Archive for October, 2008

Take it from me there is nothing worse than reading bad writing which is focused upon more bad writing. Now I don’t know what your stance is on Toni Morrison, (little know fact: she is Jim’s second cousin) or on Updike and frankly I don’t care either. Now, now sensitive reader don’t close your browser just yet I still have a quasi-rant/tirade to go on.  Where shall we begin?  I guess it started in college when I was assigned to read Beloved twice and Paradise once, never finishing either novel I developed a lively, silent rage against Mrs. Morrison.  With her fragmented, shattered style I reached new heights of perspicacity, clearly here was the most profound example of a living writer who, having only written a handful of novels, is elevated to the status of Matriarch, Saint, no, what I really mean is that she is the Alpha and Omega of Literature and she reigns supreme in the world today, according to some people.  Sorry I digress, what I am trying to say is that I firmly believe Mrs. Morrison will fade very quickly after her death and that her writing isn’t, you know, worth the paper it is printed upon. Mrs. Morrison is the ultimate example of a writer who is famous during their lifetime and then vanishes reaching their terminus. Same with Stephen King, but that is old news.

So I am in Borders today and I flip through The New Yorker to find John Updike’s glowing, bloated review of ‘A Mercy’, the newest novel from the esteemed Toni Morrison.  Is he afraid of saying a bad word about the author? I’m not afraid.  Mrs. Morrison’s diction/syntax is for the birds.  Who does she think she is Tolstoy? Even he didn’t write with such mock arrogance as this woman does.  To put it plainly I can’t stand Morrison’s style, and style is still the thing you know, not to mention her utter lack of being able to put together a coherent, linear narrative. Please attempt to read The Bluest Eye with a straight face. Updike handles his reading of Morrison like a third-grader. She has an epic sense of time blah, blah, blah. Where is the criticism? Oh wait I have already answered that question. It is because of the deification of Mrs. Morrison that she is shielded from any criticism. I try not to pay any mind to the phenom but sometimes one just can’t control what one is writing. So please don’t take offense at this little blurb, I’m sure you have something better to do than leave me a nasty message.

Here is the link to the article, read for yourself the half-assed way in which Updike handles ‘The Critics’ section of The New Yorker.


In the years to come we shall see how Time handles the effluence of Toni Morrison.

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So I went to the Pennsylvania Impressionists’ exhibit at the Newman Gallery today.  It was a brief but interesting affair.  The Newman Gallery is located at 1625 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. I was not a little intimidated walking in there, I think it had to do with the price tags.  Anyways, it was an enjoyable experience and I got to see some first-rate American Impressionism.  John Folinsbee was the most represented painter from the school. Fred Wagner, Daniel Garber, Giovanni and Antonio Martino all had decent pictures hung in the upstairs gallery.  The bulk of the paintings were from John Folinsbee.  Who I find is an accomplished painter and draftsman.  Harry Leithe-Ross has a couple of etchings in the show which are of museum quality. Overall it is an interesting show, I wish the Philadelphia Art Museum could put on a similar one.

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So, I am a Banjo Geek, yes yes I will admit it to the world, I really am and I am generally into old-timey music and stuff and Americana and all that. Anyways, while cruising around some banjo tab sites I found this>> http://www.aca-dla.org/index.php

It is a Digital Archive of all things musically Appalachian. If you have never given this type of music a good listen then consider this website something to check out. Or if you’ve only seen ‘O Brother’ then again, check out this website.  Even for Professionals and amateurs this website is great.

I hope you are pleasantly surprised.


Mike McCullough

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I have ventured further into the land of Boz, I mean Dickens. The last post regarding this novel left one with the cliffhanger ‘How will Dickens develop young Dombey’?  After more reading-I did hold the book kind of close-I have come upon the precise passage that foreshadows young Dombey’s development, though rather ambiguous it goes like this:

“They were the strangest pair at such a time that ever firelight shone upon.  Mr. Dombey so erect and solemn, gazing at the blaze; his little image, with an old, old face, peering into the red perspective with the fixed and rapt attention of a sage.  Mr. Dombey entertaining complicated worldly schemes and plans; the little image entertaining Heaven knows what wild fancies, half-formed thoughts, and wandering speculations. Mr. Dombey stiff with starch and arrogance; the little image by inheritance, and in unconscious imitation. The two so very much alike, and yet so monstrously contrasted.”

Here we have Dickens preparing the reader for the divergence and the similarity to come. For young Dombey is a pitiable frail child as the astute reader is soon to learn in the coming chapters.  So I leave you with another question. Will young Walter marry Miss Florence Dombey? and another, will young Dombey find the woman of his fancy?

I sincerely cannot wait to finish this wonderful book.

Next time I will summon the Introduction by the learned scholars of Penguin and we shall delve further into the many themes of this novel.

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Yeah Well…

I was gonna write a lil’ essay type thing about Pierre Grassou by Balzac with the object of close reading in mind BUT I just won tickets to the mayor’s box for the NLCS game tomorrow at Citizen’s Bank Park, so as you can justifiably tell I am a lil’ distracted.


Til Tomorrow….


…. Mike McCullough

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I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they

Outdid the sparkling waves in glee;

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company;

I gazed-and gazed-but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.


William Wordsworth                                                                                                                1804

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So I was at a bar last Thursday watching the Phillies win and an Australian man comes up to me and tells me what a wretched knot I have around my neck.  So I said “what are you talking about sir?” He said “Well now that is just a four-in-hand. You’ve got to have a Windsor if you want to be somebody.” Like anybody I want to be sombody someday so I assented to his showing me the ropes if you will.  Now my dad, bless his soul, showed me how to tie the four-in-hand many moons ago and naturally I thought it was the only knot in the world. That is until I was catching up on Entourage last spring and you know the one where Ari fires the one twin but he can’t tell them apart and the other twin is all like “Yeah Ari but I’m the one with the Windsor knot.” Well that is where I first came across-an inkling of it anyway-this whole other thing of there being different kinds of knots. You see the four-in-hand I was aware of-but didn’t really make the connection to ties-from reading an O. Henry story but I don’t know if I am prepared for this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_85_Ways_to_Tie_a_Tie. I don’t think anyone in their right mind is.

Even now I think that the appearance of these knots is the same, it is just that the Windsor is a beefier knot, that’s all.

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