Formerly Ad Orientem

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

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Irish Elk
Saturday, July 28, 2007  

On Vacation

Back in a week!


Thursday, July 26, 2007  

Yankee Cannonball

The pride of Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., the Yankee Cannonball is one of the classic wooden coasters.

I took a ride on it this week, for the first time in maybe 30 years, and had forgotten how much fun roller coasters can be.

An enthusiast with a steady camera hand posted the video above to YouTube. Similarly, you can experience Superman: Ride of Steel, at Six Flags in Agawam, Mass., via your computer.

If you prefer the merry-go-round, click on a band organ tune at the National Carousel Association and spin in your chair.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007  

To St. Christopher

From "The Heavenly Jobless," Time Magazine, June 20, 1969:

It was almost worse than if God had died. Not very many people know God, after all. But saints are another story; often they are local boys who had made good. Thus when word came out of Rome last month that some saints had been dropped from a new liturgical calendar (TIME, May 16), both their devout followers and a surprising number of nondevout allies were outraged. The Vatican apparently viewed the new calendar as a routine liturgical change, hardly noticeable in an age of guitar Masses. But the Pope might just as well have issued an encyclical against baseball.

… A truck driver in Boston took his St. Christopher statue off the dashboard, had his first accident in 35 years, and ruefully put it back. An international fraternity of Christopherphiles with headquarters in France reported that enrollments were climbing. Columnist Art Buchwald, a Jew, speculated that good old St. Christopher would go right on protecting travelers, calendar or no, because he's "that kind of guy."

He is, indeed. On his rightful feast day, let's raise, with Hilaire Belloc, a toast to St. Christopher:

…Belloc was seldom a bore. With his grave devotion to his religion went a fanatical belief in wine, which he liked to drink "to the Glory of God and the confusion of my enemies." He was not halfhearted in his piety toward the stuff. Off and on, over 20 years, he polished a poem in praise of wine. He found it a symbol of the good things of life denied by Puritan religions or by "Islam, furtive enemy of the soul." He said: "May I reach the Kitchen in Heaven and drink with St. Christopher"—although he believed St. Christopher to be a "pure legend."

May all of us reach the kitchen in heaven and do likewise!

(Via: Thos Fitzpatrick)


Saturday, July 21, 2007  

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Titania (Kathleen Michael) and fairy attendants are pictured in this image from the 1949 production by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Manhattan correspondent Steve M particularly will appreciate this image of Helena from the 1963 production.

* * *

Hear the Music: Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Via WGUC, "Classics for Kids")

NPR: Victorian Faeries (2/11/98): The exhibit depicts faeries looking a lot different from the Tinker Bells of our own time. Some of the 19th century faeries look evil and dangerous, and some pictures are voluptuous nude studies of women with dragonfly wings.

NPR: "Performance Today," the PT 50: Mendelssohn


Friday, July 20, 2007  

Today in Miracle Braves History

July 20, 1914: Defeated the Pirates, 1-0, at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh. (Starters: Lefty Tyler vs. Wilbur Cooper) Boston's fourth win in a row moved the Braves (37-43) into sixth place in the National League, 10½ games out of first. (Via Baseball Library)

* * *

While the 1914 Braves batted .251 with 35 home runs, very respectable Deadball Era numbers, their stellar pitching staff led the Miracle Braves in the second half. Following their return from Cincinnati, the Tribe's bats became relatively silent. Now their incredible triumvirate of Lefty Tyler, Bill James, and Dick Rudolph took turns posting goose eggs. In Pittsburgh, the three posted four shutouts in five games. One of those victories should be attributed to Rabbit Maranville.

The score was 0-0 and the bases were loaded. "Get on somehow, even if you have to get hit," Stallings told his shortstop. Babe Adams, the Pittsburgh twirler, tossed two straight strikes. Rabbit inched closer to the plate and took one for the team, on his forehead! Umpire Charlie Moran questioned Maranville's attempt to avoid the ball.

"If you can walk to first base, I'll let you get away with it," Moran offered. Rabbit got his most painful of 78 RBIs that year, and the Braves held the Pirates scoreless in the bottom of the inning to notch a 1-0 victory.
(From "Baseball's Miracle Boys")

* * *

Rabbit Maranville looks back on his career:

"For a quarter of a century I've been playing baseball for pay," he wrote in 1936. "It has been pretty good pay, most of the time. The work has been hard, but what of it? It's been risky. I've broken both my legs. I've sprained everything I've got between my ankles and my disposition. I've dislocated my joints and fractured my pride. I've spent more time in hospitals than some fellows ever spend in church. I've ridden on railroad trains until a steam shovel couldn't lift the cinders I've combed out of my hair. I've eaten lousy food and slept on lousy beds. I've been socked with fists and pop bottles and insults. I've been awakened out of bed in the middle of the night by fat-headed bums who only wanted to know what Pop Anson's all-time batting average was. I've lost a lot of teeth and square yards of hide. But I've never lost my self-respect, and I've kept what I find in few men of my age--my enthusiasm."

