May 09, 2008

Gratuitous Post Bizzness Trip Rainy Friday Observations

"Hi, evvverybahdy!"**

Yes, Robbo rolled back into town and home to Orgle Manor late last evening after a very eeeenterestink** week out on the road. It is sometimes exceedingly frustrating that I cannot relate to you, our lloyal Llama readers, some of the things I see and hear out there, but I console myself with the idea that perhaps I can produce it in fictional form some day. (I'm thinking more John Mortimer than John Grisham here.)

Anyhoo, here are a few thoughts that have been eddying around Robbo's brain recently:

*** One of the ways I distract myself while flying is by doing crosswords. Recently, I've noticed a number of clues along the lines of "former Italian coin" (emphasis mine). This irks me. As far as I'm concerned, the lira remains the proper currency in Italy, as does the franc in France, the mark in Germany and so on. You can take your "euros" and ram them right up your union.

*** Another way I distracted myself during my free time this week was by purchasing at the airport a copy of Bernard Cornwell's Lords of the North, a tale of adventure set in the Britain of King Alfred's days. No doubt I'm going to generate a storm of protest by saying so, but I find this to be an immensely silly book. While I've no doubt that Cornwell's research of the period is thorough, the tale he spins around it and the prose by which he delivers that tale are pure Saturday matinee shlock. Furthermore, this story is just like every other one of Cornwell's I've ever read: a fierce anti-hero more noble than he's willing to admit to himself or anyone else, strong women who see him for what he is, plus villains of maniacal depth and ruthlessness, all knocking about in a world of cynicism and corruption in which all the outward conventionals are exposed for the flimsy facades that they really are. It was after only a couple pages that I suddenly realized what I was really reading was just Richard Sharpe and his friends dressed up in Viking helmets. Of course I'm going to finish the book, but I feel vaguely ashamed of myself for doing so.

***Speaking of books, I've made a couple new purchases from the devil's website as well. First, because Mom planted the idea in my head, I picked up John Stoye's The Siege of Vienna - The Last Great Trial Between Cross & Crescent. The book originally came out in 2000, so of course the title is now out of date. And because the devil's website tempted me to, I also picked up Victory of the West - The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolo Capponi.

I've often wondered why, given all the hullaballoo about the eeeeevils of the Crusades, nobody seems to squawk about the Turks and the Moors invading eastern and western Europe. Free Constantinople! says I.

In honor of my patrons, I also picked up copies of Aquinas' Shorter Summa and Augustine's City of God (the Dods translation with the Merton introduction). I was prompted in part to read the latter (which I have not done before) by the snotty things Edward Gibbon has to say about it. I am enjoying Gibbon's Decline and Fall immensely, but every now and again his self-satisfied snarkiness gets to be a bit too much for me.

Finally, I picked up a DVD of Mozart's Le Nozzi di Figaro, as performed by Bryn Terfel, Alison Hagley, Rodney Gilfrey et al under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. I've had the VHS of this for years and it is starting to wear out. Of all the televised versions I've seen, this is still the best one - impeccably sung and pretty well acted. The only things that annoy me are the minimalist sets and the occasional efforts to radicalize the story. I don't know about Beumarchis' original play, but Mozart was a progressive, not a rabble-rouser, and in his hands the story is about liberalizing the social order, not overturning it.

***As I mentioned some time last week, we had a tree removed from the side yard of Orgle Manor. What a difference! As I stood in the yard earlier today chatting with our landscaper, I couldn't help wondering what benefits might be obtained by felling some of the other trees in the area. Why is it that once you've pruned back one tree, bush or plant, you suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to start wreaking havoc on all the rest of them as well, like a gardening berserker?

***I was talking this week with a fellah who works as an Obamessiah operative in his neck of the woods. He predicted She Who Must Not Be Named won't last the month. All I can say, if this turns out to be true, is "heh". And touching wood, the prospect of going up against him this fall worries me less and less. From all that I've seen, Barak is just a limousine liberal of particularly light weight. Plus, he's got an awful lot of baggage in both his wife and his pastor. For all the novelty of his being the prospective first black presidential nominee, I think that'll prove just to be a summer thing and not enough, by itself, to encourage sufficient Donk enthusiasm this fall.

***We've had an awful lot of rain the past couple days here in the Dee Cee area. Somehow the prospect of not having to go to three soccer games tomorrow on account of water-logged fields doesn't disturb me very much.

***I gather that Sunday is Mother's Day. Frankly, I've never paid very much attention to it at all, as my own mother taught us to consider it a silly ersatz holiday. Howsomever, if you do intend to observe it, might I ask you also to consider and perhaps pray for those who might wish to be mothers but aren't (for whatever reason), and those mothers who have lost children? Thankee.

That's it for the moment.

(**Spot the quotes.)

Posted by Robert at May 9, 2008 01:53 PM | TrackBack

Actually, the Stoye book is several decades old (1964), but had long been out of print until being fairly recently reissued.

Posted by: Brian at May 9, 2008 02:11 PM

Isn't that Dr. Nick Riviera's catchphrase? (Simpsons, of course)

Posted by: Russ from Winterset at May 9, 2008 02:18 PM

Yup, that's Dr. Nick all right.

Brian - thanks for the info. I was just going by the copyright date at the front of my edition.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at May 10, 2008 08:25 AM

Howsomever, if you do intend to observe it, might I ask you also to consider and perhaps pray for those who might wish to be mothers but aren't (for whatever reason), and those mothers who have lost children?

Here, here - and thanks for saying it. It's a tough, tough day - and having spent the last 10 years firmly in the "wish to be but aren't" camp, the fact that I'm no longer there doesn't really do much for me liking the day. I agree with your mom - silly, ersatz holiday, brought to you by Hallmark.

Posted by: beth at May 10, 2008 09:16 AM