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 Mme. Malkhos has become obsessed with playing some trivial trivia game on her phone. Not satisfied with being among the top ten players in Poetry int he US, she just inveighed me to feed her the answers in the Greek and Rome categories. One of our opponents claimed to be Pope Francis; which I might have discounted except he defeated me.
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 Found another snake skin in the attic today--nearly three feet long.
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 From Depuydt's analysis in the current HTR:
"I believe that there can only be one explanation for the complete dependence of 
the Text on the Gospel of Thomas: forgery. What other motive could there be for 
taking, for example, the text of the US Declaration of Independence, picking out a 
few phrases here and there, and changing a new resulting composite text slightly 
so that it says something different from what the original text says, perhaps even 
that the British actually won the war?"
This comparison may through some light on the persuasiveness of his argument:
"I believe that there can only be one explanation for the complete dependence of 
the Text on the Gospel of Thomas: forgery. What other motive could there be for 
taking, for example, the text of Mark, picking out a few phrases here and there, 
and changing a new resulting composite text slightly so that it says something
different from what the original text says, perhaps even that Jesus rose from the dead?"


May. 21st, 2013 04:33 pm
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 Peregrine falcon mobbed by crows on the left.
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 Seagull on the right, fling to left. Woodpecker on right, heard but not seen.
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 It seems, indeed,  that no one can have a genuine identity any longer. You have to take the ersatz identities on offer from the Protestants ( various flavors, all, ca. 1920), from the Catholics (ca. 1960), the Paleo-Catholics, ca. 1870), or advertisers (refreshed every 5 minutes), or else construct your own, either out of learning, or out of ignorance, which might better be relabeled ersatz learning.
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 The other day I was at my mother's house, cleaning out what little there is there worth salvaging. There was a phone call, with a very bad connection. The caller did not identify himself but demanded to speak to my mother by name. He had a very strong accent. Somewhere from the Afro-Caribbean part of the British Empire. I can't say where for sure, but some place like Nigeria or Ghana, to judge from what hears on the BBC. Certainly it is not an accent one frequently hears in St. Louis.

After we'd established that my mother was dead and that I was her son and that we shared the same last name (for some reason I was not anxious to give my first name). He announced that the purpose of his call was to announce my mother had won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes For this reason, the call was being monitored by the FBI. Within minutes, my Nigerian friend, a UPS driver with the actual papers, and two FBI agents would be at my house with a check for 2.5 Million dollars and a new Mercedes. As my mother's sole heir, it was all mine. All I had to do was give him my full name and Social Security Number.

I said, " That's very nice, but you surely understand why I might be suspicious this is a phishing scheme?"

"Yes, we live in evil times. But only give me the number and the money and the Mercedes will be yours."

"OK. Why don't you drive on over here, and as soon as the FBI men show me their badges, and I call the FBI and verify the numbers, as well as the fact that agents are now assigned to provide private security for Publisher's Clearing House, then I'll give you the number."

"Well if you don't want the money, I'll just give it to the next person on the list."

"You do that."
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Although Islam plays a very prominent role in millennial preaching today, its odd to see it invoked in that connection 50 or more years ago. Poking around on the internet, it turns out the novel is from 1948, and aliens who want to turn the human race into a slave army, figure Islam is the tool to use to that end.

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As far as I can tell, Churchill was strictly an academic traditionalist, as shown in the actual painting. But the painting-within-a-painting has points of contact with Art Nouveau and Symbolist painting of this period (about 1910), that you just don't see in his own work. I wonder if the subject is an actual friend of his who painted in a more modern style, his attempt to to engage with those developments--or perhaps satire (the painting shown isn't exactly a Bocklin or von Stuck masterpiece)).

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 Anyone know what  this building is?

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 I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, by on e-bay one can buy fragments of the true cross.

Water Music

Sep. 9th, 2012 03:18 pm
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I'm listening, for the first time in many years, to von Karajan's recording of the Water Music. This was the version that introduced me to it, but I'm so used to the Hogwood version now that it seems like a different piece at the incredibly slow tempo von Karajan is using. But I have to admit, as I might not have done ten years ago, that he achieves a certain grandeur with it.

In fact, I'm listening to von Karajan's whole catalogue systematically. Its hard for me to understand his early rise, since at the beginning of his career he was far inferior to Szell or Furtwrangler, but by the 1960s he had achieved an interpretation for the Romantic standards that is second to none (I was recently impressed, or impressed again by his Brahms 4th--although I didn't comprehend the depth of that piece until I saw Land Without Bread). I could have done worse than idolizing him in my youth.
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  Sam Raimi is making a film about the adventures of Professor Marvel before and as he becomes the Great Oz. The scene I want to see in it is Marvel stealing a couple of thousand dollars from Almira Gulch through a psychic reading.
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  When Lance Armstrong was racing, I would watch the tour every year, religiously.  It amused me to no end that an American--a Texan!--could cause such outrage among the French by winning so many times.  Even though all his wins have been cast into doubt, it was still fun at the time to watch it.

After Armstrong retired, I pretty much retired from watching it too.  So here's the funny thing--Malkhos still watches it every year.  He doesn't even like sports, really, to speak of, except sumo wrestling.

