Wednesday, February 28, 2007

American-Public-Education-is-Run-by-the-Certifiably-Insane Dept.

More evidence for the file.

Random Recommendations

Trader Joe's carries a really nice house brand of beer labelled "Hofbrau Bock". Nicely hopped for a real "beer" taste. And for five bucks last week. Can't beat that.

Vermont Country Store carries these things. They don't seem to have a name. They're wooden tongs for lifting smaller pieces of bread out of the toaster without burning your fingers. Yes, they're over-priced. But wonderfully useful. Haven't dropped a knife in the works, blown a fuse, shocked myself, or burned my fingers in months.

Charles Chevenix Trench's "The Frontier Scouts" is a history of what the ABEBooks blurb calls "(l)ocally recruited tribesmen of the NWF ["North West Frontier"] in 20th Century Frontier campaigns". That is, the north west frontier of India - now Pakistan - on the border with Afghanistan. The very area that the Bush administration and Pakistan are having harsh words about the proper way to pacify. CNN had almost an hour last night on the continual fighting in this province, called Waziristan. Trench's fascinating book is more about 1907 than 2007, but I doubt the current situation would surprise him in the least. ABEBooks has one copy here. $40 does seems a bit steep. I know I didn't pay anything like that for my now-yellowing paperback. But if you're at all interested in the topic, it's an engrossing read and excellent background on the current conflict.

This company makes the most wonderful confectionary. A friend of the family made us a gift of some of their delicious product. I've never had anything like it and I doubt I would ever have bought it on my own. What a discovery. There is a variety of confections in the box. Some are something like baklava but much, much lighter and with more flavour. Others have pistachio nuts. And there is one piece like a little "nest" with spun honey holding a pair of almonds. Heavenly stuff.

You Can Skip This

No, really. You can skip this post altogether. I already mentioned all that really needed to be said about it here. And there's nothing that can be done about it anyway. I should probably even apologize to those of you who relied upon the rss feed and wasted a perfectly good click to come over here. But I am still rather annoyed and in something of a funk to lose half the classical music stations available in this part of the world.

Apparently I am not alone, as The Times saw fit today to publish another piece on KMZT going from all-music to all-steel guitar. And so long as there is something to link to, it justifies a new blog post and enables me to continue the whinge for another day.

Oh, yes. The article. It's here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Another View of Illegal Immigration

How it looks to those left behind.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Perfect Pitch

You've heard the terrible old joke that asks what you get when you drop a piano down a mineshaft? The answer is, of course, A-flat minor.

Well, this isn't about A-flat minor. (Or even a flat miner.) This is about B-flat. On NPR last week we learned that B-flat is a very mysterious bit of resonance. You can find the piece here. And do listen to the programme clip; it's not the same as the printed text on that page.

And why, I hear you asking, am I interested in B-flat? I'm so glad you asked. Music for the Highland Bagpipe, as you may know, is written as if the pipe were an A major instrument. But the pitch of the instrument itself has been going up these past thirty years or so. These days most Highland Bagpipes are playing so that that tonic A is pretty close to. . . .B-flat. Hah!

I shall be off tomorrow to see what mysterious forces of nature I can stir up with the old pipe.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another Step Backward

Music lost a little more ground in southern California yesterday. The Times reports this morning that KMZT, one of our last two classical music stations will change formats on Monday and become a "country" station.

You can find the article here.

The article is very parochial in its mention of KCSN. It can't be received outside the San Fernando Valley and some of the west side. For most of L.A. county KCSN is only a rumor -- and not even that in Orange and Ventura.

And I continue to question whether the sort of thing that the new "country" station will be playing can truthfully be called country music at all. It's more like a continuation of what used to be called "chicken rock" but with the occasional dobro thrown in.

And She Was Right, Too

I played a gig at a local pub last night. It was a sort of pre-St Patrick's Day thing -- just your servant and some Irish dancers. (The adulation from a crowd like that does wonders for the confidence. Especially if you can block out the knowledge that they don't actually know what the heck they're listening to.)

