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Lance Mannion
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Posted Wednesday morning, March 3, 2021. President-elect Abraham Lincoln saying farewell to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois from the rear platform of the train that would take him on the perilous journey to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration. February 11, 1861. Doesn’t matter how insightful, vividly descriptive, narratively compelling, thematically appealing, dramatic realistic in its portrayals of the characters who move in and out of the story, and in all other ways well-written it is, sometimes my favorite passages in a work of nonfiction turn out to be the more mundane, workaday, just-the-facts, ma’am, paragraphs that simply tell me something... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at Lance Mannion
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Posted Sunday morning, February 28, 2021. Well, that mood didn’t last. Since the rest of the gang was sleeping in, which I took as their birthday present to me, giving me some extra time to myself and peace and quiet, I threw myself a private party, downing two mugs of Irish Breakfast tea instead of my usual solitary and purely medicinal mug of green tea. I was tempted to have a third, but, to steal a line from Niles Fraiser, I was feeling madcap, not hell-bent. The mug is lying, by the way. But you have to forgive it. It... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Lance Mannion
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Posted Sunday morning, February 28, 2021. Detail from a photo by John Vachon, “Front Porch, Sunday afternoon, Vincennes, Indiana”, 1941. Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons. It’s my birthday, and I’m in a mood... Able at last to stop And recall the days it took To get them here, they sit On the porch in rockers Letting the faded light Of afternoon carry them off. I see them moving back And forth over the dullness Of the past, covering ground They did not know was there, And ending up with nothing Save what might have been. And so they sit,... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Lance Mannion
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Posted Sunday morning, February 14, 2021. Detail from “Tea Time” by Jan Joseph Horemans II, painted sometime in the second half of the 18th Century. Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp. Via Wikipedia. I don’t know whether I’d have been a Patriot or a Tory if I’d been alive and living in Boston when the Tea Act was passed, but if I’d been a tea drinker on either side, I'd have found common cause with the smugglers. From “The British Are Coming: The War in America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777” by Rick Atkinson: ...The Tea Act restructured the East India... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Wednesday night, February 10, 2021. Detail from “In a lesson of credence with the sexton” by Ivan Vladimirov. 1913. Via Wikiart. Today would have been the 121st birthday of Boris Pasternak, the 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature winning Russian poet and author of the novel “Doctor Zhivago”. Yura is the boy who will grow up to be the title hero of the book. Yura realized how much he owed to his uncle for the general qualities of his character. Nikolai Nikolaevih was living in Lausanne. In the books he published there in Russian and in translation, he developed his... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Adapted from the Facebook news feed, Thursday night, February 4, 2021. Posted Tuesday morning, February 9. We're without a bathroom sink tonight. The drain trap crumbled this afternoon. I bought a replacement. Normally a trip to the hardware store cheers me up, but the top quarter of the old pipe is still on there good and tight. I sprayed it with penetrating oil but now I'm too tired to tackle the job, so it'll have to wait until morning. This old house has been falling apart piece by piece for the last few years but over the last couple of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Monday night, February 8, 2021. "A gorgeous metaphor for a communal life online": A school of surgeonfish in reef waters off the Maldives. Detail from a photo by Uxbona, via Wikipedia. Variations of the phrase “no one is talking about this”, which, with conventional capitalization, is the title of a new novel about lives lived out online by Patricia Lockwood, appear all the time in my Twitter feed, as one Twitterer after another vents their anger, frustration, horror, or anguish that an issue they believe is of vital importance and needs immediate attention from the media so that politicians will... