Monday, November 30, 2009

word of the day :: coxcomb


1. a conceited, foolish dandy; pretentious fop.
2. Archaic. head; pate
3. Obsolete. COCKSCOMB.

1565–75; sp. variation of cockscomb

"Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too." (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
* Definition from

Thursday, November 26, 2009

books I'm thankful I read this year

1) The Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling)

2) A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)

3) The Boleyn Inheritance (Phillipa Gregory)

4) The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)

Happy Thanksgiving all! And happy reading--hope you all find some time between the turkey and the football to squeeze in a book!

Monday, November 23, 2009

word of the day :: pagoda


1. (in India, Burma, China, etc.) a temple or sacred building, usually a pyramidlike tower and typically having upward-curving roofs over the individual stories.
2. any of several former gold or silver coins of southern India, usually bearing a figure of such a temple, first issued in the late 16th century and later also by British, French, and Dutch traders.

1625–35; < Pg pagode temple ≪ Pers butkada (but idol + kada temple, dwelling)

"Whenever we encounter the Infinite in man, however imperfectly understood, we treat it with respect. Whether in the synagogue, the mosque, the pagoda, or the wigwam, there is a hideous aspect which we execrate and a sublime aspect which we venerate. So great a subject for spiritual contemplation, such measureless dreaming--the echo of God on the human wall!" (Victor Hugo)
* Definition from

Friday, November 20, 2009

from Will

"When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain."
~William Shakespeare~
(King Richard II)

Monday, November 16, 2009

word of the day :: hullabaloo


–noun, plural -loos.
a clamorous noise or disturbance; uproar.

1750–60; appar. var. of haloobaloo, rhyming compound based on Scots baloo lullaby

"In this world without quiet corners, there can be no easy escapes from from history, from hullabaloo, from terrible, unquiet fuss." (Salman Rushdie)
* Definition from

Friday, November 13, 2009

from Ralph

"In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Currently reading...

Jane Austen

Summary: At the novel's center is Fanny Price, the classic "poor cousin," brought as a child to Mansfield Park by the rich Sir Thomas Bertram and his wife as an act of charity. Over time, Fanny comes to demonstrate forcibly those virtues Austen most admired: modesty, firm principles, and a loving heart. As Fanny watches her cousins Maria and Julia cast aside their scruples in dangerous flirtations (and worse), and as she herself resolutely resists the advantages of marriage to the fascinating but morally unsteady Henry Crawford, her seeming austerity grows in appeal and makes clear to us why she was Austen's own favorite among her heroines.
(Summary from the book jacket)

I love Jane Austen's wit and clever satire of her own time. This is my first time reading Mansfield Park, and I've been wanting to read it ever since I watched the BBC movie last year when they were doing a Jane Austen special.

Monday, November 9, 2009

word of the day :: asinine


1. foolish, unintelligent, or silly; stupid: It is surprising that supposedly intelligent people can make such asinine statements.
2. of or like an ass: asinine obstinacy; asinine features. 

1600–10; < L asinīnus, equiv. to asin(us)

"Trying to be fascinating is an asinine position to be in" (Katherine Hepburn)
* Definition from

Friday, November 6, 2009

from Jane

"Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way."
~Jane Austen~

Thursday, November 5, 2009

review :: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

J. K. Rowling

This sixth installment in the Harry Potter series is the most "grown-up" of the books so far. Perhaps it is because Harry Potter himself and his comrades are coming of age--growing up, dating, trying to make decisions about their futures, and coming to grips with the reality of a dangerous world gone wrong. I think there may be more to it than just that though. Rowling's writing steadily adapts to her older audience throughout the novels, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a great illustration of that.

The story was both engaging and somehow tragic. Darker than its predecessors, the novel shows more of the precarious balance between good and evil, right and wrong.

I am left in anticipation of reading the next book in the series, and alternately saddened that I've almost reached the end.

Monday, November 2, 2009

word of the day :: scallywag

a scamp; rascal

1850–55, Americanism; orig. uncert.

" For my part," said Armitage, " I call him a scallywag."
" What's a scallywag ?" Nea Blair asked, looking up at him from her seat with inquiring wonder.
Armitage paused a moment, and perused his boots. It's so hard on a fellow to be pounced upon like that for a definition offhand. " Well, a scallywag," he answered, leaning his back for moral support against the big eucalyptus tree beside which he stood, " a scallywag, I should say, well— well, is—why, he's the sort of man, you know, you wouldn't like to be seen walking down Piccadilly with."
" Oh, I see," Nea exclaimed, with a bright little laugh. " You mean, if you were walking down Piccadilly, yourself, in a frock coat and shiny tall hat, with an orchid from Bull's stuck in your buttonhole ! Then I think, Mr. Armitage, I rather like scallywags."
 (Grant Allen, The Scallywag)
* Definition from