I just HAVE to put this out there…

I am sitting in a coffee shop where I frequently hide to get work done when being at home is too distracting, and while the barista was getting my coffee I noticed something that made my brain activity jump off the charts: she had the final three lines of Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” TATTOOED ON THE INSIDE OF HER FOREARM (and I mean the ENTIRE inner part of her forearm)! You know I’m serious, because you know how much I discourage exclamation points and writing in all caps. There is simply no other way to express it. Wow. That’s dedication. Interestingly, that’s the second literary tattoo I have seen in the past year. An English teacher friend of mine has a raven tattooed on his calf atop the word “Nevermore.” I found this wildly entertaining.Please understand I am not encouraging (or even suggesting) that anyone go out and do this sort of thing. I am simply reporting, as usual, about the interesting ways in which gems of literature pop up in the least expected places. 

Pop Culture Literary Reference of the Week


In the “All’s Fair in Oven War” episode of The Simpsons (which aired on channel 43 last week), enigmatic postmodern writer Thomas Pynchon made an animated appearance. If you happened to catch this and wonder why he had a paper bag over his head, it is because he is notorious for being incredibly reclusive and media-shy. The most recent photo of him available to the public is his 1953 high school picture, and he has refused to be interviewed by the media since the mid-1960’s.

Here’s a synopsis of the scene in which he appears:

Marge is a contestant in a baking contest (think Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen). As judges are tasting the culinary creations, a man with a paper bag over his head comments “These wings are ‘V-licious’! I’ll put this recipe in the Gravity’s Rainbow cookbook, right next to ‘the frying of latke 49’.”

… and here’s why that’s funny (aside from the paper bag part, which if you’ve read this far you always know is funny):

Three of Thomas Pynchon’s most famous works are novels entitled V, Gravity’s Rainbow, and The Crying of Lot 49. Brilliant!
For the record, this was Pynchon’s second appearance on The Simpsons. If you’re interested in reading about his first, click here.