Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hall of Fame update

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, a beautiful and poignant obscurity hidden away in the Bronx, has held my attention for several years now. I was pleased to see both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal mention it recently, and here are a few old images of it from the New York Public Library's digital image collection. I am planning to take some friends to see it, perhaps next weekend, perhaps on multiple visits if people can't decide when to go, so if you are a New York City resident and a reader of this blog, consider yourself invited -- or just go see it for yourself.

Below, the Hall of Fame from above!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rainy Times Square, March 30th, 2010

Sometimes New York in heavy rain looks as if it is the dystopian Los Angeles in Blade Runner, which is set in the not-so-distant future, November 2019.

Quite a contrast with nearby Herald Square, two days ago...

Pope Goes The Weasel?

It seems the Pope could use a prayer or two right now, but he probably doesn't yet realize it. The scandal over pedophile priests and child abuse, wending its way from New York and Boston, onwards around the world, with an especially loud and long stop in Ireland, has produced one consistent response from Catholic Church leaders and the Vatican: why are you trying to bring disgrace on the Church? Shut up and go away!

I remember when Cardinal Law of Boston only with great reluctance complied with the FBI and gave over information that was required of the diocese in 2004. It was as if Law were saying: this is most inconvenient. Don't you know there is one law for the public and a separate set of rules for the Church, namely, whatever suits us best?

And so that's why I say Benedict doesn't yet realize that he needs prayer, for he does not yet realize what damage has been done to his Holey, Roamin' Church, with its authority threadbare after almost ten years of these revelations, weasel words, over-due apologies.

Shoes That Make Everyone The Same Height

Funny, but years ago when I was maybe 14, I thought of this idea too...

Monday, March 29, 2010

I'll Fetch You To An Understandin'

In the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, there is, you might remember, a scene at a New Year's party. Prompted by the singing of Auld Lang Syne, Harry says that he never really understood what the song meant: "I mean, 'Should old acquaintance be forgot?' Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?".

I had a similar moment just this week past, when a friend said something to me, then added the well-known expression: "God helps those who help themselves."

Now, I confess that I have never understood what this meant, and in fact have been misinterpreting it, while occasionally wondering how the meaning I took from it seemed to sit uncomfortably with the generally unctious, moral sentiment of most other proverbs and maxims ('too many cooks spoil the child,' 'spare the rod and spoil the broth,' etc.)

I thought that "God helps those who help themselves" means something like this: "So she helped herself to a fistful of quarters from the collection plate." Or: "when the butler passed round a big crate of grenades, Jimmy helped himself to half a dozen."

Instead, it seems to mean rather: 'God helps those who pull themselves up, rather than languishing and moaning.'

Well, I kind of like both interpretations...

In other news, it is not yet April, and already this year I seem to have lost two people whom I considered good friends. Inappropriately, I'll quote Auld Lang Syne, seeing as this posting is about misinterpretation.

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
on Old long syne.