Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Revenge of Judge Dee!

You may remember that last year, I pointed out that famous director Tsui Hark was supposed to be working on a movie about Judge Dee, legendary Chinese magistrate and famous minister. Judge Dee is the best known legendary magistrate-detective in the West, because he also became the hero of a classic series of magistrate-detective novels by that eccentric Dutch diplomat, musician, scholar, and… um… bon vivant, Robert H. Van Gulik.

Anyway, it seems that Judge Dee will get his Tsui Hark movie. Shooting has started in Hengdian, and so it’s only a matter of time. The movie stars Andy Lau as Di Ren Jie. Carina Lau is Empress Wu, who calls the exiled Dee back from the wilds to solve a series of murders that’s delaying her accession. There’s also the empress’ maid, who knows martial arts, military man Commander Bei, and the Ghost Doctor, master of disguise.

The Chinese title is Kingdom to Heaven. The current English title is Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Sammo Hung is choreographing the fight scenes.

This is so cool! And the bit about the rags costume sounds like Judge Dee will disguise himself as a beggar or a poor medicine peddler, which is just like the stories! Yay!

This website has some very nice pictures of Judge Dee stuff. It also claims that the reason Dee worked with Empress Wu was to be in position to restore the Li clan to power and found the Tang Dynasty. Well, that’s a nice theory to run with.

Also, it says that at the beginning and end of Chinese opera, a red-robed, white-masked actor often appears, who stands for Judge Dee as a deity in charge of prosperous careers and quick promotion, and who symbolically blesses the audience. This silent role is generally translated as “the God of Fortune”, and he does “the Promotion Dance”. Hm. Interesting. There are apparently a lot of Chinese gods who get called gods of fortune, though maybe the career thing sets him apart. Even the guy from Three Kingdoms is a freakin’ god of fortune.

This brings up an interesting question.

The graves of Judge Dee and Judge Bao and so forth are known, because they were real people in history. However, they were deified back then by the government and people, and are still apparently worshipped by many. (And apparently personal monotheism was no protection from popular deification, as Judge Bao may have been Jewish and Hai Rui was certainly Muslim.)

So what would the proper procedure be, if you visited their graves and wished to pray for someone who is deified by some, without giving the impression you supported praying to them as gods? I realize this isn’t something likely to affect me personally any time soon, but it’s a situation that could easily come up in today’s global society. There must be standard procedures for Chinese Catholics in China, but they aren’t known to me.


Filed under Uncategorized

Ground Bean Flounder – YUM!

There’s a relatively new Chinese restaurant over by my parent’s place; it’s called Tsao’s Cuisine. It does pretty good business during its buffet hours and during the university school year. (It’s right down the road from Wright State.) It also apparently has attracted the loyalty of our local police and fire guys, as I saw a contingent of them in there during buffet time.

But beyond its small but interesting lunch buffet and its standard but interesting menu, this Chinese restaurant has an extra feature. It has… dum dum dum… daily specials!

Imagine a marker board full of Chinese characters spelling out the names of dishes, with a few translations in English scattered here and there. Hmm. Hmm. What could they be? Do you remember any of the characters from Japanese class? Are they any good? Knowing that contemporary Chinese food from China is quite different from Chinese restaurant food, and that the spices and cooking styles are not what you’re used to … do you dare?

I went over there late on Saturday afternoon with my gaming buddies. And that board of daily chef’s specials called to me. What was the stewed beef brisket like? Heck, what was the beef tripe — anything like menudo? What were the untranslatable things?

Finally, I made a decision. Ground bean flounder. Fish sounded good. And my timid side thought that surely, fish and beans were pretty safe. Nobody could do too much to fish and beans, right?

Well, I won’t keep you in suspense. This dining story had a happy ending. Ground bean flounder is not just safe. It is AWESOMELY DELICIOUS. Where have you been all my life, ground bean flounder?

The taste seemed pretty simple. It was just a crusty topping made of chunks of “ground bean” — ground-up soybeans, that is — pepper, and some little chopped challots, on a nicely cooked filet of flounder that was sitting in a little butter. They served it in a Sterno-warmed dish, so that it would stay nice and warm until I finished. I managed to finish about 2/3 of the flounder and rice. The rest I ate this afternoon, cold out of the refrigerator. It was still NOM NOM NOM.

