Tag Archives: literature

Mark Twain on Zombies – Part 5

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The Mississippi Rive will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise.  Zombies are equally stubborn and foolhardy.  Only a ball peen hammer applied liberally to their rotting craniums can persuade them to do anything else but eat your brain.

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned.  When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.  In like fashion, few men are made of the stern stuff necessary to attack a marauding zombie head on.  Instead, they cower in corners, concerned only with their personal safety.  Once a man of great bravery steps up and murders all impending zombies in the vicinity, then, and only then, will a sniveling reprobate remove himself from his corner of cowardice and boldly declare, “I supported zombie killing this entire time!”

None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try.  A fountain-pen can help a man translate his thoughts onto the page and also, it works well when plunged into the brain of a zombie.

Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword.  Fire and swords are also good weapons against filthy zombies.  I’ve always found that if a zombie won’t burn, it’s best to chop its vile head off with a sword.  Don’t forget to plunge the sword in the beast’s brain for good measure.

 

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Mark Twain on Zombies – Part 4

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Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.  Whenever you find yourself on the side of a zombie, it is time to jam a sharp object into its ear canal, as that is the quickest way to destroy its brain before it eats yours.

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything…except to stay away from zombies.  Always remember to stay away from zombies.  Write a note that says, “STAY AWAY FROM ZOMBIES!” and pin it to your shirt collar if need be, but in any event, dear reader, do stay away from zombies.

I have never let my schooling about zombie anatomy interfere with my education of zombie slaying tactics.

Total abstinence is so excellent a thing that it cannot be carried to too great an extent.  In my passion for it I even carry it so far as to totally abstain from total abstinence itself.  Hell, sometimes the only way a man can come down off a high after spending a night’s worth of vigorous zombie fighting is to get all up in some Mississippi boo-tay.

What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light. It is doubtful that would even be effective as most likely this man would revert to the undead state of a wretched zombie.  Anniversaries are very well up to a certain point, while one’s babies are in the process of growing up: they are joy-flags that make gay the road and prove progress; and one looks down the fluttering rank with pride. Then presently one notices that the flagstaffs are in process of a mysterious change of some sort–change of shape. Yes, they are turning into milestones. They are marking something lost now, not gained. From that time on it were best to suppress taking notice of anniversaries, especially the anniversary of the first time you ever witnessed a close friend getting his brains devoured by a zombie.  No one needs to remember that shit.

To ask a doctor or builder or sculptor for his autograph would be in no way rude. To ask one of those for a specimen of his work, however, is quite another thing, and the request might be justifiably refused. It would never be fair to ask a doctor for one of his corpses to remember him by, seeing as how that corpse is likely to turn into a zombie, leaving you with no choice but to make an utter shambles of the doctor’s office when you bash the zombies brains in using little more than the closest blunt objects in your general vicinity.

I don’t like this thing of being stripped naked & washed. I like to be stripped & warmed at the stove–that is real bully–but I do despise this washing business. I believe it to be a gratuitous & unnecessary piece of meanness. I never see them wash the cat.  However, I wash myself anyway, for many medical doctors in good standing with the board of medicine have assured me that regular baths are the only way to rid one’s self of the various germs that can infect a man with a zombifying virus.  Wash your bum or become an abomination, as my old spinster aunt used to say, and she wasn’t kidding.

There’s nobody for me to attack in this matter even with soft and gentle ridicule–and I shouldn’t ever think of using a grown up weapon in this kind of a nursery. Above all, I couldn’t venture to attack the clergymen whom you mention, for I have their habits and live in the same glass house which they are occupying. I am always reading immoral books on the sly, and then selfishly trying to prevent other people from having the same wicked good time.  In summation, good readers, I can only assume that my most revered book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has been banned from your local lending library as it contains a wealth of information vis a vis anti-zombie warfare.  Also, it features use of the “N” word like 9,454 times.

Among human beings jealousy ranks distinctly as a weakness; a trademark of small minds; a property of all small minds, yet a property which even the smallest is ashamed of; and when accused of its possession will lyingly deny it and resent the accusation as an insult.  Jealousy can even be found among dirty disgusting zombies.  Why, I have seen many a zombie pick a fight with an associate zombie over the size of a pilfered brain,

 

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Analysis – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

In case you missed it, Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants is the Bookshelf Battle Blog’s professional simian literary expert/semi-professional poop flinger.  He’ll gladly tell you everything you need to know about the classics.

Just be ready to duck, as he has been known to make the poop fly.

In this column, he discusses Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  Come for the commentary.  Stay for the poop.

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Literary Poop with Professor Nannerpants – Analysis Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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

Oh, 3.5 readers!  Get thee to Europe to see the glory of what once was.  The statues, the brilliant architecture and of course, the fine cuisine.  It’s all so lovely that it almost breaks my heart when I lose control and throw my poop all over it.

