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I generally have a chin-wag with the old Mater once a week.  In addition to catching up on the latest family gossip, we often wander off on other themes and topics as well.

For some reason or other, this past weekend we got on the topic of whether Jesus had a sense of humor and, if so, what forms it might have taken.  Specifically, we got thinking on the way He sometimes indulged in jerking people’s chains, not just those of the Pharisees (against whom He could be quite vicious, of course), but also, more gently, those of his followers.

This line of thought culminated in our wondering what the look on Thomas’ face must have been when Jesus invited him to “put your finger here” and whether Jesus didn’t derive a certain amount of amusement from watching Thomas’ reaction.

It’s just an idea, of course.  But I couldn’t help thinking of that exchange in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when Aslan reappears good as gold after his brutal murder by the White Witch and her minions.  Susan and Lucy, in total amazement, ask something like, “But aren’t you dead?” to which Aslan replies, “Do I look it?”  So perhaps Lewis was on to the same notion.

Well, it seems that the Fall Pledge Drive at the local classickal station is upon us.  I ponied up today, and would encourage any of my readers in the Dee Cee area to do the same.  It is, after all, a good cause.

Normally I don’t really mind the radio pledge drives.  Yes, the constant “Give! Give! Give!” served up a hundred different ways tends to get tarsome after a while, and yes, all the worst warhorses (yeah, I’m talking to you, Pachelbel!) get disproportionately heavy airtime, and yes, they tend to play only snippets, not entire pieces, and then talk over them at that.  But what the hey.  Somehow, I can usually tune it out.

However, this time around they seem to be doing something a bit different.  At the moment, the station is running what it calls a “Special Program”, namely its “Classical WETA Adagio Volume 2”,  a collection of the most soupy, sappy, sugary treacle you can imagine (your gift for the right pledge, of course).  And one of the jocks keeps voicing over to tell us all why we should love this stuff so much, plus why our community is so special because of our joint passion.  (This seems to be the overall theme this year.  Curiously enough, the copy sounds exactly like the folks at RFEC singing the praises of TEC’s Millenium Development Goals – known to me as “Buy A Goat For Jesus” – but that’s a different post.)

But what makes this especially obnoxious? It’s a rerun.  I heard the same program Saturday morning.  Bleh.

I dunno what effect this particular programming decision will have on other listeners, but while the “Best O’ Adagio” is running on the station, I’m listening to a CD of Trevor Pinnock play Bach keyboard partitas.

My children are constantly amazed by Mrs. R’s assertion that she never once saw me lose my temper until after they started coming along.

In general, I’m a pretty low key and patient sort of fellah. I am also, in general, of if not an outright sunny disposition, at least a pleasantly mild one. But as Ace notes on his masthead, H.L. Mencken once said, “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.” And in my case, those times seem invariably to be connected with my children. (The genesis of this post was a fight between the elder gels last evening over a shampoo bottle that I could hear two floors away.)

Some people, I believe, enjoy letting themselves go in a fit of temper, but frankly, I don’t like blowing up. Even in the midst of it, I can’t help thinking that it’s too easy, too cheap, a low road shortcut where I really ought to be taking the high road. Plus, even in the heat of my own fury, I can’t help seeing the absurdity in yelling, “I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU PEOPLE TO STOP SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER!” at the top of my lungs. And afterwards, I typically feel both drained and guilty and, well, mad at myself.

On the other hand, sometimes it seems to be the only thing that will get the little beasts’ attention. None of them like it, the eight year old in particular being quite terrified of the Wrath of Daddy. Indeed, on several occasions they have petitioned Mrs. R to Do Something about my yelling.** Mrs. R, bless her, invariably responds, “Well, if you listened to Daddy the first time, then he wouldn’t have to get angry and yell.” You would think that two plus two would be fairly easy to put together, but apparently they’re still working out the math on this one.

(** Before you start calling Child Protective Services, I would note that although it is tempting, I refrain from laying hands on the gels even when infuriated.)

UPDATE: BTW, I hope you appreciate that I used the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno image instead of one of these Johnny-come-lately duos of actor and computer-generated monster.  When I was a boy I went through a period of wanting to be Bill Bixby because he was so calm and sensitive and wore an awesome pea-jacket.

It’s been a while since I’ve got really excited about a museum show around here, but the opening this weekend of Pompeii and the Roman Villa – Art and Culture Around the Bay of Naples at the National Gallery has definitely got my attention.  Apparently I’m not the only one, as the local press has been falling all over itself as well.  The review from yesterday’s Pravda on the Potomac is practically a love letter:

Had the National Gallery delivered just a show of Roman treasures — these tall statues brought alive by their eyes of colored stone, that great bronze of Alexander, these standard lamps and birdbaths — it would have done enough. But its director, Earl A. “Rusty” Powell III, who finagled these grand loans and raised the needed money (from the Bank of America), and the curator in charge, Carol C. Mattusch of George Mason University, and the gallery’s Mark Leithauser, whose cool team of designers devised the installation, have done a whole lot more. Their exhibition shows how the last day of Pompeii adjusted our aesthetic, set a template for our wishes, and got so deep into our minds.

Oh, Pompeii. I wish I knew how to quit you.

Anyhoo, hoopla or no, I certainly intend to totter over and have a dekko.  Given that the National Gallery is just a couple blocks from my office and that the exhibit runs through March, hopefully I’ll get to go more than once.  If any of my regular readers happen to be in town and want to take it in, do let me know.


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October 2008