Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday Echo

My guest this week is Danny Boy. Danny Boy was asked to define Blithe.

BLITHE, adj. From the Old English bliþe, “joyous or kind” and cognate with the Old Saxon bliði "bright, happy," and the Old Norse bliðr "mild, gentle." There are no cognates outside the proto-germanic family.

A personality type characterized by lightness of spirit and an easygoing nature, often erroneously associated with being harmless, or blameless.

Blithe individuals are quickly judged by others, and may alternately be seen as:

Carefree/careless
Optimistic/simpleminded
Unburdened/uncaring
Cheerful/fatuous
Joyous/heedless
Happy/loopy

These varying opinions can unerringly root out the true personality type of the observer. For instance, a self-professed curmudgeon who is charmed by a blithe spirit is undoubtedly a closet romantic.

About Danny Boy: Danny has no blog that I know of. He does, however, have a past. Danny and I were classmates at Deep Springs College from June, 1985 until June 1987, two among twelve. Stephen, Danny's best friend in those years once referred to Dan's "blithe, bearded spirit," a phrase that captured Dan's personality so perfectly that twenty years after first looking up the word blithe there's no other word I could have assigned him.Except, maybe, bearded but a word like that can quickly go wrong.

In theory, I could use this space to tell embarrassing stories about Dan's late teens but I have, in fact, nothing on him and the converse is not the case so let's just say Dan is a good man: honest, wise and true. Maybe overwise, if anything. Dan came to Deep Springs having been a page in the U.S. Senate, which explains a lot, and a singer with a voice of gold, a silver ear and a rusty sense of propriety. A memory I have is sitting in a classroom where a guest lecturer, Giuseppi Mazzota of Florence, was discussing the verses in Dante's Inferno that describe Paolo and Francesca, flitting obliviously through hell aware only of their passion for each other, while Dan walked right outside the open classroom window crooning a cantata at full volume. "Dan's both in one" was the immediate thought.

Dan and I spent two terms together responsible for the college's milk cows and got along grandly as perfect opposites tend to do. Dan came to Deep Springs smart, well-read, intellectual, political, thoughtful, bearded and half-right about his orientation. His refinement can be seen in two entrance essays I stole photos of from his file last weekend, at right. These essays were about Alice Walker's The Color Purple and the death of Mark Rothko. I think the equivalents in my folder were entitled "Blade Runner: Fact or Fiction?" and "Why I may as well go to an all-male school." Deep Springs wasn't as selective back then as it is now and at 17 I was already furry enough for the plow.

Thanks to Dan for two decades of friendship, for a wily guest post, for voting with the minority (I think) on the Student Body motion to censure me and for guarding your tongue in the comments below.

How to be a guest on this site: To be anointed, I will need your email address and permission. So, were you to send an email to dpascover at mac dot com and say in the subject line something like "OK, ok I'll do it," that would definitely work unless I thought it was spam and deleted it. On an upcoming Wednesday, after posting that week's guest I would then send you an email with a word not in The Devil's Dictionary which you could then spend the next three days writing a definition for and return to me with a graphic or two of your choosing. The only rules are no profanity, no novels and anything else I make up. If you've done this before, I may ask you again if you're around a lot. If you've done this before and not been heard from since, just let me know that you want to be a guest and then disappear again.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice tribute to a friend.

Did you know that people whose names are Blythe spell their names with a y and not an i?

And Bill Clinton is really William Jefferson Blythe III?

O Ceallaigh said...

BLITHE, adj. Not paying attention. See OUTRAGE, Mr. W.

Actually I did know that, Goldennib. He changed his name from that of a goofball to that of the General whose arrogance and pigheadedness helped the English lose the American Revolutionary War. The man is just luckless.

puppybrose said...

what a completely charming and warm introduction, Doug! and welcome, Danny Boy -- your definitions are sublime. *claps*

i adore this word, and personally don't think we use it enough. believe it or not, i like to think of myself as possessing a blithe spirit on any given day... though that could just be the meds.

