Friday, February 28, 2003

Tomorrow and beyond...

Tomorrow -- the first of March, 2003 -- is the 200th birthday of my native Ohio, the Buckeye State, the 17th to be added to the Union. On that day, there will be a parade in the city of Chillicothe, which was the original capital of the state, before moving briefly to Zanesville, back to Chillicothe, and finally up the road north to Columbus. I'm hoping to visit my home state once or twice this year, maybe catch a glimse of the outdoor drama Tecumseh! Perhaps I'll even take my son Paul to the site of the Hopewell Indian Nation, where thirty years ago, his mother participated in archeological digs as an anthropology major at Ohio State.

Regrettably, I'll miss the Governor's Ball.

Meanwhile, the celebration of Mardi Gras (the French term for "Fat Tuesday," or the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent) begins this weekend -- in Louisiana, and elsewhere, including this area. I'll be making appearances in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, in that order.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

A Humble Tribute

(This entry is dedicated to a friend who is dealing with a family problem, and how they have decided to handle it.)

From the pages of the New York Times (thanks to Ms Welborn over at In Between Naps) comes this piece about a curious alternative to the "talking-it-out" approach to trauma. An excerpt follows:

"George Bonanno [associate professor of psychology at Columbia University] works in New York City, while Richard Gist [psychologist and trauma researcher at the University of Missouri] works in Kansas City; the doctors have never spoken, but they should. They share a lot. Gist told me: 'The problem with the trauma industry is this: People who successfully repress do not turn up sitting across from a shrink, so we know very little about these folks, but they probably have a lot to teach us. For all we know, the repressors are actually the normal ones who effectively cope with the many tragedies life presents. Why are we not more fascinated with these displays of resilience and grace? Why are we only fascinated with frailty? The trauma industry knows they can make money off of frailty; there are all these psychologists out there turning six figures with their pablum and hubris.'"

Reading this account reminded me of a book I read in high school, The Plague by Albert Camus. There are times when the only relief for a crisis is to say little if anything, roll up your sleeves, and get busy with the task at hand.

Then go dancing.
The truth is out there...

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Monday, February 24, 2003

From the Chicago Tribune...

...comes a few "words" about Iceland.
MWBH Short Guide to the Grammys

No, of course I didn't watch the Grammys this year. As usual, most of what I want to know about are the categories they don't broadcast anyway. And naturally I'm not surprised when Jimmy Sturr gets picked for "Best Polka Album." He always does, except for 1999 when Brave Combo of Denton TX got it. For the rest of you who don't care to sit through all the self-indulgent primping and posturing, here is the list of winners! Both the Washington Post and USA Today did some decent coverage.

Me, I'd rather be out dancing. Which I was. Real late. After all, I've got to gear up for Mardi Gras, which is coming up next weekend up until Tuesday of next week. Stay tuned...

Friday, February 21, 2003

"C'mon in, back door's open!"

Moi et la belle on avait été-z-au bal
on a passé dans tous les honkytonks
s'en a rev'nu le lendemain matin
le jour était apres se casser
j'ai passé dedans la porte en arriere

l'apres-midi moi j'étais au village
et je m'ai saoulé que je pouvais plus marcher
ils m'ont ramené back a la maison
il y avait de la compagnie, c'était du monde étranger
J'ai passé dedans le porte en arriere

mon vieux pere un soir quand j'arrivais
il a essayé de changer mon idée
j'ai pas écouté, moi j'avais trop la tete dure
"un jour a venir, mon neg', tu vas avoir du regret
t'as passé dedans la porte en arriere"

j'ai eu un tas des amis tant que j'avais de l'argent
asteur j'ai plus d'argent mais ils voulont plus me voir
j'ai été dans le village et moi je m'ai mis dans le tracas
la loi m'a ramassé, moi je suis parti dans la prison
on va passer dedans la porte en arriere

(La Porte d'en Arriere/The Back Door, music and lyrics by D L Menard)
Digging Out From Under

I'm back in the blogosphere, after about a week's hiatus, due to the DC area's third snowfall in 150 years with over 20 inches of accumulation.