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Thursday night, February 4, 2021. Gary Oldman as George Smiley at work in the 2011 film adaptation of John le Carre’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. Focus films Le Carre could be funny: mordant, witty, sardonic, satirical, even parodistical, all in his own manner and voice. He had influences, naturally, some you’d expect, like Graham Greene, Somerset Maugham, and Evelyn Waugh. But in certain sentences and phrases and Smiley’s relationship with telephones I hear whispers of P.G. Wodehouse, particularly in Smiley’s tea cosy and those nearly anthropomorphized “anonymous” grey boxes humming “without warning”: Smiley had always loathed the telephone, and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Mined from the notebooks, Friday, December 18, 2020. Dug out Wednesday morning, February 3, 2021. View from the front door of the Mannionville Ranch House, Tuesday morning, February 2, 2021. Our nor’easter has blown through. Snow stopped falling late yesterday afternoon, and this morning it’s even beginning to melt off the roof. Making quite a crash as it slides onto the back deck. Reminds me, I’ve left this one buried in the notebooks since our last big snow back in December. Digging it out now because history’s repeating itself and I’ve been answering the same questions I answered six weeks... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted early Wednesday morning, February 3, 2021. Detail from “Il suonatore di liuto (The Lute Player)”, 1612/1620, by Orazio Gentileschi. The National Gallery of Art, via Wikimedia Commons. “...and to be us, in love with them.” I didn’t need to have read “Lolita” in high school to see and think along these lines, and I hadn’t read it, and wouldn’t get around to it until just before I went off to graduate school, and I’m glad. It meant I saw these girls as themselves and gazed at them through my own eyes and not through Humbert Humbert’s. At least, I’d... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Monday morning, February 1, 2021. Portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), the first woman doctor in the United States, uncredited and undated but likely depicting Blackwell as she'd have appeared in the late 19th Century. Courtesy of Hobart and William Smith Colleges via the Finger Lakes Times. Wednesday is the 200th birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in the United States. Blackwell studied medicine at Geneva Medical College, a department of Geneva College in Geneva, New York, starting in 1847 and graduating in 1849. Geneva College renamed itself Hobart College in 1852. In 1908, William Smith College for... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Saturday evening, January 30, 2021. Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff---the Avengers’ Scarlet Witch---looks perplexed at finding herself inhabiting a character who’s a mashup of situation comedy leading ladies: She’s in Laura Petrie’s kitchen, wearing one of Donna Reed’s dresses, and making dinner using the magic of Samantha Stephens in Marvel Studio's television series "WandaVision". Mannion Family Movie Night is routinely The Mannions Catch Up on TV Shows Night. Last night we watched the second two episodes of “WandaVision”, and I think I have a better idea of what’s going on. I had no idea what to think after the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Thursday night, January 28, 2021. Workers outside the London offices of Lehman Brothers on the day the company filed for bankruptcy as the housing bubble collapsed. September 15, 2008. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP. Via Deseret News. Rahman wrote this in 2014. The scene is set in 2008 during the collapse of the housing bubble when his narrator worked as an investment broker on Wall Street. For some reason it feels immediately relevant this week. I feel no guilt for what I did in finance. There’s little doubt that the financial crisis will translate into an economic one and that recession will... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Thursday morning, January 28, 2021. The view out our window, around eight this morning. I wonder if our house looks as pretty after a snow from our neighbor’s window as hers looks from here. Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Adapted from the Twitter and Facebook feeds, Sunday night, January 26, 2020. Posted Tuesday night, January 26, 2021. Bourbon Street in New Orleans. February 12, 2010. Chris Litherland, via Wikimedia Commons. From the Department of In Search of Lost Time: A year ago tonight we were up at the Old Mannion Homestead, just for a long weekend visit. We had no idea that our next visit would last four and a half months. Pop Mannion was a fan of Walker Percy, and I was looking through his collection of Percy’s novels and nonfiction and landed on this from the essay... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Tuesday morning, January 26, 2021. 2010 photo of a section of the woods where the Battle of the Wilderness was fought in May 1864. Rob Shenk, American Battlefield Trust. Lincoln heard it wrong. Twenty thousand is closer to the total number of Union casualties at the Battle of the Wilderness. The total “sent to their final account” in the battle has been put at around 2500 for the Union Army, about 1500 for the Confederates. The battle was fought over three days, not one. I doubt he found much comfort in the news when he learned the actual figures.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Adapted from the Twitter feed, Saturday night, January 16, 2021. Posted Sunday night, January 24. Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver celebrates catching a pass for a touchdown during last week's the AFC Divisional Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. Bills won 17-3 to go on to the Conference Championship playoff against the Kansas City Chiefs tonight. Photo by Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports, via the Grand Forks Herald. It’s been a long time since I was a football fan, and I haven’t watched it regularly in ages, since Joe Montana left San Francisco, in fact. But I watched Buffalo play Baltimore last... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Saturday morning, January 23, 2021. It’s good we have a president who loves and reads poetry. It’s good we have a president who quotes Lincoln and actually reveres him and sees him as someone to strive to emulate rather than a brand name to use to sell his own brand, flatter his own vanity, and, conversely, feel sorry for himself. But as the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Carlos Lozada mused, with a sad rhetorical shake of the head, when you know who was still in the White House with a good chance of remaining there: Yes, I would... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Friday night, January 22, 2021. Daniel Day Lewis (left) as President Abraham Lincoln discussing mathematics, not Shakespeare, with a young Union officer played by Adam Driver in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln". Dependable listeners? That’s one way to put it. Another is “captive audience.” Insert a winking emoji face with a chin beard and a stovepipe hat here. Never mind. I can hear him in my head reciting from "Macbeth." But I wish I'd been there when he read from "Merry Wives" or Spielberg had had room to put it in the movie... Lincoln relied on a few dependable listeners, including... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Mined from the notebooks, Sunday morning, January 19, 2020. Posted Thursday morning, January 21, 2021. Stock image of common house mouse on a pantry shelf. From the Department of In Search of Lost Time: Now I know how disappointed fishermen feel when their wives don't want to hear their stories about the one that got away: Last night a mouse stepped into the glue trap I set out behind the trash can and fought noisily for its life. Me to Mrs A when I went in to say goodnight: “Did you hear the ruckus out in the kitchen?” “I did.”... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Mined from the notebooks, Sunday, January 19, 2020. Posted Thursday morning, January 21, 2021. Going back through old posts and notes that never got worked up into posts. I’m not impressed. Strikes me that my “gift” as a blogger is a knack for getting it right at the same time I’m getting it wrong. My defense has always been that the blog should be read as an open notebook: it’s a record of the progress of my thinking about the world as I’m passing through it on the way to somewhere. My opinions are reactions to things I encounter along... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Tuesday morning, January 19, 2021. Detail from “The Village Green at Night” by Sir George Clausen. Sometime between 1890 and 1910, possibly later. Via ArtUK. 6:37 a.m. Does Crayola still make a crayon in the color they used to call Midnight Blue? The sky has gone from the black to that color, which I think they should rename Insomniac's Blues. Meanwhile, what Harold Bloom said about the best poetry being about death and loss and how reading it gave him courage to face his own sorrows? One of my favorite poems by Philip Larkin, and one of the most... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Saturday morning, January 15, 2021. Blue jays are sociable, neighborly birds, and that’s how I think of them, as my neighbors. The sparrows that flock in the bushes outside the front door are tenants who probably regard us as indifferent landlords whose best quality is our habit of minding our own business and leaving them alone to mind theirs. The catbirds think they own the place, the robins do too, but they make it a practice of looking in the window disapprovingly, as if we’re riff-raff who are wasting our lives and neglecting the property. Mockingbirds come around just... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Posted Thursday morning, January 14, 2021. “Just thinking about he honesty in her eyes, I realize I should tell you she's really not seventy-five”: Detail from the painting “Study of a Dog” by Rosa Bonheur, sometime in the 1860s. Via Wikipedia. Last night I read myself to sleep reading Harold Bloom’s opening chapter, which he called “Prelude” of his last book, “Taking Arms Against a Sea of Troubles: The Power of the Reader’s Mind Over a Universe of Death”. The subtitle he gave to ‘Prelude” is “Reading to Stay Alive”, in case you didn’t get the message, which, as I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2021 at Lance Mannion
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Adapted from the Facebook feed, Thursday night, January 7, 2021. Posted Wednesday morning, January 13. “Brooklyn Nets’ Jarrett Allen (31) shoots between Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons (25) and Tobias Harris (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)” From the Sports Desk of the Department of In Search of Lost Time: Nets vs.Sixers, Lance vs Mrs M, January 7, 2021: I'm such a good husband. Want to know what a good husband I am? I'll tell you what a good husband I am. Mrs M, as many... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2021 at Lance Mannion