Monthly Archives: July 2013

Excerpt from “The World According To Garp” by John Irving ~~Under Toad~~

picture-WorldAccordingToGarp-IrvingDuncan began talking about Walt and the undertow – a famous family story. For as far back as Duncan could remember, the Garps had gone every summer to Dog’s Head Harbor, New Hampshire, where the miles of beach in front of Jenny Fields’ estate were ravaged by a fearful undertow. When Walt was old enough to venture near the water, Duncan said to him – as Helen and Garp had, for years, said to Duncan – ‘Watch out for the undertow.’ Walt retreated, respectfully. And for three summers Walt was warned about the undertow. Duncan recalled all the phrases.

‘The undertow is bad today.’

‘The undertow is strong today.’

‘The undertow is wicked today.’ Wicked was a big word in New Hampshire – not just for the undertow.

And for years Walt reached out for it. From the first, when he asked what it could do to you, he had only been told that it could pull you out to sea. It could suck you under and drown you and drag you away.

It was Walt’s fourth summer at Dog’s Head Harbor, Duncan remembered, when Garp and Helen and Duncan observed Walt watching the sea. He stood ankle-deep in the foam from the surf and peered into the waves, without taking a step, for the longest time. The family went down to the water’s edge to have a word with him.

‘What are you doing, Walt?’ Helen asked.

‘What are you looking for, dummy?’ Duncan asked him.

‘I’m trying to see the Under Toad,’ Walt said.

‘The what?’ said Garp.

‘The Under Toad,’ Walt said. ‘I’m trying to see it. How big is it?

And Garp and Helen and Duncan held their breath; they realized that all these years Walt had been dreading a giant toad, lurking offshore, waiting to suck him under and drag him out to sea. The terrible Under Toad.

Garp tried to imagine it with him. Would it ever surface? Did it ever float? Or was it always down under, slimy and bloated and ever-watchful for ankles its coated tongue could snare? The vile Under Toad.

Between Helen and Garp, the Under Toad became their code phrase for anxiety. Long after the monster was clarified for Walt (‘Undertow, dummy, not Under Toad!’ Duncan had howled), Garp and Helen evoked the beast as a way of referring to their own sense of danger. When the traffic was heavy, when the road was icy – when depression had moved in overnight – they said to each other, ‘The Under Toad is strong today.’

‘Remember,’ Duncan asked on the plane, ‘how Walt asked if it was green or brown?’

Both Garp and Duncan laughed. But it was neither green nor brown, Garp thought. It was me. It was Helen. It was the color of bad weather. It was the size of an automobile.



Filed under Fiction, Literature

“Spiderman” Theme Song (Words by Paul Francis Webster)

Spiderman, Spiderman, 
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies
Look Out!
Here comes the Spiderman.

Is he strong?
Listen bud,
He’s got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread
Take a look overhead
Hey, there
There goes the Spiderman.

In the chill of night
At the scene of a crime
Like a streak of light
He arrives just in time.

Spiderman, Spiderman
Friendly neighborhood Spiderman
Wealth and fame
He’s ignored
Action is his reward.

To him, life is a great big bang up
Whenever there’s a hang up
You’ll find the Spider man.




Filed under Lyrics

“A Mad Look At Fairy Tales” by Sergio Aragonés ~~Frog Prince~~


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21 July 2013 · 8:04 am

Excerpt from “No Memory for Pain” by F. Kingsley Norris ~~Maple Syrup~~

One delightful Sunday was spent in the countryside. Across the Ottawa River I was aware we were in a French area. On the Ottawa side of the bridge I was invited to ‘Drink Coca Cola’, on the far side to ‘Buvez Coca Cola’. We drove on through the woods to the sugar bush country, an area covered with snow around the bare stems of the maples, each with a small spigot stuck into the bark, dripping the clear sap into a can below. Large cauldrons had been set up above fires and into these the cans were emptied, boiling and bubbling away, the sap soon became concentrated into the yellow-brown maple syrup.

