|Reviews for The Ballad of Odo the Hero|
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 12/22/2013
Dave Barry once observed that Japan didn't strike him as a "wocka-wocka kind of nation". Which is ironic, of course, since waka is one of the great cultural pillars of the Land of the Rising Sun. And it's that illustrious poetic tradition that we'll be celebrating in this month's reminder. Below my signature, you will find ten appropriately numbered poems from the Kokin Wakashū, in prose translations by Laurel Rodd; hopefully, their delicate beauty and sly allusion will inspire you to new heights of creative effort in regard to "De Fide Petri".
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(108) “Surely it is the falling of the blossoms that he mourns: the mountain thrush cries on Mount Tatsuta, where spring mists drift skyward.”
(219) “When I see the blooms of the autumn bush clover on last year’s boughs, I feel that it remembers; it is faithful to the past.”
(330) “Still winter lingers, but from the heavens fall these blossoms of purest white. It seems that spring must wait on the far side of those clouds.”
(441) “Such a distance I have come to admire the asters here, where once we lived – but already the blooms have passed their glory.”
(552) “In love-tormented sleep, I saw him beside me. Had I known my love’s visit was but a dream, I should never have awakened.”
(663) “On the slender leaves of bamboo grass settle the first frosts of fall; the night chill penetrates, but no color reveals its touch.”
(774) “Now he will come no more; this I know. And yet, each night, I forget once more; unthinkingly, I long for him – waiting never ends.”
(885) “So brilliant the moon that traverses the broad skies, casting its soft light, the clouds that try to hide it cannot make it disappear.”
(996) “As a remembrance for the time when I have been forgotten, I leave these runes, varied as plovers’ random prints along the shore.”
(1107) “My passion shall stay hidden, as the unopened buds of plume grass on the Ōsaka slopes where I met my beloved.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 11/22/2013
You know that old game show, "Name That Tune"? Well, that's the name of the game in this month's reminder. I have before me a book that numerically indexes 605 number-one hit songs (U.S. pop chart), devoting a short article to each one. I have taken the first paragraph of one of these articles (devoted, of course, to a song numbered 111x108) and enclosed it below my signature - having, however, changed the identifying data of the song (title, artist's name, date, and so on) to those of another song numbered 111x108. Your task is to identify the original song, thus disguised. I feel confident that this will inspire you to finish "Flos Florum" with all appropriate speed - if only out of sympathy for the poor lunatic whose job it is to come up with these reminders every month.
So, SuGaRLiLy: name that tune!
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“The Bee Gees began as a duo, grew to a quintet, and then shrank to a quartet. When their 13th chart single, ‘You Should Be Dancing’, went to #1, they were a trio.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 10/21/2013
"If this was not a great man, many who are so called must bear the title unworthily." Thus Thomas Campbell in 1879, writing in the introduction to the first complete English translation of the poems of Petrarch. Given that Petrarch died in 1374, it might seem that the Anglosphere was rather dilatory about thoroughly acquainting itself with one of Europe's greatest and most influential poets; nonetheless, what the translation lacked in promptness it made up for (at least as far as this challenge is concerned) by its creative renumbering of the "Rime in vita di Laura" according to form. By isolating and numbering the 227 sonnets in that collection, it allows them to serve as an almost perfect Malachy reminder; accordingly, I enclose those that correspond to your motto's number and sign off, with the hope that "Flos Florum" may soon achieve its own "Triumph of Fame".
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[Far from his friends, he flies to them in thought.]
The more my own fond wishes would impel
My steps to you, sweet company of friends,
Fortune with their free course the more contends,
And elsewhere bids me roam, by snare and spell.
The heart, sent forth by me though it rebel,
Is still with you where that fair vale extends
In whose green windings most our sea extends,
From which but yesterday I wept farewell.
It took the right-hand way, the left I tried,
I dragged by force in slavery to remain,
It left at liberty with Love its guide.
But patience is great comfort amid pain.
Long habits mutually formed declare
That our communion must be brief and rare.
[On Laura putting her hand before her eyes while he was gazing on her.]
On the fair face for which I long and sigh
Mine eyes were fastened with desire intense
When, to my fond thoughts, Love, in best reply,
Her honored hand uplifting, shut me thence.
