Sunday, February 25, 2018

Come From Away, Medusa

We got to see a bit of the Assyrian exhibit at
no extra charge
We came for "Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art," but we got to see a bit of the Assyrian exhibit at no extra charge!  (OK, there's technically no charge, since I'm a member, but whatevs.)

The Medusa exhibit was just one small room -- not too overwhelming, even for those without much patience for museum trips.

I don't remember seeing Medusa with snakes neatly tied under her neck before, but honestly that didn't really faze me.

No, the truly big revelation was that Medusa had wings.  On her head.

But I suppose it makes sense, if a winged horse is to emerge from her body on decapitation...

Pegasus emerges from the decapitated (but winged) Medusa

Now THAT'S a scary Gorgon head on his shield!

In the same room, they had some other female monsters, such as the siren shown here to the right.  She's still mostly bird at this phase – apparently these monsters started out mostly as animals but became more and more human (and beautiful) over time.

But right after I took this photo (right), I started noticing something very interesting just outside the room, on the window sill.  I spent a while trying to capture it....
Life imitating Art
We went back downstairs to find Perseus holding the Gorgon's head and wandered around the statuary for a bit.

Gaping Maw of the Sea Monster

It does not seem to be Andromeda's lucky day

Nice shoes, Perseus!

The statue of Perseus holding Medusa's head was nice enough, but B pointed out that Athena's help doesn't seem to have prevented Perseus from turning to stone.

Also, even though he's wearing the winged cap, he is Clearly Visible.

Poor guy.  Rookie mistakes.

dreaming of stilettos

F is for François Ier
So after the museum, we went over to E.A.T.  I'd meant to navigate to a different diner, the Lexington Candy Bar, but I mislabeled the address at home, and didn't think about the fact that the LEXINGTON diner was not likely to be on MADISON AVE.  Oh well.  It was fine except for the crying babies and the fact that they took a long time to seat and serve us.  So we rushed through the meal and grabbed an uber across town to the theater.  That worked so smoothly we even got there a little early.   We didn't fancy the line at Starbucks or Junior's, so we went to the Junior's To Go door, which was perfect.  We got back to the theatre lobby at 1:45 pm...  And it was still strangely uncrowded.  And suddenly we realized... it was a 3 pm show, not a 2 pm.  OOPS.

As for "Come From Away" – it was wonderful.   I thought it would not touch me too deeply, since it's set entirely in Newfoundland, and it portrays events that took place 15+ years ago.  Cue 100 minutes of deep belly laughs interspersed with crying. Excellent music. And acting. Wonderful characters and story threads. The girls loved it, but were not affected as my brother and I were; they weren't even alive at the time.  I noticed C looking over in my direction several times during the show, so I tried to control my crying somewhat.  She reported afterward that her dad cried almost the entire show.

I probably would not have attended had I realized it would have no intermission, but I'm glad I did.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bone-Sigh and Bend It Like Beckham

It was overcast, but not really raining, so we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden after a few rounds of Rummikub and Ticket to Ride Europe.  The first and most important stop was the bonsai display.  Like most Americans, I want to pronounce it "Bonzai!!!!" - but yet again the Garden informs me that it is properly pronounced bone-sigh.  Le sigh.

Japanese Apricot - a little past-peak, by the evidence of fallen petals

Root Over Stone is my favorite style

a work in progress

forest style, in a slice of turf on a thin rock shell

I could totally grow a cherry tree in my flat!!!

Afterward, we visited all the connected greenhouse enclosures -- the hot and humid orchid room and the other specialized environments (temperate, tropical, and desert).

camera fogged up immediately among
the orchids

Baboon Flower

In the Desert Room

Lithop (aka "Living Stone")

Crocuses in a field of snowdrops

Pigeons on an Eagle - victory, indeed!!

