Tuesday, July 10th: There once was a man named Edmund … Today, celebrate CLERIHEW DAY. Today is a day for poets, even if they don’t know it.

This holiday is one dear to my heart. Several years back my dad went through a clerihew phase. I remember getting letters with some of his latest creations. In celebrating the day, it also brings memories of my dad’s literary pursuits to my mind. (Thank you Luther Cline, I love you!)

English journalist and author, Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), is best known for his popular verse form named in his honor, the clerihew. A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem. It consists of two rhymed couplets of unequal length.

According to Wikipedia:

A clerihew has the following properties:

  • It is biographical and usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view; it pokes fun at mostly famous people
  • It has four lines of irregular length and metre (for comic effect)
  • The rhyme structure is AABB; the subject matter and wording are often humorously contrived in order to achieve a rhyme, including the use of phrases in Latin, French and other non-English Languages.
  • The first line contains, and may consist solely of, the subject’s name.

Clerihew published three volumes of his own clerihews: Biography for Beginners (1905), published as “edited by E. Clerihew”, More Biography (1929); and Baseless Biography (1939).Wikipedia claims that one of his best known clerihews (from 1905) is:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designingSt. Paul’s.”

I think my favorite is the winning entry from the 1983 “Do You Clerihew?” contest in Games Magazine:
Did Descartes
With the thought
“Therefore I’m not”?

Clerihew was a sport
To make his poems short
So pick up a pen,
And give it a spin!

Happy Clerihew Day!


Monday, July 9th: I need my soapbox for today. July is CELL PHONE COURTESY MONTH. Ever had a dinner or an evening ruined because of loud cell phone conversations? Ever had your movie interrupted by ringing cell phones and lit screens sprinkled throughout the seating? I work in retail and every day there’s at least one customer that can’t get off their phone long enough to let me know how much fabric they need cut. And the conversations carried on in the aisles; you’d never believe the intimate details we overhear, about medical results, financial dealings, relationship issues, substance abuse problems in the family, and more. It’s amazing. People seem to think if they don’t know you, you can’t hear their conversations. But my biggest, biggest pet peeve … cell phone conversations in the restroom. It’s astounding how many people walk in, continuing their conversation and go about their business, amidst all the flushing toilets and they don’t lose a breath.

Yesterday, we had lunch with a friend. His phone rang several times during the time we were visiting and enjoying a delicious pasta lunch. He glanced at his calls, and then let them go to voice mail. As we were leaving, he mentioned going to return his calls. I had to comment about him not taking calls throughout the several hours we were together. (Now, I realize that sometimes friends have young children still at home, sick relatives, waiting for a doctor to call back, or other instances where calls are important and need to be taken immediately.) But it was so refreshing to visit and enjoy someone’s company without fighting for their attention over the phone. We both felt respected and honored that our little bit of time together took precedence over incoming calls.

I admit that I used to talk on my phone throughout the store and even through the checkout. Until I was on the other side of the desk and realized how rude I was being to others. Now I hang up the phone before I enter the store or the post office. If I have to call home to check on an item, I make my call and hang up. Today, and the rest of the month, take a moment to think about our own cell phone use and if we’re being rude or inflicting our personal conversations into other people’s space. Maybe our own courteous phone use can ripple out, touching others also. (Okay, I’m retiring my soap box for the night!)

July 2012

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