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Mortal Gambles
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:32 am    Post subject: Mortal Gambles Reply with quote

WELCOME!

Quote:
Save the whales and send 'em to PokerPulse! SIGN UP today for our Gamble Green Challenge to help stop global warming!

Mortal Gambles:

Quote:
See also Gambling Warriors.


The Economist
Magazine Subscription
The warlord and the spook
Russia's wars in Chechnya, which the Kremlin says are over, have shaped the country that Russians and the world are now living with
June 2/07




Quote:
Like a high-end barmitzvah, only with more weapons, the inauguration of Ramzan Kadyrov was held in a giant white marquee, in the grounds of one of his palaces, near the Chechen city of Gudermes. The guests - Russian officers who were once his enemies, rival warlords squirming in dress uniforms, muftis in lamskin hats - brought sycophantic portraits, cars and other gifts fit for a Caucasian potentate. As his pet lions gnawed on their bones outside, Chechnya's new president made a speech, as short and nervous as a schoolboy's, in which he vowed to continue the reconstruction of his wretched semi-autonomous Russian republic.

... As with all wars, the starkest toll of Chechnya's are the dead, who as well as the slaughtered Chechens officially include around 10,000 federal troops, and unofficially many more. Then there are the tens of thousands of injured, such as Dima, who lives with his parents in a grotty apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. In December 1999, Dima was shot in the chest in the village of Alkhan-Yurt. He heard the air rushing out of his lungs; then he was wounded again. He lay bleeding, eating snow, and preparing to die, but lived after a doctor bet his colleagues two bottles of vodka that he could be saved. Two pieces of shrapnel stayed in his back. "I lost my health forever when I was 20," says Dima, who was incapacitated for two years; terrible years, says his mother. Alkhan-Yurt, meanwhile, became infamous for the butchery and rape commnitted there by the Russians soon afterwards.

Still Dima, now at college, is relatively lucky. Many of the 1m-plus Chechnya veterans came back alcoholic, unemployable and anti-social, suffering what soon became known as "the Chechen syndrome." This widespread experience of army mistreatment and no-limits warfare has contributed to Russia's extraordinary level of violent crime: the murder rate is 20 times western Europe's. But the cruelty is also reproducing itself in a less well-known and more organised way.

As well as the army, thousands of policemen across Russia have served in Chechnya. Many return with disciplinary and psychological problems, says Tanya Lokshina of Demos, a human-rights group. They also bring back extreme tactics that they proceed to apply at home, such as the sorts of cordons and mass detentions deployed against peaceful protesters in Moscow and St. Petersburg in April. Torture, concluded a recent report by Amnesty Internati.onal, is endemic among Russian police. It is often used to extract confessions, but not always: a survey by Russian researchers found that most victims of police violence thought it had been perpetrated for fun. (-- pgs. 55-57)


Quote:
More on 'no-frills' Chechnya tourism at the guardian unlimited.com.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts:
Seventy Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
Translated and Introduced by Magnus J. Krynski and
Robert A. Maguire




Quote:
Report from the Hospital

We drew lots, who would go and see him.
It was me. I got up from our table.
It was almost time for visiting hours.

He said nothing in reply to my greeting.
I tried to take his hand - he pulled it back
like a hungry dog who wouldn't give up a bone.

He seemed ashamed of dying.
I don't know what you say to someone like him.
As in a photomontage, our eyes would not meet.

He didn't ask me to stay or go.
He didn't ask about anyone at our table.
Not about you, Bolek. Not about you, Tolek. Not about you, Lolek.

My head began to ache. Who was dying for whom?
I praised medicine and the three violets in the glass.
I talked about the sun and thought dark thoughts.

How good there's a staircase to run down.
How good there's a gate to be opened.
How good you're all waiting for me at our table.

The smell of a hospital makes me sick.


Quote:
Relacja ze szpitala

Ciagnelismy zapatki, kto ma pojsc do niego.
Wypadto na mnie. Wstatem od stolika.
Zblizata sie juz pora odwiedzin w szpitalu.

