Saturday, July 31, 2010


Hot-off-the-press piping news ("the press" in this case being the Pipes|Drums website):

European championships were held today. Two Irish bands topped the list in Grade I:

1. St Lawrence O'Toole
2. Field Marshal Montgomery

And two Irish bands topped the list in Grade II:

1. Ravara
2. Seven Towers If you click on the Seven Towers link you'll get a couple of lovely, melodic hornpipes in the background. Don't know the first but the second is Train Journey North. Recommended.

[ADDENDUM: Hmmm. It seems if one reads to the end of the page one discovers that the first hornpipe is called The Referendum Hornpipe.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where Everybody Knows Your Name. . . .

It's called the internet.

From the WSJ:

The largest U.S. websites are installing new and intrusive consumer-tracking technologies on the computers of people visiting their sites—in some cases, more than 100 tracking tools at a time—a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.
. . . . .

To measure the sensitivity of the data gathered by tracking companies, the Journal created an "exposure index" for the top 50 sites. ranked highest in exposing users to potentially aggressive surveillance: It installed 168 tracking tools that didn't let users decline to be tracked, and 121 tools that, according to their privacy statements, don't rule out collecting financial or health data. attributed the number of tools to its use of many different ad networks, each of which puts tools on its site.

Some of the tracking files identified by the Journal were so detailed that they verged on being anonymous in name only. They enabled data-gathering companies to build personal profiles that could include age, gender, race, zip code, income, marital status and health concerns, along with recent purchases and favorite TV shows and movies.

Too late for me to get all worried about it, of course. Anyone living such a pathetic, boring life that my age, sex, race and favourite movie became a matter of absorbing interest could find it all out fairly easily from The Inn. And all without investing in expensive tracking software.

Some Piping for the Weekend

This is a Breton pipe band (a "bagad") combining the traditional Breton bagpipes the biniou kozh, its traditional companion the bombarde, a host of highland pipes, and assorted percussion instruments. You can find out more about this sort of musical ensemble here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Maury Chaykin, RIP

You may not recognize the name but you would likely have recognized the face of the great Canadian character actor from at least some of the 153 appearances in film that lists. And there are really many more than that since lists each tv series as one appearance. The Times informs me this morning that he died yesterday from kidney problems.

I got to know the name from his performance as Nero Wolfe in A&E's outstanding television series based on the Wolfe novels and stories. If you've been visiting The Inn for a very long time you may remember a link in the left-hand column to the "Save Nero Wolfe" site which went up after A&E cancelled Nero Wolfe. So far as I can recall that's the only reference to a tv programme that's ever graced The Inn's fabled left-hand column. The link remained up long after there was any point to it; A&E, the "Arts and Entertainment network" had long stopped having anything to do with either the arts or entertainment although it keeps the acronym.

In my mind Maury Chaykin was Nero Wolfe. I can't read the stories now without having Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton in mind. (In much the same way, I can't think of Elizabeth I without imagining Bette Davis or Sherlock Holmes without Basil Rathbone.) There was still some small hope that the series might have been revived elsewhere or that a film would be produced but now that won't happen. Maury Chaykin will be greatly missed.

Fritz and Mr Wolfe on the proper preparation of venison:

The Wolfe Pack

Thursday, July 22, 2010

At Sea with Philosophy

. . . so Mr. Easy turned philosopher, the very best profession a man can take up, when he is fit for nothing else; he must be a very incapable person indeed who cannot talk nonsense. For some time, Mr. Easy could not decide upon what description his nonsense should consist of; at last he fixed upon the rights of man, equality, and all that; how every person was born to inherit his share of the earth, a right at present only admitted to a certain length; that is, about six feet, for we all inherit our graves, and are allowed to take possession without dispute. But no one would listen to Mr. Easy’s philosophy. The women would not acknowledge the rights of men, whom they declared always to be in the wrong; and, as the gentlemen who visited Mr. Easy were all men of property, they could not perceive the advantages of sharing with those who had none. However, they allowed him to discuss the question, while they discussed his port wine. The wine was good, if the arguments were not, and we must take things as we find them in this world.

