Tag Archives: classics

Text of “If” by Rudyard Kipling

EDITORIAL NOTE: Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.  Professor Nannerpants is busy sipping champagne with royalty in Monte Carlo, but he says this poem will be your next homework assignment.  So check it out and leave your thoughts about what it all means in the comments.

“If”

By: Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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Literary Poop with Professor Nannerpants – Analysis of “Dreams” by Langston Hughes

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Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants, Professional Simian Literary Professor/Semi-Professional Poop Flinger

Ah, hello again 3.5 students.  How splendid to see you are still taking time out of your busy schedules to read literature.  Books are food for the mind you know.

Just be sure to find an equal amount of time to fling your poop.  In fact, I dare pose this brain teaser to you:

If a poop is left unflung, was it ever really pooped to begin with?

I’ll let that nugget simmer in your mental stew.  In the meantime, it is Black History Month and thus a time of year where we literary scholars are reminded to peruse the contributions of African American poets and writers to the cultural zeitgeist.  Google “zeitgeist,” 3.5 students, I swear it is a real word.

In this humble professor’s opinion, these contributions must be studied all year long.  In fact, based on conversations I have had with one Mr. Bookshelf Q. Battler, the former proprietor of this blog before Ms. Video Game Rack Fighter won custody of this blog and its 3.5 readers in a divorce case, BQB is particularly fond of this poem:

Dreams

By: Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Eight lines.  Like your humble professor, this poem is short and sweet.  And yet, if you delve deeper into these words, you’ll find so much meaning.

When we’re children, the world is our oyster.  Technically speaking, no outcome is impossible for a child because children possess so much of the most crucial of resources: time.  A forty year old drive-through worker who tells you he wishes to be an NBA basketball player, or an Academy Award winning actor, or an astronaut has the odds against him.  This person may, in theory, be very capable, but he just does not have the time to make such achievements.

On the other hand, a ten year old who tells you he wishes to do all of these things does have the time.  Statistically speaking, the child will, upon reaching adulthood, realize the lesson that many learn, namely, that life is hard, that resources are limited, that there is just too much competition for too few opportunities.  However, until that child comes to that realization, the world is a happy place in his eyes.

I hesitate to put words into Mr. Hughes’ mouth but your professor has a take on the meaning of this poem.  It’s quite simple.  Ignore the realization of the statistically unlikely probability that you will not achieve your big dreams.

Yes, you know in your heart and in your brain that at forty, you will not become an astronaut, but keep looking for the stars and studying astronomy books in the hopes that you might make it happen.

No, you most likely will not take home a gold statue.  Audition for a part in your community theater’s horrendously tacky play anyway.

No, you aren’t going to be drafted by the NBA.  Don’t let that stop you from playing pick up games with your friends.

Take Mr. Battler for instance.  He is well aware that he has a better chance of being struck in the ass by lightning a second time (we all know this happened to him a first time) than he does at becoming a successful writer.

Does he let that stop him? No.  Why?  Because he knows if he stops writing, he will be left with nothing else to look forward to.  He’ll while away his hours watching television, playing video games, stuffing his suck hole with ding dongs, never, ever doing anything productive.

One might even say that at that point, Mr. Battler’s life will be like “a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” or even “a barren field frozen with snow.”

Mr. Battler’s life, without his precious, absurdly difficult to obtain dream, would become hopeless, just as hopeless as a bird who has tasted the joys of flight but will never experience it again…just as hopeless as a field that can’t be utilized for crops because the soil has gone bad and frozen over.

Do you want to feel as hopeless as a broken-winged bird or a barren, frozen field, 3.5 students?  No?  Good.  Then I don’t care how hopeless it seems.  I don’t care if you are ninety and you dream of becoming the next top pop star, you get your old, wrinkly ass to the garage and start squeezing your backside into a pair of tight pants, then start shaking your booty.

No, you will never replace Katy Perry.  Yes, you need to hope that you will in order to get through the day.

And there you have it.  Another fine example of our beloved English language, expertly explained by your all-knowing professor.

Are you pursuing a dream that is unlikely just to keep your life from become a broken-winged bird or a barren, frozen field?  Share your thoughts and fling your poop in the comments.

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Movie Review – Casablanca (1942)

Here’s looking at you, 3.5 readers.

I watched Casablanca a year ago with the intention of reviewing it for this glorious blog.  I’d seen it before but my mind needed a refresher.  Alas, as Rick and Ilsa’s song reminds us, “time goes by” and writing a review of this masterpiece slipped my mind.

Luckily, seeing Allied gave me a refresher.

So without further ado, BQB here with a review of Casablanca.

Do I need to give a spoiler warning?  You’ve had over seventy years to watch this flick.

And if you haven’t watched it yet, you should, because it holds up.

(In all seriousness, this is a review for people who have seen and loved the film.  If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading, go watch it, then come back here.  Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed).

The set-up?  At one time, Morocco had been (owned, occupied, colonized, swiped, insert the word here) by France.  When Nazi forces swept into France in World War II, Frenchmen had to choose between surrender and fighting through underground guerrilla warfare (the French resistance).

Those who chose the former became known as the Vichy government.  Nazis officials flooded into France and backseat drove the French officials who opted not to fight.

