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.'"

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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
Tuesday, June 26, 2007  

"Governor Al Smith For President"

Old Hat Records has the story behind this 1928 campaign song by the Carolina Night Hawks.

When booze went out we didn’t think then
That we would have a chance to get her back again,
She’s coming back, back again!

Let’s nominate Al Smith, nominate I say,
Then he’ll fly through on election day,
Get through all the way!

He made a good governor, you all will agree,
He’ll make a good president, as good as can be,
Yes he will, yes he will!

Wonder if John Cahill can play it on the bagpipes?



This blog fights global warming!

Well, not that we know for sure -- but if Madame Tussaud's and the Mayor of San Francisco are battling global warming, then who's to say this blog isn't?

Indeed, you could be cutting down swaths of virgin Amazon rain forest right now, or cruising the Aegean with Camilla in her super-yacht. But you aren't -- you're reading this blog. And for that, the ozone layer and the polar ice caps thank you.

Meantime, the coreopsis are in bloom, and it is not eco-preening to say they make a nice picture. The ones above are in front of the house.


Monday, June 25, 2007  

Gen. Custer and Grand Duke Alexis of Russia

This studio portrait was taken on a hunting expedition in 1872.

(Via the Denver Public Library)

Today is the anniversary of Custer's Last Stand.

Appropriately, I'm currently listening to Flashman and the Redskins.

Clip: "Garryowen"


Wednesday, June 20, 2007  

Bowdoin Gargoyle

After weathering the icicles of a hundred winters, the gargoyle atop Bowdoin's Hubbard Hall gave out. Stonecarver Walter Arnold's assignment: reproduce "a fairly typical demon-faced, bat-winged, lion-pawed creature."

The replacement gargoyle last week was raised 90 feet to the roof of Hubbard Hall, which houses the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. Bangor's Channel 2 has video.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007  

YouTube Time Warp
Squeeze - Cool For Cats

The backup singers/dancers make this video.

Just the thing to get going on a Tuesday AM.


Sunday, June 17, 2007  

"My Pa"

When the nasty old bogeyman
Fills me with fears
And my little old pinafore
Is all wet with tears
And my cute little pug nose
Is all red from crying
Who is it that saves me
And keeps me from dying?
My Pa!
When my little pink cheeks
Are pale with fright
Who is it that lifts me
And holds me tight
And says, "There, there, little man
Everything is all right?"
My Pa

(Via 7 Deadly Sinners)

Happy Father's Day to all!

Scroll down here for more Fathers Day sound files from Chuck Jones' Three Bears.

The photo above of "J.J. Brown and Larry", circa 1892, is from the Denver Public Library collection at the Library of Congress.


Friday, June 15, 2007  

Pump it Up!

The Human Asterisk plays tonight at Fenway.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007  

Hard Knox

Bud Knox, also known as "Hard" Knox, was the catcher for Portland's professional, minor-league team in 1927.

The team initially was called the Eskimos, then became known as the Cliff Climbers, and by the end of the 1927 season were called the Lewismen, after their very popular manager (and player), Duffy Lewis.

-- From the Maine Memory Network


Obscurorant: Places to visit (and avoid) in Portland

Via Flickr search on Old Port Maine:


Dark Street


Colorful Building

Blue Night

Lobster Pound

Cobblestone Alley


Monday, June 11, 2007  

Navy Blues

Yale came from behind to catch Harvard in the final 10 strokes to win the 142nd H-Y Regatta. Yale closed an open-water gap in the final half-mile on the Thames River to win by a half-second "in what may have been the greatest comeback in the history of the nation's oldest collegiate sporting event," the Globe's John Powers writes. The requisite shirt-swap and cox-toss are captured in a photo gallery.

* * *

Currently I'm listening to the audio book of The Golden Ocean, Patrick O'Brian's first sea novel, a precursor to Aubrey-Maturin. The evocative descriptions of life amid storms, hardships and battle at sea; the midshipmen's Horace-inspired jokes in Latin; the code duello; the Irish lyricism; the Drowned Baby for dinner: So many aspects of the story are brought to full fruition in the later series that it's interesting to encounter the seeming first draft. But the result is one is left longing for Aubrey-Maturin. I just finished that series a few months ago: is it too early to start it over again?

* * *

Christopher Hitchens has written an interesting piece in City Journal on America's first fight against Mohammedan terrorists, the early 19th-century wars against the Barbary Pirates.

