Sunday, December 18, 2011
KIM JONG ILL
KIM JONG DEAD!
[I gleefully join the ranks of thousands around the globe who will make this too obvious joke today.]
Anybody got some cheese and crackers, and a boat? I bet there's 25 million North Koreans who'd really love a snack. And maybe some shoes and a coat. And electricity.
Sorry, President Obama -- one less guy to practice your bow on.
Oh my -- the world is full of surprises. Why can't we just get back to the business of campaigning? Why all these distractions?
Friday, December 16, 2011
GETS THE SURPRISE OF HIS LIFE
A noble mind, selectively o'erthrown, has found its final rest. We mourn the premature death of writer Christopher Hitchens, and will miss the thundering prose which continued to flow even when the physical voice had been stilled by disease. A verbal pugilist for the ages, reasoned and clear-thinking in so many areas save one, the one in which he was inexplicably blind and reasoned like a toddler, that of religion and God.
Oh, that we could hear what he has to say today!!!! Actually, I think he will be quieted and meditative. And I hope he will find that, contra his own book title, God is not only Great, but He is infinitely merciful, provided one asks humbly for mercy -- and nobody as smart as Hitchens could fail to see now where and how badly he got it wrong, and beg his editor's indulgence.
Mother Teresa, I expect, will even speak up for him, and advance the idea that, on occasion, Hitchens unwittingly did "something beautiful for God." Who knew?
Requiescat in pace (in spite of your best efforts...)
Monday, November 28, 2011
AND MY SOUL SHALL BE HEALED
We like to chuckle if we toss out the hackneyed pseudo-profundity, "Today is the first day of the rest of my life" -- but sometimes the line is a statement of simple truth.
It happened a couple of weeks ago , at an otherwise unremarkable First Sunday of Advent Mass. In a quiet but definitive transformation, 45 years of substandard vernacular prayer were consigned to the ash-pot of history, and the English-speaking Catholic world welcomed back into use a mode of expression that at least attempts to praise and petition God with the humility and graciousness He is owed.
For those of us old enough to remember the days of a Catholic world united by the Tridentine Latin Mass, it was a long-awaited return to what had, for 45 years, stubbornly remained the norm, even as it disappeared from use; and it was a clear reminder of the suppressed truth that, back in the pre-vernacular days, those of us who attended Mass with a missal in our hands and read all the well-translated English on the right-hand page while the priest recited the Latin printed on the left, were engaging in ACTIVE PARTICIPATION on a scale barely imaginable to the Catholic who knows only the post-conciliar Church.
After 45 years, I stood ready to feel the balm of restoration when I first uttered aloud (on purpose, not by accident, as has often happened over the decades) the words "And with your spirit" in response to "The Lord be with you." My moment came -- and I blew it. The Novus Ordo reflex proved too powerful. I shocked myself. And it's a shock I have undergone several times since over the past two weeks -- damn! Some old habits die so hard.
[sidebar -- old Catholic joke: Priest steps up to the pulpit, looks around and fiddles with the mic, taps it, and mutters under his breath, "There's something wrong with this microphone." Mind-numbed Novus Ordrones reflexively chime in, "And also with you."]
However, some habits are older and die harder than others. When it came time to respond to "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world," I was primed and ready to say what I have always said at this moment, no matter what ICEL* monstrosity was printed on the Novus Ordo page: "Lord, I am not worthy that You [or Thou] should come under my roof; say but the word and my soul shall be healed."
This Biblically-based prayer [Matthew 8, Luke 7] makes use of concrete imagery, so favoured by Christ Himself, to reference the body as both the temple of the Holy Spirit and the physical receptacle of the Holy Eucharist. The mal-translated abstract banality "Oh Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed" is, to my mind, the ultimate embodiment of the *International Commission on English in the Liturgy at its most perverse. And never in the 45 years since ICEL put the liturgy into a choke-chain of "dynamic equivalence" have I been able to utter their version of that particular prayer.
So on the First Sunday of Advent, 2011, I stood ready to proclaim the old words aloud, and no longer be the one muttering something else under my breath. I got through "Lord, I am not worthy..." and I couldn't go on. I choked, and tears filled my eyes. I felt the balm of healing pour out over a near-half-century wound, but it could not diminish the emotional pang of realizing how much I wished my parents could have lived to see this day.