And here is the wonder of the Internet — a recipe for home-cooked ground bean fish! What I ate was almost totally different, though, because my flounder was not cooked in actual ground bean sauce. (I’m sure that’s good, too.) Korean cooking grinds up soybeans also, but they do it with water to make a paste. Mine wasn’t a paste or wet sauce at all.

My topping was mostly dry and appeared sort of the consistency of a peanut topping, except with lots of pepper to make it red and spicy and a tiny bit of oil holding it together, but it wasn’t really hard like ground-up peanuts. It tasted very fresh, so probably the restaurant ground up the soybeans themselves.

In this country, soymilk is pressed out of ground soybeans, and soy flour is made out of the dry parts. So you’ve probably eaten plenty of ground beans. Just in conjunction with lots of other ingredients.

Anyway, it was different but certainly good. I would love to try more of Tsao’s Cuisine. Cuisine is exactly what it is, and you don’t even have to dress up or pay a lot of money. (And apparently, there are a lot of darned good tripe dishes in Chinese cooking, so there’s something to try if I ever see it again.)

Here’s a nice post on the history of that area, which shows the location of Tsao’s Cuisine on one of the maps.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ancient Trumpet Makes a Come-Bach

The lituus, an instrument that survived from Roman times until about 300 years ago, has been reconstructed from its range and used to play a Bach piece written for it.

You can hear the music over at BBC News.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Korean Telenovelas

Many South Korean TV drama series are currently available over on Crunchyroll, and some of them look pretty amusing. No guarantees, since I’m not up on South Korean TV.

I Really, Really Like You: Good-hearted girl with a strong country accent becomes a chef at the Blue House (South Korea’s White House). Girl meets the president’s cute son, who’s also a doctor, and tangles with a cute curmudgeonly member of South Korea’s presidential bodyguards. Ugly Betty meets The West Wing.

Jumong: Historical soap opera presents a fictionalized version of the life of the unifying king of the Korean kingdoms.

Who Are You?: Dead father tries to set up his daughter with a husband by temporarily possessing a businessman for three hours a day. Did I mention the businessman has OCD like Monk? Boy, you sure don’t get this kind of plot in the West!

General Hospital: This’d be the South Korean one.

Prince Hours, aka Palace S: There was recently a very successful South Korean drama, based on a comic, of a royal romance in a world where modern South Korea was still a kingdom. That one was called Palace (Goong) or Princess Hour, and threw an ordinary Korean teenager into the world of the royals via a betrothal arranged by their grandparents but unknown to both parties. This one is yet another alternate world, which theorizes a South Korea ruled by an unmarried, childless empress. After her heir is killed, she decides to take in and train a new one who’s an extremely remote relative making a blue collar living — in noodle delivery! But it’s a constitutional monarchy, where the empress’ actions are closely hemmed in by the government and her royal clan. The rest of the clan backs a young nobleman who’s responsible, but perhaps a little too sheltered. Which one will become the next emperor? (The first 4 episodes are in messed up order: watch 3, 4, 1, 2.) The first episode features “best gratuitous use of Celtic music soundtrack while making Korean Chinese food” and a noodle delivery race.


Filed under Uncategorized

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Apparently, the 2009 Catholic New Media Awards have announced the nominees. Aliens in This World was nominated for “Most Entertaining Blog”, and my Maria Lectrix podcast was nominated for Most Spiritual Podcast.

Well, color me stunned. Thank you to whoever nominated my blog and podcast.

Now let’s find out if this blog supports .png graphics.

Catholic New Media Awards

Apparently, some sort of voting apparatus will open to you on June 1 and run until June 30. I don’t know if you have to register to vote or what, but I guess one can find out on June 1.

PS – I forgot to thank Ines for spotting the nominations. Kai the sharp-eyed reader!


Filed under Uncategorized

Dom Nguyen’s Elegy for His Mom

Dom Nguyen’s mom died recently. He usually writes rants for the Megatokyo webcomic’s website, but this week he shared his elegy for his mom instead. I figure the fannish and Catholic blogosphere might like to see it.

