Blue Black Sky (2003) – David Bridie

David bridie hotel radio

Blue Back Sky comes from Australian singer-songwriter David Bridie’s record Hotel Radio. It’s almost certain you haven’t heard of this 2003 record. There isn’t even a wikipage about it, but most of the songs from this record will feature in this music library project. I watched him perform live many of these songs and I listen to them regularly.

David is someone I’d class as a songwriting puritan. He doesn’t try to appease the masses by making formulaic commercial music, instead he does what appeals to his senses. You could say his music is very atmospheric and experimental. So it comes as no surprise he’s a composer of soundtrack music, with credits for over 100 feature films.

Like the majority of songs on this album, today’s song Blue Back Sky is very introspective and dreamlike. As a listener I just enjoy letting the images and music wash over me and see where it takes me. If you would like a more comprehensive description of my penchant for the music of David Bridie and his bio you can visit this post: A Midlife’s Tale – My Friend the Chocolate Cake (David Bridie)

Stay at home
Alone with your family and all that you own
Watch her play
She’s making the world up the best part of the day

The piano boy slumped forward head looking low
The bottom notes they ring out still nobody knows
He loses himself in his crouching pose till they’re gone
And nobody is listening, nobody’s listening.

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American Movie (1999) – Chris Smith (Friday’s Finest)

American movie

Hmm, well… technically American Movie isn’t a movie, rather it’s a documentary about a movie that was made. Audiences could be forgiven thinking it’s a ‘mockumentary’ in the style of ‘Spinal Tap‘, but no folks I’m afraid this story is actually real. Perhaps you can remember one time when you were young and held your Dad’s JVC video camera and went about trying to make an actual short film encasing all the cool things you’d seen in cinema. My brother and I did that replicating the Mr Miyagi training scenes in the original Karate Kid film. Well now picture yourself, 15 (or so) years older trying to do the same thing, but this time to ‘wow’ actual audiences in a real cinema by making a real film. Voila – you have American Movie.

IMDB Storyline: On the northwest side of Milwaukee, Mark Borchardt dreams the American dream: for him, it’s making movies. Using relatives, local theater talent, slacker friends, his Mastercard, and $3,000 from his Uncle Bill, Mark strives over three years to finish “Coven,” a short horror film. His own personal demons (alcohol, gambling, a dysfunctional family) plague him, but he desperately wants to overcome self-doubt and avoid failure. In moments of reflection, Mark sees his story as quintessentially American, and its the nature and nuance of his dream that this film explores.

Any movie aficionado should see this film just to grasp the lengths an amateur film buff goes to, to realise his dreams of being a fully fledged filmmaker. Allow me to digress – referring to his film Inside Llewyn Davis, Ethan Coen once said: “It’s more interesting for me as an audience member to see a movie about a loser“.  So if you find that the case, then you will salivate when you see American Movie. Although looking on the positive side Mark Borchardt who is the aficionado filmmaker in American Movie is not entirely distasteful because at least he’s chasing the American Dream. His passion for the industry despite whatever personal impediments or suspect lifestyle choices he makes; he remains an interesting subject to observe – to say the least.

It’s a no-brainer documentary, but an entertaining one. I’ve watched it multiple times and never get bored. Underneath I admire the guy and his dogged tenacity. He’s the least greatest specimen (if I can say that) which makes him so interesting. Its duplicity is jarring because its simultaneously a very funny and sad film.  Like Don Quixote, American Movie presents an often-ignored inefficient aspect of freedom — that people will be drawn toward professions to which they are not particularly well-suited, irrespective of repeated failure.

I don’t normally do this, but below is the trailer of the film which I don’t think detracts from anyone’s enjoyment of wanting to see it because the documentary contains so much more nuance.

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Blow Up The Pokies (2000)- The Whitlams

the whitlams

Blow Up the Pokies is a protest song about the misery and destruction of Australia’s poker machines. In the US, they’re called slot machines, in the UK; fruit machines. Back in the 1990’s Tim Freedman – the lead singer of The Whitlams performed most of his music in pubs before he was famous. He wasn’t even familiar with poker machines before they were allowed into pubs in New South Wales in 1997. Soon stages, bars and dining areas were removed to make space for more poker machines. Essentially the golden goose had arrived and the musicians were thrown out.

What really upset Freedman was seeing two close friends whose lives were unravelling because of poker machine gambling. One of whom was former band member Andy Lewis who was having plenty of trouble financially because of the pokies and eventually took his own life. Freedman says. “It was aggravating me. So I wrote a song about it – a little story about sitting [at a pub] down the road and seeing my friend play the pokies where we used to play music.” So he released Blow Up the Pokies in 2000. The song tells the story of a failing father locked in a “secret battle” with poker machines that were allowed in the first place so the government could say “the trains run on time”.

It’s a really catchy melody and has hard hitting lyrics. I loved it from the very first moment I heard it. Blow Up the Pokies peaked at #21 on the charts, and propelled the Whitlams on to a national tour. Ironically, many of the packed-out halls they were booked to play were in large clubs housing hundreds of poker machines. “I felt like a Trojan horse,” Freedman says. In January 2018, as part of Triple M‘s “Ozzest 100”, the ‘most Australian’ songs of all time, “Blow Up The Pokies” was ranked number 84.

” And I wish, I wish I knew the right words
To make you feel better
Walk out of this place
Defeat them in your secret battle
Show them you can be your own man again ”

“And I wish, I wish I knew the right words
To blow up the Pokies and
Drag them away
‘Cause they’re taking the food off your table
So they can say that the trains run on time “

1. The Guardian – Blow up the pokies: the misery and destruction of Australia’s poker machines
2. Blow up the Pokies – Wikipedia

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The Story of an Impertinent Curiosity (Part 2) – Don Quixote

The nosy and impertinent Husband

This week in Wednesday’s literature piece we continue with Miguel De Cervantes
The Story of an Impertinent Curiosity‘ Part 2 (Chapter XXXIV). The story tells of a man Anselmo who depends entirely on tested experience as a way to determine truth. In Chapter 33 we read how Anselmo confessed to his friend Lotario that he felt an anxiety, a distress, he even called it an insanity (locura): ‘The desire which weighs me down is my wondering whether or not Camila, my wife, is as good and perfect as I imagine her to be, and I cannot verify this truth except by testing her with such a test as to make manifest the purity of her goodness, just as fire reveals whether gold contains alloys’. In short, the good reputation of Camila was not enough without anyone ever having tempted her, and Anselmo has chosen Lotario ‘to undertake this battle of love’.  

Lothario says that “the enterprise itself is downright madness.”He protests at length presenting a variety of classical, logical and moral arguments including examples from the Bible, nature, poetry and even military life. He considers it impertinent ‘unwise’ to test Camila if Anselmo already considers her to be reserved, selfless, honest and prudent. He even quotes from a poem ‘The Tears of San Pedro (Peter)’ to reveal the Apostle’s shame and underscore a Christian’s obligation to do the right thing even when there are no witnesses. What was St Peter ashamed about? He denied Christ 3 times. Lotario concludes, ‘You can find another means of achieving your disgrace and misfortune; I will not be that instrument’.

Anselmo even admits that he is sick, but begs Lotario to help him, at which point Lotario agrees, but with the idea of pretending. So Anselmo supplies his friend with money and jewelry to facilitate the seduction and he fabricates the indispensability of his absence in order to leave Lotario alone with Camila. But Lotario does nothing when left alone with Camila. He plants his elbow on the arm of a chair and his cheek on the palm of his hand. He lies to his friend telling him he is trying to seduce Camila as would the devil, ‘the angel of light, who being himself but of darkness, masquerades behind virtuous appearances’. In reality he passes time with her without uttering a single word. When Lotario tells Anselmo that Camila declines his advances, Anselmo doubles down giving his friend 4 thousand gold escudos in order to buy jewelry in which to tempt her. But one day Anselmo hides in a chamber and peers through the lock. He realises that it has all been fiction and lies.

When Anselmo confronts Lotario again, Lotario then yields agreeing to start over in earnest. Anselmo again then arranges to be absent and leaves town to make the seduction easier, Lotario contemplates one by one all the extremes of grace and beauty that Camila possessed which were enough to enamor a marble statue much less a heart of human flesh. In the end the beauty and grace of Camila brought Lotario’s loyalty back down to earth. He has truly fallen in love with Camilla and begins to express his love to his friend’s wife.

Camilla soon writes letters urging Anselmo to return. Chapter 34 begins with one such letter:

CHAPTER XXXIV: Wherein is prosecuted the History of the Curious-Impertinent

‘“Even as it is commonly said, that an army seems not well without a general, or a castle without a constable, so do I affirm, that it is much more indecent to see a young married woman without her husband, when he is not justly detained away by necessary affairs. I find myself so ill disposed in your absence, and so impatient and impotent to endure it longer, as, if you do not speedily return, I shall be constrained to return back unto my father, although I should leave your house without any keeping; for the guard you appointed for me, if it be so that he may deserve that title, looks more, I believe, to his own pleasure, than to that which concerns you. Therefore, seeing you have wit enough, I will say no more; nor ought I say more in reason.”

‘Anselmo received the letter, and by it understood that Lothario had begun the enterprise, and that Camilla had answered to him according as he had hoped. And, marvellous glad at the news, he answered his wife by word of mouth, that she should not remove in any wise from her house; for he would return with all speed. Camilla was greatly admired at his answer, which struck her into a greater perplexity than she was at the first, being afraid to stay at home, and also to go to her father. For by staying she endangers her honesty; by going she would transgress her husband’s  command. At last she resolved to do that which was worst, which was to remain at home, and not to shun Lothario’s  presence, lest she should give her servants occasion of suspicion. And now she was grieved to have written what she did to her husband, fearful lest he should think that Lothario had noted in her some token of lightness, which might have moved him to lose the respect which otherwise was due unto her. But, confident in her innocency, she cast her hopes in God and her good thoughts, wherewithal she thought to resist all Lothario’s  words, and by holding her silent without making him any answer, without giving any further account of the matter to her husband, lest thereby she might plunge him in new difficulties and contention with his friend, and did therefore bethink her how she might excuse Lothario to Anselmo, when he should demand the occasion that moved her to write unto him that letter.

‘With these more honest than profitable or discreet resolutions, she gave ear the second day to Lothario, who charged her with such resolution, as her constancy began to stagger, and her honesty had enough to do recurring to her eyes to contain them, lest they should give any demonstration of the amorous compassion which Lothario’s  words and tears had stirred in her breast. Lothario noted all this, and it inflamed him the more. Finally, he thought that it was requisite [to] the time and leisure which Anselmo’s  absence afforded him, to lay closer siege to that fortress; and so he assaulted her presumptuously, with the praises of her beauty, for there is nothing which with such facility doth rend and raze to the ground the proudly-crested turrets of women’s  vanity, than the same vanity being dilated on by the tongue of adulation and flattery. To be brief, he did with all diligence undermine the rock of her integrity with so warlike engines, as although Camilla were made of brass, yet would she be overthrown, for Lothario wept, entreated, promised, flattered, persisted and feigned so feelingly, and with such tokens of truth, as, traversing Camilla’s  care of her honour, he came in the end to triumph over that which was least suspected, and he most desired; for she rendered herself— even Camilla rendered herself. But what wonder if Lothario’s  amity could not stand on foot? A clear example, plainly demonstrating that the amorous passion is only vanquished by shunning it, and that nobody ought to adventure to wrestle with so strong an adversary; for heavenly forces are necessary for him that would confront the violence of that passion, although human. None but Leonela knew the weakness of her lady, for from her the two bad friends and new lovers could not conceal the matter; nor yet would Lothario discover to Camilla her husband’s  pretence, or that he had given him wittingly the opportunity whereby he arrived to that pass, because she should not imagine that he had gotten her lightly, and by chance, and did not purposely solicit her.