Nie odpowiedziat nic na powitanie.
Chciatem go wziac za reke - cofnat ja
jak gtodny pies, co nie da kosci.

Wygladat, jakby sie wstydzit umierac.
Nie wiem, o czym sie mowi takiemu jak on.
Mijalismy sie wzrokiem jak w fotomontazu.

Nie prosit ani zostan, ani odejdz.
Nie pytat o nikogo z naszego stolika.
Ani o ciebie, Bolku. Ani o ciebie, Tolku. ani ociebie, Lolku.

Rozbolata mnie gtowa. Kto komu umiera?
Chwalitem medycyne i trzy fiotki w szklance.
Opowiadatem o stoncu i gastem.

Jak dobrze ze sa schody, ktorymi sie zbiega.
Jak dobrze, ze jest brama, ktora, sie otwiera.
Jak dobrze, ze czekacie na mnie przy stoliku.

Szpitalna won przyprawia mnie o mdtosci.

(From Sto pociech (A Million Laughs, A Bright Hope), 1967, at pgs. 94-95)


More of our favorite lyrical gambles and gamblers from Poland.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wislawa Szymborska
Poems New and Collected
1957-1997
Paperback
Translated from the Polish
by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh




Quote:
THE SUICIDE'S ROOM

I'll bet you think the room was empty.
Wrong. There were three chairs with sturdy backs.
A lamp, good for fighting the dark.
A desk, and on the desk a wallet, some newspapers.
A carefree Buddha and a worried Christ.
Seven lucky elephants, a notebook in a drawer.
You think our addresses weren't in it?

No books, no pictures, no records, you guess?
Wrong. A comforting trumpet poised in black hands.
Saskia and her cordial little flower.
Joy the spark of gods.
Odysseus stretched on the shelf in life-giving sleep
after the labors of Book Five.
The moralists
with the golden syllables of their names
inscribed on finely tanned spines.
Next to them, the politicians braced their backs.

No way out? But what about the door?
No prospects? The window had other views.
His glasses
lay on the windowsill.
And one fly buzzed -- that is, was still alive.

You think at least the note must tell us something.
But what if I say there was no note --
and he had so many friends, but all of us fit neatly
inside the empty envelope propped up against a cup.

(-- p. 167)
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Light of Evening
Hardcover
By Edna O'Brien




Quote:
"The shingles," she answers evasively. Devils, he calls them, his sister Lizzie laid up with them for the best part of a year, crazy from them until the good Lord guided her in the way of the healer. A healer! The beauty of the word a balm. In a mounting astonishment she hears how this man heals with his own blood, pricks his own finger, rubs the blood onto the scab, smears it all over the patient, repeats the procedure after eleven days, and then after the third visit not even a scab, the miracle completed.

"A nice sup of blood he uses up," Buss says and goes on to sing the praises of a man with a vocation, as holy as any priest, a man who would go a hundred miles to help a person and not charge a tosser for it. All his sister was implored upon was not to scrape them, not to itch them, to let the rub, to let the blood do its work. A nicer man he tells her she couold not meet, a lovely house and farm, a lovely wife, applying his gift, a gift that has come down the generations, five generations so far.

"He has never studied, not a paper, not a textbook... the books he reads are the people that come to him," he tells her, adding that he has a special affinity for the old people, knowing how down-and-out they get and with scant sympathy from the young. She is emboldened to ask and Buss says why not and that maybe Providence had sent it their way. (From Part I, Dilly, p. 10)


Quote:
See the story, People over 60 should get shingles vaccine: CDC, Formal recommendation weeks away, says U.S. health regulatory body, Oct. 15/07 at cbc.ca.