This is how it begins:

Any conversation about my Mom will inevitably segue into the same kind of story. The story will start with ‘The first time I ever met her, she gave me….’ and end with any number of gifts, ranging from cookies fresh from the oven to a squash the size of a small child. It didn’t matter who you were, it didn’t matter where you came from, and it didn’t even matter if she remembered your name. My Mom welcomed everyone the same way – with an open smile, a friendly greeting, and a surprisingly large parting gift.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

RSS Use Annoys Me

Actually, I’m fine with RSS. If people want to play around with automatic download files, I’ll give them to them. I don’t see much point myself. Every time you trust a computer to download something automatically, you will be sorry. I speak from experience. Computers need supervision like a toddler with a flamethrower.

But if you have a podcast, how annoying is it to pretend like there aren’t any mp3 files involved? (SQPN, I’m looking at you.) Every time you want to download a single podcast, like any reasonable creature, you end up clicking around and around and around, desperately searching for an .mp3 extension. But no. There are audio players and more audio players and websites, but no .mp3 anywhere.

Finally, in total frustration, you click on the RSS feed — which contains a link to an mp3 file! But then it tells you the mp3 file is 0 bytes.

It is lying to you, fortunately. There really is a file there.

I guess the point is “raise our subscription numbers, or we’ll make it really really hard to find the file”. And I shouldn’t complain, because it used to be that you couldn’t even get the file on RSS. Of course, this prevents you from downloading stuff that’s more than a week back.

As for iTunes, I’ll consider it when I can see it, and find out its effects on my machine, without downloading their evil Apple Programs Of Death. (And yes, I’m still bitter about your stupid movie program freezing my 386, Apple.) If my podcast works or doesn’t work on iTunes, I will never know except by the stats.


Filed under Uncategorized

For Gamers and Filkers: Grognardia Interviews Lee Gold

You know, I need to just put Grognardia on my blogroll. It’s so interesting! (A grognard is an old soldier; by extension, an old wargamer or roleplaying gamer.)

Lee Gold is a super-nice person who lives in a hobbit-house out in California with her husband, their collection of books and music which makes mine look small and neat, her publishing area, and her awesome gaming and filking zines of extreme longevity and accuracy to publishing date, Alarums and Excursions (an APA) and Xenofilkia. She is a pivotal figure, and a formidable force.

Here is the interview.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

For Those of Us Not at Marcon, Balticon, and Other Glamorous Parties

One of John C. Wright’s Worshipful Knightly Companions of the Combox has revealed the existence of a fanfic story named “Shadows of Steel”.

When I tell you that it turns upon the revelation that Margo Lane, faithful and resourceful lady friend of the Shadow, is blood sister to Lois Lane, girl reporter… and that the Shadow has gone missing…

Well, I am sure that you too will hurry to meet the Metropolis Limited at the station!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

In the UK, the Seventies Live!

The UK’s new archbishop apparently has his hands full.

Now, I know there are serious problems. But even the stupid problems are harsh.

For one thing, they have a Catholic hymnal, collected by one Kevin Mayhew, who likes to edit all the songs, and not just for PC-ness. He took “If I Were a Butterfly”, already one of the more lame songs ever, and decided that it was Not Lame Enough. And added more verses. Horrifying ones. And not in 1981, no. In 1999.

For another thing, there is at least one parish that sings “Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory” — yes, the funny Noah’s Ark camp song — as a serious hymn. Every Sunday. We are not told whether they slam the pews the way we slammed the tables at camp while waiting for dinner to come. We are not told whether they also sing “There Were Three Men from Amster-SHH” or “Boom, Boom, Ain’t It Great to Be Crazy”.

Read it and weep. It’s down at the bottom. Or go to certain ‘lucky’ parishes in England and experience warps of space and time and brain!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Being a Priest Means

Bettnet and Holy Whapping report the death on May 13 of one Monsignor William Kerr, after a stroke he suffered in the middle of Mass. I never knew this priest as they did, so go over there to learn more about him.

But this is what being a priest commits you to do:

To get up in the middle of the night and administer the Last Rites to a victim of Ted Bundy, a serial killer.