My heart there caught, as fish a fair hook by
Or as a young bird on a limèd fence,
(For good deeds follow from example high)
To truth directed not its busied sense.
But of its one desire my vision reft
As dreamingly soon oped itself a way,
Which closed, its bliss imperfect had been left.
My soul between those rival glories lay,
Filled with a heavenly and a new delight
Whose strange, surpassing sweets engrossed it quite.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 9/20/2013
On the principle that every story can generally use an infusion of zoology - and that "Flos Florum", it would seem, could use an infusion of anything at all that will help it get off the ground - I hereby send you, for this month's reminder, a transcription of the "Key Facts" column of Card 108 from the Wildlife Fact File's "Mammals" group of cards. Whether the plot that you have in mind will actually have room for a digression on the habits of the vervet monkey, I don't know, but it seemed to be worth a try.
HEIGHT: 1.5-2 ft.
WEIGHT: Males, 10 lbs. Females, 7 lbs.
SEXUAL MATURITY: 5 years in the wild, 2 in captivity.
BREEDING SEASON: Variable.
GESTATION: 5-6 months.
NO. OF YOUNG: 1.
CALL: Grunts and chatters; alarm or threat bark.
HABIT: Social; lives in groups that include more than one male.
DIET: Fruit, leaves, flowers, insects, eggs, nestlings, rodents.
RELATED SPECIES: These include the diana monkey, Cercopithecus diana, from Sierra Leone and Ghana, and the patas monkey, Erythocebus patas, from eastern Africa.
DISTRIBUTION: The vervet is found across Africa from Senegal to Somalia, and south to Swaziland and South Africa. It inhabits areas of savanna and woodland that border water.
CONSERVATION: Much of the vervet’s habitat has been converted to farmland, causing the monkey to raid crops in its former range.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 8/19/2013
SPIDDLE, verb: to fritter away a perfectly good life pretending to develop film projects. This obscure Irish town was thus immortalized by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, whose book "The Deeper Meaning of Liff" likewise transforms nearly 900 other place names into terms for things and experiences that more orthodox lexicographers never got around to naming. This, obviously, is a perfect theme for a Malachy-Challenge reminder; all that remains is to link the words to the mottoes in some way, and, since the International Meridian Conference of 1884 was kind enough to assign a number from 0 to 180 to every point on the Earth's surface, the solution there was obvious. All that remains is to see whether the definition below my signature will inspire you to finish "Flos Florum", or whether you're just going to keep spiddling for another month.
WYOMING [follows the 108th Meridian West from 45 to 41 N], participle verb. Moving in hurried desperation from one public-lavatory cubicle to another, trying to find one that has a lock on the door, a seat on the bowl, and no brown streaks on the seat.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 7/19/2013
If the weather where you are has been anything like the weather where I am recently, it seems to me that you have quite a legitimate excuse for not having finished "Jucunditas Crucis" during this past month. So I'll save my solemn moral reproaches for another time, and let you off for now with a brief intellectual puzzle: If there is a five-kilogram body that, at midnight on 1 January 2001, was made of pure hassium-263, and now contains three kilograms of lead-207, what time is it now?
P.S.: By the way, if you're wondering how I came up with such a random reminder, it may be worthwhile to remind yourself that hassium is element 108.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 6/19/2013
I had been planning to derive this month's reminder from "The Compleat Feghoot", that classic collection of (as I was told) 122 brief, numbered stories of exotic science-fiction adventure, each of which climax in some such sparkling piece of verbal wit as "Failing to create a brave new world, the Queen after mania somber dyes Aswan." Conceive my chagrin when I discovered, upon receiving a copy of the book, that (a) the edition I had ordered only contains 86 stories, and (b) Ferdinand Feghoot turns out to be an individual of rather dubious moral character - hardly the sort of person who ought to be recognized as a hero by the Malachy Challenge. (Witness his escapades with the "pair o' doxies of time travel" in No. 65, for instance.)
So it's back to the Philokalia. The following is taken from St. Mark the Hermit's "Two Hundred Texts on the Spiritual Life"; hopefully, you and "Flos Florum" will profit therefrom.
