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
Monday, April 30, 2007  

Mystic Chords

This past Saturday the tee-ball and Little League season officially opened with the annual procession through town. Our youngest proudly wears No. 6 for the A's.

An essayist for the old Buffalo Head Society wrote a few years back on "The Evocative Power of Mere Cloth Numerals."

Six to me will always be Rico Petrocelli (not Bill Buckner).

* * *

Daniel Matsui at the Lion & the Cardinal posts some images of a Japanese-American semi-pro ball team in Salt Lake City circa 1915.

His great-grandfather, Jiro Morikuni, was the shortstop. Daniel asks if any baseball historians out there can identify the team.

* * *

A visitor to a baseball-history message board posted an old team picture of a St Louis Browns minor-league club, with this request:

My grandmother rented rooms to baseball players in Newark, Ohio around 1946. I have this photo and was wondering if someone might be able to tell me more about it since my knowledge of baseball is nil to none.

The photo stirred memories for several readers. One grew up in Newark, Ohio, and recalled games watched from the loft of his grandmother's barn overlooking the ballfield.

Another spotted his uncle in the picture. Two others spotted their own fathers.


Sunday, April 29, 2007  

Happy Birthday, Duke Ellington

The great jazz composer and band leader would be 108 today.


"Doin' the Voom Voom"

"Tishomingo Blues"

"The Mooche"

"Cotton Club Stomp"

* * *

Among Ellington's most prominent fans is Wynton Marsalis, recently described preaching to high-schoolers the Gospel According to Duke.

Marsalis didn't seem surprised when only a few students indicated they'd heard the music of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which he appraised as the greatest band in the history of the Earth. He urged them to go out and buy an Ellington CD; how else could they hope to learn the tunes?

"What chance do you have of speaking French," he asked, "if you've never heard anyone speak it?"

He reminded the students that Ellington was among the most important American composers of the past century, that swing is, or should be, the national dance and that blues is "like the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."

* * *

Marsalis' defense of the tradition epitomized by Ellington is a focus of Ivan Hewitt's recent Telegraph essay, "Why war has broken out between jazz and hip hop."

[Marsalis] wants his people to look the world in the eye, from a position of equality - and that involves acquiring the means for an articulate, confident self-assertion, rather than a resentful, inarticulate one. He sees a potent resource for that cultural elevation lying ready to hand, in the shape of the core jazz tradition.

But note the terms in which Marsalis praises that tradition. It's not because it embodies some mysterious racial essence, a "negritude", to use a phrase much in vogue in Marsalis's youth. It's because it embodies tough standards of artistic coherence and integrity, and an ethic of civilised joy, in which rude self-assertion gives way to collaboration.

And, precisely because it embodies those things, it can speak to people everywhere. Despite accusations of racism (Marsalis has been charged with sidelining white musicians in his jazz programme at the Lincoln Centre), his agenda is not so much racial as conservative. Recently, he spoke of the importance of older forms of dance such as the samba, which are rooted in particular communities. He went on to say: "Couple dancing is very important to the ritual of courtship. I believe in the ritual of courtship."

Those are just the kind of sentiments we've often heard from Roger Scruton.

* * *

The Bratislava Hot Serenaders are carrying on the Ellington tradition in Slovakia.

* * *

More on Duke Ellington:

Red Hot Jazz

Riverwalk Jazz

BBC News

NPR Jazz Profiles

Visit Pandora and type in Duke Ellington for a mix of music in his style.


Friday, April 27, 2007  

B52s: "Rock Lobster"

A Rainy Friday Rockout has been proclaimed by the Llamas.

After playing The Knack and The Romantics, they note today is Kate Pierson's birthday.

So set the Wayback to freshman year, and watch out for that piranha!


Thursday, April 26, 2007  

Jack Chick takes on the tiki gods

(Via Boing Boing)



Baby Got Back - Gilbert and Sullivan Style

If Mrs P can post hip-hop, so can I.

The video's editor provides this accompanying note:

The advent of time warp technology offered to Knights of the British Empire has allowed this uniquely satisfying look at Sirs Gilbert and Sullivan's re-envisioning of fellow Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back. O! What a joy it is for us to hear these three titans working in concert for the first time, and hopefully not the last.




How fast are you gonna run? As fast as a leopard.

Old Dominion Tory notes Anzac Day was observed yesterday with remembrances in Australia and New Zealand.

He sends along some links to coverage in The Australian.

A few years back Joanne Jacobs posted a tribute to her grandfather on the occasion (scroll down to April 25):

Once again, we come to ANZAC Day, and remember the efforts of those who have fought in wars. I thought this year I'd include a picture of my maternal grandfather, who fought at Gallipoli this day, 89 years ago. Edward Jones was just 20 years old when he was faced with the horrors of war. And for me, that's what today is all about: not glorifying war as some patriotic imperative that defines masculinity or national pride, but a time to give thanks and to remember those who had to face such horror in order to provide their children and their children's children with a better life.

Thanks to you, Grandpa, and to those like you, for being there for us. Lest we forget.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007  

Happy St Mark's Day



His hat is in the ring

John McCain was in Portsmouth, N.H., today to announce his presidential run.

