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Author Topic: Jeremiah was a bullfrog ...
skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 10:37 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Great first lines!

What's the greatest opening line you know? Songs, sure, but we could do first lines of poems or stories too.

(Actually, I'm sure we've done this before on babble, but way back in the mists of time, so why not Again, again! as the Teletubbies say. )


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'lance
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posted 23 September 2004 11:14 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

M N

N R

KISSED!


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Scott Piatkowski
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posted 23 September 2004 11:21 AM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Padded with power, here they come,
international loan sharks backed by the guns
of market-hungry military profiteers
modern slavers in guise as champions of freedom...

Bruce Cockburn
"Call It Democracy"

C'mon Bruce... tell us what you really think.


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'lance
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posted 23 September 2004 11:40 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Speaking of democracy, and since we've been honouring Leonard Cohen in the other thread....

"It's coming through a hole in the air
from those nights in Tiananmen Square..."

(I was going to quote from "The Future," but it's just too clammy nowadays).


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skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 11:42 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ah. I see that someone here (that would be 'lance) has solved a long-running mystery -- a mystery to moi, anyway.

Unfortunately, 'lance, it remains a mystery to moi. So could you explicate?


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'lance
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posted 23 September 2004 11:46 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why soytainly, skdadl.

But explicate what, exactly?


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skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 11:48 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
N.R. Kissed. (The lovely fellow, as I know him.)
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Stephen Gordon
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posted 23 September 2004 11:50 AM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
'I am an anarchist'

Anarchy in the UK, by the Sex Pistols

Edited to add - no, that's not right, either. The first line of that song is 'I am an antichrist'.

[ 23 September 2004: Message edited by: Oliver Cromwell ]


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paxamillion
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posted 23 September 2004 11:52 AM      Profile for paxamillion   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson


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'lance
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posted 23 September 2004 11:53 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
N.R. Kissed. (The lovely fellow, as I know him.)

Oh, right.

Well, the first line of "Anarchy in the UK," by the Sex Pistols, is "I am an anarchist!" (The second is "I am an Antichrist!")

So NR KISSED's handle is, I assume, a play on "anarchist," though he'd have to tell you whether he was thinking of the Pistols.

A long time ago I thought of the hieroglyphics above, and was going to make up a T-shirt (on the back: (eye graphic) M N N T KRYSTE!), but never got around to it.

Edit: You're right Oliver, I had the lines reversed.

[ 23 September 2004: Message edited by: 'lance ]


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skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 12:25 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
skdadl = dope, tin ear, so embarrassed.

Can we go back to great first lines now, though?

"When we first moved to the village, we did not know about the ants."


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Stephen Gordon
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posted 23 September 2004 12:29 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
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skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 12:31 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It is a truth universally acknowledged, Oliver, that nobody has ever written a better first line than that.

And besides: it now comes with Colin Firth associations ... pant pant ...


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pogge
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posted 23 September 2004 12:39 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Can I do great first paragraphs?

quote:
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

- Red Wind by Raymond Chandler


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Scott Piatkowski
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posted 23 September 2004 12:45 PM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You can as long as I can too.

quote:
Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.

Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery


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Michelle
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posted 23 September 2004 12:48 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, that's a great first line too, Scott, since it's all one sentence.

Ah, L.M. Montgomery - queen of the run-on sentence.


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vickyinottawa
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posted 23 September 2004 12:49 PM      Profile for vickyinottawa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
fine.

quote:
HAVING placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. I reflected on the subject of my spare-time literary activities. One Beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with. A good book may have three openings entirely dissimiliar and inter-related only in the prescience of the author, or for that matter one hundred times as many endings.

[Examples of three separate openings follow]


Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds


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Scott Piatkowski
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posted 23 September 2004 12:50 PM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm pretty sure that my version at home is punctuated differently. Incidentally, is it obvious that I have daughters?
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Michelle
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posted 23 September 2004 12:50 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ha. I loved those books. I have them practically memorized.
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skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 01:17 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
pogge, Scott, and vicky: shivers.

About Chandler especially: y'know, pogge, if you hadn't told me that that was Chandler, I could as easily have guessed that it was Joan Didion.

I love being scared. Tickled is good too, as long as it stays on the page.


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Albireo
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posted 23 September 2004 01:21 PM      Profile for Albireo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I always found this to be quite a catchy opening sentence for a novel:
quote:
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany


[ 23 September 2004: Message edited by: Albireo ]


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Sharon
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posted 23 September 2004 01:49 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'm pretty sure that my version at home is punctuated differently.

Mine isn't.


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vickyinottawa
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posted 23 September 2004 01:56 PM      Profile for vickyinottawa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
skdadl: my man Flann gives you the shivers? I'm shocked!

Here is another favourite. I could keep it to the first line, but the paragraph is just sooooooo good:

quote:
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel If on a winter's night a traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Raise your voice--they won't hear you otherwise--"I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!" Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they'll leave you alone.

[ 23 September 2004: Message edited by: vickyinottawa ]


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skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 02:11 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
God bless Italo Calvino, "the Italian Calvin," as dear Gore V. jokingly called him, although it's hard to think of anyone less Calvinist than dear I.C. You recognized his other first sentence above. Dear vicky.

