World’s 10 Coolest Sentences Get Gangsta Treatment!

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

~ Elton John (lyrics from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)


Preamble 👊

Brutha’—and sista’—we’re gonna’ be revisiting some of the loveliest writing known to mankind, but with a twist: We’ll do all that from the unique vantage point of gangsta speak, woohoo! (Even as I invite you to cross over the threshold of this seemingly innocent essay, my feelings are tinged with sympathy for you; should I really be doing this to you, dear Reader?)
Such was the gravity of the question with which your blogger grappled during the past 24 hours. I’m tellin’ ya, the life of a blogger ain’t easy; it sure ain’t a bowl of cherries 🍒 🍒 🍒 🍒
Whoa, methinks I be getting ahead of myself so I be holdin’ my horses now! 🐎
Ah yes, so there will be gangsta speak in just a bit—mounds and mounds of it, I promise—but meanwhile I need to spare your sensibilities by indoctrinating you ever-so-slow(ly) into gangsta speak, into the hood’, as I like to call it, you and others, playa’ by playa’ (See, didn’t I tell you a moment ago that my feelings are tinged raw with sympathy for you, debating as I did to the last moment whether I even ought to be doing this to you, dear Reader?) 💪

The Decision Is To Proceed Full Steam Ahead 🚂 

For an essay with a title like that—World’s 10 Coolest Sentences Get Gangsta Treatment!—I got to thinking stuff like, “Where do I begin?” 🍭
Yo, here’s the lowdown: Whether it’s the famished and starry-eyed boy in a candy shop, or the desiccated mosquito that has randomly buzzed its way into an oversubscribed nudist colony, or perhaps the inveterate book-lover as she takes the step in crossing the threshold of Harvard’s Widener Memorial Library, the question remains the same, “Where do I begin?” 🐝
Let’s face it: Sentences are, after all, what make prose sing and poetry weep; they are, after all, the irreducible elements out of which we bootstrap our thinking; and they are, after all, the indestructible building blocks—imagine a horde of tingling LEGO-like widgets all-abuzz—with which we assemble and scaffold the edifice of our writing 🏢

The Elements (aka Journey Pit-stops) In Our Collage 👒

Tell you what, this time I’m going to let the cat out of the bag from the very get go 🐈

Yes, even before I regale you in the wherewithal of how I came to make these choices—my selection of the finest sentences that came to mind—I want you to know the names of the stellar writers who wrote them (Some of these names will be instantly recognizable, others perhaps less so). Here, then, are the authors who have either (1) already entered the Pantheon of writing greatness, or (2) are well on their way to crossing its threshold:
  1. William Shakespeare 🎭
  2. Stephen King 💰
  3. Mary Karr 💝
  4. Charles Dickens 🏰
  5. Samuel Johnson 🍰
  6. William H. Gass 🏄
  7. Robert Frost 😂
  8. Edward Ashford Lee 🎁
  9. Paul Graham 🔮
  10. T.S. Eliot 🐱
  11. Kitty Fassett 💎
  12. Emily Dickinson 🏆 
While there is some significance to the order in which the names appear on the list above—for example I wedge everyone between the two most supremely gifted writers that Shakespeare and Dickinson are universally acknowledged as being—the names appear pretty much in the order in which some especially memorable sentences of those writers’ percolated up through the nooks and crannies of my mind… 😴
Here, then, I present those 12 writers again, but this time along with the title of the accompanying commentary—and all that stash coming up real quick, fellow gangstas—on their craft, gangsta-style of course:
    1. William Shakespeare 🎭
      —Finessing The Duality Of Comparing And Contrasting 🎭
    2. Stephen King 💰
      —Impressing The Heart And Mind With Gusto 💰
    3. Mary Karr 💝
      —Connecting Minds Through The Rawness Of Tribal Drama 💝
    4. Charles Dickens 🏰
      —Scaffolding With The Power Of Balance And Proportion 🏰
    5. Samuel Johnson 🍰
      —Injecting Ethereal Layers Of Similarity And Difference 🍰
    6. William H. Gass 🏄
      —Projecting Breathtaking Acts Of Balance 🏄
    7. Robert Frost 😂
      —Directing Emotions With Deftness 😂
    8. Edward Ashford Lee 🎁
      —Marshaling Reason Through Creative Vigor And Intuition 🎁
    9. Paul Graham 🔮
      —Melding Language, Thought, And Abstraction 🔮
    10. T.S. Eliot 🐱
      —Corralling Fleeting Remembrances With Strokes Of Genius 🐱
    11. Kitty Fassett 💎
      —Harnessing The Desiderata By Discarding Inessentials 💎
    12. Emily Dickinson 🏆
      —Carving Astonishing Feats Of Imagination 🏆
      And hey, before anyone impugns my motives, gets all roiled up, and suggests that yours truly should be placed in a remedial arithmetic class—I know, I know, I’ve dragged in 12 authors despite brashly claiming that I’d be treating you to the “World’s 10 Coolest Sentences Get Gangsta Treatment!”—let me say in my defense, by way of a rhetorical question, “Hast thou heard of thine Baker’s dozen?” 🍪 🍪 🍪… 🍪
      There’s something magical about the number 10, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make it a Baker’s dozen… 👻
      (The actual story is a bit more complicated, and you don’t want me digressing no moh’, or do you? Easy there now! I was just checking… 🙉 Sheesh, some folks do get all roiled up over piddling stuff, dayum 🙈)

