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Pardon me if I’m just a bit premature.  You see, Mrs. R and I will be setting out shortly to visit her family Up North for the Independence Day hols, returning to the Port-Swiller residence next Tuesday (still sans the gels!), and it’s unlikely that my raccoon-like fingers will come within reach of a keyboard before then.  Feel free to help yourselves to the decanter while I’m away.  The walnuts are on the table and the Stilton is over on the sideboard.

I must say that there is something so charmingly clean about the trappings of our Fourth of July celebrations, in which ol’ Robbo has always taken a huge and simple delight.  Flags, fireworks and the musick of John Philip Sousa – what could one possibly dislike about them?  Also, we’ve driven so many other holidays into the ground through over-commercialization and tawdry sentimentality that it’s a pleasure to wallow in such wholesome, unblemished (well, except for what they’ve done to the celebration on the National Mall) fun.

Of course, there is the deeper meaning of the day as well.  And apropos of that, I will leave you with a linky to an excellent column over at First Things in which Rodney Howsare discusses the difference between true, responsible, reality-based freedom – which would have been readily understood by the Founding Fathers as critical to the health of our Nation- and the modern, puerile, nihilistic definition which poisons the fabric of society so thoroughly these days.

Don’t worry – I’m not leaving on a note of Doom.  I still believe in American Exceptionalism and I also believe that despair is a big no-no.   We’ll manage somehow.  So Happy Birthday, America!

The Vatican Insider is reporting that six Episcopal parishes in Texas are coming across via the Ordinate.

Infuriatingly, it doesn’t say which six, nor can I find confirmation of the story anywhere else.

I wonder if the church of my ill-spent yoot is among them, but I doubt it.

Number 24, Graham Chapman’s Naughty Bits

Monty Python members have reunited to voice a 3D animated film based on the memoirs of the late Graham Chapman.

A Liar’s Autobiography will feature recordings that Chapman, who died in 1989 aged 48, made of his 1980 book.

John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones have all signed up while Eric Idle is not involved. The film is due out in spring next year.

I wonder why Idle didn’t sign on.  He’s made an absolute killing flogging Spamalot, so you’d think he’d be interested in perpetuating the whole Python ethos.

It may be heresy to say so [Ed.- NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!], but I find over the years that the appeal of Python has gradually eroded, albeit very unevenly.   Don’t misunderstand me: Their best stuff is still priceless.  But as time goes by, I notice more and more a meh reaction to a lot of the in-between bits, and a recognition that some of the sketches they did were just plain dumb.  (I was going to mention “Upper Class Twit of the Year” as an example of this last category, but I never liked that one to begin with- far too hamfisted for my taste.)

Speaking of their best, why don’t we go ahead and roll one of ol’ Robbo’s very favorite sketches, taken from one of his very favorite episodes:




  I see from the string of posts below that I’m teetering on the edge of tarsomeness.  (Thanks a lot, Mothe!)

So I thought I would take a break and think about something else.

This is the West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Maine.  West Quoddy Head is the easternmost point in the United States.  The fact that the easternmost point in the United States is named West Quoddy Head is one of those little absurdities of life in which ol’ Robbo delights, and it makes me smile every time I think about it.

Aaaaaaaaah….that’s bettah.

One of these days I should like to go see WQH in person just to say that I had done so.  (I’ve never been farther east than the Kennebec.)  Unfortunately, even from our place in Maine, a trip that far would make for a seriously long day of travel, as you cayunt get theyah from heyah.

As I continue to wade through the insane (no other word for them) details of Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore, it occurs to me to wonder whether anyone has yet produced a similar account of Mao’s Cultural Revolution?  Is the information even available?  I’m not sure even the Chinese know how many millions of poor souls Mao did away with, except that he more than likely out-scored old Uncle Joe (the two of them making Hitler look like a lightweight.)

It strikes me also that such an examination would be extremely important and here’s why:  Aside from a few die-hard fellow travelers and idiot college kids, most people today understand that the Soviets were a mad, bad lot and that Stalin was pure evil.  On the other hand, there remains a curious benignity in the West toward the ChiComs, with Mao perceived not as an even more psychotic villain than Stalin, but somehow as almost cute.  (Seriously. Walk down the street with a Hitler tee-shirt and you’ll be arrested for hate crimes.  Walk down the street in a Mao shirt and you’ll be thought hip.)   Progressivism, with which we seem to be flirting once again, is totalitarianism’s little brother.  (Or, as Peej O’Rourke says, Communists worship Satan, Socialists believe perdition is a good system run by bad people and Liberals think we should all go to hell because it’s warm there in the winter.)  Given that, and to avoid slippery slopes, it seems to me that we should know the truth of the matter about what happens when somebody sets out to perfect Mankind.

Oh, almost forgot to ask:  If you could recommend any such book, I’d appreciate it.


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June 2011