Thursday, February 19, 2009

Parvum Opus 313 ~ Plexiglas Bellybutton

Your Fonts

You can design your own type font, maybe base it on your own handwriting or just make up something new, by going to and following the directions. I’ve gone so far as to print out the template whereon to write my letters ~ you can write an entire alphabet or just your signature or the characters you want. This is not how real font designers create fonts, generally speaking, but you can come up with something unique. In fact you can probably create a font of figures, not just letters.

Real Communication At Last

Do take advantage of the White House’s new web site citizen access. Send your hopes, dreams, and requests for pork to

I’ve already sent two messages. The first was to Attorney General Eric Holder who called Americans cowards for not having a real dialogue about race. Sometimes it seems like we talk about nothing else, but I guess he’s not through complaining. I sent a friendly note telling him I’m not afraid to talk about it, if he has any questions. I could have referred him and you to a couple of really good articles about his accusation of cowardice ~ do you think he meant black citizens or white citizens or both? ~ but you can brood on your own sins.

The second note was to the White House in general, but really to President Obama thanking him for not tossing out free speech, since he said a few words against the “fairness” doctrine which would be aimed primarily at talk radio. You know, the one that would force NPR to give Rush Limbaugh equal time.

I’m eagerly awaiting personal responses.

That’s One Theory

We haven’t heard from Bill R. lately but last week he sent a passionate response to my plaintive query as to why a native speaker of English would say or write "the below information”. Bill wrote, “Because the native speaker of English has his head wedged so far that he needs a plexiglas bellybutton to see where he’s going?” Thanks, Bill, I think that explains it for me, at least.


I thought I’d invented a new e-mail abbreviation when I wrote YMML to Kathy Taylor (Beason News on Hur Herald), for “You Make Me Laugh” but it’s not new. However, she will MYL (make you laugh), talking about the waning appeal of cleaning up after babies, however cute they may be: "I can't even stand to clean up my own puke anymore." I hear you, Kathy.

Read the Labels

Lovely daughter-in-law Kate (now her legal name, starting with “Lovely”) noted on Facebook that the label on her frozen pizza said "use by" said date, not "eat by" or even "consume by”. A Facebook friend added, “Be worried if it also says ‘active ingredient’." How many ways can you use a pizza?

Kate also pounced on this fun Facebook quiz: Pick up the book nearest to you, go to page 56, and record the fifth sentence. Interesting to see what people come up with. And do you count a partial sentence that ends at the top of the page as the first sentence or do you move on to the first whole sentence? What about quotations ~ “He said, ‘Sit here’.” ~ is that one or two sentences? I guess one period means one sentence. And how do you measure the book closest to you? And what about online books?

How Computers Really Work

What with our new computer, new monitor, and new version of Word, we have new random sounds like crickets and small animals scurrying around inside the keyboard. Fred says poltermice.

How to Watch a Movie

Recently I watched the movie Troy on TV, wherein Hector asks, “How many battalions does the sun god command?” This of course paraphrases Stalin’s remark, “How many battalions does the Pope have?” Meaning, I suppose, that might makes right. Anyway, I was wondering why the scriptwriter would throw this in. Hector was heroic, but he lost. Are we supposed to identify Hector to Stalin, who did not die heroically even though he may not have “lost” in his lifetime? The Trojans had gods, as did all the Greeks. Was Hector really an atheist, unbeknownst to Homer? An odd Wiki-type blog called TVTropes has a convincing explanation: it’s just another instance of Hollywood’s relentless anti-religious stance, even when anachronistic and ahistorical.

TVTropes says, “Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations.” (Is this the same as a meme?) It’s hard to say what one can reasonably expect to be present in audiences’ minds today. Education and values have changed so drastically in the last few decades that not only can a writer not automatically assume the reader or listener to have some sort of religion, the reader or listener assumes that no character who can be considered a hero would really be so foolish as to believe in the sun god or any other god.

I also watched yet another new version of a Jane Austen book on PBS Masterpiece Classic, Sense and Sensibility. It seems like there was a different one out just last year. Anyway, this one is British, good scenery and acting, but Andrew Davies changed the dialogue quite a bit, which perhaps was the justification for making a new one, besides the fact that Austen seems to be like the new Shakespeare, everyone wants to act in an Austen story, like cover bands doing the Beatles. But they generally don’t rewrite Shakespeare; they may abbreviate the very long plays but why change the language? Cover bands usually don’t rewrite Beatles lyrics. That’s the whole point, and Austen’s language as well as her thinking is also the point. Changing the language changes the period and changes the thought.

Occasionally the rewrites were anachronistic, as when the dialogue was too self-consciously feminist in this S&S. But one bit that did fit the times definitely did not fit Austen: Davies added a duel to the story. Austen made a point of avoiding melodrama. In fact that was the theme of Sense and Sensibility: the Romantic period of “sensibility” or emotion if not actually emotionalism in the arts and in thinking of the early nineteenth century was contrasted with the earlier neoclassical rationalism of restraint in behavior based on reason more than emotion, and also on Christian and traditional Western principles. There were no duels in Austen’s books. In fact she ridiculed the idea in Pride and Prejudice via silly Mrs. Bennett. I am annoyed with Davies’ presumption in wanting to write a script based on his own feelings about Austen, as if he could improve on the inimitable Jane. He has adapted Shakespeare too and heaven knows what he did there; one story about him is called “Andrew Davies: Shakespeare, My Collaborator”.

Austen devoted another entire novel to this theme, Northanger Abbey, a satire on the Gothic horror novels so popular at the time. Austen enjoyed them herself, but she did not write them. When her protagonist gets carried away with lurid speculations, she is chastised:

Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open?

Crimes occurred then as now, of course, but even if we don’t have duels anymore, perhaps we are now not only more cynical but have reverted to another Romantic era of sentiment rather than reason.

Sign my petition to establish a Scottish-American History Month. You don’t have to be Scottish to sign!



Read The Wish Book, a novella by Rhonda Keith, free to read online or download as a Word file.

New interview with bluesman Sonny Robertson.


Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2009. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

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WHEN SONNY GETS BLUE! Check out the video and music clips of great blues man Sonny Robertson and the Howard Street Blues Band at and, with his new original song, "A Different Shade of Blue". And listen to Judy Joy Jones’s interview with Sonny.

PEACE MISSION INDIA blogs the progress of Pastor Roy Jacob’s mission to build churches in India. Now 79, Pastor Roy (who is an Indian) has built 10 churches, and has a girls’ school to rescue girls from the mountains and jungles who otherwise might be married off as children or perhaps sold.

SEARCH IT OUT ON AMAZON : "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2; "Get wisdom! Even if it costs you everything, get understanding!" Proverbs 4:7:

The poet Muriel Rukeyser said the universe is not composed of atoms, but stories. The physicist Werner Heisenberg said the universe is not made of matter, but music.

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