Heck, I wish they could have lived to attend their own funerals! Five years, and one year, ago we sang each of them out into the next world with funeral Masses in the musical and liturgical traditions they loved so dearly and had been denied for half their lives. (They were Novus Ordo, but we had full co-operation from the celebrants regarding the traditional forms and aesthetics.) My father was in the grip of advancing dementia when my mother died, but he was able to take some comfort from the beautiful Latin ordinaries and hymns, including a portion of the Dies Irae, which we sang for her sending forth. As his dementia worsened over the next four years, and he got to the point where he could barely identify family members as anything more than a familiar face, he was still able to join in with the Missa de Angelis, Gloria VIII, and Credo III when he was taken to churches where the tradition was being revived -- despite their long absence from his weekly Mass experience, they were burned into the deepest recesses of his memory, and he called them up effortlessly.
But the ghastly, grating, anti-euphonious "And also with you," along with all its nasty little ICEL-manufactured companions ["Let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us"] dogged my parents through most of the second half of their lives, and never, ever ceased to irritate.
On this day, however -- the first of days, Advent, 2011 -- a half-century's festering wound began to heal.
It is only a first step on the road to healing, and it is only a particle ingredient of the balms needed everywhere in the world to heal a thousand other festering wounds of every sort. But it is a start. And it was wonderful to stand next to two more generations of our family, one that is open and accepting of what is, to them, a new path; and the other so young that she will grow up knowing only the restored prayers and nothing of the paltry substitutions which gave miserly insult to the debt of worship for generations before. [And she will never get that old Catholic joke about the microphone - hooray!]
It was a good day. And despite all the tribulations that come with the bonds between parents and children, I was grateful to feel the tugs and jolts of those transformative moments in church, grateful to the parents who were the reason I learned to care about such things.
May the peace of the Lord be with them always.
And with their spirits.
Addendum: seems like an appropriate moment to re-post an oldie but a goodie:
Recovering the "Merry" in Christmas from 2006.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Sometimes I could just grab Stephen Colbert by his crisp lapels and shake him, but other times he is completely redeemed because he takes the insanity of the present day by its rumpled lapels, head-butts it into submission, and
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Word - The 1%|
And while we're at it, kudos to Jon Stewart for stuffing it to the Occupants. Biff, pow, it's over.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
THE RICH GET RICHER
[Maybe even the .001%]
Tough economic times for most of us, but the Pelosi wealth has grown 62% in the past year.
On the other hand, maybe that whole 1% thing just applies to the amount of her original face that's left. Heh.
60 Minutes is curious about where La Principessa of San Francisco gets her cash, and whether she's had a little legislative conflict of interest from time to time. Wow. Somebody in the MSM is actually CURIOUS about something other than Republican peccadillos. Who knew?
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
PRESIDENT OBAMA HANGS "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"
BANNER ON FORMAL SKEDADDLE FROM IRAQ
That's it, we're done, ring down the curtain on the Iraq War, the President says it's time to pull the plug. They'll all be home by Christmas. (Where have we heard that before?)
The Amazing Shrinking President has been madly pinning battle ribbons on his own chest, with the take-down of Osama (a job well done), the bludgeoning-to-death of Ghadaffi (he really wants that on his resumé?), and the official withdrawal of all troops from Iraq (except for the ones that will be staying..... just enough to guard the embassy, not enough to defend themselves in the event of an Occupy Al-Rashid Street disturbance).
Interestingly, right up until the last minute, the Obama administration was working feverishly (or trying to give the appearance of working feverishly) NOT to have to withdraw all troops, but to leave a sufficient number to continue training and being alert for the security of the fledgling democracy Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much to build. That was (theoretically) the goal of negotiations with the Al-Malaki government -- right up until it wasn't, and we are all now to congratulate the President on not reaching that agreement. Even the New York Times smells a rat, and knows this has been a royal "cock-up".
Further and more incisive analysis of this sucking-up-to-the-left-wing-base gambit was provided by Max Boot at Commentary. Money quote:
Far from being cause for celebration, Obama’s announcement that we will keep only 150 U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of the year–down from nearly 50,000 today–represents a shameful failure of American foreign policy that risks undoing all the gains that so many Americans, Iraqis, and other allies have sacrificed so much to achieve. The risks of a catastrophic failure in Iraq now rise appreciably.
Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman is spittin' nails.
Lefty CNN yapper Fareed Zakaria knows a diplomatic flop when he sees one.
Even the Hawaii Reporter can't bring itself to crow that a "local boy makes good."
Just for the record...
THE WAR IN IRAQ WAS OVER IN 2008, AND WE WON
So said Reporter-to-the-World Michael Yon, and if he says it you can take it to the bank. (Well, after 2008 maybe the bank's not such a good idea, but you get my drift.) Anyway, we won.
What we've been doing for the three years since then is WINNING THE PEACE.
So it's the PEACE that the 44th President has officially withdrawn from. Great move, dude.
