A Host of Kind Faces

This post was a “sticky” feature for a week, and was first published last Monday. Scroll down for items posted since that time.

Winter Fundraiser 2020, Day Seven

Sunday’s Update: Snaps From the Family Album

This morning’s update will be brief, and will include just two final photos of kind faces from my memory. The first one is the above snapshot of Dymphna from 1987. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute, after I get the formalities out of the way.

Tip jarWe’re down to the wire here in the Winter Fundraiser of 2020: this is the final day. If you haven’t put a jingle into the tip cup (or this link), now is the time to do it.

Just think: this is a way to avoid all those noisome and obnoxious ads that you see on most sites. This blog relies entirely on modest donations by individual readers. I have no commercial sponsors. I’m not supported by any foundations or think tanks. The only sponsors are the people who read this site.

So if you appreciate what you find here, please drop a groat in the cup. A reminder: I send 10% of what I fundraise here to Vlad Tepes, whose video work is absolutely crucial to what I do. If you think he deserves more, please visit his site and click his own donate button.

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The photo of Dymphna at the top of this update is one of my all-time favorites. It captures her essence: that is exactly Dymphna, my beloved wife, with whom I spent forty fortunate years.

The picture was taken at my annual art show in the fall of 1987. The venue was a restaurant on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. I’ve racked my brains trying to figure out who Dymphna was talking to when I took the snap, but I can’t do it. However, I can identify all three paintings on the wall in the background, despite the blurriness. Funny about that.

The final set of kind faces for this fundraiser is a detail from a larger group photo that was taken in the mid-1980s when the future Baron was just a few months old. As far as I know, the fB and I are the only two people in the photo who are still alive, but just in case I’ve cropped the rest of them out:

That’s Dymphna at the top, and her mother seated in front of her. Boy, I sure had more hair in those days. And none of it was white yet.

These last two snaps from the Bodissey family album wrap up the 2020 Winter Fundraiser. I realize that I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia this past week, but then, wallowing is an emotional necessity for me in these our wintry days.

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Saturday’s donors hailed from:

Stateside: Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Washington

Far Abroad: Lithuania and the UK

Canada: Ontario

Australia: Western Australia

This concludes the 2020 Winter Fundraiser for Gates of Vienna. I’ll post a wrap-up with all the locations sometime in the next few days.

A hearty Bodisseyan “thank you” to all those people on four continents who chipped in. It looks like I’ll be set for another quarter.

Saturday’s Update: Miscellaneous Faces From History, Not All of Them Kind

I’ll switch gears this morning and post a series of faces from history, chosen by whim from my image library. The one above shows Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (a.k.a. Joseph Stalin), Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Sir Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference in late 1943. Sir Winston’s face might be characterized as “kind”, but FDR’s and Uncle Joe’s not so much.

I have more faces to post, but first a word about what I’ve been doing during this week that is rapidly drawing to a close.

For one week every quarter I beg for money from readers to help keep Gates of Vienna going. The tradition began while Dymphna was alive, and continues in her absence. We depended, and I still depend, on the kindness of strangers. Actually, not all of you are strangers, come to think of it…

So if you haven’t done so already, please click that funky tip cup on the sidebar (or use this link) and drop in a ha’penny or two to help keep this enterprise afloat.

What’s amazing to me is the large number of modest donations that have come in. They’re generally quite small, but there are so MANY of them — they really add up. I’m humbled by your generosity, and pleased to see so many first-time donors.

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Nothing Swedish Here…

The ripples continue to spread from the Scandinavia-negating video commercial by SAS. The graphic below is one example (hat tip LN), as is the brief satirical essay below it by Thomas Bertonneau.

Nothing Swedish here…

by Thomas F. Bertonneau

There is nothing characteristically Swedish about generic person Fred Åkerström’s vintage televised performance of the entirely forgettable Fredmann’s Epistle No. 48“Solen glimmar blank och trind” [“The Sun is Shining Smooth and Round”] — by the generic poet-musician Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795), who only accidentally wrote in Swedish. Notice Åkerström’s two accompanists — the Bantu flutist and the Samoyed violoncellist. It is well known that Bellman’s poetry is based on the oral traditions of the ancient Peruvians, which were culturally appropriated by the Vikings during their imperialistic voyages in the eleventh century. Of course, there was nothing characteristically Scandinavian about the Vikings either. Their “dragon ships” were plagiarized from the hull-form of the Polynesian Kon-Tiki rafts.

Below are the first three stanzas in English. The full verses may be found here.

The sun is shining bright and round
The water is like a mirror
After a while a wind starts blowing
into slacking sails
The pennant is unfolded and with an oar
Olle is standing on a hay-boat
Kerstin comes out from the cabin
locks the door

The steel is shining, the pipe is light
Olle scratches his ear
The rudder is turned, the boat turns around
The old man is busy
Beneath strong eyebrows
he grins against the sun in the sky
Kerstin, the sweetheart of the old man
will tend to the sails now

The sails are flapping, the boat is moving forward
Jerker grabs his lyre
The lyre hums, the waves hit against the boat
With force and frenzy
The boat creaks, fragile, thin
The wind is seen in the top of the boat
The rooster crows so harsh and hoarse
The clock just struck four

For previous essays by Thomas F. Bertonneau, see the Thomas Bertonneau Archives.