from Mr Midshipman Easy, by Capt Frederick Marryat, RN (1792-1848)

Which I have begun reading this very afternoon, including this very sound opinion on philosophy as practiced in the early 19th century. "Thrilling tales of the sea" will ensue says the Marryat biographer. Will they be as good as Patrick O'Brian? That may be too much to ask. An early 19th century CS Forester would be acceptable. We shall see. So far, so good.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

San Juan Capistrano

We were in Capistrano again yesterday. Two or three times a year we drive down to eat President Nixon's favourite meal at El Adobe (no, not cottage cheese and ketchup; be serious. It was beans and rice, chili relleno, chicken enchilada, and a beef taco.), to visit the Mission again and take more photographs from some different angles, and to make a visit to the new basilica which has to be the most beautiful purpose-built-for-the-Novus-Ordo church on the planet (possibly the only one), and to lament how much Capistrano has changed from my youth.

The meal, as always, was wonderful. The mission was still beautiful. But. The Disneylandification continues apace. Yes, the improvements are real improvements. The restorations are, indeed, necessary to keep it from melting away. Adobe is, after all, mud. But the sense of being in a real, working parish is gone. The parish grammar school used to be right across the quadrangle from the Serra chapel.

Never mind. Probably just grumpy old nostalgia speaking. My perennial lament that anything at all has ever changed from when I was a boy.

In any event, evening Mass was being said in the new basilica when we got round to it. Not good for visiting or picture-taking. And the Serra chapel was also in use for a wedding anniversary Mass.

Speaking of picture-taking, I forgot the decent camera. These were done with the camera phone. Not bad, considering. This shot and the next two are of the ruins of the old basilica which collapsed in a massive earthquake in eighteen aught something. I forget exactly. You could look it up. You could also click on any of these and make them much larger. Probably too large.

Mission bells. There are some bells in a bell tower around the corner on the other side of the Serra chapel but these are earlier says the little sign.

One of the friar's cells. "Reconstructed" isn't the word I'm looking for here. The cell is original. But the furniture is period furniture of the sort that would have been typical for the time and place. There's a word for that and it isn't coming to mind.

The east side of the cloister. I think I mean east. Directions aren't my strong suit.

Somewhat anachronistically, St Therese and one of her devotees. I couldn't quite manage a piping reference but I thought I did very well working a Carmelite one into an 18th century Franciscan mission post.

Some Piping for the Weekend

The good, the bad, and the out-of-step all in one counter marching horde. Massed Bands. You gotta love 'em. These are the massed bands at the Calgary games in 2006 for everyone who hasn't been to a highland games in over a month and is having withdrawal symptoms.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

17 July: The Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne

Today the Carmelite calendar honours the blessed martyrs of Compiegne who offered their lives for France and for liberation from the republican terror. And, indeed, they were the last victims of the terror.

A few years ago I had a bit to say here about the holy martyrs. I gave this link at that time. It was then and still is the most complete account of their lives and martyrdom on the web.

Whether by co-incidence or providential sign, today is also the anniversary of the murder of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, his family, and some of their retainers by the 20th century's own version of the republican savages. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia canonized them several years ago, and if I recall correctly, the Russian Orthodox Church recently concurred.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy 241st

This is - sort of - California's birthday. On this day in 1769, the Blessed Fr Junipero Serra, O.F.M. founded the first of the California missions in San Diego.

16 July: In Commemoratione Solemni Beatæ Mariæ Virginis de Monte Carmelo, Titularis et Patronæ totius Ordinis Carmelitarum

In short, today is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Patroness of the Carmelite Order.