Quote:
Mary Angela roaring her guts out and Sheila, who was not a midwife, trying to tend to her. Word had been sent up for a bed in the infirmary, but an answer came back that there was no room, as several people had been struck down with the fever and all the beds were taken. Sheila kept telling her to push, in Jesus' name to push, and the one lamp that had not blown out in the storm swung above her on its metal chain, swinging crazily, back and forth, the bowels of that ship like some inferno. Some prayed, some shouted for the roaring to stop and at the very last minute, when the screaming rent through us, a nurse appeared in a white coat carrying instruments and a bucket and Sheila hung a blanket on the handles of two brooms to serve as a sort of screen. There came then that piercing sound, with life and despair in it, the sound of an infant coming into the world and those who had been praying stopped praying and those who had been cursing stopped cursing, all now ready to rejoice, believing that the birth boded good luck for them. (-- pgs. 32-33)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanity Fair
Magazine Subscription
On the Limits of Self-Improvement, Part I
There's an entire micro-economy based on the pursuit of betterment. The author - 58, full-figured, and ferocious in his consumption of cigarettes and scotch - agreed to test its limits, starting with the executive de-stress treatment at a high-end spa
October, 2007


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More on the fabulous Four Seasons Biltmore Spa Resort in Santa Barbara, Calif.





Quote:
... Viewed from the front when clothed, the subject resembles a burst horsehair sofa cushion or (in the opinion of one of us) a condom hastily stuffed with an old sock. The side perspective is that of an avocado pear and, on certain mornings, an avocado pear that retains nothing of nutritious value but its tinge of alligator green. ... Seen from directly above, the subject has a little more protective cover than some males of his age, but this threatens to become a pile of tobacco-colored strands clumsily coated onto an admittedly large skull. At all times, the subject gives off a scent that resembles that of an illegal assembly, either of people or materials, in the hog wallows of Tennessee or in the more remote and primitive islands of Scotland. He becomes defensive, and sometimes aggressive, when asked about the source of this effluvium. ...

With me a feeling of fitness and well-being
always lends extra zest to the cocktail hour.


Initial Response of Subject

Well, I mean to say, I don't consider myself especially vain, but it was something of a shocker and a facer to read all that at once. I'd noticed a touch of decline here and there, but one puts these things down to Anno Domini and acquirement of seniority. A bit of a stomach gives a chap a position in society. A glass of refreshment, in my view, never hurt anybody. This walking business is overrated: I mastered the art of doing it when I was quite small, and in any case, what are taxis for? Smoking is a vice, I will admit, but one has to have a hobby. Nonetheless, when my friends at this magazine formed up and said they would pay good money to stop having to look at me in my current shape, I agreed to a course of rehabilitation. There now exists a whole micro-economy dedicated to the proposition that a makeover is feasible, or in other words to disprove Scott Fitzgerald's dictum that there are no second acts in American lives. Objectives: to drop down from the current 185 pounds, to improve the "tone" of the skin and muscles, to wheeze less, to enchance the hunched and round-shouldered posture, to give some thought to the hair and fur question (more emphasis perhaps in the right places and less in the wrong ones), to sharpen up the tailoring, to lessen the booze intake, and to make the smile, which currently looks like a handful of mixed nuts, a little less scary to children. (-- pgs. 198-202)


Why PokerPulse cares so much about this gamble:

Wodehouse on Wodehouse
Hardcover


Quote:
More of the 'burbling pixie' wisdom.





Quote:
... I go in for what is known in the trade as light writing', and those who do that - humorists they are sometimes called - are looked down upon by the intelligentsia and sneered at. When I tell you that in a recent issue of the New Yorker I was referred to as 'that burbling pixie', you will see how far the evil has spread.

These things take their toll. You can't go calling a man a burbling pixie without lowering his morale. He frets. He refuses to eat his cereal. He goes about with his hands in his pockets and his lower lip jutting out, kicking stones. The next thing you know, he is writing thoughtful novels analysing social conditions, and you are short another humorist. With things going they way they are, it won't be long before the species dies out. Already what was once a full-throated chorus has faded into a few scattered chirps. You can still hear from the thicket the gay note of the Beachcomber, piping as the linnets do, but at any moment Lord Beaverbrook or somebody may be calling the Beachcomber a burbling pixie and taking all the heart out of him, and then what will the harvest be? (From Over Seventy, Chapter Seven, Some Thoughts on Humorists, pgs. 539-540)


Recent Hitch:

God Is Not Great
How Religion Poisons Everything

Hardcover
By Christopher Hitchens


Quote:
Excellent! Even a 'crackpot fundamentalist' implores volunteers to pray for our man, Hitch!

