Friday, May 20, 2022

Quote of the Day (Dashiell Hammett, on a Curious Episode in His Time as a Pinkerton Detective)

“The chief of police of a Southern city once gave me a description of a man, complete even to the mole on his neck, but neglected to mention that he had only one arm.”—American crime novelist and former Pinkerton operative Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), “From the Memoirs of a Private Detective,” originally published in The Smart Set, March 1923, reprinted in Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America anthology, 2001)

TV Quote of the Day (‘Modern Family,’ As Jay Makes a Logical Deduction About a Case of Exhaustion)

Manny Delgado [played by Rico Rodriguez]: “For whatever it's worth, my eyes have stopped itching, I can taste my food, and I have a lot more energy.”

Jay Pritchett [played by Ed O'Neill]: “You took a three-hour nap yesterday!”

Manny: “I was tired from the marathon.”

Jay: “The Downton Abbey marathon?” — Modern Family, Season 6, Episode 13, “Rash Decisions,” original air date Feb. 4, 2015, teleplay by Daisy Gardner, directed by James Alan Hensz

Off and on for the first half-century of its existence, I have been something of an aficionado of Masterpiece (or, as it known earlier in its younger days, Masterpiece Theatre). By my count, I’ve taken in about 30 different mini-series under the umbrella of the British import—not just acclaimed entries like The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and The Forsyte Saga, but even the likes of Strangers and Brothers, The First Churchills and The Last of the Mohicans. 

But Downton Abbey? I’ve seen only about three episodes from its first season. It wasn’t that I hated it, mind you. But it was never really “appointment TV” for me.

And so, while the Crawleys became something of a cash cow for the PBS system, tried out almost as much as those musical specials for nostalgic baby boomers during those fundraising marathons, I’ve been largely content to sit on the sidelines.

That’s been nothing like the case for a pair of male relatives of mine. While I, comparatively speaking, have watched everything on Masterpiece but Downton Abbey, they have watched nothing but that show. The wonder of it is that these guys normally are neither Anglophiles nor culture vultures, but more than happy to spend several hours a night watching one sports event or other.

It was a sad day indeed in those two households when those relatives and their wives watched the last of the original 52 episodes of the show after six seasons. Then came the movie version in 2019, and—wouldn’t you know it?—they were among its troop of fans out for opening weekend.

This weekend, when each of these relatives will be otherwise engaged, that won’t be quite the case with the premiere of Downtown Abbey: A New Era. But you can take it to the bank that the first chance they get, they’re going to catch up to the latest adventures of the Earl of Grantham, Lady Cora and Crew.

And, beyond that, the next time there’s a PBS Downton Abbey marathon, they’ll be taking it very seriously indeed, unlike Modern Family’s Jay.

(For those of my readers who can’t get enough of the show, you’ll want to check out the Downtown Abbey Online blog.)

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Quote of the World (Derek Walcott, on the Poet Falling ‘In Love With the World, In Spite of History’)


“For every poet it is always morning in the world. History a forgotten, insomniac night; History and elemental awe are always our early beginning, because the fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world, in spite of History.”— Saint Lucian poet and playwright Derek Walcott (1930-2017), “Nobel Prize Lecture,” December 7, 1992

(Picture of Derek Walcott taken at his honorary dinner, Amsterdam, May 20, 2008; permission is granted by Michiel van Kempen, secretary and treasurer of the Werkgroep Caraibische Letteren, The Netherlands; by courtesy of the photographer Bert Nienhuis.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Quote of the Day (W.H. Auden, on May)

“May with its light behaving
Stirs vessel, eye and limb,
The singular and sad
Are willing to recover,
And to each swan-delighting river
The careless picnics come
In living white and red.”—English poet, playwright and critic W.H. Auden (1907-1973), “May,” originally published in 1934, reprinted in Collected Poems of W.H. Auden, edited by Edward Mendelson (1991)
I took the image accompanying this post in May 2014, at New York’s Central Park.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Quote of the Day (Jorie Graham, on Missed Warnings of Climate Change)

“It was time
she said, to move on, her gaze
looking out at the avenues and smaller streets,
at the silk dresses on the mannequins in
storefronts, all of them, across the
planet, the verandas poking out under the
hemlocks, violin strings crossing from
one century to another, although now I could hear they were
sirens all along,
invisible and desperate the warnings
in their rise and fall.”—Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham, “Time Frame,” London Review of Books, Apr. 21, 2022
The image accompanying this post shows Jorie Graham at a poetry reading at the Library of Congress, Dec. 6, 2007.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Quote of the Day (Joe Queenan, on a Technology Nightmare)

“Here’s another nightmare scenario: the ‘Internet of Things’ has all your music linked from a server in the basement to a single upstairs remote control that connects to the home-entertainment unit. Suddenly your audio system won't play anything but Il Divo. U2 is gone. Sinatra is gone. Brad Paisley is gone—and he took Miranda Lambert with him! Even the original-cast soundtrack from ‘Mamma Mia’ is gone. It's Il Divo, Il Divo, Il Divo, 24 hours a day. And you don't even own any Il Divo recordings.” — Humor columnist Joe Queenan, “Moving Targets: When the ‘Internet of Things’ Attacks,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2014

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Spiritual Quote of the Day (George Herbert, on Writing, Gardens and God)

“And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
            I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O, my onely Light,
                        It cannot be
                        That I am he
            On whom Thy tempests fell all night.
            These are Thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flow’rs that glide;
            Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide.
                        Who would be more,
                        Swelling through store,
            Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.” —English poet and Anglican minister George Herbert (1593-1633), “The Flower,” in The Poems of George Herbert, edited by Ernest Rhys (1885)