Formerly Ad Orientem

"Irish Elk is original, entertaining, eclectic, odd, truly one-of-a-kind. And more than mostly interesting."
Amy Kane

"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
Tuesday, October 31, 2006  

Great Pumpkins

And a Dover Demon.


Monday, October 30, 2006  

Remembering Red

With bouquets: at Fanueil Hall

The Globe's Bob Ryan reminisces on Auerbach:

The Red Auerbach folklore is extensive: The seven basic plays, plus options. The victory cigar. The Chinese food. The legendarily bad driving. The way he protected the owner du jour's money even better than he did his own. The love of Asian art and furniture. The letter opener collection. The image of him with the rolled-up program battling such referee foils as Sid Borgia and Mendy Rudolph. The love of tennis and racquetball. The chutzpah to draft the NBA's first black player, Chuck Cooper, in 1950; the further chutzpah to start five black players in the 1964-65 season; and even more chutzpah to name Bill Russell his successor when he retired from coaching in 1966.

And more: The fact that during the Bird Era he was not to be disturbed between 4 and 5 in his office because that's when he watched "Hawaii 5-0."

* * *

Former Herald reporter Michael Gee:

I always thought the piratical old SOB would outlive me and everything else except the cockroaches.

Hero, liar, racial pioneer, cheapskate, a man I hated in youth and am weeping as I write his obit. Sports and the world are duller and poorer places this morning.

* * *

Hub Blog picks its all-time greatest Celtics teams from the Auerbach era:

First team: Head coach, Red Auerbach. Center, Bill Russell. Guards, Dennis Johnson and Jo Jo White. Forwards, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.

Second team: Head coach, Tom Heinsohn. Center, Robert Parish. Guards, Bob Cousy and Sam Jones. Forwards, John Havlicek and Paul Silas.

Backups for any of those teams: K.C. Jones, Dave Cowens, Bill Sharman, Don Nelson, Cedric Maxwell, Frank Ramsey and Satch Sanders.

Wouldn't it have been great to see the two above teams go at it?... I'd certainly take either team today and watch them pound the current NBA crop.

* * *

Readers of the Celtics board at Boston.com were asked how the team might best honor Red Auerbach's memory. These two respondents hit the nail on the parquet:

Message #6730.3
The Celtics should honor Red by:
1) terminating the Celtics dance team,
2) offering pastrami on rye sandwiches and cigars in the arena (I refuse to call it the Garden)
3) buying back the naming rights of the arena and naming it after Red
4) and putting a winner on the court

Message #6730.36
Get rid of the idiotic Dance Team NOW!!
And get rid of the entire Bimbo Brigade the Celtics trot out every game.
Enough of the Dallas Mavericks-ization of what WAS the proudest franchise in sports.

Boston fans at the old Garden once booed an organist who tried to innovate by introducing the Mexican Hat Dance. Today, the Cs have their own dancers, whose charms, while considerable, do not exactly represent an organic addition to the legacy of the Cooz, black high-tops and Johnny Most.

Mr. Seal, though, may appreciate Danielle, who embodies the new Celtic Mystique as filtered through Albert Vargas.

Over Red's dead body, indeed.



RCB for Pulp Art


Sunday, October 29, 2006  

Red: RIP

Globe * Herald * Celtics * NBA


Saturday, October 28, 2006  

"Under the Anheuser Bush"

Sing a round as a toast to the Cards:

Come, Come, Come and make eyes with me,
Under the Anheuser Bush
Come, Come, drink some “Budwise” with me
Under the Anheuser Bush,
Hear the old German band,
Just let me hold your hand Yah!
Do, Do, Come and have a stein or two,
Under the Anheuser Bush. Bush.

Listen to more at a page of vintage Edison cylinder recordings.

And via George Lee, a 1934 newsreel: Cards Take Series.


Friday, October 27, 2006  

Young Turk

As the week began, the loosest player in the National Hockey League's tightest playoff race ever was Derek Sanderson, 23, center of the Boston Bruins. He awoke in a mod, round bed undreamed of in his street-fighting, high school-dropout days, picked up a phone from the white sheepskin rug and dialed his answering service. Little Joe, as Sanderson is sometimes called, had received no messages in the night from his idol, Big Joe Namath. Sanderson ran a brush over his razor-cut hair, put on a pair of flowered bell-bottoms and a shirt the color of orange sherbet and walked outside to his gold 1970 Continental Mark 111. The plates read Bruins 16 "They're welded on," said the Bruins' No. 16. "They'd be stolen every day if they weren't."

