21 February 2012



The lost oasis.

City of Acacias.

The city white as a dove.

To thirteenth century Arabs: the oasis of little birds.

Where is this magical place, haven to birds, acacia trees, and water?

Somewhere, in the middle of the desert.



A place by the name of Zerzura is first documented in a mid-13th century by the amir (or veritable prince) Osman al-Nabulsi, who served as the regional administrator of the Fayyum. For the next two hundred years, there is veritably no mention of its existence until it suddenly reappears in the Kitab al Kanuz, or The Book of Hidden Pearls, a 13th century treasure hunting manual, which describes it as "a place full of gold and treasures in the heart of the desert, guarded by a white bird." To enter, the book recommends to "take with your hand the key in the beak of the bird, then open the door of the city. Enter, and there you will find great riches...." However, it further attests, "Only a brave man can enter the secret village, where in the palace he will find a sleeping queen, to be awakened with a kiss."

As reliable as some of those prospects sound, they were corroborated only in the 15th century from the tale of a man named Hamid Keila. He explained to the Emir of Benghazi how he became lost in a fierce sandstorm after he set off from Dahkla. When his caravan and companions all died in the tempest, he was left to starve and die, which he would have done, had it not been for the curious blond-haired blue-eyed strangers who rescued him. The people, who obviously weren't Muslim since the women didn't wear veils, showed him great kindness, ultimately restoring him back to health. Keila described the place as being an all white city by an oasis. Hwever, when the Emir inquired as to why Keila left the people and how he did so, his answers weren't straightforward. An examination yielded a beautiful ruby in a gold ring among his possessions. The king denounced him as a thief, sentencing the removal of his hands, but Keila's story remained. The Emir led a search party to locate the mysterious oasis village, but to no avail.

On a side note, King Idris of Libya inherited the ring. It was determined to be of 12th century European workmanship. Speculation has been given as to whether "that could link the ring and the apparently Teutonic Arabs with the crusades and the possibility that knights who had got lost in the desert had gone native and survived in their remote idyll."

After the 15th century, tales of Zerzura didn't resurface and circulate until 1907 when the “Kitab al Kanuz” was translated into French by the curator of the Egyptian Museum, Maspero, refueling exploration. The most famous searchers were the 1930s' "Zerzura Club," a group composed by Harry Bagnold, including Patrick Clayton, William Kennedy-Shaw, and Hungarian Count László Almásy (the inspiration for the novel The English Patient) .

Though ultimately unsuccessful, the Zerzura Club was crucial to the mapping of the Sahara, which sported multiple uncharted areas before their efforts. They were the first to institute modern dessert technologies, such as the use of jeeps. As southern Egypt slowly developed from the fruit of their explorations, they still had no evidence of any whitewashed city. They never found one, but in 1932, Clayton and Almasy spotted two green valleys in what is now known as the Glif Kebir. Almasy speculated that there was originally a third oasis, the home of Zerzura. To support his theories, he found only a number of petroglyphs, but he remained convinced of this resolution the remainder of his life (even after selling out his maps to Rommel).

Clayton led the last expidition through the Great Sand Sea in 1933, though members of the Zerzura Club are reported to have returned for small endeavors until WWII.

In Arabic, the word zerzura describes a place inhabited by starlings or other small birds. However, I prefer the probably fictional explanation of the name given in Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient:

"There was a time when mapmakers named the places they traveled through with the names of lovers rather than their own. Someone seen bathing in a desert caravan, holding up muslin with one arm in front of her. Some old Arab poet's woman, whose white-dove shoulders made him describe an oasis with her name."

So what is Zerzura really?

I think it is most aptly described by Harry Bagnold in Libyan Sands - Travel in a Dead World:

I like to think of Zerzura in that light, as an idea for which we have no apt word in English, meaning something waiting to be discovered in some out-of-the-way place, difficult to access, if one is enterprising enough to go out and look; an indefinite thing, taking different shapes in the minds of different individuals according to their interest and wishes. For the Arab it may be an oasis or hidden treasure; for European it may be a new archaeological site, some find of scientific importance, a new plant or mineral; or just an expectancy of finding anything that is not yet known.