Yes, in this land rife with history, there are all sorts of lessons to be learned about history and culture, stories of monarchs who have come and gone.  And you’ll even find such tales written into various antiquities the world over, even in, say, Egypt.

Have you set a goal for yourself, 3.5 students?  Is it a big project?  Perhaps it’s causing you a great deal of anxiety.  In times such as these, I highly recommend flinging your poop against the wall.  I know it calms me right down, though I presume it creates all sorts of untoward feelings inside the poor individual who must clean up the poop.

Oh well.  That’s not my problem, for I am much, much too important to clean up poop.

Not only is life short and full of poop, but eventually, everything you do or say or even accomplish will, as a basic matter of fact, turn into poop.  Such is the point of Ozymandias, the old poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

“I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Pardon my French, 3.5 students, but that Percy Bysshe Shelley was one morose motherfucker.  To paraphrase the immortal Ben Affleck’s line delivered in that most seminal work, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it’s as if someone shit in Percy’s breakfast cereal.

But the man has a point.  The poet speaks of Ozymandias, better known as Ramses II, the mightiest of all Egyptian pharaohs.

Ozymandias believed in himself so righteously that he had himself preserved in a giant statue.  The engraving boasts of Ozymandias’ power and warns other mighty kings to “look upon” his works “and despair.”

Despair about what?  All the broken statue pieces and shit littering the dessert sands?

What is Percy getting at?  The fragile nature of life.  Maybe one day you’ll accomplish as much as a great Egyptian pharaoh, but sooner or later, the poop will hit the fan.  You’ll kick the bucket and all the material possessions you acquired will end up broken and rotting underneath the sand, or dirt, depending on where your shit is doing its rotting.

Now, don’t get Percy wrong.  I don’t think he’s coming right out and saying, “Give the eff up.  Smoke a bone and stop trying because we’re all screwed anyway.”

I mean, it’s still pretty awesome that Ozymandias managed to do so many great things that he was eventually preserved in the form of a giant ass statue.  Sure, you can mock him, but it’s not like you ever did anything that led to your immortalization in a statue.

The lesson?  Do try, for there may be awesome rewards.  However, if you fail, don’t beat yourself up too badly about it.  After all, this is all turning to poop sooner or later.

Is there something you’re trying to achieve, 3.5 students?  Do you worry that one day it will all turn to poop?  Fling your poopy thoughts in the comments.

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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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Literary Poop with Professor Nannerpants – Of Mice and Men Analysis

 

shutterstock_282195503Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants, Noted Literary Scholar, Banana Biter and Poop Flinger

Good day and a belated Happy New Year to you, 3.5 readers.

I would have written sooner but I am currently enjoying a sojourn in Paris.  Ahh, gay Par-ee. There’s nothing like taking a nice stroll, checking out the exquisite works of art in the Louvre, and getting a fresh croissant and a frothy espresso.  Personally, I prefer to choose a nice, quiet, hole in the wall cafe where I can collect my thoughts and write them down in my journal.

After that, I fling my poop everywhere.  Occasionally, people complain but I simply tell them I’m engaging in an avant garde piece of performance art and they leave me alone.  The French will always bend over backwards, both in bed and in life, just to avoid stifling your creativity.

Today our lecture will be about John Steinbeck’s seminal work, Of Mice and Men.  Of all the books about a jaded, angry prick forced to care for a giant dope with a penchant for snapping the necks of loose women, this is by far the finest.

While the novel itself is short, it begs many questions.  The one we will discuss today may be posed as follows:

Do the friends and family who rely on us lift us up or drag us down?

If you did the assigned reading (and please fling some poop at yourself if you didn’t), you are aware that George and Lenny are a pair of traveling ranch hands.  George is tasked with being Lenny’s caretaker, an unenviable job to be sure, as Lenny, due to his massive size and strength (and lack of the brains necessary to control it) ends up accidentally wreaking havoc where ever he goes.

Thus, George is never able to settle down anywhere because before he knows it, Lenny has cocked up a good job and he and Lenny must flee out of town before Lenny gets drawn and quartered by the latest person this giant has inadvertently pissed off with his clumsy, numbskull ways.

It is natural for humans to dream and yearn for lives that are difficult to achieve.  When we fail to obtain what our hearts desire, it is also natural for us to lash out at those around us. “If you hadn’t done this, I could have done that” becomes a constant refrain in households across the globe.

However, before we chastise one another, we should take a step back and consider whether or not our lives would be any better if we were on our own, devoid of the person who drives us crazy.

The reader gets a sense that babysitting Lenny is a tremendous burden for George.  In many ways, it is.  Yet, keep in mind that at one point in the novel, George gives us a glimpse into what he would be doing if he didn’t have to take care of Lenny:

“God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool… An’ whatta I got … I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time.”

