Notes on re-reading: Blue jays go to Hell on Fridays and The Sound and the Fury

One of the Southern sayings of my childhood was that “blue jays go to Hell on Fridays” (my father’s punch-line was to always, having raised this on any day but Friday, ask if any listener could specifically recall seeing a bluejay on Friday).  Apparently, the part of the folk-tale I never heard was that they went to Hell to carry sand to use in the torment of the damned.

Each time I re-read The Sound and the Fury, I notice things I had not before.  Some are small things– something called a hame string comes up twice, first, when Jason Compson, working in a hardware store, sells one to a farmer, who annoys Jason by taking the time to decide whether to by a 15 cent one or a 25 cent one, and then, later, when Jason catches his 17-year-old niece Quentin looking through the mail and says, “I’ll take a hame string to you.  That’s what I’ll give you.  Going into my papers.” I could guess, but, looking it up, I learn it’s a leather strip used in the tack of a draft animal to attach supports to the collar.

The final events of the book take place on Easter weekend in 1928.  On Sunday, there’s this:

Luster went to the woodpile.  The five jaybirds whirled over the house, screaming, and into the mulberries again. He watched them.  He picked up a rock and threw it.  “Whoo,” he said.  Git back to hell, whar you belong at. ‘Taint Monday yit.”

So is Luster suggesting they spend the weekend in Hell, or that they have an extended stay on Easter?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Some covers of “That Lucky Old Sun” in anticipation of the new Dylan album

The new  Dylan album is all versions of songs previously recorded by Frank Sinatra.

It ends with a version of “That Lucky Old Sun.”  It’s kinda been done.  You’ve got versions by Jerry Lee, Aretha, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, LaVern Baker, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson, etc….  They’ve pretty much got it covered.  And then there’s the Frank Sinatra version (far from my favorite) that apparently inspired the Dylan version…

Dylan is still a very interesting performer to me, but this does not seem to me what makes him so.  Here’s a story about the album, where you can listen to one of the songs, “Stay With Me.”

An Evelyn Waugh character explains how to read the newspaper (or other media)

I read the newspapers with lively interest. It is seldom that they are absolutely, point-blank wrong. That is the popular belief, but those who are in the know can usually discern an embryo truth, a little grit of fact, like the core of a pearl, round which has been deposited the delicate layers of ornament.

Waugh, Scoop

Floyd Abrams rebukes his old client the NY Times for failing to publish the cartoons

Floyd Abrams, as one will recall, represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case, and is probably the leading First Amendment lawyer of his generation. As the headline suggests, he rebuked his former client in a letter to the editor that the New York Times published on Friday.

The last sentence is a real zinger.

In today’s unauthorized practice of law

Folks came into my office today because they where having trouble filing out the divorce papers they’d bought over the internet.

It seems it was a cash-only website that sends out the papers COD. At a glance, the papers were surprisingly good but lacking in several respects. I won’t say how because I don’t want to help them clean up their act.

So why did these people come to me with their questions? It seems that the website from which they purchased the papers had a photograph of MY LAW OFFICE on its home page and, when they got confused about the papers (for both the understandable reasons that the papers were missing something the papers seemed to say was both required and included, and that the papers were pretty complicated for a law reader to follow because they were designed to guide a reader through a number– but not all– of the possible permutations of a divorce, e.g. kids/no-kids, contested/uncontested), they recognized the law office and so came here with their questions.

The price is the same, which makes me wonder if they are connected to the classified ads described in a prior post.

I intend to investigate further.

Instant Karma Is Going To Get Him

Apparently, Stephan Pastis has a taste for music puns requiring elaborate set-ups.

Highly recommend the Pearls before Swine cartoon.

Photo: Lafayette County covered bridge and unidentified boy, early 1950s


This is one of my favorite Lafayette County vintage photos I’ve ever seen.

It is a covered bridge that was torn down about 1952 or 1953.  Joe Black, posting on Facebook, identified it as “the covered bridge at Fudgetown;”I’m guessing it was below Fudgetown (the road from Fudgetown south crossed the Yocona River with an iron bridge that was abandoned by the time I was in high school in the early 1970s).  Joe Black reports that his grandfather and great-uncle tore the bridge down between 1953 and 1955.  I knew of at least two wooden bridges over the Yocona River between Fudgetown and where Highway 7 crossed the river that were still standing in the 70s; I wonder if this is the superstructure over one of them.


Christmas music (and greetings): “Its Christmas time in Hollis, Queens Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens…”

…Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese,
And Santa putting gifts under Christmas trees.

Merry Christmas!

Run-DMC sings “Christmas in Hollis,” with horns and backing that really remind me of the Stax approach to Christmas music.  Bear with the video until 0:47 point, roughly.


A Christmas Poem about King John

King John’s Christmas

by A.A. Milne from Now We are Six.

King John was not a good man –
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air –
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon…
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune in the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.

Continue reading A Christmas Poem about King John

Legal Authority for Odd Propositions (Missouri and, updated, New Jersey divisions): “The people of this state are not idiots.”

“The people of this state are not idiots.”  State, on Inf. McKittrick v. Wymore, 345 Mo. 169, 184, 132 S.W.2d 979, 988 (1939); see State v. Winne, 21 N.J. Super. 180, 225, 91 A.2d 65, 87 (Ch. Div. 1952) rev’d on other grounds, 12 N.J. 152, 96 A.2d 63 (1953) (“The people of this State are not idiots.”).

Oddly enough, both cases involve prosecutors, public corruption, and gambling, although the later New Jersey case does not cite the earlier Missouri one.  The New Jersey opinion ends with a great flourish:

The people of this State are not idiots. They do not need to be expert in the niceties of the common law to realize the vast power of the county prosecutor and the capacity his office affords for moral leadership in the field of law enforcement. They sense intuitively the respect which his office can engender in police circles, and his obligation to be zealous in this field in the pursuit of public justice. The people do not expect their ‘minister of justice’ to be a witch hunter, or to pour out the resources of his effort by investigating grammar school picnics to learn whether some one is selling ‘chances’ on a chocolate cake. But on the other hand, they realize that syndicated crime in the field of gambling spawns and nourishes official corruption. By television and other modern communications, and in the press, as well as in Grand Jury rooms, the people have finally had a look at the scoundrels who have presided at the tawdry feast of politics and crime, of official corruption and graft. They have emerged from the coma of complacency of the two post-war periods which our *226 generation has seen, and have become more sophisticated. The know that is **88 meant in underworld parlance when a community is said to be ‘wide open’ or ‘closed up tight’, and are aware that these conditions are responsive to the attitude of those charged with enforcement of the law. I am sure the public is unconvinced by breast thumping that wide-spread syndicated crime can exist notoriously and corrupt the law enforcement machinery of our communities, and the State remain powerless.
State v. Winne, 21 N.J. Super. at 225-26, 91 A.2d at 87-88.