Friday, April 30, 2010

Since I May Not Be "Up Long Before the Day-o"

Here are the Waterson's singing the May Day song "Hal-an-tow":

Don't forget, it's also the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955.

Among other things, he's patron of the Catholic Worker.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Under 800... and above it again...

Briefly this week, I got the book count on my LibraryThing account down under 800 after pitching some books.  But, I also found some that I hadn't yet added to the catalog, so the count is above 800 again.

Most of those are in my bedroom here in Queens.  A few are still back in Virginia, but the one box worth not listed—because they're currently for sale on Amazon or slated to be given away to friends—bring the in the room count back up close to that on the LibraryThing account.

The photo with this post shows you some of the books that are on the shelves that sit on the left side of my desk.  It'll tell you a lot of what I've got "part read" and my current interests, obsessions, and aspirations, though I'm not sure what Numbers: Rational and Irrational by Ivan Niven is doing there.  Click here or on the photo for a larger version.

At brunch on Sunday we were talking about how many books we own... one friend claimed to own a lot of books, but admitted that it wasn't as many as I've got.  Mwhahah!  Our friend David, won the prize for the person there with the fewest books owned, since he of course owns none.  (If there was an actual prize, not just a theoretical one, someone might have disputed this conclusion.)

This reflection was prompted by these recollections.  And also by rediscovering a fun 2008 article from the New York Times Book Review in the pile of stuff I'm trying to clean off my desk.  Here's a taste:

In order to have the walls of my diminutive apartment scraped and repainted, I recently had to heap all of my possessions in the center of the room. The biggest obstacle was my library. had begun to metastasize quietly in corners, with volumes squeezed on top of the taller cabinets and in the horizontal crannies left above the spines of books that had been properly shelved. It was time to cull. ...

Nevertheless, things had gotten out of hand. The renovations forced me to pull every copy off every shelf and ask: Do I really want this? I filled four or five cartons with volumes destined for libraries, used-book stores and the recycling bin, and as I did so, certain criteria emerged.

There are two general schools of thought on which books to keep, as I learned once I began swapping stories with friends and acquaintances. The first views the bookshelf as a self-portrait, a reflection of the owner’s intellect, imagination, taste and accomplishments. “I’ve read ‘The Magic Mountain,’ ” it says, and “I love Alice Munro.” ...

The other approach views a book collection less as a testimony to the past than as a repository for the future; it’s where you put the books you intend to read. “I like to keep something on my shelf for every mood that might strike,” said Marisa Bowe, a nonprofit consultant and an editor of “Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs.”

I lean towards the second method, I get rid of most things I've already read, but I've got lots of books I intend to read, lots.

Coming attractions: I've got some stuff about a Ukranian sculpture show I saw last weekend to post (including pictures), but it'll take some time to put together. Also a post on the Oxford Movement and liturgical changes at Smokey Mary's here in New York City.  If you're interested, leave me a comment on which one you'd rather see first.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My World Turned Upside Down (a very small part of it)

I'd long "known" that the British played the march "The World Turned Upside Down" when they surrendered to the American forces at Yorktown.

But, here's an interesting article from American Music suggesting that's probably not true (and, therefore, I didn't "know" it for all you epistemologists playing along at home).
Let’s begin with the basic historical question. What proof is there, that the British at Yorktown played a march that anyone living in the eighteenth-century called ["The World Turned Upside Down", hereafter] WTUD? The Yorktown/WTUD story was first published in Major Alexander Garden’s Anecdotes of the American Revolution . . . (Charleston, S. C., 1828), forty-seven years after Yorktown. Garden quoted a letter from Major William Jackson who described the surrender negotiations as though he had been an eyewitness, but didn’t mention that he was in Europe, not Yorktown at the time.

Apparently, in that same letter, Jackson also stated that a French fleet had sailed from Brest for America early in May 1781 at the instigation of his superior officer, Lt. Col. John Laurens. That French fleet was crucial to the victory at Yorktown, but Laurens was in no way responsible for getting it to America. In fact, that French fleet had sailed late in March before Laurens and his secretary, Major Jackson, arrived at Versailles. This shows that Jackson cannot be trusted for details of past events in which he was closely involved, much less for details of something that allegedly happened at Yorktown while he was 3,000 miles away in Europe.