We went out for Chinese food for lunch, but stayed in with homemade lasagne and ginger carrot lemon soup for dinner.  Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies for dessert, followed by a movie.  I haven't watched "Bend It Like Beckham" in years (someone borrowed my DVD and apparently never gave it back), but it was every bit as wonderful as I remembered – and I didn't even remember everything.  The soundtrack (which I'd bought almost immediately after watching the movie) is still lovely.  

For second dessert (is that a thing?), we had raspberry sorbet.  It was good enough that my guests didn't mind my launching into song:  "She ate some raaaaaaspberry sorbet, the kind you buy at a grocery store.  Raaaspberry sorbet! And for second dessert she wouldn't need much more..."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Personal Insults in LotR

For some unknown reason, I started wondering about insults in Lord of the Rings.

So of course I've started a compilation.  To constrain the project, I'm collecting only unconditional insults, directly addressed to the insultee.  By unconditional, I mean it's not couched as "you'd be a fool if you did X" or "don't be a fool" or "we would look like blind beggars with one dog" etc.   Because I'm only counting direct insults to another person's face,  I'm excluding (for example) Rory Brandybuck's comment to Esmerelda that Bilbo is mad and a silly old fool.  I'm also excluding Saruman's reference to Pippin as "small rag-tag" because Saruman is speaking to Gandalf – even though the insult is delivered in Pippin's presence.  And I'm excluding self-reproaches.

We have at least the following (in roughly the order of appearance):
  • Gollum to Aragorn and Gandalf (as reported by Gandalf afterward): cruel
  • Butterbur to Nob: woolly-footed slowcoach (143) {human to hobbit}
  • Gandalf to Butterbur (as reported by Gandalf afterward): ass, fool - exasperation 
  • Gandalf to Pippin: fool - anger/exasperation {wizard to hobbit}
  • Gandalf to the Fellowship: fools - urgency
  • Boromir to Frodo: fool, obstinate fool
  • Orc to Pippin: little fool - scorn
  • Ugluk to other orcs: fools - scorn
  • Isengarders to northern orcs: maggots
  • Grishnakh to Pippin and Merry: tender little fools (456)
  • Gandalf to Pippin (as reported by Pippin afterward): tom-fool  
  • Theoden to Gandalf: Stormcrow (513)
  • Gríma to Gandalf: Stormcrow, Láthspell, Ill-news - fear/scorn/hatred?
  • Gandalf to Gríma: snake, witless worm - truth-telling
  • Gimli to Merry and Pippin: rascals, woolly-footed and wool-pated truants, villains (557) - exasperation {dwarf to hobbit}
  • Theoden to Saruman: cold, cruel (579 - truth-telling
  • Theoden to Saruman: liar, corrupter (580) - truth-telling
  • Saruman to Theoden: dotard
  • Frodo to Sam: old ass (606) - affection
  • Gollum to Sam and Frodo: cruel little (615)
  • Sam to Gollum: nasty treacherous (617)
  • Gollum to Sam and Frodo: nasty cruel (617)
  • Gollum to Sam: silly (654)
  • Gollum to Frodo: wicked, tricksy, false (668)
  • Gollum to Sam and Frodo: fools (705)
  • Gollum to Sam: silly (701)
  • Gollum to Sam and Frodo: foolish, silly (708)
  • Sam to Gollum: old villain (713)
  • Gollum to Sam: nassty filthy little sneak (714)
  • Shagrat to Gorbag: fool (740) 
  • Legolas to Merry: Sluggard (775) - affection {elf to hobbit}
  • Black Rider to Gandalf: old fool (828)
  • Lord of the Nazgûl to Dernhelm - fool (841)
  • Denethor to Gandalf: Grey Fool (853) - scorn
  • Gandalf to Denethor's servants: blind (855) - truth-telling
  • Pippin to Merry: ass (869) - affection
  • Mouth of Sauron to Gandalf: greybeard (889)
  • Shagrat to Snaga: little maggot (905)
  • Frodo to Sam: thief (912)
  • Slave-driver orc to Sam and Frodo: slugs (930, 931)
  • Ruffian to Frodo: little cock-a-whoop
  • Pippin to ruffian: ruffian, fool
  • Saruman to Gríma: idiot - scorn
  • Saruman to Merry: thief (984)
  • Butterbur to Nob: woolly-pated ninny, slowcoach (994) {human to hobbit}
  • Saruman to Gríma: Worm - scorn

