Sunday, April 30, 2006

Calling Experienced Bloggers...A little help?

I need your advice on this "comment" function. What is one to do here? Are we to jump into the fray and answer direct queries, or, in my case, insults, or, do we just let the section go. One does not want to seem rude, but I need some help and direction on this subject. What does one do? Please help Basil.

New Royal Proclomation...Just for you

After careful consultation with Her Majesty, the following are henceforth illegal in the United Kingdom and in her rebellious colonies in North America. Why? Because after careful consideration, we found that these things just annoy the hell out of us:

From here on these things are illegal and forbidden, answer to the contrary at your own peril:

Cell phones are illegal. No one may possess or, otherwise use one, period. Especially the ones worn over the ear as if the wearer was so important they must have a phone implanted in their ear in order to speak instantly on all those very important matters dependent on their input alone. Anyone who has answered a cell phone while in conversation with another person, will be retroactively shot.

No middle, or, upper middle class white woman is allowed to attempt to speak, or, use terminology reserved for black women (ditto: white male, reserved black male language) You are racially unable to do this, you sound foolish. This is to be blamed on Ophah Winfrey, she can do it, you can't. If any white women says "you go, girl", in any context, she will be executed on the spot. And, by the way, any male who addresses anyone, especially me, as "dude" will be shot, hanged, and drawn and quartered.

Email is forbidden. No one will send, or, receive email. If you have sent emails in the past which eschew all accepted forms of punctuation, grammar, and syntax, you will be sent to a penal colony for one year. If you have sent email using letter/number combinations to replace words, you will be shot.

Any person, male, or, female over the age of 30, who refuses to speak, dress and act like an adult, or, otherwise grow up will be jailed. This includes all those parents who are obviously wearing their teenage children's clothes. While we're on the topic, teenagers are illegal too. At age 13, all children will be looked after by the US and Royal Marines respectively. If they are still living, they will be released upon their 21st birthday.

Television is illegal. All television sets are to be surrendered to Her Majesty's government. Those who fail to comply will be sent to live in Hollywood. Anyone who has, in the past, watched any "reality television" programme, will be sent to special treatment, and then shot.

Any person wearing clothing bearing a manufacturer's logo, and who is not being paid to do so, will be shot for being stupid enough to pay companies to advertise for them.

Any male caught wearing a wig, or, employing any "comb over" technique in an attempt to hide baldness, will have their heads shaved. If said male is already bald on top, but wearing their remaining fringe in a ponytail, these men will be shot. Accept it like a man and get used to it. If said male is caught wearing clogs, he will be shot.

Dogs are illegal. Cats are legal. This does not reflect upon the hapless canines, only upon the behavior of their owners. No one, other than you, finds your 12 stone slobbering animal, living with you in your 2 room flat, "cute". Nor do we find large muddy paw prints placed upon our $300.00 shirt fronts "funny". Get a cat, unless you prefer only blind subservience in your roommates. It is illegal to have a pet which must look at it's food dish, then at you, and decide.

That is all we can think of for right now. Please inform me of other annoying things and we will outlaw them as well. Thank you.

I'll be at the Club with Baron von Cramm...

So lucky he's in charge...

No, No my dear chap, she asked you to resign, not to get in line! What? you think this is New York or something?

Clarke must go, says rape victim...

Where do we sign up?

It seems that we might want to ask Tony for a job...They seem to have a spiffing time in Whitehall these days...

"Beleaguered John Prescott was battered by a series of intimate revelations of his affair, spelled out in detail by his former lover Tracey Temple. In an extensive interview with the Mail on Sunday, Ms Temple claimed, among other things, that the couple had sex in his Whitehall office. She also said that Prescott had sex with her immediately after taking her to the Iraq war memorial service and that they had sex in a hotel while his wife Pauline waited downstairs."

Catholic Gentlemen of the first toilet water...

I always felt that this man was a top drawer Catholic Gentleman, held him in the highest esteem, and hoped to marry into his family...Now, if possible, he has risen to new heights in my eyes. You see, I have discovered that he is a Clubman! And here I thought I was the only one left. Sir, we must meet and share some Special Reserve! I salute you...

Would you believe it?

I just watched a film in which Raymond Burr played an attorney! Who ever thought he would be successful in that role? What a bit of miscasting! It is so bad I don't even know if it's a word. I thought he always played the guy next door who cuts up his wife...Wonders never cease.

Friday, April 28, 2006

One book is all it takes...

Happy Birthday to Harper Lee...born this day in 1928.

It Should Rhyme with 'Laugh': Humor in Waugh

by Ralph McInerny
University of Notre Dame

"...Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) once began a book review thus: “There are three kinds of writer: those who know how to write and have nothing to say, those who have something to say but don't know how to write, and the rest are at meetings speaking of the agony of creation.” Waugh himself knew how to write, had something to say, and seems never to have indulged in the usual self-pity of the creative writer.

Before he found his way as a writer, he dabbled in the graphic arts — the illustrations in Black Mischief are by the author — and cabinet making. His first novel, Decline and Fall, appeared in 1928 and already displayed a mastery of his craft that is unusual at the outset of a literary career. From that point on, with few exceptions, his novels are models of the art that conceals itself, like well-made cabinets. A careful study of them could save the aspiring writer a good deal of the agony of creation. But the initial reaction to most of his novels is laughter. They are funny. Hilariously funny. Humor, one sometimes thinks, is the best medium for seriousness. From the very first novel, the reader finds, as the laughter dies, a residue of usually unstated or understated gravitas.

For all that, readers of Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies (1930), those who ran as they read, could have been forgiven if they thought of him as merely a comic writer. P.G. Wodehouse, whose writing Waugh, like Hilaire Belloc, held in high esteem, was the object of close study. Jeeves and Psmith, the golf stories the Mulliner stories, the whole Wodehouse canon, provides hours of shrieking pleasure for the reader. Now, it is a truism that the explained joke is never a joke. There is a vast and humorless library on the nature of humor. To Wodehouse can easily be applied Oscar Wilde's dictum that we laugh and we are not wounded. We find in his journalism and reviews Waugh's appreciation of Wodehouse.

