Category Archives: Writing

A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Read by the Author

Dylan Thomas reads his A Child’s Christmas in Wales, recorded in New York, 65 years ago.


“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” — Coming Soon to a Stronghold Near You

If “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” isn’t your cup of Afternoon Tea, perhaps this will be more to your liking—“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” has just gotten underway in Barcelona.

Where it will show up next is anybody’s guess, because the tour’s stops after Barcelona have not yet been announced. But with the final episodes of Game of Thrones not expected to air until mid-2019 at the earliest, and with the final book of the series not expected to see print until George R. R. Martin’s heirs hire someone to use GRRM’s notes to complete the last four or five volumes, the tour should run for a long, long time.

According to the tour website, here’s what to expect:

In Barcelona, standard adult tickets for the exhibition range from €10.00 to €18.50, depending on the time and day, which is really reasonable. Expect higher prices when it hits the US.

If you want to see it in Barcelona, you can order tickets here. Barcelona is a beautiful city, and the food there is fantastic. Also, it’s warm in winter, and we all know that Winter Is Coming, don’t we?

“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” will be in Barcelona until 7 January 2018.

“France is Bacon”

Someone on Quora, a site that I’ve lately come to love, asked about the meaning of the phrase “France is Bacon.”  It shows up, now and then, in the oddest places.

I knew the answer to this one, because I still remember the first time I read the origin story. It came in response to a Reddit Inquiry entitled “What word or phrase did you totally misunderstand as a child?”

Redditor Lard_Baron responded with this charming reminiscence:

After all this time, that story still makes me smile.

Jane Austen in Your Pocket

The Bank of England released the new £10 note today, featuring an image of Jane Austen and of her Pride and Prejudice heroine, Elizabeth Bennett. But Austen fans—and there are reported to be several—are not all pleased.

Some object to the Austen quotation cited on the note: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” A fine sentiment, but delivered, in the book, by the snobbish and superficial Caroline Bingley, who didn’t believe it for a minute. She was just using it to ensnare Mr Darcy.

Given how obsessed many of Austen’s characters are with money and the status it confers, one would think the designers could come up with a more appropriate, finance-related quote for a banknote. I’ve certainly plagiarized borrowed “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” often enough, although, now that I think about it, that line is probably too sexist and too damn heterocentric to be acceptable in the 21st century.

And then there’s a problem with the depiction of Jane Austen. It’s based on a portrait painted years after Austen’s death.

The Sunday Times quotes Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces and author of the book Jane Austen at Home:

“It’s an author publicity portrait painted after she died in which she’s been given the Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing — she’s been subtly ‘improved.’

“Jane had a much sharper face — some might call it sour.”

On the left, a portrait of Austen by her sister, Cassandra. On the right, the image on the banknote.

On the left, a portrait of Austen by her sister, Cassandra. On the right, the image on the banknote.

I think she might have a point.

Still, it’s pleasant to see a nation’s writers and painters celebrated on its currency—the new £20 note, to be released in 2020, will feature J.M.W. Turner—instead of the usual dead politicians. I wouldn’t want it to happen here in the US, though. With the current sad state of American civilization, it’s all too easy to imagine the government replacing Lincoln on the $5 bill with a picture of Ayn Rand‎.

It’s Dorothy Parker’s Birthday

Dorothy Parker (22 August 1893 – 7 June 1967)

It’s been 124 years since the birth of Dorothy Parker. Poet, critic, short story writer, political activist, and one of the greatest wits of the 20th century.

I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.

― Dorothy Parker