Sar said...

Blithe - I feel pretty and witty and gay! Although Blogger is trying to sabotage this by being a bugger and delaying my WPW post. Hmph!

Nicely done and nice to meet you Dan. Have you been appointed to sainthood yet for having served your sentence with our dear friend the curmudgeon?

pia said...

Sar took my comment :-)

Hi Danny--please come back and tell us stories about Doug. Please, please. He writes posts on weekends that make me think that there's more to the old Doug than he would let on

Do a favor for all us Doug worshippers--shut up Doug, and tell us stories

Blade Runner: Fact or Fiction must have been amazing :-) It was factual, right?

Old Mule said...

Anyone who peppers definitions with Norse and Old Saxon has a special place in my misanthropic heart. So I tip my hat, Estimado Danny. And what else is there to do on this earth but sing?

Nice post, Doug.

Doug said...

Thanks, Goldennib. After all this time, I just finally parsed your ID name, explaining your friendship with Quilldancer.

O Ceallaigh, I'm not sure luckless is quite the word.

Puppybrose, I can see that, although I bet Dan as you on "bearded." Joel?

Sar, I think blitheness is a great defense against surly curmudgeons and blogger.

Pia, there's less to me than I let on and bear in mind that in the context of Deep Springs, juicy gossip about me is likely to be of the drunken milking variety. Oh, and "Blade Runner: Fact or Fiction?" is fiction.

Mule, anyone with a misanthropic heart has a special place in mine.

Anonymous said...

Oh Danny Boy, that ole curmudgeon's calling...

Very nice intro and Danny, you sound like a good pal to have. As characterized by the alternate connotations of the word blithe - simple minded, heedless, happy and loopy, you shall be in very good company today.

Thanks for upping the ante.

PS: Puppy: You most certainly go together with blithe.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, "Blithe" -- unlike its synonym "dork", a word I don't hear every day. Would "Blithe Dork" be redundant? Or, would it be an emphatic phrase, like "man's man" - or, "dork's dork"?

And, Doug, thanks for trusting us enough to introduce us to an old friend. Start a blog, Danny Boy, so we can come by and talk about Doug behind his back.

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Oh Danny Boy, you are charming! Do tell us all. We're not unconcerned about Doug's past. NOT AT ALL.

Loving and lovely write up Doug.

O Ceallaigh: Bill Clinton got lucky a lot.

puppybrose said...

AL? oh Al. where were you when we discussed the *true* meaning of "dork", once upon a blogger's time? a term that has nothing to do with a nerd and everything to do with the male anatomy of the Blue Whale? (unless, of course, the nerd is, um... well-endowed, then maybe...)

did i just say that? d'oh!

as for "bearded", Doug? *blithely races to look up alternate meanings for that word, in hopes he's not referring to facial hair*

QuillDancer said...

Blithe -- the part of my spirit which has been crushed beneath paperwork, statistics and terminal testing.

Kyahgirl said...

For a long time I haven't been able to hear the word Blythe without thinking of Blythe Danner. Now I have Blithe Danny Boy in my mind. Thank you Doug for helping to eradicate that woman from my brain and replacing her with one of your friends. Very nice to meet you Danny Boy and I enjoyed your definitions.

I enjoyed your bio too Doug. Methinks there are a lot of stories to be had here. Boy oh boy, wouldn't it be fun to get Danny Boy alone with the Snark crew (san Doug), a few gallons of beer and time enough to explore the past?

Doug said...

Thanks, g. And she sure does. I notice Silent/mute wasn't in Dan's rubric.

Al, a fine suggestion until the end.

TLP and Kyah, I'm afraid by kidding Dan about silence I might have given the impression my past is more interesting than it is. I think you've heard the worst.

Puppybrose, you know I'm going to double check you with your sister's book, right? I was implying that you do not have facial hair. Apologies for any unintentional offense.