The world of Wodehouse seems self-contained—the Drones Club is unlike any real club, Wodehouse's limp young men do not find their counterparts among the living, the stories turn on issues of consummate triviality, the pursuit of a young woman is on a par with the pursuit of a lost golf ball, but no Wodehouse golfer would be permitted on any respectable course. Waugh's 1939 essay on the work of Wodehouse is called “An Angelic Doctor.” It is clear that Waugh was a close student of this comic master and what he has to say of him casts indirect light on himself.

Wodehouse's characters, Waugh asserts, are “purely and essentially literary characters.”

We do not concern ourselves with the economic implications of their position; we are a bit skeptical about their quite astonishing celibacy. We do not expect them to grow any older, like the Three Musketeers or the Forsytes. We are not interested in how they would ‘react to changing social conditions' as publishers' blurbs invite us to be interested in other sagas. They are untroubled by wars…(p. 255)..."

Read on...

der Rote Baron

Who killed the WW I ace pilot with the best name of all time?

Rittmeister Baron Frhr. Manfred von Richthofen (1892-1918)

The Red Baron was one of those heroes whose life seems almost scripted. Discipline, pride, hunting skills, and Teutonic patriotism all combined in this man, bringing him to the pinnacle of fame which long outlasted the man himself. "Curse you, Red Baron," cried Snoopy, the Mitty-esque canine ace of Charles Schultz' Peanuts comic strip. But Richthofen was no caricature, methodically claiming 80 aerial victories, before falling himself, in a Wagnerian finale...


I do not like change...Every advance in communication, makes the bore more terrible. Most of this internet activity is very vulgar and common, (especially e-mail, what a terrible invention for an already illiterate populace) but in order to be seen as "one with the people" I have placed myself in the slough of despond with the rest of you. Of course, I had to purchase this computer, the connection, the software, hardware, etc. etc. The process of doing so being located in the intermost circle of hell, or there about. Then there was the pimply faced cretin, dispatched by some hooligan to connect, install, download, upload, what a load, gaping and pawing about the place, speaking in some horrible jargon, smelling of ghastly stale Old Spice, I still shudder at the memories...I haven't got the smell out yet.

But I am up and running, posting, pinging, tracking, I have actually left a few comments someplace, and generally rolling with the hoi polloi...Just happy in Jesus to be here.

I have recently been playing with all of these hit meter, link tracking things that go hand-in-hand with a blog. Most of the time I have no idea what they are trying to tell me, although I have been able to decipher a few very important tidbits of information from the literally billions of bits and bytes that are thrown my way. These are:

1. Visitors to this blog are few. (I am ranked just below pond scum in the blogosphere universe/new world order.)

2. This is a total waste of good court time, no one, and I mean no one, gives a damn about this divel.

3. People blog only from the office.

4. I now know where these people work. And from the look of things, taxes on my trust are paying these peoples salaries. So, knock it off! I mean it!

5. 99.9% of what is on the internet is useless garbage.

6. E-mail should be declared illegal right now!

7. Although the online libraries and book stores have promise.

Oh, there's the gong, must hurry, do not email me, or, anyone else for that matter.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nats Fans


GOOD LUCK, YOU'RE GOING TO NEED IT...The sliding Nationals visit the soaring Cardinals for a four-game series this weekend, starting Thursday night. It's Washington's first visit to new Busch Stadium...

Aces High - WW II

American P-51 pilot Lawence Thompson flies into his first dogfight and begins to chase a German ME-109, he soon wishes he had picked a different German...

".... This was my first major dogfight I had in the war, in January 1945. I was flying a P-51D and we were supposed to meet with bombers over Romania. Well, the bombers never showed up! And we kept circling and wasting our fuel. When we were low on fuel the squadron leader orders us back to base, with the top group at 24,000 feet and the four bait Mustangs ordered to 15,000 feet. Now you might not really think about it, but the difference in altitude, 9,000 feet, is almost two miles, and assuming that the top flight could dive and rescue the 'bait' airplanes, it might take a full sixty seconds or more for the top group to come to the rescue. A heck of a lot can happen in sixty seconds. Earlier, I requested to fly in the bait section believing that I'd have a better chance to get some scores (at that time I had no victories either) and this was my seventh mission.

So we're all heading back to Italy when, all of a sudden, a dozen or so Me109's bounce us. From one moment it's a clear blue sky, next moment there are dozens' of tracers passing my cockpit. I'm hit several times and I roll over to the right, and below me is an P-51, heading for the deck, with an Me109 chasing him. I begin to chase the Me109. All this time I believe there was another Me109 chasing me! It was a racetrack, all four of us were racing for the finish line! Eventually I caught up with the first Me109 and I fired a long burst at about 1,000 yards, to no effect. Then I waited until about 600 yards, I fired two very long bursts, probably five seconds each (P-51 has ammo for about 18 seconds of continuous bursts for four machine guns, the remaining two machine guns will shoot for about 24 seconds). I noticed that part of his engine cowling flew off and he immediately broke off his attack on the lead P-51. I check my rear view mirrors and there's nothing behind me now; somehow, I have managed to lose the Me109 following me, probably because the diving speed of the P-51 is sixty mph faster than the Me109. So I pull up on the yoke and level out; suddenly a Me109 looms about as large as a barn door
right in front of me! And he fires his guns at me, and he rolls to the right, in a Lufbery circle. I peel off, following this Me109. I can see silver P-51s and black nosed camouflaged painted Me109s everywhere I look. At this time I cannot get on the
transmitter and talk, everyone else in the squadron is yelling and talking, and there's nothing but yelling, screaming, and incoherent interference as everyone presses their mike buttons at the same time. I can smell something in the cockpit. Hydraulic fluid! I knew I got hit earlier..... I'm still following this Me109. I just got my first confirmed kill of my tour, and now I'm really hot. I believe that I am the hottest pilot in the USAAF! And now I'm thinking to myself: am I going to shoot this Me109 down too?! He rolls and we turn, and turn; somehow, I cannot catch up with him in the Lufbery circle, we just keep circling. About the third 360 degree turn he and I must have spotted two Mustangs flying below us, about 2,000 feet below, and he dives for the two P-51s.