MORE provocative insights from the excellent compilation, The Portable Atheist.





Quote:
... Steven Hawking is not a believer, and when invited to Rome to meet the late Pope John Paul II asked to be shown the records of the trial of Galileo. But he does speak without embarrassment of the chance of physics "knowing the mind of God," and this now seems quite harmless as a metaphor, as for example when the Beach Boys sing, or I say, "God only knows ..."

Before Charles Darwin revolutionized our entire concept of our origins, and Albert Einstein did the same for the beginnings of our cosmos, many scientists and philosophers and mathematicians took what might be called the default position and professed one or another version of "deism," which held that the order and predictability of the universe seemed indeed to imply a designer, if not necessarily a designer who took any active part in human affairs. This compromise was a logical and rational one for its time and was especially influential among the Philadelphia and Virginia intellectuals, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who managed to seize a moment of crisis and use it to enshrine Englightenment values in the founding documents of the United States of America.

... It is not quite possible to locate the exact moment when men of learning stopped spinning the coin as between a creator and a long complex process, or ceased trying to split the "deistic" difference, but humanity began to grow up a little in the closing decades of the eighteenth century and the opening decades of the nineteenth. ... If one had to ... come up with the exact date on which the conceptual coin came down solidly on one side, it would be the moment when Pierrre-Simon de Laplace was invited to meet Napoleon Bonaparte.

Laplace (1749-1827) was the brilliant French scientist who took the work of Newton a stage further and showed by means of mathematical calculus how the operations of the solar system were those of bodies revolving in a vacuum. ...

... in his childish and demanding and imperious fashion, he (Napoleon) wanted to know why the figure of god did not appear in Laplace's mind-expanding calculations. And there came the cool, lofty and considered response. "Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse." Laplace was to become a marquis and could perhaps more modestly have said, "It works well enough without that idea, Your Majesty." But he simply sated that he didn't need it.

And neither do we. ... (From The Metaphysical Claims of Religion, pgs. 65-67)


... Part II:

Vanity Fair
Magazine Subscription
On the limits of self-improvement, Part II
Continuing his quest for a healthier, more handsome Hitch, the author puts himself in the hands of four experts. Yes, a Brazilian wax was involved.
December, 2007




Quote:
Here's what happens. You have to spread your knees as far apart as they will go, while keeping your feet together. In this "wide stance" position, which is disconcertingly like waiting to have your Pampers changed, you are painted with hot wax, to which strips are successively attached and then torn away. Not once, but many, many times. I had no idea it would be so excruciating. The combined effect was like being tortured for information that you do not possess, with intervals for a (incidentally very costly) sandpaper handjob. The thing is that, in order to rip, you have to grip. A point of leverage is required: a place that can be firmly gripped and pulled while the skin is tautened. Ms. Turlington doesn't have this problem. The businesslike Senhora Padilha daubed away, took a purchase on the only available handhold, and then wrenched again. The impression of being a huge baby was enhanced by the blizzards of talcum powder that followed each searing application. ...