To make matters more complicated, the situation extended into Morocco, where Nazis backseat drove the Vichy French officials there, sort of a double-occupation where French occupiers were being bossed around by their own German occupiers.

What a revolting development.

As explained in the film early on, Morocco was a den of thieves, villains, cut throats and spies.  Moreover, Europeans made a pilgrimage to the African city in the hopes of escaping the war by securing passage to Portugal (and then to other less dangerous places in the world like America).

Against this backdrop of sin and inequity, the hard drinking, clinically cynical American expatriate Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) runs a nightclub filled with all manner of depravity.  Rick’s got a seedy past that isn’t fully explained but you’re left with the impression that he isn’t exactly welcome in the States anymore.

When Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) left him waiting at a train station in France years earlier, Rick’s heart turned to stone and he swore from then on he’d live a life where he’d only look out for number one – i.e. himself.

But that resolution is tested when Ilsa enter’s Rick’s club.  “Of all the gin joints in all the world, why did she have to walk into mine?”

Without giving away too much of the story, Ilsa is now with Victor Laszlo (Paul Henried), a famed leader of the anti-Nazi movement.  Whereas Rick has long given up on idealism for quick bucks, Laszlo leaves and breathes French patriotism and is willing to die for it.

Blah, blah, blah, stuff happens and ultimately Rick must choose between seizing a love he thought was lost to him forever or sacrificing himself for the greater good of defeating the Nazis.

SPOILER ALERT – he chooses defeating the Nazis.  Surely, you knew this by now unless you have been living under a rock for years.

Even though you already know it, it is very emotional to watch.

In the end, the greater good wins out over love and it is up to the audience to decide whether or not that was the right outcome.

If you are an idealist, then you cheer Rick on as he allows Victor to take his seat on a Portugal bound plane.

If you are a cynic, then you think Rick is a schmuck for not grabbing his woman and not letting go, as a woman you love who loves you back is a rarity in this life.

But ultimately, if you are an idealist, you realize the people who need to be together, end up together.

Laszlo and Ilsa, we can only assume, go on to continue their anti-Nazi fight once Victor is away from the clutches of the villainous Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt).

As for Rick, his “beautiful friendship” with Captain Louis Renault (Claude Raines) begins.

Raines steals the show as Renault as he puts on full display the difficult situation many Frenchmen found themselves in during this time.  Louis is no fan of the Nazis, but he is a fan of breathing and having a job so like a henpecked husband he caters to his German masters, but does so in a comic manner.

Rick and Louis are foils that feed off one another.  Rick’s cynicism is dark and brooding whereas Louis’ cynicism is, at times, downright funny.  Louis realizes he is stuck in a ridiculous situation but with a deadpan tone that belies an undercurrent of sarcasm, he does what is required of him.

Example – when the Nazis order Louis to shut down Rick’s joint, Louis does so and declares, “I am shocked to find gambling in this establishment!”

Then with perfect comedic timing, a dealer hands Louis a stack of cash and says, “Your winnings, sir” to which Louis replies, “Thank you.”

That scene has served as a criticism of politicians and public officials who act “shocked” by lousy situations when in reality, they have long known of them.

Thus, the greater good wins.  Rick and Ilsa would have been happier together, but the world needed Victor and Ilsa to continue their resistance efforts, just as the world needed Rick and Louis, a couple of jaded, cynical connivers to get together and use their underhanded skills to undermine the Nazis at every turn.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Get out of your comfort zone and watch a black and white movie.  You’ll be glad you did.

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The Illiad Rebooted – Chapter 3

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The sound of a blaring ram’s horn tore across Sparta before it finally made its way to the king’s ears.

“What?” the king asked.

Leda stirred. “Could it be?”

The gold plated doors to the throne room opened to reveal a rather stern looking muscle bound, long haired warrior. He entered in the company six other warriors, three on each side.

Their uniforms consisted of little more than leather thongs and flowing capes.

A frazzled Tyndareus sprang to his feet. “Oh, thank the gods, ’tis Talos, general of the mighty Spartan army. What news do you bring?”

The Spartans marched in a stoic manner until they reached the throne. Then, they shouted a very guttural “oohrah” before falling to their knees before the king.

“My good king,” Talos said. “My good queen. Castor and Pollux approach the port in their ship.”

“And? Tyndareus asked.

“Umm,” the general said. “The wind is in their sails and their pace is steady?”

The king slapped his forehead. “For the love of Hera’s tucas, man! Is Helen with them?”

“Oh!” Talos said. “Yes! Indeed she is. I spotted the princess standing on deck.”

“Not trying to tell you how to do your job, general,” Tyndareus said. “But you might have led off with that.”

The warriors arose. “On your word, we shall escort you to the port, your highness.”

Leda stood up. “I must fetch our niece.”

“Yes,” a relieved Tyndareus said. “Collect dear Penelope so that our family will finally be together again.”

Three Spartans left the throne room with the Queen.

Meanwhile, the king, Talos, and the other three warriors departed.

As the king’s party moved through the hustle and bustle of the city, the king couldn’t help but notice the skimpy attire the warriors were wearing.

“Talos?”

“Yes, my liege?”

“Is it me or have the uniforms of the mighty Spartan army grown absurdly scant?”

