Monthly Archives: September 2013

Excerpt from “The Thirty-Nine Steps” by John Buchan ~~High tide~~

picture-ThirtyNineSteps“No,” said the Frenchman. “You do not understand the habits of the spy. He receives personally his reward, and he delivers personally his intelligence. We in France know something of the breed. There is still a chance, mes amis. These men must cross the sea, and there are ships to be searched and ports to be watched. Believe me, the need is desperate for both France and Britain.”

Royer’s grave good sense seemed to pull us together. He was the man of action among fumblers. But I saw no hope in any face, and I felt none. Where among the fifty millions of these islands and within a dozen hours were we to lay hands on the three cleverest rogues in Europe?

Then suddenly I had an inspiration.

“Where is Scudder’s book?” I cried to Sir Walter. “Quick, man. I remember something in it.”

He unlocked the door of a bureau and gave it to me.

I found the place. “Thirty-nine steps,” I read, and again, “Thirty-nine steps – I counted them – High tide, 10.17 pm.”

The Admiralty man was looking at me as if he thought I had gone mad.

“Don’t you see it’s a clue,” I shouted. “Scudder knew where these fellows laired – he knew where they were going to leave the country, though he kept the name to himself. Tomorrow was the day, and it was some place where high tide was at ten-seventeen.”

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Excerpt from “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams ~~Sublime~~

picture-TurnRightatMachuPicchu-AdamsBy eight o’clock we were walking along the same path Bingham had taken through the terraces, following a train of photogenic llamas reporting for duty. For whatever reason – our arrival before the big crowds from Cusco, my sense of having earned this visit over the previous weeks of walking, the absence of my sometimes sullen thirteen-year-old son – Machu Picchu was different this time.

Even after witnessing the knee-buckling natural settings of Choquequirao and Vitcos, it was impossible not to see almost immediately that Machu Picchu beat them both. The distant peaks ringing the ruins like a necklace were higher; the nearby slopes were greener. And of course the city, laid out before the visitor like a LEGO metropolis atop a billiard table, is impossible to turn away from.
For the first time since dropping out of graduate school, I remembered an unpleasant weekend spent struggling to comprehend the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s explanation of the difference between calling something beautiful and calling it sublime. Nowadays, we throw around the word “sublime” to describe gooey desserts or overpriced handbags.
In Kant’s epistemology, it meant something limitless, an aesthetically pleasing entity so huge that it made the perceiver’s head hurt. Machu Picchu isn’t just beautiful, it’s sublime.

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“Gigantor” theme song

Gigantor!
Gigantor!
Gigantor!

Gigantor, the space age robot
He’s at your command
Gigantor, the space age robot
his power is in your hands

He’s bigger than big
Taller than tall
Quicker than quick
Stronger than strong
Ready to fight for right, against wrong

Gigantor!
Gigantor!
Gigantor!

Gigantor, the space age robot
He’s at your command
Gigantor, the space age robot
his power lies in your hands

He’s bigger than big
Taller than tall
Quicker than quick
Stronger than strong
Ready to fight for right, against wrong

picture-Gigantor

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“Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” released by Monty Python

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the right side of life…
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the bright side of life…
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life…
(I mean – what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing – you’re going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life…

 

picture-AlwaysLookOnBrightSideLife-MontyPython

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Excerpt from “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald ~~Daisy~~

