February 2, 2013

At the Cabin-Fever Café...


... we finally got the snow that reopened the ski trails, but it's 4.6 °F — "Feels Like -11 °F" — here in Madison, and that's beyond the point where you can say to yourself be tough, be strong. Not for mere recreation or the general principle of getting out of the house.

Within this shut-in-ism, let me offer another exam in my capacity as Freewheeling Lawprof of the Internet. Open the door to the exam room carefully....

The last exam was in media bias, and some excellent answers were turned in there. This is a difficult assignment for a class in Creative Misinterpretation. You've got to get up to speed with the "Gatsby" project sentences. I think there are about 30 or so of them by now. If you've been following along,  you have your favorite phrases — "leaking isolated and unpunctual tears," "contiguous to absolutely nothing," "a puddle of water glaring tragically," "I suppose it is the latest thing to sit back and...," "stirred the gray haze," "warm human magic,""mashed potatoes and coffee," "hot whips of panic," "the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling," "shadows... rouged and powdered,"  the "continually smouldering" nerves under the "spotted dress," the "crowded hams," cooking things through bewitchery, "suck on the pap of life," "tortuously, fashionably," "the real snow, our snow," nibbling "at the edge of stale ideas," "a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden," and — of course — running out of a room calling "Ewing!" and returning with "an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair."

Either you've been following along or you haven't. If you haven't, you could try to catch up, or you might want to run right out of the room, in which case, just humor me by calling "Ewing!" as you go.

Now, what happened yesterday was that I toyed with the idea, suggested by Original Commenter Genius Palladian, that we should abandon "Gatsby" and switch to "Paradise Lost." I only veered into that because the "Gatsby" sentence included "rivulets," and I looked up "rivulet" in the OED and saw a quote from "Paradise Lost." I found the entire "rivulet" sentence — 18 lines! — and reprinted it in the post, and that led Upstart Commenter Genius betamax3000 to riff in a strange manner:
"The tears coursed down her cheeks — not freely, however, for when they came into contact with her heavily bedded buttocks they assumed an inky color. She went out of the room calling 'Ewing!' and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair. Tears coursed down his cheeks, too, an indefinite procession of cheeks, that rouged and powdered on an invisible ass...."
It goes on, collecting and repurposing sentence fragments from past posts (into which we are borne back ceaselessly).  That gave me the idea for a new exam. You can decide if you want to compete at the basic or the advanced level. At the basic level, you need only combine fragments from the "Gatsby" project sentences in any way that you think might amuse us.

If you would like to compete at the advanced level, I'm a little worried. You'll have to be very tough. At this altitude, it's 4.6 °F and feels like -11 °F. You have to take the 18 lines of "Paradise Lost" and redo them using the fragments from "Gatsby" project sentences. You know, Gatsby is the snake, trying to get Daisy alone. Daisy is futzing with the drooping flour/flower stalks.  The Garden of Eden becomes the "Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden."

Time limit: You have until the temperature hits 32° in Madison. Answers may be submitted in the comments. Grades will be arbitrary or nonexistent or the incomparable milk of wonder.


edutcher said...

Out of my league, but "Paradise Lost"?

Talk about no fun.

"Don Juan", maybe or "War And Peace" (lots of sex and violence).

But 4.6?

And it's coming here?

No wonder The Blonde is threatening the pups with going back to FL.

Strelnikov said...

"4.6". That's pretty specific.

MadisonMan said...

Instead of staying inside, walk to Humble on Allen/Regent -- across from Milios -- and get some pie!

Ann Althouse said...

Is that pie good?

There is no pie in "Gatsby." (But there is cake: lemon, white, wedding, and unspecified.)

There is no "humble" in "Gatsby." (But there is "humiliation of my towels").

edutcher said...

Cake seems to be an East Coast thing, especially Northeast.

Go South or into the Midwest and it's all pie.

Tim said...

1 day, 6 hours, 5 minutes until kick-off!



rhhardin said...

When the power went out for a couple of weeks, never rising above -10F, a sudden 0F felt balmy.

Nose hairs no longer stuck together.

No freezer contents were lost, curiously; they were just moved to tbe back porch.

An open basement stairs door kept the house above 45F by way of the basement floor effect.

Freeman Hunt said...

I *love* this kind of puzzle. And alas, I have no time to do it today! Woe, woe.

Lem said...

I'm working... I'm not even supposed to be here.

Christy said...

Love Paradise Lost!

I remember skiing at Lake Placid when the morning temp was -30. At lunch I came in to shed layers. The temp was up to 0 and I was sweating under all those layers. That was back in the day when I could skate uphill for 50 yards but could never do dead body pull-ups.


