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As fellow parents are no doubt well aware, the last weeks of May and the first weeks of June are times of seemingly endless brouhaha. Recently ol’ Robbo has found himself attending all kinds of end-of-school-year activities, including awards ceremonies, picnics, talent shows and the like. Plus, teh Middle Gel was confirmed into TEC on Sunday. With all this going on, opportunities and energy for any kind of substantive posting have been correspondingly curtailed.
In teh midst of all these alarums and excursions, ol’ Robbo discovered that he had been nominated by long time friend of the decanter Zoopraxiscopean Don for the highly coveted Liebster Award this year. A glass of wine with you, sir! And subsequently, during the time this post has half-finishedly hung fire, I also seem to have got tapped by our Maximum Leader. A glass of wine with you, sir! (And note to self: Extra aspirin tablet before bed, since we still have work in the morning.)
Anyhoo, ol’ Robbo’s been blogging for nearly eleven years now altogether and it seems to me that I haven’t seen a meme like this one floating around the ‘toobs for some time now. Takes me back to the Earlies, it does, when every new meme was fresh red meat. (Indeed, I’ve a vague recollection that we might have done this one back at Llama Central.)
So, obligatory “You love me! You really love me!” acceptance speech aside, here we go. First off, the instructions:
The Quasi-Official Rules of the Liebster Award
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)
PART THE FIRST, QUESTIONS TO ME:
Eleven questions. Don was here first, but the wise minion does not provoke our Maximum Leader to acts of villainous retribution via needless snubs. Therefore, I’ll take six of Don’s questions and five of Maxy’s:
1. Cameras on every single portable electronic device. Blessing or bane? Pfft. Portable electronic devices are a bane themselves. I love disconcerting people by sitting in quiet, self-contained contemplation in, say, an airport gate while they furiously fumble with their i-Whatevahs.
2. Who should direct the movie version [of your biography]? Terry Gilliam. I’m more Walter Mitty than Baron Munchausen, but his knack for cinematic dancing back and forth between reality and fantasy seems to match my thought patterns better than anyone else I can think of off hand, not that I pay any real attention to cinematic directors.
3. Who should do the musical score for the movie? Hrrrrmmm…..I would prefer a compilation of classickal works, involving at least one chase scene set to one of the more intense minor-key concertos by Vivaldi.
4. Please tell a favorite joke (keep it tasteful, thank you). Well, I heard a good one recently: It seems that a father up ta’ rural Maine questioned his son one morning about whether the son had anything to do with the family out-house having been tipped over the night before. The son, after a moment’s hesitation, decided to come clean and admit that he had been the perpetrator. The father then proceeded to chastise the son. When he was done, the son said, “But Dad, when George Washington’s father asked if George had been the one to cut down the cherry tree and George had told the truth, HE wasn’t punished.” “Maybe,” replied the father, “But I doubt his father was sitting in the cherry tree at the time George cut it down.”
5. Assume that everyone has an ability that they could call their “superpower” what would yours be? The ability not to draw attention to myself. You may call it “Stealth” if you like.
6. What is the earliest memory you have? Playing with some toy army trucks. This would have been in Rochester NY when I was no more than 3 y.o. I also have a very vague memory of being in a car crossing a long bridge. This would have been when we crossed the Mississippi at St. Louis on our way from Rochester to set up in South Texas when I was about 3 1/2.
7. Do you have a battle song, i.e., a tune that you hum, sing or stomp your feet to while on the way to a difficult day at work or an unpleasant appointment? Well, nothing in particular for the office itself. However, I still use the Star Wars scene of the Millennium Falcon’s escape from Mos Eisley for airplane takeoffs. Indeed, when the pilot first hits the throttle and we start rolling, I always mutter to myself in a clipped British accent, “Oh, dear. I’d forgotten how much I hate space travel!”
8. What fictional character do you particularly identify with? Not one in particular, but I love Evelyn Waugh’s stable of anti-heroes: Paul Pennyfeather, poor old Tony Last, William Boot and Guy Crouchback. All of them are decent, traditionally-minded men caught up in the absurd and appalling whirligig of the Modern World, tossed about and, with the exception of Last, eventually set back down on their feet, somewhat dizzy but still intact. (Please note that Basil Seal, Charles Ryder and Dennis Barlow are not included in this group.)
