The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is SATIRE
The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. — Lexico
Satire applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct, doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more often through irony, parody, or caricature. — Merriam-Webster
Some years ago when we were in Quebec a friend introduced me to the Lucky Luke, the Western “bande dessinée” (comics) originally by Belgian artist, Morris, and later by Morris and Goscinny — the artist who did the Asterix series. If ever there were artists that did satire, it was these two!
I recall one scene that was supposedly in the US Legislature where the austere governors of the nation carried on their dignified duties. A hilarious scene and a definite parody. “Shyster” one yelled. “Corrupt!” the other rejoined. There was the story where Lucky Luke got into the middle of an old family feud à la Hatfield + McCoy.
I recall his adventures with the Dalton gang, especially where they crossed the border into Canada. A sign read, “Canadian Border.” On the US side everything appeared normal, not a flake of snow. On the Canadian side deep snowbanks, frozen trees. All the men were loggers. The RCMP, Corporal Winston Pendergast, walked into a bar at closing time and said, “Gentlemen, it’s time to go home,” and everybody vamoosed. Then he ordered himself “A cup of tea, please, with a little cloud of milk.”
Yes, I take my hat off to these two artists. They were masters of written satire and their illustrations were likewise hilariously fitting.
This morning I got an e-mail from Goodreads. Titled Christine’s Year in Books, it’s a summary of my reading in 2020 — that they know about. Kobo and library books I’ve listed as READ, as well as books on my Kindle reader which show up automatically when I’ve finished, since the two companies are connected. According to their count, I’ve read 102 books this year. Probably 110 would be closer, as I’ve re-read half a dozen or so without registering that fact on Goodreads.
My average book length was 206 pages; the longest was a collection of Penny Powers stories — 1760 pages in all. Right now I’m reading and almost done Jake and the Kid, a book by W.O.Mitchell set on the prairies. Then I have a couple more e-books started that I hope to finish shortly. Are you one to start more than one book at a time? Or are you one of these self-disciplined sorts who always finishes one thing before you start another? 😉
I enjoy a variety of genres and authors, but when I get into a series I’ll usually read the whole works — and if I really enjoy the characters, I’ll read the books more than once. Like Diana Xarrisa’s mild mystery series featuring the Markham sisters and their bed and breakfast in “Doveby Dale.” These novellas come in alphabetical order and I’ve just bought the last one, The Zachary Case, but I’ve re-read most of the others.
I’ve read most of the Miss Marple stories by Agatha Christie. Another series I’ve followed is Elizabeth Lemarchand’s mysteries solved by Inspectors Pollard & Toye of Scotland Yard. These are police procedurals as are Emily Brightwell’s Victorian mysteries featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Witherspoon and his housekeeper, Mrs Jeffries. When a murder is committed among the toffs in London, Witherspoon is sent to find the guilty party. Acting as a team, his staff and friends quietly get involved in turning up and sharing pertinent information. Finally Mrs Jeffries sorts it all out in her mind and figures out whodunit and why, then tips off the inspector so he can arrest the perpetrator. I just read the newest, Mrs Jeffries and the Alms of the Angel, #38 in the series.
A much milder series I follow is Nicholas Rhea’s Constable series, which rarely involve serious crimes, just day-to-day policing among the farms and small villages in rural England circa 1950. The Miss Read stories about Fairacre and Thrush Green are likewise sent in the 40s in rural England.
But now I’m pondering my next year’s reading plan and making a New Year’s Resolution. I’m considering all the books I’ve bought waiting patiently in the “To Read Soon” pile. I’ve read that other folks load their e-readers with books that don’t get read — and I am definitely guilty! But there are always intriguing new ones! As a friend quoted lately: “So many books; so little time.”
I rarely ever make definite New Year’s Resolutions because I know they are so hard to keep when temptation sings its siren song, but I’m resolved that in 2021 I WILL NOT BUY or BORROW ANY MORE BOOKS until I’ve gone through those 280 books on my Kindle and read the ones I haven’t yet. (If possible.) Plus write reviews for the ones I have read — if I haven’t already. Any new ones that pop up during the year and specially appeal to me can go on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list — along with the 190 already listed there. 😉
Can I keep this resolution? Or is this an impossible dream? What do you think?
To all my American readers, wherever you happen to be. I hope your day is filled with joy, family and/or memories of great times together, gratitude and hope.
Your homeland is a bountiful one, with many opportunities for an ambitious person to make a fair living. So many people the world over dream of the freedom and prosperity Americans enjoy and would give a lot to be there.
You also have an amazing pool of talent; Americans have produced marvelous inventions, written great stories and verses. Here’s a verse from one of my favorite old-time poets, Edgar Guest. With his thousands of home-spun verses about everyday things, he was known as “the poet of the American people” and “the bard of America’s hopes and dreams.”
The Brighter Side
Though life has its trouble and life has its care
and often its dark days of sorrow,
there is always the hope that the sky will be fair
and the heart will be happy tomorrow.
There’s always the light of a goal just ahead,
a glimpse of the dream we’re pursuing,
in spite of the difficult pathway we tread
there is much it is good to be doing.
Time empties the purse of the pennies of youth,
the heart of its innocent laughter,
but gives in return just a few grains of truth
and the promise of more to come after.
There’s never a new day lived out to the end,
however life’s tempests may pitch us,
but what with a triumph, a joy, or a friend,
the swift, fleeting hours may enrich us.
There is so much to do and there’s so much to see
in spite of the troubles that fret us,
so much to wait for and so much to be
if only the future will let us —
that life with its burdens and life with its tears
and its heart-burning touches of sadness
still lures us all on to the end of our years
with its friendships, its loves, and its gladness.
From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co
WHY JESUS by Ravi Zacharias
I’m finding this book an intriguing commentary on the mixed bag of truths being offered to seekers in our day. In the first part of the book the author discusses the electronic media, its effect on society, how it’s altered society’s acceptance of truth. The media we view in our own homes has subtly exchanged the “old values” for a new truth — one that we want to believe. None of us can escape the effect of this change, he points out, because even if we aren’t viewers ourselves, we’re surrounded by others who are.
Then he examines the illusive nature of New Age Spirituality circulating in North America today. The West, because of the basic principles of freedom we subscribe to, is so willing to cast of the old and accept new religions. He notes that, in the countries where these religions have been established for centuries, nothing new or different is tolerated. New Age gurus may attack the Judo-Christian foundation of North America and people will hear them gladly, but go to one of those countries and you risk reputation or even life for even suggesting a different religion — as many Christian missionaries have discovered.
Peeking at the coming chapters, I see that he predictably concludes with “the message of Jesus Christ…both timely and timeless.” A message he himself embraced as a young intellectual, recovering in the hospital after attempting suicide. Though he knew very little of Christianity, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, if you are who you claim to be, reveal yourself to me and take me out of my desperate situation and I will leave not stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”
by Edgar Guest
Still as children asking why adults gaze upon the sky. Still as children, grownups seek reason for the comet's streak. Still to sages, baffling are sun and planet, moon and star. On a garden's tiny space miracles are taking place. And as children, age explores God's bewildering out-of-doors. Questioning, till the day they die, Life's great mystery -- how and why?