(And looking a bit clerical in garb: Redemptorist?)

This is the case Sen. McCain makes for his candidacy:

I believe the transcendent issue of the primary, and the general [election], will be who is best equipped to fight this new challenge from radical Islamic extremism. I don't need any on-the-job training. I don't need time to develop. I'll hit the ground running. I may not be the president for all times, but I'm the president for these times.

A good message. A winning one? We'll see.

(Via Llama)


William Kristol: McCain vs Reid

A Washington Post multimedia slideshow:

The political career of John McCain



The Mission Church, Boston

WBZ's Carl Stevens offers a video tour. Look at all the crutches!

(Via the Redemptorists)


At dotCommonweal, a post by Peter Nixon on a NY Times op-ed re the Pope prompts an interesting give-and-take in the comment box.

My take on the motu proprio, of course, is that BXVI may fire when ready, Gridley. How could it hurt to reclaim for the wider Church the Mass of the Ages that formed so many saints and inspired so much great art in God's name over so many centuries? Couldn't your neighborhood parish offer it once a month, or at least a few times a year?

I appreciate Fr Komonchak's take elsewhere at the Commonweal blog.

I seem to recall Chesterton's remarking that the most important thing about the "Missing Link" was that it was missing... Which seems to be the case with the motu proprio that would restore wider use of the Tridentine Mass. It's still missing.

But while it's missing, is it worth a thought or two about the wisdom of Paul VI's having virtually forbidden its use? I remember at the time thinking that this was a mistake. You had priests saying Mass in clown face, making up their own eucharistic prayers (some of them with more about babbling brooks and beautiful butterflies than a certain Jesus Christ), using all kinds of breads ("This, except for the raisins, is my Body," one uncertain priest is said to have intoned over what was offered for his use at a home liturgy.) So all that could go on, but the former rite couldn't be continued?

So a first question, apart from whether it should now, almost forty years later, be permitted again: Was it wise to prohibit it back then?

I will say that the indult Latin Masses I have attended have tended to draw a certain element, who remind me of this painting of John Brown. (I think of the young woman in the knit watch cap this past Sunday who spent much of the Canon of the Mass on her stomach on the floor at the back of the church, in a pose of apparent supplication that made her look like a Mohammedan praying to Mecca. At first I thought she was a psychiatric case, but later, when I saw her seated in the empty church with several mantilla-wearing companions, I got the impression she was a member of some sort of sect.) It seems to me that making the Old Mass more widely available would, by opening it to the average church-goer, dilute the swamp fever element.

A commenter at Peter Nixon's post, Craig Kelly, makes what I think is a similar observation:

I really love the old liturgy. What creeps me out is what often comes along with it: impatience with children (incl. the "dope slap"), preoccupation with dress codes (esp. ladies in trousers), culture warrior stuff (diogenes in the bulletin), homilies on why the new mass is inferior, etc. Not to mention the goofy literature distributed and sold on the premises.

I've been to just one tridentine mass that was devoid of the nutty stuff, and was attended by "just folks" and it was glorious. I wish it could have been stretched out a few more hours. A shame that all too often the nutty gets thrown in, too.

Meantime, as to the "crisis in the Church" lamented in the op-ed Peter Nixon links: Certainly, as an institution the Church has any number of well-documented problems. And yet the people keep coming! At the parish where my daughter is making her First Communion next month, four Masses spread out over two different days are needed to accommodate all the First Communicants. The Chancery may indeed be a mess; but at the neighborhood level, in the pews, the Church, at least out our way, seems to be thriving.

* * *

Amy Welborn posts photos from a Eucharistic Procession at Notre Dame. Oh, to have something like that at Boston College.



Left unsaid

“‘Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby’s legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby’s body and the arms—everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus. . . .“‘The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall. “‘The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. . . . “‘He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.’”

-- A description of the "procedure that opponents call 'partial-birth abortion'" (to use the formulation favored by the Globe, the NY Times et al), as described in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, by a nurse who witnessed the method performed on a 26½-week fetus.

Harry Forbes at Squaring the Boston Globe (from which the above description is taken) observes neither the Globe's news coverage nor its editorial on the recent Supreme Court ruling in Gonzalez v. Carhart informs readers in any detail about the procedure at the heart of the case.

Forbes presents a graphic description, upon which the Supreme Court drew in its ruling. He comments:

This text is very disturbing reading. I reproduce it only to illustrate how the editorials and news coverage in the Globe obfuscate, posture, and advocate to readers as much or more than they actually inform. The material below is almost completely unmentioned in the Globe coverage. As I said, the Globe's 1000 word news story gave it a single sentence. The editorial said nothing at all about it at all.

A similar omission of detail is noted in this Globe report on doctors outraged by the Court ruling, and in this column by Ellen Goodman headlined, "Trumping women's rights." Both items are long on talking points – government interference! Terri Schiavo! – but silent on the actual details of the procedure "whose illegality," in Harry Forbes' words, "the Globe editors view as an erosion of fundamental human rights."

