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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
By the time those two or three of you together read this post, it will be time for ol’ Robbo to shut things down.
Wednesday – Tenebrae, complete with alter boys vigorously kicking the stuffing out of the pews….
Thursday – Mass of the Last Supper. Yes, there will be washing of feet. Problem?
Friday – Good Friday. The Passion. In Latin. ’Nuff said.
Saturday – Easter Vigil (at which ol’ Robbo marks his fifth year as a member of Holy Mother Church and thanks every single blessed minute since he swam the Tiber).
Sunday – Various activities only marginally connected with Robbo’s celebration of His Resurrection but nonetheless meaningful and obligatory. To wit, hearing the Middle Gel sing at the Cathedral and then tooling out to the Shenandoah Valley to Cousin C’s for Easter din-dins.)
Monday – The aftermath of Holy Week……. and opening day at Nationals Park. (No, we don’t have tickets. But the truth is that I’d rather watch it on teevee than slog down to the Park after all the fuss and bother of the previous few days. Anyhoo, it’s only the Marlins….)
Here’s a nifty little item that caught the Robbo eye this morning: Alec Guinness Archive at British Library.
Alec Guinness will be the subject of a major project at the British Library after it acquired the actor’s personal archive.
The star of stage, film and television, who won a Best Actor Oscar in 1957 for his role as Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (below), died in 2000 at the age of 86. The archive charts Guinness’s career from the late 1930s, and includes more than 900 of his letters to family and friends and over 100 volumes of diaries.
The British Library already holds the papers of actors Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson. Cataloguing is due to take place over the next year and the archive (publicly available for the first time) is expected to be open for research in 2014.
The papers offer an intimate account of the actor’s life, detailing his wartime responsibilities and his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1956, as well as his successful career on stage and screen. Highlights include a letter to his wife written during the opening night of the 1938 Old Vic season which made his reputation, a diary entry following the death of Olivier in which Guinness reflects on Olivier’s acting technique, and Guinness’s account of his premonition of death the day before his boat went down in a freak storm during World War II.
How nifty! Guinness has always been one of my very favorite actors. One of the shelves of the Port Swiller Mansion library is devoted to theatrickal personnel and matters. I’ve got autobiographies of Olivier, Gielgud, Hepburn and the like, and also have two or three of Guinness’ own collections of reflections. It would be nice to see somebody put together a new biography of him based on this additional information.
As for the snippets mentioned above, I believe Guinness was a naval reservist in WWII and saw combat. I also seem to recall reading that he swam the Tiber as the result of his experience filming the Father Brown Mysteries (which I’ve never been able to get hold of, but I’ll bet he was terrific in the part). I also dimly recall an anecdote about Ralph Richardson getting so angry over Guinness’ (or it may have been Gielgud’s) effortless impishness in some stage production or other that he punched him out backstage in frustration.
It was also largely on Guinness’ behalf that I was so delighted when Tom Hanks’ effort to re-film The Ladykillers spun in so ignominiously. Masterpieces ought to be let alone.
The one thing about him with which I could possibly find fault is his extremely nasty attitude toward teh Star Wars franchise and its legions of fans constantly pestering him in later life over the whole Ben Kenobi biznay. While I can perfectly well understand his feelings, it has always struck me that as a professional he ought to have kept them to himself. Apparently, he was rayther rabid to autograph hounds, including small kids. (I often wonder if Alan Rickman had Guinness in mind when doing his classickal-actor-trapped-in-cheesy-scifi shtick in Galaxy Quest.)
Huh. It seems there are still some retro holdouts against the relentless onslaught of “new and improved” technology across the pond.
More than 13,000 households across the UK are still using black-and-white television sets, according to the TV Licensing authority.
London had the highest number of monochrome licences, at 2,715, followed by Birmingham and Manchester, it said.
The number of licences issued each year has dwindled from 212,000 in 2000. A total of 13,202 monochrome licences were in force at the start of 2013.
A black-and-white TV licence costs £49 a year, a colour licence costs £145.50.
TV Licensing spokesman Stephen Farmer said: “It’s remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, 41% of UK households owning HDTVs and Britons leading the world in accessing TV content over the internet, more than 13,000 households still watch their favourite programmes on a black-and-white telly.”
(For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, Britain funds the Beeb through fees collected on television ownership via an annual licensing requirement. And yes, television detector vans really do patrol the streets seeking out unlicensed and therefor illegal television viewing.)
I wonder what that figure would be here in the States?
I no doubt date myself by noting that we had a black & white teevee when I was a kid. One day when I was about seven or so, I got the brilliant idea that I was going to change it into a color set. So I found a can of orange spray-paint and got to work on the screen. If memory serves, the Old Gentleman was so gob-smacked by the thinking behind my actions when he discovered my handiwork that I got off with a very light reprimand. (That, and I seem to remember that the paint came off the glass relatively easily.)
UPDATE: Thinking back on the teevee of my yoot reminds me that I recently stumbled across a cable channel called FamilyNet, which has started running an evening lineup of WKRP, Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart (both shows) reruns. I used to be a huge fan of all of these.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show wrapped up when I was twelve and I hadn’t seen a rerun in 36 years. All I can say is that I knew I liked her back then for a darn good reason. Yow!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy third day of Christmas!
I thought I would pass along the above just because it made me smile. Share and enjoy! (A glass of wine with Father M, who posted it on Facebook.)
