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February 27, 2013

bookofjoe's Favorite Thing: Minnetonka Deerskin Driving Moccasin


I'm wearing my brand new ones (they arrived yesterday) as I type.


I've been a huge fan of these since they appeared in 1990.


I don't know how I discovered these Minnesota-made beauties but I've never been without a pair since.


Hand made, super comfortable, nice looking, and just a great product.


Cheap at $80.

And yes — I've tried Tod's driving moccasins, which start at $445 and aren't nearly as comfortable.

I wouldn't consider trading even up.

"The price of everything and the value of nothing" — now where did I read that?


February 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gravity-powered generator


Everywhere on the planet — forget the planet, the Universe! — there's gravity.

It's been there from the get-go and will be there till the end.

Now comes Martin Riddiford, co-founder of London design consultancy Therefore, with a brilliant insight and bit of applied design and engineering that, using just a bag of dirt hooked onto a geared assembly, generates enough light to read by for up to 30 minutes — no batteries required.

Wrote Malcolm Burnley in the March issue of The Atlantic, "1,000 GravityLights arrive in Asia, Africa, and South America for a trial run this spring, and a model selling for less than $10 is slated to hit the market next year."

As he noted, "Many of the 1.4 billion people who lack electricity use kerosene lamps for lighting, despite their myriad dangers. They cause millions of severe burns each year. Kerosene fumes contribute to lung cancer. The fuel is ruinously expensive, and it’s a major carbon emitter. But oft-proposed alternatives, like solar-powered lamps, require expensive batteries."

Much as I praise bleeding-edge, world-changing technologies like Google Glass (oh, yeah, just remembered that my application — actually, three of them: did you know you're allowed to apply three times? — is due by 2:59 a.m. ET Thursday), inventions like this power source that bring light and energy to the have-nothings of the Third World promise to lift these societies wholesale into the 21st Century and unleash a wave of creativity and invention that will wash over us First Worlders like an intellectual tsunami.

How exciting to be here as it happens and ride the big one.

February 27, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hands-Free BrimLit LED Hat Light


From the website:



Flexible and lightweight, the BrimLit LED Hat Light is a convenient hands-free light that clips easily and securely onto nearly any hat, cap, or visor brim.


Formed from high-density EVA foam, the BrimLit slides underneath your hat's brim and easily accommodates its shape.


Two spring-tension clips automatically adjust to the brim's thickness and a quick press of the button activates the BrimLit's four (4) LEDs — choose High for more directed light or Low for glow.


Perfect for illuminating outdoor nighttime/early morning tasks around the campsite, in the garage, hunting or fishing while keeping your hands free,  and working out.

ANSIstandard copy

Great as well for hard-to-reach jobs under cabinets or a tight crawl space.

Powered by two replaceable lithium batteries (included).

Details and Features:

• 1.1 oz

• 2.9" x 6.7" x 0.6"

• 4 bright White LEDs

• Run time: High — 8 hours; Low —16 hours

• Output: High — 14 lumens; Low — 8 lumens

• Flexible design shapes to fit most styles of hat brims

• Easily replaceable 2 x 2032 3V lithium batteries included


$16.69 (cap and hard hat not included. What's wrong with you?).

February 27, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Colorizing "The Sound and the Fury" — after 83 years, Faulkner's dream comes true

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Long story short from Brooke Allen's August 10, 2012 Wall Street Journal story: "The editors [of the new Folio Society edition] have identified 14 different time frames in the 'Benjy' section and print each in a different hue."

Excerpts from Allen's article follow.

 William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" (1929) is one of the monuments of High Modernism—America's answer to James Joyce's "Ulysses" (1922). As such, it is almost by definition "difficult": obscure, allusive, discontinuous. This tale of the dissolution of a once-aristocratic Southern family, the Compsons, is related in turn by each of the three Compson brothers—the idiot Benjy, the suicidal Quentin and the vengeful Jason—and lastly, in a final chapter, by the novel's omniscient narrator. Each of the four sections presents its own challenges, but the first one, Benjy's, is famously complex, for Benjy has no sense of time. Present, past and future are all one to him, and he slips almost unnoticeably among them.