To learn from a survivor about a great miracle.

To counsel Ted Bundy himself while he sits on Death Row, because even serial killers have souls and need mercy.

To spend your last words teaching your people to offer up their suffering to Jesus, and to pray.

To be on call 24/7 as another Christ, with all the sacrifice and sorrow and all the joy — that is what it means to be a priest.

May God send us many holy priests, and may our prayers strengthen them to do God’s will.

You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizadek.


Filed under Church, History

Causes of the Notre Dame Mess

Basically, there are three groups of Catholics in this country.

There are Catholics who know, and who believe, the fullness of truth as revealed by God, broken open down the ages, and taught by the Church.

There are Catholics who know this stuff, but don’t believe it.

There are Catholics who believe, but who don’t know what they believe. They were never taught it, or they never learned or understood what they were taught.

Any of these three groups may be of any degree of fervency in following Jesus. Any of them may hold different views on Church policies and procedures, and any of them may hold any of a broad spectrum of political views. However, if you know and believe what the Church teaches, this will tend to shape and constrain your thoughts and actions even if you’re running around as a partying sinner. In the same way, it will tend to shape your political views. You won’t be exactly like other liberals or other conservatives, because in the back of your mind you will remember how things are supposed to be. Your lodestone and compass will be God Almighty, not anything else.

Now, I understand the people who’ve never been taught, as I’m still one of them to a large extent. My mother tried to make sure I got a Catholic education, and I probably got the best one available in my town in the seventies. But here’s an example. The daughter of one of the singers in my parish just had her First Communion a couple years ago, and yesterday was doing a worksheet in her Sunday RE class on “The Four Marks of the Catholic Church”: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. It was a wordscramble, not one of the great intellectual works of the Western world. But I went through years of faithful attendance at Sunday RE, then parochial school, and then CCD in junior high, without ever hearing of the Four Marks except as a phrase of the Nicene Creed. So clearly, she is getting a fuller Catholic education than I did.

In just the same way, there are plenty of Catholics out there who have never been explicitly taught, “Your religion is what you build your life on, not your politics, because God never does evil and plenty of politicians and political theorists do.” They may be aware in a general way that the Church is against abortion, but their parish has never explicitly taught them that, much less the whys and wherefores and how long this has been a big deal. There are scores of hymns which quote the Didache from AD 70 on “Like the grain that’s scattered on the hills, may we be gathered into one.” But there are no hymns on the first sentence of the Didache, “There is a way of life and a way of death,” or the way it explicitly says that abortion is part of the way of death. There is so much that these Catholics think, and have every reason to think, is undefined and fluid, and so little that they know to believe. If they don’t make bad choices with all this bad information, it’s only by grace of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments. If they do, it’s not a big surprise. If they make up their own version of Catholicism to fill in the gaps, it’s only what could be expected.

(And indeed, I will freely admit that I’ve done stupid stuff and said appalling things in the full belief that I was doing and saying what the Church allowed, in college and at other times. In too many cases, and on serious topics which could cause someone to sin mortally, I was wrong. I literally did not know better and am not morally culpable, sure. But when I think of how I may have influenced vulnerable people wrongly or driven them away from the truth, my blood runs cold.)

So the ones I can’t understand are the ones who know better, who were taught better by somebody before they were taught wrongly, and smugly choose to disbelieve the truth and believe the lie. A great many of them are dupes, of course. Anyone can be tricked. But some of them really do know better, and yet don’t have the grace to acknowledge that they are off the reservation and doing their own thing. They insist that their teaching is real Catholic teaching, even when they have manifestly pulled it out of their own butts five minutes ago with no reference to Man, God, Reason, Common Sense, Natural Law, or the force of gravity. Their contempt for all the recent popes is a good hint for the ignorant, of course. But since some Catholics have been taught to disrespect the structure of the Church from their earliest days, it’s not as good a hint as you might think.