Elsewhere in the media, the Know Nothing spirit raises its head. But just what is the practice the enlightened press wishes to protect from the Vatican (but won't describe?)

A commenter at Forbes' blog raises the question of the health of the mother. What I would like to know is this: in how many circumstances is the health of the mother benefited by delivering a baby – then killing it? If a late-term baby can be delivered, why not do so and let it live?

The nurse's testimony above describes the method performed at 26½ weeks. Now consider this picture of an unborn child at 21 weeks grasping a doctor's finger during pre-natal surgery.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels writes at dotCommonweal:

Lo, those many years ago when I was editor of Commonweal, I remember getting pr releases about partial-birth abortion. I didn't even read the first ones, but finally I did read one and looked at the pictures, and read the description. My dismissive attitude was replaced by curiosity and then repugnance. I couldn't see how pro-choice people could defend a procedure that delivered a live baby and then stuck a pair of scissors (or other medical tool) into its skull to kill it. Why isn't this infanticide? And why shouldn't it be prohibited?

Having previously edited the Hastings Center Report, I was also familiar with the advances in neo-natal medicine that were keeping some second-trimester preemies alive. Why save one infant, while killing another?

Roe v. Wade has been surpassed by medical innovation; its trimester divisions have now been brought back into play. Good for the Supreme Court. Good for Justice Kennedy. And good for the rest of us.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007  

David Halberstam, RIP

* NY Times archive of commentary and articles

* The Summer of '49 reviewed:

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

Justin Kaplan

* Washington Post online discussion transcripts:

The Teammates

The Best & the Brightest


Monday, April 23, 2007  

Catholicam apostolicam

Happy St. George's Day! Essayists at The Telegraph say the English should reclaim their patron saint and, taking a leaf from the Celtic book, have a party. This site will drink to that. Let the bun-tossing commence!

* * *

John Cahill in California marked Earth Day on Sunday by motoring 60 miles:

That's how far you have to drive if you want to attend a Roman Rite Mass here in the Archdiocese of Hollywood. Want to reduce the ole carbon footprint on the left coast? Pray for the early promulgation of the fabled Motu Proprio.

For the pleasure of hearing Richard Chonak and his schola at the noon Latin Mass at the striking Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton Upper Falls, I only had to drive about 20 minutes.

So I was feeling very fortunate yesterday (and that was before the Sox hit four home runs in a row against NY). Some days, life is very good indeed.

* * *

Worth noting:

John Allen: Latin Mass document coming

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels: Abortion or infanticide?

Prof. Brad Gregory: on why he left a tenured position at Stanford to teach at Catholic Notre Dame.

* * *

Hurrah para los retablos!

OC Register

LA Times

Whispers in the Loggia

The Lion & the Cardinal

Via Flickr

Retablo IV

Retablo I


Estructura I

* * *

You know what struck me about this clip of Elvis singing at Mass in the 1969 movie Change of Habit (beyond Sister Mary Tyler Moore's God-or-Elvis crisis of faith)? While the King is singing up a hootenanny to put St Louis Jesuits to shame, the priest is celebrating ad orientem! Is this a cinematic record of a little-known late '60s organic development of the liturgy -- the Elvis Mass?

I also like when the disapproving little old lady in the pew says to her friend, "Give me the old days, when you could go to Mass and not think about a blessed thing."

(Via Bill Cork)

* * *

It is interesting to note this space is returned No. 6 in a Google search on the phrase Fr George Rutler lobster.

What better excuse to re-run Fr Rutler's classic Letter to the Editor on vegetarianism? Here it is, from Crisis, August 2003.


I was delighted to read the Manichaean ramblings of Danel Paden, director of the Catholic Vegetarian Society ("Letters," June 2003). It confirmed my theory that fanaticism in Western society alternates between nudism and vegetarianism, both of which contradict the order of grace.

As an optimist, I happily trust that Paden confines his extreme commitments to vegetarianism.

Taste is one thing; it is another thing to condemn meat eating as "evil" and permissible only "in rare and unfortunate circumstances." Paden disagrees with no less an authority than God, Who forbids us to call any edible unworthy (Mark 7: 18-19), and Who enjoins St Peter to eat pork chops and lobster in one of my favorite revelations (Acts 10: 9-16). Does the Catholic Vegetarian Society think that our Lord was wrong to have served up fish to the 5,000, or should He have refrained from eating the Passover Lamb? When He rose from the dead and appeared in the Upper Room, He did not ask for a bowl of Cheerios, nor did He whip up a meatless omelette on the shore of Galilee.

Man was made to eat flesh (Genesis 1: 26-31; 9: 1-6), with the exception of human flesh. I stand on record against cannibalism, whether it be inflicted upon the Mbuti Pygmies by the Congolese Army or on larger people by a maniac in Milwaukee. But I am also grateful that the benevolent father in the parable did not welcome his prodigal son home with a bowl of radishes.

