Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Name

Do you have a name?
Bond, James Bond.
No, not your name.  A name for your fantastical fiction.
Oh.
Something whimsical and twee?
I was thinking about "The Year of Magical Cooking."
Really?  You think that's gonna fly?
It's a working title.
It sucks
How about "The Pastopian Dynamic"?
I don't even know what that means.
Pastopia is the pastoral version of Utopia.  Everybody hanging around in thatched huts, generally pleased with themselves, tending their roses.  The pigs never die until it's time to eat them.  The river never floods.  The biggest recent news was farmer Wigglydiwoggle winning the smoke-ring-blowing contest down at the Dewdrop Inn.
Zzzzzzzzz.
I know, right?  Stress-free!  Then you add the heavy cream and truffles and watch the lid blow off the place!
Okay, fine.  But "The Pastopian Dynamic" sounds like a sociology paper.
A little, I suppose.
Keep working.
How about "The Effect of High Fat Diets on Medieval Agrarian Society?"
Keep working. 

Earthgirls are easy

Somebody writes "But why a swan ... some historical context please" as it relates to Zeus's shape-shifted rape of Leda.

Answer:  Beats the hell out of me, other than that there are a lot of swans in Greek mythology.  I poked around and found a number of references to the fact that Zeus loved adopting the shape of animals and banging the Earthgirls.  So maybe the choice of a swan is purely arbitrary, the way one might choose the white linen suit over the blue seersucker on a hot day.  Can't help much beyond that.

But it wasn't a wasted effort since I came across a fairly alarming poem by W. B. Yeats called Leda and the Swan ...
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
Pretty strong, and we don't have enough Yeats here at The Year.  The last stanza is interesting, since Agamemnon died a long time after the poem is ostensibly taking place.  In fact, Clytemnestra, one of the spawn of the Zeus/Leda/Tyndareus clusterfuck, murders Agamemnon.  And the final line speaks harshly of Zeus, some might say.

So that's something.

Back to the swan, there was some ancient thinking that the swan, with its extraordinary neck, was the perfect union of the upper realm -- the head, signifying mind and knowledge -- and the lower realm -- the body, signifying sex and power.  Wrapped up in there somewhere, you might argue based on Yeats' last stanza, is the idea that Leda, locked in Zeus' embrace, might have envisioned the Iliad (the sacking of Troy, Clytemnestra killing Agamemnon, etc.) long before it happened.

But that could just be cray-cray.

Back to the Exchange, if it's still there

Does the name Jeffrey Sprecher mean anything to you?  Well, he's the Chairman and CEO of the Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange, or ICE -- owners, since about a year ago, of the New York Stock Exchange.  Interesting article in the Journal about his efforts to completely re-do the NYSE.

He looks like this ...

Pretty vanilla.  Hard to believe so many people can't stand him.

Given that the first Wall Street painting I ever exhibited was of NYSE CEO Dick Grasso, it might be fun to circle around, the way rabbits do if the dogs are chasing them, and paint Sprecher.

In the last year, the number of NYSE employees has dropped from about 4,000 to half that number.  That, I'm thinking, is a lot of angry people.

Also worth noting:  I never trust public figures of whom there are very few photographs.  And there aren't a lot of this guy, relatively speaking.

Monday, September 01, 2014

The Greek Chorus Weighs In

A-hah!  I knew you weren't being fully up front with us re. this whole 'I don't read much fantasy' business.
Fine.
Fantasy?  Really?
Hey.  What can I say?  I have a restless mind.
Is that like where your wife finally asks for a divorce because she can't stand being kept up all night with your leg shaking?  Except it's your brain?
It's exactly like that.
Wow.  The imaginary dog should have been a clue.

Down To The River

It's hard to stay annoyed with Amazon for long, even though they are truly the most loathsome company imaginable.  I refer, of course, to the whole Hachette publishing uproar (the sacrificial lambs for which being, mostly, authors -- who sacrifice enough on their own, thank you.), plus that whole deliver-your-package-with-a-drone business which, I'm sure, will be the death of us all.

Still, I'm nothing if not a pragmatist and somehow, while poking around, I found out that Amazon Prime streams all of The French Chef -- Julia Child's groundbreaking cooking show from 1963.

