Monday, May 24, 2004

May 24, 2004
A leading collector of Wyatt Earp memorabilia died last week. He was a complex man, to say the least, and he left a very controversial legacy. One of his peers made this astute and blunt observation of his life:

“I hate to speak ill of the dead, but outside of professional criminals I have known, I never met anyone with so many negative character traits, all wrapped up in a single person—vain, arrogant, suspicious, paranoid, unhappy, dishonest, conceited, anal retentive, to name a few. He could have been a one-man study for a psychiatrist's Ph.D. dissertation.”

I started reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves over the weekend. Carole Glenn gave it to me as a present. I first heard the buzz on this book while we were in England last Christmas, on our way back from Spain. The book, which has been an unlikely runaway best-seller in Britain, is about the decline of punctuation and specifically, misplaced commas, (like these last two). The title refers to a published article on Panda bears that had the line, “eats, shoots and leaves.” With the comma, it implies that the typical Panda likes to eat, shoot something, then leave the general area. The correct punctuation should have informed the reader that the typical Panda “eats shoots and leaves.” Quite another image altogether, although not nearly as funny. The author, Lynn Truss, is quite witty and I have learned a ton about punctuation, although you’d never know it by reading this. Ha.

For example, one of the modern trends in punctuation is the usage of less and less commas. The comma first came into usage, according to Truss, as a guide for 16th century speakers reading aloud from the bible, to tell them when to pause. A current well-known writer, unknown to me, has evidently written an entire novel without one comma in it. The book, which I believe is called The Kelly Gang, (of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly fame?), is supposed to be the latest and hippest example of the rebellion against the comma, although I remember reading Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and not only does the novel have zero, zip, nada commas, it also contains no periods or capital letters or quote marks. Personally, it’s way too hip for the room, to me. But then, I’m way too attached to commas, I think, you know, Man.

Don’t forget, tonight on the History Channel is the Bill Kurtis-Paul Hutton production of Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. It airs at 10:10 PM Eastern, and it’s styled as “Investigating History.”

The True West Maniac Club offering is now up on this very website. Check it out right here now. All of my friends (both of them) cannot figure out how we can offer this deal and make any money. Sorry mom and Kathy, but we're doing it, profits be damned!

“I believe in aristocracy, if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and all classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when met. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our odd race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others, as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.”
—E.M. Forster

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