Monday, April 24, 2006

Waltzing Matilda

Today is Tuesday, 25 April 2006.

Edward R. Murrow, as great a journalist as ever was: born on this date, 98 years ago.

(Won't comment upon Murrow directly, just try to capture his Geist in this post. An homage, as it were.

Clifford D. Simak, American journalist and novelist, died on this date in 1988.

Simak wrote two of the most lyrical American novels. City (1952): In the far future---

Let's get a rule of the road of this blog straight. (Addressed in a critical way only to those who recognize themselves.)

"Oh, that must be science fiction," said Sneeringly.

{Yo Sneeringly: you think you don't live in the future like the rest of us? The light from the Sun reaches the Earth slightly over 8 minutes (499 seconds, I believe I recall) after it left the Sun. So, if ol' Sol blows up "right now" [mayhap you should have studied relativity theory], we have 8 minutes before we're incinerated. Futuristic enough for you?}

Let's contrast and compare.

Literary history: Shakespeare wrote, not future fiction, but past fiction. Many of his works were just historically-falsified suck-ups to the Tudor dictatorship of Merrie Olde England, where he made his living. Fine stuff, in many cases, but how much different from sucking up to Stalin, etc.?

City (1952). In the far future, when Humans are but a memory, dogs sit around a campfire, and the elder dogs, for benefit of the pups, tell stories of the Old Days, when Humans stalked the Earth.

Highly recommended.

Way Station (1963). As lyrical a novel as one should ever wish. One of your author's Top Ten. An American Civil War veteran is recruited by REALLY illegal aliens to operate a Way Station -- a transfer point ("Change at Jamaica!", for Long Islanders out there) for travellers between the stars. Of course, the USE govt., in 1963, must come meddling.

Highly recommended.

The previous summary may sound dumb, but try putting Don Quixote in same number of words, and see how profound it sounds.

Or The Bible for that matter: Deity creates heaven and earth, kills almost all on latter, subsequently authorizes widespread killing and outright genocidal exterminations by deity's adherents, as well as doing WMD-style plagues, transmutes water into wine, heals diseased on whim but leaves most in misery of disease, deity kills only Begotten offspring to make everything copacetic, then exterminates Universe and transports minority of Universe inhabitants to Heaven.

Cool, eh?

"Good night, and good luck."


1559 - Oliver Cromwell, regicide and dictator of 17th century England, butcher of Ireland, is

1792 - Debut of "Chant de guerre de l'armee du Rhin," [yeah, but can you dance/march to it?]
better known as "La Marseillaise." [When your author becomes a bit more proficient, we
will have an audio link here; for now, Google it and stand at attention.] [Well, your author be damned: don't know how I did this, but here it is:]

1915 - British and Australian troops land at Gallipoli, Turkey, in another of Winston Churchill's
hare-brained fantasies to end World War I by striking at "the soft underbelly of Europe."
Worse than useless: the Brits and Aussies are bled dry to no profit; Winnie swills and wenches in the comfort of London. Mel Gibson movie of same name is not an inaccurate portrait, if I recall correctly.

But the best of the best is a heart-breaking song by The Pogues: "And the band played waltzing Matilda," from their second album (great), Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash (1985), title taken from a Churchill quote: "Don't speak to me of naval tradition. It's all rum, sodomy, and the lash." Winnie was once First Sea Lord (sort of a civilian chief of naval operations, but he was big on juvenile-male dress-up thing, so often paraded himself in uniforms he hadn't earned).

1939 - Birth of Al Pacino.

1953 - Basic scientific paper about DNA is published.

1990 - Hubble space telescope deployed into space.

Thought for Today

About 90 percent of child deaths worldwide occur in just 42 countries -- and about one-fourth of these deaths occur before age 5 in the poorest countries, such as Angola and Niger.

Yet, 8 million of the 11 million childhood deaths worldwide each year could easily be prevented, says a Cornell University expert, writing in the authoritative medical journal The Lancet .

That's because almost 60 percent of deaths of children under 5 in the developing world are due to malnutrition and its interactive effects on preventable diseases.

[For complete citation, see here.]


Blogger RtR said...