On a table nearby were shallow round pans about twelve inches in diameter, filled with soft snow, over which was poured the hot syrup, which almost at once congealed into a tacky mass of toffee while the youngsters crowded around twirling little sticks into this delight and sucking away. Only for a few weeks, while the snow is still on the ground and the sap is beginning to rise, can the syrup be gathered; once the buds appear the flavour is spoiled.

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Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

Excerpt from “Follow The Roar” by Bob Smiley ~~Watch~~

picture-FollowTheRoar-SmileyStewart Cink lines up an uphill, five-foot putt for par. His opponent, Tiger Woods, is already in the hole with a bogey. Tiger’s 4 up on Stewart, halfway through the 36-hole final of the Accenture Match Play.

But it’s not over. In fact, if Cink makes this, he can stall Tiger’s momentum and cut into the lead, starting the last 18 holes a very catchable 3 down. A big putt, to say the least. He takes a practice stroke with his belly putter, then carefully rests it behind the ball.

I look around to see if everyone else shares my suspense and notice I’m the only person actually watching Stewart Cink. I follow the gallery’s eyes to the far side of the green to see what’s so distracting.

Tiger Woods is putting on his watch.

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Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction, Sport

Excerpt from “A Small Furry Hope” by Steven Kotler ~~Ahab~~

picture-SmallFurryHope-KotlerIn the beginning, having no idea what responsibility really meant, I tried to change Ahab’s behaviour.  I would return from the store to find a shredded pillow and lead him over to the mess and firmly say “No!” while trying to remain calm. I was angry, and when this didn’t produce the desired result, even angrier.  But I hadn’t got a dog to be mad at that dog, and scolding Ahab really wasn’t getting the job done. Instead, I decided to review the facts.

These were the facts: Every time I came home to disaster, Ahab looked guilty. When I shouted at him, he looked sorry. If I could trust my read of his emotions, then he knew that what he was doing was wrong but still did it anyway. Armchair psychology said this meant one of two things: either he was so terrified of abandonment that he couldn’t help himself – and what I had been interpreting as political protest was actually pure panic – or else the damage was dog language for “I’m terrified of being left alone, you stupid schmuck!” Either way, he was terrified.

Since there was no way to stop leaving him alone, I started comforting him when I got home. I would ignore the mess, apologize for my absence, and smother him with affection. I mean smother him. The bigger the disaster, the more love he got. I was going on instinct here, as my plan ran contrary to the advice of most dog trainers. That advice covered the gamut, but a typical example was the 2009 ABC News story “How to Cure Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety.” They suggest more discipline – thus cementing my position as “team leader” – or less affection – this breaking him of his “owner addiction.” Across the board, the experts were certain that my strategy – coming home and treating him, for lack of a better phrase, like a human being – would only reward and reinforce his bad behaviour. As often happens in dog rescue, the experts were wrong.

Within a week, Ahab stopped destroying the furniture. Within two, he left the garbage alone. At the start of the third, he got up from the corner, walked over to the couch where I was sitting, and put a paw on the cushion. He was trembling slightly, trying to hide it, but trembling. It took him a little while to work up his nerve, but eventually he pulled himself the rest of the way up and belly-crawled over. He stopped a few inches away to gather himself. The quivering ceased, his fur lay back down, and he lifted his head to face me directly. Martin Buber once said, “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language,” and this time no different. It really was the first time Ahab had ever held my gaze, I’m not sure what I’d been expecting – maybe fear, wariness, a hint of hope – but what I got was the weight of tradition, a combination of great furry love and truly sober nobility. It felt like Ahab was both offering me his heart and telling men of an ancient trust between our species, a sacred covenant, an honor code I didn’t yet know existed. I’m pretty sure he was also telling me not to screw it up.