Dude -- you should see her electric stove.  It has buttons to regulate the heat!

Anyway, I just finished watching Episode 1, which is Julia making boeuf bourguignon.

I have a confession to make:  I have so much enjoyed the writing of my Saigon:  Too Big To Fail novellas (I use the plural because I'm at one and a half, and counting) that I'm thinking of embarking on a parallel track and writing some fantasy literature as well.  Next time you're in a Barnes and Nobel, check out how big the Fantasy and Science Fiction section is.  Answer?  Massive.  And I'm nothing if not a pragmatist.

Quick aside about novellas:  Novels are such a pain in the ass.  These novellas are short enough not to drag you down but long enough for you to say what you need to say, in most cases.  Quite lovely, really.

I can also hear you saying to yourself, "A-hah!  I knew he wasn't being fully up front with us re. this whole 'I don't read much fantasy' business."  To which I say fine.

One of the tried-and-true formulas for fantastical fiction is the protagonist who travels from one world to another.  Jump into a wardrobe and boom, you're in Narnia.  And the whole idea is that, in the end, both the traveler and the land to which he (or she) travels are changed in some way.

The change I envision for the distant land will be the introduction of classical french culinary techniques into an otherwise run of the mill medieval agrarian society.  There may be some magic too, I suppose, but the point is that cooking is a bit of magic all its own.  Let the hijinks ensue.

One thing I can promise you:  No fucking dragons.


The commentariat weighs in ...

One anonymous wag, in response to my posting of Leda and the Swan paintings, asked ...

What do you tell your children what the swan is doing? It's clearly not your average pet and seems to thrive in the bush

Good God.  Do NOT let your children read this blog.

Revisiting This Whole Lev Grossman Business, Volume 5

I finished The Magicians yesterday.  The first book earned its fair to middling reviews (I'd give it a B-), but it was generally charming and the finale was good and I like the characters and we've already discussed how the second book is supposed to be better than the first, and likewise the third and the second.   So onward and upward.

Today I went Down To The River and ordered the Kindle version of Book 2.  Total spent to date: $12.41.  Oddly enough, in order to type that last sentence, I clicked through the Grossman titles to remind myself how much each book was.  I had remembered paying something like $3.60 for the first book, yet when I got on the Kindle page it was, and is, $7.99.  Confused, and in the interest of giving you, dear reader, the fullest amount of information, I dug around a bit more and confirmed that less than a week ago I paid $3.64 for the Kindle version of The Magicians and today it's more than twice as much.

Are they trying to piss everybody off?  Because that annoys me, and I was the one that got the good deal.

Tomorrow I should be receiving The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (which is supposed to be outstanding, if you're a Coquille St. Jacques type of a person) and Picasso, by Gertrude Stein.  This all on account of my recent consumption of The Book of Salt, the fictional story of Stein and Toklas' Vietnamese cook by Monique Truong.  Which was great, by the way, and all part of my ongoing research on Paris between The Wars in support of my Saigon: Too Big To Fail initiative.

So it's all connected.

I'm in love with this used-book business at Amazon.  It's amazing the stuff one is more than willing to buy for three or four bucks that seems less tempting at, say, $27.

Who doesn't like Coquille St. Jacques?
Nobody with any sense.
Nicely said.  

This blurb about Alice's cookbook from the Amazon page ...

Featuring the recipes and memories of Alice B. Toklas—a prominent American expat who lived in France and was Gertrude Stein’s lover—The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book is a precursor to the classic works of famed French chefs Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher , and stands alongside Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas as a celebration of the fascinating life and times of the woman James Beard called, “one of the really great cooks of all time.”

Here, by the way, is Julia Child's recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques à la Provençal ...


Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup minced yellow onions
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 1/2 Tb minced shallot or green onions
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lbs washed scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sifted flour in a dish
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • A 10-inch enameled skillet
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine, or 1/2 cup dry white vermouth and 3 Tb water
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 6 buttered scallop shells, or porcelain or pyrex shells, of 1/3 cup capacity
  • 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 Tb butter cut into 6 pieces
Instructions
  1. Cook the onions slowly in butter in a small saucepan for 5 minutes or so, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in the shallots or onions, and garlic, and cook slowly for 1 minute more. Set aside.
  2. Dry the scallops and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Just before cooking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour, and shake off excess flour.
  3. Sauté the scallops quickly in very hot butter and oil for 2 minutes to brown them lightly.
  4. Pour the wine, or the vermouth and water, into the skillet with the scallops. Add the herbs and the cooked onion mixture. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Then uncover, and if necessary boil down the sauce rapidly for a minute until it is lightly thickened. Correct seasoning, and discard bay leaf.
  5. Spoon the scallops and sauce into the shells. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to gratiné.
  6. Just before serving, run under a moderately hot broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to heat through, and to brown the cheese lightly.

It's Painful to Watch, Isn't It? Volume 3

This makes me happy, although now we are way into Fake Asian calligraphy.  Although maybe that's what this all is anyway, so who cares.  Plus, there's this ...


It's Painful to Watch, Isn't It? Volume 2


It's Painful to Watch, Isn't It?


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Box Office Numbers

Big day at The Year of Magical Painting.  Six hundred or so people stopped by.

I find numbers like that astounding.  Humbling.  No, not humbling.  But gratifying.  Imagine six hundred people just stopping by to extract from TYOMP whatever it is they hope to extract, the way a bee visits a flower, or a vampire visits an excruciatingly hot young woman whose initial gasps of terror soon give way to something deeper, darker, primordial -- the sounds naughty girls make, in the darkness, on the edge of town.

Is that too much?
Maybe a little.
But the Springsteen was strong.
Yes it was.

I'm thinking it's my new alphabetical paintings.


The Scream

In a world with this much angst, Edvard Munch is always with us ...

This is a mixed-media work ...

... my portrait of Maria Sharapova at the US Open.  Enough with the screaming, Maria.

I usually root for Maria, especially against Serena Williams -- one of my least favorite athletes in the entire world.  I mean it -- I can't stand the woman.  Which sucks, since Williams has habitually eaten my girl Maria's lunch for most of their careers.  But I feel bad for Caroline Wozniacki, what with that whole Rory McIlroy business.  He's bounced back nicely, and it would be fun for her to win a Slam event as well.  So there's a part of me that would like to see The Woz win the match and roll straight through.

Upon reflection, however, a larger part of me wants to see Sharapova advance, then mop up the court with Williams.

Fat chance.
A man can dream.

Enough with the screaming.

Leda and the Swan, Volume 3

Twombly's take ...

Dude!  Getting busy with that swan!

After this, no more.  I promise.

Leda and the Swan, Volume 2


Just so you don't think I'm crazy with this whole swan business, I nabbed this comprehensive collection of LATS images from a post on a blog called Where Is Ariadne?, which is a hoot.  I would urge you to check it out.

The only image of significance that's missing is Cy Twombly's.  Maybe I'll post it later.

Amongst the below, it's hard to pick a favorite, perhaps Gericault.  Adam Miller's, near the end, certainly takes home the deeply-creepy award.  If I'm feeling dreamy, I like the Comerre.

Michelangelo (1510)
.


.


Jacopo Pontorno (1512)
.


Correggio (1532)
.


Vincent Sellaer (1538)
.


.


Paolo Veronese (ca. 1570)
.


Peter Paul Rubens (after Michelangelo, 1600)
.


Francois Boucher (1741)
.


Theodore Gericault (ca. 1820)
.


.


Paul Cézanne (1882)
.


Leon Comerre (1908)
.


Giovanni Boldini (undated)
.


Odilon Redon (undated)
.


Nicholai Kalmakoff (1917)
.


Otto Dix (1919)
.


Paul Matthias Padua (1939)
.


.


Salvador Dali (1949)
.


Francisco Ramos (undated)
.


Sergey Marshennikov
.


Gabriel Grun
.


Sara Renae Jones
.


Adam Miller (2008)
.


Neil Moore (2009)
.
'Seduced by Zeus in the guise of a Swan'

Totems and such

This is the best one ...

It reminds me a bit of the totem poles that Native Americans make in the Pacific Northwest; the Tlingit, the Chinook, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth plus dozens of other tribes.

I like to lump them together and call them Redskins because I'm told by the National Football League that that is an honorary term acknowledging the people's bravery, integrity and some other positive stuff.  Here's a Seahawks helmet ...