9. Tell me about one deeply held belief of yours that has evolved or changed over time. Well, regular friends of the decanter will already know that this is a gimme and involves ol’ Robbo’s swimming of the Tiber back in ’08. Indeed, that was probably the principle reason I set up this blog in the first place.
10. What neglected writer, composer or performer deserves rediscovery? Well, I’ll go with a painter: N.C. Wyeth. Yes, he was really an “illustrator” in the same sense that Norman Rockwell was, and yes, the sorts of stories he illustrated – which centered around subjects like pirates and swashbucklers, Indians and frontiersmen – are considered nekulturny under the current ethos. But I think his use of color and shadow and his sense of dramatic groupings and action were superb.
11. Your favorite word? “Defenestration”, of course. In actual practice, we could use a bit more of it these days, don’t you think?
PART THE SECOND, TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT OL’ ROBBO:
1. I am punctual to the point of obsession and absolutely cannot stand being late for anything. On the other hand, I am the titular head of a household of wimminz to whom this is a completely alien concept.
2. We had a pet raccoon when I was a boy, an orphaned cub (or is it pup?) who we eventually had to let go when he grew up and got too wild and rough. I was about eight at the time. A year or two later, I stumbled across Sterling North’s classic novel of boyhood, “Rascal”. It was the story of exactly the same scenario: Boy finds cub. Boy raises cub. Boy has to release cub because Call of the Wild. I used to read that book over and over and the ending made me tear up every single time.
3. I dislike bivalves (clams, oysters, etc.) but like crustaceans (lobster, shrimp, crab).
4. I played cello in elementary school and took private lessons for a year or so afterwards but eventually dropped it because I had got as far as I could as a soloist and was too afraid to join the middle school orchestra out of shyness. Now the youngest is going to start middle school this fall….learning cello for her school orchestra.
5. The farthest west I’ve been is Dillingham, Alaska, on Bristol Bay. (It’s also the only place at which I’ve ever landed in a commercial jet on a gravel strip.) The farthest north I’ve been is Anchorage. The farthest south is Brownsville, Texas. The farthest east is Richborough Castle (ancient Roman fortification) in Sandwich, England.
6. When I was a kid, my brother and I used to chase armadillos in the Texas Hill Country. Once they got into their burrows, their tails always stayed within hand’s reach but it was no good trying to pull them out because they had very strong claws that dug tenaciously into the ground and proved too strong an anchor.
7. I once unwittingly insulted Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr., by ranting at length to a law school classmate about fence-sitter, swing-vote justices without realizing that Powell was standing directly behind me. (Powell was an alum of my law school and frequently visited for guest lectures and the like.) On the other hand, I have more than once almost been run down in the parking lot of my church by Justice Antonine Scalia (who is a member of my parish and often attends the Tridentine Mass at which I am a regular).
8. Bill Cosby was my college commencement speaker. Tom Wolfe was my law school commencement speaker. Both of them were excellent.
9. I have a talent for picking up local accents and, without consciously trying, adapting to them. Although I spent most of my misspent yoot in South Texas and arrived at college in Connecticut with a subtle but noticeable twang, by the end of my senior year somebody once said to me, “Oh! I always assumed you were from Boston.”
10. I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever. Candy, donuts, cake, anything sugary – their siren song falls on deaf ears. Indeed, I find them quite repulsive. On the other hand, salt is practically a food group to me.
11. I once made it from the American Legion Bridge over the Potomac (on the Dee Cee Beltway) to the end of teh Mass Pike in Boston in seven and a half hours. The Need for Speed, baybee!
12. BONUS! I hate Apple and its freakin’ iMac platform. I could have had this post done in 1/8th the time it’s taking me to drag and click and copy and paste and whatnot. And every time I twitch the mouse the wrong way, the screen goes all a-hooey and I have no idea how to get it back to where it was. How the hell am I supposed to quaff from the true, the blushful Hippocrene when goddam Apple keeps slipping me a dribble glass? GRRRRRRRR……..
PART THE THIRD, PASSING THE TORCH:
M’kay. First, a selection of victims (in which I pass up all those friends of the decanter who appear to have been tapped already by someone else):
Mr. Nightfly – Because I can guarantee hockey will be involved.
Mr. Obscurorama – because we’ve traded memes back in the day. And, no doubt, will do so again.
Second, a list of very random questions for them. Are you ready? Here we go:
1. Let’s play Desert Island Disks. Singles or albums. Pick your five and explain.
2. Who shot first? (Understand that the wrong answer here will doom you straight to the appropriate circle of hell.)
3. In baseball, what is your opinion of the DH rule and the introduction this year of the replay review challenge rule? (See above.)