picture-GreatGatsby-FitzgeraldHe sat down miserably, as if I had pushed him, and simultaneously there was the sound of a motor turning into my lane. We both jumped up, and, a little harrowed myself, I went out into the yard.
Under the dripping bare lilac-trees a large open car was coming up the drive. It stopped. Daisy’s face, tipped sideways, beneath a three-cornered lavender hat, looked at me with a bright ecstatic smile.
‘Is this absolutely where you live, my dearest one?’
The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain. I had to follow the sound of it for a moment, up and down, with my ear alone, before any words came through. A damp streak of hair lay like a dash of blue paint across her cheek, and her hand was wet with glistening drops as I took it to help her from the car.
‘Are you in love with me,’ she said low in my ear, ‘or why did I have to come alone?’
‘That’s the secret of Castle Rackrent. Tell your chauffeur to go far away and spend an hour.’
‘Come back in an hour, Ferdie.’ Then in a grave murmur: ‘His name is Ferdie.’
‘Does the gasoline affect his nose?’
‘I don’t think so,’ she said innocently. ‘Why?’
We went in. To my overwhelming surprise the living-room was deserted.
‘Well, that’s funny,’ I exclaimed.
‘What’s funny?’
She turned her head as there was a light dignified knocking at the front door. I went out and opened it. Gatsby, pale as death, with his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets, was standing in a puddle of water glaring tragically into my eyes.
With his hands still in his coat pockets he stalked by me into the hall, turned sharply as if he were on a wire, and disappeared into the living-room. It wasn’t a bit funny. Aware of the loud beating of my own heart I pulled the door to against the increasing rain.
For half a minute there wasn’t a sound. Then from the living-room I heard a sort of choking murmur and part of a laugh, followed by Daisy’s voice on a clear artificial note:
‘I certainly am awfully glad to see you again.’
A pause; it endured horribly. I had nothing to do in the hall, so I went into the room.
Gatsby, his hands still in his pockets, was reclining against the mantelpiece in a strained counterfeit of perfect ease, even of boredom. His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantelpiece clock, and from this position his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy, who was sitting, frightened but graceful, on the edge of a stiff chair.
‘We’ve met before,’ muttered Gatsby. His eyes glanced momentarily at me, and his lips parted with an abortive attempt at a laugh. Luckily the clock took this moment to tilt dangerously at the pressure of his head, whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling fingers and set it back in place. Then he sat down, rigidly, his elbow on the arm of the sofa and his chin in his hand.
‘I’m sorry about the clock,’ he said.
My own face had now assumed a deep tropical burn. I couldn’t muster up a single commonplace out of the thousand in my head.
‘It’s an old clock,’ I told them idiotically.
I think we had all believed for a moment that it had smashed in pieces on the floor.
‘We haven’t met for many years,’ said Daisy, her voice as matter-of-fact as it could ever be.
‘Five years next November.’
The automatic quality of Gatsby’s answer set us all back at least another minute. I had them both on their feet with the desperate suggestion that they help me make tea in the kitchen when the demoniac Finn brought it in on a tray.
Amid the welcome confusion of cups and cakes a certain physical decency established itself. Gatsby got himself into a shadow and, while Daisy and I talked, looked conscientiously from one to the other of us with tense, unhappy eyes. However, as calmness wasn’t an end in itself, I made an excuse at the first possible moment, and got to my feet.
‘Where are you going?’ demanded Gatsby in immediate alarm.
‘I’ll be back.’
‘I’ve got to speak to you about something before you go.’
He followed me wildly into the kitchen, closed the door, and whispered: ‘Oh, God!’ in a miserable way.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘This is a terrible mistake,’ he said, shaking his head from side to side, ‘a terrible, terrible mistake.’
‘You’re just embarrassed, that’s all,’ and luckily I added: ‘Daisy’s embarrassed too.’
‘She’s embarrassed?’ he repeated incredulously.
‘Just as much as you are.’
‘Don’t talk so loud.’
‘You’re acting like a little boy, ‘ I broke out impatiently. ‘Not only that, but you’re rude. Daisy’s sitting in there all alone.’
He raised his hand to stop my words, looked at me with unforgettable reproach, and, opening the door cautiously, went back into the other room.