Now I'm about 150 yards from him, and I get my gun sight on his tail, but I cannot shoot, because if I shoot wide, or my bullets pass through him, I might shoot down one or both P-51s, so I get a front seat, watching, fearful that this guy will shoot down a P-51. We're approaching at about 390 mph. There's so much interference on the R/T I cannot warn the two Mustangs, I fire one very long burst of about seven or eight seconds purposely wide, so it misses the Mustangs, and the Me109 pilot can see the tracers. None of the Mustang pilots see the tracers either! I was half hoping that they'd see my tracers and turn out of the way of the diving Me109. But no such luck. I quit firing. The Me109 still dives, and as he approaches the two P-51s he holds his fire, and as the gap closes, two hundred yards, one hundred yards, fifty yards the Hun does not fire a shot. No tracers, nothing! At less than ten yards the Hun fires one single shot from his 20mm cannon! And Bang! Engine parts, white smoke, glycol, what not from the lead P-51 is everywhere, and that unfortunate Mustang begins a gentle roll to the right (he was taken POW).

I try to watch the Mustang down, but cannot; now my full attention is on the Hun! Zoom. We fly through the two Mustangs, now the advantage of the P-51 is really apparent, as in a dive I am catching up to the Me109 faster than a runaway freight train. I press the trigger for only a second then let up, I believe at that time I was about 250 yards distant, but the Hun was really pulling lots' of negative and positive g's and pulling up to
the horizon. He levels out and then does a vertical tail stand! And next thing I know, he's using his built up velocity from the dive to make a vertical ninety degree climb. This guy is really an experienced pilot. I'm in a vertical climb, and my P-51 begins to roll clockwise violently, only by pushing my left rudder almost through the floor can I stop my P-51 from turning. We climb for altitude; in the straight climb that Me109 begins to out distance me, though my built up diving speed makes us about equal in the climb. We climb one thousand fifteen hundred feet, and at eighteen hundred feet, the Hun levels his aircraft out. A vertical climb of 1,800 feet! I've never heard of a piston aircraft climbing more than 1,000 feet in a tail stand. At this time we're both down to stall speed, and he levels out. My airspeed indicator reads less than 90 mph! I'm really close now to the Me109, less than twenty five yards! Now if I can get my guns on him.........

At this range, the gun sight is more of nuisance than a help. Next thing, he dumps his flaps fast and I begin to overshoot him! That's not what I want to do, because then he can bear his guns on me. The P-51 has good armor, but not good enough to stop 20mm cannon hits. This Luftwaffe pilot must be one heck of a marksman, I just witnessed him shoot down a P-51 with a single 20mm cannon shot! So I do the same thing, I dump my flaps, and as I start to overshoot him, I pull my nose up, this really slows me down; S-T-A-L-L warning comes on! And I can't see anything ahead of me nor in the rear view mirror. Now I'm sweating everywhere. My eyes are burning because salty sweat keeps blinding me: 'Where is He!?!' I shout to myself. I level out to prevent from stalling. And there he is, flying on my right side. We are flying side to side, less than twenty feet separates our wingtips. He's smiling and laughing at himself. I notice that he has
a red heart painted on his aircraft, just below the cockpit. The nose and spinner are painted black.

It's my guess that he's a very experienced ace from the Russian front. His tail has a number painted on it: "200". I wonder: what the "two hundred" means!? Now I began to examine his airplane for any bullet hits, after all, I estimate that I just fired 1,600 rounds at the Hun. I cannot see a single bullet hole in his aircraft! I could swear that I must have gotten at least a dozen hits! I keep inspecting his aircraft for any damage. One time, he even lifts his left wing about 15 degrees, to let me see the underside, still no hits! That's impossible I tell myself. Totally impossible. Then I turn my attention back to the "200" which is painted on the tail rudder. German aces normally paint a marker for each victory on their tail. It dawns on me that quick: TWO HUNDRED KILLS !! We fly side by side for five minutes. Those five minutes take centuries to pass. Less than twenty five feet away from me is a Luftwaffe ace, with over two hundred kills. We had been in a slow gradual dive now, and my altitude indicates 8,000 feet. I'm panicking now, even my socks are soaked in sweat. The German pilot points at his tail, obviously meaning the "200" victories, and then very slowly and dramatically makes a knife cutting motion across his throat, and points at me. He's telling me in sign language that I'm going to be his 201 kill! Panic! I'm breathing so hard, it sounds like a wind tunnel with my mask on. My heart rate must have doubled to 170 beats per minute; I can feel my chest, thump-thump and so this goes on for centuries, and centuries. The two of us flying at stall speed, wingtip to wingtip. I think more than once of simply ramming him. He keeps watching my ailerons; maybe that's what he expects me to do. We had heard of desperate pilots who, after running out of ammunition, would commit suicide by ramming an enemy plane. Then I decide that I can Immelmann out of the situation, and I began to climb, but because my flaps are down, my Mustang only climbs about one hundred feet, pitches over violently to the right and stalls. The next instant I'm dangerously spinning, heading ninety degrees vertically down! And the IAS reads 300 mph! My P-51 just falls like a rock to the earth! I hold the yoke in the lower left corner and sit on the left rudder, flaps up, and apply FULL POWER! I pull out of the dive at about 500 feet, level out, (I began to black out so with my left hand I pinch my veins in my neck to stop blackout). I scan the sky for anything! There's not a plane in the sky, I dive to about fifty feet elevation, heading towards Italy. I fly at maximum power for about ten minutes, and then reduce my rpm (to save gasoline), otherwise the P-51 has very limited range at full power. I fly like this for maybe an hour, no planes in the vicinity; all the time I scan the sky, check my rear view mirrors.

I never saw the Me109 with the red heart again. At the mess I mention the Me109 with the red heart and "200" written on the tail. That's when the whole room, I mean everybody, gets instantly quiet. Like you could hear a pin drop. Two weeks later the base commander shows me a telex: "....according to intelligence, the German pilot with a red heart is Erich Hartmann who has downed 250 aircraft and there is a reward of fifty thousand dollars offered by Stalin for shooting him down. I’ve never before heard of a cash reward for shooting down an enemy ace ...