‘A few days after, Anselmo arrived to his house, and did not perceive what wanted therein, to wit, that which it had lost, and he most esteemed. From thence he went to see his friend Lothario, whom he found at home, and, embracing one another, he demanded of him the news of his life or of his death. “The news which I can give thee, friend Anselmo,” quoth Lothario, “are, that thou has a wife who may deservedly be the example and garland of all good women. The words that I spoke unto her were spent on the air, my proffers contemned, and my gifts repulsed, and besides, she hath mocked me notably for certain feigned tears that I did shed. In resolution, even as Camilla is the pattern of all beauty, so is she a treasury wherein modesty resides, courtesy and wariness dwell, and all the other virtues that may beautify an honourable woman, or make her fortunate. Therefore, friend, take back thy money, for here it is ready, and I never had occasion to employ it; for Camilla’s  integrity cannot be subdued with so base things as are gifts and promises. And, Anselmo, content thyself now with the proofs made already, without attempting to make any further trial. And seeing thou hast passed over the sea of difficulties and suspicions with a dry foot, which may and are wont to be had of women, do not eftsoons enter into the profound depths of new inconveniences, nor take thou any other pilot to make experience of the goodness and strength of the vessel that Heaven hath allotted to thee, to pass therein through the seas of this world; but make account that thou art harboured in a safe haven, and there hold thyself fast with the anchor of good consideration, and so rest thee until death come to demand his debt, from the payment whereof no nobility or privilege whatsoever can exempt us.” Anselmo rested singularly satisfied at Lothario’s  discourse, and did believe it as firmly as if it were delivered by an oracle; but did entreat him notwithstanding to prosecute his attempt, although it were only done for curiosity, and to pass away the time; yet not to use so efficacious means as he hitherto practised; and that he only desired him to write some verses in her praise under the name of Chloris, for he would make Camilla believe that he was enamoured on a certain lady, to whom he did appropriate that name, that he might celebrate her praises with the respect due to her honour; and that if he would not take the pains to invent them, then he himself would willingly compose them. “That is not needful,” quoth Lothario, “for the Muses are not so alienated from me, but that they visit me sometimes in the year. Tell you unto Camilla what you have divined of my loves, and as for the verses, I will make them myself; if not so well as the subject deserves, yet at the least as artificially as I may devise them.” The impertinent-curious man and his treacherous friend having thus agreed, and Anselmo returned to his house, he demanded of Camilla that which she marvelled he had not asked before, that she should tell unto him the occasion why she sent unto him the letter? Camilla made answer, because it seemed unto her that Lothario beheld her somewhat more immodestly than when he was at home; but that now she did again dissuade herself, and believed that it was but a light surmise, without any ground, because that she perceived Lothario to loathe her presence, or [to] be by any means alone with her. Anselmo told her that she might very well live secure for him, for that he knew Lothario’s  affections were bestowed elsewhere, and that upon one of the noblest damsels of the city, whose praises he solemnized under the name of Chloris, and that although he were not, yet was there no cause to doubt of Lothario’s  virtue, or the amity that was between them both. Here, if Camilla had not been premonished by Lothario that the love of Chloris was but feigned, and that he himself had told it to Anselmo to blind him, that he might with less difficulty celebrate her own praises under the name of Chloris, she had without doubt fallen into the desperate toils of jealousy; but being already advertised, she posted over that assault lightly. The day following, they three sitting together at dinner, Anselmo requested Lothario to repeat some one of the verses that he had made to his beloved Chloris; for, seeing that Camilla knew her not, he might boldly say what he pleased. “Although she knew her,” quoth Lothario, “yet would I not therefore suppress any part of her praises. For when any lover praiseth his lady for her beauty, and doth withal tax her of cruelty, her credit incurs no danger. But befall what it list, I composed yesterday a sonnet of the ingratitude of Chloris, and is this ensuing:

“‘A SONNET.       

“ ‘Amidst the silence of the darkest night,
        When sweetest sleep invadeth mortal eyes;
    I poor account, to Heaven and Chloris bright,
        Give of the richest harms, which ever rise.
        And at the time we Phoebus may devise,
    Shine through the roseal gates of the Orient bright,
        With deep accents and sighs, in wonted guise,
    I do my plaints renew, with main and might.
        And when the sun, down from his starry seat,
    Directest rays toward the earth doth send,
        My sighs I double and my sad regret;
    And night returns; but of my woes no end.
        For I find always, in my mortal strife,
        Heaven without ears, and Chloris likewise deaf.’”

‘Camilla liked the sonnet very well, but Anselmo best of all; for he praised it, and said, that the lady must be very cruel that would not answer such perspicuous truths with reciprocal affection. But then Camilla answered, “Why, then, belike, all that which enamoured poets say is true?” “Inasmuch as poets,” quoth Lothario, “they say not truth; but as they are enamoured, they remain as short as they are true.” “That is questionless,” quoth Anselmo, all to underprop and give Lothario more credit with Camilla, who was as careless of the cause (her husband said so) as she was enamoured of Lothario; and therefore with the delight she took in his compositions, but chiefly knowing that his desires and labours were addressed to herself, who was the true Chloris, she entreated him to repeat some other sonnet or ditty, if he remembered any. “Yes, that I do,” quoth Lothario; “but I believe that it is not so good as the first, as you may well judge; for it is this:

“‘A SONNET.       

“ ‘I die, and if I cannot be believed,
        My death’s  most certain, as it is more sure
    To see me, at thy feet, of life deprived;
        Rather than grieve, this thraldom to endure.
        Well may I (in oblivious shades obscure)
    Of glory, life, and favour be denied.
        And yet even there, shall in my bosom pure,
    The shape of thy fair face, engraved, be eyed.
        For that’s  a relic, which I do reserve
    For the last trances my contentions threaten,
        Which ‘midst thy rigour doth itself preserve.
    O woe’s  the wight, that is by tempests beaten
        By night, in unknown seas, in danger rife
        For want of North, or haven, to lose his life.’”

‘Anselmo commended also this second sonnet as he had done the first, and added by that means one link to another in the chain wherewith he entangled himself, and forged his own dishonour; seeing, when Lothario dishonoured him most of all, he said unto him then that he honoured him most. And herewithal Camilla made all the links, that verily served only to abase her down to the centre of contempt, seem to mount her in her husband’s  opinion up to the height of virtue and good fame.

‘It befel soon after, that Camilla, finding herself alone with her maiden, said to her, “I am ashamed, friend Leonela, to see how little I knew to value myself, seeing that I made not Lothario spend some time at least in the purchasing the whole possession of me, which I, with a prompt will, bestowed upon him speedily. I fear me that he will impute my hastiness to lightness, without considering the force he used towards me, which wholly hindered and disabled my resistance.” “Let not that afflict you, madam,” quoth Leonela; “for it is no sufficient cause to diminish estimation, that be given quickly which is to be given, if that in effect be good that is given, and be in itself worthy of estimation; for it is an old proverb, ‘that he that gives quickly, gives twice.’” “It is also said as well,” quoth Camilla, “‘that that which costeth little is less esteemed.’” “That reason hath no place in you,” quoth Leonela, “forasmuch as love, according as some have said of it, doth sometimes fly, other times it goes; it runs with this man, and goes leisurely with the other; it makes some key-cold, and inflames others; some it wounds, and some it kills; it begins the career of his desires in an instant, and in the very same it concludes it likewise. It is wont to lay siege to the fortress in the morning, and at night it makes it to yield, for there’s  no force able to resist it; which being so, what do you wonder? or what is it that you fear, if the same hath befallen Lothario, seeing that love made of my lord’s  absence an instrument to vanquish us? And it was forcible, that in it we should conclude on it which love had before determined, without giving time itself any time to lead Anselmo that he might return, and with his presence leave the work imperfect. For love hath none so officious or better a minister to execute his desires than is occasion. It serves itself of occasion in all his act, but most of all at the beginning. And all this that I have said I know rather by experience than hearsay, as I will some day let you to understand; for, madam, I am likewise made of flesh and lusty young blood. And as for you, Lady Camilla, you did not give up and yield yourself presently, but stayed until you had first seen in Lothario’s  eyes, his sighs, in his discourses, in his promises, and gifts, all his soul, in which, and in his perfections, you might read how worthy he is to be loved. And seeing this is so, let not these scruples and nice thoughts assault or further disturb your mind, but persuade yourself that Lothario esteems you as much as you do him, and lives with content and satisfaction, seeing that it was your fortune to fall into the amorous snare, that it was his good luck to catch you with his valour and deserts; who not only hath the four S’s  which they say every good lover ought to have, but also the whole A B C, which if you will not credit, do but listen to me a while, and I will repeat it to you by rote. He is, as it seems, and as far as I can judge, Amiable, Bountiful, Courteous, Dutiful, Enamoured, Firm, Gallant, Honourable, Illustrious, Loyal, Mild, Noble, Honest, Prudent, Quiet, Rich, and the S’s  which they say; and besides True, Valorous. The X doth not quader well with him, because it sounds harshly. Y he is Young, and the Z he is Zealous of thine honour.” Camilla laughed at her maiden’s  A B C, and accounted her to be more practised in love-matters than she herself had confessed, as indeed she was; for then she revealed to her mistress how she and a certain young man, well-born, of the city, did treat of love one with another. Hereat her mistress was not a little troubled in mind, fearing that her honour might be greatly endangered by that means; she demanded whether her affection had passed further than words? And the maid answered very shamelessly and freely that they did; for it is most certain, that this kind of reccheless mistress do also make their maidens careless and impudent; who, when they perceive their ladies to falter, are commonly wont to halt likewise themselves, and care not that the world do know it.

‘Camilla, seeing that error past remedy, could do no more but entreat Leonela not to reveal anything of their affairs to him she said was her sweetheart, and that she should handle her matters discreetly and secretly, lest they might come to Anselmo or Lothario’s  notice. Leonela promised to perform her will, but did accomplish her promise in such sort, as she did confirm Camilla’s  fears that she should lose her credit by her means. For the dishonest and bold girl, after she had perceived that her mistress’ proceedings were not such as they were wont, grew so hardy, as she gave entrance and brought her lover into her master’s  house, presuming that, although her lady knew it, yet would she not dare to discover it. For this among other harms follows the sins of mistresses, that it makes them slaves to their own servants, and doth oblige them to conceal their dishonest and base proceedings, as it fell out in Camilla, who, although she espied Leonela, not once only, but sundry times together, with her lover in a certain chamber of the house, she not only dared not to rebuke her for it, but rather gave her opportunity to hide him, and would remove all occasion out of her husband’s  way, whereby he might suspect any such thing.

‘But all could not hinder Lothario from espying him once, as he departed out of the house at the break of the day; who, not knowing him, thought at the first it was a spirit, but when he saw him post away, and cast his cloak over his face, lest he should be known, he, abandoning his simple surmise, fell into a new suspicion which had overthrown them all, were it not that Camilla did remedy it. For Lothario thought that he whom he had seen issue out of Anselmo’s  house at so unseasonable an hour, had not entered into it for Leonela’s  sake, nor did he remember then that there was such a one as Leonela in the world, but only thought that, as Camilla was lightly gotten by him, so belike she was won by some other. For the wickedness of a bad woman bringeth usually all these additions, that she loseth her reputation even with him, to whom prayed and persuaded she yieldeth herself; and he believeth that she will as easily, or with more facility, consent to others, and doth infallibly credit the least suspicion which thereof may be offered.

‘And it seems that Lothario in this instant was wholly deprived of all reasonable discourse, and quite despoiled of his understanding; for, without pondering of the matter, impatient and kindled by the jealous rage that inwardly gnawed his bowels, fretting with desire to be revenged on Camilla, who had never offended him, he came to Anselmo before he was up, and said to him, “Know, Anselmo, that I have had these many days a civil conflict within myself whether I should speak or no, and I have used as much violence as I might to myself, not to discover a thing unto you, which now it is neither just nor reasonable I should conceal. Know that Camilla’s  fortress is rendered, and subject to all that I please to command; and if I have been somewhat slow to inform thee this of truth, it was because I would first see whether it proceeded of some light appetite in her, or whether she did it to try me, and see whether that love was still constantly continued, which I first began to make unto her by thy order and licence. I did also believe that if she had been such as she ought to be, and her that we both esteemed her, she would have by this time acquainted you with my importunacy; but seeing that she lingers therein, I presume that her promises made unto me are true, that when you did again absent yourself out of town, she would speak with me in the wardrobe” (and it was true, for there Camilla was accustomed to talk with him), “yet would not I have thee run rashly to take revenge, seeing the sin is not yet otherwise committed than in thought, and perhaps between this and the opportunity she might hope to put it in execution, her mind would be changed, and she repent herself of her folly. And therefore seeing thou hast ever followed mine advice partly or wholly, follow and keep one counsel that I ill give unto thee now, to the end that thou mayst after, with careful assurance and without fraud, satisfy thine own will as thou likest best. Feign thyself to be absent two or three days as thou art wont, and then convey thyself cunningly into the wardrobe, where thou mayst very well hide thyself behind the tapestry, and then thou shalt see with thine own eyes, and I with mine, what Camilla will do; and if it be that wickedness which rather ought to be feared than hoped for, thou mayst, with wisdom, silence, and discretion, be the proper executioner of so injurious a wrong.”