      Check this… 🍟

      So here we are, on the threshold of diving into the sheer loveliness of those sentences—and as you reflect on the Sydney Opera House being reflected in the waters on its embankment—I invite you to take a few moments in pondering over the following question:

      Does art follow life or does life follow art?

      With that, we now be diving into the uncharted waters of gangsta land; here be dragons… 🐉

      1. William Shakespeare (Finessing The Duality Of Comparing And Contrasting) 🎭

      The Original (William Shakespeare) 🍎

      As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition 🔪

      ~ William Shakespeare (in The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      Brutha’, you gotta somehow keep love in the hood. Your man Brutus knew, however, that too much love make you soft and dat ain’t happenin’ around here; gotta keep the hood good, so chill, RIP (and I ain’t talkin’ Rip van Winkle, yo…). So Brutus did the hood a solid and straight merc’d Caesar with a dagger; yo, that’s when we got Caesar all choking up and saying things like, “You Too Brutus.” (in the Roman language of course!). But da bottom line still is: another one bites the dust, and that why we got Brutus ‘splainin above ‘bout why he be killing Julius Caesar, amirite?

      2. Stephen King (Impressing The Heart And Mind With Gusto) 💰

      The Original (Stephen King) 🍎

      It’s a question that people ask in different ways—sometimes it comes out polite and sometimes it comes out rough, but it always amounts to the same: Do you do it for the money, honey? The answer is no. Don’t now and never did. 💰
      ~ Stephen King (in On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      When I read da sentences above—so many things clicked together in a flash—I got so inspired that I wanna’ give King a bear hug! 

      I’m tellin’ ya, King’s got it down good, real good… All he sayin’ is dat our society become way too materialistic; we all going down the drain, brutha. So I got a primo plan to nip the society problem in the bud. Yo, get with the plan and come togetha, show each otha some love, and stay warm; money ain’t everything, for crying out loud. 

      Rememba’ that dat wise-as-an-owl shrink sista’ Mary Pipher (yo, she gotta a PhD next to her name, and even wrote up a terrific book called Reviving Ophelia)? Brutha, she now be talking’ about all of us becoming The Shelter of Each Other and stuff like that. Let’s all of us show our love in the hood for good? Brutha’, you gotta keep love in the hood, amirite? So go out and write—or read, or run, or sing, or whatever your thing happens to be—with passion and climb out all of the toilet-drain that is the making oodles of dollars, which threatens to pull us all into the vortex of no return… 

      Brutha’, we gotta keep love in the hood, for good!

      3. Mary Karr (Connecting Minds Through The Rawness Of Tribal Drama) 💝

      The Original (Mary Karr) 🍎

      All drama depends on our need to connect with one another. And we’re all doomed to drama; even the most privileged among us suffer the torments of the damned just going about the business of being human… Still, a living, breathing human being—even a boneheaded or barely articulate one—conveys so much in person. The physical fact of a creature with heart thrumming and neurons flickering—what Shakespeare called the “poor, bare, forked animal”—compels us all; we’re all hardwired in moments of empathy to see ourselves in another. Hearing each other’s stories actually raises our levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is what nursing mothers secrete when they breastfeed—what partly helps them bond with their young. It helps to join us together in some tribal way 👪

      ~Mary Karr (in The Art of Memoir)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      The way the cookie crumbles is dat we all need to connect with one another from time to time; otherwise, we all get the cabin fever. And you don’t want to go there—at da core, we real social creatures, all of us, so let’s chill. Thang is, the need to bond be baked into our very nature. We one big family, all of us on dis planet, so we better start reaching out to one another. That’s the way to go, bro’. That’s right, this sista’ be slinging some of the finest sentences imaginable! They all be the fruit of Herculean efforts. But the way prose be flowin’ effortlessly, a homie like you and me think it come easy; it don’t. Hats off to the sista’ now. 

