Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

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oldoligarch @yahoo.com

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Any e-mail I receive is fair game for publication, with comments, unless you explicitly say so beforehand.

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Zorak ranked my firm and continual insistance on removing the "Organ Donor" status from her driver's license in the category of "irrational conspiracy theory," which is probably just one step up from "pure neurosis" in her estimation of my poorer judgments.

Yet I'm glad to find I'm not the only one who believes some doctors would rather boost a donor program than bother over a comatose patient.

Elinor also contributes some songs to the list.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/29/2005 04:23:00 AM | link

The Pope gets ready to set the liturgical pace. I can't wait.

Firm papal insistence upon the rightful place of Latin, no deviations from the text, and appropriate sacred music would go a long way in restoring the dignity of the Novus Ordo and realizing what the Council Fathers intended rather than the milquetoast and circuses that pass for liturgy in many places today. A reform of the reform, and a universal indult, and I would be so happy I wouldn't care if he didn't write on anything else for the next half decade.

Let us see what treasures new yet old our Holy Father has to share with us!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/28/2005 04:15:00 AM | link

Hey, look, some people are listing their own contributions to the song list. Yay.

If I had comments or trackback, you could all connect, but alas, I cannot bear comments on the blog.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/28/2005 03:57:00 AM | link

Silence = Death = Good, if we're talking about the Movies

Maybe it's time for people to turn inward, or socialize in mutually upbuilding ways, rather than live lives of continual distraction and vicarious, insipid plot lines?

U.S. Box Office Hits Longest Modern Slump.

I rarely go to the movies. And when I see a trailer or preview, that doesn't help much. I was going to remark earlier, but was too busy, perhaps a related phenomenon: Hollywood is spinning itself out and feeding on past decades' creativity. The numbers seem to indicate at least what Alan Greenspan would call a "soft patch" in Hollywood creativity, although it's turning into a secular bear market. Examples:

Remaking every comic book story known to mankind. What's next, a tricked-out, multimillion-dollar production of Underdog? Perhaps entitled: Underdog: Now 200% More Tortured and Gothy! With Massive Explosions!

[As an aside: I yawp across the rooftops of the world: comic books are for children. If you're out of college, you should have long filed them away with your Dungeons & Dragons memorabilia.]

Remaking poor yet moderately successful flicks of yesteryear, e.g.:
Amityville Horror (The original was the stupidest horror movie I've ever seen.)
Herbie the Love Bug

Recycling old TV sitcoms that were never movies originally, e.g., Dukes of Hazzard.

Even sadder attempts to recycle iconic successes of early cinema: e.g., War of the Worlds, and apparently, King Kong.

An endless amount of movies which center on:
- Lots of massive explosions or CGI gee-whizzery
- Women you're not sure are strippers or assassins (and you're supposed to like that ambiguity)
- Vaguely foreboding, vaguely supernatural "eerie" phenomena (e.g. Dark Water -- what the hell is that? Poltergeist meets a water damage clean-up commercial? Horror movies are clueless these days because people are spiritually clueless.)

I hereby suggest a *YEAR WITHOUT CINEMA* just to see what Americans might do without it. This year would also require not fleeing immediately to the solace of the television.

Yes, the outcome could be more chaotic than 9/11. I actually envision something along the lines of the "Wake Up and Smile" SNL skit where the teleprompter dies on a morning talk show and a Lord of the Flies situation ensues after a half hour of no prompting.

But we need that kind of cathartic cleansing of the national Zeitgeist every now and again, don't we?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/27/2005 04:27:00 PM | link

Fruits of our liberal parenting

So we've been reading Dr. Spock (yeah, right!) and he tells us that we should let the baby read whatever she wants. After all, we don't want to oppress her with her parents' reading preferences; we want her to make her own choices.

So after a run of the local library (viz., Daddy's office), we see the Mini-Mantis with her choice:

You can also see her discretion in shunning that piece of trash by Mack in the background. If you're wondering why I even have that book -- the Biblical Studies equivalent of the Da Vinci code -- it's so I can give the students a punching bag: an unalloyed sample of modern craziness.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/26/2005 11:42:00 PM | link

Slouching toward memedom: saddest songs

Eve has turned this Church of the Masses post about this assessment of the saddest songs ever written into a proto-meme.

I will feed the beast through its larval stage; others can give it wings. The black dog just recently decided to leave my room for a while, so I think ruminating on this topic is feasible today.

A person's estimation of the saddest songs is a bit like his estimation of the scariest movies: it's a shadow cast backwards from a value system, so I'll open by saying that I don't find half the songs on the Guardian's list all that sad. I expect the same is true with most people who have totally different world views than I.

Next, I'll suggest a few guidelines.

ONE: I'm going to approach this meme in a take-a-penny, leave-a-penny style. People can add to others' lists or do totally new ones if they'd like. I'm bad at spontaneous recall of lots of particulars, so I'm sure there will be a dozen songs someone else mentions that I wish I had originally posted.