Lord Nelson was not the only European to notice that a new power had arrived in Mediterranean waters. Francis Scott Key composed a patriotic song to mark the occasion. As I learned from Joshua London’s excellent book, the original verses ran (in part):

In conflict resistless each toil they endur’d,
Till their foes shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation:
And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscur’d
By the light of the star-bangled flag of our nation.
Where each flaming star gleamed a meteor of war,
And the turban’d head bowed to the terrible glare.
Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.

The song was part of the bad-verse epidemic. But brushed up and revised a little for the War of 1812, and set to the same music, it has enjoyed considerable success since. So has the Marine Corps anthem, which begins: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.” It’s no exaggeration to describe the psychological fallout of this first war as formative of the still-inchoate American character.

"Decatur's Conflict with the Algerine at Tripoli" is among the Barbary Wars-inspired engravings and paintings at the US Naval Historical Center.

(Via Spinning Clio)



Robin's eggs

A robin has made her nest in the fuchsia plant hanging by my mother's kitchen door. It's not the ideal place for a nest: the mother bird flies off indignantly every time you go in or out of the house. These three eggs were in there yesterday.


Friday, June 08, 2007  

The Stopper

Schilling comes within one out of no-hitter, halts Sox' skid.

Royal Rooters: Game Thread


Wednesday, June 06, 2007  

Around the Horn

Frank Chance, Cubs baseball player, stands with a person dressed in a devil's costume on the field of the West Side baseball grounds, Chicago, circa 1907.

(From the Chicago Daily News collection, Library of Congress)

* * *

Squirrel Nut Zippers: "Hell"

* * *

London's hideous Olympic logo, designed at a cost of 400,000 pounds, reportedly has caused seizures in some epileptics.

One observer describes the logo thus: "To me it represents two drunks trying to help each other up off the ground - very British indeed."

Irish Elk favors the 1948 version.

* * *

Bosom companions: The Herald's Margery Eagan eyes the candidates' trophy wives and asks, does cleavage play well among Bible Belt Republicans or New Hampshire primary voters?

How else to explain, as debate week begins, the bursting out all over by GOP front-runners’ wives? What’s with this ample - and aging - display of decolletage?

…The only candidate who could be helped were his wife to show some cleavage is Dennis Kucinich, the Democrat who looks like a cross between Alfred E. Neuman and My Favorite Martian. Somehow, much to worldwide amazement, he managed to snare as bride No. 3 this 6-foot-tall, redheaded beauty 31 years his junior. It makes one pause: Did we underestimate Kucinich’s charms? What does she see that we missed?

“He has the wisdom of an ancient and the energy of youth,” explains Elizabeth Kucinich, who’s always explaining about the husband who reaches her chin. Says Dennis, “When you make connection on a soul level, age is not important. I’ve never seen myself as time-bound.”

* * *

Roger Kimball was asked by Power Line to comment on a Dartmouth exhibit billed as a "major public art project" that "explores globalization through human hair." He replies:

Four hundred and thirty pounds of human hair, 40,000 haircuts, and one “avant-garde Chinese artist”—what nonsense! And where is Dartmouth, which after all is supposed to be an institution of higher education—an institution, that is, where the exercise of critical discrimination is developed and refined, not abandoned in wholesale abdication of intellectual and moral responsibility—where I ask is Dartmouth while this drama is enacted on its campus, basking in the luster of its name and reputation? Why are there no Dartmouth professors saying No! to such pseudo-avant-garde garbage? It is true that, as a species, academics are distinguished by pusillanimity and herd behavior, but wouldn’t you hope that in exchange for lifetime tenure people who were paid to exercise critical judgment might, just occasionally, exercise critical judgment and utter something that challenged the mendacious cultural clichés that have so disfigured the art world? Dartmouth’s hairy hoax is one of those events that inspires a weary sort of depression, edged with nausea.

It’s so tired, so cynical, so adolescent in its “look-at-me, look-at-me” narcissism that one hardly knows how to respond.

Kimball warms to the theme in a masterly piece in the latest New Criterion, "Why the art world is a disaster."

* * *

Mimi Garneau, Sword Swallower: Unbelievable but true. From Sword Swallowing To the Hilt.

* * *

This Won't Hurt a Bit: A painlessly short (and incomplete) evolution of execution, from crushing by elephant to the guillotine. (Via Cliopatria)



The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

-- President Ronald Reagan, Normandy, June 6, 1984

(Thanks to Old Dominion Tory for the reminder of the day)



Smells & Bells &c

Happy Feast of St. Norbert. Here he is vanquishing a heretic.

