Formerly Ad Orientem

"Irish Elk is original, entertaining, eclectic, odd, truly one-of-a-kind. And more than mostly interesting."
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Under the patronage of St. Tammany



Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

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Irish Elk
Wednesday, January 31, 2007  

"Potato Head Blues"

Woody Allen in Manhattan said Louis Armstrong's playing of "Potato Head Blues" was one of the things that made life worth living. Tallulah Bankhead insisted on playing it onstage for the three years she starred on Broadway in Private Lives. "It is one of the greatest things in life, in case anyone who is uninitiated to the true jazz wants to dig a great example of Louis," she wrote.

I can say from personal experience it is a fine song to paint the den to.

Audio via Smithsonian Jazz * Listen to more of Louis Armstrong and his Hot 7 at Red Hot Jazz * NPR Basic Jazz Record Library re his Hot 5s & 7s


Tuesday, January 30, 2007  

Gump Worsley, RIP

The Hall of Fame goalie, the next to last to play without a mask, won four Stanley Cups. Said former North Stars teammate Lou Nanne: "He didn't look like an athlete and smoked like a chimney between periods, but he was terrific when he put the pads on."

From the NY Times:

His nickname came when a high school friend said Worsley reminded him of an inelegant comic-strip character named Andy Gump…

Fans were often intolerant, and George Plimpton wrote in his book “Open Net” that objects thrown at Worsley during his career included “eggs, beer, soup cans, marbles, an octopus, rotten fish, light bulbs, ink bottles, a dead turkey, a persimmon, a folding chair and a dead rabbit.” No wonder Worsley once said that the only job worse than a hockey goalie was “being the javelin catcher on a track team.”

John McGourty at NHL.Com:

"Gumper" lost more NHL games than any other goalie, but was loved by all...

What was it about Worsley that made him so popular in his playing days and beyond? Worsley had a tremendous sense of humor and he could put defeat quickly behind him to prepare for the next game.

Maybe it was the 1961 Bobby Hull slap shot that ricocheted off Gumper's forehead and broke a seat-back in the second deck of Chicago Stadium. It hospitalized him, but he laughed if off and returned to the NHL without a mask. He didn't wear face protection until the last six games of his career in Minnesota.

"My face is my mask," he always said, and it bore the marks of 21 NHL seasons.

While playing with the perennial losing Rangers in the 1950s, Worsley was asked which NHL team scared him the most.

"The Rangers," he responded.

Minnesota columnist Jim Souhan:

Worsley is remembered by local hockey icons as a jovial anachronism, a throwback to an era when a goalie could carry a potbelly but no facemask.

Former North Stars defenseman Tom Reid, the Wild radio broadcaster, has an old team picture hanging in his St. Paul pub, with goalies Cesar Maniago and Worsley at each end.

Maniago towered over the 5-7 Worsley, who made up for his lack of size with his lack of conditioning. "We had a training camp in Winnipeg, and we started 'dry-land' training," Reid said. "We'd run up and down hills, run around the track, do firemen's carries. We were all told to bring running shoes and shorts.

"One day we're running on the track and I look over and there's Gump. He's got on black wingtip brogues, with knee-high black socks and a pair of shorts, smoking a cigarette, and walking."

When New York Rangers coach Phil Watson accused him of having a beer belly, Worsley said: "He should know better than that. He knows I only drink V.O."

Reid and former North Stars General Manager Lou Nanne said Worsley was afraid to fly. He suffered a nervous breakdown during the '68-'69 season after a flight from Montreal to Chicago.

Nanne said he was able to lure Worsley out of retirement by assuring him that travel from centrally located Minnesota would not be as harrowing.

"That's how we got him," Nanne said. "That flight from Montreal to Chicago, they hit an air pocket, he got to Chicago, got on a train and went home. I used to sit behind him on our charter flights and we'd take off, and I'd reach up and shake his chair, and he'd about have a heart attack."

Worsley feared routine flights and yet chose not to wear a face mask…"It's mind-boggling when you think about that, playing with no face mask," Nanne said. "Somebody asked him that once -- 'You've never worn a face mask?' Gump said, 'You think I'd look like this if I did?' "

* * *

* Fending off Bobby Hull

* In the third picture of this photo gallery he is unconscious on the ice after a shot bounced off his nose.

* See a Gump Worsley treasure chest and tribute video at Legends of Hockey



The Petries meet Herbie Hancock

Very cool. (Via Mystic Chords)


Tuesday, January 23, 2007  

"Crazy 'bout My Baby"

That song's been stuck in my head the past couple days, along with "Handful of Keys."

Fats Waller, writes Terry Teachout, was, "after Louis Armstrong the most life-enhancing jazz musician ever to make recordings."