As it happens, I had to run up to the store in the midst of yesterday’s storm – what was it the Weather Channel Behemoth “named” it? Eustace? Enid? something like that – and had the radio tuned to the local classickal station. As I knew would be the case, the entire holiday play list had vanished.
On the one hand, I was irked by this perennial short-changing of the Christmas Feast. On the other, I was relieved that the saturation – which had started the weekend after Thanksgiving – had finally come to an end.
Well, my fellow port swillers, ol’ Robbo will be away from the decanter for a few days. (Well, from this one anyway. No doubt I will be spending rayther a lot of time imbibing adult beverages with the Mothe and my brother.) Feel free to linger and help yourselves to a refill, of course. Or as George, 6th Viscount Uffenham put it in Wodehouse’s Money In The Bank, “Swill till yer eyes bubble.”¹ And as always, the walnuts are in front of you and the cheese is over on the sideboard.
May you all have very happy and blessed Thanksgivings and an absolute minimum of hassle and aggravation trying to get to wherever you’re going and back again.
¹ One of Plum’s best, in my opinion, and well worth a try if you’re not familiar with it.
Dedicated this day in Anno Domini 1260 by Saint Louis IX.
Having long blown through all my major requirements by then, I took a Gothic cathedral architecture course my last semester of college in which we studied Chartres pretty extensively. Alas, while I retain a memory of enjoying the course very much, the mists of time have largely dimmed my recollection of what I actually learned beyond technical terms like apse, nave and transept and the names of the major French cathedral towns. I have a vague recollection that the emphasis of the course was more on the aesthetic and technical aspects and less on the historickal and theological. But as I say, this was twenty five years ago and I was a shallow lout with a bad case of senioritis, so it’s entirely possible that such imbalance was a function of my own receptiveness rayther than the prof’s presentation.
Too bad I can’t hop into the Wayback Machine and go revisit the course. I’m sure I’d get an awful lot more out of it now.
Education. Youth. Waste. Etc., etc.
I’ve often found Camille Paglia to have both interesting and thought-provoking things to say about art, but for her to suggest that the greatest current artist is……..George Lucas? I think somebody is playing Jedi mind tricks on her.
(Of course, “greatest current artist” isn’t exactly saying much.)
Anyway, Han shot first!
Friend of teh decanter Mike F reminds me that it’s Maritime Monday over at gCaptain, this week featuring a Carnival of N.C. Wyeth Nautical Story Illustrations. Go on over and take a dekko.
I know it exposes me as the petty bourgeois middle-brow that I am, but I’ve always loved Wyeth’s work. Even as a kid I recall being taken by the way he used light and shadow to create those hazy backgrounds of mountain and cloud, and the flow of movement of his figgahs.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo’s ears are ringing more than usual today from the onslaught of the cymbal-clashing echo monkeys he’s hearing over teh radio nooz, so he thought he would indulge himself by swiping this pic from Mrs. P, over which he has been chuckling for several days now:
I’m not altogether certain, but this looks an awful lot to me like The Phantom (aka “The Ghost Who Walks”). Granted, I don’t ever recall him sitting in a suburban parlor or swatting Nancy Drew, so I may be very much mistaken. Nevertheless, the near-occasion-of-sin likeness will do. You see, the Phantom was one of Robbo’s very favorite comic strips growing up, along with Mandrake The Magician. They don’t make ‘em like that any more. (Actually, it was one guy, Lee Falk, who created both, and he doesn’t make ‘em like that anymore because he’s dead.)
In what must be a record for obscurist trivia, I am probably the only person on the planet who remembers a cartoon series that aired very briefly in the mid-80′s called “Defenders of the Earth”. ( I used to watch it in college on afternoons when I didn’t feel like studying. Which is to say most afternoons.) The premise was that Flash Gordon, fleeing Ming the Merciless after some kind of prison-break, came to Earth. Ming followed and set up shop somewhere in (I believe) the Arctic wastes. Flash decided he needed some Earth-based reinforcements to save himself and combat Ming’s villainy, so he sought out the aid of both the Phantom and Mandrake (together with Mandrake’s side-kick Lothar) to form a United Front. Together, they, various younglings (they all had teen and pre-teen wards and kids of one sort or another with various “special gifts”- I think the Phantom had a daughter and Flash had a son and there was a certain amount of puppy-love chemistry between them) and a menagerie of pet wild animals battled Ming and his Men of Frost, foiling various diabolical plots to cause harm and mayhem. (This was in the post-Johnny Quest cartoon world when it was no longer acceptable to kill people on teevee. Blowing up ice creatures was a different matter, you see.) Ming’s chief minion was a mechanical creature called Octon, a sort of cross between a spider and a mini-me Death Star. I recall that Octon had a very snide way of saying, “Yes…..Sire….,” when taking orders from Ming.
All in all, it was about as silly to watch as you might imagine from my description. Nonetheless, it had its own impact on what passes for Robbo’s Braims. Chief among the bits of flotsam and jetsam it left washed up there was the Phantom’s ritual, when getting ready to use his sooper-strength, of calling out, “By Jungle Law….I summon forth the strength…..of ten tigers!” (He never said that in the old comic strip, by the bye, nor did he actually have any sooperpowers.)
I still use that expression myself sometimes when looking for a little mental rally. Like, for instance, when shaking off the effect of the cymbal-clashing echo monkeys. It works. Really!
Illegitimi non carborundum!