Erich "Bubi" Hartmann...aka ”Karaya one” (1922-1995)
Victories: 352 total, seven P-51s over Rumania( Ploesti), all others Eastern Front, all in Bf 109.
Sorties: 1,400 total, 850 aerial combats
Units Flown With: JG52, a brief stay at JG53 and Me-262 ”Erprobungs” unit
Shot Down: 16 times, never wounded
Awarded: Das Ritterkreuz zum Eisernen Kreuz mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillianten
Age during War: 19-23
Captured in 1945 by Russia, spent 10 years in Russian captivity, released in 1955

Hartmann's 352 kills makes him the top scoring ace in history.

To put Hartmann's statistics into perspective, consider this: During WW II -

105 German pilots had over 100 kills, 15 had over 200, and 2 over 300. The Luftwaffe had what they called "experten" which was the equivilent to the Allied "ace", except that a pilot had to demonstrate overall flying and battle expertise. The pilot could be rated experten after 5 kills, or, he might be rated experten after 60.

The top Soviet ace, Ivan Kozhedub had 62 kills.

The top British ace, Marmaduke Pattle from South Africa, had 51 kills. (KIA)

The top American ace, Richard Bong had 40 kills, flying against Japan (KIA)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh

From Kirkus Reviews
Twenty years (1946-66) of reciprocal, unconditional support between the twin sensibilities and manifestly unlike personalities of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, expressed in a private shorthand of shared history and coined language. Mitford, refreshingly, ``can never take [her]self seriously as a femme de lettres'' or anything else; Waugh, depressive and dyspeptic, finds her characterological happiness ``entirely indecent,'' and her punctuation ``pitiable,'' but convention is hardly her strong suit. Or his. They write about writing (especially their own) and about politics and economics and money- -Waugh unbendingly conservative, Mitford flexibly socialist (``All the poor people in the world & so on. It's terrible to love clothes as much as I do''). But chiefly they write about Society, exchanging news of scandals and slights in their overlapping circles, peevishly keeping tabs on their pets: Cyril Connolly, a.k.a. Smartyboots or just S. Boots; Diana ``Honks'' Mitford Mosley, the fascist sister; Lady Diana ``Honks'' (also) Cooper and husband, Duff; Jessica ``Dekka'' Mitford, the communist sister; cousin Randolph Churchill, not always ``on speakers'' with Nancy; ``Prod,'' her mostly absentee husband, Peter Rodd; the ``Colonel,'' her mostly absentee lover, Gaston Palewski. Their common references can be suffocatingly precious or jarring--they consistently consider Jews a breed apart. Their contrariness bonds them at least as much and makes for better material: Mitford is a passionate expatriate who settles in France after the war and sprinkles her letters with idiomatic French; Waugh is a resolute Francophobe who tolerates America (which she abhors); he's a father, she's childless. Withal, they seek each other's counsel and salve each other's loneliness irreplaceably. Editor Mosley (wife of Mitford's nephew and editor of Love from Nancy, 1993) orders their high gossip appreciatively and authoritatively, contributing conscientious footnotes, welcome biographical apparatus, and the admonition that the whole correspondence is ``to be read as entertainment, not as the unvarnished truth.'' Best in controlled doses. Quite the battle of wits.

The Atlantic Monthly, Phoebe-Lou Adams
Mitford's niece by marriage, Charlotte Mosley, explains that she has omitted Evelyn's earliest letter to Nancy, "because it would necessitate thirteen footnotes in as many lines of text to explain people who do not reappear." She also warns readers, "Their letters were written to amuse, distract or tease and should be read for entertainment, not as the unvarnished truth." With those points in mind, a reader who enjoys malicious gossip and extravagant prejudices can get much pleasure from the Mitford-Waugh letters. Reading them is rather like panning for gold. In the midst of much water and gravel one finds sparkling phrases, glittering anecdotes, and now and then a nugget, such as Waugh's observation apropos Jessica Mitford's book on California funeral customs that the features "that strike us as gruesome can be traced to papal, royal & noble rites of the last five centuries." There is also an argument about how Mitford, in a piece on French affairs, had described the activities of a Catholic clergyman. Waugh, a niggling pedant on official procedure, was determined to set her straight. Mitford defended her sources. The reader gradually realizes that neither of them knew exactly what had gone on and therefore both were soaring in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land. Since they shared a detestation of the twentieth century, they were really more comfortable up there. Ms. Mosley's notes on the letters are terse and practical. One learns who the people mentioned were, whom they married (usually several spouses), and when they died. Occasionally one learns a bit more. Osbert Sitwell wrote Waugh a congratulatory letter about Brideshead Revisited but privately told friends that he found the novel "unspeakably vulgar." It is not safe to skip anything in this peculiar correspondence, but not advisable to read it straight through. The letters require the free time they originally had to create the effect that the writers intended.

Sir Henry Maximilian ('Max') Beerbohm

Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) was a sophisticated critic with both pen and drawing pencil. He was undoubtedly the most fascinating ambidextrous artist of his time. Bernard Shaw, writing in 1898, famously called him “the incomparable Max”. An urbane but rapier-sharp humour, a mocking elegance, mischievous wordplay, pricks that do not seriously wound, “inimitable” quips, in-jokes, and rapid one-liners, ranging from the flippant to the merely gratifying, from the amusing to the positively charming, from the anecdotal and ironic to the satiric and sarcastic, are among the characteristics of his style of writing. He was an unconventional wit of the highest order, who was at his best with parody, burlesque, irony, satire, sarcasm, and pastiche. Perhaps the best thumbnail sketch of Max’s dual genius is his old friend Siegfried Sassoon’s “Tribute to Sir Max Beerbohm”, broadcast by the BBC three months after his death: “For behind that studied elegance, that insistence on scrupulous refinement of utterance, was the toughest of professional experts - the brilliant and formidable dramatic critic, the sprightly but uncompromising caricaturist, the superfine story-teller, and the cumulatively accomplished essayist, who was also an unassuming but percipent moralist”. -J. G. Riewald

Max Beerbohm's interpretation of Frank Harris' famous assertion that he was not a homosexual, but 'if Shakespeare asked me ...'

