Weekend Wonk


Neanderthals in Nooks

  Jerome Shea       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.

Neanderthals in Books

  Jerome Shea       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.

Moxie II

  Jerome Shea       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.

Moxie

  Jerome Shea       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.

More Summer Doings: Wigwams and Lightships

  Jerome Shea       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 .

Metaphors Be With You

  Jerome Shea       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!

Me and Charlie Rose

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

(I seldom stay up late enough to watch Charlie Rose on PBS, but when I do I am always reminded of how much I’ve been missing. Charlie is an excellent interviewer, I think because he has a genuine interest in his guests and in ideas and events. He is definitely and definitively connected. Add in that dulcet North Carolina accent and you have a real treat. His guests the other night were Tom Brokaw and Calvin Trillin—Charlie doesn’t traffic in the usual Tinsel Town fluff—both pushing their latest books.

Hammer

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

Most writing taught in schools is fairly conservative. Some leeway might be allowed depending on the crowd (sorry about the rhyme…or maybe not, as we’ll see), but the usual requirements include spelling correctly, eschewing sentence fragments and the dreaded comma splice, and so forth: all the things that your equally dreaded freshman composition teacher enforces with an iron fist and a red pen. But there is a subversive tradition in the history of writing in English.

Great Wits Are Near to Madness Close Allied

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

Many years ago—so many that the card catalogue was physically a card catalogue—I was trolling through it idly and came upon the intriguing title—Gravity and Levity—of a book by a psychiatrist named Alan McGlashan. It is an interesting little collection of essays that roam the borderland between medicine and mysticism. What mystified me was that it was shelved not in our main UNM library but over in our Science and Engineering library, and then I realized that someone had taken the title literally, as in the force that large bodies exert, and its opposite, as in lighter-than-air gases.

Giants in the Earth

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

While I was writing about the Neanderthals, something else kept flitting through my mind: that mysterious and startling line in Genesis 6:4. “There were giants in the earth in those days.” What’s up with that? Well, just a few hours’ research shows the Neanderthal story to be simple and straightforward compared to this particular tangled web. Let me back up. Here (KJV) are verses 1 through 4: And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, [T]hat the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.



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