Bartlett’s, The Conjuring, and “Qua”

Diary 7/10 to 7/12/22: Torey Hayden books; Zirin article from The Nation; Bartlett’s Quotations; Truthout on “abortion activists”; The Conjuring Universe; a dream of the Hemlock Club.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved


Torey Hayden:  Lost Child (2019) is the latest of nine books about her experiences in trying to reclaim children poorly served by the society they’re raised in.  I started reading these heart-wrenching books in my twenties (so about fifty years ago); if I feel compassion towards suffering children, she deserves much of the credit.  I am halfway through Lost Child, having started it last night and adding a few pages this morning at 5:00.  I’ll certainly finish it today—it’s compulsively readable, well deserving of all the accolades her books receive.  I think that her Somebody Else’s Kids might be the best.

The first Hayden book I read

Old News (6/27/22):  “A Football Coach’s Prayer Is Not About Freedom. It’s About Coercion.”  That’s the title of a strong piece by David Zirin from The Nation about the recent so-called Supreme Court decision regarding prayer in school.  If you think that coach Joseph Kennedy “offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied,” as so-called Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the opinion, you are believing a lie that is 180° away from the truth.  I followed a link to Zirin’s piece on the FAIR website.

Some quotes from Bartlett’s that I might want to use:

  • Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon:  “I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” Ch. 1.
  • Ernest Hemingway, “Winner Take Nothing,” Fathers and Sons: “If he wrote it he could get rid of it. He had gotten rid of many things by writing them.”
  • Robert Maynard Hutchins, Great Books of the Western World: “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita: “Between the age limits of nine and fourteen there occur maidens who, to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many older than they, reveal their nature, which is not human, but nymphic (that is, demoniac); and these chosen creatures I proposed to designate as ‘nymphets.’” Pt. 1, Ch. 5.

Truthout responds to Press Secretary:  “Abortion Activists Slam White House for Saying They Are “Out of Step” With Dems.”  Stand back and stand by for the WH to “clarify” which activists are meant—I’m pretty sure that the WH chokes on the idea of expanding the Supreme Court—“activists” is a hopelessly vague term which many readers will take to mean the reader him/her self.


I woke at 4:50 am, read and finished Torey Hayden’s Lost Child, then back to sleep.

Lost Child, unlike Hayden’s other books, makes for rather grim reading, because “Jessie” is terribly difficult and destructive, with lots of talk about someone “put a finger in my p____.”  Hayden’s other books are generally more interesting and more full of love.  But the pages flew by, and fans of her work will want to read this one also.  In LC Hayden is living in Wales, and at the end of her forty-year career, is married with a young child of her own.  There’s no indication of her child being adopted, so she apparently gave birth in her fifties?  However, this book is all Jessie’s, and Hayden’s of course.

Watched all the rest of the seven movies in the Conjuring Universe package from Warner Brothers/New Line.  The three Annabelle movies were less interesting and entertaining than the three Conjuring movies; the remaining title, The Nun, was the least interesting and entertaining, though one sequence was rather good of a man buried alive, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with the other six except some overlap in the behind-the-camera people.  Overall, the only one I can recommend is the original, The Conjuring.  For me, the main attraction is the ghostbusting couple, with Vera Farmiga doing excellent work as a psychic.  I’ve been a fan ever since watching the TV series, Bates Motel, where she plays Norman Bates’s “Mother”—very creepy there.


A Dream. Photo by cottonbro on

A dream:  I got to thinking, while asleep or perhaps semi-awake, about the Hemlock Club and members that other members don’t want present.  There is no actual membership, however, just people who show up and people who don’t.  Anyway, I soon was dreaming about sitting at a table with several others, nobody I knew, and one person was a new arrival, call him “A.”  I was asking questions of A, questions that had gotten increasingly personal, while the person on A’s left had begun asking similar questions of the person on my left, apparently in an attempt to be humorous.  The only question I remember specifically was, “Do you drink?”  Then I got to thinking whether the HC could act as a sort of Alcoholics Anonymous for “members,” and how that might work, and my role in such a group.  At which point I woke up.

I have never asked such questions of anyone at the group.  While I might ask questions of new people, it is not with any intention of trying to decide whether I want them in the group, though of course I’m likely to form an opinion on that; the purpose is just (or primarily) to get them to participate, to get acquainted and make them feel welcome.  In other words, there is no process of “getting in.”  I consider it a public meeting at which all are welcome until they become disruptive or obnoxious.  I do not consider that I have any authority; I just started the group and Pablo was the other “parent,” the one who came up with the name.

In fact, there was a new participant at the last meeting, and I thought he quite enjoyed it.  In addition, a couple at another table (at Panera Bread) introduced themselves as they were leaving, and they expressed interest in attending in future.

“Tao Te Ching”

What did we talk about?  Aside from the Tao Te Ching (hereafter TTC) and the Chinese written language, I don’t remember anything at the moment.  I had printed out five copies of the TTC, four of the Legge translation with Chinese characters (chapter-by-chapter) and another with the characters phrase-by-phrase, plus a couple of pages from a third translation that goes character-by-character.

It occurs to me now that having a printout for discussion is a very good idea on several fronts—first, it gives “something to talk about” whenever conversation lags, and second it gives “something to hand out” to new attendees.  Curiously, and uncharacteristically, I did not give the three new people the HC’s business card.

“Eden”? Photo by cottonbro on

Last night, after watching two or three episodes of Family Guy, and as usual working sudoku during commercials (and sometimes during the show), I grew disgusted (again) at this time-killing, and shut it off and went to lie on the bed and read, and hopefully to write something on TLC, or as I think of it these days, Apple in Eden.  So I started reading the existing text of Apple, and read for a while, and got resistant to this, so I switched over to the Frank Harris I’ve been reading for a while, My Life and Loves.  I have been stalled on the writing for weeks, and the reading last night did not rekindle anything.  My usual “method” when floundering with a novel is to write new scenes.  I’ve been doing that, but I had gotten stuck, not knowing what to do next.  The short, glib answer is, “Why, do anything.”  Perhaps a better answer is, “Do something new.”

In a reply to my comment on another blog, the blogger used “qua” in an odd way. I asked, and he said it stands for “question, answer, repeat.” I said I liked it, but shouldn’t it be “qar”?

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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