Or for the less scientifically minded it may be still more vague; an excuse for the childish craving so many grown-ups harbour secretly to break away from civilisation, to face the elements at close quarters as did our savages, ancestor, returning temporarily to their life of primitive simplicity and physical vigour; being short of water, to be obliged to go unwashed; having no kit to live in rags, and sleep in the open without a bed.

Further sources:

23 January 2012

The Sentiment of a Gentleman — Part 1

If a gentleman spends 200 dollars for custom fitted loafers, why would he hesitate to lavish that same care on his face? According to the most reliable authorities (my Papa), there is a proper way to shave, and it requires more than a can of old Barbasol and a sketchy blade.
Now, personally, my of ideas on what it takes for a traditional shave float somewhere between Peter Pan and Sweeney Todd, an interesting, if not savage combination. The blade is a bit different, a good deal of lather is involved, and in both cases something ends up stripped in the end...

Without the gimmicks, the only things required are:

a razor
a brush
a cup
shave soap
a stand to set it all up
optional leather strap for sharpening

    Sounds simple, right?


    Refinement, as it turns out, takes some doing.

    The razor:

    Traditionally, men shaved with a straight razor, like the one which Johnny Depp so mercilessly brandishes. To keep them sharp, these require the most remarkable yet painfully simple tool. Plainer styles are comprised of a strip of leather. One step up is the more durable version made of a piece of leather wrapped around a block of wood, giving quite the variety to sharpening choices.
     Yet, the correct manner of sharpening isn't as easy as one might presume. In order to appear sophisticated, take care to flip the razor with only the index finger and thumb. Otherwise, the hand should remain in the same position while sharpening the blade.
    However, a straight blade and all its accessories certainly aren't for everyone. Even my Papa expressed his skepticism over putting that equivalent of a switchblade near his face, despite possession of it. Honestly, the razor type doesn't matter so much assuming the shaver keeps it classy. None of those two cent traveling affairs. Don't be this guy >>>

    The brush/soap/cup:

    The type of razor doesn't matter so much because this absolutely does. Seriously, if you feel the need to shirk something, well then, well... you're probably not a gentleman by my definition anyway, but don't let it be this section.
    To begin with a brush, think of one like those women use to put blush on, except with a smaller handle. Still no visual? Here's my Papa's collection:
     The one on the far left is made from badger (a softer feel), the middle is synthetic (a miserable excuse for a brush), and the darkest is a conglomeration of boar bristles (the coarsest and best of the three —depending on your taste). Do what you need to do, but don't put shaving cream on with your hands. In fact, forget shaving cream altogether. Get a small soup mug, shaving cup, or hipster coffee mug; they're all about the same size. This stuff goes inside:

    Shave soap.

     The color doesn't particularly matter. To my knowledge, there's definitely amber, almond, and lime to choose from if you stick with the Col. Conk brand, which runs about three bucks a bar. It's what my Papa uses. Whatever the brand, the most important thing is to ensure that it has glycerine in it. Before lotions were marketed for scent rather than softness, they were sure to say "glycerine" on the label. Glycerine is the ingredient that keeps skin soft after duress. On the Col. Conk label, it's smack dab in the middle of the very top of the sticker, a fact which, in my opinion, is no coincidence.

    Now the apparatus that actually started the discussion of shaving technique between my Papa, Mimi, Daddy, and me was the dilemma of finding a stand.
    Apparently, if the brush is set down with the quills pointed up, water becomes logged in the brush and deters the efficiency of the next shave. For this reason, my Papa searched for and purchased a stand. He found his complete with brush and cup in an antique store in Florida for 26 dollars. That kind of deal requires some waiting if quality is desired. However, if a second-hand brush finds itself in your possession, make sure that before use you sterilize it. This can be accomplished easily, by dipping the bristles into boiling water.

    I hope this breakdown proves helpful; you're on your own deciphering aftershave....

    13 January 2012

    Neuschwanstein and the Swan Prince

    Neuschwanstein Castle, built in the isolated mountains of Bavaria, Germany, is a castle of dreams. One man's dreams, actually. Ludwig II commissioned the palace in 1868 with the aspiration for it "to be a better recreation of an ideal medieval castle than Hohenschwangau" (Hohenschwangau was the renovated Schwanstein castle in Crown Prince Maximilian II of Bavaria had rebuilt in 1832, a favorite retreat of the young Ludwig). As shown through the concept sketch below, he envisioned a castle worthy of the German knights.
    no need to tell this guy to keep his standards high...