Then, our ethics lesson over, Ahab put his head in my lap, sighed once, and fell asleep. Not ten seconds later, he was snoring loudly. I started laughing. It had been such a profound performance. The months of buildup, the fear and trembling, the meaningful look – and for an encore, the melodic sounds of a Panzer tank in the middle of a coughing fit.

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Dialogue from “George Cross Heroes – You’re Nicked” ~~Princess Anne~~

Ronnie Russell:
I’m now at the crown of the road and I’m sort of fifteen, eighteen feet away from him. He’s got Princess Anne by the arm and he’s got a gun at her head, and there’s a tug-of-war going on and he’s saying, “C’mon Anne, you’ve got to come, you know you’ve got to come.”
It was at that moment that she ceased to be this person in the palace that you see. Suddenly there was a real person in front of me.
At that moment, I see a police officer running towards the car. You think that’s it, it’s all over, the police are there now. And I see him just turn, and shoot the policeman.
At the point of realizing that this was more than just a row at the car: I’m seeing a police officer shot. It just kicked in that this has got to stop.
And at that point, I thought I am actually going to smack you so hard now, you will really regret this whole incident; you’ll wish you hadn’t got up this morning.



THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following awards of the George Cross, the George Medal and the Queen’s Gallantry Medal and for the publication in the London Gazette of the names of those specially shown below as having received an expression of Commendation for Brave Conduct.
(To be dated 5th July 1974)
George Cross
James Wallace BEATON, Inspector, Metropolitan Police.
Awarded the George Medal
Michael John HILLS, Constable, Metropolitan Police.
Ronald George RUSSELL, Area Manager, Exclusive Office Cleaning, London E.2.
Awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal
Alexander CALLENDER, Chauffeur, Royal Household.
Peter Roy EDMONDS, Constable, Metropolitan Police.
John Brian McCONNELL, Freelance Journalist, Dulwich Village, London S.E.21.
Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct
Glenmore Thomas Walter MARTIN, Chauffeur, Lydney, Gloucestershire.

