Monthly Archives: April 2008


Apparently Hank Williams Sr. nicknamed Hank Williams Jr. “Bocephus” from a ventriloquist dummy used at the Grand Ole Opry.

But there’s more to the story. One old set of lyrics to “The Arkansas Traveler” apparently is about a boy named Bosephus and a fiddling bear! (Albert Bigelow Paine, children’s author and biographer of Mark Twain, was inspired to write a whole bookful of stories about their adventures. It’s called The Arkansaw Bear: A Tale of Fanciful Adventure Told in Song and Story. There’s also a sequel, The Arkansaw Bear and Elsie. Modern copies spell it “Arkansas”.)

Wasn’t it likely that the Grand Ole Opry audience were expected to know that Bocephus came from “The Arkansas Traveler”? (Did the ventriloquist have any bear dummies in his act?)

The interesting thing about the name etymology is that the song initially just identifies the boy as “a boy named Bo“. (Really, “Beau”.) Only later do the lyrics spin it out: “And his folks are still waiting for Bosephus to come back.” This suggests that the kid’s first name is indeed Beau, and that “sephus” (see-fus) is really a corruption of his last name (or something else – “carcass” might be too crude).

If you could find out where the song came from and the local family names, you could probably make a shrewd guess. “Bo Seavers” or something like that would make perfect sense.

Alternately, it could be some French word. “Beauregard” = “Beau” + “regard”. What French word sounds like “Sephus”?

Or it could be that the boy’s name was really “Joe” (a name that shows up in another set of “Arkansaw Traveler” lyrics), in which case “Josephus” would be quite in order.


Filed under Uncategorized

Prayer Request

A young man I know is in the hospital under observation. His parents apparently caught him “cutting” on himself; and I’m afraid that’s exactly what he’s been doing. (He’s been showing up with some very odd injuries lately, though I thought he was just undergoing a string of typical teenaged engineer mishaps and fits of absentminded clumsiness. The injuries weren’t the same every time, either.) He’s a good kid. But though he’s very good-natured around us, he apparently is very angry at school; and of course it’s no fun being a teenager.

So if you could please pray for Matt, and for his family too, I would really appreciate it. I am very worried about this, and I wish to heck we’d figured it out.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Legendary James Nicoll, King of Mishaps

Yes, my children, James Nicoll is a real person. And he is not dead yet. In fact, I suspect he will die at the age of 140 in his sleep, albeit with no inch of skin unscarred and no bone unbroken.

For those who have never encountered the man, Cally Soukup has compiled a guide to his many encounters with Death By Severe Bodily Harm, as well as other Nicoll Events. Found via Bill Higgins.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Vulgates Galore!

Wikipedia gives you the basic rundown, but here’s a more practical overview. See how all the different Vulgate translations in existence affect the wording of Psalm 90/91!

First off, though, you should know that I’m putting in line breaks for readability. Most Vulgates run along like prose, without line breaks. Also, not a lot of punctuation. (That’s what declensions are for!)

Version 1: (What I mostly used)

qui habitat in abscondito Excelsi
in umbraculo Domini commorabitur
dicens Domino spes mea
et fortitudo mea
Deus meus confidam in eum
quia ipse liberabit te de laqueo venantium
de morte insidiarum
in scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi
et sub alis eius sperabis
scutum et protectio veritas eius
non timebis a timore nocturno
a sagitta volante per diem
a peste in tenebris ambulante
a morsu insanientis meridie
cadent a latere tuo mille
et decem milia a dextris tuis
ad te autem non adpropinquabit

Version 2: (This seems to be the version St. Thomas More used; the phrases seem familiar.)

Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi,
in protectione Dei cæli commorabitur.
Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu, et refugium meum;
Deus meus, sperabo in eum.
Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium,
et a verbo aspero.
Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi,
et sub pennis ejus sperabis.
Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus:
non timebis a timore nocturno;
a sagitta volante in die,
a negotio perambulante in tenebris,
ab incursu, et dæmonio meridiano.
Cadent a latere tuo mille,
et decem millia a dextris tuis;
ad te autem non appropinquabit.