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108. If one becomes angry with one’s neighbor on account of riches, fame, or pleasure, one does not yet realize that God orders all things with justice.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 5/13/2013
Okay, I was trying to come up with something new and different for this month's reminder, but my sources aren't being cooperative. Maybe next month. In the meantime, I've fallen back on the old tried-and-true; the numbered lists of reflections in the Philokalia. This is from Evagrius Ponticus's "creel of love" (153 texts on prayer, one for each of the fish that the disciples caught in John 21); hopefully, it'll inspire you to make something out of "De Balneis Etruriæ".
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108. You have surely read the lives of the monks of Tabennesis. When Abba Theodore was preaching to the brethren, two vipers crawled under his feet, but he calmly made an arch of his feet and let them stay there until he had finished his sermon. Then he showed the vipers to the brethren and told them what had happened.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 4/2/2013
Blame poor journalism for this month's reminder. Shortly after the papal election, I was at our local cathedral for a vigil Mass and noticed that the diocesan newspaper, like so many other media outlets, was referring to the new pope as "Francis I". Naturally enough, the thought crossed my mind, "Aren't these people going to look silly if the people who believe the Malachy List turn out to be right, Armageddon comes during this pontificate, and there never is a Pope Francis II?" That, in turn, got me thinking about the Malachy Challenge and popes with "I" after their names, and, by the time the Mass was over, I had resolved to construct a reminder in which each Malachite received some information about, and an apposite quote by or pertaining to, the first pope to bear the name that his or her motto's referent assumed.
So: Pope St. Paul I was a member of a distinguished Roman family, which also gave the world his immediate predecessor, Pope Stephen III. (Or II, depending on whether you count the Stephen who died before being installed as a valid pope.) He (Paul, not Stephen) served as bishop of Rome during a particularly exciting period of the 8th Century; King Desiderius of Lombardy was trying to seize some land back from the papal fiefdoms, supported by the Byzantine emperor, who, as a fervent Iconoclast, considered the Pope a nuisance. However, Paul had a valuable ally in King Pepin the Short of the Franks, who, though unable to assist the Pope militarily, did send emissaries who helped to rein in Desiderius’s battle-lust. (This was the beginning of a long and glorious career for Pepin’s bloodline; his son Charlemagne would be anointed Holy Roman Emperor and Defender of the Faith by Pope Leo III, and, in the subsequent millennium, the throne of what would eventually be called France would prove to interest the Holy Spirit in a way that few other temporal titles ever have.) Despite this active career, however – or perhaps because of it – Paul seems to have left little or nothing in the way of writings to history; in lieu of this, the collect for his feast day (June 28) is enclosed as this month’s reminder of “Flos Florum”.
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“Almighty, ever-living God, who chose blessed Paul to preside over Your whole people and benefit them by word and example, keep safe, we pray, by his intercession, the shepherds of Your Church along with the flocks entrusted to their care, and direct them in the way of eternal salvation. [We ask this] Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 3/2/2013
Since the recent Oscars were so much fun (not the show, which ranged from dull to grotesque, but the awards themselves - imagine, a tie in the technical categories!), I thought a movie-themed reminder would be appropriate for this month. I have therefore taken it upon myself to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with every Malachite's pope or antipope, on the theory that, when you see me connect Paul VI to Kevin Bacon in six steps or fewer, you will be inspired to connect the phrase "Flos Florum" with some usable fan-fictional idea. (Well, a man can dream.)
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1. In 1970, Paul VI canonized St. Edmund Campion.
2. St. Edmund Campion was the subject of a Hawthornden-Prize-winning biographical sketch by Evelyn Waugh.
3. Evelyn Waugh was the creator of Charles Ryder, narrator and central character of his 1945 novel “Brideshead Revisited”.
4. In 1981, Charles Ryder, naturally enough, appeared as a character in the BBC miniseries “Brideshead Revisited”, played by Jeremy Irons.
5. In 2009, Jeremy Irons appeared in “The Pink Panther 2”, with Andy Garcia.
6. In 2007, Andy Garcia appeared in “The Air I Breathe”, with Kevin Bacon.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 2/2/2013
Yeah, I know, I'm a little late with the reminder this time. So late, in fact, that Lucillia has already posted her story, and xxjonibaby has formally withdrawn from the Challenge. But there's a silver lining to that cloud.