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Excerpt from “The Spiderwick Chronicles – The Seeing Stone” by Tony Di Terlizzi and Holly Black ~~Goblins~~

picture-SpiderwickChronicles-SeeingStone“We’re going to have to make a run for the house,” Mallory whispered back.
“We can’t,” Jared said. The memory of the goblins’ jagged teeth and claws wouldn’t leave him.
“A couple more planks and they’ll be inside.”
He nodded numbly, steeling himself to rise. Fumbling, he tried to fit the stone into the eyepiece and attach it to his head. The clip pinched his nose.
“On my mark,” said Mallory. “One. Two. Three. Go!”
She opened the door and they both sprinted toward the house. Goblins hurtled after them. Clawed hands caught at Jared’s clothes. He wrenched free and ran on.
Mallory was faster. She was almost to the door of the house when a goblin caught the back of Jared’s shirt and pulled hard. He went down on his stomach in the grass. The stone flew out of the monocle. He dug his fingers into the dirt, holding on as much as he could, but he was being dragged backward.
He could feel the clasps on his pack loosening, and he screamed.
Mallory turned. Instead of running on toward the house, she started running back to him. Her fencing sword was still in her hand, but there was no way she could know what she was up against.
“Mallory!” Jared shouted. “No! Run away!”
At least one goblin must have gone past him, because he saw Mallory’s arm jerk and heard her cry out. Red lines appeared where nails scraped her. The headphones were ripped free from her neck. She spun and lashed out with the rapier, dealing a stinging blow to the air. It didn’t seem like she had hit anything. She swung the sword in an arc, but again, nothing.
Jared kicked out hard with one of his legs, striking something solid. He felt the grip that held him slip, and he pulled himself forward, yanking his backpack out of their grasp. The contents spilled out and Jared was barely able to snatch up the Guide in time. Reaching around in the grass, he picked up the stone and scrambled to where Mallory was. Then he brought the stone to his eye and looked.
“Six o’clock,” he shouted, and Mallory whirled, striking in that direction, catching a goblin across the ear. It howled. Rapier blades didn’t have points, but they sure stung when they hit.
“Shorter, they’re shorter.” Jared managed to pull himself to his feet so that he was standing with his back against Mallory’s. All five goblins were circling them.
One lunged from the right. “Three o’clock,” Jared shouted.
Mallory knocked the goblin to the ground easily.
“Twelve o’clock! Nine o’clock! Seven o’clock!” They were rushing all at once, and Jared didn’t think Mallory could possibly manage. He hefted the field guide and swung it as hard as he could at the nearest goblin.
Thwack! The book hit the goblin hard enough to send it sprawling backward. Mallory had knocked down two more with hard blows. Now they circled more warily, gnashing teeth of glass and stone.
There was a strange call, like a cross between a bark and a whistle. At that sound, the goblins retreated one by one into the woods.
Jared collapsed onto the grass. His side hurt and he was out of breath.

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“Waiting for the Birdie” by Ogden Nash

Some hate broccoli, some hate bacon,
I hate having my picture taken.
How can your family claim to love you
And then demand a picture of you?
The electric chair is a comfortless chair,
But I know an equally comfortless pair;
One is the dentist’s, my good sirs,
And the other is the photographer’s.
Oh, the fly in all domestic ointments
Is affectionate people who make appointments
To have your teeth filled left and right.
Or you face reproduced in black and white.
You open the door and you enter the studio,
And you feel less cheerio than nudio.
The hard light shines like seventy suns,
And you know your features are foolish ones.
The photographer says, Natural, please,
And you cross your knees and uncross your knees.
Like a duke in a high society chronicle
The camera glares at you through its monocle
And you feel ashamed of your best attire,
Your nose itches, your palms perspire,
Your muscles stiffen, and all the while
You smile and smile and smile and smile.
It’s over; you weakly grope for the door;
It’s not; the photographer wants one more.
And if this experience you survive,
Wait, just wait till the proofs arrive.
You look like a drawing by Thurber or Bab,
Or a gangster stretched on a marble slab.
And all your dear ones, including your wife,
Say There he is, that’s him to the life!
Some hate broccoli, some hate bacon,
But I hate having my picture taken.

picture-Nash_Ogden

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