In 1892, deafblind author Helen Keller was accused of plagiarism after a short story of hers, named “The Frost King,” was identified as being extremely similar to Margaret Canby’s “Frost Fairies.” An investigation followed, as did a tribunal in which she was eventually acquitted. Amazingly, Keller was just 12 years of age at the time.
St. Patrick’s Day, ’03
I must steal half a moment from my work to say how glad I am to have your book, and how highly I value it, both for its own sake and as a remembrance of an affectionate friendship which has subsisted between us for nine years without a break, and without a single act of violence that I can call to mind. I suppose there is nothing like it in heaven; and not likely to be, until we get there and show off. I often think of it with longing, and how they’ll say, “There they come—sit down in front!” I am practicing with a tin halo. You do the same. I was at Henry Roger’s last night, and of course we talked of you. He is not at all well;—you will not like to hear that; but like you and me, he is just as lovely as ever.
I am charmed with your book—enchanted. You are a wonderful creature, the most wonderful in the world—you and your other half together—Miss Sullivan, I mean, for it took the pair of you to make a complete and perfect whole. How she stands out in her letters! her brilliancy, penetration, originality, wisdom, character, and the fine literary competencies of her pen—they are all there.
Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that “plagiarism” farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men—but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite—that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.
Then why don’t we unwittingly reproduce the phrasing of a story, as well as the story itself? It can hardly happen—to the extent of fifty words except in the case of a child; its memory-tablet is not lumbered with impressions, and the actual language can have graving-room there, and preserve the language a year or two, but a grown person’s memory-tablet is a palimpsest, with hardly a bare space upon which to engrave a phrase. It must be a very rare thing that a whole page gets so sharply printed on a man’s mind, by a single reading, that it will stay long enough to turn up some time or other to be mistaken by him for his own. No doubt we are constantly littering our literature with disconnected sentences borrowed from books at some unremembered time and now imagined to be our own, but that is about the most we can do. In 1866 I read Dr. Holmes’s poems, in the Sandwich Islands. A year and a half later I stole his dedication, without knowing it, and used it to dedicate my “Innocents Abroad” with. Then years afterward I was talking with Dr. Holmes about it. He was not an ignorant ass—no, not he; he was not a collection of decayed human turnips, like your “Plagiarism Court;” and so when I said, “I know now where I stole it, but whom did you steal it from,” he said, “I don’t remember; I only know I stole it from somebody, because I have never originated anything altogether myself, nor met anyone who had.”
To think of those solemn donkeys breaking a little child’s heart with their ignorant rubbish about plagiarism! I couldn’t sleep for blaspheming about it last night. Why, their whole lives, their whole histories, all their learning, all their thoughts, all their opinions were one solid rock of plagiarism, and they didn’t know it and never suspected it. A gang of dull and hoary pirates piously setting themselves the task of disciplining and purifying a kitten that they think they’ve caught filching a chop! Oh, dam—
But you finish it, dear, I am running short of vocabulary today.
Every lovingly your friend
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Everyone is welcome to join.
Just link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out your list! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Today’s Top Ten Tuesday Topic:
What I Read When I’m Not Reading Books
1. Facebook: I admit it, this is where I am the most…even if it’s running in the background while I’m doing other things. It’s an addiction.
2. Drudge Report: I’m a news junkie, and I have a collection of sites that I read regularly, but Drudge is almost always my first stop.
3. Word Press: I love how WP’s Dashboard page is set up. The reader is very easy to navigate, and Freshly Pressed is a really cool feature to see great new posts. Because I follow more WP blogs than any others, this is a frequent stop for me.
4. Fox News: No question, it’s the news junkie in me.
5. Breitbart: Yep, another news site that is a daily stop for me.
6. Twitter: I’m become more and more enamored with Twitter the more often I go there. It’s hilarious! Bonus: since I post my blog entries to Twitter, I’ve gotten a lot of new followers, and several of my posts have been re-tweated. One (apparently) was re-tweated enough that I’m still getting enough hits on it that it is by far the most read blog entry that I’ve written so far. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it (and I’d be honored if you did): http://thespotts.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/april-4-d-dude-your-dumbassery-is-showing/.