Vegetarians assume an unedifying posture of detachment from the sufferings of vegetables that are mashed, stewed, diced, and shredded. In expensive restaurants, cherries are publicly burned in brandy to the applause of diners. It is not uncommon for people to submerge olives in iced gin and twist the peels of lemons. Be indignant, vegetarian, but not so selectively indignant that the bleat of the lamb and the plaintive moo of the cow drown out the whine of our brother the bean and the quiet sigh of the cauliflower.

Vegetables have reactive impulses. Were we to confine our diet to creatures that lacked sense and do not even respond to light, we could only eat liturgists and liberal Democrats.

The Rev. George W. Rutler
New York City

* * *

The Jesuits have announced plans to close the Immaculate Conception Church, in Boston's South End, where Boston College and Boston College High School both got their start.

Before the church was famously vandalized some years ago in the name of renovation, it was a magnificent structure, as can be seen in these stereoscopic images from the late 19th century.

* * *

Karen Hall asks: Can Tony Soprano be saved?

* * *

The image at top of Msgr Robert Hugh Benson, author of Come Rack! Come Rope! and other works, is from the Project Gutenberg e-text of Hugh: Memoirs of a Brother, by Arthur Christopher Benson.


Friday, April 20, 2007  

Around the Horn

Seventy-eight years ago managers Bill Carrigan of the Red Sox and Miller Huggins of the Yankees (above) shook hands to open the season. Their teams renew their rivalry this weekend at Fenway Park.

While waiting for Schilling (and then Beckett and Dice-K) to take the hill against the Pinstripes, I'll cue a little Fats Waller on the organ and leaf through some more offerings from the Leland's auction house catalogue:

The last flag to fly at Braves Field

A Fenway Park trolley sign

Warren Spahn's cap

A satin Braves jersey for formal night games

Jimmie Foxx' wedding ring

A Johnny Mize pipe tobacco ad

A Willard Mullin Giant

Another Mullin Giant

A Brooklyn Dodgers Sym-phony drum

Durocher at the Polo Grounds

Stengel & Durocher Chesterfields ad



RCB for Miss Mexico

Miss Mexico is redesigning her Miss Universe pageant dress, which was belted by bullets and included sketches of hangings and firing squads from Mexico's 1920s Catholic uprising.

"Dressed to kill," ran the clever headline. But Rosa Maria Ojeda's dress conveyed a message out of the Mexican past, recalling a period of history in that seemingly most Catholic of countries in which Catholicism was outlawed and Catholics persecuted and killed for their faith.

Critics have denounced the outfit as too violent and out of place in a beauty pageant.

"It would be like Miss USA wearing a dress showing images of the Ku Klux Klan in the Deep South, with their hoods, their burning crosses and beer cans," wrote a columnist for La Jornada, Jorge Camil, in a recent article.

He misses the point, it says here. Another sees no point at all.

"It's inappropriate to use images of this Cristero war that cost so many lives and was so pointless," writer Guadalupe Loaeza said.


What then of Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ?

Was his martyrdom pointless?

On Nov. 22, 1927, a man dressed in street clothes was led through a crowd of photographers and politicians on his way to a firing squad in Mexico City. The photographers were present for this illegal execution — there had been no trial or even formal charges — because the Mexican president, Plutarco Elias Calles, the most rabidly anti-Catholic leader in the world at the time, wanted them to record the humiliation of a man desperately pleading for his own life. Calles badly miscalculated. The man walked calmly to the place of his death, asked to be allowed to pray, and then, in a voice neither defiant nor desperate, intoned the words Viva Cristo Rey! — "Long Live Christ the King!"

Through photographs distributed worldwide, the Jesuit priest Miguel Augustin Pro thus became the most famous martyr in Mexico’s anti-Catholic revolution early in the twentieth century.

But Pro was hardly alone. Thousands of Catholics died in the same anti-Catholic wave, though few people anywhere, especially in the United States, remember their martyrdom today. President Calles was not only wrong about how Pro would die, he was wrong about Mexico as a whole. Though anti-clerical propaganda long tried to portray the Mexican clergy as corrupt, few of them, few enough to count on one hand, renounced the Faith or caved in to government pressures, even facing death. They all showed a heroic faith so deep that many, like Christ, calmly forgave their executioners before they died.

Americans who go to Mexico today rightly think of it as among the most Catholic nations on earth. Churches and religious festivals are everywhere. Most Mexicans are deeply devout and specially attached to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is hard to believe that for several decades the Mexican people were subjected to religious outrages equal to anything that even Communism and Nazism perpetrated.

Twenty-five other martyrs from the Cristero War of 1926-29 have been canonized, and their shared feast day is May 25.

(Via Dale Price * Tom McKenna)


Thursday, April 19, 2007  

A toast to the 19th of April

There's a lot to be said for having been born on Patriots Day in Medford, Mass. Each birthday brought with it a holiday from school and a parade. Someone playing Paul Revere would ride through Medford Square and stop at Gaffey's Funeral Home to alert the night-capped proprietor, sticking his head from a second-floor window, that the British were coming.

Turns out when the real Paul Revere galloped through Medford that fateful April night in 1775 he may well have left with a snootful.

Local historians...say that when Revere left Medford, he had a belly full of rum.

