Sailor Smart

Some people will not be educated, no matter how hard we try.

When I attended high school, each year’s English class required that all students read six non-curriculum books.  You could pick them.  They could be about anything, but to prove that you had read them, you were required to submit a Book Report on each one – remember those? – fondly??

To prevent nerds like me from submitting them all in September, rules stated that they had to be spaced out.  A lad a year older than me, from landlocked Ontario, Canada, decided that he wanted to join the Navy, so he didn’t need to read no stinkin’ books.  Nearing the end of the year, he had managed to submit only five; although I think that a couple of them were based on Classics Illustrated comic books (Remember those, too?) – so he invented one.

Possibly using a reference to Herman Melville’s book, Billy Budd – Sailor, he gave it the title Sailor Smart, supposedly printed by a known school-text publishing house – number of pages and a plot précis – the story of a landlocked, Midwest boy who wanted desperately to join the Navy.  I’d have been tempted to let him away with his ruse, just for demonstrating such creativity and inventiveness.  The tough old schoolmarm, who made Archie’s Miss Grundy look like a kindly nun, spent most of an instruction period excoriating him, and demanded a real book be read and report filed.

He must have succeeded.  He graduated Grade 12, moved to Halifax, joined the Navy, and was never seen again.  Reading for enjoyment seems to be a Yes or No proposition.  My Mother read!  My Father didn’t!  I’ve known many intelligent, successful people who won’t read a novel, even when they could spare the time.  I just can’t imagine me without a book…. Or three.

I have seen many reading challenge posts.  I recently ran into this one.

In 2021, choose 6 books that have titles that contain a:

  • One/1 (ex. One Second AfterThe 100)
  • Doubled word (ex. In a Dark, Dark WoodWolf by Wolf)
  • Reference to outer space (ex. The Fault in Our Stars)
  • Possessive noun (ex. The Zookeeper’s Wife)
  • Botanical word (ex. The Language of FlowersThe Sandalwood Tree)
  • Article of clothing (ex. Bossypants)

The writer had read 12 books in a year, for a Goodreads challenge, but had read them all in the month of January, and then added 30 more by the end of the year.  I don’t understand the point of such challenges.  It can’t be to get people to read, because those who accept, already read – usually, a lot.  It doesn’t seem to be to get readers to read outside their preferred genre sphere, because you could pick books to satisfy all these requirements – in Romance, Sci-Fi, action/adventure, murder mystery, religion or political science.

In 2020 I read almost 40 books, from all the above varieties except Romance.  I checked them against this artificially concocted list, and found that I only had a match in (Maybe) three of the six categories.  No ‘ones’ or 1’s.  No doubled words.  Outer space came with Space Vikings, Star Rangers, Star Soldiers, and When The Star Kings Die – although both of The Expanse series, Babylon’s Ashes and Nemesis Games occur in outer space, but their titles don’t indicate that.

Possessive nouns returned with Babylon’s Ashes in hand.  The mystery Kevin: Murder Beneath the Pines provided the only botanical reference.  The requirement for an article of clothing might be satisfied, if you consider a gold watch to be clothing.

I refuse to obtain books just to satisfy some synthetic list.  I read what I find, that interests me, and Damn the Book Titles!  Full speed ahead!  How about you?  Would you buy/read just to check off some list??!

WOW #55

CCI_000010

Here’s a word only my Grandmother would have used. Actually, she was too much of a stern, proper old lady to ever allow herself to be in a position to use the word

AMBUSCADE

an ambush.
to lie in ambush.
to attack from a concealed position; ambush.

Middle French emboscade < Old Italian imboscata,

When English riffled the pockets of other languages for words, sometimes the ears and mouth worked, but the eyes were busy elsewhere. Often, foreign words were inducted into English like a Manhattan – with a twist.

Manhattan

English is Larry The Cable Guy’s “Git ‘er done” language. It don’t have no time for all them extra little syllables. The Spanish ‘La Riata’ (something to retie with) becomes simply lariat, in English.

The word petty came from Old French petit, small, minor. So a Naval Petty Officer is not mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things, but rather of secondary rank, especially in relation to others of the same class or kind.

What was subtile (soob-teel) in French, somehow became subtle (suttle) in English. Check (a means of verification) went from English to Middle French, to become cheque, and then back. The German word pflug, became an English plough. Wisely, American English has made each of them (back) into check, and plow. In French, fait simply means, ‘made, completed, or done.’ When it got to England, it became quite a feat.

Elvis Presley’s birthplace, Tupelo Mississippi, is named for a local tree. I thought that it was Spanish. You don’t even want to know how it got into English, from the Creek Indian word, ito opilwa.

