Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Happy Dewey Decimal Day! (Limerick)

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

When I was a child (way, way, way before computers) I was fascinated by the Dewey Decimal System. How I loved perusing the sliding drawers of those beautiful wooden library cases! They were packed with tiny cards, key to my quest for the number that would lead me to a book’s aisle and shelf location.

So I feel compelled to celebrate Dewey Decimal Day with a limerick. (It’s observed each year on December 10th, in honor of the birthday of Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System.)

The U.S. librarian Dewey
Found our library book placement screwy.
“Shelve this system,” he said.
“Number topics instead!”
(So chop suey is near ratatouille.)

Note: Under this topical/numeric system, food books would generally fall into the 641 classification. Cooking and recipes would be 641.5, whereas “cooking specific kinds of composite dishes” would be 641.8.

Just In Time For Book Lovers Day (Limerick)

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

Just in time for Book Lovers Day, celebrated both on the first Saturday of November and on August 9:

Like most of my friends I love books,
And I don’t want to read them on Nooks
Or other devices;
Real paper entices.
Don’t dare give me pity-filled looks!

Double Dactyl For John Mortimer

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Here’s my double dactyl to celebrate John Mortimer’s birthday today. (Though he died back in 2009, I still have vivid memories of meeting and interviewing him for a profile I wrote for British Heritage Magazine way back in 1996. You can read my John Mortimer profile here.)

But back to my double dactyl:

Higgledy Piggledy
John Clifford Mortimer
Barrister, Author,
Rumpolian wit.

Bailey, his bailiwick
Prima-facetiously
He and his Horace sure
Loved to acquit.

Life With Mark Kane

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

(All dialogue guaranteed true)

Mark: “Now that I’ve won, I can go to sleep.” (gazing down, admiringly, at his laptop’s “free cell” screen at 10 pm)

Me: “Remember that Walter Kirn book I mentioned the other day?”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” (still looking down)

Me: “The one about the impostor…”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” (still looking down)

Me: “I just started reading it.”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” (still looking down)

Me: “You’re not listening to me.”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” (still looking down)

Me: “I said you’re not listening to me!”

Mark: “Huh??? Yes, I am.”

Me: “What am I talking about?”

Mark: “Uh…”

Me: “Remember? The Kirn book? I was telling you about it the other day.”

Mark: “Oh yeah.” (surreptitiously typing.)

Me: “You’re looking up “Kirn” in Google aren’t you?”

Mark: “Of course not! I remember you talking about Bruce Kern.”

Me: “I’ve never even heard of Bruce Kern. Stop trying to cheat with Google.”

Mark: “I’m not trying to cheat.”

Me: “Yes you are. I’m talking about WALTER Kirn’s book about the Rockefeller impostor.”

Mark: “Oh, yeah. Jay Rockefeller and the Hamptons.”

Me: “No! “CLARK Rockefeller. Driving a crippled dog from Montana to Manhattan.”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Me: “I give up!”

Limerick Ode To Roget’s Thesaurus

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Limerick Ode To Roget’s Thesaurus
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Serenade, sing, belt out, croon in chorus:
Happy Birthday to Roget’s Thesaurus,
Sterling word-meister’s brew,
Published Eighteen-Five-Two
In late April. The tome is a Taurus!

(Dr. Peter Mark Roget released his ground-breaking English-language word reference book, Roget’s Thesaurus, to the public on April 29, 1852.)

Fun With Classic Book Titles

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

In New York Magazine’s Competition 15, we’re asked to “submit the title of an almost familiar literary classic.” Here are the fake titles I submitted:

A Tale of Two Biddies

The Catcher in the Pumpernickel

Grapes of Math

Jane’s Hair

The Plaque

Moby’s Schtick

Moby’s Dick

In Search of Lost Rhyme

Of Mice And Women

The Big Nap

The Tin Eardrum

100 Years of Solitary Confinement

The Executioner’s Bong

Lorna Doone Cookies

Middlemay

The Miller Needs to Floss

The Turn of the Screwdriver

The Importance of Being an Internist

Well-Read Limerick (Limerick-Off Monday)

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

It’s Limerick-Off time, once again. And that means I write a limerick, and you write your own, using the same first line. Then you post your limerick here and, if you’re a Facebook user, on Facebook too.

The best submission will be crowned Limerick Of The Week. (Here’s last week’s Limerick Of The Week Winner.)

How will your poems be judged? By meter, rhyme, cleverness, and humor. (If you’re feeling a bit fuzzy about limerick writing rules, here’s my How To Write A Limerick article.)

I’ll announce the Limerick of the Week Winner next Sunday, right before I post next week’s Limerick-Off. So that gives you a full week to submit your clever, polished verse. Your submission deadline is Saturday at 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time.)