And there may be something to that. After all, Medford was home to Old Medford Rum, a potent and internationally distributed liquor owned by a family named Hall. The captain of the local militia, by the way, was Isaac Hall, from that same Hall family, himself a distiller. Medford historians claim Hall was famous for his hot toddies, and, furthermore, that Revere partook in this particular rum cocktail that fateful evening.

It is very possible to imagine that on that chilly April night in 1775, Revere might have paused in his famous ride to drink a rum cocktail or two.

To Paul Revere's ghost: Cheers!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007  

National Post, Toronto, 4/17/07

From Today's Front Pages


Sunday, April 15, 2007  

"Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?"

Count Basie & His Orchestra

Via Keep the Coffee Coming

* * *

Baseball’s season, like life, is long -- 162 games, 1,458 innings. In the end, the cream rises -- quality tells.

Quality told in April 1946, when Jackie Robinson went to spring training with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ highest minor league affiliate.

In an exhibition game he faced a veteran pitcher, a Kentuckian, who thought he would test Robinson’s grit by throwing a fastball at his head. Robinson sprawled in the dirt, then picked himself up, dusted himself off and lashed the next pitch for a single.

The next time Robinson came to bat, the Kentuckian again threw at Robinson’s head. Again, Robinson hit the dirt. And then he hit the next pitch. Crushed it, for a triple.

After the game the Kentucky pitcher went to Robinson’s manager, another southerner, and said simply, one Southerner to another: "Your colored boy is going to do all right."

-- George Will

* * *

Stealing home:


1955 Series

'55 Series

* * *

''The Jackie Robinson story is to Americans what the Passover story is to Jews: it must be told to every generation so that we never forget.'' Jules Tygiel

Jackie Robinson remembered:


NY Times Books

Library of Congress



Last Mass of Fr. Byles

* Offered aboard the Titanic, Low Sunday, April 14, 1912

Fr Thomas Byles' sermon that Sunday was on the need for a spiritual lifebelt in the form of prayer and the sacraments when in danger of spiritual shipwreck.

Later that night, as the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg, Fr Byles remained on board, twice refusing a place in a lifeboat, leading the rosary, and hearing confessions and giving absolution to more than 100 passengers trapped in the stern after all the boats had been launched.

The New York Telegram of April 22, 1912, carried this account:


Father Byles Had Aided Women in Boats
and Then Consoled Those on Board.

"When the Titanic went to the bottom Father Thomas B. Byles stood on the deck with Catholics, Protestants and Jews kneeling around him. Father Byles was saying the rosary and praying for the repose of the souls of those about to perish. To many he administered the last rites of the Church. In the early stage of the disaster he heard a few confessions."

Miss Agnes McCoy, a patient in St. Vincent's Hospital, suffering from her privations in the Titanic disaster, gives this account of the last minutes of Father Byles, a Catholic priest, who was coming to the United States to officiate at his brother's wedding. A German priest assisted Father Byles, she said. Those remaining on board the Titanic when the last lifeboat had gone seemed to have consolation, she said, in having a clergyman offer up prayers for them.

"I did not see the final minutes of Father Byles," said Miss McCoy. She had seen him hearing confessions and administering the last rites of the Church in the early part of the disaster. She herself had appealed to him. Survivors told her later of what they had seen as they were washed off the deck. One told her that Father Byles stood and the men kneeled in the water as he offered up prayer.

Miss McCoy, her sister, Alice, and her brother were saved. The girls saved him. They were put off in a lifeboat. While the lifeboat was being rowed away a man swam alongside. He was their brother. They tried to pull him in, but a sailor struck him on the head with an oar, saying there was no room. One sister seized the sailor, while the other dragged the brother into the craft.

"I first saw Father Byles in the steerage," said Miss McCoy. "There were many Catholics there, and he eased their minds by praying for them, hearing confessions and giving them his blessing. I later saw him on the upper deck reading from his priest's book of hours. Survivors, especially a young English lad, told me later that he pocketed the book, gathered the men about him and, while they knelt, offered up prayer for their salvation."

UPDATE: Doni M at the WinterGrove blog has written extensively on Fr Byles. Her latest post on the Titanic priest concludes:

God’s greatest mission for us may not be apparent until the final hour of our lives. That can be an encouraging thought, actually. That no matter where we are in our lives, God still has plans for us. For Thomas R.D. Byles, everything in his forty-two years of life culminated in this one night, on this one ship, in his ministry to the terrified passengers who were about to die. He was needed on that ship at that time, and he was there.


Friday, April 13, 2007  

RCB for Nose Art

Ding hao and happy landings to Mrs P & Co as they take to the air!

The Wing Commander Sir Basil Seal, who once...dropped really big bombs on the guys that wear tea towels instead of trousers, is taking Fiendish, Father M., Mr. P, and myself flying...Basil has promised me we will at the very least buzz the country club...


Wonder what's painted on Mr Seal's nose?

Save the Girls bills itself as a project to preserve, restore and display the world's largest collection of original World War II aircraft nose art.

Flamin' Mamie graced a B-24.

Hump Time referred, of course, to the flights its crew made over the Himalayas.