* * *

Above: Rabbit Maranville * Chicago Daily News Collection



A Tale of Two Cities in a nutshell

After wishing everyone a Happy Bastille Day (in the spirit of the annual Back Bay block party), I didn't want to leave the impression I was enthusiast of the French Revolution per se. Hence this clip.

The poster at YouTube writes: "A drunkard redeems himself by making a great sacrifice for the woman he loves...It's probably one of the saddest movies I've ever seen." Indeed.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007  

The Thinking Blogger

Many thanks to Callimachus at Done with Mirrors, who has honored this site with a Thinking Blogger Award. Much appreciated!

The rules of the game:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote...

Here are five thoughtful blogs that may not have been tagged yet, and deserve to be:

Random Pensées: RP's observations on day-to-day life with his family are engaging, funny and poignant.

The Inn at the End of the World: Bagpipes, the Latin Mass, and a pint or two, in a convivial atmosphere.

Catbird in the Nosebleed Seats: Better baseball writing than on many a newspaper sports page.

Mirabilis.ca: "An eclectic assortment of stuff: food, archaeology, fun, books, history, geekery, etc."

Scuffulans Hirsutus: The former Mixolydian Mode, now posting a photo a day, has been generous with web award nominations, and gets one in return.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007  


The Wall Street Journal carries an engaging review by Joseph Epstein of Sin in the Second City, Karen Abbott's history of the Golden Age of Chicago cathouses. The account centers on the celebrated club operated by sisters Minna and Ada Everleigh that "even now is talked about in Chicago by men interested in the sporting life."

The Everleigh Club opened on Feb. 1, 1900, and closed on the morning of Oct. 25, 1911. In between times, the sisters accrued assets, by Ms. Abbott's estimate, worth more than $20 million in today's dollars, while their establishment acquired world-wide fame as one of the wonders of the city of Chicago, which, in the words of First Ward Alderman Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna, "ain't no sissy town."

The Everleigh Club was a cathouse with a vast difference -- it was more like the Ritz, with, of course, added attractions. Sumptuous food was served (entrées on the buffet included guinea fowl, pheasant and broiled squab), music both serious and popular played while a basso continuo was supplied by the popping of champagne corks, and the downstairs décor included a gold piano that set the sisters back no fewer than 15 grand.

To give some notion of the general tone of the place: While customers were upstairs frolicking with the girls, downstairs their suits were being pressed.

And here I had just been reading about the Everleigh Club in Crazy '08, Cait Murphy's entertaining history of the Cubs-Giants pennant race of 1908. Murphy, describing the wild and wooly Chicago of that day, writes of "the country's most famous bawdy house":

The Everleigh fantasia was a huge hit, bringing in profits north of $100,000 a year and welcoming the likes of Ring Lardner, John Barrymore and Edgar Lee Masters. In 1902, the brother of the kaiser was treated to a spectacle of thirty wenches re-creating a mythical revel that ended in a feast of raw meat and the prince sipping champagne from a slipper. "The place had class and taste," wrote Nell Kimball, who took an informed interest in it since she spent a lifetime as a madam. "Class is cost, taste is where cost doesn't show."

(Via Cliopatria)

* * *

Photographer Ernest J. Bellocq was a Toulouse Lautrec with a camera in New Orleans' red-light district in the early years of the 20th century:

In the early 1900s, Ernest J. Bellocq carried his 8 x 10-inch view camera across Basin Street to photograph the women of New Orleans' notorious district of legalized prostitution, Storyville. His private photographic project remained unknown until after his death, but eventually found its way to international acclaim...He kept his Storyville project secret from everyone except a few of his closest friends, and it remained secret until his glass negative plates were discovered languishing in a junk shop years after his death.

His Storyville portraits eventually would be exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art and would influence the film Pretty Baby.

NOTE: The link above probably is NSFW, unless you happen to be a member of the figure-drawing faculty at Mrs Peperium's alma mater.

* * *

The Telegraph notes, in its inimitable way, the passing of Count Gottfried von Bismarck:

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table.

When not clad in the lederhosen of his homeland, he cultivated an air of sophisticated complexity by appearing in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings. This aura of dangerous "glamour" charmed a large circle of friends and acquaintances drawn from the jeunesse dorée of the age; many of them knew him at Oxford, where he made friends such as Darius Guppy and Viscount Althorp and became an enthusiastic, rubber-clad member of the Piers Gaveston Society and the drink-fuelled Bullingdon and Loders clubs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly he managed only a Third in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

(Via Rod Dreher)


Monday, July 16, 2007  

Burgoo & Boiled Baby

Llama Robbo, soon to be a Temporary Bachelor for two weeks with the departure of wife and kids on holiday, has put out a call for recipes lest he spend the duration supping on Ramming-speed noodles.