At about 8 p.m. on 20th March 1974, Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace from an official engagement. Their car was being driven by Mr. Callender and they were accompanied by Princess Anne’s personal Police Officer, Inspector Beaton, and her Lady-in-Waiting.
As the Royal car approached the junction of the Mall with Marlborough Road, a white car swerved in front of it, causing Mr. Callender to stop suddenly. Leaving the vehicle, the driver went to the Royal car and Inspector Beaton, who was seated in the front passenger seat, got out to see what was wrong. As Inspector Beaton approached, the man pointed a revolver at him and fired, wounding him in the shoulder. Despite his wound the Inspector drew his pistol and fired at the man, but the shot missed. He was unable to fire again as his gun jammed, and as he moved to the nearside of the car and tried to clear the stoppage the gunman told him to drop his weapon, or he would shoot Princess Anne. As he was unable to clear the weapon the officer placed it on the ground. The gunman was trying to open the rear offside door of the Royal car and was demanding that Princess Anne went with him, but Princess Anne and Captain Phillips were struggling to keep the door closed. As soon as the Lady-in-Waiting left by the rear nearside door Inspector Beaton entered the same way, and leant across to shield Princess Anne with his body. Captain Phillips managed to close the door and the Inspector, seeing that the man was about to fire into the back of the car, put his hand up to the window directly in the line of fire to absorb the impact of the bullet. The gunman fired, shattering the window, and the officer was wounded in the right hand by the bullet and by broken glass. Despite his wounds the Inspector asked Captain Phillips to release his grip on the door so that he might kick it open violently to throw the man off balance. However, before he could do so, the man opened the door and fired at the officer again, wounding him in the stomach. The Inspector fell from the offside door and collapsed unconscious at the gunman’s feet.
Mr. Callender meanwhile had tried to get out of the car, but the gunman had put the pistol to his head and told him not to move. Undeterred, he got out of the car at the first opportunity and grabbed the man’s arm in an attempt to remove the gun. Although the gunman threatened to shoot him, Mr. Callender clung to the man’s arm until he was shot in the chest.
Mr. McConnell was travelling in a taxi along the Mall when he heard shots. As a Royal car appeared to be involved, he stopped the taxi and ran back to the scene, where he found the gunman shouting at the occupants of the car. Seeing the gun in the man’s hand, Mr. McConnell went up to him in a placatory manner and asked him to hand over the gun. The man told him to get back, but when Mr. McConnell continued to approach he took aim and fired, wounding him in the chest. Mr. McConnell staggered away and collapsed.
Constable Hills was on duty at St. James’s Palace when he heard a noise and saw the cars stationary in the Mall. Thinking there had been an accident, he reported by personal radio and went to the scene. He saw a man trying to pull someone from the back of the car and touched his arm, whereupon the man spun round, moved a few feet away and pointed the gun at the officer. As Constable Hills moved forward to take the gun, the gunman shot him in the stomach and returned to the rear of the car. The officer staggered away and, using his personal radio, sent a clear and concise message to Cannon Row Police Station reporting the gravity of the situation and calling for assistance. As he walked round the back of the car he saw Inspector Beaton’s discarded gun, and picking it up returned to the offside of the vehicle intending to shoot the gunman. However, he felt very faint and did not use the weapon as he could not be sure of his aim. He was assisted to the side of the road where he collapsed.
Mr. Martin was also driving along the Mall and when he saw the situation, he drove his motor car in front of the gunman’s car to prevent any possible escape. He then went to the Royal car to render assistance, but the gunman pushed a gun in his ribs. At this point Constable Hills intervened and was shot and it was Mr. Martin who assisted him to the side of the road.
Mr. Russell was driving along the Mall when he saw the gunman attempting to open the door of the Royal car. He stopped and as he ran back he heard shots. Arriving at the car, he saw the man with the gun in his hand and Police Constable Hills being assisted to the side of the road. Regardless of the obvious danger, and seeing that the gunman was holding Princess Anne by the forearm and trying to wrest her from the car, Mr. Russell ran up and punched him on the back of the head. The man immediately turned and fired at him, but fortunately the shot missed. Mr. Russell then tried to get Constable Hills’ truncheon, but hearing more commotion he returned to the Royal car from which the gunman was still trying to drag Princess Anne with one hand, while pointing a gun at her with the other and threatening to shoot if she refused to come. While maintaining her refusal, Princess Anne managed to delay the gunman and to distract his attention by engaging him in conversation. Captain Phillips kept his arm firmly round her waist and was trying to pull her back into the car. Mr. Russell now ran around to the other side of the car, and saw that Princess Anne had broken free from the gunman and was about to leave by the nearside door. She was almost out of the car when the gunman came up behind Mr. Russell and once again tried to reach Princess Anne. Captain Phillips promptly pulled her back into the car and Mr. Russell punched the man on the face. At this point other police officers began to arrive in response to Constable Hills’ call for assistance and the gunman ran off.
Constable Edmonds was one of the first police officers on the scene, and he saw the gunman running away with the gun still in his hand. Without hesitating the Constable gave chase shouting to the gunman to stop, but the man continued to run and pointed the gun directly at the officer. Completely undeterred, the Constable charged the man and knocked him to the ground. Other police officers who had also given chase immediately threw themselves on the man and disarmed him.
The wounded men were all taken to hospital, where bullets were removed from Inspector Beaton, Mr. Callender and Mr. McConnell. Constable Hills received treatment for his wound, but no attempt has been made to remove the bullet from his liver.
All the individuals involved in the kidnap attempt on Princess Anne displayed outstanding courage and a complete disregard for their personal safety when they each faced this dangerous armed man who did not hesitate to use his weapons. It is entirely due to their actions—as well as to the calmness, bravery and presence of mind shown both by Princess Anne and by Captain Mark Phillips in circumstances of great peril— that the attack was unsuccessful.


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