Comments Updates and General Policy

Good morning!

Apparently a few people have found comments closed recently. I went through and double-checked settings, and they should be open for all posts less than two weeks old. If you have not commented before, your comment will go into moderation so I can approve it, and it may take a few hours, depending on when you made your initial comment.

I do ask that you keep things PG-13 or better in terms of language, and avoid ad hominem arguments.




Greece and the West: What is the West?

A few weeks ago I was reading the Sunday Kleine Zeitung, the tabloid paper from the Kronen Zeitung in Austria. I was mostly interested in the enormous lede about a guy who went nuts and killed three people in Graz and injured 34 more (stabbed a few and drove over the rest. Yes, he was known to the police. Yes, he had a restraining order to keep him away from his wife, and yes, he told the police and others that he was being followed . . . by Turks. Europeans are not immune to mental illness.) I’d been in that part of Graz three days before the “Amoklaufer”* snapped. So I read all the news, skimmed the half of the paper detailing the upcoming Formula 1 race, and almost snorted tea when I saw the Sunday cartoon**. Then I stopped on a fascinating author interview. Continue reading

Celts or Kelts? Or why Archaeologists don’t love Enya

Quick, when I say “Celtic,” what comes to mind? Green stuff, knot-work, Ireland and Wales, a certain basketball team (if you are from Boston), music with Irish or Welsh harps or Enya and Clannad, maybe Loreena McKennet or Patrick Ball, St. Patrick, the Book of Kells, redheads, W.B. Yeats . . . In short stuff from the far western end of Europe. If I told you that the Celtic heartland is in Switzerland and Austria, what would you say? Because “Celt” in popular understanding is not archaeological Celt, at least not in Central Europe. Ever hear of Hallstatt? Continue reading

Not Funny, Muse

Right, so the idea that first bubbled up a few years (!) ago, about a Russian taxi driver stuck in traffic in Denver seeing Baba Yaga’s house, burst into full bloom Sunday night. I wrote down the first paragraph and told it to go away.

It didn’t. More of the story started pestering me yesterday morning, so I wrote 1500 words or so around admin stuff, errands, and reading for work.

Today, after more work stuff, I put on the album of 100 Greatest Russian Masterpieces, hit “randomize” and started writing. It began with an aria from Boris Godunov. As I’m writing the first confrontation, “Night on Bald Mountain” cued up. Main Character goes to a coffee shop, and Prince Igor aka “Stranger in Paradise” begins. Now, as the MC is about to chase down the Big Bad, Khachaturian’s “Saber Dance” comes on.

Stop that!

Edited to add: A set of four back-to-back hymns and chants started as the MC found the Big Bad’s lair. Really funny, Muse.

Dear Politician 2

Dear Politician,

I see you failed to read my earlier discussion of your vices, flaws, and the irritating behaviors you insist on persisting in. Might I add a few others for you to remove from your list, should you be serious about obtaining my interest/vote/pelf? Continue reading

Straps and Stress

Ah, women’s fashion, the joy and bane of some people’s existence, a source of endless fascination, sermons (for and against), and philosophical pondering of that great existential question: just how does the front of her dress stay up? While I was in Vienna I happened to observe a potentially spectacular engineering failure. Continue reading

German, English and Word Quirks

It’s funny. You can be familiar with something for years before you realize some of the major differences between it and what you are used to, and the hints that gives about the thought below and behind the thing. It wasn’t until I immersed myself in  architecture and art history German this spring that I realized that English eats words whole, while Germans translate them. I’d seen it before, but not to such an extent that it hit me like a two-by-four between the eyes. Kinda like fish not realizing they are wet. Continue reading

Coffee in the Nose

Overheard from the music section at the Christian Bookstore as I was waiting to pick-up a textbook order:

Dear Little Old Lady: “And I told the preacher exactly what I want at my funeral and give him a list, and the organist, and my daughter too.”

Friend: “Do you think they’ll pay attention?”

DLOL: “They’d better. If they start playing ‘I come to the Garden’ like they did at Old Man’s Burkett’s service, I swear I’ll get up and march out. I never did like that song.”

Ow, coffee in the nose, ow.