Quill, its not quite dead yet.

Kyah, while I'm completely supportive of buying gallons of beer for Wisonsinites of German descent, Dan sings for free.

Kyahgirl said...

Ok Doug, we believe you have no past *rolls eyes*

We can drink beer and listen to singing, sounds mighty fine.

Honestly, you know when you talk of Deep Springs, its makes me want to go there and check it out. Of course, there is the minor technical detail of the wrong gender but we won't worry about that.

Doug said...

Kyah, you're the wrong gender to enrol, not to visit. Unless things have changed since I was a student, women are always welcome there. And by "always" I mean always. By "welcome", I mean real, real welcome. By "things" I mean Deep Springers. You might ought to leave the engine running.

Minka said...

Did I just see two of the most tongue breaking Icelandic letters in Danny´s definition?
ð and Þ.
beautiful!

"Blithe" is very much used in Icelandic still ( and we are teh closest you will ever get to Old Norse, since Icleandic hardly has changed at all!)... and usually adressed to children or Minkas when they behave contrary to expectations.
Minka, vertu blið!

It is hard for some people, glad it comes easier to you, Danny Boy!
Well done and glad to see you back...

Anonymous said...

Puppy, ~blush~ I thought that was "shmuck"? G?

In the particular case of Blue Whales and (ahem) Italian males, I'm pretty sure the correct term is "shlong".

Anonymous said...

Kyah - You go in and scout around and we'll have the getaway car revving! It reminds me of a Groucho line (Puppy has me in that mode): "Personally this party stinks - the beer is warm, the women are cold and I'm getting hot under the collar!".

Al, I knew Puppy would clarify that for you - haha, you're on your own kid ;)

Danny Boy said...

Okay, guys, Doug reminded me that I may actually have to participate today. My pleasure, though work is nuts, and it also my big "4-0" today. (When is your's Doug? You are a relative baby, no? Do I remember grades skipped?)

So -- I'm afraid to do this, because it seems that Doug could not possibly have stroked my ego more in his introduction, but I will give you one tiny detail -- perhaps more to follow.

Doug is a tease.

In the absolutely most charming way possible, he loved to be courted -- and courted he was. Did I actually proposition him on the weir at the foot of Wyman Canyon? I think so. Response? A charming negative. He hasn't a gay bone in his body.

And yet, we still connect at bottom after twenty years. What a pleasure!

Anonymous said...

Dan, did you think you were going to sneak in "at bottom and pleasure" in one comment and not make me snicker? Thanks for the glimpse and I warned you about this crowd (well me maybe).

al said...

Wait. I thought you said you didn't connect at bottom... I'm... conf-

Nuts, G took that cheap shot first! Oh, get a blog, DB, get a Blog!

Kyahgirl said...

Happy Birthday Danny Boy! My, but aren't you an ol' geezer!


G-I'm ready whenever you are. What kind of car are you driving? We need to have room for a few more dogs, a penguin and such.

Minka said...

Hmmmmmmm... that is way too interesting to stop there. Pray, tell more!
A whole new world to Doug is being opened before our eyes!

You don´t wanna follow in his footsteps and only leave us with a tease, right?

Spit it all out, you know you want to! ;)

I also made brownies and brought some Thule! Go nuts!

Anonymous said...

Oh and Happy Birthday!!! Where are my manners?

In the backseat of the Suburban (seats all you dogs and the Penguin).

Anonymous said...

Dan said nuts, heh heh.

Anonymous said...

I mean Al did, I'll leave now...

Doug said...

Minka, I had a feeling you'd know that word in a few languages.

Al, do I need to separate you two?

G, it really is a beautiful place and, in truth, most of the inmates are perfect gentlemen the moment they try to execute their scandalous intentions.