I also like it because it reminds me the least of cheap Miro/Picasso knock-offs.

In some ways this version is an improvement, but I've decided that I'm not crazy about that horizontal top line ...

I look at the simplicity of the one at the top and I think I like it better.  I do, however, like the way New and Brooklyn have been improved in this version.  I also like the placement of the translation, although the blue Brooklyn looks stupid and perhaps that whole business needs to be rethought.

Onward.

Elegy to the Spanish Republic #110

Now we are just completely fucking around ...


I may need more coffee.

Did I mention that after several telephone calls to The Mothership, my New York Times finally started arriving?  How hard is it to deliver a fucking newspaper?   When I opened the door and I could feel the paper-person's resentment simmering, rising out of that little blue bag the way heat rises from a manhole cover in late August in New York.

Here's to happier Times.  If you're with me.

Leda and the Swan

I would describe myself as falling nicely into the had-enough-coffee-to-last-me-a-couple-of-days category.  So I turn now to Leda and the Swan.

[long pause as I paint the thing]

Okay.  Here it is ...

Nice.  Disregard the little white bits on each side.

And here's a Robert Motherwell painting -- a famous one, titled "Elegy to the Spanish Republic #110" -- just so you can get a sense of why everybody wants to paint like Robert Motherwell ...

It's not about actually looking like a Motherwell, since that's certainly not in the cards.  But it's the whole Abstract Expressionist idea of really just whaling away with the paint on a big canvas that I'm finding attractive.  And I say this with the full understanding that Leda and the Swan is a tiny, finicky thing and nobody was whaling away at anything.  It should also be noted that I may be wandering away from my original goal of painting with linguistic characters, which is a problem because I like the way the Motherwell kind of reads from left to right ... and that's one of the things we're shooting for.  But I'm not going backwards, just to change stuff.  I'm moving forward.

Also, just so we're clear, Leda was the wife of Tyndareus, the King of Sparta.  Zeus was hot for Leda.  He appeared on earth in the shape of a swan and seduced/raped (sources differ) Leda on the same day that she had had sex with her husband.  Four children emerged:  Castor, Pollox, Clytemnestra and Helen.  Helen and Pollox were said to be the children of Zeus.

Clytemnestra later married Agamemnon.  Helen became later known, rather famously, as Helen of Troy.  Because I like to keep things local.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Okay, Now It's Time for Bed

Exhibit A, revised.  Unlike the first two, this could actually be a painting ...

And now it's time for bed.  Although I know I'm going to just lie there thinking about all this.  The alternative will be to do a third painting, and then, before you know it, you're up all night.

Everybody Wants to Paint like Robert Motherwell slash These Are Terrible But One Must Always Remember That In Situations Like This There Is No Such Thing As A Bad Idea

Part of the reason you people pay the money you do to read the blog is for the occasional glimpse behind the curtain.   Poking, if you will, around my frontal cortex with one of those microscopic cameras, trying to figure out why things are the way they are.

Which brings me to this:  By now everybody knows that I can't get enough of the Asian Galleries at the Met.  Fine.  And do you know what pisses me off about the Asians?  They've got their own languages, which they write all over their paintings, but which I cannot begin to understand.

So I thought I'd make my own language.  And paint that.  Hopefully in the manner of Robert Motherwell, at least as regards the vastness of the thing, although it looks a lot more like my boy Joan Miro.

Exhibits A and B rendered electronically ...



The only thing that should be understood at this point is that significant words, like Troy, New, Brooklyn and Home and Heart are rendered as major characters.  Smaller words like is, the and is, where, the, and is are rendered as doodles.

It should be noted that these are basically gestural paintings, and attempting to do them with a computer mouse, as opposed to a paint brush, is cray-cray, to paraphrase Daughter #2.

I, it should also be noted, have only begun to fight.

Quick story:  You've probably heard it before, but whenever Jackson Pollock would throw stuff down that, by accident, resembled something, or anything, he would obsessively block it out, paint over it, etc., until absolute abstraction was achieved.  The same problem plagues me here.  For example the white dot in the word Troy looks like an eye, making the character look like an animal of some sort.

This is bad.