      Her message be one of hope, one of warmth, and one of timeless wisdom—let’s start by playing some of that mushy gushy song We Are The World now…

      4. Charles Dickens (Scaffolding With The Power Of Balance And Proportion) 🏰

      The Original (Charles Dickens) 🍎

      Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds 🌂

      ~ Charles Dickens (in his novel Bleak House)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      Dayum, I’m tellin’ ya, that Dickens fella’ one mean writer; he be painting pictures with his words; and he got the art of writing down smack like no one else! A cool-headed homie, he nonetheless be writing from the wellspring of his fertile imagination, settin’ the readin’ and writin’ world on fire. Remember the lovely song Nightshift (by The Commodores) where they be singin’ all ’bout soul/R&B singer Jackie (Wilson) and rememberin’ us dis’

      Jackie (Jackie), hey what’you doing now
      It seems like yesterday
      When we were working out
      Jackie (Jackie, oh) you set
      The world on fire
      You came and gifted us
      Your love it lifted us
      Higher and higher
      Keep it up and
      We’ll be there
      At your side
      Oh say you will sing
      Your songs forevermore (evermore)

      ~ The Commodores (Lyrics from Nightshift)

      No doubt about it, Dickens be one mean writer and prolific, too—settin’ the readin’ and writin’ world on fire—but he always be serious, talkin’ grim business that make you scratch your head. My sweet grade school-teacha’, though, she tell me herself, many moons ago, that I be doing myself a favor reading Dickens; she sayz to me, “It’s good for you, it gonna broaden your horizons and make your mind groove in the right directions”, or something close to that is what I remember her telling me, my sweet grade school-teacha’ hesself!)

      While Dickens—he sure was one dickens of a writer—got the power of balance and the power of proportion, it’s in their mixin that the mean brutha’ outdo everyone. Erryone and their brother you care to mention, yo, he outdone them all! So even though he sometimes be writing all prissy about fog and other touchy-feely stuff, he make you think; he wrap you up—and no, not in nylon as Madonna would have you—in all kinda’ exquisite atmospheres with, as I was alluding to earlier, his smashing-good word-painting. He be my mayne man, my homie; he the real thang’.

      5. Samuel Johnson (Injecting Ethereal Layers Of Similarity And Difference) 🍰

      The Original (Samuel Johnson) 🍎

      The style of Dryden is capricious and varied; that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden observes the motions of his own mind; Pope constrains his mind to his own roles of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden’s page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation; Pope’s is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller.” 🐏 🐐

      ~ Samuel Johnson (in The Works of Samuel Johnson)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      Check it—the two rams in the picture above ain’t no Alexander Pope and no John Dryden. They both good homies, always dressing up real decent, wearing ironed shirts and shirt-ties, their hair all combed-back slick like Johhny Depp, with gobs of da real thang, that LA Looks hair-stylin’ gel; Pope and Dryden weren’t all that bad either… Hey, just checkin’, just checkin’, cuz’ no rams wearing no LA Looks! Just wanna’ make sure you all stay awake. No napping around heah’. (Disclaimer: I ain’t—never was and never will—hustling no hair styling products, yo!) 

      Ennyhow, here’s what went down with Samuel Johnson (SJ) ramlin—err, rambling—about Pope and Dryden, the dynamic duo: As SJ be tellin’ us, Pope real uptight, always makin’ sure he cover his butt; he don’t want nobody put the smack on him for violating uniformity in his writing. Dryden, on the other hand, he one cool goose, always chillin’ and going with da flow (he be my style of writer!). 

      While Pope give his reader prissy velvet lawns, Dryden be groovin, giving us readers the real deal, giving us the scoop at Ground Zero: Dryden never talking down to us homies. In fact, he level with us, and he level us—in a good way—with them mighty machine the steamroller, amirite?

      6. William H. Gass (Projecting Breathtaking Acts Of Balance) 🏄

      The Original (William H. Gass) 🍎

      In the preface to his Dictionary, Dr. Johnson whines (another persistent feature of the genre)—“It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward”—a whine, yes, but how perfectly composed. As the reader reads these prefaces, ticked across a clock of ages, he can be expected to exclaim, Another lame excuse, still further transparent self-flattery, one more bitter complaint, abject apology, resentful pose, inadequate defense, insufficient explanation; yet gladly add, on account of the pure delight to the eye they are, But when has lameness or insufficiency—so common, so ordinary; when has flattery—oft offered, oft bought—been so acceptably employed, so agreeably offered, or so well and comfortably expressed?” 😾
      ~William H. Gass (in A Temple of Texts: Essays)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      Errybody know da story of those snooty literary critics swooping down like vultures and feasting on other people’s writing instead of doing their own writing, you know what I’m sayin’? But this gangsta’—a mighty righteous gaseous fella’ named what else but Gass bro—he different from erryone else: He going around writing some of the slickest prose this side of the Mississippi, Mark Twain notwithstanding. 

