“Professor Hartke,” Jason Wilder said to me gently, reasonably, when the tape had reached its end, “why on Earth would you want to tell such tales to young people who need to love their country?”

I wanted to keep my job so much, and the house which came with it, that my reply was asinine.  “I was telling them history,” I said, “and I had had a little too much to drink.  I don’t usually drink that much.”

“I’m sure,” he said.  “I am told that you are a man with many problems, but that alcohol has not appeared among them with any consistency.  So let us say that your performance in the Pavilion was a well-intended history lesson of which you accidentally lost control.”

“That’s what it was, sir,” I said.

His balletic hands flitted in time to the logic of his thoughts before he spoke again.  He was a fellow pianist.  And then he said, “First of all, you were not hired to teach History.  Second of all, the students who come to Tarkington need no further instructions in how it feels to be defeated.  They would not be here if they themselves had not failed and failed.  The Miracle on Lake Mohiga for more than a century how, as I see it, has been to make children who have failed and failed start thinking of victory, stop thinking about the hopelessness of it all.”

“There was just that one time,” I said, “and I’m sorry.”

Cough.  One cough.

Wilder said he didn’t consider a teacher who was negative about everything a teacher.  “I would call a person like that an ‘unteacher’.  He’s somebody who takes things out of young people’s heads instead of putting more things in.”

“I don’t know as I’m negative about everything,” I said.

“What’s the first thing students see when they walk into the library?”  he said.

“Books?” I said.

“All those perpetual motion machines,” he said.  “I saw that display, and I read the sign on the wall above it.  I had no idea then that you were responsible for the sign.”

He was talking about the sign that said “THE COMPLICATED FUTILITY OF IGNORANCE.”

“All I knew was that I didn’t want my daughter or anybody’s child to see a message that negative every time she comes into the library,” he said.  “And then I found out it was you who was responsible for it.”

“What’s so negative about it?”  I said.

“What could be a more negative word than ‘futility’?” he said.

“‘Ignorance’,” I said.

“There you are,” he said.  I had somehow won his argument for him.

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“Precisely,” he said.  “You obviously do not understand how easily discouraged the typical Tarkington student is, how sensitive to suggestions that he or she should quit trying to be smart.  That’s what the word ‘futile’ means:  ‘Quit, quit, quit’.”

“And what does ‘ignorance’ mean?” I said.

“If you put it up on the wall and give it the prominence you have,” he said, “it’s a nasty echo of what so many Tarkingtonians were hearing before they got here:  ‘You’re dumb, you’re dumb, you’re dumb.’  And of course they aren’t dumb.”

“I never said they were,” I protested.

“You reinforce their low self-esteem without realizing what you are doing,” he said.  “You also upset them with humor appropriate to a barracks, but certainly not to an institution of higher learning.”

“You mean about Yen and fellatio?”  I said.  “I would never have said that if I’d thought a student could hear me.”

“I am talking about the entrance hall of the library again,” he said.

“I can’t think of what else is in there that might have offended you,” I said.

“It wasn’t I who was offended,” he said.  “It was my daughter.”

“I give up,” I said.  I wasn’t being impudent.  I was abject.

“On the same day Kimberley heard you talk about Yen and fellatio, before classes had even begun,” he said, “a senior led her and the other freshmen to the library and solemnly told them that the bell clappers on the wall were petrified penises.  That was surely barracks humor the senior had picked up from you.”

For once I didn’t have to defend myself.  Several of the Trustees assured Wilder that telling freshmen that the clappers were penises was a tradition that antedated my arrival on campus by at least 20 years.

But that was the only time they defended me, although 1 of them had been my student, Madelaine Astor, née Peabody, and 5 of them were parents of those I had taught.  Madelaine dictated a letter to me afterward, explaining that Jason Wilder had promised to denounce the college in his column and on his TV show if the Trustees did not fire me.

So they dated not come to my assistance.

–– Kurt Vonnegut from Hocus Pocus pp 126-129


If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek truth by which no man was ever injured.  But he is injured who abides in his error and ignorance.