7. Hot Mess Mom: This is a hilarious blog written by a girl with whom I attended high school. I didn’t know her personally, as she was a couple of years behind me, but we have a number of mutual friends. This is an almost guaranteed laugh every time I read it, which is why it is one of my favorites.
8. Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman: This is a hilarious blog written by Christy Carrington Lewis. She is a self-confessed blatherer about people and things that interest her. Stop by and enjoy her wit and sarcasm. It’s definitely worth your time. Here is a link to my very favorite post…so far: http://paltrymeanderings.com/2012/02/24/i-love-the-smell-of-napalm-in-the-condo/.
9. I Can’t Watch, Is It Over Yet? Like People of Walmart, Awkward Family Photos, Damn You Autocorrect, and Why Did You Buy Me That?, this blog is funny, and it gets funnier the more you read. You almost can’t look away, and I have had many moments of tear-inducing laughter for which this blog is responsible.
10. People I Want to Punch in the Throat: I’ve been following her since her hilarious Elf on the Shelf post, which went viral over Christmas. She is now a contributing writer for Babble.com, and her blog is also published on Huffington Post. Don’t forget to read the comments as well…they’re nearly as funny as the post.
11. Life is Grace: One of the several blogs I follow that chew on what it is to be a Christian, to have faith, and to be saved by the grace of God. She doesn’t post as often as I would like to read, but I always enjoy her thoughts.
12. Dictionary.com: I write almost daily, and I am constantly referencing this site, not only for definitions, but for synonyms, other related words, and background linguistic information. Of the free dictionaries available online, it is the easiest to use, and I love it.
Well, there’s the list, plus a couple of bonus sites. I encourage you to check them out! And, if you have a recommendation to send my way, I’d love to have it!
HIS right name was Frank X. Farrell, and I guess the X stood for “Excuse me.” Because he never pulled a play, good or bad, on or off the field, without apologizin’ for it.
“Alibi Ike” was the name Carey wished on him the first day he reported down South. O’ course we all cut out the “Alibi” part of it right away for the fear he would overhear it and bust somebody. But we called him “Ike” right to his face and the rest of it was understood by everybody on the club except Ike himself.
He ast me one time, he says:
“What do you all call me Ike for? I ain’t no Yid.”
“Carey give you the name,” I says. “It’s his nickname for everybody he takes a likin’ to.”
“He mustn’t have only a few friends then,” says Ike. “I never heard him say ‘Ike’ to nobody else.”
But I was goin’ to tell you about Carey namin’ him. We’d been workin’ out two weeks and the pitchers was showin’ somethin’ when this bird joined us. His first day out he stood up there so good and took such a reef at the old pill that he had everyone lookin’. Then him and Carey was together in left field, catchin’ fungoes, and it was after we was through for the day that Carey told me about him.
“What do you think of Alibi Ike?” ast Carey.
“Who’s that? ” I says.
“This here Farrell in the outfield,” says Carey.
“He looks like he could hit,” I says.
“Yes,” says Carey, “but he can’t hit near as good as he can apologize.”
Then Carey went on to tell me what Ike had been pullin’ out there. He’d dropped the first fly ball that was hit to him and told Carey his glove wasn’t broke in good yet, and Carey says the glove could easy of been Kid Gleason’s gran’father. He made a whale of a catch out o’ the next one and Carey says “Nice work!” or somethin’ like that, but Ike says he could of caught the ball with his back turned only he slipped when he started after it and, besides that, the air currents fooled him.
“I thought you done well to get to the ball,” says Carey.
“I ought to been settin’ under it,” says Ike.
“What did you hit last year?” Carey ast him.
“I had malaria most o’ the season,” says Ike. “I wound up with .356.”
“Where would I have to go to get malaria?” says Carey, but Ike didn’t wise up.
I and Carey and him set at the same table together for supper. It took him half an hour longer’n us to eat because he had to excuse himself every time he lifted his fork.
“Doctor told me I needed starch,” he’d say, and then toss a shoveful o’ potatoes into him. Or, “They ain’t much meat on one o’ these chops,” he’d tell us, and grab another one. Or he’d say: “Nothin’ like onions for a cold,” and then he’d dip into the perfumery.
“Better try that apple sauce,” says Carey. “It’ll help your malaria.”
“Whose malaria?” says Ike. He’d forgot already why he didn’t only hit .356 last year.
