Friday, August 15, 2008

The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger

again, each post shall provide only summaries of the assigned chapters. I hope lively discussion of the characters and themes present in each week's reading will appear in the comments section.

chapter one ("I am Born"): young David exhibits wit and self-deprecation as he recounts his own birth and earliest experiences. his father, having died months before, left his mother a small pension upon which she and her servant, Peggotty, plan to raise the child. a wealthy aunt of his father, Mrs. Betsey Trotwood Copperfield, appears. she is convinced young David shall be born a girl; should her niece-in-law name the child after her, Mrs. Betsey Trotwood Copperfield will be its generous benefactor. unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Mrs. Copperfield's baby is a boy. she names him David.

chapter two ("I Observe"): David's mother is young and beautiful. their servant, Peggotty, is old and fat. he loves them both but Peggotty provides more consistent reciprocation as his mother begins to call frequently at a neighbour's home; there she meets Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone comes to their home and, though he possesses dark whiskers and a darker countenance, takes David on an enjoyable trip to the coast. David knows not exactly what transpires but, while there, Mr. Murdstone also meets with some unscrupulous characters. meanwhile, Mrs. Copperfield plans to send David away to Yarmouth for two weeks with Peggotty.

chapter three ("I have a Change"): David and Peggotty visit Yarmouth to stay with the latter's brother. Mr. Peggotty lives in a boat beached and converted to a home with his orphaned niece (Emily) and nephew (Ham) and Mrs. Gummidge, the widow of Mr. Peggotty's fishing partner. despite Mrs. Gummidge's constant complaints, David has a wonderful time in Yarmouth. he kisses little Emily and admits that he loves her but predicts an unfortunate end for the child. on the way home, Peggotty tells him that Mrs. Copperfield married Mr. Murdstone while they were away. David is not as excited as Peggotty by the prospect of his "new Pa!".

chapter four ("I fall into Disgrace"): Mr. Murdstone's sister comes to stay with the new Mrs. Murdstone and her son. the siblings instruct David's mother in the less-than-subtle method of firmness with regard to modifying David's behaviour. made nervous by such hostility, David confuses his recitations. for this he is scolded and beaten. during his flogging, he bites Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone locks David in his room as further punishment. days later, Miss Murdstone brings David food and informs him that he will be sent away to school in the morning.

chapter five ("I am sent away from Home"): Mr. Murdstone puts David on a carriage to Yarmouth. Peggotty stops the carriage on the road to give David some money and the driver questions David about the servant, seemingly interested in the woman
romantically. at Yarmouth, David hires a carriage to London. Mr. Mell meets David at the station. they go to Mell's mother's home for the afternoon and afterward to Salem House. there David is given a placard to wear that he initially assumed was for a dog; on it is written, "Take care of him. He bites". as all the other boys are away on holiday, he and Mell work at the school in the days before the start of the next term.

chapter six ("I enlarge my Circle of Acquaintance"): the headmaster, Mr. Creakle, informs David that he is a friend of Murdstone and a ruthless and unforgiving personage.
the boys take pity on David. the leader of the boys at Salem House is J. Steerforth. David entrusts him with what's left of his money (some having been swindled from him by a waiter at a restaurant in Yarmouth) and is further taken advantage of when Steerforth uses it to buy liquor and sweets for the others. still, this guarantees David a certain degree of protection from Creakle as his daughter and Steerforth care for each other and, as such, Creakle leaves alone Steerforth and his friends.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Idle Chatter

far be it from me to question my father but I warned him against the cultivation of potatoes at Lake Park. his insistence has invited rather unseemly speculation by our neighbours with regard to our family.