God bless Italo Svevo while we're at the Italo's. I haven't got to the S's in my unpacking, so I can't do The Confessions of Zeno yet, although I know that the first sentence has something to do with cigarettes and psychoanalysis and lying.


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skdadl
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posted 23 September 2004 02:15 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

What songs the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture.

I cannot tell a lie. That is not a first sentence. It comes from a chapter 5. Sir Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial (ca 1650).


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al-Qa'bong
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posted 24 September 2004 12:14 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
"When we first moved to the village, we did not know about the ants."

That's gotta be from the short story, "Lenigan vs. the Ants," which I read in 1973, back in Grade 8.

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

"All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

[ 24 September 2004: Message edited by: al-Qa'bong ]


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bittersweet
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posted 24 September 2004 01:30 AM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die."

Twelfth Night


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Hugh
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posted 24 September 2004 02:16 AM      Profile for Hugh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
al-Q: you beat me to the Metamorphoses. I like everyone's choices so far.

I am a sick man. I am an angry man. I think my liver is diseased. And yet I don't go to a doctor. And if I don't go to a doctor, it is out of spite.

Someone must have been spreading lies about Josef K, for, without his having done anything wrong, he was arrested one fine morning.

In the middle of our life's way
I found myself in a dark forest
for the right way was lost.

Let us go then, you and I,
where evening is spread out against the sky
like a patient etherized upon a table.

These are all from memory, so I may be a little off.


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'topherscompy
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posted 24 September 2004 02:59 AM      Profile for 'topherscompy        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"the first sound in the mornings was the clumping of the mill-girls' clogs down the cobbled street. earlier than that, i suppose, there were factory whistles which i was never awake to hear."
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Stephen Gordon
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posted 24 September 2004 07:13 AM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by al-Qa'bong:

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

That line kills me. Remember The Producers? Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are plowing through scripts looking for a sure-fire flop. At one point, Zero Mostel reads that line in a flat, tired monotone, pauses a moment, and says "Nah. Too good."


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skdadl
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posted 24 September 2004 09:16 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

And Hugh:

quote:
These are all from memory, so I may be a little off.

That's one of the best lines of all.


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Michelle
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posted 24 September 2004 09:21 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Oliver Cromwell:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

I read that book about once a year. I love it.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 24 September 2004 09:27 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Great opening lines, huh?

How's these...

Prose:

quote:
It was Christmas Day and Danny the Car Wiper hit the street junk sick and broke after 72 hours in a precinct cell.

Lyric:

quote:
There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All this places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

Personal:

quote:
*smile* "Care for a Pez?"

(Hey, don't laff! That last one worked!!)

[ 24 September 2004: Message edited by: Hephaestion ]


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oldgoat
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posted 24 September 2004 12:27 PM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. by Laurence Sterne.


I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them,as they were in duty both equally bound to it,had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended on what they were then doing;-that not only the production of a rational being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;-and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost;-had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,-I am verily persuaded I should have made quite a figure in the world, from that in which the reader is likely to see me.


Now That's an opening sentence! Yes, the punctuation was faithfully and correctly reproduced.

Compare to the taut economy of the opening sentence of Morris West's The Shoes of the Fisherman , to whit:

The Pope was dead.

It's no wonder one has to prepare a bit to get into the frame of mind to read 18th Century literature.

Skdadl, as an editor, how would you have handled Sterne.

[ 24 September 2004: Message edited by: oldgoat ]


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ronb
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posted 24 September 2004 12:35 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That was the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding.

Some of my faves:

The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.

It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking 13.

Nothing to be done.

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie Boy and Dim.

See the child. He is pale and thin and wears a ragged shirt... He can neither read nor write and in him already broods a taste for mindless violence.


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bittersweet
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posted 24 September 2004 12:42 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.

M. Ondaatje, The Cinnamon Peeler


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skdadl
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posted 24 September 2004 12:43 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by al-Qa'bong:

That's gotta be from the short story, "Lenigan vs. the Ants," which I read in 1973, back in Grade 8.


Leiningen! al-Q, thank you for reminding me. I have been trying for ages to remember the title of that story. I shall go google it right now.

But no: my sentence comes from a Calvino story. Now that you mention it, I wonder whether Calvino had read Leiningen.


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skdadl
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posted 24 September 2004 12:50 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
ronb? You danced to ... what?

oldgoat:

quote:
Skdadl, as an editor, how would you have handled Sterne.

Well, now. *clears throat* There is one loaded question.

Not to duck the question or anything, oldgoat, but did you know that on his trip to Paris (doing an early version of the English Grand Tour number), Sterne was a great hit at the salons, and he and Diderot hit it off especially well?

Diderot kept trying to figure out how someone that smart could also be that cheerful and a Christian believer to boot. So every day he would go back for a visit and sort of poke away at Sterne. That is such a dear image to moi.


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'lance
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posted 24 September 2004 12:54 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Very interesting, skdadl.

Now quit stalling, Madame Editrix.


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ronb
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posted 24 September 2004 01:03 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes it took us about three days, but we danced all the way though Tristram Shandy.