TWO: The saddest songs are distinct from songs that concern something objectively tragic but are depicted artistically without the intention of stirring up pathos about the tragedy in the listener. For example, "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Where the Wild Roses Grow" are dark songs, but the Blue Oyster Cult and Nick Cave enjoy the darkness and want the listener to enjoy it as well. I am also distinguishing as separate those songs which make you sad when you hear them because the artist doesn't realize how screwed up he is, e.g., The Rolling Stones' Under My Thumb. Whenever you see someone actually do this to his girlfriend, it's heartbreaking. For Mick Jagger, it's just payback.

THREE: I'm rejecting Eve's criterion that the songs have to make you cry, so that guys can play too.

My own two cents:

The Improperia / Reproaches of Good Friday. I'll start by going straight for sacred music because it would be weird (given my opening remark) if religious music didn't capture most accurately the profoundest sadnesses of the human condition. This song and the next would be the only ones on the list if I played by Eve's rules. I still remember vividly the day I first heard it and was reduced to a snuffling, penitent mess on Good Friday when I was 19. A few weeks later, I wondered why none of the saccharine nonsense in my childhood parish ever had that effect, and the wholesale overthrow of my liturgical sensibilities was underway.... This song hardly needs a defense. And I've already blogged my paper about it.

The Stabat Mater. The previous song hits you with the full weight of your sins set against the background of God's most generous providence and unanswerable justice. This one asks you to consider the innocent Christ's sufferings on your behalf from the perspective of the heart that loved Him most dearly.

Moving on to secular picks, since that was the presumptive genre, in no particular order, I submit:

Angel of the Morning, as originally recorded by Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts A great period piece for the late '60s. It captures the flight from grace that occurs when a woman makes herself the willing victim of the new sexual economy in order to have some kind of relationship with the man who won't commit to her. "And if we're victims of the night, I won't be blinded by the light" is just one verse rendered much better by Rush than by Juice Newton who popularized the song, but sang in a bolder, unapologetic style, indicating that pop had become sufficiently numb to the tragic sentiments of the original recording. By the time of Newton's remake, the song is halfway to an anthem of "liberation."

Heroin, by the Velvet Underground. Obligatory song about drug addiction. The lyrics struggle admirably to keep the listener's attention over the musical chaos. I believe the Underground refuse to play it anymore after the guy died.

It's Worth Believin', by Gordon Lightfoot. Gordon Lightfoot? I know you're incredulous. The theme: the married couple is so estranged that nothing keeps them together any longer, but they are so isolated from others and settled in their lives that nothing has actually broken them apart. Each one knows something needs to be done to bridge the awful emptiness between them; neither knows how. She's going to leave. He doesn't deny it's his fault. That's just what happens after the years wear on, implies the song. Quiet, melodious, and plenty dark. The whole of Gord's Gold Vol. 2 is overcast with depression, with this as the crowning piece.

Drinking Song, Moxy Fruvous. Oh hell ya. Eve didn't highlight this one enough. Don't go read the lyrics first. Better to hear it as it unfolds.

Fire And Rain, James Taylor. Should be self-explanatory.

Sing Me Back Home, Merle Haggard. I suppose if we swerve into country music, we're never coming back, but we have to have at least one execution song on the list. This ballad is more than a testimony to the anamnetic power of good music -- it's also a true story. Haggard is the guitar player whose condemned friend asked him to play as his last request.

Loverman, by Metallica. An extremely well-directed critique of sexual addiction and the Satanic nature of the domestication of lust as ersatz marital love. Because Metallica's M.O. is pure rage, people who have no capacity to listen to heavy metal will not be moved to pathos at the end, but the song serves as a tragic admonition nonetheless.

Runner-up Category

These deserve mention but don't quite make the list for various reasons.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken? as recorded by Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff, Ricky Skaggs and Bobby Helms. The title of the song is one way of putting the central question for traditionalists, since the song is about whether the very simple but very pious rural life which the mother has taught her children will continue after her burial. This particular version is great because of the several generations of singers. Acuff's feeble voice testifies to his great age at the time. The distinctive voice of the now-deceased Cash is the next eldest, followed by the young 'uns. Thus the musicians, by their choice of arrangement, adapt the song and create a second level of meaning by raising the analogous question about whether country music is going to wane into urbane stupidity, or remain true to its origins.

Because the title is a question, and the answer is left open, the song is evocative but falls short of being tragic.

These last three all fall short because they are primarily maudlin, which I take as different than sad / tragic.

Operator, Jim Croce. Pitiful, almost sappy. Just let her go, friend. She's gone.

We Drank a Toast to Innocence, Dan Fogelberg. Time kills friendships. Distance prevents re-establishing them, or wages a war of attrition. You always tell your high school buddy you'll call. Sad, but an order of magnitude less sad than what is necessary to be a contender.

That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be, Carly Simon. In the moral life, it is always possible to find an example of any ideal gone horribly awry. That's why we have reason and not pure empiricism as a canon of judgment. Nonetheless, it is hard to encourage someone to have a healthy view of marriage when their parents have an awful one.

Songs Others Mentioned Which I Also Endorse:

Ruby, by Kenny Rogers

The Freshman, by the Verve Pipe

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/26/2005 05:19:00 AM | link

Zantac and aspirin both get you drunker.

