Archive for March 2018

Here's to you, Scott Foster!

Here's to you, Scott Foster!
I’ve followed Chicago Blackhawks hockey since I was quite small. I have trouble passing a patch of ice, or walking across one, without thinking of “my Hawks.” In troubled seasons like this one, I’d love to be able to help them. But I can’t skate. Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant and amateur goalie, got to help... Read more »

What are you reading?

What are you reading?
“What are you reading?” is one of my favorite questions. It’s almost the grownup version of childhood’s plea, “Tell me a story!” I’ve been thinking about that over the past few days because even with “Moby-Dick” exerting its pull on my free time, I’ve been stopping at my neighborhood’s “Take a Book, Leave a Book” boxes to... Read more »

'Moby-Dick' meets Psalm 23: anointing with oil

'Moby-Dick' meets Psalm 23: anointing with oil
As I waited to vote in the primary election this morning, I read the one-page, four-paragraph Chapter 25 of “Moby-Dick,” titled simply Postscript. Chapter 24, The Advocate, explains some of the dignity and importance of whaling at the time of the story. Chapter 25 gets a bit more specific — it’s the importance of oil,... Read more »
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Verses from 'The Present Crisis' by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

Verses from 'The Present Crisis' by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)
James Russell Lowell, the great nineteenth-century poet and diplomat who lived in Indiana, wrote a poem called “The Present Crisis” which refers to nineteenth-century problems, but is useful also against those of the present century. I first learned parts of the poem as the hymn “Once to Every Man and Nation,” and some of the... Read more »

'Pulling out all the stops' has nothing to do with traffic

'Pulling out all the stops' has nothing to do with traffic
After a particularly beautiful service at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, I happened to see its organist and director of music, Dr. John W.W. Sherer. I’m happy to count him among my friends, so after commenting on the day’s music and the contrasts between the large service just ended and the smaller, earlier service I... Read more »

'Moby-Dick' and a word worth reviving

'Moby-Dick' and a word worth reviving
I don’t know whether “words worth reviving” will become a category of its own as I continue reading “Moby-Dick.” But I’ve found a word I want to get out and use, so I’ll call it “worth defending” for now, even though it may need some reviving. That word is nappishness. Here’s how Herman Melville uses it... Read more »
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When is a book a Sustaining Book, and when should it be thrown aside?

When is a book a Sustaining Book, and when should it be thrown aside?
When do you give up on a bad book? I’m sure there are such things; I’ve run into two in recent weeks. (No, not “Moby-Dick” — I’m going on with that.) I started a book called “The Pain Chronicles,” but gave up on it. Call me suggestible, but it made me feel rotten. Then I... Read more »

Starting an adventure: reading 'Moby-Dick'

Starting an adventure: reading 'Moby-Dick'
Call me a reader. I’ve started reading Herman Melville’s 1851 novel, “Moby-Dick.” (Call me a stickler; you have before. The hyphen is on the cover.) It’s page 27 in this volume before the famous first sentence of the story itself, “Call me Ishmael,” and in the notes, I have picked up on a lot of what... Read more »

All my favorite 'all' expressions and their origins

All my favorite 'all' expressions and their origins
One of my new sources of ideas is a book I placed in my library near the dictionary: “QPB Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins,” by Robert Hendrickson (1997, published by Facts on File, Inc. and republished by the QPB, or Quality Paperback Book Club.) I decided to take a systematic look at it on... Read more »
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