“’Tis not you, my king,” Talos said. “A reduction in clothing is one of many changes I have made as of late to give the mighty Spartan army an edge over all challengers.”

“I never thought one could could go wrong with a good tunic,” Tyndareus said.

“All due respect, my king,” Talos replied. “But tunics are bulky and get in the way. Leather thongs allow for much freer movement.”

“And the capes?” Tyndareus inquired.

“Oh the capes are just badass,” Talos replied. “When our enemies spy the mighty Spartan army rolling up on them, they’ll be all like, ‘Damn, those bad ass Spartan muthafuckas be wearin’ the shit out of them capes!’”

“I see,” the king said. “And what other changes have you made?”

A miserable wretch covered in boils hobbled up to the party on his cane with a live chicken tucked under his arm.

“Huzzah!” the wretch said. “’Tis Good King Tyndareus! May the gods smile upon you, your majesty!”

“Step aside, peasant!” Talos said as he knocked the wretch over with his pinky finger and kept walking.

“A bit harsh, weren’t you?” the king asked.

“I don’t know where that lowly dog has been, my king,” Talos said. “He coughs on you, you get sick and before you know it I’m slitting my own throat to atone for my failure to protect the man the gods have selected to rule over Sparta. Now where was I?”

“The changes,” the king said.

“Ah yes,” Talos said. “I’ve given the men a robust schedule. Up before dawn for swordplay practice, followed by an afternoon of rubbing scented oils and lotions into one another’s rippling muscles, followed by an evening of slippery wrestling until we fall asleep.”

“That seems rather uh, homoerotic,” the king said. “Not that I’m judging.”

“Scented oils and lotions are good for the muscles, your highness,” Talos said. “It brings the gallons upon gallons of testosterone coursing through our veins to the surface and makes us stronger. I swear it has nothing to do with us enjoying putting our greasy hands all over each others’ firm, supple bodies.”

“I’m sure it doesn’t,” the king said.

“Also, I have trained the men to shout incredibly macho statements about themselves upon command.”

Talos snapped his fingers. “Spartans! Flatter yourselves!”

“I possess gigantic testicles forged from wrought iron by the hand of Hephaestus, God of All Blacksmiths, himself!” the first warrior shouted. “Ooorah!”

“Is that true?” the king asked.

“I don’t know that it is not true,” Talos said. “Spartans! Continue!”

“I can snap the neck of a griffin with nothing but the tight muscles of my buttocks!” the second Spartan shouted. “Ooorah!”

“That’s true,” Talos said. “I’ve seen him do it. Third Spartan, report!”

“I crave man ass all night and day!” the third Spartan shouted. “Oohrah!”

Talos rolled his eyes. “Third Spartan, that’s not really a macho statement about yourself so much as an interest in an, um, extracurricular activity that the good king doesn’t need to know about.”

“I’m sorry, General!” the third Spartan said. “I’ll think about it and get back to you! Oorah!”

“How does making them shout macho statements about themselves make them better warriors?” the king asked.

“Would you want to go up against an army of Spartans with such massive egos to compliment their oiled up muscles?” Talos asked.

“I should say…” The king stopped to cough in his fist. “I should say not.”

“My king,” Talos said as he stretched out his hand. “Please, let me assist you.”

“No,” Tyndarecus scoffed. “I may be old but I’m not dead.”

“I understand,” Talos said.

The party reached the port and waited as the royal ship drew nigh.

“My king,” the general said. “Far be it from me to question your wisdom, but I hope you know that the mighty Spartan army and I are infinitely loyal to the royal family. Should you ever desire to give the Dioscuri a break, we shall relish the chance to rescue Princess Helen the next time she is kidnapped by a pervert, which, given the way things have been going, will no doubt be sometime around next Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest.”

The king smiled and patted the general on the shoulder.

“Noble Talos. Never would I question your loyalty to my family or to Sparta, especially when you and the mighty Spartan army have proven yourselves time and time again on the field of battle, but Helen is by far the hottest chick in the world and I’m sure you will understand that I just feel more comfortable when she is in the company of her brothers as opposed to an army of outrageously strong egomaniacs with oiled up muscles and gallons upon gallons of testosterone coursing through their veins.”

“Oh, you need not worry, your majesty,” Talos said. “We are not interested in Helen in that way.”

The king was taken aback. “Seriously?”

“No doubt,” Talos said.

“But aside from her kin, Helen is desired by every being with a penis,” the king said.

Tyndareus raised a quizzical eyebrow. “I thought you said you dudes weren’t into other dudes.”

“I did not say we were not, not into dudes,” Talos replied. “Besides, I thought you said you weren’t judging?”

“I’m not,” Tyndareus said.

“Mighty Spartan army requirements are very strict about interpersonal relationships,” the general explained. “If we were into dudes, which I’m not saying we are, we couldn’t very well run around advertising the fact that we are into dudes now could we?”

“Ah,” Tyndareus said. “So you’re saying that you’re all into dudes?”

The general threw his hands up. “I didn’t say that.”

“Well,” the king said as he watched the ship come in. “I appreciate the offer, Talos, but I can’t take the risk that one of your men might be a switch hitter.”