Why?, you may ask. Well, it wasn't good for Iraq. It's not good for the United States. It's going to be crap for Libya, Egypt, Syria, and all the other kids in the 'hood.
I guess Obama is one of those unromantic types who, after he screws you, all he can ask is, "Was it good for me?"
We'll get back to him on that when he's forced to propose putting troops back in in 2012 -- it could happen.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
SUPERBO! MAGNIFICO! BELLISSIMO!
I'm just trying to create an effective Google reference here for the hotel we stayed in during our recent excursion to Florence and Rome. Just today I received an invitation to rate our hotel in Rome, and I did my best to be nice, although our experience in Florence was so fine that I went into Rome with a chip on my shoulder, seeing every flaw.
In fact, the Hotel Alimandi Vaticano was pretty good -- a bit overpriced, I think, and much further from the gates to St. Peter's than I had thought (everything looks smaller on a map). But anything would look second-rate compared to the warm welcome and familial hospitality of the [wait for it...]
After the inexplicable decision to DRIVE to Florence -- on Italian highways, with Italian drivers, culminating in the plate of spaghetti which is the road-map of medieval/renaissance Firenze -- we screeched into the available pocket of cobblestone in front of our hotel on the Via Porta Rossa, and my by-then-frazzled chauffeur & spousal unit mounted the 26 steps, rode the phone-booth sized elevator (we came to call it the Tardis), and arrived at the front desk in melt-down mode. From behind the desk the dapper second-generation owner, Fabrizio, thrust out his hand and welcomed his customer by name, and my husband was won over instantaneously. From there is just got better.
Our luggage was lugged upstairs by the staff, our car was whisked away for safe-keeping, and we were ushered into our cool, crisp, comfortable room with the giant tempurpedic bed. Calm suddenly reigned. We were soon refreshed enough to walk to the Duomo for evening Mass, we found a light supper on the way back, and became gradually aware of how perfectly placed we were for an enjoyable stay in this amazing city.
All this, and Happy Hour too. Italians have this way of not eating dinner until 8:00-9:00 p.m. -- we seldom made use of it, opting instead for a good lunch and an evening snack. But to help us non-Italians through the pause before the dinner hour, the Hotel Davanzati puts on the jazz recording, dims the lights, and opens up the breakfast room and lobby for Happy Hour, 6:30-7:30, with Prosecco, Chianti, and munchies, ON THE HOUSE! Prosecco, I have discovered, has incredible curative properties, especially below the ankles. A-a-a-h-h-h.
We were only in Firenze for four days, and could only make plans for what we need to do on the second visit, sometime in the near future, but enjoyed it immensely (oh the peace of the San Marco Convent -- a surprise in every box!), with all its pleasures enriched by the comforts and hospitality of the Hotel Davanzati. And, to no great surprise, the hotel is right next door to the Palazzo Davanzati, which is AWESOME. A medieval must-see.
Monday, October 17, 2011
WEIGHS IN ON THAT 'NAZI', POPE BENEDICT XVI
Who could argue? After all, she was raised Catholic, and people like that know everything.
In a 2009 interview with pop-religion site Belief.net, Sarandon gave her views on the fostering of World Peace. Said she:
Friday, September 30, 2011
Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online, weighs in on whether or not the President is onto something when he calls the country "soft". Money quote:
Seriously, in 2008 we elected a community organizer, state senator, college instructor first term senator over a guy who spent five years in a Vietnamese prison. And now he’s lecturing us about how America’s gone “soft”? Really?McCain can be a pain, but the history remains.
Better dead than..... well, just about anything.
The report is in that Anwar al-Awlaki has been more forcibly redistributed than a capitalist's profit-margin, bombed to smithereens in his adopted home of Yemen. Yeah man. A truly poisonous traitor if ever there was one.
Apparently the CIA led the way with the strike -- Peaches Petraeus settles comfortably into his new chair.
New Mexico-born terrorist leader meets his 72 virgins.
Requiescat in fragmentis.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
DEPT. OF "SAD BUT TRUE"
Mark Steyn @ National Review Online
George Will @ Washington Post
Mark Judge @ The Daily Caller
On the other hand, a word from a future President:
And even finer words from a former President, eschewing the fake eye-contact of the teleprompter, speaking from his notes on the podium, speaking from his heart:
REMINDERS OF OUR BETTER SELVES
Linked here at Pajamas Media, courtesy of Bruce Bawer
[apropos of not very much, Bawer is an American writer who is gay, and who moved to Amsterdam and then to Oslo in the belief that society in those places was much more educated, sophisticated, free, and tolerant than that of the United States -- boy, did he get a wrong number. He has since re-thought that thesis, and written While Europe Slept and Surrender.]