Version 3: (The ultra-current Vatican version of the Vulgate — the Nova Vulgata.)

Qui habitat in protectione Altissimi,
sub umbra Omnipotentis commorabitur.
Dicet Domino: “Refugium meum
et fortitudo mea, Deus meus, sperabo in eum”.
Quoniam ipse liberabit te de laqueo venantium
et a verbo maligno.
Alis suis obumbrabit tibi,
et sub pennas eius confugies;
scutum et lorica veritas eius.
Non timebis a timore nocturno,
a sagitta volante in die,
a peste perambulante in tenebris,
ab exterminio vastante in meridie.
Cadent a latere tuo mille
et decem milia a dextris tuis;
ad te autem non appropinquabit.


Filed under Uncategorized

Never Say Never — “On Eagle’s Wings” in Latin

Probably Holy Whapping has already done this, but it’s good fun for me.

So, by popular demand of the comboxes of The New Liturgical Movement:


Pinnas Sicut Aquilae
To the tune of: “On Eagles’ Wings” by Michael Joncas and the Bible

Latin Lyrics: Maureen S. O’Brien and the Vulgate

VERSE 1 (Psalm 90/91):

Qui habitat in abscondito,
in umbraculo Domini,
Qui habitat in umbraculo
Domini commorabitur,
dicens Domino “spes mea —
Deus meus, confidam.”

CH: (Psalm 40/41, Isaiah 46:4, Matthew 13:43)

(Et) adsumet pinnas sicut
aquilae et faciet
te fulgere sicut sol;
portabat te in pugillo, pugillo.

VERSE 2 (Psalm 90/91)

(Li)berabat de laqueo venantium,
de morte insi
Veritas eius, scutum.
Sub alis eius, sperabis.


VERSE 3 (Psalm 90/91):

(A) timore nocturno, non timebis;
a sagitta volante.
A latere tuo cadent
(mille), non adpropinquabit.


VERSE 4: (Psalm 90/91)

Quia angelis suis mandabit de
(te in) omnibus viis tuis —
in manibus
portabunt te, ne
offendat pes tuus ad lapidem.


Pretty much straight from the Vulgate, albeit with some chopping; but Latin is pretty easy to rhyme and rearrange. I’m afraid I paid no attention whatsoever to the quantities, though.

Now, in the original song, you’ll notice that it’s not “my God in whom I trust”, as in the psalm, but “My Rock in whom I trust”. I’m pretty sure that this is entirely for valid songwriting reasons (nice hard sound, “rock”). But if you find it easier, feel free to sing “Petrus meus, confidam.” It would even be strangely fitting, after last week!

I do not apologize for changing other bits to hew closer to the psalm, like “And famine will bring you no fear”. Also. the Vulgate does say that God’s truth will be our shield and protection, not His faithfulness. (Just so you know that I’m not making this stuff up.)

I do apologize for not solving all the English version’s scansion problems. Variable numbers of syllables put to the same piece of music are fine in a folksong learned orally, but they are a royal pain in a hymnal.

UPDATE: Slightly revised to deal with some of the problems noted above. Besides the obvious edit in the first verse, I also added “te” to the chorus in a couple places. (Which actually comes in handy to smooth out the scansion, as well as adding more purty internal rhyme.) I like the first line of the chorus better without a “te”, but you can put one in between “et” and “adsumet” if that’s what you really want. You can also change “dicens” to “dicet” (present or future), if it’s really bothering you, as one of the Vulgate translations does say it that way.

Sorry for the deficiencies of the audiofile; but it’s just for proof of concept, and it was recorded at 7 AM.


Filed under Church, Humor, Translations

Providence Report

I’m fighting some kind of minor sinus infection now. (Yay.) So I skipped one of my choirs’ practice, because I felt like crud and could barely stand up. I settled down with some industrial strength hot and sour soup along with a helping of Mongolian beef, and prepared to feel miserable.

For some reason, the hot and sour soup really did a number on the gunk. Which was odd, because it didn’t “clean out” my sinuses; the swelling just seemed to go down to a manageable point. So I started working on my latest podcast chapter….

And then a friend called, needing help.