-- "The Desperate Hours," by Mark Mulvoy and Gary Ronberg, Sports Illustrated, April 6, 1970


Wednesday, October 25, 2006  

The Echoing Green

Before there was Bill Buckner there was Ralph Branca. The Dodger pitcher, above right, gave up the pennant-winning home run to the Giants' Bobby Thomson in 1951 in what is still remembered as the most dramatic moment in baseball history.

Except that wasn't all there was to it. It turns out the Giants had been cheating: they had someone stationed in the far reaches of the ballpark with a telescope and a buzzer who was relaying the catcher's signs. Giant batters were tipped off to what pitches were coming. Had it been known at the time it would have been a scandal.

Through the grapevine, Branca later learned about the Giants' sign-stealing. But he kept it to himself. For a half-century, he bore the stigma of being the goat's goat – and said nothing.

The Wall Street Journal's Joshua Prager has written a book, The Echoing Green, on the untold story behind the Shot Heard 'Round the World and the secret carried by Branca and Thomson. The website is magnificent.

And if you can get the link to open, this piece adapted from the book, "The Echoes of a Home Run," is fascinating and quite poignant.

Related links: The Scotsman * Random House * NPR * NY Times * SI



On this day in history

The American frigate United States defeated the British frigate Macedonian on this day in 1812. The painting above by Thomas Chambers is included in a striking book, America's Art, from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006  

Smells, bells &c

This blog makes the top five on a Google search for mummified Cabrini.

The story of heroic Jesuit chaplain Fr. Willie Doyle is featured in an Irish Times package on the Somme. A biography of Fr. Doyle titled The Padre of Trench Street is available at Amazon.

A search on Jesuit at Flickr leads to these images:

Golden chapel * Heavens inside * Museo Nacional del Virreinato * Domes * The Gesu * Bolivian mission * Lucerne * Prague * Jesuitenkirche * Toledo * Baroque * Prague * Rome * Santa Maria Maggiore

Karen Hall urges: Don't give up on the Jebbies. She hosts a Jesuit-themed blog, A Little Battalion.

A hypothetical project by Matthew Alderman: A new church for St. Agnes Parish, NYC

Andrew Cusack: Vienna on 43rd Street * A tribute to Blessed Charles of Austria

Fr Nicholas Schofield: Thumbs up for Helen Mirren's Queen and for the Barbour jacket, just the thing with a Roman collar.

Daniel Mitsui: Great Clocks of Christendom

F. C. Ziegler Co.: Liturgical charcoal tongs

Church of the Advent: Belltower restoration

Basil Seal: How Good Pope John said Mass

YouTube: Traditional Roman Rite, Easter Sunday, 1941.



The first tear in the Iron Curtain

Hungary, 1956

"October 23, 1956, is a day that will live forever in the annals of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly the eternal unquenchability of man's desire to be free, whatever the odds against success, whatever the sacrifice required."

-- John F. Kennedy, on the first anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.


Monday, October 23, 2006  

Taking art by the horns

This is too good: Irish Elk-inspired performance artist Beth Collar's project for the Deviant Art show is featured on Swedish television.

She compares the elk's growing great antlers to attract a mate to a girl's putting on makeup or getting a breast enlargement.

All I know is the Swedish description of her navigating with the big horns cries out for subtitles:

Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?

See the løveli lakes

The wonderful telephøne system

And mani interesting furry animals

Including the majestic moose



That sinking feeling

Having had a very short career as a very inept coxswain, I appreciated this story of the visiting Chinese crew that conducted an open search for a cox for the Head of the Charles.

For the MIT grad student chosen, and the rest of the crew, things went swimmingly. (Reason No. 137 why the Eliot Street Bridge, the Scylla and Charibdis of the course, is the place to watch the race.)

In other news from the Hub: Mahow, mahow, RIP.


Friday, October 20, 2006  

Music Meme

Best title ever for a piece of music: "Get on a Raft with Taft"

Most underrated guitarist: If steel guitarists count, then I'll say Leon McAuliffe, because you may not have heard of him. He played for Bob Wills (whose exclamation, "Take it away, Leon!" became a trademark) and his signature song was "Steel Guitar Rag."

Dick Dale is not underrated, but my wife can say she was kissed by him.

Music that moves me to tears: "Ave Verum Corpus," Mozart

Most unusual lead instrument in a piece of music: Lead accordion isn't really that unusual, I suppose, if you're from Wisconsin or Minnesota, but I can't pass up the opportunity to link to the Big Joe Polka Show online.

