Saturday, June 07, 2008

Whale of a time

From my 2003 Believer article on Charles Portis:

[In Dog of the South,] Dr. Symes’s mother, a missionary, periodically grills Midge on his knowledge of the Bible, a knowledge he repeatedly professes not to have. “Think about this,” she says, pointedly fixing his thoughts to the matter of last things. “All the little animals of your youth are long dead.” Her companion Melba promptly emends the truism: “Except for turtles.”

I wish I could find that line in Borges about being the last person alive to remember seeing something—something small, not a major cultural event but the way the sky was on a certain day in a certain part of the country. (Shades of "Funes the Memorious"; am I actually just misremembering that story?)

Borges and Portis came to mind when Dzyd Arlo sent me this link to the Times's NHL blog, in which Jon Baum reflects on the increasing rarity of hockey players associated with the now defunct Hartford Whalers (favorite team of this brilliant historian).

I like that the Whalers had a regionally relevant name, and one referring to an outdated trade; now Whalers are becoming as scarce as whalers; but perhaps all hockey players will be whalers soon enough.

[Cue: "Bob Marley and the Hartford Whalers."]

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