Dan, I knew you'd pull something like that, but I didn't know you'd sound male doing it. In spite of your unparalleled gayness, I don't remember you propositioning me once. Although I do remember you sitting on a rock while I did maintenance on that weir, so maybe I thought I was turning down a toasted cheese sandwich. Is it really your birthday? If so, may you be less of a scoundrel over the next 40 years.

G, none of us who know you thought that. What does connect at bottom even mean?

Al, you must have a new post up at yours I haven't seen.

Kyah, he is an old man. You'd love the trip. Prettiest country in North America.

Minka, if Dan wants to go nuts, I think I can find him a guide.

G, this whole day has gone juvenile, hasn't it? See you later :)

puppybrose said...

connect at bottom + pleasure? laughing my non-hairied little(ish) a** off, even as i attempt to type. (this is why G and I are NBFF's.)

Danny Boy! as it turns out, we held a Happy "almost" Birthday for your buddy just last week, which you can enjoy HERE. we're also revisiting our birthday planning skills -- even as we celebrate G's Jewish birthday(!) -- in the Snark today, and you can see how we're coming along with that, HERE.

as for the word "dork"? i believe my sister's book will prove me correct. but, hey, a certain Icelandic beauty could go check out specimens for us all at a certain "specialty" museum located in the northern region of her country (yet, another reason we need to visit)

oooh. get a couple of additional shots of caffeine in my system and i will, indeed, blithely babble on.

i'll stop now.

al said...

KYAH! OL' GEEZER!?!? At 40? (Danny, I apologize, Kyah's just a kid, she didn't mean it.)

Listen carefully, you -- "Ol' Geezer" comes in 'round 75 or 80 at the earliest. Before that, you've got "middle-aged" at 50 and "old fart" at, like, 65.

After 80? "Incontinent."

al said...

Uhh, "Blithely incontinent."

cindra said...

Nice to meet you, Danny Boy...got any dirt on Dougie?

QuillDancer said...

Danny Boy, happy birthday. You couldn't have picked a crazier place to celebrate. I'd like to tell you we're fun and harmless, but for the sake of my integrity I'd best just say we're fun.

Minka, if Danny is an old geezer what does that make me at 7 years his senior? And Al -- you tell her!

QuillDancer said...

Oh, yeah -- Dawg, nice party. Milk Bone really isn't my favorite. Are there any other hor d'ouvers?

Anonymous said...

Al, you better listen carefully because it's your hearing that's going.

Anonymous said...

Make that two more hard boiled eggs!

tsduff said...

Danny Boy - lovely pictures with your post. I love that countryside. Happy Birthday BTW - yet another splendid person born in November...

Doug - great word today. My first thought of this word is the following poem which used to be tacked on the pantry door in my childhood home:

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go
Friday's child is loving and giving
Saturday's child has to work for a living
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day, is bonnie and blithe and good and gay.

I've always liked that word.

Diesel said...

Possessing an untroubled spirit. See blithering.

Danny Boy said...

Okay, Doug. There was no maintenance going on. I'm sure about that. As I recall, we walked the ditch to the weir so you could "check it out." What we did was sit on those rocks in the sunset until it was almost dark talking about the sublime. And I don't mean the sunset. I mean what some call "baser" instincts, and I name a "higher calling."

And speaking of baser, you all have bad thoughts! At bottom does not mean up the bottom, or on a baser level. In fact, it means on a fundamental level. If you ever visit Doug in his present day digs, you'll communie with him and the doggie while watching the sunrise over the box canyon that is his back yard.

A fine way to spend some hours!

Doug said...

Puppybrose, no more coffee. I'm going to assume you're talking about a whaling museum and not check.

Al, and at 39 young and vigorous?

Cindra, you sure aren't paying attention. Thank you for that.

Quill, I'm sure Danny made something nice. You know how they are.

g, coming right up.

Terry, it's a great poem. Dan, Terry has posted pictures on her site of the White Mountains. There's one taken from the road to Cow Camp via the Schulman Grove.

Diesel, I see blithering everywhere.

