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Perhaps, dear reader, you had nodded, confident that détente between the Hatter and Alice had finally begun... [but] at any rate, relations had unfortunately broken down somewhere between a chucked pot of strawberry jam and a flagrantly crooked game of Checkers. They two were no enemies, mind you, but the Hare felt that any brokerage of democracy would have to wait...
I have a very silly sense of humor. These are all jokes about Richard Nixon, because at the time I was writing this, we were discussing the Watergate Tapes in my Constitutional Law class. “Detente” is the idea of cooling animosity between two parties—Nixon attempted it politically with Chairman Mao. “Flagrantly crooked” refers to his “I am not a crook” speech. Checkers was the name of his cocker spaniel. “Brokerage of democracy” is just a generic political phrase that sounds cool.

”Fungible... crepuscular... kakistocracy... “
Alright, alright, I'll reveal the rules of the game they're playing. They take turns picking a word with a bigger number of syllables than the last one. The only catch is that it has to be a rare or unusual word, and whoever picks a common word is disqualified. Rarity of a word is at their mutual discretion. Alice is too distracted by the heat to really get going with this one, otherwise she'd clean his clock.

But she was aware: if Alice's reason were physically manifested in the form of a large field of fresh white paint, the very smallest of black chaotic dots existed on the outer fringes of her consciousness. Like the Asian philosophers who see the world harmonized between ameboid halves of a circle, Alice was a little bit this and a lot of that.
Like the yin and the yang, we're back to the idea of duality.

She was neither too ridiculous and silly as to awaken each morning with the notion that the dew drops on a local spider's net were “wedding veils of the elves...”
Madeleine Bassett was a frequent character in Wodehouse's books about Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves—she was an airheaded blonde who spoke in a lispy voice and came up with ridiculous poetic ideas like the one above. The word Bertie used to describe her was “soppy,” and he was right.

The colorful turn of phrase she did choose to fling over her shoulder caused the Hatter to see her off with peals of laughter and a triumphant shout of the word tmesis (which did not count toward the Hatter’s lifetime score)...
Tmesis is a linguistic phenomenon. It's injecting a word, usually a swear, into the middle of another. The only way I can describe it accurately, really, is to give an example: Alice's very unladylike “un-bloody-lievable” works nicely.

True, her lower half was sufficiently cooled at last, but the bounty of Peneus did not strike her to the core.
Peneus was a river god. When Eros shot Apollo with one of his arrows, Apollo fell in love with Daphne, who called out to her father, Peneus, to save her, and he turned her into a laurel tree, which became sacred to Apollo.

“No, it’s alright,” quietly said the new tall young man who was seated at the bow, half in shade from the trees overhead. There was a slight curl to the edges of his hair, and his eyes were blue or grey, she could not tell. He spoke strangely half the time, and the other half with ease he knew not; it was when the young man thought someone was listening that his hesitation came through. “Do you want to play a game instead?”
Dear old Reverend Charles Dodgson. He referred to his stutter as “his hesitation,” but there are some disputed accounts that he didn't stutter all the time.

The other Reverend, the older one, said from where he sat at oar...
Reverend Robinson Duckworth! He went with them sometimes. They were punting originally, but they actually went from Oxford to the picnic grounds in a rowboat. Punting will come later.

What’s Doublet?” asked one of her sisters. They were port and starboard, and Alice was seated in the middle. She wanted to dip her hand into the water where it made a juicy slicing sound, but there she was, Alice, right in the middle.
Doublet was a real game Dodgson came up with, and you really do play it like that. Alice was the middle child in her family—Lorina was the older girl and Edith was the younger girl. Her sisters in this story have never been named, though, for a reason.

“On the count of three, we’ll drop them both at the same time,” he said slowly, once again conscious of the way his words tripped down the stairs and tumbled out of his mouth. He counted, and Alice heard a double splish below.
They're playing Pooh-Sticks.

