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"B.A. Van Der Wel" <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 20 Mar 2008 22:18:56 -0700
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Dear Mr. Crimmins:

You ask for discipline and I shall do my best to vanquish any notion  
of it completely. From your comments it is obvious that your are an  
unrepentant and diverting meticulist who also quite shamelessly  
satirizes innocent juveniles in his spare time.  Be that as it may I  
shall attempt to defend my dishonor and answer your scurrilous  
charges with what little merit and sobriety I now possess.

On Mar 20, 2008, at 5:45 AM, Barry Crimmins wrote:

> Dear B.A., How dare you respond so negatively to intentional
> aggravation by a narcissistic troll who has become the self-appointed
> gatekeeper of this forum?

I did so out an offended sense of dignity for the poor and wholly  
unaccountable straw that finally gave the poor old camel a hernia  
from having to carry so many fears for so long. However, I don't  
think my response negative so much as anti-positive because on the  
other side of this debate I'm positive such fearsome displays have no  
probitive value and are wholly prejudicial to the cause and glory of  

> Please refrain from challenging our new
> supreme authority lest we risk returning to the primitive days when
> we had to make our way without the guidance of a person who
> understands that this gathering is akin to a virtual cocktail party.

Most of this is now moot since the coot has resigned and left the  
party. However, I do believe that this gathering well possesses all  
the meritorious virtue of a virtual cocktail party of sorts but one  
in which the virtues of the freely flowing madeira and port outweigh  
the occasional disruptive influence of someone who has partaken of  
their own boxed rebarbative rotgut on what now seems far too many an  

> Someone has to put on the lampshade and make oafish remarks or else
> we won't know just how much fun we're having.

I feel hurt and most displeased that you have not noticed the  
authentic colonial-style tasseled shade I have perched just above my  
ears (especially as it came with a Genuine Certificate of  
Authenticity signed by Thos. Jefferson.) Perhaps I need to speak up  
more often or simply speak louder and become more oafish or simply go  

> This country has really lost something because politically correct
> fascists refuse to see the value of the vivid sobriquets of the past.

It has indeed lost a great deal but since these vivid things are now  
cold, charred briquets at the bottom of the societal bonfire I don't  
see how they can be reanimated without resorting to either black  
magic or the darker and far more sinister technology that keeps our  
sitting Vice President in a faux vivid state resembling something  
just shy of the walking dead.

> Some extremists go so far as to take offense to these colorful
> reminders of the brutal inhumanity of our halcyon days. I am not
> offended by them. I am rewarded by them because they make it so much
> easier to identify annoying and impervious blowhards.

I am not offended either but my rewards come in a different measure.  
I simply make a request based on the contemporary sense of usage in a  
forum dedicated to a man who was, of course, never one to make a  
request for less or more than the reasons he puts forth at each  
request.  Twain if anything is surely to be taken at face value since  
he couldn't possibly have written anything with a straight face for  
the public while thinking of something else, let alone something else  
entirely of the public itself. [B.v.d.W.'s editor's note: He wrote  
that last sentence whilst rolling his eyes and pouring yet another  
glass of Cossart-Gordon. Caution advised.]

> And while I'm airing grievances--  I am steamed that a certain quotes
> page is not 100% exhaustive yet people still refer to it as if it's
> an extremely valuable resource. Have you no shame, Barbara Schmidt?

Ms. Schmidt is apparently quite shameless in thinking anything less  
than infinity adds up to something worthwhile. She should be severely  
disciplined, perhaps by some wealthy misanthrope giving her a staff  
of several hundred accomplished indexers to help her work verge on  
the infinite that was apparently the feared standard of perfection.

> What we really need is a transcript of Twain's life. Until we possess
> every utterance he ever made, timed down to the very second, how can
> we really be sure of what to make of the man?

Indeed! You get the shovel and I'll telephone Dr. Frakenstein and see  
if there is lightning in the forecast 'round his castle. We'll then  
set Mr. Twain down with a very patient and tranquilized stenographer  
and oh, in about 50 years or so, should have everything written down  
again and in proper chronological order regulated by the second. This  
is assuming of course he'd not use the occasion to have a wonderful  
time pretending to be Howells or even General Grant.

> And without the
> suggestion of such a document, how else could we bring things around
> to yet another reminder of a task that is at once so massive and
> picayune that it deserves to dominate this forum until it has been
> abandoned like a nightmarish cocktail party.

Abandoned? Perhaps. Consigned to a future age when the very atoms  
will chatter freely about their every orbit and compounding and thus  
produce such a document? Maybe. In any case until such times arrive I  
strongly advise you to never abandon a party unless they run out of  

> Awaiting discipline,
> Barry Crimmins

Very well, you have worn me down to my cellars. Here you go:

1. Day one, go spend whatever you have in the bank on a bottle of  
1745 vintage port.
2. Place it on your desk in front of you.
3. Meditate on the bottle until you know each scintillating  
reflection and nuance.
4. Do not open it.
5. Day two through six, continue your meditations and do not open it.
6. Day seven, imitate the vast wisdom of the Almighty and drink  
yourself into a nice rest.

If you can do this you can tell Rudyard Kipling and his ridiculous  
"If" to take a hike as you will be more than a man, you will be a  
gentleman. (And also drunk as a lord, which is simply an added bonus.)

To close, what all has this to do with Mark Twain? Perhaps nothing if  
we're to assume he never tossed anyone out of his house for being a  
boor. Personally I can't imagine him actually ejecting someone by  
inelegant brute force but perhaps indeed by the force of his words.  
Can anyone imagine what it would be like to be at the focus of his  
vituperation or opprobrium? I shudder to think about such things but  
nevertheless bravely hope the grand universe will place a certain,   
particular fear within earshot of Mr. Twain so that it may be much  
improved before flights of cigar-smoking, white-suited angels wing it  
to sleep.

And now for me, I'm back to all things one to twain and remain to all  

Yours cordially,
Benjamin A. van der Wel
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