The Salem Orientalist Society

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Lady from Spain

There once was a lady from Spain
Whose husband was always a pain
So she slapped him again
And again and again
And again and again and again.

Here I am on the 4th of July in 1986 (though Ellen seems to have thought it was Pioneer Day):

:: posted by Willy Purple, 2:10 PM | link | 1 comments |

Monday, November 05, 2007

A late but true story for Halloween

Not long after my mom and dad got married in 1978, they went out from Maryland (where they were living and where my mom grew up) to visit my Dad's family in Utah. My dad's father was a photographer who specialized in restoring old photographs, so my mom's mother sent her with a photo of some of her relatives that was taken in c. 1880. They went to Summit (down by Parowan) where my dad's mother had grown up so he could visit his grandfather and grandmother, who were in their 90s by that time. They lived in a house that had been built by his father in the 1860s, and there was all kinds of interesting old stuff around that they wanted my dad to go through while he was there and see if there was anything he wanted. While he was up in one of the bedrooms upstairs that no one used, he opened a drawer in an old cabinet, and there sitting right on top of a pile of papers was the exact same photograph that my mom's mother had sent with her to have restored. Neither of my dad's grandparents or any of their relatives who still lived in Summit had any idea who the picture was of, and nobody still has any idea how that photo got to be there. Apparently, though, some of my mom's ancestors and my dad's ancestors knew each other at one point, and the only way I can explain this story is that one of them wanted my parents to know that.

Here's some pictures of old cemeteries I took this past year:

Gunston Hall, VA

Camp Floyd, UT

Newnan, GA

Cade's Cove, TN

Spartanburg, SC

:: posted by Willy Purple, 12:12 PM | link | 6 comments |

Friday, August 31, 2007

Time what an empty vapor tis

As you may have heard, I am now living in Baltimore, which is a hundred times better than D.C. because people here are actual people instead of old rich guys in Polo shirts and twenty year old intern girls in skirts that they can't wait to tell you they bought in Paris. And, people that work here tend to actually live here, and not in the pretend way that everyone in N. VA and Silver Spring says they live in D.C. And this is especially good since I was living not in D.C. (and never claimed to, for the record) but in a sad suburb devoid of any kind of identity where there was nothing you couldn't find everywhere else. And where, if you were lucky, they would steal your license plates (like me), and if you were unlucky, they would shoot you dead through your window while you got ready for work (like they lady ten houses down).

I'm living in Roland Park, which is the part of town where rich people built really big houses about a hundred years ago, in a house that is both really big and a hundred years old, with the old guy who owns it, his son, and three other borders. The old guy loves to talk, likes to feed me, and is fortunately an interesting person and a pretty good cook. He owns perfume factories in Hawaii so sometimes he's out there, and sometimes he's at his other house in Provence somewhere. He has three Porches, two Alfa Romeos and a Jaguar XJS, and he told me I could drive any of them any time I wanted, but I was too embarrassed to admit that I can't drive a stick. Normally, he speaks very carefully and tries hard to sound erudite, but when he's been drinking he sounds like the Bronx that he grew up in. He used to have a ton of money at some point, apparently, but it's not mostly there any more, from what I can tell. It's kind of funny and makes me feel all the more like I never really want any money at all.

But as nice as Baltimore is, I'm defending my dissertation proposal a week from today, and if all goes well, I'll be free for the next year to do whatever I want wherever I want with no obligation to be at Maryland. So I'm moving to Knoxville in January and I wish I were moving there today. I'm actually in Knoxville right now, looking out a window at a Norway maple, thinking about what Summer was like in 1987, wondering about what it will be like in 2037, and realizing just how little time there is in between. Yesterday a 93 year old man who has a highway named after him (GA 100 in Heard county) told me that if I ever find myself talking with anyone stupid, I make sure everyone who's watching can tell the difference.

Here's some pictures of Baltimore, a cat in a windowsill, and a unit of toxic Easter eggs that I took in 2000:

:: posted by Willy Purple, 11:05 PM | link | 5 comments |

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A quick update, on the Longest Day of the Year

Last weekend I was up near Reading, the weekend before was Albany, before that was out near Winchester, VA, before that was near Stroud and Eva, AL, and Decatur, GA. That's all the far back as I can remember. This weekend I'll be back down near Carrolton, GA, and next weekend is up in Henegar, AL, and the weekend after I can choose between Cullman, AL and south of Atlanta at Hardaman, and I'm thinking I'll go with the latter. After that, so far as I know, I'll only be back down to Alabama three times before the end of September. A man in Cleburne County offered me a job doing landscaping until I could find a real job, and I might could convince myself to take him up on it without too much trouble. Only that the main reason I'm down there as much as I am is moving to Knoxville in the Fall when they start at U. T.

Looks like I'll be moving to Baltimore by the end of July, though, cause my landlord is selling the house out from under me, and I'm going to move in with somebody else I know if all goes well. Plus, I'll be happy to get out of PG County, after they shot the lady down the street... but that's another story. I should finish up that story I started with, by the way, and then get out of here while you still remember who I am.

Here's some more slides I scanned:

Nice Place

Destroyed Couch

Evil Toy
:: posted by Willy Purple, 2:10 PM | link | 8 comments |

Monday, April 09, 2007

Yours with spring on the mind

If I have one more lady ask me in a southern accent if I'd mind if she touches my hair, I'm going to get a buzz cut.
I've got some slides for you all to make an easy post and get you all to quit clamoring for an update while I'm busy reading for my exams (which will be on the 9th to 11th of May, followed by orals on the 21st).
Incidentally (assuming I pass these exams), I'm going to be working on my dissertation next year with no classes, no teaching, and no assistanceship, meaning I will have no obligation to be here, so I can theoretically be wherever I want to be. I'm trying to decide where that is.

