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fatherbrownA while back, Christine put up a post about how Alec Guinness’ screen role as  Father Brown led him to swim the Tiber himself.  Having never read the stories nor seen the movie myself, I was inspired by her post to go out and pick up a complete set of Chesterton’s tales.

Well, I’ve started in on them and I’m not at all disappointed.  But what is very curious is this: As I read, I find myself hearing Alec Guinness’ voice speaking Father Brown’s part.  And I must say although I readily admit coming in with a pro-Guinness bias in the first place, being as objective as I can I still believe that it works perfectly.

Now I need to go rent the movie.  I would hazard a guess that Guinness nails the visual side as well.

Here it comes:

Terisa Greenan and her boyfriend, Matt, are enjoying a rare day of Seattle sun, sharing a beet carpaccio on the patio of a local restaurant. Matt holds Terisa’s hand, as his 6-year-old son squeezes in between the couple to give Terisa a kiss. His mother, Vera, looks over and smiles; she’s there with her boyfriend, Larry. Suddenly it starts to rain, and the group must move inside. In the process, they rearrange themselves: Matt’s hand touches Vera’s leg. Terisa gives Larry a kiss. The child, seemingly unconcerned, puts his arms around his mother and digs into his meal.

Terisa and Matt and Vera and Larry—along with Scott, who’s also at this dinner—are not swingers, per se; they aren’t pursuing casual sex. Nor are they polygamists of the sort portrayed on HBO’s Big Love; they aren’t religious, and they don’t have multiple wives. But they do believe in “ethical nonmonogamy,” or engaging in loving, intimate relationships with more than one person—based upon the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. They are polyamorous, to use the term of art applied to multiple-partner families like theirs, and they wouldn’t want to live any other way.

And once you accept the argument that any consenting relationship is equally valid to any other consenting relationship, there’s not a damned thing you can say about this sort of thing.  

Stand by for the Episcopal Church to write ’em into the marriage sacrament at the next General Convention.

A glass of wine with Canon Harmon.

catbirdAs I was out weeding this morning, I was reminded again of a question that has troubled my scattershot brain from time to time:  I do not understand the expression “sitting in the catbird seat”. 

Oh, I know what it means – to be sitting pretty, to be in an enviable position.  And I know something about its history – at least if James Thurber’s claim that baseball announcer Red Barber picked it up somewhere and popularized it in his radio broadcasts is to be believed.

But I don’t understand why it’s a catbird seat.  We have catbirds all over the place here (I was listening to them as I worked, which is why I thought of this again) and they certainly never sound like they’re sitting pretty to me.  Indeed, they sound fussy and neurotic, always cranking themselves up into a great snit over something. N’yeee.  Nyeeeeeee!

No, for real screw-you-jack-I-got-mine flair, the infinitely better choice of singer is the catbird’s cousin, themockingbird mockingbird.  There’s the fellah who’s sitting pretty with his hat on three hairs.

Now I find it extremely hard to believe that whoever came up with the expression did not recognize this difference, or that he somehow confused the catbird’s whining with the mockingbird’s brio.   The only explanation that I can imagine is that the inventor of the term was perfectly well aware of these things, but also knew that “sitting in the mockingbird seat” is damned awkward, and therefore switched the names to make the expression more snappy, rayther like Keats replacing Balboa with Cortez as the discoverer of the Pacific.

It’s just a theory, of course, but every time I hear these two birds singing, I’m sure there’s something to it.

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