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Bad Manners and Good Gossip

« Seinfeld, Kramer and the Red Ribbon Brigade! | Main | Heroic Doctor Exposes Big Pharma! »

September 01, 2006


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I can think of no better reason for learning a language than your father's ambition.

Celia Farber

My dear George, I wish we had a less Plebeian word than 'blogospherical' but in the meantime, I too am delighted to have met you there, (here.)

I wish (at my most shamelessly Circean) to capture you and Claus for service in the small but elite cricket symphony of my soon-to-be-born linguistic blog.

THERE we will play excruciatingly close attention to detail and connotation.

Now, Claus, I looked up "umlaut," and wish yet again to defend the Farber family honor by explaining why I said "umlaut" in reference to the last three Danish letters which I equated with the last three Swedish letters, though I know yours are these weird crammed together a's and e's etc and ours are nice reasonable "umlauts" (dots and circles)hanging over the a and o where they belong.

Umlaut, then, means a "dia-critical mark," and in Websters, they use the Swedish vowel of said beer (o, with two dots over) which sounds like an American burp, possibly, no other way to describe it...and it is also the opening vowel of my hometown "Orebro," which I am forced to pronounce as though it rhymed with the English "Ore," when in fact our magical umlaut opens it up into the sound that rhymes with...well I can't think of a thing, except a gasp of dead-rodent horror, as in "uhhh."

In school they made us learn all those Danish letters leaning in on each other unnaturally and I pretended to know them well. If we really want to get wild here we could start talking about my father's favorite topic which is "Ny Norsk." But I think we're having too much fun with the Sweden/Denmark showdown.

I refuse to accept that Danish men are boring. Was Hamlet boring?

Indeed, was Hamlet....Danish?

(wink wink)


Hamlet? Perhaps not boring, although soon insufferable I'd have thought in his constant slander of life and the 'strumpet Fortune.' Nothing much for women to judge by poor Ophelia, intent as he was, even when resting in her lap, on exactly that: 'Nothing'

Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

No, my lord.

I mean, my head upon your lap?

Ay, my lord.

Do you think I meant country matters?

I think nothing, my lord.

That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.

What is, my lord?


I confess I was not entirely truthful regarding the umlauts. The last letter in our alphabet is written with a small circle above the A. To me it's less aesthetically pleasing than the contraction, 'ae'. 'Oe', which is written with a line through it like an arrow through a heart doesn't seem like an organic development either. But really, those little pin pricks used in Swedish, very peculiar.


Ms. Farber,

Blogospherical (or more correctly bllogospherical)is a most wonderfully decontextualizable, hyper-post-modern term . I am surprised you take even the slightest umbrage (does that have an umlaut?) to its use in the otherwise lingustically challenged times in which we live.

The dilemma of Hamlet and Ophelia that the presumably tall Dane, Claus brought to your attention is a perfect example of this existential and sexual crossroads, and is worth as much attention as The Fugs ode to nothing that was recorded in the glorious year of 1965 when I studied the circular permutations of the T4 genome at CSH, and the internet was not even a gleam in Al's eye.

Celia Farber

George: I did not take umbrage. Last I checked this was a free Kleptocracy. I don't like the root word "blog" or any conjugation of it. I do, however, like Denmark. I love Rasmussen. I think Hamlet is mostly mis-read as "ambivalent." (The influence of a certain beloved college professor who ACTED out the play as he taught it, and was clearly in love with H. Furious, he was, about all the incorrect raps he felt H. had been saddled with, chiefly the 'ambivalent' stuff.)


Ms Farber,

Hamlet is most certainly mis-read as 'ambivalent', which I hope my quotation went to show. The ambivalence comes from stuffy lecturers (yours obviously not included in that legion) who know no better than to read their own limited self-understanding into literature from other epochs and circumstances - a little bit like retrovirologists I suppose.

George is another unique leftover from a different epoch, as far distant as the dinosaurs it seems, though his quaint use of fashionable cyber-slang indicates he's not yet a fossil in the judgment of his thrice great grandchildren.
Apropos 'my prophetic soul', he also brought out neatly the relevance of Hamlet to our current predicament in calling it a 'perfect example of this existential and sexual crossroads'.
If we add to the mix of existential and sexual the media in which 'Hamlet' was conceived and performed, namely ambiguous language and raunchy theatre where boys customarily came dressed as girls, I think everybody will understand, that we've never really strayed far from the lyrics of your Team America song.

Celia I. Farber

I can't really get too worked up about Hamlet, though I did like that angle my beloved professor John Carroll took staunchly and spittingly ANTI-AMBIVALENCE, also anti-the notion that Hamlet was young(ish) and of course the notion that the damn thing had anything to do with Denmark, other than a way to outfox the censors of Elizabethan England.

Claus: I could talk about Denmark forever. Is this like...a table at the back of the joint that they don't really need? In which case, we can have our little underground salon, order another round and keep blowing smoke rings about Denmark and our various obsessions while the fires rage outside.

I have to ask you about The Point (pa engelska) where the the earth's oceans form a seam. Fredrikshavn...was it...and then...I can't remember. Is it true or were they pulling my American Leg?


It's not clear to me what you mean. I haven't been there a long time myself... If you mean a seam between all the earth's major oceans, 5 or however many there are of them, near a Danish city, I profess ignorance. I doubt very much one can extend for instance the Indian Ocean all the way up or down, or around to


But let's have a seat and one more 'fadoel',then, and let the world above ground mind its own mindless business a while longer, so I can discover what it is that fascinates you so about Denmark. For to me, the native and the traveller, the rest of 'Norden', Sweden, Norway, Finland is so much wilder and grander in its bones than the little piece of manicured farmland I grew up on.

Stephen Davis

There is now a highly condensed (28 minutes) version of the Joey Reynolds Show available for listening at

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