30MAY2020 – Quote of the Day

The Charge of the Light Brigade

 

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

“Forward the Light Brigade!

Charge for the guns!” he said:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

 

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Was there a man dismay’d?

Not tho’ the soldier knew

Some one had blunder’d:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

 

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

Volley’d and thunder’d;

Storm’d at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of Hell

Rode the six hundred.

 

Flash’d all their sabres bare,

Flash’d as they turn’d in air,

Sabring the gunners there,

Charging an army, while

All the world wonder’d:

Plunged in the battery-smoke

Right thro’ the line they broke;

Cossack and Russian

Reel’d from the sabre-stroke

Shatter’d and sunder’d.

Then they rode back, but not

Not the six hundred.

 

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon behind them

Volley’d and thunder’d;

Storm’d at with shot and shell,

While horse and hero fell,

They that had fought so well

Came thro’ the jaws of Death

Back from the mouth of Hell,

All that was left of them

Left of six hundred.

 

When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

All the world wonder’d.

Honour the charge they made!

Honour the Light Brigade

Noble six hundred!

 

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Breathes There the Man – Sir Walter Scott

I
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.

II
O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e’er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand!
Still as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been,
Seems as, to me of all bereft,
Sole friends thy woods and streams were left;
And thus I love them better still,
Even in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow’s streams still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my wither’d cheek;
Still lay my head by Teviot Stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The Bard may draw his parting groan.

by Sir Walter Scott (From “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”) 

 

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 5 – The Apple

Kirk beams down to Gamma Trianguli VI with Dr. McCoy, Ensign Chekov, Spock, Yeoman Martha Landon (a pretty blonde named Celeste Yarnall) and several expendable red shirts.  We’re really not sure why the hell they’re there but we find out it resembles a tropical paradise that contains plants that shoot poisonous darts and rocks that explode if you step on them.  In fact, three red shirts die in these fashions and one of the plants almost gets Kirk but Spock pushes him aside and gets the darts in himself.  Of course, Spock survives but while attempting to beam back to the ship to help him, we find out that some force on the planet has neutralized the transporter and is also pulling the Enterprise toward the planet with a tractor beam.

We now meet the inhabitants of the planet.  They look like some combination of non-violent sheep with surfer dudes sporting platinum blond hairdos and wearing towels around their waists.  They work for a godlike idol named Vaal that inhabits a rock formation in the shape of a dragon’s head.  It has a force field around it and seems to be the power that is attacking the Enterprise.  Spock states that is some kind of machine.  The People of Vaal feed it the exploding rocks once a day and that seems to be the source of Vaal’s power.  Vaal controls the people and forbids them to procreate but feeds them and controls the environment so that they virtually live forever.  They are childlike and annoying.

When Yeoman Landon finds out that they don’t have sex she wonders how they would replace someone who dies by accident.  And the male members of the landing party look around sheepishly at each other until Spock hems and haws through a statement that Vaal will provide some kind of instructions.  McCoy makes a sarcastic comment to the effect that he’d like to see a machine try to provide those instructions.

While the situation of the Enterprise becomes more critical Kirk and Spock try to figure out a way to neutralize Vaal.  Spock warns that destroying Vaal would violate the prime directive.  Kirk indicates that he’s not concerned about that.  Meanwhile Chekov and Yeoman Landon are observed kissing by a couple of the People of Vaal.  Luckily, it’s 1967 so they are a man and a woman and when they experiment with this new behavior, I don’t have to turn the tv off.  But Vaal is not equally as happy about this behavior as I am and instructs his people to kill all the Enterprise personnel.  When the male People of Vaal attack the crew, they manage to kill one red shirt from behind by bashing his head in with a big stick.  But without the element of surprise these lame losers are quickly pummeled and disarmed by the Enterprise crew.  Even Yeoman Landon is able to kick the butts of these feeble skirt wearing sissies.

Now Kirk comes up with a plan.  He imprisons the People of Vaal thus preventing them from feeding Vaal while simultaneously he instructs Scotty back on the Enterprise to fire its phasers continuously at the force field of Vaal.  Sure enough Vaal quickly runs out of reserve power and is destroyed by the phasers.  Kirk tells the People of Vaal that they will learn to enjoy life without Vaal and will learn to take care of themselves and have their own lives and families as men and women are supposed to.

The final scene on the Enterprise has Spock trying to make the point that destroying Vaal is equivalent to forcing the People of Vaal out of the Garden of Eden.  Kirk counters by saying that essentially Spock is equating Kirk with Satan.  Kirk follows up by asking Spock if anyone on the Enterprise even remotely resembles Satan to which Spock guardedly says there is not.

This is sort of a companion piece to “Who Mourns for Adonais.”  Once again, a godlike creature holds a group of humanoids in thrall to serve it while providing the people with a life of ease.  And in both cases the Enterprise destroys the alien power source with its phasers.  There are definitely more humorous passages in this episode than usual including the first time that Kirk has to “fire” Scotty when he can’t perform the impossible.  And of course, he rehires him when he performs some other technical miracle instead.

There are a few scenes where Kirk displays anxiety over the death of some of the red shirts.  He whines about how he should have seen the dangers coming.  This is the extant of the Shatner mockery points.  Also, he gives Spock some grief for saving his life and there is the Satan shtick at the end.  There is a pretty girl in the episode and Chekov manages to get a few jokes about Russia into the script.  But it’s a relatively silly plot and the People of Vaal are like wimpy pajama boys so it does have a certain annoying quality.

