15 December 2022

Ellis Millsaps: Just Da

*ed. note: well, we took another extended break. What can I say? "The [fellas] in the point ain't changed." But, we're back! I've got a Covington history article that will hit next week & then Da's got another Cranky English piece lined up for the last week of the year. 2023 is gonna be a big year for TPC. Da's novel will finally be published & we will be getting back to at least weekly (or close to it) posting then. As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy! - MB McCart

 When I come in from the porch and my five-year-old grandson is visiting, I walk back toward the kitchen to see what he and his grandmother are plotting. He runs up to see who's arrived and  invariably says ”Oh, it's just Da.”

 Just Da here reporting on whatever is on my mind at the moment, in this case my previously announced project to read all of the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. There are 89. As of today I've read 55.

( When did football players start wearing their pants as shorts above their knees? This must have been going on for a while but I'm just noticing it.)

 I've had some off ramps from just knocking out the list. Specifically where a winner was part of a series I've read more of the series. First with Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres which is the first of a trilogy spanning a century in the lives of a midwestern family. This would be one of my candidates (the trilogy) for the Great American Novel, as differentiated in my mind from the best American novel, a list which would be led by Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, All the King's Men and others. In my conception, for a novel to qualify as the Great American it needs to cover generations of American life. My choice is Raintree County by Ross Whatley.

(When did it become permissible for football players to push their ball carrier forward? Hasn't that always been against the rules? When did they change this rule? In 2007 Google tells me the NFL changed it and ten years later the NCAA followed suit. It's still illegal in high school. I don't see why they changed the rule anywhere. I’d always assumed it was a basic safety precaution to keep the ball carrier from being squeezed like a capitol policeman between insurrectionists, but evidently the change hasn’t resulted in an increase of injuries.)

Other winners which set me off on a tangent are The Good Earth and Dragon's Teeth. The Good Earth is the first of a trilogy by Pearl S. Buck. It was always on my high school recommended reading list but never appealed to me because it was written by a presbyterian missionary,and I assumed incorrectly, telling of the conversion of Asians to christianity. In fact it is nothing of the sort. There are no significant western characters in the trilogy.

 Miss Buck spent most of her childhood in China. Chinese, she said, was her primary language.  All of the point of view characters in her work are Chinese and speak from that perspective. The story spans several generations of a family dealing with corrupt government, first on the warlord level and eventually leading to the Communists who centralized corruption to a new national style. I learned a lot of Eastern history from reading it. I highly recommend it. Except that it's written by an American in English it might qualify for the Great Chinese Novel.

( I've played or coached baseball most of my post  nine-year-old life and I've never seen a high school or rec ball player foul a ball off his foot. I pitched quite a few innings and there was never time called for a player to hobble around and walk it off. This happens several times a game in MLB. I have no plausible theory to explain this phenomenon.) 

I have a lot to say about the aforementioned DragonsTeeth but I think I've gone on long enough for now. Hasta la vista.

Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...