      I’m tellin’ ya, Gass the real deal, a true hustla’, writing with virtuosity I ain’t see anywhere else! He write with valor, verve, uninhibited by what others think or what others say; he bring da subject—no matter what subject he be tacklin’ in an essay at any given time—to life in a way homies like you and I just can’t match.

      Plus the lucky stiff be married to an architect biddy who keep on building personal libraries for her hubby—Gass, who else?—to betoken her luv’ for him. So he be reading all day long, and he be writing his butt off all night long; dayum, after all that, homies like you and me ain’t got the prayer of a chance to match the prose that Gass be slinging… 

      In the sentence(s) above, Gass be giving us the lowdown on what another big dawg (Samuel Johnson by name) was up to when he (SJ who else, bro, and no, not SJ as in San Jose, cuz’ it’s SJ as in Samuel Johnson) was trying to tell us when he was yammering ‘bout them two rams dressed up slick with their LA Looks-combed-back fur, sunbathing on the mountainside—dang, me at times bedeviled by Freudian slip shenanigans—I meant to say that we were talking ’bout the two gents that we met (in the previous element in our collage that we got going here)!

      7. Robert Frost (Directing Emotions With Deftness) 😂

      The Original (Robert Frost) 🍎

      No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew. I am in a place, in a situation, as if I had materialized form cloud or risen out of the ground. There is a glad recognition of the long lost and the rest follows. Step-by-step the wonder of unexpected supply keeps growing. The impressions most useful to my purpose seem always those I was unaware of and so made no note of at the time when taken, and the conclusion is come to that like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day and when we may Want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days. I tell how there may be a better wildness of logic than of inconsequence. But the logic is backward, in retrospect, after the act. It must be more felt than seen ahead like prophecy 🍇
      ~ Robert Frost (in The Figure a Poem Makes)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      Frosty be one of them three solitary poets to make my list, assuming we’re not counting Billy Shakes as a full-fledged poet—his sonnets of course are a phenomenon to behold in their own right though he shaking the world of prose real good—and deserves high marks for slinging some amazing verses. Actually, what you got above is an example of Frosty’s prose, though he still be talking smack about his real love: verses of poetry! 

      This gangsta’ be a master of the turn of phrase. Check this: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader…”. This ain’t no fool we are dealing with; he’s our own homie, so chill (If only he had done less of that Apple picking—I don’t like no apples cuz’ I’m strictly a coffee kinda’ guy and not dig da jejune you know, bro’—and more of Starbucks’ Coffee, I be talkin’ even more highly of Frosty now!)

      8. Edward Ashford Lee (Marshaling Reason Through Creative Vigor And Intuition) 🎁

      The Original (Edward Ashford Lee) 🍎

      The title of this book comes from the wonderful book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan (Taleb, 2010), who titled a section of the prologue “Plato and the Nerd.” Taleb talks about “Platonicity” as “the desire to cut reality into crisp shapes.” Taleb laments the ensuing specialization and points out that such specialization blinds us to extraordinary events, which he calls “black swans.” Following Taleb, a theme of my book is that technical disciplines are also vulnerable to excessive specialization; each specialty unwittingly adopts paradigms that turn the specialty into a slow-moving culture that resists rather than promotes innovation. But more fundamentally, the title puts into opposition the notion that knowledge, and hence technology, consists of Platonic Ideals that exist independent of humans and is discovered by humans, and an opposing notion that humans create rather than discover knowledge and technology. The nerd in the title is a creative force, subjective and even quirky, and not an objective miner of preexisting truths ⛏ 🚧
      ~ Edward Ashford Lee (in Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      This brutha’—Edward Ashford Lee—know all about bringing understandin’ and keeping love in the hood. He neatly sidestep the prollem that a lotta writer folk got when they treat their readers like they stupid or something. But not Edward, no sir, he not have anything to do with making errything so damn confusin’ jus’ to sound smart. Instead, Edward do da exact opposite: he be servin’ his readers through his writing by (and methinks he take da cue from another smart cookie by the name of Albert Einstein) making errything as simple as possible, but no simpler.

