Formerly Ad Orientem

"Irish Elk is original, entertaining, eclectic, odd, truly one-of-a-kind. And more than mostly interesting."
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"Puts the 'ent' in 'eccentric.'"

"The Gatling Gun of Courteous Debate."
Unitarian Jihad

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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.

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Irish Elk
Wednesday, January 30, 2008  

Support the Boobies:

A calendar campaign Dr. Maturin would happily support.


Monday, January 28, 2008  


The Beiderbecke Affair:

'As she began to speak, March began to gargle'

The Telegraph:

Trojan hippo

100 books every child should read

Obit: The man behind the Hula Hoop

Alternative Reel:

Top 10 Drunk American Writers (Via Cliopatria)

The Sheila Variations:

Happy Birthday, Archie Leach


'Social Studies Behind the Scenes at Buffalo Bill's'

By Frederic Remington * Harper's Weekly, 1894

(Via Prints Old & Rare)



Copy-editing abomination

Reality is now officially subjective, according to the AP Stylebook.

Callimachus, an editor by profession, comments:

Last night, I pointed out -- quietly and to only one other editor, I should add, considering the way things are turning out -- that pronouns didn't seem like they ought to be negotiable, and that the media ought to stick to its guns and not change essential facts and realities of a thing just to make some source happy.

I could tell by the look I got in return that I had strayed from the fold of "sensitivity" into "judgmentalism." This wasn't about language and grammar. This was a test.

The only thing like an argument I got in return was, "Well, he had a sex change operation." But I remember this case from before: He hasn't. He's legally changed his name from "Henry" to "Julie," but he's physiologically still a man, living as a woman, with eye shadow and 5-o'clock shadow both evident in his mug shot.

He's in a men's prison and the officials in the case, quoted in the story, refer to him as "Mr. ______."

And this doesn't even get into the question of whether lopping it off and claiming you're no longer a man makes you a woman. I'll let the women decide if that respects them or not. I can legally change my name to "cat" and get whiskers surgically implanted. I can file my teeth and eat cat food and lick my a** and lie around the house all day. I don't think that makes me a "cat."

Apparently we are heading toward a state of affairs where, in the view of the sensitivity police, this indeed would make you a cat.

The question for journalists, writers and historians:

How can you convey what's true if accurate language is replaced with New Speak?


Sunday, January 27, 2008  

Pinewood Derby

Saturday's Pinewood Derby saw the best performance ever by the Irish Elk racing team.

The Comet, above left, took first in the Pack 119 Tiger race, while the Flame, above right, placed fifth in the Pack 119 grand challenge.

Here's to weight in the rear and plenty of graphite.


Thursday, January 24, 2008  

Screaming Lord Byron wishes a belated

Happy Birthday to the real Lord Byron

Of the Hellespont swimmer Callimachus writes:

After Napoleon, the most famous man in Europe in his time. Patron saint of the scandalous celebrity; forefather of the limousine liberal; revered for all the wrong virtues; reviled for all the wrong vices.

LLama Robbo cites Patrick O'Brian:

"He is a poet, sir," said Stephen, "one that writes excellent doggerel with flashes of brilliant poetry in it; but whether the poetry would flash quite so bright were it not for the contrast, I cannot tell: I have not read much of him."

So much for the Old Romantics; here's to the New:


Monday, January 21, 2008  

For when the One Great Scorer comes

To write against your name,

He marks -- not that you won or lost --

But how you played the game.

-- Grantland Rice

UPDATE, 1/22

Loyalists: NY Football Giants Fan Club of New England

Bill Reynolds, ProJo: Recalling when Giants ruled New England

Dan Shaughnessy, Globe: Once a Giant presence in Boston area



Ruby Bridges

Lucille Bridges says she told her daughter only that she'd be going to a new school and that some people wouldn't want her there. Ruby didn't understand why the marshals were picking her up, or why the neighborhood joined to buy her new clothes.

The marshals arrived in three cars. Mother and daughter rode in the middle one, protected on both ends.