The 2d nocturn for the feast as it appears in The Anglican Breviary:

Lesson iv

There is an old story to the effect that many men continued to live on Mount Camel in the spirit of the holy Prophets Elijah and Elisha. And that those of them who were of the times of Saint John Baptist were made ready by his preaching to accept the Messiah. And that when the Apostles were filled with the Spirit upon the holy day of Pentecost, and spake with diverse tongues, and worked miracles by calling upon the Name of Jesus (which is above every name), these Carmelites, seeing and being assured of the truth, straightway embraced the Faith of the Gospel. And that on account of their singular love toward the Blessed Virgin, (who was personally known to them as a familiar friend,) they paid her the respect of building her a little chapel, (the first which was ever raised in her honour, ) which same stood on that part of Mount Carmel whence the servant of Elijah had in old days espied that manifest type of the Virgin, whereof he spake, saying: Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.

Lesson v

To this new chapel they repaired oftentimes, day by day, and in their liturgy honoured the blessed Virgin as the particular guardian of their community. For this reason they came to be everywhere called the Brethren of Blessed Mary, of Mount Carmel. Now it would seem that this her name and protection are not the only gifts which this Virgin Lady bountiful hath given them. For it is believed that she gave them also the badge of the Holy Scapular which is said to have been bestowed on blessed Simon Stock the Englishman. This same is a certain holy vesture which hath become the special mark of this Order, whereby Carmelites trust that they are harnessed against all assaults. Moreover, in olden times, when as yet this Order was unknown in Europe, and not a few were importuning Honorius III to put an end to it, the gracious Virgin Mary (so it is said) appeared by night to the said Honorius, and flatly commanded him to shew kindness to the Order and to the men belonging thereto.

Lesson vi

Many godly persons believe that it is not in this world only that the blessed Virgin hath marked with her favour this Order which pleaseth her so well, but in the next world also. For there her power and mercy have freer scope than here. And so they most surely trust that all who belong to the Guild of the Scapular if they have practised what is enjoined on them, (that is, a certain easy rule of abstinence, faithfulness in brief daily prayers, and the keeping of chastity according to their state of life,) are comforted by her motherly love while they are being cleansed in purgatory, and by her help are borne forward towards their home in heaven more quickly than others. Thus this Order (because it cherisheth these things as so many and so great gifts) hath instituted today’s feast as a solemn Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be made year after year in perpetual observance thereof.

Mrs Vidal has a comprehensive post today in her excellent Fountain of Elias on the meaning of the scapular. You can find it here. And, once again, a homily given by Fr Pius Sammut, O.C.D. about 10 years ago on Our Lady and Carmel.

From an old prayer book:

O glorious Queen of Angels! Most pure and ever Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel! Powerful advocate of all who wear thy holy scapular! Faithful Protectress of all the servants of thy Son Jesus Christ! I, an unworthy sinner do this day, in the presence of thy beloved Son, my Saviour, choose thee for my Patroness, that, through thy intercession, I may receive from Him whatsoever grace may be necessary and profitable for me now, and at the hour of my death. Amen.

Pater and Ave, three times.

Let us pray

O most glorious and Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel! I, an unworthy wearer of thy holy scapular, confident, however, that the Church does not call thee in vain the Refuge of Sinners, do beseech thee to make me sensible of the favours thou hast conferred upon me, by promoting the welfare of thy holy Order, that, being truly contrite for past offenses I may, by thy aid and assistance, break the chains of my slavery, and live henceforward in the happy liberty of the children of God. through our Lord Jesus Christ, who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

On Tuning in the Radio Half Way through a News Broadcast

It provides another level of wonderment in an already strange world.

Get into the car, start it up, drive away and the radio comes on. NPR is telling me about a group of soccer fans in a restaurant in Uganda that have been attacked by a suicide bomber belonging to a '50s rock group. The Shebop hates soccer fans? Who knew? Is this the radical wing of the Doo-Wop movement? Will there be reprisals from the Rama Lama Ding Dong?