Coolest name ever for a Rock 'N Roll band: Fine Young Cannibals. Honorable mention: the Specials, the B-52s, the Stray Cats, Los Straitjackets

Worst genre of music ever: Gangsta rap. (Or the St. Louis Jesuits.)

Best guitar jam: "Blitzkrieg Bop," the Ramones.

Music that's ever scared your kid: Well, Barney certainly gets a reaction.

National Anthem that most gets the blood pumping: It's not the national anthem, but "The Stars & Stripes Forever," when the big flag comes down.

The picture above of jazz bassist Chubby Jackson at the Happy Monster Room comes up when you search on the word "monster" at American Memory.

(In belated response to Dave Pawlak. If you're so inclined, consider yourself tagged!)


Thursday, October 19, 2006  

"A vitamin pill with legs"

Betty Hutton: "Murder, He Says"


Tuesday, October 17, 2006  


On the same day the American population reaches 300 million, Irish Elk records its 300,000th visit.

The landmark visitor arrived from Nashville via the Llamas, but surfed away before collecting a tip of the antlers and valuable door prize.

It took four-and-a-half years to reach what Instapundit gets in two-and-a-half days, but like all the most discerning little magazines, we measure our visitors in quality not quantity.

So a toast to all who have graced this site with their presence, and many happy returns!



Natural History

Pseudonymous Chronicle of Higher Ed columnist "Thomas H. Benton" describes the wonders of the Victorian natural history museum:

One of my most powerful early memories is of visiting the great hall of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences: an enormous 19th-century gallery decorated, as I recall, with wrought iron, entablatures, oak, and marble. I remember my footsteps echoing as I walked toward the polished railing behind which stood the Hadrosaurus, more than 20 feet tall and impossibly ancient. The mounted skeleton -- brown, lacquered, and crackled, like a Rembrandt painting -- revealed itself gradually as my eyes adjusted to the light.

Wreckovators since have intervened, in the cause of up-to-datedness and kid-friendliness:

Now the towering Hadrosaurus is hunched over -- in deference to current theory -- and banished to an inconspicuous corner to make room for a gathering of fossil replicas designed as photo-ops. Instead of gazing up at a relic of the heroic era of Victorian science, people ignore the Hadrosaurus and get their picture taken with their head beneath the jaws of the scary Giganotosaurus, a sort of Tyrannosaurus Rex on steroids, before going to the gift shop to buy a "sharp toothed" plush toy. See, kids, science can be fun!

But programmed "fun" is not necessarily pleasure, nor is entertainment the only means of sparking an interest in science. The people who run museums these days seem to think that children cannot enjoy quiet reflection. I suppose they think that would be elitist. As a result, decorum -- once one of the key lessons of the museum for children -- is replaced by the rules of schoolyard, the serious is usurped by the cute, and thought is banished by the chatter of last decade's high-tech gizmos.

Preservationists of all sorts of cathedrals will agree: Touches a chord, no?

* * *

Found via Flickr search on "natural history":

London Natural History Museum * Escher-like * London * Entrance, London * Tail of the beast * Main Hall, London * London, again * And again * Carved entrance, in stereo

Oxford * Oxford * Oxford * Oxford * Oxford

Flightless birds, Paris * NYC * Bush baby? * Smithsonian skeletons * Maori heads (!) * Harvard bones * And bears * Irish Elk, Carnegie Museum


Saturday, October 14, 2006  

Happy Birthday, James II

Fr Nicholas Schofield recalls how celebrating a Mass for Britain's last Catholic king ran him afoul of Ian Paisley.

Fr Nicholas also has scanned some images from the diocesan archives showing the Archbishop of Westminster visiting the Dublin Fusiliers on the Western Front during WWI. They have the look of "Fr Brown Goes to War."


Thursday, October 12, 2006  

Old Ironsides

We paid a visit to the USS Constitution over Columbus Day weekend. It was the first time I'd been there since I was a grade-schooler doing the Freedom Trail during the Bicentennial, and it was much more impressive than I remembered.

I'm currently in nautical fiction withdrawal, having listened my way through the Aubreyad, and would welcome suggestions for future audio fare. Has anyone read Julian Stockwin's Kydd series?


Monday, October 09, 2006  

From the editor's desk

It's possible the genteel Boston Evening Transcript city editor above, in a fit of abandon, might have taken to digging the Panama Canal in the basement or charging upstairs blowing a trumpet and yelling "Bully!"

