Friday, February 18, 2011
Tenuous Yet Strange Cleveland-Lusitania Connection
Friday, May 7th, 1915: the R.M.S. Lusitania (above) was, torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland.
This disaster -- a war crime debated over by historians until the present day -- affected people across Britain, Ireland, the U.S.A. and around the world.
Saturday, 8 May 1915: the Plain Dealer newspaper sought to represent just how big the ocean liner was, with a graphic:
The graphic showed the Lusitania against the Great Pyramid of Cheops, a veritable ship of the desert. Superimposed on the pyramid for scale is Cleveland's Williamson Building, an early Cleveland skyscraper which once loomed over Public Square. The Williamson (below)
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Shocking and Grotesque -- Take Your Pick
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.That is precisely how I feel about the flabbering, blathering, mumming, gawping and maudlin mess that is Ireland Central. Three choice items came prattling into my Inbox today...
1) Irish nun badly beaten in Florida -- see video! Amazing close-ups of the baseball bat hitting her forehead! Cheer as she goes down for the third time!
2) Irishman man forced to eat his own ear by thugs? Are you sure that "thugs" is the word to describe people who force you to eat your own ear, sorry, "WHO FORCE YOU TO EAT YOUR OWN EAR"? Are you sure that people would care more (or less) to know the ethnic origins of a victim of such misfortune and cruelty, that someone forced him to eat his own ear? Do Irish Central readers not mind the gangs of forced ear-eating thugs, so long as they don't attack anyone Irish?
3) Despite the enduring myth that Ireland is the land of Saints and Scholars, and despite an unending supply of writers, poets, dramatists, scribblers, basic grammar and spelling is as poor in Ireland as basic arithmetic (exampla gratia: any Irish government of the last ten years), as can be seen by the just plain wrongness of the third headline, above. I'm betting you has spotted it two. What, by the way, (see 2), is an "Irishman man"? (Thanks, Dominic).
Soon To Be Spring: Scenes From Snow
Ice crystals, spotted near the shore of Lake Erie.
"Snow fell, undated..." Snow coverage in the Midwest, by my observation, ranges from the above, pristine, with a slight undulation...
...to cratered, ravaged, filthy, cavernous... Perhaps it's not even correct to call the above 'snow,' it's more like 'icy conditions...'
Vegetation and snow interwoven in infinite variety, is nature painting a world with subdued, muted colors.
Man-made objects also provide odd shapes and perspectives...
Taking a crazy, curving path towards the sky, this looks like pussy willow.
Everywhere, it seems the snow is finally in retreat.
And the grass is reappearing.
As are the boots of the intrepid... Just a few more photos...
If at close range, the snows are retreating, from a distance, Lake Erie looks like it is permanently encased in ice.
Wouldn't you just hate to be a bird in winter? Especially the kind that is always parading and squawking around on the shore!
From a few inches to the farthest shore... a sliver of Lake Erie in the distance... And I'm really and truly done with these photographs and done with winter!
A final burst of Philip Larkin:
Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.
As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasureable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Dialled the Moscow area code followed by the serial number on his gun...
Cupid and Psyche (Jacques Louis David, 1748-1825)
It's Valentine's Day.
The following unusual tale of love comes from a television guy, who once helped produce a TV show out of the Moscow Airport terminal that was destroyed by a suicide bomber in January. The ad hoc show was called Hello Goodbye. Every week, the producers pulled on viewers' heart strings by pulling stories out of the throng of real people meeting and greeting and parting and weeping at the terminal. This producer told the following story:
One young couple we interviewed were parting for at least six months.
‘Why so long?’
‘There’s war on where I work. I’m a soldier. I serve in Chechnya. She can’t go there.’
This is how they met. He was alone and bored at his post, a little brick hut high in the Caucasus. It was night and he was drunk. He wanted to find a girl away from the front. He looked down at the serial number on his gun. Just for the hell of it he took out his phone and dialed the Moscow area code followed by the serial number. A sleepy girl answered.