...The total effect, I may tell you, is somewhat bizarre. The furry pelt that is my chest stretches southward over the protuberant savanna that is my stomach, and then turns into a desert region. Below the waist, a waste. I suppose I could have had the whole torso denuded, but then I would have looked even more like a porpoise than I already do. (-- p. 175)


Hitchens update:

Vanity Fair
Magazine Subscription
On the limits of self-improvement, Part III
As his thoughts turned from vanity to mortality, the author found that a gleaming new smile helped him vanquish his deadliest habit. Wrapping up a year-long overhaul, he gets his locks freshly sculpted by Frédéric Fekkai, then tackles the final frontier: exercise
September, 2008




Quote:
The thing is constructed and balanced around a heavy steel wheel that is moved by a series of chains. The hardest way to move the wheel is with your feet, on the rear pedals. The second hardest way is with your arms, using the metal oars at the front. At first I thought that there must be some snake oil involved, but I have since met several good trainers who use the machine mainly or exclusively at their gyms. At the worst, you get your heart rate right up and break a decent sweat. At the best, you lose weight in the bargain. As a compromise, you can look thinner without getting any lighter. This is because - wouldn't you know it? - muscle weighs more than fat. In fact, the ROM people warn you that you may gain a few pounds in the first few months of use. The best I can say is that, even though I had just given up smoking, I didn't add any poundage to my 190 starting weight. ...

So this is the scorecard after almost a year of effort. Weight: the same, only slightly better distributed. Life expectancy: presumably somewhat increased, but who's to say? Smile: no longer frightening to children. Hair and skin: looking less as if harvested from a battlefield cadaver. Nails: a credit to the mail sex. Ennui, Weltschmerz, general bourgeois blues: more palpable and resulting from virtue rather than vice (which somehow makes them worse and harder to bear) but arguably less severe. Overall verdict: some of this you can try at home and some of it you certainly should. (-- p. 258)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Pocket Full of Rye
Hardcover
By Agatha Christie




Quote:
"And the cause of death?"

"There will have to be an autopsy, naturally. Very interesting case. Very interesting indeed. Glad I was able to be in on it."

The professional gusto in Bernsadorff's rich tones told Inspector Neele one thing at least.

"I gather you don't think it was natural death," he said dryly.

"Not a dog's chance of it," said Dr. Bernsdorff robustly. "I'm speaking unofficially, of course," he added with belated caution.

"Of course. Of course. That's understood. He was poisoned?"

"Definitely. And what's more - this is quite unofficial, you understand - just between you and me - I'd be prepared to lay a bet on what the poison was."

"In-deed?"

"Taxine, my boy. Taxine."

"Taxine? Never heard of it."

"I know. Most unusual. Really delightfully unusual! I don't say I'd have spotted it myself if I hadn't had a case only three or four weeks ago. Couple of kids playing dolls' tea-parties - pulled berries off a yew tree and used them for tea."

"Is that what it is? Yew berries?"

"Berries or leaves. Highly poisonous. Taxine, of course, is the alkaloid. Don't think I've heard of a case where it was used deliberately. Really most interesting and unusual ... You've no idea, Neele, how tired one gets of the inevitable weed-killer. Taxine is a real treat. Of course, I may be wrong - don't quote me, for Heaven's sake - but I don't think so. Interesting for you, too, I should think. Varies the routine!" (-- p. 8)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yugoslavia (as it then was)

April Fool's Day
Hardcover
By Josip Novakovich




Quote:
After a while, his fear dissipated. He took one skull with a hole in the pate and carried it home wrapped in newspapers like a watermelon. He hid the skull in the attic, imagining it would work as a ghost-receptacle. The executed man's ghost would visit what remained of his body and would perhaps come out of the skull at night to smoke cigars and sigh with sorrow.

In the evening, while visiting the skull, Ivan lit a cigarette butt he'd found in the gutter, and smoked and coughed. There was no sighing of the ghost, and Ivan felt brave indeed. Maybe there were no ghosts, only souls, and souls went away, to heaven or hell. What would happen in resurrection? He savored the mystery surrounding the skull.

Confident, he took a bet with several boys from his class that he could lie down on the tracks under a passing train. A quarter of an hour before the train was scheduled to pass, he went to the train station and checked the coaches for any metal objects that might hang from it and, finding none, he felt assured enough to lie down on the tracks.