Another website markets the Fighting Colors collection of WWII nose art panel reproductions.

America's top ace, Richard Bong, painted on the nose of his P-38 a picture of his sweetheart, Marge, a girl-next-door among Vargas pinups.


Thursday, April 12, 2007  

Messages to a son

A decade ago, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote his newborn son the first in what would become an annual series of letters. His son is now 10.

Speaking as the father of a 10-year-old son, I can say it's hard to read these with an entirely dry eye.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007  

Forget everything you think

you know about this man.

He was innocent.

-- Inscription, Roscoe Arbuckle tribute site

* * *

A piece in the Weekly Standard this past summer noted echoes in the Duke lacrosse scandal of the tragic case of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.

Arbuckle, once rival to Chaplin as most popular comedian in American film, was accused of killing a starlet, Virginia Rappe, in an act of debauched rapine during a party in his hotel room. He wasn't guilty -- but his career and his life were ruined.

The New York Times ran front page stories on the Arbuckle scandal. One of the headlines: "Arbuckle Dragged Rappe Girl To Room, Woman Testifies." David Yallop, author of The Day the Laughter Stopped: the True Story of Fatty Arbuckle says, "The New York Times, which was to become a relentless critic not only of Arbuckle but of any person or group who tried to help him. . . competed daily with the tabloids, lending authority to the attack." The Hearst newspapers ran extra editions. Writing for Hearst, Lannie Haynes Martin said Virginia Rappe's "every impulse was said to have been wholesome and kindly," and compared Arbuckle's St. Francis hotel party to "the corrupt saturnalia of ancient Rome." William Randolph Hearst later said that the Arbuckle scandal sold more newspapers than the Lusitania sinking.

A dozen policemen had difficulty controlling members of the Women's Vigilante Committee, who appeared at the courthouse for Arbuckle's trial. As Stuart Oderman writes in
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle: A Biography of the Silent Film Comedian, "At a signal from their leader, who cried 'America, do your duty,' the committee . . . covered Roscoe with spit."

Arbuckle, in fact, hadn't assaulted the girl or caused her death; the case against him, relentlessly pressed by a politically ambitious prosecutor, fell apart. Yet despite his acquittal, if he is remembered at all today, it is for the sensational scandal attached to his name.

At the end of the third trial, the jury deliberated only six minutes, during which time they wrote an apology to Arbuckle which said, "Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done him. . . . There was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. . . . We wish him success. . ."

It wasn't to be. Buster Keaton never deserted his friend Fatty Arbuckle, and in the years ahead gave him a few directing jobs, which Arbuckle did under a pseudonym. But Arbuckle never reclaimed any of the glitter or the money or his reputation. He died June 29, 1933 at age 46, of heart failure, the medical examiner concluded. Buster Keaton was more accurate: "He died of a broken heart."

* * *

An outstanding web resource on the comedian is David Pearson's Arbucklemania.

Another is Jill Leger's tribute site, Call Me Fatty.

The latter site offers some quotes from his friends, including Will Rogers, who gave the eulogy at his funeral in 1933.

Of Roscoe Arbuckle, 20th Century Fox co-founder Joseph Schenck said:

"His was the tragedy of a man born to make the world laugh and to receive only suffering as his reward. And to the end he held no malice."

* * *

On the latest developments in the Duke case, Tom Bevan writes at the Real Clear Politics blog:

If the charges are dropped, the only remaining question will be what to do about Mike Nifong. He's already under investigation for ethics violations regarding the case and he'll almost certainly be facing a massive civil lawsuit by the families in the very near future - as will Duke University.

It may take a while longer, but hopefully justice will be done in this case.

One hopes the DA and Duke will be made to pay very dearly indeed.


KC Johnson

John in Carolina



Tuesday, April 10, 2007  

To the Fens once more

Members of the '67 Red Sox were saluted at today's Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park.

As one radio commentator said, without 1967, there wouldn't have been a 2004.

Take a day-by-day look at the '67 season courtesy of the Providence Journal. (Free registration required)

And listen to audio clips from the classic tribute album The Impossible Dream.

UPDATE: Great photo gallery here. Mike Andrews, chairman of the Jimmy Fund, looks as if he could still be playing. I wish they would bring back the striped socks. (Via Llama)



Deb City Lost

Former debutantes recall coming-out parties past as the Telegraph reports on the decline of the Season in the London social cosmos.

And so, ultimately, it is left to Tatler, which describes itself as Britain's most stylish and indispensable social guide, and which every spring includes a small booklet entitled The Season, sponsored by Champagne house Veuve Clicquot, to be the mediator on the matter of the Season. Its current editor, Geordie Greig, has, however, left it to Veuve Clicquot to administer, a job that it, in turn, has delegated to its London PR girl Genavieve Alexander. And so the world's most famous summer party has fallen into the hands of a young press officer who, with the help of a "trend agency", compiles the list of what posh "do" is in and what riotous assembly is out. Interestingly, the 2007 booklet does not mention the 250th anniversary or the Berkeley Dress Show, but does include the sponsored Business Woman of the Year award, Gumball 3000 Rally and an obscure oyster festival.