"The Sex That Doesn't Shop"

By Saki (H. H. Munro 1870-1916)

The opening of a large new centre for West End shopping, particularly feminine shopping, suggests the reflection, Do women ever really shop? Of course, it is a well-attested fact that they go forth shopping as assiduously as a bee goes flower-visiting, but do they shop in the practical sense of the word? Granted the money, time, and energy, a resolute course of shopping transactions would naturally result in having one's ordinary domestic needs unfailingly supplied, whereas it is notorious that women servants (and housewives of all classes) make it almost a point of honour not to be supplied with everyday necessities. "We shall be out of starch by Thursday," they say with fatalistic foreboding, and by Thursday they are out of starch. They have predicted almost to a minute the moment when their supply would give out and if Thursday happens to be early closing day their triumph is complete. A shop where starch is stored for retail purposes possibly stands at their very door, but the feminine mind has rejected such an obvious source for replenishing a dwindling stock. "We don't deal there" places it at once beyond the pale of human resort. And it is noteworthy that, just as a sheep-worrying dog seldom molests the flocks in his near neighbourhood, so a woman rarely deals with shops in her immediate vicinity. The more remote the source of supply the more fixed seems to be the resolve to run short of the commodity. The Ark had probably not quitted its last moorings five minutes before some feminine voice gloatingly recorded a shortage of bird-seed. A few days ago two lady acquaintances of mine were confessing to some mental uneasiness because a friend had called just before lunch- time, and they had been unable to ask her to stop and share their meal, as (with a touch of legitimate pride) "there was nothing in the house." I pointed out that they lived in a street that bristled with provision shops and that it would have been easy to mobilise a very passable luncheon in less than five minutes. "That," they said with quiet dignity, "would not have occurred to us," and I felt that I had suggested something bordering on the indecent.

But it is in catering for her literary wants that a woman's shopping capacity breaks down most completely. If you have perchance produced a book which has met with some little measure of success, you are certain to get a letter from some lady whom you scarcely known to bow to, asking you "how it can be got." She knows the name of the book, its author, and who published it, but how to get into actual contact with it is still an unsolved problem to her. You write back pointing out that to have recourse to an ironmonger or a corn-dealer will only entail delay and disappointment, and suggest an application to a bookseller as the most hopeful thing you can think of. In a day or two she writes again: "It is all right; I have borrowed it from your aunt." Here, of course, we have an example of the Beyond-Shopper, one who has learned the Better Way, but the helplessness exists even when such bypaths of relief are closed. A lady who lives in the West End was expressing to me the other day her interest in West Highland terriers, and her desire to know more about the breed, so when, a few days later, I came across an exhaustive article on that subject in the current number of one of our best known outdoor-life weeklies, I mentioned that circumstance in a letter, giving the date of that number. "I cannot get the paper," was her telephoned response. And she couldn't. She lived in a city where newsagents are numbered, I suppose, by the thousand, and she must have passed dozens of such shops in her daily shopping excursions, but as far as she was concerned that article on West Highland terriers might as well have been written in a missal stored away in some Buddhist monastery in Eastern Thibet.

The brutal directness of the masculine shopper arouses a certain combative derision in the feminine onlooker. A cat that spreads one shrew-mouse over the greater part of a long summer afternoon, and then possibly loses him, doubtless feels the same contempt for the terrier who compresses his rat into ten seconds of the strenuous life. I was finishing off a short list of purchases a few afternoons ago when I was discovered by a lady of my acquaintance whom, swerving aside from the lead given us by her godparents thirty years ago, we will call Agatha.

"You're surely not buying blotting-paper HERE?" she exclaimed in an agitated whisper, and she seemed so genuinely concerned that I stayed my hand.

"Let me take you to Winks and Pinks," she said as soon as we were out of the building: "they've got such lovely shades of blotting- paper--pearl and heliotrope and momie and crushed--"

"But I want ordinary white blotting-paper," I said.

"Never mind. They know me at Winks and Pinks," she replied inconsequently. Agatha apparently has an idea that blotting-paper is only sold in small quantities to persons of known reputation, who may be trusted not to put it to dangerous or improper uses. After walking some two hundred yards she began to feel that her tea was of more immediate importance than my blotting-paper.

"What do you want blotting-paper for?" she asked suddenly. I explained patiently.

"I use it to dry up the ink of wet manuscript without smudging the writing. Probably a Chinese invention of the second century before Christ, but I'm not sure. The only other use for it that I can think of is to roll it into a ball for a kitten to play with."

"But you haven't got a kitten," said Agatha, with a feminine desire for stating the entire truth on most occasions.

"A stray one might come in at any moment," I replied.

Anyway, I didn't get the blotting-paper.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You in 1905!

"Bertie the Bounder" Edward VII, The last British Monarch to give his name to an era.

Get a snapshot of your life as it might have been had you been living 101 years ago in 1905.

Just enter your gender and your fathers profession. 1905

Basil Seal: You are a landed man of leisure!

You'll be educated at home by a tutor until you're old enough to go to a major public school, the one your father and grandfather went to, followed by university at Oxford.

Career Prospects
You'll inherit the estate from your uncle. The agricultural depression means that farming is less lucrative and you'll adapt to the changing economy by taking up a couple of company directorships in the City of London. On your death, your son will inherit the estate.

Leisure Time
You'll be keen to observe all the social events of the summer season: every year you'll spend a week in the summer yachting at Cowes and will have a horse at Goodwood. In the winter you and your wife will travel to Biarritz, Cannes or Monte Carlo to relax and stay in hotels. You'll read the Morning Post which is delivered each day, and scour the pages for details of your own exploits.

Living Conditions
You'll live in a large house on the edge of a village which will have a staff of ten. At weekends you'll have friends to stay for shooting parties. From May to August you'll spend much time in your Georgian London house seeing friends and going to receptions, balls, concerts, garden-parties, dinners and dances. During the War the house will be taken over as an army headquarters.

Marital Relations
You'll be devoted to your wife but will enjoy spending time with other women when you're up in town, staying at your club. You'll have a particular eye for the pretty chorus girls who dance and sing at your favourite night spot.

World War One
You'll join the war effort as a Major and will narrowly escape death. On your return home your bravery at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 will be noted in the London Gazette. After convalescing in Switzerland you'll return home to live into old age.

Now you know why I'm old-school...


Basil Seal: 98% Snob

Congratulations Basil, you are 98% a total snob. You're more intelligent, better looking, richer and classier than everyone around you. In fact, it's a wonder you're not swapping horse-breeding tips with the Parker-Bowles right now, instead of fumbling with something as vulgar as the Internet.