How often do potentially insulting words appear in the text, excluding index entries?  Some of these mentions involve reactions by people who "overhear" insults about themselves (e.g. Pippin reacts to hearing himself referred to as "rag-tag" by embracing the term to refer to himself).
  • fool - 62 
  • blind - 49 (although only a few of these are insults or self-reproach)
  • maggot - 45 (many involve Farmer Maggot and family)
  • cruel - 41
  • nasty - 24
  • sneak - 22
  • snake - 21 (although only a few are used of or to a character)
  • treacherous - 18
  • treachery - 18
  • thief - 17
  • wicked - 17
  • silly - 15
  • false - 14
  • villain - 11
  • traitor - 10 
  • squint/squint-eyed - 9 (mostly used by narrator to describe bad guys)
  • sneering - 9
  • stupid - 8
  • nassty - 8
  • rascal - 6
  • witless - 6
  • murderer/murderous - 5
  • liar - 5 
  • dotard - 5
  • stormcrow - 4
  • beastly - 4 (used to characterize others not present)
  • woolly-footed/woolly-pated/wool-pated - 4
  • slowcoach - 3
  • ass - 3
  • sluggard - 3
  • small rag-tag - 3
  • ninny/ninny-hammers - 3
  • greybeard -3
  • idiot - 2
  • rogue - 2
  • tricksy - 2
  • slugs - 2
  • cock-a-whoop - 1
  • cut-throats - 1
  • vagabond - 1 (Aragorn's characterization of Butterbur's likely opinion of him)
  • pimply - 1 (used to characterize Lotho, who is not present)
  • oaf - 0
  • clod - 0
  • lazy - 0
  • burglar - 0
  • deaf - 0
  • buffoon - 0
  • good-for-nothing - 0
Feb. 25th Update: Joe has kicked it up several notches with a wonderfully comprehensive character-network map showing the network of everyone who calls someone else "fool" in LotR, ditching most of the constraints I've adopted: 
(I'd just be curious to see the lines weighted to show if someone – say, perhaps, Gandalf – calls someone else – such as, for example, Pippin – "fool" multiple times.)

Apr. 1st Update: Don't have time for all these silly blog posts?  Try listening to the Prancing Pony Podcast instead: 

Monday, February 19, 2018

B5: The Illusion of Truth

Londo: When I said my quarters were cold, I did not mean "Ooh, I think it's a little chilly in here.  Perhaps I'll throw a blanket on the bed."  No, I said it was cold!!  As in, "Oh look, my left arm has snapped off like an icicle and shattered on the floor."

  • Londo, ever the calm voice of reason.

ISN voiceover: In 2018, the foundation for Luna Colony was laid in the Sea of Tranquility.

  • I wonder what month that will be.

ISN journalist Dan: It is my belief that [Sheridan] is not an evil person.  He only needs our help to come back to us.

  • For once, Dan is correct; Sheridan is not an evil person.  But Dan is.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Le Retour du Roi, traduit par F. Ledoux

