Friday, December 29, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink to them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.
May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
In Reference: Christmas, Merry: Please see Mr. Cusack
Saturday, December 23, 2006
In Defense of Scrooge and Basil Seal
To appreciate them, it is necessary first to distinguish Scrooge's outlook on life from his disagreeable persona. He is said to have a pointed nose and a harsh voice, but not all hardheaded businessmen are so lamentably endowed, nor are their feckless nephews (remember Fred?) always "ruddy and handsome," and possessed of pretty wives. These touches of the storyteller's art only bias the issue...continue..."
Thanks RW for reminding me...
Friday, December 22, 2006
Basil Seal's Guide for heretics planning to attend Midnight Mass
Note: I personally will be at the Tridentine, or Latin Mass, but don't think for one minute that I won't be watching...
The Midnight Mass, held at the stroke of midnight as Christmas Eve ticks into Christmas Day, has its origins in the belief that Christ was born at exactly that hour.
Note: A Roman Catholic priest is addressed as 'Father X' and you will address a bishop as 'My Lord Bishop X' or 'My Lord'.
Rule 1: Arrive early and take a seat in the very back...Please leave the good seats available for the true Christians.
Rule 2: Dress appropriately, although I have personally driven shorts and t-shirt wearing supposed Catholics from the Temple myself, I would ask that you leave your Wal-Mart clothing at home and dress like Baptists. At least put on some damn socks, you piskie rabble...
Rule 3: Open your heart to the spirit and symbolism of Christmas portrayed in the Mass. There will usually be lots of sacred music, Christmas decorations, candles, scripture readings and perhaps a crèche. Unlike a mainline Prod service, the Mass is actually a worship service in which God is present.
Rule 4: This is important, so listen carefully...If you are not a Roman Catholic, do not, I repeat, do not take communion in a Roman Catholic Church. Sit quietly, pretending to pray, while the true Christians receive communion. It is considered very rude to leave during this part of the Mass, so sit tight, it will not kill you to miss part of American Idol on this occasion.
Rule 5: When everyone kneels, you kneel. When everyone stands, you stand. When everyone sits down, you sit down. There is a Missal in the rack before you, inside you will find the service, so you can follow along. Sorry, no video is available, you will actually have to read it...Oh, and if you are doing this right, it will be in Latin. If you need help, ask a Catholic. Before entering a pew, Catholics genuflect toward the alter, so do not knock some poor old blue hair down in your rush to take her seat. And while you are there, it would probably be good to genuflect and then prostate yourself before the altar and beg forgiveness.
Rule 6: If you are given a candle, hold onto it...There will be a time during the service where you will have to pull it from your nose and light it.
Rule 7: If you are at a non-Latin Mass, you will need to have washed your filthy hands...You will be asked to make the sign of peace, or some such nonsense, which means shake hands all around. I personally never do this as a protest of Vatican II, so you can stand still and glare at those around you if you like. Do not use this as an excuse to grope the women, (or men if you're a piskie). Don't give anyone germs, or worse...
There you have it...If you must go, follow these simple rules, but it would be best if you just stayed home and watched the telly like you always do. Merry Christmas.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Basil Seal's Loathing of Christmas Lights...
If you would like to tastefully place one candle in each window, fine, I can live with that. It looks nice, it is tastefully done...Less is more, as it were. But the great unwashed of America treat lights as they do food, more is more, and the more the merrier. Everything must be over done, over blown and made to look as gaudy as possible. Each holiday season the nation becomes one large trailer park, with Cousin Eddie there to lead us in the proverbial carols.
This is why I take joy in Ugly Christmas Lights...A wonderful website after my own heart. Please check it out and view the photos of your neighbours house. Please, enough with the ridiculous Christmas lights already...Have you people no shame?
Books On Tap
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Basil Seal's Rules on Christmas Re-gifters
I find it astonishing that so many people lack the ability to give and receive gifts graciously. Where were the mothers of all these people? Have they stopped giving instructions on the proper giving and receiving of gifts, and the appropriate behaviour associated with same?
Of course, in country where "self-centered" is practically a religion, I am not in the least surprised by any of this, just disgusted.