Flash Fiction #23

Bench & water

 

 

 

 

 

Reeling

Bob liked to walk down to the little Marine Memorial park for a smoke. He should give the filthy things up completely, and was down to a couple a day.  He actually enjoyed the fresh air.

He liked to read the commemorative plaques. For an inland little Ohio town, with only a pond not much bigger than a bathtub, it had produced a large number a famous Naval Officers.

He glanced out across the water.  What??!  This wasn’t Loch Ness.  That can’t be a monster!  Wait!  A Russian submarine??  Weren’t the Swedes looking for one??  How did it get here?

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site, and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Morons

Did you hear about the moron who:

Ran through a screen door, and strained himself?

Wrapped his watch in cellophane to keep the ticks out of his pocket?

Took his knees apart to see if there was any beer left in the joints?

Took a bottle of whiskey to bed so that he could sleep tight?

Cut off his fingers so that he could write shorthand?

Watered his garden with whiskey so that he could grow stewed tomatoes?

Took a ladder to a bar so that he could get as high as he wanted?

Thought a mushroom was a place to neck in?

Sewed his fingers together so that he could wear mitts?

Ate gunpowder so that his hair would grow in short bangs?

Sat at the corner with two pieces of bread, waiting for the traffic jam?

Cut a hole in his rug so that he could see the floor show?

Saluted the refrigerator because he heard it was General Electric?

Slept on his stomach so that the Japanese couldn’t bomb his naval base?

Takes a yardstick to bed to see how long he sleeps?

Took a bicycle to bed so that he wouldn’t walk in his sleep?

Moved into the city because he heard the country was at war?

Sat up all night studying for a blood test?

Went to a lumber yard looking for the draft board?

Put his head out the window so that the wind would blow his nose?

Stayed up all night wondering where the sun went when it went down? It finally dawned on him!

Met a girl in a revolving door and has been going around with her ever since?

Took milk and sugar to watch TV because he heard they were showing a serial?

Took his nose apart to see what made it run?

Was so modest he went into the closet to change his mind?

Cut off his hand so he could play the piano by ear?

Killed his mother and father so that he could go to the orphans’ picnic?

Went to the Navy Yard to see a blood vessel?

Backed out of the bus because he heard someone was going to pinch his seat?

Sent six kids to bed and set the alarm for 3 because only three wanted to get up?

Put crumbs in his shoes to feed his pigeon toes?

Wouldn’t talk about crude oil because it wasn’t refined?

Thought he was dying so he went into the living room?

Stayed up all night trying to put a diaper on a cigarette butt?

Went to the hospital and had a chair put beside his bed for rigor mortis to set in?

Was arrested for not having a little moron? (more on)

Jumped off a tall building to show the crowd he had guts?

Typed emails to his girlfriend slowly because he knew she couldn’t read fast?

Went to the Post Office to pick up a letter, and when asked for his name he said he didn’t have to give it because it was already on the envelope?

Went to the lumber yard to see the Board of Education?

Went to the closet to change his mind but couldn’t find a clean one?

Poked out his eyes when he went on a blind date?

Ate five pennies and then asked people if they saw any change in him?

Wanted to know how many wheels a football coach had?

Cut off his left arm so that he could be all right?

Put his chin on the curb so that he could keep his mind out of the gutter?

Didn’t pay when he boarded the bus because his name was Crime, and “Crime doesn’t pay”?

Went to bed on his wedding night with all his clothes on because he’d been told he’d be going to town by midnight?

**

The Italian Who Went to Detroit

(Please read with Italian accent)

One day Ima gonna Detroit to bigga hotel. Inna morning, I go down to eat breakfast. I tella di waitress I want two pissis toast. She brings me only one piss! I tella her I wanna two piss. She say go to the toilet. I say you no unnerstan, I wanna two piss on my plate. She say you better no piss onna plate, you sonna ma bitch. I don’t even know di lady, an she call me sonna ma bitch.

Later I go out to eat at the bigga restaurant. The waitress bring me a spoon anna knife, but no fock. I tella her I wanna fock. She say evvybody wanna fock. I tell her you no unnerstan, I wanna fock on di table. She say you better no fock onna table, you sonna ma bitch.

So I go back to my room inna hotel and there is no shits onna my bed. I call di manager an tell him I wanna shit. He tells me to go to the toilet. I say, you no unnerstan, I wanna shit on my bed. He say you better no shit onna bed, you sonna ma bitch.

I go to da checkout, an di man at di desk say “Peace on You.” I say piss on you too, you sonna ma bitch. I gonna back to Italy.