I and Carey begin to lead him on.
“Whereabouts did you say your home was?” I ast him. “I live with my folks,” he says. “We live in Kansas City–not right down in the business part–outside a ways.”
“How’s that come?” says Carey. “I should think you’d get rooms in the post office.”
But Ike was too busy curin’ his cold to get that one.
“Are you married?” I ast him.
“No,” he says. “I never run round much with girls, except to shows onct in a wile and parties and dances and roller skatin’.”
“Never take ‘em to the prize fights, eh?” says Carey.
“We don’t have no real good bouts,” says Ike. “Just bush stuff. And I never figured a boxin’ match was a place for the ladies.”
Well, after supper he pulled a cigar out and lit it. I was just goin’ to ask him what he done it for, but he beat me to it.
“Kind o’ rests a man to smoke after a good work-out,” he says. “Kind o’ settles a man’s supper, too.”
“Looks like a pretty good cigar,” says Carey.
“Yes,” says Ike. “A friend o’ mine give it to me–a fella in Kansas City that runs a billiard room.”
“Do you play billiards?” I ast him.
“I used to play a fair game,” he says. “I’m all out o’ practice now–can’t hardly make a shot.”
We coaxed him into a four-handed battle, him and Carey against Jack Mack and I. Say, he couldn’t play billiards as good as Willie Hoppe; not quite. But to hear him tell it, he didn’t make a good shot all evenin’. I’d leave him an awful-lookin’ layout and he’d gather ‘em up in one try and then run a couple o’ hundred, and between every carom he’d say he’d put too much stuff on the ball, or the English didn’t take, or the table wasn’t true, or his stick was crooked, or somethin’. And all the time he had the balls actin’ like they was Dutch soldiers and him Kaiser William. We started out to play fifty points, but we had to make it a thousand so as I and Jack and Carey could try the table.
The four of us set round the lobby a wile after we was through playin’, and when it got along toward bedtime Carey whispered to me and says:
“Ike’d like to go to bed, but he can’t think up no excuse.”
Carey hadn’t hardly finished whisperin’ when Ike got up and pulled it:
“Well, good night, boys,” he says. “I ain’t sleepy, but I got some gravel in my shoes and it’s killin’ my feet.”
We knowed he hadn’t never left the hotel since we’d came in from the grounds and changed our clo’es. So Carey says:
“I should think they’d take them gravel pits out o’ the billiard room.”
But Ike was already on his way to the elevator, limpin’.
“He’s got the world beat,” says Carey to Jack and I. “I’ve knew lots o’ guys that had an alibi for every mistake they made; I’ve heard pitchers say that the ball slipped when somebody cracked one off’n ‘em; I’ve heard infielders complain of a sore arm after heavin’ one into the stand, and I’ve saw outfielders tooken sick with a dizzy spell when they’ve misjudged a fly ball. But this baby can’t even go to bed without apologizin’, and I bet he excuses himself to the razor when he gets ready to shave.”
“And at that,” says Jack, “he’s goin’ to make us a good man.”
“Yes,” says Carey, “unless rheumatism keeps his battin’ average down to .400.”
Well, sir, Ike kept whalin’ away at the ball all through the trip till everybody knowed he’d won a job. Cap had him in there regular the last few exhibition games and told the newspaper boys a week before the season opened that he was goin’ to start him in Kane’s place.
“You’re there, kid,” says Carey to Ike, the night Cap made the ‘nnouncement. “They ain’t many boys that wins a big league berth their third year out.”
“I’d of been up here a year ago,” says Ike, “only I was bent over all season with lumbago.”
continue reading at Alibi Ike by Ring Lardner
This is one of my favorite short stories of all time. Very funny, and it never disappoints in the rereading. And, although I pretty much loathe everything that Keith Olbermann stands for, he does a great job here. Enjoy the presentation!
By W. Bruce Cameron
Apr 25, 2008, 09:23 PST
For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this scenario can be. There is actually a Chili Cook Off in Texas about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park. In this little story, Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili Taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.
Frank: “Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking for directions to the Coors
Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted.”
Here are the scorecard notes from the event:
CHILI # 1 – MIKE’S MANIAC MONSTER CHILI…
Judge # 1 — A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 – Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) – Holy smokes, what is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. Hope that’s the worst one. These people are crazy.
continue reading… The Chili-Cookoff.