We give gifts out of respect for others...It would be much better to give and receive nothing, than to recycle unwanted gifts and ungraciously receive gifts given in the proper spirit. Please keep in mind that Christmas is not about you, it is about Jesus Christ. Where is his gift?
Victory for the King..."Bayonet the whole"...
Fort Niagara was now vulnerable to any British attack. Its defenders consisted of a company of the 1st U.S. Artillery, another of the 24th U.S. Infantry, and other small detachments (mainly convalescent) from other regular units. The fort's commander was Captain Nathaniel Leonard, who had apparently been attracting unfavourable reports from his superiors since 1812 but had not been replaced. Although Major General Amos Hall of the New York militia was supposedly responsible for the defence of the frontier, practically no militia could be induced to turn out.
Drummond had ordered boats to be brought forward from Burlington. They proceeded by water to the mouth of the Four Mile Creek, from where Canadian militia carried them overland to Fort George. On the night of December 18, a force consisting of the grenadier company of the 1st battalion of the Royal Scots, the grenadier company of the 100th Foot and the two flank companies of the 41st Foot, with some small detachments of militia, crossed the river 3 miles (5 km) above Fort Niagara. The force numbered 562 and was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Murray, the commanding officer of the 100th Foot. They were equipped with scaling ladders and under orders to use the bayonet so as not to lose the advantage of surprise.
They captured an American picket, which had been trying to stay warm rather than keep watch. From one of the prisoners, they learned the American challenge and password. They then approached the fort. A party under a sergeant led them to the gate, where they were challenged by the sentry. They gave the correct password and got through the outer gate. They got through the inner gate the same way, before the sentry there raised the alarm. It was too late to stop the British rushing in.
The defenders barricaded themselves inside the south redoubt of the fort and held off repeated attempts to break into the building. However, after they refused to give up, the British offered no quarter to the defenders. Upon breaking into the building the infamous order of "Bayonet the whole" was given.
The defenders suffered 65 killed. 344 prisoners were taken, of whom 14 were wounded. (This is larger than the supposed number of defenders. Presumably, some militia were sleeping in the fort or were rounded up outside). Captain Leonard was captured at his home, several miles away. Only six attackers were killed (with 5 wounded).
A force consisting of the battalion companies of the Royal Scots and the 41st under Major General Phineas Riall followed Murray's troops across the river and proceeded to burn almost every village on the American side of the river, in reprisal for the burning of Newark. Some Indians accompanied Riall, and several American settlers were scalped. Riall was eventually halted by some militia who destroyed the bridge over Tonawanda Creek.
A few days later, on December 30, Riall crossed the river higher up, and proceeded to repeat the destruction at Buffalo and Black Rock. Here however, the navy yard was a legitimate target. Four armed schooners and brigs were destroyed. Practically no American militia turned out to defend their homes.
Fort Niagara remained in British hands for the rest of the war.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Goodbye, Piskie Scum...
Episcopal parishes in Virginia break away to form their own Church. The sight of Virginians taking their ball and going home, of course is nothing new. We all know that Virginians have a penchant for rebellion and amateur government theatricals. So why not churches?...
Tell me this, would Marse' Robert stay, or would he go? The irony is that the new church is to be formed under the auspices of an African Bishop...My, how times change...Now would be the time to get on the Path to Rome...By the way, the Bishop of Virginia (who vows to crush the rebellion) is one Peter Lee...Although I realize it is quite a stretch to believe someone named 'Lee' would be in a position of power in Virginia...Where's Lighthorse Harry when you need him?
Basil Seal's Christmas Shame...
What possessed her we have never learned. Was it depression, temporary insanity, the kitchen sherry, or just plain wickedness? That year she was doing charity work amoung the lower classes, and it is possible that their questionable taste in Christmas trees rubbed off on her, we are not sure.
Needless to say, Father forbade anyone to visit our house that year, or for anyone to open the curtains and I believe my sisters underwent years of shock therapy due to this lapse into vulgarity by my Mother. It's strange, even today as I look at my tiny frail gray haired Mother, I still find it hard to fathom the diabolical evil which lurked within her on that fateful Christmas season. I still shudder to think of it...
