Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Blessing the Fields

May 21 was Rogation Sunday, an observance coming before Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday. On Rogation Sunday, it was the custom for churchgoers to walk the boundaries of their parishes--"beating the bounds" was the old phrase. Clergy and people would process, blessing the fields and asking protection for the year to come. (The word "rogation" is derived from the Latin "rogare"--"to ask.")

Early spring processions predated the Christian era, but, along with other ancient customs, they were absorbed into the church calendar.

Probably few congregations walk the parish boundaries today--those attending metropolitan churches would have difficulty knowing what those boundaries are. But a few years ago, St. James, on Vancouver's downtown east aside, did observe Rogation Sunday in the old manner, and many church members walked the boundaries, which stretch from Cordova and Gore to Commercial Drive, over the First Avenue Bridge, along Terminal Avenue, and north on Main Street.

Some of us ran the route, and were happy to see a parish refreshment stand by the VIA Rail Station, and happier still to arrive back at the church, to find St. James priests grilling hotdogs and hamburgers behind the Clergy House.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rule, Victoria!

Today we celebrate the long and illustrious reign of the British monarch under whose rule we gained not only the postage stamp and the Christmas tree, but also Victoria's Secret.

And what was Victoria's secret? Only Albert knew.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why Comie Had to Go

Okay, there's been a lot of disloyal talk, a lot of fake news, and my subordinates have been feeding you the wrong stuff, so I'm going to let you know the real reason I had to fire James Comey.

In a word, he was too tall. Way too tall. Where did he get off, towering over me like that? What, he's six-eight? Are you kidding me? Things were better at the FBI when it was run by Hoover, who was five-five tops, even with lifts in his shoes. No cracks about high heels, please.

You know, i'm not convinced Comey really is that tall. I think there's a good chance he's standing on stilts inside those 42-inch pants. I'm appointing a special commission to investigate that.

I like guys around me who are short and plump, like little Jeffie Sessions, guys I can carry in my pocket. 'Cause that's where I want 'em to be.

Sally Yates, she was too tall too. ("Too tall too"--Like the rhythm in that? Get me Herb Alpert on the phone.)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers--Whistler's and Trollope's.

Many mothers to remember this day, especially those who have affected our lives, but the two we chose to write about are Anna McNeil Whistler and Frances Trollope.

Anna was the mother of James McNeil Whistler, artist, wit and bon vivant of the Victorian era--American but spending most of his career in England. (He and Oscar Wilde were pals, and played their own version of "Can You Top This?" After Whistler got off an especially funny line, Wilde said, "I wish I'd said that." Whistler replied, "You will, Oscar--you will.)

It was in London in 1871 when the model scheduled to pose for Whistler didn't arrive, so he cajoled his aged mother into taking her place. As one can tell, looking at the painting--now in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris--she was not particularly pleased. We can imagine her saying, "How much longer do I have to sit like this, Jimmy?" And her son saying, "Only another hour or two. Try not to move, Mother."

The painting is formally titled "Arrangement in Grey and Black #1." But, of course, the world knows it as "Whistler's Mother."

Anthony Trollope is remembered as the enormously industrious, disciplined and prolific author of the mid-19th century ("Barchester Towers," "Barry Lyndon," etc.). What isn't generally known is that his mother may have been even more industrious, disciplined and prolific. When her husband lost his wealth, Frances Trollope, to keep the family together and eating, sat down and began to write. Mother Trollope produced 114 books.

A happy Mother's Day to all, and especially artists and writers lucky to have had the right mothers.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dumb Don or Lucky Lemon?

Or maybe "Tale of the Two Dons."  No, that's dumb. Which brings us to President Donald Trump's assertion that Don Lemon of CNN is "the dumbest person on television."

Undoubtedly Lemon--clearly the brainier of the two Dons--is relishing this. It is the sort of recognition people prized when they found they were on Richard Nixon's "enemies list." Paul Newman made that, and considered it an honor right up there with an Academy Award.

What will this mean next for Don Lemon? Much higher ratings.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Distressed Knees Distress

Seeing an endless stream of teenagers wearing jeans with ragged holes at the knee, we assumed it was further evidence of grave poverty among our young people. Then we found that not only are torn jeans (or jeans with "distressed knees,"as they are known) de rigeur, but that they frequently cost a great deal of money. Top of the line appears to be the Balmain Ripped Skinny Jeans, at $2,357.66.

How far will this fashion lead? Will hip government leaders, like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, wanting to remain au courant, attend international conferences wearing suits with distressed knees? Will we see Hollywood stars walking the Red Carpet in ripped skinny tuxedos?

We do not own a pair of jeans. But we do have our own distressed knees--a takeaway from our days as a go-go dancer at Oil Can Harry's.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Morning After

Guten morgen, Mr. Horgan.

It's okay to bark, Still Premier Clark.

Leave it to Beaver, Dr. Weaver.