    Furthermore, he wished the inside to be a veritable homage to Wagner, filled with images straight from his operas "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin," as evidenced by the swan imagery in the photo below.
    Hohenschwangau was also decorated with swans and imagery from Lohengrin, and from an early age, Ludwig began to identify himself with the Arthurian hero, the son of Percival, who in a boat towed by swans, becomes the Grail King through his purity and faith. Ludwig was always a dreamer of sorts. In 1864, he inherited the throne at the age of 18. He had virtually no life experience, not to mention political experience. The women, however, loved the imaginative, poetic new king. Big surprise....
     those legs...

    Regardless of his deficiencies, Verlaine dubbed Ludwig II the "only true king of this century." Ludwig aspired to embody this distinction; however, after the Franco-Prussian war, ending with King Wilhelm as Kaiser of unified Germany, Ludwig retained virtually no power.
     the original Nelson Mandela?

    "He was a constitutional monarch, a head of state with rights and duties and little freedom of action. For this reason he built a fantasy world around him in which – far removed from reality – he could feel he was a real king. From 1875 on he lived at night and slept during the day." (taken from http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/ludwig/biography.htm). Contrary to popular belief, he funded the majority of the construction himself, even accepting secret loans from Otto Von Bismark in exchange for his support. Yet, the costs of the ever- growing Neuschwanstein far exceeded the original expectations. As various modern appliances were installed, prices soared. Conveniences include:
    • The rooms of the Palas, the royal residence, were fitted with hot air central heating. Running water was available on every floor and the kitchen had both hot and cold water. The toilets had an automatic flushing system.
    • The king used an electric bell system to summon his servants and adjutants. On the third and fourth floors there were even telephones.
      Meals did not have to be laboriously carried upstairs: for this purpose there was a lift.
    • The latest technology was also used for the construction process itself. The cranes were driven by steam engines, and the Throne Room was incorporated by means of a steel construction.
    • One of the special features of Neuschwanstein is the large window panes. Windows of this size were still unusual even in Ludwig II's day.
    (Taken from http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/palace/interior.htm)

     As his debts exceeded 14 million marks, his creditors began to grow anxious. In 1885, foreign banks tried to seize his property. Ludwig's inability to confront reality led to his eventual deposition in 1886 on the grounds of insanity. Whether he was actually insane or not remains to be seen. he was never actually medically examined and died with his of mysterious causes the next day along with the psychiatrist who had certified him as insane.

     Though unfinished (it should have had 200 rooms but only sports 15), Neuschwanstein opened about 7 weeks later to the public. As people continually make the trek to its obscured location, it remains a wildly popular tourist attraction with over 1.3 million visitors per year. 60 years ago, a certain animator dropped by. Notice any resemblance to Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland?

    Check out the webcam!

    More info:
    Official website

    10 January 2012

    Recollecting Rhapsody: Welcoming Back the World of Dr. Dolittle

    When I was younger, I was subjected to a number of draining old movies. The Christmas of my 9th year, I was given Little Women. Talk about a one-use present, even with Katharine Hepburn. After watching that four hour yawn once, there was no way I would make it through again without a nap. Still, with a title like "Little Women" at least you have some idea of what you're in for.
     They almost look evil.

    Possibly the most deceptive movie, in terms of promise compared to length for me, was Dr. Dolittle. It started out so well. There were cool animals (seriously the push-me pull-me), and to top it all off, a man could talk to animals.

    How could you go wrong? I'm not sure, but somewhere around two hours they did. Even in its day the film was a colossal flop, and it nearly bankrupted 20th century fox. The movie is an absolute drag. Sure, now it's memorable and lovable, but it's also incredibly long.
    rather like the neck of this gastropod...