A Christmas Greeting From Hungary

The video below was produced by the Hungarian government and uploaded to Facebook by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, along with a brief message: “With this video I wish a blessed peaceful Christmas to every one of you and all of our readers, from Hungary!”

Many thanks to CrossWare for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

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Dust Off Those Rusty Keys Just One More Time

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of Gates of Vienna. It should be an auspicious occasion, but the fact that Dymphna can’t help me commemorate it has kind of taken the starch out of me. I just don’t have that much to say.

So we’ll have some music instead. Thinking about this anniversary made the song “Stella Blue” by the Grateful Dead came into my mind. It was a staple of their live shows for more than twenty years, from 1973 until whatever the last one was before Jerry Garcia died. The studio version was first released in the summer of 1973 on the album Wake of the Flood, but I first heard it at a live show in Philly in March of 1973.

This version is from 1977 at Winterland. It doesn’t include any video footage, but I chose it for Garcia’s fine guitar solos, even if he does blow the words in a couple of places:

The lyrics are below the jump (the official version from Robert Hunter’s collection A Box of Rain):

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It is This That the Darkness is For

My wife Dymphna died three months ago today. Writing about her from time to time helps me cope with the devastation of losing her. This post is off-topic from the primary mission of this site, so readers may skip it without missing anything.

Early in our relationship I introduced Dymphna to the music of Leonard Cohen, and she eventually became at least as much of a fan as I was. A couple of months into our marriage we were listening to the album Songs From a Room, and I suddenly realized the significance of one of the songs. “Listen,” I said, “that’s our song.” She paid close attention to the lyrics, and agreed that it was true. So from then on, for the rest of our time together, it was “Our Song”.

I’ll explain why it seemed appropriate, but first listen to “Lady Midnight” by Leonard Cohen:

Dymphna and I met in the spring of 1979, in a bar in suburban Maryland near where my mother lived. I had gone to elementary and junior high school there, so I knew the area well.

My father had died the previous winter, and my mother and I had just returned from a trip to New England to inter his ashes in the family plot. The return home became a grueling ordeal after her car blew a head gasket in upstate New York. When we finally got back to Maryland, I said, “I really need a beer,” and went off to a bar at a nearby golf course where the bartender was an old friend of mine.

I had reached the point in my life where I wanted to get married and settle down. I knew that you don’t meet the woman you’re going to marry in a bar — I had always been told that, and still think it’s true, as a general rule — so I wasn’t there to pick up chicks; I was just drinking a beer and talking to the bartender.

While I was standing there at the bar a woman in distress came through the door, approached the bar, and said, “My battery’s dead; I need help.” She had been there for a drink a little while before, and when she left, her car wouldn’t start.

The bartender waved his hand towards me and said, “This is the man you need to talk to. I’ve known him for more than twenty years, and can vouch for him.” So I went out to the parking lot with her, moved my car over to hers, got the jumper cables, and started her car.

We left it idling to charge the battery and went back into the bar. She said, “The least I can do now is buy you a drink.” So I got another beer, and she ordered a drink for herself (dry vermouth, if I remember rightly — that was her customary drink in those days).

We introduced ourselves and began a conversation. I noticed that in addition to being attractive, she was obviously well-educated and -informed on various topics that also interested me. After a while my attraction to her must have become obvious, because she said: “I don’t do one-night stands, you know.”

Well. I was genuinely affronted, since that was the farthest thing from my mind — as I mentioned earlier, I wanted to get married, settle down, and have kids. So I said: “I don’t have to take this s***!”, turned on my heel, and went to the gents’ to cool down.

When I came back a few minutes later she apologized profusely, and we resumed our conversation without further rancor. It wasn’t long before the age difference — she was ten years older than I — ceased to matter. The attraction was mutual, and we arranged to meet the following night (a Saturday) for dinner at the Double-T Diner up in Edmondson.

The rest is history, as told in my eulogy back in June.

So remember, boys and girls: you won’t meet your future wife or husband in a bar. Dymphna is the exception that proves the rule.

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Now, having heard the tale of The Night Baron Met Dymphna, read the lyrics of “Lady Midnight” and see why we decided it was Our Song:

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Two Windows Into a Different World

And now for something completely different.

I don’t normally indulge in pop-music nostalgia, but… I recently happened to run across the first of the two songs embedded below. I remembered it clearly, and it reminded me of the second one, which had a somewhat similar theme.

Strictly speaking, both songs were before my time — I was still in my “latency” period back then, but the older boys were listening to those songs and singing along with them, so I remember them well. If I had been an actual testosterone-infused teenager when these tunes were being played on the radio, they would no doubt have had the same heart-wrenching impact on me that they did on the boys who were a few years older.