You see, with those two ladies no longer in the market for reminders, there are now 24 ( 4!) Malachites on active duty. Of those, there are 4 who have been completely incommunicado for at least a year now - long enough, that is, not to have received 4 reminders involving individualized selections from something or other. Which means that, if I were to take all the materials from those reminders that they never received, I could arrange it such that every possible combination thereof could go to one of the active Malachites, and no combination would be duplicated. And if that thought doesn't fill you with such pure intellectual joy as to make you want to leap to your word processor and finish "Flos Florum" in a blaze of sheer inspiration, then... well, you're very unlike me, anyway. (Though I'm starting to think that's fairly common in this world.) Anyway, your combination is below my signature.
DrakkenWasHere's catechetical reminder:
Q: Why does the Creed begin with the words, “I believe in God?”
A (198-199): The Creed begins with these words because the affirmation “I believe in God” is the most important, the source of all the other truths about man and about the world, and about the entire life of everyone who believes in God.
Q: What does the word “Church” mean?
A (751-752, 777, 804): The word “Church” refers to the people whom God calls and gathers together from every part of the Earth. They form the assembly of those who, through faith and baptism, have become children of God, members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit.
Q: Why does the Church baptize infants?
A (1250): The Church baptizes infants because they are born with original sin. They need to be freed from the power of the Evil One and brought into that realm of freedom that belongs to the children of God.
Q: Are there acts that are always illicit?
A (1756, 1761): There are some acts that, in and of themselves, are always illicit by reason of their object – for example, blasphemy, homicide, and adultery. Choosing such acts entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil that can never be justified by appealing to the good acts that could possibly result from them.
Q: What does the Lord ask of every person in regard to peace?
A (2302-2303): The Lord proclaimed, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9). He called for peace of heart and denounced the immorality of ire, which is a desire for revenge for some evil suffered. He also denounced hatred, which leads one to wish evil on one’s neighbor. These attitudes, if voluntary and consented to in matters of great importance, are mortal sins against charity.
Q: Why pray, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”?
A (2822-2827, 2860): The will of the Father is that “all men be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). For this Jesus came: to perfectly fulfill the saving will of His Father. We pray God our Father to unite our will to that of His Son, after the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. We ask that this loving plan be fully realized on Earth, as it is already in Heaven. It is through prayer that we can discern what is the will of God (Rom. 12:2) and have the steadfastness to do it (Heb. 10:36).
zueee's sentential reminder:
“Indeed, early cave dwellers of 20,000 years ago or more noticed fossil shells in the flints that they carved into arrowheads and axes.”
“I owe a second deep debt to Peter Dodson, who served as technical adviser and proofreader supreme for the entire text.”
“Three times in a row was enough.”
“Of what it pleases thee to hear, and what to speak, we will hear and we will speak to you, while the wind, as now, is hushed for us.”
“I don’t know.”
Tyche Nemesis's lordly reminder:
“If these brief lays, of Sorrow born,
Were taken to be such as closed
Grave doubts, and answers here proposed,
Then these were such as men might scorn.
“Her care is not to part and prove;
She takes, when harsher moods remit,
What slender shade of doubt may flit,
And makes it vassal unto love.
“And hence, indeed, she sports with words,
But better serves a wholesome law,
And holds it sin and shame to draw
The deepest measure from the chords.
“Nor dare she trust a larger lay,
But rather loosens from the lip
Short swallow-flights of song that dip
Their wings in tears, and skim away.”
FountainBrigade's asinine reminder:
THE CAPTIVE DOG
The coming of autumn is to me, Platero, a dog that is tied, barking long and clearly in the solitude of a yard, a court, or a garden that begins to turn cold and sad with the evening. Wherever I am, Platero, I always hear, on these days that turn yellower every day, that chained dog, barking at the setting sun.
His barking is an elegy, as nothing else is to me. These are the moments in which all one’s life is in the gold that is leaving, like the heart of a miser in the last golden coin of his vanishing treasure. And the gold barely exists, gathered greedily by the soul and placed everywhere, as children catch the sun in a bit of mirror and carry it to the shadowed walls, joining in one the image of the butterfly and the dry leaf.