I was feeling so much better by the time she got to my place that I was able to spend a long time talking to her, as well as dealing with the immediate need. Yet I’d been feeling so sick and weak just a little while before! Yet if I hadn’t been too sick to leave, I wouldn’t have been there when she needed me. In some odd way, God uses my stupid health problems to do good in the world.

God works in mysterious ways. But sometimes He lets us see a bit of what he’s up to.

(Btw, this morning my sinuses are yucky again. But I still have some hot and sour soup, and a shower. I don’t expect as good of results, but I’ll get to work. God’s nice, but He sure doesn’t spoil us!)


Filed under Uncategorized

After the Pope’s Visit

Well, the Pope came and made his pilgrimage and then left again, but on the way he did a considerable amount of shepherding. Like most people who tried to follow the coverage, my brain is full of ideas and good examples, but it will take a long time to absorb it all.

The quiet decency and sweetness of the man will stay with me, of course. I think most people saw him as he is, and I hope a good many people saw Christ through him. Certainly, his call to the faithful and the questing to follow Jesus, the Truth, seemed very winning.

But I also will remember the many class assignments that this professor has given us. Without saying a hard word against anyone in particular, he made it perfectly clear that all American Catholics have a lot of work to do. We must champion truth more, help those who need it more, love more. We must fight division. We must give ourselves totally to God, or never be quite free.

I kept telling my mom this week that he really wasn’t saying anything new. He was just talking about the basics, trying to get people back on track. But actually, I think he was subtly redefining the terms of the debate.

Sex education, safe sex, and birth control? It’s about the exciting “beauty of conjugal love” vs. boring old “management of risk”.

Catholic schools and Catholic identity? It’s all about showing people Christ, acting like Christ, loving truth because truth is Christ.

Diversity? It’s us being more ourselves and bringing our own contribution to the table, not straining to be something else or hiding the fact we’re Catholics and Americans.

That re-definition or change of viewpoint  has apparently been resonating with people. We won’t see immediate effects, maybe, but the ideas are definitely going to have an effect on those who really listened.

I think I can go to bed now. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Easter Eggs, Trees, and Bavarian Welldressing

I’ve always associated the custom of decorating wells, or holy wells, with the Celtic countries. I also had no idea that it was associated with anything practical. This wonderful article on Franconian “Easter wells” has proved me wrong on both counts.

Apparently, one of the spring chores was to go to the well and clean out the algae and gunk with long rakes. After that was done, you cleaned up the gunk that was on the rakes and well (and probably took it out to the field or garden for extra fertilizer). Then, after the well was clean, you decorated it — often in a spirit of gentle competition with the neighboring farms and villages.

In Franconia, apparently the time for well-cleaning and well-dressing was Easter. The oldest way to do it, accordingly to the article, was to tie Easter eggs to an egg tree near the well. (If you scroll down through all the pictures, there’s an example of such an Easter well egg tree.) Nowadays, it’s not done as often, but the people who still decorate wells for Easter seem to throw out all the stops. Pretty!

And now, I finally know why we were always making egg trees out of pussywillows and dead branches! It was our country’s German side coming out!

1 Comment

Filed under Church, Cooking

Vin du Pape

What kind of wine is fit for the Pope, and what goes with the food they’re been serving him in New York? This Wall Street Journal article lets you know!

Of course, if you hire an Italian cuisine and regional wine expert to cook the man’s food, you’re probably going to get all Italian all the time. Fair enough, since the food in DC seems to have been more German, for his birthday. But there are of course many good, pleasant German wines, and Rieslings are finally popular again. But there is also a small Bavarian wine-growing area: Franconia. Its products are known in German as “Frankenwein”. Note the traditional, highly distinctive round bottles! More from I Love German Wine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day Is Coming!

There is currently a battle going on, among writers and publishers, between two different schools of thought. One holds that giving away free samples of writing is madness. The other claims that it is free advertising, and makes money.

And thus emerged into the world a phrase of fated significance.

And thus emerged a movement, a festival, and a lot of free stories and stuff from your favorite writers.

Read about April 23rd, International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, where it began.

Read last year’s postings.

