Saturday, June 30, 2012

On this day in history

On this date in history people were still talking excitedly about the Archduke Ferdinand being assassinated a few days ago, and wondering if that might portend a WWI and, if so, would that mean there might later be a WWII? And if so, why bother with WWI when they could just wait for WWII and get it all over with at once? Many people were (excitedly) taking about this.

No, as interesting as the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was, especially to the Serbs, it was much less interesting than the Mayerling Affair. I mean Mayerling "Incident" - which ended with the previous heir to the throne looking like the above picture. In fact, that is Crown Prince Rudolf himself, his head wrapped in a royal turban because his recent shotgun-assisted suicide proved to be beyond the art of even the royal undertakers. If you get my drift.

Yes, old Franz Joseph had had his share of misfortune during his long ineffective life. He had survived an assassination attempt himself, being stabbed in the neck but not fatally. And then his wife went crazy. This, I think, was after his little brother was executed by a firing squad in Mexico, having been found guilty of pretending to be an emperor. Then there was his only son Rudolf, apparently unable to just live with his wife and keep his mistress, he pulled the shotgun Romeo and Juliet trick. Except neither woke up in between and neither was poisoned. And never was there such a tale of woe as Marie-et and her Rudofio. I'm sure Shakespeare would have liked my little adaptation. Anyhow.

Then his unbalanced wife was assassinated. ¡Que Lastima! the Mexicans must have thought.

And now Franz Ferdinand. He who also loved. But the Habsbourg curse held, and the Great War ensued.

Following the suicide of Rudolf, the old Emperor's other younger brother was next in line. "No thank YOU!" says he, a couple days later, and so HIS son, Franz Ferdinand, became heir presumptive. He of the blank staring pig-like eyes of resignation. After Serajevo, Karl (Charles I and IV) became emperor after the probably-happy-to-go old Franz Joseph died during the war, in 1916. As it turned out, there was to be no more Austrian-Hungarian Empire after the war, and no need for Karl. But, if you are taking notes, his full name was Karl Franz Joseph Ludwig Hubert George Leroy Otto Marie von Hapsburg-Lothringen (English: Charles Francis Joseph Louis Hubert George Otto Mary of Habsburg-Lorraine.)

Life is fair, so der Kaiser became a gentleman farmer in The Netherlands, and passed away quietly, surrounded by doting grandchilluns, and the Americans, having spent 4 or 5 months winning the war in Europe, made a motion picture about a hick named Sergeant York, starring Gary Cooper. I think.

The book that records the annals of all this is called "A Fall of Eagles" but I think it should have been titled, "A Pack of Idiots."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Trouble in Blogger comments?

If anyone is having problems commenting on any of my 3 blogs, I would appreciate you letting me know. Problems like slow typing -  if the comment display typing does not keep up with your keyboard typing, lags behind your typing. Thanks.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Yuri Gargarin, first man in space, 1961.

André-Jacques Garnerin, first parachute jump, 1791, (from a balloon.)

Queen Victoria, first monarch to live in Buckingham Palace, 1837.

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, first actual British Prime Minister, 1905. (That's when the title was first "officially" recognized by Edward VII. The title was used starting in the latter 19th century. Before that, various titles were used for the position.)

Jean François "Blondin" Gravelet, first person to walk across Niagara Falls on a tighrope, 1859. (Actually, he walked across the Niagara River Gorge, considerably below the falls, near where the present-day Rainbow Bridge is.) But he was more spectacular than anyone: he did it several times; he did it pushing a wheelbarrow; he did it blindfolded; he did it in a sack; he did it carrying a man on his back; he balanced on a chair with only one chair leg on the wire.

Jules Leotard, first flying trapeze circus act, 1859.

Matthew Webb, first known person to swim across the English Channel, 1875. Drowned in 1883 while attempting swim across the whirlpools and rapids down-river from Niagara Falls.

Queen Isabella of Spain, first woman's image to appear on a U.S. postage stamp, 1893.

Ferenc Szisz, winner of the first Grand Prix, held in Le Mans, 1906. The Romanian drove a Renault.