    However, when I was recently coerced(or tricked) into rewatching it, I realized that this movie was a veritable gold mine. Unlike the miserable Eddie Murphy version/s, the original 1967 film has a brilliant score. Regardless of the fact that Rex Harrison sings about as well as an auctioneer, the songs are whimsical and the lyrics fantastic. In fact, the movie was awarded the Oscar for "Best Song," namely, "Talk to the Animals."
    Its lyrics, which include "If people asked us, can you speak in rhinoceros/ We'd say, 'Of courserous, can't you?'" are great for their incorporation of a variety of animals, but the same could be said for the song Dolittle sings in court, "Like Animals," a song in which Dolittle juxtaposes the abhorrent conduct of man with the higher tastes of animals in a grand appeal for animal rights. Still, animal songs certainly don't dominate the score. Emma Fairfax, played by Samantha Eggars, challenges restrictive gender roles in her songs "If I were a man" and "At the Crossroads."
    Still, all my favorite songs are sung by Anthony Newley, who oddly enough doesn't really have that great of a voice either — Rex and he must have been drinking the same kool-aid. Thankfully, Newley has a sort of gawkish charm (similar to Michael Crawford in Hello Dolly!) that makes up for it. He introduces the Doctor with a ridiculous and charming song called "My Friend the Doctor." Some of it's more interesting lyrics are shown below:

    My friend the doctor says the moon is made of apple pie 
    and once a month it's eaten by the sky,
    and that is why
    up in the sky
    you'll find as every month goes by,
    somebody up in the sky's making another one!

    My friend the doctor says
    the sun is made of cheddar cheese
    the doctor even knows the reason why
    the facts are these
    try if you please
    pretending you're a lonely cheese- 
    wouldn't you want to try finding an apple pie?
    Of course you would! 

    Yet, Newley takes a more serious tone in what I consider the most magnificent song of the film: Beautiful Things.

    That song literally gets me every time. I love it. However, with the one random exception of a 2008 Kohls commercial, it's been largely forgotten, along with pretty much the entire score
    To me the most obvious reason as to why these songs are no longer recognized is due to the difficulty of acquiring them. For some reason, though scads of soundtracks were released, they were so unmarketable, they just didn't seem to survive. Furthermore, not even the original recording can be found on Itunes. When looking for the forgotten songs of the 1967 Dr. Dolittle, your best bet is to check out Bobby Darin's album "If I Were a Carpenter." Though it only has two or three songs, they are the best quality Dolittle covers I could find. Otherwise, besides "Talk to the Animals" this entire film has been forgotten in musical history.

    04 January 2012

    Awesome Etymology: Fata Morgana

    Whilst reading Moby Dick —that prodigious vessel of verbosity— I ran across an odd description of an atmospheric phenomenon called "fata morgana."

    What is it?
    I'm starting to see where Coleridge got his material...

    As defined by the Atmospheric Optics Glossary, a fata morgana is "A complex mirage display that involves multiple images, alternately expanded and compressed vertically, often giving the impression of buildings, cliffs, etc. where no such objects exist." Typically, fata morganas are scene specifically from the Straight of Messina in Italy. Fata Morganas are superior mirages, meaning that when light hits cold air, it is refracted downwards. So a superior mirage will reflect the thing it is hitting above where it actually is.
    if that helps...

    Thus, the fata morgana, an unusually complex type of superior mirage, involving , happen when the temperature of water, ice, etc. is colder than the temperature of the ice above it. So how is a fata morgana different from your typical superior mirage? It requires stacks of superior mirages, resulting in seriously convoluted images.
    Be very afraid.

    Although the image above is nothing like a fata morgana, the legend of the Flying Dutchman did originate with this type of mirage since it can refract the images of ships higher on the horizon than they are.

    What does it mean?
     "Fata Morgana" is Italian for "Fairy Morgana," and the "Morgana" refers to none other than Morgan le Fay. For those of you unacquainted with the nuances of Arthurian legend, I would refer you first to The Once and Future King
     This is my copy.

    However, if you haven't time to digest the brilliant anachronisms of T. H. White, you should know that Morgan le Fay is none other than the half-sister sorceress of King Arthur. You should probably also know that in some legends, Arthur is tricked into committing incest with her, which leads to the birth of his son Mordred, who ultimately threatens Camelot's very existence, but that's only in some legends. Anyway, because William the Conquerer, aka the Duke of Normandy, defeated the English in the Battle of Hastings, Arthurian legend is recorded in both the French and English record (although I'm told all the interesting tales are French). The "le fay" of her name is really just the English bastardization of the French "la fée," or fairy.

     sooo much deviant art

    Sailors confronted with the odd mirages described above attributed them Morgan, hailing them fairy castles in the sky. A further inspiration reason for the etymology rests with the influence of Morgan's character from Welsh legends. She is comparable to their goddess, Modron, but in Welsh, Morgan literally mean "sea-dweller." This is another viable reason that the mirages would bring her to mind.
    the Welsh coast

    That's pretty much the extent of the etymology except for a bit of speculation. In Arabic, "marjan" was the name of a popular sorceress. I don't know the extent of Arabic's influence on the Norman's, but regardless, "marjan" translates to "pearl." Although this last tidbit has very little to do with mirages, it is interesting to note sorcery's repeated connection to water.

