Shem The Penman Resurgent


Boris with Brexit / Deadline encroaching / With hardly a notion / That Boris, the blonde / Is no Bond / But a farceur who remains / As he was / Frivolous, privileged and obstinate / A King Charles the martyr to vanity / Flailing, ailing and failing / Genial withal / But the fate of the nation’s no wall game / Nor your mop is / a sop to your clown act / You laugh, we frown / Yet he who weeps last / Will be who? Boris, the blond bombshell of backwardness.

Dedalus at the diner: “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” Sorry, Non Serviam, sir.

Common sense says that a 5,000% rise in an asset in one year is fishy, Warren Buffett says, don’t invest in a product you can’t see, touch and understand, Piketty says the next bust will be irreversible, I say that Bitcoin will trigger it.

What father didn’t nick coppers from his mummy’s purse when he was a boy like the son he now chastises?

Lobbying revolves around its access.

A Ph.D. (in the social sciences) is a hazing ritual which admits the doctor to the fraternity (Mafia) of Academe and gives him the right to dismiss the thought of anyone outside of the magic circle, not with argumentation but because he isn’t “qualified,” as though reflecting on the society you live in were like rocket science.

Sign about surveillance cameras in the Centro Internacional: Want me to believe I’m being monitored for MY security!

Ask not what Jack did to become president…Ask what Joe did to become filthy rich.

While the two burn down, the Old Rome fiddles, the New Rome frets about transsexual toilet seats.

I always assumed that in the term “Good Samaritan,” the “good” highlights the outstanding characteristic, as in the VALIANT warrior, whereas, in fact, the Samaritans were a separate semi-Jewish cult, with their own homeland (Samaria) and Temple and (under the Persians) a separate governor. For those and petty doctrinal reasons, they were despised by the Jews of Jerusalem as heathens. Hence, the surprise of Jesus saying there were good Samaritans. Around 1,000 Samaritans still live in Israel!

When, to fortify a bad mambe, I added a big dose of bicarb and burnt my tongue to bits, I lost the three arms of the seducer: sweet talk, invitation to a banquet and kissing.

How intoxication with your own rhetoric causes thousands of needless deaths: Churchill’s “soft underbelly of the Axis,” for narrow, mountainous Italy with the Alps on top. Tell that to Field Marshal Kesselring!

Writers who run for office almost always fail: Flann O’Brien, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer and Upton Sinclair (though not because he was quixotic like the rest but sabotaged by the dirty-tricks right). Yeats doesn’t count because he was appointed to the Irish Senate. The one exception might be Disraeli.

The “sealed” railway wagon which took the Bolsheviks from Switzerland to Russia was not so in the sense that its windows and doors were boarded up. Rather, it referred to an official  seal placed on the outside of the train which gave it extra-territorial status, that is, exemption from immigration and customs controls and immunity of its passengers from arrest in a hostile country. In theory, it couldn’t stop along the way, though the Bolshevik one did once or twice, when Lenin, at the window, was greeted by admirers. Further, it was NOT the train which reached the Finland Station. There was a transfer to a Russian one at the Finnish border.

How many tusks do you need to build a tower of ivory?  Marble would be more practical, gold or diamonds more ornate.

The sound of an ATM spewing out cash is the current Ode to Joy.

Alma Mahler Werfel and Mia Farrow both had a knack for taking up with talented men. But with Alma, the anti-Semite, ill-tempered diva, there was a certain consistency, since Mahler, Gropius and Werfel were exemplars of the high culture of Mitteleuropa, whereas Mia seems to be a pliable female Zelig. Sinatra: a roughneck, showbiz gangster guy; Previn, the gentle, sensitive, classically-trained musician/composer; Woody Allen, the neurotic tummler who hates children and wound up with a gang of adopted kids (among them, his future bride, however). Incidentally, Tom Lehrer’s satirical song.

About Alma (1964) is still as funny as it was when I was his adolescent fan: “Alma, tell us/All modern women are jealous/Which of your magical wands/Got you Gustav and Walter and Franz?”

Nero couldn’t have “thrown Christians to the lions at the Colosseum,” because it was only built after his death; his supposed massacre of Christians is based on only one disputed source; that same source speaks of dogs, not lions; it is not even certain that the concept of “Christians” existed then.

It is outrageous that the government of India, the birthplace of Gautama, denied a visa to the Karmapa, the reincarnated leader of one of the four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, and his only resort was to enter India on a Dominican Republic passport his followers more or less bought for him.

A gimlet is an impersonal bore, like any human one.

Jaroslav Drobny, Czech tennis ace. If I remember right from my youth, a master of the drop shot, spins and other artifices of the slow game, though he was powerful at the serve and overhead smash. The only man to have won Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal (as a member of the Czech ice hockey team). Due to all political turmoil  in his homeland, he played at Wimbledon under 4 different nationalities, once, after he’d been made stateless, as an Egyptian. He was also the only man who won a Wimbledon singles championship wearing glasses.

How to cheat the afterlife: In accordance with the medieval belief that any Christian who died in Jerusalem would get an express ride to Heaven, King Henry IV of England, who was moribund and thus unable to travel there, ordered the bed he would soon die in to be moved to the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Palace. Along the same lines, the Salems of America (like the witchy one) are really contracted Jerusalems.

We line up like sheep at the check-out counter: felices consumidores mansitos.

De-accessioning museums: now run like businesses who sell pieces donated to them as permanent gifts to the public. The priority is massive attendance, gift shops, expos of fashion designers, etc. As at the Met, you can’t really contemplate any work of art or antiquity because they are so crowded and the crowd so restless, school parties the worst. I, for one, was delighted by the looting of the museums in Baghdad. What’s the big deal about their subsequent sale on the black market when you look at the dirty ways in which our hallowed museums acquired many of their masterpieces in the past.

Chief Seattle letter – creed of indigenist environmentalists. No record of it in any eyewitness account or historical archive. It may be true to his sentiments, but Seattle itself is a corruption of his real name and since he lived in the Far West in the 1850’s. He never saw a railroad and it is doubtful he saw a buffalo either.

Most common subjects of cell phone calls I overhear on busetas – reporting to mami and chasing unpaid debts. When they first appeared, I thought that the person was a loony talking to himself. Now, it’s got so bad that instead of ringing door bells, people announce their arrival with a cell phone call.

Comparison between golf (drive, approach, chip, putt) and bullfighting (cape-work, banderillas, squaring, estocada final). You may do very well in the preliminary stages, but everything hangs on your skill at the last.


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