the least defamatory of which suggests our need, presumably due to an inability to pay higher prices for foodstuffs out of season, to store food for the winter-- a sure sign of reversed fortunes. the most offensive comments insinuate an Irish heritage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Don't Miss It, Don't Even Be Late

however unfortunate is this juxtaposition and appropriate the resultant metaphor,

none could argue that "BIG BOAR" is not a ridiculous understatement in terms of the actual beast (really, the photograph ought also feature an obese teenager to provide scale).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Apt Recognition

the abhorrent priorities of the nouveau riche aside, the wealthy regularly donate to institutions worthy of their generosity. the Caddinghams deem the agricultural division of the state fair of Iowhampton such a one; the butter cow, flower arrangements and giant squash so featured delight the simple fair-goers.

for such, our names forever pave the walkway to the Agriculture Building at the fairgrounds.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Joyous Occasion

though unconscionable to rank one's relatives, my partiality could hardly be doubted.

today is the birthday of a favourite aunt, Mrs. Dolores Jennings Van der Hoof Walker.

in future, banks shall assuredly follow society's example and enjoy a holiday every eleventh day of August.

Friday, August 8, 2008

First Meeting of the Quiet Desperation Book Club

after imbibing more brandy than should two gentleman sharing a noonday meal, cousin Cecil revealed to me that he never finished The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger.

"there were just too many pages," said he.

obviously, I was scandalized.

then I realized that nor had I ever read beyond chapter six, saying at the time that "[t]here are just too many pages and I really ought to read something else now".

thus we resolved to finish the book together.

as it has been nearly a decade since either of us last attempted to read The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger, both of us will start again at the beginning. and, for a number of reasons (each chapter is so convoluted, other books may strike our fancy in the meantime and we feel no external obligation to finish post haste), we have decided to read only six chapters each week, completing the task by mid-October.

every Friday, I will summarize the chapters from the previous week. I hope others besides myself and Cecil will participate and post their comments after each such installation.

this begins next Friday when I shall recount the details of Mr. Copperfield's birth (chapter one) through the enlargement of his circle of acquaintance (chapter six).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Vanity" License Plate

though ever ready to indulge my appreciation for the ironic, the placement of this proclamation at back of a dented and rusty "Chevrolette pick-up" reveals it as an earnest cry for help made by one truly in need, neither exaggerating nor reveling his situation and certainly not doing so for comedic effect.

I intended to assist the owner of this motorized conveyance until I realized that the money he might need for groceries would have been available had he not spent such on a personalized license plate.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Death in the Family

yesterday I attended the funeral of a miserly uncle. no one shared anything nearing praise of a man whose life was so grudgingly lived but, due to his sizable holdings in Nebraskashire (including the family's original homestead) and the Canadian wasteland of Alberta, all hoped to hear to whom he so bequeathed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

An Evening in Pea Ridge

when not enlisting fire brigades and battling "claims adjusters", I spent time in Pea Ridge, Arkansington. it was the site of a battle during that disastrous conflict between the states.

seemingly, it has changed little in the century and a half since "the ugliness".

a musical group performed at the town's summertime jamboree. several members boast no meager talent. they sang of fire and brimstone as well as salvation and the rapture.

admittedly, I preferred those tunes featuring the latter.

and although the town square at Pea Ridge is no Twelve Oaks,

the Wilkes family never provides such novel diversions at their picnics.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

General Sherman: Hardly a Gentleman

I apologize for the lately sporadic nature of my posts.

after my reticence to install a gas line, a faulty stove nearly laid ruin the Caddingham Estate at Arkansington last week.

although normally atwitter when so validated, oversight of the many repairs leaves me exhausted and little able to make good on the promises I made months ago to attend myriad social engagements nor even post daily accounts of my adventures.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Temujin, in Casual Company

this film taught me that, contrary to popular belief, not all Asians look exactly alike.

however, it confirmed that they display little or no sense of humor.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Benchmark Preceeding One's Imminent Demise

to commemorate this, my 100th entry, I proffer not the usual commentary. today I provide something more personal.

the photograph above pictures your correspondents. all play a game popular among Italians and geriatrics. most clad in short pants--the regrettable accoutrement of summertime leisure. few know the rules nor recognize how ridiculous they appear. none are much bothered.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Central High School

situated where once stood the territorial capitol of Nebraskashire, listed among the oldest schools in the region, housed within a building mistakable as a legitimate example of Beaux-Artes and plagued by adolescent drug-use and pregnancies kept secret, Omaha's Central High School boasts all the qualities of an elite preparatory academy.