First time Scotland won the World Cup: Bwahahahahahahahahah. Right. No, wait. That's the wrong attitude. Let me think of a first. Ok: First time Scotland qualified for World Cup was 1950 (but refused to play.) Scotland actually qualified a lot:

In 1954
In 1958
In 1974
In 1978
In 1982
In 1986
In 1990
In 1998

First player of a Scotland team to score a goal at a World Cup? Jimmy Murray of the Hearts (1958 in a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do what you fear and fear disappears

Once Max didn't dance.

Then one day he got up and danced.

You broke my heart 
'Cause I couldn't dance 
You didn't even want me around 
And now I'm back, to let you know 
I can really shake 'em down 

Do you love me? (I can really move) 
Do you love me? (I'm in the groove) 
Ah do you love? (Do you love me) 
Now that I can dance (dance) 

Watch me now, oh (work, work) 
Ah, work it all baby (work, work) 
Well, you're drivin' me crazy (work, work) 
With a little bit of soul now (work) 

I can mash-potatoe (I can mash-potatoe) 
And I can do the twist (I can do the twist) 
Now tell me baby (tell me baby) 
Mmm, do you like it like this (do you like it like this) 
Tell me (tell me) 
Tell me 

Do you love me? (Do you love me) 
Now, do you love me? (Do you love me) 
Now, do you love me? (Do you love me) 
Now that I can dance (dance) 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Scottish Council Gags Tyke

The following news story was found in the AP dispatches yesterday. I have rewritten it enough to make it interesting.

9-year-old Martha Payne began taking pictures of the lunches being served to the students at her school in Lochgilphead, a coastal town some 130 miles west of Edinburgh. She took pictures of the daily fare for about 6 weeks, probably because she wanted to document the quality and thought no one would believe her without pictures.

One of her photos showed a meal consisting of two croquettes (I personally prefer coquettes and don't even know what croquettes are - unless they are those little squares of hard bread) a plain cheeseburger, two cucumber slices and a lollipop.

Well, it that's the worst example, then Scotland is beating American school lunches by far.

Anyway, her sentence was meted out today. Instead of starting an investigation improve the food of the little tykes, the Council took her camera. Or ordered her to stop using it. Something like that.

Typical of Scots justice in general.

It seems to be having a happy ending though. Read this.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Isle of Wight: Wight or Wong? Wedux


Old English, Middle English or Old High German? Most of you are asking yourself that question as you read this important post.

From Old English "wiht", wight is a Middle English word used to descwibe a cweature or a wivving being. I
t is akin to Old High German wiht, [also] meaning a cweeture or thing.

In its owiginal usage, the word (wightly) descwibed a wivving human being, but more wecently, the word has been used within the fantasy genre (á wa "Night of the Wivving Dead" cweator George A. Womero) to descwibe undead or w-w-waith-like cweetures: Corpses with a part of their decayed soul still in wesidence. Notable examples of this include the undead Bawwow-Wights from the works of J. Ah. Ah. Tolkien and the wights of Dungeons & Dwagons wole-playing game. [Okay, not actually "notable".]


Modern German "Wicht" is a cognate, meaning "small person, dwarf", and also "unpleasant person"; in Low German it means "girl". The word is a cognate with Dutch wicht, German Wicht, Old Norse vættir and Swedish vätte. It is not (wepeat NOT) related to the English word "witch". The Wicht, Wichtel or Wichtelchen of Germanic folklore is most commonly translated into English as an imp, a small, shy character who often does helpful domestic chores when nobody is looking (as in the Tale of the Cobbler's Shoes). [Zzzzzzzzzzzz]

The Isle of Wight is an uninhabited island in the Iwish Sea. Or maybe not. (Some people call that one the Isle of Man and also claim it is inhabited.) But, if inhabited, the inhabitants which inhabit it (the Isle of Wight) must be disagweeable in the extweem. Fer sure.

Forging ahead...

I am starting to feew wike Kelly must feew wike doing a Piwate post. At any wate, this is more Petra's pwovince, her being the official (more or less) bwogger of the undead.

Where was I? Ah, yes, the Isle of Wight.