Well, there's always something to be said for mixing up a big batch of something in a pot; hence burgoo:

In particular, burgoo is a traditional Kentuckian stew, served commonly at the Kentucky Derby. It is a hodge podge of ingredients and most recipes call for a minimum 24-hour cook time. At the Derby it is served from massive iron pots into paper cups with crackers. Some people use the saltine crackers to eat the whole cup of burgoo like a dip…

It is believed that the word "burgoo" originated in the 17th century on the high seas. These sailors used to subsist on an oatmeal-like porridge made from the Middle-Eastern grain, bulgur (or bulghur) wheat. The term first appears in the 1650 book "Adventures by Sea" by Edward Coxere…

Traditionally, the idea was to make a stew using whatever meats and vegetables were available and in good supply. That meant game meats, deer, but also squirrel, possum, meat from game birds or whatever the hunt brought back. The local Kentucky barbecue restaurants use meats left over from their barbecuing — typically, pork, beef or lamb — as the basis for burgoos that change depending on what meats happen to be left over. There are many jokes in Kentucky about collecting "road kill" as meat for making burgoo.

Arenzville, Ill., and Owensboro, Ky., both lay claim to the world's best burgoo.

Meantime, as a Patrick O'Brian aficionado, Robbo no doubt has a copy of the Aubrey/Maturin series' gastronomic companion, Lobscouse & Spotted Dog, which has been described as "a cookbook to treasure even though its recipes are terrifying."

The Guardian passes along a recipe for a Gunroom favorite:

Boiled baby: serves four
4oz plain flour, 2oz suet, lots of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, a handful of lexia raisins (the really big ones you can get in Waitrose), enough milk to bind. Mix the lot and put it in a pudding bowl. Put a cloth over the top and tie it tightly with string around the lip of the bowl. Boil for two hours - and voila! Your baby!

Now it's on to Gordon Ramsay -- shut it down, you &$%*# donkeys, yes?


Sunday, July 15, 2007  

The last Tommy of the Great War

The Telegraph interviews the last survivor of Ypres, age 109.

The afternoon is wearing on and Mr Patch is tired. He pauses to listen to the children playing. What does it feel like to be the last of those millions, that army of ghosts?

"I don't like it," he says and then adds: "I sit there and think. And some nights I dream - of that first battle. I can't forget it.

"I fell in a trench. There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: 'Mother'. I didn't see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God's presence.

"I've never got over it. You never forget it. Never.

(Via Llama)


Saturday, July 14, 2007  

Casablanca: "La Marseillaise"

Happy Bastille Day!


Friday, July 13, 2007  

"How High the Moon"

Sublime, that song.

American Masters aired a very interesting feature this week on Les Paul, a creative genius.

YouTube has a vintage clip of Les Paul & Mary Ford performing live in the early '50s. She was pretty good on the guitar, too.


Thursday, July 12, 2007  

Mr. Butch

Mr. Butch, who died today in an accident, already was an iconic local street personality in Kenmore Square and Allston when I was at Boston University in the early '80s. If I recall correctly, I was interviewing him for the BU paper when Free Press photographer Bill Swersey took the photo above. RIP.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007  

The Eephus Pitch

Rip Sewell, who would have been 100 this past May, was celebrated as the originator of the "Eephus" or "Blooper" pitch. One of the most famous moments in All-Star Game history came in 1946 when he threw one to Ted Williams.

From Time, 7/22/46:

For four years, National League batsmen had been trying to fathom Rip Sewell's pet pitch. Rip called it an ephus ball after an old crap-shooting phrase, ephusiphus-ophus; sportswriters called it a blooper. Whatever its name, it was lobbed up to the plate, fat and inviting, with lots of backspin—and, if hit, usually popped up high in the air to the second-baseman.

Just before last week's all-star game at Boston, Sewell promised the American League's Ted Williams a chance at one. It came in the eighth inning, with two on. It floated up, as advertised. Lanky Williams stepped into it, put his powerful wrists into the swing at the right moment, just like a golfer. The ball sailed 380 leet into the right field bull pen for a home run, his second of the afternoon. It was the first time anybody had ever smacked Rip's ephus ball for a homer.

From Baseball Almanac:

Rip Sewell, creator and master of the ephus pitch said, "Before the game Ted (Williams) said to me, 'Hey Rip, you wouldn't throw that damn crazy pitch in a game like this.' Sure, I'm gonna throw it to you, so look out."