‘Anselmo remained amazed, and almost besides himself, hearing his friend Lothario so unexpectedly to acquaint him with those things in a time wherein he least expected them; for now he esteemed Camilla to have escaped victress from the forged assaults of Lothario, and did himself triumph for glory of her victory. Suspended thus and troubled, he stood silent a great while looking on the earth, without once removing his eyes from it; and finally, turning towards his friend, he said, “Lothario, thou hast done all that which I could expect from so entire amity, and I do therefore mean to follow thine advice in all things precisely. Do therefore what thou pleasest, and keep that secret which is requisite in so weighty and unexpected an event.” “All that I do promise,” quoth Lothario; and so departed, wholly repented for that he had told to Anselmo, seeing how foolishly he had proceeded, since he might have revenged himself on Camilla very well, without taking a way so cruel and dishonourable. There did he curse his little wit, and abased his light resolution, and knew not what means to use to destroy what he had done, or give it some reasonable and contrary issue. In the end he resolved to acquaint Camilla with the whole matter, and by reason that he never missed of opportunity to speak unto her, he found her alone the very same day; and she, seeing likewise that she had fit time to speak unto him, said, “Know, friend Lothario, that a certain thing doth pinch my heart in such manner, as it seems ready to burst in my breast, as doubtlessly I fear me that in time it will, if we cannot set a remedy to it. For such is the immodesty of Leonela, as she shuts up a lover of hers every night in this house, and remains with him until daylight, which so much concerns my credit, as it leaves open a spacious field to him that sees the other go out of my house at so unseasonable times, to judge of me what he pleaseth; and that which most grieves me is, that I dare not punish or rebuke her for it. For she being privy to our proceedings, sets a bridle on me, and constrains me to conceal hers; and hence I fear will bad success befall us.” Lothario at the first suspected that Camilla did speak thus to make him believe that the man whom he had espied was Leonela’s  friend, and none of hers; but seeing her to weep indeed, and be greatly afflicted in mind, he began at last to give credit unto the truth, and, believing it, was greatly confounded and grieved for that he had done. And yet, notwithstanding, he answered Camilla that she should not trouble or vex herself any more; for he would take such order, as Leonela’s  impudence should be easily crossed and suppressed; and then did recount unto her all that he had said to Anselmo, spurred on by the furious rage of jealous indignation, and how her husband had agreed to hide himself behind the tapestry of the wardrobe, that he might from thence clearly perceive the little loyalty she kept towards him; and demanded pardon of her for that folly, and counsel to redress it, and come safely out of the intricate labyrinth whereinto his weak-eyed discourse had conducted him.

‘Camilla, having heard Lothario’s  discourse, was afraid and amazed, and with great anger and many and discreet reasons did rebuke him, reviling the baseness of his thoughts, and the simple and little consideration that he had. But as women have naturally a sudden wit for good or bad, much more prompt than men, although when indeed they would make discourses, it proves defective; so Camilla found in an instant a remedy for an affair in appearance so irremediable and helpless, and therefore bade Lothario to induce his friend Anselmo to hide himself the next day ensuing, for she hoped to take commodity out of his being there for them both to enjoy one another with more security than ever they had before; and without wholly manifesting her proverb to him, she only advertised him to have care that, after Anselmo were hidden, he should presently come when Leonela called for him, and that he should answer her as directly to every question she proposed, as if Anselmo were not in place. Lothario did urge her importunately to declare her design unto him, to the end he might with more security and advice obscure all that was necessary. “I say,” quoth Camilla, “there is no other observance to be had, than only to answer me directly to what I shall demand.” For she would not give him account beforehand of her determination, fearful that he would not conform himself to her opinion, which she took to be so good, or else lest he would follow or seek any other, that would not prove after so well. Thus departed Lothario; and Anselmo, under pretext that he would visit his friend out of town, departed, and returned covertly back again to hide himself, which he could do the more commodiously, because Camilla and Leonela did purposely afford him opportunity. Anselmo having hidden himself with the grief that may be imagined one would conceive, who did expect to see with his own eyes an anatomy made of the bowels of his honour, and was in danger to lose the highest felicity that he accounted himself to possess in his beloved Camilla; Camilla and Leonela, being certain that he was hidden within the wardrobe, entered into it, wherein scarce had Camilla set her foot, when, breathing forth of a deep sigh, she spoke in this manner:

‘“Ah, friend Leonela! were it not better that, before I put in execution that which I would not have thee to know, lest thou shouldest endeavour to hinder it, that thou takest Anselmo’s  poniard that I have sought of thee, and pass this infamous breast of mine through and through? but do it not, for it is no reason that I should suffer for other men’s  faults. I will know, first of all, what the bold and dishonest eyes of Lothario noted in me, that should stir in him the presumption to discover unto me so unlawful a desire as that which he hath revealed, so much in contempt of his friend, and to my dishonour. Stand at that window, Leonela, and call him to me, for I do infallibly believe that he stands in the street awaiting to effect his wicked purpose. But first my cruel yet honourable mind shall be performed.” “Alas, dear madam,” quoth the wise and crafty Leonela, “what is it that you mean to do with that poniard? Mean you perhaps to deprive either your own or Lothario’s  life therewithal? for whichsoever of these things you do, shall redound to the loss of your credit and fame. It is much better that you dissemble your wrong, and give no occasion to the bad man now to enter into this house, and find us here in it alone. Consider, good madam, how we are but weak women, and he is a man, and one resolute, and by reason that he comes blinded by his bad and passionate intent, he may peradventure, before you be able to put yours in execution, do somewhat that would be worse for you than to deprive you of your life. Evil befall my master Anselmo, that ministers so great occasion to iImpudency thus to discover her visage in our house. And if you should kill him by chance, madam, as I suspect you mean to do, what shall we do after with the dead carcase?” What?” said Camilla, “We would leave him here that Anselmo might bury him; for it is only just that he should have the agreeable task of interring his own infamy. Make an end, then, and call him, for methinks that all the time which I spend untaking due revenge for my wrong, turns to the prejudice of the loyalty which I owe unto my spouse.”

‘Anselmo listened very attentively all the while, and at every word that Camilla said, his thoughts changed. But when he understood that she was resolved to kill Lothario, he was about to come out and discover himself, to the end that such a thing should not be done; but the desire that he had to see wherein so brave and honest a resolution would end, withheld him, determining then to sally out when his presence should be needful to hinder it. Camilla about this time began to be very weak and dismayed, and casting herself, as if she had fallen into a trance, upon a bed that was in the room, Leonela began to lament very bitterly, and to say, “Alas! wretch that I am, how unfortunate should I be, if the flower of the world’s  honesty, the crown of good women, and the pattern of chastity should die here between my hands!” Those and such other things she said so dolefully, as no one could hear her that would not deem her to be one of the most esteemed and loyal damsels of the world, and take her lady for another new and persecuted Penelope. Soon after Camilla returned to herself, and said presently, “Why goest thou not, Leonela, to call the most disloyal friend of a friend that ever the sun beheld, or the night concealed? Make an end, run, make haste, and let not the fire of my choler be through thy stay consumed and spent, nor the just revenge, which I hope to take, pass over in threats of maledictions.” “I go to call him, madam,” quoth Leonela; “but, first of all, you must give me that poniard, lest you should do with it in mine absence somewhat that would minister occasion to us, your friends, to deplore you all the days of our lives.” “Go away boldly, friend Leonela,” said Camilla, “for I shall do nothing in thine absence; for although I be in thine opinion both simple and bold enough to turn for mine honour, yet mean I not to be so much as the celebrated Lucretia, of whom it is recorded that she slew herself, without having committed any error, or slain him first who was the principal cause of her disgrace. I will die, if I must needs die, but I will be satisfied and revenged on him that hath given me occasion to come into this place to lament his boldness, sprung without my default.”

‘Leonela could scarce be entreated to go and call Lothario, but at last she went out, and in the meantime Camilla remained, speaking to herself these words: “Good God! had not it been more discretion to have dismissed Lothario, as I did many times before, than thus to possess him, as I have done, with an opinion that I am an evil and dishonest woman, at least all the while that passeth, until mine acts shall undeceive him, and teach him the contrary? It had been doubtlessly better; but then should not I be revenged, nor my husband’s  honour satisfied, if he were permitted to bear away so clearly his malignity, or escape out of the snare wherein his wicked thoughts involved him. Let the traitor pay with his life’s  defrayment that which he attempted with so lascivious a desire. Let the world know (if it by chance shall come to know it) that Camilla did not only conserve the loyalty due to her lord, but also took revenge of the intended spoil thereof. But yet I believe that it were best to give Anselmo first notice thereof; but I did already touch it to him in the letter which I wrote to him to the village, and I believe his not concurring to take order in this so manifest an abuse, proceeds of his too sincere and good meaning, which would not, nor cannot believe that the like kind of thought could ever find entertainment in the breast of so firm a friend, tending so much to his dishonour. And what marvel if I myself could not credit it for a great many days together? Nor would I ever have thought it, if his insolency had not arrived to that pass, which the manifest gifts, large promises, and continual tears he shed do give testimony. But why do I make now these discourses? Hath a gallant resolution perhaps any need of advice? No, verily; therefore avaunt treacherous thoughts, here we must use revenge. Let the false man come in, arrive, die, and end, and let after befall what can befall. I entered pure and untouched to his possession, whom Heaven bestowed on me for mine, and I will depart from him purely. And if the worst befall, I shall only be defiled by mine own chaste blood, and the impure gore of the falsest friend that ever amity saw in this world.” And saying of this, she pranced up and down the room with the poniard naked in her hand, with such long and unmeasurable strides, and making withal such gestures, as she rather seemed defective of wit, and a desperate ruffian than a delicate woman.

‘All this Anselmo perceived very well from behind the arras that covered him, which did not a little admire him, and he thought that what he had seen and heard was a sufficient satisfaction of far greater suspicions than he had, and could have wished with all his heart that the trial of Lothario’s  coming might be excused, fearing greatly some sudden bad success. And as he was ready to manifest himself, and to come out and embrace and dissuade his wife, he withdrew himself, because he saw Leonela return, bringing Lothario in by the hand. And as soon as Camilla beheld him, she drew a great stroke with the point of the poniard athwart the wardrobe, saying, “Lothario, note well what I mean to say unto thee, for if by chance thou beest so hardy as to pass over this line which thou seest, ere I come as far as it, I will in the very same instant stab myself into the heart with this poniard which I hold in my hand. And before thou dost speak or answer me any word, I would first have thee to listen to a few of mine; for after, thou mayest say what thou pleasest.