There’s another factor, though. Plenty of Catholics who think they know, but don’t believe, actually didn’t receive as good a Catholic education as they think they did. They never were taught except in a mechanical way, or never were taught at all. Maybe most of what they were taught just washed over them and was regarded by them as a list of things to memorize, not as anything real that would come up in life. Almost certainly, these people never managed to figure out that God is interested in them, personally. They were probably told that repeatedly and colored in all the little worksheets, but that washed over them, too. Somehow, their parents and teachers never noticed or managed to convince them. So this group is more likely to run into trouble than the folks who know they never went to Mass or RE, because they can bolster their ignorance with “I went to Catholic school” and “I was an altarboy for seven years”.

The cure is evangelism toward these folks and conversion of hearts by them, and both can only be done by the grace of God and the cooperation of His people. There’s a lot of catching up and fixing up to do.


Filed under Uncategorized

Avoidance Behavior

Well, I managed to occupy my time this morning before Mass with a couple of Rosaries, for the intention of reparation to God for the insult served Him today, by the administrators of a certain Catholic institution in northern Indiana. This kept down the rage and depression. This afternoon, I resorted to an absurdly complicated search problem and a lot of anime.

But sooner or later, I had to take a peek at the news. Sure enough, it wasn’t good enough just to have this foolishness of presenting an honorary degree in Law to someone who hasn’t done much in the way of law work since he graduated law school — something which caused ASU to decide not to grant him honors. And it wasn’t good enough to give a Catholic university’s approval to a man who doesn’t believe or follow natural law, much less Catholic morality. Nope, nope, nope. Nor was our current Chief Executive content to take his degree soberly and inoffensively, with the crowd behaving itself seriously. Nope, nope, nope. It had to be the full travesty.

Well, Our Lord is plenty used to being offended and sinned against, what with those 40 million babies we’ve killed in this country. And it’s not as if this is any surprise to anybody who paid attention before the election. But it’s amazing how much the pro-life cause is hated by the mainstream media, the non-classical liberals, and the slimiest politicians. They put so much energy into insisting they are right and we are barbarians, as the blood of the innocents calls out and they vainly try to plug their ears. And then they try to insist that we are racists, as if the black and biracial children weren’t being killed at even a higher rate than white babies.

We are living in the middle of a Molochian holocaust, and do you think we can long stay free without a guarantee of the right to life? Do you think we have a guaranteed right to liberty now, with free speech on the chopping block and freedom of religion right behind? Do you think the right to the pursuit of happiness is left, with all the tiny snips getting bigger, in the name of “safety”, “the public health”, “tolerance”, or “the children”? So of course the worldly wise thing is for Notre Dame to throw the slimy politicians a bone. If they can establish themselves as “good” Catholics, maybe they can avoid the sanctions against the rest of us for hate speech and intolerance and those terrible black and white rules of morality. They don’t care about what Our Lady thinks, as long as Obama is Our President.

Well, I can always say a few more Rosaries tonight, when I try to get to sleep. It might do some good, and it might keep the depression and rage away.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pangur Ban MSS Still in Existence?

Seeing as there’s all these manuscripts online, it occurs to me to wonder what the heck happened to Pangur Ban’s manuscript, and what the actual name and page number of the bloody thing is, or was. Now, if life was easy, I would just ask some Celtic literature professor and she’d show me her slides on her webpage. Failing that, I’d have a book of nifty cool facsimiles. But life is not easy. So I am about to go on a long and involved search engine quest. Skip to the bottom if you don’t care about my pain and just want to know answers.

And yes, I could go and look up “Pangur Ban” on Wikipedia, but where’s the fun in that? (I usually would. It would be saner. But today I won’t.)

The info I start with is that the manuscript was written in the margins of a copy of the epistles of St. Paul found at the Monastery of St Paul, apparently on Reichenau, a lake island in Germany. Or maybe in Carinthia. Ehhhh? (This is the info being given out in the pdf packets for Irish schoolchildren associated with The Secret of Kells movie. Apparently they didn’t look it up on Wikipedia, either.)

A bit of searching on Reichenau mss tells me that all their manuscripts were apparently moved to the Landsbibliothek in Karlsruhe, which is actually named the Bayerische Landsbibliothek. I also found an article full of academic online bitching about the wanton destruction of Carolingian bindings in the rebinding process, and that tons of Reichenau manuscripts were destroyed in whole or part by some kind of fire.