During the eighth inning Ted Williams came to the plate with Rip Sewell on the mound. Sewell described what happened to the media after the game, "He shook his head from side to side, telling me not to throw it. I nodded to him - you're gonna get it, buddy. So I wound up like I was going to throw a fastball and here comes the blooper. He swung from Port Arthur and just fouled it on the tip of his bat. He stepped back in, staring out at me, and I nodded to him again - you're gonna get another one. I threw him another one, but it was outside and he let it go. Now he was looking for it. Well, I threw him a fastball and he didn't like that. Surprised him. Now I had him one ball, two strikes. I wound up and threw him another blooper, on an arc about twenty-five feet high. It was a good one. Dropped right down the chute for a strike. He took a couple of steps up on it - which was the right way to attack that pitch, incidentally - and he hit it right out of there. And I mean he HIT it!"

Rip Sewell yelled at Ted Williams when he was rounding the bases, "The only reason you hit it is because I told you it was coming!"

* * *

* Red Sox pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee threw a modified version of the pitch, the "Leephus," to the Reds' Tony Perez in the seventh game of the '75 Series, with similar result.

* YouTube has footage of Sacramento minor-league pitcher Kaz Tadano tossing an eephus pitch in a recent game against the wonderfully named Albuquerque Isotopes.

* Manhattan correspondent Steve M. will appreciate this vintage clip of New York's Steve Hamilton throwing his "Folly Floater" to Cleveland's Tony Horton in a 1970 game at the old Yankee Stadium. Horton literally crawls back to the dugout after managing only a foul pop. That's Thurman Munson making the catch.

* WikiHow: How to throw an eephus pitch



Flying 193 miles in a lawn chair

Via AP:

Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks — and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons. Destination: Idaho.

With instruments to measure his altitude and speed, a global positioning system device in his pocket, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as ballast — he could turn a spigot, release water and rise — Couch headed into the Oregon sky.

Nearly nine hours later, the 47-year-old gas station owner came back to earth in a farmer's field near Union, short of Idaho but about 193 miles from home.

"When you're a little kid and you're holding a helium balloon, it has to cross your mind," Couch told the Bend Bulletin.

He didn't have a seatbelt, but he did have a parachute.

As it happens, he is not the only Curious George-style "cluster balloonist." There's a website devoted to the pastime.



Antonio Escandell Oranges, c. 1940s

From Box of Apples, devoted to fruit crate label art.

Killer Vegetables' could be a firecracker label.

Close encounters of the yam kind?

Sir Basil Seal wonders who put orange juice in his orange juice.


Monday, July 09, 2007  

Mutts pays tribute to its comic inspiration:

George Herriman's Krazy Kat


Sunday, July 08, 2007  

Te Deum

The hymn traditionally sung on occasions of public rejoicing was sung today at the beginning of the noon Latin Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton, Mass.


Saturday, July 07, 2007  

"Summorum Pontificum celebration"

-- Via Ruth Gledhill of the London Times.


Friday, July 06, 2007  

"The Looming Motu Proprio"

I do like that phrase.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007  

Today in Miracle Braves History

July 4, 1914: Lost a doubleheader to Brooklyn, 7-5 (starters Elmer Brown vs Bill James) and 4-3 (starters Nap Rucker vs Lefty Tyler), at the South End Grounds in Boston. The Braves are in eighth and last place in the National League, with a record of 26-40, 15 games out of first.

(Source: Baseball Library)

* * *

Above: Hank Gowdy, 1914 * Via Shorpy

* * *

Happy Fourth of July!


Monday, July 02, 2007  

Sioux Chief Hollow Horn Bear

From Ghost Cowboy: True Tales of Adventure in the American West



Up in Smoke

The Daily Mash: Airport attackers to be charged under anti-smoking laws

The Telegraph: 500 years of boozy history stubbed out:

For drinkers, writers, artists - and smokers, the Coach and Horses has a long and distinguished history. Jeffrey Bernard, Dylan Thomas, John Hurt, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Peter Cook all came here - arguing, debating and misbehaving through a dense cloud of smoke. But no more.

Alistair Choat, 44, the landlord, joined his customers on the pavement of Greek Street, shielding his cigarette from the rain. "It was always a fug of smoke in here," he said. "Particularly last night. This ban is a travesty. Yes, smoking is a filthy habit. Yes, it is bad for you. But that is not actually the point. We have got 500 years history of smoking in pubs and suddenly, without being asked, you're not allowed to do it any more."

Ten smoking songs

Picture gallery: British Pipe Smoking Championships

Evocative of 18th-century allegory: Queen accepts American Indian peace pipe

At top: Smokers, 1924 * Via Shorpy


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