What's your snob-status?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

American idolatry

Tonight whilst reading Zuleika Dobson I began wondering about a news item I had come across this morning. One of the saddening facts of the case is the fact that it was a front page news item. This item, on the front page, mind you, was about the latest news from a television programme. It seems that there is a programme in the US called "American Idol", it appears to be some sort of "amateur hour" show, where the contestants are abused by smarmy judges (one of whom is English) who possess no apparent talent themselves, with the exception of smarminess. I could not for the life of me figure out why this was "news". So I checked on the programme and it seems to be very popular with the great unwashed, some 33 million or there about, tune in to this drivil each week. To think it has come to this...You mean to say that educated, literate people actually watch this garbage, to the point that who wins the amateur talent show is covered as front page news? Do you have no books in the house? A computer game would be more intellectually stimulating. I think this explains the old saw that, "the sheep get, what the sheep want". No one should be watching television to start with, but that the most watched programme is one which would get hissed off the stage as below them at any respectable pre-school milk time. Two thousand years of civilization down the drain if you ask me...Well, it is "American" idol afterall, so what did I really expect from mere colonial riff-raff...Turn it off! If only Beerbohm were here to write about this...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Long Live the Queen!

"You there, dress that line, damn your eyes man, this is not fiddler's green! How can I depend on this sad lot to biff Jerry when needed?"

Happy Birthday to her Majesty the Queen, she is eighty years old today...Long live the Queen! The only real leader left on earth. I loved it when she took care of that little problem of the pseudo-American tart in Paris...("People's Princess" is just a nice way of saying "common tart")It only took one phone call to "M". Oh, and please your Majesty, outlive your hideous arse of a son...

By the way, I for one, always felt that Her Majesty, when young, was quite an attractive lady. She had an uncommon genteel figah...Quite fetching, if I may be so bold.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Follow the rules...

The chaps and I prepare for an outing...

I dare say you have a man on Savile Row, don't you?

Have you rotated your wardrobe? It is that time of year...

Here are some helpful hints to speed you along your way:

Never sacrifice comfort for style.

The bottom of a man's jacket should line up with the knuckle of the thumb when the arm rests by his side.

One half-inch of a shirt collar should appear above the jacket collar.

A properly fitted vest should be long enough for its fifth button to cover the trouser waistband.

The trouser bottom should cover two-thirds of the wearer's shoe and be long enough to remain in contact with the shoe when walking.

A sock should match the trouser rather than the shoe.

A necktie should be pulled up into a collar so that it is tight enough to arch out slightly from the neck.

Bow ties that extend beyond the width of the wearer's face or collar make him appear to be gift-wrapped.

A cummerbund's folds always face up to hold the evening's theater tickets.

Do not let me see you in Mayfair breaking any of these rules...If you are beyond the pale, please do not approach me in public...I couldn't bear the humiliation of it all! Be prepared to be cut dead in Piccadilly...If you need my man's number, just ask...

Forgotten Catholic Writer

Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) Nobel Prize 1928

Nowadays Undset’s name means little or nothing to that dwindling number of Catholics and others who still read. That is a great pity, as she has a number of interesting things to say and says them well. It is not inexplicable, however, for she writes with a serious, humane, intelligent and objective realism that went out of fashion in the trendy and superficially liberal and modish decades we have just lived through. Although she won the Nobel prize in 1928 and attracted a massive readership in English translation during her lifetime and immediately after her death in 1949, the centenary of her birth, 1982, went virtually unmarked in the English-speaking countries. It is time to look at her work again, and the aim of this modest essay is to encourage those who care about a sensitive and imaginative but clear-sighted and rational Catholic view of “man, the heart of man and human life” to read her novels and essays in the way they deserve. Her books were eliminated from libraries and bookshops in Germany in 1936 and in her native Norway in 1940. That is an honor. Our neglect of them is our loss..." More...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cold War cloak and dagger...

"...As the birthplace of Bond, Casino Royale can provide us with the definitive answers to some burning questions that have trouble mankind for many years. Specifically: he does introduce himself as "Bond - James, Bond"; the car is not an Aston Martin or a BMW - it's a Bentley; and the drink is not a vodka martini (shaken, not stirred) - it is: three measures of Gordon's Gin, one of vodka, and half a measure of Kina Lillet (vermouth). Shake very well until it's ice-cold, serve in a deep champagne goblet, and garnish with a large thin slice of lemon-peel.

But what can we say of the novel Casino Royale once we divorce it of fifty years of cultural baggage?

The first thing that strikes you is the vast difference in the mores and manners expressed in the book compared to contemporary society. That is not to suggest that Casino Royale is intended to be a realistic portrayal of the times, but the idealized milieu of the 1950s is quite different from what its contemporary counterpart would be. Dress is overly formal. Everyone smokes - all the time, everywhere. They drink pretty much constantly, too; a behavior now generally confined to college campuses..."

Note: An inscribed first edition of Ian Fleming's 1953 James Bond novel, Casino Royale, sold for £21,000 ($40,454 USD) as part of Bloomsbury Auctions Continental and English Literature and Modern First Editions sale held on February 24, 2005. The final sale was transacted after the auction had ended.

Damning your eyes!

In this, the first packet of the Flashman papers, young Harry Flashman is expelled from Rugby School for "beastly drunkenness." He enlists in the Army, serves under Lord Cardigan until he fights a duel with a foreign soldier, Bernier. A short period of service in Scotland during the Chartist riots follows, which introduces him to his wife-to-be, Elspeth. Flashman is then assigned to service in Afghanistan, where he is caught up in the Afghan rebellion of 1842. He is hailed as a hero upon return to England.

Flashman on learning foreign languages: ... if you wish to learn a foreign tongue properly, study it in bed with a native girl - I'd have got more out of the classics from an hour's wrestling with a Greek wench than I did in four years from Arnold.

Sir Willoughby Cotton's reaction to hearing that Flashman was expelled from Rugby because of drunkenness: "No! Well, damme! Who'd have believed they would kick you out for that? They'll be expellin' for rape next."