“Not gonna lie,” Talos said. “The ninth Spartan warrior isn’t so much into dudes or chicks as he is into anything with a warm hole of any kind.”

“TMI, Talos,” the king said. “TMI.”

The ship docked. A contingent of sailors attached a gangplank to allow the occupants to exit the vessel.

“Princess Helen approaches!” shouted the first sailor from the ship’s deck. “Avert your eyes!”

“Shut your eyes!” the second sailor shouted as he walked down the gangplank. “Princess Helen comes this way!”

“What’s everyone on about?” the third sailor asked from his position the dock.

It was too late. All but the third sailor closed their eyes. That sailor, upon spotting the glorious beauty of Helen as she strolled down the gangplank with her brothers in tow, immediately went cross-eyed, became consumed by an orgasmic fit, then dropped to the deck.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me the Princess was disembarking?” the third sailor asked. “I soiled my tunic!”

“We did,” the first sailor shouted from the deck with his eyes still shut. “Clean the shit out of your ears!”

Helen spotted Tyndareus.

“Father!” the princess cried as she ran over and hugged the old man.

“Oh my darling daughter Helen!” Tyndareus said as he wept tears of joy. “I am so delighted that you survived this week’s kidnapping.”

“The Dioscuri rescued me from the crusty old fucks!” Helen proudly declared.

“Castor and Pollux!” the king said.

The Dioscuri took turns hugging their old man.

“Father,” Castor said.

“Father,” Pollux repeated.

“My heart swells with pride that you have saved your sister from yet another weekly kidnapping!” the king said.

“Yeah,” Castor said. “Not like there was anything else we’d rather be doing.”

“Right,” Pollux said. “Now let’s go nap for five minutes before some pervert nabs Helen and we do this shit all over again.”

Tyndareus frowned. “What…what is that? Are you boys using sarcasm on your father?”

“No,” Castor said.

“We’d never do that,” Pollux said.

Seconds later, the queen arrived with the royal niece and her contingent of Spartan warriors.

“I can block out the sun with my monstrous phallus!” the fourth Spartan warrior shouted. “Ooorah!”

“Yes, yes,” the queen said. “We all know you are all super gay. No one cares.”

Penelope was a curvaceous young woman. Tight in the waist, splatow in the other place if you catch my drift.

“Mother!” Helen said as she hugged the queen.

“Oh Helen!” the queen said. “We were so frightened that you’d been done in by those crusty old fucks!”

Helen let go of her mother and embraced Penelope. “Sweet cousin!”

Penelope spoke in a monotone that belied a demeanor similar to what you modern readers might refer to as “depressed brainy goth chick.”

“Whoopee,” Penelope said as she let her arms hang at her sides, refusing to return the hug. “Helen’s back, y’all. Let’s all drop what we’re doing and talk about this for three or four hours. Hooray.”

Talos squinted as he looked out across the sea’s horizon. “My king!”

Tyndareus looked up and joined his general in staring at a small blip that eventually turned into a ship.

“Is it a friend or foe?” the king asked.

“It…it bears the markings of a ship of Ithaca!” Audax proclaimed. “Surely it carries a friend.”

Castor and Pollux looked at each other.

“Oh come on,” the first brother said.

“It has to be…” the second brother replied.

Penelope flashed a rare smile. “Ithaca, you say?”

The royal family and the mighty Spartan rmy waited patiently until the ship reached the port.

A strapping young man with a full beard stepped out onto the deck and grinned.

“Whassup, beatches? Odysseus all up in Sparta’s ass! Woot woot!”

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Literary Poop with Professor Nannerpants – Analysis of Walden by Henry David Thoreau

By: Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants, Literary Scholar/Simian Poop Flinger

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Good morrow, 3.5 readers.

My word, it has been ages since I have thrown anything at you, be it literary wisdom, fecal matter, or otherwise.

I have been so busy with life that I simply forgot this blog existed. (This is an easy feat seeing as it only has 3.5 readers.)

Ahh, how fortuitous that I should mention the hustle and bustle of life when the author I wish to discuss today gave up the turmoil of civilization to live a scant existence in the woods.

In the mid-1850s, Henry David Thoreau transported himself to Walden Pond in order to scale back his life and live in the woods.

Thoreau explained it best and I cannot do any better than he:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

Oh life, how quickly you move. Why, 1980s scholar Ferris Bueller famously opined that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop once in awhile, you might miss it.”

But long before Ferris, Thoreau was even able to grasp that mankind was so wrapped up in the day to day grind of life that few ever stopped to enjoy life itself.

Observe Thoreau’s true passion for mortality here. “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

Imagine life as a juicy steak. Thoreau loved his life steak so much that eating the meat wasn’t enough. He wanted to suck on the bones and get the little bit of sustenance inside of them as well.

Oh, 3.5 readers. We are all guilty of not appreciating life, aren’t we?

Yes, we have so many hopes and dreams and then before you know it you’re a middle-aged chimpanzee teaching at night classes for imbeciles at a community college and spending your free time writing columns for addle brained readers of WordPress book blogs that rarely, if ever, feature a book review.

Not you guys. You guys are great.

WHAT IF LIFE IS TOO HARD?

Millennials, I hate to pile on to the abuse you take from society, but yes, with your “safe spaces” and your “trigger warnings” and your overall attempts to baby proof your entire lives, you truly are the worst.