Benjy's monologue is one of the great tours de force of stream-of-consciousness writing, on a level with those of Molly Bloom in "Ulysses" and Lily Briscoe in Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" (1927). Even Faulkner himself was not sure that the Benjy section really worked. "I did not try deliberately to make it obscure," he claimed in an introduction to the novel written in 1933 (though not published until 1972). His objective, he wrote, was "a continuous whole, since the thought transference is subjective; i.e., in Ben's mind and not in the reader's eye."

Faulkner spent a good deal of time tinkering with the first section's format, punctuation (or lack thereof), and typefaces in order to achieve the effects he sought while still making it possible for the reader to follow the narrative and construct from it a coherent whole. The solution he came up with was to indicate a change in time levels with the judicious use of italics: "I purposely used italics for both actual scenes and remembered scenes for the reason," he wrote to his agent, Ben Wasson, "not to indicate the different dates of happenings, but merely to permit the reader to anticipate a thought-transference, letting the recollection postulate its own date." But he acknowledged that the solution was still not quite satisfactory. "If I could only get it printed the way it ought," he complained, "with different color types for the different times in Benjy's section recording the flow of events for him, it would make it simpler, probably. I don't reckon, though, it'll ever be printed that way, and this'll have to be the best, with the italics indicating the changes of events."

This wistful fantasy has long posed a challenge to scholars and editors. As early as 1932, Faulkner's publisher, Bennett Cerf, proposed a limited edition of the novel with the Benjy section printed in colors, and the novelist provided him with a copy that he had marked up in three colors for the purpose. The Depression put an end to this expensive venture, and the color-coded copy vanished.

Now the Folio Society has tried its hand at the project, commissioning two eminent Faulknerians, Stephen M. Ross and Noel Polk, to produce a colorized version of Benjy's monologue as part of a deluxe edition of "The Sound and the Fury," which includes an entire second volume with an extensive glossary and commentary. There is also a bookmark for the reader's convenience showing the color code for the various time levels in the Benjy section — 14 of them, according to Messrs. Ross and Polk. The whole has been produced with the Folio Society's customary luxury paper and binding, and the edition is limited to 1,480 numbered copies for sale only to members of the society. (It is quite easy to join, at foliosociety.com.)

Messrs. Ross and Polk, in their introduction, show a commendable humility. "To see the possibilities in colorizing Benjy's monologue does not necessarily make it a good idea," they write and admit to having been initially reluctant to try it at all. They had looked at the online colorizations and had not been convinced; "Our reading of them," they say, "reinforced our skepticism about the value of a colorized version, to the extent that in so sharply delineating where the time levels shift they essentially did reading work that Faulkner clearly wanted to the reader to do." And then there was the technical challenge implicit in the task, the possibly futile endeavor of taking material that is inherently subjective — as all great literature is — and trying to impose on it an objective "key." Might the literal-mindedness of the printed result kill the magic of the reading experience?

The answer: Yes, it does, though this judgment does not mean that the experiment, and edition that has resulted from it, are not valuable and interesting. Faulkner's great achievement with Benjy's monologue was to present a continuous expanse of disjointed memory with a strong internal coherence of its own. That he was able to do this in the "voice" of a retarded man who has no language of his own was particularly remarkable: Molly Bloom's interior monologue was in the same voice that she would have spoken aloud in, and so was Lily Briscoe's.

The effect of any of these famous stream-of-consciousness monologues is cumulative and depends on the reader's unbroken concentration. To be constantly referring to a color code throughout the process of reading "The Sound and the Fury" breaks the flow of Faulkner's river of words, and the gain is not necessarily worth the pain. The "continuous whole," as Faulkner said, is the point. The three narratives that follow Benjy's, in any case, do much to clarify what is obscure in his.

First-time readers, then, should let Faulkner's words roll over them and not bother with the complicated color code. The code, though, should prove irresistible to Faulkner scholars, enthusiasts and obsessives and has great value for reference and re-reading. Yet, as Messrs. Ross and Polk are aware, this is not a definitive version; plenty of people will quibble over the fine judgments they have made, as Faulkner himself would probably do were he able to return from the grave and peruse their edition.