Anyway, the point of this post: this little, tiny Irish dancer - she's not as tall as my belt buckle - came up to me with wide-eyed astonishment and said

"Boy. I'll bet you had to go to a lot of music lessons."

Maybe you had to be there. But it was very sweet and very funny.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Patron of the Artsy

"Also, all currently pending lawsuits considered, is it really wise for the Cathedral to hold an event called "Friends and Lovers?" With or without the homoerotic art?"

She means the Los Angeles Cathedral, of course. Surely you guessed?

More here and here.

Additional novenas to Pope St Gregory VII are in order.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

". . .the wild, insistent pipes. . . ."

If you're in the Long Beach area today, it's not too late to take in the rest of the Highland Games being held at the Queen Mary. There's a flyer (in pdf format) at this link.

The pipe bands were putting out some good music yesterday. Part of the U.C. Riverside Pipe Band is in the picture at the top marching into the competition circle. (These are hosted by Blogspot; you can click on them and see a much larger version.) Some of the other bands who played:

The Pasadena Scots:

Caber Feidh Pipe Band:

Bushmill's San Francisco Irish Pipers:

Friday, February 16, 2007

On the other hand. . . .

If that last one was a tad on the gloomy side, say your rosary and cheer up: Surgite, amici mei et venite -- the long winter of no baseball is over and Spring Training has begun.

Visual proof that it is so.

One fan's take on the happy day.

Can Gary Matthews have two (2) .300+ years in a row? Will Garret Anderson's plantar fasciitis heal (it took mine over two years)? Who's going to own first base this year? What does Mickey Hatcher do for a living?

O, quam bonum et quam iucundum. . . .

The Justice of God

The Servant of God Prosper Guéranger's "The Liturgical Year" has a small commentary for each day of Septuagesimatide. This is part of that for "Thursday of Sexagesima Week":

God promised Noah that He would never more punish the earth with a deluge. But, in His justice, He has many times visited the sins of men with a scourge which, in more senses than one, bears a resemblance to a deluge: the invasion of enemies. We meet with these invasions in every age; and each time we see the hand of God. We can trace the crimes that each of them was sent to punish, and in each we find a manifest proof of the infinite justice wherewith God governs the world.

It is not requisite that we should here mention the long list of these revolutions, which we might almost say make up the history of mankind, for in its every page we read of conquests, extinction of races, destruction of nations, and violent amalgamations, which effaced the traditions and character of the several peoples that were thus forced into union. We will confine our considerations to the two great invasions which the just anger of God has permitted to come upon the world since the commencement of the Christian era.

The Roman Empire had made itself as pre-eminent in crime as it was in power. It conquered the world, and then corrupted it. . . . .

When, later on, the Christian nations of the east had lost the faith which they themselves had transmitted to the western world; when they had disfigured the sacred symbol of faith by their blasphemous heresies; the anger of God sent upon them from Arabia, the deluge of Mahometanism. It swept away the Christian Churches, that had existed from the very times of the apostles. . . . .

And we, the western nations, if we return not to the Lord our God, shall we be spared? Shall the flood-gates of heaven's vengeance, the torrent of fresh Vandals, ever be menacing to burst upon us, yet never come? Where is the country of our own Europe, that has not corrupted its way, as in the days of Noah? That has not made conventions against the Lord and against His Christ? That has not clamoured out that old cry of revolt: Let us break their bonds asunder, let us cast away their yoke from us? Well may we fear lest the time is at hand, when, despite our haughty confidence in our means of defence, Christ our Lord, to whom all nations have been given by the Father, shall rule us with a rod of iron, and break us in pieces like a potter's vessel. Let us propitiate the anger of our offended God, and follow the inspired counsel of the royal prophet: Serve ye the Lord with fear; embrace the discipline of His Law; lest, at any time, the Lord be angry, and ye perish from the just way.