I hope you’ll join me in writing a limerick with this first line:

A gal who was very well-read…*

or

A man was, alas, in the red…*

or

A woman who always wore red…*

*(Please note that minor variations to my first lines are acceptable. However, rhyme words may not be altered, except by using homonyms or homophones.)

Here’s my limerick:

Well-Read Limerick
By Madeleine Begun Kane

A gal who was very well-read
Felt stymied in getting ahead.
When she’d mention a book
To co-workers, their look
Always said, “Ain’t that fella still dead?”

Please feel free to write your own limerick using the same first line and post it in my comments. And if you’re on Facebook, I hope you’ll join my friends in that same activity on my Facebook Limerick-Off post.

To receive an email alert whenever I post a new Limerick-Off, please email Madkane@MadKane.com Subject: MadKane’s Newsletter. Thanks!

Cat Limericks by Denise Dresner

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Congratulations to Denise Dresner on the publication of her limerick book, Cat Limericks. Here are some sample limericks from her book:

A fabulous feline called Cleo
Loved Carnival time down in Rio.
She’d join the parade
Dressed in full masquerade
And dance through the streets with great brio!

*****

There once was a cat from Menorca
Whose favorite poet was Lorca;
She’d lie on the beach
Her books within reach
And amaze the occasional gawker!

*****

Happy World Rhino Day!

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Tomorrow, September 22nd, is World Rhino Day. And I’m very pleased to announce that my Limerick Ode To The Rhinoceros is included in the International Poetry Anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World. And that it was one of five of the anthology’s poems read at a World Rhino Day celebration in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Limerick Ode To The Rhinoceros
By Madeleine Begun Kane

The rhino appears prehistoric,
With a diet that’s vega-caloric.
It’s endangered, alas.
Laws to save it must pass.
This would make all its lovers euphoric.

UPDATE: May 1 is Save The Rhino Day.

Escapist Limerick

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Claudia over at DVersePoets asks us to write a poem about our quiet moments:

Escapist Limerick
By Madeleine Begun Kane

When I need to escape and relax,
I read thrillers — fictitious attacks
On a gal or a fellow
I’ll root for while mellow—
Avoiding true life’s ugly facts.

Happy Book Lover’s Day! (Limerick)

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Tomorrow, August 9, is Book Lover’s Day Needless to say, I’m celebrating with a limerick:

Best Selling Limerick
By Madeleine Begun Kane

A fellow who had what it took
To author a best selling book
“Wrote” novels galore.
(Able ghosts did the chore.)
He made millions by hook and by crook.

Happy National Clerihew Day! (July 10)

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

I just found out that today (July 10) is National Clerihew Day. What the heck’s a clerihew? It’s a “whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley.”

More specifically, clerihews are four-lines long with an A-A-B-B rhyme scheme and irregular meter. The first line names a person — the subject of the poem.

Here are a couple I’ve written about writers:

Edgar Allen Poe
A writerly bro
Who’s famed for the Raven.
What a scary poem maven!

*****

The author George Orwell
We ought not ignore well;
His writings polemic
Ain’t at all academic.

*****

And here are two about actresses:

Bette Davis
Film joy gave us.
Seduced gals and guys
With Bette Davis Eyes.

*****

Mae West
For life had zest.
Stoked gals and blokes
With “evil” jokes.

*****

(You can find my political clerihews here.)

Happy birthday to George Orwell, born June 25, 1903.

Limerick Ode To The Print Encyclopedia

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The Encyclopaedia Britannica is the latest victim of the Digital Age:

Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. announced Tuesday it will stop publishing print editions of its signature product for the first time in its 244-year history. In an acknowledgment of the shifting media landscape and the increasing reliance on digital references, the company said its current encyclopedia – the 32-volume, 129-pound 2010 edition – will be unavailable once the existing stock runs out. (If you’re interested, it’s yours for $1,395 and there are only 4,000 sets left.) The digital version of the encyclopedia, however, will live on.

This news saddened me. And it also reminded me about the obsolete, hand-me-down encyclopedia I grew up with in the Fifties and Sixties:

Limerick Ode To The Encyclopedia
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Brittanicas, World Books and more
Were common in households of yore.
But not in my home—
Just a hand-me-down tome
With entries, I swear, like “World War.”

Accidental Haiku

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

It makes me fidget,
but I book myself to write
accidental verse.

*****
Accidental glance,
de-liberating romance—
just the dance of chance.

*****

Shocking incident:
things accidentally went
exactly as planned.

*****

Ms. Bristol Palin’s
book contract and dancing gig—
accident of birth.

*****

Booked reservation
at restaurant, but canceled—
had reservations.

*****

If you dare mention
certain odd affinities,
brace for fidgeting.