...found the tiny silver thimble she had been using in the morning. She put it gently into his cupped palm, and then he turned his hand over and looked very grave indeed as he spoke.
“I beg your acceptance of this very elegant thimble, young Alice who has won the race,” he said in his careful slow voice as he returned it with a small smile.

In the story about the caucus race with the Carpenter and the Walrus, Alice meets a Dodo. When everyone is finishing running in circles, Alice gives away all the comfits in her apron pocket, but there's none left for her. The Dodo asks her what's left, and all she has is a thimble, so he gives her that as her prize. Various animals in that scene represent the people in the rowboat—Dodgson and the Dodo, the Duck and Ducksworth, Lorina and the Lory, and Edith and the Eaglet.

“Do sunny days and Fridays not always perk you up?” She stared at him, and he shook his head suddenly to dismiss the thought.
“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” The Carpenters.

Rather, one panel slid back behind the other. This was frustrating and confusing; she had never beheld such an inconvenient way to get at the stuff within, constantly having to slide them back and forth to get at opposite sides of the wardrobe. But when she pulled them both to their edges so that the mirrored doors reflected the whole room back at her, and stood with her nose against the split where the edges overlapped, the left side of her face seemed closer, and the right side seemed much farther away.
True story—my closet does this. It's very disconcerting to stand with your face up against two mirror panels that overlap each other and see your face in two lengths. Again with the duality! Man, what am I going toward with this?! It'll all be resolved eventually.

“If I sit down, one could say this chair might just rock me on the dais,” he said...
“Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco was mercilessly mocked in the online game Kingdom of Loathing. When you finally reach the Lair of the Naughty Sorceress, she dares you to do it.

And then the white plaster wasn’t quite white, but had lines of thin gold ribboning throughout, clear sunlight in wedges through the windows.
A royal room is only as royal as the royals in it.

“Now, what news on the Rialto?” and she put on a thoughtfully concerned face for a moment.
Merchant of Venice again.

”Livestock, though terribly amusing,” she said as she turned and did not look over her shoulder. “Are not eligible for prizes.”
Looks like he found a bull for his costume after all. Didn't get the bronzed jackalope head trophy to mount over his mantle, though, did he?

“Something profitable, productive, rewarding, constructive. Worthwhile, perhaps?” And she had quit the room entirely.
Awful lot of word games in this chapter, isn't there?

“Persimmon will do,” he continued to the Hare, who was digging with his hind legs sticking out of the long tube, kicking at the air as he reached further inwards.
Drivers were originally made from the wood of a persimmon tree.

Alice was seated on the box below, trying to read a book with the pages all flapping about entitled Edwin and Morcar: Earls of Mercia and Northumbria while holding a bell-shaped fringe parasol in her other hand.
In the original Alice in Wonderland, after everyone is all wet, the Mouse tells “the driest story” he knows to dry them off: the story of Edwin and Morcar. Of course, the Dodo has the right idea to dry them all off and suggests a caucus race instead.

“--accounting for old Notus here.”
Notus is the god of the southern wind, bringer of summer and autumn. He's moving in, now that it's fall.

They would have to hurry; ships fallen from the heavens above straight into the roofs of charity hospitals in the middle of capital cities may well be said by legend to have been there since “before elevenses as far as the Hatter knew,” but how long this one would stand up was at present questionable.
I love the idea of ships falling out of the sky onto hospitals. Peace and quiet, lovely harmony in healing, and then BAM, suddenly there's a ship.

“those ruddy geriatrics who could use a shock to the life system any-thumping-how” if the boat crushed the hospital below.
Tmesis!

”Duchess won’t be happy that you broke a royal window, sir,” she told the Hatter with affected regret.
The start of a beautiful friendship. Alice hasn't quite gotten to the point where she's willing to really and truly be on the same level of things as the Hatter, but she's got it in her.

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Valadilenne

May 2009

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