‘“First of all, I would have thee, O Lothario! to say whether thou knowest my husband, Anselmo, and what opinion thou hast of him? And next I would have thee to tell me if thou knowest myself? Answer to this without delay, nor do stand long thinking on what thou art to answer, seeing they are no deep questions which I propose unto thee.” Lothario was not so ignorant, but that from the very beginning, when Camilla requested him to persuade her husband to hide himself behind the tapestry, he had not fallen on the drift of her invention; and therefore did answer her intention so aptly and discreetly, as they made that untruth pass between them for a more than manifest verity; and so he answered to Camilla in this form: “I did never conjecture, beautiful Camilla, that thou wouldest have called me here to demand of me things so wide from the purpose for which I come. If thou dost it to defer yet the promised favour, thou mightest have entertained it yet further off, for the good desired afflicteth so much the more, by how much the hope to possess it is near. But because thou mayest not accuse me for not answering to thy demands, I say that I know thy husband Anselmo, and both of us know one another even from our tender infancy, and I will not omit to say that which thou also knowest of our amity, to make me thereby a witness against myself of the wrong which love compels me to do unto him, yet love is a sufficient excuse and excuser of greater errors than are mine. Thee do I likewise know and hold in the same possession that he doth; for were it not so, I should never have been won by less perfections than thine, to transgress so much that which I owe to myself and to the holy laws of true amity, now broken and violated by the tyranny of so powerful an adversary as love hath proved.” “If thou dost acknowledge that,” replied Camilla, “O mortal enemy of all that which justly deserveth love! with what face darest thou then appear before that which thou knowest to be the mirror wherein he looks, in whom thou also oughtest to behold thyself, to the end thou mightest perceive upon how little occasion thou dost wrong him? But, unfortunate that I am, I fall now in the reason which hath moved thee to make so little account of thine own duty, which was perhaps some negligent or light behaviour of mine, which I will not call dishonesty, seeing that, as I presume, it hath not proceeded from me deliberately, but rather through the carelessness that women which think they are not noted do sometimes unwittingly commit. If not, say, traitor, when did I ever answer thy prayers with any word or token that might awake in thee the least shadow of hope to accomplish thine infamous desires? When were not thine amorous entreaties reprehended and dispersed by the roughness and rigour of mine answers? When were thy many promises and larger gifts ever believed or admitted? But forasmuch as I am persuaded that no man can persevere long time in the amorous contention, who hath not been sustained by some hope, I will attribute the fault of thine impertinence to myself; for doubtlessly some carelessness of mine hath hitherto sustained thy care, and therefore I will chastise and give to myself the punishment which thy fault deserveth. And because thou mightest see that I, being so inhuman towards myself, could not possibly be other than cruel to thee, I thought fit to call thee to be a witness of the sacrifice which I mean to make to the offended honour of my most honourable husband, tainted by thee with the blackest note that thy malice could devise, and by me, through the negligence that I used, to shun the occasion, if I gave thee any, thus to nourish and canonise thy wicked intentions. I say again, that the suspicion I have, that my little regard hath engendered in thee these distracted thoughts, is that which afflicteth me most, and that which I mean to chastise most with mine own hands; for if another executioner punished me, then should my crime become more notorious. But before I do this, I, dying, will kill, and carry him away with me, that shall end and satisfy the greedy desire of revenge which I hope for, and I have; seeing before mine eyes, wheresoever I shall go, the punishment which disengaged justice shall inflict, it still remaining unbowed or suborned by him, who hath brought me to so desperate terms.”

‘And having said these words, she flew upon Lothario with incredible force and lightness, and her poniard naked, giving such arguments and tokens that she meant to stab him, as he himself was in doubt whether her demonstrations were false or true; wherefore he was driven to help himself by his wit and strength, for to hinder Camilla from striking of him, who did so lively act her strange guile and fiction, as to give it colour, she would give it a blush of her own blood: for perceiving, or else feigning that she could not hurt Lothario, she said, “Seeing that adverse fortune will not satisfy thoroughly my just desires, yet at least it shall not be potent wholly to cross my designs.” And then striving to free the dagger hand, which Lothario held fast, she snatched it away, and directing the point to some place of her body, which might hurt her, but not very grievously, she stabbed herself, and hid it in her apparel near unto the left shoulder, and fell forthwith to the ground, as if she were in a trance. Lothario and Leonela stood amazed at the unexpected event, and still rested doubtful of the truth of the matter, seeing Camilla to lie on the ground bathed in her blood. Lothario ran, all wan and pale, very hastily to her, to take out the poniard, and seeing how little blood followed, he lost the fear that he had conceived of her greater hurt, and began anew to admire the cunning wit and discretion of the beautiful Camilla; but yet that he might play the part of a friend, he began a long and doleful lamentation over Camilla’s  body, even as she were dead, and began to breathe forth many curses and execrations not only against himself, but also against him that had employed him in that unfortunate affair. And knowing that his friend Anselmo did listen unto him, he said such things as would move a man to take more compassion of him than of Camilla herself, although they accounted her dead. Leonela took her up between her arms, and laid her on the bed, and entreated Lothario to go out, and find some one that would undertake to cure her secretly. She also demanded of him his advice, touching the excuse they might make to Anselmo concerning her mistress her wound, if he came to town before it were fully cured.

‘He answered, that they might say what they pleased, for he was not in a humour of giving any counsel worth the following; and only said this, that she should labour to stanch her lady’s  blood; for he meant to go there whence they should hear no news of him ever after. And so departed out of the house with very great tokens of grief and feelings; and when he was alone in a place where nobody perceived him, he blest himself a thousand times to think of Camilla’s  art, and the gestures, so proper and accommodated to the purpose, used by her maid Leonela. He considered how assured Anselmo would remain that he had a second Portia to wife, and desired to meet him, that they might celebrate together the fiction, and the best dissembled truth that could be ever imagined. Leonela, as is said, stanched her lady’s  blood, which was just as much as might serve to colour her invention and no more; and, washing the wound with some wine, she tied it up the best that she could, saying such words whilst she cured her as were able, though nothing had been done before, to make Anselmo believe that he had an image of honesty in Camilla. To the plaints of Leonela, Camilla added others, terming herself a coward of base spirit, since she wanted time (being a thing so necessary) to deprive her life which she hated so mortally; she demanded counsel of her maiden, whether she would tell or conceal all that success to her beloved spouse. And she answered, that it was best to conceal it, lest she should engage her husband to be revenged on Lothario, which would not be done without his very great peril, and that every good wife was bound, not to give occasion to her husband of quarrelling, but rather to remove from him as many as was possible. Camilla answered, that she allowed of her opinion, and would follow it; and that in any sort they must study some device to cloak the occasion of her hurt from Anselmo, who could not choose but espy it. To this Leonela answered, that she herself knew not how to lie, no, not in very jest itself. “Well, friend,” quoth Camilla, “and I, what do I know? for I dare not to forge or report an untruth if my life lay on it. And if we know not how to give it a better issue, it will be better to report the naked truth than to be overtaken in a leasing.” “Do not trouble yourself, madam,” quoth Leonela; “for I will bethink myself of somewhat between this and to-morrow morning, and perhaps the wound may be concealed from him, by reason that it is in the place where it is; and Heaven perhaps may be pleased to favour our so just and honourable thoughts. Be quiet, good madam, and labour to appease your alteration of mind, that my lord at his return may not find you perplexed; and leave all the rest to God’s  and my charge, who doth always assist the just.”

‘With highest attention stood Anselmo listening and beholding the tragedy of his dying honours, which the personages thereof had acted with so strange and forcible effects, as it verily seemed that they were transformed into the opposite truth of their well-contrived fiction. He longed greatly for the night and leisure to get out of his house, that he might go and congratulate with his good friend Lothario, for the precious jewel that he had found in this last trial of his wife. The mistress and maiden had as great care to give him the opportunity to depart; and he, fearing to lose it, issued out in a trice, and went presently to find Lothario, who being found, it is not possible to recount the embracements he gave unto him, the secrets of his contentment that he revealed, or the attributes and praises that he gave to Camilla. All which Lothario heard, without giving the least argument of love; having represented to his mind at that very time, how greatly deceived his friend lived, and how unjustly he himself injured him. And although that Anselmo noted that Lothario took no delight at his relation, yet did he believe that the cause of his sorrow proceeded from having left Camilla wounded, and he himself given the occasion thereof; and therefore, among many other words, said unto him, that there was no occasion to grieve at Camilla’s  hurt, it doubtlessly being but light, seeing she and her maid had agreed to hide it from him,; and that according unto this there was no great cause of fear, but that from thenceforward he should live merrily and contentedly with him, seeing that by his industry and means he found himself raised to the highest felicity that might be desired; and therefore would from thenceforth spend his idle times in writing of verses in Camilla’s  praise, that he might eternise her name, and make it famous in ensuing ages. Lothario commended his resolution therein, and said that he for his part would also help to raise up so noble an edifice; and herewithal Anselmo rested the most soothingly and contentedly deceived that could be found in the world. And then himself took by the hand to his house, believing that he bore the instrument of his glory, the utter perdition of his fame. Camilla entertained him with a frowning countenance, but a cheerful mind. The fraud rested unknown a while, until, at the end of certain months, fortune turned the wheel, and the wickedness that was so artificially cloaked, issued to the public notice of the world; and Anselmo his impertinent curiosity cost him his life.’

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Posted in Reading

Blind Willie McTell (1983) – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan 1983

Bob Dylan 1983

Bob Dylan has such a vast song catalogue he decided to leave a dizzying array of excellent songs off his records. We have showcased some of these before one including Abandoned Love – Is this Dylan’s saddest song?  That must take a lot of discipline and foresightedness to not include a great song because it didn’t align with your vision of a studio album release. Thankfully due to the bootleg release volumes many of these unreleased recordings were brought back to life much to the delight of eager fans. One song officially released only in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 which created some of the biggest fanfare was today’s song – Blind Willie McTell. And believe me there was a lot to be excited about in that Bootleg series release.

Blind Willie McTell was recorded in the spring of 1983, during the sessions for Dylan’s album Infidels, but was left off the album. It boggles the senses how he could just let it go, but it is now considered one of Dylan’s most cherished songs. For instance, Blind Willie McTell was voted equal 4th favourite song by Dylan enthusiasts at the Expecting Rain community.

As stated in song factsThe song’s title refers to Piedmont blues singer Blind Willie McTell, real name William Samuel McTier. In 1991 Dylan told Eliot Mintz that McTell was probably the “Van Gogh of the country blues.”…The song’s melody is loosely based on “Saint James Infirmary Blues,” a song Blind Willie McTell covered in 1940. This is also probably the reason for the line, “I’m gazing out the window of the St. James Hotel.” …For all the high esteem in which Dylan fans hold this song, the artist himself seems less enamored. He claims he can’t even remember why he chose to leave it off of Infidels, shrugging it off as “most likely a demo.”

What always struck me about the song from the get-go and how you could distinguish it instrumentally from a lot of what he’s done, is that Blind Willie McTell is a climactic piano piece. Dylan was seated at the piano and Mark Knophler on the acoustic guitar. Now if that isn’t a music match made in heaven! Of course Knophler also played guitar on Dylan’s wonderful Christian album Slow Train Coming and often introduced for Dylan shows. According to wikipedia: it sings a series of plaintive verses depicting allegorical scenes which reflect on the history of American music and slavery…. “Blind Willie McTell” was a concert staple for the Band throughout the 1990s. They also recorded it for their 1993 album Jericho. Dylan later claimed in a Rolling Stone interview that hearing the Band’s version of the song inspired him to begin performing it at his own concerts.

Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Saying, “This land is condemned
All the way from New Orleans
To Jerusalem.”
I traveled through East Texas
Where many martyrs fell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Well, I heard the hoot owl singing
As they were taking down the tents
The stars above the barren trees
Were his only audience
Them charcoal gypsy maidens
Can strut their feathers well
But nobody can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

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Posted in Music

11/02 – 17/02 incl. The Bear Attack, Lou Reed & Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

news on the march

Welcome to Monday’s News on the March – The week that was in my digital world.

 Article by Stacey E Bryan:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” is featured on a random internet list as one of “15 great movies that are incredibly boring.”

I have three words to say to that. Three times: the bear attack. The bear attack. The bear attack.

Although the Arikara onslaught on the fur traders early in the film was an uber-realistic, white-knuckle event which is captured in an uninterrupted, continuous shot without cuts, in my opinion the bear attack on DiCaprio’s character Glass was the eye-boggling winner as far as effects go. I think I’ve seen that scene at least four or five times, and each time is as horrifying as the last....….… (Read  entire article).