Cue ominous music. I think I see where this is going. Especially since the Bayerische library has all the Reichenau stuff catalogued as “fragments”. (If that doesn’t make your gut twist, nothing will.) I’m not sure I have the heart to go through all the fragments online, especially since I have no idea what the Pangur page would look like. (And I’m not kidding about how bad I am at reading medieval handwriting. Even the Carolingian kind.)

After a lot of futzing around, I found a copy on of Windisch’s Irische Texte, which is apparently what brought “Pangur Ban” to scholarly attention. (I’ve never even seen a copy of Irische Texte before. Heck, it never occurred to me to look for the thing in a catalog! Man, this Interwebs thing really is amazing….)

And cue the joyful trumpets! Irische Texte says that the Codex St. Pauli, containing “Pangur Ban”, was at Klosters St. Paul at Unterdrauberg in Kaernthen (Carinthia). Aha! It wasn’t at Reichenau at all! It lives! (Maybe!)

At this point, if I could read German or if Google Translate could translate pdfs, I would probably be well on the road. But it might be faster to find a modern source than to type in pages and pages of German.

So I futz around some more, and find a page with a bunch of articles cited by a guy/gal named O Croinin. (Daibhi, another page says, so a guy. He is obviously Rightminded and Decent, as he is also editor of a songbook containing the entire repertoire of a traditional singer named Bess Cronin, as well as a 2-CD set of field recordings. Dang. None of my professors were ever that rightminded.) It is all part of The History of the Irish Book Project. That sounds promising; but first, some magic manuscript citation numbers connected with the Codex S. Pauli: “25.2.31 olim 25.d.86”.

Back to the search engine. Where is Unterdrauberg, anyway? A mineralogical page informs me of the existence of dravite, some kind of rock found in Dravograd, Slovenia. Which is the new name of Unterdrauberg in Slovenia, not in Carinthia in Austria. (Phew! We didn’t need any extra placenames.)

At this point, I begin to see some daylight. A page about the Irish-language literature of America (fascinating!) discloses not only some amazing unknown facts about “I am Raftery the poet”, but also about the Codex St. Pauli.

“There is a fragmentary ninth century manuscript belonging to the monastery of St. Paul, Unterdrauberg (in southern Austria). Preserved in that manuscript, along with a Virgil commentary and some Greek paradigms, are Irish language poems – including the little poem about the scholar and his cat, Pangur Ban – perhaps noted down by a bored monkish copyist. That poem had no readership, and no influence, for one thousand years – until it was published by Stokes and Strachan in 1902.

“It is now the most famous poem in the Irish language, and one of the best known and the best loved poems in the world – the various translations have been much anthologised, and practically every Irish poet has made her or his version.”

Next, on an art blog, we find a description of the actual physical appearance of the Codex.

“Strangely though, my imagination has been completely captivated by a comparatively small, unadorned assemblage of odd sheets of vellum called The St. Paul Irish Codex (or more formally: MS: Unterdrauberg, Carinthia, Kloster St. Paul 25.2.31). This manuscript was the personal notebook of an Irish scribe working in the early ninth century, most likely in the scriptorium at Reichenau, an island monastery on Lake Constance located between Germany and Switzerland. It contains no color other than the deep brown of the ink, and no illumination of any kind, yet it seems to me to reveal more about at least this one personality behind the long labor of creating illuminated manuscripts.

“This un-named monk assembled what discarded pieces of vellum he could gather together and used his notebook to jot down interesting text he came across in his daily work (incidentally, the size of this notebook is very close to a large size Moleskine). Written in a very tight script you will find bits of grammar, animal lore, an incantation, and an endearing poem in Old Irish about a monk and his cat named Pangur Bán, all on the same page. Throughout the other pages of the notebook are excerpts written in Greek, an astrological table, and notes on logic, metaphysics and etymology, among other topics.”

Yay! We have an explanation for the Reichenau thing. We have magic call numbers. We even know what the thing is and what it looks like.