      And dat the thing that bring real love to what Edward write for us homies. And to boot, he be sportin’ a great sense of humor on the reg! 

      That got me all excited; it’s a long story. So I wrote up my very first essay on the work off this brutha’. Then I wrote up another one. Dayum, and if that wasn’t enough, I wrote up a third one, the longest essay methinks I ever wrote! (Haven’t had this much fun in a great long while!)

      9. Paul Graham (Melding Language, Thought, And Abstraction) 🔮

      The Original (Paul Graham) 🍎

      Experienced Lisp programmers divide up their programs differently. As well as top-down design, they follow a principle which could be called bottom-up design—changing the language to suit the problem. In Lisp, you don’t just write your program down toward the language, you also build the language up toward your program. As you’re writing a program you may think “I wish Lisp had such-and-such an operator.” So you go and write it. Afterward you realize that using the new operator would simplify the design of another part of the program, and so on. Language and program evolve together. Like the border between two warring states, the boundary between language and program is drawn and redrawn, until eventually it comes to rest along the mountains and rivers, the natural frontiers of your problem. In the end your program will look as if the language had been designed for it. And when language and program fit one another well, you end up with code which is clear, small, and efficient 🙋
      ~ Paul Graham (in On Lisp)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      So here’s my main jam with this brutha’, cuz’ he be groovin’ and movie’ the world of programming like nobody else. He be special, real special. In the passage above, he be tellin’ us all about the magic that happen when you be fooling around long enough with melding language, thought, and abstraction: heady stuff, so betta’ have your wits about you when reading what this brutha wrote.

      Take heart, though, cuz’ this Lisp hacker—an uber code-slinger of yesteryear—did a solid to the programming community by staying the course, even as he be slinging (and sharing with the rest of us homies) some of the slickest computer programs in the Lisp programming language that the world ever put their eyeballs on… And he be avoiding philosophizing about ethereal stuff like Mary Shelley doin’ in her novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus.

      (Sadly, he no more be writing a smidgen as much as he used to, which is a dang pity cuz’ he know his stuff and he know how to write awesome… Graham be one of my main mayne and big influence on my own writin’ style and programming philosophy!) 

      Here he be jamming about what makes Lisp the lispiest language known to mankind bro’, and womankind to be sure, so chill. I support our sista’, all of them—even Sarah Huckabee Sanders as I want to be reachin’ out across the aisle—and of course to honor all of them my sista’. So I be a feminist, amirite?

      10. T.S. Eliot (Corralling Fleeting Remembrances With Strokes Of Genius) 🐱

      The Original (T.S. Eliot) 🍎

      The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes,
      The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes
      Licks its tongue into the corners of the evening,
      Lingers on the pools that stand in drains,

      Lets fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
      Slips by the terrace, makes a sudden leap,
      And seeing that it’s a soft October night,
      Curls once about the house, and falls asleep
      ~ T.S. Eliot (from his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      Check the curled-up cat that be all asleep in the pic atop this element in our collage… She be a good cat. Much the same, poetry be all good, my sayz unabashedly! It’s for all reg’ homies like you and me. Brutha’, poetry be the distillation of reams of prose; how cool is that. 

      We now be entering the realm of corralling fleeting remembrances with strokes of genius (Different stroke for different folks, amirite?) And who betta’ to round up them evanescent thoughts than T.S. Eliot, a homie way smarta’ than all da otha’ ganstas’ who be writing poetry with valor. 

      Brutha’, anyone even remember what I wrote up ‘bout another poetry-slinging thug by the name of W.H. Auden in a recent essay? (Hint: Say “Yes!” And keep your blogger’s heart from breakin’ yo, so I know you be paying attention to what I be writing, or I be preachin’ to the choir sound asleep?) 

      You know something? T.S. Eliot owes a boatload of (intellectual) debt to Billy Shakes. So our mayne man—who else but Billy Shakes, the leader of the pack who put down the smack on the readin’ and writin’ world—the fella’ who be leading our list of writing loveliness, is still the biggest dawg of ‘em all 🐶

      Even though he sling lovely verses of poetry, it’s the world of prose that he be shaking and turnin’ upside down! And so I be sharing a ditty I wrote up to honor my nemesis, the Bard: 

      While Auden may be the modern new thang whose poetry be pelting you both soft and hard,
      Yo, it’s still the inimitable Bard who be rollin’ with the punches and holdin’ every single card
      And so it is that I hold aloft the message I myself wrote up on this trifold placard
      “Yo, words never had it so good as when they were in the safe hands of the Bard!”