Official video presentation at Lou Reed on MV:

It’s been a while since I’ve heard Lou Reed and I was pleasantly surprised when this popped up in my you tube feed. I was even more sore surprised to find it’s a superb show with great sound and visuals. Lou and the band are in fine form here..….(Watch entire concert)

Article by Stefania Gioffrè at e-Tinkerbell:

“Sex & drugs & rock & roll”  I remember Ian Dury sang some time ago. A mantra which has constituted for more than one generation the antidote to the homologation to middle class morality and values: family, a good job, a responsible life. Dull!! I am sure any of us has enjoyed a more or less long “sex & drugs & rock & roll ” phase in their life, the rebellious phase, when you want to break the world of OLD RULES, advocating one with NO RULES, till without even realizing it, you find yourself banging your head against the wall of NECESSARY RULES (better known as compromises), so the Hegelian phase of growing up comes to an end and you have become an adult, brand new middle class, of course......(Read entire article)

Short Story by Bruce Goodman at Weave a Web:

Heidi Windybank had three children to feed and she’d run out of money. She always put the children first. She’d fed them the last crumbs in the cupboard and now she herself was hungry. She had job interview after job interview. It was getting more and more difficult to look presentable at these interviews. It was getting impossible to pay for a bus ticket to the places of interview.

And suddenly! She got a job! It was cleaning rooms in a motel. She knew how to wield a scrubbing brush. She could make a bed to perfection…. (Read entire short story)

Stand Up comedy excerpt at Comedy Central Stand Up:

Andy Haynes considers the silver lining of a failing economy and explains how easy it is to hurt yourself or somebody else on an air mattress. Original airdate: June 14, 2013..….(Watch entire stand-up excerpt)

news on the march the end

Posted in Movies and TV, News, Reading

Black Mule (1991) – Grant McLennan


Grant McLennan is a former front man of the hugely influential Australian band ‘The Go-Betweens’. It’s been inexplicable to me that the Go-Betweens never reached wider success. Every single person I’ve ever played them for has liked them. Yet somehow they never got the listening public to fall in love with them.I discovered them when I was delving into Melbourne singer – songwriter David Bridie’s music, who’s songs have already featured here. The Go-Betweens were a big influence on Bridie so one day I bought their Live at The Tivoli, Brisbane DVD (2005). To say I was impressed would be an understatement. In fact most of the songs from that concert including today’s song Black Mule will be showcased in my music library project.

Black Mule isn’t from The Go-Betweens, it’s from Grant’s debut solo album Watershed released in 1991. From viewing McLennan on stage and just by listening to him, he makes his art look easy, but like all great art what he has to say is highly memorable. He doesn’t deliver grand poetic pronouncements, he simply tells you things. That conversational intimacy in his music and of course that with the Go-Betweens helped him do what very few others can which is create ‘setting’. McLennan doesn’t need to describe the street you’ve been on, because you’re invariably on the street he’s describing. His success doesn’t rely on precise descriptions, but on the inviting nature of the songs.

In Black Mule, he tells the story of a man whom a nun rescues from a life-threatening beating. After cleaning him up, she tells him, “Go into the world and take a look.” In the next verse a car bomb blows him up. McLennan is direct: “Life can be cruel.’ Indeed it can be, because just one year after this performance at the Tivoli (see video below) Grant suddenly passed away. It was described in Pop Matters as ‘the world loses one of the best songwriters it never knew it had’. I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to forward below the entirety of the lyrics of Black Mule since I consider it such masterful storytelling:

The neighing of the horses in the moonlight woke him up
There was a line of ice across his cup
Except for the wind in the corn, the world was perfectly still
The moon hung over the window sill

Ride on black mule

Four men on horses came riding up;
They dragged him out into the clearing
They said, “Listen here mister, if you don’t give us all your gold
We’re gonna give you a hell of a beating”

Ride on black mule

Just then a nun on a black mule came riding by;
She said: “Oh Gentlemen, what are you doing?
If you don’t leave that man alone
I’m going to punish you for evil-doing”

Ride on black mule

Well, you know bad men; they never listen
They went up in a puff of brimstone
She cut him down, she led him by the hand to a cave
Took him into a world of limestone

Ride on black mule

She bathed his wounds. She put salt on his back
She read to him from a great big book
When he was healed, she led him by the hand
Said, “Go into the world and take a look”

Ride on black mule

He was walking down a Beirut street when a car-bomb blew him up
Oh, life can be cruel
When they took him to the mortuary to identify his fingerprints
All they found were the hoofprints of a mule

Ride on black mule
Ride on black mule

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Burn After Reading (2008) – Ethan & Joel Coen (Friday’s Finest)


Burn After Reading in much in the same vain as last week’s showcased film The Men Who Stare At Goats is a publicly panned and maligned film. Also both films have a star studded cast who venture into unfamiliar territory which may have propelled audiences to expect an entirely different movie. I consider Burn After Reading an overlooked little gem in the Coen Brothers impressive cannon of movies. I honestly do not know what there is to dislike about it, but I find a whole lot that’s going for it.

Burn After Reading is a tightly wound, slickly plotted spy comedy. Perhaps because it just came off the back end of their Academy award winning ‘No Country For Old Men’ that it took people a while to adjust to the rhythms and subversive humor of Burn.  The irony is Burn is really an anti-spy thriller in which nothing is at stake, no one acts with intelligence and everything ends bad. Some of the last lines in the movie between the CIA officers sum up the farce which proceeded it and the nonsensical nature of events:

CIA Superior : What did we learn, Palmer
CIA Officer : I don’t know, sir.
CIA Superior :
I don’t fuckin’ know either. I guess we learned not to do it again.
CIA Officer :
Yes, sir
CIA Superior : I’m fucked if I know what we did.
CIA Officer :
Yes, sir, it’s, uh, hard to say
CIA Superior :
Jesus Fucking Christ.

IMDB Storyline: Osbourne Cox, a Balkan expert, resigned from the CIA because of a drinking problem, so he begins a memoir. His wife wants a divorce and expects her lover, Harry, a philandering State Department marshal, to leave his wife. A CD-ROM falls out of a gym bag at a Georgetown fitness center. Two employees there try to turn it into cash: Linda, who wants money for cosmetic surgery, and Chad, an amiable goof. Information on the disc leads them to Osbourne who rejects their sales pitch; then they visit the Russian embassy. To sweeten the pot, they decide they need more of Osbourne’s secrets. Meanwhile, Linda’s boss likes her, and Harry’s wife leaves for a book tour. All roads lead to Osbourne’s house.

Like most Coen Brother’s movie I’m besotted by the writing and the intelligence by which they are able to derive a plot sequence which takes the most unexpected turns, and has slightly mocking eye for detail and creative violence. Despite its deviation from any predictable narrative in Burn the directors maintain a tight grip on the reigns to reassure the viewer there is method to this non-meta narrative madness. In similar mode to Inside Lewyn Davis as viewers we finish the adventure at the point at which we began as if the record is on a loop. It isn’t a traditional linear narrative as much as it is a cyclical one. The Coens move through their crossed purposes with speed and elegance. No plot holes – nothing goes amiss.

Burn After Reading is the funniest movie from the Coen’s since their The Big Lebowsky masterpiece. You could draw similarities to the massive TV sitcom hit Seinfeld and say that the plot is a smart excuse for a movie about nothing, although a lot of things are happening. Brad Pitt is priceless in his role as a gym junkie and the innocence of his character is so believable that I wondered how many more surprises this actor has up his sleeve.  John Malkovich, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins and the unnerving Tilda Swinton complete the package of this movie that feels as if it was made for the sheer pleasure of it.

Burn After reading IMDB Trivia:

  • The Coen brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) said they wrote the screenplay for this film while writing the screenplay for No Country for Old Men (2007). They would usually alternate every other day for each script.
  • The Coen Brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) wrote the character Osborne Cox with John Malkovich in mind…. Indeed, the Coen Brothers noted at a Q&A session at the Venice Film Festival that all the leading characters were written for all the leading actors, with the exception of Tilda Swinton.
  • The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist–a list of the ‘most liked’ unmade scripts of the year.
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Black Muddy River – Bob Dylan (April 6, 1992 – Melbourne, Australia)

Bob Dylan 1992 30th Anniversary concert

Bob Dylan 1992 30th Anniversary Concert

The moment I heard this Never Ending tour performance of the Grateful Dead’s Black Muddy River from Bob Dylan I knew I had to add it to my music collection. It’s one of the few songs I can listen to on repeat and never grow tired of it. And I mean that most technically, because I have done just that on multiple occasions. I could hardly make out the words when I first heard it and the live audience recording leaves a lot to be desired, but it doesn’t matter – it’s what he does with it. I get lost in this song; it unclogs the senses.

Dylan really does sound like he is walking alone by the Black Muddy River and singing a song of his own, but it sounds like mine too.

This Grateful Dead song is beautifully written.

When the last rose of summer pricks my finger,
And the hot sun chills me to the bone,
When I can’t hear the song for the singer,
And I can’t tell my pillow from a stone,
I will walk alone by the black muddy river,
And sing me a song of my own,
I will walk alone by the black muddy river,
And sing me a song of my own.

Robert Hunter wrote these lyrics as he approached his own mid-point in life. Here’s what he told Rolling Stone in a 1987 interview:

“Black Muddy River is about the perspective of age and making a decision about the necessity of living in spite of a rough time, and the ravages of anything else that’s going to come at you. When I wrote it, I was writing about how I felt about being 45 years old and what I’ve been through. And then when I was done with it, obviously it was for the Dead.”

I’ve listened to the original studio recording from the Grateful Dead, but I prefer Bob’s version. Of course I’m the last person you’d consider impartial when comparing Dylan’s music to other artists. Black Muddy River was released on the Grateful Dead’s 12th studio album In the Dark. It reached number 6 on the Billboard 200 chart.

1. – Greatest Stories Ever Told – “Black Muddy River”


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The Story of an Impertinent Curiosity (Part 1) – Don Quixote

The nosy and impertinent Husband

This week in Wednesday’s literature piece we turn our attention back to Don Quixote. You can familiarise yourself with this most influential work of literature by reading Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes (Introduction). The next few Wednesdays will be dedicated to this most unusual ‘story’ within the story that is Don Quixote.
The Story of an Impertinent Curiosity‘ spans from Chapter XXXIII to Chapter XXXV and it represents a deep change in Cervantes’ narrative. It is essentially a comprehensive and self-contained version of the literary genre that Cervantes himself would call the ‘exemplary novel’. It manifests in a certain moral lesson, but not without some rather scandalous entertainment.

I found this hyper melodrama profoundly engaging, but also confronting. I felt compelled during which to probe my deepest fears, longings and desires and to take stock. ‘Impertinent‘ is essentially a love triangle heavy with psychopathology, mystery, betrayal and revenge. The tragic falls of the main characters represent the hopelessly conflicted essence of human beings in general.

What sets it apart from the rest of the novel is Cervantes suspends his meta-literary games of ‘Knight-errant chivalry’ which we looked at in our previous instalment – At the inn which he mistook as a castle. In Impertinent he narrates in an elegant, traditional form but as well as anyone has done before or since. Eric Clifford Graf, a professor of literature at Universidad Francisco Marroquín used an interesting analogy to distinguish ‘Impertinent’ – ‘We might compare what Cervantes does here to rock bands like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or The Who, who during their most radical periods would still take time to produce the occasional perfect, catchy pop song‘.

The opening scene sets an almost perfect harmony between the two male characters, namely Anselmo and Lotario. It is said, ‘Their wills were in such perfect unison that a more synchronised clock had never been invented in all the world’.  Anselmo falls in love with a woman called Camila and they marry. Lotario then stops frequenting his friends house to present the couple’s reputation, their public honour. Anselmo becomes annoyed insisting that Lotario continue his visits ‘assuring him that his wife Camila had no other wish or aspiration than that which he wanted to have. But this statement by Anselmo is thematic and ominous.

Without revealing too much before today’s first chapter, we’ll just get right into it shall we? These readings are long and the old English wording may take getting used to, but I hope you find them well worth your while. They are taken from Thomas Shelton’s definitive English translation of Don Quixote in 1612; 7 years after Don Quixote Part 1 was published. Chapter XXXIV will commence next week.