The sparrows, the blackbirds begin climbing from bough to bough of the orange tree or the acacia, higher each time, following the sun. The sun turns rose, mauve. Beauty immortalizes the fugitive, lifeless moment, as though forever dead, yet living. And sharp and ardently the dog barks at Beauty, at Beauty dying…
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 12/2/2012
You've heard of a boy and his dog? Well, this month's reminder is about a man and his donkey. The man in question is the Nobel Prize-winning writer Juan Ramón Jiménez, who, despite being principally a poet, won his greatest acclaim with a book of 138 prose vignettes about life, death, beauty, and sorrow in rural Andalusia, entitled "Platero and I" (Platero being the donkey). Since these vignettes are carefully numbered in the book, and they aren't too long, and there are more than 111 of them, it was only a matter of time before they became the subject of a Malachy reminder. So take the following for what it's worth. (Who knows, maybe a poetic donkey will show up in "Flos Florum".)
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CVIII – THE WHITE MARE
I am sad, Platero… Look; when I was crossing Flores Street at Portada, in the same spot where lightning killed the twin children, Sordo’s white mare was lying dead. Some almost naked little girls were walking around her silently.
Purita, the seamstress, who was passing by, told me that this morning Sordo, tired of feeding the mare, took her to the pit. You know the poor thing was as old and slow-witted as Don Julián. She could neither see nor hear, and she could scarcely walk… About noon, the mare was back at her master’s porch. Irritated, he took a vine prop and tried to drive her away with it. She would not leave. Then he cut her with the sickle. People gathered, and, in the cursing and the joking, the mare started up the street, limping and stumbling. Children followed with cries and rocks. At last she fell to the ground, and they finished killing her there. Some compassionate feeling fluttered above her: “Let her die in peace!” as if you or I had been there, Platero, but it was like a butterfly in the center of a gale.
When I saw her, the stones were still piled beside her, she as cold as they. One of her eyes was wide open, and, blind in life, now that she was dead it seemed as if it could see. The only light left in the dark street was her whiteness, above which the night sky, very high in the cold, was disappearing, covered with the lightest of fleecy, rose-colored clouds…
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 11/1/2012
If you're looking for something to revive your interest in "Flos Florum", here's a thought. Why not see if you can conceal either the throne name or the birth name of your motto's pope somewhere in the text of the story? It's not impossible; witness the following passage by Ssjshadic, who, as far as I know, wasn't even trying to do it in "The Final Game": “But the blow had been too much, and the mustached Koopa ultimately couldn’t resist descending into a comatose state.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 9/27/2012
Since this whole monthly business of ours is about remembering something, it was probably only a matter of time before my thoughts turned to "In Memoriam", the classic poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, consisting of 131 numbered cantos of mourning for Tennyson's friend Arthur Hallam. While I hope I never have occasion to mourn "Flos Florum", it seemed appropriate, none the less, to send you the appropriate canto for this month's reminder. Enjoy.
“I will not shut me from my kind,
And, lest I stiffen into stone,
I will not eat my heart alone,
Nor feed with sighs a passing wind.
“What profit lies in barren faith,
And vacant yearning, though with might
To scale the heaven’s highest height
Or dive below the wells of death?
“What find I in the highest place
But mine own phantom chanting hymns?
And on the depths of death there swims
The reflex of a human face.
“I’ll rather take what fruit may be
Of sorrow under human skies;
’Tis held that sorrow makes us wise,
Whatever wisdom sleep with thee.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 8/27/2012
As you know, every pope and antipope whose motto appears on the Malachy List was once a cardinal. (Well, actually, that's not strictly true, but since "Ex Eremo Celsus" isn't currently assigned, I'm not going to worry about St. Celestine V.) And every cardinal, of course, is the canon of a particular church in Rome. This seems a good thing to build a reminder around. So: if you ever happen to be in Rome, may I recommend that you stop by Paul VI's old church of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti? Maybe you could pray there about what to do with "Flos Florum". It's worth a shot, right?