Explanations do come eventually. But it was a surreal 30 seconds or so. It's not The Shebop. It's Al Shebab. Or Al Sheba'ab. Or something. It's apparently a radical Somali group attached to Al Qaeda.


And why would Al Qaeda affiliated Somali group hate soccer fans in Uganda? Even the well-informed experts interviewed on NPR couldn't answer that one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

St Oliver Plunkett, Primate of All Ireland and Martyr

Today marks the feast of St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Martyr. In fact, he was the last Catholic martyr to die -officially - in England. The Catholics of Ireland had more slaughter to endure, but as he couldn't be convicted in Ireland he was shipped off to England for trial and execution. This is also the feast of St Benedict in the Pauline rite calendar. Since the Anglican Use bases its calendar largely on the Pauline, they have moved St Oliver to the 10th of July.

As mentioned last year at this time, the Catholic Encyclopædia gives his vita here and Wikipedia has some pictures of his shrine in Drogheda, County Louth here. (Yes, the good old Catholic Encyclopædia does call him "Blessed" even though he was canonized 35 years ago. But the good old CE is 100 years old.)

The illustration is a portrait of St Oliver hanging in the Irish College in Rome and was reproduced in the Vultus Christi blog here. (Do you visit Vultus Christi? It's well-worth the time to stop in regularly. Highly recommended.)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Some Piping for the Weekend

This is Chris Ormiston playing "Gypsy's Lullaby" and "Lark in the Morning" on the Northumbrian smallpipes back in 1994. I have had Northumbrian smallpipes - "NSP"s if you will - on the brain lately. It's a wonderful sounding pipe. The staccato technique is such a delight. Impossible to do on the Highland pipe, of course, except through the illusion you get quickly moving back and forth from high A. It all started with an unexpected present of a tape of two old NSP recordings, one featuring Billy Pigg and the other a selection of fine NSP players of 50 years ago. This blogging wheeze has unexpected and delightful consequences. Thanks again, Leo.

This one's for Richard who asked me today why I liked the smallpipes in D and what they sounded like. They sound like this. Reminiscent of a lower pitched NSP, maybe?


Interesting piece of business, the English language. I heard a usage on the radio yesterday that I had not heard before. Not quite wrong, just out of tune. The news reader was reporting on someone's conviction for something or other involving a death and said that the person had not qualified for the death penalty. Yes, "qualified". Makes it sound like we've got a really disappointed defendant here. If only he'd tried harder, he could've qualified for the death penalty. Maybe he'll get another chance later.

It reminds me of my longstanding objection to calling confession "Reconciliation". No, it's not really wrong. "The end of the estrangement, caused by sin, between God and humanity" says one definition. Fair enough. But the connotation. It feels like some sort of equality is involved. I say I'm sorry and God says He's sorry and we make up. Pals again. Uh. . . .no. I liked Penance better. Or even Confession.

It's Been a Quiet Week at The Inn. . . . .

For a number of reasons.

Mostly, I haven't had much to say that was worth typing out.

And then there was that little incident with the modem. It's not really a modem, though. It's the wifi thingummy which acts like a modem used to but has another name which I can never remember. Well, it was refusing to connect me to you. I followed all the instructions in the documentation. Nada. Herself suggested unplugging it, waiting a bit, and plugging it in again. Tsk. What does she know? Apparently, more than I do. If your wifi modem thingummy goes out, try unplugging it, waiting a while, and plugging it back in again. Works a treat. And, if you do it first before trying to decipher the documentation - translated into English from the Chinese by someone who understands neither - you may save yourself 48 hours of off-line time.

And the 4th of July was peaceful and quiet, too. Not here, of course, in the Athens of southeast L.A. County, the gunpowder capital of the universe where patriotism is best expressed with safe and sane (sic) incendiary devices and blowing things up in general. Edgar Montrose would weep with joy. But we were elsewhere at the home of friends in another jurisdiction whose city council is neither on the take from purveyors of explosive devices nor demonstrably insane. Instead we had food and drink, good conversation and a bit of music, including a soupçon of piping. (Well, O.K., maybe not all that quiet.) We returned home just before midnight and were delighted to find the gunpowder smoke mostly dissipated and the house still standing.