...As published, Jackson’s Yorktown/WTUD story is, at best, a dubious “third-hand account”—Laurens(?) to Jackson to Garden—masquerading as an eyewitness report.

This Yorktown/WTUD story had been ignored for a long time. ... Then in 1881, Henry P. Johnston revived the Yorktown/WTUD story from Garden’s book (with credit), for his excellent Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis... Around that time a few people began to ask about the music so that search has been going on for just over a century.

The first to write that he might have found the WTUD music was John Tasker Howard, a music historian who about 1931 wrote a booklet, The Music of George Washington’s Time for the Bicentennial of Washington’s birth. Howard was a fine scholar who knew a great deal about American classical music and a lot about Stephen Foster’s songs but not much about the other songs of ordinary people and next to nothing about fife and drum music. (This last point is important. The surrender terms specified that the surrendering troops could beat British or German airs. “Beat” applies only to drums.)
John Tasker Howard learned that a 1642 English Royalist tune, “When the King Enjoys His Own Again” had once had a song text called “The World Turned Upside Down” associated with it (in 1646). He then suggested that this “King Enjoys” tune might also be the as yet undiscovered WTUD music. Howard didn’t know that WTUD text in no way fitted Yorktown.

Unfortunately for Howard’s guesswork, there is only one known period copy of that 1646 WTUD text; no evidence that it ever was sung; and no sign of any later reprint until 1923 when it appeared in Hyder Rollins's Cavalier and Puritan: Ballads and Broadsides Illustrating the Period of the Great Rebellion, 1640–1660! ...though Howard was tentative in his notes, his published music copy appeared with a bold face “The World Turned Upside Down” title in his booklet. The result is that unless you read Howard’s text carefully you can easily come away with the false notion that the “King Enjoys” music has been proved to be the WTUD music. In fact, the “King Enjoys” music was never known as WTUD until Howard published it that way in 1932!
But, don't let all that stop you from singing along heartily with the English Civil War royalist version (revived by modern Jacobite sympathisers):

Friday, April 23, 2010


Blogger Mark Bretano publishes a correction:
The Archbishop of Canterbury is not Rowan Williamson but Rowan Williams. I suspect I was confusing him with Rowan Atkinson, another comedian.
Via this comment on Seraphic Singles.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ex Scientia Tridens

A recent panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation on Sea Power in the 21st century. It's also available as an MP3 download.

The full rundown on who the speakers are, etc. is at the Heritage web site. One of the speakers is a blogger at Information Dissemination, where I learned about the panel discussion. It's stuff that's interesting, but not overwhelming. I especially liked their recent post on the Gates/Iran memo, which suggested to me that I probably have not yet achieved a sufficiently high level of deviousness to succeed in a political career.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Inches That Matter

As much as I've come to loath the New York Times lately, this is one of the more interesting embed pieces I've seen from Afghanistan. There's a long piece on Afghan snipers (including the old assault rifle vs. battle rifle debate) and a companion video of Marines in a firefight. Reporter C.J. Chivers is one to watch.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Solzhenitsyn

From In the First Circle:
It was two days before the Nativity of the Mother of God, and they were reciting the litany of the day. It was an inexhaustibly eloquent outpouring of praise for the Virgin, and Yakonov felt for the first time the overwhelming poetic power of such prayers. The canon had been written not by a soulless dogmatist but by some great poet immured in a monastery, and he had been moved not by a furious excess of male hunger for a female body but by the pure rapture that a woman can awake in us.
(p. 169 in the new Harper Perennial edition)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kids Those Days (1563)