This year isn’t likely to be as big, but it’s still going to happen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Usenet Isn’t Dead Yet

Sign of life #587. The scene is rec.arts.sf.written; the date is April 17, 2008.

Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.written
From: Graham Woodland <>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 21:38:10 +0100
Local: Thurs, Apr 17 2008 4:38 pm
Subject: Re: The Esoterrorists


Graham Woodland wrote:
> David Goldfarb wrote:
>> In article <fu5s36$>,
>> Tim McDaniel <> wrote:
>>> Worse, is there ichor involved?  Ichor is the infallible touchstone.
>> Actually, “ichor” was what the Greek gods used instead of blood.
>> See book 5 of the Iliad.

>> (I hope you’re not going to try to claim that the Iliad is
>> Lovecraftian horror….)

> A Mr Laocoön on the phone for you, sir.

…Alright, it’s been a hard day, okay?  I have now smacked my
own head, thus saving anyone else the need to.  In my sober
senses I am well aware that Homer stopped short of describing
that unspeakable, annihilatingly blasphemous violation of our
quotidian dimensions by *the venom-dark fanged cilia of THE BIG C

It is slurred amongst the unhallowed dwellers in _The Freemason’s
Arms_ at Battersea that the middle volume of Homer’s blockbusting
trilogy was actually completed and performed, with the
Laocoön-scene and the subsequent Catalogue of Unnameable Things
representing new high-water marks of poetic power.  The psychic
destruction wrought amongst the audience proved such, however,
that _Horsey to King’s Prawn Four_ was swiftly and permanently
retired from the repertoire.

As to the mentally shattered bard, a public appeal on his behalf
to the Asklepion evoked the cryptic divine response, “The best
cure for morbid fancies is fresh sea air and plenty of exercise!”
Homer dutifully took this cure – and indeed his twenty-year
Mediterranean cruise so far restored his health that he was
eventually able, not only to forget the unhallowed horrors of the
wossname, but also somewhere to find the inspiration to finish
his trilogy.

Many competent authorities have considered this theory to be
complete bollocks.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Hero You Should Know

Once upon a time, there was a 22-year-old stewardess named Neerja Bhanot.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Welcome, New Visitors

I like to talk to strangers. After all, I’m stranger than most.

Mostly I talk about science fiction and fantasy, anime, gaming… or Catholicism. But you’ll find a little bit of everything, and a lot you might enjoy. So spend some time poking around.

If you like audiobooks, you might like to visit my podcast, Maria Lectrix. I specialize in reading public domain literature of all kinds.


Filed under Uncategorized

Have You Noticed This?

Maybe it’s just me. I’m not particularly good at interpersonal interaction. But I thought the idea of conversation was something like this:

Person A advances a comment. “I like burgers. They’re meaty and juicy.”

Then Person B either agrees, disagrees, or expresses neutrality on the point, first providing a segue:

A. (Smile) “Yeah, burgers are yummy!”

B. (Frown) “I’m sorry, I don’t agree. Burgers are yucky. Hot dogs are much better.”

C. (Horrified look of disgust) “Are you nuts? Burgers are cruel to cows!”

D. (Shrug) “Aeh. I could take or leave ’em.”

The thing I think I’ve noticed is this: Person B doesn’t feel any need to segue into a contradiction of Person A’s point. But he usually doesn’t provide a flat contradiction, either. In other words, Person B doesn’t scream, “Burgers are murder, you daft carnivorous monster!” Person B says something like this instead:

(smile and nod) “Oh, yes, I agree. Burgers are bloodsludge on a plate that only a serial killer would eat.”

This messes Person A up. Person A is busy listening and nodding to the nodding, agreeable Person B, who then delivers what can only be described as a direct contradiction right in the face, like a cut direct. No warning, no gear change at the natural places for it in a conversation.

Do people do this to you all the time, or is it just me? Why do they do it?

Is Person B trying to trick me into agreement? Is Person B so sure I must agree with their point of view that she didn’t actually hear what I said? Is Person B overly reluctant to contradict me, and only throwing in her actual opinion at the last second? Or am I missing some obvious non-verbal clue of disagreement that took place earlier?

Comments are earnestly elicited.


Filed under Uncategorized