You may be inclined to think that if your life is difficult then it should provide you little enjoyment. Thus, you shouldn’t be bothered seeking any.

Wrong! Thoreau tells us:

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”

You only get one life, 3.5 readers. After that, it is kaputsville. Would you rather spend that life in a French villa surrounded by super models?  I wouldn’t it. They’re not very hairy and they never enjoy a good poop fling.

But perhaps that sounds interesting to you human weirdoes.

Ultimately, just as Thoreau points out, the sun shines on a poor house just as it does as a rich one. Even in your darkest times and lowliest hours, happiness can be found.

Are you experiencing as much happiness as you’d like? No. Does that mean you should just forego happiness then? Of course not. Why does everyone have this ridiculous “all or nothing” attitude?

3.5 readers, I confess even during that very depressing time period I spent trapped in a cage as one of Dr. Hugo Von Science’s lab chimps, I would still find the time to cheer myself up by throwing a turd nugget at the good doctor’s head.

He would then attach electrodes to my cranium and zap me with thousands of volts but it was worth it.

Ahh, good times. “Memories, like the corners of my mind,” as Babs Streisand would say.

3.5 readers, I see the curtain being pulled on my lecture here, so allow me to leave you with a final question:

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ONE TO ACHIEVE HIS/HER DREAMS THROUGH HARD WORK?

It is difficult to say.  Many have given their dreams their all and come up with nothing but poop in their hands. (Never a better time to become a poop flinger I say.)

Others have given their dreams little effort.  Hell, that sexy human you just saw in a movie probably got her start by walking around looking hot and some Hollywood agent casted her.

All I can do is speak from experience.

As I wasted away in that lab cage, I dreamed of becoming a world renowned literary scholar.

And so I worked.  And I studied. And I posed as a tiny man with a hairy overgrowth problem until I was hired to be a renowned literary professor.

And then I allowed myself to become associated with this foolish blog.  So discredited was I that it is now community college for me forever.

Sigh. Community college.  Don’t get me started.

I can’t answer the inquiry.  But here’s what Thoreau said on the matter:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

If you put hard work into your dreams, are they achievable 3.5 readers?

What say you?

Fling your poop in the comments.

Class dismissed.

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Mark Twain on Zombies – Part 2

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“God created war so that Americans would learn geography. The devil created zombies so that Western Americans would practice their calisthenics.”

And so, as the American West Continued to Be Zombed throughout the late 1800s, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known to readers by his pen name, Mark Twain, refused to be deterred from embracing his life long love affair with the written word.

Hidden away in his residence with the doors and windows boarded up and a carving knife at the ready to make quick work of any intruders, be they zombie or ill-mannered human, Mr. Twain persisted in memorializing his thoughts on the zombie menace for future generations to enjoy:

  • “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option. Of course, if this person turns out to be a zombie, make it a priority to blow its brains out.”
  • “Books are for people who wish they were someone else. Alas, zombies have no use for them, for they are so miserably stupid.”
  • “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. Now imagine that you are a zombified Congressman. But I repeat myself thrice now.”
  • “In a good book room, you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them. Enjoy the feeling while it lasts, for no doubt a hideous zombie will jump out from betwixt the book stacks and scare the living daylights out of you.”
  • “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man. As for zombies, they will bite the shit out of you whether or not you try to feed them cow brains as a substitute for human brains. Zombies are truly ungrateful pricks.”
  • “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened. My tales of zombie homicide, for example, are voraciously true.”
  • “Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty. Oh how I wish I had never been educated about zombies.”
  • “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain. Meanwhile, a zombie is a rotten fellow who wants to consume your brain.”
  • “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. I doubt the zombie brains I have stomped upon have shed much in the way of forgiveness upon my boot heel.”
  • “Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most. I suspect a filthy zombie has devoured it.”
  • “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. If there is ever a third, it will be the glorious day upon which we learn that all of the zombies have up and died.”
  • “The human race has only two really effective weapons: laughter and shovels to aid us in the bashing of zombie brains.”
  • “Never argue with stupid zombies. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
  • “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day…unless you run into a disgusting zombie.”
  • “I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a zombie should ever challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him, most likely by punching him in the brain.”
  • “I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone and then shout, ‘Die again, zombie bitch!’”

EDITORIAL NOTE: Yeah, that last quote is all Twain except for the “Die again, zombie bitch!” part at the end. His original quote ended with “shin-bone.” The Twainster was not a fan of Jane Austen apparently.