Flashman sums up the leadership ability of General Elphinstone: Only he could have permitted the First Afghan War and let it develop to such a ruinous defeat. It was not easy: he started with a good army, a secure position, some excellent officers, a disorganised enemy, and repeated opportunities to save the situation. But Elphy, with a touch of true genius, swept aside these obstacles with unerring precision, and out of order wrought complete chaos. We shall not, with luck, look upon his like again.

Flashman on an odd Victorian England custom: It was a common custom at that time, in the more romantic females, to see their soldier husbands and sweethearts as Greek heros, instead of the whore-mongering, drunken clowns most of them were. However, the Greek heros were probably no better, so it was not so far off the mark.

From the Complete Review:

"There are few literary pleasures that can compare to the perusal of a Flashman-novel. Each new installment is eagerly awaited and greedily read. Flashman fans are a devoted, enthusiastic lot, and we have yet to meet anyone who has read a Flashman and not enjoyed it (though there must be some such fools out there). Oddly, we have met lots of people who are still unfamiliar with the Flashman series -- poor deprived folk who think it might not be quite their thing. Oh, how we envy them that first flash of Flashman, the thrill of the novelty and discovery as Flashy-fever takes hold..." Continue...

What boat?..."Surprise"

Robert the LlamaButcher is re-reading the A-M canon for the upteenth time...Those of you familiar with the canon will understand this strange, primeval urge. I just finished the canon again for the upteenth time...And each time I still get angry as hell at O'Brian for killing Bonden! I mean that was just not right! What was he thinking? I agree with the killing off of Diana and the mother-in-law...I personally would have axed them in about volume 3...(I never could stand Diana)...But Bonden? See what I mean? It gets in the is an addiction...It is wonderful.

Go visit...

The Prime of Muriel Spark

I was interested to note that in her early days as a starving writer, Muriel was each month given money and wine by her friend Graham Greene...Knowing Greene, he was probably trying to give her something else as well...She was also helped along by Evelyn Waugh.

I am always amazed that Dame Muriel (1918-2006) is so overlooked...Why is this?, as the female literary elite dig up every obscure female writer they can find and tout as an oppressed Shakespeare...And let's not start on the disgusting worship of that utterly horrid Virginia Woolf...If any male writer had written, or, said the trash that this woman did, he would be vilified from now till doomsday. (Note: the two worst things ever to befall literature were the Bloomsbury set and the Beats, please notice how popular they both still are) Truly great writers such as Spark and Sigrid Undset (Nobel Prize 1928, when it still meant something) are ignored...It is because these two women are each guilty of that one unforgivable sin left...They were both Roman Catholic, as were Greene and Waugh...Although Greene does get some slack from the elite for his Pro-Communist/Anti-American views and the fact that he was one of the most prolific whore-chasers in history.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mortem tua annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam ressurectionem confitemer, donec venias

Peter Paul Rubens - Christ Risen 1616, oil on canvas

Just like Waugh...

Dame Muriel Spark dies aged 88

on Easter Sunday...

Evelyn Waugh, who admired Spark's work, died on Easter Sunday 1966.

Roger Kimball pays his respects over at Armavirumque

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Last Stand of the 66th Foot 1880

The last stand of the 66th Foot at Maiwand against the Afghans: the Eleven (2 officers and 9 soldiers) sell their lives dearly outside the village of Khig. Bobbie the dog can be seen at their feet.

The 66th were accompanied into battle by the dog Bobbie, owned by Sergeant Kelly. Bobbie survived the final stand of the Eleven and escaped to join the retreat, although wounded making her way to Kandahar. On the regiment’s return to England Bobby was presented by HM Queen Victoria at Osborne House with the Afghan War campaign medal, along with other survivors of the battle. Posted by Picasa

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Posted by Picasa
Balaclava: 25 October 1854

Lord Cardigan having ridden through the battery found himself alone, turned and rode back down the valley. He was one of the first to reach British lines where he met Sir George Cathcart. He is reported to have said “I have lost my brigade.”

On its return the Light Brigade had a mounted strength of 195 officers and men from an original strength of 673. 247 men were killed and wounded. 475 horses were killed and 42 wounded. The 13th Light Dragoons mustered 10 mounted men.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
'Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre-stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Last Stand at Gandamak 1842

The final stand took place at Gandamak on the morning of 13th January 1842 in the snow. 20 officers and 45 European soldiers, mostly of the 44th Foot, found themselves surrounded on a hillock. The Afghans attempted to persuade the soldiers that they intended them no harm. Then the sniping began followed a series of rushes. Captain Souter wrapped the colours of the regiment around his body and was dragged into captivity with two or three soldiers. The remainder were shot or cut down. Only 6 mounted officers escaped. Of these 5 were murdered along the road.

On the afternoon of 13th January 1842 the British troops in Jellalabad, watching for their comrades of the Kabul garrison, saw a single figure ride up to the town walls. It was Dr Brydon, the sole survivor of the column.

The entire force of 690 British soldiers, 2,840 Indian soldiers and 12,000 followers were killed or in a few cases taken prisoner. The 44th Foot lost 22 officers and 645 soldiers, mostly killed. Afghan casualties, largely Ghilzai tribesmen, are unknown.

The massacre of this substantial British and Indian force caused a profound shock throughout the British Empire. Lord Auckland, the Viceroy of India, is said to have suffered a stroke on hearing the news. Brigadier Sale and his troops in Jellalabad for a time contemplated retreating to India, but more resolute councils prevailed, particularly from Captains Broadfoot and Havelock, and the garrison hung on to act as the springboard for the entry of the “Army of Retribution” into Afghanistan the next year.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Scotland Forever!

Scotland Forever! (1881)

Lady Elizabeth Butler (1846-1933):

One of her last great paintings is set neither in the Middle East nor even in Butler’s own time. Scotland Forever! (1881) represents the charge of the Scots Greys regiment of the British Army during the second phase of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Although the British would ultimately emerge victorious, the Scots Greys would not enjoy the same outcome. By the end of their charge, 107 riders would be killed, 97 wounded, and 228 horses (of the original 416) lost. In Butler’s painting, the Scots Greys are captured in mid-charge, the leader raising his sword and calling back to his troops. Although the painterly application of the paint obscures the countenances of the soldiers, their raised arms and swords exhibit their pride, honour, and willingness to defend their nation, regardless of the consequences that they may meet. In addition to the desire to enter into a male-dominated genre, Butler’s intentions for producing such battle scenes were also patriotic. This is exhibited in her quote, “I never painted for the glory of war, but to portray its pathos and heroism.”