Danny Boy, my 18-year-old concept of the sublime was probably different from yours. Although White Mountain City sunsets were on that list then and still are now. And by the way, you know you've never seen a sunrise in your entire life.

Anonymous said...

Danny, did Doug cover any puddles with his waistcoat for you? I picture him to be chivalrous like that.

Excuse us Danny, we get out so little - you're saying you two were doing what comes naturally? Getting stoned?

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Al blithely said "old fart" at, like, 65.

DOUG! Are you gonna let him talk about me that way?????

Danny Boy: Happy Birthday. 40 is too young to talk about. You're still a kid.

al said...

Very sorry, Tan Lucy Pez.

Wow, this is a b-a-a-a-a-d subject.

Doug said...

G, you're killing me.

TLP, you haven't aged in 35 years so what Al's saying doesn't apply to you.

Al, how could you not know that? A lesbian wife is no excuse.

Kyahgirl said...

Al, Al, Al, you are digging a hole!! :-)

My 'old geezer' comment was made with tongue firmly in cheek.

You do NOT want to get on the wrong side of TLP mister. just sayin'

Mutha said...

"Joyous/heedless
Happy/loopy"

This is my favorite.I have been accused of them all.
Nice to meet you Danny...Doug has made me sad that I don't get to be your friend too!

puppybrose said...

i believe the museum features specific whale-related body parts, so ... um... yeah.

"Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age." ~Victor Hugo

which means, i suppose, that sixty is the teenage of old age, seventy is the mid-range age of old age, and eighty is the gettin' darn close age to old age. as for 90? i'm guessing it's past the age of caring about age old and/or otherwise, and with good reason. as a blithe and brilliant George Burns once said: "Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope." something to look forward to, eh?

how's that sunrise lookin' now?

Kyahgirl said...

like I said Puppy, you are very, very naughty!

tsduff said...

Danny Boy - you may look here for the White Mountains post.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Dan! Guesting on your birthday, and Doug didn't know it--what a coincidence. Happy birthday! Now get a blog, so we can all read more about you--of course we want to, after that write-up:)

a4g said...

Blithe, adj. The carefree cheer of a single man.

The addition of a ring makes one blithering, adj.

Doug said...

Tell him, Kyah.

Mutha, unless he's changed a lot, Danny Boy is open to new friends.

No closer, Puppybrose.

Kyah, there's no doubt.

Thanks, Terry. It occured to me it's not helpful for me to point you out by name when your ID says "TSDuff"

Sure, Actonbell. We all want to read more about him.

a4g, I'm with you blithely.

tsduff said...

Doug, thank you for your consideration. It is perfectly fine - as when I signed up I gave no notice to my most boring screen name, hence the boring screen name :-D It works for me. I'm not annonymous.

cooper said...

BLITHE:
The ghosts around my apartment tend to hold that characteristic.

Nice to meet Danny.

QuillDancer said...

Doug, for you I searched for a spark of laughter or joy within me. I almost revived it, and then the memo came:

Next Monday through Thursday the 5th grade students will all be given a pre-test for the State writing proficency exam.

Next Tuesday those same students are to take Benchmark tests in Math, Science and Language Arts.

The teachers are of course expected (this was not in writing but woe to anyone who doesn't do it) to score, collate and analyze the test data, then be prepared Monday with remdial lessons.

The ember has been murdered.

Doug said...

Good and fair, Terry. Thanks.

Alice, I didn't know it was contagious to ghosts.

Quill, so an ash is a standardized blithe?

Anonymous said...

How did I not work in a Holly Go Blithely reference yesterday? Damn.

QuillDancer said...

?

cheesemeister said...

I could never be described as blithe, Carefree, Optimistic,
Unburdened, Cheerful, Joyous, or
Happy. I am, however, easily described as careless, simpleminded, uncaring, fatuous (well, fat anyway) heedless, and loopy. What could be the meaning of this dichotomy??