But it's a good bet he never found himself facing this caption conundrum involving tug-of-war contests and quaint Pennsylvania Dutch place names.



Happy Blogoversary

To Mr & Mrs P:

Delicious on toast since 2004.



Hearts of oak

From the Telegraph: Ten years ago, a mother told her son she would have preferred him to be gay rather than a Tory. Times have changed: Conservatives are cool.

(RCB for Tories observation: Social secretary Ginni Barter indeed does not conjure thoughts of Margaret Thatcher.)

The symbol of the newer, greener Tories is the oak tree doodle. Guardian architecture critic Jonathan Glancey comments:

The oak tree is not a bad symbol for the Tories' new logo. One of the truly great Tory thinkers, Edmund Burke, compared the state to a tree. It boasted deep, firm roots, yet it also spread its branches and grew. It could abound in new life while being comfortably rooted in the past. A week is a long time in politics, and the oak, although an immigrant to these islands, has been with us at least since the last ice age ended some 10,000 years ago. So, it's less foreign than, for example, the Norman families who came over with William in 1066. And, it tends, like a proper Tory prime minister, to go on and on.

Except that today's "thrusting young Tory modernisers" of "Cycling Dave" Cameron's Notting Hill set would be better served symbolically, he writes, by a potted bay tree.

Here in America, this Tory Oak in Wilkesboro, N.C. was named for the Loyalists hanged from its branches.


Saturday, October 07, 2006  


Bless you, boys!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006  

Louis Armstrong: "Dinah"

Filmed in Denmark in the early '30s.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006  

What does Irish Elk eat?

That's the Google query.

Now the answer can be revealed: cider donuts.

New England fall ambrosia! Chowhound readers asked where the best are found in the Boston area.

In the Nashoba Valley, we can recommend Shelburne Farm in Stow. North Shore cognoscenti swear by Russell Orchards in Ipswich.


Monday, October 02, 2006  


Josèphine Baker:

Singing "La Petite Tonkinoise"

In the National Portrait Gallery

At Red Hot Jazz

(Plantain tip: Mrs P)


Sunday, October 01, 2006  

Biggles with Antlers, or
Get Back in the Cupboard you Pantomimetic Royal Person

To top off the tortellini at the regimental mess of the RCBforA Escadrille, here's some bally good post-prandial jocundity (with elk horns) from that other Flying Circus:

Biggles dictates a letter

Biggles: Look. (she types) Don't put that down. Just put down - wait a mo - wait a too. (puts on antlers) Now, when I've got these antlers on - when I've got these antlers on I am dictating and when I take them off (takes them off) I am not dictating.

Secretary: (types) I am not dictating.

Biggles: What? (she types; puts the antlers on) Read that back.

Secretary: Dear King Haakon, I am not dictating what?

Biggles: No, no, no, you loopy brothel inmate.

Secretary: I've had enough of this. I am not a courtesan. (moves round to front of the desk, sits on it and crosses her legs provocatively)

Biggles: Oh, oh, 'courtesan', oh aren't we grand. Harlot's not good enough for us eh? Paramour, concubine, fille de joie. That's what we are not. Well listen to me my fine fellow, you are a bit of tail, that's what you are.

Secretary: I am not, you demented fictional character.

Well that should stir 'em up at the RC Girls for A.

And who doesn't like a good bedroom scene with flying aces?

(Enter Biggles. He wears flying boots, jacket and helmet us for First World War. He meats a notice round his neck: 'Biggles'.)

Biggles: Hands off, you filthy bally froggie! (kneels by the bed)

Vera: Oh Ken, Ken Biggles!

Biggles: Yes, Algy's here as well.

Vera: Algy Braithwaite?

(Into the light comes Algy. Team streaming down his face. He wears a notice round his neck which reads: Algy's here as well'.)

Algy: That's right... Vera ... (he chokes back the tears) Oh God you know we both still bally love you.

Vera: Oh Biggles! Algy. Oh, but how wonderful!

* * *

Capt. W.E. Johns apparently was Britain's answer to Franklin W. Dixon, only with Sopwith Camels and Spads. At this Internet Biggles shrine you can find jolly good cover art and story illustrations from such books at Biggles in Borneo and Biggles Defies the Swastika.

Meantime, this gallery of children's pocket libraries will strike a nostalgic chord with Mrs P and Messrs Seal and Cusack through such titles as Circus Girl at School and Nipper at St. Frank's.

And Dismuke has some fine aeronautical tunes, including "Wait Till You Get Them Up In The Air, Boys."


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