Roughly 400 angry whites stood outside Frantz. They threw eggs and screamed threats. The girl didn't realize the mob had anything to do with her. She thought maybe it was Mardi Gras.

Her mother, though, understood why the marshals unbuttoned their suit jackets. She knew they wanted easy access to their guns.


The Problem We All Live With, Norman Rockwell, 1964



Audra McDonald: "Supper Time"


Saturday, January 19, 2008  

Father and Son

Early on New Year's Day 1941, Billy Southworth, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, woke his son, helped him pack and drove him the 10 hours from their Ohio home to Parks Air College in East St. Louis, Ill. The younger Southworth, a minor league standout, had quit baseball and become the first professional ballplayer to enlist in the military...

"A firm handshake and I was off," Billy Southworth Jr. wrote in the diary he kept primarily so that his father might have a record of the time they would spend apart...

Billy Southworth Jr. wanted his father to know what it was like piloting 26 bombing runs over France and Germany as the sky filled with German fighters, flak and the burning debris of B-17's flown by men he liked...

He also wanted his father to know that although he had abandoned his game, baseball and his father's place in it still mattered: time and again he included the results of Cardinal games, even as he went on to describe the rising death toll around him.

The elder Southworth, meanwhile, beseeched his son to bail out if an air battle was lost. Billy Jr. wrote, "I asked, 'Have you ever known that you were beaten no matter what the score?' With a grin he said, 'You're right. ... Here's a cap that might be lucky.' "

It was the cap he had worn [during the 1942] championship season. Billy Jr. wore it into combat and the following May even wrote about it.

The cap, he wrote, has "heard the roar of thousands of voices," but also "the bark of 13 high-powered .50-cal machine guns. ... Lucky for those who have worn it - it has ridden with a winner, always a champion."

It is as close as he comes to writing the word love, and its meaning is unmistakable...

-- "Father-Son Bond Remains Alive in Wartime Diary," Michael Shapiro, NY Times, 6/19/05

* * *

Round they went, roaring, vibrating, dawnwrecking Fortress after Fortress warming up in bumpy prelude to takeoff. Fascinating, but also appalling, you could read in the ground crews' faces the same old anxious implications.

Week after week it's been thus. More than a thousand American missions. Thousands of tons of explosives, dropped in raid upon raid over Europe. Millions of machine gun bullets, spurted into attacking Focke-Wulfs, scores, yes literally scores, of Nazi planes shot from the skies. And, hard to admit but still true, too many US bombers lost. Likewise too many fine kids who have died...

Grimly, the son of Baseball Manager Billy Southworth pulled at his cap, bringing the distinctive visor low on his forehead. A strange cap to see in a Flying Fortress (a snug, gray flannel cap with bright red bird-on-bat emblem, rakish insignia of his dad's world's champion St. Louis Cards)...

-- "Ball Player's Plane Braves Aerial Hell To Fire St. Nazaire," Ivan H. (Cy) Peterman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/9/43 (Via Hell's Angels 303rd Bomb Group)

* * *

Every father of a son yearns desperately to be that boy's constant companion, intimate confidant and pal. Unfortunately, few of them ever attain such lofty objectives. But one of those rare and beautiful relationships was that which existed between Billy Southworth and Billy, Jr. The father worshiped the son. The son idolized the father.

Young Billy is gone now, killed in the crash of the B-29 bomber which overshot the runway at La Guardia Field the other day and plunged into the waters of Flushing Bay. It is an utter tragedy, because Maj. Billy Southworth Jr., five times decorated, had finished his combat missions over Germany almost a year ago. He had had one miraculous escape after another, and a heartbroken father, who had at last thought him "safe," is torn with a grief few men experience...

-- "Father and Son," Arthur Daley, NY Times, 2/18/45 (Via Hell's Angels 303rd Bomb Group)

* * *


Baseball in Wartime: Billy Southworth Jr.

His B-17, named "Winning Run" because it "always comes home."

* * *

Manager Billy Southworth, who led the '48 Braves to the pennant, last month was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Here he is in 1921. Is he pictured with a batboy, or is that his son?