4. When the light turns green and the fellah sitting in front of you obviously fails to notice it, how do you remind him? (Please include horn technique, appropriately-censored vocabulary and body language.)
5. Are you better off than you were six years ago?
6. Name a historically significant point in your life and tell us how it affected you personally. (I ask this because, owing to an assignment in her history class in which teh eldest gel has been asked to broach the same question to some member of her family, I learned that Mrs. R’s grandmother (who is still with us and is visiting this weekend) was so upset by the news of the death of FDR that she went into labor several weeks prematurely and bore Robbo’s MIL the next day. I reckon teh gel is going to get some extra points for that story.)
7. Brush with Greatness. Go.
8. Cats or dogs and why? (See Nos. 2 and 3 above re incorrect responses.)
9. If you had to pick an historickal epoch in Western History with which you have the most sympathy, which would you choose? Why? If you don’t identify with any given period, why not?
10. Charcoal or gas? Why? (See Nos. 2, 3 and 7 above.)
11. How has the experience of blogging influenced you over the course of your time dabbling in the innertoobs. Best positive? Worst negative? How has your approach/attitude towards blogging changed as you’ve gained experience and as your personal circumstances have changed. Tell us about the crossing of the streams between your bloggy life and your real-world existence. (Okay, I’m cramming a bunch of questions into one, but they’re all interrelated.)
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
This evening, teh devil’s website delivered to the door of Port Swiller Manor a copy of Evelyn Waugh’s “Love Among The Ruins“, a work new to me despite my increasing fondness for and familiarity with Mr. Woo’s canon. Although the book is included among the volumes listed in the Back Bay Books editions of Waugh’s works, which comprise most of my collection, it seems it has long been out of print: I only managed to find a fairly battered old hardback edition.
I read it over dinner. (It’s really only an extended essay of about 50 pages.) The story is Waugh’s take (from 1953) on the the Brave New World and Wiki’s summary is pretty durn good:
It is a satire set in a dystopian quasi-egalitarian Britain. The protagonist, Miles Plastic, is an orphan who at the beginning of the story is finishing a prison term for arson. Crime is treated very leniently by the state, and conditions in prison are actually quite superior to those among the population at large, leading to an understandably high recidivism rate. Upon release, Plastic goes to work at a state-run euthanasia center. The centers are not restricted to the terminally ill and are so popular that Plastic’s sole responsibility is to stem “the too eager rush” of perfectly healthy but “welfare weary” citizens.
Plastic soon falls in love with Clara, a bearded woman who is a “priority case” at the center. However, she does not wish to die (she was sent there by her department) and the two begin a romance. One day, however, she suddenly disappears, and when he finds her, she has a rubber jaw replacing her formerly bearded face. Distraught, Plastic sets his former prison on fire, and, unidentified as the perpetrator of the crime, becomes elevated in status as the prison’s only “successfully rehabilitated inmate.” Sent to become a lecturer on the worthiness of the prison system, Plastic is directed to marry an unattractive civil servant. A curtain is drawn on the final conclusion as Plastic reaches into his pocket for his cigarette lighter.
I should add that the reason Clara has a beard is that, as a professional ballet dancer, she was advised to get sterilized so as not to lose her figgah through child-bearing. (As it turns out, the sterilization was unsuccessful.) The beard was a side-effect of the particular method involved.
The tone and, if you will, vision is somewhere on a line between “A Clockwork Orange” and Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”. There are too many little jabs and details for me to catalogue them all, but the very first paragraph of the piece set me laughing uproariously because of its anticipation of the collective pipe-dream (and predictable failure) of Al “ManBearPig” Gore and his ilk:
Despite their promises at the last Election, the politicians had not yet changed the climate. The State Meteorological Institute had so far produced only an unseasonable fall of snow and two little thunderbolts no larger than apricots. The weather varied from day to day and from county to county as it had done of old, most anomalously.
Somehow this reminded me immediately of an old “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode (oh, shut up) in which Captain Picard and staff are trying to delve into the background of a young guest with mysterious psychic powers:
PICARD: What is it, Mister Data?
DATA: I have some information regarding Amanda Rogers’ parents.
Picard reaches the Aft Science Station.
DATA: Records indicate that they died in Topeka, Kansas. Their home was destroyed during a tornado.