Excellent round-up of links of all sorts via the Anchoress
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Thursday, September 08, 2011
This Sunday is America's "Alive Day". That's a term that, as far as I know, is a coinage of the Iraq war -- it's a function of the fact that medical advances have brought more people home, alive and damaged, than ever before in the history of warfare. This war has produced more amputees than any conflict since the Civil War. Back then amputations resulted from simple gunshot wounds -- more grievous injuries, from artillery and such, killed instantly. Today, with vastly greater firepower in countless types of weapons, if the injured are evacuated in short order, their survival rate is over 90%. The day these warriors were hit, and didn't die, is their Alive Day.
In the ten years since September 11 and the start of the wars against terrorism, I have accumulated a small collection of videos that deserved to be bought and paid attention to. So I bought them to show my support, especially of people like J.D. Johannes, one of the self-embedded reporters who raised their own money and put themsleves in harm's way to get the true story out. I sent "walkin' around money" to Johannes and Bill Roggio, and more serious money to Michael Yon; and I bought two editions of Johannes' combat video documentary Outside the Wire.
And there they sat, gathering dust on my bookshelf. I could never make myself watch them. Sitting alongside was Alive Day Memories, actor James Gandolfini's interviews with severely wounded Iraq veterans, supplemented by video of the warriors before their injuries, during and after their hospitalizations, sometimes even the scene of the attack on their Alive Days through footage later released by "insurgents" showing massive IED explosions, complete with soundtrack of the sickeningly triumphant mantra "Allahu Akbar", as men like Army Sgt. Bryan Anderson, somewhere within the fireball, are being relieved of 3 out of 4 limbs.
Also in the mix are French brothers Jules and Gedeon Naudet's documentary 9/11, being their accidental history of September 11 in Manhattan, which started its life as a human interest documentary about rookie firemen; The Third Jihad, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser's 2008 close look at the true nature of the enemy; and my most recent addition, the commercial film/docudrama United 93.
This is my week for watching them all, ticked off one by one, sandwiched between various TV specials. Call it wallowing -- I do. It's time.
LEST WE FORGET, OKAY?
I learned today, to my great disappointment, that the majority of the tributes which once collectively formed the 2996 Project -- a website linking up personal tributes to every person killed on September 11 -- have gone offline into non-functional links. How very sad. As this anniversary day approached, I've been thinking about how I would re-post my tributes, and how important it would be to do so at this ten-year mark, and I find it hard to understand how more than 2000 of the one-time contributors to this project would not feel compelled to refresh their works for this anniversary year. However, that's how it is. We soldier on.
Once again, we remember:
Jack Charles Aaron
John Thomas McErlean
Never forget the sacrifice of:
Capt. Kyle Van de Giesen, USMC
1st Lt. Jared Landaker USMC
1st Lt. Travis Manion USMC
Lt. Brendan Looney USN
Never forget the suffering of:
PRIVATE KRISTIAN MENCHACA
PRIVATE THOMAS TUCKER
Never forget the heroism of:
and all the passengers and crew of United 93
Terrorism ruled in the United States for approximately one hour and twenty minutes. Then these ordinary Americans punched back.
They were the Minutemen of our age.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Republican debate tonight, the first I've seen all the way through so far. This was the big showcase for new candidate Rick Perry of Texas, the "idea" of whom caught fire (not a pleasant image for a Texan these days) very quickly after his announcement, failed to catch fire this evening. If it were a tennis match between Mitt Romney and Perry, it would have to be "advantage Romney".
It was, however, a team sport -- but one would be hard-pressed to say that the Repubs have a "deep bench". They (we?) could have a deep bench if it included a few others like Ryan, Cantor, West, or Rubio, but each of those guys is young enough to wait his turn and ripen for another election cycle or two. (Apparently the Rushmeister predicted that Rubio would be president one day -- I concur, all things begin equal regarding hotel rooms with live boys, dead girls, or kodiak bears...)
NOT A DRAW
President Zero (as more and more people across the political spectrum have taken to calling the current occupant of the Oval Office) has decided to decrease the military presence in Iraq to a KAMIKAZE level, to pander to his farthest left constituency, who are increasingly pissed off at him for adherence to various Bush doctrines.
People who know more about foreign policy and military matters than Obama (that would include most of the kids in charter and voucher schools) are absolutely beside themselves. Greta Von Susteren wonders why he would come up with this bonehead plan in defiance of the advice of all his generals -- maybe because he's an ARROGANT MARXIST IDIOT?