The word "wight" has been used by many classic authors throughout histowy. Pweese don't negwect to weed the fowwowing wist:

Geoffwey Chaucer (1368-1372), The Book of the Duchess, wine 579:
"Worste of alle wightes."

Geoffwey Chaucer (circa 1379-1380), The House of Fame, wine 1830-1831 (my own pussonal favowite):
"We ben shrewes, every wight,
And han delyt in wikkednes."

[doesn't that just bring a tear to your eye? It does to this American. "We ben shrewes, every wight, And han delyt in wikkednes." Chwist. I am deep in wikkedness even as I type this. But you are even wuss: you ah WEEDING this dwivvel.] And:

William Shakespeawe (circa 1602), The Mewwy Wives of Windsor, Act I, Sc. III:
"O base Hungarian wight! wilt thou the spigot wield?" [Yes! I wilt! I WILT!! I wilt wield that fwikken spigot!]

[I think it was about in here someplace where Max broke free of his leash.]

John Milton (1626), On the Death of a Fair Infant Dying of a Cough, verse vi
"Oh say me true if thou wert mortal wight..."
Someone actually wrote a poem entitled "On the Death of a Fair Infant Dying of a Cough"????? No fucking way! Not even a Pewgwim Pwogwessing! Stwike me BWIND if I wye!!!

Elmer Fudd (1959), On the Chasing of a Coughing Bugs Bunny, issue 429
"Oh you wetched wascally wabbit! [Ka-POW!] You are always wong and I am always wight!"*

*Some poetic license possibly taken by this blog author.

My fwend A. has actually seen both the Isle of Wight and the Iwish Sea. And perhaps even has touched one or both.

Th-th-th-the-that's all, fowks.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Of Irish Bedtime Stories and American Thoroughbreds

The dullahan rides in the dead of night.

Gan Ceann, headless man, headless horseman, riding wild upon a headless horse.

Let him ride, for where he stops, a mortal dies.

He carries his head tucked under his arm. The face on the head the color and texture of mouldy cheese. Huge eyes that dart about like flies. Mouth frozen in death's perpetual sardonic smile. Oh!

The horse's severed head larger by 6 yards than the body itself. Short-cropped ears, flaming eyes!

The dullahan. A ghastly creature always ready to fling a bucket of blood in a man's face. Open your door to his knock if you dare. Open the door and he will throw his basin of blood at you. A death omen.

A grey-haired banshee riding at his side, shrieking at his side, as he drives a black coach drawn by six black horses with long, long tails sweeping the ground. And no heads. Flickering candles set in the hollows of skulls light his headless, eyeless way. Wheel spokes made of thigh bones flashing white as they turn. His whip is a man's spine.

The dullahan serves no master. save death.

If you are caught outside, turn away, hide your face, get behind a bush, for if you spy upon his ventures his whip will snap out your eyes. Headless, he resents your vision.

—Paraphrased by RM from Anna's Irish Folklore Page

Visit Ireland 101 dot com

Dullahan, a 5-2 favorite since I'll Have Another was scratched, came in a disappointing seventh this afternoon in the Belmont Stakes, won in an exciting finish by Union Rags. Union Rags had been beaten twice already by I'll Have Another, in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness; IHA could have easily been the first triple crown winner in some 34 years or so. But cheers to Union Rags and hail and farewell to Dullahan.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jubilee Highlight Photos

A freeform Relax Max stream of consciousness follows for your reading pleasure. It would be best if you try not to think beyond this point. The pathetic American blogger is home alone, staring vacantly at the JOOObilly on the TV, lapsing in and out of consciousness from the overdose of European splendor....

"Jubilee," not Jubalee. Jubilee. Jew Billy. Chew biLEE.

A shindig. A hoedown.

Hootenanny, by God.

All decked out
in your finest gilded
18th century carriage
(for example)

Is that the QUEEN papa? Oh, Papa! It is! It IS the queen!

[exit stage stuporous state, knees buckled, half carried, half dragged by her father...]