CHAPTER XXXIII: Wherein is rehearsed the History of the Curious-Impertinent

In Florence, a rich and famous city of Italy, in the province called Tuscany, there dwelt two rich and principal gentlemen called Anselmo and Lothario, which two were so great friends, as they were named for excellency, and by antonomasia, by all those that knew them, the Two Friends. They were both bachelors, and much of one age and manners; all which was of force to make them answer one another with reciprocal amity. True it is that Anselmo was somewhat more inclined to amorous dalliance than Lothario, who was altogether addicted to hunting. But when occasion exacted it, Anselmo would omit his own pleasures, to satisfy his friend’s; and Lothario likewise his, to please Anselmo. And by this means both their will were so correspondent, as no clock could be better ordered that were their desires. Anselmo being at last deeply enamoured of a principal and beautiful young lady of the same city, called Camilla, being so worthily descended, and she herself of such merit therewithal, as he resolved (by the consent of his friend Lothario, without whom he did nothing) to demand her of her parents for wife; and did put his purpose in execution; and Lothario himself was the messenger, and concluded the matter so to his friend’s  satisfaction, as he was shortly after put in possession of his desires; and Camilla so contented to have gotten Anselmo, as she ceased not render Heaven and Lothario thanks, by whose means she had obtained so great a match. The first days, as all marriage days are wont to be merry, Lothario frequented, according to the custom, his friend Anselmo’s  house, endeavouring to honour, feast, and recreate him all the ways he might possibly. But after the nuptials were finished, and the concourse of strangers, visitations, and congratulations somewhat ceased, Lothario also began to be somewhat more slack that he wonted in going to Anselmo his house, deeming it (as it is reason that all discreet men should) not so convenient to visit or haunt so often the house of his friend after marriage as he would, had he still remained a bachelor. For although true amity neither should nor ought to admit the least suspicion, yet notwithstanding a married man’s  honour is so delicate and tender a thing, as it seems it may be sometimes impaired, even by very brethren; and how much more by friends? Anselmo noted the remission of Lothario, and did grievously complain thereof, saying that, if he had wist by marriage he should thus be deprived of his dear conversation, he would never have married; and that since through the uniform correspondency of them both being free, they had deserved the sweet title of the Two Friends, that he should not now permit (because he would be noted circumspect without any other occasion) that so famous and pleasing a name should be lost; and therefore he requested him (if it were lawful to use such a term between them two) to return and be master of his house, and come and go as he had done before his marriage, assuring him that his spouse Camilla had no other pleasure and will, than that which himself pleased she should have; and that she, after having known how great was both their friendships, was not a little amazed to see him become so strange.

‘To all these and many other reasons alleged by Anselmo, to persuade Lothario to frequent his house, he answered with so great prudence, discretion, and wariness, as Anselmo remained satisfied of his friend’s  good intention herein; and they made an agreement between them two, that Lothario should dine at his house twice a week, and the holy days besides. And although this agreement had passed between them, yet Lothario purposed to do that only which he should find most expedient for his friend’s  honour, whose reputation he tendered much more dearly than he did his own; and was wont to say very discreetly, that the married man, unto whom Heaven had given a beautiful wife, ought to have as much heed of his friends which he brought to his house, as he should of the women friends that visited his wife; for that which is not done nor agreed upon in the church or market, nor in public feasts or stations (being places that a man cannot lawfully hinder his wife from frequenting sometimes at least) are ofttimes facilitated and contrived in a friend’s  or kinswoman’s  house, whom perhaps we never suspected. Anselmo on the other side affirmed, that therefore married men ought every one of them to have some friend who might advertise them of the faults escaped in their manner of proceeding; for it befalls many times, that through the great love which the husband bears to his wife, either he doth not take notice, or else he doth not advertise her, because he would not offend her to do or omit to do certain things, the doing or omitting whereof might turn to his honour or obloquy; to which things, being advertised by his friend, he might easily apply some remedy. But where might a man find a friend so discreet, loyal, and trusty as Anselmo demands? I know not truly, if not Lothario: for he it was that with all solicitude and care regarded the honour of his friend; and therefore endeavoured to clip and diminish the number of the days promised, lest he should give occasion to the idle vulgar, or to the eyes of vagabonds and malicious men to judge any sinister thing, viewing so rich, comely, noble, and qualified a young man as he was, to have so free access into the house of a woman so beautiful as Camilla. For though his virtues and modest carriage were sufficiently able to set a bridle to any malignant tongue, yet notwithstanding he would not have his credit, nor that of his friends, called into any question; and therefore would spend most of the days that he had agreed to visit his friend, in other places and exercises; yet feigning excuses so plausible, as his friend admitted them for every reasonable. And thus the time passed on in challenges of unkindness of the one side, and lawful excuses of the other.

‘It so fell out, that, as both the friends walked on a day together in a field without the city, Anselmo said to Lothario these words ensuing: “I know very well, friend Lothario, that among all the favours which God of His bounty hath bestowed upon me by making me the son of such parents, and giving to me with so liberal a hand, both the goods of nature and fortune; yet as I cannot answer Him with sufficient gratitude for the benefits already received, so do I find myself most highly bound unto Him above all others, for having given me such a friend as thou art, and so beautiful a wife as Camilla, being both of you such pawns, as if I esteem you not in the degree which I ought, yet do I hold you as dear as I may. And yet, possessing all those things which are wont to be the all and some that are wont and may make a man happy, I live notwithstanding the most sullen and discontented life of the world, being troubled, I know not since when, and inwardly wrested with so strange a desire, and extravagant, form the common use of others, as I marvel at myself, and do condemn and rebuke myself when I am alone, and do labour to conceal and cover mine own desires; all which hath served me to as little effect, as if I had proclaimed mine own errors purposely to the world. And seeing that it must finally break out, my will is, that it be only communicated to the treasury of thy secret; hoping by it and mine own industry, which, as my true friend, thou wilt use to help me, I shall be quickly freed from the anguish it causeth, and by thy means my joy and contentment shall arrive to the pass that my discontents have brought me through mine own folly.”

‘Lothario stood suspended at Anselmo’s  speech, as one that could not imagine to what so prolix a prevention and preamble tended; and although he revolved and imagined sundry things in his mind which he deemed might afflict his friend, yet did he ever shoot wide from the mark which in truth it was; and that he might quickly escape that agony, wherein the suspension held him, said that his friend did notable injury to their amity, in searching out wreathings and ambages in the discovery of his most hidden thoughts to him, seeing he might assure himself certainly, either to receive counsels of him how to entertain, or else remedy and means how to accomplish them.

‘“It is very true,” answered Anselmo, “and with that confidence I let thee to understand, friend Lothario, that the desire which vexeth me is a longing to know whether my wife Camilla be as good and perfect as I do account her, and I cannot wholly rest satisfied of this truth, but by making trial of her, in such sort as it may give manifest argument of the degree of her goodness, as the fire doth show the value of gold; for I am of opinion, O friend, that a woman is of no more worth or virtue than that which is in her, after she hath been solicited;1 and that she alone is strong who cannot be bowed by the promised, gifts, tears, and continual importunities of importunate lovers. For what thanks is it,” quoth he, “for a woman to be good, if nobody say or teach her ill? What wonder that she be retired and timorous, if no occasion be ministered to her of dissolution, and chiefly she that knows she hath a husband ready to kill her for the least argument of lightness? So that she which is only good for fear or want of occasion, will I never hold in that estimation, that I would the other solicited and pursued, who notwithstanding, comes away crowned with the victory. And therefore, being moved as well by these reasons as by many other which I could tell you, which accredit and fortify mine opinion, I desire that my wife Camilla do also pass through the pikes of those proofs and difficulties, and purify and refine herself in the fire of being requested, solicited, and pursued, and that by one whose worths and valour may deserve acceptance in her opinion; and if she bear away the palm of the victory, as I believe she will, I shall account my fortune matchless, and may brag that my desires are in their height, and will say that a strong woman hath fallen to my lot, of whom the wise man saith, ‘Who shall find her?’ And when it shall succeed contrary to mine expectation, I shall, with the pleasure that I will conceive to see how rightly it jumps with mine opinion, bear very indifferent[ly] the grief which in all reason this so costly a trial must stir in me. And presupposing that nothing which thou shalt say to me shall be available to hinder my design, or dissuade me from putting my purpose in execution, I would have thyself, dear friend Lothario, to provide thee to be the instrument that shall labour this work of my liking, and I will give thee opportunity enough to perform the same, without omitting anything that may further thee in the solicitation of an honest, noble, wary, retired, and passionless woman.

‘“And I am chiefly moved to commit this so hard an enterprise to thy trust, because I know that, if Camilla be vanquished by thee, yet shall not the victory arrive to the last push and upshot, but only to that of accounting a thing to be done, which shall not be done for many good respects. So shall I remain nothing offended, and mine injury concealed in the virtue of thy silence; for I know thy care to be such in matters concerning me, as it shall be eternal, like that of death. And therefore if thou desirest that I may lead a life deserving that name, thou must forthwith provide thyself to enter into this amorous conflict, and that not languishing or slothfully, but with that courage and diligence which my desire expecteth, and the confidence I have in our amity assureth me.”

‘These were the reasons used by Anselmo to Lothario, to all which he was so attentive, as, until he ended, he did not once unfold his lips to speak a word save those which we have above related; and seeing that he spoke no more, after he had beheld him a good while, as a thing that he had never before, and did therefore strike him into admiration and amazement, he said, “Friend Anselmo, I cannot persuade myself that the words you have spoken be other than jests, for, had I thought that thou wert in earnest, I would not have suffered thee to pass on so far, and by lending thee no ear would have excused this tedious oration. I do verily imagine that either thou dost not know me, or I thee; but not so, for I know thee to be Anselmo, and thou that I am Lothario. The damage is, that I think thou art not the Anselmo thou was wont to be, and perhaps thou deemest me not to be the accustomed Lothario that I ought to be; for the things which thou hast spoken are not of that Anselmo my friend, nor those which thou seekest ought to be demanded of that Lothario, of whom thou hast notice. For true friends ought to prove and use their friends, as the poet said, usque ad aras, that is, that they should in no sort employ them or implore their assistance in things offensive unto God; and if a Gentile was of this opinion in matters of friendship, how much greater reason is it that a Christian should have that feeling, specially knowing that the celestial amity is not to be lost for any human friendship whatsoever. And when the friend should throw the bars so wide, as to set heavenly respects apart, for to compliment with his friend, it must not be done on light grounds, or for things of small moment, but rather for those whereon his friend’s  life and honour wholly depend. Then tell me now, Anselmo, in which of these two things art thou in danger, that I may adventure my person to do thee a pleasure, and attempt so detestable a thing as thou dost demand? None of them truly, but rather dost demand, as I may conjecture, that I do industriously labour to deprive thee of thine honour and life together, and, in doing so, I likewise deprive myself of them both. For if I must labour to take away thy credit, it is most evident that I despoil thee of life, for a man without reputation is worse than a dead man, and I being the instrument, as thou desirest that I should be, of so great harm unto thee, do not I become likewise thereby dishonoured, and by the same consequence also without life? Hear me, friend Anselmo, and have patience not to answer me until I have said all that I think, concerning that which thy mind exacteth of thee; for we shall have after leisure enough, wherein thou mayst reply, and I have patience to listen unto thy reasons.”

