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[Phone rings]

Self: Hullo?

Mrs. R:  Hi.  You know that blazer you asked me to drop at the cleaners?

Self: Yersss….

Mrs. R.:  Well, did you know it’s falling apart?

Self:  Yerssss……

Mrs. R:  Well, I’m at Jos Banks.  You’re getting a new one.

Self:  Um.

Mrs. R:  Is there any color you’d like other than navy?

Self:  My dear, there is No Such Thing as a blazer that’s anything other than navy.

Mrs. R:  Well, I thought maybe you’d like a change.

Self:  Heresy!

Mrs. R (tiredly):  Allll-right.  Just asking.

The idea.


At least according to Wiki, today marks the anniversary of the composition of “Für Elise” by Beethoven in 1810.  That news brings to mind one of my very favorite Python sketches:

As Dave Barry might say, “Beethoven’s Mynah Bird” would make a great name for a rock band.

I also noticed an assertion in the wiki bio of ol’ Ludwig Van that when Napoleon’s army was shelling Vienna in May 1809, he hid in his brother’s basement with pillows over his ears, supposedly out of fear that the noise would accelerate his hearing loss.  As I posted some while back, during that same bombardment, the old and dying Haydn was using his last breath to try and comfort his terrified domestic staff.   Class will tell.

Who knew that there was a soccer cup for pontifical seminaries and universities?  And who knew that the U.S. team is in the hunt to win it this year?

Rome’s Pontifical North American College is only two wins away from capturing the clerical equivalent of soccer’s World Cup for the first time ever.

“There is nothing better than a bunch of guys getting together, trying to be better at something and, I think, the soccer field is a great outlet for that,” said seminarian and striker John Gibson.

The player made his remarks to CNA following his side’s 4-2 victory over the Pontifical Urbanianum University in the quarter-finals of the Clericus Cup, Saturday April 21. The semi-finals now take place this Saturday April 28.

Now into its sixth year, the Clericus Cup in an annual soccer tournament for the pontifical seminaries and universities in Rome. Matches take place on the Knights of Columbus playing fields behind the Vatican and in the shadow of the dome of St. Peters basilica.

But that’s not all – the U.S. team goes by a name that sets every historickal geekery synapse in ol’ Robbo’s brain a’flickering:

The United States team goes by the name of the North American Martyrs and – patriotically – the uniform is red, white and blue. Despite two runner-up positions in previous years, the Martyrs have yet to lift the Clericus Cup.

I confess that I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in soccer in any of its manifestations.  But I’m glad to know about this.  Go Martyrs!

A glass of wine with the Headline Bistro.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A short while back, whilst poking about on Netflix, ol’ Robbo stumbled across a movie he’d never heard of before entitled Legend of the Lost and starring John Wayne and the lovely and talented Sophia Loren.  Intrigued, he tossed it into the ol’ queue.   And as Robbo’s beloved Nats had a late game on the west coast last night (which, alas, they lost), he popped it into the DVD player and sat back.

Well, I’m sorry to report that, despite plentiful shots of Loren prancing about the Sahara in torn and sometimes sodden dresses, the film is a distinct meh.   Attempting a kind of psychological thriller cum adventure story somewhere between Indiana Jones and Treasure of the Sierra Madre (you can read the synopsis here if you like), it comes out clunky and wooden.  If there was any chemistry between the Duke and Sophia, I didn’t notice it.  And Rossano Brazzi, who plays Wayne’s employer and rival,  was a pair of empty boots.   About the only thing worthwhile in this movie was the old Roman ruin at Leptis Magna in Libya, where a lot of the film was shot.

Oh, and one other thing that irritated me to no end.  Wayne’s character?  His name was Joe January.  Joe January?  What the hell kind of a label is that?

My advice, should you ever find yourself in a position to see this film, is to give it a miss.

The youngest gel at U.N. H.Q. for opening ceremonies last evening.

Bow down before your new One World master!


Over at First Things, Russell Saltzman has a piece up on the average cost of weddings these days that makes me, as the father of three teen and near-teen daughters, shudder:

Are you ready: $27,021. This is from an annual survey of young brides eighteen and older who had a wedding in 2011. Nothing is reported of child brides.

This is an uptick from 2010 when the “average” was $26,985. I found no indication where the extra thirty-six dollars went but it is more than the present inflation rate. In 2009, before the recession really kicked in, the average was $28,385. Penny-pinching of a sort marks the two later years, but figures will increase, betcha, as perceptions of economic recovery improve. I don’t know who these “average” people are, but I’m pretty sure I don’t know any of them.

Where one lives affects the “average.” New York City brides shell out a whopping $65,824; some $2,403 going for a dress alone. In North and South Dakota the more sensible brides spend $745 for the dress, but I suppose it depends on how you describe sensible.

