Virginia Woolf really knows how start an essay. Take for instance the opening sentences of her review in the Times Literary Supplement of a biography of some largely unknown schlub named Thomas Hood and a book of poems by the very same Hood:
At the time that Keats and Lamb were writing there flourished – so thick that even men like these showed little higher than the rest – a whole forest of strenuous and lusty human beings, journalists, artists, or people simply who happened to live then and rear their children. What profuse clamour, what multitudinous swarms of life a wise biographer can call up for us from fields long since shorn and flat if he will take for his subject one of these mortals it is really bewildering for a moment to consider.
These are pictures of a container of straws that is in the graduate student mailroom in the Philosophy department at UC San Diego. I don’t know if they have been there since 1985, when they were manufactured in Thailand, or if they were brought there at some later point, but I think it’s safe to say they’re never going anywhere, because nobody is going to take a straw out of a container that looks like that.
These are the liner notes for “Bawdy Blues,” an album of blues music from various artists recorded between 1956 and 1961 and released in 1963. These liner notes were written by John Greenway (1919-1991),1 a folklorist originally from England who spent much of his career cataloguing various folk songs, especially American ones, and other songs too. He also wrote the liner notes for a number of albums, this being just one example. I encourage you to read through the liner notes to form your own impressions before going on (click on them to get a larger view), but I will be quoting them, so if you want, you can dive right in.
This is an ad I saw online one day for Alpo dog food. It is a very compelling ad, although not in the sense of making me want to purchase Alpo dog food. If I were to have a dog1 I don’t really know what they would eat,2 but Alpo is owned by Nestlé, who are evil or something, so the dog wouldn’t eat Alpo. Thus for me this ad was doomed to failure from the very beginning3 but it still managed to take up permanent residence in my thoughts.
This is a picture of a flyer I got in the mail on September 11, 2011. It’s from Ralphs. If you can’t read the text in the upper right, perhaps because the background1 is a little too visually busy, I reproduce it here in full:
On September 11, 2001, the lives of Americans were changed forever. On the ten-year anniversary of this tragedy, take a moment to reflect on the heroes who emerged that day. They were normal people who showed exceptional courage and strength that inspired a nation.
The rest of the flyer is mostly about how cheaply one might acquire chicken.2