Pirate Word of the Day – Kisscurl

Lady Blade Blog

From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Here's a few kiss-curls. Here’s a few kiss-curls.

Kisscurl: a small curl twisted on the temple. See Bowcatcher.

Bow-catcher: small curls twisted on the cheeks or temples of young and often old girls, adhering to the face as if gummed or pasted. Evidently a corruption of Beau-catchers. In old times these were called lovelocks, when they were the marks at which all the puritan and ranting preachers leveled their pulpit pop-guns, loaded with sharp and virulent abuse. Hall and Pryune looked upon all woman as strumpets who dared to let the hair depart from a straight line upon their cheeks. The French prettily term them accroche-coeurs, whilst in the United States they are plainly and unpleasantly called Spit-curls. Bartlett says: “Spit Curl, a detached lock of hair curled upon the temple; probably…

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Cured of My Aversion to Dickens

My introduction to Charles Dickens, like most people, came in the form of watching A Christmas Carol.  In my case, the adaptation starred Alastair Sims as Scrooge, whose performance has yet to be surpassed.  At some point in my early teens, the idea struck me that I should tackle one of Dickens’ novels.  For this purpose, David Copperfield seemed best, only this choice bored me to tears.  (At least, it did not bore me so much that I drooled on the page, as occurred while I read a history of early Japan.)  A few years later, another Dickens novel was tried and produced the same effect.  From that point, I decided A Christmas Carol, the short story, was the only work of Dickens worth reading–and it is a masterpiece.

Alastair Sims as Scrooge

Lately, that A Tale of Two Cities stood as the bestselling novel of all time–at least, according to Wikipedia–came to my attention.  Curious, I checked out the audio book from the library in order to listen to it as I drove.  Well, my dear readers, I began not to want my drives to end.  Unlike certain previous experiences of Dickens, I found the characters and writing very vivacious.  This book well deserves to be among the classics of world literature.  Great personalities fill its pages, suspense practically drags the reader willy-nilly through the book, scenes of towering moral courage delight the audience, and it offers a great historical perspective of the times before and during the French Revolution.  A true work of genius!

And so, I find myself ready to give other works of Dickens a shot.  But, I need to whittle away more on my private library before I take more books out from the public one.

An Essay or a Story?: Review of A Sad, Sad Symphony

A Sad, Sad Symphony stands as a very short piece of fiction by Christian Mihai, the author of Jazz.  Unlike his prior work, this one focuses on a more academic topic: why do artists produce art?  The principle characters are Oscar Wilde and Francisc Goyer.  The latter is  composer and friend of Oscar Wilde.  The pain of the separation of Francisc and his girlfriend ignites Goyer’s inspiration for a new symphony.  He discovers that before he was composing for someone else, but now believes that the true reason for his composing music is more intrinsic to himself.

Why write

The three most impressive things about this work lie in its description of Francisc’s creative drive, the discussion about art, and the nature of the artist’s attachment to his art.  However, one cannot feel much for the characters’ struggles and desires.  The characters lack individuality such that one feels as though Mihai might as well have named Francisc Artist A and Wilde Artist B.  They both are so devoted to art that their personalities have become sacrificed to it.  If Mihai had been able to add more individuality to these principle figures, this could have been a great short story.  As it is, A Sad, Sad Symphony reminds the reader more of an exposition.

Well, I have many more novels by Christian Mihai on my reading list.  I expect that the others will convey more of the original genius I found in Jazz.  Stay tuned for those reviews.

Poets on Poetry

Egotist's Club

My friend The Grackle, of The Grub Street Grackle fame and previous adventures, has recently begun a video series entitled, Poets on Poetry. The exercise of this is to see how poets respond to, appreciate, or analyze each other’s poetry. Which is supposed to help the rest of us respond to poetry.

The Grackle has hitherto worked with words and ideas captured solidly through paper and ink, or pixels approximating paper and ink.

The foray into film to explore the sounds, sights, and nuances of spoken poetry is a bold stroke.

And as such, I, your brooding muse of tragedy, am honored that he chose one of my poems to initiate this series. Our friend Ian (his nom de plume is in the works, I shall let you know when it coalesces,) gives a wonderful and insightful introduction to the piece, one which made me gasp in sudden and new-found wonder over my own…

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Brief Thoughts on The Shadow of the Torturer

I have recently finished Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer.  Rather than calling this a review, my words better deserve to be called thoughts.  This book’s complexity eschews giving the reader a good enough understanding for a review upon a single reading.  One would need to have read the entire series once and this book a second time in order to know it thoroughly enough for review.  What makes matters particularly difficult is that Severian, the main character, admits to being a liar and feels like he does not always have a proper grip on reality.  My dear readers, if they wish to gain a more thorough grasp of the book’s complexity, should read Josh W’s excellent chapter by chapter analyses, which have presently covered up to chapter four.

Shadow of the Torturer

Having written that, The Shadow of the Torturer stands as a science fiction work which feels like a fantasy work.  For example, I would never have caught the fact that the torturer’s guild located itself inside an old spaceship without Josh W’s pointing it out.  After all, the weapons and transportation are very primitive.  The capital city feels as though it could fit inside the world of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.

You noticed that I mentioned a torturer’s guild?  Our main character happens to have been apprenticed to it while still a young child.  He does accept the arrangement himself once he comes of age, and this leads to him having affection for a prisoner named Thecla.  She is convinced that the Autarch, the ruler of this land, will let her go without being put through excruciation, as the torturers call it.  This proves to be a false hope, and Severian commits the offense of enabling her to commit suicide.  For this he is exiled to a northern city, but Severian’s adventures do not see him outside the walls by the end of this work.


The reader must keep in mind that this work is incredibly introspective.  Much of it deals with Severian’s perception of reality and philosophical meditations.  The reader also needs to pay close attention in order to catch discrepancies in the text.  This is not to say that a casual reading brings no enjoyment.  I read the novel in exactly that manner, after all!  But, catching all the nuances to the work will bring the reader the much pleasure.  I would not be surprised if the novel could stand up to three or four readings at least before its ideas become exhausted.

A very intelligent and fun read, which takes a look at the darker side of human nature.

Christianity, Game of Thrones, and Reading Objectionable Content

Rolfing Unshelved

The concept of story is as old as time itself. Everything in existence tells a story. We can dig into the ground and find evidence to construct a history of ancient civilizations. History itself is a story, a high-story, a narrative of past events. Humans have been telling stories since before the introduction of writing in the late third millennium BC. Today we’ve refined storytelling into an art. And since the printing press, storytelling has become a massive commercial market.

The Shadow RisingWe all enjoy a good story. A good story engages you emotionally, and really good stories can pull you in so far that the world around you seems secondary to this other narrative. I remember reading The Shadow Rising (book four in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series), and I had nearly finished the second half of the book in one sitting before I realized that the next day was dawning. Good stories captivate…

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