Waiting For The Beat To Kick In

While watching Harvey with Mrs. Monkeyshines recently, one of Elwood P. Dowd’s lines struck me as a nice complementary quote to the one in a Kurt Vonnegut book which I wrote about before. And since such thoughts seem appropriately Christmassy, and because I’ve been listening to Dan Le Sac/Scroobius Pip lately, I was minded to set down the quote. (Listen to the song below to understand the significance of the Scroobius Pip reference; NSFW due to swears. If you already got the reference, award yourself a gold star.)

“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ – she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

A Bouncing Little Monkey

I was going to rattle on about our Little Monkey developing more complex interactions with the world, etc. But then a lyric from a George Benson song popped into my mind, which I think is comment enough: “Let the children’s laughter remind us how we use to be” *.

* The original version by the estimable Mr. Benson is far superior to the better-known Whitney Houston cover, which in any case now reminds me of American Psycho.

An Officially Named Baby

We went to register our Little Monkey last week. For a bureaucratic process, it was strangely lacking in bureaucracy. We just turned up with a baby, told the registrar everyone’s name and date of birth, and that was more-or-less it; he didn’t need to see any documentation or anything. The birth certificate looks reassuringly official, and the design doesn’t seem to have changed since mine was issued.

There’s a nice quote by Desmond Tutu on the importance of registering births (via the Wikipedia page on birth certificates): “…it’s a small paper but it actually establishes who you are and gives access to the rights and the privileges, and the obligations, of citizenship”.

An officially named baby.

  "First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule,   Toby-san, not mine."

Do the hustle! Doo do doo do doo do doo...

Everything a Baby Needs to Know

In the weeks before the arrival of the Little Monkey, I encountered the same Kurt Vonnegut quote twice, independently, as I bimbled around the internet. I wasn’t even looking for anything to do with Vonnegut or babies, and yet here was a wonderful quote that captured my feelings almost exactly. It’s from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (which I’ve not read, but have now ordered…):

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Present Tense Book Review – Fathers and Sons

This week I’ve gone for a classic novel by Ivan Turgenev. I like a little bit of Russian literature every now and then, and this is a good ‘un. The title tells you the main theme of the book, and it thoughtfully explores the characters of men (and the odd lady, which the emphasis on ‘odd’) from different generations. There’s not much plot to speak of, but that’s not the point; it’s involving, and the descriptions of the Russian countryside are lovely.

The edition I’m reading is quite an old translation, from the early Sixties, by Rosemary Edmonds. The introduction has a lovely reference to ‘beatniks’ being the nihilists of the current day. And there’s a particularly choice quote, in chapter 11 (I think): “Not for nothing was he a nihilist”.

Present Tense Book Review – Lady Audley’s Secret: Part 2

(Part One of this Present Tense Book Review.)

Robert Audley is still assiduously trying to uncover the eponymous secret, and entertaining me while he does so. He’s a bit of an odd character, and he reminds me of myself, sometimes. He likes his idle pleasures, is phlegmatic (in a good sense), and looks after any stray dogs that come his way. But when he does have something to do, he sets about it with a single-minded obstinacy. There’s a smashing quote from Bob, when talking to his melodramatic (and smitten) cousin, Alicia:

“Life is such a very troublesome matter, when all is said and done, that it’s as well to take even its blessings quietly. I don’t make a great howling because I can get good cigars one door from the corner of Chancery Lane, and have a dear, good girl for my cousin: but I am not the less grateful to Providence that it is so.”

An unusual aspect to the story is Bob’s motivation: his friendship with the missing George, and the impact of his absence. He’s also concerned about his family, and there are a couple of eyelash-fluttering lovelies involved, but, for me, the chief strand running through the narrative is the friendship between two men, which I don’t recall having often encountered in fiction.

Present Tense Book Review – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Part 3

(Part Two of this Present Tense Book Review.)

Dern it, this book is blame’ long. Reckon it seems so b’kase I has to read the words slow-like, to git ther meanin’.

Still entertaining, even though it’s more of the same, with a nice quote from the King: “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? and ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

A most excellent black-and-white bear

On the day that the Giant Panda genome is released, I was surprised to discover that the animal was unknown in Europe until 1869. The best bit is the quote by Armand David, the zoologist priest who first scientifically recorded its existence, describing it as a “most excellent black-and-white bear”.

Present Tense Book Review – Bulldog Drummond: Part 2

(Part One of this Present Tense Book Review.)

Mid-way through Chapter 3 and the tension is building nicely; Drummond has done some verbal sparring with the villains, and got to fire off his colt. Chapter 2 opens with a splendid breakfast request by Drummond: “I almost think, James, that I could toy with another kidney.” And part I of Chapter 3 ends with a great quote by his Man Friday, James: “It is time, sir, for your morning glass of beer.” Excellent stuff.