8824 NE Russell St.
Portland OR 97220

Black Lamb

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Black Lamb was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Published monthly. (more)

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This Week in Literary History

June 1st, 2015

French writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Night Flight, 1931) is born in 1900 in Lyon.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, b. June 29, 1900, d. 1944

saint-exupérycolorSaint-Exupéry is unique among famous writers as the only one whose writing is about being a pilot. By 1931, with the publication of Vol de nuit (Night Flight), he was already a literary star, and that star ascended until his death (he disappeared flying solo during World War II) in 1944.

Suggested Reading Fiction The Aviator, 1926. Southern Mail, 1929. Night Flight, 1931. Terre des hommes, 1939. Wind, Sand and Stars, 1940. Fight to Arras, 1943. Children’s book The Little Prince, 1943.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

This Month in Black Lamb

June 1st, 2015

In June’s issue, Terry Ross discusses libraries in Pantheon of books. In Loess is more, John M. Daniel salutes songwriter/lyricist Frank Loesser. Toby Tompkins confesses a need to make himself invisible in Hidey holes. In Scaredy-cat girl, Elizabeth Fournier recalls an unsettling road trip. Karla Kruggel Powell makes a plea for the wild wolf in Reintroducing ourselves. Lorentz Lossius offers a sixteenth installment of his Turkey diary. In Don’t cry for me, Nicaragua, Rene Mendieta tells the story of his coming to America. M.A.Orthofer reviews Kamel Daoud’s fictional revisit of Camus’s L’Étranger. In The examined life, Brad Bigelow examines the writing career of Alice Koller.

Renaissance dramatist Ben Jonson and contemporary short story writer Tobias Wolff are this month’s Honorary Black Lambs. Bridge writer Trixie Barkis sets us more problems to solve. A Lamb-Rice Casserole is June’s yummy lamb recipe. Millicent Marshall again answers reader’s questions, and Professor Khan tries to stump us (again) with one of his fiendish word puzzles.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Loess is more

In praise of Frank Loesser

June 1st, 2015

When asked who they thought were the most important writers of “The Great American Songbook,” most Americans today might say, “Never heard of that book. Is it available from Amazon?” If you tell them it’s a term for an important part of their cultural heritage, namely the popular standards, songs written for Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood from 1920 to 1950 or thereabouts, their eyes will glaze over. For them, what we call the standards are as dead as vaudeville or barbershop harmony.

loesserTry again. When asked who they thought were the most important writers of “The Great American Songbook,” most somewhat older Americans, for whom standards make up the soundtrack of their lives, are likely to answer, “Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart and/or Hammerstein…” To name a few. I agree with those candidates, but would like to induct another into the Hall of Fame: Frank Loesser.

Frank Loesser, like Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Johnny Mercer, wrote both music and lyrics to his songs, although, like Mercer, Loesser also wrote lyrics for melodies written by other composers. Loesser’s lyrics were as good as Mercer’s (that’s saying a lot), and his melodies were a lot better.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Daniel | Link to this Entry

Last Week in Literary History

June 1st, 2015

In 1905, existentialist philosopher, novelist, and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre (Nausea, 1938) is born in Paris. In 1946, he will refuse the Nobel Prize.

sartre*Jean-Paul Sartre, b. June 21, 1905, d. 1980

An enormously influential philosopher, critic, and creative artist, Sartre was blamed for the excesses of the various French critics who followed him. In fact, he was a potent and clear thinker whose ideas were not taken up by his successors, who often mocked him, as in this couplet:

Jean-Paul Sartre
Is a fartre.

Suggested Reading Novels Nausea, 1938. The Age of Reason, 1945. Plays The Flies 1943. No Exit, 1944. Philosophy Being and Nothingness, 1943. Existentialism is a Humanism, 1946. Essays Situations I-X, 1947-1976.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

Last Month in Black Lamb

May 1st, 2015

The All-Sex Issue

In May’s All-Sex Issue (July will All-Drugs and September All-Rock ‘n’ Roll), Terry Ross examines society’s fixation on all things sexual in Obsession. In Selfish jerk, Elizabeth Fournier details her blind date with the mayor of a California city. John M. Daniel salutes Cole Porter in Clever, classy, & sassy. In Getting lucky, Toby Tompkins remembers an episode from when he was just seventeen. Lorentz Lossius gives us an atmospheric poem about cruising, In Central Park. In Choose your sex… if you can, we reveal a list of more than 50 “official” gender designations. In commemoration of Memorial Day, Vietnam vet Michael McCusker makes a plea for peace in Recruiting tomorrow’s dead. As usual, we offer a selection of insightful book reviews.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.•