Also problematic, at this point, is the idea that a given word -- Brooklyn in the top one -- is rendered in a different color than the other characters.  In a perfect world, the word in the title typed in English would be the same color.  Which, for some reason, it isn't.  But should be.

Are you with me?

Revisiting This Whole Lev Grossman Business, Volume 4

Also The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  And perhaps Much Ado About Nothing, although I'm thinking no.

Revisiting This Whole Lev Grossman Business, Volume 3

Also Alice in Wonderland and at least five Wizard of Oz books.  The count grows.

They say the key to fantasy is the ability to make fantastical things become totally believable elements of a crafted world.  I mentioned in the first of this line of posts something called the Dark Material books.  These are more correctly called the "His Dark Materials" Trilogy by Phillip Pullman.  They, honestly are great.

The best part?  I can promise you it wasn't the movie, which was so bad they shelved plans for filming Books 2 and 3.  The best part was the armored bear.  Every society experiences war, and every war has a range of weaponry.  The dreadnought -- the doomsday weapon, if you will -- of the His Dark Materials world, was a sentient, armor-plated bear.

Here's a picture as Frank Frazetta might have drawn it ...

Imagine that thing coming at you.

I am enjoying The Magicians a great deal.  More than I thought I would, given that this is supposed to be the weakest book of the trilogy.

Leviathan Update

Just, as Jane Austin would suggest, it's axiomatic that rich single guys want or need (that part's a bit fuzzy) to get married, likewise, if you have to choose just one, is it better to have a good defense than a good offense.  Pat Riley once famously told his Lakers late in a game: "No rebounds.  No ring."  After which we can only assume they went out and got a shitload of rebounds.  Keith Wilkes -- I loved that guy.

So Virginia loses to #7 UCLA by eight.  28-20 -- more or less what I predicted.  But three of the four UCLA touchdowns were returns of fumbles (1) and interceptions (2), all in the first half.  We held them to seven points after the break.  Take those turnovers away, which you obviously can't, and we crushed the motherfuckers.

Me?  I'm strangely sanguine.  Like I've been smoking opium or something.  Which is only a guess, since I've never smoked opium.  Not even sure how.  Something to do with tongs and a hot coal.  Again, I'm guessing.  Nonetheless I do have warm feelings coursing through my body, a sense of gentle, benign disengagement and, in the back of my mind where you'd assume I'd be listening to White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, all I can hear is a voice saying "Bring on Florida State."

In summary:  We baited our hook for Leviathan.  We then hooked him.  He then, due to a couple of unfortunate miscalculations by the helmsman, ate our boat.  We were picked up two days later, no worse for the wear.

Go Hoos.

Baiting my Hook for Leviathan

Did you know Thomas Jefferson couldn't stand Edgar Allen Poe.  Hated him!

All of which is beside the point because today, at noon, as surely you know already, my foster mother, the University, of Virginia, as if that last bit even needed saying, will meet the storied UCLA Trojans on the field of honor.  Ilium fuit, Troja est, as we like to say here in the Collar City.

Televised on ESPN no less.  Let freedom ring!

I called a friend of mine who told me the Cavaliers were 21 point underdogs.  This seemed hard to believe, given that the event is taking place in Charlottesville.  Update:  it now seems a little easier to believe since I see that UCLA is ranked 7th in the country.

Nonetheless, I choose not to accept a 21 point spread.  Prediction:  Virginia 17/UCLA 24

If you find yourself on the grounds of the University, of Virginia, as if that last bit even needed saying, you can find Edgar Allen Poe's room on the West Range.  Here -- this may help:  The West Range is the line of small buildings farthest to the left ...

[Warning: this map is somewhat out of date]

Number 13, if memory serves.  Looks like this ...

I bet that grinds away in Jefferson's craw, even in the afterlife.  And while I'm not comfortable with the obviousness of the raven sitting in the window, it does bring us to the next matter of business ...
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”


    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.


    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”


    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.


    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.


    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”


    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.


Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”


    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”


    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”


    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”


    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!


    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Sorry about that.  Pretty strong, but I didn't remember it being as long as Desolation Row, or as depressing.  And all that white background was a bit jarring.  But, as anybody knows who spends time on these pages, this is what we do.  Et hoc est quod facimus, if you will.

Twenty-one points!  Thank God we're not playing the Ravens.