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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , James Jones, John Steinbeck, , , , , , Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, ,   

    TELLTALE TITLES 

    How much time and thought do you devote to coming up with just-the-right title for your story, poem or article? If you take writing seriously, the answer is probably: as long as it takes to nail it — which could be almost no time at all, if it comes to you in a flash — or, more time than a less intense writer is willing to allot.

    Ernest Hemingway, for one, evidently wasn’t the latter type. Case in point: in writing his definitive Spanish Civil War novel, he didn’t settle for less than a killer title that would encapsulate ‘the moral of the story,’ eventually finding it in this passage from a 1624 work by the poet John Donne: “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    As a writer of (mostly) humorous poems and posts, I’m inclined to go for witty and/or wordplay titles. Many times, the title to a particular piece all but suggests itself, but more often, no such luck, and I’m stuck — until eventually (as with the title of this post) a eureka moment rewards my resolve….or a poem resists my labeling efforts, and I just settle for:

    UNTITLED

    This poem’s title is Untitled —
    Not because it is untitled,
    But because I am entitled
    To entitle it Untitled.

    If I’d not titled it Untitled,
    It would truly be untitled….
    Which would make it unentitled
    To the title of Untitled.

    So it is vital, if untitled,
    Not to title it Untitled,
    And to leave that title idled,
    As a title is entitled.

    Moving on, suppose we try a title quiz based on the Papa Hemingway model (sorry, those of you who’d prefer the mistermuse model). Here are five passages from classic original works from which later authors lifted titles for their novels. Can you name the five later works and pin each tale on its author (ten answers total)? If you name all ten correctly, you win the title (with apologies to Cervantes) of Donkeyote Of All You Survey.

    PASSAGES FROM ORIGINAL WORKS:

    Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree/Damned from here to Eternity/God ha’ mercy on such as we/Ba! Yah! Bah! –Rudyard Kipling

    The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley/An’ lea’e us naught but grief an’ pain/For promised joy! –Robert Burns

    By the pricking of my thumbs,/Something wicked this way comes. –Wm. Shakespeare

    Come my tan-faced children/Follow well in order, get your weapons ready/Have you your pistols? Have you your sharp-edged axes?/Pioneers! O pioneers! –Walt Whitman

    No Place so Sacred from such Fops is barr’d,/Nor is Paul’s Church more safe than Paul’s Churchyard./Nay, fly to altars; there they’ll talk you dead/For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread. –Alexander Pope

    TITLES (WITH AUTHORS) FROM  ABOVE PREVIOUS WORKS:

    FROM HERE TO ETERNITY –James Jones
    OF MICE AND MEN –John Steinbeck
    SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES –Ray Bradbury
    O PIONEERS! –Willa Cather
    WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD –E.M. Forster

    How many of the ten titles/authors did you get? That last title, parenthetically, became part of Johnny Mercer’s lyrics to this 1940 hit song composed by Rube Bloom:

    And now I fear I must tread on out….before something wicked this way comes.

     

     
    • Cynthia Jobin 10:29 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      If there were an award entitled “The Best Poem about Title-ing An Untitled Poem” you certainly would be entitled to it. I recall a creative writing teacher who was a stickler about titles; she said leaving a poem untitled was lazy and a refusal to finish your poem properly. In the history of Literature it seems even the use of Numbers—Sonnet 24—has been acceptable, and often the first line or phrase of a poem is used as its title—-“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night….”.

      I liked the quiz. Pour moi it was a piece of cake. Just this past month I used a line from a Shakespeare sonnet for one of my titles: “Love’s Not Time’s Fool.” Thanks for an enjoyable post!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:21 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Cynthia. I believe the exception to the ‘poems must be titled rule’ is the limerick, which should never be titled (if one were to follow the rules, which apparently exist to curtail my fun, so I have occasionally titled a few of mine).

        Congrats on getting 100% on the quiz. I hereby award you the title (in deference to your gender) of DONNA-KEYOTE OF ALL YOU SURVEY! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 5:14 pm on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I got all the titles but sad to say did not know the last three authors off the top of my head. I guess I get a 70. But of course I knew the song.

