Articles by Jerome Shea

Jerome Shea is an emeritus professor of English at the University of New Mexico, where he still teaches his classical tropes course every fall and his prose style course every spring. He has been the Weekend Wonk since January of 2007. His email is

Metaphors Be With You

  November 25, 2011

Yesterday in the tropes course we talked about that most basic and ubiquitous of tropes, metaphor. Unlike, say, epitrope, everyone has heard of metaphor (which doesn’t even need to be italicized anymore) and has a rough idea of what it is and does. Metaphor translates as “to carry across”: in practice it means to liken something to something else. It has been called the identity trope: an explicit likening (“My love is like a red, red rose”) is a simile; an implicit likening, which looks like an identity (“Charlie is a pig!

More Summer Doings: Wigwams and Lightships

  November 25, 2011

This was a summer of water. Between the Ohio River cruise and the Danube excursion, we headed west to the Pacific in Southern California and then—with an interlude up in Taos, New Mexico–east to the Atlantic on Cape Cod. Faithful readers know what a fan of SoCal I have always been, both for the trip and the destination (see “SoCal I” and “SoCal II”). Because the Beast is a bit cramped for Diana’s comfort and because the air conditioner makes it overheat, we took Wanda, our faithful old Honda CR-V .


  November 25, 2011

(I hope you will indulge me once again, my friends. This essay was written over twenty years ago, but I hope it has stood the test of time. Also, it is long enough that I have chosen to break it in two. Here’s the first part.) One morning a few months ago I caught myself saying, to no one in particular and about whom I can’t recall, “You know, that took a lot of moxie.

Moxie II

  November 25, 2011

(Yes, this is Moxie, Part Two, in which your intrepid wonker faces his fate!) At this point, nostalgia turns mean. My Moxie reminiscing had followed a docile pattern, predicated on the sure assumption that the Moxie enterprise had gone belly-up in the late ‘40’s, that this elixir of the Puritans had gone to join the shadows. But ten minutes’ research revealed that the Moxie makers were alive, well, and now based outside of Atlanta, Georgia, the soft drink capital of this country.

Neanderthals in Books

  November 25, 2011

So Neanderthals fascinate us, for reasons both silly and serious. We have had our share of schlocky, forgettable movies, often with hunky “cave men” and their scantily clad, big breasted mates battling not only wooly mammoths but dinosaurs (yeah, right!). There have been many depictions of Neanderthals or putative Neanderthals in books, too. Three come to mind, one that is mainstream entertainment and two that are more serious and—as far as possible—realistic depictions.

Neanderthals in Nooks

  November 25, 2011

Neanderthals may have been—or perhaps are—the hardiest critters to have ever come down the pike. They live on in books, in movies, and in our imaginings, tens of thousands of years after they presumably checked out. But more to the point of this wonk, they seem to keep popping up in the (hairy) flesh! The two most famous examples are Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch) in our Pacific Northwest and the Yeti or Abominable Snowman in the Himalayas.

No Pain, No Gain

  November 25, 2011

Anyone who ever turned out for high school sports has heard the old adage “No pain, no gain.” Having heard it, a person seldom forgets it, mainly because “No pain, no gain” expresses the Spartan ideal so neatly. As a memorable example of locker-room philosophy, it is right up there with “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and “If you can’t bear up, bear down.” But if we take a hard look at it, I think we will find that this hoary adage is true only in a very limited way.

Notes on the Hereafter

  November 25, 2011

The Sweet—or not so sweet—Bye and Bye has been in the news lately. There was of course Harold Camping’s prediction that the Rapture would happen on the 21st of May. Obviously it didn’t, but now he predicts that the Rapture, and the Destruction, will occur on the 21st of next October. Sort of a package deal. We’ll see. At my age, I don’t sign up for extended warranties or magazine subscriptions, so I’m set.

Once More to the Lake. And the River. And the Oceans.

  November 25, 2011

Time to give summer a nudge. Or maybe, since it’s close to triple digits most afternoons, a shove. Fall won’t be here until late September, but I’m already ready for it. I’m also ready for the routine of fall. Twenty students have signed up for my classical tropes course, and this old hambone can’t wait to get back behind the lectern. Still, summer was good even though Albuquerque is slowly turning into Phoenix (climate change, anyone?


  November 25, 2011

So the trope babies and I were having a grand time analyzing Mark Antony’s famous speech in Julius Caesar (Power to the People). Such a grand time, in fact, that I decided that we should have a whack at Brutus’s speech that precedes it. So we did and, caught up in the spirit, I decided to read the whole play. I hope that’s not quite as derelict as it sounds. I had read the play once, but in high school, and one forgets much in half a century.

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