It's difficult to believe Dom Guéranger died in 1875. His admonition seems to have the 21st century in mind.

How Not To Be A Catholic

I monitor a list of Catholic news items and included with today's news was the text of this bit from the Vatican entitled "Actus Formalis Defectionis Ab Ecclesia Catholica".

I'm not sure why it's news -- it's dated a year ago last March. And I'm not sure what the point of publicizing it now is. But it certainly is fascinating: it gives in detail what you have to do in order formally not to be a considered a Catholic any more.

Fascinating, and rather depressing that anyone would want to do such a thing.

"The Sun is Cracking the Stones"

My wife is a fount of proverbs, sayings, similes, and assorted idioms. (Some of them are wonderfully surreal, the result of being misheard or misremembered from childhood no doubt. If you correct her, she will accept it with the gracious thanks and courtesy that is her wont. It will not result in a future correction, though.) The one for days like today is that "the sun is cracking the stones". I love that. Very expressive. And with all the stories about the snow and ice back east, it makes the 81°F that the thermomenter is currently registering here on this 16th day of February almost indecent.

Global warming is so far not proving to be all that uncongenial.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sexagesima Sunday

"Sexagesima Sunday" means we have a week and a half until Lent. Now, if this Sunday you attended the "normative rite", as the powers-that-be like to call it, you wouldn't know that. It would just be the umpteenth Sunday in common-or-garden-variety time. And then one day soon, with hardly any time to finish off that half gallon of ice cream or bring the rest of the chocolate chip cookies with almonds in to work to "share", LENT will be upon you. The traditional Roman Rite gives you fair warning.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

St Scholastica

Today is the feast of St Scholastica, the foundress of the Benedictine nuns. What we know of her comes from St Gregory the Great's life of St Benedict, her brother. You can find it in summary here.

Found While Looking for Something Else

Found while researching St Scholastica, actually. Having been born on the anniversary of the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, I was interested to learn that history knows of a St Scholastica's Day Riot. Round about 1355, some students at Oxford got into a contretemps with some townsmen.

It was about beer.

Wouldncha know.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on the Roman Rite, the fabled Motu Proprio, and the SSPX

Another interview with Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on traditionalist hot topics: Chris Gillibrand translates it from the German original here. This is not the first time that His Eminence has been reported saying these things. But sometimes one wonders about misquotation or misunderstanding. So it seems to me it is well-worth quoting this sort of thing from a different source in a different country, although we have perhaps heard it before.

So far, so good

Everything seems to be working so far; that last post published without a hitch. I notice that there is no obvious way to remove the useless toolbar at the top of the page. In the old version, there was a button that gave one a choice. On the plus side, however, once the "settings" on the template are "saved" there is no further step (often involving an interminable wait) needed to "publish" the new settings. A definite improvement.

And, yet. . . .I'm sure something won't work properly. Something vital. I wasn't born a pessimist. I was actually a fairly sunny child who believed, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, that I could grow up and earn my living as a cowboy just like Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, and Colonel Tim McCoy*. But the 20th century has no truck with the cheerful optimist. And the 21st is so far following in its older brother's footsteps. So, one can only wait for the other shoe to drop and for The Inn to publish in mirror format. Or upside down. Or not at all.

*No, they weren't before my time; they were the staple of Saturday afternoon television in the benighted 1950s. And sometimes even of the Saturday matinee at the local movie theater.

Novus Ordo Bloggeræ

Oh, bother. The Inn has finally been forced into the new Blogspot Order. All my "work-arounds" have been eliminated and it's "New Blogger" or nothing.

If this doesn't work, I have saved The Inn's template and will relocate somewhere else, as Hilary and some others have done. (But, wait. . .if this doesn't work you won't see this, will you. Hmmm. Well, I will whether you see this nor not.)