Teachout tries his hand at transcribing Waller's vocal on "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie":

Be sure it’s true when you say "I love you."
It’s a sin to tell a lie-uhhllllrrrry!
[unctuously] Millions of hearts have been broken, yes, yes,
Just because these words were spoken. (You know the words that were spoken? Here it is.)
[simperingly] I love you I love you I love you [in an orotund bass-baritone] I love you. [gleefully] Ha-ha-ha!
Yes, but if you break my heart, I’ll break your jaw and then I’ll die.
So be sure it’s true when you say "I love [twitteringly, in falsetto] yooooou." Ha, ha!
It’s a sin to tell a lie. Now get on out there and tell your lie. What is it?

Elsewhere, reviewing a Waller anthology CD, Teachout writes:

If you can listen to “Baby Brown,” “Sweet and Slow,” or “You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew” without breaking out in an ear-to-ear smile, you might as well button up your hair shirt and stick to Machaut or Tori Amos. God didn’t mean for you to be happy.

In a piece for Commentary, "Mister Waller's Regrets," Teachout addresses whether Waller lived up to his talent before his death at 39.

What he did (as opposed to what he might have done) was more than enough to earn him a place among the giants of jazz. Of the 675-odd recordings he made between 1922 and 1943, perhaps a third remain irresistibly listenable to this day, not merely for the brilliance of his playing but also for the scapegrace charm of his singing. Few jazz musicians have had a higher batting average.

As for the "serious" compositions Waller never got around to writing, I cannot imagine they would have been more memorable than the life-enhancing records of popular songs he made so casually and in such miraculous profusion, and to which it is impossible to listen without breaking out in the broadest of smiles.

The picture above of Fats in England with his bulldog, Belulah, was found at FatsWaller.org.

Dave Radlauer's radio program Jazz Rhythm offers a Fats Waller show & links.

Red Hot Jazz is the place to go for Fats Waller sound files.

And from NPR:

* The Basic Jazz Record Library entry on Waller's "The Joint is Jumpin'"

* Fats Waller's Playful Piano Jazz Legacy


Saturday, January 20, 2007 -- "I'm Blue"

"Best Japanese all-girl rockabilly-surf band I ever saw!"

-- Commenter rockabillycat1954 at YouTube


"Woo Hoo" Live

"I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield"

Ghoul A-Go-Go


Thursday, January 18, 2007  

The House That Ruth Didn't Build

Amid planning for a new Yankee Stadium, Tim Marchman observes in the NY Sun that Yankee Stadium proper was lost decades ago:

One can only hope that neither baseball nor the Yankees will maintain the absurd pretense that the park where Derek Jeter plays is the same one in which Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle played. It isn't, and an All Star Game being played in a park that was built a couple of years before I was born will be about as much a goodbye to "The House That Ruth Built" as playing a game in Prospect Park would be a goodbye to Ebbets Field.

That many people don't realize this is a testament to short memories and a testament to the power of the Yankees brand and its association with tradition and nostalgia; it's nonetheless true. In 1974 and 1975, Yankee Stadium was destroyed. The facade was removed, the columns and pillars supporting the upper deck were removed, the dimensions were changed, wooden seats were replaced with plastic ones, the press box and clubhouses were remodeled, luxury boxes were built, and so on. It was a new park in everything but name, and a rather ugly one. The changes were made at taxpayer expense to ensure profits for a privately held entity, and their general effect was to make the park uglier and a worse place for most people to watch baseball.

A thread at Baseball Fever is devoted to images of the old Yankee Stadium. Keep scrolling: there are 18 pages, and some great old pics.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007  
"Lays of Ancient Rome"

The above is a suggested title for this piece, based on a reading of the first two paragraphs. Thumbs up on the review; thumbs down on the grammar.


Monday, January 15, 2007  


Not exactly passive resistance, but a stirring clip for the day.



"Life on the Wild Side"


Sunday, January 14, 2007  

OMD: "Pandora's Box"

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark for Mrs P & Mr Seal.


Thursday, January 11, 2007  

Scott of the Antarctic's final letter

…I hope I shall be a good memory certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud. Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold — 70 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent.

You know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again…

…You see I am anxious for you and the boy's future — make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games — they encourage it at some schools — I know you will keep him out in the open air — try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting.

Oh my dear my dear what dreams I have had of his future and yet oh my girl I know you will face it stoically — your portrait and the boy's will be found in my breast and the one in the little red Morocco case given by Lady Baxter. There is a piece of the Union flag I put up at the South Pole in my private kit bag together with Amundsen's black flag and other trifles — give a small piece of the Union flag to the King and a small piece to Queen Alexandra and keep the rest a poor trophy for you!

What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey. How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home — what tales you would have for the boy but oh what a price to pay — to forfeit the sight of your dear dear face.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007  

My Peculiar Aristocratic Titles:

Count-Palatine Mark the Canine of Londinium-le-Thames

His Noble Excellency Mark the Blue of Bismorton Shropcake

Earl Mark the Winsome of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Claim your own.