From Canon Law on Marriage by Adolfo N. DacanĂ¡y:
A third problem [with the law Tametsi of the council of Trent enacted in 1563] arose from the fact that the "assistance" of the priest was merely passive, for which reason the so called "surprise marriage" became a problem. [Continued in footnote:] The contracting parties, with a party of their friends would literally break into the priest's residence, rouse him from his sleep, and express their consent to marriage even before the poor pastor realized what transpired. Partly for which reason, the present code prescribes that "only that person who, being present, asks the contracting parties to manifest their consent and in the name of the Church receives it, is understood to assist at a marriage. [C.1108.2] It is also for this reason that the marriage rite should include the minister actively asking for the consent of the contracting parties rather than their merely expressing their consent spontaneously and unasked.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What We Have in Common With Pope Michael

We have discovered recently that we share something with Pope Michael of Kansas (note: not to be confused with Pope Michael I of Alexandria).  One of our recent blog posts recommended (/warned people away from) the web site  Indeed, Pope Michael agrees with our recommendation:
I recommend finding the library book sales in your area at book sale finder. [Link in the original --SJH] Book sales serve two purposes. Sometimes you find some good books. It is also a good recreation, and we all need to take a break from our work and rest. I also plan my longer trips by way of used book stores. Some thrift shops have proven quite useful.
We recommend, beloved sons, that you keep an eye out for the Pope Michael documentary due to be finished and released soon, it's the work of alumni of the Notre Dame film program.  We viewed the original short film with pleasure and look forward to the full length version.

A tip of the tiara to Three Double Swings for introducing us to the film about His Holiness.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Et tu, Jay?

The new New Criterion arrived in the mail yesterday. I turned first, as I often do to Jay Nordlinger's "New York Chronicle", a recounting of the musical goings-on for in the capital of the world since the last issue. I especially enjoy reading his New Criterion column since the passing of the late and lamented New York Sun, where he was a regular music critic.

I was merrily reading along and came to this:
Over the two nights, we learned once more that [the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam] is an ensemble of great value, an adornment to Holland itself. I had a jarring thought: How will the RCO fare under sharia?
Now, I admit that my first reaction was to laugh out loud. I expect this is the reaction the author expected from New Criterion readers and for which he hoped.

But, (you knew there was a but coming right?) Nordlinger is also the music critic I respect because he's written, "Music dwells in its own realm, unless it is freighted with words that constitute political baggage." And even closer to the bone, he said this an interview:
Sometimes performers inflict politics on the audience, and I of course take that into account when I write – but that happens seldom. I sort of pride myself on not letting political views color any of my music criticism – even in blatantly political works, like, oh, "The Death of Klinghoffer" (the opera by John Adams). There are certain musicians whose politics I despise, but I would never hold that against them, musically. (You would probably want an example – I'll give you Daniel Barenboim, whose views on the Middle East are roughly Arafat's.)

A group like the Kronos Quartet does frankly political things – commissions political works and so on. That you have to deal with.

But, in the main, I'm an art-for-art's-sake guy. (Which is a "conservative" position, incidentally.)
While Nordlinger's aside here isn't really about the music itself, it diverted me from the music which is really the topic of the article. Indeed, I turned back to the front and read this month's "Notes & Comments" column "Islam vs. Islamism" before turning back to Nordlinger.

This isn't, of course, the same as a musician commissioning a "political" work. More like a comment from the podium about how great Obama is while the stagehands reset for the next piece. And that wasn't quite what I was looking for in the "New York Chronicle" on the Ides of April.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Silent Amen

A great comment from "matthewj" over at
...this is a personal pet peeve that I work on with my cantors and choir all the time: don't close the books the second the final note has been cut off! Give the hymn a second to sink in. Could you imagine if immediately after reading the last line of the Gospel the Deacon slammed shut the Gospel book as though he was so glad it was all over? Sing the final note, wait a moment, then quietly and discreetly close your book. If the hymn is really a prayer, you don't need to close it the second the prayer is done, as though you're terrified that more prayer might be waiting and ready to come out of that book. Take a moment, a silent Amen if you want to think of it that way, before going on your merry way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Times They Have A Changed

Worship at the Church of Our Saviour, where I go on Sundays, looks like this:

So I was amused to see this 1990 article from the New York Times:
The Church of Our Saviour is also presenting an unusual, fully costumed dance performance on Good Friday at 3 P.M. Joseph Alexander will perform Marcel Dupre's difficult organ setting of the Stations of the Cross, and members of the Players Project will perform the choreography created for the work by Anna Sokolow.
That would never fly these days! At three o'clock on Good Friday, we hold the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion. Our Stations are a bit after five and are traditional.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm glad I did it...

