Older blog entries for marnanel (starting at number 1012)

"What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?"

In 2009, a WWII veteran named Phillip Spooner spoke to a committee of Maine lawmakers in support of equal marriage. In 2010, Melissa Dunphy set Spooner's words to music, winning the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition. This is that piece.

"Good morning, committee. My name is Phillip Spooner and I live at 5 Graham Street in Biddeford. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican and an active VFW chaplain ... I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou and Perham, where I was raised to believe that all men are created equal, and I've never forgotten that. I served in the U.S. Army, 1942-1945 ... I worked with every outfit over there, including Patton's Third Army. I saw action in all five major battles in Europe... I was in the liberation of Paris. (I have seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice.) I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman ... asked me, "Do you believe in equality for gay and lesbian people?" I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" For freedom and equality. These are the values that make America a great nation, one worth dying for. My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that our gay son would be left out. We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good."

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/276193.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-05-10 11:16:18 from Monument

The King of the Boeotians

This is the song Eurydice's jailer sings to her in hell. As so often in Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld", comic pathos abounds.

"When I was king of the Boeotians, my kingdom prospered far and wide,
Bounded only by the oceans, until one day I took ill and died.
I remember without emotion the crown from which I had to part,
For now your charms cause such commotion in the kingdom of my heart!
Oh, had I known these fond emotions when I was king of the Boeotians!

If I were king of the Boeotians, you would reign there by my side.
Ah, do not shudder at the notion! I was attractive... before I died.
And though I have not one promotion through the ranks of souls in hell,
No ghost could offer such devotion, or take the heart that means so well
Of the late king of the Boeotians, the former king of the Boeotians."

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/275565.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-05-05 14:00:20 from Monument

The ballad of Thomas the Rhymer's optician

I scribbled this down as a teenager:

True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank; he'd gone down there to do some fishing;
He couldna see the other side, so he went down unto his optician.
"O see ye not that broad, broad road that lies across the lily leven?
That is the path of wickedness, though some call it the road to heaven.
And see ye not that narrow road, all thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness, though after it but few enquires."
O no, O no, True Thomas said, the wicked road's too far away;
I can but see the gudely road, all clear as in the light of day.
"O, you're short-sighted, True Thomas, and you'll need glasses for to see,
And now you'll give me seven pounds, for we don't give these eye-tests free."

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/274924.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-04-22 19:23:21 from Monument


Walking home through the rain, I passed a businessman hurrying the other way under an umbrella.

Businessman: Excuse me. Can you tell me how to get to the Crown Inn?
Marn: (pointing) Wait. Look behind you, there, or you'll miss the rainbow!
Businessman: (turning) It's beautiful!
(Short pause.)
Businessman: Do you know the way to the Crown?
Marn: Well, you see that road there...

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/274452.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-04-12 18:47:51 from Monument

Mrs T

For myself, I am not at all intending triumphalism over Thatcher's death. I could once have wished her to suffer for making others suffer, but those years of dementia are suffering I would never wish on anybody. And the Thatcher who has died is a frail old woman who has lost her mind, not the person who did all that damage all those years ago: her death now cannot be good news to anybody because it can solve nothing at all. I had little good to say for her while she lived, and I have little good to say for her now she's dead. But what I'm mostly mourning is the loss of the life of a powerful and intelligent person who could have made the world so much better and did not.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/274366.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-04-08 13:10:19 from Monument

Steno: Song of New Year's Eve

Text for today: "Look to your lord who gives you life" (the first line of "Song of New Year's Eve").

This is mostly unremarkable:

Look = HRAOBG (note AO is this vowel as well as the vowel in Food, if those differ for you)
To = TO as spelt
Your = YOUR as spelt
Lord = HRORD. Typing this as HRORT gives you "life-support", which is amusingly appropriate.
Who = WHO as spelt (this threw me)
Gives = TPKWEUF + Z. You can actually do this in one chord but I don't feel quite confident enough, so I did it in two.
You = U, just the letter. (You might assume from this that Your is UR, but that's You're.)
Life = HRIF

Edit: I am moving these posts to a thread on the Plover Aviary.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/273933.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-04-02 14:21:28 (Updated 2013-04-02 14:56:28) from Monument


Odd thing this afternoon: I was tidying up when I suddenly remembered I had to ask the doctor for more medication before the Easter break. So I walked off towards the surgery.

On the way I passed a woman walking around anxiously beside an expensive car with British numberplates that was parked beside the road. There was a toddler in a car-seat inside, but no other adults around, which makes it all the odder that the car carried L-plates.

The woman asked me in broken English if I could tell her the postcode where we were, so I wrote it down for her. She repeated it into her phone in a Romance language I don't know (this combined with her eastern European accent makes me think she was Romanian). Then she asked how she could find some petrol, but she didn't know the word and in the end resorted to pointing at the petrol cap. I drew her a map. She said, "I am here with my baby. I am lost." I said, "I was getting that." She asked me the way to the M11, which I had no clue about, but I drew her a map of the way to the M25. I said, "Can I help you with anything else? Can I leave my phone number with you?" She said, "No, no," and pointed at her phone, "my husband".