Happily one night someone, under the cover of darkness, dressed in velvet Alberts and heliotrope pajamas, stole silently to the colour-wheel and wedged it in a way as to keep the wheel from spinning. A clear cut case of sabotage. Needless to say this meant that by the next morning, the wheel was melted and a complete loss. We never learned who did this, but that was the end of the aluminium Christmas tree...
Reginald's Choir Treat
by Saki (H. H. Munro)
"Never," wrote Reginald to his most darling friend, "be a pioneer. It's the Early Christian that gets the fattest lion."
Reginald, in his way, was a pioneer.
None of the rest of his family had anything approaching Titian hair or a sense of humour, and they used primroses as a table decoration.
It follows that they never understood Reginald, who came down late to breakfast, and nibbled toast, and said disrespectful things about the universe. The family ate porridge, and believed in everything, even the weather forecast.
Therefore the family was relieved when the vicar's daughter undertook the reformation of Reginald. Her name was Amabel; it was the vicar's one extravagance. Amabel was accounted a beauty and intellectually gifted; she never played tennis, and was reputed to have read Maeterlinck's Life of the Bee. If you abstain from tennis AND read Maeterlinck in a small country village, you are of necessity intellectual. Also she had been twice to Fecamp to pick up a good French accent from the Americans staying there; consequently she had a knowledge of the world which might be considered useful in dealings with a worldling.
Hence the congratulations in the family when Amabel undertook the reformation of its wayward member.
Amabel commenced operations by asking her unsuspecting pupil to tea in the vicarage garden; she believed in the healthy influence of natural surroundings, never having been in Sicily, where things are different.
And like every woman who has ever preached repentance to unregenerate youth, she dwelt on the sin of an empty life, which always seems so much more scandalous in the country, where people rise early to see if a new strawberry has happened during the night.
Reginald recalled the lilies of the field, "which simply sat and looked beautiful, and defied competition."
"But that is not an example for us to follow," gasped Amabel.
"Unfortunately, we can't afford to. You don't know what a world of trouble I take in trying to rival the lilies in their artistic simplicity."
"You are really indecently vain of your appearance. A good life is infinitely preferable to good looks."
"You agree with me that the two are incompatible. I always say beauty is only sin deep."
Amabel began to realise that the battle is not always to the strong-minded. With the immemorial resource of her sex, she abandoned the frontal attack, and laid stress on her unassisted labours in parish work, her mental loneliness, her discouragements--and at the right moment she produced strawberries and cream. Reginald was obviously affected by the latter, and when his preceptress suggested that he might begin the strenuous life by helping her to supervise the annual outing of the bucolic infants who composed the local choir, his eyes shone with the dangerous enthusiasm of a convert.
Reginald entered on the strenuous life alone, as far as Amabel was concerned. The most virtuous women are not proof against damp grass, and Amabel kept her bed with a cold. Reginald called it a dispensation; it had been the dream of his life to stage-manage a choir outing. With strategic insight, he led his shy, bullet-headed charges to the nearest woodland stream and allowed them to bathe; then he seated himself on their discarded garments and discoursed on their immediate future, which, he decreed, was to embrace a Bacchanalian procession through the village. Forethought had provided the occasion with a supply of tin whistles, but the introduction of a he-goat from a neighbouring orchard was a brilliant afterthought. Properly, Reginald explained, there should have been an outfit of panther skins; as it was, those who had spotted handkerchiefs were allowed to wear them, which they did with thankfulness. Reginald recognised the impossibility, in the time at his disposal, of teaching his shivering neophytes a chant in honour of Bacchus, so he started them off with a more familiar, if less appropriate, temperance hymn. After all, he said, it is the spirit of the thing that counts. Following the etiquette of dramatic authors on first nights, he remained discreetly in the background while the procession, with extreme diffidence and the goat, wound its way lugubriously towards the village. The singing had died down long before the main street was reached, but the miserable wailing of pipes brought the inhabitants to their doors. Reginald said he had seen something like it in pictures; the villagers had seen nothing like it in their lives, and remarked as much freely.
Reginald's family never forgave him. They had no sense of humour.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Why you do not 'get' Waugh...
Thursday, December 14, 2006
December 14, 1925
Basil Seal's Christmas Letter Answer...
Let me, in the spirit of the season, get a few things straight...Who the hell are you and why are you sending me this ridiculous drivel?
