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Weekend Reading

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Well, I’m writing it at the end of this weekend, but here’s what captured my attention this week:

  • Fittingly, since we’re in the middle of the Wimbledon fortnight, a NYT article looked at all those strange on-the-court habits of the top tennis players.  Novak Djokovic bounces the ball up to 25 times before the ball toss, and Maria Sharapova tucks hair behind each of her ears.  But my favorite?  The way Rafael Nadal obsessively towels off between each point.  And, then, of course, there’s the way he’s always digging his clam diggers out of his, er, butt crack.
  • When I was a kid, I resisted—fiercely—the afternoon nap.  I didn’t understand why grown-ups wanted to waste any part of the day.  Now, I’m downright grateful for this advice from the Boston Globe on the art of napping.  (Link via SteveP)
  • Before Bloomsday gets too far away from us, this accurate, but oh-so-brief summary of the plot of Ulysses sure made me smile.  (Link via Prettier than Napoleon, who wonders why Joyce captivates some of us so)
  • Speaking of little obsessions, this NYT article on casino chip collecting was sort of fun.  But I don’t really need one more excuse to love Las Vegas.  That place has gotten under my skin.
  • Dustin Fenstermacher is a talented photographer.  Be sure to check out his gallery of images from the cat show.  Highly recommended!  (And I’m allergic to cats.)

Written by Jimmy

June 29th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Happy Bloomsday!

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A year ago today, I was commemorating Bloomsday—which, of course, celebrates James Joyce and Ulysses, set on June 16, 1904—by participating in one of the world’s most elaborate celebrations, at Philly’s Rosenbach Museum. As I chronicled here (at the old website), I joined 70 or so other Philadelphians, notable and not-so-notable (that’d be me), in reading interesting passages from what is often regarded as the greatest novel of all time.

I spent several months in 2006-07 thinking about Ulysses as a part of a class at the Rosenbach, and I (sort of) grudgingly came to love the novel. I haven’t spent that much time with Ulysses since then, and it looks like I probably won’t even make to the steps of the Rosenbach this year to hear any of this year’s readers. (Scary thought: If I were reading the same passage this year, I’d go on four places after the governor!) But as much as I hate public speaking, and I really, really do, I regret—just a tiny bit—that I’m not at the Rosenbach today reading my passage from Ulysses.

My reading was from Eumaeus, the sixteenth episode of the novel, when protagonist Leopold Bloom and the young Stephen Dedalus are heading home from some scary experiences in “nighttown,” Dublin’s red light district. The passage, especially when read aloud, always makes me smile. I may not be at the Rosenbach today, but it seems fitting to revisit the passage here:

They thereupon stopped. Bloom looked at the head of a horse not worth anything like sixtyfive guineas, suddenly in evidence in the dark quite near so that it seemed new, a different grouping of bones and even flesh because palpably it was a fourwalker, a hipshaker, a blackbuttocker, a taildangler, a headhanger putting his hind foot foremost the while the lord of his creation sat on the perch, busy with his thoughts. But such a good poor brute he was sorry he hadn’t a lump of sugar but, as he wisely reflected, you could scarcely be prepared for every emergency that might crop up. He was just a big foolish nervous noodly kind of a horse, without a second care in the world. But even a dog, he reflected, take that mongrel in Barney Kiernan’s, of the same size, would be a holy horror to face. But it was no animal’s fault in particular if he was built that way like the camel, ship of the desert, distilling grapes into potheen in his hump. Nine tenths of them all could be caged or trained, nothing beyond the art of man barring the bees. Whale with a harpoon hairpin, alligator tickle the small of his back and he sees the joke, chalk a circle for a rooster, tiger my eagle eye. These timely reflections anent the brutes of the field occupied his mind somewhat distracted from Stephen’s words while the ship of the street was manoeuvring and Stephen went on about the highly interesting old.

– What’s this I was saying? Ah, yes! My wife, he intimated, plunging in medias res, would have the greatest of pleasure in making your acquaintance as she is passionately attached to music of any kind.

He looked sideways in a friendly fashion at the sideface of Stephen, image of his mother, which was not quite the same as the usual handsome blackguard type they unquestionably had an insatisable hankering after as he was perhaps not that way built.

Happy Bloomsday!

Written by Jimmy

June 16th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Books