""Why in hell," he observed impatiently, "do all them goddam hypocrites keep the poor bums waiting for two, three hours while they get off their goddam whimwham? Here is a hall full of men who ain't had nothing to speak of to eat for maybe three, four days, and yet they have to set there smelling the turkey and the coffee while ten, fifteen Sunday-school superintendents and W.C.T.U. [Women's Christian Temperance Union] sisters sing hymns to them and holler against booze. I tell you, Mr. Ammermeyer, it ain't human." -- H. L. Mencken's A Bum's Christmas is the best Christmas story for those more of the humbug than the happy holidays persuasion.
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
H.L. Mencken's Stein Collection is for sale on eBay. "A prohibitionist is the sort of man one couldn't care to drink with, even if he drank." -- H. L. Mencken
Donald H. Kirkey, Jr., The Baltimore Sun theater critic interviews H. L. Mencken, part 1 of 8. [more inside]
So Now That It's Curtains For SatireWire, What's Left To Humour Us? Should we panic yet? Is the Web as funny ha-ha as it used to be? Thanks to this serendipitous find I was tickled to discover Kurt Luchs has some funny pages of his own. David Jaggard's list is quite conventional and brief (lots of glaring omissions), but it cheered me up. [As did this wonderful H.L. Mencken page, with these refreshingly un-pc aphorisms, if I may just shoe-horn it in here...]
The Declaration of Independence in American by H.L. Mencken, circa 1921. A quote: "When things get so balled up that the people of a country have to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are on the level, and not trying to put nothing over on nobody." Gangbusters!