ByondPolitics said...

Well, everyone has their limits I guess.

kentuckyliz said...

I'm too lazy and should be doing other things. I will check back to read others' contributions.

Christy said...

Dead HANG pull ups. Not dead body pull ups. shouldn't try to comment when watching crime shows.

traditionalguy said...

The elevator boy held a swastika door open to the lands East Of the Ohio and Gatsby slithered through in hopes of finding weak Mother Eve gardening alone, even if she be was bushed about with roses and veiled by mascara rivulets of her tears.

Then his peremptory heart struck her with a sudden wild brace that pushed her backwards into a circle of eternal gracelostnesss.

Gatsby lit up the garden and threw a victory triumph celebrating with hams crowding harlequin salads and cocktails floating in the air for every dark angel in attendance, especially for his chief-of-staff, Ewing who invented tobacco cultivation.

And then Adam came along and and noticed his Eve was still smouldering under a spotted, blue Fig Leaf Dress and had a curiously familiar look on her face. She then tremblingly offered Adam a cigarette of dried garden leaves from the the tree of nicotine.

As Adam inhaled he felt hot whips of panic. Was he a now serf to nicotine?

Then the last act curtains blew through the windows and the cast came out for their bows, except for Gatsby who was thrown out of the East Egg Garden.

ALP said...

I will happily trade my mild, yet endlessly gray and depressing, Puget Sound winter for your icy, yet very bright, Madison winter right about now. The older I get the more I understand how countries in the far north, with short, dark days...inspire suicide.

I have lived in both climates. Its a tough call which is worse: having the air freeze in your lungs, or trying to summon the ambition to get out of bed when its been "dusk" for a month.

betamax3000 said...


In a previous thread I was drivelllng on ceaselessly (as I am wont to do), posted my last comment at 10:56 AM, then at 10:57 (no time stamp available so this is somewhat approximate) I set the computer to sleep and set out to drop off dry cleaning and to get my hair cut.

I don't enjoy getting my hair cut: it is not painful (obviously), and it is not (much) a fear of a relative stranger going about my head with scissors while I am covered, for all intents and purposes, in a tarp.
I just don't like the idea of being kept there at the mercy of another's timing. More chatter = longer time in the chair. I could leave at any time of my choosing, but would be leaving with unresolved hair, so I sit there clip-clip-clip chatter-chatter-chatter.

I have no real issues regarding the dropping off of dry cleaning items, so that part is shorter.

Anyway, I return home and see the following from Ann:

"Yo, betamax, you're being paged in the next post!

2/2/13, 10:59 AM"

How is that for timing?

So -- of course -- I go to the next post and come upon The Challenge and --of course -- I am up for it, I think. So I start to write but want to keep in the spirit, so I resolve to forsake Naked Bob Dylan Robot and Naked Fitzgerald Cow. Oops: now this is much harder than I thought.

Still, it is an Assignment.

Then I decide I will leave Ewing out of it, just to make it harder on myself. Which also means I can't use the line that most tickles my fancy of late: "My buttocks are a frosted wedding-cake."

Meanwhile I assume the temperature in Madison is rising. Possibly.

So I persevere; I'll hand in my homework in the next post.

betamax3000 said...

This Side of Paradise Lost.

"I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all,

Of a small block of yellow brick, a wasteland tangled among dying orchids

Or Plantation, several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights,

By tray of cocktails or swollen frosted wedding-cake,

He sat down at a table with two girls in yellow,

Eve separate above a spotted dress of dark blue crêpe-de-chine

Mr. Mumble so seldom chanc'd, relieved of the burden of the banjo or the traps,

Beyond his hope, pale as death, with his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets,

Veiled in a cloud of fragrance that blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags,

Half spi'd, a secret place above the trees where

About her glowd a cigarette from a trembling match,

Each flour a ripe mystery of gay and radiant activities

Laid away already in lavender but fresh and breathing and bewitched to a dark gold,

Hung rippling and fluttering as her melody rose and her voice broke up sweetly,

Gently, stirring the gray haze of her fur collar,

As she Her self began to move again with the season, the fairest unsupported flour:

I don't want to fuck you at all. My heart's as cold as cold potatoes just now.

betamax3000 said...

So I had to throw in the Lady Chatterly riff: I always have problems trying to color between the lines.

southcentralpa said...

Unless you're originally from Aruba or some such place, if you can't be comfortable in 10F, you're not dressing right. I don't know if they have LL Bean stores in your time zone (haha), but in the catalog they even have helpful little graphics that show the comfort range for a given garment.