Some tentative thoughts on translation choices that have caught my attention as I've been dipping occasionally into the tome.
  • Bag End becomes Cul de Sac, which seems to make the mildly subtle philological joke sadly explicit.
  • Frodo Baggins (aka Underhill) is Frodon "Sacquet, ou dois-je dire monsieur Soucolline?" (p. 425). 
    • Adding the "n" to Frodo makes sense, and "Soucolline" is fairly literal.  
    • I had not expected "Sacquet," but it makes sense to coordinate with the name of his hobbit-hole.  
    • There's no entry for "Sacquet" in either of my dictionaries, so it may be an invented name, like "Baggins."
  • Sackville-Baggins becomes Sacquet de Besace (p. 548).  
    • My Langenscheidt's Standard Dictionary defines "besace" as "f † double sack; fig. être réduit à la ~ be reduced to beggary."  (I believe the † indicates an obsolete term.)  This saying actually provides some additional resonance with respect to Lobelia's coveting silver spoons and the high-status Bag End property, and even gives an extra class-related kick to the concept of leaving the washing-up for her (cf. Ruane and James 128 [emphasizing the sexist and classist overtones of leaving the washing-up for an elderly and less affluent female relative]).
  • Butterbur is Poiredebeurré, which brings to mind a buttered pear.
  • Bill Ferny is Bill Fougeron.  Apparently fougère means "fern." 
  • Wormtongue is Langue de Serpent, so the translator went with snake rather than worm/dragon.  
    • My Larousse de Poche defines "serpent" as "n. m. Reptile sans pieds : serpent à sonnettes. Objet qui serpente : des serpents de feu. Fig. Personne perfide. Mus. Instrument à vent."
    • Now, when Saroumane addresses him disrespectfully, it is as "Serpent" (p. 471) rather than "Worm" -- not as degrading, somehow, since a snake still has a bite even if the poison sacs have been removed. 
  • Initially, I thought "Gandalf l'Oiseau des Tempêtes" (p. 22) replaced the implied sneering echo of épouvantail with (at best) sheer melodrama and (at worst) a storm petrel.  
    • I'm still not sure that "oiseau des tempêtes" has any of the connotations of "stormcrow," as my dictionaries do not define that term under "oiseau" or "tempête." 
    • What gives me some pause now is that, when I look up "petrel" in the English section of Langenscheidt's, I see "orn. pétrel mstormy ~ oiseau m des tempêtes; fig. émissaire m de discorde."  But ultimately, I think they're telling the French about the purported figurative connotations of the English term "stormy petrel," rather than revealing anything about the French term "oiseau des tempêtes."
    • (My Larousse de Poche defines "épouvantail" as "n. m. Mannequin mis dans les champs pour effrayer les oiseaux.  Fig. Objet de terreur.")
  • The mighty Shadowfax has become Gripoil, a paltry grey-haired substitute imho.


Larousse de Poche.  Washington Square Press, Inc., 1967.
Ruane, Abigail E., and Patrick James.  The International Relations of Middle-Earth.  University of Michigan Press, 2012.
Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel.  Le Retour du Roi.  Translated by Francis Ledoux, Vol. III, Pocket, 2002.
Urwin, Kenneth.  Langenscheidt’s Standard French Dictionary: French-English, English-French.  Langenscheidt, 1988.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Prisoner of Zenda

So this is my first read-through of Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda (1894).  I've missed all the various movie adaptations as well, so I'm coming at this fresh.  Thirteen chapters in, it's a light-hearted adventure -- an English gentleman, who is distantly related to Ruritanian royalty due to a great-grandmother's weakness for gingers, sneaks off to see the coronation and ends up swapping in for the prince at the last minute.

Excerpts from Chapters 2 and 5 may give a general sense of the tone:
My saucy conductor, looking over her shoulder at me as she preceded me upstairs, said:
“There’s no pleasing Master Johann for one of your colour, sir.”
“He prefers yours, maybe?” I suggested.
“I meant, sir, in a man,” she answered, with a coquettish glance.
“What,” asked I, taking hold of the other side of the candlestick, “does colour matter in a man?”
“Nay, but I love yours—it’s the Elphberg red.”
“Colour in a man,” said I, “is a matter of no more moment than that!”—and I gave her something of no value.
ch. 2

"Perhaps I ought to say that I was dressed all in white, except my boots. I wore a silver helmet with gilt ornaments, and the broad ribbon of the Rose looked well across my chest. I should be paying a poor compliment to the King if I did not set modesty aside and admit that I made a very fine figure." 
ch. 5

As it happens, I've been working my way through Helen Cooper's The English Romance in Time (looking at memes from the medieval romance genre), so this almost dovetails a bit with her view of romance as buttressing claims of succession and usurpers. And of course it's always nice to see a ginger get a starring role!

