Saturday, November 29, 2003

Emotions of that complexion were responsible for her pestering Tanuki to arrange some kind of marraige ceremony. After all, he referred to her as his wife. He didn't particularly object to a wedding, he simply didn't know how to go about it. Finally, he consulted the fox. Kitsune thought the idea of a tanuki marrying a human grotesque and preposterous, but for that very reason it appealed to him. If nothing else, it would outrage both men and gods, and Kitsune, who had been known to promote human improvement and who served as the gods' principal messenger on earth, was well-acquainted with the far-reaching benefits and private joys to be derived from fracturing taboos.

Tom Robbins, Villa Incognito (30)

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

“Sit down then, duck,” she said. “I’ll make you a cup of tea in ten minutes. I’m glad you’ve come though. Sunday afternoon’s the only time I get a bit of peace, and I like somebody to talk to. I like the house to be empty now and again. It’s a treat the way you look after your clo’es, Arthur. Every young man should, that’s what I say. But you know, it’s like living in a different house, when the kids aren’t fighting and running over everywhere. Eddie’s gone up Clifton with Pam and Mike, and they won’t be back till six, thank God. They lead me such a dance all week that I’m allus glad to get shut on ’em at weekend. Last night we went to’t Flying Fox and I had so many gin and Its I thought I’d never get home. Our Betty clicked wi’ a bloke, and he bought the whole gang of us drinks all night. He must a got through a good five quid, the bloody fool. He had a car though, so I suppose he could afford it, and he thought he was on a good thing with our Betty, but you should a seen his face drop when she came home wi’ us instead of going off with him! He was going to start some trouble, but our Dave – he was wi’ us as well – got up and said he’d smash him if he didn’t clear off. The poor bloke went deathly white and drove off in his car. ‘What a bleddy fool I was,’ Betty said when he’d gone, ‘I should a got ’im to drive us all home!'"

Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (75)

Monday, November 17, 2003

In spite of the increase in literacy, the numbers of books in country houses remained, by our standards, very small. Many country houses still had no books at all. Outside immediate government circles the doctrines of Sir Thomas Elyot and his friends only penetrated slowly. Many gentlemen, especially in the remoter parts of the country, still preferred to hunt and hawk; in Northumberland, in the 1560s, ninety-two put of the 146 leading gentry were unable to sign their name. In 1601 Bess of Hardwick, in spite of contacts with the Greys, Cecils, and other highly educated families, had only six books at Hardwick, kept in her bedchamber. Sir William Fairfax, who installed the magnificent great chamber at Gilling Castle, owned thirty-nine books. Only a dozen or so members of the upper classes (exclusive of clerics) are known to have owned more than a hundred books in the sixteenth century, and although this figure is based on fairly superficial research the real figure is unlikely to have exceeded a hundred. Only two great men – Lord Lumley and Lord Burghley – owned more than a thousand books.

Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House (165)

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Marha looked tired and thirsty, but made no complaint, no request for hospitality. She fumbled at her throat and pulled out a wire loop that held a jingling collection of metal chits. "Spice tokens from offworlders. Naib Dhartha sent me out to work the sands, to scrape and collect it to be delivered to his merchant friends in Arrakis City. I have been of marraigeable age for three years, but no Zensunni woman – or man – can take a mate until they have gathered fifty spice tokens. That is how Naib Dhartha measures our service to the tribe."

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Dune: The Machine Crusade (60-61)

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Klaus smiled. “I was puzzled for a long time,” he said, “but I finally thought to look at the list of ingredients. Listen to this: ‘Vinegar, mustard seed, salt, tumeric, the final quatrain of the eleventh stanza of “The Garden of Proserpine,” by Algernon Charles Swinburne, and calcium disodium, an allegedly natural preservative.’ A quatrain is four lines of a poem, and a stanza is another word for a verse. They hid a reference to a poem in the list of ingredients.”

Lemony Snicket, The Slippery Slope (241-42)

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Lutt looked around him at the office, all of it much as he had found it the night of his father's death. He thought he had uncovered most of the traps but the Listening Post still daunted him. There was a pattern to the traps, Lutt thought, but he could not put it into words. Still, there was satisfaction in the fact neither Morey nor his mother dared join him here, even though Hanson Guards waited outside right now with his mobile ZP squad. The guards flatly refused to enter L.H.'s premises.

Frank Herbert and Brian Herbert, Man of Two Worlds (362-63)
Lou Reed: Andy Warhol told me that what we were doing with the music was the same thing he was doing with painting and movies and writing - i.e., not kidding around. To my mind nobody in music was doing anything that even approximated the real thing, with the exception of us. We were doing a specific thing that was very, very real. It wasn't slick or a lie in any conceivable way, which was the only way we could work with him. Because the very first thing I liked about Andy was that he was very real.

Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (7)

Monday, November 10, 2003

"Just who the hell are you to try to tell me what to do Ignatius?" Mrs. Reilly stared at her huffing son. She was disgusted and tired, disinterested in anything that Ignatius might have to say. "Claude is dumb. Okay. I'll grant you that. Claude is all the time worrying me about them comuniss. Okay. Maybe he don't know nothing about politics. But I ain't worried about politics. I'm worried about dying half-way decent. Claude can be kind to a person, and that's more than you can do with all your politics and all your graduating smart. For everything nice I ever done for you, I just get kicked around. I want to be treated nice by somebody before I die. You learnt everything, Ignatius, except how to be a human being."

John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces (427)

Sunday, November 09, 2003

In the country house one was expected to dress for dinner, which meant smoking jacket and black tie for gentlemen and an evening dress for ladies. Nowadays this only happens on special occasions. At the end of the stay there are two duties to be done. A tip has to be left for the staff, and on arriving home a bread and butter letter has to be written to say thank you.

Shelia Pickles, The Essence of English Life (31)
In royal houses the privy chamber seems to have started as a room between the great chamber, where the king was still sleeping, and his privy. It was probably the room in which he prepared himself for the privy. Privy and privy chamber were in charge of a minor official known as the groom of the stool or stole; the great chamber was under a much more important officer called the chamberlain. When the royal bed was moved out of the great chamber into the next room, the room was still called the privy chamber and was still in charge of the groom of the stole. In the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as part of the constant series of retreats that make up the history of palace planning, the bed was removed from the privy chamber as well. It became a private dining and reception room, with a suite of private chambers beyond it, all collectively known as the privy lodgings. The groom of the stole remained in charge of the whole sequence; an official whose original job had been to clean out the royal latrines had become one of the most powerful and confidential of royal servants.

Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House (57-58)