The Fifth Element

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John Marks Posted: May 18, 2003 0 comments
Poetry, painting, and sculpture must lie, but they should lie with grandeur, charm, and splendor.—Napoléon I
John Marks Posted: Mar 23, 2003 0 comments
The lease said about my and my fathers trip from the Bureau of Manhattan to our new home the soonest mended. In some way ether I or he got balled up on the grand concorpse and next thing you know we was thretning to swoop down on Pittsfield.
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John Marks Posted: Jan 26, 2003 0 comments
The word chancellor derives, believe it or not, from the Italian word for wooden latticework, cancelli. In the church architecture of sixth-century Rome, a latticework screen demarcated an area near the altar where deacons or priests would stand, waiting to assist the principal celebrant as needed. In English, this area became known as the chancel. In consequence, a trusted assistant came to be known as a chancellor. In the High Middle Ages, that title was given to the cleric who would correspond on behalf of and maintain the archives for an important churchman, such as a bishop.
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John Marks Posted: Dec 29, 2002 0 comments
The custom of giving presents at Christmastime recalls the Magi, or wise men, of the Nativity story (Matthew 2:1-16), who were most likely not "kings" but astrologers. Paintings usually depict three wise men presenting gifts to a newborn in a stable. However, a persnickety reading of Matthew's text reveals that the precise number of Magi, although it must have been at least two, is not stated. The text specifically mentions a house rather than a stable, and implies that Jesus was a toddler. So much for the great Renaissance painters doing their research, or even reading carefully. The text, however, does specify three gifts, and it is that inventory—of gold, frankincense, and myrrh—which has given rise to the common (but not necessarily commonsense) inference that the number of wise men was three.
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John Marks Posted: Nov 08, 2002 0 comments
Aristotle, what a guy.
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John Marks Posted: Oct 20, 2002 0 comments
The subject was horses' fannies.
John Marks Posted: Aug 25, 2002 0 comments
The fundamental object of the invention is to provide...the listener a realistic impression that the intelligence is being communicated to him over two acoustic paths in the same manner as he experiences in listening to everyday acoustic intercourse....—Blumlein, et al, British Patent #394,325, issued June 14, 1933
John Marks Posted: Jul 20, 2002 0 comments
I don't know who originated the idea of "desert island" recordings. I do know that for many years there was a BBC radio program in the UK that asked celebrities to list their choices. While reading quite a few of those lists, I had the sneaking suspicion that the respondents either hadn't entered fully into the spirit of the task, or were tailoring their choices with a view to what the radio or reading audience would think. (Interior monologue: "I am an anorak-wearing viola da gamba player. Hmmm. Birth of the Cool had better be on my list. London Calling, too, just to be safe.")
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John Marks Posted: May 19, 2002 0 comments
Ah me. Victoria's Secret underwear (sorry; lingerie) model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' publicist politely declined my request for an interview with her. An interview with the model, not the publicist. But you already knew that, and you are (best Claude Rains voice) shocked—shocked!
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John Marks Posted: Mar 17, 2002 0 comments
Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) is acknowledged as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She is additionally accorded the rare (especially for a mystic) distinction of recognition as a "Doctor" of the Faith. On a somewhat less exalted level, but perhaps resonating even more clearly with the truth of common human experience, Teresa (who had Jewish ancestry; why is that not surprising?) is credited with coining the phrase "Be careful what you pray for, you might get it."
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John Marks Posted: Jan 13, 2002 0 comments
"Della, it's considerably past five o'clock. Please pour me a glass of wine. Pour one for yourself, while you're at it. Don't we have some 1954 Inglenook Cabernet in one of those credenzas out there?"
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John Marks Posted: Nov 18, 2001 0 comments
"The long tradition of professional connoisseurship has resulted in the development of a bewildering universe of specialist terminology. In certain cases, it must be admitted, there was self-indulgent proliferation of words relating to some minute feature....In fact, no clear distinction can be made between one term and its closest neighbor in meaning."—from the Introduction to Kanzan Sato's The Japanese Sword, A Comprehensive Guide, translated and with an introduction by Joe Earle (New York: Kodansha America, Inc., 1983)
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John Marks Posted: Sep 30, 2001 0 comments
If you've got a thousand dollars to spend, I think asking for advice in choosing between the Coriolis Effect Deluxe Rev.3.2 power cord and the Shamelessly Hosing Neither Balanced Nor Unbalanced Tofu-Filled Mystical interconnect (footnote 1) is usually asking the wrong question.
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John Marks Posted: Jul 12, 2001 0 comments
Nobody Wants a *" Drill Bit!
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John Marks Posted: May 26, 2001 0 comments
Henry David Thoreau once wrote that "The eye is the first circle; the horizon it forms is the second." A profound observation, indeed: The horizon exists only in being perceived. Kind of like music, in fact.


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