Fred Phillips is a Fan. A lifelong lover of gothic horror and weird verse, his favorite author is H.P. Lovecraft. He grew up in the Bronx with parents who were suspicious of his Fandom, his obsessive book-collecting, his poetry. They frequently disposed of his comic books and told him he was wasting his life.From the Cauldron by Fred Phillips (Thanks, Tavie!)
He didn't waste his life. He took up with science fiction Fans, and joined up with the Society for Creative Anachronisms. To most of the world he was an oddball, kind of a loser. He talked too much. He probably had Asperger's. A Lehman College dropout, he worked at a bookstore. In 1968 he met Dorothea Nissen, and they married and eventually had twin daughters.
He got a low-level civil service job clerking at the NY Dept of Labor. It was drudgery, but he had his poetry and he had his girls and he fancied himself happy. He clerked for 30 years. He wasn't what you would call successful, and but he worked hard for his family and lived largely in his head. His Fandom kept him sane.
And then he retired, and he still wrote his poetry and discovered e-mail and then something marvelous happened. He met a man called Derrick who ran a publishing house specializing in scholarly criticism of HP Lovecraft, and Derrick really liked Fred. So at the age of 73 Fred Phillips' poetry was published.
And his daughter Tavie is very, very proud of him.
"How To Be Alone," a beautiful poem by Tanya Davis, turned into a video by Andrea Dorfman. I spend an awful lot of time alone -- alone at the office, writing; alone in a hotel, catching up on email on tour (greetings from beautiful Braunschweig!). I like being on my own mostly, though there are times in groups when there's that amazing wonderful nigh-telepathic connection to a big conversation when I am mildly poleaxed by the realization that there's something to this "other people" stuff.
When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You're no less intriguing a person when you're eating solo dessert to cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.
Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.
And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor till the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one's watching...because, they're probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you're sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life's best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.
Dr Seuss works improbably well in Yiddish. Yiddish's strength is its onomatopoeic expressiveness; and it contains a lot of Germanic words that are cognates for their English equivalents (such as "bloyer," which means "blue;" and "fish," which means "fish!"), but they're pitch-bent enough to make them sound a little off-kilter, which makes them perfect for a Seussian rhyme.
Berger's translation is funny and tight, his rhymes are as sweet as Seuss's originals. The text is written in both Hebrew script and Latin-alphabet transliterations (which is good, since I read Hebrew at the rate of about three words per hour).
I grew up speaking Yiddish, having learned it at the Workman's Circle center in Toronto in after-school classes. It was my father's first language, and the language spoken by my grandparents and their friends. I love its eye-rolling irony and humor, and can't think of a better text to appear in Yiddish translation. You don't have to speak Yiddish to enjoy the sheer poetry of Seuss rendered in it, either. I read bits out to my wife (who speaks some Welsh, but no Yiddish), and she concurred.
- Dr. Seuss taxidermy
- Dr Seuss meets Star Trek
- Excellent quote from Dr. Seuss
- Dr. Seuss' "Gerald Mc" on MP3
- Dr Seuss's anti-malaria GI comic
- Dr Seuss/Bob Dylan mashup: Dylan Hears a Who
- Network Neutrality as Dr Seuss might have explained it
- Chabon's "Yiddish Policemen's Union": wonderful blend of hard ...
- Yiddish in Jazz
- Born to Kvetch: Yiddish as she is spoke
- Perl is Internet Yiddish
- Nifty Yiddish glossary. (Thanks, Dave!)
- Yiddish postcard gallery