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    • mistermuse 9:05 pm on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Don, you know how much I dig great old songs, so I’m giving you 30 bonus points for knowing FOOLS RUSH IN (WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD). That brings your score up to 100, which wins you the DON(FRANKEL)KEYOTE OF ALL YOU SURVEY AWARD….and well deserved, I might add!

      Like

    • arekhill1 10:32 am on June 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      AUTO REPLY: I’m on vacation. Any quizzes will be taken when I get back to my office.

      Like

    • mistermuse 11:07 am on June 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I auto wish you a great vacation, but no doubt you’re having one anyway. Safe trip home.

      Like

    • inesephoto 5:55 pm on June 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Love your poem 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • D. Wallace Peach 11:20 pm on June 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I got the titles but didn’t know all the authors. This was really interesting. Your poem made me laugh. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:05 am on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , early color film, Henry David Thoreau, , John James Audubon, John Muir, national parks, naturalists, , , Theodore Roosevelt, Walt Whitman   

    THE NATURAL LIST 

    You’ve heard of Charles Darwin. Also, concordantly, Henry David Thoreau. If you’re really into national parks, naturally you’re familiar with John Muir (“Father of the National Parks”). If you have an avian fixation, you’re birds-of-a-feather with John James Audubon, world famous ornithologist and painter of our feathered friends.  But I suspect that the name of John Burroughs probably drew a blank when you saw it in my last post.

    Fame is fickle. In his day, Burroughs (1837-1921) was as well known as any of the above naturalists who remain well remembered today. But, according to biographer Edward Renehan, he was more “a literary naturalist” than a scientific one, which (along with his rejection of religious orthodoxy) may account somewhat for his fading into relative obscurity.  Whatever the case, Burroughs, who was a contemporary of Thoreau and Audubon, a good friend of Muir (as well as of Walt Whitman and Theodore Roosevelt), and has been called “America’s Darwin,” has been left in their shadow. More’s the pity.

    The last of his many books was ACCEPTING THE UNIVERSE (1920), from whence the quote in my 9/20 post. Other quotes I like from Burroughs’ works include these:

    Nature is not moral. There is no moral law until it is born of human intercourse. The law of the jungle begins and ends in the jungle; when we translate it into human affairs, we must take the cruelty of the jungle out of it, and read it in terms of beneficent competition. Man is the jungle humanized.

    The greatest of human achievements and the most precious is that of the creative artist. In words, in color, in sounds, in forms, man comes closest to emulating the Creative Energy itself. It seems as if the pleasure and the purpose of the Creative Energy were endless invention.

    How beautifully the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.

    Only a living tree drops its fruit or its leaves; only a growing man drops his outgrown opinions.

    I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    I close with a curio: a 1919 prizmacolor film of “a day in the life of John Burroughs,” which ends with words wise in the ways of what really matters:

     
    • arekhill1 12:04 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am already campaigning for Darwin Day as a national holiday for rationalists. They should put this guy on a postage stamp, at least. Thanks for bringing him to our attention Sr. Muse

      Liked by 3 people

    • mistermuse 1:37 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      An excellent suggestion, Ricardo. Now that America has the “FOREVER” postage stamp, we have a stamp fit for making up to Mr. Burroughs for his country’s forgetfulness.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 4:08 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You never know Muse. Sometimes these type of people come back into vogue. Naturalists might become the subject of some documentary or movie. Hey almost no one had heard of Scott Joplin until that movie The Sting. Till then Muse, you keep them alive.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:55 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Among Ken Burns’ many great documentaries was THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA (in which John Muir was a major figure), so it wouldn’t be a stretch for him to do one on naturalists.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mike 8:24 pm on October 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Gifford Pinchot, flawed though he was, created the conservation ethic. He found the way not to wreck the economy of man while at the same time not clearing all the forest in the process.

      He did however oppose Muir a few times and his view was economic only as he didn’t value preservation for the sake of beauty; his biggest flaw in my opinion. Though likely viewed as an enemy by some contemporary conservationists, Pinchot and Teddy Roosevelt did help to get the ball rolling in the process of creating National Parks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 11:12 pm on October 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for pointing that out. I agree with your opinion of Pinchot’s biggest flaw, but, as they say today, whatever works!