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Mark Twain on Zombies

marktwainfaceSamuel Langhorne Clemens, better known to the world as Mark Twain, is widely regarded as one of America’s finest novelists, providing wit and humor with such works as Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Alas, Mr. Twain was among many Americans who found themselves on the wrong side of the Mississippi River when the West Was Zombed, but he made the best of it by jotting down his observations about humans, zombies and their interactions:

  • When it comes to zombies, there are three kinds of lies: lies about zombies, damned lies about zombies, and zombie related statistics.”
  • “The fear of death at the hands of zombies follows from the fear of a life spent surrounded by zombies. A man who lives fully despite the zombie hordes’ worst intentions is prepared to die at any time, be it by zombie attack or by natural causes.”
  • “Get your facts about zombies first and then you can distort your facts about zombies as much as you please.”
  • “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education about zombies.”
  • “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. And now it is filled with damn zombies.”
  • “The secret to getting ahead of a zombie horde is to get started on skewering their rotten brains.”
  • “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Meanwhile, the zombies will not give a shit.”
  • “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything…except don’t forget to bring a hammer…to box the ears of marauding zombies.”
  • “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. And don’t even get me started on naked zombies…”
  • “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. Also, the zombies will hear you and break down your door and feast on your brains.”
  • “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.  Just don’t let a zombie eat your mind.”
  • “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. But if you are deaf and blind, the zombies will probably eat you first.”
  • “Courage is resistance to fear of zombies, mastery of fear of zombies, not absence of fear of zombies.”
  • “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times. I inevitably put my cigar out in a zombie’s eye and then try, try again in the morn.”
  • “When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear at zombies.”
  • “It’s not the size of the zombie in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the zombie.”
  • “I can live for two months on a good compliment. Three, if a zombie doesn’t devour my brains.”
  • “It’s no wonder that the truth about zombies is stranger than zombie fiction. Zombie fiction has to make sense.”
  • “I didn’t attend the funeral of the man who was eaten by zombies, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it (the funeral, that is, not the man’s dismemberment at the hands of zombies.)”

 

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Literary Classics with Professor Nannerpants – An Introduction

Good Day 3.5 Readers.

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Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants – Esteemed Literary Scholar/Poop Flinger

In the first year of this ridiculous blog, Bookshelf Q. Battler took on the role of a cool, hip online literary lecturer, educating his 2.5 readers (his stats weren’t as high then) about classic novels and poetry in a fun manner.

In year two, he turned the blog into a chronicle of his life as a magic bookshelf caretaker/yeti fighter/human selected by an alien despot to change the world through his writing.

Personally, I found that change to be tres blasé and ever so derivative. If I had a nickel for every blog about a magic bookshelf caretaker/yeti fighter/human selected by an alien despot to change the world through his writing I’d be a fabulously wealthy simian.

Now in year three, BQB has turned his attention yet again to actually writing a novel in an effort to appease the Mighty Potentate.  Occasionally, when he is unable to think what his novel characters should do next, he writes top ten lists implying your significant others are all manner of horrible abominations and helps his staff of malcontent columnists spread their ridiculous opinions.

Ironically, BQB has found that his first year posts are the most searchable, most likely by high school or college English students writing papers about the classics.

(And between you, me and the four walls, 3.5 readers, if any of these kids are citing Bookshelf Q. Battler in their papers and getting A’s then I weep for the state of our education system.)

Ahh, but I do drone on, don’t I? This is where I come in.

Have you ever heard of the old saying that if you were to lock a thousand chimpanzees in a room filled with typewriters, one of the chimps would eventually produce a clean, error free copy of Hamlet?

I am that chimp.

It all began as an experiment at the Advanced Science Institute of Science University.  BQB, literary lover that he was, was studying under the esteemed Dr. Hugo Von Science (they were still friends in those pre-East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse days.)

As part of a research project, BQB rounded up a thousand lab chimps, locked us in a room with a thousand typewriters and over the course of a year, my colleagues produced:

  • 179,854 pages covered in doody
  • One clean, error free copy of a James Patterson novel.  Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman were immediately cast for the movie version.
  • One typo laden copy the collective works of Digital Underground. “The Fumpty Fance is Your Fance to Do the Fump.” Oh chimps, you try so hard and yet you fail, for there can only be one Humpty Hump.

And finally, I was the first chimpanzee in the history of the world to prove the assertion true.

I typed a clean, error free copy of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

And then I smeared it with my doody.

BQB got an A+ for his project.  Dr. Hugo had other plans for me.

Curious about my abilities, the mad scientist performed all manner of tests on my brain.

Dr. Hugo wanted to know if it was possible to educate a chimpanzee.

So he hooked my head up to electrodes and forced me to watch PBS for three weeks straight.

So many documentaries.  So many British TV shows.  So much Masterpiece Theater.

During a storm, an errant thunderbolt zapped the Science Institute, sending a current to the electrodes, which in turn, shocked me.

This left me with the ability of speech….in a British accent.

I used my newfound skill to plead for my freedom with Dr. Hugo but he would not have it.

Bookshelf Q. Battler proved to be kinder and when the coast was clear, he left my cage door open.

For many years, I traveled the world, experiencing all that I could.

Highlights include:

  • Climbing Mount Everest.  What a waste of time.  There’s nothing to see up there.
  • Visiting my friends and family in the jungle.  Alas, Thomas Wolfe was right when he said you can never go home again. All those chimps wanted to do was laugh and throw their poop. Sure, it’s fun for the first five minutes but after that I’m the only one who wants to talk about the collective works of Lord Byron.
  • I was briefly a member of Congress.  I had to quit because everyone there was better at poop flinging than I was. (I’m not even joking.)

And finally, by donning a disguise, and holding myself out as a hirsute little person from London,  I was able to convince a renowned university to accept me as a student of literature.

There I stayed for many years, immersed in my love of the written word, obtaining a doctorate I used to obtain a position as a professor of the classics at the same aforementioned institution.

