A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for March, 2008

Travels with Herodotus

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review by Brian Charles Clark

The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories
Pantheon, Nov. 2007
1024 pages, cloth
5 of 5 possible stars

The Landmark Herodotus - book coverHerodotus – where would we be without him? The fifth-century Greek writer is known as the Father of History, and although the sophistication of writing history has certainly changed in the intervening centuries, the overall shape and method have not. Herodotus is a landmark in the history of civilization.

Herodotus was the first (at least in the West and as far as we know) to systematically collect documentary materials to form the basis of what he wrote and to arrange those materials in a narrative that captures the reader’s imagination. He even made some effort to verify his sources, a practice that led more or less directly to the rigors of the modern academy. In The Histories, Herodotus also set another standard: history is to be written by the winners. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

March 31st, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Posted in history, reviews, travel, writing

WSU Trumps North Carolina?

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PULLMAN, Wash. – The big news around here is that Bill and Melinda Gates gave WSU 25 million bucks to kick start a school of global animal health, “like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but for animals,” to paraphrase the region’s newspapers from this past weekend. Not a bad idea at all, but somehow I’m a little blue that $25 mill is the best WSU has ever done in the gift department. But then I was never properly afraid of clowns as a child (in fact, I thought they were kind of cool, and wondered what I might be able to get away with dressed up as one) and so have always naturally taken the devil’s side of things. In the pet store, you’ll find me in the underdogs department.

On the brighter side, of course, and in what I hope is international news (allez les Cougs!), WSU is in the NCAA Sweet 16. We beat the knee-highs off of Notre Dame. We now face #1 seeded North Carolina at freekin hometown Charlotte. Ouch. If you have prayerful inclinations, your contributions to the stream would be most gratefully accepted next Thursday (Wednesday, your time? I mean, if you live in New Zealand or somewhere?).

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Written by Brian

March 24th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Posted in pullman, sports

For Randy and other strangers with good candy


poem by Robin Pugh Yi

From bitter cold predawn shadows you called out, “Hey, come here!”

The woman pretended not to hear as she hurried away. You persisted, “I want to show you something,” your deep voice echoing every storybook villain.

She barely restrained herself from running away, searched the street for an escape route, for anyone else awake who might save her.

“It’s a telescope,” you insisted, not considering the possible innuendo. “You can see the rings of Saturn.” She slowed to an almost normal pace as she approached the street corner, wondering if this stranger might really be offering nothing more than free candy.

“They’re so beautiful. I just want to show someone.” You almost couldn’t see her turn slightly toward you. You shoved your hands into your pockets, kicked some fallen leaves, resigned to whatever decision she would make. Hesitantly, she turned to walk back. Her face lit with wonder at the stunning shiny rings. She bowed a little to thank you.

I saw her leave as I approached, and shook my head at how oblivious you were to her fears. Then, teeth chattering in the eerie wind, you showed me those rings. And luminous sister Venus. Blurry hints of the Martian canals swam like a river of old stories. Candy from the dark, stranger man.

As a young girl’s mother, I’m not supposed to confess all the rides I’ve taken with strangers, the candy I’ve eaten, how often I’ve looked at what someone just wanted to show me in the shadows. I can’t deny meeting the ravenous wolf there. Can’t tell you to stop protecting yourself and your children. Please forgive my rashness in answering the ugly clichéd assumptions in the phrase, “You know how men are.” Yes, I do. I’ve accepted countless invitations called from the dark. The ravening wolf is rare. The call of the wild promises joy. The shadows teem with souls who ache to share the night sky.

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Written by Brian

March 16th, 2008 at 4:54 pm