* * *

Lacrimarum Valle: For all your Corpus Christi and Oratorian high altar needs. Richly illustrated.

* * *

Priests Are Like People: A book of pre-conciliar comics posted by Emily of the Holy Whapping and preserved by the Internet Wayback Machine. (Originally via Otto-da-Fe)

* * *

Jesuit Memories: Company Magazine asked readers to submit recollections of Jesuits who'd had an influence on their lives. Some of the responses:

Fr. Hubert Cunniff
The Jesuits' Cranwell School sat atop one of the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts, with endless views from every vantage point. Of course, I was a teen-aged boy and was oblivious to such. The exception being when I was serving jug and was raking leaves from every tree on every hill.

The man in charge was our prefect of discipline, Fr. Hubert Cunniff. He amazed me as he was everywhere, all of the time, rain, snow, sleet, or sun. When he took out "the book," hearts dropped, invisibility was sought, and fast prayers were said. He had eyes everywhere. Now I realize that those eyes were kindly and were on the lookout for our well-being. Admittedly, a hard sell at the time! At one of the last reunions, he sat in Cranwell Hall, with a long line of "boys" waiting to tell him that they'd grown up a bit and ask why couldn't life be as uncomplicated as it was when we wore blazers and flannels with a crease.

When my turn came, I asked if he had any regrets. He said, "I was never able to tell you boys just how much I loved you. It just wouldn't have worked with the job I was given. But now I can."

Fr. Cunniff lived well into his nineties. At his funeral I passed his casket and said, "You were loved too, Father." -- John O'Connell, Sharon, Conn., Cranwell School '66, John Carroll University '70

Fr. John Beall
Fr. John Beall, SJ, was assistant principal—read school disciplinarian—during my years at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, in the early sixties. The task for students was to stay clear of him as much as possible. But at the beginning of my junior year, he actually approached me and said that he'd noticed I was taking Greek that semester and wondered how I was doing. I told him that I was coming to enjoy it.

My senior year English class was taught by a scholastic. He told us that all students should experience jug, detention, at least once. I had somehow managed to avoid it all those years until the day he said, "Mann! Report for jug after classes. There's a spitball on the floor and it's closest to your desk."

When I showed up at jug, Fr. Beall asked me what I was doing there. I gave him the story and joined the others. A few minutes later, Fr. Beall told us, "Each of you is to write down the Greek alphabet on a sheet of paper. Not one word with each other. You'll stay here until you have it finished."

He left. It took me 30 seconds to write down the Greek alphabet and start to circulate it among my fellow detainees. Ten minutes later, when we told him we were done, he told us we could go and that he didn't want to see any of us back in jug.

He made eye contact with me as I was leaving, then gave me a wink. A delightful memory of a wonderful Jesuit I'll always have. -- Charles Mann, Northbrook, Ill., Loyola Academy '63

Fr. James Mertz
Fr. James Mertz used to come once a month from Loyola University Chicago to St. Timothy's to offer Mass and talk about Madonna della Strada chapel on Loyola's campus, which I later found out was his life's magnum opus. I served Mass for him. He always had good, friendly words for us in the sacristy.

I "heard" him again while the student body at Loyola Academy was marching out of his chapel one day in 1943. Suddenly we were halted in our steps when we heard a voice that sounded like the wrath of God thunder, "Better that boy stop a bullet in the battlefield than have carved his initials in my pew." I can still hear his awful anger.

At two in the afternoon, our principal, Fr. Walker, announced that Fr. Mertz didn't say those words. The heck he didn't! Fr. Mertz also taught the religion class at Loyola University in 1947 that formed my religious life. -- Bert Hoffman, Jr., Chicago

Fr. Ambrose McManus
It was 1945. The war with Japan was coming to an end. I was in my senior year at Brooklyn Prep. A new teacher came in—Fr. Ambrose McManus. The story was that he had been held prisoner by the Japanese and had only recently been released.

Being the wise guys that we were, we soon took advantage of his timidity and created uproars in his classes. It reached a point where class was completely out of control, with the poor man not knowing what to do.

The culmination came during one class when all the students started making sounds that mimicked Japanese planes while throwing scraps of paper in the air, simulating exploding bombs, with accompanying sounds and noises and uproarious laughter. We subsided and waited to see what his reaction would be.