Now. Will this new format actually work. . . .and what will The Inn look like using the new, improved, lemon-flavoured Blogspot? The cursor moves toward the "Publish" button and we hold our breath. . . .

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Supply and Demand

Ron Liddle was whiling away the afternoon hours recently creating an "Unethical Investment Fund". In the 20 January number of The Spectator he reports on his results. Sure, the usual suspects are there: McDonald's, Philip Morris, and assorted naughty oil companies. But I hadn't heard of David Lucas. Mr Lucas:

. . .makes gallows to be deployed by Third-World African dictators -- Gaddafi and Mugabe, for example. He does a terrific trade despite resembling one of the backwoods people in the film Deliverance. He does multiple gallows, too, so you can hang five dissidents in one go. All his products are exquisitely wrought from the finest English oak. "The beauty of it is," Mr Lucas told a rather unhappy reporter from the Guardian, "you can use it over and over gain."

Mr Lucas's company is, it appears, not publicly traded.


Now that word has reached the public, though, we shouldn't have long to wait for the IPO.

Found While Looking for Something Else

From Msgr Ronald Knox's Pastoral Sermons

“The wind breathes where it will, and thou canst hear the sound of it, but knowest nothing of the way it came or the way it goes”; the Holy Spirit is not like some egotistic genius, determined that his interference should be recognized and acknowledged wherever it is brought to bear. He is quite content that his inspirations should seem, to us, bright ideas of our own; that his shaping of our characters should be unaccompanied by any glow of feeling, such as might indicate the source whence it comes. The pattern he weaves in us is something contained in, not super-added to, the common fabric of our lives.

But because he will work thus imperceptibly, that is no reason why we should pretend that he is not here, behave as if we were the masters of our own destiny, and needed no impulse from without. We shall be happier about the decisions we make, and gain from that a sense of confidence which will help us to justify our decisions, if we make a practice of appealing to his unseen, unfelt influence at every cross-roads of our lives, even the most insignificant.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Have you buried your Alleluia yet?

Better hurry; it's almost time for vespers. As tomorrow is Septuagesima Sunday, vespers tonight will be the last time you hear Alleluia in the Roman Rite until Easter Sunday. In some old traditions, a highly illuminated manuscript copy of Alleluia was solemnly processed to the churchyard and buried until its "resurrection" on Easter Sunday.

From the old Catholic Encyclopædia:

Septuagesima is today inaugurated in the Roman Martyrology by the words: "Septuagesima Sunday, on which the canticle of the Lord, Alleluja, ceases to be said". On the Saturday preceding, the Roman Breviary notes that after the "Benedicamus" of Vespers two Alleluias are to be added, that thenceforth it is to be omitted till Easter, and in its place "Laus tibi Domine" is to be said at the beginning of the Office.

Formerly the farewell to the Alleluia was quite solemn. In an Antiphonary of the Church of St. Cornelius at Compiegne we find two special antiphons. Spain had a short Office consisting of a hymn, chapter, antiphon, and sequence. Missals in Germany up to the fifteenth century had a beautiful sequence. In French churches they sang the hymn "Alleluia, dulce carmen" (Gueranger, IV, 14)* which was well-known among the Anglo-Saxons (Rock, IV, 69). The "Te Deum" is not recited at Matins, except on feasts. The lessons of the first Nocturn are taken from Genesis, relating the fall and subsequent misery of man and thus giving a fit preparation for the Lenten season. In the Mass of Sunday and ferias the Gloria in Excelsis is entirely omitted. In all Masses a Tract is added to the Gradual.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Candlemas Day

When the wind's in the east on Candlemas Day
There it will stick till the 2d of May. . . .

The wind here at the moment is completely still. But it's early yet.

For more (considerably more; all you'd ever want to know, in fact) about Candlemas, try this page.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Best Beer Ad

Possibly ever.

(And what is that order/congregation/society/whathaveyou and where did they get all those vocations?)