      11. Kitty Fassett (Harnessing The Desiderata By Discarding Inessentials) 💎

      The Original (Kitty Fassett) 🍎

      He had a mischievous streak and I remember his instructions to an employee on the makings of a martini: “Fill a large glass with ice, pour in a jigger of gin and just a drop of vermouth,” he said. “Then when my wife isn’t looking add two more jiggers of gin.” 

      He was an incorrigible punster, too, but most of all a gifted poet. One day he started quoting the first lines of his fiftieth reunion poem: “Return to jubilation! Scorn the woe – of mortal age and time’s relentless flow! — Do you know who wrote that?” 

      “You did, Pop,” I replied. 

      He was disappointed. He’d hoped I would guess Milton. It was a good poem, although I resented one of its stanzas that stated that astronauts had returned to earth “on wings of mathematics.” When it came to mathematics he just couldn’t let go. I liked his limericks better 🐬
      ~ Kitty Fassett (from her essay Pop’s War: My Father, the CIA, and the Green Death)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      This sista’ got mojo like nobody else. While Kitty Fassett may not be a household name, yet, cuz’ she be an unassuming writer, she be second to none, writing with peerless clarity, grace, wit, and verve (Sista’ got the creds too: degree from Vassar, she went on to be one of the most refined pianists evah’). 

      So I be havin’ the distinct honor of featuring a marvelous essay she had wrote up—my readers who come to this blog on the reg will clearly remember how this sista’ saved you all from my quotidian prose, once anyway for crying out loud—and not too long ago either. That’s right, this playa’ be drooling over what she write, it so good: I decided to set my sights high, and be tellin’ myself, morning and evening now for a long time (and especially when on my knees, right before going to bed, with my grubby hands outstretched, imploring the heavens in prayer), that one day I be writing like this sista’. 

      Here’s what went down: Me, I be literal in my writing—and elsewhere as those in the know be knowin’—putting the whole thang on the page; she, on the other hand, be showing us through her writing how to go about harnessing them desiderata by discarding inessentials. 

      To take just one example—straight out of the excerpt above—she be discarding all kinda’ inessentials in the last two sentences (“When it came to mathematics he just couldn’t let go. I liked his limericks better.”) and distilling reams and reams of related thoughts into that above-mentioned lean and mean pair of gangsta’ sentences, amirite?

      (Hey, had it been left to me, heavens-forbid, had I instead gone about capturing them same thoughts—you guessed it right for a change—I would’ve blithely plastered reams and reams of paper with pools and pools of ink. But not her; she be supremely gifted. Sista’ got a way with words. 

      Check this. What I got here is serious laughing gas—by who else but Gass who be projecting breathtakin’ acts of balance—which will illustrate what I got in mind when I said that, “Sista’ got a way with words.” (And you may look up the glorious details in the Dedication section in another essay). But in a nutshell, here’s what—and let’s now light up the torch—in the words of Gass: 

      He writes equally well in two languages: Nitty and Gritty. He is a minimalist because he compresses, and puts everything in by leaving most of it out. Joyce wished to rescue the world by getting it into his book; Beckett wishes to save our souls by purging us—impossibly—of matter.
      ~ William H. Gass (in A Temple of Texts: Essays)

      Sista’ be doin’ the writing hood such a solid—making us all proud in the process—that from now on I be calling her Little Red Writin’ Hood. But there’s a catch…

      Right, only prollem is, she so refined—dad-gum, didn’t I tell you a short while ago that sista’ be one of the most refined pianists evah’?—that she prolly don’t want no bizness with us gangstas… If she somehow find out, heaven-forbid, that I be writing like thiiiis, she put the smack on me, and I be out of the writing bizness. Forever…

      You prolly be thanking yo’ lucky stars when that happen, sayin’ stuff like “good riddance to bad rubbish”, but I be a forlorn writing homie, all tattered and torn, amirite?

      12. Emily Dickinson (Carving Astonishing Feats Of Imagination) 🏆

      The Original (Emily Dickinson) 🍎

      The soul selects her own society,
      Then shuts the door;
      On her divine majority
      Obtrude no more.

      Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
      At her low gate;
      Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
      Upon her mat.

      I’ve known her from an ample nation
      Choose one;
      Then close the valves of her attention
      Like stone

      ~ Emily Dickinson (In her poem XIII: EXCLUSION, from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) 🏀

      I’m gonna’ level with you now… (By the way, regarding the poem above, was that writing greatness or was that writing greatness?)