The editors admit that they have no special insight into how Faulkner would have handled the colorization. "Frankly, we have been relieved that his three-color Benjy section has never been published," they write, "if only because we haven't been able to figure out how three colors could have helped convey even the eight time levels he identified..., much less the fourteen we identify in our commentary on the novel."

It all comprises a puzzle that has not been solved in the more than eight decades since the novel was published, and no doubt the conversation will still be being carried on vigorously eight decades from now.

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Randy Boyagoda, professor of American literature and chairman of the English department at Ryerson University, in a September 14, 2012 essay in the New York Times Book Review about the colorized edition, offered another point of view; below, excerpts from his piece.

What happens when you add colored ink to the previous black-and-white type of a William Faulkner classic? Could the technology somehow compromise the reader’s experience, or do multiple inks actually make for a greater novel? Is this what Faulkner had in mind — and does it matter?

Faulkner readily acknowledged the difficulty of what he’d written. In fact, he himself first proposed using different-colored inks as a way to make Benjy's section more accessible, with distinct shades assigned to its crisscrossed time-settings. But he had to accept that in the world of 1920s publishing, this just wasn't possible. "I’ll just have to save the idea until publishing grows up to it," he swaggered in an editorial exchange.

Last month, the industry finally caught up.

The colored inks, 14 in total, as determined by two leading Faulkner scholars, are an arresting visual statement of Faulkner's daring technique and a helpful navigator for Benjy's fractured, far-flung storytelling. In these ways, the scheme makes for an undeniable improvement. But the visual statement is finally too arresting, the navigation too helpful. Benjy's interiority is disorienting and exhilarating to experience in standard black ink precisely because this neutral printing perfectly conveys the "unbroken-surfaced confusion of an idiot which is outwardly a dynamic and logical coherence" — Faulkner’s own description of his ambitions for Benjy's section. Whereas in relieving the crucial tension between confusion and coherence, the colored inks make safe the novel’s most provocative claim: that we might recognize our own struggles, to understand the pieces and people of our lives and be understood by them, in the voice and efforts of a 33-year-old mute idiot man-child who, in his words, is always "trying to say."

But what if Faulkner was actually wrong in wanting Benjy's section read in different colors? To suggest this, I know, is to commit literary heresy. We like to venerate authorial intentions, especially when they're the frustrated or ignored intentions of great writers, and when this, in turn, justifies a new edition of a classic that claims steadfast fidelity to those intentions.

Just how much significance should we accord an idea Faulkner brought up over drinks in a New York speakeasy and then mentioned a few times afterward before dropping it?

Indeed, by his own account, Faulkner rewrote and reworked "The Sound and the Fury" more extensively than he did any of his other novels. And as Faulkner's correspondence and Joseph Blotner's authoritative biography both attest, much of this was spurred by early editorial debates and also because colored inks weren't then available. In other words, had colored inks originally been possible, Faulkner very likely would have made different decisions in revising Benjy's section. Perhaps the novel would not have become quite what it was, and remains: an audaciously modern expression of the universal human effort of "trying to say."

February 27, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Butterfly Knife Cuff Links


From Cool Material: "'You shouldn't play around with weapons.' That's obvious. At no time, however, is this adage tougher to follow than when you have a butterfly knife in front of you (okay, being presented with a pair of nunchucks is up there as well). For the addictive joy of flipping one open — without the bodily harm — consider a pair of Butterfly Knife Cuff Links. Not only are these cufflinks functional butteryfly knives but they're also a sweet looking accessory for the well-dressed man. Each pair comes with a sharpener so you can keep them ready for use (maybe that wedding is serving miniature prime rib — ever think about that?) and the small lock keeps them closed when you're wearing them. They're about a billion times cooler than the black circle cufflinks that come with any rented tuxedo."

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Gives a whole new meaning to "sharp dressed man"... wait a sec — what's that music I'm hearing?

Stainless steel; 1.5"-long open; 1"-long closed.


February 27, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gimme that old-time radio


From reader John Lowe in a comment on yesterday's George Gobel post comes news of "two old radio show archives that I frequently visit: Old Radio World and Internet Archive."

February 27, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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