    For more information see:
    More on Morgan
    A scientific explanation
    Always faithful but questionably reliable

    03 January 2012

    Alternative Living Arrangements: Monsanto Magic

    Possibly one of the oddest things about our generation is that we have no foreseeable vision of the future. Whether postmodernism has made cynics of us or we simply have no imagination, we don't seem to be working towards anything less abstract than "world peace." I'm not interested in how our society got to this point as much as I am by the different futures predicted by other generations. 2001 has come and gone, and we certainly aren't in a space odyssey. It's well past 1984 and I've yet to convert to newspeak. Theoretically in 2062, we will have lost all ground, inhabiting the Jetson's bright space place.

    I always wondered what would happen if one of these were to run out of gas in the middle of the "road."

    Still, the other day I stumbled over one of the coolest projections of the future I've seen. Be forewarned, I'm a sucker for innovation, especially when it comes to living environment and design. That being said, I present to you the Monsanto House of the Future:

    There's one word. Plastics.

    This house, installed in Disneyland in 1957, portrayed the projected living environment of 1986.
    Dishwashing with ultra sonic waves?A chair that automatically adjusts for you? The smell of roses released into a room with your heat? The Monsanto house had it all, particularly, as I stated above, plastics. The idea was to display the various uses and the ways plastic could be employed throughout the home. In actuality, it really did help the growing plastic industry, "All told, 23 per cent of the plas­tics made in this country now go into construc­tion, compared with 15 per cent the year before Monsanto’s exper­i­mental house was built," says a 1960 article from Monsanto Magazine. Also, experimental was the installation of a microwave oven and closets filled with polyester clothing. Although polyester and microwaves have become commonplace in the American home, there were many innovations featured in the future home that are not so popular today. Most of these are part of the “suspended-in-air” theme that architect, Vincent Bonini used in his design. Admittedly, at 1,280 square feet, you would need that extra space.  Though, I'm not exactly sure how you'd keep warm with all those windows.

    Unfortunately in 1967, Disney pulled the plug to install what was then Ariel's Grotto and now Pixie Hollow. However, the house was so durable that, "when demolition crews failed to demolish the house using wrecking balls, torches, chainsaws and jackhammers, the building was ultimately demolished by using choker chains to crush it into smaller parts" (my reader should know for better or worse I pulled that quote from wikipedia, but it is corroborated between my sources listed below). Now, they have installed a newer home of the future into innoventions at Epcot, but really, could it possibly be cooler than the original plastic wonderland?

    not likely.
    If they couldn't produce it by 1986, i suggest they begin in 2013. Seriously, I wish this was my house.
    I mean look at that view.

    For more information, see:

    01 January 2012

    The Whereabouts of Wisdom

    Welcome to my blog! Thanks for stopping by. For my first post, I thought I'd examine my favorite virtue, wisdom, and talk a little bit about one of its most famous enthusiasts.

    Wisdom is defined by Merriam Webster as "the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships." To me, it means the perfect collaboration of knowledge and insight. You can be very smart and make horrible decisions, or very insightful yet incapable of functioning unaided (for an example, see Mr. Dick in David Copperfield). Wisdom is more than “street sense” or any old combination of knowledge and know-how. It's a quality that allows people to sit back, listen, and see the bigger picture in a situation. It helps people to evaluate the best possible outcomes (which usually involve moderation and a healthy dose of patience). In case you still don't understand exactly what I'm talking about, here's at famous example...
    The Judgement of Solomon
    Picture by Nicolas Poussin
    Taken from 1 Kings 3:16-27 (NASB)