Presidential Politics

The next 9 years in a nutshell from Video Meliora, etc.

It looks pretty accurate to me. The Repubican party base is middle class white people. Middle class white people have decided not to reproduce themselves. Blacks and Hispanics have not so decided; and Hispanics are importing even more. Dubya tried to lure the Hispanic vote to the Republican column but to no real effect.

Adiós, G.O.P.

El Cid, Call Your Office

Spain's bishops are alarmed by ambitious plans to recreate the city of Cordoba - once the heart of the ancient Islamic kingdom of al-Andalus - as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe.


Last month, Spanish Muslims reasserted their right to pray in Cordoba's great mosque. The mosque houses within its arches a cathedral built to consolidate Catholic rule after Muslims were expelled from Spain in 1492. Muslims are forbidden to pray in the building.

Mansur Escudero, president of Spain's Islamic Council, has challenged the current head of Spain's Episcopal Conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez of Bilbao, to explain why Muslims could not pray in Cordoba's mosque. Mr Escudero said he had been encouraged by the Pope's act of prayer in Istanbul's Blue Mosque on his recent visit to Turkey. "It showed that mosques are open to Christian worshippers," he said. "Could not Muslims pray in Cordoba's mosque?"

Bishop Blazquez replied that public collective praying was prohibited, but he supposed private or individual prayer was acceptable. Mr Escudero then announced that Muslims would henceforth return to Cordoba's mosque to pray "in a respectful, private and individual capacity". The bishops hit back, insisting that "Muslims cannot in any way pray in Cordoba cathedral".

Spain's Muslims have been long respectful towards civil and ecclesiastical authorities, but as numbers have grown they have turned to more radical leaders.

Along with prohibiting Mohammedan prayer in Catholic cathedrals (copy: H.E. Roger Cardinal Mahony) their excellencies might consider preaching the Catholic faith and restoring the Catholic liturgy that invigorated the reconquista.

The rest of the article can be found here. (And thanks, Eloise, for the reference.)

Another Traditional Mass for the O.C.

Una Voce of Orange County reports that Bishop Brown has agreed to provide a second traditional Roman Rite Mass for the Diocese of Orange. Details can be found on the Una Voce website here.

Yes, the 7:00 a.m. time is not a typo. And we are domiciled a fur piece down the road from Yorba Linda so it looks like we'll be sticking with Los Angeles and its "If-it's-Tuesday-this-must-be-Belgium" indult Mass schedule.

A Visit With Mr Chesterton

And here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, too. Details here.

[And a "thank you" to Mr Taylor for the reference.]


This little corner of the western United States may not look like the archetypal Old West any more but we are occasionally reminded that it surely is. Lately, the coyotes have been reminding us. We seldom see them -- my last sighting was a year or so ago. At 4 a.m. as I drove down Studebaker Road, one loped across the road from the park and into the neighbourhood across the road. We more occasionally see the remains of their meals: a bit of possum or a fat and juicy house cat that wasn't quite fast enough on its paws. Some of them have moved out of the hills and into the Fairfax district of L.A. and assorted other very urban areas and are causing quite a hub-bub in the columns of The Times.

Joel Stein of the Hollywood Hills (and of The Times) got a little closer to his canine neighbours than I would really care to be. And he misses them now that they've moved on. He tells about it here.

1 February -- St Brigid of Kildare

Today is the feast of St Brigid, my wife's second onomastico, and my grandmother's birthday. If you're not in the family you're probably not much interested in the final two causes for celebration. But the good old Catholic Encyclopædia carries a life of St Brigid by W.H. Grattan-Flood, once a very well-known Irish scholar. You can find it here.

O God, Who on this day dost make us to rejoice in the yearly solemnity of blessed Brigid Thy Virgin : graciously grant, that we who are enlightened by the example of her chastity, may be aided by her merits. Through Christ our Lord.