Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Parvum Opus 377: English Display

Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere



I wrote about Germaine Greer’s book Shakespeare’s Wife in PO 319 (how long ago it seems now, April 2009), and last week browsed around on YouTube for Greer and found her giving a talk on the book, which made me feel as if I should give the book another shot. She wrote that Anne Hathaway probably supported William Shakespeare in his career, perhaps even paid for publication of the first collection of plays, on top of tolerating his long absences in London. But at about minute 55.45 through the lecture, she said something rather startling to one raised on The Female Eunuch:

“I’m hoping we can continue to be interested in the way great talent is nourished and supported. I’m prepared to admit most of it is male. It’s mostly male display. But that little brown bird scratching around next to that great extraordinary gamecock is the reason why he’s there.”

Hardly an explanation for the source of genius.

So much of “women’s studies” has been devoted to trying to find evidence that women’s writing, for instance, is actually different from men’s, that perhaps there is even a “female” sentence structure. Greer founded a program at The University of Tulsa called Studies in Women’s Literature, and a journal called Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. Virginia Wolf’s A Room of One’s Own said there could have been no female Shakespeare because women could never have been as free as a man in those days and so on. Feminist scholars often seemed resentful and embarrassed that there has been no female Shakespeare, but they couldn’t in good conscience change their standards as much as public school teachers have, and say that reading the dead white males isn’t as important in Western culture today as studying otherly sexed or tinted minor living poets.

So by March 2009 Greer has come around to saying genius in men is “male display”—which is a way of trivializing it.


Two recently spotted vanity license plates:



The obvious question is, what kind of vanity is involved here, if any?


I will not try sending PO as a PDF file again. It’s useless in posting to the web, and as for e-mail, lawyer Dea Robertson explained:

From my browser, (I'm using Google Chrome), one click gets me to the links that are spread throughout your articles. It's easy to do with just one click from any browser. In Acrobat's PDF, I have to wait for the program to come online and I use the professional version instead of the Reader. Sometimes, I'm still waiting when I've finished reading the article. Also in PDF, I have to strike the Ctl and click the mouse if I want to jump into another link, like to one of your news articles, or over to Dave the Bee's site. But before I can even do that, I have to save the PDF download on my hard drive. Not that I am superstitious, just that I'd rather save it on somebody else's hard drive like Yahoo's than I would mine. Besides, they can afford to upgrade the virus checkers better and faster than I can and it's cheaper that way. Besides, PDF works better when one is transporting important legal forms that have to be printed such as a contract or something for the IRS or the courts. PDFs give a reasonably accurate reproduction and if it’s something like that, I'm using Parvum for evidence. Even then, the judge will use a monitor from the bench.

Thanks for the detailed deconstruction, Dea. Of course sometimes PDF files are useful so it’s good to be able to produce them easily and at no cost. Dave DaBee says that Bullzip is another good PDF program.


Some people think all learning—literature, history, etc.—is political. Not so.

"The mother-tongue differs in one respect from all other subjects of study. It is not only an end, but the vehicle, of instruction. For this reason all teaching is English teaching, and every school exercise may be made, and should be made, an English lesson." Nicholas Murray Butler, Introduction to Percival Chubb's The Teaching of English xx (1902).


Dave daBee found a great site all about unnecessary quotation marks (quotes, for short).

In case anyone asks you, remember that quotation marks are not one of the ways we emphasize words. In hand-writing, we can write in all caps or underline or even use a highlighter. With a typewriter, we can underline and write in all caps. With a computer, we can be our own typesetters and use italics and bold face type. But in no case are we to use quotations marks for emphasis.

Quotation marks indicate (1) a quotation, someone else said or wrote this (He said, “Go for it.”); (2) the word is foreign or odd in some way (The Spanish word “simpatico” appeared in today’s crossword puzzle.); (3) you don’t really mean it (Coffee is my “speed”.); (4) you’re actually ridiculing the word or idea, when quotes are also called scare quotes and mean “so called” (The Tea Party “constitutional patriots” held a rally.). And we’re not even discussing whether these usages constitute good style.

As fate would have it, Dave Barry’s column appeared in my e-mail today featuring my favorite expert, Mr. Language Person, who weighs in on quotation marks, among other things. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Dear Mister Language Person: What is the purpose of the apostrophe?