...but I won't do it again, well not in the same way anyways. After Church and brunch at Docks on Sunday, I walked part of the way home.  I walked up Second Avenue, turned east, checked out the Church of the Holy Family (not as ugly as I expected) and then headed up First Avenue.  Then I walked across the 59th Street Bridge. It's pretty ugly.  While I enjoyed walking across the Brooklyn Bridge last year, this bridge is not much fun at all.  The view is not as good as the view from the Brooklyn Bridge and you're on the lower deck and right next to loud traffic (bottom photo).  Even my good photo (top) was taken through a chain-link fence.  The trip also involved lots of worrying about whether bicycles would hit you or not since they rarely stayed in their lane.  Once I get to Queens, I hopped on the subway to ride the rest of the way home.  I've done two of the bridges now.  I'm thinking about trying to walk over all of the bridges between Manhattan and the rest of the city before the end of the summer.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rambusch in 1942

In 1942, Popular Science Magazine published a neat article with many photographs showing the process for making stained glass at New York's Rambusch Company. The entire article is available on Google Books:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Catholic New York on Annunciation Mass

Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York has published a very nice article about the Feast of the Annunciation Solemn Mass for Life held at Holy Innocents and organized by our Knights of Columbus Council:
Cardinal Egan Presides at Latin Mass for Annunciation


The traditional pageantry and sense of reverence that accompany the Latin Mass were on full display at Holy Innocents Church, during a Solemn Mass celebrating the feast of the Annunciation and the 15th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's encyclical "The Gospel of Life."

Cardinal Egan presided and preached at the March 25 Mass, saying in a homily that the occasion marked not just the Annunciation and the encyclical's anniversary, but also the fact that "we have brought ourselves together to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form...with graciousness and devotion."(more)

This is a (low quality) image of the beautiful photo from the article which I took with my camera phone.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Dangerous Web Site

Book Sale Finder lists book sales around the country. Just what your local used book addict doesn't need.

Friday, April 09, 2010


So you may have noticed a trend, I'm trying to post every day. We'll see how long it lasts.

Meanwhile, I just noticed (Google Buzz actually was good for something!) that my friend Paul has got a newish blog going. It's called "Three Double Swings", which as a pretty darn good name. ("Sedes Sapientiae" was already taken; beggars can't be choosers.)

I'll put it up on the sidebar if I ever get around to updating it.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Stop Helping!

Marc Thiessen's latest in the Washington Post is titled, "Pope Benedict is not like Nixon". I know he's responding to Timothy Shriver, but sheesh! These are not the headlines (and I know it may have been written by a copy editor, not by Thiessen himself) we want to read from the defenders of the Pope.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

No Horseradish Shortages

If you grow your own. Not something I'd ever even thought of, though it has to be grown somewhere.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

This is awesome.

The Hartford Courant has provided a one-stop shop for Red Sox fans living in enemy territory. Their Rivalry Central blog reflects Hartford's divided loyalties and provides a run down on all the news of the day for both the good guys and the bad guys.

Graphic from here.

Monday, April 05, 2010

They don't make 'em like they used to.

An obit ran in the New York Times today for former Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar. Obviously his career was before my time. This sentence impressed me:
Cuellar had a 24-8 record in 1970, when he led A.L. pitchers in victories, complete games (21) and winning percentage (.750) and pitched the Orioles to a World Series championship with a Game 5 victory against the Cincinnati Reds.
It's that bolded part that caught my eye. Nowadays, that's unheard of. Wikipedia says the last pitcher to pitch 20 complete games in a season was Fernando Valenzuela in 1986. Of course, it's nowhere near the top-100 list for complete games in a single season, but the latest season on that list is 1892 and to break into it, you'd have to pitch 51 games in a single season.