      Anyhow, here’s the thang: My verses are obviously ground zero, both literally and metaphorically. Yo, now why did I say that? Here’s why: I used that million-dollar word (“metaphorically”) cuz’ of the symbolism of the epicenter of a phenomenon and I used another of them million-dollar words (“literally”) cuz’ of what I’ve shared above with you all in my hood—Emily’s rocking’ poem XIII: EXCLUSION as an example of her at the top of her phenomenal writin’ game—is writing greatness, amirite?

      I’m tellin’ ya, Emily is da one who mercs poetry, never ceasing to amaze her fans (yours truly notably among them!) as her sentences float around like butterflies—in the selfsame unbearable lightness of being—lifting the glory of verse to dizzying heights. Dayum, others then came long and getta free ride, or so they thin… But you know what? There still ain’t no one—many tried their hand in futility at emulating her—who be writin’ poetry not half as good as hers (Thang is, her impersonators try to do what she did, and then when it ain’t working out, they all bent outta shape, amirite?)

      She bad, the baddest of all the poets who ever lived. Sista’ betta’ than all them Yeatses, Keatses, Plaths (all put together, brutha’). You name em’, and my sista’ Emily outdone em’ all (Frosty approach her virtuosity a bit, and at times only, but then he get all bogged down in the mire of roads-not-taken and boondoggles like that. What else can I say?)

      Emily be the baddest, which is why she get to have the last word in the hood, our Pantheon hood of writing greatness!

      The collage be done now, but I gotta slip this in edgewise: See them two little hoodlums in the pic above? Brutha’, that be Emily, along with some homie whose name be lost to history. She be lightin’ the way for future generations of writers—those crafting verses of poetry as well as those crafting lines of prose—in a way no sista’ (or brutha’ for that matter) ever done before…

      Emily, to you I pose—reaching back now through the incorporeal mists of time—with the utmost sincerity the following rhetorical question:

      People stay just a little bit longer
      We want to play — just a little bit longer
      Now the promoter don’t mind
      And the union don’t mind
      If we take a little time
      And we leave it all behind and sing
      One more song–

      ~ Jackson Browne (lyrics from Stay)

      What do you say, Emily? Yoohoo, Emily, wherefore art thou? 👒

      An aged man is but a paltry thing,
      A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
      Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
      For every tatter in its mortal dress,
      Nor is there singing school but studying
      Monuments of its own magnificence;
      And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
      To the holy city of Byzantium.

      ~ W. B. Yeats (from his poem Sailing to Byzantium)

      We walk the highwire
      Sending men to the front line
      And hoping they don’t catch the hell-fire
      Of hot guns and cold, cold lies
      We walk the highwire

      Send the men to the front lines
      And tell ’em to hotbed the sunshine
      With hot guns and cold, cold lies

      Our lives are threatened, our jobs at risk
      Sometimes dictators need a slap on the wrist
      Another Munich we just can’t afford
      We’re gonna send in the 82nd Airborne

      ~ The Rolling Stones (lyrics from Highwire)

      When shepherds pipe on oaten straws
      And merry larks are ploughmen’s clocks,
      When turtles tread, and rooks and daws,
      And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
      The cuckoo then, on every tree,
      Mocks married men, for thus sings he:
      Cuckoo, cuckoo.’ O word of fear,
      Unpleasing to a married ear.

      ~ William Shakespeare (from Stanza 2)

      When are you gonna come down
      When are you going to land
      I should have stayed on the farm
      I should have listened to my old man

      You know you can’t hold me forever
      I didn’t sign up with you
      I’m not a present for your friends to open
      This boy’s too young to be singing the blues

      ~ Elton John (lyrics from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)


      1. – Methinks this essay, this write-up you know (World's 10 Coolest Sentences Get Gangsta Treatment!) be touchin' a chord with many readers

        – Here be some (fan) mail I be gettin' lately:
        – This sista’ here like yo’ gangsta’ take on Emily: “She bad, the baddest of all the poets who ever lived. Sista’ betta’ than all them Yeatses, Keatses, Plaths (all put together, brutha’).”
        [Emily]…she betta’ than Frosty the Snowman, too.

        – And the following handful of messages be referring to the previous essay (The 3 Joys Of Self-Disclosure) when my reader be tellin' me:
        I never ceased to be amazed at your gift for words, which often come across as poetry. Observe the alliteration in this sentence: “As I waded through the outskirts of the marshy swamp one blustery Sunday afternoon, a boisterous bittern bit my butt off…” I find your essays getting better and better all the time. I love them!