However, for those of us not bound by the capricious rules of a social-climbing Champagne house, the gauge as to whether an event is part of the Season or not is whether it combines the open air, drinking, royalty and people in hats. For the Season is, in all but name, an unstructured long-running alcoholic picnic punctuated by horses and human excess.

The Victorian image at top is from the Lafayette Negative Archive, which includes a section on Presentation at Court in its gallery of late 19th- and early 20th-century Court Dress images.


Monday, April 09, 2007  

In praise of the bonnet strap

Telegraph auto writer Andrew English test drives the new Morgans and visits the plant where they are made.

[The] company's 156 staff have become accustomed to endless trains of gawping visitors asking whether they shouldn't be wearing beefeater uniforms. And to be fair, while it is far from being a medieval theme park, parts of the factory are imbibed with the distinctive aroma of heavily worked ash. "We are very lucky to be producing a car with real wood in it," says Charles, referring to the aluminium-backed photographs of wood that paper the cabins of modern luxury cars."

The Morgan 4/4 is a beautiful thing.

My son asked me the other day, if I could be a car, what kind would I be? One of the above, I think.


Sunday, April 08, 2007  

Happy Easter

If you could clone him and bring him back, you'd have the greatest power hitter in baseball today, if not ever. He was immense (6' 4 1/2") with shoulders that crossed three lanes of traffic. -- Bill James on Luke Easter

* * *

From an appreciation of Luscious Luke Easter, by Mike Hudson of the Niagara Falls Reporter:

Luscious Luke Easter -- that was his real name -- was the first great man that I ever knew.

Along with Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin and Satchel Paige, Luke was one of the pioneers who broke the color barrier in baseball. Nobody knows how old he was...In any event, he was pushing 40 when he rookied in at first base with the Cleveland Indians in 1949.

He was the first man ever to put one over the centerfield bleachers at the Polo Grounds in New York City and his 477-foot blast into the upper deck of Cleveland's old Municipal Stadium was a mark never equaled.

A fan said to him once, "I saw the longest ball you ever hit." Easter told the guy that, if he'd seen it come down, it wasn't the longest one.

At TRW, Luke Easter occupied one of those little plexiglass offices that sits out in the middle of the factory floor. He was the union steward, and earning far more than he had as the Indians starting first baseman a quarter of a century earlier. Standing six feet four inches tall and weighing around 250 pounds, he wore thick glasses and was chomping on a big cigar. We shook hands and he sat down behind an old steel desk.

It was 1977, and the Indians would finish fifth in the division, 28 games out of first place. I asked if it bothered him that banjo-hitting centerfielders and offensively challenged shortstops were making a million dollars a season.

"Any man that works," he told me, "should make as much money as he can make. And I don't begrudge them that at all."

He took a long draw on his cigar.

"What I do take exception to is the way they take themselves out of the game these days," he continued. "They have a hangnail or they stayed out too late last night and they can't play. It's guys like that we referred to as petunias."

* * *

[With the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons in 1956] Luke Easter became the first black man to play professional baseball in Buffalo in the 20th century.

[He] hit one over the centerfield scoreboard at the old Offerman Stadium. Nobody thought it was possible, so Easter went out and did it again.

"Luuuuuuuke," the crowds would chant. People who didn't know thought he was being booed.

His popularity in Buffalo was such that he opened the Luke Easter Sausage Company, producing two varieties of the fabled links. Hot and extra hot.

When he retired, he went back to Cleveland and took the job at TRW. The most he ever made playing baseball was $12,000 a year, he told me.

* * *

At TRW, Luke was known as an all-around good guy. On payday, he'd gather up everyone's check and take them down to the Cleveland Trust branch on Euclid Avenue to cash. On the afternoon of March 29, 1979, just before Opening Day, a couple of punks approached him as he exited the bank and demanded the money. He wouldn't give it to them, and they shot him to pieces with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .38 Special revolver. A little while later, the city dedicated a Luke Easter Park on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

A crummy end for a great man, but then, is there a good end?

* * *

At the Baseball Reliquary: a Luke Easter icon

* * *

Now playing: Sinner's Crossroads



Miniature of Resurrection

-- From a French book of hours (1450-1499); NY Public Library

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. ~St Augustine


Saturday, April 07, 2007  

Mich. St. 3, BC 1

Congratulations to the Spartans, NCAA hockey champs.


Friday, April 06, 2007  

"For St Dismas"

From Time Magazine, March 6, 1939:

His real name is lost in antiquity, but he is known as St. Dismas. He is the patron saint of those condemned to death. Dismas was the "Good Thief" who was crucified on Calvary alongside Jesus, who said to him: "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." This poor saint's feast day (March 25) gains him no great devotion, for it coincides with the vastly more important feast of the Annunciation.