My son Paul and I went to Catonsville, south of Baltimore, to see Andre Thierry play some zydeco. He was over an hour late. The weather, the brake lines, something like that. Norm pulled his accordion out of the case, Jimmy got his big tenor voice ready, I played guitar, Paul played the harp, and the band's own drummer and bassist joined in, as we improvised a cajun fest, to keep the huddled masses dancing until the headline act arrived.

Saturday night found me at another dance, In Takoma Park just north of DC. My friend Therese called, saying the snow had already started up above Baltimore, and she couldn't get there. I muddled through somehow...

Morning found me looking from the window of a high-rise apartment in nearby Silver Spring. I was gazing down at a winter wonderland. My friend Ron put the coffee on, and we read the paper and mused about whether I should brave the elements and go home. We decided I should go for it, and except for a delay on the entrance ramp to the Beltway, when some youngster in a sports car got stuck with a pile between the ditches, I made it back without incident.

Monday was President's Day, and so it was a holiday. Tuesday they shut down the Government offices in the DC area. Wednesday I took the day off, to do the things I wanted to do Monday and Tuesday except that I was snowed in. This included seeing a movie. This picture called to mind the words of the great English Catholic writer Gilbert K Chesterton, in his epic poem, The Ballad of the White Horse:

"For the Great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad."

Now there's an Englishman with whom no self-respecting son of Erin could argue.

So now the next weekend approaches, along with the anticipation of that great Catholic holyday of "obligation" known as Mardi Gras. More on that revered institution next week. Until then... ALLONS DANCER!!!

Friday, February 14, 2003


A lone young shepherd lived in pain
withdrawn from pleasure and contentment,
his thoughts fixed on a shepherd-girl
his heart an open wound with love.

He weeps, but not from the wound of love,
there is no pain in such affliction,
even though the heart is pierced;
he weeps in knowing he's been forgotten.

That one thought: his shining one
has forgotten him, is such great pain
that he bows to brutal handling in a foreign land,
his heart an open wound with love.

The shepherd says: I pity the one
who draws herself back from my love,
and does not seek the joy of my presence,
though my heart is an open wound with love for her.

After a long time he climbed a tree,
and spread his shining arms,
and hung by them, and died,
his heart an open wound with love.

-- Saint John of the Cross (1542-91)

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

In Between Rants...

Chris of Gregorian Rant neglected to mention Saddam Hussein's other past supporter -- the United States. That's right, boys and girls. Uncle Sam supported Saddam's "worse than Hitler" regime in the 1980s by playing him off against Iran. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

He's right about the French, though. Always the first to leave the room when a fight starts. Ever notice how they keep their Foreign Legion in a foreign country? Uh-huh, my point exactly!!!
Illegal Poem

From a collective known as The Bitch Girls. Don't ask me why.
A Shopping Spree of Irony

A new entry to the blogosphere, The Grille, comments on the inherent contradictions among those of a particular political stripe:

"On my trip to Whole Foods this evening, I was struck by the cars in the parking lot. While I wasn't surprised by the economic class of the Silicone Valley clientelle at this high end but ultra PC grocer, I wonder if any of the patrons in the store thought it was ironic driving a Porsche to buy their food (the 911 Turbo gets 13 MPG in the city) while voting democrat and complaining about drilling in Alaska. Of course the answer to this is obvious but still..."

Of course, he doesn't know for a fact that a majority of shoppers at Whole Foods vote a certain way. For all he knows, they could mostly be die-hard Republicans who don't mind wearing Birkenstocks, and shopping where they sell the local gay/lesbian community rag, or advertise for alternative religions and Greenpeace and whatnot.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Oh Karen, oh Karen, you make me wanna dance!