On my way back, I passed the car again, but the woman and child were gone. I took one of my business cards and wrote "We spoke earlier. If you need anything, call." and put it on the window. I haven't heard from her, though.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/273836.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-26 21:40:40 from Monument

Lots of poetry!

This is part of my set reading my poetry at March's "Pop Up Poetry" in Guildford. The poems are "Thomas", "Fishmonger", "The Creation of Beans", and "Puppy Dreams". I hope you enjoy it; feedback is welcome, as ever.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/272898.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-23 15:08:08 from Monument

The buyer of bargains

Samuel Johnson in 1758, describing someone fictional we've all met. Worth the read.
I am the unfortunate husband of a "buyer of bargains". My wife has somewhere heard, that a good housewife "never" has any thing to "purchase when it is wanted". This maxim is often in her mouth, and always in her head. She is not one of those philosophical talkers that speculate without practice; and learn sentences of wisdom only to repeat them: she is always making additions to her stores; she never looks into a broker's shop, but she spies something that may be wanted some time; and it is impossible to make her pass the door of a house where she hears "goods selling by auction".

Whatever she thinks cheap, she holds it the duty of an economist to buy; in consequence of this maxim, we are encumbered on every side with useless lumber. The servants can scarcely creep to their beds through the chests and boxes that surround them. The carpenter is employed once a week in building closets, fixing cupboards, and fastening shelves; and my house has the appearance of a ship stored for a voyage to the colonies.

I had often observed that advertisements set her on fire; and therefore, pretending to emulate her laudable frugality, I forbade the newspaper to be taken any longer; but my precaution is vain; I know not by what fatality, or by what confederacy, every catalogue of "genuine furniture" comes to her hand, every advertisement of a warehouse newly opened, is in her pocketbook, and she knows before any of her neighbours when the stock of any man "leaving off trade" is to be "sold cheap for ready money".

Such intelligence is to my dear-one the Syren's song. No engagement, no duty, no interest, can withhold her from a sale, from which she always returns congratulating herself upon her dexterity at a bargain; the porter lays down his burden in the hall; she displays her new acquisitions, and spends the rest of the day in contriving where they shall be put.

As she cannot bear to have any thing uncomplete, one purchase necessitates another; she has twenty feather-beds more than she can use, and a late sale has supplied her with a proportionable number of Witney blankets, a large roll of linen for sheets, and five quilts for every bed, which she bought because the seller told her, that if she would clear his hands he would let her have a bargain.

Thus by hourly encroachments my habitation is made narrower and narrower; the dining-room is so crowded with tables, that dinner scarcely can be served; the parlour is decorated with so many piles of china, that I dare not step within the door; at every turn of the stairs I have a clock, and half the windows of the upper floors are darkened, that shelves may be set before them.

This, however, might be borne, if she would gratify her own inclinations without opposing mine. But I, who am idle, am luxurious, and she condemns me to live upon salt provisions. She knows the loss of buying in small quantities, we have, therefore, whole hogs and quarters of oxen. Part of our meat is tainted before it is eaten, and part is thrown away because it is spoiled; but she persists in her system, and will never buy any thing by single penny-worths.

The common vice of those who are still grasping at more, is to neglect that which they already possess; but from this failing my charmer is free. It is the great care of her life that the pieces of beef should be boiled in the order in which they are bought; that the second bag of pease should not be opened till the first be eaten; that every feather-bed should be lain on in its turn; that the carpets should be taken out of the chests once a month and brushed, and the rolls of linen opened now and then before the fire. She is daily inquiring after the best traps for mice, and keeps the rooms always scented by fumigations to destroy the moths. She employs workmen, from time to time, to adjust six clocks that never go, and clean five jacks that rust in the garret; and a woman in the next alley lives by scouring the brass and pewter, which are only laid up to tarnish again.

She is always imagining some distant time, in which she shall use whatever she accumulates: she has four looking-glasses which she cannot hang up in her house, but which will be handsome in more lofty rooms; and pays rent for the place of a vast copper in some warehouse, because, when we live in the country, we shall brew our own beer.

Of this life I have long been weary, but know not how to change it: all the married men whom I consult advise me to have patience; but some old bachelors are of opinion that, since she loves sales so well, she should have a sale of her own; and I have, I think, resolved to open her hoards, and advertise an auction.

I am, Sir,

Your very humble servant,


This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/272656.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-23 15:04:12 from Monument

The stick's day off

I'd left the Staff Hrothgar in the car today, because we went out last night and today I was busy. This evening I walked into town to get Chinese and for once didn't take Hrothgar. On the way:

GROUP OF LOCAL YOUTHS: Where's the stick?
ME: It's his day off.

When I came back the same way ten minutes later they were still talking about it. "Hey, ask him where the stick is and he'll say it's the stick's day off!" one of them said. I think the last time I had to listen to comparable levels of inanity I was at school.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/272364.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-08 21:30:51 (Updated 2013-03-08 21:31:55) from Monument

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