Thursday, April 6, 2006

He never owned a bleeding Aston Martin!!!

****1953 - Bond's fictional Continental was modified from the normal two-door fastback coupé to an open two-seater. "It was a MK (V) I Continental Bentley that some rich idiot had married to a telegraph pole on the Great West Road. Bond had bought the bits for £1,500 and Rolls had straightened the bend in the chassis and fitted new clockwork - the Mark VI engine with 9.5 compression." It would have looked like this.

Mrs. P had a post concerning the automobile product placement in the James Bond films, and a wonderful post it was too. I sent her a comment explaining Bond's auotmobiles in the books, which the movies are supposed to be based (yeah, right)...Anyway, I thought I would share the information with you as well, just in case it ever comes up in conversation.

In the books JB owns a 1930 Bentley 41/2 litre with an Amherst Villiers supercharger. When this car is destroyed in Moonraker he buys a 1953 Mark VI Continental Bentley with a 4,886 cc Mark VI engine with 9.5 compression. He then has this highly modified. These are the only three cars he owns in the books. He drives an Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark III in Goldfinger but it is not his own, it belonged to the Secret Service.
The Ford Thunderbird is mentioned in the books 3 times, but Bond is never at the wheel. Ian Fleming owned and drove a Ford Thunderbird although his wife (who disliked everything American) hated the car. He then purchased a Supercharged Studebaker Avanti (also American, I suppose he didn't want the wife to use the car). Bond's wife (yes, he had one), drives a Lancia Flaminia Zagato Spyder.

1930 41/2 litre Blower Bentley Ian Fleming at the wheel...

Read the whole story here...

Attention Plummies

Robert the Llama Butcher is "Plum Blogging" in a gratuitous manner...Always a must read in Mayfair... By the way, Robert is the cultured one over at TLB...He reads my blog so I think his bonna fides are firmly established...

Skip over and see

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

The Highwayman

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

Part I
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,And the highwayman came riding—Riding—riding—The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilts a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting thereBut the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.
His eyes were hollows of madness, his mouth like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

“One kiss my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i’ the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his reins in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

Part II
He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;
And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.
But gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, though her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with muzzle beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance! Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, and face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
And he taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral

St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Illinois and serves the people of Belleville and the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, which includes all of southern Illinois. In 1842 a parish was established on a location to the east of the present cathedral that was named St. Barnabas the Apostle, the name being changed five years later to the Church of St. Peter. In 1863 a new, larger brick church was built on the present site to accommodate the rapidly growing parish. In 1887 this church became St. Peter’s Cathedral and seat of the new Diocese of Belleville and was nearly destroyed by fire in 1912 with only the exterior brick walls remaining. The present cathedral was modeled in the English Gothic style after the Cathedral of Exeter, one of the smaller but more beautiful cathedrals in England. In 1956 the brick walls were refaced with Winona splitface dolomite and trimmed with Indiana limestone. In 1966 St. Peter’s Cathedral underwent a major renovation of the sanctuary and saw the addition of the south end of the Cathedral bringing its seating capacity to its present 1,270 people.

Two Basilicas

The beautiful Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis welcomes visitors to view the largest collection of mosaic art in the world. Pope Paul VI called the structure "the outstanding cathedral of the Americas." Designated a basilica in 1997, the cathedral was built in the city's Central West End neighborhood between 1907 and 1909. Its glittering green dome is a prominent feature of the St. Louis skyline and its vast and detailed interior mosaics cover 83,000 square feet and took nearly 80 years to complete. The mosaics of the main church and the vestibule were installed by a father and son who used more than 41 million pieces of tile in over 7,000 colors to create their art. On the lower level of the cathedral, the Mosaic Museum traces the construction of the facility and the installation of the tiles to create the art.

When St. Louis was founded by French fur traders in 1764, one of the first buildings constructed in the infant town was a church. Built on the site of that first church in 1834, the Old Cathedral, known officially as the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, sits near the base of the Gateway Arch on land that is now part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Inside the Old Cathedral Museum, visitors can see pieces of St. Louis' early history including the original church bell, religious art from the late 1700s, and the tomb of Bishop Joseph Rosati, builder of the Old Cathedral. From 1826 to 1843, the St. Louis diocese, headquartered at the Old Cathedral, covered nearly half of America, from Louisiana north to Michigan, from Kentucky west to Oregon and from the state of Washington along the Canadian border to the Great Lakes. Pope John XXIII decreed the church a basilica in 1961.

Typical American novel/film

In the NY Sun...

"...It's admirable that Opus Dei has chosen to react to the calumny with restraint. As a Catholic, however, I have no problem recognizing "The Da Vinci Code" as an attack on the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Brown's novel questions the divinity of Jesus Christ and claims this sacred belief was manufactured by the Emperor Constantine, who edited the gospels to secure his political power. Jesus was actually just a nice man who married a former prostitute, and their progeny roam the earth today. Well, no wonder Silas went around killing people trying to expose this secret..."

This type of work is known as heresy, in case you were wondering... I think an auto de fe might be in order here.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Why did the real man cross the road?

Answer: None of your damn business!

Manliness at The Weekly Standard

"ONE OF THE LEAST VISITED memorials in Washington is a waterfront statue commemorating the men who died on the Titanic. Seventy-four percent of the women passengers survived the April 15, 1912, calamity, while 80 percent of the men perished. Why? Because the men followed the principle "women and children first."

The monument, an 18-foot granite male figure with arms outstretched to the side, was erected by "the women of America" in 1931 to show their gratitude. The inscription reads: "To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. . . . They gave their lives that women and children might be saved."

Today, almost no one remembers those men. Women no longer bring flowers to the statue on April 15 to honor their chivalry. The idea of male gallantry makes many women nervous, suggesting (as it does) that women require special protection. It implies the sexes are objectively different. It tells us that some things are best left to men. Gallantry is a virtue that dare not speak its name..."

Also Harvey Mansfield in The New Criterion

Opening Day in the States

2006 St. Louis Baseball Cardinals

The New Busch Stadium 2006 St. Louis, Missouri
Take me out to the ballpark and all that...