I can't really think of anything more to say about this plan, except to solicit prayers from all quarters that common sense and decency will prevail, and the Benighted One will pull a U-turn on this one.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle;
be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
What was this all for, anyway?
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Poignant Tweets from Erica Basnicki, daughter of Canadian WTC victim Ken Basnicki, as she returns home from her new life in London, to be with her family this weekend.
August 11: Been quiet because I've been bracing for this, my last month as "Terror Orphan" (crappy columnists can be cruel). Freedom in T-minus 30 days
August 12: Surrounded by 10 years of 9/11 at home. No wonder I've moved so much; otherwise how to escape it? Maybe I should've tried coping. But how?
August 17: Just posted: 9/11 Girl is Retiring [http://ericabasnicki.com/]
August 18: Loving this. Canada, what will we do? RT @911day "I will" billboard spotted in Miami! yfrog.com/h84j0ymwj
Thinking of you, Erica, and Maureen and Brennan (go Del! 2002 champs!)
Here's a nice video piece on the World Trade Center memorial. It's been too long in arriving and still isn't finished (and those resposible should be ashamed) but it looks like the park itself will be a peaceful and yet haunting place, which is at it ought to be. Can't say I care for the "Freedom Tower" design at all, but I suspect in the end that few people on the site will look at it much.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
For those not hanging on every ripple in Canadian parliamentary politics, the official Leader of the Opposition, having dragged his party across the finish line in a second place showing, from a few dozen seats to over 100 -- an unprecedented surge, so stunning that people far and wide have mistaken it for some kind of sea change in Canadian loyalties -- died before he had a chance to savour his victory.
In reality, the 2011 election was, in fact, a very deliberate demonstration on the part of Quebeckers that they were fed to the teeth with all the other parties and were engaging in a province-wide snit. In addition, the Liberals had elected as head of their party a man as warm and engaging as the haughty, French-looking presidential candidate who-by-the-way-served-in-Vietnam John Forbes Kerry -- I speak of former Hahrvard intellectool, Michael Ignatieff, who parlayed a long and successful career as a perfessor and talking head into a short and clumsy political career back in Canada. He pushed the government into an election which all thinking persons knew he would lose. He did. His once-ruling party has nearly disappeared.
All this put the official leftist fringe into the Official Opposition chair, making lifelong political hack Jack Layton (Head of the New Democratic Party, Canada's official socialists) the Leader of the Opposition.
Quite apart from his lifelong dedication to every idiot cause on the planet, one had to hand it to Layton that he had taken his merry band of wingnuts to a startling new height in a very short time. And no one would wish on Mr. Layton what happened next: he was found to be in the grip of terminal cancer, and died within months of his political zenith.
It was not hard to muster sympathy even for such a leftist wingnut in this unhappy situation -- but sympathy was taxed when it was clear that, even in death, he was still pandering to the constituencies. There was a smarmy, cliche-ridden farewell Letter to the Nation, straight from the heart -- the heart of Jack, his equally political hack wife, and a sub-committee of advisers; there was the flooding bathos tub of teddy-bear grief and shrines; there was the Prime Minister's absurd (yet politically astute) granting of a State Funeral which morphed (unsurprisingly) into a near Wellstone Memorial.
The final act of this folk opera was the disposal of the remains. Not Gaul, but Jack, was divided into three parts, to be distributed in three meaningful, uh, ridings, as it were, strewn like rose petals at an Augustan triumph.
And of course, all was complete with the rite of Deification: the outpourings of praise so over-the-top that even some reporters (themselves the swooners-in-chief) eventually had to cry "Hold! Enough!"
But if one were to survey the Canadian major media as a visitor from the far side of Mars -- or, alternatively, from the online magazine Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. -- one could not be blamed for mistaking Jack Layton for the reincarnation of Ghandi and Marcus Aurelius. Hence the KoolAid-sodden outpourings of an innocent young Sarah Palin fan named Adam Brickley. He produced a glowing paean to a politician he'd never really seen in action, entitled Jack Layton: A socialist who earned the admiration of conservatives.
Really? Who knew?
He goes on:
...frankly I found his political ideas to be both appalling and dangerous, but he was arguably the single greatest politician of his generation — anywhere in the world... People will be studying Layton’s achievements and strategies for decades to come.
Then he addresses Jack:
I have a sneaking suspicion that your story is going to be made into a major Hollywood blockbuster someday.Puh-leeeeze! Chill out, kid!
Resting in pieces.
Layton looks warmly at notorious Canadian abortionist Henry "Dr. Death" Morgentaler, whose Order of Canada honours Layton heartily endorsed. Morgentaler, appropriately enough, showed up for the funeral.
