Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lettuce corn tin you, or Anguish Languish (The Sing-along Edition)

First there was Owe Joy! Ode Ill Height!, in which we discussed Furry Tells and Noisier Rams.

Then there was Homophonic Transformations, Part Two, in which we sang “Venue Whisker Porno Store” from the Walt Disney movie Pinochle Pinocchio.

Now, after many months, during which your correspondent lay awake many nights thinking up new ways to torment entertain you, here’s Anguish Languish (The Sing-along Edition)!

Ewer par tizzy patients knot chest whelk um, hits expectorated.

Lettuce beggin’:

1. ’S Cool Daze

’S cool daze, ’s cool daze,
Deer hold goal dun gruel daze,
Ridden an rotten an Ruth mat hick
Taut tudor tuna bah heck grease tick.
Ewer mock winnin’ cowlick go,
Eye washer bass fill, bear food bow,
Win ewe Rodan moss late
“Isle of yew sew,”
Win wee worry cupola* Keds**.

Wasn’t that fun?

Don’t answer that.

Lettuce corn tin you.

2. A Bye Sickle Billed Four Too

Day see, Day see,
Gummy you rancid rue,
Alm have graze, see,
Offer the lob a view.
It want via sty leash mare edge,
Eye canto four duck air edge,
Bit ewe looks wheat
A porn thus eat tub
A bye sickle billed four too.

All righty, then.

A song from you would be best of all.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou (1928 - 2014)

When Great Trees Fall
by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

A great tree fell today. We were of different genders, generations, races, political persuasions, and even religious beliefs, but I admired her greatly. It was strange, but when she spoke, her voice alone could heal deep wounds. At least, it seemed that way to me. You can read about her here. May she rest in peace.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lest we forget

Since today (Monday, May 26 -- yesterday if you're in Australia) is Memorial Day in the United States, I choose to use my blog to honor two young men whose names appear on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

The first, Captain Edward Wilson Griffith (1941-1969) , was the brother of my blogger friend Pat - An Arkansas Stamper.

The second, First Lieutenant Edwin Steven Brague, Jr. (1943-1967) , shares my surname but I have not yet determined the relationship, if any, between us.

Since Brague is not a common surname, I used to think that everyone named Brague must be related. But after I discovered that Brague is the name of a river in France, I have come to believe that perhaps the Bragues of today share a common area of origin geographically but are not necessarily related. I intend to keep investigating.

Twenty-eight-year-old Captain Griffith (Panel W25, line 48) was from Jacksonville, Arkansas. He died on May 11, 1969 during hostile ground fighting in Kontum Province, South Vietnam. His body was recovered and is interred at Little Rock National Cemetery in Arkansas.

Twenty-three-year-old Lieutenant Brague (Panel 13E, Line 120) was from Ridgewood, New Jersey. He was the pilot of a helicopter that crashed during hostilities in Quang Tin, South Vietnam, on January 7, 1967. His body was recovered also and is interred in Pennsylvania.

These are but two of the 58,272 names inscribed on the wall as of 2011. Today Americans also remember the fallen of other wars in our nation’s history. The major conflicts were:

American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) : 25,000
War of 1812 (1812-1815) : 20,000
Mexican-American War (1846-1848) : 13,283
Civil War (1861-1865) : 625,000
Spanish-American War (1898) : 2,446
Philippine-American War (1898-1913) : 4,196
World War I (1917-1918) : 116,516
World War II (1941-1945) : 405,399
Korean War (1950-1953) : 36,516
Vietnam War (1955-1975) : 58,209
Afghanistan (2001- ) : 3,441 as of May 24, 2014
Iraq (2003-2012) : 4,804

Sources: U.S. Army Military History Institute;; Wikipedia

Click here to see Captain Griffith’s grave in the national cemetery in Little Rock (photo by his sister, our good friend Pat).

Finally, click here to read a good Memorial Day post by another cyberfriend, Michael Burns of Carlsbad, California (our good friend Reamus).

Everyone who plans to concentrate on boats, barbecue, or baseball today should read it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity

Elmer E. Brague and Edith L. Brague were my father’s parents. Clifford Ray Brague was my father. Ruth Elizabeth Brague was my mother. I do not have photographs of the graves of my mother’s parents, Nathan Silberman (1875-1970) and Rosetta Aarons Silberman (1878-1937), but here is a photograph of the entrance to the cemetery where they are buried, Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

It’s the best I can do.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The first fifty years went by so fast

...and so did year number 51.

Date: May 19, 1963
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Where: Orlando, Florida
What: We said “I do”....

Monday, May 12, 2014

School days, school days, dear old golden rule days

Here are the rules for how the game of London Bridge Is Falling Down was played when I was a child many years ago in Mansfield, Texas:

1. Two people decide to form a game of London Bridge Is Falling Down (as opposed to, say, Mother, May I? or Red Rover, Red Rover) and appoint themselves as the leaders.

2. The two put their heads together privately and decide what each side will “be” but this information is not shared with the others. Typically, one side might be a golden apple and the other a silver pear, or one side might be a white stallion and the other a shimmering unicorn.

2. The two people form a bridge with their arms and everyone begins singing “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down” and so forth, and everyone marches under (over?) the bridge. When the song reaches “my fair LADY!” the two leaders’ arms (that’s four arms in all, people) come down on the word LADY! and “capture” a person.

3. Whilst everyone else waits patiently, the two leaders take the captured prisoner off to one side, out of earshot of the others, and the prisoner is asked, “Would you rather be a golden apple or a silver pear?” or whatever (the possibilities are endless. In a 21st-century, politically correct version of this game, for example, the question might be, “Would you rather be kissed by Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie?”) .