When the train appeared around the curve, it struck him that another coach could have been added, with a metal hook hanging so low that it would crush his skull. He jumped off the tracks into the ditch a second before the train could reach him. The boys laughed at him. Ivan chased them because he hated appearing ridiculous, which made him look all the more ridiculous. (-- p. 5)


An energetic if brutal stomp across the Balkans.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Cold Blood
Paperback
By PokerPulse Top Pick Truman Capote




Quote:
Dewey had watched them die, for he had been among the twenty-odd witnesses invited to the ceremony. He had never attended an execution, and when on the midnight past he entered the cold warehouse, the scenery had surprised him: he had anticipated a setting of suitable dignity, not this bleakly lighted cavern cluttered with lumber and other debris. But the gallows itself, with its two pale nooses attached to a crossbeam, was imposing enough; and so, in an unexpected style was the hangman, who cast a long shadow from his perch on the platform at the top of the wooden instrument's thirteen steps. The hangman, an anonymous, leathery gentleman who had been imported from Missouri for the event, for which he was paid six hundred dollars, was attired in an aged double-breasted pin-striped suit overly commodious for the narrow figure inside it - the coat came nearly to his knees; and on his head he wore a cowboy hat which, when first bought, had perhaps been bright green, but was now a weathered, sweat-stained oddity.

Also, Dewey found the self-consciously casual conversation of his fellow witnesses, as they stood awaiting the start of what one witness termed "the festivities" disconcerting.

"What I heard was, they was gonna let them draw straws to see who dropped first. Or flip a coin. But Smith says why not do it alphabetically. Guess 'cause S comes after H. Ha!" (From Part IV, The Corner, at pgs. 337-338)


In Cold Blood
CD Audio
Narrated by Scott Brick




Poor Brick might have sought coaching for the opening lines by 15th c. French poet Francois Villon but an otherwise easy read.

In Cold Blood
DVD




Chillingly faithful to the author's groundbreaking text documenting the grisly murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas during a failed robbery in which the killers netted less than $40.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Endless Universe
Beyond the Big Bang
Hardcover
By Paul J. Steinhardt
and Neil Turok




Quote:
But in the interim - even now- a schism may be emerging. Many outstanding leaders in cosmology, astrophysics, and string theory, including Andrei Linde, Martin Rees, and Leonard Susskind, have come to believe that the uncontrollable features are essential, to be celebrated rather than tamed. Others, like David Gross, hold firm to the conviction that the current situation is unacceptable and that a better theory must be possible. There is a real conflict developing between the two points of view. For example, after Gross, quoting Winston Churchill, exhorted his colleagues, "Never, never, never, never give up!," Susskind retorted, "But the field of physics is littered with the corpses of stubborn old men who didn't know when to give up." In his opening address at a meeting entitled Expectations of a Final Theory, Weinberg offered an intermediate perspective: "I noticed for sale the October issue of a magazine called Astronomy, having on the cover the headline 'Why You Live in Multiple Universes.' Inside I found a report of a discussion at Stanford at which Martin Rees said that he was sufficiently confident about the multiverse to bet his dog's life on it, while Andrei Linde said he would bet his own life. As for me, I have just enough confidence about the multiverse to bet the lives of both Andrei Linde and Martin Rees's dog." The repartee is chosen to amuse, but behind it lies a serious statement about differing visions of what is and is not valid science and how close scientists are to a final theory today. (From Inflationary Multiverse or Cyclic Universe, p. 241)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

House
Fools for Love
Season 3
DVD




Quote:
Cameron: Whose locker is this?

House (the *lugubriously sexy Hugh Laurie - like a well-hung eel, according to long ago girlfriend Emma Thompson): Mine. Chest, stomach, throat - what does all that mean?

Cameron: We're in the nurses' locker room.

House: (after breaking into a locker, rummaging through its contents) I know that. Oh, that's so annoying. Wilson's girlfriend's left her stuff in my locker again!

Chase: Great. I hadn't committed any felonies yet today.

House. Relax! You know who they're going to blame.

Foreman: House, you want to mess around with Wilson, no problem. But you got no reason to screw around with ...