Now, it seems to me that if I were actually interested in you and your extended family of mutants, I would have, more than likely, been in contact with you sometime during the last 364 days. Don't you think? Seeing that I have been incommunicado, as it were, one might think that I was avoiding one...Well, I was and am quite putt out that you found me.
You must understand that no one, and let me repeat, no one is interested in your bragging disguised as holiday cheer. You and I both know that you and your pathetic family are complete losers and the 'letter' is a pack of proverbial lies. And even, on the off chance, that there is some semblance of truth in it, NO ONE GIVES A RAT'S ARSE!!!!! Now do you understand?
Why in the world you think I would be interested in your 6 year old son's Nobel Prize is beyond me. And your teenage daughters matriculation to Harvard? Oh, gosh, I'm all ears, don't you know...By the way, isn't that the same daughter whose Senior photo was placed in the yearbook horizontally? I wonder why? I sure hope your breast augmentation works out...I'm just happy that you are not a bunch of shallow, materialistic, crass, tasteless jerks...That would really bother me. Oh, by the way, did you note the watermark on this paper? Sweet, huh?
You are of course, what's wrong with the world. Christmas is the time for giving, but all you are giving me is a headache. I want you to please take your new house, new car, new diamonds, new high paying jobs, new shoes and new breasts and move farther away. You are depressing everyone with your lack of breeding and your insistence on acting like an American during the most important time of the year. We are in the midst of a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and believe me when I tell you, he hates this kind of thing as much as I do. And if you haven't realized it by now, we do not care about you or your family of crass nincompoops. We realize that if they are related to someone who sends Christmas letters, they're a hopeless case anyway.
You are tasteless vulgarians, and I demand that you never write to me again. Better yet, I demand that you never write to anyone within the same postal code as me. Well, have a very Merry Christmas, and I do hope to never hear from you again.
Sir Basil Seal
PS Card says hello...
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Basil Seal's Christmas Card Rules...
Please do not send me a card for Christmas until you have first learned what event is being celebrated on December 25th.
Is it the Celebration of:
Trees with snow on them?
Peace on Earth?
Goodwill to Men?
Antique sleighs with bells that jingle?
Santa Claus aka Kris Kringle?
Sentimental winter scene paintings?
Christmas Trees, bulbs, lights, ornaments, gifts????
NO...It happens to be the Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. So, when you presume to wish me a Merry Christmas, I would hope that you know why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. I want to see some indication of this on the card. I want Mary, I want Jesus, Joseph if you have time, but I better see some serious Nativity action! Yes, I realize that Christmas was hijacked long ago, but I can't help kicking against the pricks one more time...
Note: I will hunt down those of you who send the "dogs/cats in Santa hats" card...You will be sorry...
Nothing is quite as charming as an English Christmas, with its cheerful carolers, plum pudding and steaming wassail. Although Americans celebrate Christmas in many of the same ways, there are some endearing differences in the way the British do it.
- STEP 1: Play traditional Christmas music during the season, such as "Ave Maria," "Alleluia" and "Lullay Lullow."
- STEP 2: Send Christmas cards to friends and relatives.
- STEP 3: Select a live Christmas tree to arrange in your home, and hang evergreen branches indoors.
- STEP 4: Attend a mumming, or performance, where people wear masks and act out Christmas plays.
- STEP 5: Encourage your children to write letters to Father Christmas detailing the gifts they most want. He'll arrive wearing a red or green robe, with holly in his hair.
- STEP 6: Burn the letters in the fireplace so the wind can carry the ashes up the chimney and Father Christmas can read the smoke.
- STEP 7: Hang stockings on the mantel so Father Christmas can leave presents inside them on Christmas Eve. This tradition grew out of the legend that Father Christmas dropped coins out of his pocket on his way in and the stockings caught them.
- STEP 8: Go caroling from house to house and collect money along the way. The proceeds are often kept by children, but are usually given to charity by adults.
- STEP 9: Wait until Christmas Day to open gifts. Prepare a traditional dinner of roast turkey or goose, Christmas pudding (a rich cake stuffed with raisins and sultanas), mince pie and red wine.
- STEP 10: Plan to listen to a broadcast of the queen's annual message, in which she will sum up the past year and extend her wishes for the season ahead. This tradition began in 1932 with King George V.
