It's Not All Death and Umlauts, Although Most of it Is.

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As a not-as-distant-as-you-might-think relative of William Faulkner, I like to do my part to ensure that the world at large recognizes the influence he's had. No, not just on graduate students and Cormac McCarthy, but on the wide, heavy world of metal. If you doubt me, look no further than The Flow Chart of Heavy Metal Band Names, compiled by Doogie Horner (another possible Faulkner reference right there).

It's a straight shot (S/SW) from the core metal principle of Death to Faulkner References, under whose auspices you will find: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Corncob Rape. That last one might actually be a Cormac McCarthy trope, although perhaps I'm confusing it with Sodomization of Watermelon from McCarthy's brilliant novel Suttree. Alright then, I'm offering Sodomization of Watermelon as a freebie to all you aspiring metalheads out there.

I know what you're thinking: Where does The Big Lebowski fit into all this? Glad you asked. I recently learned that Faulkner's influence on the American geniuses Joel and Ethan Coen extends well beyond the obvious target, Barton Fink (in which the character of W.P. Mayhew, the genteel, drunken, Southern writer is clearly based on Faulkner).

According to John B. Padgett of the Ole Miss Department of English: "In Raising Arizona, the escaped convicts are the Snopes brothers (from Faulkner's "Snopes Trilogy" of novels), and in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Penny’s fiancee, Vernon T. Waldrip, is the name of a character referred to in The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem]. And some viewers have even noted a Faulkner reference in the Coen Brothers’ bowling movie, The Big Lebowski: as in the short story “Barn Burning,” a key plot point centers on the issue of a soiled rug."

There you have it. William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897-1962), perhaps the only human being capable of spanning the aesthetic chasm between Ozzy Osbourne and Jackie Treehorn. That Faulkner. He really tied the room together.

Best of: Coats of Arms

The coat of arms for Sambir, Ukraine - formerly Sambor, Galicia (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1772-1918).

Why the arrow through the stag's neck? Ah, you see, this is a well-established symbol of, er, I have no idea.

My maternal grandfather Efraim Hirsch "Herman" Baum was born in Sambor on Dec. 9, 1902. His parents were Markus Baum, a merchant, and Pesie Baum (daughter of Chaim Eliai and Teizi Marienstraus).

Herman was Jewish. I doubt he ever hunted a stag. Eventually his family and hundreds of thousands of other Jews were driven out of Galicia by the pogroms. Herman went to Palestine and moved on to Detroit, where he used his bricklaying skills to build bagel ovens.

This Sambor coat of arms has virtually nothing to do with my family, but hey, Grandpa Herman, this stag's for you. If only I could hang a little bagel over one of those antlers... maybe poppyseed?