He stood still—and then bent over and started to pick up all of the scraps of paper. The class was shocked and ashamed at what they had done to this poor man. The class was always orderly after that incident. -- Joseph Bardwil, Cranford, N.J., Brooklyn Prep '46

* * *

Rev. Frederick Turner, SJ, archivist and librarian of the 400-year-old Stonyhurst College, "knew more than anyone about the school's remarkable history" and his "conducted tours of the school and libraries were legendary and took many hours," it was observed in the Telegraph on his passing in 2001. An excerpt from his obit:

The Arundel Library is not only a country-house library from Wardour Castle but also has a notable collection of incunabula, medieval manuscripts and volumes of Jacobite interest. Signal among its books associated with historical figures is Queen Mary's Book of Hours which belonged to Mary Tudor and is thought to have been given by Mary Queen of Scots to her chaplain on the scaffold.

To these were added the archives of the English Province of the Society of Jesus. These included 16th-century manuscript verses by St Robert Southwell, the letters of St Edmund Campion (1540-81) and holographs of the 19th-century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. To them Turner gave unremitting attention, showing great courtesy to visiting scholars and correspondents.

Among more eccentric legacies to the collections at Stonyhurst was a series of grotesque stuffed animals - some of them imaginatively manipulated to represent unknown species - donated by the strange early 19th-century naturalist Charles Waterton, celebrated for his exploits riding an alligator in South America and for climbing trees in his eighties.

Turner knew all there was to know about the Jesuit school's history, traditions, architecture, collections and old boys - among whom the school has the rare good fortune of numbering several martyrs.

Sports were abhorrent to him and, from early boyhood, books and reading took their place. But he was a skilful skater and delighted, until advanced middle age, in completing elaborate figures on the 17th-century Stonyhurst canals.

Naturally conservative, Turner disliked change. Every day at 6am he celebrated the Mass of the Tridentine Rite in the Boys' Chapel and was punctilious in his religious observances.

Every morning he devoted an hour to Homer whom he regarded as a real link between the civilised and educated. He was an antiquary who sometimes shocked visitors when he showed them manuscripts while smoking, and he never wore gloves to aid preservation of the ancient objects that surrounded him…

* * *

Roman Miscellany:

On Stonyhurst's Royal Relics

On the eyeball of Blessed Edward Oldcorne, SJ, among other relics of the English Martyrs.

On St Philip Neri:

As I'm sure you know, as a young man it was his custom to spend whole nights in prayer in the catacombs, the underground burial places of the early Christians outside the walls of the City. On the vigil of Pentecost in 1544, St Philip was praying in the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian, on the Via Appia, as he had done many times, and asked God to give him the Holy Spirit. St Philip was suddenly filled with great joy, and had a vision of the Holy Spirit as a ball of fire. This fire entered into St Philip’s mouth, and descended to his heart, causing it to expand to twice its normal size, and breaking two of his ribs in the process (a fact later proven by his autopsy). He later said that it filled his whole body with such joy and consolation that he finally had to throw himself on the ground and cry out, “No more, Lord! No more!”

During his lifetime many people noticed that he seemed always to be warm; he was often flushed, and would walk around with his cassock unbuttoned at the chest, even in the middle of winter. Not only that, but several of his disciples reported that his heart used to beat violently when he prayed or preached, sometimes enough to shake the bench on which he was sitting. Some people could hear his heart beating across the room, and others experienced unspeakable peace and joy when he embraced them and held their heads to his breast.

On the Danse Macabre

* * *

The Discipline: A Passionist tradition sorely not missed.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007  

Skewed justice

Scooter Libby, sentenced to two-and-a-half years, should be pardoned, the editors at National Review write:

He is a dedicated public servant caught in a crazy political fight that should have never happened, convicted of lying about a crime that the prosecutor can’t even prove was committed. President Bush has the power to end this ridiculous saga right now. He should do so.

Even the Washington Post has editorialized the Libby verdict sprang from a particularly pointless Washington scandal.

The fall of this skilled and long-respected public servant is particularly sobering because it arose from a Washington scandal remarkable for its lack of substance.

Meantime, Sandy Berger, former national security advisor, who pilfered and destroyed classified documents on America's pre-9/11 preparedness, is given a pass.