Our peerless moderator and provocateur allowed his mind to drift a little and passed by the fact that today is ANZAC Day, a day of remembrance similar to our Veterans/Memorial day for our southern cousins in Australia and New Zealand (and members of the coalition of the willing). The triggering event for the establishment of ANZAC Day was the tragically blunderous Gallipoli invasion. It is not so clear that the strategic vision of opening another southeastern front was of itself a military blunder. What is very clear is that the operational planning of the invasion was a series of blunders for which the current Iraq policy blunders of our present administration might serve as an analogy.

The following link takes the interested reader to one of the great anti-war protest songs from Australia/New Zealand. A note of trivia, American Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor winner Senator Bob Kerrey sang the song to his supporters at the end of his Presidential campaign in 1988, and borrowed the first line for the title of his autobiography, When I Was A Young Man: A Memoir.

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. Sung by the author Eric Bogle with back-up by the Pogues.

For further information about ANZAC Day:

BTW, I could really use some instruction about the appropriate tag for linking to other web pages from the blog posts.

And now, continuing from yesterday's posts another Irish anti-war protest song of the era. As an aside, note that the geographic references, the references to the Wild Geese and the comparison of the British to the Huns in The Foggy Dew from yesterday, directly reference the Gallipoli debacle in addition to galvanizing opinion into concerted support for the actions that finally brought independence to all but two counties of Ireland.

Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye

While goin' the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While goin' the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While goin' the road to sweet Athy,
A stick in me hand and a drop in me eye,
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your guns and drums and drums and guns,
The enemy nearly slew ye
Oh my darling dear, Ye look so queer
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

Where are the eyes that were so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are the eyes that were so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are the eyes that were so mild,
When my heart you so beguiled
Why did ye sci-daddle from me and the child
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye

Where are the legs with which you run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are the legs with which you run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are the legs with which you run,
When first you went to carry a gun
Indeed your dancing days are done
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye

Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg,
Ye're an armless, boneless, chickenless egg
Ye'll have to put with a bowl out to beg
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye

I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home,
All from the island of Ceylon;
So low in the flesh, so high in the bone
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye

Last chorus:
...the enemy never slew ye
Oh, my darling dear you look so queer

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Grand Duchess said...

Re: Your summary of "Way Station" (1963) did not sound dumb. However, presenting the idea of condensed Don Quixote made your point. You should have stopped there. It is pure arrogance to include a "Cliff Notes" version of the Bible. Your version includes, for the most part, only the fire and brimstone parts. Besides, legend (urban legend)has it that Cliff Notes contain errors whereby teachers/instructors can farret out cheaters/plagiarizers. I don't mean to be harsh, but I mean to be harsh. Have a nice day.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Leon Radish said...

I disagree about the Cliff Notes. HH does a fine job of conveying the harshness and loopiness of the book in a single paragraph. I would never treat my goldfish that way!

6:26 PM  
Anonymous "Hider" Sloan said...

K-G-B? C-I-A? F-B-I?


10:13 PM  
Anonymous Grand Duchess said...

Re: Leon Radish's comments:
Sorry that you view the Bible as harsh and loopy. Hope that you don't view it that way exclusively. I suppose anyone would be free to summarize the Bible by highlighting its more joyous, uplifting points. But tell me, what do goldfish have to do with anything?

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Leon said...

I have the power of life or death over them in the little world that I created for them. Yet the idea of smiting them for lack of obeisance or obedience strikes me as pointless. I don't need those things from them, but on the evidence of this book, the Lord is needier.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Grand Duchess said...

Re: Leon Radish's comments:

Yes, you have the power of life and death over your goldfish. But you wold not smit them on the basis of obedience because you do not ask that of them. The goldfish have no self-awareness as humans do, and thus do not do things in their own interest other than eat, poop, and procreate.

Because himans are given a wider opportunity to screw up things for the rest of humankind (and animals and the environment, etc.), God requires compassion and restraint on the part of his creation that has a higher brain function (i.e. humans). If He/She chooses to smit a large portion of His/Her creation to make a point, I suggest it is justified. Who are we to judge His/Her motivations?

You state the Lord is "needier" than you. You compare yourself to God? I suggest you need to reexamine your place in the universe.

4:29 PM  

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