PICARD: A tornado? Why wasn’t it dissipated by the Weather Modification Net?
DATA: Unknown, sir. The bodies were found in the rubble after the storm had passed.
PICARD: (a beat as he ponders) See if you can find out any details. I’d like to know more about that storm.
DATA: Yes, Captain.
What is it with Utopian Statists and their belief that they can command and control the very ebb and flow of Nature itself? Dare I suggest a “Non Serviam“ here? I think so. I think so.
Anyhoo, LATR represented a little detour from my current chronological reworking through Mr. Woo’s output. (I must say that I enjoy this journey more and more each time I undertake it.) Yesterday I spent a glorious day flopped in teh hammock, the scent of blooming wisteria wafting in from the fence, rereading Brideshead Revisited. It’s still not my favorite of Waugh’s novels, not so much because of the story itself or its message but because he chose to write it in the first person, thus exposing the reader to more of Charles Ryder’s (the protagonist) inner maunderings than I really care to see. Too Much Information, as teh kids say these days. Mr. Woo was far more effective in the dispassionate third person.
Next, I will be revisiting The Loved One, Mr. Woo’s satire on Hollywood and its environs. The very name of one of the main characters in this book – Mr. Joyboy – causes me endless amusement, for which crime I will no doubt be one of the first sent to the camps…..
** The original phrase was coined by one Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936), a typical limousine liberal of his time who shilled for that rat-bastard Stalin and his crew. I’d insert a link, only this post is long enough now that I don’t know how to on a Mac. Google will get you there if you care for authentication.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Back in the day when he metro’d into work, ol’ Robbo was guaranteed at least some exercise every day by the fact that his office is about three quarters of a mile away from the stop where he got out. Indeed, regular friends of the decanter may recall that I used to post random commuter observations here with some frequency.
However, this little routine went the way of the dodo almost two years ago when I started driving into town in connection with dropping off and picking up various gels at school.
I have felt its absence rayther keenly, both because I feel generally flabbier and also because my cholesterol has spiked somewhat and I don’t enjoy being yelled at by my doc.
Anyhoo, recently I have tried to rectify this situation by starting in on walks at lunchtime. Indeed, I’ve developed a nice little loop slightly expanding on my previous path that is probably good for a solid mile and three quarters. It ain’t exactly triathlete training, but I do feel the effects afterward and, after all, it’s better than nothing.
As I swing along, I sometimes listen to the conversation of the various office drones and touron groups I pass. This often brings to mind that country song from a few years back with the punch line that goes, “God is great. Beer is good. And people are crazy.”
But more often than not, I give my thoughts free rein to wander where they will, leaving only a skeleton crew in the here and now to keep me from walking straight into lamp posts, oncoming traffic or fellow pedestrians.
As I was wool-gathering my way through an intersection this afternoon, I heard a singsongy voice say, “Excuse me, Mr. Potentially Friendly Person….” I registered a brief vision of a hippie with a clipboard, too. It was only a second or two later that I realized the guy had actually been addressing me. On this coming back to the present, I also became aware that the dude was yucking up the incident with one of his cohorts as well as, apparently, a group of people who had been directly behind me. It would seem my blow-by was intensely amusing to all of them.
Not wishing to break my stride, I simply kept going.
Eh, it’s probably just as well he didn’t actually engage my attention at first, because I probably would have been pretty short with him. We’ve reached a point in our wretched, festering culchah where politicks have become so poisonous that the only safe response to a stranger (or indeed, anyone other than one’s immediate family or closest personal friends) asking for one’s opinion on the hot-button topics of the day is, “That’s none of your business.”
And now, to tie in the title of this post and at the same time violently chang the subject, I give you a little Chicago. I’ve always liked Chicago. Forget the lyrics, which are the usual early 70’s hippie crap – to this day, I still don’t know what “25 or 6 to 4″ is supposed to mean: I’ve always just thought they had a nice, fat sound, especially with that horn section, and some sweet harmonies.
Yes, I suppose I must denounce myself now.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Friends of teh decanter will recall that yesterday I put up a post ranting about the Catholic-baiting “black mass” that was set to come off up at Harvard this evening? Well I was quite pleasantly surprised this morning by a statement released by the (deliciously named) President of Harvard, Drew Faust, no doubt in response to the furor that has blossomed up in response to this blasphemy. Money quote:
But even as we permit expression of the widest range of ideas, we must also take responsibility for debating and challenging expression with which we profoundly disagree. The ‘black mass’ had its historical origins as a means of denigrating the Catholic Church; it mocks a deeply sacred event in Catholicism, and is highly offensive to many in the Church and beyond. The decision by a student club to sponsor an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent; it represents a fundamental affront to the values of inclusion, belonging and mutual respect that must define our community. It is deeply regrettable that the organizers of this event, well aware of the offense they are causing so many others, have chosen to proceed with a form of expression that is so flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.