Friday, August 26, 2011
SOME YELL "FIRE!"
SOME YELL "FORE!"
Betsy M. Galliher at American Thinker juxtaposes the burial of the best and bravest, with the sinking of the little round white ball into the cup for umpty-thousandth time as the Commander-in-Chief of United States military forces shoots up with his nine-iron and feeds his golf habit yet again.
Some Gave All, Obama Shot Par
Meanwhile, back at the Big White Ranch on Pennsylvania Avenue, there's leakage in them there castle walls. The whole dirt dished on Michelle O's "vacation junkie" habits -- and, as usual, it takes the foreign press to do the dishing.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Me and the spousal unit recently sat down for a re-view of The Last Waltz, cinematic chronicle of the final concert by The Band. [OMG what a sycophantic little schmuck Scorsese is!] As often happens, I sit with the lap-top on my lap (so conformist of me) and do some background and fact-checking while watching a "period piece".
One slice of info unearthed that evening brought a smile to my face: for her pop-crap version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Joan Baez admits being content to get the lyrics wrong because she just pulled what she thought she heard from The Band's recording without checking them for accuracy -- but, even better, the Baez version spent awhile among the top ten on the charts: the EASY LISTENING charts. BWA-HA-HA!!!!!!
There's also the sad element of doing this sort of thing: checking up on which members of The Band are dead and how it happened. Sigh. On the up side, drummer Levon Helm had throat cancer, lost his voice, recovered it, and is still singing. Though he has a positively alarming set of dentures.
CANADA PUTS A DENT IN THE LEGACY OF
LES SOIXANTE-HUITARDS --
LET THE UNRAVELLING PROCEED!!!
On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the designated "Royal Canadian Navy" and nearly a hundred years since the inception of the famous RCAF, these two branches of the military are finally regaining their original honours, once again to be called "Royal" instead of being a pocket of the unspeakably banal "Canadian Forces" in their generic green security guard uniforms, an entity created in 1968 under the foam rubber aegis of the insufferable Franco-hippie Pierre Trudeau.
The story is that veterans have been agitating for this change for a chunk of the last decade. But I bet the whole thing got a big boost from the visiting Heir to the Throne, who showed up looking like a plausible monarch, and put on his flight suit to do helicopter search and rescue exercises with the lads. Good show.
Huzzah and Ooh-Rah!!!! Let the Red Ensigns fly again!!!!
That is all.
MINOR AMERICAN NAVAL NOTE
Remember this post on the kick downstairs of a certain aircraft carrier CO? Well, I hope those who made it happen are proud. Turns out that when it came to morale, the #2 man for the job was pretty much, well, "Number Two", if ya get my drift. [I STAND CORRECTED: change of command on the Big E was not related to any leadership shortcomings.]
Just sayin', if you're listenin' , Corinne Reilly.
Some Grundy/Reilly approved video entertainment for today's USN:
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Will I ever tire of using that phrase to announce my continued existence and return to blogging? Short answer: no.
I'm working on a Big Post, which will have to wait until my head clears (nauseating details of the state of my health we shall forego, but I have suffered an invasion which may or may not have some relation to my having ordered the E-Coli special at a St. John's McDonald's).
In the meantime, I will bring closure to my previous musings on the Great Canadian/Newfoundlandian mini-series, Random Passage.
By the time I had finished tape 3 out of 4, I had begun to get impatient with the characters and their endless personal drammers, so I looked on the internet to see if it was going to unfold as I was privately predicting. It turned out that I was not quite correct on all the details, but I had the gist of it down. Still I persevered with watching all of it, and reached two somewhat related conclusions:
(1) One could be justified in nick-naming this work "Random Sausage" -- I think that's self-explanatory;
(2) If there was anything you could call a "surprise ending" it was the late chapters set in St. John's, in which the EEEEEVIL Catholic Church was portrayed like some collection of cartoon villains, injuring, enslaving, and cheating the poor workmen of the town in order to build a huge cathedral* to the glory of the local Bishop* (called, inexplicably, "your Lordship").
In other words, it's just the typical sort of artistic venture which government grant pimps of Canada cheerfully fund and support with regularity.
*Never mind that the actual cathedral in question was not begun until 1841, several years after the Random Passage story ends (1837), and that Newfoundland did not get its first Catholic bishop until 1847. But, ya know, whatever.
Stay tuned for more important news and views.
Monday, August 01, 2011
....is just my latest excuse for not blogging much. It's been a busy time, going from two weeks at Camp Ikon, quick turnaround to Newfoundland, popped home to meet new girlfriend of #3 son, popped back to the Rock, attacked viciously by evil Virus which may or may not be connected with ordering the E-Coli special at a certain St. John's McDonald's.