‘Who is this?’
He told her. She slammed down the phone.
‘I just liked her voice,’ he said. ‘So I kept on phoning.’
He called every day. Slowly she caved in. They sent each other photos of themselves on their mobiles. Two weeks before our shoot he had some leave and came to visit her. She was from a traditional family from the Caucasus, and he asked her father’s permission to marry her. He agreed. Now they both wore rings. The wedding was planned for when he returned from the Chechen front in six months time.
‘This is my last tour of duty. I’m done with the army. In six months I come back and that’s it, no more war.’
‘Do you still have the gun with her number?’
‘The gun? I’ll always keep that gun.’
He blew kisses and she cried as he went through passport control. After that, I’ve no idea what happened to them.Awww. How... slightly crazy, yet touchingly romantic. People will do the weirdest things when they are really keen, or desperate, to reach out and contact complete strangers. (Remind me to tell you my story from three years ago, of the late winter night in Hackensack, New Jersey, a crisp, cold winter night, when, all alone, I strode up Main Street, minding my own business, enjoying the stroll, when I passed a pay phone, which started ringing...)
One hopes for the sake of the young woman with her soldier boy, that he is never issued with a new gun! She should also try to keep him away from bar codes, the financial pages of newspapers, mathematicians with Tourette syndrome.
If it's fidelity you're after on today, Valentine's Day, then you might actually want to let your eyes wander, right in front of your beloved. This, according to the Boston Globe:
People in romantic relationships are often tempted to block their partners from seeing attractive alternatives, but a new study suggests that this strategy may backfire. Psychologists at the University of Kentucky and Florida State University conducted several experiments with students who reported being in a relationship. The students were given a computer task that simultaneously presented them with photos of attractive and average-looking individuals of the opposite sex. Some of the students were prompted to focus their attention almost exclusively on the average-looking individual.
After this task, the students whose attention had been directed towards the average-looking individual reported being less satisfied and committed — and more accepting of infidelity — with regard to their relationships. They were also subsequently more likely to remember the attractive faces from the task and pay attention to new attractive faces.To those in love around the great, wide world... kisses.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Oh, Mary, this London's a wonderful sight
The Irish newspaper, the Tribune, reports the following horrendous news:
Hundreds of impoverished Irish people with no known family are buried in unmarked mass graves in London every year by their local councils.
In a case recently highlighted by the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, working under the auspices of the Irish Bishops Council, Galway native Patrick Duggan would have been buried in a 'pauper's grave' by Southwark council, had not outreach workers from the chaplaincy been able to trace Duggan's family.I took the title of this post from the old song, "The Mountains of Mourne":
The Irish Elder Persons project, based in the Camden Irish Centre and run by the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, tracked Duggan's relatives and his remains are to be returned for burial in Ireland.
Oh, Mary, this London's a wonderful sight,And the above photo I took in 2007, while in Ireland. My eldest brother lives a few miles from this beach, with the Mourne Mountains in the distance.
With people all working by day and by night.
Sure they don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat,
But there's gangs of them digging for gold in the street.
At least when I asked them that's what I was told,
So I just took a hand at this digging for gold,
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
Research into migration has uncovered quite different patterns from various ethnic groups. Young Italian men would often arrive in the U.S. in the 19th century, single, then work for a few years before going back to their home village to find a bride to marry. They would then re-emigrate with their new wife, back to the U.S.
The Irish pattern shows single Irish immigrants, perhaps the eldest son or daughter, moving to the U.S. or U.K., where they worked hard and long hours, sending money back home to support a large family. The family became more familiar with the weekly or monthly money check, than with the person sending it, who often remained single, solitary, isolated. Though younger siblings might follow as immigrants, just as often the family might move on, change, disperse, older relatives die, and in a far-flung corner of the U.S. or Australiz, or New Zealand or Canada, or not so far away, in England, these single immigrants might endure but not assimilate: the focus was always working hard to provide for the family.
So it goes.