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:03 am on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think" (Dorothy Parker), , , Walt Whitman   

    REAR ENDED 

    In order to have great art, you must have great audiences.
    Walt Whitman

    Good luck with that
    because you can lead
    a bore to culture
    but you can’t make
    a silk purse out
    of a sow’s rear.

     

     
    • Mél@nie 2:42 am on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve loved WW’s poetry since my high-school years… merci! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michaeline Montezinos 5:18 am on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Nice little poem, mistermuse but is the last line referring to a cow or a sow?

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:05 am on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The last 3 lines are a play on the old saying “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

      Like

    • arekhill1 1:56 pm on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You can make a nice leather purse out of a sow’s rear, though.

      Like

    • BroadBlogs 2:16 pm on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ha ha!!!

      Like

    • mistermuse 3:14 pm on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Please try to restrain yourself – this is a serious matter. If Walt Whitman appreciated levity being made of his quotes, he probably would’ve spelled his last name without an “h” – ha ha . 😦

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    • Don Frankel 4:24 pm on June 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not sure what you make out of a sow’s rear… bacon?

      You’ve now ruined Walt Whitman for me as he will forever be Walt Witman and I will never take anything of his seriously.

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    • mistermuse 8:29 pm on June 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, what you make out of a sow’s rear is one of those questions to which you probably don’t want to know the answer (although what a sow makes out of her rear is another matter altogether).

      Like

  • mistermuse 2:54 pm on March 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Albert Fish, beards, , Clyde Barrow, dead humor, dead poets, , humorous books, Longfellow, New York bad guys, , Walt Whitman, William "Boss" Tweed,   

    BOOKS I CAN RECOMMEND WITHOUT READING (PART TWO) 

    THE UPSIDE OF UNDERTAKING — These “hilarious stories of the dead and living that will keep you laughing for hours” include “a humorous account of a day with a mortician.” This book could obviously lighten up your day, especially if you have a fatal disease and want something to look forward to a.d. …. which leads to moi’s next selection.

    100 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE DEAD — Offers “100 useful, productive and money-saving ideas for how your body could be put to use after you’ve spent your last breath.” No doubt there are people who will want to save money when they’re dead, especially if planning to have their body shipped to Cabo or Antigua instead of Purgatory for the duration, but I know of no religion that offers that choice …. unless it’s Catholic, now that Pope (“Who am I to judge?”) Francis is in charge. No doubt the Vatican Travel Bureau is conclaving some money-saving travel deals behind closed doors even as we speak.

    JERKS IN NEW YORK HISTORY: SPEAKING ILL OF THE DEAD — “Features 15 short profiles of notorious bad guys, misunderstood thinkers and other antiheroes from the history of the Empire State,” from “Boss” Tweed to Albert Fish …. presumably including Brooklyn-born bank robber Willie (“Because that’s where the money is”) Sutton. As it happens, another notorious bank robber, Clyde (“Bonnie and Clyde”) Barrow, was born on this day, March 24, though not in New York. Though the Big Apple can’t claim all the bad apples, at least Fish didn’t get away.

    POETS RANKED BY BEARD WEIGHT — “See how Whitman’s beard stacks up against Browning’s, Longfellow’s and Tennyson’s.” Longfellow’s would seem a safe bet, but perhaps length doesn’t equate with weight. Emily Dickenson lived such a reclusive life that no one knows how her’s stacks up.  And let us not forget living beards like that of yours truly — if he refuses to lose his and mistermuse’s chooses, it has miles to grow before he sleeps. His wife says it’ll be a snowy evening in hell before that happens.

     
    • Don Frankel 3:35 am on March 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Tweed did leave us Tweed’s Courthouse which is very beautiful. That’s not the one you see in the movies though. The one they always use is Surrogate’s Court which is right across the street.

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    • mistermuse 7:21 am on March 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Don – I wonder why they don’t use Tweed’s Courthouse in the movies?
      Did you know that (according to Wikipedia) Willie Sutton denied ever saying “Because that’s where the money is,” claiming a reporter made it up….though Sutton doesn’t deny he would’ve said it if he’d thought of it.

      Like

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