In a blistering essay at Real Clear Politics, Ronald Cass, former dean of Boston University Law School, writes why the Berger Clinton cover-up matters:

On May 17th, Sandy Berger, President Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser, voluntarily gave up his law license and with it the right to practice law. That is a stunning move for an accomplished lawyer, one of the nation's most influential public officials. Someone should take note. In fact, everyone should.

Berger previously entered a deal with the Department of Justice after he was caught stealing and destroying highly sensitive classified material regarding the Clinton Administration's handling of terrorism issues. That deal allowed him to avoid jail time, pay a modest fine, and keep his law license. It also allowed him to avoid full explanation of what he had taken and why he had taken it.

What information was worth risking his reputation, his career, and his freedom to keep hidden? And who was he risking that for?

Recently, the Board of the DC Bar, which had granted Berger his license, began asking those questions. There was only one way to stop that investigation, to keep from answering questions about what he did and why he did it, to keep the Bar from questioning his colleagues in the Clinton Administration about what had been in the documents Berger destroyed.

Berger took that step, surrendering his license, and stopping the investigation.

* * *

For Berger to risk jail and disgrace, to then give up the right to practice his profession merely in order to avoid having to answer questions, he must be hiding something important. And if it is that important to him, it is also important to us.

* * *

Whatever it was, it's likely that what Berger destroyed could have helped us understand what led to the most tragic terror attack in our nation's history and perhaps also help us decide what course - and what Chief Executive - will best to protect our future. The fact that Berger has been able to avoid revealing that information is a scandal of its own.


Monday, June 04, 2007  

Beer Barrel Man

Forget base hits. Beers are what Wade Boggs could really pound.

According to former Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson:

"Wade was the kind of guy who was always the first one at the club house. So he’d get to the clubhouse, and he’d bring a six pack with him. He’d be there drinking a beer when someone showed up, and as we were all packing our stuff up out of our lockers and getting our bags ready for the trip, Wade would sit there and drink that whole six pack.

"Now, at the time, we were flying out of New Jersey, so it was somewhat of a drive from Yankee stadium to the airport in New Jersey. Wade would drink another couple of beers on the bus to the airport. At the time, we were flying this older airplane, it couldn’t make it across the country without refueling, and it wasn’t the fastest airplane in the sky. So we would stop in North Dakota or something. Wade would drink about a half rack between New Jersey and North Dakota, and it would take about a half-hour to an hour to refuel once we got there, so he’d have a few more beers while we were grounded in North Dakota.

"Once we got back up in the air, Wade would drink another 10, 11, 12 beers on the way out to the west coast. The whole flight from coast to coast usually took us well over 7 hours. We’d touch down at Sea-Tac, hop on the bus headed to the Kingdome, and Wade would have another beer or two on the bus. Then, all of us would get to the Kingdome and unpack our bags and sit around and BS with each other, and Wade would have a beer in his hand the entire time. He was always one of the last people to leave the club house too. So I’d say that all in all, he drank over 50 beers on the trip, and this wasn’t just an isolated incident, he did that almost every time."

Finding this boast somewhat incredulous, the radio hosts at 950 KJR got Boggs’ former Devil Rays teammate Paul Sorrento on the horn, and he confirmed that Boggs would pound at least 70 beers on a coast-to-coast trip.

* * *


History of the Milwaukee Brewers' Beer Barrel Man

Baseball Fever: Beer & Ballparks

Polo Grounds: Have a Knick


Sunday, June 03, 2007  

Oh, she may get wooly

The song's been in my head since Bull Durham was on the other night.


(singing softly)
Oh she may get wooly, women do get
wooly, because of all the stress...


I hate people who get the words wrong.
It ain't "woolly" it's "weary" and
nobody's got stress, they're
wearing a dress.


How come you don't like me?


'Cause you don't respect yourself,
which is your problem, but you don't
respect the game -- and that's my
You got a gift.


What do I got?


A gift. When you were a baby the
gods reached down and turned your
left arm into a thunderbolt.

Nuke looks at his left arm rubs his shoulder curiously.


You got a Hall of Fame arm but you're
pissing it away.


I ain't pissing nothing away -- I
got a Porsche already. A 944 with
A.C. and a quadraphonic Blaupunkt.


You don't need a quadraphonic
Blaupunkt -- you need a curve ball.


Saturday, June 02, 2007  

Welcome to Fenway, Stray-Rod


Friday, June 01, 2007  

The Rhododendrons

They're really taking off this year: Global warming?


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