‘“I am pleased,” quoth Anselmo; “say what thou likest.” And Lothario prosecuted his speech in this manner: “Methinks, Anselmo, that thou art now of the Moors’ humours, which can be no means be made to understand the error of their sect, neither by citations of the Holy Scripture, nor by reasons which consist in speculations of the understanding, or that are founded in the Articles of the Faith, but must be won by palpable examples, and those easy, intelligible, demonstrative, and doubtless, by mathematical demonstrations, which cannot be denied. Even as when we say, ‘If from two equal parts we take away two parts equal, the parts that remain are also equal.’ And when they cannot understand this, as in truth they do not, we must demonstrate it to them with our hands, and lay it before their eyes, and yet for all this nought can avail to win them in the end to give credit to the verities of our religion; which very terms and manner of proceeding I must use with thee, by reason that the desire which is sprung in thee doth so wander and stray from all that which bears the shadow only of reason, as I doubt much that I shall spend my time in vain, which I shall bestow, to make thee understand thine own simplicity, for I will give it no other name at this present; and, in good earnest, I was almost persuaded to leave thee in thine humour, in punishment of thine inordinate and unreasonable desire, but that the love which I bear towards thee doth not consent I use to thee such rigour, or leave thee in so manifest a danger of thine own perdition. And, that thou mayst clearly see it, tell me, Anselmo, hast not thou said unto me, that I must solicit one that stands upon her reputation; persuade an honest woman; make proffers to one that is not passionate or engaged; and serve a discreet woman? Yes, thou hast said all this. Well, then, if thou knowest already that thou hast a retired, honest, unpassionate, and prudent wife, what seekest thou more? And, if thou thinkest that she will rest victorious, after all mine assaults, as doubtless she will, what better titles wouldst thou after bestow upon her, than those she possesseth already? Either it proceeds, because thou dost not think of her as thou sayst, or else because thou knowest not what thou demandest. If thou dost not account her such as thou praisest her, to what end wouldst thou prove her? But rather, as an evil person, use her as thou likest best. But, if she be as good as thou believest, it were an impertinent thing to make trial of truth itself. For, after it is made, yet it will still rest only with the same reputation it had before. Wherefore, it is a concluding reason, that, to attempt things, whence rather harm may after result unto us than good, is the part of rash and discourseless brains; and principally when they deal with those things whereunto they are not compelled or driven, and that they see even afar off, how the attempting the like is manifest folly. Difficult things are undertaken for God, or the world, or both. Those that are done for God are the works of the saints, endeavouring to lead angels’ lives, in frail and mortal bodies. Those of the world are the travels and toils of such as cross such immense seas, travel through so adverse regions, and converse with so many nations, to acquire that which we call the goods of fortune. And the things acted for God and the world together are the worthy exploits of resolute and valorous martial men, which scarce perceive so great a breach in the adversary wall, as the cannon bullet is wont to make; when, leaving all fear apart, without making any discourse, or taking notice of the manifest danger that threatens them, borne away, by the wings of desire and honour, to serve God, their nation and prince, do throw themselves boldly into the throat of a thousand menacing deaths which expect them.

‘“These are things wont to be practised; and it is honour, glory, and profit to attempt them, be they never so full of inconveniences and danger; but that which thou sayst thou will try and put in practice shall never gain thee God’s  glory, the goods of fortune, or renown among men; for, suppose that thou bringest it to pass according to thine own fantasy, thou shalt remain nothing more contented, rich, or honourable than thou art already; and, if thou dost not, then shalt thou see thyself in the greatest misery of any wretch living; for it will little avail thee then to think that no man knows the disgrace befallen thee, it being sufficient both to afflict and dissolve thee that thou knowest it thyself. And, for greater confirmation of this truth, I will repeat unto thee a stanza of the famous poet Luigi Tansillo, in the end of his first part of St. Peter’s  Tears, which is:

 “‘The grief increaseth, and withal the shame
    In Peter when the day itself did show:
    And though he no man sees, yet doth he blame
    Himself because he had offended so.
    For breasts magnanimous, not only tame,
    When that of others they are seen, they know;
    But of themselves ashamed they often be,
    Though none but Heaven and earth their error see.’

So that thou canst not excuse thy grief with secrecy, be it never so great, but rather shall have continual occasion to weep, if not watery tears from thine eyes, at least tears of blood from thy heart, such as that simple doctor wept, of whom our poet makes mention, who made trial of the vessel, which the prudent Reynaldos, upon maturer discourse, refused to deal withal. And, although it be but a poetical fiction, yet doth it contain many hidden morals, worthy to be noted, understood, and imitated; how much more, seeing that by what I mean to say now, I hope thou shalt begin to conceive the great error which thou wouldest wittingly commit.

‘“Tell me, Anselmo, if Heaven or thy fortunes had made thee lord and lawful possessor of a most precious diamond, of whose goodness and quality all the lapidaries that had viewed the same would rest satisfied, and that all of them would jointly and uniformly affirm that it arrived in quality, goodness, and fineness to all that to which the nature of such a stone might extend itself, and that thou thyself didst believe the same without witting anything to the contrary; would it be just that thou shouldest take an humour to set that diamond between an anvil and a hammer, and to try there by very force of blows whether it be so hard and so fine as they say? And further: when thou didst put thy design in execution, put the case that the stone made resistance to thy foolish trial, yet wouldest thou add thereby no new value or esteem to it. And if it did break, as it might befall, were not then all lost? Yes, certainly, and that leaving the owner, in all men’s  opinion, for a very poor ignorant person. Then, friend Anselmo, make account that Camilla is a most precious diamond as well in thine as in other men’s  estimation; and it is no reason to put her in contingent danger of breaking, seeing that, although she remain in her integrity, she cannot mount to more worth than she hath at the present; and if she faltered, or did not resist, consider even at this present what state you would be in then, and how justly thou mightest then complain of thyself for being cause of her perdition and thine own. See how there is no jewel in the world comparable to the modest and chaste woman, and that all women’s  honour consists in the good opinion that’s  had of them; and seeing that of thy spouse is so great, as it arrives to that sum of perfection which thou knowest, why wouldest thou call this verity in question? Know, friend, that a woman is an imperfect creature, and should therefore have nothing cast in her way to make her stumble and fall, but rather to clear and do all encumbrances away out of it, to the end she may without impeachment run with a swift course to obtain the perfection she wants, which only consists in being virtuous.

‘“The naturalists recount that the ermine is a little beast that hath a most white skin; and that, when the hunters would chase him, they use this art to take him. As soon as they find out his haunt, and places where he hath recourse, they thwart them with mire and dirt, and after when they descry the little beast, they pursue him towards those places which are defiled; and the ermine, espying the mire, stands still, and permits himself to be taken and captived in exchange of not passing through the mire, or staining of his whiteness, which it esteems more than either liberty or life. The honest and chaste woman is an ermine, and the virtue of chastity is whiter and purer than snow; and he that would not lose it, but rather desires to keep and preserve it, must proceed with a different style from that of the ermine. For they must not propose and lay before her the mire of the passions, flatteries, and services of importunate lovers; for perhaps she shall not have the natural impulse and force, which commonly through proper debility is wont to stumble, to pass over those encumbrances safely; and therefore it is requisite to free the passage and take them away, and lay before her the clearness of virtue and the beauty comprised in good fame. The good woman is also like unto a bright and clear mirror of crystal, and therefore is subject to be stained and dimmed by every breath that toucheth it. The honest woman is to be used as relics of saints, to wit, she must be honoured but not touched. The good woman is to be kept and prized like a fair garden full of sweet flowers and roses, that is held in estimation, whose owner permits no man to enter and trample or touch his flowers, but holds it to be sufficient that they, standing afar off, without the rails, may joy at the delightful sight and fragrance thereof. Finally I will repeat certain verses unto thee that have now come to my memory, the which were repeated of late in a new play, and seem to me very fit for the purpose of which we treat. A prudent old man did give a neighbour of his that had a daughter counsel to keep and shut her up; and among many other reasons he used these:

‘“Truly woman is of glass;
      Therefore no man ought to try
      If she broke or not might be,
   Seeing all might come to pass.
   Yet to break her ’tis more easy;
      And it is no wit to venture
      A thing of so brittle temper,
   That to solder is so queasy.
   And I would have all men dwell
      In this truth and reason’s ground,
      That if Danaes may be found,
   Golden showers are found as well.’

‘“All that which I have said to thee, Anselmo, until this instant, hath been for that which may touch thyself; and it is now high time that somewhat be heard concerning me. And if by chance I shall be somewhat prolix, I pray thee to pardon me; for the labyrinth wherein thou hast entered, and out of which thou wouldest have me to free thee, requires no less. Thou holdest me to be thy friend, and yet goest about to despoil me of mine honour, being a thing contrary to all amity; and dost not only pretend this, but dost likewise endeavour that I should rob thee of the same. That thou wouldest deprive me of mine is evident; for when Camilla shall perceive that I solicit her as thou demandest, it is certain that she will esteem of me as of one quite devoid of wit and discretion, seeing I intend and do a thing so repugnant to that which the being that him I am, and thine amity do bind me unto. That thou wouldest have me rob thee thereof is as manifest, for Camilla, seeing me thus to court her, must imagine that I have noted some lightness in her which lent me boldness thus to discover unto her my depraved desires, and she holding herself to be thereby injured and dishonoured, her disgrace must also concern thee as a principal part of her. And hence springs that which is commonly said, That the husband of the adulterous wife, although he know nothing of her lewdness, nor hath given any occasion to her to do what she ought not, nor was able any way to hinder by diligence, care, or other means, his disgrace, yet is entitled with a vituperious name, and is in a manner beheld by those that know his wife’s  malice with the eyes of contempt; whereas they should indeed regard him rather with those of compassion, seeing that he falls into that misfortune not so much through his own default, as through the light fantasy of his wicked consort. But I will show thee the reason why a bad woman’s  husband is justly dishonoured and contemned, although he be ignorant and guiltless thereof, and cannot prevent, nor hath given to it any occasion. And be not grieved to hear me, seeing the benefit of the discourse shall redound unto thyself.

‘“When God created our first parent in the terrestrial paradise, the Holy Scripture saith, That God infused sleep into Adam, and that, being asleep, He took out a rib of his left side, of which He formed our mother Eve; and as soon as Adam awaked and beheld her, he said, ‘This is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bones.’ And God said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and they shall be two in one flesh.’ And then was the divine ordinance of matrimony first instituted, with such indissoluble knots as only may be by death dissolved. And this marvellous ordinance is of such efficacy and force, as it makes two different persons to be one very flesh; and yet operates further in good married folk; for, although they have two souls, yet it makes them to have but one will. And hence it proceeds, that by reason the wife’s  flesh is one and the very same with her husband’s, the blemishes or defects that taint it do also redound into the husband’s, although he, as we have said, have ministered no occasion, to receive that damage. For as all the whole body feels any pain of the foot, head, or any other member, because it is all one flesh, and the head smarts at the grief of the ankle, although it hath not caused it; so is the husband participant of his wife’s  dishonour, because he is one and the selfsame with her. And by reason that all the honours and dishonours of the world are, and spring from flesh and blood, and those of the bad woman be of this kind, it is forcible, that part of them fall to the husband’s  share, and that he be accounted dishonourable, although he wholly be ignorant of it. See then, Anselmo, to what peril thou dost thrust thyself by seeking to disturb the quietness and repose wherein thy wife lives, and for how vain and impertinent curiosity thou wouldest stir up the humours which are now quiet in thy chaste spouse’s  breast. Note how the things thou dost adventure to gain are of small moment; but that which thou shalt lose so great, that I must leave it in his point, having no words sufficiently able to endear it. But if all that I have said be not able to move thee from thy bad purpose, thou mayst well seek out for some other instrument of thy dishonour and mishaps; for I mean not to be one, although I should therefore lose thine amity, which is the greatest loss that might any way befall me.”

‘Here the prudent Lothario held his peace, and Anselmo remained so confounded and melancholy, as he could not answer a word to him for a very great while. But in the end he said, “I have listened, friend Lothario, to all that which thou hast said unto me, with the attention which thou hast noted, and have perceived in thy reasons, examples, and similitudes the great discretion wherewithal thou art endowed, and the perfection of amity that thou has attained; and do also confess and see, that, if I follow not thine advice, but should lean unto mine own, I do but shun the good, and pursue the evil. Yet oughtest thou likewise to consider, how herein I suffer the disease which some women are wont to have, that long to eat earth, lime, coals, and other far worse and loathsome things event to the very sight, and much more to the taste; so that it is behooveful to use some art by which I may be cured; and this might be easily done by beginning only to solicit Camilla, although you did it but weak and feignedly; for I know she will not be so soft and pliable as to dash her honesty about the ground at the first encounters, and I will rest satisfied with this commencement alone; and thou shalt herein accomplish the obligation thou owest to our friendship, by not only restoring me to life, but also by persuading me not to despoil myself of mine honour. And thou art bound to do this, for one reason that I shall allege, to wit, that I being resolved, as indeed I am, to make this experience, thou oughtest not to permit, being my friend, that I should bewray my defect herein to a stranger, whereby I might very much endanger my reputation, which thou labourest so much to preserve; and though thy credit may lose some degrees in Camilla’s  opinion whilst thou dost solicit her, it matters not very much, or rather nothing; for very shortly, when we shall espy in her the integrity that we expect, thou mayst open unto her sincerely the drift of our practice, by which thou shalt again recover thine impaired reputation. Therefore seeing the adventure is little, and the pleasure thou shalt do me by the enterprising thereof so, too great, I pray thee do it, though ever so many encumbrances represent themselves to thee, for, as I have promised, with only thy beginning, I will rest satisfied and account the cause concluded.”