A reception hall runs $12,116. Whatever happened to the church basement, or the Legion Hall, or the community center? Wedding budgets—if that word applies at all—range from $65,824 in New York and in Virginia, $14,203.

In a Chicago area wedding the number of invited guests ran about two hundred four at a “luxury” affair; the more ordinary sort averaged only one hundred thirty-six, proving the poor have fewer friends. A majority of weddings extended to three or more days for all the events connected to getting hitched. 

Awk.  I reckon it actually would be a lot more sensible to buy each of them a used car and a ladder.

Actually, Saltzman goes through all of this to make a more important point about marriage:

I’m inclined to think that they are compensating for something, a yearning they can’t define. When we have lost the distinction of Christian marriage in society as a vocation of the baptized in the exercise of the priesthood we share in Christ, then, as Billy Joel sings, “something has been taken out of our soul.” The closest our culture can come to matching the excitement and solemnity of a wedding feast is twenty-seven thousand dollars. Ah, but what else should we expect? With all the de trop nonsense we clergy have allowed and encouraged by silent consent, it’s nobody’s fault but our own.

I think that’s exactly right and have said the same sort of thing many times to my own brood.  Indeed, I sometimes suspect that they bring up, for example, the Kim Kardashian biznay just for the entertainment value of watching ol’ Dad start to foam and froth about profaning sacraments.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It appears that ol’ Robbo has scored a triumph of sorts by successfully lobbying the eldest gel to choose Latin over French for 9th grade.

I pointed out to her that Latin has many, many benefits.  It will reenforce her English vocabulary.  Reading Caesar and Cicero, Virgil and Ovid in the original will broaden the scope of her historickal awareness.  If she ever chooses to start attending Latin Mass she’ll have the vocabulary and pronunciation down pat already.

I also pointed out that, in terms of both spelling and grammar, Latin’s a heck of a lot easier than French.   Latin always was a working language, sensible and to the point like the people who spoke it.  Somewhere along the line, French turned into an academic one, giving a gang of snotty Frogs the opportunity to sit about inventing new difficulties.   Who needs that?

UPDATE: I am getting slow.  Forgot to mention the most important point: It’ll make this scene all the funnier –

Although Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honor trilogy is one of my very favorite pieces of literature, it is only now that I discover that the third volume, labelled The End of the Battle in the States, was originally published in G.B. under the title Unconditional Surrender.  (Curiously, Little Brown does not change the title in the list of books by Waugh inside.  That’s how I noticed the discrepancy.  On the other hand, the copyright information doesn’t say anything about its original title, as is usually the case.)

I must say that I prefer the original.  The End of the Battle has always struck me as rayther ambiguous – does the battle end in victory? Defeat? A draw?  Unconditional Surrender better fits the total disillusionment of Guy Crouchback and the destruction of the Old Order in the face of the onslaught of “the Modern Age in arms.”

I can only suppose that the publisher thought changing the title a good idea to bring it more in line with American sensibilities about Progress and the Future.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was up at oh-dark-thirty this morning to see the younger gels off on a trip to New York City [Pace Picante-eating cowboys: “New York CITY? Get a rope!”], there to participate in the annual Montessori Model U.N. along with their upper-el classmates from St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.

Through some sinister agency or other, this year the gels’ class got absolutely terrible draft picks, being assigned the choice of representing the Cape Verde Islands, Guinea or the Kingdom of Lesotho.  Both the gels chose the last of these.   For her position papers, the middle gel is focusing on the land rights of indigenous  peoples and emergency aid in the Gaza Strip.  The youngest, in turn, chose to pursue disaster relief for the Japanese tsunami.

As regular friends of the decanter might surmise, I find the whole biznay to be somewhat preposterous on numerous levels.  However, I have managed to hold my tongue around the gels so as not to spoil their fun.  For example, I refrained from telling the middle gel the joke about the Texan and the Mexican who were sitting in a border bar.  The Texan asked the Mexican why his people were so bitter.  The Mexican said, “You stole half our land, senor.  Not only that, you stole the half with all the roads.”  I also did not ask if Gazan relief involved gun-running.   Finally, I did not ask the youngest what Lesotho could possibly come up with by way of tsunami relief, other than proposing that somebody else write a check.

But I was thinking it.

If they grow up to be lib one-worlder types, I will kick myself over my forbearance.

Perhaps I’ve just been too wrapped up in myself to notice it much before, but it seems to me that there is a growing trend among the pleasure spots of Dee Cee to pump musick out into the streets in front of their places of biznay via loudspeaker.

Of course, what with all the traffic and the hustle and bustle of the sidewalks, this is just what we need – more noise.

One of the worst offenders is Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum.   I do believe that the next time I hear the musak version of “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” or Ethel Merman belting “God Bless America” being blared at me as I shuffle by, I’m going to find a large brick and heave it through the plate glass.

Just so you know.


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April 2012