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Sex Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Two months ago in Black Lamb

Volume 13, Number 4 — April 2015

April 1st, 2015

In April’s issue, Lane Browning profiles Laura Bridgman, a handicapped woman who preceded Helen Keller by fifty years but was even more exceptional. In Not the sharpest tool in the box, Elizabeth Fournier recalls one of her many horrible blind dates. Toby Tompkins documents his own contact with Scientology in Unclear. In Out of my mouth, Terry Ross laments the disappearance of genuinely shocking foul language. John M. Daniel reflects on role reversals in Are you comfortable? A selection of perceptive book reviews follows.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Most exceptional of all

Laura Bridgman preceded Hellen Keller

April 1st, 2015

BY LANE BROWNING

Helen Keller came second.

For all her fame, achievements and iconic role modeling, the redoubtable Ms. Keller ascended on the very frail shoulders of her predecessor.

bridgmanYes, she did have a predecessor; in fact, Helen Keller was selected specifically as the “next” deaf/blind/mute poster child when the first one sidelined. Keller took up the mantle and carried it with spectacular virtuosity for eighty years. Yet even Keller and her gifted mentor Anne Sullivan suggested that the girl who “came before” was the truly exceptional one.

Most of us know that Miss Sullivan taught Helen to communicate, but who taught Anne? Laura Bridgman did. Laura Bridgman, who was the first deaf/blind/mute child in the U.S. to learn to communicate, both with finger signing and with writing (quite beautifully and very legibly). Laura Bridgman, who lost four of her senses when she was a toddler, yet went on to study philosophy, history, mathematics, geography, Latin, and religion.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Browning | Link to this Entry

Car Man is not pleased.

Not the sharpest tool in the box

April 1st, 2015

BY ELIZABETH FOURNIER

Rod the mechanic was late for our “let’s just kick down a beer and bullshit” date. Those were his exact words during our brief, introductory phone call.
However, I was still planning to move forward because I had heard from our mutual friend who’d given him my number that he was Erik Estrada cute and loved to talk cars.

womanwarrioronhorse*Our go-between was sort of correct, but Rod had a dirty appearance. He looked clean, but grungy. He’d most likely showered, but he was wearing men’s Red Kap indigo blue work jeans. Now, I know my blue-collar uniforms, and, in fact, I am a fan of coveralls and all things Carhartt. But something about wearing work pants to a first meeting in public looked like he either thought he should dress the part, or maybe he just lived in denim and cargo pants. Or maybe he was just clean, but grungy.

“Chicks just don’t know crap about cars,” he grunts about ten minutes into our fifteen-minute-late linkage, he being the late-comer. Whoa, a double red flag in one sentence! “Chicks” and he’s a potty mouth on the first date. Let’s make it a triple red flag for his blatantly sexist-generalized statement, too. Schmuck!

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Fournier | Link to this Entry

March 2015 in Black Lamb

Volume 13, Number 3 — March 2015

March 1st, 2015

The All-Clothing Issue

In March’s All-Clothing Issue, editor Terry Ross takes a hard look at contemporary clothing styles. In The woman in the black silk dress, John M. Daniel evokes his great-great-grandmother. Toby Tompkins says that at various times in our lives, we are all playing roles and wearing the appropriate Costumes. In Funeral dress, Elizabeth Fournier expounds on the correct attire for studying mortuary science. Our book reviewers weigh in on volumes having to do with apparel.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Clothing Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

The woman in the black silk dress

My great-great-grandmother

March 1st, 2015

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

In the home in Dallas where I grew up, there hung on the dining room wall a steel engraving, a head-and-shoulders portrait of a woman wearing a plain black dress. I wondered why she should dominate the dining room, but I accepted her as part of my life and her portrait as an heirloom that had to be honored. She was, I knew, some kind of ancestor. She had a sober expression on her face, and she struck me as a sourpuss. My mother disagreed. She was a kind woman, my mother told me, and her face was beautiful. Serene. Her name was Hannah Neil. She lived from 1794 to 1868. She was my great-great-grandmother.

hannahneilHannah Neil’s portrait hung prominently in my mother’s house because my mother’s name was also Hannah Neil, those being her first and middle names until she was married. Her mother’s (my grandmother’s) name was Hannah Neil also. My sister was Hannah Neil Daniel until she was married. I also have a first cousin and a granddaughter named Hannah; and I had an uncle, a brother, and a first cousin named Neil, and Neil is my son’s, and his son’s, middle name. The names Hannah and Neil hang in abundance on my family tree. They collectively honor a woman in a plain black dress, who was by all accounts a saint.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Clothing Issue, Daniel | Link to this Entry

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