Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Sunday Night

More doings down at the concert hall, only this one actually was at the actual concert hall...

Yes, as alluded to below, I went and saw Joan Baez herself in concert on Sunday night, and I can safely report that an excellent time was had by all (and by "all," I mean by everyone except the reviewer for one of the local dailies, who seemed worried that the concert was going to get all political on him, which it didn't unless you count about half the set-list). Anyhoo, Ms. Baez still has the voice, even after 50 or years in the biz!

And what did she play? Well, she did play a nice selection of the old stand-bys, "Farewell Angelina" for example (I do not believe that this video was made recently):

And you can toss in "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down," "Forever Young," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (done a capella) and a number of her other favourites, including the song referred to in the title of this post.

She also performed some new material, including three excellent songs by Steve Earle, who really does have a way with lyrics. I've tracked down videos for a couple of them here:

There were other delights to be had as well - she did some of her own poetry, and related a number of amusing anecdotes (including the one about some unknown guitar repairman writing "too bad you're a communist" on the inside of her guitar. The limited edition guitars made especially for her now all have that written inside them, and they come with a little dentist's mirror so you can read it!). She also hilariously sent up Bob Dylan during "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright."

And of course, it all ended with everybody singing along to "Amazing Grace!"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Busy, Busy...

...so posting about Joan Baez will have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, have another Nefertiti video!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

Lights out from 8:30-9:30 tonight folks!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Life Lesson Learned

This is a Public Service Announcement.

If you are like me, you thread your belt through the beltloops starting with the loop immediately to the left of the snap or button on whatever pair of pants you're wearing, then around the left hip, across the back, and so on.

If this is case, I advise you to be careful. For during this operation, the shiny buckle-end of the belt is hanging down swinging back and forth. It is possible, just possible, that this may cause a small black overstimulated kitten to rise towards it at an impressive rate of speed with fang and claw at the ready. And she may miss.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good News For Canadian Soccer Fans!!

This probably shouldn't come as a hug surprise to anyone who's been paying attention, but Vancouver has been approved for an MLS franchise, and about time too.

The Vancouver region has always been one of Canada's bastions of soccer, and the Whitecaps (or '86ers, as they were from 1986-2001) have been at the forefront of that for about the past 35 years. Originating in the old NASL, the Whitecaps won the League Championship in 1979 (in the semifinals that year, they knocked off a New York Cosmos team that featured Giorgio Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer). The NASL team featured a healthy selection of Canadian internationals alongside foreign talent like Bruce Grobelaar and Peter Beardsley (below, in white), both of whom would go on to star for the superp Liverpool teams of the 1980s.

After the death of the NASl in the mid-80s, the '86ers were refounded in the Canadian Soccer League, and promptly won championships in four of the seven years of the CSL's existence. Since then, after a brief sojourn in the American Professional Soccer League, the Vancouver franchise has operated in the A-League, essentially North America's second division, and have been champions there in two of the last three seasons. They will continue to play in the A-League until the MLS team begins operations in 2011.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The career of Chunklets, Latin Wrangler at Large, continues apace (previous adventures here). I have just undertaken to help translate a few 13th-century documents dealing with a Franciscan monastery in what is now Greece. I've got about six letters to go over, and in general the Latin isn't too bad (that's not too surprising, since some of the missives are coming directly from the office of the Pope). However, one of the letters was written by a knight named Robers de l'Isle, and the opening of it threw me a bit at first glance. It reads:

"Sachent tuit cil qui sunt e qui avenir sunt, ge je Robers de l'Isle chevaliers ai done por dieu..."

Clarity dawned when I realized that the language is not actually Latin at all, but Medieval French. I think that it translates:

"Let all who are and who are to come know that I, Robers de l'Isle, Knight, have given for God..."

I guess we're going find out how good my Medieval French is!

Update: Fixed the translation, mildly.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

De Passere Catulli

So why go with a picture of a sparrow to represent the poems of Catullus over here? Well, Catullus, who lived during the first half of the first century B.C., wrote two quite famous poems (Catullus 2-2b and 3) about a pet sparrow who belonged to his girlfriend, the pseudonymous Lesbia (at least, we can assume that the bird was Lesbia's; she's never actually named in either poem). In the first of these poems, Catullus observes the bird as a source of comfort for Lesbia, and wishes that it could be the same for him (all three translations in this post are my own, and I take full responsibility for any hideous errors):

Catullus 2-2b:
Passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quicum ludere, quem in sinu tenere,
cui primum digitum dare appetenti
et acris solet incitare morsus,
cum desiderio meo nitenti
carum nescio quid lubet iocari
et solaciolum sui doloris,
credo ut tum grauis acquiescat ardor:
tecum ludere sicut ipsa possem
et tristis animi leuare curas!
* * *
tam gratum est mihi quam ferunt puellae
pernici aureolum fuisse malum,
quod zonam soluit diu ligatam.

Sparrow, darling of my girlfriend,
Whom she is accustomed to play with, and to hold to her breast,
To whom, as you strive passionately, she is accustomed to give her fingertip
And to incite sharp bites,
When it pleases the shining object of my longing
To make some dear jest
And a small solace for her grief
So that, I believe, her grave pain may then find respite:
Let me be able to play with you as she herself does,
And to lighten the sad cares of my heart.
This is as welcome to me as they say
The golden apple was to the swift girl,
The apple which loosened her girdle, bound for a long time.