yet so insufferable do I find the manner of its students and alumni; they exaggerate its status--forgetting that the high school is a public institution and that not every graduate wins a Nobel Prize.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Roman L. Hruska Federal Building

despite honoring a conservative Czechoslovakian politician, the federal courthouse affronts not the surrounding structures; its architecture balances these most pronounced characteristics of its namesake to achieve a design neither austere nor Bohemian.

still: nearly half the height of most buildings adjacent, it is doubly dispensable.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Seattle

thunderstorms and perpetual cloud cover have plagued Omaha these past months, certainly challenging Seattle's attribution as the most overcast city in America.

unfortunately, the residents of Nebraskashire possess neither the oceanfront property nor dour dispositions which seemingly help the citizens of Seattle live under such conditions.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

as ever, I spend the 4th of July in the South; a region which, less than a century after the Declaration of Independence, nearly brought the nation asunder.

some say the irony is palpable. others argue that I doubly celebrate the spirit of America by detonating explosives somewhere so wrought with independence that it sacrificed its resources, institutions and values in an attempt to achieve such.

I fail to appreciate either the irony or the confluence because I barely recognize the United States of America as a sovereign nation and little desire to examine the nuances of its petulance...nor that of its constituent parts.

to me, Arkansington provides a place to launch fireworks purchased in the even more lawless state of Misboury; Nebraskashire permits only the most pedestrian pyrotechnics.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Qwest Center

similar to the Colosseum of ancient Rome, Omaha's event center may be converted to accommodate aquatic events.

also like the Colosseum, The Qwest Center will eventually fall into disrepair.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Political Commentary

I rarely concern myself with American politics. however, when I do occasion an opinion on such matters, it is wonderful to know that someone not only reads but appreciates my thoughtful commentary.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Field Club of Omaha

a storm of inestimable force wreaked havoc on wealthy and middling neighborhoods alike last Friday evening.

the city's oldest golf course escaped not without a thrashing--among the downed trees is an ancient oak which stood on the eleventh green.

an injustice of such magnitude has not been perpetrated upon our neighborhood country club since the outcome of Goldstein, Katz, Wasserman v. Field Club of Omaha stipulated that the institution ease its membership requirements.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Rumination

however beautiful a place to visit is Californing, I cannot take permanent residence where:

roadways are so shamefully maintained,

mirrored lakes become impenetrable wetlands (however slowly),

roast duck is not more ably prepared,

snow persists well into the summer,

"burgers" are produced in short order and may contain within a single bun multiple patties,

the indigenous population is so brazenly fecund and fainéant,

and, judging only from the screams for I dared not venture too near, seaside visitors are subject to all manner of Medieval torture.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Flora of the Sierra Nevada

it is difficult to determine which to celebrate with greater fervor: the roaring waters or the verdant forest nourished by the cascade.

the clothespin tree.

La Porte de l'Enfer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Fauna of the Sierra Nevada

the tree at the end of the world.

a jay. presumably in mourning.

a thing of this size can only be the foot of a brontosaur.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yosemite National Park

I am away west on holiday. this week, I shall scale Half Dome then convalesce at one of many seaside resorts named for a Spanish saint.

Friday, June 13, 2008


a train impeded my way. worse, each railway car brimmed with coal.

if such continues, this place shall become little better than Manchester.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Night of the Twisters

a sudden severe meteorological episode disrupted a delightful garden party; this convinces me that forecasting the weather is, at best, a pseudoscience.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wells Fargo

for the rare occasions that a Cézanne is not an accepted mode of exchange, I keep more liquid assets at this venerable institution.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Council Bluffs

although known primarily for casinos, low-class shopping establishments and even lower class inhabitants, the downtown area provides a brilliant contrast to the parts of the city frequented by outsiders.