You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Thursday, July 10, 2014


1) Nickel Ride -- 10/07/1958

2) Even Crows Sing Good -- 01/13/1959

3) Burst of Passion -- 01/20/1959

4) Saw My Baby There -- 06/06/1959

5) A Wood of Thorns -- 06/23/1959

6) Down the Long Night -- 11/02/1960

7) Killer with a Kiss -- 11/16/1969

8) The Man Who Bit a Diamond in Half -- 12/14/1960

9) Landscape with Dead Figures -- 01/18/1961

10) The Well-Dressed Termite -- 02/08/1961

11) The Deadly Guinea Pig -- 03/08/1961

12) Tombstone for a Derelict -- 04/05/1961

13) Sweet Prince of Delancy Street -- 06/07/1961

14) The Corpse Ran Down Mulberry Street -- 10/11/1961

15) The Night the Saints Lost Their Halos -- 01/17/1962

16) A Case Study of Two Savages -- 02/07/1962

17) Today the Man Who Kills the Ants is Coming -- 03/07/1962

18) The One Marked Hot Gives Cold -- 03/21/1962

19) Hold for Gloria Christmas -- 09/19/1962

20) Kill Me While I'm Young So I Can Die Happy -- 10/17/1962

21) Make It Fifty Dollars and Add Love to Nona -- 11/14/1962

22) Dust Devil on a Quiet Street -- 11/28/1962

23) Beyond This Place There Be Dragons -- 01/30/1963

24) Man Without a Skin -- 02/06/1963

25) Alive and Still a Second Lieutenant -- 03/06/1963

26) Stop the Parade! A Baby is Crying! -- 03/20/1963

27) Howard Running Bear is a Turtle -- 04/03/1963

28) Color Schemes Like Never Before -- 05/01/1963

29) One, Two, Three, Rita Rakahowski -- 05/15/1963

30) Barefoot on a Bed of Coals -- 05/29/1963

Episode titles and images from Naked City, 1958 - 1963.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Ann Coulter's silly comments on soccer have once again sent her blazing across Facebook, Twitter, and
Theodore Gericault's portrait
of a madwoman
 the blogosphere. Predictable responses have ranged from outrage to reasoned argument with the occasional dose of scabrous invective tossed in. I have one problem with all this. No matter in what tone or to what depth one responds to Coulter's comments, the very act of doing so to some degree lowers one to her level. And that level is low.

In an ideal world, Coulter says what she pleases and the world reacts with nonchalant silence. Her many fans cheer her on, but the outraged anger both she and her fans thrive on would not be forthcoming,  and with this result. Coulter becomes isolated, looking about bewildered with her head cocked listening for the noise she feeds on. She finds herself the sole inmate in her private asylum. There she can screech her vile absurdities while becoming increasingly frantic for attention, eventually clawing herself to shreds.

But this probably won't happen.

Coulter is a public figure and other public figures respond to her as part of the job. Those responses are then shared across the internet where those who already agree with both whoever made the initial response and those who have shared it take the opportunity to add their support. This goes on for a couple of days and then it is over.

 This blog posting is the only thing I am ever going to write about Ann Coulter. (I hope.) I realize that greeting her pronouncements with a pervasive silence is a fantasy, but what commentators could do, and many do this already, is periodically champion people who say intelligent things, who express informed concern, historical perspective, and even a sense of joy about human beings. People who are civilized. These people can be harder to find since they tend not to tweet, post to Facebook, or appear in two minute news segments. In some cases that is because they have been dead for a several hundred or maybe 2000 years. Often they simply keep lower profiles. You read what they have to say in books.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


5. Vargr (wolf or monster) was used in Icelandic law codes to refer to outlaws (see no. 4) who could be
12th century woodcarving showing
Sigurd cleaving the anvil upon which
Regis has just forged his sword
hunted down like wolves. The phrase "wolf in hallowed places" suggests an outlaw guilty of murder or of a particularly serious offense, especially committing a crime within a hallowed place or sanctuary.

8. These lines are somewhat convoluted. The sense of the passage is that Rerir is caught between a rock and a hard place: he must either kill his maternal uncles or let his father go unavenged.

11. The ability to put on a shape made of feathers, i.e., a bird shape, is commonly attributed to supernatural women in Old Icelandic literature.

18. Odin is often portrayed in the legendary sagas as visiting men in such a disguise. His headgear, referred to as a deep hood, was probably a form of hat. The story of how Odin lost his eye to obtain wisdom is told by Snorri in the Prose Edda.

26. Laukr (leek) may also refer to garlic. Both leek and garlic are considered in many cultures to have magical or medicinal properties.

30. The conversation that follows is a senna, or a contest of insults. Such contests are frequent in Old Icelandic literature. Most of the insults in this senna make use of one of the worst possible affronts in the culture, i.e., accusations of effeminacy or passive homosexuality. In Iceland, to accuse someone of passive homosexuality was punishable by outlawry.

37. Odin again. One of Odin's function was that of psychopomp, guide to the underworld.
“Odin the Wanderer” by Georg von Rosen (1886)

45. Odin's eight-leggged horse.

46. This passage may also be read, "I know of the kin of this serpent."

47. Loki is the trickster of Old Norse myth. He is an ambiguous figure, sometimes on the side of the giants, sometimes on the side of the gods. The two aspects of his character are evident in this tale: he places the gods in danger, only to rescue them.

56. Hugin may refer to one of Odin's two ravens. More probably the word refers not to any specific raven but to a huginn, a poetic synonym for raven. "To gladden the raven" meant "to kill men in battle."

59. According to the "Lay of Fafnir," Sigurd withheld his name because of an ancient belief that  a
Sigurd slays Fafnir
dying man could curse his enemy if he knew his enemy's name.

62. A reference to Ragnarok, the end of the world. Surt is a fire-giant who, after defeating the god Frey in a final battle, will cover the world with flame.

72. Bragi, a god of poetry. Bragi may have been a ninth-century Norwegian poet who was elevated to the status of a god by later writers.

91. Probably a reference to Brynhild's being a valkyrie.

93. Presumably the reference is to Grimhild's "ale of forgetfulness," which Sigurd consumed in chapter 28.

98. According to widespread medieval belief, the arteries were considered the ducts of air, whereas the veins were understood to be passages for blood.

108. A difficult passage. Literally it reads: "You said you would visit me and wait for me in Hel."

Brynhild (Brunhilde)

Selected from the endnotes to  The Saga of the Volsungs
Translated by Jesse L. Byock
Penguin,  1990

Friday, May 9, 2014


The Complete Thriller Portfolio is now available on Flickr. This is best viewed as a full-screen slideshow while imagining scary music playing in the background.

Thriller Portfolio