Friday, January 18, 2008  

Red Hot Republicans

Mrs P commented the other day:

[N]ever forget, I would abstain from voting before I would throw a switch for a Dem...

So she will appreciate the lady above.

The London Times' Gerard Baker asks: How mad are the Republicans?

Polls suggest that Mr McCain is by some way the most popular Republican with ordinary voters. For a party as battered as the Republicans, this is remarkable. Mr McCain is fervently for the Iraq war, against big government and anti-abortion. Yet a McCain victory would send much of the Republican party into a mood of suicidal depression. The solid conservative base of the party despise him with a vengeance that is so pervasive it may even be a psychosis - McCain Derangement Syndrome.

Across the country, the right wing of the party is in a panic about the former Vietnam War hero. Columnists and conservative pundits are in a lather about his candidacy. Rush Limbaugh, the talk-show host who most neatly captures the views of millions of conservatives, begged his listeners not to vote for Mr McCain this week...

I sense that the syndrome says something about what has gone so badly wrong with the conservative movement in the past ten years. It has become so intolerant and exclusive that once orthodox views are now regarded as heresy; while views once merely narrow and eccentric are now prerequisites for membership.

The Weekly Standard's Dean Barnett may be on to something:

JOHN MCCAIN'S STRIDENT opposition to drilling in ANWR provides a belated opportunity for clarity. Republicans would be better off viewing McCain as a Scoop Jackson Democrat living under the Republican "big tent." They should consider any typical Republican positions he takes aside from his unstinting correctness on national security issues a bonus. Especially if McCain should become president, this mindset could help millions of Republicans retain their sanity over the ensuing four years.

The preceding isn't intended as a slam on McCain, nor is it intended to suggest that he is somehow being disingenuous by being a member of the Republican party. The modern Democratic party has no room for Scoop Jackson Democrats. Democratic regulars chased the last of that breed, Joe Lieberman, from the party in 2006.

Wonder how Scoop Jackson would have done in South Carolina?


Thursday, January 17, 2008  

Jonathan Winters: Prop Improv


Wednesday, January 16, 2008  

Emma Hamilton

Now I understand what Lord Nelson saw in her.

As portrayed by [biographer Kate] Williams, the meeting between "the ambassadress sex bomb and the virile captain" was as volcanic as the periodic eruptions of nearby Mt. Vesuvius. Their initial attraction, apparently evident to English gossip columnists, became infatuation upon Nelson's return to Naples after defeating the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile. "To the delight of the watching audience," Williams reports, "[Emma] arrived on deck and flung herself against him, exclaiming in happiness and shedding sympathetic tears over his wounds" -- which included the loss of an arm and blindness in one eye. For his part, Nelson "describ[ed] his heart as fluttering with confusion."

Poor Sir William [Hamilton], doting upon his beautiful wife, pragmatically aware that his own security was dependent on Nelson's success and "simply too tired to protest against being cuckolded," complaisantly invited the admiral to live with him and Emma in a ménage à trois that was soon providing fodder for every scandal sheet in Europe. Neither he nor Nelson nor Emma seemed to care; when he was called home to England -- Emma having in the meantime earned the Cross of Malta for her efforts in sending supplies of food to the besieged inhabitants of that island -- their arrangement continued, only to be halted by Hamilton's death, from after-effects of dysentery contracted in Naples in 1803. "Unhappy day for the forlorn Emma," his widow wrote. She seems to have really loved him.

But she loved Nelson more, with a recklessness that doomed her...

The image above, Emma Hamilton as Bacchante, painted circa 1790-91 by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, features Mt Vesuvius in the background.

A serendipitous route led me to Lady Hamilton. A Michigan primary-inspired search for an image of George Romney turned up a site devoted to the English painter of that name, famously obsessed by the model who was his muse:

In the four years between April 1782 and March 1786 alone, Emma sat to Romney well over 100 times. The outcome of their relationship was a sequence of fancy portraits and literary subjects with dramatic heroines - over sixty paintings which take Emma as their inspiration or definining feature.

I like this one by Romney, Lady Hamilton as 'Nature', and this one, similar, as Bacchante.

Meantime, she may have been Joshua Reynolds' model for Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus.