Few years ago in Chicago St. Dismas came into his own. The Good Thief attracted the whimsical but devout interest of a convert to Roman Catholicism, Dempster MacMurphy of the Daily News. Orator, raconteur, ex-song-&-dance man, MacMurphy was a well-born Southerner who added a "Mac" to his natal Murphy simply because there were no MacMurphys in the telephone book. He made a fortune as a vice president in the Insull empire, lost it in the crash, slept on park benches until he got a job on the News. One of his first News stories was about the feast of St. Dismas, which MacMurphy had a hard time persuading his managing editor to run. It was printed in the back of the paper, among the want-ads.

Newsman MacMurphy's fortunes advanced. Finally he became the News's business manager. Every March 25 his St. Dismas piece crept a little nearer the front page. And on that day MacMurphy would write again the homely praises of his favorite saint: "There are so many better advertised saints, all specialists, that few mortals bother much with this hoodlum saint, who roams the outfield of eternity, making shoestring catches of souls—a saint who has no following to speak of, no medals, no propaganda. There's nothing to recommend him, really, except the fact that to no other saint in the calendar did the Son of God make the witnessed statement: 'You fill the bill.' Which helps explain why those who do believe in Dismas believe in him all the way."

If St. Dismas gets his News story this month, it will be partly as a memorial to Dempster MacMurphy. For this friend of St. Dismas, after long illness, died last week at 42.

* * *


"Two Thieves": a poem by Mister Peperium

A prayer to St. Dismas

* * *

Above: Statue of St Dismas, Ignaz Günther, 18th century, Church of St Peter & St Paul, Freising, Bavaria


Thursday, April 05, 2007  

Turning Japanese

Dice-K gives Red Sox Nation the Vapors.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007  

Judge's Mixture

Steve M theorizes that suffering with the old Washington Senators may have lessened time in Purgatory. Joseph Ignatius Judge, the Nats' stellar first baseman, pictured above with his father, may well have discussed this theological point with the Jesuits during his later years as baseball coach at Georgetown.

Joe Judge's grandson, the writer Mark Gauvreau Judge, author of God & Man at Georgetown Prep and Damn Senators, has made a YouTube pitch for his grandfather to be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Senators Nation posts a link to the video along with several fine Joe Judge pics.

* * *

The Llamas have been chronicling the Curse of Bobby Kennedy that afflicts Washington's current baseball nine, and so may appreciate these pics, via Corbis, of the Kennedy clan sampling the National Pastime:

Kennedy & Nixon: Sen. Ted Kennedy and Red Sox catcher Russ Nixon at the start of a Cape Cod Day doubleheader between the Sox and Senators at Fenway on May 12, 1963.

RFK throws out first ball: Opening Day at Fenway Park, April 17, 1964.

JFK watches foul: In Ray-Bans, at DC Stadium, April 8, 1963.



Opening Day: in President Taft's hometown.

In the picture above, Reds starter Aaron Harang throws the first pitch of the season at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark, to batter Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs.

Mister Redlegs, Mister Met's Deadball Era granddad, watches, wild-eyed, from the stands.


Monday, April 02, 2007  

"Opening Day"

Here’s some weird trivia that I have found:
Though George Bush used to be a pitcher,
Clinton was the first to pitch from the mound
and make it all the way to the catcher.

All that sex didn’t hurt his performance,
his April throw made it over the plate.
Perhaps it was helped by a little romance.
Maybe the night before, he had a date.

The first pitch is thrown by the President
and a fair new season is underway.
It was fat Taft who set that precedent
in the Spring of baseball’s opening day.

-- From Fair Territory, by Jilly Dybka

* * *

William Howard Taft, of course, inaugurated the presidential custom of throwing out the first ball of the baseball season at the Washington ballpark.

Taft was a great baseball fan whose visits to the ballpark were not confined to ceremonial duties. He is pictured above attending a game as a Supreme Court justice in the 1920s.

* * *

"Taft Day," West End Grounds, Chicago, Sept. 16, 1909:

Entering the park

Fans craning for a look

Giant receiving line

-- Via the Library of Congress

* * *

Listen to the "Library of Congress March," by John Philip Sousa.

* * *

President Bush, for the second year in a row, has balked at the first pitch.

He's got meetings and things, the White House explained.

The Washington Post observes:

Except for when the world was at war, only two other presidents, Woodrow Wilson and Richard M. Nixon, missed Opening Day ceremonies two years in a row. And Wilson had suffered a stroke.


Sunday, April 01, 2007  

Elkhornitis is real

The British journal The Lancet is reporting the discovery of a lost colony of people with antlers.

The journal reports the group has been found living in an isolated area of Maine not far from Popham Beach, site of one of the first English settlements in America in 1607. That Maine settlement, a twin to Jamestown in Virginia, was abandoned, and traces of it lost.

Now, 400 years later, people who may be heirs to that Lost Colony have been found. They speak a dialect believed to be a variant of Old English, and stranger still, in a possible vestige of their years in the wilderness, they have antlers.

Legends of antlered men go back centuries, and the antler has come to hold great totemic significance, in fraternal ritual, in high fashion, even in tattoos.

Instances of people with antlers actually growing from their heads, while not entirely uncommon, have tended to be isolated and have fed speculation over a lost tribe of people akin to the Melungeons of Appalachia.

This is the first time an entire community of antlered people has been recorded.


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