House: Can we get back to the medicine?

Foreman: OK. Why assume one disease? His chest, her throat ...

House: So it's just a coincidence that they've both got crippling stomach pains? Wow, they really are a great couple. So much in common.

Foreman: Exercise-based anaphylaxis? I think that requires excercise. When her throat closed they'd just done eating. Not even competitive eating.

House: And getting robbed. That always gets my heart rate up. Give her the same food she ate at the diner and stick her on the treadmill.

Foreman: Better yet, put a gun to her head and threaten to rape her.

House: You don't think I'm going to get a response?

Foreman: No.

House: You're on. Fifty bucks.

Foreman: I'm not betting on a patient's ...

House: A hundred bucks. If you say so. One blue shoe. What do you think that means?

Foreman: It means you're insane. Wilson's not dating her.

House: You feeling luckier?

Foreman: It doesn't matter what I answer.

House: Two hundred it is.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wodehouse on Wodehouse
Hardcover




Quote:
I remember you saying once how much you liked the men in your regiment in the last war. It was the same with me when I was an internee. I had friends at Tost in every imaginable walk of life, from Calais dock touts upward, and they were one and all the salt of the earth. A patrol of Boy Scouts couldn't have been kinder than they were to me. I was snowed under with obligations. I remember once when I broke the crystal of my watch and seemed likely to have to abandon the thing as a total loss, which would have been a devastating tragedy, one of the fellows gave up the whole afternoon to making a case for it, out of an old tube of tooth paste, while another gave me a bit of string, roughly equivalent in value in camp to a diamond necklace, which I could use as a chain; and a third donated a button, which he could ill spare, to string the string on.

Whenever my bed broke down, somebody always rallied round with wedges. (You drive the wedges in at the end of the planks. Then they don't suddenly shift in the night and let you down with a bump.) When I strained a tendon in my leg, along came Sergeant-Major Fletcher night after night, when he might have been playing darts, to give me massage.

I was so touched by this that I broke into verse on the subject. As follows:

I used to wobble in my walk
Like one who has a jag or bend on;
It caused, of course, a lot of talk,
But really I had strained a tendon.
And just as I was feeling I
Would need a crutch or else a stretcher.
A kindly friend said: 'Why not try
A course of rubs from J. J. Fletcher?'
He gave me massage day by day
Till I grew lissome, lithe and supple,
And no one now is heard to say,
'Avoid that man. He's had a couple.'
And so with gratitude profound
I shout 'Three cheers for good old Fletcher.
He is the man to have around
When legs get out of joint, you betcher.
Fletcher,
I'm glad I metcher'.

Silly, of course, but that's how it goes. (From Performing Flea, pgs. 352-353)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks
Hardcover
By Frostback Robertson Davies, alter ego of
humorist Samuel Marchbanks




Quote:
OF HIS ALLERGIES

I delivered my body into the hands of Learned Physicians this morning confiding that they may discover why I have hay fever. As soon as they got me out of my clothes I ceased to be a man to them, and they began to talk about me as though I did not understand English. "My guess is that his heart is too small," said the 1st L.P. "I've read some of this stuff, and I'll bet his heart is a little shrivelled black thing, like a prune," said the 2nd L.P. Whereupon they whisked me into a dark room, and made me stand in a machine that revealed my heart, which they observed with unflattering interest. Then they handed me over to a young woman who removed blood from me and sent me on errands which modesty forbids me to specify in detail. Then the Learned Physicians got me again, and poked tickly things up my nose and peeped down my throat, and wrote cryptic notes on pads. At last I was released, completely demoralized, and sent to a technician whose job it was to test me for allergies.