These are all Kodachrome 25 from 2000.

Here's when we dug up a forty year old freezer in our back yard. It was full of ashes. We enlarged the hole and moved it a few feet so it would be out of the way of the greenhouse we were building, and then re-buried it.

Later, I cut the head of this thing and mounted it on a nice wooden plaque, gave it to my brother for his birthday. He's still got it on his wall, and for all the people who've been over there, only one has ever asked him about it, he tells me.

Depending on how you look at it, this might be the ugliest or the most beautiful fruit in the world.
:: posted by Willy Purple, 8:11 PM | link | 4 comments |

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The other day, while I was on my way to Baltimore in a rainstorm that turned into a sleetstorm, a guy in a house seven or eight doors down from mine shot another guy, didn't hurt him too bad, apparently, but one of the bullets that missed went through the window of the house next door and killed the lady who just happened to be standing in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time. I was walking by the other night, noticing the boarded up window and thinking about how little man is in this world when a silver car with windows too heavily tinted to see into pulled alongside me and drove along for a little bit at the pace I was walking. When they didn't roll down the window and ask how to get to the Lanham-Severn road, I consoled myself that since there were a couple cars coming up behind them, nobody was likely to do anything untoward. And when the other cars caught up, they did have to get out of the way, which they accomplished by speeding up and pulling off to the side where the road widened a couple blocks ahead of me. Then, they made a U-Turn and headed back past me on the other side of the street, and as I was crossing my fingers and saying, "please don't turn back around at the next block, please don't turn back around at the next block, please don't turn back around at the next block," they went down to the next block and made another U-Turn, and drove up to me again, all alone in the dark. So by this time, I'm thinking that this is a little too weird to not do anything about, so I turned and walked up to the nearest house, but instead of driving off like I'd hoped they would, they parked out front. So I opened the screen door, another car came up behind them and tapped on its horn, and they took off. So did I, and that was that. New York City had 539 murders out of 8,115,690 people in 2005, whereas Prince Georges County had 150 out of 722,018, or 1 in every 4813 people vs. 1 in 15,056 for New York - Washington still has us beat with one in 2823 people murdered. Gary, Indiana is still the worst, I think, with one murder for every 1725 people, though it's not really that big of a town.
:: posted by Willy Purple, 9:59 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This could be you, but not really, parts III, IV, and V

Three things that have happened lately:
1. Yesterday, I went up to New York on the Chinatown Bus, spent what time I had looking for cheap shoes in Chinatown and visiting the Whitney. Then, I headed out to Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn, built in 1849, where Henry Ward Beecher peached back in the day (I had to put aside my politics to enjoy it, but that's so often the case up North...) and where the BBC was filming a television program (programme, I suppose...) about the history of the song "Amazing Grace." We sang a couple versions a whole bunch of times while they shot us from one angle and then another, and it was actually kind of fun. Less fun was later when a few of us were on our way to a Chinese restaurant and a couple of the perky young Boston/Amherst people (who all needs to be learned a thing or two) started singing as we walked down the street. I slowed up and walked just far enough behind to avoid (I hoped) being associated, and, serendipitously, to avoid a couple of snowballs (well deserved)... I took the 11:00 PM bus home so I could be at work in the morning. And, incidentally, there was a man there by the name of Rick Wakeman who was apparently once or is possibly still a member of the band Yes. I didn't know this, mind you, until after we had left, and found it rather amusing that old guy with long hair who introduced us was someone I've heard before a time or two. So, anyway, if anybody's going to be in Britain the week before Easter, watch for me on BBC1.

2. A week ago tomorrow, I went down to Richmond and was hoping to make it to Petersburg before hand, but didn't have quite enough time due to bad traffic, so I stopped instead at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine in Guinea Station. I had been told by someone who thought that they knew what they were talking about that the arm that was amputated shortly before his death was preserved there, so it was to my general disappointment that I discovered that the shrine is just the building in which he died, the 1824 farm office pictured below. The arm was actually buried around about the time he died, though not with his body. The shrine was a nice place, though, apparently a distant outpost of the Chancellorsville Battlefield Park that's only open on weekends, and the young lady from the Parks service seemed glad to have someone to give the tour to when I arrived. Back when I was in junior high school, every time I got to choose the topic to write a report on, I picked Confederate generals - I didn't ever get around to Stonewall Jackson, though.

3. By far the most important: The other morning, I got up with the name "Roscoe Conkling" inexplicably in mind. I decided it must be somebody from the first part of the century before last, since I've been doing a lot of reading in that area of late, and then forgot about it. When I started thinking about Roscoe Conkling again at lunch time, I looked him up, and was perplexed to find that he was a senator from New York, did what he's remembered for after the Civil War, and, so far as I could tell, is unlikely to have come up in anything that I've read since I was taking American history in high school.
Later that evening, I went up to Baltimore to see a man who describes himself as "New York City's angriest yodeling banjo player." Apart from more than living up to his moniker, he did a lot of songs with cloying nostalgia for things like Coney Island in 1903, which I thought were terrific, and he closed with one ruing the day that movies started talking, whose refrain lamented the loss of Buster Keaton. One of the lines in that song alluded to Fatty Arbuckle, which made me smile as it's been years since I've had occasion to think of him.
First thing I did when I got home was to look on the internet for a picture of Fatty Arbuckle throwing a pie, and I wish I could express the awful dread that took me as I read on the first page I came to that Fatty Arbuckle's real name was ROSCOE CONKLING Arbuckle. I'm not sure what else to say about this incident apart from the obvious fact that my life will never be the same. Here's Fatty helping himself to some money. Never did find one with him throwing a pie.

Yours but not the same,
W. Tiger Purple
:: posted by Willy Purple, 10:51 PM | link | 5 comments |