Sunday, April 6, 2014

Vizsla Flashback - Well. That Plan Certainly Ganged Aft Agley, now didn't it.

I don't recall if I've ever mentioned it, but Vizsla's love rearranging furniture.

So the other day, in amongst a fit of trying to get the stupid computer working again (a struggle which I ultimately won, as you will observe) I decided that the obvious approach to the problem was to rearrange the den.

Step one of this plan, for reasons that are far too complicated to go into here, was to clear off the bottom two shelves of a bookshelf on the far side of the room so that I could lovingly display the VHS copies of Doctor Who episodes circa 1963-1989 in broadcast order next to the shelves of the DVD releases of same.*

*Yes, I realize how sad that sounds typed out.

In any case, part of the rationale of clearing off the shelves was that I really do have a hell of a lot of books in the den that don't really need to be there and now live quite happily on a shelf in the basement.  See, Doctor Who does fix everything.

So there I was, going through a buttload of P.D. James and Charlaine Harris and god knows what else, when I came across a small copy of Robert Burns' Tam O'Shanter (which as I recall I bought in a W.H. Smiths in Ayr, although I might be mistaken about that.)

Robert Burns, for those who are unfamiliar, was a Scottish poet (and so much more actually, but we'll keep it to the cliffnotes here) who - amongst other things - wrote a poem called, 'To a Mouse, On turning her up in her Nest, with the Plough, November, 1785.'

The title may not immediately ring any bells for you, however it's relatively certain that you've quoted it at some point, as this is the one that contains the bit about 'The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...'

The actual quote, second stanza from the end of the poem, runs thus-

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice and Men
Gang aft agley,
An' lae'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy

Now it's a safe bet that a reasonable percentage of you just said - 'That's not how it goes' or 'I learned it went 'Go Oft Astray' or 'I'm only here for pictures of Markie Post in a bikini.  Where are the pictures of Markie Post in a bikini?'

Robert Burns' primary contribution to poetry, literature, and art in general lies in this exact point.  He was one of the first - if not the actual first - writers in modern English (ish) to say 'screw all that formal English, I'm going to write in the dialect that people actually speak.'  Which is where all that so-called 'Mongrel' Gaelic blend 'Gang aft agley' business comes from.  It means more or less 'go oft astray', but no one in the real world would actually ever put it that formally.  In 1785 Scotland they would have said 'Gang Aft Agley', and so that's how Robert was Damn Well going to write it, formality and convention be damned.  He was tearing down the artificial distinction between 'legitimate' 'highbrow' language and the low-brow 'common' way that actual human beings spoke to one another. If you don't see why this appeals to me, allow me to refer you to Vizsla versus the Myth of High and Low culture, 17 Limericks about Orthography, and several other previous columns.

It's also worth noting that this is the same poem that gave the world (and Russell T. Davies) the phrase 'Tim'rous beastie', Which means that Burns is responsible however indirectly for John Steinback, Eddie Izzard and Tooth and Claw.

The point of the poem, should anyone care is that Robert was out plowing his field, accidentally ran over a mouse hole, thus destroying the tim'rous beastie in questions home, and basically spend a few pages saying, 'wow.  Sucks man.  You spent all that time building a nice house and somebody just comes along and screws it up for you.  Just goes to show, no matter how hard you plan things can still go wrong.  That's why it's a mistake to try.  Or care about anything.'*

*That last part is merely implied.

All of which is my way of leading up to the revelation that the diet isn't going terribly well.

To bring us all up to speed - Previously on: The 42nd Vizsla - I announced that I was attempting this 30 days with no carbs and no sugar thing despite the many reasons why that was a horrible idea.

Day 1 - All went well.

Day 2 - did pretty well until about 10:30 pm at which point I determined that I could not carry on working on my Halloween costume without a glass of scotch.  (In my defense, I was nearly done and the cuffs were kicking my ass.

Day 3 - Was a weekend.  Can of Soda on the way to a work event.  Large soda at the work event.  Large Scotch after the work event (In my defense, it was a kids movie screening.  I defy anyone working such an event to not have a largish drink afterwards.

Day 4 - Sunday.  Well, the weekend was already shot anyway...

Day 5 - Back on the wagon.  Until early evening when we had a chicken with rice hot dish, but it was delicious and I don't regret a thing.

Day 8 - Work Halloween party.  Then Halloween.  The predictable occurs

Day 9-12 - Who are you to judge me.

And so... I have to decree the great no crab/no sugar event of 2013 to be less than an entire rousing success.


I have cut pop intake down to less than a can every other day

I haven't actually had any carbs at work since I started - it turns out the vending machine has almonds.

It actually got me to start working out daily again.

So, all things being equal, it can't be said to be a total failure either.

Now I just have to deal with this guy who just drove a plow through my house...

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