Aspirin as well as H2 antagonists (cimetidine, famotidine, ranitidine) inhibit a stomach enzyme called gastric alcohol dehydrogenase (GAD) that metabolizes a proportion of alcohol before it enters the bloodstream ( Amir, Anwar, Baraona, & Lieber, 1996 ; Caballeria, 1991 ; Gentry et al, 1999 ). These agents also increase the rate of alcohol absorption because they stimulate gastric emptying. Individuals who take their low-dose aspirin up to 2 hours before consuming alcohol thus have higher blood alcohol levels and may increase their risk of alcohol-associated injury (Gentry et al.).

[Note: This was an accidental discovery. I was looking for information on Zantac.]

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/17/2005 04:07:00 AM | link

Fr. Rob has an excellent post on the relevance of the Schiavo autopsy, relevance which will surely be lost on the American public via the mainstream news media.

Meanwhile, a Washington state court orders the force-feeding of an arsonist who was trying to starve himself to death in prison.

Lastly, a new item I missed before: In Florida, "Marjorie Nighbert, an 83-year-old Florida stroke victim who had actually asked her nursing home care-givers for a 'little something to eat' and a drink of water. Yet a Florida judge ruled she was not "competent" to make such a request for food, and was starved and dehydrated to death with the full agreement of her family."

More details in this WorldNet Daily report.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/15/2005 07:10:00 PM | link

Last Friday, I saw Br. Dominic Marie become a priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedek. It was a very happy morning. I've known him since college, and there is a special joy to seeing people you know go on to become pious, solid priests.

I'm entering the age in which a lot of my friends are getting ordaining or making permanent vows. Another friend who entered seminary in the Legion of Christ will be ordained next year. To some extent, the forthcoming spate of ordinations is like the sacerdotal equivalent of reaching 25 or 30 and watching all your friends get married. Yet it is more. Even with the recent "rebalancing" of the theology of the laity which emphasizes a certain parity in both the married and religious vocations, the priesthood is the cornerstone of church, there is a special hope when God calls a man whom you trust and admire to the priesthood.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Lauren of Cnytr at that ordination -- the third blogger I've met in person after reading their blog for a while. It was revealed to me that the blog name is pronounced Ka-night-er, but the meaning of the name remains a closely-guarded secret.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/14/2005 11:04:00 PM | link

One reader shares the following qualifications on the previous post about the University of Western Ontario. The two sentences in quotes are from the original notice I received; all else are his comments. I also note that the correct idiom is pitched battle, or else it's a battle that pits something against something else. (But I'm hardly one to remove the grammatical speck from my brother's eye.)

"A pitted battle over abortion has erupted in a small university town in Canada."

UWO's in London, Ontario, which has a population of about 340,000 -- not exactly small, and the 10th largest city in Canada in fact.

"a ‘bone’ tossed to the three Catholic colleges at this secular university in order to keep them quiet."

Um, no -- UWO (which was established by Bishop Hellmuth as an Anglican college back in the 19th century) is associated with three affiliate colleges. Brescia and Kings (aka The College of Christ the King) are indeed Catholic colleges; Huron College is Anglican. The three affiliates are near the main campus of UWO but not 'at' it or on it, and the colleges maintain their own teaching and administrative staffs, their own student admissions, and a bunch of other boring stuff. Students from the colleges do attend classes on Main Campus but the colleges also offer their own courses. UWO also had an affiliate college in Waterloo once upon a time -- Waterloo/Waterloo Lutheran College, now the independent Wilfrid Laurier University, which itself spun off the much larger University of Waterloo. OK, that last bit was just trivia, wasn't it?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/12/2005 11:00:00 PM | link

From a reader:

A pitted battle over abortion has erupted in a small university town in Canada. The University of Western Ontario will give honorary Doctors of Laws to two abortion activists this June: Dr Henry Morgentaler (the man who put abortion on the Canadian map) and Ms Doris Anderson. These awards are believed to be a stepping stone to awarding Dr Morgentaler the Order of Canada, this nation’s highest honour.

To add insult to injury, the university will give Notre Dame President Rev Malloy the same award at the same convocation: a ‘bone’ tossed to the three Catholic colleges at this secular university in order to keep them quiet. Many Catholics believe the award offered to Rev Malloy is an insult both to him and to Notre Dame. Because of the involvement of Notre Dame, American participation is urgently requested in the protest. This has become a huge struggle. The onslaughts of anti-Catholicism escalate daily. Please help us in any of the following ways:

Sign, circulate, and post this petition link to your website: http://uwoprotest.com/voice.php. Some people have been printing out the petition and posting it at their churches. From time to time people transfer the names from the petition sheet to the online petition.

Ask your priest to say a Mass for the unborn on June 16th. Wear a black armband in solidarity with the schoolchildren protesting in London. Tie a black ribbon to your car antennae. Have a moment of silence at noon. Any media coverage of these gestures will go a long way in giving women considering abortion pause to hesitate.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/10/2005 05:43:00 PM | link

Ph.D. weblogs, your clearinghouse for blogging doctorands -- 291 of them to be exact.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 6/01/2005 04:47:00 AM | link


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