Taken all in all I’ll call it a 7  //  5.

29MAY2020 – Quote of the Day

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

Alfred Lord Tennyson (Ulysses)

Anonymous – Abdul A-Bul-Bul A-Mir

I love a good nonsense poem or song.  I believe that Sons of the Pioneers released a version of this in the 1930s.

 

 

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold

And quite unaccustomed to fear

But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah

Was Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

If you wanted a man to encourage the van

Or harass the foe from the rear

Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout

For Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame

In the troops that were led by the Czar

And the bravest of these was a man by the name

Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

He could imitate Irving, play poker and pool,

And strum on the Spanish guitar.

In fact quite the cream of the Muscovite team

Was Ivan Skavisnsky Skavar.

 

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun

And donned his most truculent sneer

Downtown he did go where he trod on the toe

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

“Young man,” quoth Abdul, “Has life grown so dull

That you wish to end your career?

Vile infidel know, you have trod on the toe

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir”

 

“So take your last look at the sunshine and brook

And send your regrets to the Czar

For by this I imply, you are going to die

Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar”

 

Said Ivan, “My friend, your remarks in the end

Will avail you but little, I fear

For you ne’er will survive to repeat them alive

Mister Abdul Abulbul Amir”

 

Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty skibouk

With a cry of “Allah Akbar,”

And with murderous intent he ferociously went

For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed

Of blood they spilled a great part

The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes

Say that hash was first made on the spot

 

They fought all that night neath the pale yellow moon

The din, it was heard from afar

And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame

Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar

 

As Abdul’s long knife was extracting the life

In fact he was shouting, “Huzzah!”

He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck

Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly

Expecting the victor to cheer

But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

Czar Petrovich, too, in his spectacles blue

Sauntered up in his gold-plated car

And arrived just in time to exchange a last line

With Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

There’s a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls

And engraved there in characters clear

Is, “Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir”

 

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night

Caused ripples to spread wide and far

It was made by a sack fitting close to the back

Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps

Neath the light of the cold northern star

And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps

Is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

Langdon Smith – Evolution

Can you find a more American poet than a man born in Kentucky and died in Flatbush, Brooklyn who fought in the Indian Wars of the West, served as newspaper reporter in New York City covering the Spanish American War and the James J. Corbett/Bob Fitzsimmons boxing match but still wrote a love poem to his wife about a tadpole and a fish.  If only Camera Girl were so lucky.

Evolution

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then.

Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
And mindless at last we died;
And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
We slumbered side by side.
The world turned on in the lathe of time,
The hot lands heaved amain,
Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
And crept into life again.

We were amphibians, scaled and tailed,
And drab as a dead man’s hand;
We coiled at ease ‘neath the dripping trees
Or trailed through the mud and sand.
Croaking and blind, with our three-clawed feet
Writing a language dumb,
With never a spark in the empty dark
To hint at a life to come.

Yet happy we lived and happy we loved,
And happy we died once more;
Our forms were rolled in the clinging mold
Of a Neocomian shore.
The eons came and the eons fled
And the sleep that wrapped us fast
Was riven away in a newer day
And the night of death was passed.

Then light and swift through the jungle trees
We swung in our airy flights,
Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms
In the hush of the moonless nights;
And oh! what beautiful years were there
When our hearts clung each to each;
When life was filled and our senses thrilled
In the first faint dawn of speech.

Thus life by life and love by love
We passed through the cycles strange,
And breath by breath and death by death
We followed the chain of change.
Till there came a time in the law of life
When over the nursing sod
The shadows broke and the soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of God.

I was thewed like an Auroch bull
And tusked like the great cave bear;
And you, my sweet, from head to feet
Were gowned in your glorious hair.
Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave,
When the night fell o’er the plain
And the moon hung red o’er the river bed
We mumbled the bones of the slain.

I flaked a flint to a cutting edge
And shaped it with brutish craft;
I broke a shank from the woodland lank
And fitted it, head and haft;
Than I hid me close to the reedy tarn,
Where the mammoth came to drink;
Through the brawn and bone I drove the stone
And slew him upon the brink.

Loud I howled through the moonlit wastes,
Loud answered our kith and kin;
From west to east to the crimson feast
The clan came tramping in.
O’er joint and gristle and padded hoof
We fought and clawed and tore,
And cheek by jowl with many a growl
We talked the marvel o’er.

I carved that fight on a reindeer bone
With rude and hairy hand;
I pictured his fall on the cavern wall
That men might understand.
For we lived by blood and the right of might
Ere human laws were drawn,
And the age of sin did not begin
Til our brutal tusks were gone.

And that was a million years ago
In a time that no man knows;
Yet here tonight in the mellow light
We sit at Delmonico’s.
Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,
Your hair is dark as jet,
Your years are few, your life is new,
Your soul untried, and yet —

Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay
And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;
We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones
And deep in the Coralline crags;
Our love is old, our lives are old,
And death shall come amain;
Should it come today, what man may say
We shall not live again?

God wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds
And furnish’d them wings to fly;
He sowed our spawn in the world’s dim dawn,
And I know that it shall not die,
Though cities have sprung above the graves
Where the crook-bone men made war
And the ox-wain creaks o’er the buried caves
Where the mummied mammoths are.

Then as we linger at luncheon here
O’er many a dainty dish,
Let us drink anew to the time when you
Were a tadpole and I was a fish.

 

By Langdon Smith (1858-1908)