Monday, January 14, 2008  

Today's snow


Thursday, January 10, 2008  

Louis Armstrong: "Mack the Knife"

Look out, old Mac is back.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008  

Newman moves closer to sainthood

At news of his beatification we raise another toast to BXVI.

UPDATE, 1/10/08

The Times: Beatification 'imminent'

Whispers in the Loggia: Not so fast


Monday, January 07, 2008  

Mugwumps for McCain

Old Dominion Tory suggests the above slogan for a yard sign I'd readily plant in the front lawn.

The Irish Elk encourages Granite State readers to vote in the primary for the candidate David Brooks calls the only great man in the race.

Amy in NH makes the case with a "McCainfest" on the sidebar of her blog.

You know where Curt Schilling stands.



A Hi De Ho Centennial

NPR profiles Cab Calloway, born on Christmas, 1907.

Get hep to the jive:

Via the Hepster's Dictionary (hat tip: Tony C)

On video: "Reefer Man" * "Jitterbug Party"

On audio

And in French


Thursday, January 03, 2008  

George MacDonald Fraser, RIP

May flights of demented stoats sing him to his rest.

* * *

Times * Telegraph * IHT

Llamas * Random Pensées

* * *

The Flashman spirit:

From a Times review of the last in the Flashman series, Flashman on the March (2005):

We join him in 1868, a sword’s-breadth ahead of an Austrian officer whose great-niece he has ravished and — his mile-wide yellow streak notwithstanding — happy to be advancing with Sir Robert Napier’s forces to free a party of Her Majesty’s subjects held captive by the deranged, Kurtz-like Abyssinian king, Theodore.

Not one to rebuff the amorous advances of the nubile Nubians who fling themselves at his breeches, Flashy is much less enamoured of an undercover mission that sees him strapped into an iron-maiden-like contraption and dangled above an abyss, being dragged into the maw of a raging waterfall (his chivalry disappears over the edge, along with his vengeful warrior lover Uliba-Wark) and — in an arch inversion of his own fiendish party trick from Tom Brown’s Schooldays — nearly roasted by natives on a fire.

MacDonald Fraser’s rollicking, roistering novel is not so much a march as a full-blooded charge, fortified by the usual lashings of salty sex, meticulously choreographed battle scenes and hilariously spineless acts of self-preservation by the eponymous bounder. As you are whisked at an unflagging clip from one comical coupling (“I confess I entered into the spirit of the thing uninvited, going ‘Brrr!’ between her boobies as she collapsed whimpering on my ruined carcase”) to the next life-threatening scrape, it feels like being in the company of an old friend — albeit one who is likely to roger your wife, seduce your daughter, snaffle your finest cigars and polish off your best brandy.

More reviews

* * *

UPDATE, 1/5/08:

Daily Mail:

Last testament of Flashman's creator: How Britain has destroyed itself

(Via Brainster)

Max Hastings: Truth about the man behind Flashman


Max Boot: To Fraser (and Flashman)!

(Via Instapundit)


Harry Mount: Fraser was no Flashman


Chris Harvie: A salute


Amis on Fraser, &c

(Via Cliopatria)


Tuesday, January 01, 2008  

Tea sets & missing teeth

The national pastime of Moosejaw and Medicine Hat is a game after the Monarchist's heart, with hard-fighting players, stitched and toothless, who bow to the Queen, and are rewarded for their icy bloodletting with Hyacinth Bucket-worthy Edwardian hardware like the Lady Byng Trophy.

And tea services. At his Hall of Fame page, Bruins great Dit Clapper -- Slap Shot exemplar (with Toe Blake and Eddie Shore) of Old Time Hockey -- is shown in a number of pics accepting a silver tea set. This one looks more like a cocktail shaker. Yep, that's definitely a martini shaker.

At top: The euphoniously-named Clapper * Or would that have been onomatopoeic? * Via Hockey Memorabilia

* * *

The Penguins and Sabres played outside today in the snow before 71,000 in Buffalo's football stadium. The Pens won on a shootout. All in all, pretty cool. A photo gallery


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