July 03, 2013

On the Cusp of Vacation Greatness

Tried something new at the cafeteria given the lack of choices and it was startlingly good: a sampler plate of Greek food with Greek-sounding names and authentically accented people serving it up with authentically big noses. Definitely the new cafeteria vendor is more adventurous than the old one. Internationally simpatico.

Hit the pavement for a thirty minute run down High Street past the variegated people and the variegated signs. Felt a bit sensucht for the city, the excitement of the fireworks later, the Gallery Hop on the weekend, the electricity in the air on the cusp of this all-American holiday.

Today, July 3rd, is a fine time to hear the “bombs bursting in air” or the firework facsimiles. I can smell the smoke of a half-dozen backyard hobbyists (or maybe it's the Cutter) and it makes me momentarily wish I'd bought some. Surely by now I can buy them on the internet and not have to travel to Indiana or Tim Buc Tu; before the Internet, state government was our in loco parentis, which was more than trying.

I'm (lamely) currently taping the big downtown Columbus fireworks on the television. Fireworks really don't translate to the small screen, in my opinion, but I always tape them as if this year will be different, as if this year I'll be awed without the hassle of driving to impossibly congested downtown venues. My real awe is saved for those stalwart souls who were camped out along Spring Street in the 2pm heat, preparing to wait another seven hours for the 20-minute show. I suppose in these days of iPhones and iPads it's a less impressive, given the screen distractions, but still. There's something almost religious about their devotion.

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Am often delighted by what I find in the RSS feeds. Today a quote from Kenneth Clark on the famous eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:

It must be the last encyclopedia in the tradition of Diderot which assumes that information can be made memorable only when it is slightly coloured by prejudice. When T.S. Eliot wrote 'Soul curled up on the window seat reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica' he was certainly thinking of the eleventh edition, and he accurately describes my condition.

I definitely feel more gratitude reading my blog feeds than the Drudge Report.
I'm grateful to Bill of Summa Minutiae, who recommended an interesting memoir ("Ghost Rider") and posted an Annie Dilliard excerpt -- although I tend to think a life of reading is a life of sensation and by no means an indication of a 'good life':

There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life. A day that closely resembles every other day of the past ten or twenty years does not suggest itself as a good one. But who would not call Pasteur’s life a good one, or Thomas Mann’s?

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My news feed, as opposed to my blog feed, is at times mind-numbingly tedious. Apparently some pro-abortion protester chanted “Hail Satan” in the Texas capital. I was resentful for even having taken the time to read the headline. There's five seconds I'll never get back.

It was interesting to read Cardinal Dolan's thoughts in real-time when Pope Benedict was resigning:

On Feb. 11, the day that Benedict XVI announced his resignation, Cardinal Dolan was just finishing his morning prayers by reading “Jesus of Nazareth.”

“Every time I’d read a paragraph, I’d say to myself, 'This guy (Benedict XVI) just keeps getting better.'”

LJust then, Cardinal Dolan’s communication director, Joseph Zwiller, called to inform him of “rumors” that the Holy Father had announced his resignation.

“We both had a chuckle,” Cardinal Dolan wrote, “agreed that the news was highly improbable, and I told him, ‘Go get a Bloody Mary and go back to bed.’ I returned to my prayers.”

Minutes later, Zwiller called the cardinal to confirm that the rumors were in fact true. “It’s been confirmed. The Holy Father has resigned,” he said.

To which the cardinal’s response was, “OK, Dolan, better get going. This is going to be a big day.”


Speaking of Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth, I think his first book of the trilogy was inferior to his second and third volumes. In other words, don't judge the other two if the first wasn't your cup o' tea.

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