Programming note: In a couple of hours this Monday evening I'll be joining Tucker Carlson coast to coast across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific, with a repeat at midnight Eastern. Do please tune in if you're in the presence of the receiving apparatus.
~If you prefer me in non-visual form, I'll taking more questions live around the planet in our latest Clubland Q&A on Tuesday afternoon at 4pm US Eastern Time - so, if you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club, feel free to shoot me a question.
~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with a few thoughts on how to shut down a government, and the twentieth anniversary of Bill Clinton's little black dress being launched down the catwalk. On a video edition of Mark at the Movies we looked at celluloid presidents over the decades, and our Song of the Week thanked Edwin Hawkins for a happy day that lasted a lifetime. If you were out and about all weekend long, we hope you'll want to catch up with one or two of the foregoing.
~But our big weekend production was our latest Tale for Our Time - a classic of Russian literature. As the concluding episode of Nikolai Gogol's The Overcoat approaches its memorable climax, Akakiy Akakievitch is not taking well the loss of his coat:
Visions incessantly appeared to him, each stranger than the other. Now he saw Petrovitch, and ordered him to make a cloak, with some traps for robbers, who seemed to him to be always under the bed; and cried every moment to the landlady to pull one of them from under his coverlet. Then he inquired why his old mantle hung before him when he had a new cloak. Next he fancied that he was standing before the prominent person, listening to a thorough setting-down, and saying, "Forgive me, your excellency!" but at last he began to curse, uttering the most horrible words, so that his aged landlady crossed herself, never in her life having heard anything of the kind from him, the more so as those words followed directly after the words "your excellency"...
And shortly thereafter one of those shifts in tone, for which Gogol is so famous, occurs... Steyn Club member Debra Milligan writes:
Thank you, Mark, for introducing me to Gogol. I have heard of him, and have read many Russian writers but always seem to avoid going back to the source that inspired the future writers, in this case Nikolai Gogol. Of course the Russian fatalism will ensure that something goes terribly wrong with human nature and while it does, the sense of wonderment, of logic, and the energy of the description of a writer such as Gogol are hard to resist.
Tales for Our Time will be back in February for a truly ripping yarn from a master of the genre. Meanwhile, if you've yet to hear any of our Tales, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For details on membership, see here - and, if you're seeking the perfect present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, don't forget our limited-time Steyn Club Gift Membership, which includes a personally autographed book or CD set from yours truly.
See you on the telly in an hour or two.