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Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide by Bob Harris

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I have a lot of books about Egyptian hieroglyphs. There's a lot to learn. I've got some of the basics down… I can puzzle out a lot of the cartouched names of your more established Pharaohs. I can spot familiar nouns and recognize a bunch of formal language that shows up simply everywhere: beloved of the gods, that sort of thing. Knowing some of this makes trips to the Luxor casino in Vegas extra interesting. I love trying to figure out all the inscriptions they've got all over everything… inside the elevators, on the bedspreads, on all the reproduction art and the columns on the main floor. Great stuff.

There's one exterior wall of one of the towers, alongside where the secondary taxi stand is, that is covered with big panels – probably five feet by ten feet, all beautifully carved with hieroglyphs. I stood there, during my last visit and took a minute to really look at them. And I recognized them. Not just the words, but I recognized some of the ornate patterns that were used to decorate the images. These were copied directly, I realized, from the pages of one of the books I had at home. One of my favorites, it's a very basic book of vocabulary items. One per page. Like flashcards. Very prettily done, with fanciful ornate patterns that I haven't seen anywhere else. This wall of the Luxor is covered with random pages from the vocabulary book. Just the prettiest words, carved very large and scattered around, repeated sometimes, regardless of their meaning. "Cat!" declares the wall. "Baboon!" "Hear! Hear! Cat! Milk! Baboon! Ramses!" The north wall of the Luxor is like an over-stimulated Egyptian toddler.

I'm going to the Luxor. Back on Monday!

Lunch: Coca-Cola. Marzipan Bar. Pirate's Booty.


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Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
Jane recommends you also visit BobHarris.com



June 2006

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