Note that I haven’t said which one as I continue to hold this position and I don’t wish to be outed as a chimpanzee. I think I’m safe though as only 3.5 individuals read this blog.

Long story short, BQB would like to continue to put his stat counter on the rise by increasing this blog’s search ability amongst students in their late teens to early twenties who stayed up all night smoking refer and playing video games and need to whip up a last minute paper about Longfellow in order to do their parents proud by pulling down a C-.

Under my alternative name, I have written articles in the world’s premiere academic journals.  Thus, I loathe the idea of having my work appear in a poorly studied blog.

Yet, I do owe BQB a favor for helping me escape.

Naturally, I won’t use my nom de plume so I will use the name I was given back when I was but a lowly lab chimp.

Horatio J. Nannerpants.

Yes. Based on the filthy stereotype that chimpanzees love…excuse me I have to finish this banana.

Oh…oh yes! Oh sweet, sweet curved yellow potassium stick! You are better that hot sweaty chimpanzee sex!

Pardon me.  Where was I?

Oh yes. Class in now in session, aspiring literary scholars.

And by the way.

That’s Professor Nannerpants to you.

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A Guide to the Bookshelf Battleverse – Part 2 – The Magic Bookshelf Characters

THE MAGIC BOOKSHELF CHARACTERS

The tiny literary characters who call BQB’s bookshelf home come and go.  They’re free to hang out on the shelf as they please, or to open up their books and return to the pages of their stories as they see fit.

Regulars, or those characters who prefer hanging out on BQB’s shelf (often spreading out to the rest of his house to eat all his food and break all his stuff) include:

THE INCORRIGIBLE MUNROE

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The protagonist of Alexander T. Buttercross’ novel of 1920’s angst and ennui amongst the upper class, Sidney Munroe spent most of his waking hours developing a larger than life persona, chasing money and spending lavishly on parties at his luxurious estate outside of Chicago, all as a pretense toward becoming a great man that could win the heart of his lady love, the cold and aloof Jenny.

SPOILER ALERT:  Since Munroe croaks at the end of The Incorrigible Munroe (and doesn’t even get to score with Jenny), he much prefers hanging out at BQB HQ all day, watching BQB’s cable and running up BQB’s cable bill with pay per view movies.

As a habit, Munroe often refers to BQB as “Young Duffer” (as he usually does to everyone else).

On the outside, BQB and Munroe couldn’t be more different.  Monroe is cool and handsome.  BQB is a nerd.

However, they have long been fast friends, bonding over how much time they spent feeling sad about women who couldn’t give a crap about them (i.e. Monroe over Jenny and BQB over Blandie.)

They spent many a night crying to one another over their woes until they both found chicks over the summer of 2015.  (More on BQB’s chick later.)

Monroe’s currently canoodling with:

ANARA “ANNIE” MISTWAKE

Queen Anara "Annie" Mistwake and her horse before it was transformed into a damn pegasus.

Queen Anara “Annie” Mistwake and her horse before it was transformed into a damn pegasus.

Annie is one of 10,985 main characters in Joel L.L. Torrow’s epic fantasy series, A Dirge of Murder and Betrayal.  BQB has long been an admirer of Mr. Torrow’s work, especially his ability to polish off a dozen characters every day before breakfast.

Though he’s known her for years, Annie insists on introducing herself to BQB with each and every one of her titles, and she does this every time she sees him, even if she leaves the room to get a snack only to come back five minutes later.

This introduction goes:

“I am Anara Mistwake of the Family Zoovarin, Keeper of the Legacy, Shimbala of the Lowlands, Destroyer of Demons, Aunt of the Pegasus, Queen of the Kingdom of Wentzlendale, the Mountain Clifftops, and the Impenetrable Isles, Protector of the Enchanted Gem, and the Oligarch of the Forbidden Fields.”

Imagine hearing that twenty times a day.

Depressed over losing her husband to a pack of fearsome ogres, Annie sought comfort by throwing herself at Munroe, who did not complain one bit, Young Duffer.

TESSA FIRESWARM

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Tessa is by far the most unruly of all the magic bookshelf characters, shooting explosive arrows all over BQB’s home with reckless abandon or concern for the consequences.  She’s the main character of Arrowblast, a series of Young Adult novels in which a band of plucky teenagers with little to no battlefield experience or training manage to take down the cruel and unjust ruler of an unjust dystopian future regime.

She’s like the angsty teenage daughter BQB never had (or at times, wanted), except when she gets mad, she blows shit up.

THE CROSSANTIER CHILDREN

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Stars of the fantasy book series in which a group of French siblings wander down a mysterious hatch they find underneath their laundry hamper, only to find themselves in a magical world where they must battle a hideous crone with the help of Jesus in the form of an Aardvark.  Who among you didn’t spend a portion of your youth with your nose buried in a copy of The Aardvark, the Crone, and the Hamper Hatch?

Tessa is not a fan, thus BQB finds himself having to save the Crossantier children from being blown up on a regular basis.

ATTORNEY’S NOTE

At this point, BQB’s attorney, Delilah K. Donnelly, finds it necessary to inform you that any similarities you may have found between actual books is either unintended, some nonsense you made up in your dumb head, or more likely, just for parody purposes only.

