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Doing to Carmen what ought to be done to Carmen.

A glass of wine with Mr. FLG.

This reminds me of my own yootful encounter with the habanera.  Let’s go to the way-back machine:

A century after his death, Samuel L. Clemen’s autobiography is set for publication:

Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain’s dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.

The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.

That milestone has now been reached, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.

The article suggests that many bombshells will be tossed about and that this, perhaps, explains why Twain wanted the publication to be delayed.

Oddly, one of the historians quoted in the piece says, “Most people think Mark Twain was a sort of genteel Victorian.”

They do? I would suggest that only people who have never actually read him think so.

From my email quote-of-the-day guy, celebrating the 103rd anniversary of the birth of John Wayne:

“If everything isn’t black and white, I say, ‘Why the hell not?'”

That’s right, pilgrim!

Regular port-swillers will recall Robbo’s longstanding belief that of all the Hollywood stars out there, past and present, the Duke (at least on screen) actually comes closer to the character of Patrick O’Brian’s “Lucky” Jack Aubrey than anyone else, certainly more so than the broody, dour, sulky Russell Crowe.

Yes, of course you’ve got to calibrate for the accent and for the difference in style between the typical Wayne frontiersman and a Royal Navy Post Captain of the Napoleonic Wars.  (If you were able to time travel back and actually cast Wayne in the role of Jack Aubrey, the effect would be absurd.)  But I am convinced – convinced, mark you! – that the underlying type of man is the same:  Big, naturally sanguine and good-humored, leonine.  Upright, devoted to a code of behavior, honest and direct.  Intensely professional in his craft and scornful of incompetence, sloppiness or fraud, but with a tinge of simple-mindedness about outside matters.   A large presence that swells in times of crisis.

It’s all there.  And as I say, I am completely unaware of any other actor who captures all those qualities together.

As I mentioned some time ago, I am currently rereading the Aubrey/Maturin novels.  (I have just started The Ionian Mission.)  I was all set to really do some serious research on Captain Aubrey to support this point, hoping to pull out some choice descriptive passages.  Curiously, I find that so far those passages are extremely thin on the ground.  At least in the earlier novels, one builds up one’s sense of Jack’s character not so much by naked description, as by witnessing it in action.  (On the other hand, there is almost an overabundance of such descriptions of Stephen Maturin’s character.)  If memory serves, O’Brian starts to get somewhat more descriptive of Jack himself in the next couple of novels, so hopefully I’ll be able to mine those sources to my profit.

From a Telegraph article today on man-caves:

[E]every adult male deserves, nay requires, some place, any place, to escape the tyranny of women and children.


Alas, the port-swiller residence does not have a man-cave (or a Fortress of Solitude, as I prefer to call it).  Some years ago, I fixed up a room in the basement, a sort of architect’s throw-away which, due to its position directly under the kitchen and next the furnace, has some unusual corners and bumps in its ceiling.  I had all the bumps outlined in trim, which I painted navy blue.  I hauled in an old sofa, an old teevee, my model-building table, my stereo, my desk and some bookcases.  I tacked up old prints, posters and maps.  Mrs. R, when I had finished, said somewhat contemptuously that it looked exactly like my old school apartment.  Which was the idea, actually.

I had thought that Mrs. R’s dislike of the room would, in fact, keep her out of it.  Alas, no, as she soon discovered that it was an excellent place in which to set up her very large and very messy scrap-booking operations.  Furthermore, it’s the only room in the house with computer access, and the gels now regularly claim that they have to come in to use it for some homework assignment or other.


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May 2010