P.S. Oh, and I just ran into this gem in Chapter 17 (our hero is overhearing a quarrel between the two chief villains):
“Does your Highness threaten me?” asked Rupert.
“A threat is more warning than most men get from me.”
“Yet,” observed Rupert, “Rudolf Rassendyll has been much threatened, and yet lives!”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Flight of the Prisoner

Sheridan: First obligation of a prisoner is to escape.

Lorien: Ah.  So, if one is a prisoner of love, one must escape ... to solitude?  If one is a prisoner to joy, must one escape to sadness?

(Babylon 5, "Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?"  4.2)

~ ~ ~

A strange comment from Delenn: "I should have loved him less and trusted him more."

~ ~ ~

G'Kar: If you're going to be worried every time the universe doesn't make sense, then you're going to be worried every moment of every day for the rest of your natural life.

Marcus: Your point being?

~ ~ ~

Marcus: "Bad case of pikal envy, if you ask me."

Daffy Duck in B5

"It's sort of the Egyptian god of frustration."

-- Zack to G'kar, identifying the poster of Daffy Duck over Garibaldi's bed.
(Babylon 5, "The Hour of the Wolf" 4.1.)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bilbo Fades

We meet Bilbo three times after he relinquishes the Ring.  His deterioration is evident, and heart-breaking, but portrayed with great gentleness.

Rivendell I
Suddenly [Frodo] noticed, not far from the further end of the fire, a small dark figure seated on a stool with his back propped against a pillar. [...] Frodo wondered whether he was ill (if people were ever ill in Rivendell) [...].  His head seemed sunk in sleep on his breast, and a fold of his dark cloak was drawn over his face.
Bilbo may sleep more than he once did, but he was able to visit Frodo often during his convalescence.  And he is spirited enough when awake:
'But as for the feast, I don't go in for such things much now.  And I had something else to do.' 
'What were you doing?' 
'Why, sitting and thinking.  I do a lot of that nowadays [...].  Wake up, indeed!' he said, cocking an eye at Elrond.  There was a bright twinkle in it and no sign of sleepiness that Frodo could see. 'Wake up! I was not asleep, Master Elrond.  [...] [Y]ou have disturbed me – in the middle of making up a song."
In truth, he is still writing poetry and engaging with others at this time.  He is even able to volunteer to take the Ring and finish it (though predictably no one will let him).

Rivendell II
They found him all alone in his little room.  It was littered with papers and pens and pencils; but Bilbo was sitting in a chair before a small bright fire.  He looked very old, but peaceful, and sleepy. 
* * * 
[T]hey sat much with their old friend, who spent most of his time now in his room, except at meals.  For these he was still very punctual as a rule, and he seldom failed to wake up in time for them.  Sitting round the fire they told him in turn all that they could remember of their journeys and adventures.  At first he pretended to take some notes; but he often fell asleep; and when he woke he would say: 'How splendid! How wonderful! But where were we?' 
The only part that seemed really to rouse him and hold his attention was the account of the crowning and marriage of Aragorn. 'I was invited to the wedding, of course,' he said. 'And I have waited for it long enough. But somehow, when it came to it, I found I had so much to do here; and packing is such a bother.'
So we see that Bilbo still makes excuses and attempts to save face – but it is less plausible than before. Much of the gentleness is in the other hobbits' reactions; they play along and go on with the story "from the point where he had begun to nod."

Still, though he forgets some things – gifts he has already given to Frodo, and the disposition of the Ring – he is sharp and shrewd enough when it comes to it, with plenty of advice for Merry and Pippin, and a friendly interest in Sam's possible marriage.  Though even here, in the midst of gift-giving, "suddenly he nodded and went to sleep for a little; and when he woke up again he said: 'Now where were we? Yes, of course, giving presents.'"  It takes more effort of will for him to focus and remember things, but he still can.

