A Joycean Christmas: Two Gallants

[Note: We’re reading one of James Joyce’s Dubliners stories each day until we get to The Dead on Christmas Eve. You can read more about the project on the first day’s installment. If you’re arriving late, fear not: it’s not too late to catch up and join us!]

TWO GALLANTS

THE grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets. The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles upon the living texture below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air an unchanging unceasing murmur.

Two young men came down the hill of Rutland Square. One of them was just bringing a long monologue to a close. The other, who walked on the verge of the path and was at times obliged to step on to the road, owing to his companion’s rudeness, wore an amused listening face. He was squat and ruddy. A yachting cap was shoved far back from his forehead and the narrative to which he listened made constant waves of expression break forth over his face from the corners of his nose and eyes and mouth. Little jets of wheezing laughter followed one another out of his convulsed body. His eyes, twinkling with cunning enjoyment, glanced at every moment towards his companion’s face. Once or twice he rearranged the light waterproof which he had slung over one shoulder in toreador fashion. His breeches, his white rubber shoes and his jauntily slung waterproof expressed youth. But his figure fell into rotundity at the waist, his hair was scant and grey and his face, when the waves of expression had passed over it, had a ravaged look.

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Bing and Bowie

I posted this the other day for an onward and upward. I can’t stop watching the first two minutes. I so want this to be true! Bing just happened to have this neighbor, DAVID BOWIE, who just happened to drop by, and they had this exchange with some gentle music in the background. Oh sure, then they burst into song, but that’s just gravy.

This is how television used to be, people! How many Bob Hope specials did you see when you were growing up? How many Donnie and Maries?

Of course, this could also be seen as the ending of that kind of era. David Bowie’s a fish out of water – but he’s what will take us through the 70s and the 80s and to now… Soon enough the fish will swallow this pond and find a new ocean. Or something. Bing knows it too. All parents and grandparents know it. They just want to cling to their days where they can make mild jokes that they think sail over the heads of the whippersnappers. They don’t. The whippersnappers get it. They just want it to last a little longer. (Hello, Santa Exists!)

I think Stephen Colbert misses these days, too – it reminds me of his holiday specials. A little tongue in cheek on his part. But nostalgic too. Hey, it’s Christmas. All bets are off.

Quick question for everyone. What do you hear Bowie say at the 1:27 mark? What’s the sentence right before Bowie says “I was just seeing if you were paying attention” and Bing gives that funny little laugh?  Let me know!

A Joycean Christmas: After the Race

[Note: We’re reading one of James Joyce’s Dubliners stories each day until we get to The Dead on Christmas Eve. You can read more about the project on the first day’s installment. If you’re arriving late, fear not: it’s not too late to catch up and join us!]

AFTER THE RACE

THE cars came scudding in towards Dublin, running evenly like pellets in the groove of the Naas Road. At the crest of the hill at Inchicore sightseers had gathered in clumps to watch the cars careering homeward and through this channel of poverty and inaction the Continent sped its wealth and industry. Now and again the clumps of people raised the cheer of the gratefully oppressed. Their sympathy, however, was for the blue cars—the cars of their friends, the French.

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Reader Comment: More Thoughts on the Foxes

My favorite part of running this blog, by miles and miles, is reading the comments. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me think, and sometimes they are very moving. Often it’s all of the above.

And then there are those that make me proud. Because they say flattering things about the writing (thank you, everyone!). Or because I’m proud to see the beautiful expressions of thought that my story has inspired.

Wonderful Reader quarteracremile responds to Object #26 – The Offering:

This is a lovely article. It always stuns me when people think of animals as wild and incapable of complex thought… Since I live and breathe animals every day and only WISH that much of humanity could compare. I’m glad you learned a bit more about that from your experiences. I wonder if you realize that the fox likely felt much the same way about your housing situation that you did… That they would have loved to live the safe, happy “grown up” fox life that they dream of… With no bb guns, no butterscotch colored dogs, no landlords ruling over their lives, without even being able to come and go freely in their own space, without being able to use their whole space as their own because of their landlords lingering presence… Of course the landlords in this case being your own family. And perhaps even that offering you a payment of “rent”, to help you feed your family, could smooth relations.

Of course, animals are not as complex. But we have a hubris of thinking we’re a lot more complex than we are. Thinking that complex emotions are anything more than glorified instincts and adaptability… And, truly, you were never in any danger (foxes, especially a healthy successful breeding pair, are unlikely to try to come close to a human unless you threatened the kits) and neither were the foxes… But neither of you knew that.

I hope you’re happier where you are in your life now… And I hope nature continues to grow on you. Animals are so insightful, loving, and thoughtful… Just because they do not dwell needlessly doesn’t make them dumb. Indeed, I wish I could dwell less and live more. So I also hope you end up living more as well as you find your inner fox.

Congrats on being freshly pressed!

Thank you! And thank you for the comment, which makes me want to be a better person. Onward and upward, everyone!

A Joycean Christmas: Eveline

Joyce's Dublin. Image Courtesy of echelon.lk.
Joyce’s Dublin. Image Courtesy of echelon.lk.

[Note: We’re reading one of James Joyce’s Dubliners stories each day until we get to “The Dead” on Christmas Eve. You can read more about the project on the first day’s installment. If you’re arriving late, fear not: it’s not too late to join us!]

EVELINE

SHE sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.