Time to address more pressing events.
Remember when "WHAT A RIOT!!!" was a colloquialism describing some form of jolly and benign form of having a few laughs and a good old time?
Suddenly the globe, our home, is dotted about with way too numerous sites of genuinely vicious attacks and full-blown mass riots, with looting and arson and beatings and floods -- that is to say, floods of perfectly ridiculous sociological explanations for what drives the "youf" of today to turn so angry and hostile, and to "act out" in this dramatic, excessive (you meant EVIL shurely????) ways.
Since quite a number of these riots, and the accompanying explanatory blather, have been breaking out across the Mother Country, Merrie Olde Englande, I could not help but recall a truly stirring song written in ironic tribute to William Blake's poem/hymn to Britain, Jerusalem -- the song, first recorded on a 1994 mix CD by the artists of the No Masters independent folk label, is called Jerusalem Revisited, with its stinging lyrics penned by one of my all-time favourite songwriters (and a very nice fellow indeed, as I discovered subsequently and in person) Jim Boyes, the bass voice in the Midlands-based trio Coope Boyes and Simpson. Hear the pure and clear tone of tenor Barry Coope, with Boyes and baritone Lester Simpson joining in, making what may be the finest harmonies in modern acapella folksong happening anywhere, anytime.
Now this version of Blake's hymn was written with the kindest possible classic left/Labour/socialist instinct for compassion, and it is sung with an artistry that elicits chills and tears. (I first heard it live at a tiny club in Chesterfield, when Barry was suffering a sore throat and under some stress to perform at all. But he asked us beforehand, what we, the visitors from Canada, would like to hear, and my spousal unit said "Jerusalem," he delivered it, in all its searing poignancy. It was brilliant.)
But.... here's that "but-monkey" that has the potential to slap all the compliments to hell -- I wish it weren't so. But, the more time that has passed since I first heard that song, the more I have been forced to see that the lyrics written in satire constitute a picture of the unhappy truth. At first it was just a line here or there that struck me as too true, in a way the Jim Boyes did not intend. As events have unfolded over all these years, fact has overwhelmed poetry and transformed the song into a prophetic news report rather than the twisted Tory vision that the early stanzas were meant to be. Once upon a time, I could read these lyrics and "tut-tut." Now one must read them and weep.
The first phrase that leapt out at me years ago was "...head full of jagged images/ somebody's crazy mixed-up son"........
Oh my --this post has just had a strange journey in and out of consciousness. It showed as a "draft" in my Blogger file, which I thought was a mistake, and so I posted it. Now I see it ends abruptly, so maybe it was an unfinished draft after all. AGH! The "jagged images" reference was headed towards a reflection on the agitated minds of the video game generation, which seems self-explanatory if one pays any attention to what's going on in that product line. That's as much as I care to reflect at the moment. Maybe another day.
Suffice to say, this was meant to be posted in the latter part of the summer of 2011. So I'll stick it in roundabout there, and have done with it for now.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
That's Random Passage, Canadian/Irish miniseries about tough life on the Newfoundland rock in 1805. The production dates to 2000, but I finally got around to watching it, but not without perils. Had to crank up the VHS machine -- that was a comedy.
Not a bad series so far, but not exactly a page-turner yet either. And turning the page on this one means that I have to jam in cassette #2 and then rewind it for an eternity because in my early attempts to get the machine to work I thought maybe the cassettes were faulty and put in two different ones, then pushed all the buttons to see if it would do ANYTHING. I finally figured out that my machine was so cheap, its counter function only counted minutes and not seconds, which is why it was moving so slowly. So glad I have this ancient artifact to show my grandchildren one day, and they can see how, in order to watch videos, we had to walk barefoot five miles in the snow, etc.
Back to Totally Random mode.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP
FOR THE BRITISH MONARCHY
The Prince and Princess, the Duke and Duchess, Wills and Kate made a grand splash in their Canadian touchdown, and then went on to charm selected U.S. cities. A very impressive couple -- and if they keep doing this, they will make it impossible for Charles and his Duchess to mount the thrones. This young man appears to be the real thing, and has chosen a woman of modesty and grace to be at his side. (She has no hips, sporting the alarming tubular figure of the modern girl, but one hopes that the heir and the spare will fix that. Give the girl sandwich, please!)
Nice first outing, kids. The family business may well survive another generation.
WHO THE HELL CAST PAUL GIAMATTI AS JOHN ADAMS?