I WAS GETTING ALONG FINE with Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella-Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again. Mr. Whitaker! Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared here in China Grove, taking “Pose Yourself” photos, and Stella-Rondo broke us up. Told him I was one-sided. Bigger on one side than the other, which is a deliberate, calculated falsehood: I’m the same. Stella-Rondo is exactly twelve months to the day younger than I am and for that reason she’s spoiled.
She’s always had anything in the world she wanted and then she’d throw it away. Papa-Daddy gave her this gorgeous Add-a-Pearl necklace when she was eight years old and she threw it away playing baseball when she was nine, with only two pearls.
So as soon as she got married and moved away from home the first thing she did was separate! From Mr. Whitaker! This photographer with the popeyes she said she trusted. Came home from one of those towns up in Illinois and to our complete surprise brought this child of two.
Mama said she like to made her drop dead for a second. “Here you had this marvelous blonde child and never so much as wrote your mother a word about it,” says Mama. “I’m thoroughly ashamed of you.” But of course she wasn’t.
to continue reading… Eudora Welty: Why I Live at the P.O..
A DISSERTATION UPON ROAST PIG
MANKIND, says a Chinese manuscript, which my friend M. was obliging enough to read and explain to me, for the first seventy thousand ages ate their meat raw, clawing or biting it from the living animal, just as they do in Abyssinia to this day. This period is not obscurely hinted at by their great Confucius in the second chapter of his Mundane Mutations, where he designates a kind of golden age by the term Cho-fang, literally the Cooks’ holiday. The manuscript goes on to say, that the art of roasting, or rather broiling (which I take to be the elder brother) was accidentally discovered in the manner following. The swine-herd, Ho-ti, having gone out into the woods one morning, as his manner was, to collect mast for his hogs, left his cottage in the care of his eldest son Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who being fond of playing with fire, as younkers of his age commonly are, let some sparks escape into a bundle of straw, which kindling quickly, spread the conflagration over every part of their poor mansion, till it was reduced to ashes. Together with the cottage (a sorry antediluvian make-shift of a building, you may think it), what was of much more importance, a fine litter of new-farrowed pigs, no less than nine in number, perished. China pigs have been esteemed a luxury all over the east from the remotest perioperiods that we read of. Bo-bo was in the utmost consternation, as you may think, not so much for the sake of the tenement, which his father and he could easily build up again with a few dry branches, and the labour of an hour or two, at any time, as for the loss of the pigs. While he was thinking what he should say to his father, and wringing his hands over the smoking remnants of one of those untimely sufferers, an odour assailed his nostrils, unlike any scent which he had before experienced. What could it proceed from ? — not from the burnt cottage — he had smelt that smell before — indeed this was by no means the first accident of the kind which had occurred through the negligence of this unlucky young fire-brand. Much less did it resemble that of any known herb, weed, or flower. A premonitory moistening at the same time overflowed his nether lip. He knew not what to think. He next stooped down to feel the pig, if there were any signs of life in it. He burnt his fingers, and to cool them he applied them in his booby fashion to his mouth. Some of the crums of the scorched skin had come away with his fingers, and for the first time in his life (in the world’s life indeed, for before him no man had known it) he tasted — crackling! Again he felt and fumbled at the pig. It did not burn him so much now, still he licked his fingers from a sort of habit. The truth at length broke into his slow understanding, that it was the pig that smelt so, and the pig that tasted so delicious; and, surrendering himself up to the new-born pleasure, he fell to tearing up whole handfuls of the scorched skin with the flesh next it, and was cramming it down his throat in his beastly fashion, when his sire entered amid the smoking rafters, armed with retributory cudgel, and finding how affairs stood, began to rain blows upon the young rogue’s shoulders, as thick as hail-stones, which Bo-bo heeded not any more than if they had been flies. The tickling pleasure, which he experienced in his lower regions, had rendered him quite callous to any inconveniences he might feel in those remote quarters. His father might lay on but he could not beat him from his pig, till he had fairly made an end of it, when, becoming a little more sensible of his situation, something like the following dialogue ensued.
Continue reading…Charles Lamb – A Dissertation upon Roast Pig.
Brought to you by Angelfire.