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The Shirt Pocket Avatar (A Jacke Wilson Objectino)

Back to the workplace for another Objectino!*

A JACKE WILSON OBJECTINO

Overheard in an office meeting:

MAN: I realized the other day that my shirt pockets are so thin you can see my photo ID through them. For years there’s been this little me riding around in my shirt, right on my chest, where everyone could see it. I had this idea that maybe I should use that little guy, like there’d be this little man who would say all the things I wanted to say but couldn’t. The real me would be saying, “Okay, I’ll get that to you right away, no problem.” And the little me on my chest would say, [makes tiny voice ] “Up yours, jackass.” I don’t know…am I working too hard?

WOMAN: I think you answered that question about five sentences ago.


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A Time to Read Joyce: Araby

Joyce's Dublin. Image Courtesy of echelon.lk.
Joyce’s Dublin. Image Courtesy of echelon.lk.

[Note: We’re reading one of James Joyce’s Dubliners stories each day until we get to “The Dead” on Christmas Eve. You can read more about the project on the first day’s installment. If you’re arriving late, fear not: it’s not too late to join us!]

ARABY

NORTH RICHMOND STREET, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers’ School set the boys free. An uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square ground The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.

The former tenant of our house, a priest, had died in the back drawing-room. Air, musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all the rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen was littered with old useless papers. Among these I found a few paper-covered books, the pages of which were curled and damp: The Abbot, by Walter Scott, The Devout Communicant and The Memoirs of Vidocq. I liked the last best because its leaves were yellow. The wild garden behind the house contained a central apple-tree and a few straggling bushes under one of which I found the late tenant’s rusty bicycle-pump. He had been a very charitable priest; in his will he had left all his money to institutions and the furniture of his house to his sister.

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Save Your Marriage With One Easy Trick!

Aha! Finally a headline worthy of the title of linkbait. (Well, okay, there WAS that one about the secret orgy. I have no standards!)

But I’m serious about saving a marriage – or any sort of relationship in which one shares a bed or other sleeping arrangements.

Wonderful Reader weebluebirdie read my post about the backhanded compliments and noted:

Going for the oblique within your post….I’m intrigued by pillow speaker, didn’t know such a thing existed! Sounds more comfortable than trying to sleep with one earphone in. Also avoids the inevitable situation when you go to put your ipod on for a long journey, and realise one of the ear buds has come off and is probably nestling under the duvet… I listen to podcasts to fall asleep as well. I listen to a particular one, because his voice can be pleasantly numbing. In fact, I generally listen to the same few podcasts over and over. There are quite a few of which I never get to the end, but I like that, because it means I’m asleep.

Yes! The pillow speaker is a great little secret. Okay, sure, SOME couples are on the same page. Both like to fall asleep to classical music. Or maybe both like silence. Or whatever. Hooray for you, dear couples! I hope you have a long and happy relationship with many restful nights together.

But some couples are not in that position! Maybe one partner likes to drift off to talk radio; the other prefers a little light jazz. Maybe one finds sports relaxing; the other likes podcasts. Maybe one likes white noise like ocean waves; the other prefers the dulcet tones of Jacke Wilson agonizing over sex geckos in space. Well, of course I made that last one up: BOTH couples would surely enjoy listening to the Jacke Wilson Show. (Subscribe on iTunes!) But everything else is valid.

Maybe one of you wants to participate in our Daily Dubliner (A James Joyce Time To Read-Joyce Christmas Extravaganza) with a little night-time audiobooking. Maybe the other of you thinks that is a horrible idea. Because you, um, prefer Ulysses… Nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens to the best of us.

Here’s the key: one partner likes (or needs) SOMETHING to help them sleep better. The other partner likes (or needs) SOMETHING ELSE or NOTHING AT ALL.

Who wins this battle? Whoever needs it the most. Why is that fair? Sleep is nothing to mess around with, people! I know. I’ve been sleep-deprived for close to twenty years. It has not been fun.

So give a speaker pillow a try. They connect to your phone or other device via the headphone jack. The speaker then slides right under your pillow. When you’re lying down, you can hear the music (or audiobook or Latin lessons or whatever), but your partner can’t.

Best of all, they’re pretty cheap. One of mine only lasted a couple of years. I bought two: one to use, and one to have a spare so I didn’t need to go even a night without it working. Here’s the one I currently use:

Good luck to you! Treat yourself! And save those marriages!

A Time to Read Joyce: An Encounter

[Note: We’re reading one of James Joyce’s Dubliners stories each day until we get to “The Dead” on Christmas Eve. You can read more about the project on the first day’s installment. If you’re arriving late, fear not: it’s not too late to join us!]

AN ENCOUNTER

IT WAS Joe Dillon who introduced the Wild West to us. He had a little library made up of old numbers of The Union Jack, Pluck and The Halfpenny Marvel. Every evening after school we met in his back garden and arranged Indian battles. He and his fat young brother Leo, the idler, held the loft of the stable while we tried to carry it by storm; or we fought a pitched battle on the grass. But, however well we fought, we never won siege or battle and all our bouts ended with Joe Dillon’s war dance of victory. His parents went to eight-o’clock mass every morning in Gardiner Street and the peaceful odour of Mrs. Dillon was prevalent in the hall of the house. But he played too fiercely for us who were younger and more timid. He looked like some kind of an Indian when he capered round the garden, an old tea-cosy on his head, beating a tin with his fist and yelling:

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What Are Life’s Most Unanswerable Questions?

Okay, I’m planning a Jacke Wilson Show episode where we focus on unanswerable questions. What are the big ones? Which trouble you the most? Which ones don’t bother you at all?

As always, we’re digging a little deeper here. Are there any surprises? What do these questions – and our response to them – tell us about ourselves?

Leave a comment or shoot me an email at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com. Until then, enjoy the past episodes and our Daily Dubliner!