Just finished another mini-series, John Adams -- not as good as touted, but entertaining with satisfying historically authentic trappings (right down to the bad teeth -- could have done without that). Laura Linney (political ninny) is quite fine as Abigail, as are many others in the cast, but Giamatti is largely ridiculous as John, only occasionally rising above his actorly instinct for caricature, and generally failing to grasp the persona of a colonial gentleman. Listening to him talk about the role in the documentary section is simply cringeworthy, but explains why he falls short in his attempt to draw this rich and complex personality on film.
As for accuracy on the events of history (what should have been the real TEETH of the show), I defer to those more knowledgeable than myself, and I am not surprised to find a reliable voice courting apoplexy as he tries to give the briefest of catalogues of the sort of pointless innaccuracies permitted in the TV telling of this tale. [Jeremy Stern, doctoral candidate at Princeton, blows off steam over at the History News Network.]
It is a sad thing when the half-educated of Hollywood apply their first-rate artistic and technological skill sets while lacking the ability to discern the most common lesson of all historical film-making: that truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is usually much more interesting, moving, and dramatic. Will they never learn?
Historian David McCullough, on whose well-respected work this series was ostensibly based, reported himself to be thrilled with its authenticity. What was he smoking?
More likely, he was just inhaling the rarified vapors given off by Hollywood glamor in action, while being guru-gushed by Tom Hanks, who flattered his eminent grey head off. I fully agree with Stern that there is not only mindless disinformation in this film, but flagrant injustice to any number of characters, most especially its putative heroine, Abigail Adams, who is snuffed out with no reference made to her instrumental role in re-establishing ties with their estranged friend Thomas Jefferson; injury is likewise done to Adams' cousin Samuel, whose violent revolutionary impulses and opposition to John early in the film are sheer fantasy.
And poor John Dickinson, delegate from Pennsylvania (and life-long public servant in one capacity or another) fares only slightly better in 8 television hours than he did in a couple of hours of the lightweight musical 1776. In the latter he is a cardboard villain representing the extremely wealthy, and suffers the indignity of having one of his particular contributions to the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms of 1775 [that Americans were "resolved to die free men rather than live slaves"] called "magnificent" by Adams but attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Dickinson's co-writer (a fact never acknowledged in the musical since that would mess up his role as primo villain). He is more sympathetically portrayed in the miniseries, though, again, chronology is distorted to make him look bad, when he was actually a much-loved and admired man.
As for Giamatti, he uses the word "weird" a lot to describe both his character and the times, which shows at just what level he is operating. He brings to the role a lot of tension and a symphony of facial ticks, but it is difficult to take him seriously at the best of times. He also has one problematic feature, not his fault, but which renders him unsuitable to carry off the personage of John Adams: he has the puffy features and burly figure of a peasant. When he gets incensed or passionate, his bulging eyes get rhumy but never piercing, and he tries to make up for it by giving us major lip tremor, which does double duty when he's grieving. Doesn't cut it.
Adams may not have been an early American "aristocrat" in his family lineage, but all his many portraits show him to have been a man of "fine" facial features, those of a gentleman of good British "stock" -- a difference which would not have escaped his confreres in Congress, nor did it escape me. Presumably, farmer though he was, I suspect he had the gentlemanly carriage to go with the face. Giamatti has neither, and physically, I didn't buy him as Adams for one minute.
The series also had the problem of casting people who were too old for their characters at the beginning -- my sense was they were trying to find faces that resembled the real dudes, but they should have counted on the wonders of aging make-up to make younger actors older, rather than the usually unsuccessful reverse. David Morse looked fabulously George Washington, but he was 60 when he should have been 45.
[left: young Washington, 1772, in the uniform of pre-revolutionary Colonel Washington, not that of the Continental Army as seen mistakenly in the series, in the mid-1770's]
[left: 1795 portrait that was model for series image all the way through]
Then there's Benjamin Franklin. The tall, wiry, and craggy-faced Tom Wilkinson was another downright odd casting choice. Paul Giamatti, in fact, bears a very credible resemblance to Franklin, who prided himself on his peasant roots, had a puffy face, good-sized nose, and hooded eyes. Sigh. This is what happens when people fail to consult me on such important matters.
Hey! This is such bullsh&t!
I am a SO serious actor, babe!
[postscript: By way of explanation, Laura Linney is a political ninny because, when accepting an Emmy for some aspect of this production, she paid tribute to the Founding Fathers as "community organizers." It was 2008, and the Annointed Community Organizer from Chicago was poised to become President. To call it the "Silly Season" is to trivialize the monumental foolishness of 51% of the voters.]
A beautiful day in Newfoundland is passing, so I must close here. More interesting "separated at birth" photo pairs to come.