- STEP 11: Celebrate Boxing Day on December 26. This national holiday commemorates St. Stephens and also the alms box at English churches.
- STEP 12: Understand that charity is no longer the focus of the holiday, but expect generosity in a different way. For instance, your boss will typically give you the day off with pay, and stores will hold huge sales.
- STEP 13: Take down your Christmas tree and decorations 12 days after Christmas, or you'll have bad luck in the coming year. (You'll also want to wait until December 13 to putt up the tree and decorations for the same reason!)
Monday, December 11, 2006
Basil on the Grinch
And in this version he leaves the last can of Who-Hash and starts the Adopt-A-Who program...
Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
"Then all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!"
Gotta like the old Grinch...Up until the point he wimps out...Grinch-ish-ly humming forsooth!
18th century Presepio built for King Charles III of Naples
“And This will be a sign for you...”
To set up the crib at home can be a simple but effective way of presenting the faith and transmitting it to one's children. The manger helps us to contemplate the mystery of God’s love who revealed himself in the poverty and simplicity of the Bethlehem cave.
Saint Francis of Assisi was so overwhelmed by the mystery of the Incarnation, that he wanted to present it again in Greccio with the living manger, thus becoming the initiator of a long popular tradition which still keeps its value for evangelization today.
The crib can help us, in fact, to understand the secret of the true Christmas, because it speaks of humility and the merciful goodness of Christ, who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor”. (II Corinthians 8:9) His poverty enriches those who embrace it and Christmas brings joy and peace to those who, as the shepherds, accept in Bethlehem the words of the angel: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger". (Luke 2:12)
It continues to be a sign also for us, men and women of the 21st century. There is no other Christmas.
- Pope Benedict XVI
Excerpt from Angelus message
Saint Bonaventure, Francis's biographer, said of the scene, "Many brothers and good people came at Francis's bidding, and during the night the weather also was beautiful. Many lights were kindled, songs and hymns were sung with great solemnity so that the whole wood echoed with the sound , and the man of God stood by the manger, filled with the utmost joy, and shedding tears of devotion and compassion. By his order the manger had been so arranged that Mass was celebrated on it, and blessed Francis...sang the gospel and preached to the people on the Nativity of Christ our King, and whenever he pronounced his name with infinite tenderness he called Him the 'little Babe of Bethlehem.'" (Nesta Robeck, The Christmas Crib, Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1956, p. 45-47.)
In the liturgical drama known as the Officium Pastorum, which took shape in the 11th century, we find a praesepe behind the altar as the center of the action. But long before this, something similar seems to have been in existence in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Here Pope Gregory III (731-741) placed a "golden image of the Mother of God embracing God our savior in various gems." The Church was meant to provide a special home for the new festival of Christmas introduced by Pope Liberius (352-366). An important part of the early Christmas ritual was the celebration of Mass over a "manger" in which the consecrated host was laid, just as the body of the Holy Child had lain in the manger at Bethlehem..."
Origin of the Christmas Crib - The Creche in the home - Preparing the Manger for the Christ child - The custom of 'cribbing'...
Christmas with the King...
This is of course the King at his best...That voice, which has no equal, sings all of your Christmas favorites, with that special Elvis touch. These are Christian songs, written and sung for the true celebration of the birth of Christ.
No jump suits, no drugs, no Colonel, no pre-pubescent wife, no jelly donuts...Just that beautiful voice, raised in sincere celebration...Now that's a true Christmas treat...For the rest of it...Bah as well as, humbug...
Friday, December 8, 2006
"...in the first instance of her conception..."
Damned Mitford girls...
And Mrs. P, those shoes are just fine for riding...Because boots were made for walkin'...
The Iceman Cometh...
Trees are down, the Countess has the flu, and I love her dearly, but a good patient she is not...Even though I have installed the machine that goes "BING" in her room...
I have broken out the overcoat and have been touring the estates checking for damage and flogging any poachers I happen to come across...A jolly good way to stay warm, I must say.
I am now here with my Dimple & Pinch, etc.
I have more to talk about...But now, I must be alone...Will be back anon...
Extra credit if you can spot the British Humour reference...
By the by Mrs. P, what type of film would you like to see?