puzzled air.

‘I’m not offended,’ said Humpty Dumpty.

‘I mean, what IS an un-birthday present?’

‘A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.’

Alice considered a little. ‘I like birthday presents best,’ she said at last.

‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ cried Humpty Dumpty. ‘How many days are there in a year?’

‘Three hundred and sixty-five,’ said Alice.

‘And how many birthdays have you?’


‘And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?’

‘Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.’

Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful. ‘I’d rather see that done on paper,’ he said.

from The Gutenberg Project


Read Full Post »

I’m getting set to do this year’s, (2010), Dewey’s Read-A-Thon. Thanks for the heads-up, Fiona–(see the link for one of Fiona’s Blogs in the ‘Blogroll’ box to the right).

This is not a post on the topic, (“La Trahison des Images”, René Magritte, eg. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”)¹, but rather a notice of the post on this topic about to appear on the “Arts” pages of this ‘communicating device’, (I took an irrational dislike to the term, “blog” when first I heard it and haven’t warmed to it an iota, using it since, under silent protest, as a concession to bone idleness). That page being pages, picks, strings, snaps: critiques.

So, go…move along now, move along…I’m sure we’ll, (I’ll), need the space for something…eventually.

See you on the flip side,


¹ clever juxtaposition

Read Full Post »

South for the Stadium Ice

Just Resting Up-photo Thomas D. Mangelsen

Today, (Feb 27), is International Polar Bear Day, and I wish all of my bear friends, especially one  particular Pulcher Albidus Pelle Insutus Ursaæ, [beautiful, white, furry bear], who, nomenclature erratum notwithstanding, is not lost, just having a little Pole/Tropics confusion.

It looks like these fellows started early, but they can’t be blamed.  They’ve come wa-a-ay South to Vancouver to watch Olympic curling, (we have a couple of the best ice makers in the world–a true art, by the way, and it just looks much too inviting). They are also sticking around for a hockey game or two.  They do need to learn how to pace themselves though.

Enjoy the day, everyone, be ye White Bear, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Grizzly, or none of the above.
As ever,
–doc Cheshire Hobbes–  (a stripey bear for the weekend–after all, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day)

Oh, and by the way…go Canada.

Read Full Post »

Attention–to whom it may concern:

February 7th to 13th is officially FREELANCE WRITER APPRECIATION WEEK! Honest! So why don’t you visit your friendly neighbourhood writer and buy them a cuppa*, sharpen some pencils, trim a quill, or tidy up the piles of crumpled paper, pizza crusts, worn out keyboards, Red Bull tins and gnawed desktop surrounding them, or even give them a hug, (but approach carefully–if more four letter words are being mumbled or screamed than are being entered into the manuscript, frenzied attacks and/or uncontrollable sobbing may occur). Perhaps it’s best if you appreciate them from outside leaping range, but please do something.

Staring at a blank recording surface, equally blankly, wondering why every muse and inspiration took this particular time to vacation in the Bahamas, can be a lonely, frustrating experience, and we tend to forget food, sleep, phones, Facebook and most everything else other than wondering when it will stop, and a touch of the milk of human kindness can be very soothing, especially in the cuppa.  Or when the words are flowing and the pages are piling up, writing can be everything up to and including transcendent as we are ‘in the zone’ and we tend to forget food, sleep, phones, Facebook and most everything else other than wondering when it will stop. I, for one, (or occasionally several), promise not to growl–well–for this week, too much, anyway.

As a freelance writer, I shall appreciate your appreciation.

Now I have another two deadlines, past and passing, respectively, to which I should return. Another about which I’m currently playing “Phone Hide & Seek,” (a variation of “Phone Tag”), with a charming editor, (as Douglas Adams once said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.“), and I promise to appear delightfully surprized at any appreciation I receive this annual Freelance Writer Appreciation Week. Unless, I suppose, I am actually surprized, (startled) by the attention, at which time I am not accountable for and apologize in advance at any injuries, physical, emotional or psychological incurred by anyone present, nor for my complete lack of recognition, acknowledgment, response and/or rejoinder.

Enjoy the week,
and I’m sure your day is coming.
As ever,

Dr. H. Doc (Cheshire Hobbes) Burns, MA, MFA, Ph.D, Writer (Freelance)

* Caution: upon ascertaining the current mental state of the writer dictates what liquid the cuppa should contain. This can be another incendiary moment. If a cup containing the wrong percentage of alcohol and/or caffeine appear, the ‘appreciator’ should be ready if flying crockery occurs.  -d-

Read Full Post »

Sonnets Served With a Slice of Pi
Dear Reader-
A slightly backward, left handed forward.