[Unknown male voice, singing, clear yet aged: perhaps it is Elton John]

Bimbo! Bimbo! Whatcher gonna doeeyoh?
Bimbo, Bimbo, Whereya gonna goeo?
Bimbo! Bimbo! Does yer mama know...
Yer goin' downtown to see yer little girlio?

[The word "girlio" brings hushed exclamations of shock from entire third row, right]

[sotto voce]
"Can you see properly, Mildred?"

[Enter Camilla the Chameleon stage left, three sheets to the wind. Or more. Bright -blinding- red baby spot. She can't see a thing. She puts up one hand, as if to shield her eyes from the glaring light. The audience is unsure of how to react. She begins to sing.]


"What's new, pussycat? Wo-oh-wo-oh-ohhhWhat's new pussycat?.....

**startled by the sudden shrieking, the Archbishop falls from the narrow catwalk above and lands with a loud hollow THUD on the stage, face down. He is dressed as a Jesuit. A curtain-weight sandbag quickly follows his descent, striking the poor shocked and winded man on the back of his head. The audience collectively sucks in air, holds it in, then exhales slowly in unison. The queen is beside herself. No, that's her husband beside her.**


The commotion is too much for Camilla Chameleon and she crumples to the stage in slow motion, as if someone had suddenly pulled the plug on an airhole in her left leg. She eases lower and lower, the light-shielding hand flailing uselessly. Now she is awkwardly prone on the stage, save for her head which is held up several inches off the floor by her large hat, one foot under her bum. Both eyes are open, however, and the baby spot reflects eerily off them.

The audience is uneasy, unsure. Is this all part of the play? The Archbishop seems to be having a convulsion. Still, he may just be unable to control his laughter, they reason. What to do? Call a medic or applaud loudly? The Prince elbows his son next to him, smiling and nodding his head at the unexpected burst of pleasure.

In the end, they do nothing.

The Prince and his son rise and begin clapping and singing with the chorus.

Chorus, very low and slow, barely audible, clapping in unison:

"Oh well I'm uh
Sitting here la la
Waiting for my Ya Ya a hm ahm.
Oh sitting here la la
Waiting for my Ya Ya uh
It may sound funny
But I don't think she's comin' home."

The Archbishop has stopped shaking, save for an occasional twitch.

"I know, I know," she whispers to her consort. "But do you LIKE it? Truly?"

"I can't abide idiots. You know that. Can't suffer the blighters."

Clears his throat loudly, attracting the attention of his neighbors. The clearing is only partially successful and his breathing becomes a rhythmic mucous-snapping rasp. He tries again and this time he is more than successful, hawking up a viscous hunk that lands atop the brim of a regal matron's hat two rows in front of him. All is well. Blessed sleep comes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D-Day Plus 68 Years

No war still in Western Europe in almost 67 years. That's pretty cool. It's what they would have wanted.

Watching the highlights of the Jubilee on the TV news. The lady at the Guardian says the monarchy is showing a profit. This kind of thing draws much tourism. Hadn't thought of that. I am so negative.

I hadn't realized her coronation was just a few days before D-Day. The anniversary of D-Day, I mean.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Can you name the counties of Wales?

Calling all Cymru-philes.

Some folks of Scots ancestry (one, at any rate) have made not-so-veiled  accusations that the English only bother to learn about England. I know that isn't true.

Prove that you know all the counties of Wales by taking the quiz at this link.

Open to Scots and Americans as well. Not sure about prizes yet.

How did your ingenious American host do? Well, so far I have tried only one. The question: "Where is Pembrokeshire?" I guessed "in Wales", but they made you click on a county on the map. So I did. It responded, "No, that's Ceredigion, try again." So I tredigion agion, and click on another area of the map: "No, that's Newport - one try left." Well, that's a crock. I know Newport is either in England or Rhode Island, right? This game is rigged, I can tell you that. There are still about 20-odd shaded areas left I haven't clicked on, but they give me only one more chance. Truthfully? I think this is a map of Lithuania. (That's the ship the Germans sunk off Ireland in El Greta.) Something else that's unfair: your possible score goes down with each wrong guess. What's up with that?

I know it ain't the island 'way at the top. Lemme think.


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