Karen Hall of Disordered Affections (Huh???) gets a tip of the Black Hat for this latest pop cultural icon from The Land Down Under. I haven't felt this giddy since Alvin and the Chipmunks.
"Oh, the weather outside is freightful..."

We've got ourselves a few inches of snow on the ground today. The schools are closed, but the Feds are here on the job. Well, a few of them anyway. I'm the only one of our five-person team to show up this morning. For me it's just a short walk to the subway. Meanwhile, Don Jim's gotta walk next door to go to work. Hope he makes it okay.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

The Pope's Top Ten

Move over, David Letterman. This is just in from the wires of Zenit, on the publishing in Inside the Vatican magazine, of the top ten people in the Catholic Church in 2002. They include: four bishops (one of them a cardinal), one priest, two nuns, and three laypeople. Of the last category, one gave his life, another gave his money. And so it goes.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Okay, here it is. Now I'm on the list officially, right, kids?

St. Blog's Parish

Today is the Feast of Saint Agatha

For those of you to whom that means little or nothing, or for those of you who are holding out until Mardi Gras weekend, here is the three-day party you are missing. (Thanks to Don Jim Tucker for the heads-up!)
Coming soon... a theatre near you!

Monday, February 03, 2003

Random Thoughts

I have read that Amy Welborn is closing down her weblog, In Between Naps. She explains why, so I won't. On the other hand, the Divine Miss Emily Stimpson (who never returns my calls) revived her own weblog, Fool's Folly, to the delight of Steubenville-watchers the world over. Including me. I, of course, intend to keep on keeping on, indefinitely, until I have enough material for my book. Then I'll be rich and semi-famous, brooding between offers to appear on Oprah or Mother Angelica Live. That's when I might reconsider. But until then...

It took my friend "Therese" and I two hours to drive from outside Baltimore to Philadelphia. It took another hour to find the place. Maybe it's because I'm a guy. Maybe it's because I have always taken great pride in rarely, if ever, getting lost. (Someone once asked Daniel Boone if he ever got lost. He replied: "Nope, but once I was a might bewildered for a few days.") We even asked two policemen how to get there, and still ended up stopping three more times before finally finding it. There are moments that are a true test of friendship. Therese was a model of understanding and compassion. We've been through so much together, seeing each other at our best and at our worst. I could not have asked for better company that evening. We finally made it to the dance, where another woman told me: "Ponder this, David; if you never got lost, you would never be able to be found." The lesson was an obvious one to me. We all get lost. We all need to be found. I was reminded of my humanity, of the need to let go of the unrealistic expectations that I have often set for myself. A few years ago, I would have spent the remainder of the evening feeling sorry for myself. Not anymore. I had a great time. So did Therese. I drove back home while she took a nap.

Today is the Feast of Saint Blase. According to Father Alban Butler, author of the classic Lives of the Saints: "He was said to be bishop of Sebaste and to have been martyred in the persecution of Licinius. His legend tells us that his powers of healing extended to animals, that hunters who had come out into the mountains to seek wild beasts for the amphitheater were amazed to see them clustered around the saint, and that on another occasion he cured a boy who was suffocating because a fish-bone had stuck in his throat. St. Blase is the patron of wild animals and woolcombers and of sufferers from afflictions of the throat." Today, around the Catholic world, members of the faithful will have their throats blessed, asking for his intercession.

Closer to home, I'm still writing a piece for a parish newsletter in Ohio. I'm also going through my closet to get it back in order, maybe get rid of more stuff.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

"On the road again, payin' my back taxes, road again..."

It's early afternoon. I'm at a public library somewhere outside of Baltimore. I went dancing in Philly last night, and I expect to go again tonight. So I decided to live out of the car for Saturday. Since I brought a laptop with me, I thought I'd do some writing. I'm currently engaging someone in successive issues of a parish newsletter. Details to follow.

I just heard about the space shuttle Columbia exploding on re-entry. "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord..."