I've had a couple of students since June. I haven't taught anyone the pipes in a while and so far it has been a really good experience. I hope it is for the students. They seem enthusiastic and they've certainly got enough talent and intelligence for it. There is audible progress going on. As for me, it's interesting to get back to the fundamentals. You know how you learn something and absorb it and move on? It gets assimilated and becomes part of you; you build on it and don't really think much about it after that. Teaching makes you disassemble all that and have another good look at the component parts. It gives insight into what you've always been doing and shows you some things that need to be fixed. Doesn't sound like that would be very enjoyable, but it is.

We're still on the chanter now and will be for a while. But at some point, I'm going to need to find a place to play pipes. The neighbours are very accommodating to me and my pipes and I'd like to keep it that way. But I think a struggling mini-band once a week may be pushing the envelope. . . .

Thursday, July 01, 2010


That's how The Spectator's "Letters" column begins. And that, as you probably guessed, is what I was reading over breakfast this morning. The Spectator has the most wonderfully irritable correspondents. A column on statistics in last week's issue brought forth the following in this week's:

The human race has survived and flourished for hundreds of thousands of years without statistics. We survive using superstition, lust, greed and envy. All that statistics have done is make life miserable by legitimising with dubious science the personal biases of busybodies. It tells us that we shouldn't drink, shouldn't smoke and shouldn't immunise our children withe MMR vaccine. Lies, damned lies and statistics.

Well, surely not only superstition, lust, greed and envy. But I take his meaning. If there is a crackpot idea out there, the proponent has a folder full of statistics to quote at you. Unrestrained emotion often seems preferable.

Further on, I find that I've been using jejune incorrectly for almost half a century. Geoffrey Wheatcroft informs that I have shared the

semiliterate misapprehension that jejune bears any sense of immaturity or callowness. The word comes of course from the Latin jejunus for 'fasting', as anyone who had to sweat through Bede's Historia ecclesiastica in the old Oxford history school will recall: the monasteries of Anglo-Saxon England were as devoted to starvation diets as any modern health hydro. It has no etymological connexion whatever with the French jeune, although Kingsley Amis used to say that the man who first misused jejune must have had a bad stammer.

That's not the sort of thing you find in the Long Beach Press Telegram.

1 July

Today is the old feast of the Precious Blood of Jesus, 'old' being a relative term. The feast was less than 150 years old when Archbishop Bugnini decided it was surplus to requirements. Originally, Bl Pope Pius IX placed it on the first Sunday in July. At some point it found its way to the first of July, replacing the old octave day of St John the Baptist. The Catholic Encyclopædia tells about the doctrine here and Recta Ratio provides us with the Litany of the Precious Blood here.

In the Pauline calendar, it's also the feast of the Bl Fr Junipero Serra, O.F.M., one of the patrons of California. The picture shows the austere cell in which Fr Serra died in 1784. There's a short life here. Agnes Repplier wrote a very readable biography of Fr Serra in the 1930's. My tattered and yellowed paperback was reprinted in 1962, although I don't think it's in print any more. ABEBooks seems to have some, though. Fr Maynard Geiger wrote a biography in the 1950's that may be more accessible, i.e., in print. I would have thought that Fr Zephryn Engelhardt, O.F.M., my favourite of the historians of early California, would have a biography of Fr Serra. And so, according to Google, he does. But only in Spanish. I wonder if it's ever been translated?

A-a-a-a-and, as Hilary has reminded us, it's Canada Day. The video shows a Royal Canadian Legion colour party being led by a pipe band. It appears to be the 48th Highlanders Pipe Band -- white hackle on the feather bonnets, black sporran with the white tails. But I could be wrong; can't really tell what the tartan is on this video.