She goes on to state that she plans to attended Eucharistic worship and Benediction to show her sympathies to Holy Mother Church in this affair.
I am willing to giver President Faust two cheers for taking this stance in such a public manner. I’m withholding the third because of her refusal to follow through on the logic of her statement and ban the damned thing altogether, a move I’m sure she would have had no moral or intellectual problem making had the offending expression been, say, a cross- burning or the desecration of a pile of Korans. In other words, I think she’s probably acting pursuant to tactical political calculus, not conviction.
Still, this is Hahvahd, so we should be grateful to take what we can get.
UPDATE: A bit confusing, but it would seem that late this afternoon, owing to the general backlash, the organizers of the “black mass” decided to move it off campus. It seems now that, unable to find a friendly venue, they’ve cancelled the thing altogether, at least for the moment. Suck it, Screwtape!
UPDATE DEUX: Well, there’s still some confusion as to what actually happened in re some kind of “rump” black mass – it seems to have dwindled down to nothing more than a few D&D types sitting in some bar – but check out this story and teh awesome pics with it regarding the Eucharistic Procession and Holy Hour got up to combat the sacrilege. I think this is exactly the right response. Indeed, looking at those photos left me walking on air all day today. Laus Deo.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Via FB, ol’ Robbo learns of the latest flaming bag of dog poo to be left on Holy Mother Church’s doorstep: Satanic mass organizers: Catholic outcry paranoid, intolerant.
Yes, some smartasses at Harvard are showing up HMC as the hateful hater that hates by staging a “Satanic” mass in order to get a rise out her defenders (I can’t think of any other reason why they would do it). I wish our folks wouldn’t fall for such cheap tricks, but I suppose it’s understandable.
This is, I believe, straight out of the Saul Alinksy social disruption playbook: 1) Do something outrageous, 2) express your own faux outrage at the natural reaction of decent people you aimed to shock, 3) profit!
Alas, when the libertine wing of the liberal coalition have their claws on the levers of power, as they happen to at the moment, they can get away with this sort of thing. (You may have noticed from even a casual glance at the headlines that rayther a lot of it is going on these days.)
But be of good cheer. It can’t last forever: God is not mocked and pride goes before the fall. And I’ve an idea that this whole pattern of bullying, sooner or later, is going to boomerang on those currently indulging in it, with effects they probably didn’t have in mind when they started.
Anyhoo, with this story floating in the back of my mind, I was quite comforted by today’s Epistle:
Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires, which war against the soul, having your conversation good among the Gentiles; that whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by the good works which they shall behold in you, glorify God in the day of visitation. Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good: for so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence to the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men: love the brotherhood: fear God: honor the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy before God.
- I Peter 2:11-19.
Note that Peter isn’t looking for payback, but patience. The devil may win any number of individual battles and skirmishes, but it’s God’s promise to us through Jesus Christ that he can’t win the war. I think it helps in these wretched times to keep that in mind.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, Robbo’s beloved Nats have called a temporary halt to their battle against the Dodgers of Los Angelese this evening due to rain. Port Swiller Manor is located some miles to the north-northwest of Nats Park and teh rain is moving south-southeast. If what’s happening here at the moment is any indication, this delay is going to last well beyond Robbo’s work night bed-a-bye time, so I’ve pretty much written off getting to enjoy any of the game. Instead, I’ll put on some Johann Georg Neruda trio sonatas, top off the ol’ glass, and give you some random.
♦ CD Observation I: I am pretty sure the middle gel filches some of my classickal musick collection from time to time, as several favorite disks have gone missing and I can’t imagine anyone else in the household (including the cats) having any use for them. (I know for a fact that she has appropriated and, in one way or another, destroyed most of my Mozart opera DVD’s.) On the one hand, I object because of the nuisance when I wish to listen to them. On the other, well, how can I….