    Then two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him. The one woman said, "Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. It happened on the third day after I gave birth, that this woman also gave birth to a child, and we were together. There was no stranger with us in the house. This woman's son died in the night because she lay on it. So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead son in my bosom. When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, behold, he was dead; but when I looked at him carefully in the morning, behold, he was not my son, whom I had borne."
    Then the other woman said, "No! For the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son."
    But the first woman said "No! For the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son." Thus they spoke before the king.
    Then the king said, "The one says, 'This is my son who is living, and your son who is the dead one'; and that other says, 'No! For your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.'" The king said, "Get me a sword."
    So they brought a sword before the king.
    The king said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other."
    Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, "Oh, my lord, giver her the living child, and by no means kill him." But the other said, "He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!"
    Then the king said, "Give the first woman the living child and by no means kill him. She is his mother."

    Now regardless of the crazy second woman in the story (who's really just a stone cold wretch... or choice nouns), King Solomon really knew what was up. I'm not entirely sure any woman in her right mind would actually go for the baby killing option, but in context his solution to determine the mother definitely showed his wisdom. Usually, I would go all cliche and say, "Now, he didn't get that wisdom overnight, blah blah blah," but oddly enough, he did.

    The story goes that God came to him in a dream...

    Eleven verses back, God appears to Solomon and offers him anything he wants. Solomon asks for "an understanding heart to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil." What a wise guy, right?
    God gives it to him on top of all the other kingly things Solomon receives from the kingdom of Israel and Judah (since its still together). In turn, Solomon builds the Lord the first temple, which is a huge deal, considering David, Solomon's father, claimed to be "man after God's own heart," wasn't allowed to even level the ground.

    Model of the temple

    News of Solomon's prowess spreads until the Queen of Sheba gets wind of ol' Solomon (or Sulayman as they say in Islam). She gets together all of her spices, gold, and entourage, and goes to see if Solomon's really the hot shot people say he is. When she arrives, she questions him rigorously. Overwhelmed by the extent of his intellect and the splendor of his kingdom, she gives him all her spices, gold, etc. In return, before she returns home, Solomon gives "to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested."
    Hollywood's Interpretation:

    Don't want to miss that....

    The Queen of Sheba wasn't the only woman Solomon in Solomon's life. Sum total, he had over 700 wives and 300 concubines. His preoccupation with them eventually led to his downfall.

    As he grew older, Solomon began to worship the Ashtoreth, also called the evening star, or more familiarly, Aphrodite — personally, I love the irony of a man with 1,000 lovers turning to worship Aphrodite. Solomon's idolatry leads the Lord to divide the kingdom of Rehoboam, Solomon's son, in two, thus creating the separate kingdoms of Judah and Israel, which makes the rest of the Old Testament prophecy seriously confusing if you're not good at geography.

    But before Solomon got too engrossed with the ladies, he reputedly wrote parts of Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and The Song of Songs/The Song of Solomon, which are still part of the Old Testament. 

    Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible, but for most people its the biggest downer after Job (I would direct you to Lamentations or Leviticus). It can be considered the first Existential treatise, and is the book from which Ernest Hemingway took the title of The Sun Also Rises. Comprised of 12 chapters, it can be read in about an hour, something I highly recommend you do. Most famous is its third chapter in which Solomon discusses "the time for everything." For me, it pretty much sums up the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. I love the poignant refrains, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity" and "there is nothing new under the sun." After sampling all the world has to offer, Solomon says, "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person."

    Song of Solomon/ Song of Songs, the most lascivious book of the Bible, is the original Arabian Nights. Ever wonder why boys in Catholic school keep reading the Bible? This book. Solomon describes just exactly what he'd like to do with his lady love. I'll let you check it out for yourself. At 117 verses, it's one of the shortest books of the Bible, but she certainly seems satisfied.

    Lastly, there's Proverbs, home of conventional wisdom like, "a continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike" and "Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly." Besides these gems, Proverbs has a lot to say about virtue, age, friendship, and in general how to treat people and love the Lord. I know several people who have read its 31 chapters in a month, taking it a chapter a day. New years resolution perhaps?

    So there's the crash course on wisdom and Solomon, the wisest king to ever live, who really, shouldn't ever have been king at all. But that's another story concerning incest, the political power of the prophets, and one of the Bible's wiliest women...

    By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.