–– Marcus Aurelius from Meditations p 26

If a man is mistaken, instruct him kindly and show him his error.  But if thou art not able, blame thyself, or blame not even thyself.

–– Marcus Aurelius from Meditations p 48


Roast Chicken with Plums and Black Rice

  • in a pot (French oven) saute three shallots in butter and olive oil
  • add dried mushrooms and stir
  • add peppers trio and stir
  • add garlic confit and stir
  • add black rice and stir
  • add layer of halved plums
  • finely chop giblets and add them to this layer
  • add four rosemary twigs
  • drizzle honey
  • butterfly whole chicken and spice in and out with:
    • salt
    • cayenne
    • sumac
    • coriander
    • cardamom
    • expert level:  spread spices under the skin
  • drizzle over chicken a bit more honey
  • cover and put in the oven 350f for 60 minutes
  • uncover for another 15 minutes on broil to brown

I could have probably used two bags of rice for this volume.

Also, might be good to stir the rice mixture (including stirring the plums in) midway through the roasting process.  In other words, life the chicken and stir what’s below together again.  This may mean leaving out the rosemary (which seems to play only a small role) or perhaps moving it to the top during roasting (and removing before broiling).



PA 17 Aug movie night

A movie night in the summer night!  Thinking maybe a double feature of Speed Racer and Blade Runner 2049.  Subject to change.  More to follow.

PA 17 Aug movie night

7:00 as the sun be settin’
Gather the Movie Knights!
8:00 as the sun be settin’
Start obligatory silent cartoons to assess quality of darkness. So Metal!
8:19 as the sun be settin’
Sunset. No taps.
9:00 as the sun be settin’
First movie!
11:00 as the sun be settin’
Second movie!

I’ve been reminded that Into the Spiderverse and Ragnarok are also potential films.

Box Cars
Box Cars

Looks like the weather is finally turning to our favor.  Saturday should be good!

I’ll be grilling out back about six.  Feel free to come grill something for yourself.  Otherwise I’ll see you after seven!

When the sun goes down it will get chilly.  Dress accordingly.  I have some blankets.

If you come down the alley, park on the street.  You cannot miss us.  If you come from 24th, it’s the house with the blue tarp in the front yard.

Go, Speed Racer!
Go, Speed Racer!
Watch out for Racer X!
Watch out for Racer X!

Well, we only watched Speed Racer, but it was epic!  Thanks to everyone who made the show.  Good times!

Before the movie I did play randomly from the film Loving Vincent as the silent cartoon portion of the evening.


This Frontier Needs Heroes and Earl Brooks

Globe traveling troubadour, who performs as This Frontier Needs Heroes, Brad Lauretti will be making his Peavine Alley debut!  Join us for backyard folk-rock at it’s finest.  Local legend Earl Brooks opens, possibly with special guests!

Free samples: https://www.facebook.com/thisfrontierneedsheroes/app/2405167945/

Bring food/drinks to share if you wish – Jimmy will be cooking with fire as per usual – kids and blankets and beach balls welcome!

Admission by donation – your generosity is deeply appreciated by touring artists.  House opens at 3:30, music starts at 5:00PM

3:30 as the sun be settin’
Gates Open for You!
5:00 as the sun be settin’
Earl Brooks
5:45 as the sun be settin’
This Frontier Needs Heroes

Ribs spices:  cloves, black and white pepper, salt, cinnamon, cayenne.

Ribs into the sous vide 137f until tomorrow.  Then they will rest in the fridge.

Loin brine:  juice of 16 limes, 7 cinnamon sticks, black pepper, cloves, salt, honey.

Loin spice:  zest 16 limes, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic + onion powder.

Engage climate control.
Engage climate control.
Got grass?
Got grass?
The stage is set.
The stage is set.

PA This Frontier Needs Heroes
This Frontier Needs Heroes at Peavine Alley (with Earl Brooks)

Thanks everyone for making this another great show.  Thanks especially to Brad Lauretti and Earl Brooks for filling the Alley with their fine music!  And thanks to Harry (as usual) for helping me put the show together.  Good times!