There are some problems with the manuscripts of this poem, but it is generally accepted that the last three lines, which refer to the myth of Atalanta, belong to Catullus 2. There my also be lines missing immediately before the last three. The poem, by the way, is a real beast to get into workable English; it's a very good illustration of the concept that reading something is not the same as translating it!

Unfortunately, sparrows don't live very long, and so Catullus 3 is a lament for the bird's death. Here 'tis:

Catullus 3:
Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,
et quantum est hominum uenustiorum!
passer mortuus est meae puellae,
passer, deliciae meae puellae,
Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.
Nam mellitus erat suamque norat
ipsam tam bene quam puella matrem;
nec sese a gremio illius mouebat,
sed circumsiliens modo huc modo illuc
ad solam dominam usque pipiabat.
Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
At uobis male sit, malae tenebrae
Orci, quae omnia bella deuoratis;
tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
O factum male! o miselle passer!
Tua nunc opera meae puellae
flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

Mourn, O Venuses and Cupids,
And all the more pleasant men there are!
My girlfriend's sparrow is dead,
The sparrow, my girlfriend's darling,
Whom she loved more than she loves her own eyes.
For he was as sweet as honey, and knew
His own mistress as well as a girl knows her mother;
Nor did he betake himself from her lap,
But, hopping around now hither, now thither,
Chirped continuously to his one mistress.
He now goes on a dark journey
To that place from which they deny that anyone returns.
And may it go badly for you, evil shades
Of Orcus, who devour all beautiful things;
You have taken from me such a beautiful sparrow.
O evil deed! O poor little sparrow!
Now thanks to you my girlfriend's
Poor swollen eyes are red with weeping.

Certain scholars have argued that the sparrow in these two poems is in fact a rather crude anatomical metaphor, and that its "death" is the end of the couple's relationship. Without going into too many details, suffice it to say that I, and most Catullus scholars, reject this notion. For one thing, Catullus was never that subtle when it came to matters sexual (a fair amount of our knowledge of Latin obscenities comes from him). Anyway, I am of the opinion that the poems are to be taken at face value; they're about a bird.

The sparrow of Catullus makes a cameo appearance more than 100 years after the poet's death, in a poem by the satirist Martial (Martial 1.109). The poem is about a puppy named Issa (literally, "Herself"), and it goes as follows:

Martial 1.109:
Issa est passere nequior Catulli,
Issa est purior osculo columbae,
Issa est blandior omnibus puellis,
Issa est carior Indicis lapillis,
Issa est deliciae catella Publi.
Hanc tu, si queritur, loqui putabis;
sentit tristitiamque gaudiumque.
Collo nixa cubat capitque somnos,
ut suspiria nulla sentiantur;
et desiderio coacta uentris
gutta pallia non fefellit ulla,
sed blando pede suscitat toroque
deponi monet et rogat leuari.
Castae tantus inest pudor catellae,
ignorat Venerem; nec inuenimus
dignum tam tenera uirum puella.
Hanc ne lux rapiat suprema totam,
picta Publius exprimit tabella,
in qua tam similem uidebis Issam,
ut sit tam similis sibi nec ipsa.
Issam denique pone cum tabella:
aut utramque putabis esse ueram,
aut utramque putabis esse pictam.

Issa is more mischievous than the sparrow of Catullus,
Issa is purer than the kiss of a dove,
Issa is more affectionate than all the girls,
Issa is dearer than the jewels of India,
Issa is the darling little puppy of Publius.
If she whines, you will think that she speaks;
She feels sorrow and joy.
She sleeps resting on his neck, and takes her naps
Such that no breaths are heard;
And compelled by the desire of her bladder,
Not a single drop has befouled the coverlet,
But she awakens him with a caressing paw, and advises
That she be put down from the couch, and asks to be picked up.
There is such great modesty in the little puppy;
She does not know Venus, nor do we find
A mate worthy of such a delicate girl.
So that her last day does not snatch her away entirely,
Publius is portraying her on a painted tablet
On which you will see an Issa so lifelike
That not even she herself is so similar to herself.
And so put Issa down beside the tablet;
Either you will think that each is real,
Or you will think that each is painted.

You know that thing one does with dogs, when one ruffles the dog's ears and utters endearments to it ("Who's a good dog? Who's a good dog? Yes, she's a good dog!"), and the dog basically goes berserk with joy? Well, I think, I think, that Martial is consciously imitating that in the first five lines of the poem.

And there you have the sparrow of Catullus (also the puppy of Martial)!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

They're A Bit Like Busses...

You wait forever for one, and then two come along at once. Yes, they're coming back to the warrens!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The intertubes are a little less funny today...

All the best to Constable Enns in his new posting, and thanks for all the laughs!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We Have Been Awarded

A Kreativ Blogger Award has come our way courtesy of Chorus! Thank you, thank you!

*waves to crowd, gives long tedious speech*

And so, down to business! First of all, I must list 7 things that I love:

  • Most sports, but especially soccer, hockey, and baseball.

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  • Cats!

  • Seafood!

  • Like the song says, giant squids (this is possibly related to the item immediately above)!

  • The poems of Catullus

  • Italy, especially the South. And the food...

  • Ancient Romans

By no means a complete list, but there you go! And now, to pass on the award to 7 other deserving blogs! Well, most of the blogs that I would normally pick have already been tagged with this, so I'm only going with two right now, with an option to add more later:

Pack Animal Existance