Philosophical Mathematics, a $73 million hedge fund in New York, 3.14159, or Pi, and Sonnets. Strange bedfellows?  Not in these days, I think…

This is a little late, and with the speed in which the economy shifts these days, it may be a touch dated. Mea culpa. For this I apologize. I’ve been used to writing my own pages, including the HTML and CSS and I came upon this article very early in the life of this…blog, site, information disseminator, bit of self indulgence…whatever it is other than a creel of trout pulled from a pleasant little time stream, with all its ‘all mod cons’, as the realtors are so fond of saying, and it seems it became lost among drafts, in somewhat the way socks disappear into washers and/or dryers or where ever they go.

I still think it’s a nifty bit of writing about a nifty bit of writing offering an interesting view of money, in all its various forms, so, if you’ll forgive me the tardiness of the piece, perhaps you’ll enjoy it. Of course, living as I do, as an anachronist, something I’ve begun an attempt to explain on the vanity…or, uhhmn, bio page, (you honestly didn’t think that little scrap of writing was the end of it, did you?), this is no more nor less dated than I am. [Insert clever comment here.] In any case, I offer it as something to divert your attention for a few moments from New Year’s Eve preparations, and hopefully to help you forgive my future tardiness in posting the Amnesty International Letter Writing Guidelines and Samples I promised to have ready and published before the end of the year. Just checking the time, I see I’m already too late for some of my friends, who might see this sometime when I feel it’s ready to be seen and publish the address…or have I done that already? Seen in that light, and knowing, as most of my friends do, my life long dance with procrastination, I might get away with the prevarication that the new year of which I spoke is 2011.

In any case, I hope you enjoy this, and perhaps look up Al Lewis’ column sometime,
and Bon Année to those of you who recognize tomorrow, (January 1), as the beginning of a new year.
As ever,

PS: As Douglas Adams once said: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
A word from your host
from al lewis | columnist

Sonnets Served With a Slice of Pi
By Al Lewis
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Posted: 07/15/2007 01:00:00 AM MDT

Lee Slonimsky, who runs a $73 million hedge fund in New York, shows up at my office with a book of sonnets.

He’s a risk-adverse quant. A conservative investor who trades according to mathematical models and recurring trading patterns. He’s also a published poet.

His latest book, published in January by Orchises Press of Alexandria, Va., is called “Pythagoras in Love.”

“It’s about seeing the world through the eyes of a famous mathematician who thought almost continuously in terms of numbers,” Slonimsky said. “You can’t do quantitative trading for 15 years and not kind of get into that mindset.”

Most people I know hate math. Slonimsky, 56, writes poems about it. More specifically, he writes sonnets, which are typically associated with love.

They are also among the most classical forms of poetry, written by literary legends such as Milton, Shakespeare, Keats and Shelley. They traditionally have 14 lines and 10 beats per line.

“It’s kind of like doing crosswords,” Slonimsky said with only a slight smile.

His poems have appeared in The New York Times, The Carolina Quarterly, Connecticut Review, Poetry New York and other journals. They combine metaphors from nature with mathematical formulas, such as pi, or the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

Pi – or 3.14159 – has been known since ancient times but never fully known. Modern computers have calculated its decimals back billions of digits, but they can’t get to the end because pi is infinite and at some point falls into the realm of philosophers and poets.

In “The Last Digit of Pi” Slonimsky writes:

“Bisected by a tree, the sun’s gold light
draws angles on the glass skin of the pond
dawn’s revelers, a pair of geese in flight
soar high above the wooded hill, beyond Pythagoras’s line of sight. And now
he’s all alone, high priest of water, sky,
intuiter of theorems, teller how
this world’s the weave of math, the art of Pi.”

All I know is that it’s amazing to see anyone get a book of poems published.

Poetry’s popularity has waned, perhaps since the photograph. With today’s media putting a premium on novelty, sound bites and shock value, poems seem so pensive, obtuse and esoteric.

These days they say there are more people trying to write poems than there are trying to read them. Not even a hedge-fund manager is in it for the money, or even a large audience.

“There are a lot of people who may have an interest in something – like arts and crafts – and they’re not going to have a lot of people watching them do it,” Slonimsky said. “That’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”

Slonimsky, however, has developed a strategy to expand his market share.

He married Carol Goodman, the award-winning author of “The Seduction of Water,” “The Ghost Orchid” and other novels. Goodman now creates characters based on her husband and slips some of his work into her tales. Her latest book is called “The Sonnet Lover” and contains six of Slonimsky’s poems, ensuring they’ll be read by thousands of readers.