I was fastened in a chair with thongs, and various substances were brought to me. First of all, a vacuum cleaner was emptied right under my nose, and I sneezed. "Allergic to House Dust," wrote the clinician. Next a flock of geese waddled by, under the care of a pretty Goose Girl. "Kerchoo!" cried I. "Allergic to Goose Feathers," was the comment. Then a farmer rushed in, carrying a truss of weeds ("truss" in the sense of "bundle," of course, and not one of those light-weight, comfortable affairs you see advertised in magazines) which he brandished in my face. "Allergic to English Cockleburr, Golden Rod, and Old Man's Nuisance," wrote the clinician, as I nearly burst my bonds asunder with sneezing. The next thing to parade past me was a beautiful girl in a lowcut evening gown, which I blew off with my sneezes. "Allergic to Musk and Orris Root," was the notation. And so it went until I was completely exhausted, and I didn't miss a single allergy. I am allergic to everything, it seems. Why, when I looked in the mirror this evening, I sneezed violently. (From The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks, p. 343-44)


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Empire of Blue Water
Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army,
the Epic Battle for the Americas,
and the Catastrophe
That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign

Hardcover
By Stephan Talty




Quote:
The freed captains and their squadron made their way down to a settlement called Dos Brazos and perched along the tree line, waiting in ambush. They were expecting a force the same size that had attacked San Lorenzo, about 400 men. When the first canoes appeared on the river, the Panamanians checked their powder and prepared a surprise barrage. But then more canoes appeared, buccaneers hanging over the sides, and then small boats, and then more canoes. The vessels kept coming, an endless line of grizzled men with shiny muskets. The buccaneer army was almost four times the size of what the captains had been expecting. They wished to clear their names, but the odds of four-to-one against Henry Morgan were a dead man's bet. Instead of opening up on the English devils, the Spanish watched as a party of Morgan's men beached their canoes, foraged among the abandoned huts, and stretched their legs onshore. The lazy privateers were easily within musket range, and they were open to attack. The Spanish gaped as some of the men even lay down on the banks and fell asleep, while others sat smoking a pipe of tobacco. The Spanish sharpshooters fingered their triggers, but the names of Morgan's victories echoed in the captains' minds: Granada, Portobelo, Maracaibo. They held their fire. (From The Isthmus, p. 221)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Fleeting Sorrow
Hardcover
By Francoise Sagan
Translated from the French by Arcade Publishing
President Richard Seaver




Quote:
... How could he be an adult when all he wanted was to be eleven years old again, to rush into the room of his parents - both dead, unfortunately - and beg for their help? They were the only ones who could tell him not to pay any attention to what the silly doctor had said, to reassure him that it was utter nonsense, that everything was going to be all right. They alone could have turned his world right side up again, sent him back to his bedroom completely reassured, that adolescent bedroom where nobody ever died. Later on, Paul would reproach himself for having first thought of his dear, departed parents rather than of the women in his life, who were alive and well. But when he thought about it, that instinctive choice did not really surprise him all that much. He had always known how strong his ties to childhood were, much stronger in fact than those he had forged as an adult.

And once again he had seen the proof of that basic truth: only his parents would have found it scandalous, totally unacceptable, that their son should die of cancer at age forty. The rest of the world would find it normal. The way of the world. The luck of the draw. His friends and relations were going to find sad, even very sad, a pity, most unfortunate, or stupid. But no one would think about his death the way he and his parents would: unthinkable. (From I, pgs. 6-7)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Passionate Minds
The great love affair of the Englightenment, featuring the scientist Émilie du Châtelet, the poet Voltaire, sword fights, book burnings, assorted kings, seditious verse, and the birth of the modern world
Hardcover
By David Bodanis




Quote:
When she (Emilie) finally did tell Votaire (that she was pregnant), around January 1, he understood why she'd insisted they come to Cirey. Even if gossip was spreading that Saint-Lambert had been her lover, she and her husband had to at least make it seem plausible that Florent-Claude was the father of any living child she had. That was the only way to guarantee that the du Chatelet and de Breteuil inheritances stayed within the family. (Abortion would only have been considered as a desperate resort, for the ergot or other potions used for this purpose were highly dose-sensitive: too little and there was no effect, too much and fatal uterine bleeding would result.) (From Chapter 25, Pregnancy, p. 266)


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