(Via the Very Rev. Janos the Uncanny of Eschaton End)


Monday, January 08, 2007  

TR Baseball Quiz Answer

The question: Which two baseball Hall of Famers were named after Theodore Roosevelt?

The answer: Ted Williams' given name on his birth certificate was Teddy, after Teddy Roosevelt. Jackie Robinson's full name was Jack Roosevelt Robinson.

You get extra credit if you recall Theodore Roosevelt "Double Duty" Radcliffe, who isn't in the Hall of Fame, but was one of the Negro League's great players. He got the nickname Double Duty from Damon Runyon after catching Satchel Paige in the first game of a doubleheader in the 1932 Negro League World Series, then pitching a shutout himself in the second. When he died two years ago at the age of 103, he was believed to be the oldest pro ballplayer, and NPR paid him tribute. Here he is in his playing days, making a tag at the plate.



A British Fleet Coming to Anchor

The Royal Navy plans to mothball nearly half its fleet.

Senior officers have said the plans will turn Britain's once-proud Navy into nothing more than a coastal defence force.

Editorialists at the Telegraph lament.

* * *

The National Maritime Museum's Picture Library is a rich repository of images (such as Peter Monamy's above) from when Britannia ruled the waves. A search of the Prints and Drawings collection for Death of Nelson returns more than 800 pictures.



Liberty Triumphant

Hail! Patriots, hail! By me inspired be!
Speak boldly, think and act for Liberty,
United sons, America's choice band,
Ye Patriots firm, ye favours of the land.
Hail! Patriots, hail! Rise with the rising sun,
Nor quit your labour, till the work is done

-- With apologies to John Leacock


Saturday, January 06, 2007  

"Lovesick Blues"

A remarkable early clip of Patsy Cline.

See also:

"I've Loved and Lost Again"


For sitting in a bar and brooding over a longneck there is nothing like Patsy on the jukebox. (Via Mystic Chords)


Wednesday, January 03, 2007  

TR Baseball Quiz

You may have heard that big-league pitcher Ted Lilly is named after Theodore Roosevelt (pictured above at Baltimore's Oriole Park in 1918).

Now can you name a pair of baseball Hall of Famers – two of the game's all-time greats – who were named for TR?


Tuesday, January 02, 2007  

There'll always be an England

The Telegraph of course had great fun with its recent obit for Lord Lambton, the "minister with [a] call girl penchant" who resigned from office after being photographed through a keyhole smoking cannabis in bed with two prostitutes, and whose photo bears this cutline: Lord Lambton: a prodigiously unfaithful husband.

But the paper would have a hard time topping the 2003 obit for his wife, Bindy, that is a masterpiece of the genre:

Born Belinda Blew-Jones on December 23 1921, Bindy - as she was always known - was the daughter of Major Douglas Holden Blew-Jones, of Westward Ho, a tall, handsome officer in the Life Guards with size 24 feet. Her mother, Violet Birkin, was one of three daughters of the Nottingham lace king, Sir Charles Birkin.

Bindy dearly loved her father, but her relationship with her mother was never close. Violet Blew-Jones drank too much, and proved a bad mother. She abandoned the infant Bindy to the care of her beloved aunt, Mrs Freda Dudley Ward, who was shortly to become engaged in a secret romance, conducted throughout with the utmost discretion, with the then Prince of Wales (a lesson which Bindy never forgot).

Bindy had no education, since she was expelled from 11 schools for various wildnesses, only one of which is recorded - that of putting a bell-shaped impediment under the headmistress's piano pedal.

It gets even better: the lions and leopards roaming the estate; the accident in which she broke nearly all the bones in her body, and afterward was sketched, encased like a mummy in plaster, by Charles Addams; the celebrated portraits by Lucien Freud painted as she watched horseracing on TV; the call-girl scandal that brought down her politician husband; the socializing with rock stars.

After watching her deep sea diving off the Barrier Reef, the American conservative publicist, William F Buckley jnr, wrote: "I have never met a braver man than Bindy Lambton acting as bait for sharks."

The ending, recounting her dying words, can't be beat. The piece is included in a collection of women's obituaries from the Telegraph titled, Chin Up, Girls!

* * *

It is not known that any scandal attached to Sir Morgan George Crofton (severely wounded at the relief of Ladysmith) and Lady Crofton, pictured above, but their portrait from 1906 is too good to pass up. The Lafayette Negative Archive has many more like it in a gallery of Court Dress Images from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Monday, January 01, 2007  


If you type in "Do the New Continental" at Pandora Internet Radio you can hear the station Irish Elk is listening to now. Next up, the Bix Beiderbecke channel. What a cool concept. (Via Mystic Chords)


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