Tonight when I came home with the baby he had the tour on television as usual.  While the baby took his bedtime bottle, I lay on the couch and watched for a while.

"Why do you still watch this?" I asked Malkos.

"So I can see France," he replied.

"So you can see France?" I said. "Really."

"Yes," he said. "Look at the architecture there.  Although that looks more like Spain than France."

"That's the strangest reason I've ever heard to watch a sporting event," I said.

"Well, look how Froggy everything is," he said.

"So what does stuff that's all Froggy look like?" I ask.

"Just watch the t.v.," he said.

On a final, unrelated note, here's a short clip of the baby, who is now 17 months old, dancing in the cutest way.  It only lasts about 30 seconds and is well worth the time.

And here is the music playing in the background.
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 Here's a football match-up I'd pay money to see:

The San Francisco Argonauts vs. the Pittsburgh Pythagoreans.
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 I learned the other day that there is a documentary about the use of Myth in The Natural as an extra of the DVD.

I'm watching it now. It consists of interviews with the various producers and writers of the film (not Levinson the director), sports writers and Malamud's daughter. They seem all convinced that the story is based on Arthurian legend. The daughter in particular compares the story to Perceval (which coincidentally I'm writing an article about now), and the hero's healing of the Kingfisher (I presume the cahracter from Amos and Andy, but I was laughing to ahrd to be sure). I checked the scholarly literature when the film came out, and there was no other interpretation offered at that time of the meaning of the story.

I suppose I ought to check again, and write this up. But the source of myth in Malamud's story is quite different. It comes from the Kabbalah.

In every generation the Messiah is reincarnated, along with the 36 zaddakim (holy ones). They do good works (tikkun) helping to restore the balance between mercy and jdugment that was upset at the fall. but they will always ultimately fail unto the final generation and the beginning of the messianic age at the end of history. the idea of telling this story through baseball may derive from the similarity of the baseball diamond and the diagrammatic position of the players on the field, to the usual graphic depiction of the sephiroth (the stages of the unfolding of the diivne light in creation). The idea of telling the story allegorical no doubt derives form the kabbalistic practice of reading the Biblical text allegorically


(in order to find this image to repost here, I had to search for "Sephiroth kabbalah", just sephiroth turned up hundreds of images of some homoerotic video games--how bizzare).

Roy Hobbs is the unrevealed Messiah (roy+king, hobb+spirit, so it translates the same Hebrew as Lord of Hosts). He works to free the shekinah (divine wisdom which takes the form of a rainbow), from her exile in the material world; this is Iris (Greek for rainbow). The other woman (Memo and the one who shot Young Roy, who are one and the same), is her sinister opposite from the world of judgment. Judgment is the divine wrath, which works to prevent the restoration of the fallen sparks of divine light. This is the Judge. Mercy (i.e. Max Mercy) is subservient to judgment until the end.. The book maker is the devil--this is why he can do cheap magic tricks, although Hobbs has the power to transcend them. The thunderbolt amulet on Wonderboy and then worn by all the Knights' players refers to the common practice of amuletic magic in Hasidic communities. But Roy ultimately fails because he is doomed to fail until the end. In the film, Levinson reversed this, showing the completion of the cycle.and, in the coda, the Messianic age. There are many other points, but you get the idea.

I always thought Levinson understood this, because he added all the spark symbolism, and in the Kabbalah the fall is described and the fragments of the material vessels that were too weak to wold the divine light which broke and sent the light scattering down into the world, resulting the physical creation and the need for redemption. But ti seems not, or at least he told no one else on the film about it.


May. 27th, 2012 03:58 pm
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Porky's Road Race is one of the Warner Brothers' Cartoons that profited from caricatures of popular actors. As cartoons go, it is not that interesting except for a brief passage beginning at 4:39.

There John Barrymore is fleeing and being vigorously pursued by his wife Elaine Barrie. Barrymore's car bears the inscription Caliban and Barrie's Ariel (it is also rigged with a small antenna by way of an Etruscan rebus). She is shouting at him, "Come Back Caliban! I want you! Come here Caliban!" while spinning a rope over her head preparing to lasso him. 

Ariel in love with Caliban (Titiania and Bottom style) is a very strange conceit. I thought at first it must have been in reference to some version of The Tempest they had done, but there is no such film and as far as the internet knows, Barrymore never starred in a stage production of the play. Also, the only film they made together was Midnight which does not seem to exploit themes from The Tempest and, in any case, was only released two years after the cartoon.

Now the cartoon was directed by Frank Tashlin, who went on to make one of the very best of the Hollywood animated shorts--Nasty Quacks--and then shifted to live action films, most notably Tony Randal's and Jerry Lewis' 1950s films, so I allowed myself to think of explanations of some subtly. Possibly the scene plays on some personal scandal in the actors' private lives that became a prominent feature of the gossip magazines of the day (though its hard to imagine Barrymore successfully likened to Caliban). Or, perhaps more interestingly, in his own private life, Tashlin liked to scuttle around the bedroom floor in a Caliban suit while his 'Ariel' lassoed and hog-tied him.

But I remain open to suggestions.

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