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Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Walking and Talking

September 3, 2014 | by

Florine_Stettheimer_-_Heat_-_Google_Art_Project

“Hot enough for ya?” Detail from Florine Stettheimer’s Heat, 1919.

Growing up around wisecracking old relatives, you learn early how to craft a comeback. It doesn’t need to be that witty. It doesn’t even need to make sense. It just needs to be kind of sassy and really fast, to show you’re wise to the game or something.

“Just who do you think you are?” an elderly uncle might demand, inexplicably. Or, “I bet you think you deserve some candy!” In such situations, you can show no fear. When you’re a small child, this kind of obligatory badinage is awful. But it’s a skill—if you can call it a skill—that stands you in good stead as an adult.

However, even those of us trained to keep our cool in the face of faux-belligerent idiocy are occasionally stumped. Despite my years of experience and calibration, there are, specifically, three situations that leave me mute and baffled. Read More »

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Any Nosegays, You Blockhead?

January 27, 2014 | by

Severin Roesen, Still Life—Flowers in a Basket, ca. 1850s.

Severin Roesen, Still Life—Flowers in a Basket, ca. 1850s.

The British dramatist Samuel Foote was born today in 1720. Foote was a playwright in the snickering, rabble-rousing tradition—a dry wit who was always getting himself into trouble. He performed plays without licensing them, basically the eighteenth-century equivalent of smuggling your camcorder into a movie theater; he went riding and was thrown from his horse, resulting in the loss of one of his legs; he spent some time in debtors’ prison; he’s rumored to have made passes at a footman or two in his day; and much of his writing features withering, thinly veiled caricatures of wealthy people, which really pissed off those wealthy people, to say nothing of their wealthy coteries. Most important, Foote is responsible for having coined the phrase “the Grand Panjandrum,” as refined a piece of nonsense as I can remember having heard. (He did it off the cuff, having faltered in the recitation of a text he’d “memorized.”)

What better way to pay tribute to the man than with an excerpt? Two centuries before Spiro Agnew’s “nattering nabobs,” there was simply The Nabob, Foote’s 1772 comedy about an aristocrat newly returned to London from the Orient. You could dip into the play anywhere and come up with comic gold; its brand of buffoonery is never out of fashion. Read More »

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Read Your Flowers

February 14, 2013 | by

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You’ll view that bouquet with new eyes! See more here.

 

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D. H. Lawrence’s “Pomegranate”

July 11, 2012 | by

Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Sometimes in life you get yelled at. No matter your moral fiber, it can’t be avoided all the time. It happens in Marine Corps boot camp; it happens in rush-hour subway cars; it happens if your mother catches you reading Lady Chatterly’s Lover at an impressionable young age. But one place you don’t expect to get harangued, one place where the lid’s supposed to stay on the pot, is poetry.

So cracking open D. H. Lawrence’s seemingly innocuous Birds, Beasts, Flowers is a bit of a shock. Lawrence is, of course, better known for his novels and short stories; verse can unleash in him an irritating Whitmanesque mania, an exhibitionist verbal autoeroticism. But that’s not the case here. You flip past the title page and the index to the first poem, “Pomegranate,” and before your eyes can adjust to the typeface, you’re in trouble. Big trouble:

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