More excuses, even when expressing slight jealousy (!) of Frodo's adventures: "Anyway it's too late now; and really I think it's much more comfortable to sit here and hear about it all."

And in the reprise of his walking-song, he recognizes that he will "Let others follow [the Road] who can!," as "I at last with weary feet / Will turn towards the lighted inn, / My evening-rest and sleep to meet."  And he falls asleep again as he murmurs the last words.

Sam remarks softly that Bilbo has not done – and will likely never do – much writing at this point, which seems to rouse Bilbo to defend himself once again:
'You see, I am getting so sleepy,' he said. 'And when I have time to write, I only really like writing poetry.'
He asks Frodo to take all his notes and paper and "tidy things up a bit" --
'You see, I haven't much time for the selection and the arrangement and all that.  Get Sam to help, and when you've knocked things into shape, come back, and I'll run over it.  I won't be too critical.'
Frodo agrees, of course, but they all know the truth – a truth that is only underlined by Elrond's words "I think, Frodo, that maybe you will not need to come back, unless you come very soon."  These words feel like the shadow of death, though Elrond clearly expects Bilbo to be spared for at least a year, as they will make their way through the woods of the Shire on their way to the Grey Havens "when the leaves are gold before they fall."

In the Woods of the Shire, When the Leaves Are Gold Before They Fall

Bilbo is "on a small grey pony, and seeming to nod in his sleep."  He awakens and recognizes Frodo:
'Hullo, Frodo!' he said. 'Well, I have passed the Old Took today!  So that's settled.  And now I think I am quite ready to go on another journey.  Are you coming?' 
'Yes, I am coming,' said Frodo. 'The Ring-bearers should go together.'

* * *

I don't really have anything to say about this.  I'm crying too much.

Frodo's Attempted Defiance in "Flight to the Ford" (FotR I.12)

In this passage, references to the emotions of hatred and fear suddenly jumped out at me.  Could Frodo's attempts to defy the Black Riders perhaps be doomed to failure because they are motivated by hate and fear? Surely, in some sense, these emotions (unlike those of, say, love, loyalty, and – above all – pity) play right into the hands of Sauron and his agents.  But on closer inspection, I think hate does Frodo greater disservice than fear.
  • Frodo initially obeys the Riders' silent command to wait, without realizing the source of his "strange reluctance" to comply with Glorfindel's instructions.  Suddenly he realizes what is happening and why, and "at once fear and hatred awoke in him.  His hand left the bridle and gripped the hilt of his sword, and with a red flash he drew it."  
In a sense, his very instinct to draw a sword betrays him, since swords will be useless against the Riders.  Indeed, as if in mockery, "[s]words were naked in their pale hands."  The only thing that drawing the sword accomplishes is further delaying Frodo's flight.
  • The Riders "called to him with fell voices.  Fear now filled all Frodo's mind.  He thought no longer of his sword.  No cry came from him.  He shut his eyes and clung to the horse's mane."
Frodo's best hope is to obey Glorfindel's instruction, and get away as quickly as possible.  He must flee the Riders.  But his feeling of hatred seems to be closely linked to thinking of his sword (which again is of no conceivable use against the Riders).  It is only when fear fills "all Frodo's mind" (thus displacing hate) that he actually obeys the instruction and thinks no longer of his sword.  Shutting his eyes and clinging to the horse is almost literally blind trust.
  • On the far bank, Frodo "felt that he was commanded urgently to halt.  Hatred again stirred in him, but he had no longer the strength to refuse." 
Is it possible that the strong, useless emotion of hatred has sapped Frodo's strength, leaving him too weak to resist the Riders' will?  What has happened to the fear that caused him to cling to the white elf-horse?
  • Nonetheless, when the foremost Rider is momentarily checked at the water's edge, Frodo manages "[w]ith a great effort" to sit up "and brandish[] his sword."
  • Frodo's "last effort" involves invoking the names of Elbereth and Luthien and "lifting up his sword."
  • The leader raises his hand mid-stream and "Frodo was stricken dumb.  [...] His sword broke and fell out of his shaking hand."
At the end, Frodo stumbles on the one other thing besides fleeing that possibly could help him - invoking the names of Elbereth and Luthien - but the Rider apparently silences him.  It could be mere intimidation or a psychological effect, but I'm inclined to think it is some kind of spell or telekinesis.  The critical clue is the order of the words in the last quoted sentence: "His sword broke and fell out of his shaking hand."  Ordinarily, we would expect the sword to fall and then break.  Under the power of the Rider, it breaks and then falls.