        – Plus, for that same essay for that same essay (The 3 Joys Of Self-Disclosure), readers be asking me questions, and giving me encouragement to boot:
        – Tell me, though, how true is that story? Did you really get bitten by the boisterous bittern? And did you really fall down a rabbit hole? Never mind telling me. With a gift like yours you’re entitled to a degree of poetic license.
        – Red berries like the ones in the picture are almost always poisonous. I’m glad you’re still here to write about them and to keep entertaining us with your wonderful essays. Stay alive and well! 🙂 🙂

        – Finally, yo’, flashing back to the current essay, I also be hearing things like this from my fans, readers like you:
        Welcome to the hood, bro’! Hooboy! Ya’ll gonna be chillin’ out with yo brutha’ gangstas in this heah ghetto before God git the news! Whoopie doo!

        – While I ain't got no FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) transcripts to conclusively prove that all the above (fan) mail be true (it really is, every single word, I tell you on my gangsta' honor), you all know me well enough by now to know that I wouldn't be lying to you!

        – (I might occasionally confabulate, and that, too, for the fun of it, word-play and stuff, but never, ever lying!)

        – I love you all!!

      2. Just found your blog. Really enjoying reading your essays. Truly enlighting to a budding Computer Scientist (want to be) like me. Thanks for taking the time, to write such. I greatly admire you, from bottom of my heart.

        On a side-note, any advice for a budding programmer/(want to be Computer Scientist) like me?

        Thank you again 🙂

      3. Saw your post on Google+. Sorry, I don't really know how to use Google+ since it was something I made when I was in middle -school. But, thanks for the reply 🙂

      4. – At the risk of sounding trite and cliche, I will, nonetheless, go ahead and say this anyway: Inspiring comments from readers like you, Amey, fill me with pride and joy. Honestly, I get a kick out of writing. Even if there were not a single reader to enjoy reading them, I would continue writing the essays that are right, anyway. But the fact that thousands of readers like you regularly come to read the essays (that I publish here on the blog) is a joy in itself. Thank you, Amey!

        I heartily encourage my readers in that you all post your comments, and invite you to continue sharing your thoughts. Especially, if there are any topics on which you would like to see future essays, by all means please let me know! Feedback is crucially important; that way, we can share themes and ideas of common interest.

        – As to your question ("On a side-note, any advice for a budding programmer/(want to be Computer Scientist) like me?"), I would, for starters, recommend three things, as follows, and in no particular order, with embedded links for your future deep-dives:

        Look up and study open source code in areas which are of interest to you. Open source is a game-changer, quite unlike any that I've seen in my 20-plus years in the software industry. Take advantage of the amazing stuff out there on Github!

        – Developing an intuition for mathematics and algorithms will serve you well, and be a source of joy and creativity.

        Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I can offer a piece of advice that consists of a single word: Diversify! (Check out the essay The 5 Most Valuable Lessons For Programmers for more details!)

        – Likewise, thank you again 🙂

        – Good luck, and keep me and fellow readers (here on OUR blog Programming Digressions) posted!

      5. – All good: Likewise, I, too, seldom use Google+. What I wanted to underscore is that I diligently read each and every comment from readers. My responses may be delayed, and on occasion I may be unable to reply, sometimes forgetting to reply, but I definitely read each and every comment on my blog, OUR blog, really 🙂

        To you and other readers: At your convenience, when you visit the blog next, scroll down and find the "Follow this Blog" button along the right-hand side bar, to click… …that way, you'll be notified automagically (via email) whenever a new essay is posted. How does that sound?

        – As always, feel free to drop in, cruise around, read up, and of course post your comments. Never be shy 🙂

      6. Hello. Thank you for the reply. I was a bit busy with exams so couldn't check. Me and some of my friends are absolutely loving your essays. Thanks for the great content.

      7. – Hi there! It's all good: Remember, studies come first, my essays after! (Meanwhile, I'm happy that you've got your priorities right) 🙂

        – Study hard, sturdy smart. Remember, too, to never, ever, let your schooling interfere with your education…

        – Hey, I'm delighted to hear that you and your friends are getting a kick out of the essays I write!!

        – By the way, lately (and this is regarding the links to other stuff which I embed in essays for you and other readers for deeper digging an explorations) I've started color-coding those embedded links, the URLs, with a fluorescent yellow background… Does that help?! (I had once received feedback from another reader saying that I should perhaps use a lighter background for the pages on this blog…I've always wondered whether that comment had something to do with the embedded links, the URLs, not being easily visible enough!)

        – I care deeply about this kind of stuff (sometimes to the point of perfectionism!) because I care deeply for my readers… So feedback from you and from all my other (thousands of) readers is taken seriously around here with the goal, as always, to improve both the visual appeal and, of course, the content that you all get on this blog!

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