Goodman will be reading at the Tattered Cover on Colfax Avenue at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Slonimsky will be there, too.

An understated and cerebral man with thinning black hair, Slonimsky grew up in Manhattan. His father was a bookkeeper who once worked for a firm that shorted stocks and infused his son with stock-market lore.

As a student, Slonimsky loved English, math and reading about the history of financial panics. He began trading stocks as a sophomore in high school. But don’t ask him if today’s heady Dow will crash or soar higher. He not only doesn’t know but would just as soon see it go flat.

He came of age as an investor at a time when the Dow only bounced between roughly 600 and 1,000. “I was weaned on the idea that the stock market is a place where you can make money when it doesn’t go anywhere,” Slonimsky said.

His hedge fund – Ocean Capital Partners LLC – targets stocks with small but predictable trading ranges, buying at the lows and selling at the highs.

“Some of our most profitable trading stocks have not changed price in several years,” he said. “I’m a great believer in ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.”‘

Leave it to a risk-adverse quant/poet to find an unchanging universe on Wall Street.

I asked Slonimsky if he’d ever written a poem about his business. He gave me this one, called “July 16, 2017,” which envisions a time when even America’s cities have held initial public stock offerings:

Cities themselves trade as stocks now;
Chicago opens higher,
Seattle’s flat while Boston’s soft,
and then news hits the wire:
Atlanta’s got a deficit,
Houston a major fire.
A pair of shorts to gamble on
amidst a dearth of buyers –
these trades are brief though – caution wins
out over greed, desire.
A two point move, cat-sudden in
a quick and profitable hour,
enough to sleep well on at night.
Cash never is a liar!

“It’s a sonnet in alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter, with occasional irregularities, known in the poetry trade as ‘roughing up the rhythm,”‘ Slonimsky explained.

Oh. Yes. Of course. I knew that.

Al Lewis’ column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Respond to Lewis at denverpostbloghouse.com/lewis, 303-954-1967 or alewis@denverpost.com.

Read Full Post »

Tue Nov 24, 7:06 PM
By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Marg Delahunty has braved the wilds of the American Midwest to come face-to-face with Sarah Palin.

Comedian Mary Walsh’s beloved character button-holed the former Alaska governor at a recent book-signing in Columbus, Ohio, only to be strong-armed away from Palin by a cabal of security guards.

The action was documented on Tuesday night’s “This Hour Has 22 Minutes,” [CBC] but four days later, Walsh was still marveling at her close encounter with one of the most controversial politicians on the planet.

“We told her we’re from Canada, and we’re just looking for a few words of encouragement for the Canadian conservatives who have worked so tirelessly to destroy the socialized medicare that we have,” Walsh recalled Tuesday from St. John’s.

“Four huge big burly guys started pushing, and I pushed back, but I got her attention, and she told us to keep the faith, something like that, and said we’re all trying for the same thing.”

After being kicked out of the book-signing, Walsh and her crew then waited outside at a loading dock close to where Palin’s bus was parked. When Palin emerged from the Borders bookstore, Walsh said, Delahunty – dressed in a more toned-down version of her trademark warrior princess costume – called out to her.

“Hey, remember us, we’re the Canadians! We came all the way here from Canada!” Delahunty yelled. “When we asked you that question, we didn’t hear your answer.”

Palin strolled over, looking down on Walsh and her crew to tell them that “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

“Basically, she said government should stop doing the work that private enterprise should do,” Walsh said.In addition to those comments, Walsh said, she found it equally bizarre that no one was allowed to ask Palin any questions at the book-signing.

“It was great fun, but also very strange,” Walsh recalled.
“We’re in a bookstore, at a public event, in a place one would think was a bastion of free speech. And no one was allowed to ask questions. What are they afraid of?”

A word from your host...

Marg Delahunty is one of comedienne Mary Walsh’s most loved, (and feared), characters.  In various costumes, basically what she thinks won’t be attacked by security, Walsh as Marg has been fearless for years, elbowing her way into press scrums surrounding most anyone she believes needs a proper, Newfoundland question, politicians for the most part.  Most Canadian politicos and celebrities, and press savvy visitors, realize that whatever they or their entourages say and do will be broadcast on Marg’s latest home on CBC’s, “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”, (a long standing comedic newscast), and try to answer her generally discomforting queries with attempts at humour, which are often more telling than if they ignored her.  I don’t think Palin got the joke.  Her security certainly didn’t.   –doc–

Read Full Post »