A. The apostrophe is used mainly in hand-lettered small- business signs to alert the reader that an "S" is coming up at the end of a word, as in: WE DO NOT EXCEPT PERSONAL CHECK'S, or: NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ITEM'S. Another important grammar concept to bear in mind when creating hand-lettered small- business signs is that you should put quotation marks around random words for decoration, as in "TRY" OUR HOT DOG'S, or even TRY "OUR" HOT DOG'S.



Back to the serial comma, I still don’t know of a rule saying a modifier at the end of a sentence modifies only the final element in the series (Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig—laugh like a pig? sing like a pig?), but in discussing the problems of ambiguity, Wikipedia uses an erroneous example:

My usual breakfast is coffee, toast, cornflakes and bacon and eggs.

According to the two most plausible interpretations of this sentence, four foods are listed; but it is uncertain which are the third and fourth: adding a serial comma removes this ambiguity. With a comma after bacon, the foods are:



Cornflakes and bacon


With a comma after cornflakes:




Bacon and eggs

There are five foods, not four. Bacon and eggs are two, though they may be paired, or grouped in a series of two (i.e. one element of a series may be a compound or even another series). But unless it’s a bacon omelet, it’s two foods.


The Ballad of Frankie Silver is a good novel by Sharyn McCrumb, based in part on a real crime in 19th century North Carolina. Movies are being made about the story (not her novel), and you can watch acomplete documentary online, featuring Bobby McMillon, a descendant of one of the original families. McMillon lives in the Appalachians and has a strong and distinctive accent, with some bits of rare vocabulary thrown in.

The Weekly Gizzard: Moi on Examiner.com

Running clean elections takes a lot of work

John Williams, who is running for Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County, spoke to a meeting of the Eastern Hills Tea Party in Madeira, Ohio, last night about his experience as Director of Hamilton County Board of Elections, when the 2008...

Critical legal studies, free will, and voting

Pat Fischer, who is running for judge on the Hamilton County Court of Appeals, spoke last night to a meeting of the Eastern Hills Tea Party in Madeira, Ohio, on "critical legal studies" versus "strict constructionism."...



Buy Sonny Robertson’s intro biography on CD, When Sonny Gets Blue, at CafePress. (Note that if the text on the spine is misaligned, it’s the fault of CafePress, not me.) Also, four of his early pre-blues R&B dance songs are now on YouTube. Search for Sonny Robertson + The Tabs. Music CDs available at sonnyrobertson.com/buy, where you can buy with PayPal.


I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and on Lulu.com for download to computer and for printing. Amazon now has a downloadable Kindle reader if you don’t have the little handheld device. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Amazon.com Kindle store and Lulu.com.

* The Man from Scratch is about cloning, escort services, murder, and restaurants in Akron, Ohio, featuring Roxy Barbarino, writer for Adventuress Magazine. Novel. PRICE REDUCED.

* A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. (Lulu.com only.)

* The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella. PRICE REDUCED.

* Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.

* Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.

* Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.

* Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.

* Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.

NEW PRODUCTS in CafePress:

Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).

T-Shirts & mug: FRESH PICT, with two ancient Pictish designs

BUMPER STICKER: FRESH PICT, white on blue, with 10th Century Pict-Scot Merman Cross (blue on white also available)

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CLICK TO EMBIGGEN boxer shorts



Graphic covers of my books

Dulce, Utile, et Decorum (Sweet, Useful, and Proper), title of new collection of Parvum Opus, Volume I

BUMPER STICKER: Dulce, Utile, et Decorum

No Pain, No Pain

Star o’ the Bar

Veritas Vincit (Truth Conquers) with Keith clan Catti insignia

Flash in the Pants

If you're so smart why aren't you me?

PWE (Protestant Work Ethic)

I am here maternity tops

I eat dead things (doggy shirt, pet dishes, and BBQ apron)

If you don’t see exactly what you want — a particular design or text on a particular item — let me know and I’ll customize products for you.


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. 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 2010. 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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Parvum Opus now appears at http://cafelit.blogspot.com/. It is also carried by the Hur Herald, a web newspaper from Calhoun County, West Virginia. See Editor Bob Weaver's interview with me (February 10, 2007 entry), and the PO every week in Columns.

WHEN SONNY GETS BLUE! At last, the first installment of Sonny’s biography is out on CD, When Sonny Gets Blue at CafePress.com/sonnyrobertson. Check out the video and music clips of great blues man Sonny Robertson and the Howard Street Blues Band at http://www.sonnyrobertson.com/ and http://www.youtube.com/rondaria, with his new original song, "A Different Shade of Blue". 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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