♦ CD Observation II: This afternoon on FB, I mentioned that I thought Monty Python’s record version of their “Piranha Brothers” sketch was superior to the one they did for teevee. (This I attribute to the high quality of their voice-acting and the lack of distraction from a studio audience.) On further reflection, I think this is true of a number of their sketches – the “Cheese Shop” and the whole “Spanish Inquisition” sequence come to mind, but the standard is far from universal. Some of their material works best on stage, some on film, some on record. I still haven’t pinned down the exact formula to explain this.
♦ On the literary front, I’ve been trying for some days to write a review of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, a piece of Catholic dystopic sci-fy set in the 21st Century that tells of the appearance in a Humanist-Marxist Brave New World of the anti-Christ and the build up to Armageddon. Words fail me. Suffice to say that this is about the most terrifying book I’ve read in a very, very long time, as much because of its plausibility and prescience (it was published in 1907) as anything else.
♦ Also on the literary front, as I seem to do just after every Easter, I’ve started in on the novels of Evelyn Waugh again. So far I’ve polished off Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies. The latter is perhaps my least favorite of Mr. Woo’s output because of its sledge-hammer brand of satire, but I must admit that I enjoyed it more this time around than ever before.
♦ I mention below that Mrs. R and teh gels were out this weekend giving a lick o’ paint to the back yard fence. Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo was busy with early season mowing and trimming. One side of the back fence at Port Swiller Manor is occupied by a hedge of wisteria. As I worked around it, I couldn’t help noticing yet again how deliberately said wisteria seems to reach out and make a grab for one’s power tools. Indeed, they seem to have a singular genius for getting tangled up in the throttle control and causing the machine to start screaming. Clever, that. I don’t know what the neighbors made, had they witnessed it, of the scene in which Robbo pulled violently away from the hedge, yanking on his mower and yelling, “Gerrouto’it! Let go! Let GO, you bastard!”
♦ Speaking of such things, I can’t help noticing that after our long, cold and late winter, many of teh plants in ol’ Robbo’s garden seem….confused. They’re all beginning to come up and leaf out, but way late and seemingly in a very hesitant manner, as if they’re not sure exactly what’s going on and would, if sufficiently spooked, go right back to dormancy. I blame Algore for this.
♦ This past Friday, after complications too tedious to recount, ol’ Robbo finally got the emissions test done on La Wrangler and submitted her re-reregistration bumf online. Although I printed out a temporary registration certificate, her plates still carry April ’14 tags which are, of course, now past due. I am hoping that a cop pulls me over just so I can whip out my proof of re-registration and, Jerry Seinfeld-like, say, “Ooooh, I don’t think so!”
♦ Ol’ Robbo voted (absentee) in some sort of local community center board election the other day for the father of one of the youngest gel’s best friends. I was perfectly happy to help the fellah out, but as I filled out the ballot, I couldn’t help thinking how repugnant the idea of running for any kind of office, however small, is to me. On my FB profile, where it asks my political affiliation, I quote the condensed version of William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous sentiment: “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.” To me, Peej O’Rourke nicely sums up all politicks in his formula, “Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit. A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty— their power and privilege— to State, Masses, Mankind, Planet Earth, or whatever. This state, those masses, that mankind, and the planet will then be run by … politicians.”
No, thankee. I’ve my next life to consider.
Well, enough for one evening, I think.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo has a few minutes before getting ready for Mass so I thought I would post one of my favorite paintings in honor of what is sometimes called St. Thomas Sunday because of the Gospel passage for the day:
And here’s the text, (John 20:24-29):
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Now, I could be completely mistaken in my interpretation, but it’s always struck me that amidst all the marvel and meaning of Christ’s Resurrection, in this particular passage He’s actually…. teasing poor old Thomas just a bit. Somehow, that touch of humor makes the whole thing that much more wonderful to me.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Easter! Yes, He is risen indeed!
Ol’ Robbo hopes that all of you who are of the Faith had a reflective and rewarding Holy Week and a truly joyful Easter Sunday. He would also remind you that Easter is, in fact, an Octave, meaning an eight day Feast, so the celebration is far from over.
I. myself, had a good week overall. Although I wasn’t able to get to the Tenebrae or Maundy Thursday services I had hoped for, I did get to a noon Mass downtown every day of the week and the big Good Friday service at my home parish.
Sunday itself turned out to be, well, chock-a-block. Because the Middle Gel decided to free-lance with the RFEC choir this year, she wound up singing both the end of the 7:30 and the entire 9:00 a.m. service Sunday morning. As her driver, I sat through the first, then was joined by the rest of the Port Swiller Family for the second. Once that was done, I zipped off to the noon TLM at my own church. And once that was done, I toddled down the National Cathedral to hear the same gel sing Evensong with her own choir.