4. When the prisoner has made his or her choice, it is revealed to him or her which team leader he or she has chosen and he or she lines up behind said team leader, putting his or her arms (his or her own arms, I mean) on the team leader’s waist.

5. The now-expanded “bridge” returns to the group.

6. Steps 2 through 5 are repeated until every marcher has become a prisoner and has decided whether to be a golden apple, a silver pear, a white stallion, a shimmering unicorn, the object of Brad Pitt’s affections, or Angelina Jolie’s and has lined up on one side or the other.

7. Finally, a great tug-of-war game ensues between the two sides until one side loses or Miss Erma Nash, the principal, comes out from her office and stands at the schoolhouse door waving a white towel to indicate that recess is over and it’s time to return to class.

As a bonus on this trip down memory lane, I end this post by revealing the erroneous version of the song “School Days” we sang:

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
Readin’ and Writin’ and ’Rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick.
You were my queen in calico,
I was your bashful, barefoot beau
When you rode on my sleigh
“I love you so,”
When we were a couple of kids.

Did you spot the error?

Yes, of course! Riding on a sleigh is what you do in “Jingle Bells.” We should have sung “When you wrote on my slate” but we didn’t know what slates were in my little corner of the world. We had tablets of lined paper that our mammas bought at Wynn & Cabaniss, Sell’s, or Curry’s grocery store.

Today’s kids, on the other hand, don’t know what a hickory stick is. It’s their loss. Or maybe ours.

Thus ends another fascinating glimpse into the dear, dead days beyond almost beyond recall.

P.S. -- Today would have been my father’s 108th birthday. The photograph above is not of my father, but of Miss Erma Nash, our principal, who seemed 108 to us.

P.P.S. -- I received an e-mail from an old school friend, Fred Stone, class of 1959 (one year behind me) . He takes issue with my saying that Miss Erma waved a white towel to signal end of recess. He is almost certain it was her little white lace hankie. That would be more in character, I admit. I stand corrected.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

(From the archives: July 6, 2011) crooked letter, crooked letter, i

I have a young friend named Tim -- he’s 42 and that’s young from my perspective -- whose blog I read from time to time, usually just after he has announced on his Facebook page that he has a new post on his blog. He probably announces it on Twitter also but I don’t do Twitter. I’m not saying I’ll never do Twitter because (a) never is a long, long time and (b) the scripture does say “Boast not thyself of tomorrow because thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (KJV) , but for the foreseeable future (say, the next 60 years or so) I have no intention of ever doing Twitter. Blogging is one thing, and Facebooking is another, but doing Twitter definitely makes a person part of what are termed “the chattering classes” and I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the chattering classes.

Stop laughing.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was reading Tim’s blog when i suddenly realized that tim does not capitalize the beginning of any sentence or any personal pronoun that is in the first person singular or any proper name except that of deity, so i thought if it’s good enough for tim it’s good enough for me. i mean, after all, rhymeswithplague is spelled without a capital letter and following tim’s lead would be the next logical step down the path to weirdness.

his heart is in the right place, i’m sure. i mean, i get it. tim and i are both Christian men and so we are both aware of what the apostle john wrote in the thirtieth verse of the third chapter of the fourth book in the new testament:

“He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease.”

in fact, i said this very thing in the third blogpost i ever wrote nearly four years ago.

i’m wondering, though, whether tim and i are really achieving our desired purpose by deciding to refer to ourselves in this unorthodox way, because from time immemorial or at least as far back as there have been english teachers, sentences have started with capital letters and the personal pronoun in the first person singular has always been capitalized, and a proper noun has been capitalized as well out of simple common courtesy, so this sudden shift has quite the opposite effect, i think, from the one intended; that is, by separating oneself from the thundering herd, by being different, one is specifically calling attention to oneself rather than away from oneself, wouldn’t you say?

or maybe that is tim’s point. we, by which i mean tim and i and all Christians, are exactly like everyone who isn’t Christian except for one thing, and that is that we want Christ to increase and ourselves to decrease. the problem, though, in taking matters into our own hands is the same one faced by orders of nuns who still wear habits that originated in the 16th or 17th century, namely that when said orders adopted their habits they wanted to look like modest peasant women of the 16th or 17th century, but in a few years the clothing styles changed. in more recent times we went through the flapper era of the nineteen-twenties and the mini-skirted era of the nineteen-sixties, and even though Christian women tried to dress modestly and stylishly simultaneously, nuns all stood out like sore thumbs because they still looked like peasant women of the 16th or 17th century. correction, make that modest peasant women of the 16th or 17th century. i mean, they might as well have been wearing big signs that said “look at me; i'm holier than thou.”

the best-laid plans o’ mice and men, not to mention orders of well-meaning nuns, gang aft agley.

so, as yul brynner used to say on days he dressed up in gold lamé outfits that were too baggy for words and went barefoot besides, is a puzzlement.

which leads me to two conclusions that i have modestly named Rhymeswithplague’s First Law and Rhymeswithplague’s Second Law:

(1) the purer the motive, the more ridiculous the manifestation.

(2) writing in all lowercase letters in order to appear humble may not achieve the objective one desires, BUT DOING THE OPPOSITE AND WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS IS NOT THE ANSWER EITHER.

sorry, i didn’t mean to shout at you.

now that i have had time to reflect on it, i think this will be the end of my little foray into lowercasehood.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag

In “The Waste Land” T. S. Eliot called April the cruellest month, but May is worse on my bank account.

Before May 2014 ends, our family will see a granddaughter’s 14th birthday, a grandson’s 15th birthday, Mother’s Day, our 51st wedding anniversary, a grandson’s graduation from high school, and our daughter’s receiving a Masters Degree. My father’s birthday was in May too but he is no longer with us.

I do not begrudge the giving of gifts, not at all, but I must learn to include them in my budgeting process.


<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...