Saturday, February 18, 2017

Andrew Lloyd Webber gets writer's block

Don't cry for me, __________.

San Diego.
Cairo, Egypt.
Kansas City.
Costa Rica.
San Francisco.
Salt Lake City.
Glasgow, Scotland.
Brick, New Jersey.
North Dakota.
Rapa Nui.
Stockholm, Sweden
Perth, Australia.
Macon, Georgia.
London, England.
Ellis Island.
Fort Worth, Texas
Bangkok, Thailand.

I think I'll stop for today. Nothing seems to be working.

Hey, Evita, want to go out for pizza?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The expectation versus the reality

I had high hopes that my grandson's years at university would be something like this:

The University of Illinois Men's Glee Club sings "Gaudeamus Igitur" (1:36)

But so far they are turning out to be more like this:

That's him, er, he with the DU on his palms.

Oh, well -- you're only young once.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

No mayonnaise in Ireland*

*attributed to an author named Will Stanton in a 1971 article in Reader's Digest.

I hope this post won't be too esoteric for you, dear reader, but if it is, it simply can't be helped.

If the title alone seems pretty esoteric, let me explain. It is one of the most famous lines the English poet John Donne ever wrote, expressed in our old friend Anguish Languish.

I'll prove it to you. In 1623, in an essay we know as Meditation XVII, Donne wrote:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

You see what Will Stanton did there. No mayonnaise in Ireland. This is where you laugh politely or groan and roll your eyes, whichever you feel is more appropriate.

Which brings us to Yorkshire Pudding's riddle.

In his spare time my cyberfriend Yorkshire Pudding likes to take long walks in his native Yorkshire and then blog about them afterward. He recently posted the following:

"On the edge of Low Bradfield I came across [a] disused building. I thought it was an old barn but then I spotted an early nineteenth century plaque above one of the doors. It reads like this "1826/ Rebuilt at the Curate's sole cost./Nemo soli sibi natus". Translated, the Latin phrase means "Nobody is born alone". Why would such a plaque appear on a barn? I have been unable to solve this riddle."

I shall now attempt to solve Yorkshire Pudding's riddle, "Why would such a plaque appear on a barn?"

The phrase "Nobody is born alone" had a familiar ring. It reminded me of a somewhat similar statement in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Romans in the New Testament:

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

Here it is in the Vulgate, the fourth-century Latin version of the Bible:

7 Nemo enim nostrum sibi vivit, et nemo sibi moritur.

In context, the passage turns out to be all about the Lord (surprise, surprise!) as the next verse says, "Whoever lives lives unto the Lord, and whoever dies dies unto the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." Since many who read this blog are atheist, however, we will not go down this road any further.

I do definitely think, however, that the sentiment on the barn plaque has its roots in the passage from Romans.

In my research I discovered that the same quotation, Nemo soli sibi natus (Nobody is born alone), was also placed over the church door in Ecclesfield in 1695. The following is from page 202 of The History of the Parish of Ecclesfield: In the County of York:

"[Vicar Edward Mansel] also rebuilt the parsonage-house in 1695, over the door of which he placed this inscription, which, or a copy of it, is still just within the entrance of the present Vicarage:

Edward Mansel. Vicar 1695.
Nemo Soli Sibi Natus.
Vivat Rex.
Floreat Ecclesia.

He also gave 50£ towards building a parsonage at Bradfield, and left a still more substantial bequest of about fifteen acres of land to his successors,...."

Of course the vicar in 1695 in Ecclesfield and the curate in 1826 who had the plaque affixed to the barn in Bradfield cannot possibly be the same person, but the quotation from The History Of Ecclesfield does reveal a connection between Ecclesfield and Bradfield, especially where curates (or vicars) are concerned.

The Bradfield structure with the 1826 plaque was very likely once a barn. Interestingly enough, I also found the following on p. 247 of Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Devon, a book by G.A. Cooke, Esq., in 1825:

"A tablet in the [Brixton] churchyard wall records the planting of an ancient grove of lofty elms, in 1677, by Edmund Fortesque, Esq., of Spriddlestone, who ordained that they should be sold, when mature, and the products applied to the relief of the parochial poor. The motto on this stone, "Nemo sibi soli natus;" "No man is born alone for himself," is most appropriate to every planter; and should be remembered by all, as an antidote to selfishness, and an incentive to benevolence." (emphasis mine)

The plaques in Bradfield and Ecclesfield and Brixton are meant to remind us all that we should not keep our blessings (our produce, our grain, our lumber) to ourselves but share them with others for the benefit of the whole community. Perhaps we are meant for neither dependence nor independence but for a mutually recognized inter-dependence.

John Donne was right. No man is an island. Or as you can still find in certain parts of England, Nemo sibi soli natum.

P.S. -- It is also true literally and cannot be denied that no one is born alone. A mother is always somewhere in the vicinity.