The first song is “Patches”, by Dickie Lee. It was recorded in 1962:

The second tune, “Rag Doll” (1964), is by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It has a similar theme, but omits the suicide motif:

There was no one like Frankie Valli. He sang like a gelding, but he could really belt it out.

The two relevant lines are:

“My folks say no, and my heart breaks inside.”

And:

“My folks won’t let me ’cause they say that she’s no good.”

“Folks” meaning “parents”, of course. Two parents, a mother and a father. And still married. How odd!

The issue in both cases is the difference in social class between these lovestruck blades and their young fiancées, who are from impoverished circumstances. The parents — who are able to foresee the tragic results of such matches — refuse to let their sons go through with the nuptials.

Just think: the young men that the singers conjure up — who are presumably of legal age — can’t marry their sweethearts because their parents forbid it.

What world was that? Was it in a galaxy long ago and far, far away??

These songs were recorded between 1962 and 1964, just 55-57 years ago. I can remember the period clearly. But it might as well be the Middle Ages.

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Integration Isn’t Working, Time to Go!

In the following video, Rasmus Paludan leads his colleagues in a little song while they burn a Koran. Mr. Paludan is a Danish lawyer, anti-Islam activist, and the founder of the Stram Kurs party, which is expected to earn enough votes to win seats in parliament next month.

Many thanks to Nemo for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

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Palm Sunday, 2019

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Passion Week in the Catholic and Anglican denominations. Thus, Pange Lingua is often used as a processional hymn, with parishioners carrying palms around the church.

As does much of the Gregorian chant I learned in school, this one has stayed with me, running through my head whilst walking. Notice the cadence.

Each religion has its own language. Years ago, a friend of mine converted from her childhood Baptist faith to Catholicism. She found terms like “Passion Week” quite risqué. Never mind ideas such as “transubstantiation”…

Happy Birthday, Emmylou Harris

Ms. Harris wrote this song for her father, Walter Harris, a Marine who served in both World War II and Korea as a fighter pilot, flying Corsairs. He was shot down in Korea and spent almost a year in a North Korean POW camp. Major Harris is buried in Arlington National Cemetery*, where lie many of our heroes.

*[Arlington belonged to the family of Robert E. Lee’s wife, a Custis by birth. The Union took over the house and began burying their dead on the property well before the Civil War ended. Lee never lived there again, moving to Richmond after the War.]

The lyrics are below the fold.

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Eye Contact

I went in to the retinologist’s office this afternoon to get a bimonthly injection in my left eye, as a treatment for wet macular degeneration. That’s why posting has been light today: my vision has just now recovered to the point where I can look at the screen and type things.

Here in the family these treatments are referred to as “eye pokes”. I’ll say to Dymphna or the future Baron, for example: “Next week I have to go in and get my eye poked.”

As nasty medical procedures go, these treatments are not so bad. It helps that the retinologist’s office is an unusually friendly and efficient environment. The doctor has an excellent staff, several of whom have been there for the whole six years I’ve been going in.

They say that you can get used to anything, and now I can vouch for it. These eye injections have become a routine. A nasty, unpleasant routine, but a routine nevertheless. I know the drill by now: First they sit you down and have you take the eye test for both eyes. Then they give you a pressure test, to check for glaucoma. Then you get two different kinds of eye drops to dilate your pupils.

After that you wait for a while in a dimly-lit anteroom while your pupils dilate. There’s a large-screen TV there where they play DVDs from National Geographic — with the sound turned down, thank goodness. Some of those are very soothing and entertaining to watch.

Next they come to get you for a retinal scan. The equipment and software for that procedure are incredibly advanced now — 3D modeling, different layers, etc.

When that’s done they begin the process of numbing the eye that will get the injection. Four or five different kinds of drops are used for that. Then you sit in a chair in the treatment room and wait for the doctor to come. And then… Well, I don’t feel like describing the next part in detail. The good thing is that it doesn’t last very long. In fact, the entire process, from the moment I walk into the office until I check out, is usually 45 minutes to an hour. Much quicker than a primary care appointment.

If I don’t get a “dancing bubble”, my eye recovers more quickly. That’s a tiny bubble of air that more often than not tends to come in on the tip of the needle, and jiggles around in your visual field when you move your eye. Very unpleasant. But today I didn’t get one, which is why I can sit here and type so soon afterwards.

All in all, not a bad day, considering. On the way home in the car I listened to The Art of the Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080) by Johann Sebastian Bach, played on the pipe organ by Herbert Tachezi.

A Louisiana Sunday Hymn

This is a popular hymn in Cajun Country. Sometimes I am homesick for the food and the music…but seldom the (below-sealevel) climate. Maybe in January??

Though I got to know some of the Canucks in New England, I never heard their music. However, what that Canadian French remnant who managed to survive the trek to Louisiana created still lives deep in my Irish soul. The similarities of the heart converge sometimes.

The French lyrics are below the jump as is the English translation.

The images you see are the large extended family of L’Angelus. It looks like they’re on a levee.

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