There is also a curious thing that happens with the elf-horse.  I had been fully prepared to fault Frodo for not continuing to ride on; but the horse does not exactly cooperate with that plan.  With "a last spurt," it had been "speeding as if it had wings" to bring Frodo right past the face of the foremost Rider.  On reaching the far bank, Frodo feels "the quick heave and surge as the horse left the river and struggled up the stony path.  He was climbing the steep bank."  But the horse does not attempt to continue on.  Rather, "[a]t the top of the bank the horse halted and turned about neighing fiercely."  It is only at this point, when the horse has already halted, that Frodo feels he is "commanded urgently to halt."  The horse may well have reached a physical limit on its ability to gallop away, although it remains on its feet and its spirit remains unbroken.

I'm thinking there are also some important echoes of the incident in the barrow here, but I'll have to look at that another time.

Important Lessons in Elf-Medicine from "Flight to the Ford" (FotR I.12)

Elf-medicine defies humdrum human concerns about bacteria and infections:
"[Glorfindel] searched the wound on Frodo's shoulder with his fingers, and his face grew graver, as if what he learned disquieted him. But Frodo felt the chill lessen in his side and arm; a little warmth crept down from his shoulder to his hand, and the pain grew easier."
Important Dos and Don'ts
  • DO touch wounds with your fingers! No need to futz around with gloves, hot water, soap, or the like.
  • DON'T touch the hilt of the knife that made the wound any more than absolutely necessary -- "handle it as little as you may!"
  • DON'T worry if you've literally just handled the knife hilt before touching the wound, though. That's perfectly fine.

P.S.  Compare with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  At the urgings of a concerned beta reader, Lewis threw in at least five reminders for readers not to shut themselves up in wardrobes.*  Tolkien seems to have recklessly embraced a somewhat darwinian approach to medicine for his more impressionable readers.

FN* Here are the hits that came up in a quick search.  Note that the good and wise characters (Peter and Lucy) are careful not to shut themselves in, while the selfish, weak-willed Edmund forgets.
  1. "[Lucy] immediately stepped into the wardrobe [...] leaving the door open, of course, because she knew that it is very foolish to shut oneself into any wardrobe."
  2. "(She had, of course, left the door open, for she knew that it is a very silly thing to shut oneself into a wardrobe.)"
  3. "[T]here was nothing for it but to jump into the wardrobe and hold the door closed behind her. She did not shut it properly because she knew that it is very silly to shut oneself into a wardrobe, even if it is not a magic one."
  4. "Peter held the door closed but did not shut it; for, of course, he remembered, as every sensible person does, that you should never never shut yourself up in a wardrobe."
  5. "[Edmund] jumped in and shut the door, forgetting what a very foolish thing this is to do."

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Mike Wallace and Greater Gotham

In tonight's lecture, Mike Wallace covered 19 years of NYC history in 29 minutes. Ordinarily it takes him 1,200 pages.

To me, the most interesting tidbit came up in the Q&A. Apparently, NYC itself coalesced in the era of merger mania (around the same time that U.S. Steel and other big ol' monopoly companies were formed). It seems that Brooklyn was on the fence about joining NYC - but its hand was forced by water shortages and the lack of a tax base sufficient to create the basic infrastructure it needed. This reminds me of Tank Girl.