Archive for October, 2016
31 Oct 2016

2016 “I Voted” Stickers

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31 Oct 2016

Halloween Music: Camille Saint-Saens, Danse Macabre

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31 Oct 2016

M.R. James, the Greatest Writer of Ghost Stories

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M.R. James, 1862-1936

For Halloween, Neil Clark offers an introduction to the Antiquarian Ghost Stories of M.R. James:

James died 80 years ago, in June 1936, just three years before the outbreak of World War II. Barring three that appeared in magazines later, all his ghost stories were published in one collection in 1931. And what a volume it is! “Do I believe in ghosts?” James asks in the introduction. “To which I answer that I am prepared to consider evidence and accept it if it satisfies me.”

Montague Rhodes James was the son of an Anglican curate and educated at Eton, England’s most prestigious public school, and King’s College Cambridge, where he studied classics. He didn’t stray too far from these two historic educational institutions in his adult life. He spent 36 years living at King’s, where he was at various points dean, tutor, and then provost. When he was in his mid-fifties, he accepted the provostship of Eton.

It’s been claimed that what James was really terrified of was not ghosts and ghouls but progress. His stories, we’re told, are all about keeping the modern world at bay.

Well, James was a medievalist, paleographer, and biblical scholar, so it’s reasonable to assume he had a particular affinity for the past. But 21st-century hipsters who pass on him because they believe James is too old-fashioned for the iPhone age and consequently has nothing to say to us are missing something really special.

While he may have spent most of his life in a cloistered environment, James was anything but blinkered. He traveled extensively—by bicycle—in Britain and in Europe. The man who became the world’s leading authority on Apocryphal literature and who claimed to have visited all but two of the cathedrals in France was interested in new things too—in his final days his sister Grace revealed that he took great delight in “a radio-gramophone of the latest type,” which his friends had bought him.

Monty James was a convivial sort, as pipe-smokers usually are, and seems to have got on well with almost everybody. His stories are often disturbing, but James himself, despite later claims that he was a repressed homosexual, seems to have been a cheerful soul. He possessed a good sense of humor and was still chuckling away even when he was dying of cancer. He took a lot of things seriously, but, most importantly, not himself. “Do you know, I have written an immense deal of stuff and find myself almost incurably frivolous,” he said in his later life.

Many of James’s stories were first told to his pupils and students, who adored him, in front of a roaring log fire in his study at the old Provost’s Lodge at King’s.

The Encyclopedia of Horror tells us that James established three simple rules for his ghost stories.

Firstly, the ghosts had to be evil. If you want comical spirits who make us laugh, then James is not your man—try H.G. Wells’s The Inexperienced Ghost or just watch Ghostbusters. “Must there be horror? you ask. I think so … you must have horror and also malevolence,” James wrote in 1931.

Secondly, there had to be no “unnecessary occult verbiage” by way of explanation. James’s second name was Rhodes, but the “R” could equally have stood for reticence, which he believed was “not less necessary” an ingredient than horror and malevolence.

Finally, the stories had to be set in everyday surroundings so that the reader believes the same thing could happen to him. Most of James’s hauntings take place in the recent past. “It cannot be said too often that the more remote in time the ghost is the harder it is to make him effective,” James explained.

Read the whole thing.

A sample story: Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad

31 Oct 2016

Email Scandal Reopened

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30 Oct 2016

Twilight of the Clintons

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30 Oct 2016

Halloween Art

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Alfred Rethel, Der Tod als Würger [Death, the Strangler], 1847.

30 Oct 2016

Uh Oh!

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I heard both Weiner and Comey died in an auto accident tomorrow.

30 Oct 2016

Hitler Learns That Comey Has Re-Opened the Email Investigation

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30 Oct 2016

October Surprise

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29 Oct 2016

Thank You, Famous Actors!

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29 Oct 2016

Tweet of the Day

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29 Oct 2016

Erika Christakis Looks Back Ruefully

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Nicholas Christakis ordered by Shrieking Student to resign.

A year later, Erika Christakis discusses how her one little email questioning the appropriateness of an official stance on Halloween costumes brought the full wrath of the snowflakes of color down upon her own and her husband’s heads, and drove them out of their cushy jobs at one of the grandest universities in the land, while all the while the Yale Administration stood by telling the world it was affirming free speech rights by washing its hands.

Nearly a thousand students, faculty and deans called for my and my husband’s immediate removal from our jobs and campus home. Some demanded not only apologies for any unintended racial insensitivity (which we gladly offered) but also a complete disavowal of my ideas (which we did not) — as well as advance warning of my appearances in the dining hall so that students accusing me of fostering violence wouldn’t be disturbed by the sight of me.

Not everyone bought this narrative, but few spoke up. And who can blame them? Numerous professors, including those at Yale’s top-rated law school, contacted us personally to say that it was too risky to speak their minds. Others who generously supported us publicly were admonished by colleagues for vouching for our characters. Many students met with us confidentially to describe intimidation and accusations of being a “race traitor” when they deviated from the ascendant campus account that I had grievously injured the community. The Yale Daily News evidently felt obliged to play down key facts in its reporting, including about the two-hour-plus confrontation with a crowd of more than 100 students in which several made verbal and physical threats to my husband while four Yale deans and administrators looked on.

One professor I admire claimed my lone email was so threatening that it unraveled decades of her work supporting students of color. One email. In this unhealthy climate, of which I’ve detailed only a fraction of the episodes, it’s unsurprising that our own attempts at emotional repair fell flat. …

[T]he concept of campus civility now requires adherence to specific ideology — not only commitment to respectful dialogue. …

Certain members of the community used me and my family as tinder for a mass emotional conflagration by refusing to state the obvious: that the content of my albeit imperfect message fell squarely within the parameters of normal discourse and might even have been worth considering on its merits as an adjunct to prevailing campus orthodoxy. There was no official recognition that the calls to have us fired could be seen as illiberal or censorious. By affirming only the narrow right to air my views, rather than helping the community to grapple with its intense response, an unfortunate message was made plain: Certain ideas are too dangerous to be heard at Yale.

Read the whole thing.

Yet despite everything that has happened, I suspect Mrs. Christakis will continue to support “Diversity,” will continue to vote for democrats, and will remain a proper bien pensant with no enemies to the Left on any other occasion.

28 Oct 2016

Bad News for The Donald!

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NewsThump reports: Destruction of Walk Of Fame star leaves Donald Trump down to his last six Horcruxes.

Stabbing a copy of The Art Of The Deal with a Basilisk’s tooth is the next step to eliminating Donald Trump, according to experts this morning.

Donald Trump howled in agony and demanded a flask of serpent’s milk to help him recover some strength after the destruction of his first Horcrux on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame yesterday.

Trump, whose unusually-styled hair is believed to hide a face on the back of his head, is understood to have concealed fragments of his soul in multiple receptacles in an attempt to protect himself from defeat in the forthcoming election….

Read the whole thing.

28 Oct 2016

Monochrome Image

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