I find that my progress in Faith does not proceed smoothly but comes in fits, jerks and starts, sometimes interspersed with periods of stagnation. I don’t believe this is uncommon at all. All I can say is that this week has felt like a definite leap forward, and for that I am most grateful (although still a bit tired).
Anyhoo, the decanter is back on the table and the Stilton and walnuts are at hand’s reach. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, pray once more fill your glasses, bumpers all around and no heel-taps! Happy Easter to each and every one of you and God bless!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and an ambiguously happy Palm Sunday! Yes, today we join the jubilant crowd who thinks the long-awaited Massias has finally returned in triumph to turn the Roman garrison into pumpkins, clean house in the Sanhedrin, restore Israel to her former glory and take the hammer to all her enemies, knowing full well that this same crowd, in just a few days, will come to see Jesus as a complete dud and start howling for his blood. It’s a complicated moment.
Owing to unexpected circumstances too tedious to relate, ol’ Robbo wound up going to early Mass this morning and so missed the procession of palms at his usual noon Traditional Latin Mass. In years past this likely would have prompted a fair bit of grumping and grumbling on my part, but I’ve been working hard on improving my patience and charity and find that this kybosh only produces a passing wistfulness in me this year. Is it possible that ol’ Robbo is actually growing in teh Spirit?
Maybe, but it’s equally possible that something else will reduce me to the gnashing of teeth at some point in the not too distant future, so I’m not going to get cocky.
Anyhoo, I just wanted to note for the two or three who gather here together that I am putting the stopper on the decanter and sticking the Stilton in the fridge for Holy Week but will be breaking forth again after Easter. I hope those of you who celebrate will have a truly holy week and I’ll see all of you on the other side.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Over in one of my little FB groups, a friend posted a rendition of this which I can’t recall having seen before, but which I really like:
The reason I like it is because it comports with my idea of what encounters between angels and humans must be like (one very heavily influenced, I must admit, by the writings of C.S. Lewis).
Although I can appreciate the more classical renditions as art for art’s sake, when it comes to the Real Deal I don’t go much for the anthropomorphized portrayals of the Heavenly Host, neither the Adonis-like fellahs kitted out with a pair of wings nor the twee adowawable babies. Angels are of a completely different order of existence from humans and it should be noted that in just about every encounter between them in Scripture, the appearance of the former scares the willies out of the latter, so that the first words out of the angel’s mouths are, “Be not afraid.”
Lewis develops this idea of the terrifying alieness of angels a great deal in his Ransom Trilogy and elsewhere, and I think there is much to it.
Anyhoo, let’s go to today’s gospel, Luke 1: 26-38 (KJV because my old
Palie English Major prejudices die hard):
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
I may say that in all my former experience, so far as I can remember, the Blessed Virgin got almost no mention outside references in the formulaic prayers such as the Nicene Creed and elsewhere in the Liturgy. Back in those days, most of the substantive discussion of wymminz in the Gospels seemed to focus on Mary Magdalene in her role as some kind of proro-femininist. So it’s only since my swim across the Tiber that I’ve really begun to understand the perilous awesomeness of this moment and to ponder the true glory of it: Mary could have said “No!” She could have been not “the New Eve” but another Eve. But she wasn’t. Amidst all the terror and confusion and incomprehensibility, She trusted God. And, in a way I can’t begin to explain, I think God trusted her.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Awe inspiring, when you start to ponder it. And whenever I think of her crushing the snake under her heal, I get the shivers.
Frankly, I’m a bit mystified why the Annunciation is not, at least in my Diocese, a Holy Day of Obligation, requiring attendance at Mass. (I went, anyway.) After all, it’s a key waypoint in the journey of the second part of the Trinity in his human manifestation. Surely, it’s at least as important as teh celebration of the Assumption of The Virgin, which is a HDoO.
But what do I know.
Update: Oh, speaking of what I don’t know, it was only in the past couple years that I suddenly understood why J.R.R. Tolkien (a devout Catholic), in his Lord of teh Rings trilogy, chose March 25 as the date of the downfall of Sauron and the end of the Third Age. Snake? Meet crushing heel!
Update Deux: Okay, I think I managed to delete all the repetitions. My apologies. Me no likey Apple…..