Would I Understand The Inferno?

I’ve been catching up on classics, and tonight while pursuing a different topic I looked up something Dante said in his famous Inferno. Noodling around the work I started thinking that maybe I should read that thing. It has informed a lot of pop culture; I’d guess more than anything else of that age.

But would I get it? I’ve read that Dante names names. Scandal ensued. Or not, I just hear things. But I won’t know any of those names. I really don’t know much at all about the context surrounding the work, and my understanding is that The Inferno is almost as context-sensitive as satire. Hell, maybe it is satire.

Maybe even if I don’t get it, I’ll be transported by the (translation of) the language. Maybe. But I get the feeling that’s not why people read Dante. If anyone actually does anymore.

Yet this thing has been so influential that I have to wonder. It was on a shelf in my house growing up, since before I can remember (or do I vaguely remember Dad reverently shelving the library of great works for the first time?). But has anyone out there read The Inferno? Or tried to read it and run away screaming? I’d really like to hear what you thought.

Pet Photography

Today I pulled out the magic portrait lens and pointed it at the newest member of the family. See, I’m not just going to bombard the Internet with stories about my pet and a glut of pictures only I can appreciate, I’m going to bless the Web with wacky anecdotes of my four-legged friend and share with you my artistic imagery. You see how completely different that is?

Joking aside, I did try to capture a feeling of just who this dog is, and I think to a certain extent I was successful. Of course, you are the final judge of that.

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Welcome, Lady Byng!

Yesterday evening we arrived home from the nearby animal shelter with a new friend.

Lady Byng

She is named for the hockey trophy that is awarded each year to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Yes, it’s hockey’s Miss Congeniality award. Fitting to her name, she is a very well-behaved little dog, who doesn’t need to be told more than twice where she is not allowed to go (though the subtleties of sofa-with-blanket vs. sofa-without-blanket are still confusing to her after 24 hours).

She is also very quiet. Last night, as we put her into her bed in the laundry room she cried for a while, with some really odd-sounding vocalizations, but nary a bark. Once she figured out that we were still nearby she settled down to sleep.

So, welcome to the pack, Lady Byng.

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The Letter I Just Sent to emusic

The following is what I wrote at the end of the “why did you cancel your account?” survey at emusic:

I’ve been with emusic for a long, long time, and frankly I think things got worse as you succeeded in getting deals with major record labels. Prices kept going up, and the new pricing structure is frustrating. Necessary for getting the big labels, but then I discovered that I don’t much like the music the big labels are putting out. And when ’80’s arena rock bands show up in the ‘alternative’ section, you know that keyword pollution is starting to cause real problems.

So it has become harder to find actual good music (editorials are a huge help, so keep that up), and more expensive to experiment. I can’t take the risks I used to; downloading an album by a band I didn’t know is much more costly these days. So I’m not making as many happy discoveries as I did years ago.

emusic may still be the best online music service, but at this point the commitment to spend a set amount each month is just not justified.

Still, thanks for all the great tunes I’ve downloaded over the last decade-plus of membership.

Remember me?

You would think that damn near forty-eight hours on a train would lead to a burst of blogging activity. I would have thought so myself. But no, I spent the time reading instead. It was pleasant. Then I got back to town and while I had collected some interesting stories on the road, I just wasn’t inspired to write about them.

Perhaps someday I’ll tell you about Charlie, the deep, gravelly-voiced dark-black (Barry White after 10,000 packs) man shorter than me from Louisiana who sat next to me from Los Angeles to San Jose, who was once stabbed in the neck by a random asshole and probably would have killed said asshole if he hadn’t passed out from blood loss first. That’s the way he tells it anyway. At the trial the prosecutor asked Charlie, “what do you think we should do with this man?” “Give him to me,” Charlie said. According to him, that broke up the courtroom. Charlie was all about making sure his grandchildren didn’t get into the same shit he did. He was all right. But man, he liked to talk.

I took refuge from Charlie in the window car (Lounge car? Observation car?) that sat atop the train bar. From Santa Barbara well north a pair of guides in forest green uniforms spoke through a makeshift little PA system, telling us about the history of the places we rolled through. It was pretty cool, actually. Figs, rockets, railroad lore, and pretty scenery. Between lectures I read a novel by a guy who is not afraid to kill people you like. Maybe more on that later.

But I’ve been back now a couple of weeks and then some, and I haven’t even checked in on my favorite blogs. I’m in a twilight place, with an intimidating literary to-do list, and I’m pretty much frozen. I check Facebook more than I ever have before, clearly a sign of the apocalypse. I even retweeted something yesterday. (Spelling checker does not object to retweeted. I’m not sure how I feel about that.)

So, now I feel the need to reconnect. I’ll start with my favorite comics, then go and read the blog episodes I’ve missed, and leave comments that are far past stale.

And here at MR&HBI, I’ve got some ideas. Not new ideas, but ideas. We’ll see.