– George Milton in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

So, to recap, if George didn’t have Lenny in his life, he’d be blowing his hard earned money on hookers, booze, gambling and hotel room service.  Way to dream big, George.  Way to dream big, indeed.

I can’t say as I blame George.  I’ve been known to enjoy a good night of hookers, booze, gambling and hotel food myself, from time to time.  I just turn the hotel food into poop that I fling later.

But I digress.  Think about that person in your life who drives you crazy.  Is this person dragging you down or lifting you up?  Would you really be doing any better without this person?  Perhaps caring for this person gives you a purpose.  Idle hands are, as the old saying goes, the devil’s handiwork.

In short, you might like to think you’d be doing great things without a person who depends on you, but you never know.  Maybe you’d just be blowing your dough on hookers and booze.  Perhaps caring for another person is, though not ideal, the more respectable way to spend your time.

Towards the end of the novel, George, Lenny and the elderly ranch hand Candy hatch a plan to pool their money and buy a little place of their own.

Sure, they’re three assholes who can’t get anywhere near a cooter without paying for it, but they hope to become an oddball family of sorts.  These three assholes will work their own land, reap their own rewards and if they want to take a break and watch a ball game, they can without the boss bitching them out.  Even better, since it will just be them, there will be nothing for Lenny to screw up royally.

In theory, co-owning a small farm with two other dudes would be a more respectable life for George than chasing hookers and drinking booze and, though it is unclear if he ever realizes it, it is a life that he would not pursue if he did not feel the pressure of finding Lenny a place to live where he can’t accidentally snap necks with his stupid giant hands.

In the above quote, George is given a clear opportunity to tell us what he would do without Lenny.  He does not tell us that he’d be Dr. George or Senator George.  He tells us that’s he’d be hooker patron George.  Thus, he is, in theory, better off with Lenny because at least with Lenny, he aspires to be small farm owner George.

Here’s where things get dicey.  The “Lenny is good for George” argument falls apart when Lenny accidentally snaps the neck of Curley’s Wife while he is petting her hair.

In addition to this being a horrific tragedy, it also becomes clear that George can never have any real kind of a life as Lenny’s caretaker as Lenny is so big and stupid that he will inevitably FUBAR everything he comes into contact with.  Even George’s desired life as a hooker patronizing gambler/hotel food eater would be better than having to drag this giant sack of crap around the countryside, constantly on the run whenever Lenny screws the pooch.

So in the end, the question posed in this lecture is not a simple one.  Only you know how difficult the person you are taking of is.

Perhaps this person lifts you up without realizing it.  Perhaps your life would lack purpose without him/her.  Maybe you’d become a degenerate prostitute customer/gambler/alcoholic/hotel food eater.  Maybe you’re wrong about your role as a caretaker and maybe you should give this person you are caring for a break.

Then again, you could totally be right and this person you are saddled with is a total assbag who drags you down at every turn and you’d be so much better off with this person, even five expensive minutes with an STD infested lady of the evening and a gross, refried hotel steak burnt till it resembles a coaster would be a preferable alternative.

In that case, you might consider telling this difficult person goodbye.  Do just say goodbye.  Don’t solve the problem with a revolver as George did.

I suppose I should clarify.  If we’re talking about a mentally capable person who is just being an asshole to you, then yes, say goodbye.

If we’re talking about a mentally unstable Lenny type person, then obviously you can’t just abandon this person.  Luckily though, in today’s modern age, there are all kinds of programs and professionals that can help you take care of this person.  Be glad this isn’t the 1930s and that you aren’t George and the only option you can turn to is a gat.

As a reminder, BQB’s attorney asks me to tell you that this blog’s proprietor does not endorse shooting people.  You probably realized that already but we live in a litigious society where crooked lawyers rule the day so everything needs to be spelled out.

What observations do you have, 3.5 readers?  Fling your poop in the comments.  Class dismissed.

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Text of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven

Happy Halloween Season, 3.5 readers.

Enjoy this literary classic. Discuss your thoughts in the comments.

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The Raven

By: Edgar Allen Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

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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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Daily Discussion with BQB – What is your favorite Shakespeare Play?

Good morning 3.5 readers.

Did you know that this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death?

Too soon, Bill. Too soon.

As you avid 3.5 readers may be aware, the Shakes-meister is a friend to the Bookshelf Battle Blog.

When I died on the toilet after eating a lightning infused toaster pastry, I met him in the afterlife. He was assigned to be my spiritual guide.

But enough of my bragging.  The next time I talk to Billy Shakes (he still calls me from time to time, it’s a little creepy) which one of his plays should I tell him is your favorite?

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