The claims to fame contest

“So what’s your biggest claim to fame? I mean, meeting a famous person, something like that.”
This seemed an odd question considering we’d just met, having cocktails on adjacent stools at a Bahamas beach bar, but I decided to play along.
“My biggest claim to fame may be to have picked up John Ashbery at the Denver airport in my 1964 Cadillac Sedan de Ville.”
“I agree that the Cadillac is famous, but who’s John Ashbery?”
“Never heard of him?”
I could tell she never had.
“And your biggest claim to fame?”
“I was one of the people singing whimaway on –”
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
“Wow! How’d you guess?”
“It’s the only whimaway that’s famous as far as I know.”
“And you were one of the girls singing that?”
“I was!”
She sucked on her straw and gave me a bright sunshiny smile.
I could tell this impromptu communication was going places. Heck, it might even develop into a deep relationship, and all because of fame.

– James Steerforth (© 2016)

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Wuthering Quotes

The useful word wuther, which has gone out of use somewhat since its heyday in the 19th century, should be revived and not be restricted to heights* alone!

To illustrate how it can be used, there are some literary quotes containing wuther:

“Oh stop it, you wuthering idiot!”
(Henry Wawa Longfellow)

“She kept wuthering and bluthering about it for several days, until she decided that this secret could not be left alone, that it had to be revealed to the world in all its wuthering mystery.”
(Georgina Eliot)

“Darling, how could you possibly doubt me? I love you to wuthereens, and you know it! You better know it!”
(A. J. Woodhouse)

“Wuther didst thou wander?”

*Cf. Wuthering Heights, novel by Emily Brontë (1818-48), published in 1847.

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Out harrowing

I’d been out harrowing since early morning and was happy to see Maisie walking up, carrying a basket. A break was most welcome. I parked the tractor at the edge of the field and climbed down.
“Am I happy to see you! What did you bring me, love?”
“Coffee and two donuts. Second breakfast.”
“You just know what makes me happy, Maisie.”
I started taking bites from one of the donuts while she poured coffee from the thermos.
“There you go.”
“Mhhm! Nice and hot. Hits the spot on a cold Missouri morning.”
“Your lines are imperfect.”
“My what?”
“The lines you made with the tractor.”
“Oh. Hadn’t noticed.”
“They should be a lot straighter.”
“I must have been thinking of you.”
“Lame excuse. As if I were crooked!”
“Crooked no. Curvy yes.”
That elicited a chuckle.
“And you know how much I hate harrowing.”

– James Steerforth (© 2016)

Woven around harrowing (even though not used in the intended sense here), imperfect and lame from 3WW. More or less arbitrarily set in Missouri because cold mornings and agriculture occur there.

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Life was so resonant in the Obituary Age at Mount Placid…

– James Steerforth (© 2015)

Three words – obituary, placid, resonant – from 3WW integrated in a piece of nostalgia that is as fake as nostalgia usually is and then some.

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Scathing prediction

“You want to become a photographer of nudes? – With your makeshift equipment and lackadaisical attitude you’ll never get anywhere, I can promise you that.” Said my uncle Said to me when I was sixteen but already more than sure of what I wanted in life.

And look where I am now … most successful nude photographer in all of Egypt, with the ladies coming running and flocking. They love my lackadaisical attitude. And my makeshift equipment has served me excellently, be it in desert dunes, hotel rooms or kings’ graves.

– Ghamal Abd el Hadr

I received an e-mail from an unknown a while ago who called himself Ghamal Abd el Hadr. He wanted to know if I could help him publish his autobiography (from which the above two paragraphs are a short excerpt). I replied that I would see what I could do. Perhaps this excerpt, which I’m publishing here because it accidentally includes all three of this week’s words for 3WW (lackadaisical, makeshift and nude), will generate some interest in this man’s biography. I have not seen any of his photos and can therefore neither include one nor evaluate his work – which he claims to be prolific and widely known in his home country – in any way.

James Steerforth, Dec. 2, 2015

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Red metal drawer

I was a black politician, and even though I was popular among a lot of people I also had a bunch of enemies. I knew this, and I also knew that it was for the usual reasons of envy, racism, competitiveness, power hunger, disagreement with my relatively incorrupt ways and, of course, downright plain nastiness the way it exists all over the planet. I’d just had a public appearance with lots of applause, hand shaking, shoulder slapping and words of praise – honest or oily and false. So I was completely unprepared for the quick, ruthless action of my enemies, which I followed from out of my body. I was a lifeless figure on the floor, some people were about to arrive on the scene – it was backstage, in some dark hallway. The shadowy perpetrators grabbed me by the feet and dragged me into some sort of tool and supplies room. There they opened the bottom drawer of a big red metal cabinet in the wall, threw out what was in it, and shoved me in. Bang. Drawer closed. They cleaned their hands by slapping them together, straightened their jackets and left the room. And I’d become invisible; I was gone as if I’d never existed.

– James Steerforth (© 2015)

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Having only one shirt with me would pose a problem

There I was among high-powered officials, in Paris no less, and with a three-day program of meetings, gatherings, ceremonies and what not!
This evening included listening to Charles de Gaulle’s piano recordings we were to absorb from oblong recording media stored in spectacle cases in slots in the top of a big piece of dark wood furniture in the middle of a dark smallish room. Laid out this way to create the proper atmosphere I’m sure.
A bespectacled luminary looking like a cross between François Hollande and Jean-Claude Juncker was explaining which pieces to retrieve and listen to. The ones I picked up sounded good, similar to Glenn Gould. I had not known about this talent of the late general’s.
Many spectacle cases were empty, however. Previous visitors had obviously stolen the recordings. Even though I was certain this spectacle case music could not be played anywhere else.
I worried about having to slip away some time in between to buy decent clothes somewhere. White shirt, blue tie. Even shoes, because the only pair I had with me were casual, old, creased.
And I’d have to find a way to transport the five bottles of vintage Bordeaux that were waiting underneath my chair in the lecture hall.
Such an odd picture when you come in – a small wine rack underneath each chair. Filled with that special gift from the French government for special guests, paid with taxpayers’ money.

– James Steerforth (© 2015)

Woven around the words absorb, certain and empty from 3WW using what remains of a dream I had last night.

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