However, the following characters hail from books whose authors have been stone cold dead for ages, thus leaving them free to let it all hang out on the magic shelf:

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND DR. WATSON 

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Much to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s dismay, Sherlock and Watson run around BQB HQ all day long, solving mysteries and taking copious notes on all of BQB’s activities, right down to his bowel movements, as Holmes is nothing but thorough and believes that even the most seemingly inconsequential detail could one day become a case cracking clue.

THE THREE MUSKEETERS PLUS D’ARTAGNAN

D'artagnan not pictured.

                   D’artagnan not pictured.

The Three Musketeers Plus D’Artagnan wander around BQB HQ, claiming all of BQB’s shit (from his remote control to his bathmat) in the name of the King of France and looking for agents of the Cardinal to pick fights with.

For years, BQB has been asking them why they’re “The Three Musketeers” when there’s four of them for years.  They’ve yet to provide a satisfactory answer.

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BQB and the Meaning of Life – Part 9 – The Game is Afoot!

PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…

BQB dies, is told he needs to seek the meaning of life, and returns to the land of the living.

READ PARTS 1-5

PART 6 – BQB wakes up in the hospital.  Dr. Goetleib lost the bet.

PART 7 – Two characters apologize for their tomfoolery.

PART 8 – BQB thinks about calling on Joel LL Torrow’s pimp hand.

Corn flakes. They weren’t gooey. They weren’t fruity. They weren’t warm. They just sat there like a boring pile of mush, a grim reminder of what my life had become.

Three days had passed since the “lightning strike.” I sat in my kitchen, propped up on my butt donut, eating an unremarkable breakfast. I was too scared to even look at another toaster pastry.

From the stairwell, I heard some dog barks, followed by two distinctly British voices.

“Step lively, canine!” one of the voices yelled. “The game is afoot!”

Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's infamous detective.

Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous detective.

“Holmes, I don’t believe that Mr. Bookshelf wishes to be disturbed,” the other voice said. “It is my opinion as a professional physician that he needs to rest.”

“Nonsense, Watson!” the first voice said. “Trying times such as these are when our assistance is needed the most!”

I ate a spoonful of corn flakes and watched as my pet, the aptly named Bookshelf Q. Battle Dog, trotted into the kitchen. Riding on his back were none other than notorious super sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his colleague, the wise and knowledgeable Dr. John Watson. (Tiny versions of their literary selves, obviously).

Among his many duties, Bookshelf Q. Battle Dog was the head of Bookshelf Battle Headquarters Security. He was one of those little yippy purse dogs, so he was more than qualified to bark his head off whenever a visitor came a-calling.

He jumped up onto the chair next to me, dropped his passengers off onto the table, then took a nap on the chair.

“Bookshelf Q. Battler!” Holmes said. “How are you man?”

“Oh,” I said. “For a guy who recently launched a lightning bolt out of my nether regions, I can’t complain.”

Dr. Watson in his younger days, before he grew a stache.

Dr. Watson in his younger days, before he grew a mustache.

Watson stroked his chin and stared at me.

“Signs of lethargy,” the good doctor said. “Depression. An intense pallor of ennui. I stand corrected, Holmes. You were right. The caretaker of our bookshelf requires assistance posthaste.”

“Elementary, my dear Watson,” Sherlock said. “Elementary.”

Holmes wore a cloak and one of those odd hats, you know, the ones that look like two baseball caps sewn together back to back. Watson had a handlebar mustache, a bowler hat, and wore a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows.

“You know guys,” I said. “I get that I’m saddled with the burden of taking care of a bunch of small book characters for the rest of my life, but I’d really appreciate it if you all would make an effort to not get in my face before I’ve had my morning coffee.”

Holmes puffed on a pipe, blew a few smoke rings, then raised a triumphant finger in the air.

“Watson!”

“Yes Holmes?”

“We’ve defeated Professor Moriarty, haven’t we?” the world’s greatest detective asked.

“Indeed, Holmes.”

“Colonel Moran?” Holmes asked.

“Most assuredly.”

“We solved the case of the Hound of the Baskervilles?”

“A most troublesome caper,” Watson replied. “But we certainly did solve it.”

“How many times have we saved Old Brittania from certain ruin at the hands of various and sundry villainous masterminds?” Holmes asked.

“More times than this old sawbones can count, Holmes,” Watson said.

“And yet, with my powers of deduction, I do postulate that we will now solve the most inscrutable, most diabolical, most grueling case we have heretofore ever encountered!”

“What is it, Holmes?”

Holmes spun around and looked directly up at me through the lens of his magnifying glass.

“The Case of the Missing Bookshelf Caretaker’s Testicles!”

Will Holmes and Watson discover what happened to BQB’s testicles?  Return to bookshelfbattle.com for the next installment of this epic tale to find out!

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.  All Rights Reserved. 

Fun fact – As reported in Variety and other news sources, Sherlock Holmes is so old that he’s in the public domain!  That means he can be used anywhere and I’m sure Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be doing backflips in his grave if he were to ever learn about his appearance on this blog.

Even so, while Holmes and Watson may belong to the ages now, we’ll never forget that he is Sir Arthur’s legendary creation.

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