‘Lothario perceiving the firm resolution of Anselmo, and nothing else occurring forcibly dissuasive, not knowing what other reasons to use that might hinder this his precipitate resolution, and noting withal how he threatened to break the matter of this his indiscreet desires to a stranger, he determined, to avoid greater inconvenience, to give him satisfaction, and perform his demand, with purpose and resolution to guide the matter so discreetly, as, without troubling Camilla’s  thoughts, Anselmo should rest contented; and therefore entreated him not to open his mind to any other, for he himself would undertake that enterprise, and begin it whensoever he pleased. Anselmo embraced him very tender and lovingly, and gratified him as much for that promise as if he had done him some very great favour, and there they accorded between them that he should begin the work the very next day ensuing; for he would give him place and leisure to speak alone with Camilla, and would likewise provide him of money, jewels, and other things to present unto her. He did also admonish him to bring music under her windows by night, and write verses in her praise, and if he would not take the pains to make them, he himself would compose them for him. Lothario promised to perform all himself, yet with an intention far wide from Anselmo’s; and with this agreement they returned to Anselmo’s  house, where they found Camilla somewhat sad and careful, expecting her husband’s  return, who had stayed longer abroad that day than his custom. Lothario, leaving him at his house, returned to his own, as pensive as he had left Anselmo contented, and knew not what plot to lay, to issue out of that impertinent affair with prosperous success. But that night he bethought himself of a manner how to deceive Anselmo without offending Camilla; and so the next day ensuing he came to his friend’s  house to dinner, where Camilla, knowing the great good-will her husband bore towards him, did receive and entertain him very kindly with the like. Dinner being ended, and the table taken up, Anselmo requested Lothario to keep Camilla company until his return, for he must needs go about an affair that concerned him greatly, but would return within an hour and a half. Camilla entreated her husband to stay, and Lothario proffered to go and keep him company; but nothing could prevail with Anselmo, but rather he importuned his friend Lothario to remain and abide there till his return, because he must go to treat of a matter of much consequence. He also commanded Camilla not to leave Lothario alone until he came back. And so he departed, leaving Camilla and Lothario together at the table, by reason that all the attendants and servants were gone to dinner.

‘Here Lothario saw that he was entered into the lists which his friend so much desired, with his adversary before him, who was with her beauty able to overcome a whole squadron of armed knights; see then if Lothario had not reason to fear himself; but that which he did at the first onset was to lay his elbow on the arm of his chair and his hand on his cheek, and, desiring Camilla to bear with his respectlessness therein, he said he would repose a little whilst he attended Anselmo’s  coming. Camilla answered that she thought he might take his ease better on the cushions of state; and therefore prayed him he would enter into the parlour and lie on them. But he excused himself, and so remained asleep in the same place until Anselmo’s  return, who, coming in, and finding his wife in her chamber and Lothario asleep, made full account that, by reason of his long stay, they had time enough both to talk and repose; and therefore expected very greedily the hour wherein his friend should awake, to go out with him and learn what success he had. All succeeded as he wished; for Lothario arose, and both of them went abroad; and then he demanded of him what he desired. And Lothario answered that it seemed not to him so good to discover all his meaning at the first; and therefore had done no other thing at that time than speak a little of her beauty and discretion; for it seemed to him that this was the best preamble he could use to gain by little and little some interest and possession in her acceptance, to dispose her thereby the better to give ear again to his words more willingly, imitating therein the devil’s  craft when he means to deceive any one that is vigilant and careful; for then he translates himself into an angel of light, being one of darkness, and laying before him apparent good, discovers what he is in the end, and brings his intention to pass, if his guiles be not at the beginning detected. All this did greatly like Anselmo, who said that he would afford him every day as much leisure, although he did not go abroad; for he would spend the time so at home as Camilla should never be able to suspect his drift.

‘It therefore befel that many days passed which Lothario did willingly overslip, and said nothing to Camilla; yet did he ever soothe Anselmo, and told him that he had spoken to her, but could never win her to give the least argument of flexibility, or make way for the feeblest hope that might be; but rather affirmed that she threatened him that, if he did not repel his impertinent desires, she would detect his indirect proceedings to her husband. “It is well”, quoth Anselmo. “Hitherto Camilla hath resisted words; it is therefore requisite to try what resistance she will make against works. I will give thee to-morrow four thousand crowns in gold, to the end thou mayst offer, and also bestow them on her; and thou shalt have as many more to buy jewels wherewithal to bait her; for women are naturally inclined, and specially if they be fair (be they ever so chaste), to go brave and gorgeously attired; and if she can overcome this temptation, I will remain pleased, and put thee to no more trouble.” Lothario answered, that, seeing he had begun, he would bear his enterprise on to an end, although he made full account that he should depart from the conflict both tired and vanquished. He received the four thousand crowns the next day, and at once with them four thousand perplexities, for he knew not what to invent to lie anew; but concluded finally to tell his friend how Camilla was as inflexible at gifts and promises as at words; and therefore it would be in vain to travail any more in her pursuit, seeing he should do nothing else but spend the time in vain.

‘But fortune, which guided these affairs in another manner, so disposed, that Anselmo, having left Lothario and Camilla alone, as he was wont, entered secretly into a chamber, and through the crannies and chinks did listen and see what they would do; where he perceived that Lothario, in the space of half-an-hour, spoke not a word to Camilla, nor yet would he have spoken, though he had remained there a whole age, and thereupon surmised straight that all that which his friend had told him of Camilla’s  answers and his own speech were but fictions and untruths; and that he might the more confirm himself, and see whether it were so, he came forth, and, calling Lothario apart, he demanded of him what Camilla had said, and in what humour she was at the present? Lothario answered, that he meant not ever any more to sound her in that matter; for she replied unto him so untowardly and sharply, as he durst not attempt any more to speak unto her of such things.

‘“Oh,” quoth Anselmo, “Lothario, Lothario! how evil dost thou answer to the affection thou owest me, or to the confidence I did repose in thee? I have stood beholding thee all this while through the hole of that lock, and saw how thou never spokest one word to her. Whereby I do also collect that thou hast not yet once accosted her; and if it be so, as doubtlessly it is, say, why dost thou deceive me? or why goest thou about fraudulently to deprive me of those means whereby I may obtain my desires?” Anselmo said no more, yet what he said was sufficient to make Lothario confused and ashamed, who, taking it to be a blemish to his reputation to be found in a lie, swore to Anselmo that he would from thenceforward so endeavour to please his mind, and tell him no more leasings, as he himself might perceive the success thereof, if he did again curiously lie in watch for him; a thing which he might well excuse, because his most serious labour to satisfy his desire should remove all shadow of suspicion. Anselmo believed him, and that he might give him the greater commodity, and less occasion of fear, he resolved to absent himself from his house some eight days, and go to visit a friend of his that dwelt in a village not far from the city; and therefore dealt with his friend, that he should send a messenger to call for him very earnestly, that, under that pretext, he might find an excuse to Camilla for his departure.

‘O unfortunate and inconsiderate Anselmo! what is that which thou dost? what dost thou contrive? or what is that thou goest about? Behold, thou workest thine own ruin, laying plots of thine own dishonour, and giving order to thy proper perdition. Thy wife Camilla is good; thou dost possess her in quiet and peaceable manner; no man surpriseth thy delights, her thoughts transgress not the limits of her house. Thou art her heaven on earth, and the goal to which her desires aspire. Thou art the accomplishment and sum of her delectation. Thou art the square by which she measureth and directeth her will, adjusting wholly with thine and with that of Heaven. Since then the mines of her honour, beauty, modesty, and recollection bountifully afford thee, without any toil, all the treasures contained in them, or thou canst desire, why wouldst thou dig the earth and seek out new veins and ne’er-seen treasures, exposing thyself to the danger that thy labours may turn to wreck, seeing, in fine, that they are only sustained by the weak supporters of her frail nature? Remember how he that seeks the impossible may justly be refused of that which is possible, according to that which the poet saith:

 “‘In death for life I seek,
    Health in infirmity;
    For issue in a dungeon deep,
    In jails for liberty,
    And in a treachour loyalty.

 “‘But envious fate, which still
    Conspires to work mine ill,
    With heaven hath thus decreed,
    That easy things should be to me denied
    ’Cause I crave the impossible.’”

‘Anselmo departed the next day following to the village, telling Camilla, at his departure, that, whilst he was absent, his friend Lothario would come and see to the affairs of his house, and to eat with her, and desired her therefore to make as much of him as she would do of his own person. Camilla, like a discreet and modest woman, was grieved at the order her husband did give to her, and requested him to render how indecent it was that any one should possess the chair of his table, he being absent, and if he did it as doubting her sufficiency to manage his household affairs, that at least he should make trial of her that one time, and should clearly perceive how she was able to discharge matters of far greater consequence. Anselmo replied, that what he commanded was his pleasure, and therefore she had nothing else to do but hold down the head and obey it. Camilla answered, that she would do so, although it was very much against her will. In fine, her husband departed, and Lothario came the next day following to the house, where he was entertained by Camilla very friendly, but would never treat with Lothario alone, but evermore was compassed by her servants and waiting maidens, but chiefly by one called Leonela, whom she loved dearly, as one that had been brought up with her in her father’s  house, even from their infancy, and when she did marry Anselmo she brought her from thence in her company.

‘The first three days Lothario spoke not a word, although he might, when the tables were taken up, and that the folk of the house went hastily to dinner, for so Camilla had commanded, and did give Leonela order besides to dine before herself, and that she should still keep by her side; but the girl, who had her fancy otherwise employed in things more pleasing her humour, and needed those hours and times for the accomplishing of them, did not always accomplish so punctually her lady’s  command, but now and then would leave her alone, as if that were her lady’s  behest. But the honest presence of Camilla, the gravity of her face, and the modesty of her carriage, was such, that it served as a bridle to restrain Lothario’s  tongue. But the benefit of Camilla’s  many virtues, setting silence to Lothario’s  speech, resulted afterward to both their harms; for though the tongue spoke not, yet did his thoughts discourse, and had leisure afforded them to contemplate, part by part, all the extremes of worth and beauty that were cumulated in Camilla, potent to inflame a statue of frozen marble, how much more a heart of flesh! Lothario did only behold her in the time and space he should speak unto her, and did then consider how worthy she was to be loved. And this consideration did by little and little give assaults to the respects which he ought to have borne towards his friend Anselmo; a thousand times did he determine to absent himself from the city, and go where Anselmo should never see him, nor he Camilla; but the delight he took in beholding her did again withhold and hinder his resolutions. When he was alone, he would condemn himself of his mad design, and term himself a bad friend and worse Christian; he made discourses and comparisons between himself and Anselmo, all which did finish in this point, that Anselmo’s  foolhardiness and madness were greater than his own infidelity, and that, if he might be as easily excused before God, for that he meant to do, as he would be before men, he needed not to fear any punishment should be inflicted on him for the crime. Finally, Camilla’s  beauty and worth, assisted by the occasion which the ignorant husband had thrust into his fists, did wholly ruin and overthrow Lothario his loyalty; and therefore, without regarding any other thing than that to which his pleasure conducted him, about three days after Anselmo’s  departure (which time he had spent in a continual battle and resistance of his contending thoughts), he began to solicit Camilla with such trouble of the spirits and so amorous words, as she was strucken almost beside herself with wonder, and made him no other answer, but, arising from the table, flung away in a fury into her chamber. But yet, for all this dryness, Lothario his hope (which is wont evermore to be born at once with love) was nothing dismayed, but rather accounted the more of Camilla, who, perceiving that in Lothario which she never durst before to imagine, knew not what she might do; but, it seeming unto her to be a thing neither secure nor honest, to give him occasion or leisure to speak unto him again, determined to send one unto her husband Anselmo the very same night, as indeed she did, with a letter to recall him home to her house. The subject of her letter was this.

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