It is at this point, when you’re pages deep into a search engine and already know most of your answers, that you find the Really Useful Sources. So now I find a book of an inaugural Celtic studies lecture of a lecture series. Its entertaining title is Three Men in a Boat, which I wouldn’t have understood as a reference back when the lecture was given in 1996. Anyway, he says that the Codex S. Pauli is more popularly known as the “Reichenau Schoolbook”, that it left Reichenau in 1800, that it is now in the monastic library of Sankt Paul im Lavanttal (in Unterdrauberg, in Carinthia), and that it’s doubtful that any living Celticist has even looked at the thing in the parchment-flesh. (Which is more than a bit sad. Take a vacation, unfairly lucky European academic people.)

Now I want some pictures. Here is Oberdrauberg, Spittal an der Drau, Carinthia, Austria, on the map. Unterdrauberg is presumably nearby. I notice that “tal” thing showing up again, and wonder what it means.

Over to Google Translate, which tells me that it means “dale” or “valley”. Ha! So Oberdrauberg is in Spitdale, so to speak, and our monastery of interest is in Lavantdale! And what’s this on the Google map but a little picture labeled Lavant? Oh, well, no useful info, but some pretty mountain village church pictures. Back to the search engine.

Here’s a page for <a href=”“>Sankt Paul im Lavanttal, with some interesting pictures and the info that the place is an Apple Paradise. It’s a town as well as a monastery, you see. But here’s the monastery’s Wikipedia page (the English version, anyway). It’s the oldest monastery in Carinthia still in operation. More good news! It also houses a vast collection of great art as well as huge numbers of books and manuscripts. Pangur Ban is not only in good hands; he’s not even lonely. The monks also make fine wines, brandy, and schnapps, and offer winery tours as well as having a restaurant, a museum, and other amenities for visitors.

Crimony! Why aren’t the academics visiting?? I want to visit now! For several weeks!

And now we close in. The abbey has a website. What does it hold? Here’s a picture of the library on its little webpage. But alas! “Pangur Ban” isn’t important enough to get his picture on the website! But then, neither are the minnesang mss, so I guess I can’t complain of prejudiced treatment.

There’s a special exhibition in their museum this year, though, and it’s on the power of the word and monasticism. So I bet if you go, you’ll see Pangur for sure.

If you can’t go, and you speak German, they have an online shop with tons of books and monastery products, as well as a few history/art videos. (The English side of the online shop doesn’t seem to be working.) All this restaurant and shop stuff is apparently managed by a tourism promotion and preservation group called Via Imperialis. So I guess the monks outsource this stuff, or it’s some kind of co-op.

Okay, now I’m going to search for mss pictures. Surely somebody has some slides.

Sadly, that art blog did in fact link to a picture of the Codex at one time, but the German university’s picture is no longer there. Poking around does yield me a different German name for the manuscript: “Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Paul 25.2.31 (St. Paul Irish Codex)”. This yields some results, including yet another style of citation: “St. Paul im Lavanttal (Kaernten), Stiftsbibliothek”. Honestly, it’s enough to make your eyes cross, and I still don’t get any joy from any of it.

So I go back and look at the broken university link, and find the name “Reichenauer Schulheft”. Plug it into the search engine. Hit Return.

Suddenly, a world of images and info opens before me. This is the search term I was missing — the original German version of “Reichenau Schoolbook”.

Here are beautiful pictures of the pages of the Reichenauer Schulheft, aka the Codex S. Pauli. They were taken in 1998, so the lecturer from 1996 wasn’t lying. (Apparently academics can take a hint.) This is the page the previous blog linked to, before it moved. There’s no text file, though, so be prepared to read this Irish guy’s handwriting without any study aids. (There’s probably a transcription of the whole thing in some book somewhere.)

Here’s the cover, as presently bound. Here’s yet another name and citation for the book, if you can believe it.

And here, at last, are the two pages containing “Messe ocus Pangur Ban”. You will find the poem at the bottom of the page on the left.

The Codex is also known Reichenau Primer. Wikimedia has a slightly different photo of the Pangur Ban page.

So it’s been a long quest, mostly because I didn’t follow up the right hints quickly enough. (Also, because I didn’t cheat and look up “Pangur Ban” on Wikipedia.) But I learned some interesting stuff and had some fun, and I did reach my goal. And now you know what kind of stuff I spend my Sunday afternoons doing.


Filed under Uncategorized