Could've been much worse - my wife wanted The Mill On The Floss.


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Hinterland
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posted 24 September 2004 01:03 PM      Profile for Hinterland        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I wonder whether Calvino had read Leiningen.

Just a little side question. I went to French high school and I remember a big discussion over how "Leiningen" was supposed to be pronounced. Our francophone English teacher pronounced it "Lie-nin-jin", but this smart priss from "down South" insisted it was pronounced "Le-ni-gin" (hard 'g'). Then, I saw the movie years lately and seem to recall that the name was pronounced something more like "Lie-nin-jin'. So, which is it?


From: Québec/Ontario | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 24 September 2004 01:09 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've always said LIE-nin-jen, but qui sait?

I see that mine is the correct spelling, though (the LIE pronunciation would be correct German for Lei sp), and the author's name is Carl Stephenson.


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99th Floor
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posted 24 September 2004 02:58 PM      Profile for 99th Floor     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"I walked 47 miles of barbed wire
I use a cobra snake for a necktie
I got a brand new house by the roadside
Made out of rattlesnake hides ..."

-- Who Do You Love?
(Bo Diddley)

From: the corner of Grant and Fernwood | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
beverly
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posted 24 September 2004 03:03 PM      Profile for beverly     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
We normally think of history as one catastrophe after another, war followed by war, outrage by outrage; almost as if history were nothing more than all the narratives of human pain, assembled in sequence. And surely this is, often enough, an adequate description. But history, is also the narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance.
Thomas Cahill -- Sailing the Wine Dark Sea,

From: In my Apartment!!!! | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hugh
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posted 24 September 2004 03:18 PM      Profile for Hugh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Okay, this one I had to look up, but I think it's worth it:

The author assures the reader that he will not have to die if he reads this book, as did the user of the 1691 edition, when The Khazar Dictionary still had its first scribe. Some explanation regarding that edition is in order here, but for the sake of brevity the lexicographer proposes to strike a deal with his readers. He will sit down to write these notes before supper, and the reader will take them to read after supper. Thereby, hunger will force the author to be brief, and gratification will allow the reader to peruse the introduction at leisure.

I like the first sentence on its own, too, but I found that I couldn't stop. It's the beginning of "Dictionary of the Khazars", a novel in the form of a dictionary, by Milorad Pavic.


From: where they buried the survivors | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
andrean
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posted 24 September 2004 08:40 PM      Profile for andrean     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've always liked the first line of The Diviners:
quote:
The river flowed both ways.

My favourite opening line from a short story (well, opening several lines):

quote:
The last time I talked to Karen Finely she was boiling up some shit to cover the testicles she collected from stock brokers, I called them Scotch eggs, and she couldn't talk long on the phone because she was worried the pot was going to boil over

and I said this is a story about blockage, not flow, and she said she'd get back to me and she did.

She said go ahead but, you know, please hurry because I've got this senator to worry about and I said well this is a true story, it's about plumbing, the joining together of pipe, once lead pipe, which is where the term plumb derives from, but now pvc and iron, you know how materials change.

And what followsthe joinery, sheer, into the earth, as the eye running down the rivers of type, or how it is caught, blocked, by the interruption of the external, in the fitted together pleasure

excess in general.


This is from a story called "The Last Time I Talked to Karen Finely" by Monty Reid. It was published in a literary magazine called Absinthe in the winter of 1992, and if could post the whole thing for your reading pleasure, I would, my delight in it is so great.


From: etobicoke-lakeshore | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rand McNally
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5297

posted 24 September 2004 09:15 PM      Profile for Rand McNally     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Opening lines. This is an enjoyable thread. Here are a couple of mine

“Every craft and every investigation, and likewise every action and decision, seems to aim at some good; hence the good has well been described as that at which everything aims.”

Aristotle “Nicomachean Ethics”

I have been a fan of Lovecraft from an early age. Almost every one of his openings is a winner. He elevates pulp to a higher level.

“It is true I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to show be this statement that I am not his murderer.”

Finally, a great opening line from a great poem by Novalis. (I started with just the opening, but it is such a powerful poem I figured I would type out the whole thing.)

When geometric diagrams and digits
Are no longer the keys to living things,
When people who go about singing and kissing
Know deeper things than the great scholars,
When society is returned once more
To unimprisoned life, and to the universe,
And when light and darkness mate
Once more and make something transparent,
And people see in poems and fairy tales
The true history of the world,
Then our entire twisted nature will turn
And run when a single secret word is spoken.


From: Manitoba | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5594

posted 24 September 2004 09:21 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Neil Diamond was a bit before my time, but I can remember listening to it on the radio and thinking what a classic, great super-fine tune 'Cracklin Rosie' was.

Cracklin' Rosie, get on board
We're gonna ride till there ain't no more to go
Taking it slow
Lord, don't you know
Have me a time with a poor man's lady

And probably the first song I ever listened to as a kid was my hippie sister's George Harrison 45 vinyl, My Sweet Lord on one side and I can't remember what was on the other side. It's so relaxing to listen to for me even today.

[ 24 September 2004: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged

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