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Author Archives: smkelly8

About smkelly8

writer, teacher, movie lover, traveler, reader

Poem of the Week

In the Library
by Charles Simic
There’s a book called

A Dictionary of Angels.
No one had opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in fiction

 

Word of the Week

psephocracy, n.
[‘ The form of government which results from the election of representatives by ballot; the system of government by elected representatives.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /sᵻˈfɒkrəsi/, /siːˈfɒkrəsi/, /sɛˈfɒkrəsi/, U.S. /siˈfɑkrəsi/
Etymology: < psepho- comb. form + -cracy comb. form, after democracy n. Compare psephocrat n.
The form of government which results from the election of representatives by ballot; the system of government by elected representatives.1966 New Statesman 15 Apr. 531/1 How then did Britain..become a democracy?.. It never did… What we do have is representative government, or the rule of the ballot-box, or (in one word) psephocracy.
1970 Sci. Jrnl. Feb. 27/1 The present system [of government] is more of a leadership than a referred system—the so called ‘psephocracy’.
1994 Mod. Law Rev. 57 226 The people are not the government; what they do is elect it; and so the pedant would say we have in this country not democracy, but psephocracy.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2015 in fiction

 

National Book Day

National Book Day was this past week.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in fiction

 

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Word of the Week

culturati: \kuhl-chuh-RAH-tee, -REY-tahy\
noun
1. people deeply interested in cultural and artistic matters: Discerning culturati are eagerly awaiting the museum’s opening.
Quotes
She’d tried to persuade Russell to look at houses in Brooklyn or even Pelham, a not-too-distant refuge of the middle-aged culturati that had some unrestored houses and decent public schools, but he was determined to make his stand in Manhattan, claiming he was too old for Brooklyn and too young for Pelham–a typical Russell observation.
 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in fiction

 

Poem of the Week

A Coat

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in fiction

 

To Marry an English Lord

marrylordIf you like Downton Abbey, you really should read Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace’s  To Marry an English Lord. I got the audio book from the library. The narrator had the perfect voice, elegant and slightly aristocratic.

To Marry an English Lord presents all sorts of facts and vignettes about the American heiresses, and there were dozens if not hundreds, who crossed the ocean to marry well. The focus is on New York socialites, whose fathers had fortunes, but couldn’t break into the elite circle of the Kickerbockers. Kickerbockers were the descendants of the first New York settlers from Holland, these people wore knickerbockers, i.e. pants that stopped at the knees. No amount of money could get you into their social circle so those with new money headed for England where they were welcomed not just for their money (though that was key) but also because American girls were so open, confident and free. British girls were sheltered and shy. They were chaperoned everywhere, but the American parents gave their girls a lot more freedom. And they had much larger clothing allowances. A British girl would make do with 3 new gowns a season, but the American would get 18 or so spending about $500.000 in todays money (plus a 50% tariff). The British men noticed, in droves apparently.

 

The book covers every aspect of the women’s lives from dress, parents, education, hobbies and such to marriage, infidelity and socializing. I found it quite interesting that these girls had the best of all worlds because as was typical in the U.S. at the time they were encouraged to be spirited and confident as debutantes and unlike the women who married in America after they wed they could follow the custom of getting involved in politics or writing, which was normal in England.

The book is a solid and entertaining social history that makes me think a real life Cora had more meaningful work to do, more extravagant parties to give, more friendships and probably more infidelity than we see on Downton Abbey. (Mind you I’m happy Cora did not hop into bed with Bricker, the bounder.) The authors’ style is full of wit and energy.

While I enjoyed being able to listen as I drove, I think I’ll get the actual book, because I can envision wanting to fact check the history and that’s hard to do with a CD.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in history, non-fiction

 

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Diary of a Mad, Old Man

old man Junichiro Tanizaki’s Diary of a Mad Old Man is just what the title says. Well, he’s not completely mad. The main character is an old man obsessed with his daughter in law, a former cabaret singer, whose husband’s grown tired of her.

The old man is sickly and most of his life is spent going to doctors and taking medication. His infatuation of Satsuko, the daughter in law who leads him on, but doesn’t let him do more than kiss her legs or eventually her neck, gets him to buy her jewels and later a pool. She’s got a lover and a fondness for Western fashion. It’s an interesting look at desire mixed with a battle against a failing body.

A quick read, the book provides an interesting glimpse of Japan in the post-WWII period when the Japanese were starting to prosper.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in classic, psychology, World Lit

 

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