*****

Sheer Madness: My Non-Existent Book (Limerick)

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Over the years I’ve written enough humor columns, limericks, and sundry light verse to fill two or three collections. And one of these days I may even get my act together, stop procrastinating and self-publish at least one of them. I mention this because Big Tent Poetry’s latest prompt urges us to come up with a name for a future book and then write a title poem for that non-existent book.

Yes, I know this is Sheer Madness, which is also the title of my non-existent humor collection:

Sheer Madness
By Madeleine Begun Kane

I’m hoping to publish a book
With an excellent concept and hook.
It’s title? Sheer Madness,
Reviewed please sans badness,
Sold on paper and Kindle and Nook.

Tasty Books

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Tasty Books (Limerick)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Please don’t tell me you’re “moved” by a book,
Cuz I surely won’t give it a look.
I love thrillers and wit,
But abstain from chick lit
And spurn texts that explain how to cook.

Limerick Ode To Rose Valenta

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Congratulations to my friend, humor columnist Rose Valenta on the publication of her book Sitting on Cold Porcelain.

Here’s the limerick I wrote for Rose in honor of her book’s publication:

A columnist — let’s call her Rose —
Writes delightfully humorous prose.
The news is her muse.
She’s a cure for the blues.
Just don’t read her while trying to doze.

Luddite Limerick

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Luddite Limerick
By Madeleine Begun Kane

A hard-working author named Fink
Insisted on writing with ink.
He hated computers
And called them polluters.
Some claim he’s our long Missing Link.

By the way, in addition to being a recovering lawyer, I’m a recovering luddite and recovering technophobe.  In fact,  the first anthology my essays ever appeared in was Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club: Second Thoughts on the Electronic Revolution.

(Feel free to write your own limerick using the same first line and post it in my comments. And if you’re on Facebook, please join my friends in that same activity in my limerick-offs.)

A Humor Textbook? Laughing Matters

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Every so often, one of my essays ends up in a college textbook. It’s a delightful honor, of course. But I’m always just a bit freaked out by the thought of someone writing an essay analyzing one of my essays.

My latest textbook appearance is in Laughing Matters, a “comic rhetoric” textbook by Stanford University’s Marvin Diogenes. It’s a great book, and I’m really proud to have a humor column (actually a satirical music lesson contract between parents and child) included in the “forensic rhetoric” section, along with pieces by Chekhov, Benjamin Franklin, and Ian Frazier.

And happily, it’s NOT a what-not-to-do example.

Rumpole Creator, John Mortimer, Dead at 85

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

I was very saddened to read that Rumpole creator John Mortimer died. Not only am I a fan of his books, but I had the pleasure of meeting, interviewing, and profiling John Mortimer for British Heritage Magazine back in 1996 … not to mention sharing champagne with him while we chatted.

Needless to say, I sipped very slowly.

We spoke about everything from feminism and God to computers and murderers. Here are some excerpts from my Mortimer profile:

Judges, according to Mortimer, “take themselves too seriously,” while prisons are a “university of crime.” Mortimer speaks from experience; he earned considerable acclaim as a barrister, especially for his successful defenses in censorship cases. He also represented many divorce clients and accused murderers during his barrister years. According to Mortimer, he much preferred the murderers.

I asked Mortimer which was more difficult to write, comedy or tragedy. “Comedy,” he answered without hesitation. “It is very easy to make people cry, be sad, be miserable. Farce is an incredibly difficult genre. Comedy requires enormous imagination. There are quite a lot of great tragedies, and there aren’t many great comedies.”

Mortimer was equally emphatic about the relative difficulties of his two careers. “Writing is much, much harder than being a lawyer. If you’re a lawyer you can rattle on doing things other people can do. If you’re a writer, you’ve got to do something which nobody else can do. Except writing has less disastrous results. If you write a bad book, no one goes to prison, which is rather a relief.”

Mortimer appears to relish making comments that would tend to provoke a rise, or at least a laugh. Indeed, he laughs easily and often, a condition I found quite contagious. When asked if it’s possible for men and women to communicate without gender getting in the way, he said, laughing, “No. Thank God for it. Vive La Difference.” He added with another chuckle, “I think women don’t want to be sex objects, but I’d love to be a sex object. My own ambition is to be loved only for my body.”

Mortimer, like Rumpole, enjoys making fun of feminists. Yet I sensed that behind his flippant love-me-for-my-body remark was a man who, again like Rumpole, measures women when it matters on merit alone. I suggested that while many women enjoy being sex objects, they don’t want gender to interfere with their careers. “Absolutely,” Mortimer responded, “and so it shouldn’t.”

You can read my entire John Mortimer interview here.

(Cross-posted on my Political Madness Blog)